Dawn was talking on the phone, smiling with a mouth full of perfect white teeth and winding one blue black curl around the index finger of her right hand when they walked in. Tiana resisted the urge to roll her eyes when the teen started giggling, and said, “David, stop being naughty, my boss just walked in!”
James stood looking sternly at the young woman. “Dawn.” He said, warning in his voice.
Another giggle, then, “Gotta go, see you tonight!” Then Dawn hung up the phone and batted long false eyelashes at James.
“What did I say about personal calls during working hours?” James reminded her. Unlike her father, brothers and every other red-blooded male who came into contact with her, James didn’t give in just because Dawn used her wiles on him.
“Sorry boss.” Dawn shrugged apologetically. “My boyfriend called me, I didn’t call him. I’ll tell him not call during office hours anymore.”
“See that you do. What if a client had called? And what about those contracts I gave you yesterday that needed to be typed?”
“We have call waiting.” Dawn said smugly. “And I finished typing the contracts last night, they’re in your inbox.”
“That’s beside the point.” James said, pointing a stern finger.
“Ah, c’mon Uncle James, can’t you cut me a break?”
When James raised an one eyebrow without answering, Dawn turned to Tiana, “Aunt Tiana?” She said beseechingly.
“Hey don’t look at me,” Tiana held up both hands, “I went to bat for you when you wanted this job, and you agreed to the conditions.”
“We women have to stick together though, right, Aunt Tiana?”
Resisting the eye roll was getting really hard. She liked Dawn, okay to be honest, she adored Dawn. The title of Uncle and Aunt were honorary rather than because of any blood ties either of them had to the girl, and Tiana really hadn’t known much about her until she and James had become engaged since she was the daughter of a friend of James’. And adoring the girl, and letting the girl know she was adored, which would be akin to waving a hunk of bloody meat at a shark, were two very different things. “Sorry kiddo, you’re on your own on this one.”
Dawn gave her look suggesting Tiana had somehow betrayed her and then huffed and starting pouting.
Tiana sidled up to James and gave him a toothy grin, “Still sure you want to have kids?” She asked. “They might turn out like Dawn.” She whispered too low for the sixteen year old to hear.
Tiana felt James shudder for just a second before he mumbled, “That’s dirty pool.”
“Yeah, well, just thought I’d remind you, they don’t stay babies forever. And you’ve seen how Michael has to darned near literally beat the boys off with a stick.”
“I’ve got just the stick for you, baby. Want me to beat you with it?” James said wickedly.
Black lashes lowered, and Tiana’s breath flowed out in a rush as heat seeped from deep within. “You’ve got a one track mind, and I repeat, I am not having sex with you in your office!” She hissed louder than she meant to.
“Oooooooohhhhh! Kinky!” Dawn commented.
Tiana turned three shades of red before she got her embarrassment under control. “And that young lady was not meant for your ears.” Tiana pointed out, using the same “magic finger” that James had to make his point earlier.
Dawn had the grace to look ashamed, “Sorry Aunt Tiana.”
Doe brown eyes peeked from beneath sooty lashes before she cooed, “Sorry about before Uncle James.”
Tiana felt more than heard James sigh. “Just don’t let it happen again, Dawn. I’d rather have you manning the front desk than some stranger, but there are plenty of young women who would kill to have a cushy job where all they had to do was answer phones, type the occasional contract and surf the net for five or six hours a day and make more than minimum wage.”
“So, Aunt Tiana is your gallery okay?” Dawn quickly changed the subject.
With the mention of the destroyed gallery Tiana’s spirits plummeted once again and her shoulders slumped.
“The gallery was vandalized last night or early this morning, Dawn. There’s not much left but pottery dust, broken glass and loose seed beads.” James answered for her.
Dawn’s jaw dropped. “Really? That’s awful. I’m sorry Aunt Tiana, is there anything I can do to help? I could come over after work and help you clean up?”
And therein was why Tiana adored the teenager, even if she did often make her crazy with the vapid, blonde act, and open flirting with James. Underneath it all was very caring young woman.
“Thanks, but they probably won’t let me near the place until tomorrow. Let’s wait and see. If I need help with the cleanup you’ll be the first to know.” Tiana tried to smile, but it wobbled and turned upside down instead.
“Okay. I really am sorry Aunt Tiana, I know how much you love your gallery.”
“Yes, but they’re just things, thank God no one got hurt this time.” She choked on the word “hurt” as she remembered that someone had more than gotten “hurt” the last time; they’d gotten dead.
James watched concerned as Tiana tried to deal with the emotional fallout of realizing that there was still someone out there who could do her and her loved ones harm. Just watching her made his chest feel tight and his heart hurt. He had to protect her and those around them from whoever this was before someone else died.
He squeezed Tiana’s shoulders and turned them towards an empty office before shutting the door and pulling her close to his body as though his heat could somehow chase the memories away. “Why don’t you make those calls we were talking about? We do have a wedding to plan after all.” He murmured in her ear, hoping to take her mind of the unpleasantness of both the past and the present.
“Yeah, good idea. Not like there’s anything else I can do right now is there.” Tiana muttered sourly, her mood still dark.
“I thought you were excited about planning the wedding?”
Tiana turned, causing James to drop his hands from her shoulders and looked up at him with big brown eyes. “I didn’t mean it that way.” She said softly.
“Didn’t you?” He laid his hands back on her shoulders. “Tiana, I don’t expect you to hide your darker emotions from me, I want you to share them with me, that’s what I’m here for. Just don’t expect me to allow you to wallow in them, that’s not healthy for you or our relationship.”
“I know.” Tiana sighed, dropping her chin until it rested on her chest. “It was just seeing the gallery destroyed, it reminded me of when grandmother died. I was really hoping that all of it was over and that we could have our wedding and work on being happy; regain what we lost.”
James lifted her chin and found a tear winding down her face. Leaning down he sipped it from her cheekbone. “It’ll be all right babe, we’ll figure this out, get your gallery back up and running and have our wedding. I don’t intend that this bozo whoever he or she is is going to get the chance to ruin our lives for a second a time.”
He felt Tiana lean into him, her arms going around his waist and he held her tightly in return resting his head against hers. “We’ll figure it out, babe.” He repeated, hoping like hell that they could before someone else was hurt or died. He didn’t want the memory of a day that should be the happiest of their lives shrouded in grief as their reunion had been.
Then in typical Tiana fashion she pulled away from him and straightened her shoulders. “Okay, I’m going to make those calls. We still need to work out the flowers, the location, and I still have to work on convincing your mother that I want to make my own wedding dress.” James smiled as she ended the last part on a groan.
“She just wants to help you pick out one of those white fluffy confections with a gorgeous long veil.”
“I know. But I don’t want some Soyap version of a wedding, I’m willing to let her have her way on some things, but not the dress, and not having a traditional Nez Perce ceremony once we have the legal one she wants. You’d think she would understand, she is Nez Perce after all isn’t she?” Tiana yanked on her own hair pulling hard, and James couldn’t help laughing.
Once he’d gotten his mirth under control, he answered. “Yes, but you have to remember that when she was a child it was back before The Indian Child Welfare Act and she was taken from her family and put into foster care with white families away from the reservation. She finally returned when she was eighteen, but by the then she’d been very influenced by the dominant culture. She respects Nez Perce culture and traditions and she’s proud to be Nez Perce, but…” James shrugged. “sometimes she can’t help wanting to do things the way she was taught. And she was taught that weddings entailed a long white dress with a veil and in front of a minister in a church.”
“Yeah, I get that, but I just wish she wouldn’t stop trying to change my mind. I’m making my own wedding dress and it’s going to be yellow as is traditional!” James could hear the determination in her voice and couldn’t help smiling.
“I never thought otherwise, babe. And for what it’s worth I agree with you and so does Dad.”
“Good then the next time she tries to show me another dress that she put on hold for me to look at, you and Dad can help me tell her no.” James held up his hands in surrender when he saw the evil glint in Tiana’s eyes.
“Now babe, I didn’t say anything about Dad and I getting involved, I was just saying that we agreed with you.”
“Yes, you’re absolutely right, we are chicken! Have you ever seen my mother when she gets an idea in her head?” James threw up his hands, no way was he going to get into the middle of this one! “There’s no stopping her!”
“So…you and Dad agree with me, but you expect me to handle your mother when she’s being stubborn?” James turned at the sickeningly sweet tone. Uh oh.
Better start back pedaling, otherwise he was going to get himself into a world of trouble. Me and my big mouth! Dad is not going to appreciate me for this one. “Uh, not exactly…she’s just…well hell, you’ve seen her!”
“Yes, I have. And that’s exactly why when she brings this up again, you are going to be right there with me back me up, right?” James stared down at Tiana as she poked one short-nailed index finger into his chest to punctuate each word.
“Uh…” Ah, hell! How did I get myself into this?
“Right?” The feral smile did not bode well for him if he didn’t agree.
James let a defeated sigh leave him, “Right.” Behind his back he crossed his fingers. I’ll just have to make sure I’m nowhere around when Mom brings it up again.
“Don’t think I don’t know you have fingers crossed behind your back.” When Tiana’s eyes narrowed with the words, James felt his own round wide in astonishment. How the hell does she do that?
Time for a distraction! James grabbed her, pulled her close and slanted his mouth over hers. He knew his ploy had worked when her lips softened beneath his and parted allowing her breath to flow into his mouth. He deepened the kiss allowing his tongue to stroke hers causing his cock to begin to harden. It never did take much to get his motor going where she was concerned.
James heard the doorknob turn. Crap! That kid has terrible timing.
He lifted his head without turning towards Dawn. “What is it, Dawn?”
“Oopss..sorry Uncle James, but there’s a client on the phone and she’s insisting that she will only talk to you.”
“I’ll be right there. Please close the door behind you.” He fought to keep his voice even, but the teenager must’ve realized she should have called the phone in the office and withdrew without another word.
He lifted his hands and stroked Tiana’s cheekbones with his thumbs helping to bring her back to the here and now.
“One of these days, I’m going to really lose my temper with that girl; her timing sucks!” Tiana growled words that were identical to what he himself was thinking.
“I know. Shall we pick this up later tonight, seeing as how you won’t have sex with me in my office?” He teased, and then listened to Tiana growl before she shoved him away from her.
“One lousy time, just one and now you’re never going to let me live it down are you?” A Tiana with her hands propped on her hips was very attractive. James couldn’t help smiling down at her, teasing her was such fun!
“Nope, besides, I might just convince you to do it again at some point!” He ended on a seductive whisper.
“Not a chance, hot shot!”
James just grinned and pointing at the telephone said, “Make your calls babe, I have to go and talk to a client.”
Copyright (c) 2010 by Regina Paul. All Rights Reserved.