Saturday, August 7, 2010

Destiny's Decisions Chapter Three...

Chapter Three
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.”
“Chicken!”
“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.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Destiny's Decisions Chapter Two...

James smiled a bit when Tiana pulled away. She still wasn’t completely comfortable with public romantic displays. She seemed to have some idea that their tribe might think less of her and her abilities to do her spiritual work if they saw her being affectionate with her fiancĂ© in public.
“Good lord, what the hell happened here?” Ken said, coming to stand next to James.
“Looks like someone still has it in for Tiana.”
“Yes, I’d say so from the look of things here. Damn. Well, let’s go inside and take a look.” He turned to Tiana. “We’ll need you to come inside and help us catalog everything, tell us what’s missing and so on. Think you can do that?” Ken asked eyeing her with sympathy.
“Yes.” James heard Tiana sigh and then watched as she made a sweeping motion with one hand. “After you. You guys are the experts after all. I wouldn’t want to mess up any evidence by accident.” She said shooting a sour look at James.
James grinned before following Ken into the gallery. He noted that the inside actually looked worse than the outside if that was possible. When something gritted beneath his feet he looked down and found an off white powder. He pulled the latex gloves out of his back pocket and put them back on. He reached down and fingered some of the powder. He brought it up to his nose, except for a slight earthy odor, it had little smell.
“It’s pottery dust.” Tiana’s voice whispered from in front of him, and he looked where she was pointing to a small piece of broken pottery with rust and black coloring on its pale surface.
“Jesus, the perp left just enough small pieces of broken pottery so we would know what we were looking at.” Ken commented.
Mixed in with the pottery powder and shards on the floor were slivers and shards of broken glass from Tiana’s display cases.
James dusted off his hands and followed Tiana over to one of the destroyed display cases. Inside lay what had been intricate pieces of beadwork, five belts and what looked like some peyote stitched chokers, and earrings as well. Someone had pulled or cut the beadwork from the leather and destroyed most of the patterns on the belts and the chokers leaving small glass seed beads to litter the bottom of the display case. Nothing was left of the earrings but their hooks and loose beads.
“All that beautiful work destroyed.” Tiana murmured her voice tight with grief.
“This has personal vendetta written all over it.” Ken said, coming to stand next to them, holding what was left of a piece of blue and green quillwork. “The perp had a harder time with the quillwork, some of it like this piece still has parts attached to the leather.” He gestured to the piece he was holding.
“Quillwork is harder to destroy because it is sewn on very tightly and the quills are longer than seed beads.” Tiana said dully.
“All right Tiana, I’m assuming you have a listing and pictures of what was here?” Ken asked a minute later.
“Yes, I keep both on me at all times after what happened last year. I didn’t want to take a chance if another incident happened of the proof of what was here also getting destroyed or stolen.” Tiana went to pull it from her purse and realized she didn’t have it with her. “Hang on a sec, I’ve got to go and get my purse out of the truck.” She turned and walked back through the doorway where her front door was hanging.
Glass crunched beneath her boots as she walked back to her truck. The door on the driver’s side was exactly as she had left it, and she pulled it open and relief poured through her when she saw her purse and cell phone sitting on the seat where she had left them. Reaching in she grabbed both and then locked the truck. She might live on the rez and, in a rural area but that didn’t mean that thefts didn’t happen. It was always better to err on the side of caution and keep things locked up. She had friends that thought nothing of leaving their front doors and vehicle doors unlocked at night, but she had never been one to push her luck.
As she walked back into the gallery she pulled the listing for her gallery and the small photo album that she kept there at all times and handed both to Ken. “Here you go.”
“So do you think anything is missing?”
Tiana shook her head taking another look around the room and its destruction. “I honestly don’t know.” She finally answered. “So much is destroyed beyond recognition that there’s no way to know for certain.”
Ken nodded. “That’s what I figured, but I was kind of hoping you had it all in your head and would be able to tell.”
“Nope, whoever did this knew exactly what they were doing. They did such a good job of destroying everything I’ll probably never know for sure if anything was actually taken.”
“Okay. We’ll you’ve reported it and I’m going to take some photographs and if you don’t mind I’ll keep this list and the pictures until I can copy them and we’ll go from there.” Ken said, still shaking his head.
“How long do you think you’ll need them? I’m sure my insurance company is going to want to see them.” Tiana said wearily.
“Just a day or so. As soon as I can get back to the office I’ll have one of our clerical staff copy everything and get it all back to you.”
“That’ll work.” Tiana circled her head a few times trying to dispel the stiffness in her neck.
She watched blindly as Ken went to his car and got a digital camera and began snapping pictures of what was left of her gallery. Strong brown hands landed on her shoulders pulling her back against James’ larger body. “It’ll be okay.” He whispered in her ear.
The old Tiana would have just shrugged him off and walked away, but the new Tiana leaned into his heat and allowed it to support her. “I hope you’re right, because I am really really getting tired of this.”
“I know sweetie. Believe me I’m not exactly enamored of having to deal with this again. I was hoping that with Starla in jail the rest would just go away.” He sighed. “Logically though I knew it couldn’t be over there were too many loose ends. We both knew there were others involved and that there was the chance that at some point something else was going to happen.”
“I know, but I was really hoping. I mean after a year with nothing happening I just kept hoping whoever the others were had left the rez and took their violence elsewhere. Not very healer-like of me was it?” Tiana ended on a whisper.
James rubbed her shoulders giving comfort where he could. “You’re only human Tiana, being a healer doesn’t make you any less so. It doesn’t make those thoughts or feelings go away, it just makes you more aware of the right and wrong of such feelings and thoughts, more so than the rest of us.”
“Yeah, I guess.” She turned and rubbed her cheek against his chest before pulling away and squaring her shoulders.
“Hey Ken, when can I start cleaning this mess up?” She asked turning towards the man who was still snapping pictures.
“As soon as I can get a team in here to see if we can find anything I suppose. Once the techs have gotten what they can then you can come in and clean up. I don’t really think we’re going to find much, but…” Ken shrugged. “we’ll see if we can find something.”
James reached inside his pocket and withdrew the plastic bag with the earring. “Tiana found this outside on the sidewalk. It might be nothing, but who knews it could belong to the perp.”
Ken took the bag and held it up to the light. “Pretty.” He commented before tucking it into his own pocket. “Okay, I think I have enough photographs. Tiana you should just go home and relax, work on the wedding or something. It’s going to be a while before you or your insurance adjuster can do anything. I’ll call you as soon as the coast is clear.”
“Call me too.” James called as Ken waved in acknowledgement before getting into his patrol car.
“I think you should come to the office with me.” James stated. “I don’t like the idea of you being at the house all day brooding about this. At least there you can sit in one of the empty offices and work on our wedding and I’ll be there if you need me.” He smiled and wiggled his eyebrows at her.
“I am not having sex with you in your office.” Tiana said baldly. “Besides what the hell am I supposed to after I make the oh, let’s see two or three phone calls I need to make that are wedding related, chat with Dawn of the little brain?” She smiled vacuously with blank bright eyes, imitating the teenager’s bubbly but airhead personality, and always happy but blank expression. “Besides she’s got a thing for you.” She ended sourly, “And I really do not enjoy listening to a conversation where the universe is run by James Waters who do anything and everything including walking on water.”
James tried not to laugh and was unsuccessful. “Now that’s just mean.” He croaked out. “She’s a great receptionist and very bright and positive which is what we need to help get new clients.”
“I don’t care if she is one of us, I swear there’s a blonde in there somewhere!” Tiana muttered, before she burst out laughing with James. “Sorry, but you should have heard her the last time we had a conversation.” Tiana rolled her eyes. “I swear the way she went on, you’d have thought your mother was the virgin, and you were Christ reincarnated.”
“Well I have to say it’s nice to be a God.” James said with a straight face and twinkling eyes.
Tiana shoved his shoulder hard and then pointed one finger at him. “Don’t you start!”
“So you coming to the office with me?”
“Yeah, I can make my calls from there. I don’t really want to be at the house alone right now anyway I’ll just keep thinking about this mess.” She gestured towards the destroyed gallery.
“Good then we can have sex in my office!” James whispered in her ear.
Tiana smacked his shoulder hard. “Will you stop it? I am not, I repeat I am not having sex in your office with Dawn just outside the door!”
“Well that certainly didn’t stop you two weeks ago.” James reminded her with a wide grin.
“Oh, shut up!”

Copyright (c) 2010 by Regina Paul. All Rights Reserved.