The day after Ava and Langston’s wedding reception
The streaming sunlight peeking through the heavy drapes was a definite indication that Karen should’ve been up by now. Stretching her limbs like a lazy cat sunbathing on a windowsill, Karen opened one eye. Nine-thirty was the time on the clock on the nightstand. Rolling onto her right side, curling back into her feline ball, she pulled the cozy comforter up past her shoulders.
A soft sigh and hint of a smile curled her lips as last night’s dream floated through her mind. She would never admit it to anyone; she didn’t even want to admit it to herself. But she had it bad, real bad for a certain man. A man she desperately fought to keep at a distance. The harder she fought; the more he was there, inching his way into her life.
Karen let out a girlish giggle as she remembered the first time she laid eyes on Dom. To say he had scared the daylights out of her would be an understatement. The piercing scream she let loose hadn’t been so much from being startled by a dangerous intruder. It was more so because the intruder was a Greek god holding a golf club in mid-swing. Tiger Woods wished he looked that good on his best day. Closing her eyes, she let out a sound that was a hybrid between a moan and a purr. The rippling muscles, six-pack abs, and bronze skin were all so very vivid behind her closed lids.
Her girlish giggle became a shameful groan. She had nearly neutered the man. And to make matters worse, when she learned who he was she had tried to down play her major blunder. To Dom’s credit he’d left the room, albeit not too happy, to return fully dressed, apologizing for yelling at her. Karen waved him off, telling him there was no need to apologize.
Since that day Karen hadn’t been able to get Dominic Peretti, Jr. out of her thoughts or her dreams. Thinking about him day and night wasn’t enough. Oh noooo, her body had to get all tingly whenever he was around. Last evening was no different.
Oh man, if she thought the object of her nightly fantasies was fine in a tattered Howard University sweatshirt and faded jeans, her mind was totally blown when he showed up at the church looking like a million – no forget that – a billion bucks in his designer black tuxedo. One thing Karen couldn’t deny, the man was absolutely beyond gorgeous. Not in a pretty boy way, but rather in a ruggedly handsome way. He definitely was the only man in the room who could rock a five o’clock shadow in formal attire and not come off as unkempt. He looked like one of those sexy cologne models.
Pulling a pillow to her chest and squeezing it tightly, Karen pretended it was Dom. Was it possible to swoon while lying in bed? If not, she definitely was the first to do so. A slight shiver ran down her spine as she remembered what it felt like to be in his arms as they danced the traditional bridal party dance.
It had been years since she’d been in another man’s personal space. Lord have mercy. The towering, hard, muscular frame of his body along with his clean masculine scent was overpowering. If her heart had beat any faster, it would’ve burst clean out of her chest for sure!
The closer Dom held her, the more she tried to fight what she had been feeling for months. Was it right to have feelings for a man who had stepped in and become a surrogate father to her children, especially her son? What if they started dating and things went sour real fast? Then where would that leave her children?
Since transferring to the east coast division of the engineering firm where he was employed, Dom had been spending most of his free time with Kyle. And on occasion they included Alicia in their outings.
Karen was grateful for Dom’s interest in her children, especially Kyle. At times she was at the end of her rope not knowing what to do with him, because the child had become a holy terror.
Taking Ava’s advice, she had taken her son to see a child psychologist. Initially Kyle was stubborn and gave the psychologist a hard way to go. But as the psychologist engaged the child and began to peel layer after layer away it became evident that Kyle was acting out because he couldn’t remember his father and was envious of his younger cousins having fathers.
Karen’s heart broke into a million pieces when her baby broke down crying after one of his sessions, wanting to know, “Mommy, why did my daddy have to die! I want a daddy like everyone else!” All this time she thought Kyle was fine because Kevin and Nick always included him whenever they did activities with NJ and Kalvin. Kyle always seemed to have had a good time hanging out with them. The psychologist explained to Karen that although Kyle may have enjoyed himself, he still didn’t have his own daddy.
Since Dom has been coming around and doing things with the kids, Karen noticed a drastic change in Kyle. Each day he was becoming more like the sweet and adorable child he had been before that angry spirit had begun to take over. And all because of Dom. No way could Karen jeopardize her son’s progress and what was good for him because she had the hots for Dom.
She would just have to continue to keep her feelings to herself. She had to do what any good mother would do: put her children first.
Dom’s calves burned as he pedaled his mountain bike through the bike trail in Fairmount Park. From the speed at which he was traveling one would have thought the fires of Hades were nipping at his heels. No, it wasn’t fire that was nipping at him, but rather a lovely mother of two young children.
For months he had done everything short of beg Karen to go out with him. With each proposition she turned him down flat. If he had been a lesser man his ego would’ve been severely bruised. Big time.
See, what Karen didn’t know was that Dom was a very patient man when it came to something he wanted. And he wanted Karen. And truth be told, Karen wanted him too. Although she tried to act aloof, she wasn’t fooling anyone but herself.
Trusting him with her children, stolen glances when she thought he wasn’t looking, and sudden nervous jitters when he was around all pointed to signs that she was feeling him just as much as he was feeling her.
And last night as they danced for just a split second she allowed herself to slip. Dom could still hear her soft sigh as she melted into his embrace. Pedaling faster he tried to rid his body of the feel of her soft breasts, flat stomach and thighs pressing into his rock-hard body. She felt like heaven in his arms. This rare opportunity to get so close to her was a dream come true.
Just when he had her where he wanted her, had her in a vulnerable position, his luck changed like the Chicago wind. The magical spell was broken when the DJ switched songs and started blasting the music to the Mississippi stomp.
Taking a sharp turn down the thin bike trail, Dom clenched his teeth. “Jackass.” He was so close! No way would she have turned him down for a date if he asked within the next few seconds. The way she was holding onto him, dreamily swaying to the love ballad, he could have asked her to stand on her head in the corner and she would’ve gladly done so.
As soon as the popular line dance song had begun to play Karen snapped out of her daze and started snapping her fingers. “Ooh, I love this dance.”
And with that, Dom stalked off the dance floor as Karen stayed behind joining in the line dance with the others.
Pedaling even faster to gain momentum to tackle the hill ahead of him, Dom growled, “Damn DJ blocking my play like that.”
Half standing, half pedaling, Dom concentrated on getting up the hill. Reaching the peak of the hill, he leaned forward, preparing himself for the steep downhill ride. It must’ve been the adrenaline rush of going down the steep hill at rapid speed that caused the craziest idea to pop into his head.
Dom’s brooding mood evaporated. A wide grin split his handsome face. “Why didn’t I think of that before?”