Focus (Le Corbeau, #1) ✓

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5. Mood Swings

A few days passed since I last saw Bruce but I didn’t spend my time obsessing over what happened that night. I had other things to worry about. The first was driving my mama to her therapy session Thursday morning and then dealing with my rapid cycle. I was exhausted and couldn't fight the sadness consuming when I was at my lowest. Alexis was aware of my state and forced me to take my pills. Fortunately, this time, they were effective and I slept throughout most of the day. During these times, I saw Yusuf but for some reason, he didn’t show.

John was building the shed and I made a mental note to be free whenever he needed my help. It was Saturday and I stood outside Salice’s front door, knocking twice as I waited patiently. She opened the door and her blue eyes widened a fraction when she saw me.

“Hi, come in,” She shuffled to the side and hesitantly, I stepped inside. Well, it was hers and her brother's as it was the house they grew up in. It looked the same from what I last remembered and with that little fact, it was comforting. “Sorry for the mess, I forgot you were coming over,”

“It’s fine,” I paused for a second. “How is Jonah?”

“He’s in his room sleeping,” Salice replied, picking some toys and dumping them to the side to create a little more space. “Sit down, there’s no need to be awkward in this place. This is your home too,”

Slowly, as I sunk into the plush couch, I asked. “Is Bruce home?”

“No, he’s either at the gym or at the mechanics.” She yelled from the kitchen and returned with a tray of coffee and tea cups. “You left so suddenly… you didn’t say goodbye,”

She handed me a cup and I took with gratefully with a small, tight smile.

“I had to leave,” I sighed, running my fingers through my hair nervously. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for…”

“Bruce told you,” It was a statement, more than a question. It was eerie how calm she was about the topic which only made me more nervous to bring it up.

“He went to prison for you,”

“I told him to leave it but he wouldn’t listen. Stubborn son of a bitch,” She grumbled. “He’s in a critical condition. He can’t live his life like he used to,”

“I say good riddance,” I spat venomously. She glanced at me, astonished by my hostility. I had no tolerance for that kind of shit. I felt no remorse just because he was human. Bruce could’ve set him ablaze and I’d laughed out of pure amusement. Sick, I know, but an eye for an eye.

“Enough about me,” Her smile chased away the demons of her past. “What have you been up to for the last seven years?”

“Travelling and jumping from job to job but that’s it,”

She laughed, the corners of her eyes crinkling with genuine happiness. We were polar opposites in every sense; she was joyful whilst I continued to stay miserable. I admired her being able to smile through the darkness. I was learning but failing. Didn’t hurt to try.

“Nothing exciting happening?” she asked and I shook my head. “Any new boyfriends?”

“None that lasted longer than a one night stand,” I quipped.

She leaned back, looking up and down my body with keen raised brows. I hit her arm jokingly and she retaliated.

“Mama…”

A little boy entered the room sleepily, his light brown hair tousled in all directions and one sharp blue eye shifting to me as he scratched the other. Little Jonah, I thought. I refrained from aw-ing and Salice opened her arms welcomingly as he ran into them. I laughed fondly at their interaction and he stared at me curiously. From his small form, I guessed he was five years old. His shoulders lifted as he shrunk away shyly and Salice attacked his cheeks with endless kisses. He was her silver lining in her darkest time. She couldn’t dwell on the bad with him around.

“Jonah, this is my friend, McKenna,”

“Hi,” He said in a quiet tone but my smile didn’t falter.

“Hello, are you okay?”

“Tired,”

We both laughed at his answer. He was so adorable. The temptation to pinch his cheeks was unbearable. He frowned before pulling away from his mama. Salice tried to tame dark locks but gave up with a frustrated huff.

“You want to eat anything?”

He nodded, jumping away from the couch. “Can we have pasta?”

“Sure,” Salice glanced at me from the corner of her eyes. “I could use some help?”

“I can’t cook,” I said honestly.

“I’ll teach you,”

Grabbing my wrist, we sauntered into the kitchen whilst Jonah happily ran. As every other kid, he was full of energy and when he was comfortable with you, he could talk… a lot.

From the outside, cooking looked so simple but putting me near a stove and a knife was asking for disaster. Okay, I could whip up one or two meals but that was as far as my ‘cooking skills’ could go. Salice learned that when I overcooked the first pot of pasta. So, I sat on one of the stools, picking Jonah’s little body effortlessly and placing him on my lap. He was comfortable with the extra boost in height. Thirty minutes later, she gave us our hot meals.

“Is there some pasta for Bwuce?” He asked, replacing his ‘r’ with a ‘w’. I stiffened.

“Of course, baby,” Salice ran her fingers through his inky black hair. “I made lots for him. Eat up!”

“Do you know when he’ll be back?” I asked, impassively but she narrowed her eyes.

“Around an hour or two,” She bit her bottom lip in thought. “McKenna-”

“I can’t stay long. I promised John I’d help him with some things,”

A pang of regret shot through me when her eyes lowered in disappointment but she nodded in understanding. “Okay, will you come around again?”

It was difficult to ignore the hope in her eyes, even more, when Jonah angled his head to gaze at me expectantly. Salice was my only friend, I wasn’t going to say no, and maybe, hopefully, seeing her would lift the dark cloud I couldn’t get past.

I sent them a crooked smile. “Sure.”




I came home to find John in the back garden, grabbing his tools and equipment that he’d use to build his shed. Peeling my leather jacket off, I tossed it to the couch and looked over his shoulder, frowning at his frantic state.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Ah, damn it, I forgot to buy the screwdriver,” John groaned, scratching his salt and pepper beard with a slight frown.

“If you want, I can head to the store to buy one?”

“Nah, you stay here, I’ll be quick,” Removing his glasses, he placed them on the counter. “Read the instructions briefly so you’ll have an idea what will happen today.”

Nodding, I turned my back to him as he left. It was midday all over Lousiana, meaning the temperature was at its highest and I wore denim shorts with a white tank top. Under the sun, my caramel skin darkened into a golden brown shade but for protection, I applied sunblock.

Gladys appeared on the threshold of the kitchen door with Bruce who had an arm wrapped around her shoulder. I didn't realise when they came in but I ignored them, casting my eyes to the instructions. My nonchalance didn’t protect me from the heat of his eyes. I made the right decision leaving our ‘date night’ or even if I could call it so.

“Thanks for helping my dad with his project,” Gladys said, her voice grating my ears.

“No problem, I’ve got a little time to spare,” He replied and his eyes darted to me briefly. “Are you going to help?”

“No, I’ve got to head to the salon,” She sighed apologetically. “Work,” She threw a warning glare at me.

They said their goodbyes and I heard her retreating footsteps, leaving me completely alone with him. His presence was more potent now and I could feel, rather than hear, his footsteps approaching.

“You left,”

“Don’t even bother,” I swivelled on my heels to face him. “Obviously, I mean very little to you if you’re still hanging around her,”

He glared, his silver irises darkening dangerously to what looked like stormy grey. His jaw clenched with tension before he spoke. “You left. You didn’t call back and you ignored me when I did try to talk to you,”

“I know but if you want to start whoring around, does it have to be Gladys? There’s something wrong up there to mess between step-sisters,” I tapped my skull for emphasis.

“I didn’t sleep with her!” He growled, grasping my upper arms tightly but I didn’t display my pain. “I haven’t looked at another woman since you came back,"

“Don’t flatter me,”

Shrugging out of his hold, I turned away and glanced down at the equipment but he wasn't gonna let things go. Spinning me by my waist, he tossed me over his shoulder like I weighed nothing and took long strides towards the kitchen. Shocked, I held onto his waist for support.

“What hell are you doing? Let me down!”

“Shut up!” He growled and a sharp stinging sensation seared through my backside, stunning me into silence.

Stalking through the kitchen and through the living room, he dropped my body onto the couch. I stared up at him quizzically as he swooped down, leaning over me with his lips inches from mine. Adrenaline coursed through my veins, fuelling my rapid heartbeat.

He didn’t wait another second. His lips crashed against mine in a heated kiss. My arms quivered as I became a prisoner under his touch and gasped which gave his tongue access. The emotions bubbling between us diverted into something deeper, sensual.

His hands explored my body and his fingers skimmed the curve of my breasts, my thighs, my hips then they gripped my waist. I broke the kiss, feeling overwhelmed and gasping for air. He stared at me, his chest heaving with short, heavy breaths.

I didn’t think over my next decision. Hooking my thumbs inside the denim shorts I wore, I tugged them down and pulled my shirt over my shoulders. I didn’t wear a bra. My nipples were hard with my body corrupt with desire. His widened eyes devoured me. I pulled him closer so our noses were inches from touching.

“Do your worse,”

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