Three days later, Zara reclined in the grass, her palms flat on the ground, soaking in the sun. They had taken a trip to Oak Meadow Park, a playground for toddlers and children. It had been Susan’s idea that the four of them hang out for the day along with Amy who was having the time of her life with all the other kids who were running about. Matt had backed up the idea saying that it would be good for Amy to be around kids her age since she had been stuck for quite a while in the company of adults like them.
She started when she heard Nathaniel’s voice in her ear.
He took a seat next to her, imitating her position.
“Hey.“, she responded softly, her pulse already picking up pace.
She watched Amy flee from a little girl with blonde pigtails as she tried to reach the finishing line first.
It bought a smile to her lips.
Amy tripped over her own feet and landed straight on her butt.
Zara sat up straighter.
Then Amy’s widened brown gaze flew to hers as if she had known Zara would be watching. The next second, she threw her head back and began laughing making the blonde haired girl stop running and laugh too.
Zara’s lips parted in a soft chuckle and she motioned with her head, telling Amy to continue.
Nearby Susan sat with her back against the bark of a tree, Matt’s head in her lap as they laughed seeing Amy.
It was a beautiful day.
“She adores you.”
Nathaniel’s quiet speculation made her stiffen.
Consciously relaxing her shoulders, she shrugged.
“She’s a lovely kid.“, she murmured, wanting him to lean in closer so she could inhale his scent.
It had been like this since the moment Susan had told her that she thought Nathaniel liked her. Zara couldn’t stop thinking about it. The thought occupied her every waking moment. She jerked awake in the middle of the night, her dreams filled with his beautiful face as he kissed her.
The junction between her thighs pulsed and she hated herself for feeling so wanton.
She could feel his stare on the side of her face.
“I used to come here a lot when I was a kid.“, he said in a low voice.
Zara turned to him.
He nodded, “Yeah.”
“It was like my special getaway during the weekdays.”
She took in his features. There was a light stubble on his chin. He hadn’t shaved that day. She wanted to touch it. Have it rub her cheek when he kissed her. When he licked the seam of her mouth with his tongue and let her taste him.
She flushed at the thought.
His eyes narrowed on hers and if it was possible she turned even redder.
“What are you thinking?“, he asked, his voice rough.
She’d die before she told him.
“Nothing.“, her voice came out high-pitched and squeaky.
Turning away she tried to focus on Amy.
Susan’s shout made her laugh.
“I’m right here, baby.“, Matt teased, hooking his arm around Susan’s neck and bringing her mouth to his.
She swatted his arm away and pushed him off her lap, giggling when he caught her waist and pulled her down next to him.
Zara tore her eyes away from the scene, aware of Nathaniel’s gaze focused on her.
Amy was now skipping with the blonde girl, her dark curls flying over her face as she tried to jump in time with the flick of the rope and failed. Nevertheless, she kept trying, her eyes on some of the older girls who were skipping not far from there.
They sat in silence for a while.
Zara watched Amy get tired and reached for the backpack that carried the bottles of water and the sandwiches Susan had prepared.
“Thirsty.“, Amy whispered as she came to Zara and without further ado, turned around and fell back against her, landing in the gap between her legs. Zara gave her the bottle of water, holding it up so that she could drink.
“Are you having fun?”
Amy nodded vigorously, the pink hairclip on her head shaking with the motion.
“Hey what about me?“, Matt complained in an indignant voice.
"I’m your uncle, young lady. You should come to me first.“, he huffed as he took a seat next to Zara on her other side, ruffling Amy’s curls. She giggled, making the water drip down her chin.
Zara reached out to wipe it off the same time Nathaniel did.
His hand covered hers and a jolt went through her at the contact.
Her gaze flew to his and she was unnerved when she caught a glimpse of the hunger evident in his eyes before he blinked and took his hand away.
Amy was tapping her cheek to get her attention.
“Can I have a lollipop?“,she puckered her mouth as if pleading.
Zara pretended it give it a thought, needing to get her brain to work again.
Matt answered for her.
“Only if you have your veggies tonight.“, he said with finality.
Susan slapped his shoulder.
“I’ll get you three, Amy.”
Matt glared at Susan. “Do you want to let her teeth rot?”
She rolled her eyes, “It won’t be a problem if she brushes them, dimwit.”
Her response made Matt grab her hips without any warning and pull her straight into his lap. She squealed making Amy shout with laughter.
Zara turned to Nathaniel and found him staring at his phone with a frown on his face.
“What is it?“, the words were out of her mouth before she knew it.
He looked up at her and she saw the wariness in his eyes.
“Danielle is going to be here any minute now.”
Both Susan and Matt went still. Zara felt her heart kick against her ribcage.
The bitch just had to surface when not needed.
“She just texted me saying that she’s here visiting a school friend and wants to meet up.”
He looked at Zara as he spoke.
She mustered up the indifference and hoped her eyes looked cold enough.
The surprise on Nathaniel’s face told her she had succeeded.
“I can’t wait to meet her.“, she said sarcastically.
Amy turned in her lap.
“Is Danielle a girl?”
Matt picked her up in his arms. “Yes, sweetheart. Now let’s get you that lollipop.“, he said with a smile.
Zara didn’t need to be told twice before she shouldered the backpack and followed him.
They were seated on a park bench, eating flavored yogurt when Zara saw Amy leave the group of children who were playing a few feet away from them.
Nathaniel was sipping a soft drink, leaning negligently across from her. He had tried to talk to her a few times but Zara had given him the cold shoulder. He could go kiss Danielle’s perfect butt.
Susan and Matt were discussing something about the dinner that her parents were having for Thanksgiving in a few days.
Amy had caught sight of a butterfly and seemed intent on following it wherever it led her, a brightly colored lollipop clutched in her hand.
Zara spooned off the remaining yogurt and glanced around the park. The place was packed with kids and their parents, some picnicking in the sun, some running around with their toddlers as they played make-believe games. She smiled ruefully. Her dad had done that with her sometimes. Her chest ached and she looked away, hoping to ease the pain.
She saw Amy pause at a bush where the butterfly had settled itself on a flower. She reached out to touch it making the creature’s wings flutter. Her jaw dropped and she shrunk back when it took flight again, moving in the opposite direction, back to where it had been. Letting it fly some distance, Amy stood there, bringing the lollipop to her mouth and licking it, her face a mask of wonder.
Then she moved and followed the butterfly again, lost in concentration. It was too late for Zara to call out to her to stop when she bumped, face-first, into a pair of leather-clad legs that suddenly appeared in her way. Zara stood up, the words on the tip of her tongue. The action had made Amy stumble and the lollipop in her hand was pressed to the thigh of the woman. Zara could only see the back of her profile.
She had begun to move toward them when she saw what happened next. The lady, who was definitely not another parent, given her attire which consisted of nude stilettos, grabbed the lollipop off her pants with a cry and flung it onto the grass.
Amy’s eyes widened in surprise and-Zara stiffened when she saw it-fear.
But that wasn’t what made her freeze in horror. Suddenly the woman’s hand shot out and she shoved Amy hard, making her fall back on her elbows, her head just short of hitting the ground.
The words were out of Zara’s mouth before she knew she had thought them.
"What the fuck do you think you’re doing!?"
Her body acted on impulse. She didn’t register what she had done until she had done it. Grabbing the drink from Nathaniel’s hand, her brain clouded with what she knew was pure rage, Zara suddenly found herself right in front of the woman. Then Zara’s hand jerked and she flung the cold drink right in the woman’s face. Through the loud sound of blood rushing through her ears, she heard the unmistakable gasp and then the wail that followed that told her Amy had burst into tears.
The liquid ran down clear skin and through the expensive looking shirt. The woman took off the sunglasses and Zara took a step back in surprise.
It was Danielle.
Her mouth open in an ‘O’ of surprise, Danielle gathered the soaked material of her shirt, pulling it away from her skin, her eyes shooting daggers at her.
Zara was dimly aware of Nathaniel and the others gathering around them, but her attention was focused on Amy who sat on the ground, her brown eyes overflowing with tears and her pale cheeks wet. She instantly reached down around Danielle and picked Amy in her arms, kissing her forehead and dusting her off simultaneously.
“Hush, sweetie. It’s okay. I’m here now.“, she whispered as she held Amy close, the child’s sobs seeming to slice through her.
Amy’s fingers clutched her neck and she lifted her head to look at Zara, “S-sh-she pushed me.“, she cried, her eyes still round with fear.
Zara rubbed her palm over Amy’s back, trying to soothe her, at the same time turning to Danielle who was looking at Amy with disgust on her face.
Susan and Matt looked livid.
But it was Nathaniel’s expression that made her pause.
He was staring at her as though he had just seen a ghost.
Zara ignored him.
“You bitch!“, Danielle spat at her.
Amy’s sobs stilled and she jerked in Zara’s embrace, her fingers clutching her right elbow.
Zara looked down and saw the angry red marks on her skin where she had gotten hurt by the fall.
Her anger intensified.
Danielle continued, “How dare you ruin my shirt!?”
Zara held Amy’s hand, causing the child to look at her. Her eyes were still watery and her nose was beginning to run. Reaching into her pocket, Zara pulled out a tissue and gently wiped her wet cheeks and the corners of her eyes before wiping her nose. In her peripheral vision, she saw the people beginning to gather around them.
Danielle continued her tirade, “It’s her fucking fault! Can’t she see-”
“You know something, Danielle?“, Zara’s soft question made her stop abruptly.
“I feel sorry for your parents.“, Zara let her eyes roam over the taller girl’s figure.
Beside her Matt, Susan and Nathaniel had gone completely still.
“You must be such a disappointment to them.“, she continued in a calm voice that belied the raging need to grab the bitch’s hair, pull her down and knee her in the face.
The reddening of Danielle’s cheeks sent satisfaction coursing through her veins.
Zara took a deep breath.
Then she turned to Susan.
“Come on. This spot has been tainted.”
Danielle who was still glaring at her suddenly turned around and grabbed Nathaniel’s arm.
“Aren’t you going to say something to her?!“, she hissed.
Zara looked at Nathaniel once more. He was still staring at her like she had just landed from Mars.
Then his next statement floored her.
“Get your claws off me.” he turned to Danielle, his voice was rough, like gravel.
A sliver of heat slid up Zara’s neck.
For the second time, Danielle’s jaw dropped in surprise.
With a soft impatient laugh, Zara brought her hand to Amy’s cheek and kissed the top of her head.
“Let’s go, darling. I’ll get you another candy bar.”
She continued the soothing stroke on Amy’s cheek till the little girl smiled, albeit weakly.
Then Zara turned around and left, the others following her.
A/N:- VOTE AND COMMENT! What do you guys think? :-D