Who knew meeting a child would the scariest thing I’d ever face?
I was nervous because I didn’t have too much experience with children. As an only child, I never had brothers or sisters my parents would keep in my charge of. In fact, I didn’t know the last time I truly interacted with anyone under the age of ten. Don mentioned Leilani loved cookies. And with that information, I was on a mission.
I spent the entirety of last night baking cookies. I was too anxious to fall asleep and I was paying the price the next day. Needless to say, I was tired as shit but a cup of coffee every now and then would help right?
I tried to hold in a yawn but it was pointless. Blinking rapidly, my eyes watered and I covered my mouth to try and keep quiet. Don noticed and gave me a once over.
“Tired,” he said but not in a questioning way. More so that he was making an observation. Covering my yawn with my forearm, I nodded and my shoulders slumped with exhaustion.
“You’ll need to get me some coffee for at least every hour or so,”
Don smiled and pulled me closer to him, careful not to crash into the trays of cookies I was juggling with one arm. He kissed the crown of my head before going to my neck, sinking his teeth into my skin. The act was so pleasurable it provoked another sigh from me. Knowing the effect he had on me, Don chuckled and pulled away.
“You’ll be fine,” He said, rubbing my arms in a reassuring manner. “She’ll love you, especially since you’ve brought cookies.”
“Yeah, I think I went overboard,” I said, staring down at the trays. Stepping back for some space, I continued to juggle the trays while removing the aluminum foil to check how they were doing. “It wasn’t too difficult to bake but—”
Before I could stop him, Don swooped in and stole a cookie. “Hey, that’s not for you!”
“Hmm,” he groaned in pleasure, his eyes rolling to the back of his head. “These are fantastic!”
I couldn’t be annoyed with him. Mostly because of the swelling in my chest at him compliment. I also couldn’t help fishing for me. “Really? How fantastic?”
“Urgh,” I said, wrinkling my nose and pushed him with my free hand. “You’re such a pig.”
Don tried to reach for more but I stepped back once again. “Well, that explains why Leilani seems to have a cookie addiction.”
“Baby, you have enough to feed an entire village,”
“Yeah, well…” I trailed off, knowing that he had a point. “Okay, okay, here.”
I handed over one of the trays and he took them eagerly. Shaking my head, he continued down the narrow corridor that led to the living room. I followed behind but nearly dropped the tray, scared out of my mind when he bellowed. “Yo! Vanessa brought some cookies.”
Before I could say anything, he took another from my tray and winked at me. I glared and walked past him only to be attacked by the force of the club. Like deadly bees swarming towards an innocent flower, the men came out of nowhere and headed my way.
A part of me wanted to drop the cookies and dash away with the intent set in their rabid gaze. Instead, I held up a hand and yelled. “No, no, these,” I said, shoving the tray I held to my side. It seemed quite pointless to hold them over my shoulder since they were giants. “Aren’t for you. Go to him.”
They didn’t wait another second to go around me and head for Don. Since I’d been in the clubhouse before, I knew my way around the main rooms. I walked to the kitchen to set down the tray before returning to the living room. It was complete chaos.
You’d think these grown ass men were children by the way they were acting. Folding my arms, I stood back and watched them like they were the main show. Now, if only I had some popcorn…
“Nigga, give me the fucking tray!”
“Hold on a minute, man, back up,”
“You took ten!”
“And what? My girlfriend made them for me. I get the majority.”
Rolling my eyes, I marched towards them, weaving my way through the crowd before standing in front of Don. Taking the tray from his hands, I stood back and turned to the guys and yelled. “Hey!”
At my command, their voices died down. Pausing, they watched me with a frown.
“All of y’all, sit down right now,” I said, staring at each and every one of them in the eyes. From behind, Don’s chuckle reached my ears. I didn’t turn to him but waited until all the guys took their seats. Taking in a long breath, I smiled. “Thank you.”
Making a quick mention that these were mostly for Leilani, I made my rounds with the guys as they took a couple of handfuls. As I was making my rounds with most of the guys, it wasn’t difficult to take note that Goliath was the last one.
Suddenly, I remembered our last encounter and couldn’t help but feel a rush of annoyance. In my mind, I’d programmed myself to have instant dislike for him and view him as the enemy. My muscles tightened and my smile died. He seemed to take note of my day to night behaviour but didn’t make a comment about it.
“Here,” I said, shoving the tray into his lap and before he could say anything else, I walked past him. The boys behind me erupted with a voluminous ‘oooh!’ as I headed into the kitchen to check that Leilani’s cookies hadn’t mysteriously disappeared.
“Someone didn’t get no special treatment,” I heard one of the men comment behind me before another round of laughter lightened the atmosphere.
Was it petty? Yes. Extremely unnecessary? Yes but I didn’t care. The man was unnecessarily rude to me and I was just returning the favour. I was pushing my karmic effect earlier than intended even if the meant my pay back was pretending not to give him some cookies.
As I headed back to the kitchen, a hand clamped around my wrist and tugged me to a stop. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw Don watching me with questioning eyes.
So much for trying to escape the situation.
Folding his arms, he asked. “What was that for?”
“What was what?” I asked, feigning innocence.
Don jerked his chin over my shoulder, to Goliath who sat behind me. “Baby, don’t play dumb. The entire club saw what you did.”
Tightening my lips, I shrugged. “I was tired.”
“Uh huh,” Don said, narrowing his eyes as he gave me a once over. Tilting his head to the side, he continued. “So it had nothing to with what he said to you.”
“Absolutely nothing,” I lied, walking past his frame while deciding for a new destination—his room. “When is she coming?”
At my question, he reached into his back pocket, pulling out his phone to check the time. “Leilani should be here in five.”
Nodding, I said. “I’m just gonna put my stuff away.”
Before he could say anything else, I continued walking, remembering his room from the last time I was in the club. That was before I left, before I was furious that he didn’t let me know he had a daughter. Now, I was back to meet his kid. It all came around in a full circle.
“We’re home!” I heard a familiar voice. Later I realised it was the voice of his mother, Crystal. From my position standing next to the door of the kitchen, I could see her walk into the living room with a duffle bag and seemingly holding on to something else. Or rather someone else.
As she stepped into the living room, instantly, her eyes met mine. They widened in surprise. “Vanessa? What are you—”
“Ma,” called and interceded before she could get the chance to finish her sentence. He approached her, took the duffle bag off her shoulder and swung it over his before leaning in to kiss her cheek. “Thanks, I’ve got it from here.”
“No problem,” Crystal said, sounding distracted or more so confused. Her eyes took in the mess around, watching each of the guys before looking at Don and then faced me. Without even saying a word, I knew what sort of questions she was asking: why are you here?
According to her, I had no reason to be here. To her, the only association I had with the club was Marcus and he is dead. I had a feeling she knew about Don and me but I left and… well, until now I wasn’t coming to the clubhouse that often. She seemed truly surprised to see me and I was uncomfortable.
“You gonna say goodbye before dropping her home,” Crystal asked, tearing her gaze away from me to face Don.
“Yeah,” Don emphasised his answer with a nod. With one final look at me, finally, she spun on her heels and headed out the door. Releasing a long heavy sigh, I walked towards Don. Since Goliath’s big head was blocking the bottom half of the door, I couldn’t see Leilani but when my view was unobscured, I couldn’t help the smile stretching across my face.
She was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. She had his eyes; light brown eyes that were paired with a heavy set of lashes. Her hair was dark, almost black, but wild curls that could only be tamed into a low ponytail. Considering her complexion was much lighter to her father’s—and Don’s complexion is considerable fair— her mother was of a different race. White? Latina? I couldn’t pinpoint but I could only compare to how fair Halsey’s skin tone is despite having a biracial father.
“This is her,” Don said, looking at Leilani. Moving to stand in front of her, he crouched low and signed while saying. “This is my girlfriend, Vanessa.”
She blinked at me, very curious of who I was and probably why her daddy decided to kiss another girl other than her mommy. With a sheepish smile,
“Hi, love, how are you?”
“I am Leilani,” she voiced aloud while signing her words. Fascinated with the movements of her hand, I lifted my gaze to hers once again and my smile broadened into a grin. Even though I already knew her name, I wouldn’t mind hearing her introduction over and over again if it meant hearing her little voice. “And I’m fine.”
Smiling, I glanced over my shoulder and Don had an unusual look I couldn’t read. Straightening to my full height, I walked to the kitchen counter and pulled out a couple of cookies for Leilani to try. “I made these for you.”
Leilani’s eyes brightened and she held out both hands. I placed the cookies in her grasp and she didn’t hesitate to start munching away. All awhile her attention was directed to one thing, I focused mine on Don’s.
“She rarely speaks. She mostly signs,” he said, his eyes glued to his daughter with a look of surprise.
“Maybe she’s speaking knowing I can’t read ASL,” I said and shrugged. “But I wouldn’t mind learning if she’s more comfortable signing?”
“No,” he said and shook his head. “I want her to speak more. She’s gotten so good at reading lips but I want her to learn to adapt to a change in environment.”
“Well, you don’t need to worry about us,” I said, standing on my toes so I could kiss his cheeks. However, Don had other plans though. Swiftly, he turned so our lips would brush against each other. Not expecting this—and knowing very well that his daughter was watching us—I pulled back and glanced at Leilani. However, she was too immersed in the plate of cookies.
“You’re acting as if I just cussed in front of her,”
I turned to him with raised brows. “Do you?”
“A couple may have slipped here and there,”
“Alright, mama, chill out,” he said with a light laughed and kissed my temple. “I let her know that those words are bad and that she shouldn’t use them.”
“That doesn’t mean she wouldn’t,” I muttered under my breath and felt his lips to my temples one last time.”
“I need to go and talk to the guys. I’ll be back soon,”
And with that, Don walked away, giving me enough time to interact with Leilani and learn more about her.
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