Provocation (18+)

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8. Hesitation

This is probably a mistake, Leila thought to herself as she closed her car door.

Much to her own dismay, she had called Nate’s friend Russell. After her last ‘date’, she had been feeling a little down and needed some fun. It didn’t have to be a dick date, just two people who may or may not get along well enough to screw later on down the line.

The line possibly being tonight.

The two had made plans a few days after Leila’s breakdown in her bathroom and she tried to tell herself that this date had nothing to do with sticking it to Nate, but she was only fooling herself.

Walking into the lowly lit tavern, Leila’s eyes scanned the room for Russ and she found him in a corner booth in the darkest recesses of the establishment.

She strode with a purpose she didn’t feel over to him and- gentleman that he was- he stood to greet her, holding out a hand and kissing the back of her knuckles. It was a sweet and surprising gesture and one Leila was ultimately unaccustomed to. By any men she had fucked.

“Leila, how have you been since I last saw you?” Russ asked her after he took a seat across from her.

“I’ve been okay,” she said. She shrugged her shoulders, not being a fan of small talk much. “And you?” It was only polite to ask back.

Ugh. She hated that awkward first few minutes, even if she had met this man before.

“Doing splendidly,” Russ told her, all rakish half-grin and twinkling eyes. “I leave in another week and am heading back home. Nate’s been particularly distant lately so I’ve been left to my own devices.”

“Are you staying with him or did you rent a hotel room?” she asked. Might as well get that out of the way. She was not going to head home with him if he was bunking with the Charleses and she tried not to bring anyone home to her place. She’d been burned before when a ‘date’ she had gone on had gotten too attached. There was no making that mistake again.

“Airbnb,” Russ told her as a server came over to take their drink orders. “Jack and Coke and... Leila?”

“Uhm, I’ll have a cosmo,” she told the server, a man who looked to be in his early twenties. “Skyy vodka, please,” she specified.

Making his notes, the server left and Leila’s gaze fell back on Russ’.

“You don’t take me as one for girly drinks,” he told her.

“I’m flexible and I’m not in the mood for beer,” she told him and looked around the bar. It was not one she frequented and she didn’t recognize any of the faces there.


“So... what’s the deal with you and Nate?” Russ asked, eliciting a scowl from Leila.

“Must we talk about the devil? He’s not here so I don’t see why the topic of that ass has to come up so soon in conversation. At least lets get a drink or two in me before you bombard me with questions about him.”

“Well, I just figured we’d get all the unpleasantries out of the way first,” he said with a wink. “Then we can touch on much firmer and well... much more comfortable ground.”

Smiling, Leila thought about that. It would be a good icebreaker for their conversation and he did have a point. Working up to the nastier topics could put her off her game if they came up later. This way, they could get it out of the way and get down to the good stuff.

“I suppose you have a point,” she told him, nodding. “What do you want to know?”

The server came back with their drinks and placed them down before Russ gave the man a large bill, telling him to keep the change.

“Why does Nate seem to have hold resentment toward you? And if I’m not mistaken, you hold the same sort against him.” Russ took a sip of his drink and placed it back down.

“I can only answer for myself,” Leila said. “Why he holds resentment towards me, I can only theorize. But for me... I had a crush on him when I was 16 or so. Typical cliche bullshit, falling for your best friend’s brother. Didn’t last long. He went off to college and was suddenly too good for everyone else. Treated me like I was some sort of pet. I hate his condescending attitude toward me, almost as much as I hate this new Nate who seems to be under the impression I slept with half of California.”

“Hmm... and you reckon he hates you because he thinks you’ll sleep with any half-decent man with a pulse and no ring on his finger?” Russ questioned, looking dubious. “I doubt it’s that.”

“Oh yeah, Dr. Phil? What do you think it is then?”

“I think that if he didn’t care about you in some way, he wouldn’t give a shit about who you were fucking and how often,” Russ told her. “If he didn’t give two shits about you, you wouldn’t be even a blip on his radar. Men are wired differently than women. From our first crush in kindergarten until we get married, we only really pay attention to the women who have smome effect on us.”

“I could say the same is true for women,” she told him, pointing out the flaw in his argument. “We just hold it in better.”

“Yes, we men are crass creatures,” Russ agreed. “What I really think is this...”

Russ leaned in conspiratorially.

“The truth of the matter is, the more men care, the more we indulge in baser and less fruitful ways of displaying our affections on women,” he told her, as if imparting some wonderful secret to understanding the male species.

“If you are going to tell me he only demeans me because he loves me, let me stop you right there,” Leila told him, cutting through the utter crap that was spewing from this man’s mouth. “Nate is of the opinion that his shit don’t stink and that anyone who doesn’t act like he thinks they should, is beneath him. It has nothing to do with who he wants to stick his dick in. He thinks women should be pretty little creatures who obey their men and eventually give their spouses pudgy little babies that old grannies can oooh and ahhh over. He’s a throwback to the 19th century if there ever was one.”

Russ laughed.

“Corsets and no showing of the ankle?” he asked. Nathan may have been a little more old-fashioned than most men his age, but he wasn’t about to try to bring back petticoats and hoop skirts.

“Well... no,” Leila said with a smirk. “He’s more like the Cleavers.”

“Gee whiz, Wally!” Russ barked out, laughing at her.

“Well, if I’m Wally, you’ve got to be that idiot friend of his... what’s his name?”

“No fucking clue,” he told her teasing. “I am the risk-taker of both of us, indeed.”

“The one with the bad ideas and schemes, yes,” she told him, laughing herself. She pictured Nate’s curly hair straightened and slicked back into a 50′s pompadour.

“But seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if his resentment is just a mask to cover his feelings for you,” he told her once they had both quit laughing. “Nate has... troubles with women. He’s not like me. I see a potential pussy as what it is... something to be taken advantage of. One and done. Nate likes the safety of a monogamous relationship. And when he falls, he falls hard and fast. And he has the knack of picking the women that aren’t interested in something like that. It... it’s really pitiful actually. I thought most women wanted something deeper and more meaningful.”

“Not all women,” Leila reminded him, gesturing to herself with her hands. “I could give a rat’s ass less if a man wants to get married next week. Men are soft, disposable tissues to me. To be thrown out once they ’ve been used.”

“And why is that, Leila?” Russ asked, getting serious with her. “There has to be a reason for your cavalier attitude towards men.”

Leila’s face fell. It wasn’t something she was going to discuss- at least not with a near stranger. Violet knew, of course, but she hadn’t felt the need to share her parent’s less-than-ideal marriage with anyone else.

“It’s no matter to you,” she told him, smiling a little to soften the blow. “Let’s just say I’ve seen what being in love can do and it’s not for me. Let the other women have their romances and happily ever afters. I’ll take erotica any day of the week.”

Russ knew when to not push, and if Leila wasn’t about to spill her guts to him, that was fine by him. Less drama.

They had another couple of drinks each and ended up talking shop about their respective jobs. Since Russ was all business and board meetings, they talked mostly about hers. He never knew anyone who had tried to build their own business from the ground up, and he asked many questions.

Once they were done discussing loans and lenders, business taxes and finding the right storefront for the business, they decided to get the Hell out of the bar. It had gotten almost too noisy to hold a conversation and they hit the road in Leila’s sedan.

For once, Leila didn’t mind going to her place. Russ was leaving in a few days and he definitely wasn’t one to follow one woman around hoping to become more than just a casual fling. It wasn’t in his DNA.

“This is me,” Leila said as she pulled up to her apartment duplex.

“You the top or the bottom?” he asked, smirking.

“Now, that would be telling,” she told him, winking back at him.

Laughing, Russ followed her to the front door and up the stairs to her top floor apartment.

“Why did you buy a duplex?” he asked her when they finally got up the stairs to the second floor.

Sighing, Leila didn’t really know how to answer that.

In fact, the only answer was one that she hadn’t even told Violet about. Her mother.

Leila had hoped that buying the duplex would give her mom the ‘out’ she needed to steer clear of her manwhore of a father. Since most women didn’t have a place to go immediately after leaving her man, this would be something she could offer- and had offered- her mother in the event she came to her senses and left her father.

“It’s a good investment,” Leila merely said and shrugged her shoulders. If Russ didn’t believe her, she honestly didn’t care. She didn’t want to get into a heavy discussion about fidelity with a self-proclaimed Casanova, even if she hadn’t fucked him senseless.

“How long have you lived here?” he asked, digging for more.

“About a year,” she told him. “I bought it at a short sale. Planned to buy more and make some money on real estate on the side, but my business started to pick up and I was too busy to follow through.”

Russ made himself comfortable on the microfiber sofa, laying his jacket over the back of it and stretching his long legs out in front of him.

“You know what I think?” Russ asked as he listened to Leila root around in the kitchen to make them drinks. More Jack and Cokes.

“Whenever anyone says that phrase to me, I cringe,” she told him. “But I’ll bite since you’re my guest. What do you think?”

“I think you and I should make Nate a little jealous,” he told her.

Leila’s face popped up around the corner from the kitchen, her eyes crinkling and her mouth a perfect ‘o’ on her face.

“And how, pray tell, do we do that?” she asked once she was over her shock and looking at him with disbelief etched on her face.

“With your ankles in the air and my dick buried deep in your pussy,” he told her with a lascivious wink.

The idea was both appealing and unappealing. Something about their conversation about Nate, and Russ’ words about his friend caring more for her than he shows grated on her. She was all for a good dicking down, but fucking Nate’s friend seemed a bad idea all-around.

Besides... she wasn’t quite over the humiliation of her last ‘date’. It had left a bad taste in her mouth still. Russ reminded her of... whatshisname a little. She had tried to blot the memory of him out. Something with a ‘J’?

“Leila?” Russ called out, voice curious.

She realized she had been quiet too long. Not a good sign.

“I... I don’t think that’s the best idea right now,” she told him, hedging.

“Why not?”

“It just... I dunno, it doesn’t feel right,” she told him, pushing his glass of Jack and Coke to him almost forcefully.

“I bet it’ll feel right once you’re coming on my-”

“Russ... seriously?”

“Worth a shot,” he said as he took a sip of his drink.

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