#52 Sweaty oranges
Officer Jones leads me a small office with nothing more than a filing cabinet, three chairs and a desk in it. Dshawn and Aston are on either side of me. My boyfriend pulls my chair back for me to sit down before he takes a seat next to me. Officer Jones offers to get Aston a chair as well, but he just shuts the door and leans against it, looking just as big and menacing as he did back in the restaurant. I give him a small smile, encouraging him to relax. We’re in the police station, there’s no need for an attitude like that.
“We’ll be filling out the forms in a moment,” the police officer tells me, smiling kindly at me. He’s a broad man with deep black skin and a buzzcut. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s in his early fifties. He asked me before we came in here if I’d prefer him to get a female colleague for me, but I’d rather talk to him. He may be a man, but he looks kind. “First off, I’d like you to just tell me what happened, in your own words, without me asking a bunch of questions. Just get it out.”
I nod and take a deep breath. I decide to start where it all began: when I slept with Hollister. Dshawn’s hand is on my knee, squeezing softly, making me feel centered. When I get to last night, I have to take a few deep breaths before finishing my story. I know that it’s not the worst thing that could have happened. I used to get beaten up – that was much worse than a kiss. And some girls get raped, or kidnapped, or even killed. What I had to go through is not as bad as it could have been, but it still sucked.
“I’m sorry that this happened to you, Miss Elmore,” officer Jones says, his attention completely on me.
“Shaughna,” I tell him. “Call me Shaughna.”
“Okay, Shaughna. I take it that the two young men with you today are the ones who witnessed what happened last night?”
“Dshawn Davis,” my boyfriend says, holding out his hand to the officer. “I’m Shaughna’s boyfriend and I walked in with Aston to see Hollister kissing her.”
“Aston Johnson,” our friend says gruffly from behind us. “That’s me. Full disclosure… I pulled Hollister off of her, dragged him into the street, and hit him in the face.”
Officer Jones nods slowly, not looking too happy about that. “Tell me about what you say when you walked into the kitchen. Who was where? What sounds were they making? Was there a struggle?”
Dshawn and Aston both tell the same story: I was frozen, my hands clasped in my lap as I sat on the stool, trying to breathe. Hollister had his arms around me and was shoving his tongue down my throat. There was no struggle, and no sounds except for my ragged breaths.
“Okay,” the officer says with a sigh. “I’d be happy to help you press charges, but I feel like there are a few things I need to tell you first, just to make sure you understand what you’re about to do.”
I glance at Dshawn. That doesn’t sound good. Of course I know that Hollister probably won’t get convicted for anything, and that chances are this won’t even go to trial, but I didn’t think that I’d run into problems before the report was even filled out.
“What I’m going to say now is going to sound harsh,” officer Jones says, his tone serious. “And I don’t want to say it, but I feel like I have to. This is not protocol, but I’ve seen this play out too many times to stay silent. Permission to speak freely?”
“Spit it out,” Aston growls behind us. He sounds how I feel: annoyed and worried.
“You slept with someone voluntarily, regretted it afterwards, and then he kissed you again months later, correct?” When I nod, the officer goes on, running a hand over his shaved head. “And even though you have two witnesses, all they saw was the kiss. No struggle, no force, nothing. Just to be clear: I believe you. I really do. There is just no proof. Hollister is going to say that you kissed him back, or maybe even that the two of you have been secretly seeing each other since that first night, and that you’re only pressing charges because your boyfriend walked in and you’re too afraid to tell him the truth.”
“Yeah, I figured that I don’t have proof,” I say with a grunt. “I just want him to be scared. I want him to realize that I’m not just going to roll over and take whatever he wants to do.”
Officer Jones smiles a little at that. “I doubt he thinks that after you just fired him. Although that may hurt your case as well. There are two things he could sue the lot of you for: wrongful termination and assault.”
“Assault?” I repeat. “I didn’t even manage to get him to let go of me!”
“Aston hit him,” Dshawn realizes. “And there is proof of that. Aston’s knuckles are slightly bruised, and Hollister is sporting a black eye.”
“Fuck,” Aston mumbles behind me. “Just like last time.”
“Last time?” I ask, looking at him over my shoulder. “This happened to you before?”
“20 hours community service and two months probation,” Aston confirms. “I was 19 and I jumped a guy who groped the girl I was on a date with. Messed him up pretty good. There were witnesses. I pled guilty and took the deal without any jailtime.”
I had no idea that Aston had a criminal record. Fuck.
“If you have priors, you may not get off that easy this time,” officer Jones warns him. “And… I hate to say this, but look around this room. I’m going to tell you what everyone can see: a black man beat up a white man for kissing his friend’s girl. That shouldn’t matter, but it does.” He gestured at his own black skin. “Trust me, I know. It matters, even though it shouldn’t, and I think both of you boys know that too. And… there is no proof that is was sexual assault. Hollister may not have pressed charges against Aston yet, but if he does… the chances of Aston ending up with a conviction is a lot bigger than the case against Hollister even getting to a judge.”
“And if I press charges, Hollister might retaliate by coming after Aston,” I realize. “Okay, forget about this then. It’s not like this case is ever going to end up with Hollister facing actual consequences. I’m not throwing Aston under the bus.”
“Fuck this!” Aston exclaims. “I don’t give a shit about my record. Just file the charges.”
“No way,” I argue, shaking my head. “Officer Jones is right. I already fired Hollister, and I could always threaten to tell his girlfriend everything if he keeps coming after me, because I highly doubt that he actually broke up with her this time. We can’t risk Hollister pressing charges against Aston. We just can’t.”
Aston and I both look at Dshawn, who has remained silent all this time. He looks from me to Aston before turning to Jones, searching the face of the kind police officer. “Let’s go home,” he sighs, getting up from his chair. “Thank you, officer.”
“I’d say my pleasure, but it really isn’t,” the man replies, shaking Dshawn’s hand. “This kind of crap is the reason I don’t sleep at night.”
We all thank him and walk back outside into the sun. The light feels too bright and almost intrusive after sitting in that dark little office. Aston is riled up, looking like he wants to throw some punches, but that’s exactly what got him into trouble before.
“I’m sorry,” he tells me with a grunt. “This is all my fault. I know how you feel about violence, and there I was, hitting Hollister anyway. I should have just escorted him out and be done with it.”
“No,” I reply, looking him in the eye to make him see how serious I am right now. “My case against Hollister was never going to amount to anything. This way, at least he’s got a black eye to remind him what will happen if he ever does anything like this again. I hate violence, but in this case…” I shrug. “I’d love to kick Hollister myself, honestly, but that’s not going to help any of us, so I’ll just focus on the fact that I got to fire him.”
“Now what are we supposed to do?” Aston grunts, gesturing around him without actually making sense with his wild moves. “I’m just so… angry!”
“We go to the gym,” Dshawn says, cracking his knuckles. “It’s been a while since we threw some punches to a bag. Let’s get all this anger out in a healthy way.”
“That may be the smartest thing you’ve ever said,” I tell him, putting an arm around his waist. “Can I come?” I usually work out at different times that the boys, even though we’re all members of the gym where Aston works at as a personal trainer and fitness instructor. I’ve been to some of Aston’s classes, but I prefer the treadmill. “I could use some exercise to get out all my pent-up frustrations.”
“Please, you just want to ogle the two of us shirtless and dripping with sweat,” Aston teases me.
“Two of us?” Dshawn asks him while we walk to my car. “You’re kidding, right? You’ve got nothing on me, boy.”
Aston roars with laughter. “How about we forget about punching a bag and get right in the ring, huh? I would love to kick your ass, Davis.”
“Bring it on, Johnson!”
Aston is right. He and Dshawn both look mighty fine as they get ready for their friendly boxing match. I’m on the treadmill, pushing myself as far as I can go. I’ve got a great view of their muscular bodies glistening with sweat from where I am, and they’re making it a little hard to focus on moving my feet. Damn, I’ve got one hot boyfriend, and his best friend is no slouch either.
If I’m really honest, I have to admit that Aston is a little more muscular than Dshawn, which is no surprise since he basically works out for a living, while Dshawn only works out for an hour a day at the most. Which is still way more than I do, to be fair. I’m in here once a week, trying to keep myself from becoming a total couch potato. I’ve just been spending too much time at Giovanni’s and Animals these past years to focus on going to the gym on a regular basis.
Aston kicks Dshawn’s ass, just like he threatened to do, but they’re both grinning when they get out of the ring and start pumping weights. Dshawn throws me a wink, his eyes moving down to my chest for a moment, where my sports bra is failing at keeping my boobs from jiggling while I run.
Hmm. Maybe we should cut this short and head back home for little work-out of our own.
Like he just read my mind, Dshawn shoots me a text: Meet me outside in five.
I turn off the treadmill and start stretching so to make sure my muscles won’t be too sore in the morning. Aston wiggles his eyebrows at me. He always knows when people are about to have sex. He’s got a sixth sense about these things. Besides, it’s not like Dshawn and I are very subtle.
We manage to keep our hands off each other in the car, but the moment we’re back in our apartment, he pushes me against the wall and kissed me hungrily.
“You’re so hot,” I moan while he takes off my shirt. “Fuck, those muscles…” I move my hands over his glistening chest, not even minding that he’s sweaty and stinky. Although even now, he smells like oranges, even though it’s only a faint odor.
“Those tight pants,” Dshawn grunts, pulling them down along with my panties. “Fuck, your ass looks good in this. And your boobs, moving up and down… You’re beautiful.”
He makes me feel beautiful too, just by looking at me with those brown eyes of his, taking in every inch of me. We finish undressing each other and move to the bedroom, where he immediately dives between my legs, eating me out hungrily, pushing me over the edge again and again and again.
“No,” he says when I try to go down on him after. “I just want to be inside of you.”
I roll onto my back so he can get on top, and when he enters me it’s like everything is finally as it should be. Like today and last night never happened. Like Melchior and Hollister and al the other assholes in the world don’t even exist.
“I love you,” he tells me over and over again while we make love. “I love you so much.”
“Me too,” I moan, digging my nails into his back.
He finds his relief with a feral grunt, pushing into me one last time before collapsing on top of me. “Fucking hell,” he says, burying his face in my hair so he can inhale my scent. “You even smell good when you’re all sweaty.”
“You smell like oranges,” I whisper, kissing his cheek.
“Oh, that’s my body lotion,” he tells me with a grin.
“You use orange scented body lotion?” I ask. Surely he’s kidding?
“This skin doesn’t stay smooth and soft all on its own, woman,” he tells me seriously. “And the orange scented one was on sale, so I’ve got a whole drawer full of bottles.”
I laugh loudly and hug him closer to me. The scent that I’ve been associating with the man I love for months now is just his lotion, that he only choose because it was cheap.
Men. You gotta love them.