#28 Flirting is way more fun than I remember
Khiêm seems a little nervous when I approach him with the scissors. He’s on a stool in the bathroom and I just washed his hair in the sink, taking my time soaping him up and massaging his scalp. I toweled him off carefully, and now it’s time to get down to work.
“And you’re sure you know what you’re doing?” he asks, looking at me like I might try to cut off his ear or something.
“I used to be a hairdresser for four fucking years, Khiêm,” I remind him, rolling my eyes. “I got fired for calling in sick when I was hungover, not because I killed people with my scissors. I’m good at this, okay? Now shut up and let me cut your hair.”
He shuts his eyes as I pull the comb through his hair and get to work. I focus to make sure I do the best possible job I can. I just take a few inches off and shave the back of his neck so he looks a little neater. He’s got a bit of a neckbeard going on since he hasn’t shaven in a few days, so I take care of that too.
“You can shave it all off,” Khiêm tells me when I run my fingers over the scruff on his face.
“No way, it’s sexy,” I tell him, still planning on showing him that I don’t see him as a bonus brother. At all. “Your skin is a little dry, though. I’ve got just the thing.” I grab the products I still have from my hairdressing days – yeah, I may have nicked a few things, sue me – and open up a flask of beard moisturizer, rubbing in into his skin. I’m standing between his parted legs, enjoying the closeness as he looks up at me and lets me take care of him.
I love this. Taking care of Khiêm is small ways like these… The past 22 years I honestly didn’t even know I had a nurturing bone in my body, but these past months with Khiêm I’ve discovered that I can be sweet, soft and nurturing. I like this side of myself.
“Okay, I will check your hair one last time,” I tell him, washing my hands and drying them before stepping back between his legs, carefully moving his face down so he’s basically facing my breasts now. His breath hitches as I run my fingers through his hair, checking that it’s the same length all over. I move in a little more, as close as I can get without actually pushing myself up against him, and I feel his beath on the bare skin just above my cleavage. My nipples grow hard and I’m not wearing a bra underneath my tight red top, so I’m sure he’s getting a nice view.
I may not have many talents, but I know how to flirt. Sex used to be the only thing I was good at for years. I’m going to get my slutty ass out of the sister zone as soon as humanly possible if I have anything to say about it.
“Okay, all done,” I tell him, stepping back.
He jumps up right away, turning his back on me and adjusting his junk. I smile to myself, meeting his eyes in the mirror. Good to know I’ve still got it. He looks a little freaked out, but he smiles back anyway.
“It looks great,” he says, looking at himself in wonder. “Who knew a haircut and some proper beard care could make so much difference?”
“I did,” I tease, winking at him. “I’d love to do this for you every few weeks. More often for your beard, if you want me to.”
“You don’t have to do that,” he says, shifting uncomfortably.
“I’d love to,” I assure him, not looking away from his face in the mirror. “It’s nice to put my hairdresser skills to good use again. Plus, I get to have an even better view during breakfast, lunch and dinner if you let me make you look pretty.”
“Okay,” he agrees. “If you put it that way…”
“Not that I’m complaining about the view I’ve had the months,” I go on, feeling brave. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something… could you help me download some more of those romance novels you narrate? I’m always through the ones you gave me last week.”
He turns around, frowning. “Already? But… you only listen for like… half an hour every night, right?”
“How do you know that?” I ask, raising an eyebrow at him.
“Thin walls,” he says apologetically.
Ah. Well… since he’s the one opening up this can of worms… It fits right into my operation to flirt with him, so I’m game.
“Can you hear what scenes I’m listening to?” I ask, biting my lip.
He shakes his head, looking a little unsure now. “I can only hear that it’s my voice coming out of your Bluetooth speakers or phone or whatever you use, so I figured you were listening to the series I put in your library.”
“I am, but I don’t listen to the whole book,” I inform him, flicking my tongue over my lips, enjoying how his gaze drops when he catches the movement. Fuck, it’s been a long time since I flirted with someone so intensely. It’s fun. “I skip to particular scenes.”
“What scenes?” he asks, not catching on.
“Khiêm…” I says, smiling seductively – or at least, I hope I am. I’m a little rusty, after all. “I lock myself in my bedroom for at least half an hour every single night, listening to your smutty audiobooks. You’re the one who narrated them. You’re the one who gifted me the pink box full of toys. I think you can figure out on your own what scenes I listen to when I’m in bed… alone… enjoying the fact that for the first time in my life, I’ve actually got control over my own body. Thanks to you.”
He gulps, looking like he doesn’t know what to say. “You – you listen to… me? When you…?”
“The scene where Lucca orders Cassy to come while he fondles her breasts is one of my favorites,” I go on, my voice husky. “You were right when you told me months ago that you’ve got a wonderful, soothing voice. It sure does the trick for me.”
“I don’t...” He trails off, looking away from me. His Adam’s apple bobs up and down as he swallows.
“So… do you have any other books you think I might enjoy?” I ask, starting to clean up the mess we made when I cut his hair, giving him a moment to pull himself back together. Part me wants to just pounce on him, but I’m still a little scared of coming on too strong and ruining our entire friendship. I have time. I can wait until it’s perfectly clear to him that I want him. If he wants me too, it’ll be his turn to make a move. If he doesn’t, I can always deny flirting with him to save our friendship.
“Yeah,” Khiêm says, opening the bathroom door and stepping into the hallway. “I’ve got a few more books I think you might find… interesting.”
“Perfect.” I give him a bright smile as I lean forward to wipe off some hairs from the sink, giving him a nice view into the V-neck of my shirt.
He averts his eyes and pulls a hand through his perfectly groomed hair, making a pained sound. “Okay, I erm… thanks for this. I need to… erm… get to work.”
“Sure,” I say lightly. “I’ll come by with a cup of coffee for you in half an hour.”
He nods and walks into his studio. I’m not surprised to see the red light turning on above the door. I doubt he’s truly narrating an audio novel. He just doesn’t want me to walk in right now. Which means I must have affected him, just like I planned. It’s both nerve-wracking and a lot of fun to flirt with him like my life depends on it. So far, so good. I don’t think he will think of me like a sister after I revealed I get myself off on his voice.
Working at the bridal boutique three days a week isn’t a dream come true, but it’s pretty fucking close. I mostly do really mundane tasks, especially now that the seamstress, Valerie, is no longer sick. I’m mostly in charge of emails, picking up the phone, getting coffee for customers… But two hours a day, I get to help with the actual making of the dresses, and both Sonia and Valerie don’t mind staying after hours to show me the finer tricks of the trade.
“This is a great blouse, Nia,” Sonia says, holding up the piece of clothing I just finished. “It seems a little big for you, though.”
I nod and smile shyly. “Yeah, it’s for my eldest brother’s girlfriend. They’re both helping me set up my own web shop to sell clothes I’m going to make by order, so I want to show them what I can do. That I’m actually good at this.”
“That’s a great idea,” Valerie tells me, sewing the last beads on the dress that needs to be done for tomorrow. It’s a beautiful blush wedding dress with a matching lace vail. It’s gorgeous. Sonia is a great designer.
“Would you mind picking up some fabrics for me before you come in tomorrow?” Sonia asks, getting ready to leave. “I know it’s out of your way, but I have too many appointments to-”
“Of course,” I assure her. “Text me the details. I need to go now, though. I’ve got dinner at my parents’ place.”
They both wish me a good night, and we part ways while Sonia locks up behind us. I carefully fold Shaughna’s blouse and put it on the backseat before driving off to my childhood home. We’re having a big family dinner, including Dshawn and Shaughna with their twins, and even Uncle Aston and Aunt Annabel are coming with their kids.
Aston isn’t technically my uncle, he’s Dshawn’s half-brother. I’m not sure what the official term is for your half-brother’s half-brother, but I’ve known Aston since I was born. He came over with Dshawn a lot when I was younger, and me, Creed, Pierre and Aliyah already knew him as Uncle Aston when him and Dshawn discovered that they were related. Mom and Aston’s mother both slept with this guy named Ace Powell when they were younger, and he knocked them up before ending up in jail, getting out on a parole, fucking up again, going to jail again… He’s been in jail for murder for years now, and he’s not getting out anytime soon, thank God.
Aston and Dshawn have always been like brothers, so while discovering that the man who had been raising Aston as his own son wasn’t his biological father was a shock, Aston still has a lovely family and he’s grown even closer to our family after finding out that him and Dshawn have the same dead-beat father. Dshawn has been raised by my dad, Terryl , since he was 10, so he calls him Dad just like the rest of us. Aston calls the man who raised him Dad. Basically, their biological father doesn’t mean shit to them, and they’ve got men in their lives much more worthy of the title.
It’s a complicated family dynamic when I have to explain it to people, but it doesn’t feel complicated to us. We’ve just got a big happy family, even though we’re not all one hundred percent siblings and we call Dshawn’s half-brother our uncle. What matters is that we love each other, not how we call each other or how many genes we share.
I’m nervous about dinner, if I’m being honest. Mom and I are doing way better these days, but she doesn’t know I’m pursuing a career in fashion yet, and I’m planning on telling everyone tonight. My website goes live later this week, so I need to make sure they won’t find out from someone else before I can tell them. I’m not quite sure how my news will go over, to be honest.
“Nia!” Aliyah squeals when she opens the door for me. “Pierre tore my favorite dress! Please tell me you can fix it.”
I smile at being pulled into the Davis craziness right away. I love living with Khiêm, but I do miss Aliyah. I see her way less often these days. I should make more time for her. “Since I’m the one who made the dress for you, I’m sure I can fix it. And if I can’t, I’ll make you a new one.”
Her eyes sparkle as she looks at me in awe. “Really? With glittering blue beads?”
“With any kinds of beads you want,” I promise. Oh, to be 12 again and get so excited over glitter. “How about we make a sketch after dinner, huh? You’ve grown quite a lot over the past months, so I think a new dress might be a better idea than to fix the old one. You’re getting tall, sissy.”
She laughs, standing on tiptoes so she’s almost as tall as I am. Not that I’m tall, not at all, but I am to my little sister and I love that. “Yeah I am!”
We walk into the kitchen together, where Mom is yelling at Creed about something he supposedly said to Pierre, who is complaining to Dad about something, who is trying to ignore his 16-year-old son since he’s trying to listen to whatever Aston is telling him. Meanwhile, Shaughna is trying to change two diapers at once because Dshawn wandered off to help Aunt Annabel to break up a fight between 11-year-old Steffi and her 9-year-old brother Benji. Yeah, it’s a typical night at the Davis residence.
“Your favorite daughter and sister is here!” I announce jokingly, but no one even so much as looks at me. No surprise there, I guess. I roll my eyes and move over to help Shaughna with the twins, wiping butts and securing sticky ends of diapers so they’ll be good for a while. Little kids poop so fucking much, it’s crazy.
“Marcus!” Mom exclaims when my brother walks in with his arm around Beatrice’s waist. “You came! And you brought Bee!”
I scowl at Shaughna, who winks at me. She knows as well as I do that Dshawn and Marcus are the pride of my mother. Creed is a close third, but I’m not even in the mix. Oh well, at least no one has told me to get my shit together yet.
“Dinner is ready!” Dad announced so loud that everyone looks at him.
“The table isn’t even set yet!” Mom complains, her hands on her hips as she looks at Pierre and Aliyah. “That was your only job tonight!”
“But Creed-” Pierre starts.
“I was asking Nia-” Aliyah cuts in.
“Guys, it’s only rice with chicken,” I interrupt both of them, laughing. “Grab some bowls and we’ll all just eat in the living room, like we always do when all of us are here. We don’t even have enough space in the kitchen.”
“But-” Mom starts.
“Nia is right,” Dad says, smiling at me. “Okay, everyone, grab a bowl and a spoon and follow me into the living room. Aston, grab that blue coaster, will you?”
While the two men put the huge pan of rice with veggies, spices and chicken on the coffee table, I hand out bowls. Bee opens the drawer to grab the spoons, reminding me of how often she’s been here over the years. When everyone is set, Marcus hands out glasses that Annabel fills with water form the large bottle in the fridge.
Finally, everyone is quiet, scarfing down rice. The kids are on the floor, the three sets of parental figures all on the sofas, and the rest of us are on chairs that we pulled in from the kitchen. It’s a typical family dinner, and I have to say I love nights like these. Part of me wishes Khiêm was with me, though. He’d fit right in. I know he would. And he would see me, he wouldn’t ignore if I walked into a room and announced my presence. With him, I never have to yell to be heard.
I wonder what family dinner is like with his parents and his three sisters… I doubt they’ll be as colorful as my crazy family. He doesn’t talk to them all that much anymore, especially not after that fight he had with his dad. I feel bad for him, but he doesn’t like talking about it. I hope he knows that if he ever does want to talk, I’ll be there to listen to him.
“Okay, what’s your big announcement?” Mom asks me when she sees I’m done with my food. “You said you had something to share with us, right?”
Here goes nothing…