“Molly.” Trey says her name, all kinds of befuddled, voice a little unsteady. His head darting back from the door to me, brows raising as his green eyes grow large, teeth clamped together, his chest shaking against my own, both of us trying to suppress our laughter.
I’m sure he’s thinking the same thing that has my own shoulders vibrating against his hot body. Look, it’s still hot, whether there’s a quizzical toddler, or whatever people her age are classified as or not. However, it feels like I just had a bucket of ice thrown over my head.
Of course we’re interrupted. Maybe third time’s not a charm?
He eases his palms down from underneath my shirt, my back remaining flat against the wall. I fight the urge to whine the second those amazing metacarpals leave my abdomen, already missing the warmth of his toned and tense muscles wrapped around my body and his wandering hands caressing my skin.
Kind of insane that his touch can make my freight train of my mind fizzle out to a handcar. Or is it a pump car? I could do some pumping. Anyway, calming those crazy thoughts—obviously synapses are firing again—yet making something deep inside me start to burn.
Not like in an itchy rash or an unpleasant way. You get me.
It’s not just my brain that appreciates him, clearly my body is a fan too.
Okay, be real, as if I couldn’t have told you that back in bathroom number one.
My jeans feel like the entire month of April.
As if he can sense what I’m thinking, or maybe it’s because my bottom lip is sticking out so far you could trip on it.
“We,” he whispers, “will finish this later.” Pushing his palms off the wall, he quirks a single brow over his eye—I wish I had that skill. Why can only some people do it?
Something definitely shifted in the last, oh, thirty seconds. Pretty sure that’s how far into the tonsil hockey we got before our three-foot interruption. Can we do this? Did we break through the awkward zone we seem to meander in at first, possibly stumbling into some sort of area of comfort?
I think maybe we did.
“Mm-hmm,” I mumble, back of my head resting against the icy wall, helping stabilize my fiery body temperature. He can get me there. Letting out a long breath as I try to chill the adrenaline, or oxytocin, or whatever it is that has my chest heaving, heart pounding, pussy throbbing. Wow, that was too much.
“Uncle Trey,” she says his name again, more like scolds in the smallest and sassiest voice. I squeeze my eyes shut, still feeling the heat from his body on my face, on my… well, let’s just say everywhere.
I peek out from the side of him, his frame shielding me from her sight, catching a hand snapping against her petite waist, her other, firmly holding the wooden door open with her flattened palm—hot pink polish, nice. Her lips curled in disapproval. She’s rocking a lavender colored dress with some sort of layered tutu skirted bottom, shaking as her hips move with her body, and a tiny tiara—girl after my own heart—on the top of her coiled, sandy brown curls. Her eyes drift to mine, and I almost think I catch the smallest glimmer of mischievousness in them.
Nah, no way. She appears far too angelic for that nonsense.
Anyway, the birthday girl is looking fab. I hadn’t really taken the time to make an observation of anyone’s outfits in the parking lot. You know... where I pretty much told his sister he sucks at sex. Halle-fuckin-lujah to the fact that Trey said it would have been too much, the whole party thing. He’s definitely right, and I can even see why he kept his mouth shut about it, though maybe we can turn a new leaf.
What was that strange and bizarre thing Court recommended?
Never heard of it. Seriously though, I can’t imagine having to face Teagan again anytime soon, not to mention all four of them.
Talk about something that would catapult me straight back into full-blown freak out mode!
Wait... the birthday girl looking fab... looking directly at me, standing in front of her uncle, who was just all up in my business!?
No... this is not normal.
I quickly revert to my spot, back in the safe confines of those broad shoulders, lifting my chin and shaking my head.
Hello, dude. This is one of yours!
“You are aware this is the ladies’ room, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” he calls back to her, eyes closed with something like a pained grimace covering his face. “I’m aware.”
Why hasn’t he turned around yet? I figured he’d be getting us outta here as soon as possible, yet his body remains less than an arm’s length from mine. His tanned skin peeping out under the v of his shirt collar. Can’t wait to see the other V.
Maybe I’m horny, not hungry?
My stomach growls.
Nah, definitely hungry.
With his gaze intent on me, his eyes travel downward. “It’s not going away,” he says ultra quiet, forcing his lips to a rigid and totes uncomfortable smile.
I crinkle my nose, knitting my brows together as he gestures with his head hanging.
Oh, I get it.
He needs a second. Or an opportunity for an adjustment. Needs to neutralize the six o’clock that went to midnight.
I give him a look of realization, nodding, pulling my lips into my mouth as his nostrils flair slightly, shaking his head.
“Uncle Trey, you can’t be in here.” Molly lets out a series of huffing sounds from the doorway.
“She’s a feisty thing,” I whisper before stepping out to the side.
“You’re a feisty thing,” he whispers back.
Okay, this is awkward.
“Well, I don’t have all day.” She groans.
Luckily things hadn’t gone very far, besides my likely wild hair, and maybe a few wrinkles on my shirt—thank jeez it’s black—I’m looking together. I scoot from behind him, blocking him from Molly’s view, walking to the doorway, trying to give him time to do a tip tuck before we can run.
“Where’s your mother?” he asks, once he’s got his situation handled, or concealed, or yeah... whatever, you know what I mean. My brain is still scrambling with the happenings of the last hour. Conscious and somewhat sensible—doubt it—thoughts should resume soon.
“Left,” she says, simply, arms crossing in front of her slowly as she eyes us up and down with a judgy type of smirk on her face. Blinking, she narrows her gaze on Trey, doing a fast hand wash. Glad to see his hygiene is of the utmost importance. “And what exactly are y’all doing in here?” Her head bobbles so the brunette curls sweep over the tops of her shoulders.
“We were ... I was just helping my friend.” His chin tilts up towards me with a weak smile, which I mirror.
“I lost my earring.” I come up with the swiftest reply I can manage, touching my fingertips to my earlobes, ensuring I did actually put some on today. Blowing a quick breath of relief when I feel the modest diamond studs.
“I see two.” She gives a challenging look, cute lips scrunched together in a slight heart shape, under her nose.
“Because we found them,” Trey swoops in to the rescue, finishing drying his hands, striding over to me. He offers me a reassuring wink along with a gentle arm squeeze.
Molly gives us both a doubtful once over before a smile spreads over her lips, dimples indented on each of her plump cheeks, just like Trey. The dimples, not the plump cheeks. His are nicely chiseled, leading to that firm jaw, to those full, warm lips, that fiery tongue... Okay, now is not the time.
“Let’s go find my sister.” He heads for the door. I’ve been standing in the middle of the room, frozen under her suspicious stare. He flaps his hand back, motioning for me to follow as my heart rate finally equalizes—somewhat.
“I told you, she left,” the adorable voice sings out as Trey ushers her from the bathroom, his palm pushing against her back, urging her to keep moving through the rows of candy. She continues stopping in her tracks every few feet, looking at me with a ridiculous grin.
I arch my brows. I wasn’t wrong. Even though she may look sweet and innocent, she’s up to something. Takes one to know one.
“What?” Trey asks, reaching his hand back, weaving his fingers through mine, another action the highly observant kid notices, again with a brow raise, again with a big smile, both shot in my direction. “She wouldn’t leave you,” he continues. “She’s gotta get you to your party. It’s starting”—he glances down at the silver watch hanging from his wrist, I absently look at the silver bracelet on mine—“now.”
That’s right. Might as well admit it now, I’ve worn it almost every day.
The three of us make our way to the tinted glass at the front of the store, just in time to see that blue car—the one that this tiny schemer popped out of—drive away.
“Ugh.” Trey groans, shooting a look at me. His mouth hanging open, eyes moving to the side in contemplation.
“Thanks, Joe,” Molly says with a grin and polite wave, directed to the cashier before pushing open the door.
“Joe?” Trey whips his head towards the older man leaning against the counter with a cheesy grin, fist under his chin.
He shrugs. “What could I do? Teagan told me to keep an eye on her and make sure she walked out with you.”
What is even happening?
Trey lets out a grumble, pulling me behind him. I touch my thumb to my index finger, throwing him an okay, mouthing bathroom.
He’s doing a superb job. He should know.
“So how’d she get you to do it?” I ask my niece, who’s waiting not so patiently by the door of my truck after lifting her booster seat from the asphalt. I should have known better than to think Teagan wouldn’t try throwing a wrench in somewhere.
Leverage by kid, and one with a birthday today—sneaky move. Though can’t say I’d put it past her. Not to mention Joe, who owns the store, is one of my dad’s close friends. So, no surprise she left her. Well, she did watch me walk out with her daughter.
I could see that gleam of victory in her eyes as she pulled away. She wanted to get more of Briar. Who wouldn’t?
“Trey?” Briar’s voice questions behind me. Her hand fits so perfectly in mine, it feels so comfortable, so normal. “What’s going on?”
Closing my eyes, I pinch the bridge of my nose, blowing out a breath.
“Come on!” the wicked pint-sized accomplice yells out from the back seat. “We got a party to get me to.”
Turning my head to face Briar, dark strands of her hair whip across her face. Those deep chocolate eyes—making me think of the fall, especially up north—warm with glimmers of honey color, lit up with a mix of concern and confusion, studying me curiously. Her slender fingers twist, nails digging into my hand as she realizes the scheme we’ve just fallen into.
“Did you know that a cockroach’s favorite snack is the glue on the back of a postage stamp?” Molly asks from the backseat, her and Briar already exchanging friendly conversation.
She clued us in that her mother suggested it would be a great idea if my new, pretty friend joined us. She really is beautiful. Her long locks, that thick hair that smells like vanilla, and like… her. Catching me staring, she offers a playful smile while she learns about the world’s stupidest facts, which Molly can recite. But anyway, she said Teagan thought it would be such a fun idea for Briar to come to her party.
Of course, Molly agreed. Told Briar not to worry about a gift, being last minute and all.
I don’t miss the look of alarm, of retreat. And we already wasted time with whatever the earlier nonsense was. I’m not going backwards here.
I assured her we’d drop off the birthday girl, I’d run her to the hotel I had in mind, and be back; hour tops.
She’s gonna be mine all weekend long. And damn, I’m definitely gonna be hers.
No stupid games, no acting, no drama, and no fucking family. Well, after we drop this munchkin off.
Making the quick, four-minute drive, I instruct my niece she’s to head straight to the house, fill the rest of them in on the details; that I’m dropping my friend off, and I’ll be back. She doesn’t put up too much of an argument, which is grounds for concern, catching her eyes when I look in the rearview, glancing back at mine with a polite kind of smirk.
I know this look.
“Did you grow up here?” Briar asks as we pull into the long driveway, white split-rail fence lining one side. Her voice filled with astonishment; it really is an amazing house.
I silently answer with a bob of my head. The white siding with black shutters hanging to the sides of each of the many windows, porch wrapping all the way around. Entire place all lit up and the big palm type of plants my mother always has bordering the front. Four steps on either side of the outside entryway, facing the other, joining at the seven leading up to the double cherry wood doors.
The last bits of sun dropping below the roof as Briar sighs. “God, this place is beautiful.” She leans back against the headrest, closing her eyes, long lashes curled as a smile dances across her lips, taking a deep breath.
I’m a goner.
“Sorry, Uncle Trey!”
I drag my gaze from Briar, her eyes staring back at mine, it’s like a strange pull I feel with her, like a comfort level I guess I’ve never felt before. Seems as if I’ve known her for years, when in fact I don’t know her, not all that well.
But I do.
She’s an only child, grew up horseback riding, always looking extremely put together—at least from the pictures on her father’s social media page. Her mother doesn’t have one, only a business page. From the looks of what he had in his photos, she grew up in a large house as well. Though, I know from our video call that she has her own apartment.
When she first answered, the colors, the snippets of her place that I could see didn’t seem at all like her, or at least what I’ve gotten to know. But once she’d gone into her bedroom, those deep blue grey shaded walls, the small accents I could make out, tiny splashes of silver. The shaggy fibers of her fluffy charcoal blanket that appeared fancy at first glance but then seemed to be soft and easy, molding comfortably under her arm while she leaned on her side. That room... that one seemed like Briar.
“I said sorry.” Molly shrugs, pulling the handle, hoisting her booster seat under her arm, offering a mildly apologetic half-smile.
“It’s alright. I’m sorry I’ll be a little late, birthday girl, just gotta drop my—”
“Are you certain you can’t come to my party, Miss Briar?” she asks, popping her head between the two front seats. I see the uneasy swallow as Briar tries to force a grin over her pink lips.
“She’s just had an airplane ride.” And another ride. Well, not a ride I’m honestly proud of. Wow, is her humor rubbing off on me?
Briar’s mouth opened searching for an excuse before I fended Molly off. Her chest falls under her black shirt. She exhales a long breath, shoulders immediately relaxing after the brief tension created by potentially meeting my family. I don’t want her to think I’m embarrassed of her, pretty far from that. Like I said, they are a lot.
She gives me a gracious look.
Okay, good, we’re on the same page.
“I’m sorry, Molly. But it was really nice to meet you,” she tells her, reaching down to her feet. “Maybe the next time we can hang out?” Molly beams at the prospect of being around Briar again. She really has something about her once you get through. “I hope you have the best birthday,” she adds, her black polished nails passing a large box to the back, received with a delighted squeal.
“Gummy bears!” she exclaims. “My favorite!”
“I knew I liked you.” Briar laughs, the full body infectious kind of laugh that makes me smile. Her eyes catching mine, taking her all in, dressed head to toe in black, but she’s nothing like that. Not even just the shade of bright pink, which always makes me think of her. She’s all of them, all the colors of the rainbow mixed into one.
“I like you, too,” Molly rushes out the words, placing a swift peck against Briar’s cheek. “And I really am sorry.”
Briar squeezes her dark brows together, looking perplexed.
I see what she means as my head turns, catching the sight unfolding in front of me through the windshield. Three of my sisters making their way down the front steps, making a beeline for the truck. My mother’s excited face with an ear to ear grin following close behind.
You gotta be shitting me!
“My mama said... honey, you get your buns in that car with Uncle Trey and Miss Briar, I’ll do the rest.” She lifts a small shoulder under her purple dress, pulling the ten-dollar bill from her pocket with an accomplished grin, before jumping down out of the truck.
Briar’s back tenses in the seat next to me as a low groan works its way from my throat. I frown, catching the look of alarm growing in her eyes. She shifts her focus from the vultures circling back to me. At the same exact time, we both mutter...
A/N: Hahahahahahaha. Okay, so I have a brother... you better believe we hazed the shit outta every single woman he'd bring by. Can't wait. But... Thank you guys for reading, this little story is just puttering along but I'm honestly having so much fun writing it. I hope you're enjoying. Lemme know what you think, I genuinely wonder lol