“Come on, Kieran. Be a man.” Alijah taunted. “Unless that's difficult for you.” She then concluded, receiving a grunt as her reply.
Moments before she and Kieran had been having a...friendly debate about him manhandling her in the bedroom. He'd stated it wasn't his fault she was tiny compared to him. While that was indeed true, Alijah wasn't going to admit that she was small. She was over the average height of women, and she had a stable weight which consists of less fat than muscle. In her attempted to defend herself, he merely told her she was cute before walking from the kitchen into the living room.
For some reason, after that, she'd thrown out this ridiculous challenge to him. She wanted to test their strength against each other. She knew she was probably going to lose, but if she were honest, she would have to say she was bored and needed something to entertain her this Saturday afternoon. He had agreed. Only on the condition that he got to choose her challenge since she wanted to pick his. Which is how five minutes later, Alijah found herself lying across his back. Her head on his shoulder, her arms wrapped around his stomach as he did thirty push-ups.
To her dismay and delight, he finished them with ease. When he was done, she removed herself from his back and sat down on the couch.
“Okay, macho man. What's my challenge?” She questioned.
She watched as Kieran looked down at his watch. “I'll think of something. I have to go. I'm meeting the guys to play ball.” He informed her before walking over and kissing her gently on the lips. He then headed for the door but stopped and turned back around. “Are you going to be here when I get back?”
Alijah furrowed her brow. “I plan on it. Why would you ask me that?”
“Because last time I went to play ball with them, you didn't come back that night at all.”
She sighed and rolled her eyes. “Whatever. I'll be here. If I'm not, know that I'm going back.”
Kieran didn't respond, only turned and walked out of the door and honestly, Alijah was glad he didn't. She didn't need him bringing up things that happened about a month ago.
Getting up Alijah decided to paint since she had time. She hadn't been up on the roof to paint yet and figured today was as good a day as any.
She contemplated for a moment how she was going to get everything to the roof in one trip and remembered that Lawrence had bought her one of those pop out rolling carriers. She found it in her closet and loaded it with her paint supplies and stuffed her easel in once she'd folded it down. She placed her phone in her pocket and put her blue tooth on her ear. She then reached for a canvas and noticed it was her last one. Making a mental note to buy more when she got the chance, she opted on carrying it and headed to the roof.
Once she'd set up her materials, Alijah looked over the skyline. It was a beautiful day. The sky was clear and radiant so she decided that's what she would paint.
Art had always been a solace for Alijah. As a child, she would find herself drowning out the arguments of her parents. They were usually centered around her mother and why she hadn't done one thing or another that her father deemed necessary before he got home. As well as being a chronological cheater, the man was mentally and verbally abusive.
He would often berate her mother for not doing something, or not doing it the way he thought she should. Whenever her mother would try to defend herself against his onslaught of words, it would quickly turn into an argument that didn't end until well into the night.
During those times, Alijah would hold up in her room and draw. If it weren't for her parents, she never would have discovered her love of replicating beautiful things. So, she supposed she had at least that to thank them for, especially as she got older.
As a pre-teen, her father's abusive words began to target her. The argument would start between her parents, but if she happened to be in the room, she was quickly brought into it. He would make cracks about the wildness of her hair and the fact that they needed to do something about it. Often times, he would even question her mother, in front of Alijah no less, whether or not she was his daughter. Siting her green eyes as the reason he had his doubts, considering both of her parents had brown eyes.
Sometimes, she wondered if physical abuse had of been better. At least those bruises healed over time. The damage that her father inflicted did not grant her that luxury. So, Alijah learned to give as good as she got. She would do her damnedest to let her father’s words roll off her back and shoot back something just as harsh at him once she was a teenager. For her actions, she always stayed grounded, but she didn't care. Her needle-sharp tongue was the way she had come to protect herself from him. As she got older, the habit didn't fade.
She never honestly got over some of the things that her father would say to her, and she knew those scars would forever run deep, but she buried them down deeper. Covered them with a band-aid that had been holding firm ever since.
Alijah was brought out her thoughts by the feel of her phone vibrating in her pocket. Reaching up, she pushed the button on the blue tooth to answer it.
Alijah rolled her eyes but smiled nonetheless at the nickname her best friend had given her upon meeting and realizing it was what her initials spelled.
“Hey, Erin. How are you?”
“I'm pretty good. You know, just working. I've been so busy; I feel like we haven't spoken in quite some time.”
“That makes two of us. So, how's work going?”
“It's going well actually. I'm bringing a lot of customers into the shop.”
“That's great. Any word on whether or not they're going to make you a partner?”
At that question, Alijah heard her friend sigh and knew she had asked the wrong one. She scrambled to find another topic but heard Erin speak before she could.
“I don't know, And. I mean, they should. I work harder than anybody else in that place, and I'm pretty good at what I do.” Erin responded.
Alijah snorted. On that, she had to disagree. Yes, her friend worked harder than anybody else in that shop, but she wasn't just pretty good. She was damn good. Hell, she was even beyond that. She was better than the two co-owners themselves. Erin had done all of Alijah's tattoos, and whenever someone saw them, they always complimented her on the cleanliness of the lines and the beautiful intricacy.
She had seen a lot of the other shop artists’ work and having an eye for art; she knew that her friend was the best. Alijah honestly felt as if Erin was being held back.
“You should just open your own shop, Erin.”
“Believe me, I've thought about it, but no bank is going to give me a loan with my credit, and we both know the cost of living in Florida is no joke. It's going to take me forever to save for a building and all the equipment I would need.”
“Yeah, I don't miss the cost of living there. Have you tried finding a building to rent?” Alijah questioned as she paused in her painting to grab a smaller brush.
“I've looked at a few places, but I suppose space should be an afterthought until I get all the equipment I need.” Erin sighed. “Enough with that, tell me how you've been.”
“I've been good. Just got back from China.”
“Yeah, I had to go for work.”
“How is work with your sinfully handsome boss?”
At that Alijah laughed. “He's still a hard ass most...”
“Even though you're letting him lay the pipe?” Erin cut her off.
“Wow,” Alijah stated rolling her eyes. “He's still a hard ass most of the time. Especially at work. He's a bit better at the condo.”
“I was about to say. If he's still that way all the time, you need to restrict his pussy playtime.”
Alijah fell into a fit of laughter. Leave it to her direct friend to say something like that. They had practically grown up together and yet, Erin was always finding new ways to shock her.
“Don't laugh, And. I'm serious.” Erin paused for a moment. “Anyway, I'll be in town the week of your birthday. We have to celebrate big. Twenty-five is a big deal. We're going to party all weekend.”
Alijah was a little horrified by that fact. Her birthday was a little over two weeks away and fell on a Sunday. She remembered when they'd celebrated a year ago for Erin's twenty-fifth birthday. They'd all had a hangover for two days. She did not want to repeat that.
“I don't know, Erin. Let's just go out and have dinner and then go to a lounge or something.”
“I'll think about it.” Her friend responded, and Alijah rolled her eyes. Erin was going to think about it like it was her birthday. Typical.
Alijah spoke to her friend catching up on what they'd missed out on over the two weeks they hadn't talked. It was when she hung up the phone that Alijah noticed she was finished with her painting and had just been staring at it. She began to pack up her materials, before carefully taking the painting off the easel and folding it down.
She made her way back onto the elevator and back to the condo. Once inside, she put her items up into her bedroom and checked the time. It was after five and Alijah decided to start on dinner. She was in the mood for salmon and decided to pair it with sautéed asparagus, butter squash, and rolls.
She set about preparing the food as she thought over Erin's dilemma. She wanted to help her friend because she believed in her talent and knew that all she needed was a start in the right direction.
Alijah was making more than enough money working for Kieran and the fact that she didn't have anything to pay for, other than her phone bill and whatever personal items she desired; she could help her friend in some capacity. She decided that once she was finished cooking and eating, she would look into how much tattoo equipment would cost.
She was sure Erin wouldn't need any more than about three stations starting out. She figured it would be easy to find two other people to work for her and to charge them space rent or, however, it went. Either way, it was something she would be looking into.
Kieran sat on one of the bleachers drinking his water. They had just finished another game of two on two, and they were all taking a breather. He watched another group that was playing on the far side of the gym. One of them looked slightly familiar to Kieran, but he couldn't place him. Shrugging it off, he turned his attention to Cruz who had come and sat one bleacher down from him.
“I saw your grandfather.” He stated.
Kieran slowly brought the bottle from his lips, placing the cap back on it before sitting it down. His jaw ticked and his eyebrow twitched. This must have been the reason Paetyn had asked him if he'd spoken to Cruz while he was away.
“You saw the man that donated his sperm to the creation of my mother. Not my grandfather.” Kieran spat out. Anyone else would have taken offense to his tone, but not his friends, and never Cruz on the infrequent occasion that Paetyn and Nikalis did.
“He wants to get together with you,” Cruz informed him.
Kieran scoffed. He knew that there had to be a reason Cruz was telling him he'd run into the old man. However, Kieran had no desire to meet with him. He hadn't wanted anything to do with Kieran when his parents were still alive. So, he didn't want to have anything to do with him now.
“Why?” Kieran couldn't help but ask. “Is he dying or some shit?”
“I didn't care enough to ask. Just told him I'd relay the message.” Cruz told him standing. “Message relayed.” With that, he walked away from the bleachers to retrieve the ball.
Kieran stayed seated as they started shooting the ball around. His mind on the old man. He would be almost eighty now if Kieran remembered correctly. Maybe he was dying, and he wanted to make some sort of amends before his time was up. He didn't know. What he did know was that in all of his thirty-five years, the man had never once tried to reach out to him. So, why now?
He got up to join his friends and tried to put it out of his head, but he couldn't. It was there. It was constantly nagging at him. He had never had any intentions of meeting the man. Had never even thought about it, but now the seed had been planted, and he was more than sure that was probably what the old bastard wanted.
Maybe he wanted to leave his legacy to someone. His mother's family had been well off, which was the reason for her father damn near having an aneurysm when she not only began to date but ultimately married a young man who grew up in foster care and didn't come for money. The thought of how his parents were treated still pissed him off to this day.
However, if that was what the old man wanted, then Kieran wanted and needed no parts of that. He was successful in his own right. He didn't need whatever the older man was trying to sell because he wasn't buying.
Kieran walked into the condo a little after seven. He was finally able to get his mind off of the information Cruz had delivered and focus on their final couple of games. After that, he'd gone to the office to pick up some papers he needed to do some work and headed to the condo.
The smell of delicious food hit him as soon as he entered. He placed the papers on the entrance table and made his way to the kitchen to find Alijah dancing around to the music coming from her phone, which was playing softly through the kitchen. He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
“Hey.” She stated, stopping her movements. “You're just in time. It'll be ready in another ten to fifteen minutes.”
He leaned in and kissed her neck. “Great. I'm going to go shower really fast.”
Once he was done with his shower, he dressed in a pair of sweat pants and headed back into the kitchen where he joined Alijah at the bar for dinner. They made small talk, and she told him how her friend was coming to visit her in a couple of weeks for her birthday. For some reason he found himself telling her that his mother's father wanted to get together with him. She didn't understand his animosity and hate towards the old man until he told her the full story while he helped her clean the kitchen.
“Well, what could it hurt to give in and meet with him?” She questioned as she started the dishwasher. “Other than your pride which we both know is not fragile.” Kieran didn't respond simply blinked at her. “Maybe he is trying to make amends and apologize.” She then stated.
“He can keep his apology,” Kieran responded, leaning against the counter. “I don't want it.”
Sighing, Alijah walked up to him and pressed her body into his. Kieran gazed down at her with a cocked brow as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
“You're not going to seduce me into talking to him.” He informed her bluntly.
“I'm not trying to.” She stated rising onto her tiptoes. He leaned down and allowed her to place a soft kiss on his lips. “I'm just suggesting that you think about it.” With that, she removed her arms and headed out of the kitchen. “I'm going to take a hot bubble bath. If someone happens to stop by you might want to put some boxers on. I can see your dick print.”
Kieran smirked to himself. “If you'd like I'll let you just see my dick.” He threw back. He could hear her laugh as she entered her bedroom.
Grabbing the papers from the entrance table, Kieran made his way into his office. They had arrived back from China late Thursday night, and even his body was so out of it that neither one of them had gone to work yesterday. So, he had called Simon and told him he was in charge of things for the day.
Now, he had some things that he needed to catch up on. His marketing department had come up with a new marketing proposal for the self-aware vacuum his researchers had effectively named Easy Breeze because it made cleaning your floors and carpets a breeze.
Kieran hoped for the marketing departments sake this draft was acceptable. Marketing needed to begin in two weeks, and if this weren't up to par, they would be doing it again on a two-week deadline. If they failed, he was going to find the people responsible and fire their asses.
After about an hour of going over the new proposal, Kieran was frustrated, irritated and just all around pissed. He didn't know what was wrong with the department. This concept was only slightly better than the last. He made a mental note to speak with Felix, head of the department, first thing Monday morning. For now, however, he needed to work off his frustrations.
Making his way to Alijah's room, he opened the cracked door to find her once again swaying to some music. This time, she was in nothing but a towel. He watched as she placed, what he was assuming was lotion back onto her dresser before stepping behind her. Kieran put one arm around her waist and pulled her back against him. She didn't stop swaying, so he began to sway with her. Grinding his growing erection against her.
“I thought you didn't dance.” She stated, looking back at him over her shoulder.
“This isn't dancing.”
“Then what is it?” She asked with a raised brow.
“A prelude to foreplay.”
He turned her around and removed her towel before leading her to her bed. He placed his hands on her waist as he leaned in and kissed her. When he pulled away, he looked into those beautiful green eyes that had darkened with a need for him.
“I know what your challenge is.”
“What?” She questioned.
“I challenge you to take everything I'm about to give you and the way I'm about to give it to you...without running from me.”
He watched as she swallowed. He knew this was going to be hard on her, but that she was going to try. She wouldn't back down from his challenge. If he were honest, he would say she took what he dished out better than any woman he'd ever been with had. However, he wanted to torture her with his oral ministrations without her making him stop, and this was going the be the best way.
“Deal.” She whispered
Kieran smirked as he picked her up and dropped her on the bed. “This is going to be fun.”