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Friday, 19 September 2014

First Chapter Friday: The Tenant by Sotia Lazu

Chapter One
“Come on! We’re here. We may as well check it out!” Amanda was already fishing the apartment keys from her pocket. She might not live there yet, but she planned on making full use of the premises.
A hand stilled hers. “Mandi, I’m not sure this is such a good idea. Your father—”
God, she hated that nickname, but Mason seemed set on it. Ignoring his protests, she freed her hand and pushed the key in the lock. “My father gave the apartment to me. To us. We could be moving in tomorrow, together, if you…” If he weren’t such a Prudey-Mc-Pruderson.
Mason looked at her like he was waiting to hear the rest of that sentence, so Amanda did her best to take his mind off it. She twisted her fingers into his shirt and pulled him all the way down to her for a deep kiss. So what if she was turning the key behind her back and pushing the door open with her heel?
The lights in the corridor went off automatically, which suited her fine. If she took just a few steps backward and managed to pull Mason with her, this would be the first time since their engagement that the two of them had complete privacy. A closed door would be separating them from the rest of the world. Then maybe he’d listen to reason.
Two steps. Only two steps.
She slid one foot across the threshold and tried to place her weight on it, so Mason would have to come forward. Yeah…not happening. She tried it again, but failed to shift him even the littlest bit.
He was still kissing her, but now his arms were wrapped around her, keeping her anchored to him. She could possibly tackle him but, really, using martial arts to get her fiancé to make out with her had to be a major no-no.
With a sigh and a pout she knew he couldn’t see, she pulled back from the kiss. “We’ll just take a look around. Make some plans, discuss decorations...” And hopefully throw their jackets on the floor and hump like bunnies.
God, she needed that! A year of first dating Mason and then being engaged to him had provided her sexual frustration with no outlet other than what Amanda achieved by herself. Still, she loved that he cherished her enough to want to wait.
“I thought you’d do that while you stayed here,” he said. “You know you’re better at these things than I am. I trust you completely.”
If the evening went as she’d planned, she might not have to live there alone until the wedding. He might finally concede and move in with her the following week. “I want to pick your brain,” she replied. “Please?”
“We’ve seen the blueprints. And you know the place already. Thought you had some things in mind.”
She did, but not about decoration. “I haven’t seen it since it was renovated, half a decade ago. And the blueprints don’t mean a thing if you’re not an architect. We have to see it up close, check out the walls, the floor.” She indeed meant to examine the floor very closely. She hoped it wasn’t very dirty, but she was willing to incur the cost of dry cleaning her favorite skirt, if it meant she managed to finally get groiny with Mason.
“Okay.” Mason tangled his fingers with hers. “But I don’t know how useful I’ll be. I’m not a woman.”
She should protest the stereotype, but knew he meant well. “Women aren’t the only ones with taste.” She guessed she ought to be thankful she had such a wonderful guy fawning over her and not pressuring her into anything—including color schemes—but could he maybe put out once in a while?
Said wonderful guy nodded reluctantly and allowed her to lead him inside. Not that she could do much leading; she could see nothing in the pitch black room. At least in the corridor they’d had the moonlight. Inside the apartment, there was not even a hint of illumination. She blindly steered him toward the living room through what she remembered to be an open kitchen area.
“Do you know where the light switch is?”
In her mind’s eye, Amanda could see him patting the wall blindly. Only, if the lights came on, they’d actually have to look around the place, and she didn’t want to do much looking. She preferred touching. Lots of it. And other actions of a naughtier variety.
“It won’t be of much use,” she said. “Previous tenant took the light-bulbs with him.” It wasn’t like she’d lied for sure. He might have. She knew nothing about the guy—except he was hot and perma-grumpy, according to Alice—but he might have been the sort to take everything with. He might have cataloged his underwear alphabetically by color and spray-painted his hair green, for all she knew.
And about now was a good time for her to stop thinking about Mr. Unknown and start thinking about Mr. Right, who was currently cupping her breast.
It didn’t last long. He withdrew his hand, moved it to her shoulder, and apologized. Profusely.
“For what?
“This isn’t why we’re here. I wasn’t sure you wanted me to…” She blinked against the darkness, but could only make out the vague outline of his body. She didn’t have to see his face to know he was flustered.
Did she have to hand him a signed contract? “Mason, you can touch my boob whenever you feel like it. In fact, that boob is yours until I decide to take it back. Unless you decide to grab it while we’re having an argument. Or when I’m on the phone to my mom, ’cause: Yuck.” She mulled it over for a moment while Mason’s hand tentatively made its way down again. “Actually, you can…um…initiate contact when you feel like it, and I’ll—I’ll respond according to my mood.” When his fingers stopped at her clavicle, she added, “Which is great at the mo. I’m in a great mood, so boob’s yours.”
Could she have sounded more pathetic? Probably not. Still, her goal was accomplished; she was getting some action.
Not that some was enough. She had to go all the way with him that night. She needed to. She’d be more patient if he hadn’t been with a woman before, but apparently several had been in his life and bed. He’d admitted that during the same date on which he’d told her he saw her as more than ‘girlfriend material.’ It was their third date, and Amanda had been hoping for a bit more than a kiss, but Mason had explained he wanted to wait. She hadn’t realized how long that wait would be until another four dates later, when he’d said he could see himself having kids with her.
He was always sweet and nice and affectionate—and fully functional, from the reactions she’d gotten to touches and caresses—so she’d decided to go along. They’d done things, some involving lots of nakedness, but after a while Amanda had started feeling like she was in high-school again. Which she most definitely wasn’t.
Enough was enough.
She rose on her tiptoes, plastered her body to his, and kissed his neck, sneaking one of her hands between them to find his zipper. She was careful to tug it down slowly, so he didn’t feel threatened. Although how he, with all his size, was intimidated by itsy-bitsy her, was beyond her comprehension. Sure, she could be demanding at times, but she needed things. Mason was her man. He should understand her. Plus, they had now more or less agreed on sharing a forever. It shouldn’t matter to him how soon that forever started. Right?
“I thought we were going to check out the place.”
Now see, when he got that whiny tone, Amanda could throttle him. She usually attributed it to the raging status of her hormones. Biting down on her irritation, she caressed his torso. “But there’s no light,” she said. He bulged with muscle everywhere, big and taut, with those square shoulders and thick arms that could close around her and make her feel safe.
Or suffocated, as was the case now, when she knew he was hugging her so he could stop her roaming hands.
“Mandi, we’ve been through this before. I respect you too much to make this into something casual. I want our first time together to be special. I want to be your husband and want you to be my wife.” He kissed the crown of her head like she was a five-year-old and he was about to tuck her in. She wasn’t a child, damn it.
“We love each other,” she said. “We’re getting married. What difference does waiting for a couple more months make?” Uh-oh. Wrong argument.
“Precisely.” Did he sound smug? Yeah, he sounded smug.
She could turn this into a fight or focus on her target. “I love you, baby.” She kissed his throat, caressed his back, leaned her forehead against his broad sternum. “I want you, and it’s driving me crazy.”
He sighed with what sounded like defeat. It was a sound that shouldn’t make her happy, coming from her fiancĂ©, but Amanda was seconds away from cheering when he grabbed her butt and lifted her. Her legs came up to wrap around his hips, and he lowered her gently to the floor.
The way they were going about it, her head was supposed to be the last thing to make impact. Turned out, it was the first. It didn’t hit the floor; it hit something more fragile. Something that toppled over with a deafening crash.
The shock made Mason let go of her, and she landed on her ass.
“Baby? Are you okay?” He tried to caress her face in the dark and almost poked her left eye out with his thumb. “Are you hurt?”
She rubbed at the sore bump forming on the back of her head. “I’m fine. It seems a lamp or vase was just sacrificed to the gods of making out, though.” If she maintained the right amount of levity, the situation could be salvaged. “But I’m all lonely down here…” That was her seductive voice. It had to make him bend to her will.
When the lights suddenly went on overhead, she saw her plan was working. Mason was indeed about to lie down next to her, and God only knew what would have happened next.
Only she stopped paying attention to Mason, because there was a man standing in the doorway between the fully furnished living room they were in, and the rest of the apartment.
He was holding a baseball bat.
And wearing nothing but a scowl.
At all.

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