Unedited Draft: WARNING: Intended for Mature audience

| Damsel's Tattooed Temptation 
CHAPTER 12: Ex-Cuse Me |

“Girl, if you don’t put that got damn practice exam away right now, I’m going to go mad black woman on yo ass in front of all these ball throwing, pin knocking, beer drinking, happy ass people.”

Damsel closed the exam between the thick volume resting in her lap and found her friend’s mischievous eyes. “Seriously? Why are you so dramatic?”

“Because you are being ridiculous. You’re out. So, be out!”

Damsel growled. “I didn’t want to be here. You dragged me out.”

“You damn straight I did because you needed it. Your whole life can’t be stu…”

“Is that… good lord Damsel is that a textbook?” Damsel grimace when the sound of the voice made a place in her memory without even seeing the obnoxious man.

Damsel set her study materials on the floor under her chair her eyes catching the strange mix-match bowling shoes on her feet before she pierced her lips together and turned to face Doctor Greggs . “Doctor. Fancy seeing you here. You know I never took you for a bowling kind of guy? I thought it was all about tee time with you?”

He chuckled. “Oh, you know me so well. I hate bowling, but that beautiful young woman at the counter getting her shoes loves it.” Dr. Greggs nodded toward the counter but kept his gaze on Damsel.

Despite her better judgement, she broke the stare off between her and Frederick Greggs to look at the blonde bombshell that was chatting with the store clerk at the counter. She hated the jealousy that floated through her. She was feeding into him she knew but she couldn’t stop the feeling. He was her ex for a damn good reason and this is one of them.

“Well isn’t she pretty.” Cammie added with a facial expression which didn’t mirror her words.

Doctor Greggs smirked. “Might even make this one my Mrs.”

“And this will be number what?” Cammie wanted to know crossing her arms over her chest.

Doctor Greggs finally tore his eyes from Damsel to cast a haughty look of indifference toward Cammie who was unmoved.  “Well, I very well couldn’t wait around on Damsel to finally make time for me.”

Damsel hissed. “The problem is I spent too much time on you.”

Doctor Greggs let out a dramatic laugh. “If being fifth and tenth on your priority list is you spending time, I’m sorry for the poor bastard that picks you and decides you’re worth it.”

Damsel hated the heat that was rising up inside her. She clenched her fists at her side. So many words bubbling up toward her mouth. Hateful, hurtful words. “So… because I’m driven and determined to make my dreams come true and not stroke your ego every five minutes some how makes me...

“That’s the problem with you excuses. You’ll make that poor bastard wait for you to make it around to them. It’s why you’re going to end up sad and alone.”

Damsel slapped Doctor Greggs across the face her bottom lip trembling as her own insecurities  and fears, even nightmares of being at the end and being alone. Of focusing so much on her career that she misses out on everything else that life has to offer her. A man who loves her without bounds, children. She was thinking it he said it. Did that really make him the bad guy or just the guy who told her the truth? “I really don’t like you Doctor.” Damsel’s shaky voice let out before she turned and ran out of the bowling alley.

|*|

Damsel wiped the angry tears from her eyes. Angry for what?! Angry because Doctor Greggs was a dick? Or… because he was right? Because he knew her fate? What was wrong with working hard? The best people out there are hard workers. They put in the sweat, blood and tears to mold, to create! Damsel took a turn and started winding up in the hills.

She took a deep breath after taking a curve too fast.

This was absurd, but it hurt. Just when she thought she was well past Patrick ever hurting her again he always finds a way to weasel himself in her life and suffocate her. That’s why she had to leave him in the first place because her was cruel with words and then come back and try to sugar coat with apologies.

She wanted to call him a liar, but she wondered deep down inside whether he was right in some ways. James seemed to find her determination endearing. She wondered what he thought about her. Wondered if he felt like she put him fifth below everything else.

You make time for those you care about.

Doctor Greggs voice echoed in Damsel’s head. She told James a couple days ago during their video chat that she couldn’t see him for over a week. She sighed that was a long time. A very long that if she was being honest with herself she didn’t want to wait that long to see him. Damsel used her voice commands and called James on her bluetooth.

His laughing voice filled the tight space of the car. “Hey baby?” There was noise, muffled voices then James laughed and said. “Shut the fuck up man.” Then oooo’s and aaaah’s and more laughter until it abruptly stopped.

“Where are you?” Damsel tried to mask her raspy voice by projecting louder.

“I’m at the studio babe. What’s wrong?”

“Oh you’re working?”

“Yeah. We have the musicians coming in tomorrow to record with the orchestra so we’re just finalizing the some things tonight.”

“Oh, ok.” Damsel looked around her in the darkness and could make out the large dark forms of the hillside mansions. She was close to james’s house? Why the hell did her brain take her here? “I’ll let you go.”

“Uh uh. Not until you tell me what’s wrong with you.”

“What makes you think something’s wrong?”

“Because you’re voice sound funny, nasally like your nose is stuffed.”

“Maybe that’s just how I sound…”

“Girl? Despite what you may think I’m not as dumb as I might appear. Now tell me.”

“Nothing just , uh… just…”

“Where are you?”

“Um, I don’t know just driving…” Damsel cut off when she heard James talking to someone else.

“Damsel? Tell me where you are. I’m coming to you.”

“You have work to do. I don’t want to distract you.”

“That’s why I have a team. Now where are you?”

Damsel shrugged even though James couldn’t see. “I don’t know maybe somewhere near your house. Please don’t leave your session. I’ll see you…”

“What in a week? Fuck that shit! I’m coming for you now.”

Damsel smiled despite herself and bit her bottom lip. She frowned when he phone indicated she had a call from Cammie coming in. “Cammie’s calling.”

“Talk to your girl.”

“Cam?”

“Hey Boo. You okay?”

“I’m okay.”

“Don’t let Doctor Greggs get to you. He’s a dick everyone knows it.”

Damsel sighed running her hand down her face the other on the wheel. “I know. I just… maybe he wasn’t wrong with what he said.”

“Uh uh, don’t go there. Look you left your study stuff at the bowling alley so I’m going to bring it to work tomorrow. Where are you?”

“Driving to clear my head.”

“Okay, be safe. I’ll see you at work tomorrow.”

“Thanks Cam.” Damsel pulled into a parking spot at the overlook park she was at with James over a week ago. Damsel took a deep breath before pushing the door open and stepping out into the warm salty breeze. She strolled over to the tree that was a dark outline now casting a long shadow in the grass behind it from the park lamps in the near distance.

She kept walking toward the edge and set on a bench pulling her sweater tighter to her body though she wasn’t physically cold there was something very lonely about that moment. The last time she’d been there she’d been warm and cozy, completely relaxed on James’s lap the sun caressing her skin filtered through the trees canopy of leaves.

As much as she hated to admit it, Doctor Greggs was right. She was so focused on becoming a doctor and fulfilling her original vision of her career, proving her mother wrong by passing these damn exams that she’d neglected every other part of her life. It was consuming her she knew that, she saw that now, but she didn’t know how to get from under it.

She wanted those moments with James again. The way she felt with him, at ease, and peace it was intoxicating. Almost as intoxicating as his kiss, his touch, the intensity of his eyes when they caressed her body.

Damsel slouched on the bench resting her head on the back of the bench and gazed up at the star littered sky. She frowned. It was expansive. So vast, so far the bright tiny speckles in the ink drenched tapestry of the universe that surrounded her.

“Makes you feel small as hell doesn’t it?”

Damsel closed her eyes when James’s voice filled her chest with a longing. “I thought I told you not to worry about me.”

James set on the bench next to her and pulled her into his warmth with the lithe movement of one strong arm. She rested her head on his shoulder taking in his scent that she didn’t know she was desperate to smell until she did. He kissed her hair and placed his chin on the top of her head.

Damsel felt her shoulders relax as she breathed a sigh. That peace and calm that she felt over a week ago in this sme place with this man washed over her mind like a veil shielding her from all the chaos and noise that was going on around her and within her. There was nothing but the breeze and James.

“How did you find me?”

“I went home first. When you weren’t there this was the next place I tried. You thought I was playin’ but I was determined to find you.”

Damsel smiled adjusting herself so she was closer to him, nestled deeper under his arm against him. She wanted to he closer, she wanted him to her closer to her. “You sounded pretty determined on the phone.”

“I had to see you. It’d been too long since I saw you in person anyway.”

Damsel frowned Patrick’s words echoing through her mind. “James?”

“Yeah baby?”

“Do you feel like I put you after everything else?”

“Well you’re a busy lady.”

Damsel pulled away her eyebrows furrowed. “You didn’t answer my question.” She found his eyes the color indiscernible in the dark lit park.

“I don’t know babe, you tell me.”

Damsel sighed scooting away from him but still facing him. She palmed her forehead. “I mean I guess I kind of do. Gah!” She stood to her feet and started pacing. Maybe Greggs was right. Maybe she was destined to be by herself. Successful in her career a bust in her personal relationships.

James stood in her path and grabbed her fidgeting hands in his. A relaxed expression held his handsome features. “I’m not a priority for you.”

Damsel’s chest tightened.

“That’s okay. I’ll earn my spot on your roster. I’m the first to admit that I have a lot of work to do.”

Damsel turned her face away from James cursing her teary eyes. How could he be so calm when the woman he is interested in admits that he’s not a priority? She felt horrible about it. He was working and he dropped everything with a deadline to find her just because he felt like something wasn’t right with her.

Damsel met James’s eyes when he tilted her face up to meet them. “I don’t know who you spoke to bring this pain, but your focus is on the right things. There are only so many hours in a day. All things must take their place or get pushed to another day.” He caressed her cheek. “We all do it sweetheart.”

Damsel pushed away from him, the tenderness and intensity of his gaze was overwhelming. “You dropped everything to see me, to find me, to comfort me. When have I ever done anything like that? I mean it’s not like I don’t want to see you, I do! Like near all the time but I can’t say that I would drop everything for you.”

James turned her to face him a smile tugging the corner of his lips. “Baby…”He clasped her by the nape of her neck and traced her jawline and cheek with his thumb. “I’d rather have you wanting me a million times over than seeing me every day and wishing you we somewhere else.” His thumb started gliding along the outline of her lower lip his eyes fell there. “I know who you are. I see you and I want you.” His voice lowered sending a chill down her spine. He licked his lips. “I want all of you.” His face descended to hers claiming not only her lips; but also a piece of her. She was never ridding her mind of this man even if they didn’t end up together. She knew he wasn’t just branding her with his soft teasing mouth.
Continue to Part 13...