Unedited Draft: WARNING: Intended for Mature audience

| Damsel's Tattooed Temptation 
CHAPTER 14: Banging on Taut Skin |

Damsel parked, turned off her car and took a deep breath exhaling slowly trying to calm her giddy nerves. It’d only been three days but it felt like three weeks since she’d seen James.

She missed him. She missed the way she felt when she was around him. She checked her reflection in the rear view mirror, cleaned the dark lipstick off her teeth and checked the cateye make-up she spent an annoying amount of time applying. She wanted to look edgy, sexy, wild tonight. She smoothed her hands down the short black leather skirt that hugged her hips. She wondered if he would see her as sexy and wild tonight? She wasn’t sure why she cared so much. It could be his friend’s words that were still echoing in her mind.

She shivered. The friend, Roger, was a creep and she wasn’t sure why James called him a friend, but if they knew each other for thirty years the man had to know something about James. Certainly more than Damsel knew.

Stop this childish mooning, Damsel Kane. Her mind scolded her with her mother’s stern voice.

Panic started to rise up in her chest. She pinched the bridge of her nose.

You’re thinking too much. Get out this damn car!

Damsel planned on sitting in the back with a drink and enjoying her night watching sexy James play but also was hoping to pry a bit more into James through Will. It was apparent to her that Will and James were very close. He had to know things about James that maybe even were unclear to the man himself. Damsel could hear the music several feet before the building came into view. Groups of people were hanging around outside chatting and smoking nodding at her as she approached the door.

A handsome man with dreads down his back opened the door for her. "Welcome pretty lady."

Damsel smiled and entered the premises. A young girl collected her money for the door charge and she headed inside. It was an intimate space surprisingly packed.

Damsel saw James on the hand drums as a woman was singing. Damsel raised her eyebrows. The way he was tapping on the taught skin of the drum gave her a chill. It couldn’t be healthy how long if felt since she touch him, kissed him, had him all to herself.

She located the table that James had reserved for them. Will was waiting at the table and waved her over. Cammie, of course, was late. Will stood when Damsel arrived and hugged her taking her sweater.

"Good to see you again Nurse Kane."

Damsel waved him off. "Please, call me Damsel it's my night off." She nodded toward the stage. "He looks at home up there."

Will smiled and nodded his white teeth gleaming even in the dim lighting. "Oh yeah. It's his release."

Not the only release Damsel thought taking a seat.

Will waved down a cocktail waitress. "What does Cammie like?"

Damsel looked over at a nervous Will. Huh. She thought. "Trying to score major points by having a drink ready?"

Will smiled. "Couldn't hurt, right?”

"Oh no, she'll definitely think you're Christ come back."

Will laughed.

"Any cocktail really." Damsel looked at the cocktail waitress in her black corset, fishnet stockings and black boots. "Lemon martini for me."

"Make that two lemon martinis and two beers." Will rubbed his hands together. "So, Cammie's still coming, right?"

Damsel smiled. "You better get used to waiting William. Cammie is always late." By the time Cammie showed up Damsel was already sipping on her martini, eyes closed, riding the smooth vocals of a young woman with a substantial afro. She was singing some India Arie.

"Awe how sweet already got me a drink." Cammie kissed Damsel on the cheek and took a seat next to her.

"That was all Will." Damsel took another sip taking in Cammie's overly sexed up look: cutoff jeans that formed to her bottom leaving nothing to the imagination with a silky top that fell past the waist of her jeans, but there was no back. Shameless.
Cammie tossed Will a sideways glance with a smile. "Why thank you sir that was very kind."

Will looked down at his clean white kicks before looking back up to Cammie with a shy smile. "My pleasure Cammie. You look beautiful tonight"

"Thanks.” Cammie smiled settling into her seat. “So where's your... Oh, I see. Oh shit girl he got rhythm.” Cammie bobbed her head while shimmying out of her sweater. “He's really good." They'd switched to Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man" and a new singer from the audience. A heavy woman with light honey colored skin, hair in choppy layers that fell around her soft face. "Wow this chick is killing it." Cammie added crossing her legs.

Damsel nodded mouthing the words with Cammie and laughed.

Damsel turned her attention to Will. “James sent me a picture from Sunday dinner that he said you took.”

Will laughed. “Yeah. Mom’s house every sunday. His hungry ass as never missed a week since we were young.”

Damsel frowned. “Your mom’s house?”

Will nodded. “Yeah, our mom’s house. My mom adopted him when we were in like first or second grade.”

“James was raised by a black woman?” Cammie inquired.

Will laughed. “Yeah, he was practically living with us anyway always over there eatin’ up all my snacks after school.”

They all laughed and Damsel found James on stage eyebrows furrowed as he played, deep in concentration.

“Aight James.” Cammie said. “That explains so much about him.”

Damsel elbowed Cammie. “Do you say whatever comes into your head?”

Cammie looked off into space then nodded. “Most of the time, yeah.”

Damsel shook her head and took a sip of her drink letting Will’s enlightening information sort through her brain. Certainly put a number of things into perspective.

"So, what are we singing?" Cammie sipped her drink looking at Damsel's apprehensive expression.

"Girl you're crazy if you think I'm going to get up there."

Cammie looked at Damsel square and raised an eyebrow.

"Don't look at me like that."

Cammie rested her chin on her hand staring Damsel in the eyes.

Damsel looked away then back at her friend. "No Cammie!"

More staring and silence.

"Uh fine. What we doing?"

Cammie broke out into a wide smile. "You already know it's going to be some Beyonce`"

Damsel sighed. "You're singing Beyonce`. I'm not embarrassing myself."

Cammie glared at Damsel. "Quit acting like you can't sing."

Damsel raised her eyebrows. "I know my limits. You Beyoncé your butt off. I'll back you up."

Cammie nodded. "Fine Chicken Little. 4 is my favorite Beyoncé album so ‘Love on Top" is my pick."

Damsel grimaced. She liked the song, loved it even but she only dared sing it in the shower or alone in the car. "If we're really doing this, I'll need another drink."

"Don't drink too much were dancing to it too."

Damsel groaned. She was supposed to be enjoying the evening not stressing about an unrehearsed performance. It hardly mattered that they’d done it a thousand times in front of the television on drunken girl’s nights watching Beyonce` live in concert.

A couple singers later, Cammie and Damsel were on the stage. Cammie was a show woman, most definitely missed her calling. The audience was giving them phenomenal energy clapping and cheering. Cammie even attracted people that were hanging around outside making it a full house. Damsel kept stealing looks at James who was banging away on the drums in that sexy way that he did his hair falling in his face, muscles in his arms flexing with his effort. She found his eyes once and he sent her a wink biting his bottom lip not missing one stroke on the drums. Damsel wanted to jump on him right there and ride him to whatever beat he banged out on her body.

Cammie had James stop playing the drums and had the audience sing while she struggled to catch her breath still hitting every move. Damsel was about ready to die as well right when they hit their last poses signaling the end of the song. The crowd erupted in cheers and hoots. Cammie and Damsel stood together bowing. Cammie was pacing the stage pumping up the audience even more as James and a few other band members got off the stage and other talent took their place.

Before handing her mic over to the MC, Damsel got the idea of a song she wanted to sing. It wasn't like her to want the spotlight, but she'd forgotten how much she loved singing, loved music until she was playing piano and singing with James on their long first date night. Since, her itch to play and sing had been like a ghost whispering to her in her dreams, caressing her conscious mind on her drive to work, always lurking, coaxing, pulling her to act. She forgot how freeing, how much of a release it was.

Damsel asked the MC if she could sing a song and the pretty caramel colored woman with a low cut red afro and big dark brown eyes ushered her back on stage.

Damsel told the pianist what she was singing and waited until the crowd quieted before addressing everyone.

|*|

James took his seat next to Will listening to his friend try to shout over the noisy crowd who was still turned up by Cammie and Damsel's performance. Cammie's vocals were stellar no question, but Damsel's harmonizing was on point and complemented Cammie without flaw. He loved listening to the sultry low undulations of her singing voice.

James brought his attention to the stage when he heard Damsel speaking. She looked stunning tonight. Different than she usually did: edgy, dark he found her rather alluring. He really liked her versatility: she was flawless in the morning upon waking up with her curly wild hair or like tonight a dark seductress in leather with her hair falling down her back in straight strands. HIs insides started swirling around imaging what he might do to her off in a dark corner.

"This was unplanned,” She said. “But I'm singing Lauryn Hill’s 'Can't take my eyes off of you'."

James smiled settling into his chair. He loved the song and knew it would work well with her voice.

"You're just too good to be true. Can't take my eyes off of you..."

James closed his eyes remembering seeing her on his piano. Lost in the music allowing it to carry her away. Did he mention he loved her voice. Rich and heavy, yet crisp and held a confidence that was firm, well trained. Her voice settled in the mid to low notes and glided with a raspy airy cadence over the higher ones. He could listen to her sing all day. Who would have ever thought his serious, no nonsense nurse was so gifted.

He didn't realize it until he heard Damsel play the piano that being with someone who enjoyed music meant a lot to him.

The audience got excited when she moved to the course her voice higher, strong yet still controlled with purposeful volume. Such authority, such command, and passion. The audience was singing along with her swaying. He'd come to these events often but never experienced such energy like with Cammie and now Damsel.

Everyone erupted in applause when Damsel finished thanking everyone for the love. James pulled her close to him anxious to get her in his arms when she finally got off stage and made her way over to their table. He kissed her head.

"I love listening to you sing, beautiful." He pulled away from Damsel and she stared up at him her eyes warm a polite smile pulling up the corner of her sweet lips. "God, I love your voice." Damsel's smiled widened as she rested her head on his chest and squeezed him to her. Well look who missed him just as much as he missed her.

Damsel and James took their seats, ordered more drinks and enjoyed the rest of the talent. Cammie and Damsel would break out in sing-a-long fashion when a song came on they liked getting the audience riled up again.

He noticed that somewhere in there she had drifted far away.

Many people wouldn't see it, but James noticed that music was a complex matter when it came to Damsel Kane. She loved it; he could tell that much, but there was always a sadness that crept in somewhere along the path. He hated dwelling on moments of pain, but he wanted to uncover that secret about Damsel only so he could comfort her.

She was such a tapestry to him. She did a great job of hiding herself carefully creating the facade that she wanted the world to see. That she thought was acceptable to the world, her colleagues, her mother. Everything was conscious, chosen to feed into that facade into that partial allusion, into that semi-real that she used to keep everyone at arm's length. Everything except him. If not for him she would have kept this creative side to her locked away and he desperately wanted to know why.
Continue to Part 15...