Unedited Draft: WARNING: Intended for Mature audience

| Damsel's Tattooed Temptation 
CHAPTER 5: Sun Catches Gold |

James checked his watch again to make sure he had the time right: twelve fifty-seven. He was on...

James's thoughts faded when he saw Damsel walking toward him in a pretty yellow sundress, large dark shades covering half her face, and strappy sandals laced up her calf. That yellow made her skin glow like gold the way the sun was catching it.

"You look beautiful this afternoon." James looked at his own white sneakers trying to temper his greedy gaze.

Damsel smiled returning his embrace. "Thanks. You look nice too." She peeked over at the wicker basket he was holding. "What you got for me?" She smiled up at him that smile making him smile.

Sprung. Shut up! He scolded himself.

"I have a disclaimer because I didn't have any direction."

"Uh, oh." Damsel smirked curiosity evident on her pretty brown face.

James took her hand and strolled into the park. "Let's find a place to spread out."

Damsel stopped walking and took off her sunglasses those dark brown eyes met his a serious look in them. "I want to be upfront and clear with you James."

James brought his attention from her mouth to her eyes. "What's on your mind swee’heart?" He calmed the terror that started his heart beating fast.

"I'm not having sex with you James Stevenson. This ain't no get laid quick scheme."

Well I'll be got damn what the hell did she think he was some two dollar whore!? No dumb ass she thinks you’re a reckless ass alcoholic who ended up in the hospital for an overdose.

James took a deep breath before finding her eyes again. "Yes, drill Sergeant."

She frowned up at him and looked away a blush creeping up her cheeks as she gnawed her bottom lip. "I just don't-"

“Oh no,” James held up a hand in surrender. "You don't have to explain. He can just imagine what you think about me given the way we met. I have every intention of being a gentleman." He took her hand and kept walking. Funny thing was James had a set of goals for their date and it didn’t include getting her naked. He was nervous as hell because his purview was usually very limited and direct when it came to women. He knew what he wanted and the woman was willing to give it. It was about the mechanics from there.

Damsel made him want something he never had before. Therefore, he was lost on how to approach the situation. He knew one thing, and her proclamation confirmed, she didn’t have a good impression of him by no fault of her own. He had some work to do, and puttin’ in work he had no problem doing. "How's Cammie?" He interrupted the silence as Damsel walked next to him in complete silence her mind deep in thought. She was probably wondering why the hell she agreed to this date.

"She's good. Will?"

James laughed. "He's good, talked to him yesterday. He wanted me to put in a good word for him to you to Cammie.” He frowned. “God that sounded less confusing in my head."

Damsel laughed. "I'll let her know he asked about her." There was a small silence before Damsel spoke again. "So, Mr. Stevenson. What do you do to pass the time?"

Well, that was a complex question. What he did before he earned an extended stay and Chateau de Hospital was not what he would be doing. At the moment, he was passing the time with this beautiful woman. "I mean it depends.” He pulled his hand from hers to rubbed the back of his neck.

She frowned. “I mean it’s not an overly complex question.” Her delicate eyebrows pulled together forming a wrinkle on her forehead.

“It kind of is.”

“No, it’s kind of not. When I’m not at work, I’m studying or spending time with friends or family.”

James’s chest did that obnoxious light floaty thing. Did she consider him a friend? Of course not..yet. James shook his meandering thoughts and pulled himself back in the present moment.

“Well, right now, I’m spending time with you.” He tossed a roguish smile at her which she returned with a raised eyebrow.

“Why can’t you just answer the question? When someone can’t give me a straight answer they must be hiding something?”

“Woah, woah Dame are you paranoid or some shit?”

She crossed her arms. Not good. Not good. Crossing arms meant hostility she was closing him off. “I’ve no reason to be paranoid. I just asked a simple question. Okay, another question then. Your tattoos?” Her nose scruntched up. “I mean do they have meaning or something?” Her attention was raking up and down his exposed arm.

Well if she was going to put it like that… “Let’s do one question at a time then. When I got out of the hospital I helped a friend of mine do some demo work preparing for some upgrades. She owns this extreme sports, gaming facility for youth. It’s pretty dope.”

“She?” Damsel glanced over at him from the corner of her eye.

James frowned. “Yeah. Maybe not a typical interest for a female. She gets a lot of slack for that but nothing holds Exo down.”

“She sounds...pioneering, driven.”

“You have no idea.”

“And do you?”

James found Damsel’s steady gaze. Her face giving no emotions away. Was she?...No...She couldn’t be… James frowned. “Do you think Exo and I...are a...thing?”

“I was told men don’t have female friends.”

“Look beautiful, I’ve known Exo since high school. We have...the same...interests if you know what I mean.”

Damsel frowned and faced him. “I’m sure I don’t James.”

“I’m into females and so is she.”

Damsel’s eyes grew with understanding before her gaze fell to her feet. “Well, now that I have embarrassed myself three times in fifteen minutes why don’t we find that tree.”

James smirked running a hand along her crossed arms making them fall to her sides and scooped a hand in his. They walked a few paces in silence before Damsel broke it.

“So you’ve told me a lot about Exo, but I’m more interested in you.”

James glanced over at Damsel right when they stepped out of the shadow of a tree and the sun was working it’s magic dancing and reflecting off her skin like she was rare precious metal. “Mostly just spend time with my friends, music stuff, whatever the hell comes up."

"Whatever comes up? Like whatever...got you admitted to the hospital?"

Got damn! Throw salt in the mother fuckin’ wound why don’t you?

“You don’t hold any punches do you?” James felt the sting of her words as if they were a punch to the gut.

Damsel winced. “I just want a clear picture of who you are.”

A clear picture that you think you have. “I’ve never been much of a talker. Let me show you.” James stopped walking finding the perfect spot under a large tree. The park was filling up with mothers and nannies, children and business professionals on lunch break. He pulled the blanket off his shoulder and spread it out on the ground. She smiled at him letting out a sigh. “To answer your question, I've done a lot of crazy stupid shit in my life not gonna lie about it. I still live for some thrills, but I really hate hospitals and don’t plan on going back anytime soon unless I’m bringing my woman a meal." James took Damsel's hands and led her onto the blanket.

Damsel’s lips spread into a smile but her words were laced with skepticism. “You say you’re no good with words but you’re saying all the right things I might want to hear.”

She just wasn’t letting up was she? Seemed like she was on a mission like she was trying to prove to herself and maybe him too that he was who she saw in that hospital. That was an undeniable part of him, but he liked to think there was more.

Resist. Must prove her wrong. Had to be the rebel in him that kept calm and kept pursuing, pushing. James was starting to feel the weight of the first impression. He was never a believed that first impressions were lasting, but he couldn’t deny this first impression was a wet towel on time he was excited to fill.

Once seated, James pulled out the meal he put together. He had to look up what things he should bring. He wasn't sure he'd ever actually been on a picnic before. Picnic, in his mind, was a fancy name for a barbecue at the park, but without the chicks, beers, and good music bumping obnoxiously loud out the back of someone’s car.

He hoped she liked chicken salad with crackers, fruit, veggies with dip, berry crumb bars for dessert and white wine.

Damsel was smiling… like showing her teeth smiling… like baring her soul throw the crinkled corners of her eyes smiling. He thought that was the first time that she actually smiled at him. Where the smile reached deep inside. There seemed to be a glow around her.  Her brown eyes sparkled with appreciation. "Everything looks great."

God he hoped she liked it. He was stressing himself out last night and this morning wondering if she had any dietary restrictions. He could tell she rejected dinner and went for a picnic lunch as some kind of test. He didn't have to know her long to know that she was sizing him up trying to prove he was exactly what she thought he was: not hers. James poured their wine and gestured for her to help herself. He could feel her eyes on him. He looked up at her from under his lashes those lips full kissable with a pink nude matte lip stick. She wasn't wearing any other make-up. He could smell her shampoo and body wash when the breeze brushed her skin just right.

Damsel picked up some fruit.

"So what are you looking for in a relationship?"

Well got damn woman aren't you even going to take a bite first?

"Straight to the point."

Damsel laughed. "Well, I'm just curious about what you see in me. Why me of all the beautiful women that I'm sure you've met over your life."

That was a fucking deep ass philosophical question that he didn't know the answer to. "I'm pretty sure they call it attraction because it's not a conscious thing."

"So... you didn't choose me your labido did?"

James laughed. She was busting his balls! And here he thought this was going to be a casual outing to get to know each other better. Well, he was getting to know her better, kind of, at least his balls were and not in the way he had hopped. She had a fortified stone wall up and he wasn't sure if it was because she saw them as incompatible or if she saw something fundamentally wrong with him.

James's goal was to break through that got damn wall. Displaying the food got close. That smile gave him a glimpse of the goal he was shooting for. "I noticed you because I thought you were pretty. I asked you out because I'm interested in who you are. What the hell makes you work so damn much? Why medicine? Most importantly, how the hell can you stand the smell of hospitals so much?" He shivered.

Damsel laughed out loud. A sound that James found most enjoyable. It wasn’t cute by normal standards, but it was hearty and moved through her entire body.

“You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I kind of like the smell.”

James’s face scrunched up eliciting another laugh from Damsel.

“That’s the face I was expecting. I don’t know…” She paused looking off into space the same piece of cantaloupe hovering near her mouth. She took a bite still searching the tree canopy for words.

"Wow this is delicious.” She brought her gaze to his. “You make all this yourself?"

"You seem surprised. Didn't think I could manage?"

She arched an eyebrow and shrugged. "Baking and cooking not a skill I would have guessed you possessed."

"Surprise." They both laughed as James picked up a berry bar. “I should warn you, there’s gluten, berries, dairy and everything was made in a kitchen that also processes peanuts and other tree nuts.”

Damsel chuckled. “Thanks for the warning. As long as it doesn’t eat me, I eat it.”

It was his turn to laugh.

"Dessert first?" She inquired finishing her fruit.

"Of course, that way I never run out of room."

Damsel smirked picking up a piece of the crumb bar and popping it into her mouth. She closed her eyes. "Awe man, that's good. There's like an entire stick of butter in that."

James’s face twisted in a curious expression. "There's another way to make dessert?"

Damsel pierced her lips together and averted her eyes to the tree canopy in mock thought. "No, nah not really."

He smiled. Okay, so she liked food. He could do food. "So, why did you agree to go on this date with me?"

She exhaled. "Partly agreed because you were so damn persistent."

He nodded looking at the food in his hands. "And the other part?"

“I don’t know.” She shrugged.

“Sure you do. I doubt you’d agree to meet up with someone on your day off and not know why.” This is what he needed. To know where he stood with her. To gain some kind of ground. Like Exo said she had to be interested in him for some reason.

“I think you’re a… you know...a handsome guy.” She glanced at him from under her lashes. "But let's be honest with ourselves we're so different."

"I see that as a positive. We accentuate each other. Or rather we could."

Thirst… James shushed the cynic in the back of his mind and took a sip of wine.

"Maybe, except... we view life differently. On a fundamental level. Example take sex and relationships. They seem to be transitory case and point your adult films. Relationships flex ebb and flow organic and short term."

Ahh so that's it. She got a hold of his porn. All makes since now. James thought.

"I want stability, some one who's going to stick around.” She continued. “Look, I know this is all a bit heavy for a first date, but I was apprehensive for a reason. I know what I want."

"Do you?"

Damsel frowned squinting her eyes. "I'm too old not to."

“Aren’t we all,” James mumbled. "To be fair, I was single during my brief career as a sex God.” James cleared his throat his mischievous eyes meeting Damsel’s surprised ones. “I mean my short lived career in the adult movie industry. And, Just because my life isn't spelled out in a planner somewhere doesn't mean I don't have a plan. I want a family one day. A wife who I can be loyal, and faithful to, and who'll be the same to me."

Damsel frowned. When she looked up at him he could see her seeing him differently but there was still apprehension. He was okay with that. At least she was looking now instead of assuming.
“People don't change in a week.” Her voice was soft almost like she was talking to herself. “Less than a week ago you were admitted to the hospital for an over dose. How can you be ready to settle down when you're still living that life?” She finally met his eyes.

James grumbled. Well got damn. He knew this shit was going to circle around and bite him in the ass for the ump-teenth time. Better to get it out right now.

“You’re right. I'm too got damn old to be lying up in a hospital for some bull shit. This is going to sound dumb but to my embarrassment that is where I met you.” He paused searching his mind. “I’d been looking for a big change.”  

Damsel’s eyebrows twisted before she crossed her arms over her chest. “Let me guess, you think I’m that change?”

“That whole fucked up situation was the change. Besides meeting you at my absolute worst there was my health how close I was to not coming out of it. I couldn’t even tell you why I went that hard. Things just... felt... the same. I always pushed the limits but that night I was trudging through the same tar I’d been in so many times before. Only the outcome was vastly different. Like a slap in the face, mother fuckin’ wake up call.”

There was a long pause before Damsel broke it. “And now?” There eyes met. “What do you feel now...like...inside?”

James exhaled popping a grape in his mouth. “It was like something finally clicked and I had no desire to be in that tar again.” There was so much more, like no woman ever moved him like she did, challenged him. Like he'd never been embarrassed by his actions before ever in his entire life and he'd been in some fucked up situations. He never fumbled, stuttered, or struggled to express himself to a female before. His friends called him the panty whisperer, a nickname he found ridiculous; yet, at times, accurate. “I know what you might be thinking, but I didn't make the choice to be done because of you. I made it because I was tired of living that way. Will I still spend time with my boys, sure, but I'm not going to be on their wavelength. I can't be that person any more.”

She wanted to believe him he could see it in her eyes, but the doubt still clung. “You honestly don't think you'll get the itch ever again?”

“Nah, I know I will, but we all get urges at different times that we don't act on. I can honestly say this: I lived life. Did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. This part of my life. The part where I'm eating lunch on a blanket with you in a park is no different.”

Damsel smiled down at the ground before finding his eyes again.

When he looked into her beautiful dark brown eyes, there was no wall, just him looking at her.

This was his chance.

James pushed himself on all fours and made his way over to her. She leaned away from him pressing back on her elbows. He put one elbow on the other side of her and stroked her cheek with his other hand.

"James." She whispered his name just above the sound of the breeze and it sent a shiver up his spine. His mind started constructing a scene of her naked body in his arms whispering his name as her filled her with his sex.

"I would apologize, but I’m not sorry. You were too far away." James rested his forehead on hers. "You've dated guys that met every item on your check list, right?"

Damsel's breathing was shallow just at his nearness. He loved the influence he had on her. God if she only knew what he wanted to do to her right there in that park fuck who was watching.
Damsel nodded her parted lips a temptation. “How do you know I have a list.”

James smiled with the corner of his mouth. “You just told me.” He grazed her bottom lip with his thumb.
Damsel whimpered the unexpected sound made his insides warm. Her chest heaved, breathing jagged, labored. He forced his breathing to stay steady. He didn’t dwell on the heat from her body or the smell of her scent coming off in waves now that he was so close.

Keep your eye on the prize James. Stay focused. The prize was not her body. She was open to him now he could get that easier than what he was really after. He wanted her mind. He wanted her to want him in the same way he wanted her: entirely.

"Where are they now, Damsel? These perfect men,  why aren't you with them?" James ran a finger down her arm and felt her body shiver. "Why are you here, right now, with me?"
Damsel swallowed and found his eyes then hers fell to his lips. She bit her bottom lip.

By fucking god girl if you keep doing shit like that you gone get it.

"I-I should be. They're s-safe."

"Is that what you want Damsel Kane?” James let his head hang breaking the intensity of their gaze. “I've always been honest with you.” He studied the fine poreless finish of the skin stretched across her face, neck, shoulders revealing her collarbone. “If safe is what you’re looking for, I’m not that man." James cupped her face. That skin so soft. Damsel closed her eyes leaning into his touch. She was sure she knew what she wanted, but how could she know what she wanted when all she had was one type of man?

There was something missing with all those squares a mother fucking circle got damn: him. Would she see that?

"I-I want-"

James claimed her lips his heart stopped for a second then started beating again flooding his body with vitality pooling all his blood to his groin. So fucking soft and sweet. She smelled so good, felt so good. Damsel leaned back until she met the earth him hovering over her tasting her lips massaging them slow and controlled as she wound her fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck. Tingles floated down his spine at her touch, her play.

James took his time he wanted that moment to last for an eternity. Maybe he shouldn’t have kissed her. It could be viewed as a sexual advance. Certainly wasn’t gentleman-like, but he had to taste those lips if he never got another chance to be in her presence he had to take his chance at those lips. Once he pulled away from her, he missed the feel of her heat. Her drunken eyes opened slowly her fuzzy mind clearing as her focus became more clear.
Damsel pressed her lips together still playing with the hair on his neck sending all sorts of chills through his body. She traced the outline of his jaw with her other forefinger. Her touch was tentative, light, exploratory and fucking intoxicating. He could live in her gaze forever. The way she looked at him was difficult to explain. But it was a good thing. A really good thing. James finally felt like he was on the same page as her now. How long that understanding would last was another thing altogether that didn’t exist outside their current moment.

He knew, however, that he had to tread carefully with Ms. Kane.

"Do you like art?"

Damsel met his eyes her warm brown gaze was focused on only him. It was strange how he could see the inner workings of her mind. She was completely honed in on him her mind far away from work, studying, and whatever else she crammed her life with to stay busy.

She nodded.

"I'd like to take you to the museum this afternoon. There's a new Dali exhibit up right now that I haven't seen yet." He loved art and she did too. Check! Not so got damn different after all. James laughed to himself. If she liked checklists he would create his own for her.

"I'm off…” She cleared her husky throat. “Today and tomorrow."

The corner of James's mouth pulled up at the corner. You belong to me for the next two days. He thought but dare not say.

They were very different. Opposites in so many ways. That was his challenge was to find what they had in common. Common ground. Once he found that, he would then show her their differences were strengths.
Continue to Part 6...