Unedited Draft: WARNING: Intended for Mature audience

| Damsel's Tattooed Temptation 
CHAPTER 6: Wrought Iron |

It was exhilarating!

Damsel hadn’t noticed how far away from humankind she had ventured until her date with James. Human interaction was an item on her ever growing list of things that needed to be done. Her mind was so preoccupied with achieving career goals and mastering being a superb doctor that she never really allowed herself to find peace in other activities. If anything they were distractions keeping her from completing her goals. She didn’t realize how callus she was until her picnic with James. So focused on her mission of figuring him out that she lost sight that he was a living breathing creature with emotions, needs, and desires not some cadaver lying lifeless on a slab.

In her disconnected mind, it seemed logical to establish same page terms, but when she blurted out that she wasn’t going to sleep with James, his expression was tamed but quite telling. She offended him. When she saw his handsome face contort in confusion She was really embarrassed. She’d jumped to a solution without really knowing the problem, answered the question without know what the question was. It was, if anything, less than scientific, and at best not human focused.

She knew why. He terrified her because of her reaction to him not necessarily anything he did, or said. She didn’t understand her attraction to him. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t dismiss him from her thoughts, why he haunted her dreams, why his voice made chills ride her spine, his touch make her skin tingle to life...

Damsel’s startled eyes met James’s hazel green ones when he scooped up her hand. Damsel smiled up at him. The way the sunlight was catching them they looked almost grey. Damsel blinked and averted her gaze his slender long hands sparking electricity through her body.

“You’ve been real quiet since we left the park.” James adjusted their picnic stuffs on his other shoulder. It wasn’t a long way to the art museum from the park so they decided to walk. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny but with a nice breeze.

“Just been thinking.”

“Figured as much. Do you mind letting us less intellectually sound peasants know what the queen is thinking?”

Damsel shook her head with a smile as she came to a stop on the path releasing James’s hand. She faced him crossing her arms across her chest her focus on her sandals. “I want to apologize for my behavior this afternoon.”

“Hopefully not all of it.” Damsel glanced up at James from under her lashes a lopsided smirk marring his handsome face.

She couldn’t help but smile even if only to keep from swooning. It was quite pathetic. “No, not all of it, just the part where I was accusatory, callus, and presumptuous.”

“You don’t have to apologize for saying how you feel.”

“I do when it was said out of fear and ignorance.”

James brushed Damsel’s chin and she looked up into those churning green-grey eyes. “I accept your apology. I don’t understand what you’re afraid of. It’s me that’s afraid.”

Damsel frowned. “You’re afraid? Of what?”

“YOU!”

Damsel’s frown deepened. “ME!? Why in the world would you be scared of me?”

James raised an eyebrow and looked at her sideways.

She winced. “Okay, okay, okay… Maybe I’ve been a little difficult especially today, but I’ve never dated anyone like you.” Damsel found smiling eyes gazing down at her.

James pulled Damsel into his chest and kissed the top of her head. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.” He laughed and started them walking back down the path. After half a block he pulled away and dashed across the street to put the picnic stuff in his car.

Damsel took the moment to check her phone. Just as expected multiple messages from Cammie:

CAMMIE: ????
CAMMIE: Inquiring minds want to know!
CAMMIE: Really you’re just going to leave your bestest friend hanging like that
CAMMIE: Ugh! I’m dying seriously feed me a bone
CAMMIE: Okay not a whole bone, I’ll take a bone crumb

Damsel smiled preparing to respond. Should she should make her friend wait longer or should she relieve her suffering? The hippocratic oath would suggest doing no harm, but she wasn’t a doctor yet.

DAMSEL: I don’t know Cam...he’s cute and all but…

Damsel let out a malicious laugh as she tucked her phone back in her purse. She strolled up to James as he tossed rogue strands out of his face.

“Ready?” She wanted to know.

“What’s got you so happy?”

She looped arms with him resting her head on his. “It’s a perfect day isn’t it?”

“I’d say.”

“I’m power hungry I suppose.” Damsel confessed several minutes into their viewing of the Dahli exhibit.

James frowned down at her. “Did I miss something?”

Damsel chuckled. “No. I’ve just been thinking about what you asked me at the park. Why medicine? I suppose it’s because I’m power hungry. The wealth of knowledge you not only have to know, but then you take lives into your hands. Lives that depend on your wealth of knowledge and your ability to apply it to their need. I assisted a doctor in extracting a bullet the other day. I knew what to do before the doctor did. I handed him tools that he didn’t know he needed yet. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that should be me. I should be in the driver’s seat.”

“So did you just discover you wanted to be a doctor after working with them?”

Damsel’s chest fell. “No, I knew a long time ago I wanted to be a doctor.”

James frowned finding her eyes as they moved to the next painting. “Then why didn’t you go right into it?”

It was a sore spot that hadn’t yet healed. “Nursing was safer, more practical and cost effective. My mom thought it was a better alternative.”

James nodded. “Ah, Momma Kane.” They paused in front of the elegantly drawn woman fanning her handkerchief out of the stone opening of a tall tower. She looked desperate longing for someone to see to help her. “Does she have any sway over your current drive?”

Damsel huffed. “Unfortunately, too much. She tried so many times to sway me from pursuing my MD, and now I have to prove her wrong. This whole thing has taught me to be tougher. To stand for my beliefs. That, no one will chase my dreams harder than I will.”

“Ain’t that the truth?”

“Speaking of chasing, did you ever accept that production role for that movie?”

James’s eyes glistened with humor. “God, you remember that?” There was little about him that she forgot except his eye color mostly because it changed so much. “Uh, yeah, I did after you encouraged me to.”

Damsel’s chest tightened and she looked up at James as they strolled together to look at a metal sculpture. “Me?”

“Why do you sound so surprised? You have an... energy about you.”

Damsel’s face heating up from her neck. “An energy?”

James nodded. “An intensity, sturness, no bullshit. You were like: James, why the fuck didn’t you accept the got damn job when it was offered to you?”

Damsel burst out laughing “I did not say that!”

James shrugged laughter in his voice. “Ok, maybe I’m paraphrasing.”

Damsel bumped him with her hip. “Is it paraphrasing if you add words?”

“I don’t know, but I do know that you were right.”

There was a pregnant silence.

“So what made you see reason?”

James shrugged. “I knew it was what I should do. I was just being a chicken shit. I’ve been involved in movie scores before, but never the mastermind behind the entire thing. That much control is terrifying. I admit to my embarrassment.”

Damsel smiled up at him. Opposite in so many ways. She hated not having total control. It was very mad scientist of her, but James feared the control. “It’ll feel good once you settle into the role.” Damsel’s attention was drawn to a monstrosity that was escaping the wall and making an elaborate display on the floor and up to the ceiling. “Uh, I’m not an art expert, but I don’t think this one is Dahli.”

James smirked. “We left the Dahli exhibit a while back.”

Really? Damsel hadn’t noticed.

“I think it might be time for dinner. If you’re interested in seafood there’s a beautiful place on the ocean.”

Damsel’s growling stomach told her he was right, but it felt like the afternoon just started. Damsel looked up at James and squeezed his hand. “I’m very interested.”

The entire ride back to her apartment she was fighting with herself. They spent pretty much the entire day together and yet there she was debating if she should suggest they do something else. It was getting really late and her very lengthy dating list told her they were well past their allotted time limit. That aside it was creeping into that no go time zone especially for a first date. Damsel should care she made up all these rules but she just wasn’t ready to say good night.

Damsel, seriously, you don’t want to come off desperate or needy. Guys like James didn’t respond well to that sort of behavior.

Damsel swallowed the lump when they pulled up in front of her apartment.

"I really enjoyed you spending your time off with me." James glanced at Damsel who set in silence in passenger side looking down at her keys.

She looked over at him a smile pulled the corner of her lips but didn't touch her eyes. She nodded. "Yeah it was a pleasant much needed surprise." Damsel hesitated. The voices screaming at her at each other.

Logic and reason: get out the car end the night on a high note. Don’t want to give him too much at once he won’t respect you.

Inner voice: You don’t get that much time off do you want to spend it wishing you’d have followed your instincts?

James cut the engine. "Let me walk you to your door."

Damsel nodded startled from the battle waging in her mind. She turned and reached for her door handle but stopped. "James?"

James released the car door handle and turned to Damsel who's back was still to him. She released her door handle and slowly turned and looked at him over her shoulder. Rogue strands of her hair had escaped the hair tie and they fell in her face.

"What is it Damsel?" He moved the loose curl away from her face and her breath hitched at his touch. "Say whatever's on your mind. You don't have to censor yourself."

"What I meant to say was: I've really enjoyed my time with you..." She glanced down at her fidgeting hands. "And I..." She looked up at James from under her lashes. "...don't want the night to end just yet."

A smile pulled up the corner of James's lips. He exhaled cupping her cheek in his palm then stroked her jaw with his thumb. Her eyes averted to his lips and hers parted insides stiffening, squiggling in anticipation recalling the last time he kissed her.

"Where did you want to go?"

She looked into his eyes her mind overwhelmed. "Nowhere... in particular.”

James smiled. "There doesn't always have to be a destination." He stroked her cheek with his thumb before grabbing the steering wheel. She felt the loss of his touch. He started the car, retracted the roof, and pulled off music blasting.

Damsel laughed out loud as the familiar rap song blared out the speakers with James rapping along to the words. Damsel found herself bobbing her head the lyrics playing in her mind. She had Cammie to thank really. She was more a rhythm and blues girl some classical music, jazz.

James passed Damsel the mic when one of her all time favorite current pop jams came on. James raised an amused eyebrow when Damsel unclipped her hair letting the curls fly freely in the wind as she screamed out the lyrics.

After too many terrible catchy songs, James switched to a jazz station as he navigated the winding hilly roads.  

Damsel looked over at James as he leaned back his long arm easily reaching the steering wheel. The moon was bright and big casting its ghostly pale blue haze over his tattoos, that snaked shadows on his cream colored skin. His eyebrows were relaxed but he didn't seem to be paying much attention to anything in particular. Damsel brought her attention to a wrought iron gate when James slowed and waited for the gate to open before pulling into a sizable pavered courtyard with a large fountain in the middle. He parked his car on the paved entry court bedecked in trees, shrubs, bushes and flowers and turned off the engine.

Damsel raised her eyebrow when she stepped out the car and looked up to a beautiful three story glass and white stucco structure. She turned to look at James who was walking around the back of the car and saw a majestic view of the ocean splashing against the shore miles down, the moon glistening off its surface.

"James where are we?"

James smirked something he did often that showed the dimple in his left cheek. "My home."

Damsel crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow her eyes following James around the car. "Is this your bachelor pad that you take all your chicks?"

James frowned at her then lifted the corner of lips. "Nah." He faced the building and exhaled taking Damsel's hand. "I'd say I'm more of a wrought iron fence type."
Continue to Part 7...