Unedited Draft: WARNING: Intended for Mature audience

| Damsel's Tattooed Temptation 
CHAPTER 9: Mother Dearest |

“You’re too got damn old to be scared of your mama Damsel Marie Kane.” Cammie said pushing up her breasts in the low cut top. She eyed her reflection critically, pursed her lips, and winked at herself. “Got damn how do the fellas resist?”

Damsel laughed. “They don’t. They just pile up at your feet.”

Cammie looked down placing her hand over her open mouth with a gasp. “Oh goodness! Hey fellas. Don’t worry your queen is still here.”

Both women laughed.

“And… I’m not scared of my mother. I just love sharing her joy with my bestie.”

Cammie grunted. “Remind me again why I’m doing your sketchy butt any favors? Especially after that bogus text message you sent me a few days ago then went radio silent for over 24 hours.”

Damsel grummbled. Why did her friend have to have elephant memory? “Because you love me.” Damsel smiled showing all her teeth.

Cammie’s facial expression made her retract her ridiculous smile. “I’m going to need you to spill the beans.”

Damsel huffed grabbing the eyeliner. “You know I don’t kiss and tell.”

Cammie gasped. “Kiss! Oh my gosh! On the first date? Ooooooo, I’m tellin’ Mama Kane on you! Isn’t there a rule somewhere about that?”

Damsel avoided Cammie’s prying gaze.

“So, Will asked about you.” Damsel said focusing her attention on her task.

“Uh uh! Don’t you dare change the subject!” Cammie snatched the eyeliner and turned Damsel to face her. She carefully applied the liner, then mascara and finished her friend’s eye shadow. “Waitin’ on you we’ll be late and you know how much your mother likes to wait. So how was it...the first kiss? You know they say the first kiss sets the course for the entire relationship.”

“You won’t let this drop will you?”

Cammie raised a skeptical eyebrow. “He must have done a number on you! You didn’t have any problem at all telling me all the gory details about you and Dr. Greggs.” Cammie shivered. “I just want to know if you enjoyed yourself. Let loose, had fun?”

Damsel looked at her friend. If she only knew. Cammie wanted every gory detail and wouldn't stop until she got it. Damsel wasn't certain why she was holding back. Maybe because she wanted to selfishly keep those days to herself. They were unreal in so many ways, fantastical. Maybe if she didn’t talk about it she could hold on to the magic, the whimsical nature of her extended rendezvous with James.

“He wasn't what I expected.” She began choosing her words carefully.

Cammie nodded swiping through the clothes in Damsel's closet. “How so?”

Damsel shrugged plopping on the bed looking up at the white ceiling. “He’s talented and accomplished. He likes helping children too. I was expecting a boy and found a man.” She turned on her side propping her head on the palm of her hand. “He’s not like Doctor Greggs or Doctor Mason. With them I could see a simple life that makes sense. Two men that I connect with on basic things like career and family. With James it’s different.”

“Good different by that silly look on your face. However, I’m waiting for the, but.” Cammie pushed.

Damsel exhaled finding the ceiling. “I don’t know. I’m torn between the fact that we’re SO different and that these men I have so much in common with don’t actually see me. Like see into me. Not the me I show them but the me that I try to hold at bay.”

“But James sees you?”

Damsel sighed. “Yeah.”

Cammie strolled out of the closet with an eyebrow raised. “Girl?”

Damsel met curious eyes. “Hmm?”

“Did you….nah.” She turned around back to the closet, stopped and faced Damsel again. “Did you give him the cookie?”

Damsel winced.

“Oh my god! You little…!” Cammie came flying out the closet and dove on her friend. “I'm so proud of you!” She squeezed and tickled a laughing Damsel.

“Cammie you're crazy!” Damsel rolled onto the floor to escape her friend’s assault. “I don't understand how giving it all away on the first date is anything to be proud about.” Damsel scooted to the foot of the bed. “My mother would disown me. I can just see that look on her face.”

Cammie raised one of her well groomed eyebrows capturing Damsel’s mother rather well. They both laughed.

“Forget about Mother Kane for a minute.” Cammie propped her head up on her hands looking down at Damsel on the floor. “You finally did something that wasn't based on logic, statistics, reason, probability or any of the other ridiculous anecdotes you use to prevent yourself from living.”

Damsel frowned. It did feel good. Good even beyond the physical. She just followed what she wanted to do and not what she thought she should do and here she was feeling great about breaking most of her dating rules.The guilt and concern did creep in. Like the challenges that were inherently apart of introducing sex early into a relationship.

“So,” The corner of Cammie’s mouth pulled up. “How was it? It was good wasn't it? Come on, I know it was.”

“Cammie!” Damsel snatched the outfit her friend picked out off the bed and started putting it on.

“Awe come on! The pussy’s out the pantys now, dish!”

“You are too nosey for own good. All I'm going to say is…” Damsel paused for dramatic effect watching her friend bristle with anticipation. “He was… thorough.”

Cammie squealed hopping off the bed. “Oh my goodness you little freak! I called it, knew it, he is a freak isn't he?! Isn't he!” Cammie laughed like Gollum from Lord of the Rings before bombarding Damsel with more detailed questions.

“You said so yourself, my mom doesn't like to be kept waiting. We have to get out of here.”

“You can get dressed and talk at the same time. I've seen you do it before.” Cammie followed Damsel into the closet.

Damsel strolled to the full length mirror hanging on her closet door. “He was patient almost like he was worshiping my body.” Damsel shivered recalling the memory. “My brain is telling me I shouldn't have had sex with him that it was too soon. I’m sure you are surprised to hear that, but no matter how much I overthink it I don't regret anything.” Damsel nodded at her image in the mirror satisfied with her final look before meeting Cammie’s silly dazed smile. Damsel laughed. “Why the hell are you looking like that?”

“The real question is why aren't you! This man got chills running down your spine; yet, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop with you. I don’t understand the hesitation.”

“I can't just ignore the facts, Cam.” Damsel shook her curls with her fingers.

“YES! YES YOU CAN and you should. Relationships aren't med school or surgeries. They're not about numbers, statistics, or calculations.”

Damsel exhaled finding her friend’s warm brown eyes. “That’s certainly not what Mother Kane thinks. How do I look?”

Cammie smirked. “I picked the outfit so you look fabulous.”

An hour later, they walked up to the hostess at the fancy breakfast club Damsel’s mother picked to meet them.

“Kane,” Damsel said pulling down the white off the shoulder sweater dress. She wasn't sure why it was plenty long it was just that she didn't want to give her mother fuel.

Damsel plastered on a smile when she met her mother's eyes across the place attest following the hostess into the dining area.

Damsel air cheek kissed her mother and Cammie did the same before they took their seats.

“Damsel you look different. Cammie honey how've you been?”

“Just perfect Ms. Kane.”

Damsel's mother eyed her daughter with furrowed eyebrows. “You look like you've filled out a little bit.”

Damsel exhaled. “If that's a slick way of saying I look fat you can keep it.”

Her mother waved her of. “Oh, come now Damsel, you always think the worst of me. Ever since your father left us I can’t seem to do anything right. Contrary to popular belief I’m not an evil witch.”

Damsel rolled her eyes and allowed the menu to distract her. It made her cringe when her mother brought up her father. The woman always thought the reason why Damsel disagreed with her had to do with her father.

“This look suits you. All that studying makes you lose so much weight. I told you to let me hire a chef for you.” Bridget Kane settled into her seat by smoothing the back of her pencil skirt down and perching politely in the chair.

“I know mom, but I'll be just fine. A lot of doctors made it through medical school and the exams workout a personal chef.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a student reject food like you do. I know I always kept food in our mouths, but goodness it doesn’t grow on trees. Don’t be like your father, it’s okay to accept help. I know when I was finishing my degree and working every other moment of every day I let my mother cook for me.”

“The difference is grandma cooked for you. She didn’t spend a thousand dollars a month for someone else to do it.”

“Is that what this is all about? You think I’m what, buying you off because I’m not doing it myself?”

“No, it’s about spending money that you could donate to charity instead of having some fancy chef make me chicken and vegetables.”

“You know what, it’s never enough with you is it? If I cooked for you it’d be something else that you’d find fault with something else I did. I’m sorry I’m not your father. I can’t be your best friend. I have to actually provide for you give you sound direction and guidance.”

Cammie cleared her throat when she saw her friend brewing. “Bridget, you said you had a big merger coming up the last time we met up. How did that go?”

Bridget smiled taking a sip of her drink. “Oh, goodness. It went off without a hitch of course. I organized everything before the actual meeting. The meeting was just a formality.”

Cammie nodded. “You’re a real inspiration for women of color. Did you ever think about mentoring? I think you’d be good at it.”

Bridget weighed the idea for a second. “You really think so?”

“Of course. You really know what you’re doing. You pulled yourself up from a really low place and now you’re closing million dollar deals.”

“Well, we do have a mentoring program through my job. I’m usually too busy for it, but it might be something to look into.” The waitress took their orders. Offering a nice transition to another topic, Damsel thought sipping the chilled water in her glass.

“How's the studying Damsel?” Bridget wanted to know.

“Uh, good.”

“Good to see your lying hasn't improved much. What's going on?” Damsel’s mother eyed her daughter with a raised eyebrow.

Damsel shrugged happy when the waitress interrupted placing their drinks on the table.

“You know it's never too late to turn back. I still don't understands why you're dropping all th…”

Damsel sighed really loud. “I'm taking the exam, mom. I've just been a little preoccupied this past week is all. I'll be back at it soon.”

“Pre-occupied? Is that a slick way of saying distracted? You know we can't afford distractions of any kind unless it involves getting me a grandchild.”

“Mhm.” Cammie interjected getting a kick from Damsel.

Damsel's mother raised a critical eyebrow. “Really, a man? I should meet him.”

“No! I mean, I don't… it’s not even like that yet we...uh...w-we just met.”

“Just met?” Damsel’s mother eyed her daughter an eyebrow slowly raising. “My goodness Damsel please don't tell me you slept with this man.”

Damsel frowned down at the white table cloth shame filing her face with heat. “Ma.”

“Don't ma me. How do you expect them to take you serious? Respect you! You're too smart for that kind of reckless behavior.”

Damsel bit her tongue and prayed for the  meal to end before she said something reckless and mean. To stoop to her mother’s level was not something that Damsel liked doing, but the woman had a way of pushing her. A heavy silence filled the morning air.

Bridget cleared her throat. “So what does he do?”

Damsel winced. She knew this wasn't going to go over well. She swallowed a gulp of water. “He’s a musician.”

Mother Kane frowned. “Damsel Marie Kane please tell me you're joking! Have you learned nothing from my mistakes?” The woman paused when the waitress came with their food. “I thought I raised you better, smarter. Don't fall into the same ditch I did.”

“He's not daddy! Every man isn’t daddy!”

“You’re right, every man isn’t like your father, but musicians, they're all the same. I thought your father was different. I thought he cared about me about his family, but he didn't. Music and that wretched poisonous life that goes with it is not the life you want to live.”

“You're not being fair...”

“Don't be fooled by ridiculous words like fair. When your father left us I had to work three jobs. Three jobs and go to school to keep our heads above water. You are a black woman in a word designed for white men. No time for those kinds of distractions.” A dense heavy silence filled the table.

Damsel focused her attention on her plate. There was nothing like getting chastised in public by your mother as a grown ass adult. Wasn’t she able to make her own decisions?

“I know it's hard to hear.” Bridget said he voice as kind and soft as she could manage.

“Don't you think you're being a little conclusive?” Cammie added forking some of her eggs benedict into her mouth.

Damsel was thankful that her mother’s eyes shifted to Cammie. All the doubts that she had about James flooded her mind, made her chest heavy.

“You have to predict the end before it grabs you buy the neck and wrings all the air you have in your lungs.” Bridget swallowed a sip of her mimosa. “I put all my faith and trust in you dad. When he left I was stuck scrambling, struggling to figure out how to survive.”

“I’m not you mom. I’m not depending on a man to take care of me.”

Damsel’s mother scoffed. “Only because I taught you better. I wouldn’t let you repeat that damned cycle. Your grandmother, my mom, did the same thing with my father.”

Damsel balled her fist at her side it enraged her when her mother acted like Damsel’s life had nothing to do with Damsel’s sound decisions. Like Damsel was just a reflection of a life had Bridget made better decisions. Damsel met Cammie’s empathetic gaze.

Another long silence ensued. “So you’re going to sit over there like a little child, quiet and brooding the rest of the meal?”

Damsel frowned over at her mother. “You don’t really care what I have to say anyway so why should I bother?”

“Of course I care.” Damsel flinched when she felt her mother’s cold hand rest on hers. “You’re the reason why I worked so hard you know that right?”

“You never let me forget mom.” Damsel doubted what her mother said was true. She was pretty sure her mother worked hard to forget about daddy and how he abandoned her. How she wasn’t good enough. She seemed determined to prove that notion wrong. “I get it okay. Men are terrible unless they’re doctors or lawyers or wealthy executives, accomplished, distinguished pillars of society. But doesn't it matter how I feel? How I feel about this man? How he makes me feel when I’m with him?”

Damsel's mother took a deep breath rubbing the bridge of her nose. “I should say yes.” She swallowed the egg she forked into her mouth. “But the cold hard reality is feelings get in the way. They blind you to what is really there. People make relationships complicated but they're really easy…”

Great, Damsel thought. Love advice from someone who's ever only been with one man. That one man broke her heart, destroyed her to the point where she didn’t even recognize that she was wounded.

“If he doesn't make you better, he isn't worth your time.”
Continue to Part 10...