She’d been standing in between the older lady and Wana, and had been so deeply into the thankful atmosphere that her eyes had fluttered shut. When Debbie asked hands be held in unity of prayer, she hadn’t opened her eyes, she’d just reached out to both her sides, and was satisfied to feel Wana’s soft hand clasping hers.
The hand that held her on her right though, didn’t feel like a woman’s hold, and definitely wouldn’t have sent thrills racing through her body so indecently.
Stacey breathed deeply through it and clasped his hand as though his changing his position to stand by her didn’t mean anything, then she began earnestly praying.
When the prayers ended and the hugs and wishes completed, drinks were passed around. But unbeknownst to the women, the men had purchased a cache of fireworks for the occasion.
Now she understood why uncle PJ had been excited to get the prayers along. The men took their beers outside and joined the hundreds of other unseen people lighting the dark skies with loud, cracking, colored fire.
Uncle Ebong just shook his head at the juvenile antic, “You know this is prohibited in the state, right?” he called out but nobody answered him, they all just laughed; the women were pleasantly surprised.
“If only the kids were awake,” the lady who’d been introduced to her as Cecil said wistfully.
“Not to worry, their parents will probably reenact it for them later,” he said in a gruff voice. Like he would rather not have replied her but he couldn’t help himself. And the look Cecil gave him at his comment, was of shocked pleasure.
Stacey knew there was definitely something between the older couple but she wasn’t going to find out this early morning. She took a deep breath and strolled outside to watch the array of colors lighting the sky.
The couples were all paired up, maybe not consciously, but as the men shot the fireworks into the sky, the women leaned close and conversation became murmurs and smiles among them.
Stacey suddenly felt lonely just watching them and it developed an ache in her throat that was close to making her cry.
But then his warmth surrounded her as his arm went around her waist.
Richard had never held her like this before. Instead of tears, she was now breathless and her heartbeat picked up speed.
“I’m sorry, Stacey,” he whispered, right into her ears. “I’ve wanted to tell you that since those stupid words and reasons had left my mouth five years ago.”
Stacey didn’t know whether to cry in joy or rail at him for destroying the good thing that they’d shared. But it was undeniable, his words had melted her heart.
His hand on her waist squeezed a little and then he was slowly, unobtrusively leading her towards the side of the house they’d always hung out.
The adults were engrossed in themselves and the fireworks and didn’t notice their disappearance. They had barely turned the corner when Richard suddenly turned her around and hugged her fiercely.
It was so unexpected she’d yelped a bit from the force of getting slammed against his hard, comfortable chest. Stacey could feel his racing heartbeat against hers, Richard was so tall her head only reached to his chest, so her ear was plastered close to his heart, where she could monitor his nervousness.
This was a man, not a teenager, a man, a big, strong, tall man who was pleading not just with words but with his vulnerability, and it humbled her. How could a girl hold on to a grudge after this?
“I just need you to pick my calls again,” he whispered brokenly, like he’d been suffering unbearably when she’d not pick his monthly calls. Of course, he’d suffered, she’d suffered right along with him, but it was her only way of protecting herself.
Her hands had remained limp by her sides when he’d hugged her. She lifted it now and rounded his hard body, squeezing him close in acceptance, “Okay,” she whispered in a small voice.
One word and his whole life lit up as though he was in the center of the fireworks. One word and his mind became instantly peaceful; suddenly the empty ache in his heart filled with warmth.
Richard pulled her away to look into her eyes, “Thank you,” he said reverentially. “Could you…could we still…”
His nervousness was adorable, “…still be friends?” she completed the question for him.
But she frowned when he shook his head, “I could never be just friends with you, Stacey, not with the way and manner I think about you,” he said sincerely.
Her heart hammered so hard, she was sure he heard it. What was he saying?
Richard’s hands slowly loosened his hold on her body and instead elevated to hold her face tenderly, his head bending so close to hers their breaths mingled.
“Just friends don’t think of the things I think about you,” he murmured, his nose lightly caressing hers, while his fingers traced her face quite tenderly.
“Richard,” she whispered, not really knowing if she was about to beg him to kiss her already or try to stop him from saying words that shouldn’t be said between friends.
But the choice was taken away from her when his lips touched hers and scorched her soul. Stacey accepted this decision whole heartedly as she whimpered and went on her toes to try and get closer to him.
She had been kissed before, she wasn’t a virgin, but kissing Richard made her feel as though she was being introduced to something she’d never experienced before. Which was weird, she’d been kissed before by more than one guy, but this…this was something else.
Stacey had always been self conscious during anything pertaining to sex but she was right now forgetting that she was kissing her best friend passionately in her father’s compound and that they would be hell to pay if her dad caught them.
A breathless moan sounded when his talented tongue licked her lower lip and then bit it softly, sucking it in together with her tongue. The guy could kiss; if he made an attempt to disrobe her there and then, she wasn’t sure if she’d be strong enough to resist him.
Finally they had to breathe; several times he slowed the kiss and wanted to stop but couldn’t. He would just groan and dive back into her mouth, making love to her mouth like his breath depended on it.
“This is what you do to me, Stacey, you make me loose my mind and forget myself. I’ve wanted you…always, since that day that you kissed my jaw, I’ve wanted you, darling,” he murmured in a voice so husky, Stacey was sure her panties melted from the heat effect.
He pressed his hips into her and she felt the obvious, very hard bulge, burning against her stomach. “Just a friend will not give me this reaction, baby,” he said breathlessly.
Stacey shivered at the pleasure that coursed through her, it was new and unbelievably delicious. But Richard probably thought it was an adverse reaction and shifted away, but not entirely, just enough that she no more had his magnificent body pressed against her.
Richard took a deep breath and let it out slowly, over her head, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t rush you. I didn’t even find out if you felt the same way about me,” he said and laughed derisively at himself.
But Stacey could hear the hurt in his tone at the possibility that she might not like him that way. Did he have to ask though, after her reaction to that kiss?
With her heart in her throat, she reenacted the act she’d done when he’d gifted her with the leather bracelet she couldn’t stop wearing. Stacey didn’t just get to her toes this time around, she hooked a hand around his nape and dragged his head down, then kissed him so hard he moaned and stumbled, leaning into her.
The momentum pushed her until she leaned on the wall, her body arched and flatly plastered on his, while their tongues dueled for supremacy.
“Promise me you’ll answer my call tomorrow; that you won’t get scared of this new, intense emotions between us after you’ve had time to think,” Richard whispered harshly, his eyes boring into hers.
He knew her so well, given time to think this through, she would find so many loopholes the whole idea would sink in a second.
“I won’t,” she replied breathlessly.
“Promise me, Stacey,” he prodded.
“I promise,” she replied, meaning it.
He grinned and at that moment, Stacey was seeing the boy she’d known. Then he leaned in and kissed her, and it felt nothing like a boy’s kiss; it was a fully grown man’s passionate kiss. A kiss that let his woman know that she was wanted, that she was his center.
“I can’t wait for the second of January, so I’m going to call you before then. I’m going to call you the whole of today, Stacey. Then tomorrow, I’m going to show you what I’ve never shown anyone else,” he promised fervently, his eyes shinning with sincerity.
“I would love that, Richie,” she replied in a whisper that caused another hard, thorough but short kiss.
“Your dad would shoot me if he knew what I was currently thinking about you. Let’s return before we’re missed,” he said, pulling her from the wall and smoothing back her hair tenderly.
They were almost to the corner when he kissed her again, like he couldn’t help himself; because he really couldn’t. At the rate he was going, he would probably expose his intentions to the adults on a platter of gold, because he seriously would not be able to keep his eyes off his girl…his woman.
DUCT SEASON 4 continues
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