Chapter Five

A Tigress eats, sleeps and breathes power, for it is power alone that sustains her. In the jungle of life, it is kill or be killed. Surprise attack if you must, but kill. Always.

As if my day couldn't get any more surreal-Royce Powell desired me, for God's sake-I later found myself blindfolded. And not for any type of kinky love play. Kera and Mel had arrived at my apartment and ushered me into the living room, where I'd been commanded to stay until given permission to leave.

I had refused to obey, of course. So they'd wrestled me to the ground like little monkeys, tied my arms behind my back, blindfolded me and led me to the couch. Here I sat. And sat. For half an hour, at least. With every little noise-was that a fire I heard crackling, or Twinkie wrappers?-my curiosity increased.

"What are you doing in there?"

Kera: "You'll see."

Mel: "If you ask one more time, I'll leave you tied up and give Royce Powell a call. Maybe he can come over and rescue you."

She'd do it, too. I scowled, deciding then and there not to tell them about Royce's impromptu visit and the earth-shattering kiss he'd planted on me-or my own involvement in said kiss. That would only increase their desire to phone the man.

"You have to let me go," I said. "I'm starved. Famished. Practically comatose. I'm on the verge of death here."

They laughed, the evil wenches.

"If you die, can I have your bed?" Mel asked. "You know how I love cherrywood."

"This is my apartment. I have every right to know what you're doing. Notice I didn't ask this time, I simply stated a fact."

Kera: "You'll just have to wait and see."

Mel: "When did you become so impatient?"

"When you two decided to hog-tie and blindfold me and hold me captive while you do God knows what to my apartment."

"Have you ever considered hormone-replacement therapy?" Kera again. "You're a live wire lately."

"Really, Naomi. You're beginning to remind me of Aunt Fredia-after the sex change."

I clamped my lips shut. Everyone knew our aunt Fredia (formerly Uncle Fred) was a real bitch.

Finally, my cousins relented. Mel untied me and I rubbed my wrists.

"You can remove the blindfold now," Kera said.

Without a word, I whipped the material from my eyes. My jaunt into utter darkness was over as sunlight flooded my vision. I blinked, trying to help my poor little ocular lobes adjust.

When they did, I gasped.

"What-" My lips opened and closed as I drank in the sight before me. Colorful streamers dripped from the wall. Crepe paper lined the coffee table, which was piled with multicolored gifts. Glitter sparkled from the wood floor.

"What is this?" I asked, awed.

"A party, of course." Kera grinned at me.

"A party? For me?"

"Yeah. Who else?" Even Mel was smiling. "You're always planning them for everyone else, so we thought it'd be nice to throw one for you."

I really, truly wanted to cry just then. This was the sweetest thing they'd ever done for me. "It's not my birthday," I managed.

"So?" Kera locked tendrils of hair behind her ear. "If we want to have a celebration in your honor, we don't have to wait for your birthday to do it."

"But why?" I asked, still in shock. "I don't understand."

Mel shrugged. "We love you. After hearing about your putting-the-dishes-off birthday present from Richard the Bastard, we wanted to do something special for you."

"Thank you so much." Eyes now completely filled with tears, I hugged them both. "You guys totally rock."

"We even have presents." Kera clapped her hands in excitement.

"Wait till you see the cake!" Jumping into action, Mel ran to the kitchen. Moments later, she returned holding a rocket-shaped cake.

Wait. No. Not a rocket. The cake was shaped like a penis. The flesh-colored frosting gave the cake a very real appearance. I choked down a laugh, then decided what the hell? I laughed until my side hurt.

"Oh, you guys. I love it. This is the best non-birthday party ever." I wiped the moisture from my cheeks. "Did you make the cake, Kera?"

She nodded. "Like I'd order that monstrosity from a bakery."

"What do you want to do first?" Mel.

"You have to ask?" Ecstatic, I rubbed my hands together. "I want to open presents. Duh."

"That's what I was hoping you'd say." Mel's giddiness was almost a palpable force. She ushered me to the coffee table. "Open this one first. I want to see your reaction."


If Mel was this excited about me unveiling the contents of the box, I shuddered to think what was inside.

Mel confirmed my fears by commanding Kera to grab a camera. Swallowing, I picked up the rectangular box she'd pointed to. Shook it. Heard only a slight shuffling noise.

"Don't be such, a weenie," Mel said, biting her lower lip. "Start tearing."

Unable to hold back any longer, I took her advice and tore the wrapping apart. When the box was open, I stared down at a... vibrator? Yes, a giant green vibrator.

And that was only the beginning.

When all the presents were opened and the gifts were strewn around me, I felt like I had somehow been transported to a pleasure palace that had been sneezed on one too many times.

Everything was green.

A green miniskirt. A tight green dress. Green panties (camouflage). Green feathers. Green chains. Hiding my dismay behind a smile, I said, "Are you trying to tell me something here? Like I'm sexually frustrated and a bad dresser?"

Mel stared at me dead-on. "You need to take these items and put them to good use. Let loose for once. Just go for it with Royce. I'm telling you that with the right motivation, that man will be panting for you."

She was wrong. He hadn't needed any motivation, and he still wanted me.

"I agree with Mel," Kera said, nodding. "Although it's my hope the relationship will develop into something more than sex."

I still wasn't ready to talk about the kiss, so I said, "You guys-"

"No, don't say anything now," Mel interjected. "You're near death from hunger pains, remember?" She grinned. "Who knows? Maybe the cake will put you in a good mood."

Kera chuckled. "Let's feast."

I nodded, deciding simply to enjoy. Eat now, argue about Royce later. "Okay. But I get the balls!"