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I throw my head back on my pillow and blurt, “Oh yeah, so into me he kisses me then tries to escape. Then avoids me for three days? Then re-appears sweeter than ever! God, Nik, you suck!”

The silence goes on a long while before I hear someone clear their throat.

Mimi whispers, “He kissed you on Saturday night?”

Lola squeals ,“I knew it! See, he likes you Teeny!”

Nat squawks, “Where the hell was I?”

I sigh deeply, “Yes. He kissed me in his office. He backed me up into a wall and kissed the heck out of me. And grabbed my ass. And my boob. And I really liked it.” I end on a whine.

Nat grins like the Cheshire cat and says, “From the beginning, if you please.”

I spend the next ten minutes explaining in detail what happened. When I’m finished Nat asks, “I don’t get why you guys were laughing so hard. What happened?”

I bite my lip to stop from giggling and say, “Well, we heard something really funny.” I shoot her a look and go on. “In the conference room.” Her eyes widen, I continue with, “It was really loud.” Nat swallows hard and turns beet red.

Hehe…yeah, I know you naughty girl.

Lola looks thoughtful and slowly says, “I think I know what happened.” I lean closer to her and widen my eyes like she will reveal to me all the secrets of the universe. She reminds me, “You were pretty tipsy, Tina, and you just got put on the spot with all the sex questions. I think maybe he thought he was taking advantage of you.”

Mimi and Nat both nod in agreement.

Could it be?

No, I’d made my intentions clear.

I wanted him.

I was rubbing up against him like a cat in heat for god sake! I moaned into his mouth. Those all say take me now! Could it be he thought I’d been drinking too much?

Mimi shoots me a sultry look and asks, “So, how good of a kisser is he?”

My eyes roll in to the back of my head and I moan. The girls laugh at my dramatics.

I smile a small smile and explain softly, “It was the type of kiss where your knees turn to jelly. And you feel electricity running through your veins. And your stomach flips around like a fish.” I sigh and say, “The type that made me believe he could possibly be the one."

Lola pouts her lips and puts her hands over her heart. Nat smiles a happy smile. Mimi bites her tongue and nods her head. “Righteous.”

I smile to myself and whisper, “Yeah, it was.”



Max speaks around a caramel mud cupcake. “Glad to see you and Tina made up.”

Tina brought us six of the honest to god best cupcakes I’ve ever had. Out of all her cakes, these are my favorite so far.

Ambrosia…Food of the gods.

She walked into the ‘chill out’ room and as soon as Trick saw her carrying a container he jumped up, kissed her cheek and took the container from her.

She laughed, “Trick, save some for your brothers, please.”

Ghost even squeezed her shoulder when he walked in to the room. She’s a part of our family. All the girls are. I consider them my sisters. Well, not Tina, which would be weird…because she would be an adorable sister with a great ass that I like to kiss.

Uh, Yuk.

“We had a girl’s night last night and these were left over,” she says as she picks one up and holds it out to me. “Try it.”

God, she looks like Eve holding a shiny red apple.

Tempting temptress.

One bite of that morsel of caramel fudgy goodness and I could’ve asked Tina to marry me.

That’s strange. Thoughts of marriage usually make me sweat. Somehow that doesn’t seem to happen when I think of Tina as my little wifey.

Tina in my kitchen. Tina snuggling with me on my sofa. Tina in my bed on her kne—

Don’t even go there.

I finish chewing, swallow, and declare, “This one’s my favorite, sweetheart.”

Her smile beams like morning sunshine and she says, “I’ll remember that, Niki.”

After instructing us not to work too hard she’d gone back to work.

When I’d come back from our sushi lunch yesterday, I was annoyed and pissy as hell.

Tina laughed off the kiss like it was nothing. To me, it was the best kiss I’ve even had so it made me mad as a hatter that she didn’t feel that way. I was ready to ask Tina to be my girl which is a huge deal for me. I thought everything was going good. I walk into Safira and bam! She jumps on my like I’ve come home from war. I enjoyed holding her like that. She’s so small. Her breasts pushed up against my chest and her face a hair’s breadth away. Nice.

Then she writes off the kiss as ‘curiosity between friends’…like hell!

I wanted to kiss her right there on the sushi bar enough to leave her breathless!

I turn to Max and tell him, “Yeah, we’re good.”


Poker night is awesome! Again!

We all got together at Nik’s house at eight thirty. I decided to try a few new cupcake flavors today and went with strawberries and cream cupcakes and white chocolate cranberry cupcakes. Both were a hit. Ceecee had one of each before dinner. Max tried to look angry but couldn’t stop himself from grinning at her.

Totally got him wrapped!

I snuck her one more that he didn’t see. Pizza came at nine. We all ate, drank, and chatted together, including my little angel Ceecee. Max ended up putting Ceecee to bed a little later than usual because I’d managed to talk him into letting her play a few rounds of Uno with the girls. We cheered her on when she won twice and she was absolutely beaming with pride. Max couldn’t stop smiling at her. I knew why he was smiling.

As soon as I walked into the house, I greeted everyone and went straight to the kitchen to sort out my cupcakes. I was just about done when I almost had a heart attack.

“Tina! Tina! Tina! Tinaaaa!!!!” That yelling was coming from Ceecee. My heart clenched in fear.

I ran out of the kitchen with wide eyes and a pale face. Everyone else looked just as afraid as I was.

Only when I was her huge smiling face did I begin to relax. I held a hand on my chest and said, “Geez Louise, Ceecee. You just about sent me to an early grave!”

She stopped right at my legs, looked up and burst out, “I did it!”

Confusion set in. I shook my head slightly, shrugged and asked, “Did what, angel?”

She beamed, “I made a friend! All on my own. I just saw a girl from my class in the library and went over to her and said hi, I told her my name and you know what she said?” Excitement was leaping off her face.

I widened my eyes, leaned closer to her and whispered, “What’d she say?”

Ceecee smiled my favorite crooked smile, “She said she saw my art project up on display and thought it was awesome!”

That. Is. Awesome!

Ceecee took my silence as permission to continue, “She told me to eat lunch with her tomorrow so I can meet her friends!”

Totally. Freakin’. Awesome!

Still in a rush of excitement, she went on, “I did what you said and it worked! You’re the best, Tina. Love you!” After she dropped that bomb I like to call a miracle, she rolled on down to the hallway and out of sight.

Jiminy Crickets! We did it!

I was too busy watching my little friend stroll away to see Max bounding towards me. I let out a small yelp when I was picked up from behind.

He was laughing in my ear, “Only you, teeny Tina.”

When he’d had enough of holding me, he set me down and I turned to face him. I was stunned to see his eyes bright and shining, not so stunned to see the huge smile on his face.

I turned to face the others and they were all silently cheering, doing victory dances and making touchdown motions.

I whispered a reverent, “Wow.”

Nik walked up to me, face serious and pecked a quick kiss on my lips before hugging the life out of me.


After Max put Ceecee down for the night, we snuck into the studio again and sang some songs along to the piano. We were just starting ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey when Trick came skidding into the room on his knees belting out the words. The other guys came in shortly after and we somehow ended up singing Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ‘Baby Got Back’ which included Max sticking out his ass and booty shaking. It was so hilarious, I actually peed a little.

After listening to Nat play a few more songs, the guys went back to Poker. We’ve become so comfortable together that when the guys were playing their last round we girls got bored and fired up a DVD without even asking. This seemed to please Nik who was giving me the dimple. We took the same places on the sofas as last week and watched ‘Old School’. The guys would stop playing every time we burst out laughing and eventually gave up on Poker to come and watch with us.

Nik sat with his back to the arm rest and pulled me onto my belly with my head resting on his chest, Max using my butt as a pillow. Mimi sitting with her feet under her body, Trick using Lola’s lap as a pillow while Lola stroked Trick’s hair. Nat sitting on the end of the sofa, her legs pulled up to her chest with Ghost leaning back on her and using her legs as a recliner.

Watching Will Ferrell streak naked down the street by himself had me in stitches. I was laughing so hard I’d snort, every time I’d snort everyone would laugh at me and I’d laugh harder causing more snorts. Still laughing and snorting, I begged for everyone to stop because I was actually going to pee myself.

I settled back down and found myself falling asleep. Nik asked me if I wanted to sleep in an actual bed and I shook my head. In a sleep filled haze, I turn my head to his, took my fingers and traced his lips. Without a second more of thinking, I put my lips on his. Whisper soft. I could’ve imagined it. I sure thought I did. I pull away and smile at his confused expression.

Nik, y u so dreamy?

I rest my head under his chin and promptly pass out.

Chapter Thirteen

Free Rein

“What the heck is that?”

I look up from my Friday rush paperwork to see Tina in the doorway of my office, face pale with wide eyes.

Confusion passes through me. I look down to see I’ve forgotten to put away my .45 caliber pistol which sits on my desk.

Oh, crap.

“I… Uh…” I’m not sure what to tell her. This pistol is my baby. My dad gave it to me when I fifteen. He wouldn’t let me use it, though. It was just for protection. Only to be used in life or death situations. The very first thing he taught me was to never point your gun at someone you don’t plan to use it on. I’m not saying I haven’t ever used it. I have.

It’s a regular semi-automatic pistol with steel casing. The handle, however, is wooden with a solid gold Mary Magdalene on the right side. It’s a piece of art. This was my dad’s gun which he brought over from Russia. He taught me how to use it. It’s my only connection to my dad apart from our baby grand piano.

I decide to play it cool. I can trust Tina.

She makes her way over to me slowly, still obviously petrified of the object on my desk and says quietly, “Please tell me you have a permit for that.”

I smile and shake my head at her. Not in a ‘No’ way but in a “Nawww, you’re too cute” way.

I smirk up at her, “You wanna hold it?”

She gasps, her body rears back, and she shoves her hands under her armpits looking like she’s about to do the chicken dance then leans forward and whispers fiercely, “I don’t want my prints on it!”

I burst into laughter. My god, she is a goofball.

Taking the pistol, I stand and place it into the top drawer of the filing cabinet in the corner before locking it. I walk up to Tina, put my hands on her shoulders and assure her, “Nothing to worry about, sweetheart. It’s just for protection.”

Still wary, she looks into my eyes and tries to joke, “You must have some large enemies.”

I lean down and kiss her forehead. I whisper, “You have no idea.”

Tina doesn’t know it but I’m very serious when I say that.

She sounds anxious when she asks, “Who do you need protection from, Nik?”

I vow, “I’ll explain it to you one day, babe. I promise.” Tina doesn’t look any less guarded but she nods.

Good girl. Pick your battles.

I ask, “Did you need something, teeny Tina?” I pull on a lock of her dark silky hair.

Her face brightens when she remembers what she came for. She says, “Yes! I wanted to get a turkey sub for lunch from Silvio’s so I came to see if you wanted one, too.”

My stomach rumbles and I respond, “That’d be great. I’ve got a ton of work to get through with a 1pm deadline so that’s perfect.”

As soon as I reach for my wallet, the naughty girl actually runs out the door and yells, “It’s on me!”

I’m up and around my desk in a second with a twenty dollar bill in hand. I see her trying to open the heavy security door quickly but nothing happens. It has a one second time lock. The more she jiggles the more the time lock starts over. She turns her head and sees me coming towards her. Her eyes widen to the size of saucers. She looks left then right trying to find an escape route, her eyebrows lift even further and I see an idea form in her head. She bolts down to the elevator and presses the button over and over. I laugh internally.

You keep doin’ that, sweetheart.

The elevator doesn’t work without a swipe card. She’s pressing the button a mile a minute saying “c’mon, c’mon!” Nothing happens.

I’m a few feet away from her when she decides to try and run past me in the narrow hallway.

What a freakin’ nut!

Her eyes are wide and her cheeks are the color of cotton candy. Still, she tries her hardest to slip by me. My arm shoots out and wraps around her waist.

Tina lets out a yelp. I pull her back to my chest and whisper in her ear, “That was a very bad idea, sweetheart.”

Her body stills immediately and she whispers back, “What are you going to do to me?”