What the hell? Did I have a wet dream? What am I fifteen?!
After I shower I find another pair of boxers to wear and head out to the place I’m sure Tina will be.
I walk into the kitchen and find Tina with her back to me. Her pajamas look so sexy on her. When she stretches up to reach into the cupboard for spices, the hem of the shorts rides up. Nice.
She’s got a batter made and is getting ready to cook up pancakes. I love pancakes. My mom makes me pancakes whenever I’m there for the morning.
I walk up behind her, put my arms around her waist and chuckle when she yelps.
She turns around, pushes my shoulder and shouts, “God, Nik! You scared the life out of me!”
Her face is trying to hold a look of contempt but she’s smiling. I move closer to her, hold her hips in my hands and ask, “How’d you sleep, sweetheart?”
Tina swallows hard. In a quiet voice she says, “Just fine. How’d you sleep?”
I smile big and say, “Best sleep I’ve had in a long time.”
Her cheeks flush and she turns to the skillet. She clears her throat then speaks, “I’m making pancakes for everyone. Can you see if they’re up?”
I walk over to the bedrooms and knock. Max is the first up and when the door opens I burst out laughing. He’s black and blue. His nose is swollen and his lip is split. I’m laughing so hard I use one hand to hold onto the door frame and hold my stomach with the other. I can’t believe little Tina inflicted this much damage on such a big guy.
He scowls at me and says, “Laugh it up, knucklehead.” Then he goes to Ceecee’s room to wake her.
I walk back into the kitchen. Tina has a stack of pancakes ready. She hums while she cooks. It sounds like she’s humming ‘The way’ by Fastball. I like that song.
Tina holds the platter of pancakes out to me and asks, “Could you please put this on the dining table?”
We never eat at the dining table. I don’t even know why we have a dining table. We normally eat on the go, at the breakfast bar, or on the sofa. But I nod and take the platter over for her.
When everyone takes a seat at the dining table, Tina emerges from the kitchen with another stack of thinner, wider crepe-like things.
Nat, who looked barely alive when she emerged from Max’s bedroom, sees them and gasps “Palačinke?!” It sounds like Pa-lah-chink-eh. Nat groans “You know I’m a Palačinke-holic.”
Tina smiles and places them right in front of Nat then walks over to a seated Max. She touches his face softly and says, “I’m so sorry, honey. I know they aren’t cupcakes but this is all I could find the ingredients for in the kitchen. And I’m going to serve you. I’ll be your waitress this morning.”
Max takes her hand and kisses it. He assures, “Don’t worry about it, doll. I’m a big boy.”
Tina looks at him with adoration and kisses his head.
She sits and claps her hands together. She looks at the food and says, “Well, c’mon, don’t leave your tummies rumbling. Dig in!”
Ghost is the first to take a pancake and that’s everyone else’s cue to attack the food with gusto. There’s Pancakes, Palačinke, fruit salad, orange juice, coffee, butter, syrup, and jelly on the table. And it’s all wonderful.
The pancakes have cinnamon in them and taste great. We all try the Palačinke which you spread jelly on and roll them up before eating them, they’re good. The cantaloupe in the fruit salad is perfectly sweet. And the coffee is heavenly.
I’m a little surprised that Ceecee has managed two pancakes, one Palačinke, fruit, and juice. She never eats well in the morning. I look closer at her and she takes bits of pancake and puts it over the side of her chair. I don’t hide it when I look under the table and she stiffens.
I see a black and white cat sitting next to her chair, licking its mouth and purring. And that’s where Ceecee’s extra pancake got to.
I smile at her and shake my head. She lowers her head and bites her lip to stop from giggling. She looks back up and I wink at her.
Our little secret, baby girl.
I see Tina look around the table. She wears a smile and looks content. I like it.
It takes me back to the day she explained why she didn’t open a bakery. How she explained that baking for people is a gift she likes to give and everything she makes contains a small piece of her. I guess cooking for friends makes her feel the same.
She turns her face to look at me and catches me staring. She pokes her tongue out at me.
I want to suck on that tongue.
I totally do. I think about that kiss all the freakin’ time; her soft lips and sweet tongue on my lips and in my mouth. And, dammit, I want it to happen again. But Tina made it clear she was only settling some curiosity in her, that’s all. Which sucks ass.
We’ve finished eating and I motion for Max and Ghost to help me clear up. The girls get up too, but I quickly explain, “In our family, whoever cooks does not clean up. Mom’s rules. You girls get ready for work.”
Nat walks over to Ghost and smacks his butt hard. She kisses Max’s cheek then mine. Tina kisses all of our cheeks and Ghost even smiled at her. Then they walk down to their rooms to get ready for work.
When we get to the store, I send Nat to Winnie’s for coffee. As soon as she returns, we open up and I tell Nat how I molested Nik while he has sleeping.
She laughs a full minute at me then says chuckling, “I’m pretty sure you consentingly molested each other!” She looks happy for me. “So, you finally found your big O again! How was it?”
I couldn’t put it into words. It was indescribable. I respond, “Absolutely amazing. Too bad he didn’t even know about it, though.”
Nat’s face turns thoughtful. “You trust Nik, right?”
I don’t hesitate and answer, “Yes.”
She turns my shoulders so we’re face to face and strokes my hair. She asks, “Then why can’t you have some fun with him. You have amazing chemistry together. You can’t deny that. And personally, I like the idea of you two together. He’s a family man.”
I know what she means by this. She means he would take care of me if I were to get pregnant. He wouldn’t be like Jace. And she’s right. But I don’t want children again. Never again.
I stroke her hair right back and smile as I say, “Why don’t you tell me what’s going on with Ghost?”
She sighs dramatically and replies, “Don’t even go there. It was a one-time thing. We hate each other.”
I put my hand on her shoulder, squeeze and remind her, “Hate is such a strong word. Don’t you think? Besides, you know what they say, there’s a thin line between love and hate. How was the sex?”
Nat’s eyes squint, she bunches her face and smiles. She whispers, “It was incredible. I’ve never had crazy monkey sex before. But I don’t know if it was good because it was intense or because it was with Ghost. I don’t even know what happened. One second I was walking back to the booth from the bathroom the next Ghost was dragging me to the conference room. It was out of this world.” Her face turns serious. “He said he didn’t like me playing with Max when I should be playing with him.”
I lean back and fan myself with my hand then I lean forward and whisper, “Holy smokes! I don’t know about that dominant stuff but that made me hot just from talking about it!” And we giggle our asses off.
Still smiling, she questions, “Why not just sleep with Nik and see where it goes? If nothing comes of it you’re both mature enough to walk away being friends. Even if nothing serious comes of it you can have a lot of fun together.” She wiggles her brows at me.
Because he’ll break my heart, that’s why.
I focus away from her eyes and say softly, “I don’t know hon. I like him enough to know if we sleep together I would get too involved and pretty much set myself up for a whole bunch of disappointments.” I lower my face and play with a piece of paper on the counter and whisper, “I can’t do another Jace. I don’t know how much is left of my heart to break but I know enough to say next time would destroy me. Right now I’m bent, not broken. Next time will break me. I don’t need a perfect relationship. I just need someone who won’t give up on me.”
Her face flashes disbelief. She puts an arm around my waist, pulls me next to her and says, “You think Nik is capable of hurting you?”
I shrug and utter, “You didn’t see how he treated Sissy at the restaurant. It was like she was nothing. Less than nothing! And he was sleeping with her for four months!”
She shakes her head and says softly, “That’s because she was nothing to him. He told her exactly how it was and she tried to force something else.”
I’m exasperated and respond a little too loudly, “Exactly! That’s how it’ll end up with us, too! I’ll get too involved and he’ll tell me to move along and then I’ll become She-Devil Teeny and Sissy and I will start the sisterhood of Nik’s Anonymous for women who are having trouble getting over Nik then we’ll have to hire a church and make sandwiches and punch for the thousands of women who come!”
Nat giggles and hugs me. She whispers into my ear, “Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?”
Holy Cannoli! She’s right…I want fruit!
But the question remains, can I have the fruit I desire?
And will the fruit treat me right.
Thinking about Tina.
Thinking about Tina’s perfect ass.
Thinking about Tina panting under me in my bed.
Going to the bathroom to jerk off.
I walk back into my office after finally getting some much needed relief.
Not hard anymore, are you?! Take that, penis!
Tina sits behind my desk with the chair turned sideways. She hasn’t seen me come in.
She looks so cute behind my huge desk. I chuckle quietly. She’s adorable.
I clear my throat to get her attention and say, “Excuse me, Miss Tomic, I think you wanted to see me.”
She turns and flashes me a beaming smile.
I like that smile. She’s so beautiful. I think I could fall in love with that smile.
“Of course, Mr. Leokov, please take a seat.” She points to the seat she normally sits in when she visits. When I sit, she continues. “I believe it’s someone’s birthday coming up…”
Max! I’ll fuckin’ kill him!
“…and I wanted to know which cake you’d like me to make for you!”
I run a hand over my face. Her smile is killing me. She’s not someone you can say no to easily. I rub the back of my neck and begin, “Sweetheart, I don’t do birthdays. I mean, I do other people’s birthdays. Not my own.”
Her face falls dismally and I feel like an asshole. She speaks so softly and the light in her eyes she came in with has faded. She replies, “Oh…Okay. Ceecee wanted you to have a nice cake but if you don’t want one I’ll just have to—”
My back straightens and I ask, “Wait, what? Cricket wants me to have a cake?” I’m stunned.
Tina gets up and walks over to me then sits on my knee. She explains, “Yeah. Ceecee stopped me this morning when we were heading out. She said you never have a cake on your birthday and it makes her sad.” She pouts her lips. Not in an I’m-so-cute way but in an I’m-really-sad-for-you way and it makes my heart clench.
My two favorite girls are ganging up on me.
You’re so fucked.
I pull her more firmly on to my lap and hesitate, “Uh, I really hate the whole birthday thing, babe.”
She leans her forehead on my cheek and sighs, “I don’t want to force you to do something you don’t want.” She pulls on my lapel. “What if I just make you some cupcakes and you take one home to Ceecee? That would work.”
The thought of disappointing Cricket makes me ill. I love my niece with all my heart and soul. I would do anything to make her happy. It’s got nothing to do with what happened to her either, just the fact that she’s a good kid who loves her family.
It’s only a damn cake.
I breathe in Tina’s sweet scent and pull on a lock of her hair. I concede, “Tell you what. You make a cake and bring it over. We’ll sing happy birthday and she’ll be good for another year.”
I feel Tina’s body still. She pulls back with wide eyes and whispers, “Really?”
I lean back in the chair, shrug and say nonchalantly, “Sure. I mean, it’s only a cake, right?”
Tina leans closer to me. She puts her hands on my cheeks and smiles sweetly, “No. It’s not just a cake. It’s a child’s happiness. You can’t buy things like this, Nik. You’re giving Ceecee a gift.” She ends on a whisper.
Then she does something that surprises me.
She leans forward and tilts her head, places her lips on mine and kisses me.
A sweet, soft kiss which lasts for approximately thirty seconds, not that I was counting.
Just as I’m about to lose control and bend her over my desk, she slowly pulls back.
Her face is flushed and her eyes are hooded. She looks stunning. I like this look on her.
She smiles a shy smile and says softly, “You’re a good man, Nik. I’m so glad we’re friends.”
Friend-zone level infinity.
I want to yell fuck friendship! Let’s get it on!
But instead I pull her close to me and hug her. I whisper to her, “Me too, sweetheart”
Go, Niki, It’s yo birthday
Last night when Nat and I came home, Ghost was waiting on us. Inside my apartment.
That doofus broke in again!
At least he brought Bear back with him.
He showed us how to use the new alarm and panic button. We caught on pretty easily.
He said firmly, “If you’re not sure, press the panic button. It’s better to tell the cops you made a mistake then for them to come pick up your bloody corpse.”