You have got to be freakin’ kidding me.
I peek at the digital clock which reads 1:45am.
My blood boils.
Screwing with my sleep once a night is bad enough, but twice?! I run a hand over my face.
Oh, dear God, give me strength!
It takes every last bit of willpower for me to not go over there and smack some sense into them.
“Please, baby! Give it to me! Yes! Yes! Oh god yes!”
This is a selfish woman. She’s had at least three orgasms tonight.
Leave some for the rest of us, lady.
“Baby, please! Yes! Yes! YESSSSSssssss!” Then silence.
I snuggle deeper into my bed and sigh. Just as I’m about to fall asleep, it starts.
My eyes flash with rage.
They cannot be serious!
What is this man? A freakin’ cyborg?!
I start silently sobbing into my pillow. I love my sleep so much I’ll cry over losing it.
Then I stare up at the ceiling and silently fume.
My eye twitches with rage.
I peek over at the digital clock. 2:57am.
They’ve been at it for hours. I’ve alternated crying, cursing and praying. Nothing helps. I grit my teeth.
My neighbors suck ass!
I’ve decided I already hate them. I won’t ever send them a Christmas card. Ever.
“Oh, God! Baby, yes! Harder, baby! Oh! Oh! Oh!”
My eye twitches again. I’ve been staring at the ceiling for ages. My eyes are sore and scratchy.
I can’t sleep in these conditions!
Call the cops.
No, it’ll take too long. I need sleep now!
“Yes! Babbbbbyyyy! YEEESSSSSSSssssss!”
THAT. IS. IT!
I’ve had it!
I throw the covers off me, stomp to the bathroom and tie my hair into a messy bun at the very top of my head. I storm down the hall and out of my apartment. I pound on my neighbors’ door and wait.
The latch unlocks, the door opens and I see a short but very pretty woman stand before me in only a man’s shirt. She is blonde, blue eyed and slender. She wears a welcoming smile.
I scowl and say, “I’m sorry to bother your love-fest, but it’s three in the freakin’ morning and I have work in the morning.”
She looks apologetic and just as she opens her mouth to speak I hear a husky man’s voice come from the hallway, “I’m sorry, ma’am.” The lights are off so I can’t see him properly because his head is down, focusing on the buttons of the shirt he’s doing up as he walks to the door. He goes on, “It won’t happen again.” Then he lifts his head.
My stomach dips.
I shrink and freeze.
My heart squeezes as I whisper, “Ghost?”
Ghost looks stunned. He chokes out, “Nat, what are you doing here?”
I look down and answer quietly, “I- Ah- I live next door.” I clear my throat and put on my famous scowl, “Keep the noise down, please. I’ve got to work tomorrow.” I turn to walk away.
Ghost stops me with a hand on my arm and a pleading, “Nat, hold up.”
I pull my arm roughly from his grip and hiss, “I’m tired and I don’t want to talk, goddamn it.” I whisper hoarsely, “I just want some freakin’ sleep. So, for the love of God, please fuck her quietly.”
I turn on my heel and rush back to my apartment.
Well, that was fun.
Once I close the door, I put a hand to my chest, breathe in deeply then exhale slowly.
Well, seeing Ghost with another woman was something else. It hurt more than I’m willing to admit to myself. There is a piercing ache in my chest. I gently rub at it.
I’m just about to move from the door when I hear a muffled Ghost say, “Tasha, I think you should go.”
My eyes widen and I tiptoe closer to the wall. I press my ear against it and hear the woman reply, “Sure thing, lover. Sorry about that. I get a little loud. Who was that anyway?”
Ghost replies, “No one.”
That freakin’ hurts.
My throat clogs, my eyes mist and I move away from the wall. I head back to my room, crawl into bed and pull the covers up over my head.
Then I do something I’ve never done over a man.
I see Tasha out of the apartment, lean back against the door and think.
What just happened?
Tasha and I were screwing. Pretty loudly. But we were havin’ a good time. Then out of nowhere comes my living fantasy. To my apartment. While I’m screwing another woman.
Yeah, not good.
My chest aches.
What do you care? She doesn’t.
Yeah… I’m sure she doesn’t. Although, when she realized it was me, she looked kinda hurt.
Nah. Nat doesn’t feel. Ever.
Yep. That’s for sure. I’ve never met a woman like her before. She’s a total bitch.
Goddamn, she’s sexy though.
Ain’t it the truth?
Even wearing ridiculous mouse pajamas and slippers, she looked hot, which put me off Tasha right away. Not a stitch of makeup on and her red hair up in a stupid looking ball at the top of her head, wearing a tiny tank top with no bra.
I don’t know why I felt the need to explain to her that Tasha and I were only screwing. I don’t do relationships. They require people to eventually move in together and sleep in the same bed together. And I can’t do that.
I have extreme nightmares. Well, technically, they’re memories.
Memories of my father, mother, my childhood, pain and hurt. Everything that came with growing up in my house.
Ever since I lived with Nik and Max’s family, I knew something was wrong. They looked at me with pity for days when I got there. I never woke in my nightmares. Only one night when Nik’s mother, Cecilia, tried to hold me during a fitful sleep and I attacked her, did I ever find out about what I was capable of during my sleep. I punched Cecilia in the face. I was so worried Nik’s dad would kick me out, I actually cried. I couldn’t go back home. But Nik’s dad, Ilia, was more of a father to me than my own. He was a kind man, but if you crossed him, you got yours.
I planned on killing my father. Ilia told me if I was serious about that, he would do it for me. Ilia was part of a Russian gang called Chaos. He claimed me as his own, so when Nik was recruited after Ilia died, Max and I joined with him. I felt I owed it to him.
I never knew what having a family was like until Nik befriended me. I’d never even had a friend before. He had my back before he even knew me. In high school, I got picked on for having ripped or dirty clothes. Nik approached me one day while I was getting picked on and asked if I needed a hand. He’ll never know what that gesture meant to me. I sorta tagged along with him after that and I was surprised he let me. Everyone wanted to be Nik’s friend in high school, but he was selective. After I met his father, I knew why. Nik only befriended people he could be real with.
Then Ilia suggested I sleep at their house whenever I felt unsafe at home. Which was always. So, I basically came over one day and never left. I even had my very own room. Cecilia, who I call Mama, went out the next day and bought me an entire closet full of clothes and three pairs of shoes.
I didn’t even know people could own three pairs of shoes. I had one pair and they were falling apart.
Ever since that day, Nik started introducing me as his brother. And I really do consider Nik and Max my brothers.
One day in gym class, Nik happened to see my scars and bruises. He asked me about them but I took off. I didn’t come home for a week. When I finally returned, Mama cried with relief. I’d never had someone be worried about me. She told me I was grounded and to never scare her like that again.
I smile at the memory. I took my punishment without a word. Mama’s tears of love were worth a week of chores.
Mama likes Nat. She told me to get off my ass and ask her out.
Quite frankly, I’d rather have fire ants nibble at my balls.
So the shrew is my new neighbor.
Kiss my grits.
At least the view will be nice.
Befriended by a Ghost
I make it to work just after nine.
Being kept up most of last night didn’t help me any. I heard my alarm, but my body acted of its own accord and pressed snooze.
I dragged my ass out of bed and don’t even remember showering. Somehow, in my comatose state, I managed to put together a half decent outfit and drive myself to work. I walk through the door and Mimi looks up from the counter. Her eyes widen and she declares, “Wow. You look like shit.”
I flip her the bird and she chuckles. I walk into the studio and yell out, “Gather.”
Tina and Lola approach Mimi and I at the counter looking a little wary.
Oh, chicas. You have no idea.
Tina says softly, “Oh, honey. You look ill. Are you okay?”
I reply, “No. Not okay. Not in the slightest.”
Lola looks concerned, puts a hand on my shoulder and asks, “What is it, Nat?”
My mouth waters when I spot Tina’s chocolate peanut butter cupcakes behind the counter. I grab one, unwrap it and shove the whole thing in my mouth. I close my eyes in bliss and moan.
My mouth is full so my response is a little garbled. “I had a run in with my neighbor last night.”
Mimi smirks. “Already getting into trouble? Babe, you gotta wait at least a week for that.”
Tina enquires, “What kind of run in?”
Lola’s eyes widen and she whispers loudly, “Oh, no.” Then she guesses, “Loud sex?”
I swallow my cake, fire imaginary guns at Lola and utter, “Bingo!”
Tina sympathizes, “Oh, sweetie. You love sleep! That sucks!”
I scoff and run my hands down my face. “You have no idea, guys. Three freakin’ times. I was up til three am before I decided to go over there. So this pretty little woman answers the door and she looks nice enough. Just as she’s about to apologize, her man comes along.”
Lola grimaces. “Asshole. He’s an asshole, right?”
I lower my face and chuckle through my reply, “You don’t know how right you are. Only we know this asshole.”
Mimi’s face scrunches in confusion as she asks, “Who?”
“Yeah, who?” Tina asks.
I take a step back, put my hands out by my sides and clear my throat. “My new neighbor is Ghost.”
All three women gasp loudly and Lola covers her mouth with her hands. I nod slowly.
Oh, yeah. That just happened, ladies.
Tina sputters, “Wha- I- He- How?”
Mimi can’t control herself, she bursts out laughing. Lola’s lips twitch. I narrow my eyes at them and wonder why I’m friends with these girls.
Tina and Nik found out about Ghost and I by accidently hearing us in the conference room the night we did it. I told Mimi and Lola one day at work when they questioned why Ghost and I never talk anymore. I don’t like secrets. I prefer to be honest with people. Sometimes, I’ve been told, I can be brutally honest. But I can’t change who I am.
Lola straightens and says softly, “That sucks, babe.”
Mimi chuckles. “Yeah. That sucks ass. Sorry.”
I scowl at Mimi. “You don’t sound sorry, hag.” She laughs harder and I fight not to smirk. Mimi treats me like my sisters do. That’s awesome because I miss them, and Mimi makes me feel at home.
Tina wraps me up in a hug and whispers, “Oh, honey. I’m sorry. That must be hard for you.”
I lie. “No. It isn’t. It would just be really great if I never saw him. Avoiding him is best.”
Mimi’s face becomes serious and she asks quietly, “Why do you need to avoid him if you’re okay with it?”
The girls stare at me for a good thirty seconds before I respond quietly, “He told her I was no one.”
Mimi frowns, Lola gasps and Tina shakes her head slowly.
I continue on a whisper, “It hurt. Really badly. And I may have cried.”
Tina lifts her face and blinks. “But you never cry.”
I reply an exasperated, “I know, right?! I’m blaming it on the sleep deprivation.”
Mimi responds softly, “Or maybe you really do care.” Lola nods in agreement.
I sigh and run a hand through my hair. “I don’t want to care! God, why does this always happen? Ghost needs someone like Tina. Someone who is caring and sweet and delicate. And I need someone like- like- I don’t even know who!”
Frustration eats at me.
“Why not go out on a date with someone? Get your mind off him?” Lola suggests.
My brows lift. That is not a bad suggestion.
I put one fisted hand under my chin and pose.
Tina giggles. “Not every problem is resolved with a date.”
Mimi adds, “But it can’t hurt either.”
Both good points.
I respond, “It’s been a while since I’ve been on a date. I think that’s a great idea.” I smile and ask “What would I do without you guys? Group hug!” They smile and move closer to me. I wrap them up and squeeze them tight.
I love my girls.
Saturday night approaches and I’m pumped.
I can’t wait to get to the club and find myself a man!
Tina used to host the festivities before we went out which would consist of all us girls getting ready and yakking about anything and everything. But now she has Tatiana, and she can’t do it anymore. So I offered up my place.
Ghost won’t be there. I know he starts work at the club around seven.
I check my watch. It’s close to nine.
Mimi and Lola turn up minutes after I check my watch and we commence getting ready. We’ll meet Tina there.
We take turns using the bathroom mirror. I decide to save time and do Mimi’s makeup so we can get out of here earlier. Mimi fixes Lola’s hair and I begin to ready myself by letting my hair down and ruffling it.
Mimi dresses in a black tube mini dress with black heels. Her blonde hair is straight and her eye makeup is dark and smudged. She looks hot.
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