Consequences Ch. 03byLiquidFyre©
Dana caught glimpses of Zane as he strode along the hallways of the office and they sat in on the same meetings, but had no other interaction.
In April, Zane was out of the office for two months workin on the project to open a new office in Toronto. Time flew by and summer arrived, bringing with it a heat wave, thunderstorms and hail.
Dana saw Zane briefly at various celebrations thrown by coworkers. He'd begun dating someone from the Boston office and Dana had the chance to meet her at a cookout. A tall beautiful blonde and as much as Dana wanted to dislike her, she couldn't. The woman was incredibly sweet and they shared a lot of the same interests. They spent half the night talking about places they'd each visited and wanted to visit in the future.
Dana went on a few dates with the friend of a college friend. James was so wrapped up in being black that it was clear that was all he was. When she turned the subject to any of her interests, he was quick to point out how those were things that black people didn't do or like: Travel "those people don't want us in their country"; Vietnamese, Thai or Korean foods "Hell no, let those crazy ass white people eat that stuff, I'll stick to fried rice." At one point he mentioned that she'd look better with straight hair and it was only the thought of how upset her mother would be at visiting her in prison that she refrained from stabbing him with her salad fork. And that was all on the first date.
Their second date didn't go any better.
James picked her up at her home before their whale watching tour to the Isle of Shoals. Upon entering her home, he whistled "Looks like those white folks are paying you good" He couldn't leave it at that of course "You know you probably making less than anybody else."
Dana grimaced as she grabbed her coat. James had an annoying habit of slipping into street vernacular, as though it somehow made him all the more black.
As she returned to the living room, James stood in front of a photo taken at her sister's wedding of the bride and groom and both sides of the family. From the way he was working his mouth she just knew that something ignorant was going to come out.
"Who is this?"
"My sister and her husband and their families"
He grunted. "Your sister decided to lay down with the devil huh? This is what's wrong with the black family today, the women tiptoeing out with other men, not supporting the black man."
Dana took off her coat and slipped into a bit of street lingo of her own.
"Negro, you need to get on up out of my house. Now"
She finally figured out that James was just cheap. Anything that might cost him any money was met with scorn and derision. She did wonder how someone could make it through college without having their interests and boundaries expanded but ultimately decided that James would have to be someone else's project.
In late August Dana pulled into her assigned parking space and had to double-check that she was in the right spot since there was a motorcycle in the spot immediately behind her own. Where Zane would normally park.
During the course of the day she strolled by Zane's office and spied a motorcycle helmet sitting on his desk.
She turned with a start. "You scared me, do you always go around sneaking up behind people?" She knew she was making no sense but figured when caught, deflect attention.
He arched a brow and pointedly ignored the obvious -- that she was standing in his doorway, looking into his office.
"When did you start riding a motorcycle?"
"I've been riding since I was 16."
"I didn't know that."
He bit back the response that she'd never gotten to know much about him and motioned for her to step aside so that he could enter the office. She stood fidgeting for a moment as he sat down at his desk before moving further into the office and sitting down.
Zane gave her a questioning look "Is there something I can do for you, Dana?"
She smiled "Nope. Did I ever mention that my father rode a motorcycle? I was the only one in the family who would go riding with him."
Zane leaned back in his seat and nodded, a slight curve to his lips.
"Sarah must love riding with you. I noticed you have a touring bike, how far do you go on rides?"
"Ah, Sarah doesn't like motorcycle riding so she doesn't go with me. She worries."
"But it's usually the four wheeled cages that are dangerous, not the motorcyclist."
He grinned at her ranting.
Dana glanced at the clock on his desk and rose. "I guess I should get going, I have a conference call at two."
She walked towards the door and turned back to him, almost shyly. "Thank you."
"The memories of my father."
Friday evening Dana was puttering around the house, the windows open, the ceiling fan lazily stirring the air and her dinner in the oven.
She opened the door to an unexpected knock to find Zane standing there.
"Zane, what are you doing here?"
He smiled lazily. "I thought you might like to go for a ride."
He could swear that she squealed in delight before racing to the kitchen to turn off the oven.
"Let me go change. Where are we going?"
Zane walked into her living room, stopping in front of a table holding various family pictures. Dana dressed as a ballerina, a prom picture, her college graduation, a photo of the family from her sister's wedding and tucked in the corner of a frame, a photo of the two of them from their one and only dance at the wedding.
She called out impatiently "Are you still here? You didn't leave me did you?"
He slid the picture into his jacket pocket. "I'm still here and I thought we could take a ride down to the ice cream stand."
"Is it homemade ice-cream or some mass produced stuff?"
He rolled his eyes. "It's made on the premises."
"Did you ask Sarah if it was okay if I rode with you?"
"She'll be fine with it, Dana. I told you, she doesn't ride and doesn't like me riding. Besides, I wouldn't ask her if you could ride in my car with me so I don't see why this would be any different."
"Zane. Riding with someone is incredibly intimate. I wouldn't let some other woman ride on the seat I usually rode on. Not all pressed up against my lover."
"Well, I guess I could leave you here and go for a ride by myself."
She came out of the bedroom wearing jeans, low-heeled boots, gloves and a jacket made of denier fabric. She was also carrying a helmet.
"Is that a motorcycle jacket? And boots? You have your own helmet?"
She laughed at him. "I told you I went riding with my father. Let's go."
Outside, Zane zipped up his jacket, slid his helmet on and slipped on his gloves. Dana smiled and nodded as he threw one long leg over the bike and started the bike. She slid into place behind him, her knees pressed firmly against his hips.
"Aren't you going to hold on?"
"I hadn't planned on it." She flipped the visor on her helmet down and nodded at him.
Zane put the bike in gear and pulled out of her driveway. Dana tucked herself behind him, allowing him to bear the brunt of the wind they were riding into and smiled to herself. Before long they were pulling into the parking lot of the ice cream stand.
As usual on summer nights in New England, there were kids running around in their wet bathing suits, men in shorts and women in sundresses, peering up at the list of flavors, debating whether dinner was sufficiently long enough ago to justify ordering a fried clam roll with their ice cream.
Standing in the long line, her hair compacted from wearing the helmet, she scanned the list of flavors.
"Mmm, they have cotton candy flavor. That's what I'm getting. How about you?"
Zane pretended to scan the list, but kept his eyes on the woman in front of him. "Probably butter almond."
Dana turned to him and frowned before turning back to the board. "Ooh, they also have peppermint stick. Are you sure you wouldn't like to try that?"
"I'm positive that I want butter almond."
"How about a scoop of each?"
Zane shook his head no.
The customers in front of them moved and Dana moved up to the window. The order taker had to ask her what she wanted twice as her eyes were glued to the man to her right who was taking possession of his peppermint stick cone.
Zane nudged her out of the way and placed their orders "A baby butter almond in a sugar cone and a baby cotton candy in a sugar cone." He handed over the $7.50 and moved to the side to wait.
When their order was up, Zane grabbed both cones and a supply of paper towels and handed Dana her cone. They sat on one of the picnic tables set up and watched cars pull in and families spill out.
"How is the cotton candy?"
"I should have gotten the peppermint stick."
He laughed at her dejected tone. "Cotton candy not as good as you thought it would be?"
"Oh no, it's good, but that peppermint stick looked good too. I think I saw chunks of actual peppermint sticks in it."
"You can try it next week, princess."
He watched a smile spread across her face and light up her eyes. "Is that smile because of next week's bike ride or next week's ice cream?"
She licked a spot of ice cream from her lower lip and he had to force himself not to lean in and stroke it away with his thumb.
As promised, the next Friday, and over the remainder of the summer, she and Zane went out every Friday night for ice cream. He found out of the way places that made their own ice cream and winding roads that afforded a beautiful view of rural New Hampshire. Often he let her talk him into ordering a flavor that she wanted to try and they would switch cones halfway through.
He coaxed her into talking about her childhood and learned that she loved her large extended family of cousins, uncles, aunts and held special delight in recalling the large Sunday dinners shared with the family after church.
He found out that she preferred cartoons to most anything else on television and that when he made her laugh, the deepest dimples he'd ever seen would appear in her cheeks.
Zane stopped by her office before leaving work for the day one day in late September. "We won't be able to take our ride tonight."
She frowned at him and bit her lip. "Oh."
He chuckled. "You hide your disappointment so well."
"Hot date with Sarah?" She'd looked forward to these Friday night rides and was annoyed that his love life was intruding on them.
"Nope. Family stuff."
She looked up from the report she was scanning. "Is everything okay?"
"Yes. What do you have planned for the weekend?"
"Nothing much, a little light housekeeping since my ice cream buddy is blowing me off." She didn't mention that she probably needed to hit the gym since weekly ice cream tended to pack on the pounds.
"If you don't have any plans, would you like to join me? My family is having an end of summer bash up on the big lake. We'll all stay over the weekend and there is plenty of room for you to join us."
"I can't just show up at a family function."
"They won't mind at all, everyone is welcome: friends, family, friends of the family. You'll have a good time, I promise. If not, the next ice cream is on me."
She smiled, mulling it over. "Will Sarah be joining us?"
"I don't think so. So, pick you up at seven?"
"Zane, I don't know."
He walked out of her office. "Seven it is. Oh, pack something to wear to church on Sunday."
She watched as he stopped and spoke with Jim in the hallway before walking out of her sight.
Zane pulled into her drive at 6:45, past experience telling him that outside of the office she was always about 15 minutes late.
"Come in," she yelled when he knocked on the door. "I'm just about ready. I promise."
"Yeah yeah yeah, princess."
She emerged from the bedroom carrying a leather weekend bag. "Are you certain that your family won't mind?"
She kept him entertained on the ride up Route 16 by trying to convince him that King of the Hill was the best show to ever be shown on television.
They pulled into the cobblestone driveway and Dana whistled appreciatively. The house was constructed of stone and washed gray clapboard siding with banks of windows overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee.
"Come on, princess, I'm starving."
"I told you we should have stopped at that dairy bar."
"Uncle Zane, I missed you."
Dana looked down at the tow headed toddler who was hugging Zane's legs and looking up at him in hero-worship. Zane picked the child up and kissed him on the forehead.
"Are you supposed to be out front without an adult, Alec?"
"No, he's not, but you know that we can't keep him away from his uncle Zane."
A feminine version of Zane with an extended belly moved towards them. Zane hugged her and planted a kiss on her nose before turning to introduce them.
"Karyn and Alec, this is Dana. Dana, this is my sister and nephew."
Dana reached out to shake hands with Karyn and tried to maneuver herself so as not to hurt the pregnant woman. Karyn grinned at her. "It's no use trying to avoid it, I scare teenage boys in the grocery store when they see it."
Zane started walking towards the backyard and Dana was suddenly aware of the screams and laughter emanating from that area. As they walked she felt rather than saw, Karyn sizing her up.
"Zane and I are just friends."
Karyn laughed. "I didn't say anything."
"I know, but you were looking at me and I thought I should explain."
Karyn stopped her by touching her arm. "Before we meet the clan you should know that Zane has never brought a woman home with him. Not even as a teenager. He dated lots but as he put it, he was just dating to find out what he wanted."
Dana searched for something to say as Karyn began moving forward again. They rounded the post to a sweeping view of the lake and chairs and chaise lounges set up around a fire, teenagers gathered in one corner laughing, small children running around, darting between the groups of adults.
Zane was standing in a group of men, laughing but broke away when he saw her, passing his nephew off to an older man in the group.
"I want you to meet my parents."
"Zane, I don't know if this was a good idea."
"I don't want people to get the wrong idea. Karyn said you've never brought someone home, I don't want them to think..."
Zane stared at her. "They won't get the wrong idea, princess. Come on."
They made the rounds and Zane introduced her to his parents and they stood talking and eventually his brother showed up with his partner and the cousins meandered over and soon Dana figured that she'd met his entire family.
During the course of the evening she'd had babies thrust into her arms, been corralled into playing volleyball and had eaten more food than she should have.
The evening wound to a close with some family members heading home, some camping out in various parts of the house and Dana was shown to a spare bedroom and settled down for the night.
"Psst. Dana, wake up" Zane tried to avoid waking anyone else up but clearly Dana slept the sleep of the dead. He crouched next to the bed, staring at her. Just then, she let out the most unladylike snore he'd ever heard and he laughed aloud.
Her eyes flickered open and she stared at him blankly. "Why are you in my room?" She yawned and rolled over with her back to him.
"Come with me, princess."
"Come where? What time is it? Why aren't you wearing a shirt?"
"It's 12:30 a.m., I don't wear a shirt to bed and we're going outside for a bit."
"Oh, princess. You are a difficult one to woo."
"Woo me when it's daytime, Zane."
He stood with his hands on his hips.
"Either you get up and come with me, or I'm getting into bed with you."
He thought she was daring him with her silence, until she snored softly. He smiled and placed the box on her pillow and leaned forward to kiss the corner of her mouth. "Happy Birthday, princess."
Zane's father was waiting in the hallway outside the bedroom and smiled at his son. Before he could say anything, Zane stopped him.
"We weren't doing anything. She's still asleep."
His father folded his arms and waited.
"I was just dropping off a gift, today is her birthday."
His father straightened from the wall. "Son, take a walk with me."
Dana woke to blue eyes staring into her face. Blue eyes in a face covered with maple syrup.
"Alec!" Karyn whispered furiously. "Leave Dana alone."
Dana stretched and smiled. "It's okay, Karyn, I'm awake."
"I'm so sorry. He's too fast for me to keep up."
Alec climbed into bed and Dana cringed thinking about the syrup staining the sheets. "Uncle Zane with you?"
She cut her eyes to Karyn, blushing. "No, Uncle Zane is not here."
"What's this?" Alec had picked up a small wrapped box and was turning it over. "Pretty."
His mother stepped in and scooped him up. "Alright, time for you to wash your face and leave Dana to open her present."
"Pwesent for me?"
His mother shook her head. "No, the present is for Dana. A bath is for you."
Dana turned the box over in her hands, before carefully removing the wrapping paper.
She hadn't noticed Zane standing in the doorway watching her.
"Hi yourself." She motioned towards the box in her hand. "What is this for?"
He moved into the room, closed the door and leaned against it. "Your birthday."
"How did you know?"
"Why wouldn't I know, Dana?" He walked across the room and crouched in front of her. "Open it."
"Zane, I can't accept this. What about Sarah? You shouldn't have."
"Dana, stop fighting this. Sarah and I aren't seeing each other any longer."
"When did that happen?"
"When I took you out to ride the first time."
He took the box from her hand and opened it. Nestled against a black silk background was a thin, stiff gold bangle bracelet with a dragonfly charm. The dragonfly had streaks of color along the body and wings made from crushed gems. He took it out of the box and slid it over her wrist, his thumb stroking her skin.
"Zane, you shouldn't have."
"Do you like it?"
"Of course. I love dragonflies."
"We've never kissed, Dana."
She whispered, "I know."
"You have to say it, Dana. I've waited too long for this."
She looked down and Zane tipped her chin up with his finger. "Tell me, princess."
"Yes, I want to kiss you."
Zane stroked his thumbs along her jawbone and up over her cheeks. He kept his eyes open as he moved closer. He brushed his lips against her mouth and placed a kiss in the corner of her mouth. Her eyes fluttered closed and he placed a soft kiss on each eyelid. He pulled down her lower lip with his thumb, mesmerized by the pink flesh.
He slid his tongue over her lips before sliding inside to glide over her teeth. He pressed his tongue against her teeth until she acquiesed and opened her mouth. His tongue slid inside, slidin against her tongue, tasting her. He tugged her lip into his mouth, suckling lightly until she moaned. He pulled his mouth away, leaving her mouth bruised and swollen and leaned his forehead against her own.
"Dana, is this what you want?"
"Do I want what?"
He opened his eyes, staring into hers. "This, this relationship. Do you want me?"
"I don't know...I thought you were still with Sarah and we were friends."
"What are you so afraid of? I'm not your father and you're not your mother."
He growled in frustration and took her mouth again, his need overriding his intention to take it easy. His tongue plundered and his teeth nipped, calling forth moans from her throat.
"I want this."
"Do you want me?"
"Yes, I want you."
She opened her eyes. "I trust you. I feel safe with you. I enjoy spending time with you" She smiled "I'm in lust with you."