Express Lane Ch. 01-02byRaLaWrites©
"Joanna, put that back!"
I was never one to yell in public places, but this situation warranted the attention. I had recently moved from my hometown with my little sister, Joanna. It was my parent's idea: they figured since Jo was starting college and I was graduating that it would be better, safer and most of all, cheaper for us to live together. I wasn't all that keen on the idea, but Jo was my only baby sister.
My irritating baby sister. Who was grating on my last nerve.
We'd been here for no more than two months and already she called herself running the shots. Even little events such as going grocery shopping was a huge fiasco. Joanna made it that way -- if anyone ever had a case of the 'spoiled brat' syndrome, it was this girl. Some things we simply couldn't afford to buy, on my budget or hers.
"But it's on sale, Larissa!" she whined. "You know I love Ben & Jerry's."
I blew a strand of my wavy, light brown hair from my face. Damn, did I get tired of saying no to her. Not because I felt bad, but because I despised repeating myself.
"Fine, get the ice cream. Don't come crying to me asking for extra money when you run out, though," I said as she tossed it in the cart.
"Yeah, I know," she replied.
I looked down at our grocery list. Everything was pretty much crossed off, except for one item. Thank god, I thought. This stress-filled nightmare is almost over, and then I can go hole up in my room and lock the door.
"Joanna, find the spice aisle. We need basil for the spaghetti tonight."
"I've never been in this store!" she spat. "How am I supposed to know where the spice aisle is?"
I groaned. "How about asking someone, smart-ass?"
She shot me a look before heading toward an employee. He had on the standard uniform; white shirt, black pants and red smock. He was stacking boxes in neat lines, and had his back turned to us.
I felt for him. I knew what it was like to have to engage in effortless yet lackluster labor. The only good thing about it was that it humbled you, something little Joanna needed a big dose of.
At that moment, I smiled. Wonder if this place is hiring.
"Sir?" Joanna asked meekly. "I'm looking for the spice aisle. Do you know where... ooh." She stopped in mid-sentence, and I already knew what was up. That patented 'ooh' meant the guy was attractive. To her, anyway.
I could see he and Joanna coming towards me from the corner of my eye, but I didn't turn around right away. Instead, I waited until they were directly in front of me.
"Looking for the spice aisle?" a deep voice asked.
I turned around. Joanna and I didn't share a similar taste in men, but this guy was undeniably good looking. The first thing I noticed were his eyes. Unsettling gray eyes, like heavy storm clouds on a rainy day. His hair was brown and razor-straight; not too long or too short. His eyebrows were full and seemed to be naturally arched. He had to have been six-foot two, because he towered over my five-foot eight frame. His build was on the wiry side and I wondered if it was by choice or a result of living a stressful life. He looked tired and weary, like he hadn't had sleep in some hours. Even with that, he still had the classic pretty-boy looks every girl fawned over.
"Miss?" he said, flashing a quick smile.
Oh, my. Were those dimples I just saw?
"Two aisles down. You can't miss it."
I didn't move. Joanna was ahead of me, but I didn't follow. Couldn't.
"You need anything else, come see me." He winked and spun around, picking up where he left off.
"Larissa! Are you coming or not? I got the basil!"
Instead of turning around, I backed up the aisle and watched him work. His movements were fluid and swift, like he'd been doing the same thing for years. I wondered if he would look my way before I left, but he didn't. He was too buried in his work.
I met up with Larissa and looked at the list. We got everything we needed.
"Alright, it's time to head to the checkout."
"That guy was hot, wasn't he?" Jo asked. She was always the one to say what everyone was thinking. Another little vexing quirk of hers I disliked but learned to tolerate over the years.
"He was cute," I replied. An understatement for sure, but she didn't need to know how I really felt.
"Cute, my ass! He had an awesome smile. And those dimples! Oh, his eyes."
I rolled mine. It should already be apparent that Joanna was man-crazy and had been since she was little.
"He was like a younger, hotter version of Josh Harnett," she swooned.
"No he wasn't. Maybe the eyes, that's about it."
Joanna smirked and continued to talk as we put our items on the conveyor belt when we reached the check-out. "I think I'll come here again. Are you with me?"
"Just to shop. You on the other hand, need to find out if they're hiring," I said.
"That's an even better idea," she whispered. "Being around him for eight hours a day wouldn't hurt a bit." I watched Joanna drift into her own little world, eyes towards the ceiling.
"No, a second income wouldn't hurt. That's what you should be focused on." I glanced over my shoulder, wondering if I could catch a second glimpse of him before I left. Unlike Joanna, I was relatively conservative when it came to men and always took my time to get to know someone.
Then again, who doesn't like eye candy?
"What are you lookin' for, Larissa?" Jo teased. "Or maybe I should ask who."
I was pretty much craning my neck to see him one last time. No luck.
"Nothing and no one," I lied. "Now help me put these bags in the trunk."
"Do I have to?" Jesus Christ, she was such a complainer.
"Nah, you don't."
She smiled. "Thanks, Larissa." Jo leaned against the car door as I put every last heavy bag into the trunk. I got in the driver's side door, closed it, then locked the other doors.
"Hey, what are you doing? Open up!"
I shook my head. "Everything comes at a price, little Jo. You didn't help me and that's alright. You'll just have to walk home."
"Larissa, this isn't funny!" she screamed. "Open the fucking door!"
I didn't say anything. Instead, I gave a caustic wave and took off, watching in the rearview mirror as she jogged behind the car, cussing up a storm. I know it seemed harsh, but I was determined to break her out of the 'princess' role our parents had put her in. Jo needed to grow up and god willing, I would be the one to guide her.
It was seven-thirty, and Joanna had still not come home. I didn't worry, though. She made several friends in the time we'd been living here, so naturally I assumed she was with one of them.
The spaghetti was cooking and oh, did it smell heavenly. The mixture of different spices combined with the sweet tomato sauce made for a mouthwatering aroma. I decided to take a shower beforehand; at the age of twenty-two, everything my parents had instilled in me remained, right down to washing up before dinner. I changed into a pair of shorts and a tattered tee I had for years. I wiped the steam off the bathroom mirror and heaved a deep sigh.
My light brown hair fell in waves past my shoulders. It wasn't my natural hair color; I was born with ebony locks but everyone agreed that the color I currently had looked better. I had dark brown eyes, fairly petite features and light golden brown skin. I had a very curvaceous frame; long, shapely legs and womanly hips made every outfit I wore look great. Joanna and I would have looked like twins, were it not for a few differences.
Instead of the golden skin that I had, Jo's skin was a beautiful darker shade, like the color of creamy milk chocolate. We shared the same eye and hair color but Jo opted to go natural, unlike myself. She was shorter than me, but we shared the same features and mannerisms. We couldn't be labeled anything other than sisters.
Well, as far as looks go. We were polar opposites when it came to our personalities.
I heard the front door slam and subsequent footsteps thundering up the stairs. I knew Joanna was pissed at me but I couldn't help that. She needed to learn that pulling the 'I'm the baby' card wouldn't work forever. And definitely not on me.
I was certain she wouldn't come down to join me, so I opted to bring dinner to her instead. I walked up the steps with her dinner on a serving tray, then gave a few light taps on the door with my foot.
"Dinner's ready. Spaghetti and garlic bread, just like we planned."
Silence. I shrugged my shoulders. At least I tried. "It'll be on the table if you want it, but it's going to get cold soon."
The second I turned around, I heard her door click and creak open. "I'm coming downstairs to eat," she said in a monotone voice. "Be there in a second."
I was cautious as I made my way down the steps and headed towards the dining room. Sitting down, I entwined my fingers together and closed my eyes. I was thinking too much; about wanting Jo to grow into a mature, level headed girl and if I was helping or hurting. About acing the finals that stood in between me and the degree I had worked hard for over the past four years.
A light pitter-patter of descending footsteps made their way down the stairs. I looked up to see Jo sitting down in front of me, digging into the meal. Her eyes were on her plate and she acted as if she were eating by herself. Typical.
"Don't say it, Larissa. I know I deserved it."
My eyes widened. If I had a clip of a record scratching, I sure would have played it right then. This was the first time she'd freely admitted guilt, without having it dragged out of her.
"I was only doing it to --"
"Prove a point," she finished. "And the lesson has been learned. I have to pull my weight. I'll go back up to the grocery store to get an application tomorrow morning. How does that sound?"
Fan-fuckin'-tastic! About time.
"Good. So where --"
"Justin's. I went to Justin's for a few hours." Justin was one of many new friends Jo made, and the only one of them that I could stand. He was courteous, helpful, and knew when he needed to leave. I couldn't say the same for her other pals.
"Oh. Have fun?"
"Yeah." We ate in silence throughout the whole meal after that, excluding when we asked one another to pass the garlic bread or salad. I took our plates and put them in the sink. She went up to her room; I went up to mine. It wasn't the ideal talk I wanted to have with Jo, but the fact that she established and came to terms with her ways showed that she was making some kind of progress.
I crawled into bed and cuddled with my fluffy blankets. There was nothing better than turning on the TV and letting my thoughts coast away while stretching out in a big, soft bed after a long day.
I was halfway through the show I was watching when my phone rang. Only one person called at this time of night.
I smiled. Although I hadn't made as many friends as Jo, I managed to bump into two people I got along with. Danielle was one, Jaime was the other. He preferred to be called James in place of the name's Spanish counterpart. He was staying with his older brother but regularly informed me of his plans to go back to Spain, his home country.
"How has your day been?"
"Tough. Jo's been a handful, for sure."
He snorted. "I could tell within five minutes of being around her. She's... precocious."
"I wouldn't call her that. I'd say it was the opposite. She acts like a child."
"Well, she is eighteen," he countered. "That's pretty young. In a few years, the real world will become a shock to her system and that childishness will fade away."
I shifted around in my bed for a moment. Two thoughts were on my mind.
What if James was right? I remembered when I was eighteen. I might not have been as immature as Jo, but I damn sure wasn't looking forward to paying my way on everything. Sometimes being under your parents or older sibling's wing is comforting. I just didn't want her to get too used to that, so when the time did come for her to break away, she wasn't afraid to.
The other one was: man, did James have a sexy voice! The inflections in his words highlighted his Latino heritage every time he spoke. It was rich, the kind of voice that would make you tingle if you focused on it and nothing else.
I didn't want to pursue anything with James because I wasn't ready to. I hadn't been in a relationship since my sophomore year of college. I found them distracting and hard to maintain, and I wouldn't have picked having one over my education. I didn't even know if he was interested in me.
"Yeah," I whispered. "I'm here."
"Just checking. It is getting late, you know. You should really go to bed."
"Well, I'm not sleepy."
He laughed. "Do I have to tell you another of my boring stories so that you will be?" James was a big fan of swimming and surfboarding. His enthusiasm would bubble over every time I mentioned it, which would lead to a thirty-minute story. But I didn't mind paying attention. In fact, it gave me all the more reason to lay back and listen to him talk.
"Your stories aren't boring," I replied.
James chuckled and I heard silence on the other line for a few moments.
"Want me to put you to bed, Larissa?"
I clenched my thighs together. Fuck yeah, I do.
"Well, how else am I going to get there?" I asked sweetly.
"Alright, fine. So, this happened a couple of years ago. I was all geared up, the sun was shining. I followed the weather for a week prior to that day, just so I could be sure there was nothing standing in between myself and a nice, big wave. I was wearing my shorts and necklace like I always did, and..."
The thought of James' tanned, muscular body glistening in the sunlight only added to the dull throbbing going on between my legs. I slid my hand down my shorts and caressed my smooth mound, making my way down to my slit. I could hear the wet clicking sound as I spread my lips open. It amazed me, how wet I was just from listening to him. My fingers were coated in my juices, and I used my lubricated tips to fondle my clit.
"Oh," I sighed.
He stopped in mid-sentence. I had such a hard time being quiet while I was masturbating.
"You alright?" he asked. "Sleepy yet?"
"Ahh... Almost there," I assured him. I decided to put the phone on mute. That way, I could make as much noise as I wanted to without interrupting him. I pressed the button and let a pleasurable moan escape from my pink lips.
"Like I was saying, I stood on the board and..."
"Oh, yeah. Keep talking, baby. So sexy," I whined. I rubbed my delicate button with fury, listening to James all the while.
"Oh, James. I'm... Oh!" I snatched the pillow that was under my head and covered my mouth with it. Jo was a heavy sleeper, but I was always cautious not to wake her up. When I came down from my euphoric high, James was done with his story.
"And I ended up getting a few stitches," he chuckled. How was that?"
"Oh, so good." I damn near had to force the words from my lips. "Great story."
"If you wanted me to put you to bed in that way, you should have asked."
My heart sunk in my chest. He heard me.
"In what way?"
"You know what I mean. But we'll talk about it some other time. Go to sleep."
I'm sure if I'd have looked in the mirror, I would have saw that my face was rose-red from embarrassment. I didn't know how I would talk to James after this, but a part of me didn't regret doing it.
"Alright," I agreed. "Have a good night."
The next morning, I woke up to an empty house. I wondered how long it would take Joanna to warm up to me again but I wouldn't force her to talk. I concluded that a nice stroll on a rainy day would be just the thing to relax the agitated state that I was in. Rain had always been therapeutic to me; the heavier, the better.
The park was a few blocks from our house. I knew the large crowds would be few and far between because of the weather, which was perfect. I strolled down a wet pathway with my umbrella in hand, humming to myself. I must have looked silly; a young black woman prancing through the park with a grin on her face. Good thing no one was around.
My rubber boots squeaked and squished against the puddles and it made me feel like a kid again. I spotted an empty bench and plopped down, letting my mind drift as I closed my eyes. Ah, the sweet sound of pouring rain.
For some reason, something or someone -- maybe it was my subconscious, told me to look up. I was smart enough to obey it, because across from me sat the most forlorn looking guy I had ever seen.
He didn't have an umbrella or raincoat, so the torrents of rain splashed down on him. His straight brown hair was completely drenched. Water dripped from the bridge to the tip of his nose time and again, and his hands were shoved in his pockets for warmth.
He must have sensed me staring because he glanced in my direction. His gray eyes were full of unhappiness, though he smiled at me. Two deep dimples emerged, then went back into hiding. The gears in my head clicked and I put two and two together: it was the guy Joanna and I gushed over in the grocery store. I would have know earlier, were he not dressed casually.
I decided to walk over and sit next to him.
"Um... you know you could catch a cold, not having on the right clothes in this weather."
He let go what seemed like a forced chuckle and looked up at me. His dark gray eyes and long lashes threw me off for a second.
"A cold's the last thing I'm worried about," he replied in a deep voice. He smiled weakly at me, then returned his gaze to the ground below us.
"Yeah? Well, I can't suppress the good Samaritan in me. So here." I tilted the umbrella so both he and I were protected from the rain.
"Mind telling me why you look so sad?" I inquired. "Is it the weather?"
"Nah. I love the rain," he said. "Just family issues."
I could relate. "Annoying siblings?"
"Baby brother. Not annoying. Just... fussy. Cranky." He pulled out a box of cigarettes and offered one to me. I passed.
"I hear you," I said with a nod. "I got my hands full with my little sister."
"That the one who asked me where the spice aisle was?" he asked, lighting his cigarette. I was surprised he even remembered.
He pulled his free hand from his pocket and offered me a handshake.
How could I not accept? I shook his hand and smiled.
"Larissa. Do you... want to come dry off at home? I mean, my house?"
He guffawed. "Trying to hit on me?"
"No! I was just --"
"Being a good Samaritan?" He flicked his lit cigarette to the ground, and watched the moisture from the rain put it out. "Nice of you."
"So is that a yes?"
"I can't stay long but sure." He stood up and stretched, taking the umbrella from me to hold it over our heads since he was taller.
We traveled at a much slower pace, making chit-chat on the way there. This was probably the weirdest thing that occurred since I'd moved here: running into some (fine) guy I was gawking at just a day ago.
Oh, well. If this is weird, then I'm looking forward to seeing what bizarre is like.
We arrived at the house a few minutes later. Noah waited at the bottom of the porch while I opened the door.
"It better be decent, considering how much I pay every month," I quipped. I moved aside to let him in, then closed the door behind us. God, did it feel good to be in a warm house.
"So, um. Got any towels? I don't wanna warp your floor or anything." He was standing on the frayed welcome mat near the door. I could see what he meant; the rainwater dripping from him was making a small puddle under his feet.
"Sure. Hold on, let me grab some from upstairs." I peeked at him before venturing on up. He tilted his head and was shaking it rather comically. I guessed he was trying to get water out of his ears but I didn't even try to stifle my laugh. Sorting through the linen closet, I tried to wrap my mind around the day's events. The second most attractive man (James was currently at the top of my list) I've met was in my house. Sopping wet at that. At least I knew what to tell Joanna to get her to talk to me. I took off my own raincoat and boots, stripping down to the tight jeans and blouse I chose to wear today.