Twice The Charm Ch. 02bycassandraharper©
Author's note: Sorry guys, I realized that I did indeed screw with the timeline little. Unfortunately, I can't go back and fix it because this story has already been completed on my blog and I'm not going to change one tiny piece of it only for one website. It means that I would have to correct about three or four chapters on my blog and that's time that I could be using to continue with another story that I've started. So I'm just going to tell you guys that Star is three years old going on four. I'm very sorry for the mix up and I hope that this mistake doesn't take away from the story.
His kiss was different than before. He was actually taking his time to taste every crevice of her mouth, dipping his tongue inside after gently asking for entrance. It made her knees shake to think that over the years Scott had afforded to become more attentive. She trembled a sigh feeling her knees begin to shake from the affect of his touch. His strong hands were all over her, gently coaxing the tenseness from her body as he lifted her off of her feet, pressing her closer against his tall, muscular frame. Her arms encircled his neck now that she was being held a bit higher giving her easy access to his throat. His five o'clock shadow grazed her soft skin causing excitement to ripple throughout her body. Her lips tasted his warm flesh only stopping to suckle on his rapidly pounding pulse.
She wrapped her legs about him moaning in surprise when he gently grasped her derriere exciting her senses even more. She could feel herself becoming wet from the damp, coolness in her satin panties. If she didn't stop them now, Manni knew that they would sleep together. "Scott," she tried speaking seconds before he once more devoured her lips, sending her further into distraction. Perhaps he knew exactly what she had been about to say, but whether that was the case or not, she found herself happy that he had stopped her.
Her hands traced a hot path to his silky red hair which she entwined between her fingers, pressing his mouth closer and, for the briefest moment, time seemed to stand still, just for the two of them, as their kiss grew longer in length and their moans echoed in the silence of her living room. She was beginning to shake with desire as her trembling hands dropped down to unbutton the collar of his shirt. She needed to feel his heat pressed up against her or she would lose her sanity.
"I want you," Scott told her slowly laying her down on her love seat. He looked down at her with desire filled eyes almost at his limit from the wanton yearning reflecting on her lovely face. His fingers traced her angled jawline and she leaned into his touch as her body trembled. "Why are you crying?" he asked a bit concerned.
"Am I?" she replied sitting up to wipe away tears. "I'm sorry, Scott, I can't do this."
"Alright," he told her nodding his head. "I won't force you, you know that," he said even though his evident arousal was painfully pressing against the front of his pants. "I'll wait until you're ready."
She snorted her disapproval at his statement steadily shaking her head. "We've hurt each other too much to want to try again, Scott. It would be too crazy."
"I know that we've both done and said a few things that we shouldn't have to get back at each other, but that was the past and I'm willing to--"
"Scott, please don't."
"Don't what?" he asked standing up and backing away from her. He placed his hands on his hips to keep them from reaching for her.
"Things won't work out between us. They never have since we first started and it definitely won't now. We've changed and we both have different responsibilities that we need to take care of."
"Are you talking about Star?" he asked looking down at her. "She's an adorable kid, Manni, and I have no problem with stepping in to be a father figure to her if need be. I'll accept the both of you."
Manni felt her heart tremble in her chest and she dropped her eyes to her tightly clasped hands feeling an overwhelming sensation of guilt upon her conscience. "Scott, there's something that I need to tell you." Her doorbell rang dissipating the heavy tension from between them.
"I'll get that," he volunteered when she didn't move. He returned a few minutes later setting the food down on her glass coffee table. "Are we going to eat now?"
"Did you use the twenty I had on the counter?" she asked standing to her feet to get them plates.
"Nope." He took the fork from her hand already going to town on the broccoli and shrimp before she had the time to plate it for him.
"Some things just never change," she commented sticking the twenty in his shirt pocket.
"What can I say? I enjoy the easy clean up method. That way we don't have to wash any dishes," he told her pulling her down beside him. He took the plates from her hand setting them down in front of them then handed her the second fork after opening the pork fried rice and steamed dumplings. "Tell me why you're so down today."
She heaved a sigh eating a forkful of the rice before responding. "I was chewed out by a client today. She told me that I was a horrible makeup artist and that I ruined her photoshoot."
"What?" he asked in disbelief.
"Yeah, she called my boss and we all had one big meeting because she was talking about pressing charges. Apparently, she was fired from the job; she wouldn't give us any reasons why except that the photographer didn't like her makeup and that I wasn't qualified at my job because I never wore any. I can't help it if that stuff makes my skin break out into a rash," she told him trying to choke on her sorrows with the help of a steamed dumpling.
"So what happened? What did your boss say?" he asked unable to stop thinking about how adorable she was when she brooded.
"He said that he would get to the bottom of everything, but until then I'm on probation," she told him. Her voice broke and she dropped her fork.
"No, it's not, Scott, I'm sorry, but you know how much of a pessimist I can be. I've worked there for seven years and not once have I ever had a complaint and now instead of being on my side, he tells me that I'm on probation as if he were talking to some newbie or something."
He rubbed her back to help her calm down, "what will you do now?"
"I'm looking for a new job. I have an interview next week Friday. I haven't told him a thing. He'll find out once I'm gone that I've left," she said standing to her feet. She'd forgotten about drinks only noticing her mistake when her throat became unbearably dry. She handed him a glass dropping down beside him on the floor.
"It's not as if you have anything to worry about. You and I both know that once they take a look at your portfolio there's no way they'd deny you."
"That is true," she agreed not afraid to be a bit conceited. "It's just that I'm so hurt. Not once have I ever asked him for anything, not even a raise, and I work the longest hours so much that sometimes I don't even get to see Star."
"Who watches her when you're working so late?" He took a chug of his lemonade scrunching his face at the tart lemon flavor. "This could use a bit more sugar."
"It's sugar free," Manni told him turning up her nose. "It's much better for your health so you better finish it."
"I'll just take your advice on that. So who looks after her when you're not available?"
She ate some broccoli digging through the container for a plump piece of shrimp. "My parents. They spoil her rotten over there," she told him with a smile. "What I usually try to do is work late on Fridays that way she can spend the weekend with them, but every once in a while I have a late weekday or two."
Scott nodded his head taking a sip of the horrible liquid he was forced to drink. "Did they move?"
"No, they still live near West Palm Beach," she told him.
"So you drive an hour to your parents' house just so that they can watch your child? You must be able to afford the gas." She smiled getting ready to brag until she choked on a few grains of rice. He laughed as she began to turn red from embarrassment. "That's karma."
"I could have died and here you are laughing at me like a clown," she complained rubbing her throat.
"With CPR, we're taught that the victim is alright as long as they keep coughing. Once they stop is when you begin to worry. I was kinda hoping for the latter so that I had another chance to put my hands all over you." His eyes roamed over her body with desire and she cleared her throat.
"Is that the reason you came back to Florida?"
He shook his head finishing up the fried rice. "It's like I told you before. My mother's dementia is getting worse so I'm in the process of taking her out of the nursing home so that I can care for her myself. I never thought that I would run into you, but I'm glad that I did."
"Well, I'm not very sure about the way I'm feeling towards you," she told him setting down the container of shrimp and broccoli before she finished it off.
"I'm only guessing from the way you responded to me earlier that there's a little something still left in that closed off heart of yours." She didn't like the mocking tone in his voice glaring in his direction in response. "Manni, I told you that I would wait until you were ready."
"Am I not supposed to pretend that I didn't walk in on you and your secretary about to go at it?" she asked looking down into her half empty glass.
He didn't know what to say. "I know I was a jerk who took you for granted, however; if you'd only give me one more chance, I can prove to you that I've changed."
She shook her head running her hand over her fluffy afro. "Scott, our relationship is a liability that I cannot afford and will not undertake again. Nevertheless, I feel as if we can benefit from being friends which brings me to something very important that I need to talk to you about."
"Friends will be fine. That way if you ever need someone, other than your folks, to watch little Star I can do that for you. I work from home now so that's not a problem. She can run around until her heart is content."
"You're an accountant, how do you do that from home?" she asked forgetting what she was about to say.
"My clients e-mail me their information and I total it up and do the math. It's not all that hard especially since I have the brain span of a savant," he told her closing up the container. "But would that be a good idea?" he asked referring to his earlier comment.
"You having the brain span of a savant?" Manni asked confused.
"No, me watching Star from time to time. It might take some stress off of you knowing that you won't have to drive an hour to get her," he told her standing to his feet. "I just don't understand why her father wouldn't want to be a part of her life. It's just like men these days to lay down with a woman though they know that they won't want to deal with the responsibility afterwards. I tell you if I ever see this guy, I will give him a nice blow to the face," he continued his ranting as he went into the kitchen to put their used utensils in the sink.
"Has he ever seen her before?" he asked still becoming angry at the idea of Star's father not wanting to be a part of her life. "Does he even know that she exists, that he has a three year old daughter?" he asked grabbing the empty containers.
"He doesn't know because I've never told him," Manni admitted watching him head into the kitchen. She followed him leaning against the doorway for support then took a deep breath and repeated herself. Scott turned to look at her in confusion and she couldn't maintain their eye contact. "Star's father didn't know that she existed until today."
"What?" Scott asked still confused. "Does that mean that you told him about her on the phone today or something?"
"No," she told him shaking her head. "He found out today because it's the first time that I've seen him in almost four years...Scott...Star is your daughter."