Express Lane Ch. 03byRaLaWrites©
"We could go all night… Give me the Green Light…"
Danielle and I were singing John Legend's 'Green Light' while sauntering around the kitchen. After working two weeks with no off days, Danni finally had a chance to visit. It wouldn't last long since she was going to work bright and early the next day but we were making the most of it.
"So what do you want me to do?" She asked, looking at the ingredients spread out on the table. We promised the next time we met up, dinner would be first on our catching up list. It was a pain in the ass that we had to eat two separate meals. DanI was a vegetarian and of course, I wasn't.
"Well," I said, dancing. "How 'bout you cook mine and I'll cook yours?"
Danni frowned, her auburn bangs swishing from one side of her face to the other when she cocked her head. "Oh, man. You're going to make me touch meat?"
"Damn right. I've been wanting a good meal and since I ran out of frozen dinners, thank god, I want some homemade meatloaf and mashed potatoes."
"Lucky you. I'm havin' such a good time I'll touch what was once a beautiful, living thing so you can have your meatloaf," she smiled.
Danni was the only girl I knew who put the sun in sunshine. She could have broken both of her legs and got mugged on the same day but at the end of it all, she was smiling. It was commendable and something to strive for in my eyes but Joanna couldn't stand her. Then again, someone in a constant bad mood like Jo wouldn't love a bubbly personality like Danni's. I was the happy medium between the two; not quite crabby but not so animated.
"Good and I'll get started on your nasty veggie pizza," I teased.
We bopped to the music and kept singing. Okay, screeching. But the point was we were having fun.
The song went off and Danni decided to put her DJ'ing duties on pause to talk. "So I know I've been busy. What have you been up to?"
I didn't look at her. I was too busy chopping up green peppers, but I did respond. "Let's see. Made a new friend who's downright yummy and started a new relationship that I'm not all that hyped about. Oh, and Joanna got hired at the grocery store a few blocks away from here."
"Hey!" Her demanding cry made me peer at her. "Back it up. You have a boyfriend now?"
"Yeah," I sighed. "James and I… it's a long story. A long ass boring story." Two days went by since I saw James and I wanted it that way. Oh, he contacted me multiple times — left lovey-dovey messages to my voicemail and stopped by the house while I wasn't there. When I got back home, Jo told me I had a bouquet of lilies waiting for me. It was too much too soon.
"You don't sound all that happy." Danni stopped preparing the meal to size me up, looking me over with intent.
"I'm not but that's no reason for you to put my dinner on the backburner," I said half-joking. "James is sweet. Good in bed, too. You've met him before and you know what he's like. I just don't know if I want to be with him."
"Be with him so soon, you mean?"
"No." I shook my head. "At all."
Danni's inquisitive nature fell silent. For fifteen minutes we worked on our respective dinners without a sound, until she asked another question.
"Forgive me for being quiet. I was just thinking. So who's this yummy friend you speak of?"
Finally, a pleasant topic. "Noah. I met him in the park. Wait, no I didn't. You know that same grocery store I mentioned earlier?"
"Russell's," Danni said.
"Yeah. Noah works there. I saw him one day in the store then ran into him the next day at the park."
"I go up there from time to time," she admitted. "What's he look like?"
"Hmm." I put the knife down to think of a suitable way to describe the sexiness that was Noah. "He's got straight brown hair. Tall but with a thin build. Gorgeous dimples." I looked at the ceiling, hoping I didn't leave anything out. "Oh! Almost forgot. The most beautiful gray eyes in the city. The country. Universe? I don't know but they're that damn breathtaking."
Danni watched me and folded her arms. "Really? If he's that tasty then why aren't you with him?"
"That's an easy one to answer," I snorted. "Noah has no interest in me. The closest we've ever come to flirting happened when he asked me, 'Would you kiss a guy you've only known for an hour?'"
Danni paused. "… So did you?"
Her frustrated groan was noted but not taken to heart. "See? That's your problem, Rissa. Hot guy right in front of your face like chum on a fishing line and you swim right by it. What's wrong with you?"
"Look, ain't nothing wrong with me. He called a week later asking me to baby-sit his little brother so he could go out with some chick. Does that sound like he's interested?"
She laughed. "Maybe it's because you didn't kiss him! He might be turned off by that; maybe he thinks you aren't interested in him."
"Maybe," I agreed. "Too late now to straighten it out. He's been seeing the same girl every night for a week. I've only seen him twice."
"Girl, as long as there isn't a ring on his finger it's never too late. Even then you still have a shot, but I think you're too much of a good girl for that."
"He called me that too," I grinned. "Might that be the culprit? Maybe he's into fuck-on-the-first-date kinda girls. No effort required; just take 'em out for dinner and voila! The panties are down in no time at all."
The familiar chime of the doorbell tinged. "Danni could you get that? Probably Jo coming back from her thousandth date with Lawrence."
"Okay." She jogged and her long ponytail followed, bouncing each time she took a step. I froze in place to listen. Jo wouldn't be happy about Danni's presence so I needed to know if I had to play referee.
Danni walked back to the kitchen with both of her brows raised. "Um… it's James. Want me to tell him you don't feel good?"
I rolled my eyes. "No, it's cool. Sit tight, I'll be right back." I would have worried about my less than stellar appearance — two braided pigtails, a tank top and jogging pants but I wanted to make this short and sweet.
James rested against the front door. Another bouquet of flowers, daises this time around, were being clutched in his hand. He was clean-shaven again; his coiled, jet-black tresses pulled back. Forever in formal attire, his dress shirt and black slacks did make me scold myself for not changing into something a little more suitable. His wide-eyed cheerful smile elicited a similar grin from me despite my mood being anything other than pleased.
"Hey, love." His strong arms linked around my waist. "I've been missing you."
"Hey." James still beat Noah in the looks department; His big brown eyes were positively charming. They twinkled with content as he looked down into mine, squeezing me. His perfect full lips rubbed against mine, kissing me several times. My pert nipples couldn't help themselves; they hardened against his chest.
"I got these for you." James lifted the daises up to my nose so I could inhale their sweet scent. "Joanna told me you'd like them."
Wasn't that a surprise? Daises were actually Jo's favorite, not mine.
"Thanks," I whispered. "Gotta put these in water."
"Not right now," he pulled at my arm. "We need to talk. I have something I need to tell you."
"Yeah, me too. Sit down."
He sat on the sofa across from me and crossed one leg over the other, lacing his fingers together. "So who goes first?"
"I uh… I think I should." Resting my head against the chair, I shifted around in a nervous way. Looking him in the eyes was impossible so I opted to stare at my hands instead. "James, I like you and you're so easy to get along with. I have never been so close to someone in such a short period of time like I have with you. That's why --"
"You want to stay friends with me," he finished. "Not be in a relationship with me."
I expected to see James look pissed and heartbroken. When I looked at him, I saw neither. Believe it or not he seemed to understand.
"Exactly. That's not what you were coming to tell me too, right?"
"Nah," he laughed. "I was coming to tell you I wanted to take you out to dinner but it's nowhere near upscale. Just this Chinese restaurant my friend told me about."
"Oh. You mean tonight? Because --"
"Tomorrow," he said. "I see you have company tonight. Rissa, don't worry about telling me how you really feel. I wondered if we were going too fast myself and I can understand if you only said you'd be with me because I was giving it to you that night. Wouldn't be the first time a girl did that," he said smugly.
I had never felt so much relief in my life! "Whew! Thanks, James."
"Don't think my offer doesn't stand anymore, though. If you ever need me to put you to bed, just call me. Or at any time of day."
"I have a feeling I'll do that."
"Good." He stood up and walked over to me, kneeling on the floor. "One last kiss as a couple. What do you say?"
"C'mere, lover." My nails grazed against his cheeks when I cupped them and his eyes fluttered. Our lip-lock was a loving one, complete with erotic moans and ended with our tongues saying hello to one another.
He pulled away, his eyes heavy with genuine sadness. "I'll miss that."
"No you won't," I assured. "Any time I need you, you'll get that and more."
He rose to his feet once again and so did I. "Tomorrow at Seven. Don't forget, Rissa."
"I won't, Jaime."
His eyes narrowed as he looked at me. "Who said you could call me that?"
"I did. Night, James."
"Night," he winked.
I closed the door behind him, smiling. It dawned on me that I agreed to the very thing Noah inquired about and that I denied. James was now my fuck buddy but I didn't feel any outrage or shame like I thought I would.
"Larissa, do you have to come with me? Why can't you just take your car?" Joanna screeched, running around aimlessly. She'd only been working for a week and already complained that she wanted to quit. What a shocker!
"Because Lawrence is taking you to work, right? I need to go to the store. Win-Win," I explained.
"Like hell. You can't stand Lawrence. And I don't like the way he looks at you when you're around," she whined.
"Not my fault your little Mack-Daddy boyfriend can't keep his eyes straight," I said. "Besides, if there's anything you shouldn't be worried about it's me falling for him. I'd rather be alone."
We could hear his poor, innocent little horn beeping inside of that gaudy shit he called a car. It was an old fashioned seventies car, complete with shiny red paint and silver rims. I shuddered to think about the amount of money wasted to make that thing look like it did.
"Fine you can come," she growled. "But don't say anything to embarrass me. You know, just don't say anything at all." Jo grabbed her purse and bolted out of the door. I, on the other hand, walked at a much slower pace. I knew it would drive her crazy, but it was yet another thing she needed to be taught and sorely lacked: patience.
While Jo was already in the car, I was taking my sweet time to close and lock up the house. Once I got outside, I even stopped to tie my shoestrings.
I was wearing heels but who cares? Waiting would be good for her.
Approaching the car, I could see my lesson had backfired and then some. Jo was too busy playing tonsil hockey with Lawrence. I popped the door open and sat in the backseat, right between the two of them.
"Alright, children! Less tongue and more driving."
Lawrence swiveled around in his seat. His cocoa-complexioned skin was smooth; his hair, cut short and wavy and brown eyes made it hard to dispute his attractiveness. If only he kept his annoying ass mouth shut, I might like him.
"What up big sis," he slurred, courtesy of his southern accent. "How you doin'?"
"I could be better if I was stepping foot in the store right now," I joked. "Let's save the chit chat for another time, hmm?"
"I hear ya," he nodded. Ten seconds later my ears were being assaulted by bass-heavy music. The speakers were shaking so loud that I couldn't even tell what the song was.
"Turn that down!" I yelled.
"Oh, sorry." Lawrence tinkered with the controls until the sound was at an acceptable volume. Even though I was twenty-two, I was never one to crank up a song so loud that the windows in my house buckled and threatened to break.
We drove into the parking lot and I damn near threw myself out. Jo was saying her good-byes, which consisted of more kissing and god knows what else. Yet another conversation I needed to have with her.
The sliding glass door opened and I walked inside. I was not even ten steps in before I spotted Noah, who was tending to a customer. I didn't want him to see me so I ducked into another aisle. Scanning the items in the aisle I noted not only how I, but how my body would respond to Noah. It was like being in a one-mile radius of him caused my stomach to do cartwheels and back flips.
I trailed around the store for as long as I possibly could, visiting aisles and sections I had no business in. After all I had only come for milk and cereal.
Since stalling for ten minutes got a little boring, I decided to check out. With milk and cereal in each respective hand I waited in the lane. Noah looked tired but managed to greet each customer with a smile. Except me.
Once it was my turn, his warm but fake grin faded away. His eyes were dark as he glared at me, similar to the way he looked at James that night.
"Good afternoon to you too…" I read his nametag playfully. "…Noah."
"Now there's a face I haven't seen in a while," he murmured. "Rico Suave got you under lock and key, I take it."
Rico Suave? I tried to curb my laugh but I couldn't lie. That was a good one. "No, James does not have me under lock and key. We aren't even together anymore. What about you and the redhead?" I had only seen her once, when dropping Jo off to work. Noah's shift was ending and she was there to greet him.
"Silver," he said.
What a fucking stripper name. Silver. "Yeah, her."
"I don't think that's any of your business, Ris." He scanned both of my items and smiled, arching one of his thick eyebrows. "The total is five seventy-five."
Noah had the honor of being the only person I'd known less than a month who got under my skin. Whether it be good, bad or otherwise, he got under my skin. I shoved exact change onto the counter and walked off without my receipt.
"Larissa, hold up," he called.
My heels clicked on the cold pavement as I walked back into the parking lot. I didn't see Lawrence but then again, I never told him I wanted a ride back home. Walking, it is.
Another set of footsteps followed behind me and were approaching fast. Noah, of course. He grabbed my arm and looked down at me. The sun's rays brightened everything in sight including Noah's eyes, which were now a very light shade. I swear, he was like Dr. Jekkyl and Mr. Hyde.
He sighed and scratched his head. "So yeah, she's my girlfriend."
"Why was that so hard to admit?" I asked. He didn't say anything and I was much too busy to stand in a parking lot looking at him, even if he was delectable.
"Never mind that," he said, exasperated. "Rory misses you. Evidently you both had a really fun time watching cartoons together."
"We did. You tell Rory any time he wants to come by and hang out with me, he can."
"What about me?" he inquired.
"Oh, you can play with Silver. Dumb ass name," I muttered as I walked away. Again, Noah's strong hand clutched my arm.
"Don't be stupid, Larissa. I haven't had a lot of free time to hang out with you but I'd like to. What do you say? I have a few days off starting tomorrow. You could come visit Rory and me today, maybe even spend the night."
I pondered the offer. I knew that being in close quarters with Noah would make me crazy with lust but I'd have Rory to fall back on. I didn't feel comfortable getting down and dirty with a child in the house.
If I wanted to say no, Noah was making it hard for me to do so. He poked his full lower lip out and looked into my eyes with feigned sadness. Oh lord, he could pull off the puppy dog face and not look silly! I figured there wasn't any harm in it, so I agreed.
"Fine. I have to go home and pack for overnight."
Placing both of his hands on my shoulders, Noah leaned against my ear and whispered. "I don't think you need to pack. Just come with what you're wearing." He chuckled, his voice deep and rich. Turning away from me, he asked one last thing before he left.
"What?" My mind was in the dirtiest of gutters after what just happened.
"A ride home, girl."
Oh. "Um… no. I'll walk."
"Alright. See you, Ris." I watched him stroll to his car; that tall frame of his swaggering with confidence. His silky brown hair blowing wildly from the gusts of wind swirling around us. Who was I to fool myself? If Noah even hinted subtly that he wanted it, he could get it. Oh, could he get it.
As I walked, I thought about several things. Noah, mostly. I also thought about Jo and the talk I needed to have with her. How much fun Danni and I had last night. How James…
James. We were supposed to go out to dinner tonight.
Tomorrow at Seven. Don't forget, Rissa.
I stood on the sidewalk, stunned. I couldn't believe I forgot about our plans. Not only that but I threw them out of the window for Noah. Suddenly having a lackluster social life seemed better. Less complications, no forgetting plans. With me, there was never an in-between. Either my social life was dry as the Sahara or it was raining with people and events. And right now, it was pouring.