Velvet Roses Ch. 06byvirgofemme©
*Sorry for the late update. I know I told you guys this would be posted by late last week, but this took some time to write. So, I hope you all will forgive me! As you will see, this is a pretty long chapter, so I probably won't post a new one for another few weeks.
As always, thank you so much for the votes, comments, and taking the time to read. I hope you enjoy this chapter.*
Inhabited primarily by a gay and lesbian population, the Castro district was a vibrant area filled with niche bookstores, interesting café's, quirky shops, and a wide variety of bars.
On this particular night, the sidewalks were filled with costume-clad people, and as Jeneda, Luna and Ethan wove their way through the throng of individuals, they chatted amiably.
Having just attended a Halloween party, the threesome were trying to decide on a place to eat. While Jeneda was in the mood for Indian, both Luna and Ethan were deadset on greasy diner food.
Yet in the end, they all decided to get Chinese. After seating themselves in a corner booth, the trio gave their orders to the waitress, then fell into conversation.
"So what's the update on you and Dane?" Luna asked.
"We're still talking."
"Only talking, or more?"
A smile slowly spread across Jeneda's face as she said, "Things are progressing."
"Have you seen it yet?" Ethan suddenly blurted out.
"Seen what?" Jeneda asked.
"You know what." The grin on Luna's face couldn't get any bigger.
Knowing they were desperate to hear the answer, Jeneda hesitated a moment before answering. "Yeah, I've seen it."
"I knew it!" Clearly brimming with excitement to hear the details, Luna shifted in her seat. "So you've had sex with him."
"Nope. Just fooled around."
"And what exactly did this fooling around consist of?"
"Kissing, touching..." She paused to clear her throat before continuing. "And other stuff."
"You gave him a blowjob?"
No sooner had the words left Ethan's mouth, did the waitress appear with their food, and after setting their plates down on the table, she gave Ethan a little smirk, then headed off to another part of the restaurant so she could tend to the other customers. After sharing a snicker, the trio picked up their chopsticks, then dug into their plates of noodles.
"You did, didn't you?" Ethan asked around a mouthful of food.
Choosing to remain quiet, Jeneda only gave him a sly little smile.
"Well, well, well, you certainly have been a busy girl, haven't you?"
Luna's words caused Jeneda's lips to tug further upward, but before she could say anything in return, Ethan spoke.
"Is he circumcised?"
Looking wistfully into the distance, he gave his response. "Just trying to imagine it in my head."
Jeneda released a snort of laughter, then shook her head in amusement.
"Is he a good kisser?" Luna's voice was rife with curiosity.
"Better than good, he's fantastic."
"I figured he would be. He just has that look about him."
Jeneda could hear the envy in Luna's voice, and as she studied both of her friend's faces, she could tell just by looking at them that they were ardently waiting for her to spill more details.
Yet finding it far too enjoyable to just sit back and let them ask questions, she remained quiet and munched contentedly on a BBQ chicken skewer.
"So what's Dane really like?" Idly stirring a straw in her soda, Luna gave Jeneda an inquisitive look. "He seems so mysterious."
"He is. That's part of what I like about him. "
"How old is he?"
"You never asked?"
"Yeah, I did. But instead of answering, he asked me how old I thought he was. I guessed him to be around thirty or thirty-one, but he never confirmed it."
"Hmmm, so what do you know about him, then?"
"I know he collects swords. And he also speaks Japanese."
"Nice. And what else?"
"He has social anxiety."
"Really? Wow, I never would have guessed."
"I know, right? Apparently he takes medication, so I guess that pretty much controls it."
Luna scooped an ice cube out of her glass, then popped it in her mouth and began to crunch on it. "So he collects swords, speaks Japanese, and has social anxiety. Besides that, what else do you know about him?"
"Not a whole lot."
She cocked an eyebrow. "It's been nearly two weeks since you two first met, and that's all you know?"
"Yep." Feeling uneasy beneath the weight of Luna's stare, Jeneda averted her eyes and took another sip of her beverage. Yet after several moments of silence, she found herself unable to keep from meeting her friend's gaze. "What? Why are you looking at me that way?"
"I'm just a little surprised that you don't know more about him. I mean, I understand he's a mysterious guy and all, but how are you two supposed to build a relationship if you don't ask more questions?"
"It's only been a couple of weeks. We're still feeling each other out."
"I get that. And I'm not trying to tell you what to do, but I think It'd be a good idea if you slowed things down a little. Get to know him better before you go all the way."
"Yeah, okay." Although her words were affirmative, it was clear to see by the expression on her face that she was pretty much disregarding Luna's advice.
"I'm serious, Jeneda. Take your time, and don't rush into things."
"I disagree," said Ethan. "I think if she really likes him, and things feel right, then she should go for it."
"That's exactly how I feel," said Jeneda. "Why should I allow myself to be boxed in by dating rules that were invented by other people? It's kind of ridiculous, when you think about it."
"Those rules exist for a reason," Luna said. "They're there to set boundaries, let people know how far they can go."
"That may be what they're designed to do, but humans are unpredictable. When it really comes down to it, they'll do what they want, regardless of any guidelines."
"Maybe so, but I still think they're good to follow. If you give it up too soon, guys won't respect you."
"So basically I should be condemned for doing the same thing that men do. Yeah, that makes perfect sense."
"Hey, I don't make the rules," said Luna.
They finished the rest of their meal in silence, then after they'd had their fill, they slouched in their seats, allowing the food in their stomachs to settle.
"So now what?" Luna asked.
"We could go to the Q-bar," said Ethan.
"I'm not in the mood for a club. Why don't we go to your place instead, and watch the Elvira marathon?"
"Oh yeah, I forgot all about that. It starts at midnight, right?"
"Yep. Which leaves us an hour to get to your place."
"Sounds like a plan."
They all scooted out of the booth, and as they headed for the front of the restaurant, Ethan made a suggestion. "I was thinking we could pick up some ice cream on the way. What do you guys think?"
"Sounds good," said Luna. "I could really go for some mint chocolate chip."
"I'm in the mood for double chocolate chunk. What about you, Jeneda?"
"Actually, I'm kinda tired, so I think I'll just head home."
Having reached the door, they all stepped outside, then paused to talk on the sidewalk.
"Already?" Luna asked. "But It's only eleven, and It's Halloween night."
"I can't help being tired."
With a crooked smile on his lips, Ethan said, "Come on, Jeneda. It's us you're talking to here. You can tell us the truth."
Feeling embarrassed at how easily she'd been found out, Jeneda briefly averted her gaze from his before once again making eye contact.
"Alright, so maybe I'm not going straight home."
A look of disappointment crossed Luna's face. "I knew it. She's ditching us for Dane."
"I am not ditching you."
"Yes, you are. But whatever, It's cool. I hope you have fun." She then turned her head, purposely focusing her attention on the Halloween-goers who were passing by.
Jeneda's brow slightly furrowed, and she glanced at Ethan, but all he did was give a light shrug in response.
"Well anyways, I had a great time. Thanks for inviting me to the party, Ethan."
"No problem. Glad you had fun." He pulled Jeneda into a hug, then said, "Enjoy the rest of your night. And the next time we see each other, I expect a *full* update."
"Okay." She smiled, then directed her gaze at Luna, who was standing with her arms crossed over her chest. "You aren't seriously mad at me, are you?" Continuing to stare at her, Luna didn't say a word. This led Jeneda to wonder if she was even more upset than she appeared to be, but after a few solid moments of a serious, straight-faced expression, Luna's face finally softened.
"Of course not. But I am disappointed. You didn't have to lie to us, you know."
"I'm sorry, but I knew if I told you I was going to see him, you'd try and lay a guilt trip on me."
"That really wasn't my intention. It just makes us feel kinda crappy when you ditch us."
"I wish you would stop using that word, because that's not what I'm doing. We've been hanging out since six, and it's now almost eleven. That's five hours, Luna. And besides, I seem to remember you deserting me and Ethan quite a bit, back when you first started going out with Jason."
"I guess you've got a point there. Sorry for being a brat."
"So anyways, I guess I'll let you go now. Have a good time, okay? And remember what I told you."
"Yeah, I will."
They hugged, and after pulling away, they each walked off in opposite directions, heading to their respective cars.
* * * *
The dimply lit interior of the hallway echoed with the sound of knocks, and as the door to Dane's apartment pulled open, Jeneda was met with the sight of an unfamiliar man.
His eyes were dark brown and highlighted by black eyeliner, and his razor cut hair was worn in a jagged, edgy cut. Clearly surprised by the presence of this stranger, Jeneda blinked at him, allowing herself a moment to take in his appearance. Then finally, she spoke.
"Is Dane here?"
"Not at the moment. He should be back pretty soon, though. Why don't you come in and wait for him?"
The stranger pulled the door wider, inviting her to enter. Uncertain of whether or not she should go in, Jeneda hesitated, peering past where he stood and into the apartment.
"There's no need to be afraid of me," he said. "I'm not a serial killer, you know."
"But if you were, you'd definitely warn me, right?"
He lightly chuckled, then leaned against the door frame and crossed his arms in front of his chest.
"Suit yourself. Just thought you'd be more comfortable inside."
"Thanks for the offer, but I'll be fine out here."
A faint smile curled his lips as he inquisitively eyed her, and for a few moments she stared right back, taking note of his black leather pants and red, button up shirt. Yet eventually she found herself needing to look away, and instead focused her attention on the peeling paint of the hallway walls.
Silence stretched between them, and although Jeneda knew that barely a minute had passed since she'd first arrived, she felt as if it were taking an eternity for Dane to show up.
"So where is he, exactly?" She asked.
"He went down to his car to get something. He'll be right back."
With a look of slight suspicion on her face, she nodded, then once again broke eye contact and glanced down at her leather boots. She could feel the stranger watching her, and knew he was trying to engage her attention, but not wanting to encourage any conversation between them, she kept her eyes focused downward.
A few moments passed before she heard a rustling noise, and finding herself unable to resist, she looked over at him and saw that he was retrieving a pack of cigarettes from his jacket. Noticing that she was watching him, he leaned forward and held out the pack of cigarettes to offer her one, but she declined with a shake of her head.
"No thank you."
He lit up his cigarette and took a drag, then blew out a cloud of smoke. "What's your name?"
"Jeneda. And you are?"
"How do you know Dane?"
"We're old friends." He flicked his cigarette, then took a puff before adding, "We used to do business together."
"Oh really? What type of business are you in?"
This brought a small smile to his lips, and after briefly averting his eyes, he once again met her gaze. "I work in the cargo shipping industry."
"Doing what, exactly?"
"I acquire and transport goods, then sell them to various clients."
Jeneda gave a slow nod, then looked off into the distance, as if contemplating what he'd said. "Interesting....Dane never told me he was in that line of work."
"Dane's a pretty guarded guy. He doesn't really like bringing up the past. And besides, he's moved onto bigger and better things."
Jeneda couldn't help but notice the sarcastic tone in Kenichi's voice, and found herself wondering what circumstances had led to Dane no longer doing business with him.
She didn't have much time to contemplate it, however, because the creaking and groaning noise of the birdcage elevator moving upward caused her to turn her head and glance toward it.
As it reached the level she and Kenichi were on, she caught sight of Dane through the holes of the ornate metal frame, and as his eyes met hers, they widened. Puzzled by the look of worry on his face, Jeneda gave him a questioning look, anxiously watching as he yanked the accordion gate aside, then stepped off the lift.
"Hey," she said with a little smile.
"Hi. What are you doing here?"
Dismayed by his lack of excitement at seeing her, she drew her lips into a straight line, then gave a response. "I thought it might be nice to stop by and see you. Am I here at a bad time?" No sooner had the words left her mouth, did she notice he was carrying a black duffel bag, and finding herself curious as to its contents, she gestured towards it. "What's in the bag?"
He briefly looked down at it before saying, "Just a few items I picked up."
Then without another word, he brushed past Kenichi and headed into the apartment. Kenichi tossed his cigarette on the floor, and after stamping it out with the heel of his boot, he followed behind Dane. Jeneda was the last to enter, and after closing the door behind her, she headed over to where Dane stood.
"Do you not want me here?"
"Of course I do. I just wasn't expecting to see you."
He set the duffel bag on the floor, then took off his jacket and tossed it on the bed.
"Are you sure? Because it seems like I'm in the way." Glancing at Kenichi, she saw that his eyes were fixed unwaveringly on them. This led her to the assumption that he had no intentions on departing, and realizing that she and Dane would have zero privacy, she decided it would be best if she just left and went home.
"It's obvious you're busy, so I'll just leave. See you later."
Jeneda started to walk away from Dane, but before she could get very far, he grabbed her by the hand and pulled her up against him.
"Stay. I want you here." Placing his hands firmly on her hips, he gazed deep into her eyes.
Jeneda could tell that he wanted to kiss her, and she badly wanted to feel his lips against hers, but with Kenichi silently observing, it made it impossible for them to give into their desires.
Perhaps realizing that their spectator was impeding their ability to be intimate with one another, Dane threw a glance Kenichi's way, then briefly rested his eyes once again upon Jeneda.
"Just give me a minute and I'll get rid of him."
She nodded in response, then watched as he headed over to where Kenichi stood. As the two men conversed, Kenichi took several lingering glances at the duffel bag on the floor, and as he gestured toward it, Dane turned his head to offer it a brief look. They then said a few more words to one another, and after giving a nod, Kenichi turned and walked out the door.
Dane sauntered back over to where Jeneda stood, and after wrapping an arm around her waist, he tilted her chin up with his finger, then pressed his lips to hers.
His mouth was warm and his tongue was dominating, sliding ever so seductively against hers as he deepened the kiss. She brought her hands up to cradle his face, then allowed her thumbs to softly caress the sharp angles of his cheekbones.
Although the kiss was already all-consuming, she still found herself hungering for more, and she threaded her fingers into his hair, moaning softly as she stroked his lush, wavy locks. Then suddenly the kiss ended, and as he stared into her eyes, she noticed a somber expression had fallen across his face.
"You look so sad." Sliding a palm against his cheek, she gave him a look of concern. "What's wrong?"
"Just personal issues. Nothing you need to concern yourself with."
Yet despite the words he spoke, she knew there was reason for her to worry. Not only was he was holding her very tightly, as if afraid she might slip away, but he was studying her intently, as if committing her features to memory.
Something was definitely up, and although he wasn't cluing her in as to what it was, she could tell by his body language that something was weighing him down. Suddenly remembering the black duffel bag he'd been carrying earlier, she cast a glance toward it, then looking him straight in the eyes, she posed a question.
"What's in that bag?"
As she looked up at him, he looked down at her, and although his height should have given him the upper hand in their stare down, she somehow still seemed able to match the intensity of his stare. Besides the sound of tree branches scraping against the windows, the room was quiet, and both continued to unblinkingly gaze at each other.
Finally after what seemed like forever, Dane broke his frozen pose and reluctantly walked over to the bag. After setting it on the bed, he slowly unzipped it, then allowing his eyes to meet hers, he silently invited her to see what was within.
She opened the duffel bag wider and peered inside, yet to her surprise, all that she saw was a laptop. Realizing that her suspicions had been unfounded, she began to feel guilty, but as she spotted something silver in the corner of the duffel bag, she found herself curious as to what it was. She reached inside, and after grasping the object in her hand, she pulled it out.
"What's this for?"
Jeneda held a switchblade up in front of her, and as she lifted her eyes to meet his, she saw his lips draw into a tight line. She then pressed the little button on the handle, and the knife came out with a pop, glinting ominously in the dim light. The blade was thick and looked wickedly sharp, and as she held it in her hand, she began to wonder if It'd ever been used.
"It's a collectible," he said.
She studied him for a few moments, then with an inquisitive tone, she asked, "You don't use it for protection?"
"If I have to, I will."
He held his palm out so that she could hand him the weapon, and after retracting the blade, she placed the switchblade in his hand.
"Show me your other knives."
Dane lifted his brows, then after a moment of hesitation, he spoke. "My other knives?" "Yeah. You said it's a collectible, so I'm guessing you have others."
He slipped the switchblade into the pocket of his pants, then with a faint smile on his lips, he said, "Follow me, and I'll show you."
She did, and as they reached a wall that had a display of swords, Jeneda gazed admiringly at them. Although she didn't count them, she guessed there must have been at least fifteen blades mounted on the wall.
Some were enclosed in sheaths which were elaborately carved with pictures of Japanese culture, while others had lacquered cases which were polished to a perfect shine.
The craftsmanship of the swords was impressive to say the least, and focusing her attention on a katana that had a handle in the shape of a dragon head, she reached out to touch it.