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Elle Rose: (Chapter Three) A Romance Novel
“This is a really nice venue,” Elle told Turtle as they sat in the banquet hall, watching the guests slowly file in for the reception while they waited for the wedding party to finish snapping pictures a few rooms over. “Ms. Pree did her thing with these decorations. What do you think?”
Turtle sat back leisurely in his chair and gazed at the décor on their table, gazed around the room and nodded. “Yeah, she did her thing. You can tell they dropped a couple of thousands on this wedding.”
The banquet hall was nothing less than regal perfection. Glass was everywhere. Three-foot glass vases filled with water, stuffed to the brim with floating purple petals, and topped with an oversized bouquet that mushroomed over the top of each vase, stood erect atop each table. Smaller vases lined the linen-clothed tables as well; the smaller vases were filled with water and stuffed with purple and blue glass beads. Matching candle flowers floated atop the water, the flames casting soft shadows on the table.
What really sat the ambiance was the purple lighting that tinted the entire venue in lavender—even the linen draped chairs reflected the purple hue of the lighting. It was breathtakingly beautiful. The beauty of the room fostered a romantic environment, which made Turtle feel some type of way. There was nothing romantic between him and Elle. Even though that kiss they had shared in her car had made all of the blood rush between his legs, and even though that kiss he had shared with Elle in front of all of her family had sent his adrenaline in overdrive, at the end of the day, they were just playing their parts. Actors, faking, sticking to the script.
It was very reminiscent to how he lived normal, day to day life. Meet a beautiful woman, tell her what she wanted to hear, play the part, stick to the script, get her in bed, blow her mind, use her for his convenience until the next pretty face came along. In his world, only he was privy to the lie, and the only time the woman he was sleeping with found out the truth was either when he cut her off, got involved with the next chick, or got caught up in his lies. The difference in this situation was that both parties had mutually agreed to live this lie from the jump. Something about it still felt wrong, though. Like when Elle’s brother Nick had come up to them after the wedding and pulled him into a tight hug, slapping him hard on his back, and telling him, “Bout time! I always wanted you and Elle to get together. Now watch how she changes you into the man you need to be.” Nick was his boy, and it made him feel uncomfortable lying to him like that. But he didn’t want to blow Elle’s cover, so he had went with it.
“You, uh, you sang the hell outta that song,” he said, referring to the single off her first self-entitled album. He had always loved that song, “I Give Me to You,” even had it on his playlist that he listened to during his daily morning jogs. Elle didn’t know that though, and he wasn’t gonna tell her either. Her head was already big enough; he didn’t need to inflate her ego more with that tad-bit of personal information.
“You really think I sounded good?” Elle asked and he nodded. She splayed her fingers across her throat. “That was one of my worst performances ever, in my opinion. I embarrassed myself. My voice cracked when I went into the bridge, and that last note I hit? I was under the note. My vocal coach would’ve killed me if she would’ve heard that mess. It was too high. I should’ve dropped to my lower register.”
“No one could tell you were under the note. And yeah, I heard your voice crack, but the crack just added texture to your voice. Stop being so hard on yourself.” Turtle gently pinched her chin. “It wasn’t vocally perfect, but it was beautiful. I felt every note.”
“So it wasn’t vocally perfect?” Elle asked with plenty of attitude. “You’re basically agreeing that I sucked?”
Turtle smacked his lips. Just like a woman. Forget the compliment; only focus on the criticism—and then exaggerate the criticism at that. He didn’t warrant her question a response because he didn’t feel like fighting with Elle right now.
“Honestly,” she said, “I don’t think I’m gonna be able to sing to their first dance. Sabrina might have to play a record or something.” She visibly struggled to swallow a few sips from her bottled water. “My throat has been bothering me all day.”
“What did I tell you about those cigarettes?”
“It’s not the cigarettes.”
He dubiously lifted his brow. “Then what is it?”
“I think it’s the change in weather. It’s a helluva lot warmer in Los Angeles than it is over here. And the way the wind’s been whipping—”
He widened his eyes at her. “I’ll tell you this much. You better not be coming down with nothing after all the slobber we’ve been swapping all day.”
That drew a laugh out of her, which made Turtle smile. She smiled back at him. Damn, such a beautiful smile. Since when did her lips become so full, so sexy looking?
She kept looking at him; he kept looking at her. Something passed across the table between them, something in the air, a charged current, perhaps? Whatever it was, it caused their smiles to fade gradually as they continued to look at each other. He could stare at her all day. There was something so beautiful about her that it defied explanation. He always thought Elle was an attractive woman with her petite features, her dark brown and deep set eyes, her long narrow nose, chiseled lips, smooth cheekbones, and cute little chin. Standing at 5’5”, she always had an athletic figure, a taut and tone body, breasts that sat high without support, nicely curved hips and a round butt that fit her frame perfectly. Though he had always seen Elle as a beautiful woman, he had never realized how…how sexy she was.
Sexy, sensual, classy. Even the curve of her rounded brown shoulder suddenly made him want to slide his hand beneath her draped neckline and guide the dress down her shoulder, down her toned arm, placing kisses on each inch of her latte skin along the way, baring her breasts to his eyes, to his touch, to his lips. Feeling guilty at his thoughts, he glanced back at her, but she was looking down at the table, thoughtlessly rubbing at her shoulders as though they had caught a chill—or as though she had just read his mind.
“Sabrina and Eric need to hurry up,” she said, her words cutting through the silence, changing the subject. “I think I’m gonna sit through the toast and leave. My throat is really bothering me. You still driving me to the airport tonight, right?”
“Yeah, I got you.”
As she nibbled on the green grapes clustered on the white, square plate before her, he pretended to be absorbed with something on his phone, but he was actually watching her, watching how she gracefully bit the grape in half, rolling the piece to the center of her mouth, sucking the juice out of it before shifting it the side of her mouth and chewing piece by piece. He’d never seen someone make grapes look so sexy.
“Can I taste it?”
He literally saw a shiver tremble through her body, her eyes fluttering close as though his question had been a caress. “Turtle, don’t say things like that to me because…I can’t…we can’t…”
For a few seconds, he was completely lost by her comment until he understood her misunderstanding, then he chuckled. “No, baby, not taste it. I mean taste it, the grape.”
Her face turned red, and he thought it was cute. You didn’t see women blush much anymore these days. “Sure, you can have one. They’re really sweet.”
“I want you to put it in my mouth.”
“Turtle, I can’t with you. Why you gotta be so nasty?”
“Girl, if you don’t take that grape and put it in my mouth,” he said, still laughing.
Growling at him, Elle took the grape and stuck it so far in his mouth that he choked on it. “I should’ve bit your damn fingers,” he said, once he was able to cough the grape out of his trachea.
While Turtle was still clearing his throat, Elle’s sister Clementine came over to their table. Sighing, Turtle hoped that Clem was not coming over to start any trouble. He watched her approach the table and wondered if she ever got jealous of Elle. Elle had the career, and Clem was just a housewife. Elle had the fame, and the only thing that made people remember Clem’s name was that it was unique. Elle had the body, and Clem…well, she used to have an “okay” shape, but after three kids, she just let herself go. Turtle never understood why women let themselves go after having children. He knew pregnancy stretched out their bodies and everything, but damn. What did they think the gym was for? That’s why, he couldn’t see himself having children by his wife, not if her body was gonna look like…this. He knew looks wasn’t everything, but it was definitely a factor that scored high on his priority list.
“Hello, Elle. Mr. Big Head Turtle.”
“Hey Clem,” Turtle said giving her a hug.
Elle had to clear her throat a few times before she was able to say, “Well, hello, Clem. So you’re speaking to me now?”
“Elle, stop it,” Turtle said, stepping on her foot beneath the table.
“Yeah, I guess I deserve that.” Clem glanced down at her hands, and circled her bangle around her wrist over and over again. “I just wanted to congratulate y’all on your relationship. When did y’all make things official?”
“About a month ago,” Elle offered before Turtle could say anything. Her voice sounded horrible, scratchy, almost painful. She kept sipping at a bottle of water, but it didn’t seem to be helping any.
“You plan on coming down next month for Thanksgiving? Because, you know, since Big Mama’s passed, I think we’re gonna do it at my house this year since I have the most space. And I’d love for you to…well, I mean, if you want to come, it would be nice. And you can bring, Turtle; you already know he’s family. But you don’t have to come if you don’t want to because I know you stay busy.”
To give the sisters some privacy, Turtle decided to leave the table. He glanced behind him at the kitchen, scoping out his surroundings to figure out where the kitchen entrance door was located. “I’ll be right back,” he said and pushed out his chair.
“And where are you going?”
He lifted a brow at the tartness in her question. “Are you my girlfriend or my PO?”
“Don’t get smart with me.” She lowered her voice. “And if we’re being honest here, actually, I’m neither.”
“Oh really?” He leaned down, brought his lips to her ear. “Who needs to stay in character this time?”
“Get out my face, Turtle.” She flicked her hand in the direction he had just looked and whispered vehemently, “Go ahead over there and flirt with your little groupie. I see how she’s been eyeing you down ever since we walked in the building.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Bye, Turtle. Go do what you do best—”
“What I do best…?” He let his sentence hang in the air. Once again, Turtle chewed at his cheek to keep from responding back. Elle was frustrated, under a lot of stress, tired—no, more like exhausted—she still had to catch a plane tonight, and she was under the weather. For all
of those reasons, he decided to let her funky attitude slide. He wasn’t gonna fight with her today. How much she was facing, she didn’t need a contender; she needed a friend.
“Trouble in paradise already?” Clementine asked.
“Nah, she’s about to start her period. You know how you women can get around that time of the month.”
With a confident stride, he crossed the room to the kitchen, and that’s when he noticed what Elle was tripping about: the brown-skinned beauty with the Brazilian hair curling down the back of her itty bitty, deliciously short, long-sleeved red dress. It was the same woman he’d seen outside when they had first pulled up. He wasn’t gonna lie; she was wearing the hell out of that dress, legs oiled up, calves toned, curves right. Almost as though she felt his eyes on her, she turned to look at him.
“Hey you,” she said.
“Uh, hey,” he said, fighting the urge to look back at Elle. This woman looked just as beautiful in front as she did from behind. With a heart-shaped face, golden eyes and large lips that looked like two hot pink orange slices, Turtle felt like he was looking at a piece of heaven. But what was confusing him the most was that despite her figure and her flawless face, he couldn’t stop thinking about Elle’s red lips, or the soft curve of her shoulder, the way she had nibbled on that grape. What was wrong with him? He didn’t belong to Elle, and she damn sure didn’t belong to him. Maybe he was playing this role too well. He needed to snap back to reality. Elle was a friend—nothing more, nothing less.
“I’m Ahmica. Everyone calls me Mimi.”
“Turtle,” he said, shaking her offered hand.
In a move so swift and quick, he didn’t even see it coming, she snaked his arm around her and planted his hand on her perfectly rounded right butt cheek, and held it there. “I know you’re taken,” she said near his ear, her breath smelling like bubblegum, “and I’m not trying to take you from her,” she said as she stared over his shoulder in the direction of his table. “But they said her plane leaves tonight.”
He loved her forwardness. The confidence she exuded was sexy, and he liked how aggressive she was about what she wanted. His mind toyed with ideas of what it would be like to bed this fiery vixen. Those visions included ice, handcuffs, moans, some screams, and a few safety
words in case things got a little too crazy. He would give her a night to remember; they could make history together.
“Nine-one-oh, 555, twenty-two, twenty-six. If you want this tonight, legs spread or tooted up on your bed, remember that number. I’ll be waiting on your call.”
“You gon’ wear that dress?”
“I’d rather just wear my nipple rings…and nothing else.”
It was difficult as he walked away from her, not only because his head was spinning from the sweet but strong fragrance of her perfume, not only because the images her words evoked had him heavy and hard as granite, but also because she had made him completely forget what he had headed out to do in the first place. He knew he was just about to do something, but…
Still disoriented, he decided to go to the bathroom and take a piss. While in the bathroom, he found himself chanting, “Twenty-two, twenty-six. Nine-one-oh.” In his mind, he fantasized about everything he was going to do to her. He might need to get his rocks off before she came over because he didn’t want to be a two-minute man, and the way he was feeling right now, he’d surprise himself if he made it past three strokes.
“Tea. Warm tea,” he said as he washed and dried his hands. That’s what he had intended to do. Get Elle some warm tea from the kitchen. For her throat. To help with the soreness.
Turtle returned to the banquet hall and peeked his head in the kitchen. They didn’t have any tea, but they rigged her up a cup of hot water, melted dinner mints, and a few squeezes of lemon juice. It wasn’t the warm tea that he was hoping for, but he felt it might soothe her throat for the moment. Carefully holding the warm mug as he approached the table, Turtle noticed that Clementine was gone and Mr. Toby, Elle’s father, was seated at the table with Elle. The sight of them together touched Turtle’s heart. He knew how badly Elle longed to have her father in her life again. At the same time, seeing her father there made him a bit nervous. He didn’t know what Mr. Toby’s stance on his “relationship” with his daughter was yet.
But as he neared the table, that anxiety quickly dissipated. “Tamaris,” Mr. Toby said with a big burly laugh that matched his big, burly physique, “I never thought I’d see the day when you and my baby would link up, but I must say, I don’t think I would want to see my doll-baby with anybody else. You’re a good man. A little rough around the edges, but you got a good heart.”
“Well, thank you, Mr. Toby. I appreciate that, especially coming from you,” he said as he passed the mug to Elle. “Here you go, baby. It’s a warm minty drink. I asked the people in the kitchen to make it, you know, to help with your throat.”
For some reason, she didn’t sound very thankful.
“So, Tamaris, do I hear any wedding bells in the near future for you and my princess?”
“Well, Mr. Toby, me and Elle are kinda taking things sl—”
He never saw the hot minty drink coming his direction, but God knows he felt it. It hit him in the eyes, went up his nose, filled his mouth. He felt like he was drowning standing up as the heated water traveled down his nostrils and simultaneously clogged the back of his throat. Mr. Toby beat him on his back, asked him if he was okay.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Turtle asked Elle, once he could breathe again.
Her cheeks full of air, she simply glared at him and spun on her heels, headed out the door.
“What did you do to her?” Mr. Toby asked him, but Turtle was clueless. Clueless and angry as hell. Where did she get off at, embarrassing the shit out of him in front of all these people? And what the hell was wrong with her? What had he done?
His face tingled and burned from where the hot water had hit his tender skin. Thank God he hadn’t asked for boiling water or he would’ve really been in trouble. Shrugging out of his soiled vest, Turtle tossed it on the table and went after Elle. At the same time he was walking out the door, Eric and Sabrina were walking in the door since they finally decided to join the reception. They ended up bumping into each other and Turtle reached out and grabbed Sabrina, helped her catch her balance so she wouldn’t fall in the beautiful violet silk gown she had changed into.
“We just ran into, Elle. She looks crazy. What’s going on, Turtle?” Sabrina asked him with a frown.
“I don’t know,” Turtle said without breaking his stride, “but I’m damn sure about to find out.” He broke into a full run and as he rounded the corner, he saw Elle’s curls bouncing while she fled down the hallway. “Elle! Elle, wait a minute, dammit.”
His words only caused her to run even faster. Oh, so she wanted to play this game?
Putting even more power and strength into his legs, he barreled down the hallway, watching her fly out the main doors. Where in the hell did she think she was going? She must’ve forgotten that he was the one who had driven up here, so the keys were still tucked in his pocket. A split second after she flew out the doors, he busted through the doors right behind her and caught her around the waist just before she could begin to descend the cement steps. He swung her around and all but slammed her against the side of the building. All the wind left her lungs, and before she could catch her breath, he gripped her upper arms hard, trapping her with the cold cement wall behind her and his steaming body in front of her—a body steaming from both perspiration and the aftermath of her hot drink disaster.
“If you was a dude,” he said to her, his eyes big against the darkening backdrop of the evening sky, “I would whoop your ass. What is wrong with you?”
“Me? Me?” she squealed at him in a voice that had become rather scratchy. “It’s not me, it’s you!” She wrestled to break loose of his hold, but she was no match for his strength. “I can’t believe how disrespectful you are, you asshole!”
“Are you nuts? Are you on drugs? How did I disrespect you?”
“Turtle, let go of me. You’re hurting my arms.”
“Not until you tell me what the hell is wrong with you.”
“I saw you, Turtle. You went over there, you were all up in her face, and then you had the nerve to palm her ass right in front of everybody.”
“I did not do that, Elle. I didn’t touch her butt. She put my hand there.”
“Damn, do I look like Bozo the clown to you?”
“A’ight cool. Let’s go in there together. We can confront her if you want to—”
“What the hell I wanna confront her for? I saw it with my own two eyes. I got 20/20, boo. And even if she did put your hand there, you damn sure won’t making no moves to move it.”
“And that warranted you throwing hot water in my face? What if that water would’ve been boiling?”
“I’m disappointed that it wasn’t.”
Snatching her up like she was a rag doll, Turtle all but dragged her into the shadows casted by the large, White-House looking pillars of the landing. This time, he didn’t hold her arms because he didn’t trust himself to touch her. He might break her damn arm, strangle her ass. Now that he was older and a helluva lot stronger, he didn’t touch women like that. But back in their middle school days, he and Elle had had plenty of one-on-one tassels. She had wanted to brawl like a dude, so he had treated her like one. But Elle didn’t fight fair. War scars to prove it, he had permanent tattoos all over his body from the pieces of plywood, large rocks, and pleated belts she had unfairly used to even out his advantage over her.
Now, as they stood in the cool air of the evening, toe to toe, nose to nose, glaring into each other’s eyes, breathing each other’s breath, Turtle said, “You threw water on me because you were jealous?”
“Ta-ha!” she laughed in his face. “Turtle, please. You can’t do shit for me. What I’m gonna be jealous over you for?”
“Tell me you don’t want me. Tell me that these kisses haven’t affected you the way they’ve been affecting me all day.”
Damn, he hadn’t meant to say that, but it was out now. And he wasn’t about to retract those words. He stepped forward even more, and though the front of his body was aligned with hers, her leg between his two, she still didn’t back up. She stood her ground, her eyes flashing bolts of lightning.
”Look me in my eye and tell me that, Elle.”
“I don’t want you,” she said through her teeth. “I was mad because you disrespected me. I’m paying you well to be my man for this event. Even for a few hours, you couldn’t set aside your whorish nature? Everyone sees us kissing, everyone sees us as an item, then everyone looks across the room and there goes Turtle, feeling up the woman in the red dress. How you think that made me feel, Turtle?” Elle’s eyes glazed over with tears, but she hardened her jaw and blinked until the tears dissolved and disappeared just as quickly as they’d came. “It’s like you had me reliving that damn Sidney James bull-crap all over again.”
He smacked his lips and looked up at the dark blue sky. Sidney James. That little punk of a boyfriend, whack ass shooting guard, couldn’t score any points if he had wings on his sneaks and could fly up to the damn rim. She should be happy that dude messed up that
engagement. If she would’ve married him, that would’ve been the worst mistake she’d ever made in her life.
“Really, Roses? You can’t compare me to Sidney James. I’m nothing like him.”
She issued a dry laugh. “Yeah, you got that right. At least for a short period of time, he was faithful.”
His voice felt rough leaving his throat. “Kiss me, Elle.”
“Hell no, I’m not kissing you. For what? There’s no one around, no need to play our roles anymore. And better yet, I’m done for today. Our job here is done. Send me the business plan, and I’ll make sure to—”
He bowed his head and and silenced her by fusing his lips against hers, backing her up so that she tripped and fell backward, the wall catching her before she could collapse. He covered her body with his own, his hands dropping down to the hem of her dress and carrying it up her thighs with his fingertips grazing across her silky skin. She tightened her lips, fighting the kiss, slapping at his shoulders, slapping at his hands.
“Elle, stop it,” he said into her mouth, still kissing her. “You don’t have to fight it so hard. Just let it happen.”
“No, you stop it. We’re not supposed to—” He slid his hand against her panties and grazed the bud of excitement down there through the thin fabric, felt her shudder against him as she released a shaky gasp and whispered his name.
Coercing her lips with contagious kisses, he finally felt the fight leave her as the hands clawing at his shoulders suddenly began rubbing his shoulders, slow at first, then faster.
“Put your arms around my neck,” he told her, and she did. He caught her earlobe between his teeth, sucked on it the way he wanted to suck her down there. Her moans were sweet music to his ears, confirmation that he was doing her right, touching her right. “Put your legs around my waist.”
He hoisted her up anyway, allowing the wall behind her to hold the brunt of her weight as he helped her cross her legs around his torso. The junction of her thighs was like a heater against him. With his hardness pointed upward, extending past his navel, he was certain that she could feel how aroused she had made him. He could smell her excitement scenting the air.
Just friends, my ass. She can play that game if she wants to. But I’m a full grown man and I know exactly what I want.
“Can I have you tonight, Elle? Can I have you right now?”
He didn’t want to hear no, so he angled her head and kissed her answer away, gently at first. But then the kisses grew wetter, wilder, more so on her part than his. The fact that she wanted him, that she was matching his passion, turned him on even more.
Once he released her lips, he smiled when he noticed that her bottom lip was puffy. He kissed it gently, a butterfly kiss, one that he just barely brushed across her swollen lip.
She said breathily, “Turtle, I don’t know what we’re doing. But we’re friends—”
“It’s more than that, baby.”
“No, it’s not. We can still stop. We don’t have to—” She whimpered when he found the swollen, puckered bead of her breast through her dress and grazed it with his teeth. “Please stop, Turtle. Let’s stop before we cross that line because—”
“Don’t you think we already have?” he said and hid his face in the curve of her neck, sucked on the skin there as he dipped his hands into her panties and expertly found her entrance, parted her lips, palmed the heat, the wetness there, stroked it. A flood watch was in full effect and this time he groaned just at the thought of entering something that wet, that tight.
“Damn, Elle. I did that?” he breathed against her ear, loving the way she was saturating his hand, soaking the cuff of his sleeve. He slipped two fingers inside her tightness, stretching her and covered her mouth to swallow the erotic moans that trembled from her lips.
“You like when I touch you there?” he asked, watching her face as she nodded, her eyes falling close, her tongue resting against the bottom edge of her two front teeth.
This felt like a dream to Turtle, a realistic fantasy that he would awaken from only to find out that it was all a figment of his overactive imagination. But for the moment, it was real, and it was happening, and he was hard, and she was wet, and they were ready. But what was that smell…?
The poignant scent of cigarette smoke caught them both off guard, the cancerous tendrils of smoke hooking their noses and pulling them out of their state of ecstasy. Turtle threw a
questioning glance at Elle, but she looked just as confused as he did. Finally, they both whipped their heads in the direction of the smell only to find Elle’s mother, Mrs. Vette, standing there for only God knows how long, just a few feet away from them, a cigarette that she’d just lit poking from her mouth as she observed Turtle and Elle in their most compromising position with a look of pure disgust written all over her face.
***********************************************End of Chapter Three
Reader's Participation: What Do You Think
Do you think what Turtle did with Ahmica (Mimi) was disrespectful?
Reader's Participation: What Do You Think?
Did Elle go too far by throwing the drink in Turtle's face?
Reader's Participation: What Do You Think?
Let's be real here: Elle was PISSED OFF. Why do you think she was really so angry?
Reader's Participation: Temperatures Rising
That love scene got a little heated, didn't it? What do you think about it?
About the Author
A North Carolina native, Jessica N. Barrow-Smith loves writing African-American romance novels. Holding an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in English (both from National U.), she is also the author of Confessions of a Diva (2006), the co-author of Desperate (2012), an English instructor and a professional tutor. As the founder of S&B Manuscript Editing & Critique, she wears the hats of writing coach, editor, copyeditor, and ghostwriter. During her free time, she enjoys performing as an actress at the semi-professional Gilbert Theater located in Fayetteville, NC, singing at church, and being a phenomenal wife to her husband and mother to their four children.
© 2015 Jessica Barrow