take shape. a short.

Take Shape

The final installment of the “Take” shorts, Take Shape is here!
Will Amelia finally get it right?

Read below or download Take Shape here to find out!

And if you haven’t read Take Flight or Take Notes, I’d advise you to check those out first!

(Note: This short is copyrighted with light edits.)


Amelia

“Fuck this shit.”

It was at least my tenth time uttering the phrase, but now I really meant it as I laid out on the grassy field trying to catch my breath after what Leon claimed was our final set of exercises even though he had been adding extra shit all bootcamp. It almost seemed criminal that he could say, “Last one” without ever really meaning last one. But regardless of what came out of his mouth next, the exercises I was still trying to recover from were my last ones since I had absolutely nothing left in the tank.

Who knew creeping on a man could be so exhausting?

I was still contemplating just laying there for the rest of the day when Leon announced, “Alright, ladies. Let’s get a quick cool down stretch in so we can get you guys out of here.”

Already? But we’re just getting started,” one of the super fit chicks whined as she jogged her happy ass in place, only pissing me off more since for one, I was exhausted as hell and she wasn’t, and two, she was clearly after the same man I was here to see.

But since I hadn’t exactly introduced myself – or staked my claim – I could only struggle to stand up while listening in as he replied, “Mallory, I sure hope you bring this same energy to our private sessions next week.”

“Of course the bitch gets private sessions,” I thought to myself as she said, “You know it, Coach.” Adding a wink that told me he might’ve already hit that. It was the type of wink that gave all fitness trainers, especially the fine ones, a bad rap since it usually came with a story.

A training session gone long due to excessive flirting.

Intimate hands-on assistance with claims of, “correcting form”.

A deeper stretch with sensual positions and hovering gazes.

All things I didn’t stand a chance of competing with since I wasn’t going to pay a man to torture me in the gym three times a week. But to my surprise, instead of licking his lips or sending her a knowing look back like I expected him to, he only shook his head with a frown, turning his attention to the rest of the group to lead us through different stretches.

By the time we finished the cool down, I felt coherent enough to at least drive back home and crash on the couch for the rest of the afternoon. And that was exactly my plan once I saw the line of women all waiting for a chance to chat with the trainer after our group session was complete.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one on a mission to be thirsty as hell via fitness.

Instead of filing into line right with them, I shook my head, quickly deciding it was a lost cause to join the others since “others” existed. But I only got a few steps when I heard someone call after me, “So you really gonna slide through my class and not speak?”

As if he hadn’t been barking at us all bootcamp long, my skin still warmed from the sound of his voice, turning around just in time to see him jogging my way with a line of eyes from the confused women following right behind him.

While I was tickled to no end that he had ditched them just to come speak to me, I still played it as smooth as my quirkiness allowed when I crossed my arms to reply, “You looked busy. I didn’t wanna interrupt.”

“Well if we keepin’ it all the way real, you been interrupting my thoughts all bootcamp with your cute ass. I’m glad you came, even though my cuzzo could’ve warned me. I would’ve put on some new gear or somethin’. Cleaned my shoes up. Got a fuckin’ haircut at least,” he said with a laugh, scrubbing a hand over his short fade that couldn’t have been more than a few days old.

But once again, I found myself flattered that he considered my presence worth putting his best foot forward for, though I still brushed him off as I gushed, “You look great, Leon.”

“You do too, Ms. Amelia. And sweaty. I like it,” he offered with a wink similar to the one ol’ girl had given him earlier, except this one was well received as I immediately blushed in response.

Or maybe my cheeks are still red with exhaustion.

Either way, being reminded of the fact that I was sweaty and gross prompted me to give him a little push in the shoulder as I told him, “It’s all your fault. I’m pretty sure I’ll be aching for the next week.”

“I can help you with that,” he replied so smoothly that I could’ve melted on the spot until he corrected, “I have some treatments, that can help you with that.”

“Treatment” didn’t sound nearly as good nor as smooth as “date”, but I played along for now, cocking my head to the side to ask, “Yeah? And how much are these treatments gonna cost me?”

Even if we were sharing a moment, I would’ve been foolish to think he wasn’t doing a two-for-one by flirting my ass right into a financial commitment. But to my surprise, his eyes went soft when he offered, “Consider it a favor. From a friend.”

“Oh, so we’re friends now?” I challenged, my eyebrow piqued as my heart rate flew straight back up like we were starting round two of bootcamp.

But it also could’ve been my heart simply gearing up for another type of cardio once I saw the way Leon took a step closer, running a hand across his chin as he replied, “Gotta start somewhere, right? I mean, you think I had my cuzzo hit you up for nothing? I’m tryna see what his fine ass boss is talkin’ about.”

Hearing him mention Shad and the fact that I was his boss only made me feel embarrassed all over again, thinking about how I had foolishly put myself out there to him just to be put right back in the place I should’ve stayed along; business only. But I couldn’t sulk for long since my new mission was right in front of me, clearly on a mission of his own as he threw compliments left and right until one of his little fans… clients shouted, “Leon! We need to set up our sessions for this week!

He released a heavy sigh, rolling his eyes before he said, “I should get to that. But you use that number Shad gave you sooner than later, aight?”

“Treatment, right?” I asked, licking my lips only to discover they were dry beyond belief.

Naturally I wondered if they had been that way for our whole conversation, though Leon didn’t seem to mind as he licked his lips right back before answering, “Most def.” Then he took off in the direction of his fan club, his powerful strides making me groan in appreciation as he peeked back to catch me still checking him out and offered another wink.

Take that, Mallory,” I thought to myself with a quiet chuckle as I took off in the opposite direction towards my car, every step reminding me of the grueling workout Leon had just put us through. Truth be told, even if meeting up with him for treatment didn’t go as well as our conversation had, it would still be worth getting my muscles soothed.

Just the thought had me shooting him a text the second I sat down in the car.

“So where should I meet you to get this “treatment” you spoke of? Or have you changed your mind about that homie hook-up?” – Lia

From where I was parked, I could still see him chatting it up with his clients. I also saw the exact moment he got my text, pulling his phone from his pocket and smiling almost immediately as he completely ignored whatever the woman in front of him was saying to type out a response.

“Meet me at my gym in 30. I’ll ping you the address.” – Limb Killer Leon

The address to the gym – his gym – appeared shortly after, and I found myself gnawing at my lip while I read through the business reviews that accompanied it.

 

“Leon is the best trainer in the city! Took my gut and put it right in my butt without the surgery!”

“This gym is much better than any chain, with nice personal touches and the perfect man leading the charge.”

“It’s always so clean! Ugh, I wish I could live at this gym!”

 

According to the internet, I had struck gold. He was excellent at what he did, had a gym of his own that people thought incredibly highly of, and he was fine as hell.

“Shoutout to Shad for putting me on,” I thought to myself, scrolling out of the reviews to give him a call. He picked up almost immediately.

“Boss lady, what can I do for you?” he asked, the usual hint of amusement in his voice that I knew was paired with his perfect ass smile.

But I was proud that the sound of his voice didn’t affect me nearly as much as it used to when I replied, “You’ve done plenty by hooking me up with your cousin.”

“Damn, y’all already messin’ around? You don’t waste a minute, Amelia Bedelia,” he said with a teasing laugh that made me roll my eyes no matter how partially true it was.

“First of all, we’re not messing around… yet. I came to his bootcamp in the park, and…”

I didn’t get to finish before Shad cut me off.  “Wait… Lia, you actually worked out, broke a sweat, outside?”

“Don’t be an ass, Shad. Why is that so surprising?” I asked, wanting to be offended even though I couldn’t be since it was certainly out of the norm for me to go the “active” route in pursuing someone even if fighting childhood obesity was my life’s mission.

And it was clear Shad saw it the same way once he answered, “Just didn’t think you’d be out in the elements. You know, with bugs and dirt and shit.”

The mention was enough to make me start itching all over, suddenly wanting a shower before I’d meet up with Leon at his gym. But when I peeked at the clock, I realized I didn’t have that kind of time, keeping Shad on the line as I peeled out of the parking lot in the general direction of Leon’s gym that GPS claimed was eighteen minutes away.

“Small price to pay to meet your dream guy,” I said without thinking twice, though maybe I should’ve once I heard the way Shad immediately smacked his teeth in response.

“Dream guy? Damn. That ugly dude must’ve made one hell of an impression,” he said with another chuckle, making me roll my eyes once again since we both knew Leon was far from ugly.

But I didn’t call him out on it, instead addressing the last part of his statement when I replied, “He did. I’m actually headed to his gym right now for some treatment.”

Even though I still didn’t know exactly what that entailed, I was excited about the prospects as Shad grumbled, “So he’s still using that line, huh?”

“What?” I asked, wanting to clarify what I was pretty sure I heard.

Shad didn’t grant me the opportunity, quick to rattle off, “Nothing. I gotta go. Have fun.” Before ending the call without even giving me a chance to say goodbye.

Well that was strange,” I thought to myself as I checked the GPS to make sure I was going the right way. And with a few more turns and songs on the radio, I was pulling into the mostly-empty gravel parking lot which led me to a building that didn’t quite look like a gym from the outside other than the signage above the door telling me so.

“Are you sure this is the right place?” I asked myself, scrolling back through my phone to the address Leon had sent and matching it with the numbers painted against the building.

Definitely the right place.

I could assume I had arrived before him since he was still talking to clients when I left the park, but waiting in the car didn’t sound nearly as interesting as snooping around his gym until he showed up.

So that’s what I did.

At least that was the plan until I made it to the front door and realized it required a passcode for entry.

“Hmm… if I was a gym owner, what would my passcode be?” I whispered out loud, first typing out the address of the building and getting denied, then typing out the address backwards and also getting denied.

Think, Lia. Think.

With my hand against my chin, I stared at the lockbox as if the correct combination was going to call out to me. But the only numbers I heard were, “Five, four, three, two…done”, the countdown Leon had given for every exercise during his bootcamp.

It seemed silly, but I tried it anyway. And to my surprise, the screen actually flashed green with acceptance, the heavy lock clicking over loud enough to make me jump.

Jackpot.

I peeked around the parking lot before slipping into the door, grateful to see the inside didn’t match the outside at all. In fact, it looked exactly like the gym everyone had bragged about online, definitely cleaner than any I had ever been in before and equipped with all modern machines.

“Okay, I see you, future bae,” I said with a giggle as the locks clicked over behind me, making me jump once again until I saw who was coming in.

Of course he wasted no time putting me on blast. “Damn, Ms. Amelia. I’ma have to put a triple passcode on my phone if you’re into breaking security this easily.”

“You don’t need a triple passcode if you aren’t trying to hide anything,” I replied as he made himself busy flicking on every switch, the extra light only making the gym look even more pristine.

It was impressive; he was impressive. But I worried he was going to ruin his streak once he said, “I can’t let you get away with that one. Cause even if I have nothing to hide, y’all women love to make something out of nothin’.”

“Or make something out of the something your ass shouldn’t have been doing,” I muttered more to myself than him.

Though I quickly learned he was close enough to hear me when he replied, “Point taken. Now go take off your pants.”

What?”

“Cryotherapy treatment requires little to no clothing so I’ma need you to come up off those pants and that t-shirt too,” he said without skipping a beat until he noticed I hadn’t budged. “Relax, Lia. I have a robe for you to put on to get in and out of the chamber. Plus gloves, socks, and shoes to protect you from frostbite.”

Frostbite?” I asked, my heart racing with nerves as I pulled out my phone to do a little Googling until I realized I hadn’t even caught the name of what I was getting naked for. “What did you call this again? Chroni…”

“Cryotherapy. Basically an extreme cold shock to the body for quicker recovery,” he explained simply as he led me to a room to change out of my clothes.

Even though I was complying for now, I still rolled my eyes as I grumbled, “And here I thought I was coming here to get a damn massage…”

“Nah, I’ll save that for a real date,” he replied with a wink that somehow sent a shock through my body that was stronger than any Cryotherapy ever could. And I held onto that feeling as I abandoned my clothes for the gear Leon had given me, listening in as he instructed from outside of the door, “Make sure you get all the sweat off your body so you don’t get hypothermia. Oh, and I’ll need you to sign this waiver just in case anything goes wrong.”

Hypothermia? Waiver? This sounds like a horrible idea,” I shouted back as I wrapped the robe tightly around my waist, trying to decide if he was even worth this kind of trouble. But then I stepped out of the dressing room and saw the appreciative grin on his too-fine-for-his-own-damn-good face and quickly came to the conclusion that a little freezer burn wouldn’t hurt anybody.

“Come on now, Ms. Amelia. Does this look like the face of a man who would steer you wrong?” he asked, licking his lips and warming me up as if he was trying to prepare me for the cold I was getting ready to endure for the sake of his fine ass.

Still, as I scribbled my signature on the waiver, I answered, “Absofuckinlutely.”

Wow. Just when I thought we were friends…,” he teased as I stuffed the waiver in his hand, trying to act tough even though I was scared shitless once I saw the death chamber… cryotherapy chamber.

With the machine – and my fate – in sight, I gulped before I replied, “Friends don’t freeze their friends.”

“Friends make their friends feel better though. That’s all I’m tryna do,” he replied smoothly, only annoying me even more since there were plenty of easier ways to make me feel better.

Starting with all that dick that was swinging when you were demonstrating burpees.

My mouth went dry at the thought alone, though I was quickly brought back to reality when Leon offered, “Just trust me, aight?”

I really wanted to shout, “No, nigga!” But since this was supposed to be a good thing, supposed to make me feel better, supposed to get me in good with my future bae, I nodded instead, watching as he clicked a bunch of buttons before unlocking the door to let me inside. And once I stepped in, I was grateful that it only went to right above my chest, allowing me to watch for anything sketchy.

Things were clearly business as usual for Leon as he closed the door and said, “It’s gonna feel like a long time once you’re in there, but the treatment only lasts three minutes.”

Three minutes. I can do three minutes,” I thought to myself as I took off my robe and handed it to him over the top of the chamber. And after taking in the air for the first time with no clothes on, I realized, “Oh, this isn’t so bad.”

“I haven’t turned it on yet,” he replied with a laugh before he went back to clicking buttons. And suddenly the air around me began to grow colder and colder, my body already beginning to panic as I thought about all the questions I hadn’t taken the time to ask.

“Just how cold does this thing get?” was the first to come to mind when the white fog began to seep from under me like I was standing in a witch’s pot; except instead of scalding me, it was chilling every inch of my skin.

It all made sense once Leon shrugged and answered, “About two fifty below.”

“Below, what?! Oh my God. What the hell kind of…?! Get me outta here!” I screeched as I wrapped my arms around myself, desperate for any bit of warmth. But everything had already grown cold, the move doing nothing besides reminding me of how desperate I must’ve been to have agreed to this.

“You’re fine, girl. Just stay still. Two and a half minutes to go,” Leon coached as if his words would help anything.

In fact, it only made things worse since…, “Two and a… so it’s only been a half?! I’m gonna die!”

I was just sure my lips were as blue as Jack’s in Titanic when Rose’s selfish ass wouldn’t scoot over to make room for him on the wooden board. And the fact that he had died for love and I was about to die for a mere opportunity at it only pissed me off more, though Leon thought my reaction to his little “treatment” was the funniest thing he had ever seen.

“This isn’t funny! Nothing is funny about this! Oh my God, it’s so cold!” I whined, squeezing my eyes shut as if that would somehow expedite the time.

But not nearly enough time had passed when Leon announced, “Little under two minutes left. You can do it.”

“Fuck that! Open this fuckin’ chamber!” I screamed, way too cold to actually do it myself.

But I learned it would’ve been a lost cause anyway once Leon calmly replied, “It’s sealed for time, Lia. So just chill.”

“I can’t get any chillier!” I groaned through clenched teeth, rocking from side to side as I started singing snippets of gospel songs in my head since God was the only thing that could save me in this situation. But not even that was enough to stop the tingling sensation from running rampant through my limbs until the cold grew stiff.

Is it over?” I thought, peeking one eye open to see my skin still flooded in the fog meaning it wasn’t. Still, I didn’t feel nearly as panicky as I had in the beginning, almost as if my body had actually adjusted to the freezing temperature.

“See. Told you you’d be fine,” Leon said with an arrogant smirk as he pressed a bunch of buttons once again before handing my robe back and instructing me to put it back on. And once I had it secure, he finally opened the door, using a special thermometer to take my skin temperature and reading, “Fifty-three degrees. Not bad.”

Fifty-three de… where is the sauna?!” I asked, blowing past him as if I had any idea where I was going. But instead of answering, he let me have my moment, let me discover that I didn’t feel nearly as bad as I thought I would. In fact, I felt… great.

Okay, seriously. What the hell kind of machine…” I thought as Leon read my mind and said, “Your body’s reaction to the cold is causing a rush of adrenaline and endorphins, similar to what’d you feel after riding a rollercoaster, or a good workout.”

“Or after good sex,” I added, covering my mouth once I realized I had said it out loud.

Of course Leon wasn’t fazed, leading me towards the row of stationary bikes as he smiled and agreed, “That too.” Then he instructed me to climb on one before explaining, “You need to warm your body back up naturally, so I’m gonna have you ride this for a few minutes.”

“I suppose it’d be a good idea to thaw out this pussy-sicle you just gave me,” I replied with a smirk, knowing how ridiculous it sounded but feeling way too good to care.

It was a type of euphoria I had never experienced before, especially once paired with Leon’s hearty laugh as he said, “Pussy-sicle though? You’re wild for that, Lia.”

“No, I’m wild for agreeing to get in that damn frozen tundra,” I told him as I began to pedal.

I quickly found myself humming along to the rhythm when Leon asked, “But you feel amazing, right?”

In my current state, I wasn’t even capable of telling a lie. So I didn’t, offering a nod and a smile instead. “I do. Thank you.”

“Nah, thank you for coming. It’s nice to finally get acquainted with the woman my cuzzo spoke so highly of. Now I understand the hype.”

The hype?

This time it was him nodding. “Mmhm. Shad said you were fine as hell, a boss, on your shit and all that. Now I see just how much of a G you really are, even got yourself a pussy-sicle to show for it.”

While the heat was thankfully returning to my body from riding the bike, it was his words that really made me warm all over as I squealed, “Oh my… shut up!” Before it turned into more of laugh that Leon joined in on.

“But for real though, I’m glad you came through. Hopefully we can do it again some time,” he said, pulling his bottom lip between his teeth and giving me a pleading look that I couldn’t have turned down if I wanted to.

It was the kind of look that made me wish I was riding him instead of this damn bike. But the fact that I was on the bike reminded me of how I ended up in this predicament in the first place, allowing me to respond, “Sweat like a pig and then almost freeze to death? There’s gotta be better ways to get to know each other.”

The laugh he gave in response was slowly becoming my favorite instrumental, the good energy that radiated from it only complementing my high as he agreed, “You’re right. How about a drink? Tonight?”

My face scrunched. “Tonight? Like… tonight, tonight?”

“Nah, the other tonight,” he replied sarcastically with a teasing roll of his eyes before he emphasized, “Yes, tonight, Lia. You game?”

As interesting as all of this had been, going out for drinks was so much more my speed. Though I still couldn’t help doing a little teasing of my own when I replied, “I mean, I’ll have to check with my other hoes first, but…”

My eyes immediately diverted and I bit back my grin as he released an astonished, “Wow. Every time I think I’m in good, you remind me I still got a lot of work to do. And now I’m just another nigga on the roster? That’s aight. I don’t mind a little competition. Wouldn’t expect anything less with a woman like you.”

He should’ve expected much less since my inbox stayed drier than grandma’s… nevermind. But I’d let him think what he wanted to for now, serving him another smirk as I finished my time on the bike before getting dressed and making plans for the evening. Plans that came a lot quicker than I expected by the time I got home, got showered, had a salad – because who wants to eat trash after a workout -, and took a much-deserved nap.

When I woke up, I checked my phone to see I had a text from the limb killer himself and I instantly became worried he was cancelling on me.

“Come on, future bae. You were doing so good,” I groaned as I opened the message to read it completely.

“Yo, Ms. Amelia. One of my homies from college snuck into the city to surprise me. You mind if he joins us for drinks?” – Limb Killer Leon

“I’m sure he’ll find somebody to slip off with before we even know he’s there.” – Limb Killer Leon

While I wasn’t exactly thrilled about having to share my date with his homeboy on our first outing, I was interested to see just what kind of company Leon kept outside of his cousin. And maybe this particular friend would have some juicy college stories to share after I got a few drinks in the both of them.

But not so many drinks that you start telling on yourself.

“Not a problem at all. I’ll see y’all there.” – Lia

The text was sent, my clothes were on, my hair was… my hair. But I looked good, and I felt great, and I was excited about what was to come.

Until it happened.

I was sitting at the bar, minding my own business as I waited for them to arrive, only to be bombarded with the fact that Leon’s “college friend” was no stranger at all. Well… maybe he still was, but his lips were incredibly familiar.

Instead of calling them over, I sat there stunned, trying to decide if I wanted to stay and face the music or dip before they saw me and blame it on a stomachache. But the decision was made for me once I locked eyes with Leon, his smile growing wide before he turned back towards the “stranger danger nigga from the airplane” as Shad had referred to him as and they both headed my way.

“Damn. I swear you get finer and finer every time I see you. What’s up, Lia?” he asked as he pulled me into a quick hug. Then he turned towards the friend he didn’t know I already knew when he continued, “This is my boy…”

Leon didn’t get his name off before Devin interrupted to ask, “Why didn’t you call?”

For a second, Leon looked confused and I looked… probably like a ghost since I wasn’t expecting him to go right for the kill on sight. Then again, I shouldn’t have been surprised considering it only took a quick flight for us to go from complete strangers to feeling each other up.

Clearly he wasn’t in to wasting any time.

Still, I tried to play it off, my voice an octave higher than usual when I gushed, “Wow. I didn’t know you two knew each other. Small world.”

Leon remained confused by our connection while Devin replied, “Small world indeed, but you still didn’t answer my question, Amelia.”

Hearing him say my full name in that same sultry tone he used back on our flight sent me back to that moment, sent me back to the kiss that took my breath away. But then I remembered what followed when we parted ways and answered, “I didn’t call because I saw your children were excited to see you. They deserved your full attention.”

Leon’s head immediately snapped back as he asked his friend, “Nigga, since when you got kids?”

But instead of answering his question, Devin remained focused on me, his face stern when he replied, “That wasn’t your call to make. I would’ve explained if you had called me.”

“Well then I guess it was my call to make then, wasn’t it?” I asked, my eyebrow piqued as I challenged him to say anything more. Truth be told, this had already gone much further than it needed to considering I was no longer interested in whatever he thought had come from that moment.

In fact, I was much more interested in his friend now, especially when he broke the tense air to say, “Yo, listen. I don’t know what I don’t know and I don’t think I wanna know. But I do know I brought y’all here to have a good time, throw a few back, and just chill. So either we’re gonna do that or I’m going home to finish Stranger Things on Netflix.”

This time, it was my head snapping back in shock. “You watch Stranger Things?”

The show was the guilty pleasure I hadn’t told anyone about just yet because I didn’t want them to think I was crazy. But I could pretty much assume I had an ally in Leon with the way he expressed, “Do I? Shit, I was almost late getting here trying to finish the season.”

“Which episode are you on? Maybe we can finish it together,” I offered, not even realizing what I had said until I caught the little smirk on Leon’s face along with the side eye Devin immediately threw my way.

I wanted to throw one right back, paired with an annoyed, “Nigga, you don’t even live here.” But instead of giving him the attention he didn’t deserve, I poured it into Leon as he bit his lip and answered, “I’d like that, Ms. Amelia.”

Unfortunately our little moment didn’t last long, Devin quick to be a hater and interject, “So we drinking or what?”

As much as I could’ve used one dealing with this situation, I came up with a better way to handle things when I replied, “You know what? I think I’m gonna sit this one out and head home, let you have some time with your friend while he’s here. I mean, it’s not like I’m going anywhere.”

Leon seemed legitimately disappointed, grabbing my hand as he whined, “Aww come on, Lia. Finally linked up with you on some normal shit and you already running away from me?”

Considering the odd predicament his little friend had put us in, running seemed like a reasonable reaction. But instead of letting Devin’s presence really get to me, I once again stayed focused on Leon, serving him the flirtiest eyes I could when I replied, “Not running away. Just… putting a slight delay on the inevitable.”

The way Leon smirked in response let me know he was satisfied with that, giving my hand a little shake as he agreed, “Yeah aight. I’ma hit you tomorrow then. Maybe we can grab a bite to eat or somethin’.”

“Knowing your ass, it’ll probably be some crazy, organic, astronaut meal,” I teased with a roll of my eyes, earning myself another one of his sonically-amazing laughs.

Seriously, the shit belonged on a track.

Astronaut meal? Girl, you a mess. I’ll holla at you later though, aight?” he offered, pulling me into a hug that was just long enough for me to catch a whiff of his cologne along with the perfect firmness of his chest. I probably could’ve fallen asleep on it right there in the middle of the bar.

Just another thing added to the already long list of reasons I have to make him mine.

When I pulled away, we shared another look as if he had read my mind and felt the same way. But I also couldn’t ignore the ugly scowl – okay, maybe not ugly cause Devin is still just as fine as that day on the plane. But ugly for the circumstances scowl –  slipping into my peripheral, forcing me to break the moment and give a stiff, “Devin.”

“Amelia,” he replied just as stiffly, using none of the sultry essence that made him calling me by my full name great again.

But it was exactly the cold shoulder I needed to remind me to leave before things really got bad, giving them both a wave as I said, “Y’all enjoy.”

I could feel them both watching me for different reasons as I exited, though only one of those reasons mattered enough for me to put an extra switch in my hips. But trying to show off for one had me showing my ass for the whole bar when I slipped on a wet spot and damn near broke my tailbone on the fall.

The first hands I felt trying to help me up were Devin’s, only making things worse since I was sure he got a kick out of the instant karma I received for being stiff with him. And even if he hadn’t, it was clear Leon did with how loud he was laughing.

“Yooo, how you bust your ass like that and we didn’t even drink anything?” he asked through his laughs as I began dusting off the back of my pants the second I was upright, too embarrassed to even respond. But my embarrassment didn’t stop him from continuing, “Looks like we gotta get you back in the cryo-chamber sooner than later, cause you’re definitely gonna feel that shit in the morning.”

Even though I knew he was probably right, I still rolled my eyes, tossing out a quick, “Whatever. I’m out of here.”

But I didn’t get far before Leon was catching me by the arm to offer, “Let me walk you to your car. Make sure you don’t… wipe out again.”

There was a teasing twinkle in his eyes that made me want to turn him down. But he didn’t really give me a chance to, sticking out his hand for me to grab while telling Devin he’d be right back. And though I still wasn’t too pleased with how things had played out with the stranger danger daddy, I couldn’t help giving him a nod of thanks since he had been the first to come to my rescue before we parted ways for good this time.

“Still can’t believe these two fine ass niggas are friends,” I thought to myself, knowing the pair had to be trouble back in college. In fact, I was glad I was meeting them at this phase of life instead of back when I might’ve been excited about taking the both of them on.

Things got a little hazy after Jeremy.

My thoughts of the past were thankfully interrupted when Leon asked, “So, for real. When I’ma see you again, Lia?”

Gnawing on my lip, I pushed out, “I mean… I really do have time to eat tomorrow. That’s if you’re not already sick of me.”

He snapped his head back with a chuckle. “Man, what? Sick of you? You playin’.”

Since I wasn’t playing at all, I couldn’t help but sing, “I’m just sayin’. I know how y’all get when women do too much.”

The last thing I wanted to do was come off as clingy already, though I truly was thirsting to spend more alone time with Leon since tonight had been a bust. But he didn’t seem to mind, quick to insist, “No such thing when I’m actually tryna fuck with you.”

Now it was me laughing. “There’s definitely such thing, but if you say so.”

The walk to the car wasn’t nearly long enough, the little bit of conversation we had shared only wetting my appetite for more. But I was glad there were at least plans for more in the works when Leon opened my car door and said, “So… brunch tomorrow? Well, as long as Devin doesn’t have my ass out here all night.”

While I could imagine Devin being petty and keeping him out late for that exact reason, I tried not to let it faze me when I suggested, “Let’s push that to a late lunch then. Just in case.”

“Deal,” he agreed, pulling me into another hug that lingered a little longer than the one inside. And I was sure to take it all in, pulling my head back just enough to land a kiss on his cheek before he stepped away.

Oh shit. A kiss on the cheek? Ya boy done earned himself a starting spot already?” he asked teasingly.

I couldn’t help but laugh, swatting a hand his way as I squealed, “Whatever! I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Looking forward to it, Ms. Amelia,” he replied, shutting the door behind me and watching intently until I pulled off.

The whole drive home, I found myself singing along with the radio, even making up words for the songs I really didn’t know. And I carried that energy all the way to the front door of my apartment, only to have my natural buzz snatched from me once I saw who was sitting outside.

“Shad, what the hell are you doing here?” I asked, immediately recognizing that a bottle of liquor had played a factor in whatever had his ass at my place considering how disheveled he looked.

With tired, red eyes, he confessed, “She dumped me, man. Callie dumped me. Said it’s not me, but I know it’s me. I fuckin’ loved that girl, Lia.”

While I probably should’ve felt bad for him, I only rolled my eyes, unlocking the front door as I told him, “Shad, just… calm down. And how much did you have to drink?”

“Not enough. What you got in here?” he asked, following me inside as if I had actually invited him to do so.

But since I still considered him a friend, one of my best employees, and didn’t want my neighbors judging me for having a drunk outside of my apartment, I let him in while answering, “Water. That’s the only thing your ass will be drinking for the rest of the night.”

“Come on, Lia. I need something. This shit… this shit hurts,” he whined as he plopped down on my couch, the smell of alcohol practically puffing out of his pores on the fall.

Gross.

Instead of grabbing a glass of water, I grabbed a bottle of Pedialyte, heading back his way as I replied, “And it’ll hurt even more if you give yourself a nasty hangover. Now here. Drink this.”

He took a quick glance at the bottle and his face almost instantly scrunched with confusion. “I thought this shit was for babies.”

“It’s super hydrating since you decided to drown yourself in…” I trailed, watching him pull his alcohol of choice from the pocket of his coat and only becoming more disgusted. “A bottle of Barton’s? Seriously, Shad? You’re better than this.”

While the cheap vodka might’ve been the move back in college, I knew I paid him way too well to still be drinking it now. But of course, the price was the least of his worries as he took a sip of that instead of the Pedialyte before offering a rebuttal. “I’m obviously not better than anything if my girl dumped me.”

Seeing him sulk over her of all people had me more annoyed than anything, forcing me to snatch the bottle out of his hand as I snapped, “Shad, get ahold of yourself. Callie didn’t deserve you in the first place. You’re… special. And if she couldn’t see that, it’s her loss.”

With glossy eyes, Shad stared at me as if he desperately wanted to believe me. At least I thought that’s what his look was about until he lunged at me, knocking me back into the arm of the couch and attacking my mouth with his own.

I caught on quick enough to at least dodge the actual connection, pushing into his shoulders and shouting, “Shad, what the hell?!”

He pulled away just enough to hover over me and ask, “Why you playin’, boss lady? You already said you wanted me. Well now you can have me.”

Then he went back in for more, only to be denied once again since, “We… squashed that, Shad. It was foolish of me to even have those feelings for you in the first place. And now… well, they’re gone because…”

“Leon, right?” he finished for me, a hint of regret splashed with anger in his eyes as if he hadn’t just been mourning over his break-up moments before.

Niggas.

“I wanna see where it goes,” I told him as I pushed him back upright, trying to collect myself since having Shad in my apartment, having Shad pounce on me, had once been a dream of mine and dreams like that didn’t just up and leave with a snap of my fingers.

But I was glad the circumstances had changed enough for me to stay strong, though it was clear Shad wasn’t too happy about that when he growled, “You don’t even know that nigga.”

“I know enough. And I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have given me his number if you knew he was trash. At least I hope you wouldn’t have,” I said, suddenly wondering if he had knowingly set me up for failure all along.

Of course his petty ass made it seem that way when he stood up and replied, “Guess you’ll have to find out for yourself.” Then he walked towards the door, tossing over his shoulder, “See you Monday, Amelia.”

I wanted to stop him, more for his own safety than anything. But if he wanted to be an asshole, he could get whatever he had coming his way, especially once he decided to slam my door behind him like he didn’t have any home training.

Must’ve learned that shit at ol’ girl’s house,” I muttered with an attitude, though actually having one was much harder than it seemed once my phone buzzed a few minutes later, making me panic since I just knew it was authorities telling me he had already ran someone over. But when I picked it up, my panic transformed into a warmth all over as I read what turned out to be a text message from his relative.

“Yo. You still up?” – Limb Killer Leon

On my way to lock the door, I typed out a reply.

“I am. You in already?” – Lia

“Nah. Just bored as fuck watching this nigga Devin spit game when I’d rather be kicking it with you.” – Limb Killer Leon

While I wasn’t at all surprised to find out that Devin had already gotten over our little incident, I was surprised to know Leon was bypassing whatever homegirl Devin had surely picked up for him just to text with me. In fact, I couldn’t help teasing him about it in my reply.

“Wow. So it’s YOU who’s gonna be the clingy one? Lol JK.” – Lia

“Lol. Whatever you wanna call it. I’m all in.” –  Limb Killer Leon

Even through text, I found myself blushing, wishing Shad was still here just so I could rub it in his face that his cousin wasn’t a fuckboy. But considering I was the one who had brought the drama by having a strange past with his friend, maybe it was me who was the fuck-person.

Instead of letting any questions about it linger, I decided to out myself.

“I should probably explain the whole thing with Devin…” – Lia

“Don’t even trip. Let the past be the past. We all got one.” – Limb Killer Leon

“Okay, he’s almost too good to be true,” I thought to myself, deciding there was no better time to fess up to the other situation that had occurred since he was obviously in a clean-the-slate mood.

“Also. Had a run-in with your cousin tonight. Callie dumped him, and he… made a move.” – Lia

This time, his reply was slow to come and I worried if it might’ve been too much to take on at once. In fact, it was so slow that I found myself eying Shad’s bottle of Barton’s, tempted to take a swig just to take the edge off.

But before I could make that mistake, Leon’s reply thankfully came in.

“Of course he did. Snake ass nigga. You aight?” – Limb Killer Leon

“Wait… he’s worried about me and not him?” I said out loud, reading the message again and coming to the same conclusion.

It was attractive as hell to see him already be in protective mode even though we hadn’t really known each other long at all. But it was little things like that that gave me all the reasons I needed to not fuck this up, though it was still fuck Shad and his mind games. And fuck Devin and… not his children. They were completely innocent in this. But definitely fuck Jeremy for being the catalyst of it all with his annoying ass.

Now though, it was time for me to take back control, reclaim my time, not hold anything back and go all in with someone my instincts told me deserved it; starting with a simple invitation.

“I’m fine, thanks. But um… if you’re really bored, you can ditch him and come over here. I think I have just enough energy to finish Stranger Things.” – Lia

My heart pounded as I waited for a response, something that could’ve easily crushed all my little plans of getting my Maxine Waters on and bossing up when it came to my personal life. But when those three magical words – on my way – slipped into my inbox, it was practically game on as I made my way to the bathroom to freshen up, excited for whatever was to come.

Regardless of what happened, I knew it would be a step in the right direction; out with the old and in with the new. And while I still wasn’t completely sure what the universe was trying to tell me, it somehow felt like the ultimate, “Take that”.

The End…

for real this time. 🙂 

 

 

 

 

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