Read The Guardian Online

Authors: Keisha Orphey

The Guardian (10 page)

       She saw worry in his face, and although he wasn’t looking at her, his demeanor made it obvious he was not comfortable.
       “Something wrong?”
       “No,” he realized he was fidgeting and turned to her.  “Do you need me to step out so you can call home?”
       “Nicoli … if you have any reservations, please let me go.”
Please let me go!
He could hear Lizzie’s cries for help, looked at Dawn’s hands.  Those were Lizzie’s hands

No, those weren’t Lizzie’s hands because Lizzie’s hands were fish food in the Gulf of Mexico.
       At the sudden crackle of leather on the passenger seat, Dawn revved the engine.  Nicoli was getting comfortable.  She could see his wayward glance in her peripheral.
       “I bet fellas hit on you all night.”
       “Why do you say that?”
       “You’re a beautiful woman.”
       “Thank you.”
       “I wish you were single.”
       “And if I were?”
       “You’d be mine.”
       “Really.  What makes you so sure?”
       “I’m persistent, remember?”  he smiled.
       “Yes, you really are.”
                                                                        ¤     ¤     ¤
       Two hours later, at 8:00 AM, they were seated across from one another in a booth at the Waffle Iron.   Nicoli ate steak and eggs and Dawn had Chicken Florentine.   Dawn was exhausted.  She’d been awake since 7:30 PM the night before.  The warmth of the cup of tea kept her awake.
       He palmed his glass of orange juice and looked into Dawn’s eyes.  “Thank you for seeing me.  I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”
       Looking into his eyes as he said it unflinching made it seem sincere.
       “You’re welcome.”  A moment passed, then she asked, “Where are you from, Nicoli?  Your accent.  I can’t quite place it.”
       “I was born in Peru.  My parents were coca farmers.  They were killed by Peruvian police when I was just a kid.  My brother perished at the hands of thieves--”
       She gasped. “Oh…I’m so sorry.”
       “It’s quite alright.  I have family in Mexico.”
       “Is that where you live now?”
       His comeback was smooth as fine wine.  “I’d live here in Las Vegas if that would make you smile.”
       She was smiling.
       And so were the four giddy women seated on the other side of the restaurant.  They’d been gawking at Nicoli since he and Dawn arrived, but it didn’t bother her one bit.  His presence could light up any room.
       “You could move in with us,” she laughed.
       “You’d probably enjoy that,” he said, reaching across, caressing her cheek.
       The women wailed quietly, but audibly.   He touched her with that hand.  A hand they wished was touching any one of them.
       Nicoli chuckled, blushing.
       “You have fans.” Dawn said.  “Maybe you should give them an autograph.”
       “You’re the only woman I want to have my autograph.  I’d write my name right across you heart.”
       After what seemed like an uncomfortable moment of silence, Dawn asked: “Do you work?”
       “Of course. I have forty-seven big rigs in the Dallas and Houston, Texas area.  We haul gravel, limestone, concrete, sand…you name it.”
If you only knew how many mangled bodies I have hidden in cement graves …
“So who’s running things while you’re in Vegas?”
“The foreman.  He runs the day-to-day operations because I handle the sales end.”  He paused, then asked: “When can I see you again?”
       “Oh, I don’t know.” Her hands fiddled with the cup of tea.  “I thought we were just having breakfast.”

       “We are, but I’d really like to see you again,” he removed a tiny cellphone from his pocket.  “What’s your number.”
       Rattling off her number, she wondered how his large hands could maneuver across that small screen, then looked at her watch, “I really better get going.  It’s almost nine and I have to work tonight.”
       Unmoving, he said sternly: “What if you had the night off and we spent some time together before I leave tomorrow?”
       “You’re leaving tomorrow?” she felt her chest tighten.  Surely he’d be leaving soon.  What’d she think?  That he was really going to make Las Vegas home? “I need my job, Nicoli.”
       “You haven’t answered my question.”
       “What do you have in mind?”
       “Whatever you want.  We could go to one of the shows on the strip, go shopping in Paris, whatever your heart desires.  I just want to spend time with you.”
       “Paris?” she laughed.  “How are we going to get to Paris?” she giggled again.
       “Why is that so funny?  I have a private jet at the airport.”
       “Shop in Paris?  I don’t shop for myself right here in Las Vegas.  Haven’t bought myself one piece of clothing in I don’t know how long.  I’m not laughing at you.  I’m laughing at the thought of shopping.  At the thought of you wanting to pamper me … and Paris?“
Why wasn’t Philip this loving and attentive?  She didn’t recall him ever adoring her this much.
       “You deserve the best, beautiful.  And I’d give you the world if you let me.”
       Ugh, he was laying it on so thick.  So gotdamn … perfect.
       “Why are you so nice to me?”
       “I want us to be friends.”
Say no!
       “Well… I can’t go to Paris and I
have to get some sleep first before we do
.  I usually wake up around seven—“
       “Is that a ‘yes’?”
       Dawn smiled.  This man was heaven sent.  All of sudden, she felt the urge to touch him, to run her fingers across the stubble on his jaw.  Instead, she reached a hand across and gently palmed his chin.   He seemed pleased by the embrace, palming her hand in his own, mingling his fingers with hers, pressing his soft lips against them.   I want you too, she thought.  She attempted to pull away, but his grasp closed snug around her fingers.  He tickled the palm of her hand with a finger, then rubbed softly.  The smoothness of his touch sent chills through her.
       “Ready to get out of here?” he asked, kissing her hand again.
       “Yes,” she whispered.  “I better go get some sleep,” Gently, she pulled her hand back and reached for her keys.  Looking at him, she knew exactly what he was thinking -- he wanted to take her back to his suite and make up for everything that had transpired earlier.  He didn’t want her to go home.  Ever again.
       “Don’t go…” he whispered, seductively biting his bottom lip.  “Stay with me,” he reached for her.  His eyes seemed to embrace her like a lover’s hand.   And as much as she knew she needed to get home to Philip and the kids, her body burned with desire for Nicoli.  His irrevocable request superseded everything … and everyone, including her family.
       By the time they’d made their way down the luxurious private hallway and into the glamorous presidential suite, he’d peeled his shirt from his body and unzipped his jeans -- exposing a bulging arousal to her curious eyes.  She allowed him to pull her close in his arms and kiss her with desperate urgency.  She moaned with delight as his warm mouth covered hers, his tongue seeking hers hungrily.
       Instinctively, she wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing her breasts against his naked chest.  Panting heavily to catch a breath, their mouths parted as he slipped her blouse over her head and unsnapped the locking clasps of her bra with a quick flick of his wrist.
       Lowering himself to his knees -- her fingers snaking through his soft, thick hair -- his mouth was on her breasts now, the tip of his tongue licking, gently nibbling at her nipples.  He slid her pants to the floor and slipped her legs from them one-by-one, licking her thighs, and cupping her pantied sex with his mouth as he went, and as he stood, regaining his footing, lifted her up in his large masculine arms.
       She wrapped her legs around his waist and held his head taut in her hands, kissing him, and sucking his lips as he carried her across the spacious room, up the marble platform and lain her body on the massive California king bed.
       The moon peered through the expansive windows and glowered upon their impious bodies like a watchful eye.
       Peeling her lace panties away with his mouth, he slid them past her feet.   Gently, he spread her legs apart, holding them up high with both hands, as he made his way between her thighs licking her most intimate place, lapping up every drop.
       “I want you to love me,” he whispered, taking every bit of her in.
       She moaned with ecstasy and her hands roamed through his hair once more, gripping handfuls, massaging, as his head moved fervently between her thighs.
       Possessively, he grabbed her around the waist with both hands, shoving her bottom… No… shoving and
her bottom into his groping mouth.  And when he’d at last drank his fill, he hovered above, bracing himself with his strong arms, staring into her eyes as if seeking permission in her gaze, then slid himself into her slowly … softly … deeply.  He released a throaty growl so bottomless and gutful, it scared her.
       Their bodies rocked in perfect harmony and the look on her face told him she was in paradise.  The euphoria he was feeling was so innate with pleasure, he seemed to float inside of her.  Hours later, the sounds of their heavy breathing and endless lovemaking filled every corner of the space.  The room permeated with the smell of musk.
       Outside and twenty-five stories below, Las Vegas tourists swarmed the streets like little ants.
       When room service arrived, Dawn was sound asleep.  She was nestled underneath the gleaming white goose down comforter, her head sunken in a pillow.  The maid had worked around her, closing the heavy ceiling-to-floor length draperies quietly across the quadruple windows -- the sun had no chance of peeking in and waking her up.
       Wearing only loose fitting pants, Nicoli stood barefoot beside the bed, looking down at Dawn -- the woman who was supposed to be his mark.  His enemy.  Instead, she’d filled his heart with love and released him of the evil he’d carried from Mexico to Nevada.  Emilio would piss himself silly if he’d known how much Nicoli loved this woman.  Emilio had blamed her for the death of Marian and the destruction of his operation in Houston.  If it hadn’t been for
, rivals would’ve never sought him out.  If it hadn’t been for
, Amos wouldn’t have lost Emilio’s kilos of cocaine to the DEA.  Not once had he blamed the sting operation.  Those men were just doing their job.  He blamed the mules, the marks -- the motherfuckers who should’ve keep their mouths shut! Without
cooperation, the state had no case.  Not an air tight one, anyway.  Not a case that could convict his largest trafficker to sixty years in a state penitentiary.
       He had never felt this way about any one, much less a woman, Nicoli thought, softly running a finger along her sleeping face.  And whatever was making him feel so strongly about her now, he knew would hurt Emilio -- tear him to the bone and bore a hole straight through his heart.  Emilio meant the world to Nicoli.  Took the place of his entire family.  Rescued him from starvation, homelessness, and despair.   Zora and his unborn child filled his thoughts, too.   He had too much to lose for loving this woman.
       And that’s when he removed the dagger from its sheath …


Chapter Nine



It was June of 1995.  State of California vs. Orenthal James Simpson (O.J. Simpson) had been in session (and on everyone’s television all day, every day) since January.   The nation’d sat on the edge of its seat and remained glued to their televisions, watching the live pursuit of Mr. Simpson by the LAPD in a chase that would end at former football star’s home in Brentwood, California while he held a gun to his head in the back of his best friend’s white Ford Bronco.  Even the NBA finals were interrupted.  Didn’t much matter if you visited your favorite barbershop, beauty salon, airport, shopping mall or mom and pop convenience store, the trial – the live trial – was broadcasted on damn near every major TV network and radio station, in every city in the United States, from the minute the morning session convened until everyone was dismissed by Judge Lance Ito.  And on June 20
, when the former NFL football player was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the double murder of his estranged wife and her boyfriend, there was no escaping the live broadcast. 
       That is, Unless you were in the small four-room law office of Nielson and Hall – a meager eleven hundred square foot brown brick building with a front entrance and a rear door with a red sign posted on the wooden door that read
.  The lobby consisted of four chairs, a coffee table and a water cooler – provided courtesy of yours truly George E. Nielson.  The kitchen and restroom were located in the rear and the center of the building housed a large open office and another room George Nielson liked to refer to as ‘the library’.  And what a library it was!  Priceless and highly sought volumes of law books from every corner of the globe, even some written by hand dating back to the late 1700’s.  Now there was something the old man could be proud of!  Unlike the rumors of him being racist and a former member of the Klu Klux Klan. 

       George Nielson didn’t give a rat’s crusty ass about O.J. Simpson, the famous football career he’d led, or the rumors that had been floating around about him since whenever.   The case disgusted him.   People did, too.  “There is so much evidence against that black sonofabitch,” he’d said, and without missing a beat, or attempting to apologize for his prejudiced rant, he’d added: “That black bastard shouldn’t’ve been married to no white woman in the first gotdamn place!  Who in the
do those football players think they are any damn way?”

       His words were hearsay and none Lydia Hall allowed herself to believe even though she knew he had a temper.  Colleagues talked.  Joked, even about her decision to work for such a grumpy old white man, but that grumpy old white man had respect in every court room in the state and when he’d made the decision to hire her, a young black female attorney, she found it solidifying and reassuring.

       George was pushing seventy and stood an average height for a man who appeared to walk hunched over.  He was quietly pacing from the library to the office he shared with Lydia, and back again, sliding his diabetic shoes across the linoleum as he went.   Files were stacked deep on both of their desks on that Thursday afternoon.  At least twenty drug cases, fourteen armed robberies, and seven rapists needed their defense.   Lydia refused to defend rapists, even if she thought they were innocent.  She couldn’t bring herself to stand in a courtroom before a victim’s family, the judge, a jury of her peers or the prosecutor and mouth the words: “He’s innocent, your honor.”  She’d had nightmares about such a man before, been stirred awake from a deep sleep by such a monster, saw his beady dark eyes looming through the blinds of her bedroom window. 
kind of man deserved to be hung by his genitals, especially those who’d sodomized young girls.

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