Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Fiction Series: Playing With Fire - Chapter 13

Fiction Series: Playing With Fire - Chapter 13


“I am going to kiss you.” His voice is barely audible as he leans in. I swallow hard before responding.

“Okay.” He moves slowly. His lips brush against mine. My heart beats faster. My eyes close involuntarily. I breathe him in. He smells of Black Dragon and Macallan. The anticipation overwhelms me. No longer able to stand it I close the small distance between our lips crashing into him hungrily. His hands find my face as we settle into our rhythm. His pull lifts me from the edge of the bar stool. I press into him. One of his hands finds the small of my back holding me firmly against him. There on my tiptoes I begin to wonder if this is how she feels when he touches her—safe.

Suddenly, I am ripped from his arms. I feel my head being pulled back before my face makes contact with the edge of the bar. Pain pulses through my body as I fall to the floor. He doesn’t move to help me. I try to catch my breath bringing my hands to my face. Blood. I look up and scan her body before meeting her eyes.

She is a small woman but she towers over me now. Her black dress hugs her frame tightly. She adjusts the long coat she wears over it. She lets out a breath and smooths her hair before speaking. Her voice is calm. Still. “If I ever see you look at him, speak to him… imagine him—again, I will have one of my men end you.” She tilts her head to the side. “It would serve you well to not forget the only reason you are alive right now is that I have to honor my dead father’s promise.” She straightens her head again. “Paxton, it’s time to go to your father’s funeral.”

Paxton picks up the glass in front of him and downs the rest of his drink. He grabs his jacket from the bar before stepping over me. He stops in front of her and kisses her cheek. He whispers loud enough for me to hear. “You are perfect, Noelani.” He continues out of the bar.

“Get up and clean your face.” She turns to leave and stops short of the door. “Novia, when God created me she didn’t think to give me a great measure of restraint. Please, remember that.”

“Yes, Noelani.”

“Mrs. Camren.” She corrects me.

“Yes, Mrs. Camren.”

I let the tears fall when she disappears but press my hand to my lips. The taste of him lingers.


Noelani is gripping my hand. I try to search Cruz’s face but there is nothing there. Enrique and his brothers are seated directly behind us with Novia and Gabby. Hundreds of people have come to honor my father. I chuckle to myself. We haven’t been inside of a church since I was a kid. We didn’t even come when we buried my mother but for Big Pax we have spared no expense. My thoughts are interrupted when I hear my name.

“Paxton… are you ready?” I look from Noelani and then to the pastor as he waits for my response. Noelani squeezes my hand again. A week ago this would’ve been unthinkable. Today, I am composed. My father taught me well to guard my emotions.

I step up to the microphone. Everyone waits expectantly probably for a speech. I don’t have one. I survey the room. Business partners, old friends, old enemies… I smile. Then, I reach into my pocket and pull out two Black Dragons from my father’s office. I look at them before holding one out to my brother. Cruz smirks, stands and makes his way to my side. He reaches inside of his jacket and pulls out our father’s lighter.

I choke back tears. “For Big Pax.”

Cruz holds the fire up to my cigar, “For Big Pax.”

We don’t notice the uncertainty from the people gathered or the worry on the pastor’s face. Cruz wraps his arms around me holding me securely. I mirror his actions. My body begins to tremble from my inability to hold back my grief any longer. Cruz tightens his grip keeping my knees from buckling. “It’s you and me brother. You and me.” He holds me until I’m calm enough to stand on my own. I turn to the microphone and repeat my words.

“For Big Pax.”

Three days later…

Noelani is sitting at her vanity preparing for bed. Her entire body is tense. I go to her and run my hands up her neck and into her hair. She leans into my hand turning to bury her face in my side. We have come a long way from her wanting to escape my fear of setting her free. Right now, in this moment, she looks like my Lani. “I love you.”

She takes a deep breath.

“Tell me. What’s on your mind?”

“It’s time. We have to find Nuri.”

I sigh.

“We have to finish what Big Pax started.”

“I know.”

“I’m going to do it myself.”

“You, Cruz, me—we will do it together.”

Her body relaxes. “We will do it together.”

Poetry: Culture Killer

Poetry: Culture Killer

Photo Series: S.O.S. (Shot On Sight) Vol. 31 - Oakland, CA

Photo Series: S.O.S. (Shot On Sight) Vol. 31 - Oakland, CA