Mind of an Artist Part 6






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Part 6


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(Zan’s POV)

I had to run to catch the subway, and barely made it through the door before it slid shut. The train was crowded, there were no available seats, but that wasn’t a problem. I was too wound up to sit anyway. Moving to the back of the car, I grabbed a pole as the car started forward.

It was unusual for me to ride the subway anymore, but the cab drivers don’t like to go to the neighborhood where I was heading. And if I took a cab, I might as well announce my arrival. I wanted to slip in and out, not make a big deal about being there.

I hadn’t been back to the old neighborhood for more than six months. I still had a few friends who lived there, but I felt more and more disconnected as the years passed. My experiences have changed me and shaped my life, and the places where I grew up seemed like they were a million miles away.

Instead of gangs, drugs and violence, my life now included galleries, expensive restaurants, and rich art collectors.

Although, I really wasn’t a part of that world either.

I lived in between the two worlds, which was just what I wanted. I took small journeys into both worlds, but I didn’t stay long. I had a home in a neighborhood I had chosen, and was relatively safe, I had made a success of my art, and of course I had Liz.

As the subway car bounced along, my thoughts automatically returned to Liz. It was inevitable really. She was the main thing on my mind today, not to mention the fact that the last time I had been on the subway had been with her.

And that had definitely been an unforgettable experience.

We’d been so hungry for each other that I’d fucked her right on the train, even though people had been on the car with us. I hadn’t planned to do it, but we had been so aroused we couldn’t wait. I slid inside her wet heat, trying to give us both some relief.

I’d had to be careful, so the others on the subway wouldn’t know what we were doing. I moved inside her so slowly, inching in and out, hoping everyone around us would suddenly leave so I could take her hard and fast.

Damn it had been hot!

I have never experienced anything like sex with Liz. Don’t get me wrong, I’d had been with plenty of women before I met Liz, but with other women it had just been sex; a physical release. I’d enjoyed it, sure, but with Liz it was completely different.

I considered all sex with my angel making love, whether it was slow and sensual, or a fast, hard fuck against a wall. The sensations I have with her are completely new, because we are in love. It made all the difference in the world.

Sex with Liz wasn’t just a physical release, it was a shared experience, a merging of two hearts and souls, an expression of our love for each other. Giving her pleasure and watching her reactions was more important to me than my own climax, and gave me just as much satisfaction.

I couldn’t get enough of her.

Everything about her turned me on. I loved the way her body moved, the sounds she made, the look of pure ecstasy on her face when she came. And I especially loved how much she wanted me.

And she had definitely proved how much she wanted me in the last twenty-four hours.

After we had come home from my gallery opening and I had bathed Liz, we’d made love for hours before finally sleeping. When we woke up, I slid inside her, taking her before breakfast, and then again afterward.

I was worried she might still be upset, so I suggested we spend a leisurely day, perhaps shopping, or lunch in the park, or just hanging out around the loft. But as I looked down at her, where she lay beside me in bed, a wide smile had crossed Liz’s face.

She leaned in, placing a kiss on my chest. “I think we should stay in bed all day,” she said in a low purr.

I would have jumped at the chance no matter what, but the ultra-sexy tone of her voice hardened my whole body instantly.

We had made love many times, only stopping occasionally for food and drinks, and a bubble bath that quickly turned into aquatic sex Olympics.

The whole day was wonderful, spending all our time together, tasting, touching, exploring. It was almost like a honeymoon. But I was sure I’d never forget what my angel had done after dinner.

I had Thai food delivered and pulled on a pair of boxers to answer the door. Liz slid on one of my t-shirts, and even though it was way too big and hung almost to her knees, I thought it was one of the sexiest things I had ever seen her wear.

All through dinner my eyes kept returning to her. I couldn’t help thinking that she didn’t have anything on underneath.

The shirt skimmed over her body, defining her curves and contours. It outlined her breasts, clearly showing her tight nipples, and dipped in across her stomach. Moving lower it draped over her thighs, riding dangerously high, but somehow still shielding her.

I wanted to strip it over her head, and have my way with her where she sat, but I showed an enormous amount of control, limiting myself to simply looking.

Of course that didn’t stop Liz from noticing that I was looking at her, and as we finished eating, a wicked smile raised the corners of her mouth.

She leaned in closer to me. “Zan, I’ve been thinking,” she paused, and a blush spread over her cheeks.

Obviously she’d been thinking about something sexual. She was still shy sometimes when it came to asking for what she wanted, and that was pretty much the only time she blushed.

I put my hand on her knee and slowly moved up her thigh. “What have you been thinking, angel?”

“Well,” she said, dropping her eyes, “there’s a drawing in your sketchbook, and it’s not exactly sexual.” Her eyes moved up, meeting mine. “But it has kinda made me wonder.”

Now I was smiling too. I moved my hand up even farther so it disappeared under the shirt, between her thighs. “Which drawing is it?” I asked, my voice low with desire.

She gasped as I touched her clit. “It’s one of the first ones you showed me,” she said breathlessly. “I’m laying across the arm of the sofa.”

I nodded, stroking her nub slowly. I knew exactly which one she was talking about. I leaned forward. “And you’re completely naked,” I prompted.

Her eyes dropped again, and she continued, “Yeah, and I wondered…” she trailed off.

My smile widened, and I leaned in even closer, so we were only inches apart. “And you wondered what it would be like if I fucked you there,” I finished for her.

She blushed furiously, but her eyes snapped to mine, and she nodded.

Closing the distance between us, I brushed her lips with mine. “There’s just one thing wrong, angel.”

“What’s that?” she whispered.

I stroked over her clit again. “You are wearing too many clothes.”

She pressed her lips to mine. Her hand stroked down my chest and across my abs, and with one finger, she snapped the waistband of my boxers. “So are you,” she purred.

I smiled, reaching for her, but she moved back, staying away from me, and stood up.

I got to my feet too. “Where you going, baby?”

She backed toward the couch, and suddenly reached down, grabbing the hem of her shirt and stripping it over her head. Her beautiful body was completely revealed to me and I felt like the breath had been knocked out of me.

I stopped, watching as she climbed onto the sofa, positioning herself over the arm just like she was in my drawing. She leaned forward so that she rested on her arms, her breasts brushing the leather, and her sweet ass stuck up at a tempting angle. Damn she was beautiful!

Her shyness was evaporating quickly, and she gave me another wicked smile. “Aren’t you coming?”

Was she kidding? I thought I might cum right where I was standing!

She may have wondered about sex on the sofa, but this scene we were enacting was almost exactly what I had pictured when I had drawn it. In fact it was even better.

Pushing my boxers to the floor, I started toward her, climbing up on the sofa behind her.

I love taking her from behind, but like all positions, it had good and bad points. The main bad one was that I couldn’t kiss her lips while we were making love. But there were plenty of other places I could kiss.

Leaning down, I scrapped my teeth over the globe of her ass, and the spicy scent of her arousal filled my nose. Oh yeah, there were definitely good points.

I kissed the small of her back, savoring, nipping gently at her skin and then used my tongue to soothe it. My hands went to her silky legs, stroking up the outsides before moving to her inner thighs. Her skin was so soft under my hands, and I took my time, touching her, as I urged her legs apart.

Moving forward, I fitted my body to hers, putting a little of my weight on her. I pressed my already hard cock against her wet pussy, and leaned down so my chest covered her back. I kissed her neck near her ear. “Is this what you had in mind, angel?”

She reached back touching my cheek. “I did think you would be inside.”

I smiled. “Not yet, baby. I want to make sure you get the full experience.”

“And what’s that?” she teased.

I kissed her neck again. “Well,” I started, “I didn’t just do the drawing out of nowhere.” I kissed her neck harder. “In my mind I had a whole story around it.”

“Oh no,” Liz sighed, “and I’ve just ruined your fantasy.”

“Ruined?” I asked amazed. “No angel, you’ve made it even better.”

She smiled. “So what happens in your fantasy?”

“First,” I paused, kissing the nape of her neck, “I kiss,” I kissed between her shoulder blades, ”and nibble,” I grazed my teeth down her spine, ”as much of your soft skin,” I kissed a line back up, “as I can reach.”

She gasped, “And then what?”

“Mmmm,” I growled, stroking up the inside of her thighs. “Then,” I moved my hands up to her stomach, ”I touch,“ my fingers slid up her ribs, “and tease,” I stopped just below her breasts, “as much of you as I can.”

“Tease?” she asked breathlessly.

“Oh yes,“ I kissed her neck again. “When I touch you,” I traced the underside of her breasts, “even in the most innocent places,” I moved back down to her stomach, “I know you’re thinking about,” I smoothed over her hips, “my hands on other places.”

“In your fantasy,” she gasped, “do I beg you to touch me?”

I rubbed my stubbly cheek between her shoulder blades. “Oh yeah, angel.”

“Zan,” she purred, “touch me, please.”

Again I slid my hands up her ribs, stopping under her breasts, but I only waited a moment, before cupping her soft mounds. I felt a shiver of desire rip through her, and nipped at her back again as I stroked my thumbs over her tight nipples.

Another small gasp escaped her, and her hips pushed back into mine, her slick core pressing against my erection.

“Then what?” she moaned softly.

I moved my hands to her hips, holding her, “Then,” I started to pump my hips, so my cock slid against her wet pussy, “I drive you so wild,” I nipped at her neck, “that you beg me,” I reached down to stroke her clit, “to take you.”

“Yes,” she breathed. “And how did I beg you? Did I ask you to make love to me?” She started to move with me “Or did I say, fuck me, Zan?”

I groaned. “Baby, you had a filthy mouth, because you wanted me so much.”

“Please Zan,” she begged, “I need your big cock inside me. I need you to fuck me. Please fuck my pussy good and hard.”

My cock jerked. “Shit angel,” I growled. She was making my fantasy come true even better than I had even imagined.

I couldn’t have waited any longer even if I wanted to. I took myself in hand, and slowly pushed forward, sliding inside her.

“Oh,” she moaned, “you always feel so good,”

I nipped at her shoulder blade, stopping deep inside her. I was so aroused I had to take a moment or I’d cum. Breathing hard, I slid my hands up and down her sides, as I kissed her neck.

She started to wiggle her hips against me, making my cock move inside her slightly. I groaned with the sensation of her tight, wet heat sliding along my length. It was too much.

“And how did you take me?” she gasped.

I pulled out of her slowly so she would feel every inch, and when only the head of my cock was left inside her, I changed directions and with a single, powerful thrust, slammed back inside. “Hard, baby,” I said, pulling out again. “Good and hard,” I slammed inside her again, “just like I know you want it.”

“Oh yes,” she breathed.

I set a fast rhythm, pumping into her so that my entire length sank deep inside her each time. Reaching up, I took her breasts in my hands, holding them to keep her close, stroking over her nipples.

Her body moved with mine, arching, straining to keep up and meet my thrusts. Her breath was coming in quick pants.

“Did I ask you to fuck me even harder?” she gasped. “Harder.”

“Every time,” I growled, moving even faster. “You always want to get fucked harder.” I slammed our lower bodies together, and she cried out with pleasure.

I reached forward, grasping her hands, interlacing our fingers. Our bodies moved together, perfectly in time, straining toward climax.

I felt her body start to tighten, and her muscles fluttered around me. A moment later she came apart in my arms. I followed her almost immediately, cuming inside her tight pussy.

For a moment, neither of us moved as we attempted to catch our breath. I grasped her hands tightly. Even though I couldn’t see her face, I felt so close to her. I kissed her neck again, just enjoying the fantasy my angel had given me. She was amazing.

Carefully I pulled out of her, and wrapped her in my arms, turning her to settle in my lap. I stroked her hair, as my eyes roamed over her beautiful face. She was sweating and flushed with passion, her eyes were almost black, and her face clearly showed her complete satisfaction. She looked well loved, and I thought she had never been more beautiful. I kissed her forehead.

Her eyes held mine, and she reached up to touch my face. “So in your fantasy,” she said, still breathless, “I must have come.”

I kissed her forehead again. “Almost as sweetly as you did now, angel.”

Leaning down, I pressed my lips to hers. She kissed me lingeringly, and then pulled back to meet my eyes again.

“I know something else that happened in your fantasy,” she whispered.

“What’s that?” I asked with a smile.

She stroked my cheek, still holding my eyes. “In you fantasy, I must have said, ‘I love you, Zan.’”

I smiled wider. “You’re absolutely right, baby, and I said, ‘I love you too.’”

The reality of being with Liz was always better than fantasy, and in that case the reality had blown my fantasy away. It was one of the best nights we’d ever had.

We made love again went we woke up this morning, but it was slow and through, mostly because I had the constant nagging thought that it could be our last time ever.

I had waited an entire extra day to tell Liz the truth about my past, but I didn’t feel I could wait any longer. So after we showered, dressed, and eaten breakfast, I led my angel to the sofa, sat beside her, and told her everything.

Maybe my timing was completely wrong, but it had to be done. I didn’t want to cause Liz more anxiety, but my instincts told me to go ahead.

I started softly. “Danny must have told you something about my past when he was here. And you must have some questions for me.”

Liz’s eyes widened slightly, and she shook her head, but I wasn’t going to let the subject go this time.

“Angel, I am certainly not proud of a lot of things I did when I was younger, but you deserve to know about my past,” I said. “So tell me what Danny accused me of, and ask me your questions, and I’ll tell you the whole truth. It’s not pretty, but I want you to know everything.”

I waited silently, watching her. She looked around, her eyes lighting on everything in the room but me. I could practically feel the conflict inside her head. She wanted to know the truth, but at the same time feeling like she was being disloyal to me by asking. She didn’t want to believe anything Danny said about me, but undoubtedly some or all of what he told her was true.

With a quick glance at me, finally she spoke. “He said you lived together four years.”

“Actually it was just over three years,” I said smiling. Trust my angel to start with the innocuous facts and work up to the big stuff. “I lived with him and the Johnsons from fourteen to eighteen. It was the eighth foster home I’d been in”

Her eyes snapped to mine. “You were in eight different homes?” she asked, sounding shocked and horrified.

“Yeah,” I said, with a shrug. “I was a bit of a problem kid. When the foster families would get sick of me, they would just ship me off to the next one.”

“That’s awful,” Liz said, tears gathering in her eyes.

“A lot of them didn’t care about the foster kids at all, they just wanted the monthly check. And even as a little kid, you can definitely feel that. I never felt wanted or loved. In a couple of places I got slapped around too. So I spent a lot of time escaping into my own world, drawing, and I acted out, a lot.”

“What did you do?” she breathed.

“You name it,” I said truthfully. “I did it all. I started out small, skipping school, vandalism, shoplifting, fighting. I didn’t care about anything or anyone, not even myself.”

A tear slid down her cheek, and I reached up, wiping it away.

She held my eyes. “Didn’t anyone try to help you?”

“A few of them cared,” I said with a shrug. “Some of them even tried, but I didn’t believe any of it was real. I didn’t trust anyone, so I just did whatever I wanted. Most of the time I ran wild.”

“I was smart enough not to get caught in anything too big, but I did spend a couple of nights in jail. And I thought that is how it was going to be for me,” I continued, “drugs, drinking, meaningless relationships, crime and jail. I didn’t see another path for my life.”

“Zan,” her voice was a whisper, as she touched my arm.

She was sad and concerned for me, but I took a breath, preparing to tell the worst. “I was fourteen, and I got busted again. The family I was living with had enough of my shit, and I got sent to the Johnson’s. That’s where I met Danny. And by that time I was a jaded criminal, so he really knew me at my lowest.”

Liz didn’t say anything, but her hand slid into mine, and I kept going.

“I was in a new house, but I was doing the same shit. Danny was right there with me, and he loved it. He loved having someone to cause trouble with. For a while, we pretty much ran the neighborhood together. But I never really liked him.”

I couldn’t help a small laugh. “Believe it or not, I did have some scruples. Danny was cruel, and he liked to hurt people. I didn’t approve of a lot of the things he did, especially the way he treated women.”

“Sure, I got in plenty of fights, but the guys knew what they were getting into. Danny was a bully, beating up people who were smaller, or couldn’t defend themselves. I had to pull him off a few kids, so he didn’t really hurt them. And once he beat his girlfriend so bad, I had to take her to the hospital.”

“So Danny and I did hang out at first, but as I got to know him, the less I liked him. We were never really friends. I thought he was an asshole, and my opinion of him only got worse.”

“And you might think that’s when my life started turning around, but I got into even worst shit. I was never in a gang, never sold drugs, not exactly, but I used to run errands for the dealers to earn money and drugs.”

Liz gasped but didn’t speak, and after a moment I continued.

“I knew it was wrong though. I guess it was rock bottom for me, and I really felt disgusted with myself. Looking back, I think that was the first time I realized I wanted something better for my life, even if I didn’t know what that was.”

“But it was a new area, new school, and that’s where everything started to change for me. I had kept up with my drawing, even with my budding criminal career. At the start of the next school year I signed up for an art class, and that’s where I discovered painting.”

Liz squeezed my hand.

“I liked painting, and I was good at it. And it made me start to see that there was something else out there. There was more to the world, and more to life.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t change overnight,” I admitted. “I used to break into the school to get more time to paint. And instead of stealing shit to get money for drugs, or beer, or whatever, I’d steal to buy paints and supplies.”

“About then though, I realized I needed to stay in school if I wanted to keep painting.”

“School was always pretty easy for me, and I had ok grades, but all my shit had gotten me pretty close to being kicked out a couple of times. So I stopped skipping, followed the rules mostly, went to all my classes, and did my homework. And I discovered I actually liked school and learning, and started getting pretty decent grades.”

“So I was able to keep painting, and people liked my stuff too. I won a couple of contests and started getting some recognition, and you might think that would have cured me of my wild ways, but it didn’t. I was young, and stupid, and spoiled by the attention. I indulged and over-indulged, more drugs and drinking and empty relationships.”

“But it made me proud I could create a painting that really meant something to me. And it felt wrong to steal so I could paint, so I got a legit job. That really was the start of cleaning up my life.”

“It felt good to earn my supplies. I also liked the hard work I had to put in on my paintings. I stopped doing drugs, and really cut down on drinking, because I couldn’t do my best work when I was high.”

Liz had been silent for so long, the sound of her voice practically made me jump. “But what made you want to change?” she asked softly.

I shrugged. “There wasn’t a specific event or a defining moment, if that’s what you mean, angel. It just gradually happened. I didn’t like who I was, and I realized I wasn’t happy living such an empty life. I wanted to be a different person, a good person. And the hard work I was putting in on my painting taught me that I really could change everything with a bit of effort.”

“And what about the Johnsons?” she asked. “Did they try to help you? Were they some of the good fosters?”

I had to smile. “They did care, yes. They believed in second chances, even eighth chances in my case. That’s why they took me in. Almost all the kids they had were problem kids.”

“For people with so much experience with troubled kids though, they were amazingly naïve. They didn’t know about half of what was going on right under their noses. So they really weren’t able to help me much.”

“But I did learn one thing from them. Even with all the shit the kids put them through, and all the problems that caused for them, they were really in love with each other. I watched them together, and it made me want that for myself instead of the empty relationships I had. And eventually I realized I wanted to be a better person to deserve that kind of love.”

I stroked over the soft skin of Liz’s hand with my thumb, feeling somewhat relieved. She hadn’t pulled away from me, even with the ugly truth in front of her. Of course I had glossed over some parts, especially my relationships with other women. I’d tell her if she asked, but I didn’t think she needed to hear about that.

I searched her face, trying to figure out what she was thinking. “What other questions do you have for me, baby?” I said softly.

“None,” she whispered, meeting my eyes. “Thank you for telling me. It couldn’t have been easy reliving it.”

“I don’t mind,” I said truthfully. “You can ask me whatever you want.”

She nodded, looking down at our clasped hands. “I know.”

“Do you want to ask me about anything Danny told you?”

“No,” she said softly. “You told me everything.”

She squeezed my hand. “I’m sorry I kept asking you Zan,” she said. “You didn’t want to talk about it, and I shouldn’t have forced you.”

“You didn’t force me to do anything,” I assured her. “I wanted you to know.”

She didn’t say anything and I felt my chest tighten. She was sorry she’d asked me. Was she horrified by my past?

I could practically hear her mind running as she thought about what I had told her, and I just didn’t know how it would turn out.

I was torn about what I should do. I wanted to wrap her in my arms and make sure that she was okay, and she didn’t leave me. I wanted to lock the door, and take her back to bed, making love to her over and over until neither of us could move.

But another part of me knew that she needed some time to think. She had to decide if she could live with what I had done, and who I used to be.

If she really wanted to leave, I couldn’t stop her. In the time we had been together, I’d learned I couldn’t force Liz to do anything. I could coax and seduce, but in the end it was her choice to stay or leave.

If she did leave, that didn’t mean I wouldn’t try to change her mind. She was mine, and I would do whatever I had to do to get her back. But for now I had to give her some space.

Kissing the side of her head, I inhaled deeply so that her scent filled my nose. “I love you, angel,” I whispered. “I’m going to run an errand, to give you some time to think.”

I stood up quickly before I could change my mind, and saw the look of surprise cross her face. Somehow I couldn’t even bear to say aloud my fear that she might not be in the loft when I got back, but I needed to make sure she was safe. She might be in shock, and act without thinking.

I’d had terrifying visions of her flying home to her parents, or even worse, storming out of the loft, dragging a hastily packed suitcase down the street, looking for a place to stay. She didn’t know the area that well, didn’t have any close friends she could depend on or turn to for help, and I had to make sure she didn’t panic and do something foolish. I had to do everything I could to keep her safe.

Taking a piece of paper out of my pocket, I pressed it into her hand. “This is my agent Steve’s cell phone number. He always answers it.”

My throat felt like it was closing and I attempted to clear it with a rasping cough. “If you need anything, angel, you can call him. He’ll take care of you. I’ve made sure of it.”

If she did leave, hopefully she would call Steve for help, and he could keep her safe. I’d arranged everything with him. He could also tell me where she’d gone, so I wouldn’t have to waste time looking for her.

Liz looked at me like I was speaking a different language. I forced a smile. “I’ll be back in a couple of hours.”

I grabbed my jacket and keys, and with one last look at Liz, closed the door behind me.

Almost immediately I wanted to go back inside, actually stopping with my arm outstretched toward the door, but I forced myself to leave.

Maybe it was insane. Maybe I should have stayed and fought for her, but I had a feeling I was doing the right thing, and headed straight for the subway

I’d told Liz was going on an errand, and it was one hundred percent true. While Liz was thinking, and possibly leaving me, I was going to see Danny to ensure her safety. Even if Liz did leave, he might still be a danger to her unless I stopped him.

But as much as I wanted to concentrate on every moment of my life with Liz, and try to recall every detail about her, I had to stop for now.

I dragged my thoughts away from her to focus on what I was currently doing. Looking up, I noticed I was only two stops away from my destination, and my mind snapped back to the purpose of my errand.

Danny.

It had only taken a couple of phone calls to find out everything I needed to know about Danny; where he lived and worked, his entire schedule, his friends, what he did in his time off. As I suspected, he wasn’t well liked, and the people I had talked to were eager to give him up.

Two of my friends, who still lived in the old neighborhood, had offered to go with me and watch my back. Over the years Danny had managed to piss off just about everyone he knew, and many of them were just looking for an excuse to wail on him.

But I had declined the company. Things might get out of control. I didn’t need the backup, and I wanted Danny to see I was confident enough to come alone.

I’d timed my trip so I’d get to Danny’s work just before he left for lunch. I’d specifically picked the place to give me an advantage. It was unlikely he’d have a weapon on him, there’d be no friends to back him up, and he wouldn’t want to start shit in front of his boss.

I didn’t want to get him fired, not unless it was necessary, so I planned on keeping our ‘talk’ civilized. But anger rushed up inside me every time I thought about what he’d done to Liz, and what he could have done.

My instinct was to beat Danny to a pulp. I wanted to repeatedly smash my fist into his face until he was bruised and bloody, but I was also ashamed of the impulse. Here I was, trying to prove to Liz that I had changed, and my first thought was to commit assault.

I wanted to be a better person than that, someone who didn’t have to resort to violence to solve problems. Someone who was smart enough to find another way out. Liz deserved someone like that.

But I also knew violence was a language Danny understood. Possibly the only language he understood, and the only way to get through to him. But a beating would only stop him until the fear wore off. Fortunately, I did have another card to play.

The train rolled to a stop and I exited with the others, taking the steps up to the street two at a time. My whole body was rushing with energy, anger, excitement, anticipation, and even fear. Not fear of Danny, I knew I could take him. But fear of what Liz might do.

Even at this moment, she could be stuffing her things into a suitcase.

I let out a sigh, pushing thoughts of her to the back of my mind. I had to take care of Danny first, then I would be free to concentrate all of my attention on Liz.

The subway took me within two blocks of the building were Danny was working a restoration job. I used to know the area like the back of my hand. I’d lived just a few blocks in the other direction, and it had been to my advantage to know every alley, back exit and shortcut available if I didn’t want to get caught on my various ‘adventures’.

At the time, I had known them all, but I arrived early just to give myself a few minutes to look around and make sure things hadn’t changed. I didn’t plan on this confrontation turning into a chase, but it was best to have all the options covered.

When I was satisfied the area was the same as I remembered, I took up position in a shadowed doorway across the street from Danny’s building, and waited.

Only a few minutes had passed when the workers started filing out of the building. I watched closely, and finally Danny emerged, one of the last out.

Instantly the anger leapt inside me like flames. I started across the street, calling out to get his attention. “Yo, Danny!”

He turned, and a grin raised the corners of his mouth. “Zan. I didn’t expect to see you so soon.”

I couldn’t help but smile back. The bastard obviously thought I was coming to pay him off.

As I approached him, I was filled with rage. I couldn’t stop thinking about what he had done to Liz, how much he had scared her, how he had grabbed her and forced her to kiss him, leaving the nasty bruise on her arm.

Danny wasn’t a big guy, but he was tall, almost as tall as me, and certainly much bigger than Liz. He would have towered over her, using his size to intimidate and easily overpower her.

And he hadn’t just terrorized Liz, he had insulted me. He had come into my house and touched my woman. Basically he was telling me that he thought I was soft, and I couldn’t protect what was mine.

Undoubtedly his actions had been focused on me. He had just used Liz to get to me, but that made me even angrier. Liz was the most important person in the world to me, and Danny had used her like a pawn.

Over and over again, I told myself to calm down, but I couldn’t stop the image of the bruise on Liz’s arm running through my head.

Danny must have finally seen some of my anger too, because his smile faded and he took a step back. But I didn’t stop. All of my good intentions had already left me, and I stepped into him, punching him right in the face.

I put all of my fury behind my fist and it connected squarely with his jaw, sending him to the ground. I felt an instant rush of satisfaction, and I itched to hit him again.

“Fuck, Zan!” He put a hand to his bleeding lip, and another smile crossed his face. “I guess that spit-fire of yours told you what happened.”

“She told me plenty,” I growled.

Danny started to get up, but I shook my head. “Stay down,” I warned, “or I might not be able to resist the urge to punch you again.”

He smiled wider but sat on a step. “Better be nicer to me, Zan,” he said with a laugh, “or I might just start talking. If that fine college girl knew some of the shit you did, she would leave you in a second.”

This time it was my turn to smile. “I’ve already told her everything.”

The look of shock on Danny’s face was almost comical, but then a knowing smile curved his lips. “No way. No fucking way you told her everything.”

I shrugged. “Believe what you want, but before you start making threats again, you should think about stuff I know that you wouldn’t want to get out.”

He shook his head. “So what. You know about some petty stuff I did when I was a kid. Nobody cares about that shit.”

“Maybe,” I said, watching him closely, “but I know other stuff too.”

I motioned to the building where he was working with a jerk of my head. “One thing I know is that equipment and supplies go missing a lot on these jobs where you work.”

He paled a little.

“If that got out,” I continued, you could lose your job, maybe do some time.

I shrugged again. “But I’m sure a few years in Rikers is no big deal to a tough guy like you.”

His face was getting red now, he was angry. “Shit Zan, you’re going to rat me out? I’ve got much worse on you.”

Suddenly he leapt to his feet, getting in my face, “If you don’t pay me for that smack you stole from me, I’ll turn you in for dealing.”

His arm moved, and I wasn’t really sure if he was throwing a punch or not, but my reaction was automatic, instinctive. I blocked his arm, and hit him again, catching him in the eye and he fell back onto the sidewalk.

“Stay the fuck down!” I ordered.

I was holding on to my control by a thread as it was. If he provoked me any more, I just might give in to temptation and beat the shit out of him.

Leaning over him, I continued with a grin. “You ain’t gonna do shit, Danny, because you don’t have shit. I didn’t sell that heroin, I turned it over to the cops.”

“Damn, Zan,” he groaned, with his hand over his eye. “What’d you do that for?”

I sighed. “I took it from you so you wouldn’t sell it to the kids in the neighborhood.”

A scowl crossed his face. “Since when did you get all righteous? You did plenty of drugs.”

“Not smack,” I said, shaking my head. “Never smack. And besides, I probably saved your ass getting rid of that shit, you stupid fuck.”

“What are you talking about?” he demanded. “You weren’t worried I’d OD.”

“No,” I admitted, “not really. But I know where you got it.”

He looked like I’d punched him again. “How do you know that?” he asked, his voice strangled.

I shrugged, “Does it really matter? The point is, the guy you stole that junk from would have noticed some extra product on the street, and it wouldn’t have taken a genius to trace it back to you.”

“You’re bluffing,” Danny said suddenly. “You don’t know shit. You just didn’t want me to have the money, that’s all. I say you still owe me.”

“I know who you stole it from all right,” I said. “I even know you fucked his girlfriend. Which do you think he’d be more pissed about? He married that girl not long after. Still married to her from what I’ve heard.”

All the color drained from Danny’s face this time.

“I tell him what I know,” I said with a smile, “and the next time anyone sees you is when they’re fishing your bloated body outta the river.”

Danny looked mad again, and I couldn’t blame him. I’d just taken away all of his ammo, but I knew him too well. He still wouldn’t leave it alone.

I met his eyes. “Don’t get any bright ideas. If anything happens to me or Liz, there are other people who know too. And don’t think they’ll bother going to the cops. They’ll just go straight to the source.”

Danny opened his mouth, but I held up a hand, and he stayed silent.

“I don’t want to hear from you, and I don’t want to see you. You see me across the street, you go the other way. And if you come anywhere near Liz again, nothing will stop me from fucking you up.

After a moment, he gave a curt nod. He was still mad, but at last I could tell we had an understanding.

I turned my back on him, walking away.

Now that I was finished with Danny, anger was draining out of me and fear was taking over. I’d never felt anything like it. I’d never been afraid of much of anything.

I knew what the cause was, of course, and suddenly I had the overwhelming need to get home and see if Liz was still there.

I couldn’t waste time on the subway. It was too slow, I’d lose my mind. So I jogged the few blocks out of the heart of the neighborhood to a main street, and flagged down a cab.

Briefly I considered calling Liz’s cell phone, but I didn’t know if she would answer, and finding out she had left me that way would be devastating.

No, I’d simply wait until I got home.

I know Liz loves me, but I was worried about what I had told her. She has lived a sheltered life, and she was obviously shocked by my past.

Would she be able to accept the things I had done? And if so, would she fear me, or feel disgusted? Would she still be able to respect and love me? Would things be the same between us?

Would she even be in the loft when I got back?

I pushed the thoughts away. I couldn’t think like that. I knew Liz and I belonged together, and I had to trust that our love was strong enough to get through this.

But even so, I couldn’t help thinking that the sex we had this morning might be our last for a while, and I was already going through withdrawls. My whole body craved her.

It was even more amazing that she had as much an appetite for sex as I did. I would have considered myself lucky if we only experienced our incredible lovemaking once a week, but my angel desired me just as much as I wanted her. We couldn’t get enough of each other.

And it wasn’t just the sex. I love everything about her; the way she moves, her dark, soulful eyes, the way she looks at me, the sound of her voice, the scent of her hair, the way we could talk about anything, even the simple pleasure of being in the same room with her.

But that was also why I was so worried.

I had been in a lot of empty relationships, relationships that had only been about sex and what the women could get from me. And now that I had found the real thing, I didn’t ever want to let it go.

Liz loves me, and desires me, but she’s never been in love before, never slept with anyone else, and I was worried that she might not realize how special our bond was. She might think all relationships are this incredible, and leave what we have, thinking she could easily find it again.

I had never felt so helpless in my life. I was used to having a plan, a direction, but I had no control over this situation.

If it had been anyone else who didn’t accept me for just who I was, I would have said fuck ‘em. I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. Except Liz.

I had been waiting for her all of my life, even before I knew what I was waiting for. I had changed for her, cleaned up my life in anticipation of meeting her. And now that I finally had her, I didn’t want to lose another moment of our time together.

But I couldn’t stop Liz from leaving if that was what she really wanted. I just had wait and see what happened. If she did leave though, I’d do anything I had to do to get her back.

My mind had been racing with things I could do, romantic gestures, pledges of love, ways I could seduce her back into my bed. In my fight for her, I certainly wasn’t going to discount sex. I’d use anything I could, and sex was a powerful temptation because our lovemaking was always incredible. I knew just how to touch her, how to turn her on so she was desperate for me, and I knew just how to make her cum.

Yes, I reassured myself, if she did leave I wouldn’t stop until I won her back. I had to keep fighting. I didn’t want to live without her.

The cab stopped in front of our building, bringing me back to the present. I couldn’t believe I was home already. I’d been so anxious to arrive, and now it seemed too soon.

Handing the driver some bills, I got out and headed inside.

All the air seemed to have been sucked from my lungs as I rode up in the elevator. I was taking deep breaths to try and keep my nervousness at bay.

Finally the elevator arrived on our floor and I walked forward. My heart pounded in my chest as I stopped in front of the door. The key was in my hand, stretched out, but I was afraid to open it. Afraid of what I would find, or more specifically, who I wouldn’t find.

But of all the things I’ve been in my life, a coward has never been one of them.

Liz loved me, and she is an incredibly generous person. She would be there, I told myself. She would give me a chance.

I put the key in the lock and pushed the door open.

It was dark inside, the only light streaming in from the windows, and my heart sank. My eyes darted around the room. Liz was nowhere in sight, but there were no signs of hasty packing either. Had she left?

Stepping inside, I closed the door behind me. “Angel,” I called out. “Are you here?”



~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


TBC





Mind of an Artist
Part 7
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