“I’m sorry it came to this. If you need a reference in the future, please let me know. I’d be happy to help you out in any way possible.” My eyes follow the chapped lips before me as I try to comprehend the words that were just spit my way.
“I’m sorry, what?” I ask with confusion. I obviously didn’t hear him right because there’s no way my boss just fired me.
“If there is anything I can do, please let me know,” he repeats, a little slower this time. Then adds, for the fifth time since we sat down together, “I’m sorry, Emma.”
I open my mouth, but I quickly close it when no words flow out. I wait for the right letters to align together and register with my mouth, because right now all I can think of stammering out is, “What the fuck? Are you shitting me? It’s my birthday! You’re an asshole!”
Taking in a deep breath, I calmly recollect my thoughts. “But why?” I’m shocked at how soothing my voice is.
My now former boss, Mike, pushes away from the mahogany desk that looks just as old and tired as he does and shifts in his chair uncomfortably until his arms eventually end up crisscrossed in front of his chest. His eyes dart over my shoulder to the empty canvas on the wall, then slowly drag to the ugly eggnog carpet that covers his office floor. He clears his voice, avoiding eye contact. “Look, Emma, you’re a nice young girl and I’m sure you’ll succeed…”
“Just not here,” I cut him off. Not that I see myself succeeding in the restaurant business as a waitress, but that’s beside the point. I need a job.
I need this job.
Or rather, I need the tip money for living expenses.
C J Laurence
He captivated me entirely. His entire essence called to me as a glimmer of light beckons a moth. My body hummed in delight from his touch. The delicious strokes of pleasure from between my legs left me revelling in new levels of joy. His lust-filled gaze trailed down my heaving chest, sending shivers running through me. I found myself transfixed on his taut, muscled arms gripping my thighs—the image alone almost released me from his sensual assault.
He plunged himself in and out of me, faster, deeper, each urgent thrust pushing breathless gasps from me. With his chiselled cheeks and burning blue eyes, he brought me to my sweet edge in seconds. I collapsed back on his desk, panting and swimming in an ocean of decadence.
He glued his lips to mine as a groan vibrated through him. He stilled for a few seconds before he lay on top of me. His laboured breaths still resonated with something inside me.
As he sorted his clothes out, I propped myself up on my elbows, biting my lip with a seductive bat of my eylashes.
“So,” he said, a cheeky grin tweaking the corners of his mouth. “How do you think your appraisal went, Kyra?”
“I think it could have been better.” I flashed him a wicked smile.
“I look forward to seeing your notes on improvement.”
He moved back towards me with a mischievous grin, those succulent lips of his inching their way towards my neck. Like prey to a vampire, he had all the access he required. I couldn’t help the moan of desire escaping me as he grazed kisses across my skin…
Sprawling metropolis of second-hand timber, with windows lined with stolen silks for screens, towering high up to the reject-wall above us—Elysium was our citywithin-a-city, built with our own hands. The folks up in Eden, Tynan’s hightown, thought we didn’t have much down here. My people did a damn good job at acting the part: they walked around wearing torn-up shawls and hoods to protect themselves from the heat waves.
They sat around like hoodlums on the filthy streets of Kin and Brood, picking at their soiled fingernails, scratching at the ground; tweaking for a hit. They got into fights in the nearest bar; smashing machetes into whoever fucked them over—well, that might’ve been for a real reason. They begged the temple knights on-watch down here for coin and food, knowing the scorpions wouldn’t show them any decency. Scorpions, we called them—it was for anyone from Eden who came crawling down to the heat down here for whatever reason. We made sure the scorpions didn’t figure out the truth: that we all had it made down here without breaking the law. Most of the time.
Vassago was my homely headquarters at the center of it all. My gang was in charge of keeping everything in order down here. From here I had a view of the rising stone bridge leading up to the rest of Tynan. Dozens of temple knights were stationed there, shooing away any small groups of people who wanted to pass through. Behind their backs, my bandits snuck through to the scorpions’ outpost, nicking all kinds of knick-knacks and weapons to sell on the black market.
Clutching her jacket against the cool September breeze, Bella walked the dimly lit streets, her heart squeezing in her chest as she tried to push the vivid images from her mind. She just wanted the nightmares to stop.
Bella realized she was just a minute away from reaching Piazza Navona. With long-practiced efficiency, she schooled her features, wiping away any expression that might show her distress.
The atmosphere changed once she stepped out of the narrow street. The crowds buzzed with life all around her, people walking about or sitting around, some of them forming groups, scattering in every direction of the piazza, laughing, and talking. She tore her gaze away, not able to look closely. She wondered how it would feel to be so carefree and happy again.
She heard her best friend, Ariana, calling her. Turning, she spotted her and made her way to where Ariana stood with three of her friends. She knew Giorgio from the couple of times he’d visited Rome. He was a good friend of Ariana, doing his master’s degree in London. She’d also met Monica and Paolo previously at the gatherings she and Ariana had had at their apartment, but she wasn’t as close to them as Ariana was. She liked them, though. They seemed like good people and were fun to be with. However, at this point she wasn’t overly comfortable being close to anyone.
“Ciao,” she said and waved in their direction, but before she got any closer, Ariana flew to her and caught her arm. With a big smile on her pretty face, she dragged Bella to the side, away from their small group.
Monica L. Smith
At the tender age of eighteen, Jessica had only memories of her mother Anna Marie – the color of her hair, how it glistened in the golden sunlight, her seductive green eyes that could see straight through to your soul, the fullness of her lips, and the softness of her skin.
Anna Marie had been separated from Jessica early in her life, leaving Jessica to fend for her virtue in the foster care system. Anna Marie didn’t abandon Jessica because she wanted to be free of the responsibility of having a child. She was murdered by her boyfriend, Charlie Daniels.
One of Jessica’s favorite memories of her mother was a song that she sang to her every morning before school, “Good morning to you, good morning to you, good morning my Jessie…get ready for school.”
In the high hill country the ancient teff grain grew in abundance, cotton was soft as a breeze, gold pebbled every creek bottom, spices flourished in the fields, and cows’ butter was sweetened by the thin mountain air. People ate well, lived well, and prospered. Safe in its mountain stronghold, the land of Sheba gathered wealth the way teff plants gather morning dew. With wealth came leisure and learning; Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, spent her riches liberally to recruit the wisest scholars of the world to her court. And, as everyone knew, it was a court of beauty.
It was common knowledge that the women of Sheba were the world’s most beautiful. With their dark skin, black eyes, and wavy hair, they naturally drew men’s gazes even without adornment. But Sheba’s maidens were richly adorned, clad in white cotton robes so fine they seemed to float with every movement. Their hair, demurely draped in white veils, was braided with golden beads that clicked as they walked, drawing a man’s ear as well as his eye, for nothing is more seductive than a woman’s hair but half-concealed. The ladies of the court wore gold and precious stones, rings upon their fingers and bangles in their ears, bracelets on their wrists, and heavy necklaces across their shoulders.
Of them all, however, none was finer than Queen Makeda. Her white robes were embroidered with gold and silver, jewels flashed from her hair and ears, hands and throat, and she walked heavily beneath the extravagant wealth of her kingdom. She was fabulously wealthy, yes, and also beautiful, for her skin was dark like royal ebony, as smooth as polished wood. Her eyes were dark too, lined with kohl to make them shine, and her curly hair was thick with perfume, combed and braided and glimmering in the light. Her lush figure, always draped in regal costume, was abundant – the envy of every woman and the desire of every man.
Indeed, there was no greater beauty in the known world, but her loveliness was exceeded by a treasure far more precious: intellect surpassing that of all others. Makeda was learned, eloquent, and wise. Fair in all her decisions, careful and poised, she understood the intricacies of both gods and men. It was a point of pride for her people that no other land had a ruler to match their Queen of Sheba.
Therefore it became a problem of some import when the name of a new king, increasingly renowned for wisdom and learning, trickled into Sheba’s court.
“Who is this Solomon?” Makeda demanded, eyes narrow with displeasure.