Page 13 of Black Lies

He twisted his mouth, looked away. “Something like that.”

I moved my chair closer. “Did it work?”

He wiped his hand over the surface as if memorizing the lines in the wood. “Don’t know. Never saw her again.” The stool squeaked as he rotated, faced me fully. Drug the stool until I was between his open legs.

I tilted my head and gave him a mock frown. “I’m a little jealous of this Sheila girl.”

His hands reached forward, making small twists at the front of my shirt, unbuttoning one, then two, then the entire front of my shirt, the fabric gaping, a sigh coming from his mouth as he slid his hands inside. Cupping the lace that was my bra, my skin came to life underneath his hands. “You have nothing to be jealous about.”

“I don’t know…” I whispered. A small groan slipped out when his fingers pulled down the cups of my bra, my br**sts falling out before him, hanging heavy with need, the brush of his hands over them bringing my ni**les to full alert. “She did have a computer named after her…” I left my hands on my knees. Did nothing to stop him as he took his time with my skin, the brush of his lips soft as he leaned forward and tasted my neck. Thumbed his tongue along the hollows of my throat as his hands gently pulled on my ni**les, then moved to squeeze the weight of my br**sts.

“That computer was a piece of junk,” he whispered, moving his head back and taking my mouth with his. His kiss soft, his movements slow. He sucked on my bottom lip and teased my mouth. I gave up my grip on my knees and threaded my hands through his hair. Pulled him closer.

“How many girls have you kissed in here?” I asked against his mouth.

“Hmmm…” His lips moved, kissed a soft trail along my jaw, his hands taking liberties with my br**sts that would make Sheila Anderson blush bright red. “Do you count?”

“No.” I pulled his head by his hair. Guided it back to my mouth.

“Then none. Unless you count the Farah Fawcett poster I professed my love to.”

“Shhh. You’re ruining this with your talk of senior citizens.”

He laughed, went for my belt. There was the creak of a door and I stiffened, pushing Brant back. Kept my back to the door as I heard the flip-flop of his mother’s steps. “Brant? Dessert’s ready.”

Brant’s eyes stayed on me, his mouth curving into a boyish smirk, his gaze dropping to my exposed chest, my shirt still gaping open. “All right Mom. We’ll be up in a second.”

No response from her. Just the retreat of footsteps and the click of a door. I clamped my hand over my mouth as a ridiculous giggle erupted from my mouth. He reached out, gave me one last grope before standing, pressing a kiss to the top of my head. “Button up my little minx. Let’s get out of here before I have my way with you.”

I shushed him, my hands fumbling, certain that my flushed cheeks and his smile would give away our actions. But a few minutes later, when we made our way through the house and back to the table, his parents seemed none the wiser.

Dessert, a lemon pie that would put Marie Callender to shame, was more pleasant, conversation moving at a steadier clip. If I had to guess, Brant’s mother had given his father a stern warning during our basement time. The man seemed contrite, and Mrs. Sharp’s eyes apologized with every contact. When silver scraped empty plates, I rose to help clear the table.

I followed her through a swinging door into a small kitchen, the yellow fridge and Formica countertops indicating the Sharp’s lack of desire to spend their wealth. I scraped plates into the trash, the small space quiet with our sudden isolation from the men.

“I’m sorry,” she blurted out, her voice soft. “For what Spencer said. About you not dating Brant.”

“It’s fine. Really.” I didn’t want to talk about it, didn’t want to give the hundred nosy questions inside me an opening to spill out. My prying would only damage this fragile connection. I looked for a safe topic. “It’s wonderful that you allowed Brant, at such a young age, to take off school to build Sheila.”

“Sheila?” Mrs. Brant looked over from the sink, confusion clearing from her face when she understood my reference. “Oh—the computer. I’d almost forgotten; it’s been so long since it was referred to as that. It was kind of a memorial thing… the name didn’t stick. Apple didn’t want the negative connotations attached to the project.” She turned off the water, taking the dishes from my hand and sliding them into the soapy water.

“Negative connotations?”

She glanced over. “Oh—I forgot—you were too young. Sheila Anderson. The little girl who was murdered all those years ago. It was the summer Brant started working all the time. They never found her killer—or her body for that matter. Just…” Her voice faltered. “Just her clothes. Bloody. Not far from here. A few girls disappeared that summer, but she was the first. And… Brant had always had a crush on her. He took it hard. That was around the time… well.” She stopped talking, glancing over my shoulder, the kitchen suddenly smaller as I felt Brant move up behind me, his hand wrapping around my waist and pulling me into his body.

“Mom putting you to work?” He planted a kiss on my head.

“Barely. She was just telling me about—“

“Old memories,” she interrupted. “Thanks for bringing her by, Brant.” Grabbing a hand towel, she wiped at her palms. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Layana.”

I smiled. “Thank you. It was wonderful to meet you both.”

“You leaving?” The large body of Brant’s father closed off the doorway, and the space was suddenly claustrophobic.

“Yes. Thanks.” Brant clapped his father on the back, and we squeezed our way out of the kitchen and made our exit.

I was quiet during the ride home, my mind walking me back through the evening. I wondered at the reasons behind Jillian and Mr. Sharp’s aversion to our relationship. Wondered whether Mrs. Sharp had agreed with her husband, despite her apologies for his statement. Wondered about Sheila Anderson and why Brant didn’t mention that she had died. I could have asked questions. But I didn’t. I looked out the window and thought.

Chapter 12

2 YEARS, 6 MONTHS AGO

I stuck my head in Brant’s office, his head popping up, hands furious on keys, un-pausing in cadence as he smiled. “This is a nice surprise.”

“Don’t get too excited yet,” I teased, walking around the desk, his fingers keying at a rate faster than humanly possible, his eyes glued to me, his mind capable of more simultaneous action than mine. “I’m kidnapping you.”

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