Posts tagged “Party

Chasing Truth: Chapter 51

Posted on 24/07/2020

Café 29 - Cheekwood Estate & Gardens | Nashville, Tennessee

Janey’s cafe was packed. The party was in full swing. Sakina’s inhabitants always found something to celebrate. Leo quickly turned Tyler’s return into one of those reasons.

“I don’t know, man. I got worried you might not come back.” Leo grinned at Mari over his cup. “Then again, I should’ve known better. You’ve got some strong motivation.”

Mari rolled her eyes but leaned into Tyler’s hold. 

“You’ve got that right,” Tyler said with a smile that rivaled Leo’s. “I missed my girl. I’m always going to come back for her.” His last words were delivered as he looked into her eyes and squeezed her shoulder.

His words were far too serious and she needed to lighten the mood. “Promises, promises,” she teased. 

“I’m back, aren’t I? I’ve proven myself.”

“Just like a man. You do something one little time and want all the praise.”

“Take it back, woman.” He shook her, making her laugh and burrow into his side. 

“And there’s the fragile ego.” She wrestled free, laughing even harder.

“I’ll leave you to handle that,” Leo said patting Tyler’s back. “We’re going to get a game going later though. Be ready.”

Tyler nodded even as he caught Mari around the waist. “I’ll be ready.”

Mari tipped her head back to look at him. “Can your ego handle two losses?”

Her laughter was swallowed by his kiss. It wasn’t gentle. Hungry. Deep. Fierce. Definitely not gentle. Weeks ago, she would’ve been lost in that kiss. Now, she had to force herself not to wonder if Reese was watching and, instead, concentrate on kissing Tyler back. His hand cupped her neck with his thumb tracing along her jaw.

“Are you being a brat because you missed me?” Tyler asked when he finally lifted his head. 

“Maybe.”

“I’m not planning on leaving you again for a while.”

“Good,” she murmured and leaned into him once more.

He pressed a kiss to her forehead as he pulled his phone from his pocket. Again. He’d been doing it for half of the evening. 

“Is everything okay back at home?” Mari asked, covering his hand at her hip with hers.

He looked up at her. “Yeah. Sorry about that.”

“Good. Then put this down,” she encouraged, taking his phone and setting it on the table beside her bag, “and come dance with me.”

She caught his other hand and pulled him toward the makeshift dance floor before he could protest. He glanced back at his phone even as she kept tugging him along.

“No one’s going to take it,” she promised. “C’mon, you were gone for forever. I need attention.”

“It felt like it,” he agreed. Pulling her in close, he walked them into the crowd of dancers. “Missed you. Too much. I’ll give you all the attention you can handle.”

“You’re making an awful lot of promises tonight,” she taunted again. 

Her laughter died as he brought them to a stop, claiming her mouth again. Distance definitely seemed to have made Tyler’s heart fonder. He was touching or kissing her since his return to the island. She hadn’t been prepared for that when she promised Reese she could handle it, but she had no choice but to go with it. She returned the kiss before slowly drawing back even as she draped her arms over his shoulders.

“Show me your best moves.”

The crooked grin she once adored peeked out. “Challenge accepted.”

No sooner than he said the words, he swept her up in a dance. They danced to so many songs, she lost count. Finally, the tempo of the music slowed and he drew her close. 

“How’s that for best moves?”

“You did alright,” she said a bit breathlessly as she rested her hands against his chest.

“Brat.” He dipped his head, intending to kiss her. 

“Yo, Tyler! Game time!” one of the men called out.

Tyler dropped his head farther, pressing his forehead to Mari’s.

She heaved a dramatic sigh. “Go on. I knew I couldn’t hog you the whole night.”

“You’re so generous,” he praised with a quick peck to her lips. “Be right back.”

She waved him off and wandered toward the tables where food and drink were set up. Reese stood nearby in conversation with Raoul. His gaze rested on her. He was discreet, but she knew she was never out of his sight. With a flash of a smile to assure him all was fine, she snagged a plate to fill with desserts. 

She bit into a brownie as she made her way over to Reese just as Allie was pulling Raoul away. She waved to them both then focused on Reese. Her brow wrinkled at the coolness of his expression.

“Are you having fun?” he asked.

“Janey outdid herself. We’re going to need a to-go plate.” She offered her plate to him.

“No thanks.”

She didn’t lower the plate. “Seriously. Try something. You’ll hurt Janey’s feelings if you don’t.”

“Janey’s?” he challenged so softly she almost didn’t hear it. He picked up a cookie, though, and she had to bite her lip to hide the smile.

“You know, we didn’t finish our conversation the other day,” she found the courage to say.

He paused with the cookie at his lips. “This isn’t exactly the time for that,” he said and took another bite.

“I guess I’m just wondering if we’re going to find the time.”

They locked eyes. 

“Hey you two,” Julia called as she and Leilani approached. 

Mari bit back a frustrated groan. When she turned to face her friends, Reese caught her arm. She glanced back at him.

“Yes, we’ll find time.”

This smile was impossible to hide and she nodded in relief. He let go just as Julia slung her arm over Mari’s shoulders. She drew Leilani with her, pulling them into a small huddle.

“What’s up?” Mari asked and popped the last of her brownie.

“You guys should come over. Tonight. I have some interesting stories to tell.”

Mari paused mid-chew before she forced herself to swallow. Reese’s gaze was steady on Julia. 

“What did you do?” Mari hissed.

“Something you’re going to be very grateful for. We meet at my place once the party’s over.”

Mari pinched the bridge of her nose even as she tried to guess at what Julia might have to share. 

“We’ll be there,” Reese promised.

Of course they would.


<< Chapter 50 Chapter 52 >>

Chasing Truth: Chapter 34

Posted on 14/02/2020

Mari kicked back in her chair with her punch, taking in the scene around her. The beach was filled with islanders. A bonfire was going in the middle of the crowd. Music, laughter, and chatter mingled with the sounds of the waves crashing along the shore. They never needed an excuse to get together, but they’d done all of this because she called Reese friend. They wanted him to feel welcome. She loved these people and the way they so freely gave love.

Reese had been drawn into far too many conversations to count since they made their way down the sand. She’d left him to his admirers. He entertained them all good-naturedly, but he was never too far from her. He’d just helped Leo toss more wood onto the fire a few minutes ago and now he was striding toward her.

“Are you enjoying yourself?” she asked as she tipped her head back to look up at him.

“I am. You guys know how to throw a party.”

“One of our many, many talents,” she assured, brandishing her coconut drink.

No sooner had he settled in the chair beside her, Keon walked over to them.

“Reese! My man! Here,” Keon offered a coconut drink.

“No. No,” Paul protested joining them. “He’s got to get the authentic experience. Let him carve out his own.”

“Coconut or pineapple?” Raoul asked holding both.

“It’s gotta be a pineapple,” someone else chimed in.

“Pineapple it is,” Reese agreed accepting the pineapple and the knife.

He cut off the top and handed it off. Mari watched the concentration on Reese’s face as he pressed the knife to the inside of the pineapple.

“Is this a good place to start?”

“Don’t cut too far down or too far in,” she corrected gently. “Like this.”

She set her drink down and leaned in closer. Laying her hands over his, she drew the knifepoint closer to the edge of the pineapple. It didn’t take him long to get the hang of it. She grinned as she let go.

“You’ll be a pro before you leave the island.”

He smiled over at her. “There are some pretty good teachers around.”

“Hold it up,” someone encouraged once the pineapple was hollowed out.

“No alcohol, please.”

She knew that request was for her. She started to counter him, encourage him to enjoy the night, but she knew it wouldn’t change his mind. He might be personable, but he was here for a reason. Everything she’d seen from him indicated he wouldn’t take that lightly.

An arm landed around her shoulder. Mari tilted her head back and Tyler filled her vision.

“Hey,” he greeted with a sound kiss on her lips. “It looks like the party is in full swing.”

“They’re in rare form tonight.”

He nodded his head toward the drink she’d picked back up. “It looks like you are too.”

She giggled as he lowered his head to playfully nibble her ear. “Go away, you brute.”

He kissed her ear before he straightened. “How are you enjoying our hospitality, Reese?”

“I’ve never had better,” he said raising his drink with a smile.

“It’s good you got to experience a real party before you leave.”

“Leave?” Paul echoed. “When are you leavin’? I thought I heard you were stickin’ around for a while?”

“No date yet. Mari’s got a good couch and I’m enjoying it here far too much to leave any time soon. I’ve got more pineapple drinks to make,” he assured Paul with a warm smile.

He didn’t even look at Tyler, whose arm squeezed Mari for a moment.

“Tyler! Come help me out, man!” Obi called.

Tyler glanced over his shoulder before looking down at Mari. “Be right back, sweetheart.”

She nodded and sank deeper into her chair. Her eyes closed as she took a long sip from her straw.

“This is the life.”

The music stopped suddenly. Moments later, the sound of soft drumming reached her ears. Chills raced over her skin as the drumming increased. Her eyes shot open as Leilani squeezed through the men and tugged on her arm to get her out of her seat. She hastily passed her drink off to Reese and jumped up.

Julia came up on her other side and the three of them gathered with the rest of the women. She could do the dances in her sleep. It felt like she’d known them since she could first walk. It didn’t matter how many times she did them though. They still filled her with joy and a sense of unity. Her feet moved with ease over the sand as she danced with the women of the island she loved.

Every time she looked for Tyler, he was nearby but in conversation. Reese was never too far away either. More than once, she heard his rich laughter mingle with the beat of the drums. As the women gave way to the men dancing, she looked on in surprised delight while Keon and Kojo’s son drew Reese with them and taught him the dances. It didn’t surprise her to find Reese was a fast learner. He didn’t get every step right, but he seemed completely engaged in the moment. His eyes found her in the crowd. She smiled and raised her drink toward him.

Leilani sighed in appreciation. “He looks like he’s been doing it for half of his life.”

“Are you looking at Reese? Or Keon?” Julia teased as she brought them fresh drinks.

The furious blush that stole over Leilani’s cheeks made Julia and Mari burst into laughter.

“You are far too easy, my friend.”

“Whatever,” Leilani mumbled into her drink. “We were talking about Reese.”

“Were we?” Mari asked.

“Yes! People seem to be taking to him.”

Mari shrugged. “He’s a likable guy.”

“Tyler doesn’t seem to like him half as much,” Julia noted.

“Tyler’s not a fan of any man I haven’t known since I was a kid.”

The girls laughed. The drumming slowed and the music from the speakers began once again. Everyone mingled together and danced then, enjoying the drinks and each other.

Mari and Julia stumbled around the side of the bonfire much later, laughing and holding onto each other as they separated themselves from the crowd where Keon and Leilani were still dancing. 

“Did you get a picture?” Mari demanded through her laughter.

“Of course I did! What kind of friend do you think I am?”

Tyler caught them. “Steady there, party girls.”

Mari laughed as she leaned into his chest. “Hey there, Handsome. Where’ve you been?”

“Watching my girl enjoy her evening.”

Julia kissed Mari’s cheek before gently untangling herself and slipping away. Mari sighed and nestled deeper into Tyler’s embrace.

“It’s been a good night.”

“I’m glad you’ve been having a good time.”

“Ready to head home?” Reese asked as he approached from the other side of the fire.

Mari lifted her head.

“I’ve got her.” Tyler protectively tucked Mari into his side. “I don’t want her driving. Why don’t you drive her truck and you can follow us back?”

“I should ride with him. I can’t just leave him,” Mari murmured in protest.

“We’ll be right in front of him. He’ll be fine. Give him your keys.”

Reese wordlessly pulled them from his own pocket, making Tyler frown. “That settles it then. I’m parked up by Laney’s.”

He started in that direction with Mari in tow without waiting for a response.

<< Chapter 33

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