by Admin
Price : 1 Coins
Story Summary:
The one night stand Synopsis After an earth-shaking one-night stand, rising singing starlet, Barbara Harrison, discovers she’s pregnant. About the same time, she is signed to a breakthrough contract and moves to Los Angeles. Rather than track down the father of her baby, fearing that he may take the child from her, Barbara keeps her son’s father’s identity a closely-guarded secret. A powerful football player, Justin Bowman has no idea that he has a son somewhere in LA, until a chance meeting in the same little dive where they first met five years prior brings him and Barbara back together again. This time, however, another one-night stand develops into a romance that neither one can deny. Still, Barbara is afraid to reveal to Justin that her son is also his, until a trip to the emergency room confirms what Justin had been suspecting all along. THE CONTRACT Disgusted – a word far from what I truly feel. Sweaty and stinking with alcohol, bodies rammed my weak and tired petite figure. “Did you see him?” Jamie, a waitress, asked her friend. “Oh wow, I wish I could get him to notice me.” She eyeda tall figure from the corner of the place as she swirled thetequila that filled her glass. I was in the pub I work every weekend. Men, women and even teenagers occupied the almost fully packed place. I couldn’t say I was the reason why, but I knew they were here to hear some good music. I looked at the center of the club and saw a number of people dancing with the heavily mixed music. Bodies gyrated and moved, matching the booming beat and glittering disco lights. On the bar counter where booze freely flowed were intimate couples – kissing, touching and making out. My head pounded. I still had more or less than an hour to get some rest. Entertainment industry was supposed to be fun and exciting. But I was starting to think that it wasn’t really meant for me. I’ve been working my rear off for years to get noticed by music producers. And unfortunately, I have never been able to catch the eye of any of them. I used to believe that I was gifted with a good sense in music. Writing songs and producing music was my forte. And I have always dreamed of being a recording artist. But nobody noticed me. Quitting had crossed my mind a lot of times. But it wasn’t really easy. When I didn’t have anything to do, I would always find myself plucking my guitar and writing lyrics. I didn’t understand why companies turned down all of my song demos when people loved it. Was it because my music was the old school kind? My thoughts were distracted when a bulky figure bumped me, making me grip the strap of my guitar tighter. My knees wobbled because aside from the fact that I was dizzy, I was hungry. I had just gotten off from my part-time job at the nearest convenience store. The figure was a man about six feet two, towering over my five feet and eight inches height. “Watch it, lady,” he said, leaning closer to my ears, as he assisted me to regain my balance. “Thanks,” I mumbled breathlessly, grabbing the straps of my guitar. I have never felt too much intimidation in my entire life, until now. Edging around the glomming bodies, I felt beats of sweat trickling from my chest as I tugged the hem of my white V-neck shirt. It wasn’t the best choice of clothing for a body-packed room, but it’s what I’m comfortable with. And I was there to perform music—not to flaunt my goods. I walked past the reeking crowd and marched my way straight to the tiny room at the back of the pub. A thirty-minute nap would be great. I heard my stomach growling when I stopped right infront of the door of my tiny dressing room. I was hungry. But I’m sure my stomach could wait. I needed time to rest my eyes and brain. Placing my guitar in one corner, I turned the light switch on. The black leather upholstered couch was begging for me to lie down. I slammed my body against the soft lounge, pressing my eyes closed. The booming music has faded and all I could hear was a light beat—it was just a blur actually—which was great. I have never found peace that way. Heaving a series of deep breaths, I squirmed on top of the couch, trying to find the perfect position to get myself a good rest. After almost twenty-four hours of being awake, I g0t to reward myself with a thirty-minute nap. Why did I have to work non-stop again? Ah, yes. It was because I have a non-existent family to support me and my expenses. I needed to make a living to fill my always-growling stomach. I just hoped one day, I’d never have to worry about food and bills anymore. My solitude didn’t last long when I heard a couple of heavy knocks on the door. Mike, the pub manager, popped his head inside the room. “Barbie, honey,” he spoke. I told him a lot of times not to call me that but here we are. I could see his purplish hair from my position. My feet were parallel to the door. “What?” I asked irritatingly. There goes my thirty-minute rest—down the drain. “Somebody wants to see you,” he responded. He was biting his bottom lip. Mike was a proud member of the third sex. And I loved him for that—not many people could openly embrace what they really are. But the current situation makes me want to strangle his precious neck to keep him away from my room of solidarity. “Who?” I questioned grumpily, raising a brow. Instead of giving me a name, Mike responded with a shrug before shutting the door. I felt my nose flaring up with annoyance after a couple of seconds. What was that all about? He was just going to disturb me because of someone he didn’t even know? I got up and checked myself infront of the large mirror. At least, I didn’t look much of a disaster. My mocha-colored skin looked a bit oily but it didn’t change the fact that I looked decent for a black woman who plays the guitar. I checked my watch, wincing. My performance started at ten and it was already ninethirty-five. I wasn’t expecting a guest—not that I have someone to visit me. But that someone better greet me with good news. I practiced the fake smile on my reflection a couple of times before leaving my tiny room quietly, welcomed by the eardrum-breaking musical beats. I so hate it when they play that techno-mixed song. I searched for Mike, but he was nowhere to be found in that congested hall. I maneuvered toward the bar, where the barkeep, Jack, passed me a can of beer. He was a friend since I couldn’t remember when. “Hey,” he smiled, revealing his chipped front tooth. I have always wanted to tell him that he looked better with his mouth shut. But I knew it would be very rude. So… nevermind that. “Hi,” I replied, frowning. I opened the canned beer and looked around before leaning against the bar. I never liked sitting on high chairs. “Mike said someone’s looking for me. Do you have any idea who it was?” I looked at Jack. He was wiping a shot glass and gestured at the man to the far left side of the bar counter. “Yes, that’s him,” he reaffirmed, shrugging. “Thanks.” I studied the stranger before approaching him. He was about in his late forties, wearing formal attire with his black tux and red tie. His hair was gray which I presumed to be blonde during his younger days and he looked really clean – professional. And he looked bored… “Hi, I’m Barbara Harrison,” I greeted the older man with a smile on my face. “Were you looking for me?” The man tilted his head and gave me a not very welcoming look, wanting me to wince. “Hi,” he stood up and extended his arm for a handshake, “I’m Barry Schwimmer.” With that, I felt my feet froze. Did I hear him right? Barry Schwimmer? The Barry Schwimmer? Shaking my head, I tried to compose myself. I had to stay calm. “Wow,” I mumbled, feeling totally stunned—and lost for words. How was I supposed to react now that a man from the biggest recording company in the world came to visit me? Stay calm? Yeah. Tell me. “Can we talk somewhere quiet?” “Y-Yeah, sure.” Leading the way, we left the pub. I decided to bring him to the nearest café for a more peaceful ambiance. It was actually a pleasure for me to leave the noisy place—couldn’t be happier. After getting us iced coffee, I settled on the table where Mr. Schwimmer was waiting. I felt like my knees were growing soft each minute. The air around me has gone thinner, making it hard to breathe. My emotion was a mixture of excitement and anxiety. I was thrilled, too. “Let me get this straight,” the man spoke the moment I sat across him. “I came all the way from Los Angeles to give you an offer.” I halted; I stopped breathing. What did he say? “Excuse me?” He smiled at me before tapping my left shoulder. “I’m here to offer you a recording contract.” “Come again?” I asked, blinking. I knew I sounded stupid. But I wanted to make sure I wasn’t hearing things. “Honey, you’re not dreaming,” Mr. Schwimmer chuckled. “I have heard all of your song demos. And I loved it! I love your music!” But something was not right. Every year for five years, I have sent my demos to his company but I didn’t get any call—not even once. “I thought I was rejected. I have sent CD’s every year. And I have never received a call from any of your agents,” I said, biting my lip. I just hope he wouldn’t take it negatively. I just wanted to confirm he was serious. Mr. Schwimmer paused. “I hoped that wouldn’t be an issue,” he shook his head. “That is the reason why I came here personally. Those people don’t know what real music is. I know they realize you’re good. But they’re just worried about their talents. You know what business is,” he explained. He’s got a point. Maybe, he felt really sorry for rejecting me over half a decade. And it’s not really common to be scouted by the Barry Schwimmer. He was like a saint in the music industry. And everyone under his label has paved their way in the music world. For the first time in a very long time, I had seen a spark of hope. Fate made a progress in helping me achieve my dreams—at the most unexpected time. “I-I don’t know what to say,” I stuttered. Reality was starting to sink on me. I just couldn’t believe what’s happening. And it wasn’t a dream or illusion—it was for real. “I know and I totally understand,” Mr. Schwimmer pulled out a card from his wallet before standing up. “Call me when you’ve made up your mind. I’ll be expecting an answer tomorrow.” Barry Schwimmer left after giving me his calling card. I felt a little bit stupid for not accepting his proposal and doing business with him rightaway. But working for a label was another story. It was different from what I gotten used to. I needed to make sure I picked the proper decision. It was vital… and real. I was still floating on cloud nine when I marched my way back to the pub, simultaneously sipping from the to-go iced coffee. What’s there to think about? I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for ages! Reaching the entrance of the pub, I came to a conclusion. I would call Mr. Schwimmer after I put on my performance tonight. I would take another step to achieve my dreams and live a happier and better life. It was nine fifty-five. The place had quieted down. People have settled on their seats, waiting for the acoustic session I always have every week. I was not star-popular, but patrons knew who Barbara Harrison was. And they love to request my original songs for their dates, friends and family. People loved me. And the world was next… I finished my set list proudly, watching the smiles on the crowd’s faces. They were delighted with my performance, so was I. Sitting there on the mini stage, I tried to remember the last time I was able to appreciate the expression of my audience. Ah, it has been so long. But tonight was different. “One more please.” A guy, wearing a pair of thick eyeglasses shouted. He was sitting with his friends at the far left side table near the stage. “Come on, Barbie,” shouted a woman who was with her family. I felt overwhelmed hearing the chorused cheering of the people. I never experience what it was like to be loved by a family or a friend. But seeing people loving what I do was just too much. At this turning point of my life, I realized that if it weren’t for these people, I would have given up dreaming a long time ago. And if weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have written a single song. They were my inspiration. Patrons knew that I wasn’t the kind to extend my performance. But they would try to persuade me every single time. And tonight would be the first win against them. I just felt so good that I couldn’t decline. I puckered up my lips, watching the crowd before speaking on the microphone. “Do you want more?” I asked cheerfully. “Yes!” they chorused. With that, I strummed the strings of my guitar a few times, giving the band behind me an idea of the next song I’m going play. The crowd clapped their hands in victory. I decided to enjoy the last few hours of my life being an indie performer. Because tomorrow would be different… THE MEETING “Good going,” Jack commented when I parked myself by the bar after my performance. Most of the crowd left while others continued partying. Teenagers danced and grooved with the hip-hop music, and it disturbed me when I found myself enjoying its beat—my head slightly banging. “Give me a beer,” I said, averting my eyes from Jack’s scrutiny. We have been friends for a long time and I knew he could tell something was up when I extended my performance earlier. “Sure.” My brown eyes scanned the room as I edged closer to the counter, waiting for my can of beer. My orbs of vision landed on the tall figure at the corner of the pub. He was alone with his bottle of champagne. Pfft. A grown up man with champagne. What a wuss! “Here’s your canned beer. So, what’s up?” he asked, leaning from the other side of the bar counter. He was like my bestfriend so I didn’t mind telling him everything about myself. But this thing’s different. I wanted to surprise him. “Nothing,” I responded, shaking my head, opening the lid of my can. I took another look of the stranger at the corner when girls passing me by—teenagers—squealed. They were totally head over heels on him. Why couldn’t they just approach the man and talk with him? It was the same person Jamie, the waitress, and her friend were going crazy about when I arrived. “Look at these girls,” I chuckled, “If they could just hear themselves squealing like a pig in the slaughterhouse.” I clicked my tongue and gulped my canned alcohol. “That’s Justin Bowman for you,” Jack informed. There was a weird spark on his eyes when I titled my head to see his face. He looked dreamy and jealous at the same time. Now, what did he mean by that? “Who is he?” I laughed dryly. It was little bit better when the music switched from hip-hop to soft pop. I didn’t need to lean closer and shout for my friend to hear. The loud background music was making me open my mouth too much, my jaws growing numb. “Justin Bowman?” Jack raised both of his hands in mid-air. His expression shifted to disbelief and disappointment. “What? I didn’t know the man. What’s so wrong about that?” “Woodridge Gladiators?” I shook my head. I was totally not following where he was getting at. “American Football!” he exclaimed. “National Football League, Barbie! Oh, come on!” Jack groaned in frustration, shaking his head, leaning away from the bar counter. He grabbed the white cloth thathe uses when cleaning glassware. “And?” I raised a brow, not feeling the least sorry. I was not born being sporty. “He’s like the hero! He kicks. He rolls. He scores!” Jack informed ecstatically. “He’s that good?” “He is!” “Do you want me to get you his autograph?” I chuckled. Jack could be just a boy at times. And I liked him for that. He was never shy of showing that childish side of him to everyone. In fact, I think that was his charm. “Really?” “Sure. Where do you want me to get it?” With a single turn, Jack left the bar counter and when he came back, he was carrying his favorite gray knapsack. He had bought it from one of those garage sales downtown. He loved it a lot and he never allowed me to borrow it. “Tell him to sign here. Make it big,” Jack spoke, making me grimace. “I was never allowed to touch that.” “Oh come on, Barbie. He’s a star!” “When I become a star, would you ask for my autograph too?” I giggled. The idea was fascinating. I made a mental note of helping Jack fix his teeth when I earn good money. And maybe, give him assistance to go back to college. I couldn’t forget how much he wanted to go back to school. He was smart and he deserved it—and he’s my bestfriend. “Of course, I’m your number one fan,” he said, raising a hand in the air for a high-five. “I’ll take your word for that,” I said, taking the knapsack and the permanent marker from his grip. I took one last gulp from my canned beverage and inhaled, filling my lungs with air through my nose and exhaled with my mouth. I didn’t know why but I was starting to feel a little nervous when I saw people scrambling to form a line. Women. A few more minutes, the line went down to three—I was at the end. The football star, Justin Bowman, waved at the woman infront of the line and I fidgeted, playing with my fingernails. Only three more left. The dim lighting in the pub did nothing to damage his good looks. From a shortened distance, I could see the dark glossy locks that covered his head. He had dark eyes and his movements—from tilting his head down to the way he moved his marker—were imposing. His brows were thick, snapping together at the center – just on top the bridge of his sharp nose. The shadow beneath his jaw and chin gave him a calculated edginess. I felt my nape tingling, making me curse inside my head. I’d give anything to put a stop on that part of my cavewoman brain from responding to good-looking men like him. Ever since I was in highschool, I promised myself that I’d never make the same mistake of falling for the handsome looks. But apparently, my body was not around during that meeting as I felt my pulse speeding up. Struggling for a normal breath, I bit my bottom lip when the woman infront of me took her turn. I saw him scanning the room with his sharp brown eyes. Tiptoeing, I found myself gripping Jack’s knapsack. Why did I ever offer to get him an autograph from this stranger? Slowly, I inhaled through my nose and out, letting out a heavy sigh – waiting for the attraction to fade. “Name?” said a deep bedroom voice, sending tingles down my spine. My stomach plummeted anxiously. I tugged the knapsack when I was the only one left from the line. The man, Justin Bowman, watched me with an empty expression. He motioned me to sit on the couch across him, taking the knapsack from my hand. “Name?” he repeated. “B-Ba…” I shook my head and cleared my throat. I was not the one who wanted his autograph. “It’s ‘Jack’. My friend over there,” I tilted my head to the bar counter’s direction. “He wanted you to sign his favorite knapsack. Please make it big.” I was rattled when his gaze met mine and I flinched. Quickly, I stared at my fingernails. Now, he probably thinks that I was making up stories just to get closer to him. Ugh. “You’re not a fan?” he asked again. “W-What?” “You don’t want to get my autograph?” he chuckled, eyes twinkling bemusedly. I swallowed hard and moistened my lips with my tongue. I felt dehydrated. “I’m not really into sports. I’m just doing my bestfriend a favor,” I responded, shrugging. “Bestfriend? Not a boyfriend?” he raised one of his dark and thick brows. His eyes explored my face until I felt like he was seeing through my soul. I squirmed, biting my bottom lip, looking at the marker and knapsack on his hands. He did not sign it yet. I took a deep breath and pretended that I wasn’t affected with his stares. Chocolate brown eyes roamed over my face and across my shoulders then dipped lower to my chest. A light warmth of blush crept on my mocha skinned face from the scrutiny he’d shown. Couldn’t he tell that he was making me uncomfortable? “You’re the vocalist,” he mumbled, pointing at the marker at me. I laughed dryly. “Took you long enough, huh.” “Hi, I’m Justin Bowman,” he extended his arm. “I’m a fan.” He rose from his seat, making me realize that his attire was far from a professional sports player. He was dressed as a stunning bachelor, making me hate him for it. He looked darned good with his pressed slacks and pitch-black creased button-up long-sleeves that were rolled just above his knuckles, top button open. My gaze wandered lower, dipping on the front of his pants, and I swallowed hard. Get a grip of yourself, woman! I shook my head and composed myself. Accepting the offer, Justin’s enormous hands engulfed mine. His hands were firm and warm. But I was disturbed when he squeezed my hand a couple of times before freeing my small mitts. “Champagne?” he offered, giving me a glassful. “Sure.” A few more moments and we were enjoying a light conversation. I learned that he was the captain of his team—Woodridge Gladiators. And he was there to spend some time alone after celebrating with his teammates for another win in the National Football League playoffs. “So, what about you?” he asked after we talked about his experience before getting scouted in one of the best teams of the National Football League. “When you work hard, it pays off.” “Yeah,” I agreed. “I just got scouted tonight.” “Really?” I nodded, smiling, wondering why I was freely talking with this man whom I just met a little while ago. Justin Bowman may be a popular football player but he was just an ordinary man for me, except for the fact that his goodlooks were far from normal. He was sweet and nice. And I feel comfortable around him. Though he really kind of made me feel nervous at first. “That is so great.” Justin pulled me into a tight hug, our chests against each other, and I could feel his champagne-breath brushing the tip of my ear and neck. My heart raced when his hand stroked my back, electricity in my every vein and my intestines did a weird rumba. The hip-hop music suddenly stopped, switching into a slow romantic instrumental, making me shiver in excitement. Time fled really fast. It was half past one in the morning and I wouldn’t realize if it weren’t for the music. “May I have this dance?” Justin offered, pulling away from the hug, making me want to protest. But his eyes have its tricks in persuading my almost non-existent pride. “I don’t dance with strangers,” I managed to decline, looking away from his dark brown orbs. Shoot. He might be a stranger but his effect on me was totally different. His presence was pulling me down in a bottomless well. And something was telling me to walk away while I still could. He stood up, extending his arm. “Oh, come on. I’m Justin Bowman, your fan. I’m not a stranger,” he said in between chuckles as if I was just joking with him. I was hypnotized by the handsome football star when he flashed his pearly white canines. His stubble did not make a good job in hiding his deep twin dimples. And that was probably the reason why I could not say no. Rising from my seat, I felt my knees wobbled. I wasn’t shocked at all. I’ve had had two cans of beer and we finished two bottles of champagne while chatting. More than anything, I was surprised how I was able to hold up after all that alcohol. I was not much of a drinker, after all. “Easy,” Justin whispered on my ear, his warm breath touching my neck. I bit my lower lip and gasped for air when I felt his hands wrapping around my waist. He smelled really good. And he felt really firm, having our bodies against each other like that. “Shall we?” There was a lump on my throat and instead of saying anything, I found myself nodding in agreement. Justin led us to the center of the dance hall, which was almost empty. I could see a few couples dancing with the slow beat. “Barbie?” “Hmmm …” I heard myself groan. “Is that really your name?” he chuckled, lips touching the tip of my ear. “Barbara. I’m Barbara Harrison.” “Barbara,” he repeated. I could feel his hands travelling down the base of my spine but they didn’t go lower than my butt—such a shame. What in the world are you thinking? We danced with the music; each step and movement was as sweet at the tune coming out from the speakers. “Barbara… It suits you well.” I shrugged, squirming against his broad chest, wanting to inhale more of his masculine smell, which was a mixture of an aftershave and his natural scent. I could hear the loud pounding of his heart as if it was in rhythm with mine. I shuddered with the closeness of our bodies as heat started to grow inside of me. It wasn’t right. And I swore I heard warning bells at the back of my mind. When the music stopped we stayed close to each other for a few seconds. I didn’t want our moment to end. But it had to… Taking a step back, I pulled away from his hands that were wrapped around me. I already missed his embrace. I cleared my throat. “Y-You dance really well. Thanks,” I said out of the blue, feeling stupid. You could have said something better than that, you idiot. “You too,” he replied, putting his hands in the pockets of his slacks, making me wonder what it would feel to have my hands in there. Without a word, I turned my back from the football star and went straight to the table we occupied, grabbing Jack’s signed knapsack. I was tipsy and I saw no reason to hang around the man anymore. After giving Jack his autographed knapsack, I went to my dressing room, slamming my body against the waiting couch. I have never felt so weak before. It was like Justin Bowman sucked out all the energy I had left in me. Or was it the alcohol taking effect, decreasing my intelligence? Whatever the reason was, I knew walking away from a man like him was the right thing. THE CONCEPTION After exiting awkwardly and leaving Justin in the dance floor, I knew packing my stuff and going back to my humble apartment was the only thing left for me to do. A nice long sleep would be great to recover from the brain whacking and nerve wrecking encounter with a football superstar. I grabbed my bag and my guitar from its rack then turned off the lights. After making sure the door was locked, I marched my way to the exit of the pub, not daring to take a look of the people around me. I was just too scared that Justin might call me—as if he would really. I scoffed when I saw a couple banging infront of the pub. When the wind touched my face, I felt a bit refreshed after having to inhale the stinking air inside the club for about six hours. Pressing my eyes closed, I enjoyed the breeze a little longer after getting a few yards away from the couple making out. But I could still hear the woman groaning and moaning in pleasure, a bit distressing because it was turning me on. Shaking my head, I took a few steps away when I hit a hard object with my elbow. Great. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said tipsily without looking at the person whom I bumped into. “Are you going home now?” said a familiar voice. It was low and deep, vibrating throughout my body and up my spine. It was Justin. “O-oh, hi,” I managed to say when I spun on my heels to see his gorgeous face. I felt my stomach quiver when he gave me one of those sinful smiles. His eyes twinkled, studying my face, calculating. “It’s late. Can I drop you home?” he offered, taking the guitar from my grip. I shook my head but it my resolution was weak. Yeah, right as if I could win against him. “N-no, it’s okay,” I declined. Pffft. “I insist,” he stated. Justin wrapped his hand around my waist, making the hairs on my nape stand needle-straight. The tingling sensation his hand was giving me was putting me on high alert. At least as alert as I could be when I was so drunk. We walked quietly through the parking lot. He placed my guitar at the back seat and when I got on the passenger seat, he hugged me, holding me tightly against his strong chest. When he broke away from me, his gaze was intense and his eyes were dark, full of need and lust. “You just entered the lion’s den. I’m not letting you leave me like you did earlier,” he said in a serious tone, smirking. And that was when that rational part of my brain stopped functioning. Instead of answering, I found myself reaching for him. I placed my small and quivering hands at the back of his neck, lifting my lips to his. I kissed him, first softly, then more urgently. Justin moved his tongue in my mouth, making me moan, starting to feel competitive. I tilted, leaning my body against him, my breasts touching his chest, my body sending a message of desire. With that, Justin stopped kissing me, pulling away and started the engine. I could feel the intensity in the air when he stepped on the accelerator. He would take quick glances at me and I would give him a sweet smile while stroking his free arm. As soon as we reached his front door, we started kissing again. This time, it was more intense, more needing, and more mind-blowing. He placed my guitar at the corner when he shut the door closed. When I heard the knob clicked, I knew there was no turning back. “I’m sorry for making you wait,” he spoke, making my insides melt. How could someone’s voice have such an effect on me? Before I could react, I felt Justin’s hands under my shirt, stroking my belly and the small of my waist. His tongue fluttered against mine and I moaned when he unclasped my bra. He pulled me in against him, like he’d never get me close enough. The emotions overpowering me were something I had never experienced before. I was not a virgin and I’ve had sex with men before. But this was different—the immense need and hot body. Who was this man that made me as aroused as this? It didn’t matter. The important thing was he had given me a chance. And he was doing perfectly great—just as I wanted. He watched me as he slowly removed my shirt and bra, revealing my bare breasts. His hands ran down the length of both my arms, touching my hot, moist mocha skin. He intertwined his fingers with mine, pulling them up against the cold concrete walls and then kissed me hungrily. He pressed against me and I could feel his arousal inside his trousers. He released my hands and I found them playing with his dark locks. Gripping my wrist, Justin led me to his room, which looked like one of those I’ve only seen in magazines. He nibbled my chin, then my ear, and I gasped when his mouth landed on my collarbone. It’s where I’m most ticklish. My breath caught in my throat. Feathering kisses down my bare chest, he smiled against my skin. He pushed me lightly and I landed on the soft cushioned bed. The sheets smelled so good and it made me want to make wild love with this man all the more. He bent and unbuttoned my jeans expertly and all I could do was stare at his dark brown eyes. Justin left a trail of tiny kisses around my breasts, his mouth grazing one of my pebbled nipples and a thumb made circular strokes with the other, making me forget how to breathe. “Oh, that feels great.” I groaned, watching him pleasuring me. “Oh, oh, ooh,” I moaned, dropping my head to enjoy the delight of his every touch. His tongue flicked my other nipple and then took my lips back, kissing me, biting me gently. I cried in pleasure, letting him know that I loved what he was doing and it was exactly what I needed and wanted. His lips moved lower, nibbling my sweaty skin, making their way between my legs. Running my hands up and down on his back, I licked my lips feeling impatient to see his hard on. And as if knowing what I was thinking, Justin stopped and stood in front of me, taking of his clothes piece by piece while I lay there, naked, panting, needing, wanting… I pushed him lightly, just far enough to take a good look of him, my eyes travelling up and down. Just as I imagined for a football player, Justin had a wide chest and lean and strong arms that would make any woman feel safe whenever enclosed in those. His body was beautiful matched with tanned skin. When I looked lower, all there was left was his underwear, and there were dark hairs – almost curly – on his chest that gathered into a trail down his belly. I swallowed hard when my sigh landed on the bulge inside his boxers, feeling a bit frightened of his size. Justin proudly removed his underwear, revealing his glorious erection. He was big and long and thick. He grinned when he noticed me staring. “What are you thinking?” “You’re beautiful,” I mumbled, running my fingers on his chest, following the trailing leading down to his stomach and he groaned. “No. You are beautiful,” he whispered on my ear, inching away from me, letting his eyes roam across my nudity, absorbing every part of me. “Breathtaking,” he spoke again and his hands found their home back to my healthy breasts, kissing them, sucking them, taking my breath in a good way—a very good way. “Touch me,” he urged, gripping my wrist, leading my hand to his erection, panting heavily. “Yes, please,” and I did. I moved my hands voluntarily, enclosing his cock with my fingers. His eyes widened when I gripped his shaft gently, just enough to make him tremble and arch his toes. Justin groaned in pleasure, making me want to do my job better. His cock had a bulbous cap and thicker than I have ever seen. Kneeling down in front of him, I took a quick look up. He stared at me with lust and want and it almost made me lay back on the bed. Teasing, I showered him tiny kisses not leaving any part untouched. He pulled my head closer and my face was literally pressed against his hard on. I ran my fingers up his inner thighs and looked up at him again, grabbing a handful of his ass and licked the tip of his cock. “Oh, Barbara,” he groaned, his grip on my hair tightening. When I glanced up, his dark eyebrows were arched. I kept my eyes locked with the tall and handsome man as I carefully lowered my face, opening my mouth and stroked the tip of his cock with my tongue. My mouth scorched as they stretch to match his size. Oh, my word! I must be crazy when the idea crossed my mind. The drops of his pre-cum that pooled on the head of his cock trickled over my tongue, giving me exotic flavors I’ve never tasted in my entire life. He tasted… disturbingly good. Irresistible. Stroking my tongue over the tip of his cock, I opened my mouth to stretch around enough to swallow him. I knew it would take an effort to do it. But I might as well do my best since I have started it. “Ah-h-h!” he groaned once my mouth had adjusted to his girth. Licking the long path from the tip of his meat down to its base and then dipping a little further, I felt his hand tightening in my hair and I knew he liked what I was doing. Taking my time, I sucked his balls into my mouth, rolling my tongue around them then licked the thickly veined sides back up. Justin released another pool of pre-cum when my mouth reached the slit on the head of his cock. Eagerly, I licked each drop until I felt satisfied. Justin let out a deep and long groan when I sucked him down again. His reaction was stimulating, wanting me to believe like I could conquer the world, everytime he would yell and grab my hair due to the pleasure I was giving him. Slowly, I bobbed my head, sucking his hard on with my cheeks, savoring every inch of his length as he started to rock and move in my mouth. I increased the speed of my movements when his balls started to pull up to his body, sucking him down my throat faster each time. I knew he was getting close and I wanted him to remember that I was the woman who had given the best blow job. Justin groaned and then pulled away from me. “Not so fast, naughty lady,” he growled, gripping my wrist throwing my body softly on the bed. "Now, let me do you.” He slid a finger inside between my legs and I gasped for air, biting my lips. I was enjoying giving him a blow job and I didn’t realize I was so wet that his fingers slid easily. I groaned when I felt my internal muscles tightening around his finger. I never liked men putting their fingers in me during sex but Justin’s was like magic. The mere presence of his finger in me was arousing and making me secrete more anticipatory juices. Slowly, he moved inside me and I cried out with bliss. How was this even possible? Was it because he had bigger fingers than other men I’ve had sex with? He gazed down at me, inserting another finger, moving in and out of me. “Ooh, oh,” I moaned, wanting for more. I pressed my eyes hard, enjoying the ecstatic feeling he was giving me—walls quivering, toes arching. Then I felt a soft skin brushing against my clitoris. I ripped my lids open only to see him kissing my sensitive folds with intense softness and need, making me tremble in excitement. He licked my juices, rubbing me and I squealed, wanting him to dig his tongue deeper in me. I felt like I would lose my mind when Justin stopped. How could I not? I was like floating in the air with his every touch. I moaned, tugging his hair closer to my wet entrance. Then I heard him laugh. “Yes?” he asked, raising a brow, smirking, grinning. “Just do me please,” I pleaded, panting heavily with indescribable craving. Feeling breathless with anticipation, I felt my lips parted, so I dampened them with my tongue. And that seemed to be the only invitation he needed. Justin lowered his head, kissing me as savagely as he could, biting my lips until I tasted blood. But I didn’t try to stop him. His lips were warm and soft. And I wanted him. Hard thighs slid between mine, his hips moving against me, having their own private dance—a slow, calculating gyration that resulted in pulsing, heat, and throbbing that settled between my legs. He grabbed my hand and took charge. I had a fleeting thought that he probably was an expert when it comes to pleasuring women but shoved the idea aside, because right now, it didn’t matter. Not when I was already lying there, waiting for him to quench the thirst I had for months, aching for the relief he could provide. Increasing the pressure on my clit, he pulled my breast deep into his mouth, racing me quickly towards orgasm. My back arched, breath hitching in my throat, as my entire body trembled in a shuddering orgasm. “Ohhh, my,” I said in a fading voice. “But I’m not yet done,” he whispered in my ear, pulling out his finger from my entrance. He drew me closer and squeezed my ass and tore my thighs apart, widening my legs and placed himself between them. I wrapped my arms around his neck but he caught them, intertwining them with his, this time, holding them over my head. In anticipation, I couldn’t suppress myself from biting my lips as my insides hummed with excitement. Justin rubbed the tip of his cock against my sensitive part and I moaned in response, my hips tilted upwards, trying to get him to enter me. But he continued his actions, teasing me. Instinctively, I locked my ankles around his waist, and gasped as he went inside me. He was so big that the first thrust was painful. And as soon as he started moving, my muscles relaxed around him, and pure pleasure began, vibrating through me in overpowering waves. He pounded on me in an increasing manner and I sighed when felt myself to reach another orgasm. Justin was an expert in stroking deep inside of me. His slick length sliding in and out of me and the demanding thrusts were all designed to send me right over the edge of bliss. “Justin…” I mumbled breathlessly. “Say my name,” he said in between heavy pants, increasing his speed as we were both reaching our climax. “Justin baby…” I whimpered when his thrusts turned more powerful. “Louder.” “Justin!” “Louder baby,” he commanded. “Give it to me.” And that was my undoing. I came violently, my walls quivered, my back arching up and off the bed. “Justin! Justin! Yes, yes …“ I cried, legs locking tighter around his waist. He kissed me passionately and claimed my body once more before he himself reached his peak. Moaning against my mouth, he shot his load, our muscles tightening and hearts racing. A flash of delight crossed his face when he looked at me with contentment as we tried to get our breath back. I stroked his back with a hand and played his hair with the other, sending him a message that what he had was intense—and great. “That was awesome,” he mumbled in between my neck and shoulders, collapsing on top of my body. “Yeah.” THE ESCAPE I woke up with a pounding head. I squirmed under the blanket as if it would ease the pain. In surprise, I opened my eyes when I felt my leg brushing against skin that wasn’t mine. Rolling over to the other side of the unfamiliar bed, I felt my bare back landing against hard and strong muscles. And it wasn’t my imagination… I was lying naked in the arms a gorgeous man. Swallowing hard, I wanted to scream and punch myself on the face when the realization sank in. I slept and had sex with a stranger! He’s Justin Bowman! He’s a football superstar, you idiot! My mind reminded me as if it would change anything. He’s a star! Nah-uh! I paused for a couple of seconds and tried to recollect the bits and pieces of memory from last night. And the only thing I could remember was the pleasure of making love with a handsome stranger. Last night was a blast. I took another quick glance of the sky from the glass window. Sunrays have started to break free from the dark clouds that covered the sky. And all I could think about was to leave. Away from the stranger… Away from his hypnotizing presence… I forced myself to get up though still feeling groggy after the hangover and animal sex. My body was aching and I could barely move my legs. I tried to find my clothes on the floor but they were not in the bedroom. I bit my lower lip to suppress myself from any possible whimpers because of moving around. I’ve never had body soreness like this after having sex before. I tiptoed and carefully opened the door—naked. I didn’t want to wake Justin for taking away the blanket. I felt my mouth drop open when I saw the large living area. The interior of the place was definitely something I could only see in movies. A sparkly chandelier blinded me when my eyes roamed around. The marble floor was carpeted and everything was arranged neatly as if a housekeeper was constantly going there. Everything—lampshades, tables, sofa—down to the flower vases—was perfect and looked expensive. And if I were in completely different circumstances, I would give anything to stay in a place as luxurious as this. I inhaled, filling my lungs with the scent of the air-conditioned room and exhaled while shaking my head. I definitely need to turn off the stupid part of me. Why would I need to stay there when I could just buy one for myself? Wincing, I took silent footsteps when I saw my bra hanging on the lampshade, disturbed with the idea how it landed there. My shirt was found near the main door and my jeanswere under the couch, making me grimace in disgust. I must have been very turned on last night for not being able to wait to get in the bedroom. Ugh. You were with the Justin Bowman. Of course, you’re hot. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel any regret after giving it a thought. It wasn’t that bad. In fact, I think I had the best sex in my whole life—with a man I barely know and talked a few hours with. Yeah. Heaving deep breaths, I dressed myself silently. The need to leave the place has become stronger when the sunrays got through the blinds of the glass walls, touching my mocha-skinned arm. I heard my phone ringing, startling every vein of my body. I jumped on my feet, searching for the gadget in my jeans. But phooey with the animal lovemaking, I couldn’t find my phone. I cursed under my breath when the ringing ended. What if it was Mr. Schwimmer? Three seconds have passed when my familiar ringtone started again. Following the sound, I groaned when I found it under the table. My legs were as soft as Jell-O when I answered the call. It was Jack. “Barbie, where are you?” “Oh, hi,” I replied instead, feeling tensed and aching. “Are you with Justin Bowman?” he asked, then gasped and shrieked. “Of course not,” I faked a chuckle and shook my head, trying to sound convincing. But nevermind… “Yeah.” “Really! You slept with him! You’re in his bed?” Jack whispered, laughing like there was jealousy in his tone, making me shake my head. “Why did you call?” “Oh, a certain Mr. Schwimmer is here looking for you. He said it’s urgent and he’s coming back to Los Angeles in…” Jack paused and I heard blurry voices in the background. “In three hours.” Oh, brother. “Please tell him I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.” Adrenaline rushing in my body, I found myself quickly slipping in my shoes after recollecting my bag that lay on the couch. Forget about the bulky guitar, I couldn’t run around with it with a sore body anyway. I just couldn’t let Mr. Schwimmer leave without telling him that I accept his offer. Without looking back, I left Justin Bowman and took my leave from the luxurious apartment building. Spending a night with the football star was great. Yeah. But my dreams were about to come true with this deal. When I become a star, I could freely meet the man anyway. Who knows? My mind drifted into thinking about my future career plans as if it had already started. I was surprised when I realized I didn’t have any plan at all. But what’s more troubling was the fact that my body sorenesshad gone away when I took a step into the quiet pub. Jack was there, eating his usual breakfast—sunny side-ups, bread, and coffee. The Barry Schwimmer on the other hand was sitting across him, having his own cup of coffee. I just hoped Jack’s coffee didn’t bother him. My bestfriend liked it super black. I took a deep breath and stretched the hem of my shirt as if it would change the fact it was badly creased due to last night’s delving and hugging and snogging. Marching slowly towards their table, I winced when my leg trembled. The sores were returning. “Good morning, Mr. Schwimmer,” I greeted hesitantly when I realized I haven’t even combed my hair yet nor washed my face or did something that would make me look normal—better. “There’s our superstar,” the older man exclaimed when he tilted his head towards my direction. Today, he was wearing an exact opposite of the business attire he had last night. He was wearing a striped black and blue polo shirt, top button open and jeans. I was surprised how good-looking he was for a man of forty-something. I smiled—more of a grimace—and took a seat next to Jack who was still busy with his food. Nothing could interrupt his meal. But today’s different… “You didn’t tell me,” he managed to say with his mouth full of food. He pointed his fork at me as if nobody was else there. Feeling a bit embarrassed, I chuckled and looked at Mr. Schwimmer. “I’m sorry that you had to wait for me,” I apologized, shutting Jack up with a slight kick on his leg under the table. He could be so tactless at times. “No, dear. I should be the one to apologize. Something urgent came up and I had to reschedule my flight. I didn’t plan on rushing you but seeing you came here, I suppose you have an answer,” the old man responded after sipping from his cup of coffee. “There’s nothing to think about, sir,” I said, smiling. “She has been waiting for this for ages,” Jack joined in. I nodded in agreement. “You can even take her back to Los Angeles with you today.” I grimaced when Jack said that. That was true but I think I needed to prepare. Or maybe not… The expression on Mr. Schwimmer’s face shifted, making me shudder in anxiety. Did Jack say something wrong? Should I kill my bestfriend now? But then he gave me a warm smile. “I was actually expecting you to accept it. So, I bought you a ticket bound to Los Angeles,” he said. I paused and closed my eyes for a second, trying to absorb the information that was brought upon me, and the direction of our conversation. Jack was right. I could leave anytime. Because no one was waiting for me to come home and nobody was going to look for me as well. I didn’t have family. And all my life was like that. I have no home, nothing and no one—and my only refuge was music. I squeezed my hands together and opened my eyes, feeling completely excited when I saw the look on Mr. Schwimmer’s face. He was smiling, expectantly. Wow! I was facing the person who could help me live my dream! What’s there to think about? “Really? That’s so great!” I said with gleaming eyes, my heart pounded loudly inside my ribcage. It wasn’t a dream. It was real. I’d be having my own album! My attention was caught with a choking Jack. “Are you serious?” he asked after finishing a glass of water. “Of course I am. This is my dream and you know that,” I stated, smiling foolishly. “You’re not going forget me, aren’t you?” he asked, his tone was low. “Of course not! You’re my number one fan, remember?” I giggled as we had one more fist bump. Jack was my bestfriend and I promised myself I would help him. Forgetting him would be the last thing I would ever do. “So, when do I leave?” “It’s settled then,” Mr. Schwimmer said giving me a handshake. “I’ll get you a place in L.A. and you’re free to fly anytime next week. Call me.” He rose from his seat while checking his wristwatch. “I should be going now.” My heart raced at the thought of travelling. The idea of riding an airplane itself was making my stomach churn. I have never gone anywhere and next week I’m going to Los Angeles! “I’ll see you soon, Mr. Schwimmer. Thank you.” THE INTERLUDE Five years later… “The popular pop-singer, Barbara Harrison, was reportedly seen sending a child into one of the private pre-schools in Los Angeles. People think the kid was the child she has been secretly kee—” “Shut up Jack,” I said, rolling my eyes while waiting for my nails to get done. He was reading the tabloid he got from the stands while waiting for my session in the nearest salon to get done. He has been so worked up with the issues that keep on surfacing in the public. I couldn’t blame him though. Just recently, I got into a dating scandal with a celebrity who has been married for ten years! “Colton is my son and I was not keeping him a secret,” I stated, then raised a brow when the woman doing my toenails stopped from what she was doing. Obviously, she was listening for some juicy information she could tell the press. People… “But Barbie,” Jack tried to reason, shaking his head. It has been five years since I left my hometown. A year later, I brought Jack here with me in Los Angeles and helped him go back to school. Now, he was one of the most sought-after accountants in town. He finished his college degree last year and he’s the one managing my assets and investments. “I am not keeping my son as a secret,” I paused and laughed dryly. “They never thought I had one.” I shook my head and watched my reflection in the mirror. Who would have ever thought that the Barbara Harrison had a child? I just turned twenty-seven last week, and I’m confident that nobody could tell that I’m in my late twenties. Looking good and healthy became part of my life ever since I had debuted. I was obliged to keep my weight and diet on track. I was a regular in the gym, maintaining my hourglass-like figure. I made sure I took good care of my skin, because aside from my voice and music, it’s the reason why people loved me. I’m not white. My mocha skin was more than enough to make me shine brighter than any star. Though there is a lot that facial enhancement surgery offers, I have never gone under the knife to look beautiful like other celebrities. I preferred to keep my goods natural—and normal. I shook my head, studying my face a little bit longer. Nobody could ever tell I was a single mother. I had a beautiful face, which became world-renowned after having released two albums and tours within the last four years. I received numerous awards and earned a platinum award for both of my albums—not to mention my singles. My life for the past several years was hectic. And now it was paying off. But the paparazzi seemed to be nosier than I have expected. Every week, new issues would arise and it was giving my manager, Mr. Schwimmer, a headache. As much as I wanted my mind to drift a little bit longer, my attention was caught by the ringing and vibrating from the gadget in my pocket. It was Barry. Speaking of the devil… The Barry Schwimmer wasn’t as nice as the first time I met him back in the pub five years ago. Over time, he became more grumpy and imposing. From the beginning, he knew I had a potential in succeeding in the music industry. But not the way he had expected it. He became greedy and kept on trying to make more money by accepting projects without asking if I’d be willing to do them. After carving my name in the music industry, I became more exposed to the limelight. I did endorsements, modeling and variety shows, which I really hated. A lot of agencies offered me a role for a TV series and movies and I highly declined them, which Barry didn’t like. And that was when I told Mr. Schwimmer I’d quit, making him a bit more understanding with my circumstances. For Pete’s sake, I have a life to live. Couldn’t he tell that he was making me stressed out flying around everywhere for his own gain? “Who is it?” Jack asked. I swiped the touch screen gadget and mouthed, Barry, while rolling my eyes. Jack knew how Mr. Schwimmer could be impatient at times. “Hello, Mr. Schwimmer,” I greeted over the line. I was supposed to be having a two-month break and we agreed that he wouldn’t call me unless the matter was very urgent. Without wasting a single second, Barry explained the reason why he called me. He wanted me to be part of a music reality show, this time a judge. Okay, I didn’t like reality shows but to be a judge was another story. And the idea was enticing, but… “Barry,it would be very rude for those people who have been in the industry for decades. I can’t… I can’t do that,” I responded with my best convictions not to give in. It was tempting. Very tempting. The older man on the line tried to argued and said that I was the choice of the producers of the show. But I couldn’t. I respect other artists and being in show business for four years wasn’t enough to be part of the said show. “Okay, look. It sounds really interesting but I can’t. I just debuted four years ago and my experience was not as good as those artists who have been in the industry for a very long time. Please tell them to pick someone else. I’m not doing it,” I said in conclusion, ending the call without a warning. That was rude. But it takes guts to decline an offer as big as that. “What did he say?” Jack looked at me with bulging eyes and shook his head eagerly. “He wanted me to be a judge of a variety show.” I sighed and shrugged. “Well, that’s huge.” “I can’t. Okay?” I said and wiggled my toes when the salon attendant did a finish coating on my toenails. Finally. “And besides, they’re shooting within this month. I am supposed to be on vacation. Remember?” Jack chuckled at my stubbornness. “Well, if you say so.” There were a few moments of silence as I waited for my nails to dry. Ideas of how to spend a vacation with my son swarmed in my head. It would be great to go on a cruise, and then enjoy the white sand beaches of a tropical country. We could visit Disneyland, too! My thoughts were distracted when Jack cleared his throat again. “What?” I raised a brow. “You need to stop all these issues before you make plans for your vacation,” he replied, raising the paper in the air with one hand. Then, he started dialing on his phone. “These people are going to be the end of your career.” “Noone’s going to end my career, Jack. I’m a singer. It’s not like I’m an actress,” I shrugged, starting to get annoyed with the eavesdropping salon attendant. I wiggled my toes and looked at the woman. “Please make it quick. I’m picking up my son after this,” I said politely, a mixture of sarcasm was in my voice. Jack gave me a warning look when I said that, but I shrugged it off and changed the topic of our conversation. “How’s the foundation?” I inquired. It’s been two years since I started supporting a foundation that shelters single mothers. If it weren’t for my hectic schedule, I would visit the place every weekend. Going there gives me reassurance that I wasn’t a bad person for raising a kid alone and that I would be able to educate my son properly—even if he didn’t have a father. “It’s great. They are always thankful. And also, they are inviting you to come and join the 50th anniversary celebration of its founding,” Jack said without looking at me. He was scrolling down his phone like he was looking for an important mail. “When’s that?” “Tuesday two weeks from now,” he responded. “What are you doing?” I inquired, starting to feel irritated. I don’t like it when the person I’m talking to never spares me a single glance. “I’m looking for tickets,” Jack mumbled mindlessly. “For what?” I asked curiously. I just finished my tour and I have specifically provided him VIP tickets. And he was not much of a music fan. He loved my music, that’s all. “Playoffs for the National Football League.” “Who’s playing?” My heart pounded loudly and my pulse raced upon the mention of the sport. It wasn’t like I was a fan. In fact, it was the subject I’m least interested in. I still wonder why people love the sport so much. “Ohio Tigers versus Woodridge Gladiators,” he mumbled, his eyes brightened up. “Oh, I see,” I said, clicking my tongue. I wanted to ask if Justin Bowman was still playing but I changed my mind. Jack didn’t know that Colton was the football superstar’s son. Nobody knew who his father was. All I said was it was a man that I met in a bar and had a one night stand with. End of story. “Are you going with someone?” I raised my brow when he blushed. Jack was the shy type and I have always wanted to see him dating someone. He deserves to be happy with a woman he likes who feels the same about him. The only thing I was thankful of was the fact that Jack never placed our friendship in a difficult situation. We were friends and we stayed that way. He never had a crush on me, or felt any attraction, and neither did I for him. It was great to have found a soul mate in the form of a friend. I am thankful I have him. “Yep!” he chirped excitedly, beaming at me from ear to ear. I gasped. “Really? Who? What’s she like?” I asked excitedly. “Easy, Barbie,” he chuckled. A smile was literally plastered on his lips as he went talking about the woman who swept him off his feet. “She’s my new secretary. She was this girl in college that I used to like. Remember Jeanne?” I nodded. “And?” “Well, she applied for the job and she was the best among the applicants,” he stated, then shrugged. “I took her out and had a cup of coffee. And that’s it, we came to an understanding.” “That’s it?” “Yeah. I don’t know. It’s just… we had this kind of connection,” he laughed dryly. “Apparently, she admitted that she liked me back then. But …” “But?” “But I looked too much like a nerd, and she thought I was weird.” I laughed heartily when Jack’s expression shifted from excitement to embarrassment. He was such a baby, as usual. “You’re together now, why are you acting like an embarrassed chicken?” I shook my head when he glanced at me. “Did I really look like a loser back then?” Instead of answering, I bit my bottom lip in response. And he knew that was equivalent to the word Yes. He crumpled his nose and puckered up his mouth before bowing his head and I laughed heartily. A few more minutes and we were heading to the pre-school where Colton was enrolled. It was family day and I was more than happy that I would be able to take part in it. It was my first time to do something so mother-like. I was really excited when I got a call from the school principal. I never experienced spending family day with my parents when I was in school. I was always alone. And now I could take part in it not as a pupil or a student but a parent. I just couldn’t wait. When the car parked infront of the gates, I gripped my clutch bag and took a quick glance at Jack, trying to find the word that described what I was feeling. But instead, Jack patted me on the shoulder and nodded, smiling at reassuringly. Okay, here we go. Heaving a deep sigh, I opened the car door and exited Jack’s sports car. My stomach churned when I saw a couple of women staring at me. Was I over-dressed? No, they’re staring at the car. Jack’s pet was screaming in brick red and I wouldn’t blame those people who would think we were there to show off. I mean who would bring a sports car on a family day? I still wonder why he loved bringing this one when he could have brought the humble-looking one. I scanned the area and saw Colton running towards me. He looked so adorable carrying his tiny backpack. There were a lot of people that gathered at the main gate and I could hear murmurs around after recognizing who I was. “Mom!” yelled Colton with his tiny voice. “Hello, honey.” I scooped my son’s tiny body into my arms as he giggled excitedly, crossing his little arms around my neck. “It will start soon. Where’s Uncle Jack?” “Oh, he was just parking the car. He’ll be with us soon,” I answered, slightly nodding and smiling at those people who were watching us. Colton struggled to go down in his feet and met up with a redheaded boy ushering a couple who was definitely his parents. “Mom, this is Dennis. He’s my friend,” Colton chirped. “And this is Mr. and Mrs. Gold.” I could hear my stomach making weird noises when the couple extended their arms for a handshake. Where was Jack? He was supposed to be with me during awkward situations like this. “Hi, it’s nice to meet you,” I greeted, shaking hands with Mrs. Gold. The plump woman in her early thirties looked pregnant smiled sweetly at me. “The pleasure is ours,” Mr. Gold responded. “It’s not every day you meet a celebrity,” he added, chuckling. “You look more beautiful than on TV,” Mrs. Gold praised, making me blush a little. Our little conversation was interrupted when Colton yelled. “Uncle Jack!” Mr. and Mrs. Gold’s attention was drawn to Jack. I have to say that my best friend looked incredibly dashing today. He was wearing a black and white striped button-up shirt, dark jeans, and a pair of white loafers. His hair was brushed up, revealing his prominent jawlines, making him look more masculine. His smile was perfect. Yeah. He got it fixed a long time ago. In fact, he looked more of a model than an accountant. “Is he your dad?” Dennis asked in a tiny squeaky voice, looking up at us while gripping the hand of his lunch box. Jack and I exchanged glances. That wasn’t the first time somebody asked that. Over time, it became more of a joke than a question for us. “No, buddy,” Jack answered, petting Dennis’ hair. “I’m his uncle.” Phew. “I don’t have a dad,” Colton spoke in a cold and sad tone, making my heart break. For three nights, Colton would come in my room and ask about his dad. I lied... and lied… and lied some more. I didn’t have any plans on telling him who his father was. Complicating life was the last thing I would ever want. Colton deserves a quiet and happy life. He may have a father but never a dad. Justin would probably not accept him as his own son. I don’t want Colton to get hurt. Dennis’ parents watched me with questioning eyes. And I held my breath before weaving another lie in my head. “He died when mom was still pregnant with me,” he said, earning him ‘ohhs’ from his friend’s family. “That’s sad.” “Yeah, I wish I had a dad.” THE REALIZATION “Mommy, can I ask you something?” Colton asked sleepily. His eyes were struggling to stay opened as he lay on my lap, going back to the apartment in silence. The streets were dark and his tired little body squirmed on the black and red leather upholstered backseat. Colton ran and did a lot of physical activities in the events for Family Day. We played a lot of parlor games and won as well. He was tired but happy at the same time. The little fella was so proud when we took home a silver trophy for the most active family. I smiled, brushing away the strands of dark hair that covered his eyes that were looking at me. “Sure, honey. What is it?” I asked lovingly and stared at his cute and handsome face. “What was my dad like?” I paused, swallowing my own saliva, and struggled to stay composed as possible. Heaving a few series of deep breaths, I saw Jack taking quick glances at us in the rearview mirror, his expression blank. I shuddered when I saw Jack gritting his teeth, clenching the steering wheel so tight that his knuckles turned white. I couldn’t quite see him clearly because the light was dim. But there was definitely bothering him. I was still bothered by the sudden coldness my bestfriend was giving me, but I’d deal with it later. I cleared my throat. “Well…” I paused as the familiar pictures of Justin crossed my mind, smiling slyly. “You have the same hair color. You got your dark brown eyes from him,” I said, petting his hair. “Really? What else?” Colton asked eagerly, his eyes opening widely, clearly thrilled. “Your skin is clearly from him,” I chuckled which the little boy joined in. “Yeah, I can see that.” “You got your nose from him, too,” I added, tapping the tip of his sharp little nose. “And your dimples…” I held my breath when I remembered the first time Justin smiled at me. His twin dimples were too cute and alluring. “I look like him?” “So alike,” I responded while nodding my head lightly, feeling a burning stare from the rearview mirror again. Jack