Lyric has everything she wants at this stage in her life. She has a successful career, a new business venture and a sister who has seen her through every trial and triumph since they were little girls. The only thing missing now is someone to share her successes with. She’s spent the last year convinced that love on her terms was all that she really needed. That is until she meets Oz. A Mexican immigrant who awakens the deepest passions in her. He wants a friend, a lover, and possibly more. But there’s more to him than she knows, and once Lyric enters his world she discovers hers will never be the same…
Mr. Fix It
“Shit!” Lyric yelped.
The light fixture dropped. Fear held her immobile. She had climbed a ten-foot tall ladder to change the bulb in the foyer. And she did so without shoes. With no man options, and a do it yourself attitude, she often tried to fix things in her house. Now she had to face the pending pain of stepping on invisible shards of glass.
It was Saturday. Yesterday had been a bust. After ending things with Ty she spent the evening in her pajamas bingeing on ice cream and popcorn down in her basement-theater room. The Weight Watchers diet plan was on hold. She vowed to start it again tomorrow or maybe the next day. She watched Toy Story 1, 2, and 3 until she laughed and cried.
The phone rang.
“Damn,” Lyric sighed.
The phone rang again.
“Coming!” she called out to no one. Lyric climbed down the ladder and tried to gauge her step. But as soon as her foot touched down, a sharp piece of glass pierced the flesh.
“Ow!” She howled and hopped out of the disaster. She turned her foot up to remove the bloodstained piece.
The house phone stopped ringing.
“Ouch! Damn it! Ow!” Lyric hopped to the living room and sat on her chair. She dripped blood all over her hardwoods. Her mobile phone rang. Lyric looked at the blood on her hands and foot. She felt faint at the sight of it, and grabbed up her cell phone.
“Hello!” she shouted.
“Yeah? Wsup, girl?”
“Nothing. I’m bleeding to death. I sent you an email last night did you get it?”
“I did,” Janice said. “Will you be at the meeting Sunday? We need to finalize things. And Shania is on the warpath.”
The pain in her foot eased. Lyric stared at the small smudges of blood on the floor. She loved her sorority and her sisters. They got her through some tough times in the past two years. However, lately juggling work and the demanding needs of being Grammateus, which was the secretary of this chapter of the sorority, had become too much. What would happen when she started her own practice?
“I’m there. I mean I will be there,” she said.
“Great. What are you up to? Want to meet for lunch?” Janice asked.
“Ah, no. I got some things around the house to deal with,” she winced.
Janice went silent. Lyric frowned. “You still there?”
“I’m here. Uh, Chance told me,” Janice said, referencing her husband.
“Told you what?” Lyric mumbled.
“You know they are frat brothers. He told me that Ty is in town. You see him?”
“I ended it for good now. I didn’t think I would. I actually considered sleeping with his slick ass. But listening to him, seeing him. I couldn’t do it anymore. It’s over.”
“Yes!” Janice cheered. “I was so hoping you would kick his sorry butt to the curb. Girl! Yes!”
Lyric laughed. “He had the nerve to send me a text this morning to tell me how long he’d be in town, and to call if I wanted some make up sex.”
“That bastard!” Janice huffed.
“Yeah, well he’s the monster I created. And the sex… let’s just say it’s my biggest weakness. But since I gained weight I just don’t want to… never mind. Why don’t you come over tonight for dinner? I’d love to cook something for someone other than myself. And I got some new ideas for the fundraiser I want you to review.”
Janice was Anti-Basileus, which was the vice president of the chapter. Everyone in the chapter knew Janice towed the line for Shania, their Basileus. But no one said anything against the great leader.
“Sure. I have some running around to do today. How about seven?” Janice asked.
“Perfect. See you then.”
“I’m proud of you, girl. So proud of you. Go head!” Janice laughed.
“Thanks. Me too.”
Lyric felt better when she hung up the call. She couldn’t believe how much of a burden lifted from her heart when she cut Ty loose. But it had. Lyric limped with her foot turned sideways through the kitchen. There she washed her hands and then got out her first-aid kit. She used antiseptic and a Band-Aid to wrap her cut. She then put on a pair of thong sandals and swept up the shattered bulb. When she was done her OCD kicked in. She had to mop and scrub every speck of blood away. And she couldn’t let the light fixture stay that way. Without bothering with makeup or to put on her ponytail extension, she finger combed her natural hair. She picked up her keys, purse, and went to her front door. A quick trip to Home Depot and she’d get everything needed to fix the day, including that blasted garage door that remained stuck.
* * * * *
Oz loved to work with his hands. On the weekends he signed up for little side projects for customers that Schmidt threw his way. It kept money in his pocket and temptation at bay. He was clear of his past mistakes. No hard alcohol, just an occasional beer from time to time. He had a fresh start and he intended to make the most of it.
After the run-in with the young thug he’d been on edge. Not from fear, but from dread. Soon his past would knock on his door and he needed to be prepared for that visit. Until then, he’d work to keep his mind off the problem.
As he pushed his basket down the aisle headed for the tool section, a woman’s figure caught his eye. She wore a long white t-shirt and tight black leggings underneath. She was bent at the waist digging through a bottom shelf for what he thought were light bulbs. Oz smiled. He loved a woman’s ass. Hers was round and her thighs thick. The woman stood upright as he approached and turned.
He paused. And so did she.
It was her?
She looked different. Her hair was thicker and dusted her shoulder with frizzy curls. When he saw her last it was smoothed into a long silky ponytail. Her face was clear of makeup so he could see the tiny dots of freckles under her eyes. He’d never seen a brown woman with freckles. Though hers were faint against her skin.
“Hi?” she said with a hint of surprise in her voice.
“Señora Lyric James,” he smiled and nodded.
“Oz, right?” she asked. She dropped the light bulb package into the basket and wiped her hands down her hips. Oz had to restrain himself from staring below her waist. “This is a coincidence.”
“I just came to pick up a few things,” he confessed. He sounded guilty. Maybe because if he had known she’d be at the Home Depot, he’d have camped out in the parking lot and waited.
“Me too.” She grinned. She looked back to her basket. “I got the message on my phone that your team is coming on Tuesday to take away the trees.”
“We’ll be there,” he said.
“You finding everything okay?” he asked.
“Oh? Yes. I can’t figure out which bulb to get. It’s for the front foyer in my house. I had an accident and… well I have to replace it,” she gushed.
Oz reached down in her basket and looked at her selection. He held the box up. “Not this one. There, get the 1000 watt. That should work for you.”
“Oh really? Thanks!” she turned and started to scan the shelves. When she reached up her long shirt drew upward as well. He could see more of her thighs. Oz chuckled and averted his gaze. Ms. Pretty was too big of a temptation, and way too far out of his league. It was time to move on.
He opened his mouth to say goodbye and she turned around with a fresh smile. “I hate to ask you this. I really do. I…ah… do you mind?” she pointed upward.
Oz nodded he’d oblige, and he drew down what he thought was best for her little fix it project. “How’s the garage?” he asked.
She wiped the back of her hand over her brow. “Stuck. My next job after this.”
“You fix everything yourself?” he asked.
“I’m that kind of woman,” she answered with a sexy wink.
He looked down at his watch. He had two hours to kill, and her house was on the way. “I have some work I’m doing in your neighborhood. It would only take me ten minutes to deal with it.”
“Well…” she glanced around. They were alone in the aisle. Good girl. She was cautious. She should be. Men were predators. Hell he’d been a predator once before too.
“And my light too?” she asked.
“My pleasure,” he said.
She nodded. “Okay. I’ll pay for my things and ah, see you at the house?”
He nodded. She pushed her basket away. He had to admit to himself, the day had taken a turn for the better.
When Lyric put her things in the backseat of the car she noticed her hero leaving the front of the store. She closed the door and watched him. Their eyes met again and he nodded. He was so much more handsome to her today. And now she could see his entire tattoo. It was a work of art. A dragon snaked up his arm swimming through musical notes. And he had another more tribal design on his other arm. That wasn’t all that she noticed. The man didn’t have an inch of fat on him anywhere. He was lean in the torso, but packed with muscles in the arms, shoulders, and upper chest.
He was in his truck before she felt foolish. Hell she was openly staring at the man. Lyric hurried. She was out of the parking lot and zooming to her house when her phone rang in her purse.
She picked up. “Hello?”
“Where have you been? I’ve been calling!”
“Hi, Mya, I was at Home Depot. On my way home,” she said.
“Oh? Well I was going to cook this afternoon. Come over and play with your nephews.”
“Can’t,” she smiled at the thought of her little boys. She did miss them.
“Janice and I are going to have dinner together. We have business,” she told her sister as she made the left turn.
“Not that sorority stuff again? It’s like a second job. You aren’t the president but you do all the work. And don’t tell me you don’t do their legal work for free,” Mya groaned. “You should charge them.”
“Oh stop,” Lyric said. Her mood began to sour. She turned into her drive. Her gaze flipped up to the man who pulled in behind her. He stared at her from inside of his truck. “Look I just got home. I’ll come by and see my babies tomorrow after church. Call you later.”
“Wait!” Mya shouted out her thoughts.
“Love you, bye!” she hung up.
She pulled down the visor and got a good look at herself. “Oh shoot!” she groaned. Her hair was jacked. She had no makeup on, and the dark circles under her eyes were clearly seen. The t-shirt she wore was grimy from a morning of housework, and she knew she smelled of bleach.
“He’s not here for you to entertain. The man came for a job.”
And then it dawned on her. She didn’t have any cash. He was probably looking to make extra money. She knew a lot of the immigrant day laborers often did odd jobs for cash. Not that he appeared to be that kind of man. She just wasn’t sure. She reached inside her purse for her wallet and began to fumble through credit cards.
There was a tap on her window.
Lyric jumped. She looked over at Oz. She lowered her window. “Sorry, I’m coming.”
“No worries. Mind if I walk around the house. Since I’m here I can check your gutter drainage. That one over there seems to be uprooted.” He pointed.
“Are you for real?” she laughed. “My gutters?”
His brow arched.
“Oh, I mean, I can’t really ask you to do all of that. I just—”
He walked off. Lyric sat in her car stunned. He either must really need the money or must be some kind of saint. She checked her wallet and found she only had sixty dollars cash. She could write him a check. Sighing she turned off her car and got out. The sun was blistering hot. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. A huge difference from the stormy weather the city endured the past week.
He went over to the side of the house and stooped. After a few minutes he stood and looked up at her gutters. He then walked back to her. “I can dig it out, lots of leaves down in there. I’ll replace that drainage pipe for you too.”
“Oh, ah, thanks so much,” she said.
He smiled for her. Lyric smiled for him. If it weren’t for the heat of the sun bearing down on her, she wouldn’t have moved. “Ah, well, we have to go inside to get to the garage. Come with me,” she said.
Again Lyric wished she had put a little more effort into her appearance. At the door she opened it with her key, and hurried inside to turn off the alarm. When she returned he was there. He seemed taller behind closed doors. She watched him with appreciation as he bent at the waist to unlace and remove his work boots. A habit she did as well, but rarely found others considerate enough to oblige.
“Uh, this way to my garage,” she said to him.
He nodded and she led him to the back door of the house. She flipped on the light to her garage and stepped aside. He walked in and looked up at the mechanism to the center of the ceiling. It was a black box that connected to steel levers, which pulled the garage door up. Oz walked over and pulled the string that hung beneath the box. The manual release shifted. Oz then went to the garage door that was stuck and eased it up with little effort. In bare feet he walked out of her garage and returned to his truck. The concrete drive had to be hot as an oven, but he did so without flinching. He returned, smiled at her, and went to work. And she didn’t know what to do or say while he did so.
Get the man something to drink, Lyric. Her inner voice spoke and she cleared her throat.
He glanced at her when she did so, and she fought down the urge to smile for him again. “Would you like some lemonade or tea? It’s freshly made,” she said.
“Sure, lemonade is nice,” he replied. He used his drill to unlatch the box cover. In doing so the boulder sized muscles in his arms vibrated. She stared for a minute, transfixed on the dragon snaking up his arm, and the tiny beads of sweat glistening over his skin. Sure it was hotter in the garage than the house, but the perspiration slicking his skin so soon caught her by surprise. She wondered if he always sweated when he exerted himself. There was something to be said about how sweat made a man with golden brown skin glisten. When the contraption loosened he looked over and caught her staring. Lyric blushed inwardly and made a quick exit.
Once in the kitchen she fixed him a tall glass of her freshly squeezed lemonade. She even located a few lemons to slice neatly and drop in for garnish. She hadn’t entertained in her home since her mother died. And even when her mother was alive she didn’t invite any men over except Ty. Suddenly she was excited and she couldn’t explain why. The warm feeling tightened her gut, and she was smiling again, at nothing.
Stop it, Lyric. The man came over to make a few bucks, not to be your boy toy. She chuckled to herself. When she returned after wasting precious time she could have used to watch him, she was crestfallen. He was finished. He stood in the middle of the garage with the remote. He made the door lift and close before her eyes.
“You have to be kidding? What did you do?” she asked.
“It just needed to be reset. Nothing to it. You should be good now,” Oz told her.
“Really? Wow!” she handed him the glass. Of course she knew it needed to be reset, but it would take her at least fifteen minutes to fiddle with the switch to make it happen. He did it in less than five.
“Will it run off track again?”
“It might. The motor looks to be the problem. Pretty soon it will have to be replaced.”
“Oh?” she said in disappointment.
He touched her, and she stepped back in surprise. But when she looked up into his eyes she could tell he meant no harm in the action. And to her surprise he did it again with his finger to her chin to make sure she kept looking into his eyes. “I can easily replace the part, if you need me to.”
Lyric stepped back again. Was she breathing hard? What girl wouldn’t be a little frightened? Men and women had invisible boundaries even when being informal. His actions were too bold and too soon. To cover her trepidation she handed him the glass of lemonade. However Oz continued to hold her in his gaze.
“Lemonade?” she offered.
“Gracias,” he said. He accepted the glass. In doing so his fingers grazed hers in the exchange. He held her in his sights as he drank half the glass down after a big swallow. Then he took a second gulp and it was empty. She received the glass from him with her mouth gaping. He chuckled. She smiled.
“You thirsty?” she kidded.
“Very,” he said as his gaze lowered to her breasts. It was confirmed, he was flirting and he wanted her to know it.
“I guess my lights are next?” she asked.
“Show me the way,” Oz said.