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Nika’s life was on cruise control. It had been a few weeks since she and James shared their first kiss. Luckily, Nika hadn’t had to interview Stephen during that time as nothing “interesting”, as Bullock put it, had happened. Nika was beginning to doubt that anything was ever going to happen at all. She was starting to think that maybe Bullock was going senile, though he was only in his early 50s. He clearly saw something that no one else was seeing. Either way, Nika wasn’t seeing that editor position until whatever this big happening was, happened. Bullock even got a a temp to fill in for the international news position since Brandon left a few days earlier. That promotion was looking pretty bleak. Nika wondered if Bullock even remembered that he offered it to her. One thing was for certain, though, and that was the cloud nine she’d been floating on. James was doing everything so right that Nika was beginning to think that maybe something wasn’t right. She kept her cool though. She didn’t want to be the one to ruin it just because she was a little skeptical.

“Nika! I’ve missed your face!” Erika exclaimed as she hugged her best friend. She was jingling with all of the bangles she was wearing. Erika resembled a new age hippie. It was Friday and her night at Stainless.
You missed me? You had Mick, I was the one all alone in the apartment.” Nika jokingly retorted. Erika had decided to stay with her fiancé instead of return home like she said she would. Nika had a bittersweet taste from the whole situation; her friend was slowly leaving her and doing grown-up things like getting engaged. Eventually she would be gone for good on her year-long tour around the world to promote her album. Then after that she and Mick would be moving in together permanently. It just wouldn’t be the same without Erika and her oddball ways.
“I know. We were having too much fun together. It feels different now, like, I don’t ever want to be away from him.” Erika sighed, and put her chin in her hands. She was supposed to go on in an hour, but her motivation was shot because Mick was working late at his law firm. She was taking to the I-can’t-live-without-you thing pretty well. Nika smiled at her friend. “You’re going to be okay. Don’t forget why you’re here. This was your first love.” Erika nodded and smiled back. She looked like she got a little gumption, but still had a long way to go before she became the confident woman she usually was on stage.

Erika’s smile quickly wore off. She was looking at something she didn’t like towards the entrance of the club. Nika turned to see someone who immediately made her stomach flip upside down. Kyle. He was standing in the front looking around with his douchey crew. For some reason he had on shades, and started looking over the rim directly at Nika. Of course he was. He knew that this was one of the main places she would be on a Friday night.

Since his arm-grabbing incident, he had been nothing short of an ass toward Nika. Purposefully bumping into her at work, making her spill drinks and drop folders; he had become the nuisance that made her never want to date for fear of the man-boy becoming exactly what Kyle had become. He hadn’t cornered her again, but she knew that it was always possible, and what scared her was that she didn’t know when or where it would happen.
He started heading towards Nika and Erika’s table. As he passed them, he forcefully bumped into Nika’s chair, then looked back her, sneering.
“Grow up asshole.” Erika called out. Kyle turned and flipped her “the bird”. She got up out of her chair, but Nika sat her back down.
“He’s not worth it.”
“Who’s not worth it?” A familiar voice asked behind Nika. James walked around and kissed Nika on her cheek, giving her a chill. Erika looked at Nika.
“Nobody.” Nika said quietly.
“Hey, if somebody is giving you ladies any trouble, I’ll personally kick them out.” He stood behind Nika’s chair, stroking her hair. At that point she didn’t even care. Her head massage was feeling pretty good.
“No, no. It’s all good.” She hummed. Erika rolled her eyes at Kyle and then went backstage. James sat down in Erika’s place and took Nika’s hand. She felt so uncomfortable with Kyle there, it was hard for her to focus on James’ attention.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, scooting closer. Something was clearly going on; though the club was filling up with happy people, the tension in the air was thick. Before Nika could reply, Kyle walked up. Nika hid her face in her hand and shook her head. James puffed up and looked at Nika.
“So this is the chump you dropped me for?” Kyle was clearly drunk. He smelled strongly of alcohol, like a wino.
“Excuse me? Nika who is this guy?” James stood up and hovered a little over Kyle. Though James was taller, Kyle was more broad and muscular and looked like he was ready to brawl. Nika got up and stood between them.
“Kyle, what is your problem? You know what? I don’t even care. Just leave.”
“You ain’t gonna try and embarrass me in front of all these people, bitch. You keep slipping up, and I told you it wasn’t over.” Kyle bucked at her.
“Yo, man, she didn’t ask you for commentary, she said leave. If you think that’s too hard, then I’ll make you leave.” James said from behind Nika.
“Nika tell yo dude to shut up. This conversation is between me and you.” He pointed his finger in Nika’s forehead. She pushed him. “Don’t put your hands on me.”
“Bitch you done lost your mind.” Kyle pulled back and slapped Nika so loud, people started looking on. James pushed Nika out of the way and grabbed Kyle’s shirt and began punching him in the face. Kyle’s friends finally came over and tried prying him from James’ grip while the club’s security tried grabbing James.
“You better be glad I didn’t kill you, you bitch nigga!” James shouted at Kyle as the security guys held him back. Kyle touched his bloody face. James messed him up in the few punches he threw. There was a cut underneath his eye that was bleeding nonstop, and his lip was busted. Security pushed him and his friends out of the front door.

“Nika, you okay?” Erika rushed towards her from the stage. She was bleeding a little from inside of her lip. Nika nodded, shaken up about what Kyle could have done to her.
“I’ll take care of her.” James told Erika. He led Nika to his office upstairs, which could be seen behind reflection glass from the club. He turned on a desk lamp and sat Nika down on a twin sized bed. In her daze, she watched him leave the room and come back with a wet washcloth and dab away the blood on her mouth. She took the cloth from his hand and felt his fingertips gently brush her skin.
“That was the guy who…gave you the bruise?”
Nika nodded, feeling shame creep up over her soul. James sat down in his luxurious office chair. He looked shaken as well. He wrapped his bruised knuckles with another wet washcloth he had.
“So, were you with this guy while we’ve been together.”
Nika shook her head vigorously. She realized that he thought that she was messing with Kyle. She tried to say something, but it stung her mouth to talk. She shook it off and talked anyway.
“Kyle, the ass, is my ex.” She paused, trying to get through the pain. “He’s the one Terry told you about. We broke up awhile ago, but…you know the situation with that. After you and I began talking, I told him it was over. That’s when he grabbed my arm. He hasn’t been a factor since before that day.” Nika explained. She hated that James had to find everything out like this. He was still and quiet, his face dark and mind deep in thought.

Nika got up and walked over to him. All she wanted was him and she needed him to understand that. She took his hand and got down on her knees in front of him. “James, I promise that you have been the only one since I met you. That’s the only position and you’re filling it. If I could go back in time and never have dated that guy, trust me, I would have avoided him like the plague.” She looked up at him and brought his head down to her face; he didn’t fight it. She found his lips with hers and pressed them against each other. She left them there, for that was all she could muster with the pain. Plus the pleasurable shivers she was was experiencing made it hard to do much anyway. She wanted James all over her body; she wanted him to envelop her. She decided to envelop him instead. She stood up and straddled him, and then brought his face up to look at her. He looked so sad, like a man finding out that his daughter wasn’t so innocent anymore.
“You don’t have to say anything.” She put her arms around him and caressed his entire back with the tips of her fingers.
“Thank you for defending me, by the way.” Nika whispered in his ear, and then kissed it, slowly and softly. She continued whispering sweet nothings in his ear until she felt him getting hard beneath her. That turned her on so fast, but she didn’t want things to happen in such a messed up situation like this. She bit her lip to try and use the pain to calm her desires, then rose from James’ lap.

“I’m sorry.” He said to Nika quietly.
“No, it’s not you. Just, not like this. I don’t want it to always have the stigma of tonight’s drama.”
James nodded in understanding. As he stood up to shake himself off, there was a knock at the office door. He opened it, but before he could say anything, a tall, thin, beautiful chestnut-complexioned woman threw her arms around his neck and kissed him.