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“The plaintiff will serve two years probation and 180 community service hours. Court is adjourned.” Nika stood up for the exiting of the judge and began walking towards her own exit, completely oblivious to Kyle’s evil glares and James trying to catch up with her. It was the first time she’d seen or heard from James since that negatively eventful night.
“Nika, Nika, wait a minute.” James caught up with Nika in the sunlight of the parking lot.
“Yes?” Nika said indifferently. It caught James off guard.
“Um…” He didn’t know what he was going to say when he finally caught up with her. “I’m really sorry. I don’t handle stress or drama well…and I don’t really have an excuse for my actions. I’m just, I’m sorry.” He looked like a sad puppy, but it still didn’t move Nika. She had waited three weeks to hear from him. She even endured a horribly uncomfortable interview with Stephen and no one to talk to about it. Now she knew that James was just unable to handle stress. If he would have told her from the get-go that that was the case, she would have better understood.
“James, I thought we had something. I apologized for the nonsense from that night. You told me not to blame myself for it, but you got me feeling like it’s my fault anyway.” He just stood there with his hands in his suit pants pockets, squinting off in the distance. Nika shook her head. She was surprised, but felt she shouldn’t be. He was no different from any of the other guys she’d dated in the past.
“Well, the situation is over now. I won’t provide any stress or drama for your life after today.” She got in her car and drove out of the parking lot, leaving James in her rearview. The vehicle was still hot from sitting out in the sun and not having enough time to cool off. The stifling heat blocked Nika’s thoughts. She couldn’t bring herself to care about having just basically ended things with James. She’d done two interviews for the McDowell series and Bullock assured her those weren’t the end of it. Nika shrugged it off. She’d gotten through one awkward interview with Stephen, what would a couple more do? They barely made eye contact with each other. He had just learned that he’d become CEO of his own company and he couldn’t even be excited about it because of Nika. She really just wanted to crawl in a hole and never come out. She wondered what she would have to do to be an at-home news correspondent. She giggled at herself and at the fact that she was a sad woman who would be single forever.

“How did court go?” Terry asked when Nika arrived back at work.
“It was court. Kyle got 2 years of probation since it was his first recorded offense, though I’m sure it wasn’t his first time. I’m glad he pressed charges, and that Erika took a picture of my mouth for evidence. Otherwise the verdict probably would have been in his favor.” She leaned up against Terry’s cubicle and matted her frizzy hair back. She was tired. Times were trying for her and all she wanted was a break.
“It’s a good thing James was there.” Terry looked at Nika out of the corner of his eye, trying to check for an emotional response. She didn’t give him one.
“I wish he wasn’t. I was ready to kick Kyle’s ass.”
Terry laughed. “I’m sure. It could have gotten bad though.”
“I guess.” Nika brushed off Terry’s comment.
“Nika what’s wrong? You’ve been acting so distant lately.”
“Nothing, just realizing that I fall too easily. I’m always the one getting crushed in the end. So, I just don’t care anymore.”
“But this isn’t you. This isn’t who you are. You’re too bubbly and sweet to turn into this.”
Nika got ready to walk away. “You think I want to be like this? I’m tired of getting hurt. This is my only option.” She slumped off to her own cubicle. Terry didn’t want to lose his friend but what option did she have now. She’d be thirty before long and it looked like she would still be single by then. Maybe she should just focus on her career. She always said that and as soon as she did, some guy would walk into her life and unravel her plans. Therefore, this time, she wouldn’t plan. She’d let things happen as they may, but no man would get in the way.

It hadn’t even been five minutes after she sat down before loud, fast-paced footsteps were heard coming in Nika’s direction. She prayed on everything that they weren’t for her.
“Nika Renee Noble, what the hell is this?” Terry handed her a piece of paper.
“That’s not my middle name Terry.” She said, looking over the paper. Oh shit, Nika thought. It was Stephen’s most recent interview.
“I know what you’re thinking.”
“Do you?” He snatched the paper back. “I hate this man. After all he put you through and now come to find out he’s not even who he said he was? AND you’ve known about it and you didn’t tell me?” Terry was fuming. She hated that he had to find out like that, but she didn’t, no, she couldn’t be the one to tell him. She gave him the guiltiest look she could muster. Terry sighed.
“I’m mad, yes, but I didn’t want you to get hurt again. That was a rough year, when Samuel, I mean Stephen, left. On the both of us.”
“I know. But I would have basically lost my job if I didn’t interview him. I’m sorry for not telling you.”
Terry put his hand on Nika’s head. “I guess I can try and understand why you didn’t. I probably would have snuck in on your interview and beat his ass.”
“One of the main reasons I didn’t tell you.” Nika chuckled.
“Damn right. I gotta get back to work, but how about I come over tonight with a couple gallons of ice cream.”
“Yes please.” Nika waved him off. A girl’s night-in was something she desperately needed since Erika was crazy busy finishing her album.

Nika had her head in Terry’s lap, licking her spoon clean. She’d just devoured a half gallon of cookies and cream ice cream while watching a show about wedding dress shopping and evil bridesmaids.
“These girls on these shows make it look so easy. Especially the 18, 19, 20-year-olds. How are these little kids even finding men and getting married? How do they have it all together like this?” Nika shoved her spoon in Terry’s ice cream and then shoveled a spoonful into her mouth.
“They wish they had it all together. Don’t forget that fifty percent of these marriages end in divorce.”
“Ugh. It still sucks to watch. They at least found somebody long enough to want to marry them and actually walk down the aisle. I’m doomed to never walk down anything but those Sidewalks of Shame after my many one night stands.”
Terry patted Nika’s head like a father would a daughter.
“You’ll be okay. We’ll do it together. I’m in the same boat.”
Nika looked up at Terry and said, “You’ll find someone before I do and that’s a fact. But if you don’t, and I don’t by the time we’re 40, let’s make a baby and raise it together. Deal?”
“That sounds good to me!” Nika laughed. She knew she was kidding but part of her wondered if that would be the case. She wondered if she’d grow old and be one of those cat ladies. The urge to use the bathroom crept over her bladder.
“Yo, Terry, gotta go.” She hopped up off of the couch and hurried to the bathroom.

She walked nonchalantly out of the bathroom, talking to Terry while looking down and drying off her hands with a paper towel.
“I need to do something about those hemrrhoids.” She joked. “Just…kidding.” Terry was standing with the front door open. James was in the doorway. They were both looking straight at Nika. Silence covered the apartment as Nika and James stared at each other.
“Welp,” Terry broke the awkward peace, “I think I’ll be going now. Nika, don’t eat my ice cream in the freezer.” He nodded at James as he left.
“What are you doing here?” Nika crossed her arms and walked up to him. He looked different, hard…rough. He didn’t reply, he just looked at her. It was the second time he’d just shown up at her door. This time, though, she didn’t know how to feel about it.
“Are you going to answer me?” She asked again. He still stood there. She was beginning to get a little freaked out. Before she could ask a third time, James grabbed her body and brought it to him. His breathing was quick and raspy and he was so warm. His bare arms felt soft around her own bare arms and midsection. She wanted to ask him what he was doing, but he kissed her like her lips were food and he hadn’t eaten in years. He sucked her tongue and savored the taste of her mouth. Nika was confused, but her body wrapped up in his arms and her lips on his made up for it.

James walked Nika inside and closed the door with their lips still locked. Nika’s heart was pounding; her senses were peaked. She’d forgotten everything she’d thought about earlier, how James was just like every guy she’d been with before, how she wasn’t going to let men ruin her plans, how she would be single forever. All she wanted to do was become intertwined with him, mentally and physically.

They nibbled each other’s lips and caressed each other’s heads softly. Nika’s hands were around James’ head, when she pushed it away. She walked away from him and towards her room. He followed her, hungrily.

Nika undressed to her bare body, while watching James do the same in the light from the street. His body was amazingly toned and cut, but not big like a body builder. She wanted to touch it. She reached out her arm and ran her finger down his pectoral. She got closer and kissed on it. It was a little hairy, but soft at the same time. She pushed him on to the bed and straddled his body. James pulled her head down to him and kissed her softly. His skin smelled of light musk and sweat. Their bodies both became covered in a layer of sweat as Nika began grinding into James’ pelvis; she wanted so badly for him to be inside of her. It was like he was reading her mind because he flipped her off of him and laid her on her back. He positioned himself on his knees in between her legs and grabbed her hips to bring her closer. They didn’t have to say a word to know how much they both wanted this to happen. Before he entered her, he rubbed her warm flesh. She moaned, wanting more. She grabbed his wrist and caressed it as he worked on her. He fingered her, working his way in and out of her. She was so wet he couldn’t let her keep it all to herself. He took his hard cock and entered her. She shuddered at his warmness entering her wetness. He rocked his hips, allowing himself to time between strokes. He wanted her to cum before he did. He went in as deep as he could, making Nika moan loudly.
“I’m not hurting you am I?” James whispered, reaching up and wiping sweat from Nika’s forehead. She shook her head and whispered him a soft “no”. He laid on top of her and put his head in her neck. He spread inconsistent kisses on the right side of it, tasting the salt of her sweat on his lips.
“Deeper, James, go deeper.” She whispered and squirmed trying to catch up with his movements. He went as deep as he could. Nika moaned loudly again. James felt it coming. He thrusted quickly, feeling glorious pulsations around him; she was cumming. Before she could fall apart, James did the same. He exploded, with the help of Nika’s body.

Panting, he rose to get a towel to clean their wet bodies.

“What are you doing here?” Nika whispered hoarsely as James got in bed next to her. She put her head on his shoulder and allowed him to turn and embrace her naked self.

“I’m here to get you back and right my wrongs.” He whispered before tenderly kissing her lips. She melted in his arms, appreciating his hard body against hers and his flaccid penis against her leg. “And also to try and make this thing official before I mess up again.” The fact that James wanted to make them official made Nika’s whole body quiver.
“You cold?” He asked.
“No. I’m just fine.” She snuggled up to him and fell asleep. Though he hadn’t received an answer, he felt that everything was alright and drifted off to sleep behind her, both of them blissfully unaware of what was lurking around outside of the apartment building.