White lights strung above the pergola on the patio gave off a soft glow, competing with the twinkling stars in the dark velvet sky. From her perch on the outdoor sofa, Sammie’s gaze followed Dexter Davis. His deep brown complexion held a hint of reddish undertone from the summer’s sun. An inch away from clearing six feet, his muscular physique was more lean than bulky. A few added inches and he’d have the qualifications to be a print model. Head tilted, Sammie squinted her right eye in scrutiny to reassess. Maybe he could be a model except for the scruffy beard he sported. Where some women thought it gave him a sexy, rugged look, he appeared unkempt to Sammie.
Earlier Dexter had sauntered into her dad’s backyard dressed in a hunter green t-shirt, black shorts, and black leather Ferragamo sandals. Sammie couldn’t help rolling her eyes. Who wore seven hundred dollar sandals to a cookout? It was obvious to Sammie he was showing off. Her previous criticism didn’t stop Sammie’s hips from shifting, her mouth parting as her gaze moved down to his biceps flexing beneath the green fabric each time he folded a chair.
A flush of heat spread up her neck and fanned across her face. If she wanted to, she couldn’t look away from his broad back as he carried chairs inside the storage shed. Another unexpected surge of warmth hit her when she imagined the unthinkable happening between her and Dexter. Ugh, never!
On Dexter’s way out of the shed, Jamal stopped him and the two shared words. Whatever was spoken between them made Dexter throw his head back and laugh, showing off a mouth full of white, glistening teeth. Though she was sitting down, Sammie became weak in the knees. His laugh was sexy. Too sexy for her liking.
“You coming inside with us?” Joey asked, holding open the back door leading into the kitchen.
Her sister’s intrusion jolted Sammie back into reality. That man was the enemy. “I’ll be in a minute.” She was going to keep Dexter in sight.
Sammie despised how buddy-buddy Dexter was getting with her father Garrison. Ever since he blew back into town several weeks ago, the shady character was up under her dad. One too many times, she’d stopped by her childhood home to check on her father to find Dexter there, like an old piece of unwanted furniture. On one visit, the men were at the dining room table, documents strewn about. Curious, she asked what was going on. Garrison had ignored her, gathered the papers and placed them in a folder, handing it over to Dexter.
When she pressed for an answer, Garrison told her to mind her business. The rebuke had stung. But it was the cocky grin Dexter wore that made Sammie dislike him even more.
Recalling that night, Sammie was determined to confront Dexter. She was curious about what was happening between Dexter and her dad.
After the men were done, Julio and Jamal said their goodbyes to Uncle Barney and Dexter before heading inside. As Uncle Barney and Dexter prepared to leave, Sammie stood at the edge of the patio.
“Dexter, I need to talk to you.”
Sammie didn’t miss the dubious look Uncle Barney gave Dexter. “I’ll talk to you later, nephew.”
Waiting until Uncle Barney rounded the side of the house leading to the walkway toward the front porch, Sammie approached Dexter.
Glaring at her, that happy-go-lucky grin he’d worn from the time he showed up at the cookout was gone. “You got one minute.”
“That’s all I need,” Sammie snapped.
Dexter rubbed his hand over his five o’clock shadow. “Speak.”
“Speak?” Did he just give me a command, like I’m a dog? Ugh, she didn’t like this creep.
Dexter glanced at the expensive gold watch on his wrist, leaving Sammie to wonder who he’d swindled to get it.
“What’s going on between you and my father?” Sammie demanded, glaring into Dexter’s eyes for any hint of deception.
The fabric of the shirt he wore tightened over his chest when he crossed his arms. “Why don’t you ask your father?”
“I’m asking you. You’re the one always hanging around my father like a dirty leech after something.”
This time when Dexter chuckled it didn’t make her feel weak in the knees. There was something sinister about it. Unnerved, Sammie took a step back when he got in her face.
“You better watch how you talk to me,” Dexter growled, staring down at her. “I’m not one of your sisters.”
Sammie held her hand out. “Back up! You’re too close.”
Dummy did the opposite. With each step he took forward, Sammie retreated until her back was up against the fence separating her father’s property from the neighbor’s.
“You wanted to talk. So talk.”
With him in her space, Sammie couldn’t think, let alone speak. Something inside of her was trying to escape. It had to do with everything that was male radiating out of Dexter’s pores, seeping into her. It terrified her.
The heat from his body, the fading cologne on his skin, the hint of alcohol on his breath from the beer he drank with the ribs he ate made her want to do something crazy. So crazy even she couldn’t believe it was soaking into her spirit.
Surprised by her thoughts, Sammie’s silence was her downfall.
“I was told you grew up to be the nasty sister. The sister who can’t get a man…”
Control spiraling out of Sammie’s grasp, she screeched, “Shut up! Shut up! You don’t know me!”
“I don’t need to know you to know you act like a real bit—”
Before the word could escape Dexter’s mouth, the sound of Sammie’s hand slapping his jaw crackled in the night air.
Unshed tears stung her eyes, her bottom lip trembled. “You don’t know me or my story.”
“And you don’t know mine. So stop acting like you do,” Dexter shot back, his nostrils flared.
“What’s going on back here?” Garrison barked, his gaze shifting between Sammie and Dexter.
Sammie stormed off, leaving Dexter to deal with her father.
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