Baron’s eyes scanned Aurelia’s sexy frame again as she led the way inside her apartment. His blue-brown pools settled upon her bottom, appreciating how nicely those shorts hugged it. The way they allowed her lower swells to peek out from under them as she walked.
Just sexy for no reason at all.
Up until Aurelia, Baron was a bonafide breast man. But after that night in Cabo, he started to notice a woman’s lower body more, particularly the derriere section. Now he was a top and bottom man.
“Can I offer you anything to drink?” Aurelia asked, turning around just in time to catch him admiring her bottom. She smiled as tingles attacked her body, making her taut in certain places, tropical in others. “I only have non-alcoholic drinks though. Cola and orange juice.”
“No, thanks. I didn’t come to stay long. I just wanted to drop off this,” Baron said, pulling a brown envelope from his interior jacket pocket.
“We’ll get to business a little later.” Aurelia waved the envelope away. “Right now I want to play hostess to my man. So tell me which beverage you prefer and then have a seat on the couch while I fix it.”
“So tell me the latest about your little brother,” Baron said, forging ahead with Operation Keep-Her-Talking.
Aurelia’s eyes lit up at that talk prompt. Then as she fixed their drinks, she gave him updates about her little brother, about her dealings with other professors on taking their finals early, and about the responses of her bosses.
Baron was pleased to hear so much positive news. In between conversations, he took the time to peruse Aurelia’s tiny, yet extremely clean apartment. He couldn’t help but notice how sparsely it was decorated. The lack of frills made Baron want to hand over the keys to one of the condos he owned in Alcove. He had at least one unit still available for occupation.
Yet Baron refrained from making that offer. Yes, he wanted to raise Aurelia’s standard of living, but not in a condo. He wanted her living at his house with him…in matrimony. He realized that just tonight. Planned to do something about it real soon.
Baron also realized that Aurelia’s humble dwelling confirmed that she really was putting everything she earned into her educational and living expenses. And based on her extremely casual school wardrobe, it was also clear that she wasn’t spending a lot on her attire either. That impressed Baron even more.
But wait. What about that expensive dress she’d worn to the jazz concert? How could she have afforded that on her budget?
Maybe she didn’t buy it for herself at all, Baron mused, recalling something that Jordin once said about Aurelia. Maybe some wealthy man bought the dress for her and paid for that ticket, too.
Instead of jumping to conclusions again, Baron swallowed the juice in his mouth, opened his lips and initiated dialogue on the issue. “Do you own many dresses, Aurelia? I’ve only seen you in one since I’ve known you.”
“I used to have a whole closet full of dresses,” she replied from her place beside him on the couch. “Expensive dresses, all with designer labels.” She paused to take a sip from her own glass of juice.
“What happened to them? Did you give most of them away?”
“I probably should have donated them. But at the time I was too focused on making a symbolic statement to Cain the day I left him to think about the less fortunate.”
“You didn’t do an Angela Bassett, did you? Except burn up your own clothes in his car,” Baron inquired, referring to a scene from Waiting To Exhale, a movie that his sister-in-law Sasha loved and watched often.
Aurelia burst out laughing. “No, I didn’t do that. I simply left everything he ever bought me behind, including those dresses. Everything I have now was bought with my own money, including that CMV design you saw me in at the jazz concert. I found that hazelnut treasure at a local thrift shop and was just waiting for a special occasion to wear it. That special occasion arrived when Liam gave me two free concert tickets for a job well done.”
“Who did you give your other ticket to? As I recall, you were alone that night.”
“I gave it to Claude for being such a good lab partner. He, in turn, gave it to his mother since he had to work that night and wasn’t a jazz fan anyway. She and I sat by each other at the concert and shared a jazzy basket.”
“I saw you sharing that basket with Claude’s mother. I saw who gave it to you, too,” Baron replied with a flash of jealousy in his eyes.
“Don’t you dare get jealous, Mr. Sharing-His-Basket-With-Jordin,” Aurelia countered with the green-eyed monster creeping across her face as well. “Speaking of Jordin, did you break things off with her today?”
“Yes,” Baron said, grateful for the slight subject change as his jealousy subsided. “I did it in person tonight over dinner.”
“At your place or hers?” Aurelia frowned as the green-eyed monster returned for an encore.
“Neither. I took her to a restaurant that I trusted.”
“Oh.” She chuckled, immediately calming down again. “I put some distance between me and Claude today, too, you know,” Aurelia shared.
Baron grinned. “I know. I heard. I liked.”
She smiled. “I hoped you did.”
“Claude took it well. I was impressed. That’s yet another reason I gave him a big tip tonight at the restaurant.”
“How did Jordin take your rejection?”
“I thought she took it relatively well until she started sprouting her suspicions about us,” Baron replied. “Wow! There were a lot of ‘S’s in that last statement, weren’t there?”
“Too many.” Aurelia chuckled, loving their easy rapport.
“Anyway, after I set her straight about a few things, I paid the check and left. Speaking of checks.” He put his glass on the folding dinner tray table Aurelia sat near the sofa and reached into his jacket again for the envelope he’d tucked there earlier. “Or rather speaking of credit cards since I find them easier to manage than checks. I have two for you.”
“Yes, I had to get two because the limit was too small to put the full amount on just one card,” Baron said, handing over the envelope. “I’ve also taken the liberty of drafting up a proposed repayment schedule which I hope will suffice. That’s also inside the envelope, along with your plane ticket.”
“I’m sure you were fair with the schedule,” Aurelia replied, putting her drink on the table before receiving the envelope with semi-shaky hands.
Suddenly her hands shook in full force. Inside that brown envelope was a typed repayment schedule (which didn’t begin until after her graduation), a first-class round-trip plane ticket, and two prepaid credit cards totaling $10,000 each.
What did Baron think AU was? An Ivy League school? The private four-year institution’s costs were a little over $27,000 for the whole year. He’d just given her $20,000 for one semester.
Aurelia now had more than enough to cover her tuition, books, supplies, and graduation fees. With the leftovers, she could send more money home and even get the steering wheel column on her car fixed from the damage the teenagers had done to it.
“Baron, this is too much,” Aurelia said, turning glossy eyes to him. “I could have flown coach. And I only needed enough for tuition since I usually swap books with other students. Plus, my graduation fees don’t need to be paid right away.”
“I didn’t want you to have any financial worries your last semester at AU,” Baron replied. “I also wanted you to be comfortable on your flight home and back.”
“Oh, Baron,” Aurelia said as silent tears began to stream down her cheeks.
Baron moved closer and put comforting arms around her. His intent was just to hug her. But when she embraced his neck and actually put her lips upon his, he knew he was lost…to passion.
© 2009 by Mi’Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier
* * *
Video that contains Angela Bassett’s famous clothes and car burning scene from Waiting to Exhale (There’s no audio included)