A seal upon your heart, p.21
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       A Seal Upon Your Heart, p.21

           Pepper Pace

  Martier was huddled in the corner so that she wouldn’t get struck by a flying body. Four men suddenly arrived, one was Jakob Marx and they grabbed the two men and kept them apart.

  “You’re fired, muther fucker!” Tim yelled.

  “No you’re not!” Jakob yelled.

  “I quit!” Karl yelled right back.

  “You’re not quitting, Karl!” Jakob spoke angrily. “Go to your office!” The younger black man jerked out of his grip. He gave Tim a spiteful look. “I’m going to sue the fuck out of you, Singleton.”

  “Try it, asshole!” Tim tried for him again and it took all four men to hold him back. “Sexual harassment?! I heard what you said to Martier.” He pointed to the ceiling. “And the security camera caught it too. You can’t talk to my assistant like that and get away with it. It’s me that will sue the shit out of you! And win, because I’ve been doing this a whole lot longer than you, buddy!”

  Karl gave him a wary look. He turned and spit a wad of blood on the carpeted floor and then pushed through the crowd angrily.

  Martier quickly began picking up the over-turned furniture and broken pottery.

  “Martier, are you okay?” Tim asked. Jakob was directing everyone to get back to work. She nodded her head quickly as she moved about trying to get everything put back in order. Tim reached out and gripped her arm. “Martier?”

  “I’m really sorry for all of this.” She said with big tears in her eyes. “I am more trouble. It seems to follow me. I don’t know why. I’m not trying to do anything wrong. I’m not trying to cause trouble-“ She said speaking quickly. He could see she was losing it.

  “Come on.” He put an arm around her and led her into the office. He knew how it would look to everyone, the fight, his arm around her. And he didn’t really care.

  Once they were in his office he rubbed her shoulders. She was trembling. “This is not your fault.”

  She was looking at him as if trying to will him to understand. “I broke a date with him. I didn’t want to go out with him. And then he started acting really…aggressive. And I asked him to leave.” How could he have been so nice only to turn so vile? How could she ever trust herself to judge anyone’s character again? He had seemed so nice…

  “He didn’t touch you, did he?”

  “No.” She said quickly.

  “Good, he would be a dead man if that had happened.”

  Martier gave him a surprised look.

  Tim’s hands stopped rubbing her arms and they rested on her shoulders. “Martier, I’m not going to let anybody hurt you. Do you understand?”

  She gave him a confused look. “I think so.”

  He calmed himself and took a deep breath. Then he allowed his eyes to take in her delicate beauty. His fingers reached up to trace her loose curls.

  “So beautiful,” he said softly.

  She didn’t know what to say so she said nothing.

  “I kissed you…and then I chickened out. I won’t…do that again.”

  Something hopeful bloomed in her chest. She smiled and frowned. “You won’t…kiss me again, or chicken out again?”

  He leaned forward very slowly and touched his lips to hers. It was the softest kiss he’d ever given. It was the barest of touches and it was exquisite.

  Her eyelids fluttered when he pulled back.


  Tim’s fingers moved to her chin. “This isn’t sexual harassment, right?” He whispered while staring deeply into her eyes.

  “No.” She leaned forward and closed the space between their lips. Her kiss to him was soft yet possessive. Her hands slipped around his big body and he sighed. Tim’s hand moved up to cup the back of her neck. He held her as his lips explored her mouth.

  The door opened and Tim’s eyes moved to the offender without pulling back from Martier. Jakob. Martier moved away from Tim in embarrassment.

  “I need to…straighten up.” She slipped past the other partner, closing the door after her.

  “Wow…” Jakob said. “That was some display.”

  “Which one? The fight or the kiss?” Tim rubbed his sore knuckles and flexed his fingers, hoping he hadn’t broken his hand.

  “I meant the fight. Surprise surprise, there’s an emergency partners meeting in five minutes. Conference room.”

  Tim sighed and sat on the edge of his desk. “I’m truly sorry about last night, Jakob. I was drunk.”

  Jakob gave him a steady look. “I guess you didn’t mess it up with Martier…yet.”

  Tim frowned. “What are you talking about?”

  “You know what I’m talking about. I might be an asshole, and despite what you said, I make no promises. Don’t you make promises that you can’t keep with her!” Jakob left the office non-too-happy.

  The meeting was damage control. Karl was on speakerphone—for safety reasons and was informed that he could keep his job. It was also decided that neither would file charges against the other. Karl requested to be moved from Aaron’s division to Bradbury’s. Well that would keep him off the 4th floor at least. Tim nodded his consent and it was agreed.

  “You should apologize to Claudette and Martier for referring to them as ‘bed wenches’.” Tim muttered.

  Aaron’s face darkened. He gave Tim a piercing look.


  Tim narrowed his eyes. “That’s what pissed me off Aaron. He referred to Claudette and Martier as ‘white men’s whores.’”

  Aaron suddenly got up and left the office.

  Tim rubbed his knuckles with a satisfied grunt. “Somebody better get security to Karl French’s office. I think he’s about to get his ass kicked by Eeyore.” He looked at Thomas Bradbury, “Have fun with the little asshole.”


  As Martier got into Tim’s car she couldn’t keep the pleased smile from her face. She peeked at him. His face was peaceful. It was decided that Karl would have to pack his shit and leave, however he got a referral for a position at Hardwick, Lyons and Pumpernell that would surely give him a better salary. Of course he had to play ball and sign a not-so-standard con-compete contract stating that he wouldn’t take any clients or sue anyone from the firm.

  “Martier, do you know how to drive?” Tim suddenly asked.

  What a question. Where did that come from? “Yes. I have a driver’s license. Why?”

  “I left my bike parked in Kentucky. I want you to drive my car back home while I drive the bike back.”

  She gave him a nervous look. “Well I haven’t driven in years, Tim.”

  He smiled and then leaned forward and kissed her lips lightly. “You drive.” He got out the car while she was still breathless from the kiss. She exchanged places with him and gave him an anxious look. He just smiled.

  After approximately sixty seconds she was comfortable behind the wheel and followed his instructions to Kentucky and the Madd Crab. His baby was safe and sound and he tossed his jacket into the backseat of the car along with his tie. When he unbuttoned his cuffs her brow went up. He stripped off his expensive shirt and was down to just suit pants and a t-shirt.

  She marveled at how quickly he could transform from businessman to biker. He put on sunglasses and then had her come over to him. He instructed her to follow him back to the house and what to do if they got separated. He promised that he’d wait for her at the side of the road if that should happen.

  Then he slipped his hand around her waist. “I’d like to take you riding one day, are you game?”

  She gave him an excited smile. “Can you teach me to ride?”

  He smiled. “You want to learn? Now that would be cool.” He leaned forward and kissed her. She sighed against his lips and he shuddered. “See you back at the house, Sweetheart.”

  He’d called her Sweetheart. “Okay.” She smiled.

  They got home with no incident. They parked in the garage and Tim pulled Martier into his arms as the garage door came down, leaving them in almost total darkness.

  “How about we swim a
nd then order a pizza?”

  Her arms had gone around Tim’s neck. She pulled back and looked at him. “Will kissing be in there somewhere?”

  He captured her lower lip and she moaned. “You like kissing me?” He smirked. Martier touched her forehead to his. She couldn’t even come back with a snappy line. All she could do was nod. He cupped her face and kissed her insistently, deeply. His tongue slipped between her parted lips and then he stopped. He pulled back and smiled.

  “Ten minutes!”

  Her eyes got wide. “Twenty!”

  “Fifteen.” She nodded and slipped out the door and dashed through the backyard to her cottage. Tim watched her with a smile.

  “God…Thank you for giving me another chance with her.” He walked up the backstairs to the kitchen and paused. Had he just thanked God? He smiled softly. Yeah, he guessed he had.


  What a bad idea. What a horribly bad idea. She came out wearing the bathing suit with her hair still down in silky waves along her shoulder and his body reacted. He looked and felt like a credent standing there with his hands in front of the bulge in his trunks. When she was a few feet from him her eyes flitted to the pool and she suddenly did a cannonball. Grinning he dived in after her.

  Martier swam like a fish. She swam underwater for an impossibly long time and she was fast. He’d try to catch her and she moved like the waves in the water. When she got tired of swimming away from him she swam towards him.

  “Tim,” She placed her hands on his shoulders. Her playful look was replaced by a serious one. “Are you…did you want to still see Priscilla?”

  “Oh sweetheart,” He sighed and placed his hands on her waist. “I’m so stupid sometimes. Priscilla is no more. She actually never was…it was just me being stupid.” Martier thought fleetingly of Claudette’s words and was amazed that she had known all along.

  He cleared his throat and gave her a nervous look. “I’m twice your age. My knees hurt and I don’t have half the looks that I used to. But I’d be really honored if I could be yours and you could be mine. I feel pretty stupid using the word boyfriend, girlfriend…but I wouldn’t mind being your boyfriend. I wouldn’t mind at all.”

  She slipped her hands around his waist and laid her head on his shoulder. He pulled her close and held her in his arms.

  I spoke your name into the Universe and I claimed you as my own.


  Martier picked out a dress and held it up to herself. Dhakiya made a face. “Ugh. I don’t like that.”

  “You don’t like anything.” She grumbled. This was the third weekend in a roll that she and Dhakiya had gone out wedding dress shopping. It had been fun at first. But after hours and hours of going through wedding dresses they all began to look the same and the appeal was forever soured.

  Dhakiya would find a dress and fall in love with it, only to hate it the very next day. And then they would have to start the entire process again. The worst is that they couldn’t start hunting for the Bridesmaid dresses until she settled on her wedding dress. The other women in her wedding party; girls from Dhakiya’s work, had bowed out long ago so that it was just the two of them now. Worst is that she had a brand new boyfriend and this was eating into her time with him.

  “What do you guys have planned for the rest of the weekend?” Dhakiya asked while fingering the fabric of a dress that she’d already looked at twice before.

  “We’re going to watch an old movie.” She’d told him about her newfound love of old movies and he had introduced her to the Duke; John Wayne. John Wayne was low in the romance department and high in violence but cuddling on the couch with Tim certainly made up for it. She smiled softly to herself.

  Dhakiya chuckled and Martier wiped the smile from her face. “What?” She asked.

  “How tough is it keeping your legs crossed, little sister?”

  Martier stuck out her tongue. “For your information smarty, I’m not the one putting on the breaks.”

  “Really? What would Sister Louise say?” Dhakiya asked playfully.

  “And you are not in the least worried about Sister Louise…or buying a white dress.”

  Dhakiya laughed wickedly. “Yes…but I am no longer a Catholic and you still go to mass twice a week. Do you confess to the father what you and Tim do?”

  Martier set aside all joking. “No. Because what I do with Tim is not a sin. I love him.” She stared at her best friend openly. “He is all I want. Besides, all we do is kiss.” She didn’t admit that they kissed openmouthed. Having Tim slip his tongue into her mouth felt like making love. But kissing open mouthed couldn’t be a sin. It didn’t hurt anyone and it felt wonderful.

  Dhakiya stopped laughing. “Good for you, little sister.”

  When Martier pulled up into the drive-way Tim was in the backyard. He let her drive the car whenever she wanted. She could already smell the slow smoking meat that he’d put on before she left. Mmm…she was starving; for food and for Tim. He was on his cell phone.

  “Look, I want to introduce you guys to her; officially, as my girlfriend.” Tim looked up at Martier and a soft smile tugged at his mouth. “I appreciate your invite to dinner, just let Elaina know that Martier will be with me. Good. See you, brother.” He disconnected and slipped his cell phone into his pocket in time to wrap his arms around the beautiful woman standing before him.

  “Hi honey, you look exhausted.” He placed a soft kiss onto her lips causing her to smile.

  “I am. I don’t want to look at another white dress for the rest of my life.” Well…that wasn’t quite true. She looked forward to shopping for her own wedding dress. Her arms locked around his waist and she leaned in to him.

  “Aww.” He said while kissing the top of her head.

  “So who invited us to dinner?” She asked with a mixture of apprehension and curiosity.

  “That was Jakob. You’ve never met Elaina and they are like family.” Martier smiled at him. She liked Jakob well enough. “We’re invited to dinner this Wednesday.” He continued. It was important to him that they do this before the conference. He wanted Jakob and Elaina to love Martier just the way that he was beginning to and it was important that Martier be completely comfortable around his best friends.

  “Anything, if it will get me out of shopping for wedding dresses with Dhakiya.”

  After dinner and after the dishes were cleaned and the leftovers put away in Tim’s refrigerator, the couple went to Martier’s place and they slipped in a movie and kissed and cuddled on the large couch. Tim was addicted to kissing Martier. He thought about it when he was in court, when he was behind the computer and anytime he had a private moment with her he indulged in it.

  Once, when the kissing had gotten especially heated, he had placed his hand on her breast. Her body had arched upward against him and a soft moan had issued from her slightly parted lips. The sound of her moans had placed him in an unbearable predicament. He wanted to take her completely. Instead he’d pulled back and had given her a shaky smile.

  Anymore he never allowed himself to become overwhelmed by his desire for her. It was too difficult to put on the breaks. As much as he wanted her, he knew that he couldn’t rush into anything that she might regret later. They watched a romantic comedy that he could care less about. All that Tim was concerned with was the pretty woman that he held in his arms and her delicately long neck, and how difficult it was to stop placing soft kisses there.

  Sometimes she would turn from the movie and look at him with hooded eyes and a soft smile and he would have to tear his eyes from her and focus on anything but how desirable she was.


  Tim was on his private line speaking to a client and thinking about quitting time. He had so much to do before the conference next week; he had to make sure his calendar was clear and that no emergencies popped up, he had to remember to take some suits to the dry cleaners, and even though Claudette had taken Martier shopping for a formal dress he wanted to make sure that she had everything
that she needed for her first New York trip.

  “Mr. Bell if you’re available next Tuesday,” Tim pulled out his calendar and scanned the dates. “How about at…” His words trailed off as he looked at the date. The seventh. Today was the seventh…

  “Mr. Singleton?”

  Tim quickly shook his head. “Um…how is three o’clock? Next Tuesday?”

  “Sounds good. I’ll see you then.”

  Tim responded with something or other and then absently hung up the phone while his brow gathered. One year ago today, Corrine had breathed her last breath.

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