Mali was in bed, reclined on three pillows, watching a movie that was on her to-watch list for two years. On her nightstand was an empty six-pack of Niffy drinks and the floor was littered with brown bags of left over greasy and fried diner food that she had yet to pick up.
There was a double knock on her bedroom door before her roommate, Cabute pushed it open and gazed at the littered floor. He had dark grey skin with dark black hair, dark black eyes and a pair of tusks at the bottom of his mouth that stretched past his upper lip. Classic Angny.
“Hey,” Mali said not bothering to apologize for the mess.
“It’s been a week.”
“And?” she said back wondering if he would tell her to suck it up.
His head tilted to the side. Cabute was a massive six-foot-seven beast of a man who fought at The Pit. He beat up other males for money and yet, in their apartment, he was the quiet one who seemed to be a mountain of calm-assertion. The kind of guy who only asks once.
“You going to come out of your room anytime soon? I know you’re not bawling your eyes out, the walls are paper thin and I would have heard you.”
He was a thousand percent correct; she hadn’t been bawling her eyes out. And she never would. Her ex-job was not worth her tears. She didn’t love-love it, and two…they were stupid for letting her go.
With the remote in hand she waved it over her mess and declared, “As you can see, I’m not morning my being fired. I’m literally throwing a weeklong celebration.” Pointing at the far container near her trash can she said, “See that Charlie’s BB-Q bag? I haven’t eaten there in over two years. Two years.”
Cabute lifted an eyebrow, as if to say, and your point is?
“Doubtful you’d know this, but Jama Marketing liked their executive females to look a certain way.”
“So stuffing your face is your way of celebrating?”
“Are you really asking me that?”
“Yes,” he said without sarcasm.
Was it cute that he didn’t understand? Yes, she decided, it was cute.
How did she get so lucky to room with Cabute? Oh yeah, by begging him to take her in with the last apartment manager had proposed sleeping with him to cover her rent.
Back then she didn’t have time to find a new one before she had to travel to another planet in the Federation to talk with a client about letting Jama Marketing to do their work for them. She was good at the numbers, the strategy, and the images.
What she failed at was being a poised, soft spoken-dominate personality with a small waist. They wanted the type of marketing assistant that would sit at the table, let the main group talk themselves into circles then come in, clear the air and tell them what they would do, and why it would make all the difference.
So again, she didn’t love the job, but she was good at marketing. So her food fest was… “Celebrating may be a little exaggerated, but yeah, I’m indulging in everything I wasn’t allowed to eat for the past two years.”
Cabute was silent for a moment before asking again, “Okay, but are you going to come out of your room anytime soon?”
“To do what?” she asked not sure if he was asking because he needed her to do something.
He shrugged his massive shoulders as if to say, you’re going to have to come out and see.
Mali powered off her Minky screen and threw off her covers exposing her bare legs and a t-shirt dress she doubled as a sleeping gown because it was soft and comfy. Cabute’s eyes zeroed in on her legs and she watched the hunger in his eye come and go.
His jaw set hard before turning away leaving the door open because he knew she would follow. Or maybe he hoped.
Either way, she got off the bed and checked her purple curly hair in the mirror. It was too wild. She pulled it back into a messy bun and then double checked that her sleeping dress was tight enough to hug her hips, and to dab on a touch of lip gloss.
Her purple eyes were sparkling which meant she was happy. They usually sparked when she was home.
Cabute was in the kitchen, Minky on the counter and he was scrolling through something. “What are your plans today?”
“Hey, you made me get up from my plans. I was fine to lay in my bed for another day,” she said looking around the apartment. No dust, not trash, everything in its place. “I’m assuming you don’t need help cleaning.”
“I didn’t make you do anything. I just asked if you were coming out of that stench you call a room.”
“That stench if called delicious food,” she said jumping up on the counter. “Do you have friends coming over? Is this your way of asking me to clean my room?”
“I don’t have friends,” he said not in a way that said he wanted them, but that he actively made sure not to have them.
“Are we not friends?” she asked teasingly, but deep down she wanted to know.
Cabute didn’t stop what he was doing and peered up. “I wouldn’t consider you a friend.”
“Ouch,” she said playing off the hurt.
Cabute went back to his Minky pad, and she took his silence as his way of saying you’re not that important. Especially after telling her they weren’t friends.
Sliding off the counter his hand shot out and pressed against her stomach. His warm and strong grip pushed her back up to her spot. “Where are you going?” The question sounded like a threat more than a curious statement.
Mali thought he would take his hand away, but he didn’t, and the touch was seeping through her thin fabric and warming her skin. It was the most intimate he had ever been with her and she, was equal parts confused and delighted.
Coming up with a quick answer she said, “Food shopping.”
Cabute looked at his hand on hers and then caught her eyes, as if he was waiting for her to push his hand away. Which she didn’t. “Wait until I finish and I’ll take you.”
“I know how to shop,” she said not wanting to tell him no, but also not wanting him to think she needed him to go.
A faint expression crossed his face before he said, “Every time you go shopping, you buy crap you never eat and I have to throw it out a week later.”
Mali scoffed at that but stopped when she realized it was true. Cabute must have seen her acceptance and then went back to what he was doing.
“What are you looking at?”
“Why?” Mali worried that he might leave her. What if he was tired of living with her?
He closed the screen and powered off the Minky pad. Then he wrapped his large hands around her waist, digging his finger into her skin, and dousing her blood with instant lust.
She didn’t know what he wanted, but she hoped his touch said, he was interested, because she was very interested. Had been into him before she even moved in.
Cabute’s eyes softened. “You going to answer me?”
“Am I ready for what?”
The way he was in her space, holding her hips, she figured he was asking if she was ready for a blitz. If so, she would like to brush her teeth and get all the food pieces out.
“Mali. We’re going shopping.”
“I need to get my shoes,” she said rushing from the kitchen to her room. He followed her to the doorway and watched.
“I didn’t say anything,” he said calmly.
But Cabute had a weight to him. A sense of raw animalistic strength that made her want to hurry.
“You didn’t have to,” she didn’t mean to sound snappy.
“What does that mean?”
“Means your very presence says hurry or else.” She finished strapping her shoes and stood up to make sure they felt right. Looking up she saw his unamused expression.
“Or else what? What do you think I’d do to you?”
Walking towards her door she said lightheartedly, “Hopefully not beat me to a pulp.”
His arm shot across the doorway, bending the frame slightly as the echo dinged through her chest. The movement was so fast she didn’t even see him move.
She jumped back.
He leaned in. His voice deceptively quiet. “You think I would hurt you?”
“No,” she blurted.
His arm fell and he closed the space between them. The radiating heat and irritation so thick it made her want to fall to her knees. A thick and callused finger reached under her chin, forcing her to look up.
“You are the one person who could stab me in the heart, and I’d let you.”
“I won’t hurt you Mali.”
Her knees still felt weak, but at the same time, her stomach fluttered at the declaration.
“You said we’re not even friends.”
He dropped his finger, giving the moment a drawn out pause before answering. “We aren’t. Friends are people you like but let them live their own life. I have no intention of letting you do your own thing – not anymore.”
“What does that mean?”
“My people don’t live with friends, co-workers or strangers. We live with our family.”
She wasn’t family. “I don’t understand. Are you asking me to move out?”
Cabute reached down and grabbed her hand, pulled it up and nipped the fleshy part. Her heart beat harder in her chest at the implications.
“I’m not asking you anything. I’m letting you know that I’m taking you as mine.”
**If you want to learn more about Mali and Cabute, visit Amaon.com or click here.**