Author: Cardyn Brooks
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Private Moments Publishing
Release Date: Jan 21 2016
Edition: eBook & Print
When is love a safe haven, a shield or a launch pad? When is it a mine field or a trap?
Dodging Eros, Through Past, Present and Pleasure is something different about love.
Cupid is not simply a cherubic prankster.
Cupid is a tireless hunter. He’s dangerous.
While men and women bait and lure each other into the tricky gauntlet of attraction, Cupid circles, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
Siblings Danya, Monica, and Warwick Fullerton come from a family tradition of love that endures. They understand the risks and rewards of loving and being loved, but the intersection of the politics of pleasure with the evolution of 21st-century society versus entrenched ideas about who is expected to love whom challenges them to fight for their beliefs, which differ from their parents’ ideas.
Dodging Eros uses the early 20th-century past as prologue about the present day to frame the generational shifts in the risks of loving and being loved as the Fullertons confront their personal demons and battle The Fellowship, a secret society of power brokers conceived during the era of U.S. Prohibition now expanded into a modern international network of corruption.
Bossy v. Moody
Danya and Rick: Their Beginning
Mona Fullerton snagged her husband’s upper arm and tugged until he slowly stepped a few paces backward out of the short hallway in front of the food prep area and into the walk-in pantry in their family bakery in Darlingfield, Virginia.
“Stop looking at our new worker like you’re planning to put him in a headlock, John,” she whispered as they both watched Danya, their youngest child, show Frederick Maxwell how to knead and shape dinner rolls for the final rise. Mona thought the two young people looked adorable standing next to each other in their matching Full Bake ball caps and t-shirts.
“Oh, no, ma’am, a headlock is too good for that boy who keeps looking at our baby girl.” Bewilderment seeped through the menace in the soft growl of his whispered threat.
Mona shifted her gaze away from her daughter’s budding summer romance with the young man who was working off what he owed for his share of replacing the front window of the bakery when he and his friends decided in their drunken inspiration to use the wrought-iron bench on the sidewalk as a ramp for practicing their daredevil skateboard tricks. She thanked God that it was three skateboards instead of three bodies that crashed through the glass.
While her husband scowled at their daughter’s would-be beau, Mona studied John’s stern profile and still recognized the tenderhearted boy and former Black Panther civil rights activist in the man standing beside her.
“Rick is a decent boy, John. He stayed and waited for the police even though his two friends ran,” she said quietly, reminding him of facts he already knew.
She embraced him with one arm around his waist and squeezed when he chuffed with grudging acknowledgement.
“John, your ladybug is now a young woman who’s coming into her own power. We need to trust her to live her life based on everything we’ve taught her.
“Plus, this is just a summer flirtation. In six weeks Danya returns to State and Rick goes back to school in Colorado a few days later.”
Mona’s words were a consoling reminder to herself as well as to her worried husband because at first she had dismissed the idea that this smart, good-looking, privileged white boy was seriously interested in pursuing Danya. But weeks of observing the boy’s awareness of and attentiveness to Danya had made his respectful intentions obvious.
Rick also let Danya scold him about cheerful eye contact and using words instead of grunts when serving customers who might choose to buy their baked goods elsewhere from more courteous workers.
Mona couldn’t blame her daughter for being curious about Rick. She understood that times were different now. Interracial dating wasn’t as rare or dangerous as it had been during Mona’s younger years, but she believed that all three of her children would choose to marry Black people when they were ready to settle down. She needed to believe it for her own peace of mind.
“Come on, John,” she said. “Glaring at the boy won’t change anything. Let’s finish payroll.”
Mona counted his heavy sigh accompanied by his slow turn toward the business office as a win for all four of them--Danya, Rick, John and herself.
Hours later and two blocks away from the bakery, Danya said, “Rick, get in the car right now. Please. It’s raining. And lightning! Your parents wouldn’t want you to risk getting electrocuted.”
Rick wasn’t so sure. His parents had been furious with him when they came to get him at the police station a month ago the night he and his friends broke the big front window at the Fullerton Bakery. They’d taken him into one of the interrogation rooms and expressed their disappointment with his poor choices: underage drinking, getting drunk, destroying private property, skating outside of a skate park, cowardly friends.
In fact, his dad had said Rick’s decision to remain at the scene of the crime was the only reason the Fullerton’s weren’t filing a complaint and the police weren’t pursuing any criminal charges against him. It was also the reason his parents were taking away his driving privileges for the entire summer, but not grounding him. Friends could pick him up and drop him off for social activities only. Rick had to walk or ride his bike--like a little kid!--to and from the early Saturday morning alcohol education classes at the police station, his restitution work at the bakery and his regular summer intern job as a physical endurance trainer in the evenings at the YMCA. Weight training combined with walking and running to his two jobs meant he was stronger and more physically fit than he’d ever been. He’d completed the mandatory alcohol ed course last weekend with his former friends. So that torture was done. Thank you, sweet lamb of God.
Rick stopped at the corner when Danya stopped for the red light at the empty intersection. He bent low to make eye contact with her through the half-lowered passenger window on the ancient compact car her grandmother used to drive around Darlingfield before she got too sick to renew her driver’s license.
“Boss Dan, when we’re not at the bakery I don’t have to do what you say. Go on home. I’m fine.”
He tapped the roof of her car, then stood and stepped off the curb as the traffic light glowed green.
Danya slid the car into first, then second gear, pacing Rick as he jogged along the sidewalk. He was drenched from head to toe. Water splashed up to his knees with each of his quick, long strides.
When the steady downpour instantly switched to a deluge of slanting sheets of rain, Danya sped up to turn right at the next intersection, stopping abruptly to block his path. She leaned over to unlock the door and shoved it open.
“Rick, please let me take you to the YMCA,” she yelled to be heard over the whooshing rain when he grabbed the edge of the door in order to slam it closed. “Save your stoic endurance for your clients at the gym, Moody Broody Maxwell!”
Rick got into her car. Because he was soaked down to the bone and tired of worrying that Danya might wreck her car while dividing her attention between watching him and navigating the slick streets. He pulled the door closed with a slam, adjusted the seat as far back as it would go and still felt cramped as he fastened his seat belt before he rolled up the window, then turned to watch Danya’s expressive face while she pulled a k-maneuver to get back onto the road to the YMCA. The enclosed space filled his head with the smell of wet fabric softener mixed with spiced dough and Danya’s unique savory scent.
“Thanks for the ride,” he said, wiping his wet face and slicking back his wet hair with the wet palms of his hands. “So you’re naturally bossy all of the time.”
“Yes.” She nodded, then turned to smile at him in a way that made him smile, too.
For the next two blocks they argued about how he planned to get home after work. Danya speculated aloud about rearranging her evening plans in order to work out until the end of Rick’s shift. By the time she pulled up to the employee entrance for the YMCA Rick had agreed--promised--to call his parents if it was still raining later.
“Did you catch Rick before he left the bakery, Glen?”
His wife Jane’s melodious voice floated to him as he closed and locked the front door.
“No,” he said while taking off his Colorado Academy ball cap, shaking out of his trench coat and hanging it on the top edge of the open door to the front closet as his wife’s soft footsteps tapped closer.
“No?” she asked before sweeping her gaze over him from head to toe, then leaning up to kiss him on the lips and pulling back quickly when he reached for her.
“I’ve seen a lot of lightning, Glen. Where is our son?”
He grabbed her soft hand and squeezed it gently to reassure her.
“The Fullerton’s youngest was dropping Rick off when I traced his route from the bakery to the gym. He looked wet. That’s on me,” Glen said as they walked down the central hall toward the kitchen. “I know Rick takes everything I say about rules of conduct literally. I should have reminded him to call home for a ride when I heard rain in the forecast.
“Thank you, sweetheart,” he said when Jane placed a mug of hot coffee in front of him as she sat next to him with her own steaming mug of the strong brew he preferred.
“I took away his driving privileges because seeing that broken plate glass window and imagining Rick cut and bloodied, maimed or dead still wakes me up in a cold sweat some nights. I wanted the punishment to inflict so much aggravation on him that he’ll never do anything that stupidly dangerous again.
“But he should know that I don’t want him to get sick in the rain or struck by lightning. Right, Jane. Why doesn’t he know that? Why didn’t he call?”
Jane watched her husband chug his coffee and wondered for the thousandth time in the past two years what she could do to mend the widening rift between Glen and their son.
Some of it was due to Rick’s evolution from boy to man, where their son’s very liberal leanings clashed with Glen’s life-long conservative ideals. Jane suspected that a young man’s need to establish his own identity separate from his father’s was the source of most of their communication problems.
“Glen, Rick has strictly followed his punishment rules without any slip-us for the past month. Otherwise, Melissa would have told us since she never passes on an opportunity to torment her older brother.”
They both laughed.
When their shared amusement faded, she asked, “What if we allow him to drive to and from his jobs only? It worries me when he leaves before dawn to go to the bakery, and gets home from the gym after sunset. Darlingfield is a safe place, but criminals are opportunists and someone might view Rick as an easy target because he’s by himself--despite his size and obvious physical strength.”
Jane stopped talking even though additional arguments hovered on the edge of her tongue. She knew her husband well enough to understand that he had started this conversation so she could convince him of what he already knew: The severity of Rick’s penance had made its point.
They sipped their coffee in silence until Glen asked for a refill. While Jane stood and walked to the counter, her husband knocked his knuckles once against the kitchen table.
“You’re right, Jane. We’ll lift some of his driving restrictions. Let him drive directly to and from work. I’ll tell Rick when I pick him up tonight. What time’s he off?”
Jane glanced at her son’s work schedule taped to the side of the refrigerator.
She brought the pot over to the table and half-filled both of their mugs. Once she’d placed the nearly empty pot on the trivet in the center of the table and reseated herself, Jane caught her husband’s eye as he sipped.
“After you tell Rick about his partially restored driving privileges, Glen, remind him to make sure he protects himself and his future every time he’s with a girl.”
Her husband paused, lowering his mug without breaking eye contact. “You think he’s fooling around with the Fullerton girl?”
Jane thought about the look on Rick’s face the few times he’d griped to her about Danya’s high expectations for his work performance at her family’s bakery. In Jane’s opinion her son’s attitude reflected more intrigue than annoyance.
“No, I don’t think he’s done anything with her. Yet. But I think he wants to.”
Glen liked the Fullertons. His department supervisor at the municipal water treatment plant always hired them to cater their holiday parties. Everyone in the Fullerton family was professional and well-spoken. Over the years he and John Fullerton had agreed on more than one issue at Darlingfield town meetings and school fundraisers, but Glen still believed that keeping things simple with personal relationships was best for everyone.
“We’ll swing by the drugstore on the way home.”
Cardyn Brooks writes erotica as social commentary. Her C. X Brooks persona writes edgier variations on similar themes.
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