Life After Dark
Chapter 52

'Black cat nine lives
Short days long nights
Livin' on the edge
Not afraid to die
Heart beat real strong
But not for long
Better watch your step
Or you're gonna die...'
Keesha could hear the pulsating beat of Janet Jackson's rock tune long before she reached the hallway which led to her apartment. Since only she and Gina were Ruby's tenants at the present time, the culprit could only be one person.

Normally, Keesha wouldn't mind the having her privacy invaded by her friend's music, but not tonight. Tonight, she needed peace and quiet. Thoughts of apples and oranges had permeated her mind most of the day. She had been there for her clients, but always in the back of her mind, her subconscious began to compare the fruit.

Apples. Red and delicious. Granny Smith. Gala. Fuji. Macintosh. So many different varieties with so many different tastes. Sometimes, tart and other times, sinfully sweet. AJ was definitely apples, she had decided. All of the different kinds wrapped up in one package.

He had been tart, and rightfully so, on the day she told him about Jason. He was in pain and he lashed out. His apology earlier that day warmed her heart and reminded her of his sweetness. She was also reminded of how sinfully delicious he could be when his lips found hers. When she pulled away from his embrace, she did so with a heavy heart. She hadn't wanted to pull away, but a vision of an orange popped into her mind and she couldn't help herself.

Mm...oranges, Keesha thought as her footsteps took her closer to Gina's door. Big, plump, and juicy. Biting into the perfect slice was like tasting a piece of heaven on earth. The sweet juice of the fruit would explode in her mouth and leave a refreshing feeling in its wake. Oranges made her feel alive. The tangy fruit awakened her taste buds and sent shivers up and down her spine. Since becoming reacquainted with Jason, she realized that he was the orange.

Jason awakened her senses in ways she had never realized existed before. Sweet and caring one moment and in the next, sexy and flirtatious. She never knew what to expect whenever her eyes met his. One touch, be it accidental or intentional, could make her tingle from head to toe. He knew how to get to her and it excited her. His softly spoken statement at lunch brought wicked images to her mind. She tried to admonish him with her eyes and tone of voice, but she knew he saw through her.

Not wanting to deal with the images and different tastes, Keesha shook the thought of fruit from her mind and heart as she knocked loudly on the solid, wooden door. No answer. She contemplated whether or not a good swift kick would get Gina's attention, but she decided against it. Ruby might not appreciate having damage done to her property. Keesha decided to use a tried and true method to reach her friend. She yelled.



AJ smiled to himself as he slammed the front door shut. His mind wasn't on his ecentric family. His thoughts were on Keesha and the time they had shared on the Twenty-third floor. Just talking to her set his soul at ease, but kissing her... Kissing her made his body ache with longing.

He wanted her back. As they kissed and later when he held her, he knew that she wanted him, too. He was almost positive that if he had gone after her, she would not have pulled away from him again. But, instead, he remained in the enclosed garden. Alone.

He wanted all of her, and he wanted her to be sure that she wanted all of him. A healthy libido could be a dangerous thing as his one night with Carly had taught him. He didn't want sex to be the driving force in having Keesha back in his life again. He wanted love to bring her back and nothing else.

AJ's feet were headed in the right direction as he moved to climb the stairs. He needed the sanctuary of his bedroom and peace and calmness he would find there. The rest of the house provided little cover for any Quartermaine who wished for his or her thoughts to remain private and untarnished by a negative point of view. In AJ's present state of mind, he was determined to keep and hold only positive thoughts. In order for him to stay true to himself, he had better get up the staircase, and quickly.

"Oh, AJ!"

Damn! AJ muttered under his breath. He had been thatclose. Turning on his heel, he moved to face the owner of the gravelly voice. "Yes, Grandfather?"

"Come in here with me," Edward said, indicating the living room. Dressed in gray silk pajamas and matching dressing gown, he appeared to be ready for bed. With Edward, looks could be and usually were deceiving. He wouldn't be relaxed enough for slumber for several more hours. His mind was focused on more pressing issues. The number one issue being AJ.

"Can't it wait? I've had a long day-"

"No, it can't! A long day!? You have no idea what a long day is. Come along now," Edward called out as he crossed the foyer and disappeared into the living room.

AJ watched Edward as he moved from his line of vision. If he ran, he could be inside his room with the door firmly shut and maybe even locked before Edward could turn around. AJ wanted to do just that, but he couldn't. He wanted respect at ELQ and he wanted Edward to take him seriously. If he ran away now, it would do no good and would only turn around to bite him in the ass later. No, he'd see what his grandfather wanted and then, he'd go upstairs, close the door and let dreams of Keesha fill his night.


"You were great today."

Jason said the words softly as he gently patted the sleeping baby. Michael was pooped and fell asleep earlier than usual. Before, Jason wouldn't mind if Michael's sleep was interrupted. He loved the look of relief and love Michael's eyes gave him whenever Jason rocked him back to sleep. But, as much as Jason loved those quiet times together, tonight he wanted to spend the night alone with his thoughts.

No, that wasn't true. The last thing Jason wanted to be was alone. He would much rather be with someone. With Keesha. He wanted her in his bed and wrapped lovingly within the safety of his arms. He wasn't teasing when he told her he'd like to take her slowly. He was serious. His eyes had glowed with humor so as not to put her off. He hadn't intended to say the words aloud, but once they were out there, he couldn't take them back.

As Jason left Michael's room and moved to his, he realized that he was glad his subconscious had decided to voice his thoughts. His words had affected her. She tried to hide it by giving him the infamous Keesha Ward glare, but he saw through it. She wanted him to take her slowly and again and again. If she allowed herself the pleasure, he would do as he had many times as she wanted and for the rest of their lives if she would let him.

But, sex was not the answer, he thought. He wanted her, but not for sex. He wanted to make love to her. He wanted her to make love to him. Dammit! He wanted her to love him again. There were times when he thought she did. She'd look at him with her expressive brown eyes and his heart would expand with hope. Then, in the next instant, she would shut herself off.

He knew Keesha better than he knew anyone else, except for Michael. She was the type of woman who wore her heart on her sleeve. If she liked a person, he or she would know it. If she didn't like a person, she didn't try to hide that either. Jason, both versions, was good at reading people. He knew why they did the things they did and there were times when he also knew how they justified their actions. Reading Keesha, in that regard, was not difficult for him. She shut herself down because of him.

She didn't trust him. Jason Morgan had hurt her and she was afraid the Jason who had insinuated himself into her life would hurt her, too. He would find a way to ease her doubts and help her realize that the man he used to be was gone. He was never coming back and he would never hurt her again. Never.

Jason settled himself against his pillows. He reached for the cordless which was on his nightstand. He didn't hesitate for a second as his fingers pressed the seven digits. The phone was answered on the first ring.


Jason paused as he allowed the sound of her voice to melt through him. Taking a deep breath he said, "Hi."

"Jason?" came Keesha's surprised voice through the receiver.

"Yeah," he smiled.

"Do you realize what time it is?"


Keesha's laughter sounded soft against his ear. "Is that all you can say?"

"Yeah," Jason chuckled softly. He listened to her gentle laughter again. In his mind, he could see her shaking her head. He wished he could see the beautiful sight in person. "I guess I should apologize for calling you so late."

She laughed out loud again. "Well, if you feel that way about it, don't apologize."

"That's not what I meant," he laughed, blushing like a fool and thanking God that she couldn't see.

"What did you mean?" Keesha asked, softly.

All traces of laughter were gone from her voice which alerted Jason to the seriousness of her question. To go for humor would insult her and to tell her the truth might scare her away. Sometimes, a happy medium never presented itself, he thought.

"Jason, is everything okay?"

Her question broke him from his reverie. He lowered himself deeper under the covers as he answered her question. "I'm fine." He took a second before he continued. "I shouldn't have called you so late and I really do apologize. But... I wanted to wish you good-night."


Oh? Jason repeated to himself. He had anticipated annoyance and had hoped for something much more, but definitely not 'oh.' What did 'oh' mean? Indifference? Annoyance? Pleasure? Come on, sweetheart, give up a clue, Jason silently begged.

"You don't have to apologize. I wish a good-night to you, too."

Later, as Jason drifted off to sleep and dreamt about a second chance with Keesha, he was positive he heard a smile in her voice as she wished him good-night, but he still didn't have a clue as to what 'oh' meant. Oh, well.

Chapter 53

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