Keesha stepped out onto the balcony just in time to see the sun setting in the distance. She drew a deep breath. The scent of pine and approaching rain filled the warm air. She leaned against the solid wood railing and stared at the lapping waters of the lake down below. The beauty of the mountains, the serenity and solitude was just what she needed.
Simoneís offer of the Hardy cabin made the perfect retreat for her time of self-reflection, and after almost a week of quiet and intense soul-searching the doubts and uncertainties that plagued her for the past months came to an end. Finally, everything was clear again, and tomorrow she would go back to Port Charles with a clear conscience and made up mind. A smile tickled her lips. She knew who she wanted to spend her life with. She only wished it hadnít taken so long to figure out.
A single raindrop splashed her forehead, before the clouds opened and unleashed a monstrous torrent. Keesha squealed as the surprisingly cold water pelted her. Soaked to the skin, she raced into the house, pulling the scrunchie from her soggy hair along the way.
"Looks like I got here in the nick of time."
Keesha closed the door. She had to be hearing things. Releasing a breath, she turned to find bright blue eyes and a happy grin. She didnít imagine it. "AJ, what are you doing here?"
His gaze traveled the length of her body, lingering on the drenched white halter t-shirt that provided a nearly unobstructed view of her breasts, left painfully erect from the cool summer rain. She rolled her eyes. The one occasion she goes braless, she comes out looking like the winner of a wet t-shirt contest. Crossing her arms over her chest, Keesha met AJís smile with a scowl. "Answer my question," she instructed.
AJís cheeks blanched bright pink. He shrugged, jamming his hands in the pocket of his jeans. "I was worried about you being up here all by yourself. And with this downpour, looks like with good reason."
"Did you forget the little detail of me wanting to be by myself?"
He stepped forward. "I remembered, but I missed you." His forefinger trailed her jaw before moving on to trace the outline of her lower lip. Keeshaís stomach flip-flopped and the damp material against her chest grew a little tighter. She cursed her body for falling so easily to the spell of his touch. "Thought you could use some company," he said.
Keesha willed her heart to stop pounding. Despite her bodyís response to AJ, she didnít appreciate his total disregard to her wishes. She hugged her arms tighter around her and stuck out a defiant chin. "I didnít want company."
AJ tilted his head. A slight smile curved his mouth. "You saying you didnít miss me?" He pouted.
Her first instinct was to lie after his weak and very blatant attempt at half-hearted sensitivity, but thought better of it. She did miss him. "No, I am not saying that."
"I knew it. I knew you missed me, too." AJ closed the distance between them and lowered her arms from her body. His hungry eyes devoured her. Leaving her feeling exposed and wanton. "You are so beautiful."
"AJ, we Ė"
His quick and immediate possession of her lips stifled Keeshaís words. The kiss, warm and gentle yet fiery and demanding, rattled her senses. Her lips parted, granting him silent consent to deepen the kiss. His arms tightened around her. Her heart raced and the room seemed to spin. The way he made her feel. God, he smelled so good.
AJís hands eased underneath her wet shirt, his warm touch welcoming against her chilled skin. A low moan rumbled deep in her throat as his exploring tongue raked against hers. His fingertips trailed up and down her back, molding her to him before snaking around the front to take possession of her breasts. He pinched her taut nipples, sending a bolt of electricity shooting up her spine.
What the hell was she doing?
Finding some much needed inner strength, Keesha pulled out of the passionate clinch.
"Weówe need to talk, AJ," she stammered, struggling to catch her breath.
"We can talk later, Keesha." His hands rested at the small of her back, pulling her closer to his hard body. "Thereís something else Iíd rather we do right now." The throbbing erection pounding against her thigh told Keesha just what he had in mind.
Succumbing would be so easy, but it would be wrong. Keesha stepped back, shaking her head. "No, we need to talk now. Iíve made a decision."
"A decision? About you and--"
"About everything," she interjected. Her body trembled. Be it from the damp clothing or the idea of sharing her decision, she didnít know. Once she divulged her choice, there would be no turning back. "Iím gonna get out of these wet clothes, and then weíll talk."
She pressed her hand to AJís lips. He closed his eyes and expelled a lingering breath. "Iíll be right back."
"Hope I wasnít gone too long." Keesha poked her head into the kitchen. Her curly tresses hung freely, framing her pretty face. "What are you up to?"
AJ placed the lemon he sliced onto a saucer. She wasnít gone long, but every second felt like an eternity. He needed to do something to keep his mind occupied. What exactly did she decide? Did she choose him or his brother?
"I put on some tea. I thought it would help take the chill off," he explained. Keesha padded into the kitchen in white footie socks. She wore roomy gray jogging pants and a long blue t-shirt. And sadly, a bra, too. "You look cute."
Her eyes brightened. "I feel warmer." A slight smile turned her lips. "Thanks for making the tea. I could really use it."
"You carry the kettle and saucer, and Iíll grab some cups and everything else."
Settled on the couch in the wide-open space that served as the living room, Keesha filled the two mugs with the steaming liquid. "You want honey or sugar?" she asked.
She was being so polite. AJ swallowed his uneasiness. "Sugar," he answered.
Keesha added two spoons of sugar, and extended the cup. "I know you like your coffee sweet, so I think this will be perfect." His hands wrapped around hers as he accepted the tea. Her soft skin felt cool to the touch. Her brown eyes gazed into his. She sucked in a breath.
He took the cup and set it on the table. "I canít read you, Keesha. Whatís going on?"
She squeezed a lemon wedge into her cup. "What I said. Iíve made a decision." After blowing on the hot beverage, she took a couple sips. "This is good," she said, hugging the cup to her chest and tucking her legs under her bottom..
"How are things with us?" he asked.
"You said you made a choice."
Keesha nodded and took another sip. "It wasnít easy," she said.
"I imagine not."
"I wasnít expecting you."
"I know." AJ added two lemons to his cup and took a drink. He wasnít a fan of hot tea, but it wasnít too bad. "I wanted to see you. I thought it would be a pleasant surprise."
Keesha stared at him for a long moment. Her expression noncommittal. His uneasiness increased.
"You never said how you found me. Iím certain neither Justus nor Simone told you, and Granny Mae wouldnít."
"Youíre right, they didnít. I hired someone to find you."
"Someone?" Keesha raised a curious eyebrow. "A private investigator?" she asked, setting the cup on the table.
He answered with a nod. Keesha sighed.
"Okay, youíre upset." He placed his cup next to hers and took her hands in his. "Iím sorry."
"No, AJ, youíre not." She shook her head. "Youíre not sorry."
"Alright, Iím not sorry, but I do love you." He brought her hands to his lips. "I love you very much, Keesha."
"I know you do, but you didnít have to come here to remind me of that. AJ, this is why I wanted some time alone. I needed to know what I feel."
Keesha pulled her hands away and moved to the picture window across the room. AJ followed. She couldnít be too angry with him for showing up. Not after the kiss they shared. He eased up behind her. She smelled of the rose lotion she loved so much. Soft and sweet. Kneading her shoulders, he grazed her neck with kisses. Her body tensed. She shrugged him away. "AJ, donít."
He bristled. His face tingled as though he were slapped. He turned her to face him. "Keesha, baby, donít be upset at me for loving you."
"Your loving me is not why Iím upset, itís youró Itís the way you do the things you do. Itís always about what you want."
"Let me finish," she said, her tone direct, but not loud or scolding. "I have been going crazy with my feelings for you and Jason. You knew that. I said I needed time alone, but because you wanted to see me, what I wanted didnít matter."
"Keesha, I Ė"
"But itís okay. Getting away was the best decision I ever made, and thankfully, I had enough time by myself to examine everything in my heart."
"And the conclusion you reached?"
Keesha closed her eyes for a long moment before finally meeting his gaze. He detected remorse in her brown eyes. She brushed her finger along his cheek. His heart sank. Her touch felt different--sympathetic. "I love you, AJ. I always will."
"Oh, no." He stepped away, shaking his head as realization threw a final punishing blow. "No, no, no. I donít want to hear the ĎLetís be Friendsí speech, Keesha."
"Itís not a speech."
"But itís what youíre gonna say, right? You chose Jason, didnít you?"
Keesha nodded. "Yes, AJ, I did."
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