“Concrete Cowboys” [Chp. 30] Cowboy!Erik Killmonger
"Happy 1 plus happy 1 is 2
Happy 2 is me and you
Our love was meant to be
Yes, we have our up's and down's
But somehow we came around
And we made each other love so free"
Mary J. Blige—"No One Else"
Miss May's hands shook as she shifted in her seat next to Erik. They sat in his grandmother's living room in front of Nana Rae's laptop with a frozen image of Kris waiting to be unpaused.
"May, relax, you're gonna make me nervous watching this," Nana Rae said patting her friend's arm.
" I haven't been this nervous since my baby defended her Masters Thesis."
"Y'all ready?" Erik asked.
Both women nodded, and Erik tapped the computer screen.
Kris sat behind a long table with four other scholars and a moderator. After introductions, a lanky white woman rose from the table and walked to a podium to present her paper. The woman read verbatim from her actual paper for twenty minutes and then there was a Q & A.
"Fast forward," Nana Rae said.
Erik forwarded the video then reversed it when Kris stood up.
"Stop, we want to see this," Nana Rae yelped.
"We need to hear her intro, Nana."
The moderator spoke about Kris's educational background and mentioned that the paper she wrote would soon get published in a magazine that Erik never heard of before.
"She looks so pretty and so studious," Nana Rae said.
"Her new glasses make her look so sharp," Miss May added.
The month previous, Kris visited an optometrist to check on her blurry vision. A rainy night looking for a house party address with Rekia made her discover she had become near-sighted. Standing at the podium, the moderator lowered the mic for Kris. She tapped a finger on her new black frames with the square lenses and tossed back the shoulder-length butterfly bob locs that Rekia put in her hair before she left Texas. Adorned in a smart blue-gray short-waisted blazer and high-collar shirt with matching slacks, Kris put out a professional appearance. She stood with a confident air at the podium as a tech assistant set up her PowerPoint and handed her a clicker to change her slides.
"She doesn't look nervous at all," Erik said.
Kris started her presentation without a paper in her hand. She glanced at her cell phone a few times to check notes, but ninety percent of her talk was off the dome. She outlined the history of Black diaspora folktales and showed pictures of weird supernatural creatures and nothing was dry or boring. Her Q & A went a little long because the audience had so many questions, and Kris stood poised and polished as she answered with an authoritative air about her. She sounded like a professor at a university giving a class lecture. When she sat down, Miss May and Nana Rae clapped heartily as if they were there in person.
"She was so good, wasn't she Rae?"
"Yes, she was. She is just brilliant… brilliant. Did y'all see how she just rattled off all those answers about the history of witches? I didn't know that Tituba character from The Crucible was based on an actual person! They made us read that book in school and I was so bored with the Puritans. I may have to go back and read that thing again. Imagine that!"
Erik's chest filled with warmth, and he folded his hands. He was itching to watch the video again just to gaze upon Kris's face again. He left for Austin with Blue and his new real estate liaison Dionne. His original location deal for the new saloon fell through and Erik was eager to find another suitable property. His mother suggested Dionne whose boutique real estate agency had a great reputation for helping young entrepreneurs. It surprised Erik that the realtor was only thirty-two with offices all throughout East Texas. She was a fine-looking Black woman and Erik kidded Blue about his flirting with her while they all ate dinner in Austin. Dionne had family there, so she spent the week with them showing off new potential sites for TLS number two. Unfortunately, being in Austin caused Erik to lose two weeks with Kris. When he returned to Mariscal, she had already flown out to Orlando.
Watching her on the laptop made him antsy. He missed talking to her. Missed seeing her at the bar as he mixed drinks. Missed her teasing him as he flirted with customers making them spend more money. He missed dancing with her at his house as he cooked them dinner and played loud music because no one could make him turn it down on his own property. He missed riding Big Man with her on Sunshine as they rode along the tributary and spotted young calves trying to catch up with the cattle as they grazed. It would be time to brand the new animals and ship many off to the slaughterhouse. He taught her a lot about their land.
Kris eased the chore of long nights working at TLS and the long days on the ranch by being around him. One smile from her or a loosely tossed snarky comment made the physical and mental labor lift from his shoulders.
He just hated that she wouldn't let him be her only one.
Erik tolerated the dating she did.
She slowed down a lot of it because of her writing. She sold two articles and outlined several after the Christmas holidays. He was excited about her sales but equally thrilled that she dropped the gas man and the barber. The garbage man was a thorn in his side. Erik's jaws grew rigid whenever he heard Savion's name. Something about the man didn't sit well with him even though she only saw him occasionally with her new schedule. The crux of the matter was that Savion seemed to pop up out of nowhere. He claimed to have some relatives in Mariscal, but no one in Erik's circle could place him with any kin, real or fictive. Black folks had play cousins and play siblings, but this man was ghost kin. Suspect. Erik had an extensive network. Everyone in Mariscal was six degrees of separation from his family. Savion wasn't on anyone's radar.
Kris was content with him. She spoke highly of Savion and Erik swallowed his disdain. Only because she was still getting into his bed and allowing Erik into hers on the regular. Each encounter grew more intimate… more passionate. They were closer than they had ever been. It was difficult to hide it from his family and the staff at TLS. His face lit up whenever she was around. They were always touching each other for no reason. If she came to pick up a tray of drinks, she'd bump his hip with hers pretending to move him out of her way. When she messed up a staff dance, he'd nudge his arm with hers in a teasing manner. Or… they'd get loud together. If there was a lull at the bar or with people ordering food, they'd chop it up about music or whatever was on the news, and they'd get so excited interacting with one another that their jovial voices would grow in volume and sound more like a couple rather than co-workers. It almost slipped over the line when she would try to cover his mouth playfully to shut him up when she disagreed with him, or he'd reach out and pinch her waist when he thought she was wrong.
Erik held bated breath after TLS hours waiting to see if she'd invite him home to her bed, or follow him back to his place. When she did neither, he'd wear a scowl on his face and go home to beat off in a lonely bed. It was too much for his heart. He wanted her to be free to figure herself out, but he also wanted her for himself, her needs be-damned. It was like being in a cement block emotionally. Complaining to her might scare her off. Making her think he was pressuring her was the last thing he wanted to do. Saying nothing only gave him part of her. He wanted all of Kristina Marie Montana.
Erik's cell buzzed.
"I need to take this," Erik said to the older women.
He stepped outside and walked toward the stable.
"Dionne, w'sup. I hope you have good news for me."
Dionne sounded breathless.
"Give it to me—"
"They accepted the offer!"
Erik stopped walking and pulled a fist toward his body.
"We'll need you back here as soon as possible to make the most of the opportunity."
"I can get down there this weekend—"
"I need you here sooner than that. They gave in to your concessions and I want fresh ink on those contracts before they have time to think about what they're giving up."
"I can't get there sooner than Friday. See if I can do an electronic signature for now until I get there."
He had to pick up Kris the next day, and he didn't want to miss seeing her the moment she touched back down on Texas soil. There was no way he was giving Savion or Rekia a chance to scoop her up and have her away from his side.
"Well, let's pray they change nothing. Bring a nice suit when you come here. The Austin Chamber of Commerce would like you to introduce yourself to the business community. It's your chance to talk about your business model."
"Okay. Friday. Congratulations Mr. Stevens."
"Thank you very much, Ms. Houghton."
Erik ended the call and took a deep breath. He was doing it. Expanding his business. Growing his portfolio. He would have a lot to celebrate at his thirtieth birthday party that coming May. Before he stepped back inside the main house, he texted Kris.
Saw the video. You killed that shit girl. Proud of you. I'll see you tomorrow!
Within a minute, she had texted him back.
Thank you! See you soon!
The grin on his face squeezed his cheeks and his heart double thumped.
She was so beautiful when he saw her stroll out of the arrival gate with her roller bag trailing behind her. A short button-up pastel-colored romper dress revealed her bow legs and he couldn't wait to get her back to her place so he could have them wrapped around him. Carrying a plush bouquet of a dozen yellow roses in his hand, Erik thrust them out to her as she approached him. Yellow was her favorite color.
"Aw! Thank you, Erik!"
They hugged, and he lifted her up making her squeal.
"I haven't been gone that long."
"Yes, you have."
He peppered her face with kisses before setting her back down. Grabbing her roller bag, he walked with her out of the airport. His truck loomed large in the covered parking area, and he tossed her suitcase in the back. Lifting her into his truck he nearly danced around his ride before climbing behind the driver's seat.
Kris stuck her nose in the flowers and when she looked over at him with her sassy glasses, a luminous smile spread across her glossy lips. Reaching over to her side, he placed his hand behind her neck and pulled her closer to him. They kissed, softly at first, but then his left hand couldn't stay still as it caressed her shoulder. Their tongues swept into needy mouths; the exploration tentative then probing with wet enthusiasm. Her fingers traced up his neck and those pretty pink nails scraped against his nape sending shivers racing down his spine.
Kris placed the flowers on the floor of the passenger side. She dropped her right hand onto his lap and felt the bulge there. He couldn't hide his excitement. He wasn't ashamed of it either. She had him so far gone that he unzipped his dark chinos so she could really feel how much he missed her. Those big Tinker Bell eyes grew wide behind her lenses, and she slapped his arm.
"So nasty," she said with a breathy groan as she tongued him down and stroked his erection. He slid his pants and underwear lower and Kris wrapped both her hands on his length and twisted her fingers around his dick like she was cracking pepper. Removing her glasses, she dropped her head in his lap and kissed the tip of his dick letting her tongue play in his slit as pre-cum beaded there. She painted her lips with the clear lubricant and licked the underside of his erection to the root where she buried her mouth on his balls. Erik made sure his grooming was tight down there, even rubbing himself down with a fragrant after-shower oil he bought just for her return. She was always mixing up some exotic oil that she slathered on her skin that made her smell like magic and desire, so he wanted to keep up.
When she started deep-throating, Erik's legs jumped. He reached out and fondled a breast through her clothes. His eyes glanced about the parking structure. SUVs surrounded them on either side of his truck and across from him was another big truck. His fingers unfastened the buttons on her dress. She sat up fast and clutched at the loose material.
"Let's go to my place," she said with a shaky voice.
Erik saw the glassy fix of her eyes. She was ready for action just like him.
"I can't wait," he said reaching for his wallet in the middle armrest.
He held a condom up for her. It was her turn to have eyes dart around for privacy. As he slipped the condom down his erection, she slid out of her panties. Erik pulled her onto his lap and made her face the steering wheel as he moved his seat back. When he was in a comfortable position, he lifted her up. She fumbled between her legs gripping his dick until she eased it inside of herself. They both gave a loud groan as she sank down on him. Unhooking her bra, he flung it onto the passenger seat and clutched at her breasts. Kris rested her legs in between his with her hands pressed down on his thighs.
Thrusting up, Erik gave her body what he had been missing for two weeks, that sweet and sexy connection that only she could give him made him desperate with yearning. She gasped every time he pushed up into her depths.
Kris gave back as much as she could by bouncing on his dick. She lifted up and down pressing her fingers deep into the meat of his strong thighs. But his need was greater, and she gave up midway and just took that thickness as it lifted her from his lap with each mighty thrust. His hands dropped to her waist to hold her in place.
"Someone's coming!" she yelped.
They heard male voices in the distance that echoed in the parking lot. Erik didn't stop fucking her. Her breasts were bouncing and jostling together with each hard push into her snug core.
The men came into view. Three athletic-looking Black men with duffle bags and bravado. The alarm on the truck in front of them chirped once, and the headlights blinked. They might not have noticed Erik and Kris right away, but her loud whimperings made them look their way.
"Ah shit, people getting busy!" one of them joked.
Erik's windows weren't dark enough to hide Kris's big bouncing breasts. The men took their time getting into their ride, their eyes sneaking furtive peeks at Kris getting pounded hard.
"Oh, God!" she moaned.
"You wanted this, remember?" he whispered harshly in her ear, "Bouncing on my dick while some men watched you. Look how they like looking at these big titties," he said lifting and squeezing them.
She exhaled into a long groan.
"You like them watching you, huh?" he gasped.
She couldn't get a sound out then, but the clenches she gave him with her sex told him she was into it. Kris was a damn exhibitionist. The man in the passenger seat was hawking her intensely.
"Look how he's watching you. Probably has his hand on his dick jerking off…"
Her head fell forward. He really started hitting that pussy hard. Frothy wetness dripped onto his crotch from her pussy lips. She creamed and cried at the same time. Her voice didn't give a damn who heard them.
"Let them see you cum on this dick—"
"Cum on my dick, baby."
Erik's lips pressed into her neck and he kissed up and down the skin there. The men in their truck drove off, and she turned her head to the side so that she could take his mouth with hers. His teeth grazed her bottom lip before he wrapped his arms around her pulling her in tight against his chest.
Her release was explosive, the hard tugs on his length helping his orgasm along. The throbbing of his balls sent tremors along with his pulsing climax. Body jerking and toes curling, Erik couldn't hold back the loud curse of "Fuck!" that flew out of his mouth. They sat together panting until they heard more voices in the parking lot. Kris pulled up the top of her dress and ignored her bra altogether. She scrambled off of his dick and helped Erik peel off the condom. They made a hasty exit back to her place.
"I can't believe you made me do that!" she said when they stepped into her little white house.
"I didn't have to twist your arm you big ole freak," he teased.
Settling her back into her home, it thrilled Erik to have Kris in his presence again. He ran out and bought the Chinese food that she requested and she told him all about her time in Orlando and the extended visit with her parents and siblings. She even saw Brandy.
"I told her about what's been going on here," Kris said shyly.
"How'd she take it?"
"She wasn't mad. I guess having a new man in her life made you a non-entity in her world now."
"Glad to hear that… I think."
Kris chuckled at that as she arranged her roses inside a green vase. She had clipped the ends of the stems with garden shears and dropped an aspirin in the water that she added to the vase and set the flowers on the living room coffee table. They ate, sipped a little gin and orange juice, and talked about his new TLS location until the late afternoon sun fell away bringing on the early traces of evening. It wasn't long before they were in her bed enjoying the joys of slow unrushed lovemaking.
Erik licked every part of her body, suckled every toe, kissed every soft butterfly loc on her head until she was weeping in his arms from all the pleasure he laid on her. He was putting in the last long strokes of his heavy dick inside of her walls when her cell buzzed. They ignored it. The house phone rang, and she raised up from the bed to answer it.
"Leave it," he said as his dick divided her folds like the parting of the red sea.
Rekia's voice rang out on the answering machine.
"Bitch! I know you're back in town. Stop ignoring my texts… unless, of course, Erik is with you. Y'all ain't fooling nobody no more. Pick up the phone! Ooh, I hate you. Call me so I can hear all about your trip. I might just keep calling your house phone… I know you can hear me. That nigga beatin' your shit up?"
Kris laughed into Erik's shoulder.
"Damn. Can't hide nothing from that woman," Erik groaned.
He shifted his weight and raised up a bit to get deep down in her. His release came on strong. He threaded his fingers with hers on the bed as the intense spurts from his dick left him breathless.
The landline rang again.
Panting, Erik wiped a loc back from Kris's face.
"She won't quit until you answer her," he whispered in her ear.
Running his tongue around the shell of her ear, he felt complete when Kris wrapped her arms around his neck. It was good to have her back.
"Maybe you can come to Austin with me," he suggested as the phone rang for the fifth time.
The answering machine clicked on again. They braced themselves for Rekia's annoying ass.
"Hey, Kris. Hope you made it back okay."
Erik snapped his head up.
That wasn't Rekia. It was a man.
Kris tried to push him up, but he pressed down on her keeping her locked in place.
"I need to answer that," she said.
The hesitation on the answering machine didn't last long. Jordan's voice continued.
"I wasn't going to call you, but I wanted you to know how glad I was to see you. I feel like we both got answers about how we… how I fucked up a good thing. I just… I feel like we can try again. We're both in a better place…"
Erik's eyes bored into Kris's face. There was something off about her eyes as she stared back at him. Her lips curled up.
"I don't know if you can forgive me for the way I left you there. I tried to give you space so I could get my shit together. You looked so happy when I saw you so maybe this time apart is what we needed. It was like old times. Especially last night. You were amazing, baby. I'm rambling now… but that's what happens with good loving. I miss you. Call me when you can. My job has a hiatus in a week, so I can come out there to see you if you want…"
Erik closed his eyes. His body became rigid.
The answering machine stopped recording, and they both heard the audible click of it shutting off. Kris had her head turned to the side. Peeling off the condom and tossing it in a wastebasket near the bed, he sat up next to her.
"That's why you stayed there an extra two days? To be with him?"
She threw an arm over her eyes. He pulled it away from her face.
"Talk to me."
Those plump lips pursed then became a thin line on her face as she pressed down on them.
"You have nothing to say?"
"He came to see me. I didn't ask him to do that. He saw my Orlando video on my social media and he took it upon himself to see me as a surprise. I didn't think there was anything wrong with that. He was already in D.C. I wanted him to see how much better I was by myself now."
"And that meant sleeping with him too?"
"Erik, you know how it is. You were like that with Vanessa at one time. You see an ex. Feelings are still bubbling close to the surface and things happen—"
"You still have feelings for him? The man who dumped you in Texas?"
Kris sat up. Her naked body looked so vulnerable next to his. What man could resist that in close proximity? Jordan wanted that old thang back and Kris let him have it.
"You know, I was cool with you doing your thing out here because I knew it didn't mean shit. The fact that you still hopped on my dick let me know you weren't straying far… but this… going backward to be with that fucking clown?"
"You don't understand—"
Erik slammed his fist into her headboard, and she jumped.
"No, you don't understand. How do you think I feel? You lied about why you were staying there longer—"
"I didn't lie. I said I was staying longer to be with my family and I did. He was out there—"
"He's not your fucking family, Kris! He's an ex-boyfriend that you were in love with who dumped you."
"I dumped him. Remember?"
"Only after he treated like shit yet again. Why do you have to be so dumb?"
"I swear to God you bitches love them struggle niggas more than you love yourselves…"
Erik pulled on his underwear and pants.
"Erik… sit down. We can talk about this like adults."
"Ain't nothing to talk about. I will not let you treat me the way Jordan treated you."
"I don't treat you like that."
"I beg to differ."
"It didn't mean anything."
"It meant something to him if he's on your answering machine begging to come back. Got your pussy game up now you wanna show off to the one nigga who don't deserve shit from you."
"Let's talk after you calm down. I can see you're mad at me."
"I'm more than mad… Kris…"
"Okay. I hear you—"
"No. You don't. I'm done with you."
She pulled on his arm. He shook her off and snatched up his shirt.
"I want you to have what you want. I really do. But you can't set me aside as your emergency dick anymore. You know what I want—"
"I want that too."
He stopped and stared at her.
"What do I want Kris?"
"You don't want me dating."
"That's not what I want. Try again."
"You don't want me interacting with Jordan anymore. Or Savion. You want an exclusive dating arrangement."
"You still don't get it. It's not about dating."
"You know I don't want to get serious… I told you the reasons, Erik."
"I heard that song and dance before, but that's not a good reason for me anymore."
"Because you're putting Jordan's shortcomings on me. I'm nothing like him. I've busted my ass these last seven months showing you how I feel about you. How I would treat you as my woman. I could give you the world and you won't let me because you project that nigga on me, and you project your own issue on me too."
"My issue? What the hell does that mean?"
"Baby, you blamed Jordan but the root problem is you. You don't know how to look out for yourself and your needs. That ain't nobody's job but yours. Jordan took advantage of that, but you let him. And now you're putting that on me as your excuse to treat me like shit. I'm not doing it anymore. I'll find someone who wants all of me for real… and will act like it in front of the entire world."
He searched her eyes for a deeper understanding, and she still couldn't see it. His heart plummeted to the floor.
"Don't you know I love you?" he whispered.
Her eyes widened.
"...love… me?" she uttered in disbelief.
Erik bit his bottom lip to keep it from trembling. Water rose behind his lids and he closed his eyes again to keep it together. He wanted her to say the words back to him. If she said the words and he could hear them clearly and with conviction, then he could forget everything he heard on that phone. She didn't. There was no love in her eyes either. Not from what he could see with the confused expression on her face. It hit him then. He spent seven months running after fool's gold.
Once his shoes were on his feet, he stepped out of her bedroom. Kris threw on a robe and ran after him, tugging on his hand trying her best to keep him in the house. Climbing into his truck, he watched her tap on his window. He rolled it down.
"Look, I won't make a scene at work. I know how to be discreet."
"Please, let's talk about this," she pleaded.
"Nah. Get your life, girl."
He drove away, her small body fading behind him in his rearview.
It was dark when he reached The Roux and drove to his house. He sat in his truck for a moment before he climbed out. Staring at his house, he felt his insides tumble and twist until he plopped down on his porch steps.
Water fell on his arms, and it took him a minute to see that he was crying. The hurt doubled him over with nausea, and he faced the dark dirt of his land with tears and hard wails that came from deep within. It hurt so bad physically that he thought he was going to pass out from the quaking in his stomach and chest. The pain was like dying. If it happened, he would've welcomed it.
She didn't love him.
Her heart still belonged to Jordan.
His cousins and family always teased Erik for being a Grandma's Boy, and he was that. If the pain didn't weigh him down, he would've gone running to Nana Rae's house and begged her to make the hurt go away. His heart splintered into a million pieces. Gripping his chest, he curled over into a ball on his porch and wept.
His only thought was that Biandro's curse was now complete.
Kris blew his phone up, and he ignored it.
He flew to Austin instead of driving the next day just so he could get drunk on his flight and forget about that short little evil vixen. What was that thing she had described in her Orlando presentation? A succubus. That's what Kris was herself. A succubus that stole his soul while fucking him. He had to remove himself from her quickly and Austin was a great escape. He packed up for an extended stay. Booked a nice hotel suite in the heart of the city.
Dionne waited for him at his arrival gate in a classy blue business suit that accentuated nice curves on her body.
"Whoa. Rough flight?" she said when she saw his face up close.
She drove him to his hotel and sat at the bar with him as he sucked down shots of Tequila and a big tumbler of whiskey.
"Want to talk about it?" Dionne asked.
Her face was full of concern at his behavior.
"It was a nasty breakup that wasn't even a real breakup. Just a slow dragging to hell," he said.
Dionne ordered herself a glass of whiskey too, and they clinked glasses.
"Tell me about this demon that brought you so low," she said.
His real estate agent looked sophisticated and astute seated next to him. There was a kindness in her burgundy brown eyes. Erik wiggled his finger to the bartender signaling the need for another tall order of brown liquor.
"She's a clever one," he fumbled out.
Dionne's eyes twinkled. She moved her barstool closer. Her sepia-kissed skin glowed with shimmery make-up.
"Tell me more," she said.
"Tell me about you instead," he suggested.
Dionne waved her finger and ordered another glass for herself and they talked a long time into the night.
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