Editor’s Note: This is the fourth chapter of The Lost Prentice, an online serial novel exclusively on the Baltimore Post-Examiner. If you missed the previous chapter, please read it before starting this latest installment. Every week we will be posting a new chapter.
Unlike Gwen, Miles was on an all time high all the way until the next morning. He rolled out of bed with a smile on his face and turned on his radio to his typical station of heavy metal to prepare for his shower. But it wasn’t the sound he was in the mood for—for once in his life. He turned the knob and began browsing through the static and the music.
He froze when he heard a deep sultry male voice sing through his speakers. “How lucky can one guy be?” asked the man, almost purring. “I kissed her and she kissed me. Like the fella once said, ‘Ain’t that a kick in the head?’”
Miles nodded in approval and then stripped down to his bare skin. He left the trail of clothes where they were as he walked over to the bathroom. Just as he turned on the water and was about to climb in, a knock sounded at the door. He had an image of Gwen standing outside his apartment, with that mischievous smile on her face. Miles quickly wrapped a towel around his hips and then casually padded over to the door.
He opened it with a cocky smile only for it to vanish completely.
“Well don’t look excited to see me, love,” Stacey said. She was in shorts and a tank. Her short hair was messy like she had just hopped out of bed. Large glasses hid her face and her lack of makeup. There was a cup of coffee in each hand. “Or were you expecting somebody else?” Her British accent was more obvious in the early morning.
“No, of course not,” Miles said turning away from her.
“Oh yes. I forgot. You always answer the door naked.” Stacey closed the door with her feet, keeping the cups of coffee upright. Then used the back of her wrist the pull her glasses off of her face.
“We’ve all seen each other naked before.”
“That we have lover but this was no accident.” Stacey annoyingly followed him into the bathroom. “And since when did you listen to Dean Martin?” She asked, perking up to the big band music bouncing off the white tiled walls.
Miles sighed. “Close your eyes.”
Stacey shut them tightly but kept her mouth open. “Be honest Miles. Who did you think was standing outside your door? “
“Nobody!” he snapped.
“Liar liar pants on fire.” She opened one eye to make sure it was safe to open the other. “Did you want your coffee?” she asked when she was sure he was in the shower.
Stacey’s hand poked into the shower with the coffee from the local cafe. Miles took it and placed it in the shelf beside his shampoo.
“You know you can tell me anything? Right Miles?” she asked after a couple of moments of silence.
There was a pang of annoyance in his stomach. “You mean the same way you share everything with me?” asked Miles harshly.
“Whatever do you mean?”
“We spend nearly everyday together. We’re best friends. We tell each other everything—or used to. Why couldn’t you tell me you were engaged to John?”
Miles started shampooing his head, scrubbing harder than needed. He could feel his anger bubbling over but for Stacey’s sake, he tried to keep it under control. His temper was quickly becoming an issue. “You know that’s not what I mean,” he snarled.
“I didn’t tell you because it hadn’t been official for more than a few days! And I wanted to tell everybody together.”
“Don’t lie to me,” warned Miles, his voice laced with ice. Annoyed with himself and his best friend, he lifted the bottle of body wash and held it in his hands to keep himself from hurting his own head anymore.
Stacey was quiet and Miles could practically hear her choosing her words carefully. “Well,” she said softly. “I knew you were going to talk John and I out of it, so I kept it to myself.”
Miles suddenly squeezed the bottle too hard. The cap burst off and the soap exploded. Afraid to slip, and shocked by his own strength, Miles stayed completely frozen. And he demanded that his blood pressured calm down as he slowly counted to ten. This rage was unlike him.
“You’re right.” Miles turned off the water, reached for his towel and wrapped himself before he stepped out of the shower. “I would have talked you out of it.”
“You think we’re making a mistake,” she said, still sitting on the toilet.
“That was yesterday,” he said, placing his hands on her shoulders. “But this is today. And I know you and John will live happily ever after. I can’t wait for your children to call me Uncle Miles.”
Stacey smiled. “Thanks love. Could you maybe put some pants on now?”
Miles laughed and kissed Stacey on her forehead. He quickly left for his room and changed into his typical pair of jeans and t-shirt. Remembering he had a coffee, he removed it from the shower and took it with him to the living room. Stacey had curled up on his couch, her feet tucked underneath her.
“So?” she asked. “Who is she?”
“Who is who?”
Stacey waited till he plopped onto the couch with her. “The girl who has you answering the door naked and changing your views.”
If he didn’t tell her about Gwen, then he would be just as bad as Stacey for not telling him about her engagement. He brushed a hand over his face. “I don’t know Stacey. I just met her four days ago.”
“Of course. I just met her but I feel like she’s known me her entire life. She seems to know everything about me. We just have this connection.”
“Does she feel the same way?”
Miles thought long and hard. He envisioned the way she looked at him, her eyes twinkling with humor and passion. The way she laughed at his comments or jokes. The way she knew the inner workings of his mind like they were her own. “I think so,” he said finally.
“Miles, that’s wonderful. What’s her name?”
“Gwen. Gwen Keridwen.”
And if Stacey didn’t believe his feelings for this mysterious girl at first, she quickly recalculated. The way he said her name; the way his voice warmed and softened. The way his eyes glazed over and flooded with adoration. His body language seemed to relax and mold itself as if he was preparing to take this girl into his arms. Stacey watched him—intrigued with his reaction. If she didn’t know any better, she would have assumed Miles Hunter had fallen goofy in love with this mystery girl. She secretly wondered if her John had the same reaction when he was telling somebody about her.
“She sounds lovely,” Stacey said. “Will you see her again?”
“I would like to—Hey!” Miles said turning to face her. “Will you meet her? I would really like your opinion.”
“Really? You want me to meet her? The first girl you’re goofy for and you want me to meet her?”
“Aright then. I’ll do it. I’m going to be here all day anyway.”
Miles beamed and dug out his cell phone from his pocket. He dialed her number which had taken him approximately ten seconds to memorize. She answered thankfully and Miles wasted no time trying to convince her to spend the day with him at his apartment. It took an hour of begging and groveling over the phone just to get her to agree. Then it took another half hour for Gwen to agree with allowing Miles to pick her up with his car.
Stacey watched him, utterly fascinated with her best friend and his feelings for the girl called Gwen. Once he hung up, she agreed to wait in his apartment for Miles to pick her up.
He drove swiftly through the town—barely obeying the speed limits. He was too eager to see her again. Miles quickly made it to the little yellow house and was about to honk the horn so she would know he was outside. But on second thought, he climbed out of the car and jogged up the pathway.
The moment he stepped onto the porch, he felt dizzy and lightheaded, his breath stolen from as if he had sprinted an entire marathon. He took a moment to gather up his strength and knocked on the door. As he waited, he looked up.
Over the red door was an inscription in ancient cursive. It read, All those of a black heart, may you be lose your breath absolutely and be rendered unable to cross into this dwelling of sanctuary.
Miles narrowed his eyes in speculation. Hadn’t he just lost his breath and felt like he was going to pass out? But a silly phrase couldn’t do that to him, and he certainly wasn’t black of heart—whatever that meant. He decided he was ridiculous to believe that a sentence carved over the door could have a physical reaction to his body and mind, however, it still had his spine prickling with curiosity.
“Miles!” Gwen said, opening the door in white wedge sandals, a frilly white summer dress, and an turquoise stone choker necklace. She sounded thrilled but her tone suddenly changed. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m good.” He avoided glancing up at the scripture once more. “You ready?”
Miles drove her back to his apartment, feeling better now that she was by his side, and now that he was as far away from the red door as humanly possible. They hadn’t even reached his own white door of his apartment when Stacey threw it open, grinning at them.
“Gwen!” shouted Stacey. “Pleasure to meet you!”
“Thank you,” Gwen said, reaching out to shake her hand. Miles had already learned her tell. She would purposely blink three times before she was going to start saying odd things. And sure enough, there was the three blinks. “You’re his best friend. He’s very fond of you. You’re like his sister.”
“Did he tell you that?” Stacey beamed over Gwen’s head at Miles.
“I just get the feeling that you are. Just make sure you have your straws where I can see them.”
Stacey blinked a couple of times. Her eyes very confused. “Straws?”
Gwen hardly noticed that she had lost Stacey. Miles on the other hand saw it the second she had, and was thoroughly entertained with the fact.
“A stranger stabs you in the front; a friend stabs you in the back; a boyfriend stabs you in the heart, but best friends only poke each other with straws,” Gwen said. “It’s a famous quote by an unknown author. May we come in?”
“Uh, of course. Forgive me.”
Stacey moved aside and allowed the two of them to enter Miles’ apartment. Stacey and Miles plopped down onto the couch. Gwen smoothed down her dress from the back and then gracefully sat down.
“So Gwen, how did you meet Miles?” asked Stacey.
“He chased after me,” she said frankly.
“I beg your pardon?”
Gwen was still smiling pleasantly. “He chased after me. I was just walking over to my bus stop when he stopped me.”
“Miles? Miles Hunter?” she asked, still very confused. Gwen merely nodded. “You got this Miles to chase after you?”
“Well, I didn’t exactly try. You should plant some red roses.”
“Roses?” Stacey asked, surprised at the sudden change of topics. Miles had already gotten used to her sudden outbursts of observations and watching Stacey look as confused as she did comforted him.
“Mmhm,” Gwen said nodding. “Plant some red roses. And pink ones as well just outside your window. It’ll help your love grow into something marvelous. Not that your love isn’t already wonderful. You’re very much in love with your man. You’re best friend. Childhood friend. You’re exactly alike. Whatever his soul is, yours is made up the same way. And the marriage will only amplify what you feel for one another.”
Stacey was still dumb struck. She turned to Miles. “Did you tell her?”
Miles smiled, slowly shaking his head. He lifted his arm and draped it over Gwen’s shoulders. “Never mentioned you or John.”
Stacey turned back to Gwen. “How did you know?” she asked quietly
“You’re glowing. Anybody could guess,” Gwen said, grinning. “And you’re wearing an engagement ring. A helpful hint.”
“But nobody could guess he was my friend since four or that we’re the carbon copy of each other.”
Miles’ favorite smile spread on Gwen’s face. The sly mischievous one. “I’m a good guesser.”
“I’ll say,” she said watching Gwen carefully.
“So,” Miles said, pleased beyond reason. “Shall we watch a movie?”
The three of them watched movies together, laughing and teasing each other like they had done it for years. Stacey had finally warmed up to Gwen by the third movie. It was hard not to like Gwen with her down to earth roots and fascinating thought process. Miles kept close to her, nearly smothering her but if it bothered her, she was awfully good at hiding it.
He kissed her neck, every time she laughed. He nibbled on her knuckles every time she smiled. Needless to say, Gwen did both of those quite often and after the first few bursts of laughter, she was laughing on purpose just so she could feel his lips brush against her skin! If Stacey wasn’t in the room with them, Gwen was sure Miles would have ravished her till she was through with him. But she could sense that Miles was trying to take that aspect of their relationship slow. Thought after what she had sensed and felt in the car after their first date, she was desperate to feel it again, despite his reservations. So Gwen decided, as Stacey said her goodbyes later that evening, she was going to take things into her own hands.
Screw the rules, Gwen thought as she waited patiently for Miles and Stacey to finish the conversation they had taken outside.
“What do you think of her?” whispered Miles, once the door was shut behind the two of them.
Stacey bit her lip, pulling her sunglasses over her eyes. “She’s definitely a strange girl. I mean that in the best possible way. And I could see how her oddities would draw you over to her. She’s a lovely girl and definitely very gorgeous. You’re very lucky she’s strange in fact, because a normal girl wouldn’t be so inclined to move things so quickly.”
“I agree. But do you like her?”
Stacey smiled, but Miles missed it falter as he glanced back at the door. “Very much.”
“Good. I’m glad.” Miles hugged her one last time and kissed her on the cheek. “Get home safely Stace.”
Miles walked back into his apartment and found Gwen standing in the center of the kitchen. She turned around, a quick smile spreading on her face like she was holding an exceptionally juicy secret from him. Miles couldn’t help but smile in return.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked, crossing to her.
“I looked in your fridge and your cupboards. You have so much food in all of them.”
“To be honest, my mother stocked them as much as she could the week I moved in. She thought I would learn by myself. It didn’t happen. In fact, the things in there are probably bad.”
“No. They aren’t spoiled. Would you like me to cook for you?”
Miles’ face lit up with glee. “Would you?”
“Sure. It’s the least I could do after you were such a gracious host.” She turned from him to the fully stocked kitchen.
“What are you looking for?”
“Chile. Peppers. Eggs. I’m thinking breakfast for dinner today.”
Miles leaned back onto the counter and quietly observed her work.
Gwen grabbed a red bell pepper and took it to the sink. She rinsed briefly and then sliced it in half, removing the stem and the seeds. As she diced the pepper, she said, “The bell pepper is the sweetest of the peppers. The peppers were grown and mastered by the Aztecs but it was Columbus who introduced it to Europe. Then the Spanish and the Portuguese spread it through the world.”
She opened a can of tomato sauce, added some water and then poured it into a saucepan with the diced pepper and an entire red chile pepper. Letting that cook, she heated up another pan and tossed in a couple of pieces of bread to toast.
“Capsaicin is what gives the chile pepper its spice. It’s also a very good source of Vitamin E. The pepper that is.”
Gwen kept her back to him as she slayed over the hot stove. Miles couldn’t help himself any longer. He walked across the kitchen, careful not to make a sound. Wrapping his arms around her from behind, he nuzzled his head into the crook of her neck and gave her yet another light kiss. She was so much smaller than him; he was bent down nearly a foot to caress her neck with his nose.
She leaned back into him, shuddering slightly at the way his strong body seemed to be molded perfectly for her figure. This was the most contact the two of them had shared together. And Gwen could already feel herself aching for more. She placed a hand on his wound arms, and then raised one to cup his jaw. Miles kissed the inside of her wrist.
But all too quickly, he let go. He had been holding her for nearly a minute, but to her it felt like it had gone by in a second.
Gwen regained some of her dignity and resumed cooking. After removing the cooked chile, she added the beaten eggs and kept stirring them till they were scrambled. She seasoned with salt and pepper, and served it on the toast.
“I hope you enjoy it,” she said, handing him the plate.
“There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Miles scooped up his eggs and shoveled them into his mouth. It was the spiciest thing he had ever tasted! It felt like he had taken a bite of fire itself! His tongue and throat were burning as if he did. He looked up to tell her so when he noticed just the way Gwen looked that very moment.
He hadn’t noticed till now just how short the summer dress was. It fell just barely south of the law and was made of lace with holes large enough to tease. It clung to her body which was a perfect hourglass shape. Her breasts were small but luscious and were currently being flaunted with a daring square neck—a dress he wouldn’t have ever pictured her in. It was much too revealing. And enticing. Miles licked his lips.
His gaze moved up her body to her face. The soft yellow light of his kitchen bulbs couldn’t dim the brightness of her citrine eyes. They were watching him as he watched her. She was biting on her bottom lip—pleading with him to take another bite.
He didn’t want to taste eggs anymore. Never wanted to in the first place. He wanted to taste her, all of her.
Miles dropped the plate ignoring the shatter and the spray of food, picked up Gwen with a passionate snarl and dropped her onto the counter. Now equal in height, he crushed his lips to hers and flicked his tongue through her teeth. Her legs parted and wrapped themselves around his middle. He hiked her dress up to her waist and ran his hands along her delicate thighs.
It was a clash of emotions. There was passion, desperation, and aggression. Miles was mad to have her. His blood was hot for her; his body vibrating with need.
He clutched her around her tiny waist. His head tilted, deepening the kiss. Miles could taste the heat from the peppers on her lips. She bit on his lower lip, sending signals straight to his toes. He could sense her willingness and her desire to explore the connection the two of them seemed to have. But did he really want their first time together to be in the kitchen?
Miles jerked back. Gwen’s cheeks were flushed, her lips swollen and her golden eyes dark with passion.
“The bedroom,” was all Miles said, scooping her up and sprinting over to his room.
He dropped her onto the bed and then he on her. A wave a pleasure moved through him as he heard her groan. She in turn swallowed his when her tiny hands started unbuckling his belt. He couldn’t seem to get enough of her, couldn’t seem to taste enough of her. Sampling everything from her shoulder, to her breast, to her throat, to her ear, he mentally noted each of her reactions. Tasting her shoulder gave her goosebumps. Tasting her chest had her arching into him. Tasting her throat had her moaning his name. Tasting her ear had her shuddering.
Clothes finally started coming off, hands were eager to explore. They were flesh to flesh and heartbeat to heartbeat. Neither of them were slowing down, even as the seconds clicked to minutes and the minutes clicked to hours.
to be continued…