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**Sneak Peek**

When I see you

Yani

I pressed Corrine into the door as her hands rested within the waistband of my jeans, pulling me to her. I kissed her as she teased me with those long slender fingers. An inch closer, and I would have her in the hallway of my condo, neither of us giving a damn who was watching. It'd been three weeks since we'd last touched each other, and I, for one, needed her. She was only in DC for the night, and I planned to take full advantage of every second we had together. I turned the doorknob and allowed my foot to come in contact with the door kicking it open. Corrine stumbled backward, landing on the floor of the entryway. I fell on top of her using my foot to shut the door behind us. Corrine squealed with laughter as I nuzzled her neck. "I can't believe you flew all the way here to spend one night with me."

"You made me some promises that I fully intend for you to keep."

I nodded my head between nibbles as I tasted every inch of bare skin not covered by the short overcoat she wore.

"I'm a man of my word," I mumbled between nibbles. "And I won't pretend the thought of what's under this coat isn't driving me crazy."

"You want to see what's under the coat," she teased, "but we have all night."

"And yet, that doesn't feel like nearly enough time." I sat up on my knees, straddling her. She smiled shyly and looked away. It still amazed me that she had those insecurities. She certainly didn't have a reason for them. I placed my hand under her chin, forcing her to look at me. "I'm right here," I whispered. She sucked her bottom lip into her mouth. The subtle movement fueled my already burning fire. I slowly lowered the zipper on her coat, revealing the thin lacy material below. The bodysuit was all black lace, cut high on each side, giving me a magnificent view of shapely hips. She wore thigh-high stockings that were attached with straps that looked like miniature suspenders. I lick my lips, imagining her sauntering through the airport with nothing on but this coat and the thin lacy material beneath it. The view was too mesmerizing to think of anything other than devouring her right there.

"I don't know what I've done to deserve this, but I'm grateful."

"Trust me, Ya, you deserve everything that you're going to get." But, unfortunately, her words weren't as seductive as they should have been.

 I stood and reached my hand out to her, helping her to her feet. She shrugged out of the coat, allowing me a full view of her lace-clad body. She turned, revealing that the one piece was a thong as she tiptoed toward the kitchen. I licked my lips in anticipation. "Can I get you anything?" She tossed back at me.

"The only thing I want right now is you," I growled, following close behind her. My eyes stayed glued to her backside.

"Your wish is my command."

Snaking my arms around her waist, I led her to the bedroom. I allowed my hands to explore every inch of her as we wasted little time removing my clothing and tossing them aimlessly around the room.

"I've been dreaming of this moment," she said, pushing me back onto the bed and climbing on top. "I think that you are simply amazing, Yiannis Graham," she whispered. She said it with such conviction I pulled her face to mine, kissing her frantically. I loved this woman. I hadn't said it out loud or to anyone, but I loved Corrine. The way I responded to her, I knew without a doubt that I loved her. 

Our kiss was rushed and all over the place, but her words left me feeling intoxicated, and I soon started to feel the effects. I wasn't myself when we kissed. Kissing her caused things to move in my belly. My breathing became labored, and heat dispersed throughout my body. It was a feeling that never got old. A feeling that I could not live without. Corrine brought a sense of euphoria that I found myself continuously chasing.

"Yani?"

"It's Ya," I reminded her. I loved that it was her name for me.

"Ya?"

"Hmm? I murmured, too distracted by the heat-generating from our two bodies merged only inches from becoming one.

"Ya, I need to tell you something."

I shook my head, too far gone for whatever she wanted to discuss. I only wanted to indulge in the satisfaction that I knew her body would bring me. The sweetness that I'd begun to crave. She'd become the only one that could satisfy me when I got to this state.

She pulled her mouth from mine, and I held her bottom lip between my own, causing a loud sucking sound to escape. Corrine smiled as I released her, but her eyes had an uncertainty that wasn't there before. Something was bothering her.

 I was suddenly unnerved by the thought that my perfect Corrine was about to disappoint me. I could sense something was about to change between us. My feelings for Corrine had invaded my rib cage and found their way into my heart. The scent of her filled my lungs, soothing me like aromatherapy; she was therapeutic. She was everything. I didn't want that to end.

I pushed her hair away from her face and searched her eyes. I wanted her to talk to me. I wanted her to believe in what we had discovered in each other. No games; that was our thing. I hoped my eyes comforted her. I wanted her to feel safe to speak her truth with me. Unfortunately, she didn't talk as I sensed the internal struggle she had within herself. I licked my lips suggestively, wanting to get a smile from her. I knew she found it distracting, but she didn't waver, not even a smile. Instead, her eyes filled with tears as she looked back at me. I was thrown off-guard as I searched her eyes for understanding. I tried to figure out what I'd missed from the door to the bedroom. We were moments from taking each other to ecstasy, and now tears were threatening to escape her eyes—none of this made sense.

"Talk to me, baby," I whispered. She swiped at a fallen tear, and I thumbed away the rest. Her eyes were sad, almost lonely. I searched them for understanding and found the sinking feeling of familiarity that hit me like a ton of bricks. The tiniest hint of green shown in her eyes as she looked away. I gasped for air as the memory of those eyes punched me in the gut. I'd seen these eyes before. I'd seen these tears, and this hurt. It was all too familiar. I sat up abruptly, causing Corrine to do the same as she continued to straddle me. I kept searching her face with my eyes. My hands fingering each detail as the tears slowly escaped. "It was her." She closed her eyes, and I wanted to yell at her to open them, but instead, I took that moment to capture every detail of her face. I had to be wrong. How could I have not recognized her until this moment? It was so obvious now. She'd changed, but not so much that I shouldn't have known right away. I knew she wore contacts, but I didn't realize they hid their actual color. I always assumed she preferred them over glasses. 

"I-," she whispered.

I placed my finger on her lips. "Please, don't say anything."

I wasn't sure if she was about to confess, but I wasn't prepared for the disappointment. I wasn't ready to hear that she was a liar or that she was using me. I wasn't even sure how I would respond if she did. 

Corrine wrapped her arms around my neck and held me like she was afraid I would vanish if she didn't. I clutched her as my mind raced with unanswered questions. We clung to each other in the darkness, unnerved and afraid.

Minutes passed before Corrine Whispered, "I love you, Ya," so low I was sure she hadn't intended for me to hear, so I pretended not to. 

I eased her off my lap, and we lay in awkward silence, the matter of lovemaking of little importance. Nevertheless, an unwritten conversation took place between us under the heaviness that now filled the room. I didn't move, afraid to disrupt what couldn't be said. 

 When I glanced at the clock, I realized over an hour passed with nothing said between the two of us. I glanced over at Corrine, realizing that sleep had claimed her. I eased my arm from beneath her and slid out of bed. I stepped into my boxer briefs that lay abandoned on the floor. Corrine shifted slightly, causing me to pause and look back at her. She appeared to be still sleeping, so I made my way out of the bedroom and to my office. I quickly powered on my laptop and went to the Melanin Movement site. 

It had always been a rule of mine never to use the site to research women I dated. Social media always created a false narrative about people and rarely showed true character. However, now I had a reason to investigate Corrine. So I typed in her full name and waited to see what she'd been hiding. Not to my surprise, nothing came up on the site.

There were no mentions, no tags, nothing. Being in the fashion industry should have led to at least a mention on the Melanin Movement site. It was the number one site amongst African American professionals. Corrine had to know about my Melanin Movement involvement and intentionally blocked me or removed her information. I typed in Corrine Campbell, which was the name I knew her by in the Bronx. Again, nothing came up. I backed out of the site and googled Corrine Michaels. Within seconds my screen held several images, websites, and articles of Corrine. I clicked the first site. It was the C by Corrine's official site, and there she was. I didn't know what to expect but seeing her face right under Designer, Founder, CEO stunned me. I clicked on the first story and began reading.

Don't Call It a Comeback: Designer Corrine Michaels Honors her Roots with an Ethically-Based New Label. 

Corrine Michaels was the most recent black female designer to be recognized by the ever-exclusive fashion industry. Two years after launching her eponymous label, Corrine Michaels continues to lead the charge. After taking the fashion industry by storm during the flurry of biannual Fashion Weeks the past few seasons, the Bronx-born Michaels has emerged—with a lesson in bringing sustainability home.

As reported by Urban Innovator, Michaels recently announced the launch of a new label, C, by Corrine They, building on her already diverse and size-inclusive platform with an issue that affects us all: Gender equality.

More lies. She'd lied to me about who she was and about her career within the fashion industry. I skimmed through pictures, multiple articles, and interviews, all that boasted about not only her skills as a designer but claiming her place in the male-dominated business industry. How had I missed this? It explained how Kenya recognized her. It explained Dorian's mention of her clothing line that she'd skillfully gotten out of telling me about any time I asked. I was more confused than ever before. 

If this wasn't about money, why had she lied? I tabbed through pictures of her throughout the years with several different men. It appeared she had a revolving door of men, both in and out of the industry. 

"There you are."

I looked up to see Corrine in the doorway, the lacy material she wore now replaced with my t-shirt, gazing at me. She looked gorgeous as she leaned lazily against the door frame, my shirt barely touching mid-thigh. I no longer saw the flawlessly put-together woman I'd fallen in love with, but the girl with wide expressive eyes that would watch me from afar when she didn't think I was looking. I shook my head, ridding myself of that image.

"I couldn't sleep, so I decided to get some work done." I lied, "Why are you up? Is everything OK?"

"It got cold and lonely in the bed without you."

I patted my lap as I slowly closed my laptop on her smiling face. Corrine sauntered to me, sliding effortlessly onto my lap. I toyed with her fingers. "Before you fell asleep, something was bothering you. Want to talk about it?" 

She shook her head as she linked her fingers into mine. "I was just overwhelmed with the feeling of being with you." My eyes dropped to our hands, not wanting her to see the disappointment I was sure betrayed me sitting within my eyes. "Besides, I didn't fly all this way to talk," she whispered.

"No, you didn't," I countered, rubbing my hand over her bare thigh. 

She pulled my face to hers and placed a kiss as soft as air on my lips. "Now, where were we?" 

Her deceit swirling around my head had little effect on my desire for her; she had that effect on me. Knowing her true identity only intensified that desire. 

There had always been something special about Corrine, something that made me want to protect her even back then. My feelings caught somewhere between anger, confusion, and lust, caused my head to spin. Passion was taking over for the night. I had to know why Corrine had gone through such great lengths to come back into my life under pretenses, but not tonight.

"You know you can tell me anything, right?" I asked.

"Yea," she answered, gazing into my eyes.

She lied so effortlessly, and it scared me. Maybe this was all a big misunderstanding. Perhaps she had a reason for deceiving me.

"Let's head back to bed," I said, leading her back to the bedroom. Tonight, I would leave my discovery behind me. If only for the night.

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This is an original work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.