| Damsel's Tattooed Temptation 
CHAPTER 7: A Musing Maestro |

Unedited Draft: WARNING: Intended for Mature audience

"You live here... alone?"

James walked Damsel into the house and her jaw literally fell open.

He chuckled. "Yeah."

"Wow it's beautiful." She turned around in the foyer looking at the high ceiling, crystal chandelier cascading towards her, the elegant black polished stone and glass stair wrapping up and disappearing at the floor above. Beyond the foyer, she saw a dropped area with large windows looking out over the backyard which was cast in shadow. She hadn't even noticed he left until her returned with a glass of champagne for her and a bottle of water for himself.

She took the glass and eyed James suspiciously. "You aren't trying to seduce me are you, Mr. Stevenson?"

James raised an eyebrow and smirked at her. "If I were seducing you, you wouldn’t have to ask." He took her free hand and led her under the ornate stairs and down into the den. Damsel was on sensory overload even though the place had simple use of color and material is was the detail the ornateness in the architecture in the visual stimulation that had her like a kid in a candy shop. Even if she wanted to blink she wouldn't be able to.

After they walked down the shallow wide steps into the den, to the left she saw a baby grand piano tucked in a spacious alcove the walls bedecked with plaques and awards. To the right, a large fireplace with glass walls looking to the patio outside which was shrouded in darkness and another room adjacent.

Damsel set in the corner of large sectional and james set close to her leaned back watching her as she looked around.

Damsel took a sip of champagne the bubbles fizzled down her throat. "This place is kind of amazing. All this from drumming?"

James laughed. "Not just playing drums. Never put all your eggs in one basket Ms. Kane." James took a swig of the water not taking his eyes off her. In all his forthrightness, there was this layer of mystery that could be interpreted as danger that made Damsel nervous and excited in more ways than one.

"Drumming was my main source of income if you will. Music. I just love music." He continued.

"Or, I wonder, if is the lifestyle that music offers you that you love? Beautiful home, pretty women, wine, travel, a hard fast life." Damsel chanced a glance at him. By nature and nurture she was a cautions skeptical person. She didn’t trust things that couldn’t be quantified. James sparked her intuition, instincts, desires, and wants and it terrified her. Being with him didn’t really make any sense, but it was all she wanted to do in the past twelve or more hours.

James leaned forward shortening the space between them. "And I thought we were doing so well.” James’s gaze was steady calm. Damsel realized for the first time that he had a small nose ring. Her mind wandered to where else he might have piercings. “Do you think you scare me with your self-righteous, judgmental, chastisements of my life style?” James leaned back on the couch keeping her in his sights. “What, am I supposed to feel guilty?” He tapped his chin in mock thought. “Or does it bother you that you can’t figure me out. Not as easily as you thought you’d be able to I’d wager."

Damsel swallowed the lump in her throat but said nothing just raised her chin keeping the calm on her face but inside she was a mess. He was confronting her. People didn't confront Damsel Kane. They coward they shook in her wake. They rethought their lives. Then thanked her for chopping them down to size.

She wished she had him all figured out. She hoped what she saw at the hospital a week or two back was who this man was. It would make things easier on her. Damsel could imagine the actions that led him to the hospital but she also saw another side to him during this date. So who was he really? Was it possible to straddle the fence? To be a successful, well maintained person while also being an out of control, reckless pornstar? Damsel swallowed her questions with her champagne. Strange part was, he wore both sides well. He looked the part, a blend of controlled and outrageous of calculating and spontaneous. "So you're far more complex a creature than you’ve let on?" Part of her already knew the answer to that question.

James harrumphed and set back on the couch. "I'm not the law of relativity, I'll tell you that, but I'd like to believe I'm at least two-dimensional."

Damsel cocked her head to the side. James was certainly not someone she would have imagined herself actually marrying and starting a family with but he was an interesting rubix cube to be solved. She hoped once she solved him she would be able to move on.

“You like ripping apart my life. Dissecting everyone of my decisions. Questioning my moral compass. So, since you’re so upright let’s test your morality.” Mischief danced in his eyes. “To be fair let’s establish a simple ground rule. Can we say that killing is bad?”

Damsel nodded a curious eyebrow raised. “Sure.”

"So if killing is bad then executing a criminal is wrong, right?"

Damsel frowned. "Well, no because they're bad."

"But if killing is bad then how could it be right to kill anyone no matter what they've done. Why is the executors killing more righteous and justified than the criminal's killing?"

Damsel set there quite in awe of the handsome man sitting in front of her. Honestly, she couldn't argue against his logic because two rights didn't make a wrong they made an even bigger wrong. They created a double edged sword. However, there was something distinctly more wrong about the murderer’s killing something perhaps that she couldn’t logicize.

Damsel was irritated that James picked just the right scenario and backed her into a corner. She hated to love how clever he was. "Well, I suppose if we're looking at things on a purely logical, purely one for one level it doesn't."

James leaned back on the couch taking a drink of his water. "Don't get me wrong there are some people that would do the world a favor if they weren't around, but I-" James stopped short when his phone rang. He took the device from his pocket and ignored the call then placed it on the coffee table. "Sorry about that-" James broke off again when his phone lit up. He sighed running his fingers through his hair before standing up with the phone. "I should take this." He walked out of the den and back into the foyer talking in a hushed voice.

Damsel pushed herself off the couch leaving her glass on a coaster on the coffee table and wandered over to the alcove with the baby grand. She ran her fingers along the smooth surface of the beautiful piano. She lifted the fall board exposing the keys. She exhaled. It been a long time since she played piano.

Damsel flashed back to her mother throwing the keyboard her father left Damsel out the window of their apartment.

"Stick to something real Dame don't go chasing pipe dreams."

Damsel set at the keyboard her fingers finding their place with muscle memory ease. She started doodling around on the keys until she heard Alicia Keys blended with some John Legend. She barely recognized her own voice mumbling the lyrics. Damsel forgot how much of a release it was to play. She closed her eyes and kept playing adding in some extra keys here and there when she got warmed up.

A raspy voice broke through her haze falling right in line to what she was playing. "Some people want it all..." James stopped singing when she stopped playing. "Why did you stop?" His hazel green eyes danced with amusement.

Damsel could feel the heat of a blush reaching her cheeks. "Sorry, I don't know what came over me." She pushed herself off the piano bench.

"You never have to apologize for enjoying music. I didn’t know you played, or sang." James smirked taking her place at the piano and picking up on the song where she left off. He could play piano? Suddenly, Damsel had another level of respect for James Stevenson. More than meets the eye indeed. She was under the false impression that James was just a fool banging on stuff and calling it music but this... James ushered her over to join him and she did placing a hand on his shoulder harmonizing with his raspy untrained voice that was still pleasant to her ears.

James then segued into a Beyonce` song that Damsel loved and sang along. They seemed to have been doing that for hours before finally taking a break for water. While James was off getting them drinks, Damsel brought her attention to the plaques and awards on the wall.  

Wonder Sticks - award in excellence in beat mastery It was a local performance to raise money to keep music in the inner city schools.

Academy Award for most original music score for a movie called Rhythmic Intentions. Damsel had never heard of it.

Grammy for drumming on a number of Pharris Morrah tracks. Damsel rather liked Pharris, he was a cool , quirky kind of musician and producer. His tracks we...eclectic. His singing and rapping skills were effortless. On top of all that, he just seemed like a down to earth guy.
"My own personal wall of pride."

She smiled taking the glass that James offered her. "I'm impressed." Damsel turned to face James who stood a safe distance behind her. "Is this where you take all your females to make them awe at your musical prowess?"

James smirked meeting her eyes. "No. They're in awe the moment they get my attention.” He trailed off placing his water on a side table near the piano and took a couple steps toward her.

He didn’t deny there were many other women which she wasn’t surprised at. He was a successful musician the two seemed to go hand in hand. She was surprised at the pang of jealousy that clinched her chest. "I wasn't expecting you to be so good at playing the piano. I see now that music is your muse. The only thing that you don't go fast and hard with?"

James smirked. "Now you're starting to see me. Music and sex are the only two things I take my time with."

Damsel's eyes fell to his lips as heat rolled around in her abdomen and pooled between her legs. Got damn it! How could him just saying the word sex make her react in such a way? She needed to get out more! It was irritating and pathetic how just that one word had her mind conjuring up all sorts of images most of those images came from that damn video of him and that blond women. Damsel shook the thought directing her attention to the piano. A safe thing to look at as it did not tempt  her to take all of her clothes off and pounce on it.

James's soft laughter rang through Damsel's ears breaking her erratic thoughts. "I don't even need to ask where your mind went off to." James yawned and stretched.

Damsel laughed. She was wide awake even though it had to be near sunrise. She didn't want to leave, but staying...

James grabbed her hand. "Come let's go to bed."

"James, I-"

James looked back at her a smirk marring his handsome features. "Don't worry beautiful. I promised to be on my best behavior and I fully intend to keep that promise. Besides," He threw a look over his shoulder leading her to the stairs. "It's you that we should be worried about."

Damsel opened her mouth but nothing came out. "What?!"

"Don't act all innocent. I saw you undressing me." He tossed a roguish grin back at her.

Damsel's heart beat picked up the further they got up stairs. This man would be her undoing and for some reason, she was perfectly okay with being undone.

Continue to Part 8...