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Voices (Chapters 14 to 20)

Chapter Fourteen

Devin put the containers of food on the bar as Sera removed her coat, hung it on a stand, and put her bag down on a stool. Still dressed in her work attire, she undid the cuffs of her black blouse. She hadn’t had any alcohol, yet she felt warm and couldn’t quell the butterflies in her stomach.

“Care for a drink?” Devin offered.

Sera shook her head briskly.

“Well,” he said, “Should we eat here at the bar?”

She ran her fingers through her hair as she shook her head again. Smiling unsteadily she breathed, “I’m sorry. I’m actually not that hungry.”

“Okay,” Devin said, nodding.

Sera twisted her fingers anxiously together, taking hesitant steps into the bar. “Can we…can we just sit down at one of the tables for a bit?”

Without a word, Devin walked around her and took a seat on a chair by a cocktail table. Sera was about to follow when the chime of her cell phone sounded from her bag. Confused for a second, she quickly whirled around and reached into her bag. She looked at the phone as it rang in her hands: “Jimmy.” With a press of her fingers, she turned the phone off. She held the handset close to her chest as she looked downward, her back to Devin.

He could see her taking long, steadying breaths. “Sera?” he asked, “Everything okay?”

Sera wasn’t sure, but she thought she nodded. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, allowing the words he had spoken to her in the restaurant to finally seep into her head. She thought about them and listened to her inner voice react to them. Dropping the phone back into her bag, she finally turned around and walked slowly towards Devin. The former teacher angled his chin slightly to the side as the woman walked over to him. She stood in front of him, the dim lights in the dark bar casting a shine on her ink-black hair. A subtle but unmistakable smile suddenly appeared on her pink lips.

Devin’s eyes narrowed as he looked up at her. Before he realized it, she had reached out her hand and gently pushed her fingertips back through the wavy, blond hair over his ear. He blinked and caught her wrist as she was about to do it again. “Sera,” he said with a low, steady voice, “I’m not sure if you want to do this.”

The smile didn’t go away from her lips. If anything the assured resolve and confidence behind them became more evident. The young woman leaned forward, over him, closer, her hair falling on one side of her head. Through the curl on her mouth she whispered, “I thought you weren’t going to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do…Mr.Constantine?”

As his mouth slipped open, she surged her lips over his, squelching his uncertainty with a forceful, passionate kiss. She was trembling as they came together, enough to crumble walls, as she surrendered herself to a wave of desire. Sera clutched at the sides of his head, her cheeks drawn sallow as she pushed her tongue into his mouth.

Devin clutched at her, his hands finding a perfect hold around her slim waist, just above the curve of her hips as he accepted her forceful kiss. He held her up as she leaned her weight over him. He wasn’t worried so much about falling backwards in the chair as he was about not being able to keep up with the intensifying passions of his former student. Sera sucked his tongue into her mouth, twisting it around hers. Their kisses were loud and wet and desperate, warm lips savouring one another.

“Sera,“ Devin gasped as their lips parted momentarily. He puffed a stiff breath of air that fluttered her hair. He watched her rounded, pink lips come towards him again, angling his mouth to meet hers. They blasted any lingering thoughts of denial away with every second they stayed in intimate contact.

With one hand, Sera began to nimbly undo the buttons of her blouse, always keeping her lips on his. As she leaned back, Devin looked approvingly at the smooth, tan flesh exposed between the gap of her black top. With a shrug of her shoulders, and firm tugs at her sleeves, Sera threw the blouse to the floor revealing her burgeoning chest heaving behind her black bra. Immediately she came at Devin again, sliding her knee carefully between his legs, onto the seat of the chair. She clutched his face against her chest as she rubbed her cheeks against the hair on the top of his head.

Devin inhaled her sweet scent deeply as he nuzzled against her breast bone. He pressed his hands against her smooth back. His beard tickled at her skin and he kissed and dragged his lips and nose against the top of her bosom as it strained against her bra. Her straps slipped off of her shoulders and he quickly pulled down the cups. In another breath, he engulfed his mouth over her supple, soft breasts, pressing his lips over her flesh as he sucked and nipped at her taut nipples.

Sera groaned as she continued to tangle her fingers in his hair and rub her cheek and chin against his head. She yanked his head back sharply, raising his face towards hers and planted her mouth onto his again. Her deft fingers went to work on his vest and shirt now. Thoughts of treating the fine-tailored clothing with care weren’t even entertained as buttons quickly popped off and skittered onto the floor around them.

With every kiss, with every taste of him on her lips and tongue, Sera grew hungrier for him. Her face already flushed, she slid down, kissing his neck and collarbone . With a confident slide of her hands, she pushed his shirt apart across his broad, hairy chest. As her hands slid around his bare skin, her mouth continued to work feverishly, gasping through her teeth as she flicked her tongue at the man’s nipples before biting gently on them.

Devin leaned back in the chair, his head lolling back as he felt Sera’s lips, teeth, tongue, and hands work him over. He shifted subtly in his seat feeling the hardening length press up behind the crotch of his pants.

Sera was at his belly now as she undid his belt buckle, his flat stomach hitching up as she teased him with her kisses. Kneeling on the floor between his legs, Sera popped the clasp on his pants and pulled down his zipper. The man raised his hips slightly to help her pull down his pants to his calves. She tossed her hair to the side and swept some of it over her ear before she reached for the waistband of his briefs. With a smooth tug, she pulled his shorts down and immediately, his pinkish length slipped out to generous attention. Sera’s glossy pink lips curled to a smile as she looked up at him.

He watched her take his erect cock gently into her hands. She flicked her tongue at it, like sampling an ice cream cone, and kissed it. There was a noticeable tremble along his tummy each time she teased his cock with her mouth. He groaned languidly when she finally sank her damp mouth over it.

Sera filled her mouth with his ample, rigid cock. Her tongue slid under it, over it, slicking it with her warm, sticky saliva as she quickly set to bobbing her head up and down over his crotch. Her hand pumped along the length, glossing it with her glistening spit down to his balls. She moaned and hummed, delighted by the feel of the man’s hard, throbbing cock in her mouth.

“Uhn, Sera,” Devin groaned.

The touch of his hand in her hair and his beckoning voice seemed to spur her on. She redoubled her efforts, her brow angling down over closed eyes as she drove her mouth faster and faster over his length. Her back curved seductively as she bobbed her head up and down. Her hands slid up his belly, along his peach coloured flesh, and teased his nipples with delicate strokes of her fingers.

Sera gasped and gulped, saliva dripping out the side of her mouth and along her chin. She couldn’t get enough of his cock, her mind was almost in a frenzy as she worked him all over his length. He was swollen and she could feel the hot blood pulsing through him. Breathing hard, Sera rolled onto her feet and stood up. She kicked off her shoes as she undid her bra from behind and let it drop to the floor.

Devin was mesmerized by the sway of her sloping breasts as she undid her slacks and peeled them down her slender legs. Never once taking his eyes off of her, he almost unconsciously slipped off his shoes and pulled his pants, briefs and socks past and off his ankles. Finally, Sera hooked the sides of her black panties and slipped them down and off her legs. She stood upright before him, the man who was once her teacher, her bartender and now her lover. With his grey, sombre, longing eyes attentively set upon her, she knew she never felt as comfortable in her exposed flesh as she did now.

“You’re so beautiful, Sera,” Devin said, breathless, admiring her honey coloured face and body.

She smiled wistfully as she stepped towards him and then straddled him on the chair. Once more he kissed her nipples, fondling them with the edges of his lips, before she shifted herself over him. Sera reached down, handling his lengthy cock with care and determination. She felt his tip nuzzle into position along her quivering opening. His hands drew up along her waist as he looked up at her. Their eyes on one another, Sera settled her hips as his cock sank upward into her.

“Uh-uhn,” she groaned. Her dark brows angled sharply downward as her mouth rounded open feeling his swollen length surge into her. Her cheeks flushed with a deep pink hue as she looked upward and sighed.

Devin kissed her neck and chin. As she tilted her head down, he pulled at the bottom of her mouth which hung open with his lips and teeth. He had a firm grip on her waist, holding her until she had completely engulfed him inside of her. She was sumptuously warm and soft and wet within.

As they came together in a hungry kiss, Sera quickly rolled her stomach and ground her hips rhythmically over his crotch. In and out she felt his hard length move inside of her, throbbing and pulsating deep within. She held onto his shoulders, only letting go to sweep aside her long hair that continued to drape across her face. They moaned into one another’s mouths, trying desperately to keep their lips locked together. Sera’s quickening gasps pitched sharply as their session intensified and his cock seemed to probe deeper and deeper as the minutes ticked by.

Devin’s stomach tightened as he swelled his pelvis upward feeling her petals pull him in and squeeze against his twitching member. He dragged his fingers down her perspiration-slicked back, revelling in her smooth flesh. His hands then found a firm groping hold around her round bottom and he was more than satisfied to hold on tight. He continued to caress his lips over any part of her body she offered to him.

Sera locked her fingers behind his neck and leaned her head back as she moaned aloud towards the ceiling, “Ah, God!” She held on as she pushed herself on her toes, rocking her bottom over his crotch.

Devin’s cock rhythmically thrust into her from below as his lips once again sucked on her shaking breasts with hungry indulgence.

“Oh, Devin!” The small of her back curved sharply as she arched back further and further, barely clinging to him with her finger tips. The tight grip he had on her waist and bottom held her securely.

Devin was throbbing hard now and his own breaths were quick and guttural. He couldn’t have believed how good this could have felt, never allowed himself to imagine it. Now he was pouring everything he had into this young woman, unabated, unhindered, staying with her, matching her unravelling desire and passion.

“Uhn! Ah! Devin! Wait, wait,” Sera suddenly gasped. She leaned forward and stood up, his swollen length pulling out of her. She tossed back her hair and breathed deeply. Her face and neck were glowing pink and her eyes were glassy but she still managed a pleased smile as she took him by the hands and led him off from the seat and to the side. She moved towards the chair, held onto the top of the backrest, and lifted one foot onto the seat. She looked back over her shoulder towards the man beckoning him with a coy raise of her eyebrow.

Devin was breathing hard himself and he had to wet his lips and rub his jaw beneath his beard as his mouth had been hanging open for some time. Finally he smiled and moved up behind Sera. He held her steady with one hand on her shoulder and the other holding his cock at her exposed slit. With much satisfaction, he thrust into her with one, long, gliding stroke.

“Ahh!” Sera’s head dropped forward as she felt him fill her once more. She braced herself on the chair, rocking her body with a smooth roll of her back and waist matching Devin’s rhythmic thrusts.

 He leaned his chest against her back, curving his body to form around hers. He looked over her shoulder and she turned her head, holding her palm at his cheek, guiding him to her mouth as they kissed. His fingers on one hand danced along and fondled her breasts and aching nipples while the other reached down to her crotch. He teased the short curls of hair before slipping his fingers along the stop of her snatch, swirling the tips around the hood of her clit.

“Mmm! Uhn,” Sera cooed with a raspy breath. Each thrust was more stiff than the last, raising the woman onto her toes. Yet there was still a tender, gentle patience about the man’s motions that comforted her just as much as they aroused her. She entrusted him with her body, keeping her balanced on the chair which squeaked and shifted unsteadily on the floor, sometimes raising up precariously on its back legs.

Devin held her close and tight and securely. He wouldn’t let her go. The entire bar could have collapsed around them but he wouldn’t let her fall. Both their legs were trembling now. Their ecstatic groans and lustful moans filled the small cocktail lounge. The small lights that dotted the room seemed to intensify as the two reached the apex of their heated session.

“Ah! Ah! Sera,” Devin strained as he reared back. He couldn’t hold out much longer and let loose, pumping his crotch into her backside with broad strokes now. His cock throbbed painfully deep inside of her.

Sera sucked on her lips, trying to keep them moist. Her hair had fallen all across her face but she didn’t have the energy to push it away anymore. Her throat was raw and she gasped, “Uhn! Oh God! Uhn!”

“Sera,” Devin growled, “Uhn! I…ah…”

“In me,” she moaned, “Ahn! Come inside me.” Several intense seconds later, the man listed his head back and groaned. He felt the hard rush of cum stream from his cock and into Sera relentlessly. Holding onto her hips, he pushed forward, slapping his crotch against her round, tight ass, squirting out more strands of thick, sticky jism into her lovely warmth.

Sera dropped her head and held her breath. She squeezed her eyes shut. Her mouth was open wide but for a moment not a sound escaped her lips. Suddenly, something deep within her exploded and she tossed her head back and groaned loudly filling the room with the sound of her ecstasy. She spilled her slick juices, coming hard over Devin’s stiff cock, her whole body trembling unsteadily on the chair. Her stomach ached and hitched as she continued to squirt uncontrollably, a warm wetness, dripping down her leg. “Oh God,” she wheezed, exhausted. Her whole weight surrendered to the grasp of Devin’s hands.

Devin continued to hold her up, swaying his body back and forth gently, still relishing the feel of her around his easing cock. He reached up and pulled back her soft, damp hair over her shoulders. As his breaths returned to normal, he felt his body relax.

“Shh,” he whispered to Sera as she tried to placate her own steady breaths.

After a few minutes, Devin finally withdrew, his length covered with their mingling cum. Sera took her foot off the chair and stood on the floor feeling the circulation return to her legs. She turned around and looked up at the man. Her former teacher wrapped his hands around her face, gently brushing the moisture from underneath her eyes and soft cheeks with his thumbs.

Without a word, they came together in a soft but no less passionate embrace and kiss.

Chapter Fifteen

“Ah! Devin,” Sera moaned. Sera shifted her body in the bed and sighed. She never realized that sheets could feel so soft on her skin but she couldn’t imagine Devin would be the type to chintz on cheap bed sheets for his apartment.

Almost immediately after putting on their clothes in the bar, Devin had led her upstairs. They had a drink and then within moments, they were pulling their clothes off one another once again and resumed their passionate re-acquaintance.

Sera's nude body lay in the middle of the bed. She reached down and teased her fingers through Devin’s soft wavy hair as he nuzzled his face lovingly against her crotch. She couldn’t help but giggle a few times as his beard softly scratched against her inner thighs. Soon though, only breathless gasps and moans slipped wistfully through her lips.

His hands wrapped over her thighs, Devin held her hips down even as she wriggled and bucked against the licks of his tongue and sucks and kisses of his lips against her soft, tender petals. He pushed apart the moist folds of inner flesh, his tongue drawn to the warmth that seeped out from the young woman. She smelled so sweet, it was intoxicating.

“Mmm…ahh!” she gasped sharply, her body hitching and angling from the delightful pleasuring of the man’s tongue and lips. She tangled her fingers into his hair with one hand while the other slipped upward and groped and pulled at her soft breasts.

Devin flicked his tongue against her clit eliciting even more fervent groans from the young woman. She wriggled uncontrollably at his every touch. Sera pushed her head against the soft pillow and arched her back, her belly thrusting upward as his strong arms held her waist down.

“Ahh! Devin! Uh-uhn!” Sera cried as she succumbed to the torrid rush from her body. Her eyes widened and blinked towards the ceiling as every muscle in her body went rigid.

Devin kept his mouth pressed against her, his tongue slipping along her slit as she came in a sweet flood. He could feel her body twitch as she slowly eased back down onto the mattress. A smile appeared on his lips as he found Sera’s tender cries of ecstasy to be a most pleasing sound.

After a few moments, he slid up on the bed and lay down beside. He brushed the back of his hand against her soft, pink cheek, taking his time to admire the glow on her pretty face. Then they kissed quietly.

She nestled closer to the man lying beside her, resting her head on his shoulder and pulling his arm tightly around her before running her fingers through the light, blond hairs on his chest.

Devin looked towards the ceiling, a subtle smile on his lips. He enjoyed the warmth of the soft skinned beauty at his side. Whether he was making love to her, talking to her, or just lying beside her, it didn’t matter. He just enjoyed being with her.

Now, somewhat more calm and relaxed, they were content to just hold each other close in the silence of the apartment. Sera finally spoke first. “I don’t want to get married,” she said, almost blurting the words out as she stared across Devin’s chest.

Devin inhaled deeply and continued to stroke her fine hair. “Then don’t.”

Sera chewed her bottom lip and shook her head. “But I can’t tell them that. Not my family. Not Jimmy. I…I can’t stop it.”

Devin paused for a moment, waiting for her to continue. When she remained silent and still, he knew she was waiting for him to say something. “Sera, you have to do what you want to do.”

She shook her head again, “There’s too much…there’s too many people and things involved now. We’ve already put down deposits. Jimmy’s buying a house…”

“Sera…”

“My mother would kill me.” She closed her eyes ashamed of how she was ruining this moment with Devin with her anxieties.

“Sera, you still have a life to live—your life. No one can tell you how you should live it.”

“I don’t know what I’d do.”

“It’s scary, not having someone to look after you. It’s true, but I don’t think you need anyone to take care of you. Not your family. Not Jimmy. You can look for partners in your life but you shouldn’t be looking for caretakers.”

Sera grimaced. “I can just run away or I can just keep seeing you.”

Devin shook his head. “You can’t run away and you can’t use me to hide from your problems.”

Sera blinked and sat up in bed. She looked at him. “You don’t want to be with me?”

Devin shifted up on his pillow. “I didn’t say that, Sera. I said you can’t look for me to take care of you. It would be the same thing as your family and Jimmy. You have to face them on your own. You can‘t run away from them without telling them what you want. You‘ll never find peace.”

“I can’t do that,” Sera said, looking away, agitated.

“They’re your family. In the end, they’ll support your decision,” he continued, “And if they don’t, you still need to be honest with them. You need to grow up.”

Sera glared at him then rolled off the bed.

 “Sera…”

“I don’t believe you,” she said as she hurriedly picked up her clothes and put them on, “I thought you understood. You were the only one I thought that understood!”

“What is it that you want, Sera? You need to ask yourself that.”

“What I want…” Sera said, waving her shoes in the air, “I don’t know what I want!”

“Okay, so is getting married to Jimmy what you want? If not, you have to be upfront with him about it.”

“I can’t do that!”

“You have to, Sera.”

 “You said you would never tell me what to do with my life!”

Devin stepped off the bed. “It’s because it’s not your life anymore. It’s become everyone else’s. You have to take back control over it.”

“Yeah, right. I have to be upfront with him?” Sera scoffed as she stepped into her shoes, “ You ran from the school because you didn’t have the guts to be upfront and explain to one of your students that you wanted to screw her! So you just left me!”

“Sera wait— ”

“‘The world will open up for you’, you said,” she snapped as she threw on her jacket, “Yeah, that’s good. It opened up for you whenever you wanted to run but the door is shut for me.”

“Sera…”

“Leave me alone!” She ran out the door, slamming it shut behind her.

Chapter Sixteen

Sera sat curled up on the couch of her apartment the next evening. She skipped work for the day and spent most of it staring at the blank TV screen. There were phone calls from Jimmy and her mother which she didn’t answer. She should have answered them. She should have talked to them. Devin was right. The only reason she got mad at him was because he had told her the truth when she wanted him to lie to her, to shelter her from it.

Sera frowned. How much longer could she go on acting like this? When Angela had come home, neither of them said much to one another but Angela seemed more aware of Sera than vice versa. She stepped carefully around her as if considering a way of approaching her.

“Here,” Angela said, holding out a tall glass to her as she joined her on the couch.

Sera eyed the red liquid in the glass suspiciously.

“It’s only tomato juice,” Angela said rolling her eyes.

Sera held the glass in her hands and stared at it blankly. She sighed then took a short sip. Angela sat quietly beside her unsure of what to say. In a way, she was just glad Sera didn’t scream at her for invading her space.

“I slept with Mr.Constantine last night,” Sera finally said.

Angela put down her glass and settled back against the armrest, hugging a pillow. She watched and waited for Sera to speak.

Speaking through deep thought, Sera didn’t notice her friend’s unusually muted reaction. She continued, “I couldn’t help myself. I never thought of him that way in school…I think. I never flirted with him or asked him to join me for lunch or to see me after class.”

Or showed him naked pictures of yourself, Angela thought.

“All we did was talk. He was just a really, really good teacher,” Sera added. “I never knew what he meant to me until after he just left without saying anything. Then I see him after all these years and he’s so…warm and handsome and just as caring as he always was, but it was different. I couldn’t just see him as a teacher. I couldn’t think of anyone else—not Jimmy, not my family. He made me feel so…he was so good.”

Angela looked downward blankly, clutching the pillow even more closely. She could only imagine what happened between the two of them the previous night. She couldn’t help but feel a little jealous, not because Sera had managed to score the most unattainable and desirable man she had known, but because of how meaningful it must have been.

“Why did I sleep with him? Stupid! Stupid!” Sera said pounding her palm against her forehead.

Angela knew her friend was beating herself up even worse on the inside. For once, she didn’t know what to say. She had no sassy sage advice or witty double entendre to evoke. She knew Sera was hurting badly. This was no mere superficial connection she had made with Mr.Constantine.

“Oh God,” Sera whimpered, “What do I tell Jimmy? How can I tell my mother?”

Now Angela blinked and stiffened slightly in her seat. She glanced around the room uneasily before sitting up. “Ohh…Sera,” she said slowly with a guilty tremble in her voice, “I…uh, I think Jimmy knows.”

“Jimmy knows what?” Sera said eyeing her roommate.

“Well, I’m not so sure,” Angela said, tilting her head and suddenly feeling evasive, “I just told him…”

“You told him what?”

Angela’s mouth hung open as if she was catching flies. She shook her head. “I’m sorry, Sera! I was shocked and kind of pissed and suddenly Jimmy called me…”

Sera anxiously sat up on the couch . “What did you say to him?”

“I just told him that you were in the bar all night…alone with Devin…and it was closed,” Angela said, cringing a little, “That was it! I didn’t say anything else! I swear!”

“Oh for God‘s sake, Angie! Shit!” Sera dropped her glass on the floor as she stood up and ran into her bedroom.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Maybe…maybe he just thought you were having drinks!” Angela shook her head after she spoke. Yeah, right . She couldn’t convince herself with her own words. Jimmy never had any reason to ever suspect Sera of cheating on him so maybe that may have delayed his reactions for a short time, but they both knew he’d eventually reach an inevitable, unforgiving, conclusion.

Sera emerged from her room after throwing on some clothes. She tied back her hair in a ponytail and headed for the door as she tried to call Jimmy on her cell phone.

“Sera! Wait!” Angela pleaded as she clambered off of the couch and ran after her.

Chapter Seventeen


It was a full house that night at Voices. Devin was fortunate his clientele was so forgiving of him keeping the bar closed the entire night before. In a way, however, he wished he could have kept it closed again this evening. Suddenly the bar had lost some of its allure for him. He was standing behind the bar pouring some brandy into a goblet when he heard the front door open. Someone came running down the hall.

“Sera?”

Sera’s face was flushed red and she was breathing hard having run from the house to the bar. “Devin,” she gasped, trying to catch her breath. She didn’t know what else to say to him.

The stunned man, along with the patrons in the bar, looked at her for a moment. Finally he started to make his way towards her.

“Oh! Oh wait, Jimmy! Stop!” Another female voice spoke up around the corner in the hall. “Nothing happened between him and Sera, Jimmy! Wait!”

Angela backed out from the hallway as if she had been shoved aside. Jimmy emerged, along with two of his basketball friends, around the corner and he immediately set his wide-eyed sights on Devin standing at the bar. He was breathing hard as well, his face also a tomato red.

“Did you screw this guy?!” He bellowed at Sera without looking at her. Everyone in the bar looked at the young woman hanging her head down as she stood between the two men trying to think. She cringed when Jimmy yelled again, “Did you?!”

“Nothing happened! I was wrong, Jimmy!” Angela pleaded.

“Shut up, Angela!” Jimmy snapped. His two friends stood with their backs to her, blocking her out from the confrontation.

“Please,” Devin spoke calmly, holding up his palms, as he stood tall at the bar, “You’re disturbing my customers. We can discuss this elsewhere.”

“Yeah, fuck that,” Jimmy spat as he stepped towards him, “All you do is talk, my ass! Did you fuck her in school as well? Is that why you quit?”

“Jimmy! Goddamit! Stop it, please!” Sera yelled trying to push him back. Someone in the bar said to call the police.

“I’m asking you to calm down, Jimmy,” Devin replied, standing his ground, “You and Sera need to talk.”

“Screw that,” Jimmy snapped. He grabbed a glass from the bar and threw it at Devin barely missing his head. The bartender didn’t flinch as it shattered on the wall behind him. There were audible gasps in the bar and people started to stand up.

“Stop it!” Sera screamed, rattling her vocal chords. She held back Jimmy with all her strength and glared at him through watery eyes. “We did it! We did it…here…last night! Just last night. I’m sorry, Jimmy! But—”

“You screwed him in the bar?” Jimmy interrupted spewing fire into her face, “In this fucking place?!” He growled and swept the remaining glasses and bottles on the bar onto the floor. The couple seated nervously on the stools stood up. Jimmy kicked one of the stools and it went flying across the room, spinning into the pedestal, toppling the crystal vase and lilies. They fell to the floor with a crash and shattered into thousands of glimmering pieces.

More patrons stood up and headed for the doors. Now Devin tried to make his way around the bar. Jimmy’s two friends stepped forward and grabbed him by the collar and arms. Angela jumped on them from behind like a monkey climbing two palm trees. Sera screamed again for them to stop and she pushed at Jimmy. He gripped her arms and yelled at her, “I can’t believe you cheated on me with this guy!”

“Let her go!” Devin snapped, his voice suddenly rising.

“Go to hell, asshole!” Jimmy fired back.

“Oh for fuck’s sake, Jimmy! Give it up already!” Angela spat, winded, “You cheated on Sera, too, you stupid shit!”

The diminutive woman’s voice managed to steal a little of the bluster out of everyone. Quickly all eyes were on her except for Devin who was watching Sera intently. When there was no rebuke from her fiancé, Sera cleared her throat. “What?”

“The basketball team’s trip last summer,” Angela went on with a knowing leer in her eyes directed at Jimmy , “Those two girls from the tavern? Took them back to the hotel for a threesome, didn‘t you?”

Jimmy almost stepped back and away from the harsh glare of Angela. Everyone waited for her as she took a deep breath, adjusted her shirt and brushed down her hair. “Yeah, your dumbass friend here couldn’t resist showing off those pictures and video on his cell phone after he and I had our own little private session a few months ago,” Angela scoffed, punching one of his friends in his kidney. The big man looked downward sheepishly.

“Sorry. Sera,” Angela said turning to her friend, “I know I should have said something but you were so twisted up in this wedding. I thought things would smooth over afterward.”

While Sera couldn’t quite wrap her head around Angela’s logic, she was kind of relieved that she had managed to get Jimmy to stop raging for a moment.

“You should leave,” Sera said to Jimmy.

“Not without you.” There was still a lot of simmering anger in his voice.

Angela was already pushing his two friends out the front door.

“I need to talk to Mr.Constantine,” Sera said.

“No! You’re not talking to this guy anymore. You and I are leaving. That’s it.”

“But…”

“Sera,” a calming voice spoke to her from behind. She turned and looked at Devin still standing at the bar. His eyes reminded her of the days back in school when just the way he looked at her could quell her deepest anxieties. “You should go and talk with Jimmy.”

“Let’s go, Sera,” Jimmy said, taking her by her wrist.

Devin watched her go. She resisted slightly until he nodded at her. Her dark brown eyes never left his until she was pulled around the corner.

* * * *

Devin finished sweeping up the glass from the floor and mopping up the spilled alcohol. After putting away the cleaning items, he sat down at the bar by himself and sipped a few glasses of brandy as he looked around. Somehow, it seemed tainted and he wasn’t sure if he’d ever feel comfortable in there again. He hoped Sera was saying what she needed to say to Jimmy. He wished he could be there with her, but she had to do this for herself. Afterwards, as he stood up to switch off the lights, the phone rang. He paused for a moment before answering. “Sera?”

He heard a couple of tired sighs on the other end of the line. Finally Sera spoke, “I’m sorry about what happened there tonight. It was my fault.”

Devin shook his head but said nothing.

“You were right. I should have talked to Jimmy about things a long time ago,” she continued, her voice weary and strained, “And my family.”

Still he listened silently, holding his breath.

“We…We’re going ahead with the wedding. We think we can get through this. We promised each other.”

A grim look came over him. He slowly wiped down the bar with a cloth as he held the phone.

“I guess…I should thank you,” Sera chuckled unconvincingly, “Making us talk things through really helped. I‘m…I feel better about getting married now.”

“Are you sure about this, Sera?”

“Yes. This is what I want. I know that now. Jimmy and I both screwed up. But he’s always been so good to me. We deserve each other.”

Devin closed his eyes. She sounded so cornered, it hurt him to think of her this way. He held his tongue.

“I guess it wouldn’t be such a great idea for you to come to the wedding. It would have been nice if you could have made me a few drinks,” she went on, trying to force through some levity.

“No. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be available, Sera.”

“Oh. Well, thank you. I know I keep saying that…I was so happy to see you again.” There was an extended pause then, “I’m so sorry. I can’t…I couldn’t…You’ve meant so much…Sorry. I can’t. Goodbye, Devin.”

He could hear her voice cracking just before she hung up. Devin listened to the dial tone on the phone as he stared across the room, the life draining from his cool, grey eyes. He sighed quietly. “Goodbye, Sera.”

Then he turned off the lights and left the bar.

Chapter Eighteen

Sera sat on the chair in front of the mirror in the small room just outside the church vestibule. Her mother and sister worked frantically around her primping and pulling at her gown and veil and dusting her with more makeup. Really, they just needed something to do before the wedding began and she would rather they keep themselves busy rather than nag her about something.

She stared quietly at the mirror, unmoving. The last ten months had gone by so quickly. Even with all the planning and organizing that went on, Sera didn’t recall much about the time that had passed since the night she had said goodbye to Devin. Now, as she gazed at her reflection, everything was finally and suddenly starting to catch up to her.

The door opened. Angela strolled in. She nodded curtly to Sera‘s mother, giving her a teasingly sly grin. Mrs. Dizon’s muted, simmering reaction towards her was almost worth the aggravation of putting on the mauve-coloured sack that was being passed as a bridesmaid’s gown . She would never forgive Sera for letting her mother pick the dresses.

“Why is your dress like that?” Mrs.Dizon chastised, staring down at the improvised high hem resting midway along Angela’s thighs.

“Oh trust me, Mrs.Dizon,” Angela winked, “it’s the fashion.” She made her way to her friend at the mirror. She offered her a plastic cup with a big straw stuck in it. “Here. Mint chocolate bubble tea.”

“No,” Mrs.Dizon said firmly, “She’ll get it on her dress.”

Angela clucked her tongue and turned away even as Sera motioned her hands towards the cup. The young woman sat down in a corner of the room and sucked indignantly on the straw.

Everyone’s attention returned to Sera.

“You look so beautiful,” her sister, Marisol, said.

Of course. She looked beautiful because she was supposed to look beautiful.

“I can’t believe it’s finally happening,” her mother spoke, a tad pointedly, “My baby’s finally getting married!”

Of course. She was getting married because she was supposed to get married.

Mrs.Dizon reached around Sera from behind and gave her a little squeeze. She cooed, “I’m so proud of you.”

“Why?”

The older woman paused, a crooked, curious grin on her lips. “Why?”

“Why are you proud of me, Ma?” Sera asked.

“Well…because you’re my daughter and I love you.”

Sera glared at her mother in the mirror. “Because I’m your daughter?”

“And you’re getting married,” her mother replied, her voice trailing off with uncertainty.

“So you love me and are proud of me because I’m your daughter and I’m getting married?”

Mrs.Dizon backed away and looked towards Marisol, who appeared just as perplexed as she was, and then at Angela in the corner. The vexing young woman’s expression was less confused but she offered little more than a shrug as she continued to suck on the straw.

Agitated, her mother said, “What are you talking about?”

“I mean, Ma,” Sera said with a firm tone, “Do you love me out of obligation? What have I done that’s made you so proud of me? I picked a guy to marry that you approve of? Is that why you love me?”

“Why are you like this? What have I done?” her mother said, her hands on her chest and stepping back further.

Sera turned in her chair to look at her. “Nothing, Ma. I’m not mad at you, but I don’t want to get married just to make you proud of me.”

That did it. Her mother latched onto her words and came back swinging. “You don’t want to get married? Oh my God! What do you mean? How can you be saying that now?”

Sera shook her head. She looked back at her mother and pleaded, “No, you don’t understand, Ma. I don’t want to do anything out of obligation, for you or for me. I want you to be proud of me, to love me for who I am.”

“I just said that! I do love you! What else do you want?”

Sera closed her eyes, trying to regain some control of her thoughts. She spoke deliberately as she looked at her sister, “I’m proud of Marisol because she’s smart and she loves to work with children and animals and she wants to travel to Asia alone with her boyfriend.”

Marisol cringed a little at the last bit but she felt that her presence wasn’t even registering with her mother at the moment.

Sera looked back at her mother, “I love you because you used to sing me to sleep at night, you used to work so hard as a nurse, you cook so well, and you dance whenever you feel like it.”

Her mother was pacing around the room, looking up to heaven and muttering to herself some curses mixed with prayer.

“I haven’t done anything to be proud of,” Sera said, “I can’t get married like this. Being married right now isn‘t who I am.”

“What about Jimmy?” her mother barked.

“This isn’t about Jimmy!” Sera stood up, “I don’t love Jimmy and I don‘t want to marry him!”

The straw dropped from Angela’s red lips and she held the minty-chocolate liquid in her gaping mouth. Marisol quickly exited the room.

Sera looked down and away, blinking through a blank expression, stunned by her own words. Her mother glared at her for a moment and then turned her eyes back towards the ceiling and wailed.

“Ma! Ma! No! Listen to me,” Sera pleaded as her mother continually turned her back on her.

Angela finally swallowed, stood and went to Sera. She held her by the arms and slowly guided her towards the door. “No, no, hon. Leave her be for now. The house is on fire. Let’s just get the hell out of here while it burns to the ground.”

As soon as they were out the door and closed it behind them, Jimmy came striding up through the church hallway, Marisol, her brother, and father trailing anxiously behind him.

“And…the roof has collapsed,” Angela said still holding on to Sera. “Shit.”

Sera gazed straight ahead at her approaching fiancé. “Let me talk to him.”

Angela nodded. “Okay, I’ll deal with your family and then meet you outside.”

Jimmy stopped a few meters away and the two stood there staring at one another. Angela made her way past him and intercepted the family. She directed Sera’s siblings back into the church and then she guided Sera’s father well around her and into the room where her mother was still crying murder. Then Angela in her shamelessly hemmed up bridesmaid gown quick-stepped away in her spiked heels leaving the two of them still standing there.

Finally, Jimmy asked, “What’s going on?”

“I can’t marry you.”

Jimmy gawked at her and sputtered, “What? What the hell do you mean?”

For all that had just happened, Sera was still surprisingly calm. “Jimmy,” she said earnestly, “We can’t do this. We have to stop before it’s too late.”

“Too late?” He shook his head and blinked. “We’re already past too late, Sera! Too late was when we plunked down thousands of dollars for this wedding, and for the house, and for the rings! You can’t do this now!”

Looking away, Sera sighed. “I’m so tired of being told what I can or can’t do.” She smiled thinking about how, in the past few minutes, she was finally putting everything she had learned from her former high school teacher into play.

“What?”

Sera shook her head. She and Jimmy were on such different paths now. “I made love with Devin.”

Jimmy steeled his jaw and glared at her. He was bristling but managing to keep it in. He walked over to her, leaned in close and spoke quietly but sharply, “I know that. I forgave you and you forgave me. We didn’t tell anyone. Your family doesn’t know and neither does mine. It’s fine. Let it go. I don‘t care if you screwed the guy. It‘s over.”

Still with the subtle smile on her lips, Sera replied, “No. We made love. I never loved him in high school. I never had fantasies about him. But when I saw him again, we made a connection and I think I might really care about him. It‘s not over. I don‘t want it to be over.”

Jimmy looked away, fuming.

“You and I were screwing, Jimmy. I may have loved you before, I don’t know. But I know I don‘t love you now. Do you really want to get married?”

Judging by the twitching eyes of Jimmy, she was correct to guess that he wasn’t absorbing her explanation at all. His lips were moving over clenched teeth and through a red complexion but he didn’t say anything. He couldn’t even look at her.

“I’m sorry, Jimmy. I know you‘ll find someone who loves you.” She slowly walked by him and he made no attempt to stop her. “It‘s just not me.”

“You can’t do this, Sera. I won‘t let you!”

Without looking back, she stopped. “Yes…yes, I can,” she said, “And you‘ll let me or else I‘ll tell our families how we both cheated on each other.”

Jimmy remained silent as she resumed walking away.

Sera was still thinking that he might try to pursue her before she left the church but she made it to the door unimpeded. As she stepped outside, a bright blue sky welcomed her and she had to block out the glare of the bright sun. It was a lovely day for a wedding…and anything else, for that matter.

She made her way down the steps, holding up her gown and walking over to Angela who was standing on the sidewalk holding open a taxi door. Both women slid into the back seat. As the car pulled away, Angela turned to Sera, batted her eyelashes and asked, “And why do you love me?”

“Because you’re a slut.”

On their way back to their house, they passed by Voices. The lounge had already been closed for several months.

Chapter Nineteen

A few months later, at a local gym, Jimmy and his teammates went through more drills during practice. His game had improved considerably over the last few weeks. Work was going well and he didn’t have to think about appointments or deposits. The hurt and humiliation of a cancelled wedding faded with every swish of the ball through the net.

Still, every so often, his feet would wander on the court, his attention drawn away, trying to think of the moments he had missed, the signals he had lost when it came to Sera. He was slowly beginning to understand that it hadn’t just been one another’s sexual indiscretions. Still, it was going to take many trips up and down the basketball court for him to completely figure everything out. “Yo!” he shouted out across the court, “Give me the damn ball already!”

* * * *

At the Dizon household, Ramon came running into the kitchen with another postcard. “Where’s she now?” Marisol asked as she chopped up some eggplant at the table.

“Geneva. Is that in Switzerland?” her younger brother asked, “Wasn’t she in France the last time she wrote?”

Their mother had at first ignored the postcards that arrived almost weekly. However, as the two of them sat at the table reading it with their backs to her, she couldn’t help but turn her head and listen over the sounds of the boiling pots on the stove.

There was quite a bit of screaming and hollering in the same kitchen just a few months prior when Sera came to the house to try to explain things again. Her mother had bellowed like the wolf from the fairytales, enough to blow down five brick houses with her rage and bluster. It wasn’t enough to blow down Sera, though—not this time.

In the end, all Mrs.Dizon could do was wipe her hands of the girl. To this day , she couldn’t bring herself to look at her, and yet she could still feel the kiss of her eldest daughter on her cheek from when Sera had come to the house with her backpack just before heading to the airport.

“I love you, Ma,” Sera had whispered into her ear.

Though she didn’t acknowledge it back then—the pain of dejection was still so fresh—it gave her undeniable comfort to be able to still feel her kiss and hear her words months later. Her daughter was happy and enjoying her life. One day, that would be all she needed to know.

* * * *

Angela sat in her apartment eyeing the young blonde woman seated across from her at the dining table. It had been a trying time looking for a new roommate. The young woman with the bobbed golden hair and Slavic accent shifted uneasily in her seat as Angela rolled her tongue along the inside of her mouth and tapped the end of her pencil against the table. She considered the girl carefully.

Finally the short, curly haired woman with the cinnamon freckles said, “Okay. No comments about my sex life, no scoffing about what I wear during my workouts, and the moment you get yourself engaged your butt is out of here, okay?” The girl nodded curtly. Angela passed her a key. “Go get your stuff. Then put on a dress because we’re going out tonight.”

Her new roomie flashed her an awkwardly appreciative smile, gathered her bag and coat and scurried out the door. Angela might have heard the girl slip a little on the stairs but she was too distracted to go check. To be truthful, she was feeling a little anxious herself.

Walking into an empty room in the apartment, she was surprised to feel a little melancholy when she looked around. She had thought she had gotten over the departure of her closest friend a long time ago.

She walked over to the shelves which were completely empty except for one book: Cormier High School 2003-04 Picking it up, she walked back to the bare mattress, sat down, and flipped through the pages. Sometimes a wickedly naughty smile angled onto her pink lips whenever she came across certain photos but mostly she couldn’t stop herself from feeling contemplative and sentimental.

“Good fuck, girl. You’re getting old!” she groaned.

The jingle of her cell phone suddenly jarred her back to the moment. The book fell off her lap as she scrambled for her phone in her pocket.

“Sera? Hey!” she jumped up from the bed, “I thought you were freaking dead or taken hostage or something. Yeah, yeah, don’t give me that ‘it’s only been two weeks’ shit! You send me off on some wild-goose chase then you don’t call back?”

Angela looked out the window at the bright sunlight pouring in. She smiled warmly as she chatted with her friend. “So where are you now? Gavle? Where the hell is…? Sweden! Holy crap! Wow, I’m sure those Swedish meatballs are a handful when you‘re on your knees. Yeah, I know. I’m a slut. Sue me.”

She strolled out of the bedroom towards the kitchen. “Guess what? Found your replacement. Yup. I don’t know. She’s not a flake so that’s all I care about. She’s Czech or Bavarian or something. Cute little ass. I’m gonna auction off her virginity at the club tonight.”

Angela pulled a piece of paper from under a magnet stuck on the fridge. She grinned knowingly as she looked at it. “Hmm? What’s that? No I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she teased then giggled, “Oh yeah? Long distance? Right, right. You know the things I had to do— who I had to do—to get this info? Ha, ha! Okay! Are you ready? Amsterdam. Yeah, Amsterdam. I have the address and everything here.”

The petite energetic woman leaned up against the wall, looked up towards the ceiling and sighed. She smiled thoughtfully and said, “I really miss you, my dear, but I think you’re doing an amazing thing. I love you so much and I’m so happy for you. Find him, okay? Find him and never let go or else I’m definitely flying over there and jumping his ass. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Okay…so do you have a pen and paper?”

Chapter Twenty

Devin walked out to the patio of his wine bar, Stemmen , and set down the tray with a flask of wine and two glasses onto the bistro table. His customers thanked him and he spent a few moments with them talking about the beautiful weather and places to eat in Amsterdam. He took his time with every customer. People knew what a relaxed, leisurely pace the impeccably dressed and handsome owner had set for his establishment.

Inside the bar, he walked past his guitar and took a moment to frame the latest postcard to have been delivered over the last couple of weeks. He placed it alongside the others that had dotted the dark, wooden walls of the intimate room. Standing back, he stroked his clean shaven chin and contemplated the small picture.

“It’s a little crooked,” a gentle voice said to him from the doorway. He turned and saw a young woman standing at the doorway, her dark, soft hair trimmed to neck length, glowing from a warmth that came from within her. She dropped her bag, covered in pins and patches from hers stops along the way, on the floor. She stood there, clutching her hands together, shifting anxiously on her feet, barely able to contain a laugh behind her beaming smile. She was more beautiful than he could ever remember her to have been.

The young woman walked over as calmly as she could. Standing before him, she raised her hand and caressed the skin of his cheek with a stroke of her gentle fingers and soft palm. Then slowly she reached her arms up and around the back of his neck. Her embrace was so assured and loving. She closed her eyes, rested her head on his shoulder and sighed tenderly, “I found you. I finally found you.”

Devin nodded slowly, rubbing his cheek against her soft hair. He could feel his heart swell in his chest as he held her close, and felt hers beating rhythmically against him. It was a wonderful feeling, something he had been missing so much in his life for over a year. Something he would never part from again. After a moment he stepped back. Regaining his well-groomed poise, he stood straight and adjusted his tailored vest and cuffs. He cleared his throat and smiled warmly.

“Please come in and have a seat. Welcome to Voices, Sera.”


*Thank you very much for taking the time to read "Voices" to its conclusion. I hope you enjoyed it. Thank ypu for all the votes, comments, and feedback. Cheers. ~L8LN


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