Belonging to Lust

Chapter 200: You're A Good Person

Upon entering the house after seeing to Alice and her sibling’s emotional departure for the Police Station escorted by Chasity and her father, Zaiyia strode through the living room in hopes of making it to her bedroom in the guest house without being put off. She kept a firm hand clamped over her mouth as she fled, holding back her emotions until she felt she was in a safe enough space to allow them to burst free away from watchful eyes.

“Zaiyia.” Heath called her name softly in hopes that she’d halt. Only she didn’t. She kept going towards where he guessed was the guest house so she could seal herself away and weep in private. Perhaps he should give her that solitude. The selfish part of him, however, refused to follow through. “Zaiyia!”

Not willing to give Heath the time of day, Zaiyia kept going, biting on her bottom lip to keep from unleashing a sob that was clawing to get out.

Going after Zaiyia, Heath reached out to catch her by her arm and then used his strength to tow her back to him against his chest. He heard her let out a runny sniffle against his shirt, and so he wrapped one arm around her back to press her to him while his other hand tenderly cradled the back of her head. “Hey, it’s gonna be okay, baby. If you need to cry, you can do it in front of me. I’m here.”

“I-I don’t wanna cry though!” Zaiyia lamented in a watery tone that was slightly softened against Heath’s shirt. Her trembling hands came up to find anchor on his hips, her middle and index fingers curling into the belt loops of his jeans like her life depended on it. “I shouldn’t cry!”

Unclear as to why Zaiyia wouldn’t be allowed to cry at such an emotional plight as Alice’s, Heath inquired tenderly while lightly rubbing his thumb over her many braids. “Why aren’t you allowed to cry too, Zai?”

Turning her head so her voice could be heard coherently and so she should wipe her tears onto his shirt, Zaiyia sniffled again. “Because this wasn’t even MY situation. It was Alice’s dilemma, she’s the one that should be crying, not me!”

Shaking his head at that preposterous thought, Heath wanted to eradicate it from her mind by giving her the relief she needed. Using very little of his strength, he hoisted up in her arms, smiling when both her legs and arms wrap themselves securely around him. As he navigated them both towards the couch, Heath softly soothed while rubbing his hands down her back. “Baby, it’s okay to cry over someone else’s misfortune. Alice isn’t just some nobody, she’s someone that’s become important to you which makes it fine to cry for her.”

Rearing her back a little so they were face to face with each other, Zaiyia lowered her eyes to his chest as her fingers fiddled with the back of the collar of his shirt for something to do. All the emotions and memories of the past since trying to make amends with Alice were barreling back. It crushed Zaiyia’s senses. “I hate that though! I…I hate that I was too blinded back then by my own drama, you know? I could have done something sooner for Alice, instead of saying ‘fuck it’. God, I’m such a terrible person!”

“No, you’re a good person, Zaiyia Halifax!” Heath corrected her firmly, grasping a hold of the dainty hands that tried to cover her face from him in shame. Cradling them in his hands, he led them to his lips so he could kiss her cold knuckles back to warmth again.

Lifting her head to meet his eyes with her own filled with self-loathing and pain, Zaiyia sought to argue him down. “I’m no-!”

“You are a good person, Zaiyia!” Heath interjected firmly, his narrowed green eyes muting her mouth for disputing against his belief in her. He kept her brown eyes locked on him. “Because instead of selfishly sitting back and watching Alice’s demise play out, you decided to do something about it! You did something even at the risk of losing a terrific friendship with her AND a solution to all the bullying.”

Zaiyia couldn’t find an argument there even if she wanted to. Instead of sitting around and pretending like she hadn’t ever known of the abuse, she tried to help the girl. It felt so long ago now. Zaiyia couldn’t remember if she had been determined to aid Alice with her abuse the moment they forged a friendship or if it was actually before that. Either way, the poor girl was finally free from her father’s abusive clutches and would hopefully live the life she should’ve had all along.

And of course Heath would make sure she remembered that and recognize it to be true.

Lord it was moments like these that the words ‘I love you, Heath’ dangled from her full lips. Zaiyia couldn’t trust herself to speak, otherwise those would surely be the words she’d proclaim. But goddamnit, how beautiful those words would be! So damn splendid and freeing.

Cupping Zaiyia’s sad face in his large rough hands, Heath made sure she was looking directly at him when he cracked open his heart to her. “Zaiyia, I don’t know how to tell you how proud I am of you and what you did to help that girl who literally turned the entire school against you. You were bullied brutally, and repeatedly before you ever got your footing in that damned school. They never gave you a chance, baby. Yet and still, you saw what Alice was going through at home and instead of calling it karma and walking away like everyone expected you to, you became the bigger person and sought help for her. You didn’t let those little little assholes destroy you from the inside. You remain as strong as ever despite it!”

Warmth ruptured within Zaiyia from Heath’s words, making her feel gooey and proud of herself on the inside. So enthralled by what he was expressing to her, she couldn’t crack a smile as she stared in awe at him. She never how starved she was for these words to come from his lips until she was listening it right now. Of course, there were other words her heart was yearning to hear from him next.

Words of love.

“You have my complete adoration, Zai, and lo-” Heath stopped there, not allowing himself to say the other half of what he was about to see. His green eyes widened a little in horror upon hers that magnified in size too, except there was hope shimmering in her eyes. No, he couldn’t finish. It wouldn’t be right. She was only a little girl who was too young to know the connotation of love. Not willing to put that kind of pressure on her, Heath sought damage control. “And loyalty.”

Zaiyia’s heart that had been stopped in anticipation of his magnificent declaration of love, committed suicide by throwing itself off of a cliff down into the acid pit of her stomach below. Her brown eyes shimmered with tears as her brows furrowed with confusion.

She had been certain he was gonna say it.

She would’ve bet her life on it that he was about to tell her he loved her just now.

But he didn’t, and that hit harder than a semi-truck charging towards her at top speed.

Incapable of coping with this grievous night a moment longer, Zaiyia silently pulled away from Heath and crawled off of his lap without a word at first. Getting up from the couch, she whispered without a glance back. “I-I’m tired. I’m gonna go to bed.”

Concerned, Heath watched as a numb Zaiyia walked out of the living room and into the kitchen. “Zaiyia! Zaiyia, wait!”

Zaiyia ignored him. Exiting his house through the back door, she walked across the lawn to the back of the property where the guest house was. Entering the quiet abode, she shut the front door behind her and made her way upstairs to her room where she took off her clothes and slipped under her cold covers, facing her windows. She cried herself out, not caring if she was too loud. She just had to get it out until she ran dry of tears. Tucked quite comfortably in her queen size bed, Zaiyia was on the verge of sleep when she felt the other side of her mattress dip under a much heavier weight. She didn’t have to see who it was. The sexy masculine scent of Heath’s cologne let her know.

Peeling back Zaiyia’s comforter, Heath slipped under and curved his larger frame around her small delicate body. Draping his heavy arm around her waist, he leaned down to press a kiss to her satin bonnet then nuzzled his nose into it to inhale her scent that his bedroom was lacking.

Just when Zaiyia thought she was too sapped to cry, the tears came back again. Where they found any other water source within her body to spawn from, she had no idea. Soundlessly, she let them go, her body trembling every now and then as she clutched onto her comforter instead of the man she loved more than anything on this miserable planet.

Having felt Zaiyia shaking under his arm, Heath tenderly pulled her closer to him to comfort her tears away. “Shh, baby. It's gonna be okay. Alice and her family are gonna be just fine, don’t you worry.”

It was even sadder to hear that Heath believed her tears to be shed for her friend's predicament. It wasn’t. She was now crying over the man she loved who would never ever love her back.