Part 1 - Zaccheus

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Two Weeks Until Christmas

"Nope. She talks too much."

Diara, my best friend, snorted a laugh. "She does, huh?" I nodded, leaning against the banister as I watched her amusedly while she scanned the room, tapping her perfectly sculpted acrylic nail on her chin as she thought. "Ooh! What about her?"

I glanced in the general direction she was pointing. Once I realized who she was pointing at, my head shook vehemently. "Sta—"

"Do not call her that." Dee elbowed me in the side, fighting to hold back a laugh. "That's so mean."

"I was only going to say her name, but if the shoe fits," I shrugged.

Dee snickered. "That was one time twenty years ago. We were kids for crying out loud."

"One time is one too many," I countered before taking a sip of my cocktail, my fourth for the night.

"She's cute, though," Diara tried to reason.

"Stacia is beautiful. I'll give you that, but she's not my type."

She scoffed. "Since when do you have a type?"

"I don't. There's only you," I winked, laughing when she blushed.

I downed the rest of my drink then pushed off the banister, heading for the kitchen to deposit my glass into the sink. The alcohol had me feeling nice. Another drink would've put me over the personal limit I had for family settings. Diara was right on my heels, which was standard whenever we were together. Neither one of us strayed far from the other. It had been that way since we were ten, and how I always wanted it to be.

Tonight, we were at her parents' house for their annual Christmas party. Family and friends from all over gathered at their home to eat, drink, and talk shit in the name of good fun. I looked forward to this day every year. I made some of my fondest memories at these parties.

Diara leaned against the counter while I rinsed my cup at the sink. "You should give her a chance."

"Why are you pushing this so hard?" I asked, drying my hands with a paper towel.

"I might have told her I would hook her up... with you."

"Dee," I groaned. "How many times have I told you to cut the matchmaker shit out? I'm good." My baritone was thick and demanding but did nothing to deter her.

Diara folded her arms across her chest, pushing her breasts together and exposing her cleavage through the undone buttons of her denim shirt. I allowed my eyes to linger there before meeting her beautiful gaze. "Please? She really likes you. Don't have me out here looking bad," she begged.

More than anything, you look clueless, I thought.

Her bottom lip poked out and those puppy dog eyes were doing this thing that turned me into putty every time. Diara Chancellor had me wrapped around her little finger, and she knew it.

"I'll think about it," I grumbled.

She squealed, standing on her tiptoes to kiss me just centimeters away from my mouth. "I'll give her your number."

"I said I'll think about it," I chuckled, draping an arm over her shoulder and pulling her into me.

Diara's arms snaked around my waist. Rubbing small circles on the small of my back, she inhaled deeply. "You smell good. Did I buy whatever this is?" Her head tilted back, giving me a view of her smooth, chocolaty orbs.

The corner of my mouth raised. "You know you did."

"I did well then," she smiled, dragging her lower lip between her teeth.

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