Binding Agreement - By Kyra Davis

CHAPTER 1

SOMETIMES THE MOON looks angry as it rises above this City of Angels. We are, after all, angels with guns, angels who carefully recycle our Coke cans while dumping chemicals into our heated swimming pools that we’ve built only a few blocks away from the sea. So sometimes when the moon rises from the polluted horizon it’s an angry shade of red, a glaring reminder that we are angels intent on creating an earthbound hell.

This is one of those nights. I’m up on the roof of the Griffith Observatory watching the moon rise and I can feel its rage as my own. Where is the slice of heaven I was promised? A life of peace and honorably earned success? Where is the man I can rely on to be ethical in his pursuit of greatness? What happened to the simplicity of knowing with complete certainty what’s right and what’s wrong?

You threw it away, my inner angel says. You listened to your devil and chose a different path.

It’s true but I don’t feel like claiming responsibility. The wind picks up, raises my hair, and blows it back as I keep my eyes on the red moon. I want the wind to cleanse me, to simply blow away the mistakes and immorality.

But there are other things I want more. Like Robert Dade. When he comes near me, I feel an overwhelming impulse to yield to him. I thought that when I broke up with my controlling fiancé, Dave, I would become the master of my own life.

But now it’s just another version of the same thing. Dave controlled me with guilt and shame, even fear. Robert controls me with a kiss.

One kiss on the nape of my neck, a hand on the small of my back, one caress up the inside of my thigh, that’s all it takes. My body overrules the messages of my mind. I used to think that being with Robert was empowering but he directs that power.

I shiver as the moon rises higher, losing some of its crimson glare. I think of Tom, the man I reported to only yesterday. Is he looking at this moon, too? Tom was forced out of a job for no reason other than that he insulted me, and Robert found out. It’s not what I wanted, and even if I had, revenge reaped by a surrogate is no revenge at all.

But when Robert touches me in just the right way, I forget. I forget what it is I want, or rather I forget that I want anything other than him.

If he were here right now, on this roof deck, with tourists and stargazers milling around the antiquated telescopes, would I let him touch me? If he stood behind me and slipped his hand up, cupping my breast, would I protest?

I swear, just thinking about him makes me throb. Perhaps he’s the moon and I’m the ocean, my tides being pulled to new heights by the force of his presence.

The thought thrills and disturbs me. After all, the ocean is its own force, isn’t it? It moves with the wind; it gives and destroys in equal measure. People love and fear the ocean. They respect it.

But without the moon, the ocean is nothing but a lake.

I need the moon.

I turn around and take the curving steps down to the base of the building. Get a grip, Kasie. But I don’t know if I can. I can’t control my tides.

CHAPTER 2

I DRIVE FOR A WHILE before going home. When I do get there, I immediately spot his Alfa Romeo Spider parked in front of my house. It’s impossible to miss. He blends in little better, leaning against the outside of my door. His arms are crossed and his salt-and-pepper hair gleams with the slight dew of the night. I park my car but keep the engine running at a resting purr. Part of me knew he would come. That doesn’t mean I’m ready for it.

But it’s not my choice. So I switch off the ignition and carefully approach.

“You didn’t let yourself in this time,” I say.

He smiles ruefully. “I’m trying to find a happy medium between being protective and being intrusive. I thought not breaking into your home would be a good start.”

I can’t help but smile. “You’re learning.” I put my key in the lock, open the door, allow him to follow me into the living room. “Still,” I say once we’re inside and he’s lowered himself onto my sofa, “you could have