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Pink

 

 

 

Pink

A Novel

Shakespir Edition

Copyright © 2017 by London Tracy

 

 

All Rights Reserved

No part of this publication may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles or reviews.

 

 

 

Episode 1

 

On this cold, crisp fall day, I try my best to look enthusiastic as my best friend, Sarah Jane, gives me the rundown of what she plans for my thirty-fifth birthday.

“Here’s what I have planned for us today,” Sarah Jane says, as she and I sit at a café across from the Chicago River. For the last several years, Sarah Jane and I would celebrate our birthdays with a day of pampering, good food, and lots of shopping. This month, I am the birthday child of the moment, and because I am no longer in a romantic relationship, I lack the excitement that I might otherwise experience for my birthday festivities. My last relationship ended a year ago when Jay Evers, the man I was supposed to marry, refused to commit to me because of his on-again, off-again relationship with his first love. And now, as I am about to turn thirty-five, I can’t help but miss being a couple.

For the two years that Jay and I were together, Jay would always gift me with sparkling studded earrings, and my birthday would always end at my place, where we would order out and watch old black and white movies. With each passing thought, I force the memories from my mind. Those days are over now because Jay and I are no longer together. Despite being in a less than zealous mood, I am going to do my best to enjoy the day anyway.

Sarah Jane reads her list to me. “First, we’re going to have a manicure and pedicure at Macy’s. Then, I’m taking you shopping for new shoes. That’s always fun. Then it’s off to Gibson’s for dinner, and we will top off the evening with a trip to the Exodus Reggae Bar.”

Though Sarah Jane’s plans sounds good, I am not feeling the birthday vibe.

“How does that sound?” Sarah Jane asks, seemingly hoping for a shred of enthusiasm.

“It sounds good,” I say, trying to hide my lack of exuberance as I continue to give thought to how this day might have played out if Jay were still in my life.

“Today is a very special day,” Sarah Jane says. “Thirty-five is an important milestone, wouldn’t you say?”

“Since when is thirty-five a milestone?”

“Every year past thirty is a milestone for any woman.”

“There could be some truth to that.”

Then, out of nowhere, Sarah Jane seems to pick up on something and say, “I hope you’re not sitting there thinking about Jay.”

It is as if Sarah Jane can read my mind. “I am not thinking about him,” I say, hoping to convince Sarah Jane of my half-truths.

“Of course, you are.”

I am about to tell Sarah Jane what is really on my mind, then hesitate and say nothing.

“What?” Sarah Jane asks.

“I was just thinking. Any chance we can skip this year’s celebration?”

“Not a chance.” Sarah Jane never did mince words. “We are going to celebrate your birthday…period.”

I should know better. There is no way Sarah Jane is going to allow me to skip out on a birthday celebration for any reason. Without an inkling of joy in my soul, I stare at the water glass before me.

“You know, you could be a little more enthusiastic,” Sarah Jane says. “It is your birthday.”

“And no boyfriend.”

“So what, you don’t have a boyfriend. You have me.”

“Sarah Jane, as much as I love you, it’s not the same thing.”

“Do you know how many birthdays have come and gone when I didn’t have anyone special in my life?”

“Of course, it’s easy for you to say this now because you have someone,” I say.

“And you will too. You just have to have faith.” Sarah Jane leans back in her chair. “Do you ever hear from him?”

“Who?”

“Who do you think? Jay?”

“No, and I don’t expect to either.”

“Who are you kidding? You know you’re hoping that the two of you will get back together.”

“Get back together? With him? I might be crazy, but I’m not insane.”

Though there may be a tad bit of truth to what Sarah Jane suggests, my reunion with Jay is definitely not something I am banking on.

Sarah Jane begins scanning through her iPhone. “I have to find someone for you to have sex with.”

My mouth drops open. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me. You have to get Jay out of your system.”

“Jay is not in my system.”

“Oh yeah? Have you made love to anyone since your breakup with him?”

I know I have not made love to anyone since my breakup with Jay, haven’t even come close, but I am not going to confess this to Sarah Jane so easily. “I’d rather not say.”

Sarah Jane smiles as if her point has been fully made and then continues to scan through her iPhone. “According to Samantha Jones, the best way to get over one man is to get underneath another one.”

Ever since Sarah Jane and I became loyal fans of the famous TV series Sex and the City, who we identified with always remained the same. Sarah Jane is Samantha, and I would forever be Carrie Bradshaw.

“That kind of advice may work for some women, but I don’t think it’s the solution to my problem,” I say.

Apparently unfazed by my statement, Sarah Jane says, “And I have just the person for you, too.”

“And who might that be?” I ask with a hint of curiosity.

“There’s this really cute attorney at my office, and he’s just the man for the job.” Being a legal secretary for over 10 years at Ungaretti & Harris, one of Chicago’s most prestigious law firms, Sarah Jane always has the skinny on all the Eligibles.

“And what job is that?” I ask.

“The job of getting Jay out of your system, and if that isn’t enough he’s also a writer. He writes screenplays, I think.”

Being a writer myself, I am very fond of others who write as well. Though I am somewhat interested in Sarah Jane’s proposal, I know it will take more than a handsome face to make me forget about Jay Evers. “What’s his name?” I ask.

“Morgan Moran.”

I am not exactly jumping for joy with the prospect of being set up, but maybe meeting someone new might be exactly what I need to ease me out of this lull I find myself in. If I have learned anything from my disappointing relationship with Jay, it is to never date an unavailable man.

 

 

My thirty-fifth birthday excursion goes off without a hitch before Sarah Jane and I retire back to our apartments to prepare for the evening’s finale. By the time I arrive home, I feel energetic and full of life─a total 360 from earlier. Perhaps it was the great dinner we enjoyed at Gibson’s Steakhouse, or maybe it was the new patent-leather shoes that Sarah Jane purchased for me, or maybe it was just being with Sarah Jane that lifted my spirits. It is difficult to maintain a glum mood for long in Sarah Jane’s presence because her enthusiasm is contagious. The day turns out to be a good one, and I am glad that I didn’t cancel as I had previously suggested. I look forward to ending the night at the reggae bar, which is something I always wanted to do.

To prime myself for the evening to come, I listen to the energetic sounds of Bob Marley, which echoes throughout my apartment as I stand in front of the bathroom mirror and brush my short curly hair. As I stare at myself in the mirror, I see that it is my freckles scattered across my face that make me look heaps younger than my thirty-five years.

Filled with adventure, I stroll into the front room, smiling as I fantasize about my night to come. There will be live music, and already I can feel the excitement as I meticulously search through my closet for something pink to wear. Ever since Sarah Jane introduced me to color magic weeks prior, I am curious to find out if wearing certain colors can actually create purposeful happenings. Pink is supposedly the color of love and romance, and if romance is what I want, pink is the color of promise.

When the phone rings, I assume that it is Sarah Jane calling to let me know that she is heading out and will meet me at the Exodus Reggae Bar. But that is not the case at all. Though it is Sarah Jane calling, she is calling to inform me that she has a family emergency, and will not be able to meet me. When I end my call with her, I wonder: Should I call the whole thing off, or should I go ahead as planned, even if it means going at it alone? Seconds later, a decision is made. Already in the mood, I decide to forge ahead and finish off the evening a la carte.

It is a quarter after eleven when I leave my apartment and make my way north on Clark Street. Arriving in Wrigleyville in my pearl white Ford, I don’t bother to hunt for a parking spot on the street. Instead, I cruise into the parking lot next door to the Exodus Reggae Bar. I shift the gear into park, turn off the engine, and chew on my fingernails.

This being the first time I frequent a nightclub alone, I feel unsure of myself, and if that isn’t enough, it is the evening of my birthday. For two minutes, I sit in the car with the window halfway down. I gaze at the people as they enter and exit the parking area, consuming bits and pieces of their conversations. Even in the cold of autumn, people gallivant outside as if it is a hot summer day. So not to be pegged as a voyeur, I blow a breath from my mouth and step from the car. After paying the $10 cover charge, I head inside, wearing navy dress pants, my supposed lucky pink sweater and a leather jacket. A tall Sudanese man working the door smiles at me when I present my driver’s license and already I feel welcomed. Though this place is much smaller than I expected, the music booms as I experience the Caribbean energy almost instantly. The Exodus Reggae Bar is the hot spot of reggae, all the more reason to call it Summer’s place because of my love for reggae music. There is something about reggae music that just makes me feel so good.

New Vibration, the five-member African band, bursts with vigor onto the elevated stage while I maneuver my way through the crowd of white people, black people, Hispanics and Nigerians. There is somebody here for everybody. I continue through the mass of bodies, making my way to the bar. With the music sweeping, the band popping and everyone seemingly having a good time, this is the place to be. All I need now is a drink to take the edge off, but I am not sure that I am quite ready for one just yet. Luckily, I find a seat at the bar and ease down onto the bar stool, all the while observing the pictures on the wall of yesteryear performers, Bob Marley being front and center. Two songs later and more relaxed, I unzip my jacket, release my purse from my shoulder and tuck it in my lap.

The energetic sounds continue to thrive, and I long to rise to my feet and roll my hips in unison with the beat, but am too shy to do so. When the band breaks down the music to a light drum, it seems to captivate everyone’s attention. The lead singer, wearing jeans and an African smock, is as tall as the average woman, but his presence demands attention as he asks the crowd, “Anyone out there in love?”

The crowd roars with a rigorous noise. “Yeah,” they scream.

I remember what it was like to be in love, and so much I wish that I could have been included in that grand yeah.

The band leader continues. “I want to talk to you about love tonight. Is that all right?”

Pandemonium at its finest. The crowd follows his lead and screams, “Yeah.”

“Back in the day,” the lead singer bellows. “A long time ago, I didn’t know anything about love. And was too busy for love, didn’t have time for love, didn’t want to love, and I have to tell all y’all something tonight. Are you ready?” The band plows into a song, “Make Time for Love.”

I spring to my feet, and the crowd goes ballistic, clapping their hands and stomping their feet. His words obviously strike a vein with the group, and they seem very vocal in expressing themselves. I clap my hands along with everyone else, not being able to remain silent any longer. Then, it hits me─why I like reggae music so much. It speaks about what is real, what is true, and most of all, what is in my heart. Captivated by the moment and the song, out of nowhere, I feel someone tap me on the shoulder.

“Hello, Summer,” the gentleman says.

I turn around and my jaw drops. I look and then look again, my heart beating out a guilty beat while I try to tell myself that my eyes are playing tricks on me.

Is this who I think it is?

There he was, just as handsome as ever, in the flesh, the man who broke my heart─Jay Evers. He is a sexy tanned man with piercing green eyes and a body that will make any woman swoon. I try not to notice how good he looks in his black turtle-neck sweater and dark pants, but his sexiness permeates through him. He possesses chiseled cheekbones, and his mouth is so inviting, and, at this moment, I have a major hard-on for this man.

“Jay,” I say, with a warm smile, then quickly remember how much he enjoys being called Officer Evers.

“Give me a hug,” Jay says, with his arms stretched out to welcome me.

Happy to comply, I stand to my feet and embrace him warmly, my arms snug around his back, and against my will, my body reacts strongly to his masculinity.

Jay slowly pulls away and smiles at me, his eyes bathing me in admiration. “Are you here alone this evening?”

“Sarah Jane was supposed to be here with me, but she bailed on me at the last minute.”

“Really? Well, her loss is my gain.” He pauses, then, “The funny thing is, we were supposed to go somewhere else, but at the last minute, my friends and I decided on this place.”

I consider reminding Jay that it is my birthday, but then decide not to, for fear that it might embarrass him for not remembering.

Flattered by such a coincidence, I begin to think that our chance meeting is a sign of us possibly reuniting in the future. It sure has the markings of fate to me.

Jay eyes me like I am a piece of candy, and I so much want to be his candy, if only for this one night. His eyes are almost hypnotic, and I feel my temperature rising. As wonderful as it is to see him again, being in his presence arouses old fears and uncertainties, and it is crucial that I keep the conversation moving.

“Do you still live at the same place?” I ask.

“Not for about a year. I bought a new place in the Gold Coast.”

“Moving up in the world, are we?”

“Yes, we are.”

It is hard for this moment not to bring back memories of the days when Jay and I would indulge in our role-playing game. And the game was always the same. I would go into a bar, and Jay would follow me in soon afterwards and pretend to pick me up. And that was it. Even though it was the same role being played, because of my adoration for him, it always delivered all the excitement as the first time we experienced it.

Jay stretches out his hand to me. “Shall we dance?”

Still in shock and not completely grounded back into reality after crossing paths with my ex, I return to my seat and say, “Soon.”

Jay benches down next to me, giving me his full attention while I glance at his beautiful skin, admiring it so much that I yearn to touch it or maybe even lick it. My heart is beating two miles a minute from the shock and excitement of it all, and I think I might explode. I think about how courageous it would be to move into Jay’s arms and lift my face to his for a kiss, and for a moment, I almost consider doing just that.

The band performs a Bob Marley song, Waiting In Vain, and I can’t help but rock my shoulders to the beat. Already, I am experiencing an emotional buzz, and I fail to even have my first drink.

“You sure look like you’re ready to dance to me,” Jay says.

The powerful romantic beat surges through me, and I figure it is indeed time to hit the dance floor.

“Okay.” I stand and wrap my purse strap around my body, a tinge of excitement stirring through me. Jay sips down his beer before setting the bottle on the bar, then leads me onto the dance floor. Having reconnected with my heartthrob and ready to live it up on the dance floor, I want to pinch myself. My eyes linger on Jay’s slick shoulders. He is much taller than I am. I have always liked that. Oh, how I like that. Thirty minutes pass and more people flood the dance floor, causing me to feel more and more like a sardine. But I do not mind because tonight is a very special night, and not just because it is my thirty-fifth birthday, but because of whom I coincidentally ended up spending it with.

The top of my head just reaches his big, broad shoulders and every cell in my body is reacting to his dangerous proximity as his powerfully muscled chest beneath his sweater. Jay sways his body towards mine, our hips almost grinding. He trails my every move, and I soon realize that dancing erotically with him will surely lead me into trouble. Casually, I step away from him and shout over the loud music. “Is it always this crowded?”

“On a Saturday, yes. Aren’t you warm in that jacket?”

“I’m starting to get kind off warm.” I wipe the sweat from my forehead. “I need a rest.”

Jay leads me off the dance floor and over to the bar. “What would you like to drink?” Jay asks.

“Coke,” I say, removing my jacket.

I am about to go into my purse when Jay says, “Don’t worry about it, I have it.”

“Thank you.” I fan myself with my hand. I am hot and tired.

The bartender hands Jay our drinks and Jay hands me mine. “No Long Island tonight? I know that’s what you like.”

“That wouldn’t be a good idea tonight,” I say, knowing just how uninhibited alcoholic beverages can make me under the right circumstances.

“What do you make of us running into each other tonight?” he asks with the sexiest smile I have ever witnessed.

It is as if we are thinking the same thing.

“When you think about it,” Jay says. “You and I could have come here on any other night, yet, it is this night that we both happened to show up. You were supposed to be here with your friend, and I wasn’t supposed to be here at all.”

“That is something to think about,” I say, knowing I had already pondered the coincidence from the very first.

“Do you think it means anything?” he says in his sensuous voice.

Just hearing him ask the question sends quivers down my spine. “Maybe.”

“I definitely think it means something,” he insists.

I want to ask him about his ex-girlfriend, but the fear of hearing that she might still be in the picture prevents me from doing so.

“I have missed you,” Jay says, bathing me with a complimentary stare.

I smile, insanely flattered. “Really?”

There is a short silence, as if Jay waits for a response from me, then he asked, “Have you missed me?”

“Maybe,” I say.

“Maybe yes?”

I am not going to dare let on just how much I really did miss him, so instead, I just play it safe. “Maybe.”

As I give thought to Sarah Jane’s unexpected and vague excuse for not coming out with me this evening, I can’t help but wonder─Had my coincidental meeting with Jay been prearranged?

“Did Sarah Jane tell you that I would be here tonight?” I ask.

“Is that what you think? How on earth would I have been in touch with Sarah Jane?”

“You know I have always had a curious mind. I had to ask.”

“Well, you can put your mind at ease. I had no idea that you would be here this evening, and your friend Sarah Jane had nothing to do with my showing up here tonight.”

Maybe I am just being paranoid, still the same, I have to ask.

“Are you still writing?” he asks.

“As always.”

“Have you written anything about me yet?” he asked.

“I’m working on it. And you, are you still arresting people?”

“Every chance I get.”

“I always feel so much safer knowing a police officer is nearby.”

“As you should, but I’m not a police officer anymore,” he says. “I’m a detective.”

“Detective?” I question with a smile. “I’m impressed.”

“As you should be.”

Jay is definitely not suffering from any self-esteem issues.

“Should I call you Detective Evers now, or is it still Officer Evers?”

“It still is and always will be Officer Evers to you.”

There is something so titillating about a man of authority that I find absolutely intoxicating.

Jay moves in towards me and asks in a seductive whisper, “Does that still turn you on that you have to address me by my professional name?”

I feel the color in my cheeks bruising and exhale a long breath in an attempt to release the sexual energy circulating inside me. “Maybe,” I say, not wanting to let on just how much. “You’re not going to try and handcuff me or anything like that, are you?” I ask him.

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

My flirtatious smile gives him an unequivocal yes. Why must he be so cute?

Jay excuses himself to his friends near the entrance, and upon his return, he says, “My friends and I are getting ready to head over to Pinky’s Place. I’d like for you to come with us.”

“Where is it?”

“On Halsted, not far from here.”

“Okay,” I say. “I’ll follow you in my car.”

After setting eyes on this man who I used to love so dearly, I don’t dare let him disappear from me this easily. Who knows? Maybe this is going to be the beginning of something wonderful. As far as birthdays are concerned, this one is definitely a good one.

I trail behind Jay in my car, buzzing with excitement, hoping the night will end as exciting as it began. Already, I have visited the Exodus Reggae Bar and danced with the sexiest man in the city. Now, I am on my way to another club, my insides screaming with excitement. Coming out tonight proves to be a good idea as I discover sparks of adventure in myself that I never knew existed.

I will remember this night forever.

 

 

Episode 2

 

Pinky’s Place.

Jay pays the cover charge for both of us, and then ventures inside, with his hand connected to mine. Once inside, we spiral through the cluster of people. Over one hundred people dance to the ear-splitting music while I soak up the presence of the man who makes my head spin. After we check our jackets, we approach Jay’s friends, three women and a man.

“Everybody, this is Summer,” Jay announces. “Summer, this is everybody.”

“Hello,” I say, right before everyone greets me.

With as much alertness as I can pull from within, I pretend to appear interested in Jay’s friends’ conversation, making eye contact with them as they speak of people whom I do not know.

“We’re going upstairs,” Jay says, as he leads me over to the bar. “I’ll see you guys later,” he says to his friends.

Jay pulls his wallet from his pocket and then orders a Coke. “Can I get you anything?”

“No, thanks,” I say.

His even-toned complexion is a dynamite contrast for his sparkling green eyes, and I so much enjoy the view. It is already 1:00 a.m., and my weary body longs for sleep. I cover my mouth and yawn.

“You’re not getting sleepy on me, are you?” Jay asks as he slides his wallet back into his pocket.

“I’m okay.” Though tired, I summon the stamina to play this night through for all its worth.

Upstairs, in the corner, we find a rundown mini-sofa, seemingly put to use many of nights. The music on the second level is a lot less penetrating, which creates an atmosphere for friendly conversation and more. When we crash on the sofa, Jay snuggles close to me, so much so that someone passing by might make us out as an intimate couple. I close my eyes and smile while I envision Jay’s warm body molded perfectly with mine. And oh, what a marvelous treat it is.

“Are you sure you don’t want anything to drink?” Jay asks again.

“I’m sure,” I say, thinking, if only he knew what I am just imagining.

With Jay sitting so snug and his hand on my knee, I feel a little uneasy and turn away.

“Why do you keep looking away from me?”

I look over at Jay and turn on my innocent smile. “I’ve always been a little shy.”

“Since when?” he questions.

“Since recently.” Though I am no virgin, being with him again after our separation makes me feel like one all over again.

“I like looking at your face,” he says. “You have a nice face.”

I smile to myself, reveling in the sound of his masculine voice.

He fondles the inside of my hand and gently strokes my fingers. Enjoying the warmth of his hand against mine, my heart pounds. It is as if he knows what feels good to me, and it is just too much. I want to beg him to stop turning me on, yet the words won’t formulate, let alone escape from my throat. Panting on the inside, I absorb the longgggggggggggggg silence between us. As much as I like having Jay touch my hand, it scares me. I delight in the feel of his hand and his long skilled fingers curled around mine. I am torn between asking him to stop and never stopping, the passion inside too intense to overpower. After a few minutes, Jay releases his hand from mine, and I can finally loosen up. But before I can relax entirely, Jay grasps my fingers and gently embraces them as if communicating some erotic message.

“Your fingers are so sweaty,” he says. “Does it bother you when I touch your hand this way?”

“No, not really.”

But it does bother me because I am leading him on and enjoying every second of it. Nevertheless, I relish the moment too much to stop myself. I am enjoying his company so much that I again hesitate to ask him if he is still involved with his ex-girlfriend, for fear of the answer that I will receive. Not wanting to ruin what is a perfect evening, I decide to ask him later.

“You know what I’m thinking?” he asks, in his own I-know-I’m-turning-you-on fashion.

“No, tell me.”

“I’m thinking how lucky I am to have run into you this evening.”

Jay rubs his head against my forearm, not saying a word. He is a bold man, but it is okay because he is just as sweet as he is bold.

“You smell good,” Jay says. “I like your perfume. What is it so that I can make sure that you always have plenty of it?”

“Cool Water Woman.”

Glad that Jay cannot perceive the astonishment that lurks inside me, I brainstorm for something to say. But nothing springs to mind. Instead, I envision him kissing me, seemingly the next logical thing to do, and more importantly, what I cry out for him to do. Continually absorbing the idea of him kissing me, I inch my body towards him, feeling a shiver of arousal just being near him.

This moment is unreal.

Not only am I in the company of the most handsome detective in Chicago, but here I am cuddled up with him on a frumpy sofa.

What can be better than that?

Jay’s head rests against my chest as we embrace each other’s presence, saying absolutely nothing. Never before am I so in tuned with someone whose closeness I could enjoy without so much as one word of conversation. I close my eyes and recap the night’s adventure. Because everything is happening so fast, my brain is just catching up. But it doesn’t matter how I arrive at this moment, just that I arrive.

Having just reconnected with him, and not knowing whether or not he is involved with someone else, I theorize that it isn’t smart to cuddle with him this way. But, the more forbidden it seems, the more I like it.

As time passes, more and more people leave from upstairs. Soon Jay and I are the only two who remain when Jay lifts his head from my chest and in a whisper, his breath hot against my ear, says, “Can I ask you something?”

A nervous inkling circulates from within, eager to hear what he is about to say to me. “Sure.”

“I’d like for you to come home with me tonight,” Jay murmurs, his supposed question sounds more like a request.

The shock of his words hit full force, and I am caught off guard and completely taken aback. “What did you just say?” I ask. He cannot possibly have said what I think he said.

“I want you to come home with me,” he says, continuing to stroke my hand.

“But I haven’t seen you in over a year.”

“All the more reason for you to come home with me now. I want to make love to you all night.”

Having played this game long enough, it is time to put a stop to it. “I can’t do that.”

“You can do anything that you want.”

“No, I can’t.” Merely considering the idea frightens me and makes me curious at the same time. Every strain of blood in my body is aching for this man to climb on top of me and hammer me until the early morning hours, and it takes all of the reluctance I possess to decline his offer.

“Captain Evers has something he wants to show you,” he says.

“I bet he does.” Captain Evers is the nickname for Jay’s second brain, which amuses me to the high heavens.

When I hear footsteps coming closer to us, I am relieved to see three of Jay’s friends approaching.

“There you guys are,” Jay’s friend says. “What are you two doing back here?”

“Just talking,” Jay says.

“We’re getting ready to go,” Jay’s friend says.

“Summer and I will be leaving soon. I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow.”

After Jay’s friends leaves, he asks, “Are you sure you don’t want to come home with me?”

“I can’t do that.” I hope he does not continue to ask me because I will only be able to resist his proposal for so long.

“But I don’t want to leave you,” he says with an ounce of sincerity.

“That’s very sweet,” I say as I rise to my feet and straighten my pants.

“I wish I could at least drive you home,” Jay says. “I’ll walk you to your car.”

Through the corridor and down the stairs, Jay and I straggle along as if we are the only two people alive.

“Are you going to let me call you sometime?” Jay asks.

“Sure,” I say, not letting on just how much I want him to call me.

I try to kid myself into believing that, regardless of whether or not he is involved with someone else that he and I can be good friends.

But who am I kidding?

He is definitely more-than-friend material.

Jay takes his phone from his pocket and programs my number into it.

Outside Pinky’s Place, Jay and I approach my Ford Focus. “Are you going to be okay going home?” Jay asks.

“I’ll be okay.” I open the door, climb inside, start the engine and roll down the window.

“Are you sure?” Jay asks. “It’s no trouble for me to trail you home.”

“No, that’s okay. I’ll be fine.” Finally finding the courage to ask what has been on my mind all evening, I say. “I need to ask you something.”

“What’s that?”

“Are you still seeing your old girlfriend?”

“You probably wanted to ask me that all evening, didn’t you?”

“Well, are you?” I ask, the suspense churning away at me.

Jay leans inside the car and kisses my cheek. “No, I’m not.”

As the relief sweeps over me, I roll up the window, switch the gear into drive and blush all the way home.

 

 

It is a night to remember.

I step through the front door at 2:45 a.m., still glowing in elation. Exhausted, I wash my face, brush my teeth, slip into my nightshirt, and scramble into bed. I lay snug underneath the covers, reliving my spectacular time spent with Jay Evers. With a twinkle in my eye, I savor the joyful memories and inhale an elongated deep breath.

Can my fabulous evening with Jay be the beginning of something wonderful to come? And if not, will my feelings for him ever fade away? Random visions of constantly wanting him, and never having him, rummage through my mind until the peak of exhaustion before I finally fall asleep.

A short time later, the loud ringing phone awakens me. With one eye open, I glance at the green light dial on the clock, having just closed my eyes not more than twenty minutes earlier. I reach for the phone on the night table and accidentally knock my notepad to the floor.

“Summer, did I wake you?” Jay asks.

My eyes widen with delight. “Oh, hello, Officer Evers. I was so exhausted I went straight to bed as soon as I got home.”

“I’m not going to keep you up. I just wanted to make sure that you made it home okay.”

Is he a sweetheart or what?

A calm silence, and then Jay says, “I should─”

“Should what?” I ask, curiously.

Jay doesn’t speak right away, and then says, “I was not completely honest with you this evening about my not seeing my old girlfriend.”

In shock, I rise to a sitting position. “Oh, so you are seeing her.”

“I am, but we’re not together right now. She’s in San Diego, taking care of her mother. I want to tell you that the relationship is completely over, but I will be lying if I say that.”

It is like déjà vu all over again. “A girlfriend, huh?”

“I’m sorry, and I know that you’re probably disappointed, but it is important for me to be honest with you.”

I shake my head in disappointment. “I am a little surprised, but I’m glad that you told me.”

“I want to see you again and thought I should be up front with you.”

“I appreciate that, but I don’t see that happening. Goodbye, Officer Evers.”

It is unlike me to be so short with Jay, but there is no sense in giving him false hope. I would be a fool to tread back into another torrid affair with him after the way he broke my heart before. I want to think that I am a little smarter than that. With the night’s excitement finally coming to a close, it seems our love affair ends before it is truly rekindled. And though I have written him off, I know he will never be far from my heart.

 

 

Jay is front and center in my head when I awaken the next morning. I roll over to the empty space next to me and lay in bed with my eyes open, giving thought to what my mornings might feel like if Jay and I were still a couple. My morning begins with a soothing hot bubble bath where I will read an inspirational book, which causes me to feel better about everything in my life. And this morning, that book is The Prospering Power of Love by Catherine Ponder. Though I have already made plans to put Jay out of my head and heart, I find it a lot easier to plan for than actually carry out.

After a morning of soaking in my relaxing bath for almost an hour, I make my weekly stop to Jewel grocery store. Not having taken my cell phone with me, upon my return, I am pleasantly surprised to see my phone light up when I see that it is Jay. Several rings later, the call is transferred to voicemail. I know I will eventually listen to his message. The question is when. Will I listen to it now and risk upsetting myself, or will I wait a day or two when I am feeling more in control of my emotions?

Without giving it any more thought I listen to his message. Simply put, he wants a return call, which is something that I am unwilling to provide at this time. However, I can’t resist saving his number into my phone anyway. My reason for not returning his call is easy for anyone to understand. I want him, and talking to him will make him all that much more difficult to resist. Jay is a forbidden fruit, and I possess the emotional scars to prove it. It can never be, and that is my final answer.

 

 

Before I began writing full time, I used to work as an administrative assistant, and liked it less and less every year. There is something about having someone constantly saying, do this and this and this that irks me. I like to be alone with my thoughts for long stretches of time and having someone constantly distracting me becomes an annoyance.

I sit comfortably at my desk in the living room and put in a few hours of writing time before heading over to Sarah Jane’s place. I can’t wait to brag to her about my fiasco with Jay and share with her the full disclosure of what transpired between us. Even though it is over before it got started, it is just too exciting to keep to myself.

At Sarah Jane’s apartment, we sit on the sofa in front of the window, which faces Pine Grove Street. Right away, I see that Sarah Jane is burning a green candle which she does every year when she is scheduled for a review and raise on her job. She swears by its power, confessing that she has never received less than a $5,000 raise since beginning her yearly ritual. Sarah Jane wears a purple matching skirt and blouse, which adorns her tall, slender frame, and her hair is pinned up into a flattering ponytail.

“You were so vague over the phone,” Sarah Jane says. “Anything happen last night worth talking about?”

“I didn’t sleep with him if that’s what you mean,” I say, somewhat proud of the incredible restraint I maintained in Jay’s presence.

“You mean you ran into your one and only, Jay Evers, and there were no fireworks?”

“I won’t say that, but what I will say,” I pause. “Let’s just say, I was feeling a whole lot of something last night, but not enough to lose all my sense of reasoning.”

“That’s too bad. I was hoping for a juicy story.”

“Sorry to disappoint you.” If only Sarah Jane knew just how much I wish I had something more interesting to share with her.

“Please tell me you didn’t address him as Officer Evers? I hope he got that crap out of his system.”

“Well,” I say, almost embarrassed to speak. “Actually he didn’t get it out of system, and besides that, I think it’s cute.”

“You would say that.”

“Come on, Sarah Jane, don’t tell me that you’re not a little bit turned on by a man in a position of power.”

“Of course, I am, but I don’t have to address them as Officer.”

“Well, that’s your loss, because, I find it to be a major turn-on.”

“You know who you remind me of?”

“I’m can’t wait to find out,” I say.

“Remember that movie, 9-1/2 Weeks, the Mickey Rouke character has the Kim Bassinger character doing all that weird stuff, and she just willingly went along with it. That’s who you remind me of.”

“I like that character. She was very open-minded and ready for adventure. Yes, that’s me. I can be her.”

“So tell me, did you wear anything pink?” Sarah Jane asks.

It isn’t until Sarah Jane reminds me that I give any credence to the power of color magic, which up until that point has totally slipped my mind.

“I did. I wore a pink sweater.”

“Didn’t I tell you? And look who you ended up connecting with?”

“So, how does this color magic thing work?” I ask.

“It’s an energy thing. Certain colors attract a certain type of energy and a certain type of experience.”

I can’t help but wonder if there can be any validity in all of this. “Actually, as I think about it even more, I’m quite intrigued by the whole color magic thing,” I say.

“It’s fun, isn’t it?”

Sarah Jane is a true believer in Feng Shui. Although I have yet to graduate to her level, I am interested in how the notion that certain colors can attract certain situations or events.

“So, tell me,” Sarah Jane says. “Is Jay still seeing his ex-girlfriend?”

“He is.” I say with disappointment, then quickly, the disappointment vanishes from my face and is replaced with a smile. “Still, it might have been nice.”

Sarah Jane’s eyes darken. “What might have been nice?”

“It might have been nice to, you know, for old-times’ sake. Think about it. My running into him that evening has to have meant something.”

“It means he’s bad news.”

Totally unfazed by Sarah Jane’s jadedness, I smile to myself, reminiscing about my reunion with Jay. Ah, the memories.

Seemingly, the joy on my face does not go unnoticed by Sarah Jane. “You’re not thinking about…seeing him again, are you?”

“Of course, not.”

“Why don’t I believe you?”

With all of the conviction I can muster, I say, “Our little one-night reunion has already run its course.”

“That’s not what it sounds like to me.”

“I have no intention of seeing this man ever again,” I say, trying doubly hard to convince myself of my own words. “I don’t care how charming and irresistible he may be.”

“Who are you trying to convince? Yourself or me?”

I smile because Sarah Jane is dead on. “Both of us.”

“How did you find out that he is still seeing his ex-girlfriend?”

“I asked,” I say, wishing that Jay’s ex-girlfriend was no longer in the picture. “She’s in San Diego right now, but still the same, she does exist.”

“Does that surprise you? Because it shouldn’t. He’s been on and off with her forever. And by the way, him having a girlfriend anywhere in this world is a major problem. I hope you know that.”

“I know,” I say, not totally convinced of how big a problem Jay’s ex-girlfriend can be. “I did, however, give him my telephone number, but that was before I learned about his girlfriend.”

Sarah Jane flashes me a doubtful look and says nothing.

“I know what you’re thinking,” I say. “Trust me. It was just one night of fun.”

“You say it, but I’m not sure you mean it. I’ve known you for a long, long time, and I have never known you to ever be as enamored about anyone as you are about Jay.”

“And?” I ask, wondering what Sarah Jane is getting at.

“And I’m thinking that despite the fact that he’s still involved with someone else, you’re not going to walk away, are you?”

“I already have walked away,” I say, convinced of my conviction.

“So you don’t think that it’s possible that he’s the one for you even though he’s already involved with someone else?”

I speculate, contemplate and deliberate for almost a minute. “No,” I declare. “It’s not possible because if he were for me, he wouldn’t be involved with someone else.”

“You don’t think so?” Sarah Jane questions, seemingly playing the devil’s advocate.

I suddenly feel breathless. “No, I don’t.”

True, I had never met anyone like Jay, anyone who pushes my buttons the way that he does. But so what. It doesn’t mean anything. Jay is a sweet and handsome man, and it is no wonder that I gush after him the way that I do. Any woman would do the same. Sarah Jane is just trying to ruffle my feathers, but it is not going to work.

At last, I have no choice but to move forward and perhaps meet someone else who can make my heart sing. Though I have yet to speak with the gentleman Sarah Jane tells me about, I know it is a good start to saying goodbye to Jay and hello to someone new.

 

 

While I wax my living room floor on my hands and knees, I wonder why I have yet to hear from Morgan, the attorney Sarah Jane promised me. Maybe it is a blessing in disguise. The possibility of getting involved again with another man who refuses to commit to me is cause for alarm. Then also, maybe the timing is not right. Maybe the Universe holds other plans for me at this time in my life. If so, so be it. Who am I to go against the flow of life?

In the midst of theorizing about my future, my phone rings. Rising to a standing position, I glance at the unfamiliar number, and then turn on my sexy voice and say, “Hello.”

“Is this, Summer?”

“It is.”

“This is Morgan, Sarah Jane’s friend.”

I feel as if I have somehow thought him into reality. “Oh, hello.”

“You have a really nice voice,” he says.

“Thank you.” Little did he know, flattery will win me over every time.

I stand at my living room window, enjoying the view of Lake Michigan as I try to define a vibe from the man who speaks so elegantly in my ear. “So, why don’t you tell me how you ended up with my number?” I ask, oozing curiosity.

“Your friend told me a lot about you, and I was intrigued,” Morgan says in his gentlemanly voice.

I am all smiles as we continue our snippets of get to know you banter. “What did she tell you about me?”

“She said that you were a sweetheart, and that I would instantly fall in love with you.”

“She didn’t say that,” I say, playfully.

“Well, she didn’t say it out loud, but I’m sure it’s what she wanted to say.”

“So you read minds?”

“Occasionally. I’m a man of many talents.”

Not only is he charming, but he is witty too, with a flare of confidence and I like him already.

“Seriously,” he says. “She did tell me that you were very pretty, smart, ambitious and a book worm.”

“I paid her to say all of those things.”

“Sure you didn’t.”

I decide not to mince words. I am going to say exactly what is on my mind. “What are you looking for, Morgan?” I ask in a warm tone.

“You don’t beat around the bush, do you?”

“No reason to.”

“Well, since you asked so bluntly, I’m looking for someone I can really like and maybe one day love. Is that deep enough for you?”

“Let’s just say, I’m impressed,” I say as I head for the bedroom and lie back on the bed.

“You mean I scored some points with that answer?”

“Many.” I stare up at the ceiling, wondering if this attraction towards him is worth anything, or if I am just trying my best to like someone fast in order to get Jay out of my system. “Is there anything I can tell you about me?” I ask.

“Tell me something that might surprise me,” he says. “Better yet. Tell me what you would like to have happen when we meet if we should meet.”

I rise to a sitting position and give his question some serious thought before answering. What can I tell him that will be honest, but, at the same time, not be too revealing? Then it hits me. “You know what I would really like to have happen? I would like to meet you and experience an immediate, almost intoxicating attraction.”

“Wow! How can I live up to that?”

“Well, you did ask,” I say.

I don’t remember a time when I feel so comfortable speaking my mind so effortlessly with someone I have just met. I just hope that my feelings are indicative of something spectacular happening between us.

“When am I going to get a chance to meet the face that’s connected to this beautiful voice?”

Even with good feelings for him already, it is too soon to engage in a face-to-face meeting. I need more time to feel him out. “I’d like to get to know more about you first, if that’s okay.”

“What else can I tell you?” he asks. “I’m about six feet, slim build and toned. Does that meet with your approval?”

“How can it not?”

“I’m a very spiritual person, Summer, and I have good instincts about you already.”

“Is that right?” I ask with glimmer in my eyes.

“That is right.”

“Now you’re making me nervous. I’d hate to disappoint you,” I say.

“No chance of that happening.”

After I end my call with Morgan, I know I will speak with him again. My instincts about people are good also. I can always tell how much I like someone by the sexual energy I experience over the phone or in person. And there is a lot of sexual energy between us, at least on my part anyway.

 

 

Episode 3

 

I think I might be a feel-good junkie like the rest of the world.

I watch an episode of National Geographic Channel’s Drugs, Inc., and I witness firsthand the depths we as humans will go to in order to feel good. Yeah, I know drug addiction takes the desire to feel good to a totally irrational level, but the fact remains the same, we as human are driven innately to seek out pleasure. Although I am no drug addict, I do consider myself to also be a feel-good junkie. Thank goodness, it’s on a more reasonable, tolerable, rational scale.

I think about the things that I do every day, every week, every month and every year in search of that feel-good feeling.

I eat to feel good.

I drink cocktails to feel good.

Up until I quit smoking 15 years ago, I would smoke to feel good.

I have sex to feel good.

I buy nice clothes to feel good.

I play with dogs to feel good.

I fall in love to feel good.

I choose to be around people who make me feel good, hence my obsession with Jay Evers. As far as I am concerned, Jay Evers is a drug that I must detox from. It is my plan to purge him from my heart, and I have already taken the first crucial step. Morgan and I make plans to meet for lunch after conversing on the phone for almost a week, and I eagerly anticipate our meeting. Even before I coincidentally ran into Jay the evening of my birthday, I already looked forward to meeting someone new, but things are different now. Meeting someone new is now a necessary evil. There is no question who I want to be with, and it is not Morgan.

But what other options do I have?

Jay is off limits, and therefore, what else is there for me to do?

Pine away for him for the rest of my life, hoping and wishing that he might someday be mine? I have no choice but to move forward and meet someone new. Inclined to believe that Morgan and I might, in some offbeat manner, make a romantic connection, I spend an hour dolling myself up for him. After careful consideration, I settle on my ankle length black skirt, and for good luck, I wear my blazing red cashmere sweater. Not only is the color red supposed to bring good luck, but red and black happens to be one of my favorite color combinations.

While I glamorize myself for my date with Morgan, I hear the fierce winds whistling against my living room windows. I stand at the bathroom mirror and brush my curly hair for all of two minutes, and try to imagine what Morgan will look like. In need of fresh air, I raise the window. Soon the cold temperatures will make it impossible to open my windows for the outdoor air that I treasure so much. I warmly anticipate a fine afternoon with Morgan when out of nowhere, the cold air from outside seems to induce a string of fleeting thoughts.

What is Jay doing this afternoon?

My first hunch is to call him, just to hear his sweltering voice that dazzles my spirit to the nth degree. But I can’t do that, not unless I am ready to turn my back on what is right: Staying clear of unavailable men.

I glance at my Fossil watch and realize that ample time remains before I need to leave for the restaurant. All smiles, I polish my short fingernails and enjoy a quick memory of the night I crossed paths with Jay Evers. And what a great memory it is. Though weeks have passed since I saw him at the Exodus Reggae Bar, he is never far from my mind. With all the determination I possess inside me, I toss all thoughts of Jay aside, inhale two deep breaths and head out the front door.

 

 

At Sweetwater restaurant, I will wait for Morgan near the revolving doors at one o’clock. Because it is his lunch hour, I make certain to be on time. On the corner of Southwater and Michigan, I step from the taxi. The sky opens up and the snow pelts from above as an array of people rush in different directions. I am glad I have worn my patent-leather boots as the snow has come as expected. Upon my approach to the restaurant, I spot a towering slim gentleman waiting outside. Suspecting he is Morgan, I step to him and gift him with a warm smile. “Morgan?”

“Summer? I thought that was you.”

With a blind date, you just never know who you might meet, and I am pleasantly surprised and relieved with the person before me.

Morgan extends his hand to me, and I shake it. “It’s nice to finally see you,” he says.

Morgan is a little thin for my taste. He appears around thirty-five or thirty-six and wears tiny wire framed glasses, which makes him look even younger. I do, however, admire his professional image in his dark tailored suit underneath his opened wool coat. And though he isn’t what I will consider attractive, he isn’t bad looking either. Most importantly though, he is someone other than Jay, someone I can possibly have a relationship with, which is something that Jay cannot offer.

“So what do you think?” Morgan asks. “This is the person you’ve been talking to on the phone for a week.”

“What do I think?” I ask, smiling.

“Am I as ugly as you thought?”

I laugh, enjoying his sense of humor. “I didn’t think that, and you are not ugly.”

“I’m just kidding. Shall we go inside?”

We spur through the revolving doors and make our way through the congested lobby. I lovingly glance over at Morgan who sports his navy suit to absolute perfection. A warm and gentle feeling of peace pierces my spirits, which is definitely a good sign, a sign that I am definitely on to something good. Taking hold of my hand, Morgan leads my away from the door. “They should be calling us for our table soon.”

The hostess announces the Moran party and Morgan and I are seated at a table, facing Michigan Avenue. He helps me off with my coat, and then drapes it over the chair next to me. After we order drinks, I stare across at him, admiring his glasses. I like his look, having a thing for men who wear glasses.

“You didn’t tell me you wore glasses,” I say. “They’re cute. They make you look smart.”

“It’s a hoax,” he says. “I just want people to think that I am smart.”

“But it’s not true?”

“No, it’s not.”

“I bet it is true.”

This is our first meeting, and already I feel very comfortable with him as if maybe we are old friends and have just reconnected. Finally, my friend Sarah Jane has come through for me and done something right.

“I envisioned you differently,” Morgan says.

“What do you mean?” I ask, wondering if that statement is a good thing or a bad thing.

“Well, voices can be deceiving. You sounded so sweet on the phone, I didn’t think you would match your voice.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re a very pretty woman. I wanted to say that to you the moment that you stepped towards me.”

“Thank you again.” With the string of compliments coming nonstop from Morgan’s mouth, our get-together is definitely off to a good start. And I so need this. Not only because I need to flush Jay from my system, but it has been such a long time that I allowed myself the opportunity to meet someone. I mean really meet someone.

“Why would a pretty girl such as yourself need your friend to fix you up?”

“Everyone says that,” I say.

“Who is everyone?”

“You know, everyone, the world. Everyone thinks that a half-way decent looking woman always has it easy.”

“That’s not true?” he asks, sarcastically.

“No, it’s not. It’s not always easy to meet the kind of people I want to meet.”

“What kind of people do you want to meet?”

“That’s a bold question,” I say.

“I know, and yet still, I’m asking for an answer.”

I give a quick thought to his question and what I might say. “I want what everyone else wants.”

“I’m listening,” Morgan says, leaning forward, seemingly captivated by what I might say.

I smile, resting my arms on the table, not sure if I am ready to divulge so much about myself so soon. “You’re going to make me do this, aren’t you?”

The waitress interrupts us by delivering our drinks, a Jack Daniels for Morgan and an iced tea for myself. The timing is perfect, because I hope Morgan might lose his train of thought. But he doesn’t. As soon as the waitress steps away, Morgan says, “I’m not going to make you do anything, but I would love for you to answer the question. But only if you want to.”

I sip my iced tea and arouse a smile as I absorb his gentleness. “Didn’t we have this conversation already?” I ask, knowing full-well that we hadn’t.

“I think I would’ve remembered if we did.”

“What is the question again?”

“You’re stalling, but I’ll repeat it anyway. Tell me about the kinds of people you want to meet.”

“People in general or in a romantic partner?” I ask.

“In a romantic partner.”

“Okay,” I say, realizing that there is no way out of answering his question. “Let’s see. What’s important to me? Intelligence, a sense of humor, someone smart, someone kind, ambitious, affectionate, sweet, sensitive, generous, compassionate and someone who speaks my love language.”

“What language is that?” he asks.

“Well, everyone responds differently to different stimuli.”

Morgan leans forward, giving me his full attention. “I like the sound of this already.”

“Well, there are five love languages. There is Acts of Service, that’s the language of getting coffee for someone, running someone’s bath water, cooking for someone, that sort of thing. Then, there are the Words of Affirmation─I love you, you’re beautiful, etcetera. And then there’s Physical Touch. I don’t have to explain that one.”

“Please do,” he says.

Charmed by Morgan’s curiosity, I smile and continue. “Physical Touch is stroking someone’s hand, kisses, hugs, any kind of physical contact. Then there’s Gifts, that’s the flowers, the presents, the cards, the candy. And the last one is. . . I forgot what the last one is. . . Oh, and the last one is Quality Time. That’s spending lots and lots of time together. That is the kind of relationship where the couple wants to see each other almost every day.”

“This is very interesting, Summer, but I like all of those things.”

“I’m sure you do,” I say. “We all do. The thing is that there is only one or two of them that really do it for us. The thing that really makes us feel loved.”

“So what’s my language?” he asks.

“I would guess that it’s probably Words of Affirmation. You would probably respond very well to fun words, complimentary words and sexy words.”

Morgan fans himself and displays a faint smile. “You better tone it down. This is a family restaurant.”

I laugh and celebrate his alluring wit. On a scale of one to ten, he is a good seven and a half.

Seemingly charmed by me, Morgan grasps my hand into his. “How did I stumble upon a meeting with someone as intriguing as yourself?”

I smile and raise my iced tea to my mouth, trying not to expose how wonderful he is making me feel. He rubs his chin as if pondering some profound question. “I know this is probably none of my business, but have you been out with anyone else lately?”

“Maybe,” I say.

“I guess that’s short for none of my business,” Morgan says.

“Let’s just say. I don’t plan on meeting anyone else too soon now that I have met you.”

“I like the sound of that.”

“I thought you might.”

A soft silence hovers over us while I absorb the glorious moment. It is official. Our meeting is a success, and I can’t help but remind myself that I am wearing red, supposedly the color of good luck. This color magic thing now has me hooked and I become a believer.

After Morgan finishes his coffee, he asks, “What do you have planned this afternoon?”

“I am just finishing up an outline for a new book. Other than that, just the usual.”

“And what’s this book about?”

“It’s a romance novel, nothing that you would be interested in.”

“You might find this hard to believe, but there are some men who do read romance novels.”

“Oh, yeah? Are you one of them?”

“No, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t exist.”

Morgan signals the waitress for the check. “I’m going to ask you something that I probably shouldn’t, but I’m going to ask you anyway.”

I have no clue as to what he is about to ask me as I wait impatiently for him to spring it on me.

Then he says it. “Will I see you again?”

“Of course, but why is that something that you shouldn’t ask?”

“Because I put you on the spot, and sometimes when people are put on the spot, we are not always totally honest.”

“I guess there’s some truth to that.” This is a smart man, and I like the way he thinks about things.

“How are you getting home in this weather?” he asks.

“I’ll be fine. I’m not far from here.”

“I’ll put you in a cab.”

“No, that’s okay. You don’t have to do that.”

“I insist. After all, you did come downtown to meet me.”

He is a true gentleman.

Morgan pays the bill, and then helps me with my coat. “I think this meeting went well.”

“I was just thinking the same thing.”

Upon reaching the outside, I raise my coat collar and stuff my hands into my pockets. It has stopped snowing, but a murky slush conceals the walks.

“Wait here by the door,” Morgan says. “And I’ll get a taxi for you.”

Morgan hurries to the curb and flags down a Flash taxi, and when the taxi pulls over, Morgan signals for me. Careful not to slide on the sleeted snow, I rush over to him. “Thank you.” I smile and climb inside the taxi. “This is very nice of you.”

Morgan hands me a $20 bill and says, “We’ll talk soon,” right before he closes the door.

 

 

Hot chocolate is just what I require after coming in from the cold. I tune the television to the Investigation Discovery Channel. If I could have only one cable channel, it would be Investigation Discovery. I am addicted to shows that reveal how detectives solve real crimes and because each case is based on true crimes, I am fascinated even more.

I lay stretched out on my sofa, listening to the whistling wind outside my window and savor my hot chocolate. I am very pleased with my initial encounter with Morgan Moran. Still the same, however, spectacular, my lunch date with him lacked the thrill I experienced in Jay’s presence─the warmth of Jay’s hands, his mysterious stare and his impeccable charm. And I can’t help but wonder if I might ever see Jay again.

 

 

That afternoon, I prepare my laundry, the only chore that I don’t hate. There’s something about taking a basket full of dirty clothes and transforming them into a breath of fresh air. I separate the darks from the lights and then the lights from the whites. I lug my laundry basket, detergent, and bleach in hand, am almost out the door when my phone rings. It is Morgan.

“Hey, you,” I say.

“You didn’t tell me what your love language was,” Morgan says, without so much as a hello.

“Did you call me just to ask me that?”

“I did.”

“I don’t know if I should,” I say, flattered by the question.

“You can tell me. It’ll be our secret.”

Without having to give his question any thought, I step into the front room, breeze down on the sofa and say, “I value quality time and gifts.”

“Quality time and gifts?”

“Yes,” I say. “Anything else you want to know about me?”

“How much time do you have?”

“Not much.”

“Okay, I’m noting your answers in my mental computer.”

“You’re not going to use this information against me, are you?”

“Of course,” he says. “Were you working on your book when I called?”

“Actually, I was doing a couple of things. I was about to do my laundry, and I was thinking about you.”

It is important for me to say something really nice to him so that he will know how truly impressed I was with meeting him.

“Thinking about me?” he questions, seemingly flattered.

“Is that okay?”

“Of course. I just didn’t think you’d say that.”

“Why not?”

“I just didn’t. You surprise me, Summer. What did you think when you thought about me?”

“How nice it was meeting you and how much I enjoyed our conversation.”

“That’s all?” he asks in a sour voice.

“What did you want me to say─that it was a fabulous afternoon, and I couldn’t take my eyes off you?”

“That’s more like it,” he says with a chuckle. “Are you still wearing that black skirt?”

“Why?”

“I just like to picture you when I’m talking to you. Red and black looks good on you. I happen to be a big fan of those two colors myself.”

“Really?”

“If you ever come to my place, you’ll see for yourself.”

“I’m actually wearing a sweat suit, and it’s not very enticing.”

“What color?”

I laugh, amused by his curiosity. “It’s blue.”

“I want to see you again. Real soon.”

His directness enchants me. Sometimes timid myself, an aggressive someone is just what I require.

“What about this weekend?”

“This weekend might work,” I say. “I’ll let you know.”

 

 

The robust aroma of freshly brewed coffee greets me at the entrance of the Twilight café. As I make my way in, the blender buzzes from behind the counter. People in jeans and sweaters swarm the café on this gloomy fall Wednesday morning. Some read. Some write. Others talk with one another. I sip hot black tea while I draft notes for my new novel in progress. Many moons ago when I used to smoke cigarettes, one of the practices that I put into place was to drink hot beverages in place of the cigarettes. And it worked. Even though I quit smoking a long time ago, to this day, hot beverages are a big part of my life.

In the midst of plotting my new romantic tale, I notice that my phone is vibrating. Apparently, someone has left a message while my phone is in my purse. It doesn’t take me long to learn that it is another message from Jay:

“Hello, Summer. I keep thinking about the night we reconnected. There was so much I wanted to say to you that night. Anyway, you are an impossible woman to catch up with. I’ve left you several messages, and I’m getting the feeling that you don’t want to talk to me. Actually, I had that feeling a long time ago, but I just can’t give up on you. I would love to talk to you again, maybe even see you again. Anyway, when you get ready to talk, if you get ready to talk, I’ll be here. Bye.”

Infatuated with Jay’s voice, I can’t resist returning his call. I close my computer notebook and give thought to what I might say if I call and for a long time, I stare at my phone.

Am I really going to do this?

Against my better judgment, I dial his number fast. His phone rings only once before I panic and end the call. As much as I ache to speak to him and hear his red-hot voice, I fight the urge.

I just can’t do it. He is unavailable, and that is the end of it.

 

 

I listen to my Moondance CD by Van Morrison, snapping my fingers while I unwind on the sofa.

This is my favorite place in my apartment.

I relax on this sofa.

I entertain on this sofa.

I eat on this sofa, and sometimes, I even sleep on this sofa. With fresh air surging through the room, I read the pages of Love Yourself as If Your Life Depends on it. As I am getting older, I feel that I am not as confident as I used to be, and there are many days that I don’t like the way I look. I definitely can stand to like myself a little more these day, and I am hoping this book will give me some ideas. While I bask in the moment of reading my inspirational book, my phone rings.

“Is that Van Morrison you’re listening to?” Morgan asks.

“It is.”

“I didn’t know you liked that kind of music.”

“Oh, I love Van Morrison.” Van Morrison is a country music singer and though I am not a big fan of all country music, I do like some of it, Van Morrison being one of my favorites.

“That’s something else we have in common,” he says. “And now for the most important question of all, what are you wearing right now?”

“You always ask me that.”

“That’s because I always want to know. Just tell me what colors you’re wearing.”

“Blue and white.”

“Blue jeans and a white t-shirt.”

“Very good,” I say.

“I’m looking forward to seeing you this Sunday. Are we still on?”

“Uh-huh.”

“I’d like to pick you up if that’s okay?”

“Sure, that’s fine.”

“Think about me tonight,” he says.

“I’ll see what I can drum up.”

Morgan is a great guy. He is the guy I can show off to my friends, but not the guy I fantasize about making hot sizzling love to. But so what. Perhaps in due time I will grow to feel as passionately about him as I do for Jay.

 

 

My writing instructor used to always tell me to do the most important tasks of the day first, then I will always have time for everything else. Well, today, I do the opposite. I decide to run errands first and now, I don’t have time to write because I am meeting with Sarah Jane for dinner. One of my favorite restaurant’s in Chicago is Giordano’s. North on Sheridan is where I meet with Sarah Jane to babble all about my first date with Morgan. At a booth near the window, Sarah Jane and I sit in this small but cozy pizzeria. I don’t know why I even bother to look at the menu because I always order the same thing: Thin crust pizza with green peppers and pepperoni. While we look over the menu, I say. “I almost called Jay last night.”

“Really?” Sarah Jane says, seemingly unsurprised. “What stopped you?”

“I don’t know. Divine intervention.”

“Are you sure you haven’t spoken to him at least once already?”

“Not once.”

“You mean, not yet.”

I look to her and don’t speak right away, then say, “I’m going to pretend like I didn’t hear that.” It seems Sarah Jane seems to know me better than I know myself.

“You can pretend all you want,” Sarah Jane replies.

“Okay. I confess. I have not been able to stop thinking about him since that night.”

“See how good that feels to let the truth out.”

“It doesn’t feel that good.”

Sarah Jane rests her menu on the table and sips her water. “So the question is: What are you going to do about it?”

I give thought to Sarah Jane’s question for several seconds. “Ever since I ran into him that night, I have just been, I don’t know, spellbound or something.”

“Spellbound is right.”

“What should I do Sarah Jane? I’m going crazy here.”

“It’s obvious what you want to do.”

“You think I should call him?”

“Do you think you should call him?”

I entertain the thought of calling him with much delight. “It might be okay to call him just to say hi. Right?”

“Will that be all, or will there be a kiss or two involved?” Sarah Jane questions, jokingly.

“It’s hard to tell.” Who am I kidding? I am well aware that if I call Jay, more than conversation is sure to follow.

“Why would you want to get back in with him after everything he put you through?” Sarah Jane asks.

“I know it’s not smart, but who ever said lust was smart?”

Why is it so hard for me to be smart about Jay? Am I that ga-ga over him that I am willing to take a leave of my senses?

“I have noticed that you are constantly mentioning Jay’s looks,” Sarah Jane says. “A lot. What is that all about?”

Right away, I know what it’s all about, and I spring it on her. “Truth be told, I do not see myself as an attractive woman, however, because Jay is so devilishly attractive, if he’s mine, then, maybe, I might begin to feel more attractive myself.”

“You’re kidding me, right? You are very pretty.”

“If you say so.”

“You know I heard about women losing their self-esteem as they get older. Maybe, this is happening to you.” Sarah Jane pauses. “So, you think being with Jay will help build your self-esteem?”

“I hadn’t thought about it like that, but yeah.”

“So, I guess it’s safe to say that there’s no hope for Morgan.”

“I wouldn’t say that. My meeting with him was great. I mean, he’s no Jay, but he’s a nice guy.”

“But?” Sarah Jane asks.

“But nothing. I like him and hope to see him again.”

“Hope to see him again?”

“I will definitely see him again.”

Even though I know things are not completely finished between Jay and me, I have every intention of continuing to see Morgan. He is a great guy, and there is no way that I am going to let him get away for something that may never be.

 

 

Episode 4

 

The beautifully wrapped flowers are the first thing to awaken my senses when Morgan steps inside my apartment. Though I have only known him for a short time, I trust him, but more importantly, I trust my instincts.

With a warm smile, he hands me the flowers and my eyes light up with girlish wonder and excitement.

“This is really sweet.”

“You’re most welcome,” he says as he unbuttons his coat and glances over my apartment. Except for the mushroom white director’s chair, every piece of furniture in my living area is a lustrous black. I quickly unwrap the flowers and inside are six huge budded lilac tulips and a card that reads: You light up every little corner of my day.

“What a sweet card. Thank you.” I raise the tulips to my nose and enjoy the wonderful scent. “Up until today, I never had a favorite flower,” I say to him.

“But you do now?”

“Oh, yes.”

Tulips are now my official favorite flower. Although I believe all flowers are beautiful, there is something mystical about the shape of a tulip that wins me over.

“I would have guessed that your apartment looks like this,” Morgan says.

“Like what?”

“So organized, yet stylish. You like a lot of black and white, don’t you?”

“Black, white, and red.”

Morgan eases down on the sofa, checking me out from top to bottom. “I love that dress. And I can tell that your hair is growing. It looks good.”

Though I purposely invite Morgan up so that he can see my place, once he arrives, I am not quite sure what to do next. I lean against the wall, lightly pulling at my earlobe. “So are you ready to go?”

“We have a little time. I’d like to see the rest of your place. May I?”

His lush sweater compliments his Kenneth Cole dark pants.

“There’s not much to see.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” he says.

After a quick tour, we leave and ride down on the mirrored elevator. While I eye the descending numbers on the panel, Morgan steps to me and moves in close, his eyes twinkling through his glasses. Avoiding eye contact with him, my gaze drops to the floor. Gently, he uplifts my head and merges his lips with mine. With my eyes closed, for a moment, I envision Jay’s face, green eyes, perfect complexion, innocent smile and I remember what it feels like to be held in Jay’s arms. The spell is soon broken when the elevator door opens and our lips part.

I step off the elevator, and I think to myself: Morgan is a pretty good kisser. However, considering I was dreaming of someone else the entire time, I distrust my assessment. From where Morgan parks his Volkswagen Beetle, we scurry a few blocks to Lasiando’s Restaurant. The brittle wind cuts at my face, enough to bring tears to my eyes. Once inside the restaurant, a faint garlic smell seduces me while the heat warms my face and fingers. After the attractive Mexican host escorts us to our candlelit table, Morgan helps me out of my coat, and then pulls the chair back so that I can sit down. How can I not enjoy his gentlemanly behavior?

Not completely warm enough, I hug my arms for a few seconds. “This is such a beautiful place.” I slide my hand over the ruffled tablecloth that cloaks the octagon-shaped table.

“This is one of my favorite places,” Morgan says.

I stare across the room at the eclectic oil paintings on the wall and smile. “I’m still thinking about the flowers you brought me this evening.”

“I’m sure you’re used to having men do nice things for you all the time.”

I blush as we both scan our menus by candlelight.

“You know what I’ve been very curious about?” Morgan asks.

“What would that be?”

“Tell me some more about this aversion you have to unavailable men?”

I set the menu down on the table and look in Morgan’s direction. “I take it Sarah Jane must have mentioned that to you.”

“It’s all right, isn’t it?”

“I guess, but all the same, as much as I love her, sometimes she talks a little too much.”

“Are you going to tell me?”

Though slightly annoyed with Sarah Jane’s loose lips, I see no harm in discussing the matter with him. “My ex-boyfriend was unwilling to commit to me because he couldn’t make up his mind about whether it was me he wanted to be with or his first love. And now as a rule, I dare not date anyone who is straddling two women, for lack of better words.”

I want to end this particular conversation now, especially since I was just recently fantasizing about the very man I say I will never again pursue.

“Anyway, my past is just that,” I say. “My past.”

“Let’s talk about something else then.”

“Yeah, let’s,” I say, smiling. “Tell me some more about your screenplay.”

“It’s a love story about a robot summoned to destroy a human female, who finds his mission impossible to complete because of his unexpected love for her.”

“I like that, then what happens?” I say.

“You’ll have to read it and find out.”

“Well, you got me hooked,” I say, then curiously ask, “Did you think I might be unattractive because our friend set us up?”

“I was open-minded about the whole thing, knowing it might work out or it might not.”

“I like the way you think.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been complimented quite that way before,” he says.

It is intimate talks like this that make Morgan stand out as someone I can see playing a significant role in my life. He is smart, witty and attractive. There is only one problem. He is not Jay.

 

 

Morgan and I retire back to my apartment after leaving the restaurant. Upon entering, I click on the hall light near the coat closet and close the front door. Before I can remove my coat, the room falls dark after Morgan shuts off the light. His abrupt action startles me until I assume he is probably about to kiss me again. I just hope that the garlic smell on my breath doesn’t turn him off. With my hands at my sides, I anticipate his next move while I wait for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. I see his eyeglasses resting on his straight nose and feel his breath against my face. He wraps his arms around my waist, and then kisses my forehead, my cheek and my bottom lip.

“Are you trying to kiss me?” I ask.

He removes his glasses and devours my mouth, easing his tongue between my lips. I wish to envelop him into my arms, but enjoy playing the passive role instead. His warm breath sends a chill through me and for the first time I am utterly aroused in his presence. And it feels so good. Our lips part and he nudges me against the wall. “You smell good,” he says as he clicks on the light.

I smile to myself as I hang up our coats. “Is that something you planned to do on your way up here?”

He returns his glasses to his face and says, “Maybe.”

“The remote is on top of the TV,” I say. “I’ll be out in a minute.”

I retreat to the bathroom, brush my hair and teeth, and when I return to the front room, Morgan has turned on the television and muted the sound. He skims through the books on the shelf, which pretty much consist of self-improvement books. “You have a lot of good stuff here. I’ve read some of these myself.”

I find it unusual that he has an interest in self-improvement books, reasoning that many men, I believe, find them to be a bunch of malarkey.

“So tell me, Summer. What is the ultimate, most influential, life changing book you have ever read?”

I join him on the sofa. “That’s easy, Susan Jeffers─End the Struggle and Dance with Life.”

“Because?”

“What I like about Susan and that particular title is that it talks about not just making peace with all of life’s difficult situations but embracing them, making them the best thing that can ever happen to you.”

“Really?”

Morgan gazes at my pantyhose and caresses my legs with his fingers. “Are those pantyhose or tights?”

“They’re tights, and you just wanted to touch my legs, didn’t you?”

“I did.” He smiles. “You know me well.” After a short silence, he asks, “So what do we do now?”

“I don’t know, you tell me,” I say with a hint of flirtation.

“Are you sure you want to let me decide?”

I ignore his question and change the subject. “Do you like me, Morgan?”

“Do you have to ask?”

For as long as I can remember, I have always found it interesting to analyze why one person chooses to like another person and why.

“Why do you like me?” I ask Morgan.

“You’re a good person with a good heart. And it doesn’t hurt that you’re beautiful and exceptionally sexy.”

“You gathered all of that about me?” I ask, blushing.

“That’s what I can tell so far.”

“Human psychology is so fascinating,” I say. “I think if I hadn’t been a writer, I definitely would have been a psychologist.”

Abruptly, he hauls me into his lap. “Come here,” then gently strokes my back. “You’re so warm.”

“You’re so aggressive.”

“I have to be.”

Right away, I know where this train of action is headed, and as much as I want to take our relationship to the next step, it is too soon. “I was kind of hoping that you and I could wait a little while before we got into anything too heavy. Is that okay?”

“Of course.” He connects his lips with mine and kisses me again and again. As the light from the television shines on my face, I fantasize about kissing Jay this way. And though I hate myself for what I am thinking, I can’t help it.

Why am I still thinking about this man who can never be?

Perhaps if I had met Morgan first, before I set eyes on Jay again, things might have been different. Because after one shares space with Jay Evers, anyone and everything else fails by comparison.

When our lips part, Morgan asks, “Mind if I put on a CD?”

“By all means,” I say.

Morgan inserts a New Age jazz CD into the disc player, and then approaches me on the sofa. He stands in front of me as I remain seated. I stare up at him, trying to read his mind and cannot help but wonder what it would feel like to make love after such a long time. It is obvious that sex is still on both of our minds.

As I soak up an uncomfortable silence, I find myself easing back upon the sofa in a horizontal position. My body seems to have a mind of its own. I wonder what will happen next, and, at the same time, I sneak in a quick fantasy about Jay. Morgan slithers up on top of me, clutches my face into his hand and places his lips to mine. This is a magical moment, because as much as I want to slow down the pace of our relationship, I need him to kiss me this way. Still holding my face in his hand, he kisses my eyelids, my forehead and then my lips. What is happening between us now is just as expected as it is unexpected.

Enraptured in the moment, I kiss him over and over, my heart pounding faster and faster by the seconds. I inhale his warm breath and continue to kiss him again, again and again. And what a delightful treat it is. Not quite sure how far I want to go with Morgan, at the same time, I want to go as far as I can. I want him, and I know that he wants me, too. But… it is just too soon, and as much as I want to go all the way, even need to go all the way, I just can’t do it.

Not yet.

 

 

The next morning, I stand in front of my window, staring out at Lake Michigan, Jay’s face lingering around the edge of my mind. My thoughts filter back to the day I reconnected with him at the reggae bar not many weeks ago. I feel trapped by the memory of my powerful emotions for him, bringing a shallow sadness to my heart. I am doing my best to forget about him, but no matter how much I try, I just cannot stop thinking about Jay Evers. It is my intention to move forward with Morgan and in the process erase Jay from my heart, but I am failing miserably, despite my best intentions.

Later that afternoon, I sit at my computer, pounding out manuscript pages when my phone rings. I smile when I see Jay’s number display on my phone. Though I have ignored his calls up until this moment, today, driven by curiosity and lust, I decide to finally pick up.

I greet him with my innocent phone-sex voice, eager to flirt with him. “Hello.”

“Hello, yourself,” he says to me. “I was beginning to wonder if I might not ever hear from you again.”

This is the moment I have been waiting for, a chance to speak with him once again. “I’ve thought about you,” I say, and as soon as the words leave my mouth, I want to pinch myself.

Why did I say that?

Am I trying to get something started again, something I might soon regret?

“I wouldn’t know that,” he says. “However, it is great to hear from you, to actually get you on the phone.”

“How are you?” I ask in my super-zealous tone, this conversation being a long time coming.

“I am fantastic.”

“It sounds like it.”

“So, is there anything you need or want from me?” he asks.

Is he serious?

Is he purposely toying with my emotions by asking me such provocative questions?

“Need or want from you?” I ask.

“That’s right.”

Right away, I know where this conversation is headed and feel myself blushing because I know exactly what I need and want from him.

“What would you like to do to me?” Jay asks in a majorly suggestive tone.

Why did he ask me such a sexually-charged question? Doesn’t he know how much power his words have on me? Aroused and completely turned on, I cough up a large dose of shock. “What?”

“Are you speechless?” Jay asks.

“Almost,” I say, still titillated by his loaded question from before.

“I didn’t think it would take this long to get you on the phone. This should be a testament to you of how much I hoped to reconnect with you again.”

What can I say? I have no excuse. I have deliberately ignored his calls for the same reason I almost regret taking his call today. The chemistry between us is just too explosive, and I know that all it will take is for him to get me on just the right day when my resistance is low, making him downright irresistible.

“I apologize for being so unavailable to you,” I say to him.

Not once does Jay interrogate me for failing to return any of his numerous calls. Instead he only seems interested in talking to me now, giving me just cause to like him even more.

“No apologies necessary,” he says, “However, I would like to see you, if that’s possible.”

After a short silence, Jay adds, “It’s important, Summer.”

I can’t help but wonder. What can be so important that he needs to meet with me in person? The curiosity is eating away at me way too much to say no. “Would you like for me to meet you somewhere?” I ask, then add. “Then again, you’re welcome to come over here, if that’s all right with you.”

“That’s even better,” he responds quickly. “So when is all of this going to transpire?”

“Can you come over tomorrow?”

“I can come over right now,” he says.

Jay’s eager response surprises me, and I am flattered and aroused.

“Tonight?” I question, excited and scared at the same time.

“I want to see you. I want to see your pretty face.”

Smitten by him to the first degree, I smile to myself and say nothing.

“Summer, are you still there?”

“Yes, I’m here.”

The more I entertain the idea of coming face-to-face with the man who remains in my memories day after day, the more I understand that tomorrow is just too far away.

“Now that I think about it,” I say. “This evening might be better. What time should I expect you?”

“In about forty-five minutes.”

Immediately after ending the call, I realize that I am under his spell once again. I race into the bathroom, wanting to prepare for my visit with him. I brush my teeth, brush my hair and apply some eyeliner and my favorite mauve lipstick. Forty-five minutes later when the phone rings, the butterflies in my stomach do a tap dance as I sprint to the phone. I can hardly wait to see him―his beautiful eyes and adorable smile. For certain, his presence will dazzle me once again.

Jay struts through the door. He wears a tan leather jacket and black jeans. I scope him from top to bottom and only one question leaps to mind: What will I have to do to win his heart?

“Hey,” I say with a warm smile.

“Hey, yourself.”

I lead the way into the front room, and Jay follows directly behind me. We sit snug on the black sectional sofa, facing each other while listening to the sounds of New Age jazz, which echoes from the stereo.

“So,” I say, glowing as if I am entertaining a celebrity.

“Here we are together again, just like old times,” he says, his eyes seemingly undressing me.

“This sofa has a lot of memories,” I say.

“Do you care to take a trip down memory lane?” he asks me.

Right away, I know I am in trouble.

Why do I allow this sexy man to come into my apartment, knowing how much I want him? Almost hypnotized by my attraction for him, I look into his eyes and say, “We probably shouldn’t.”

“But it would be so much fun,” he says to me in a whisper.

“I’m sure it would be.”

Jay seems intent on seducing me, which is not necessarily a difficult thing to do.

“Can I get you anything?” I ask him. “Some hot chocolate, a soda, some water, maybe a cold shower.”

“Yeah, that last thing, unless maybe you think you can cool me off.”

I inhale a deep breath and say to myself. Self-control. It’s all about self-control. Jay is intent on weakening me, but I am fighting the temptation every step of the way.

“You enjoy flirting with me, don’t you?” I ask.

“Just as much as you enjoy me flirting with you.”

“Would you like a glass of wine?” I ask him.

“I’d love a glass of wine.”

I head for the kitchen and Jay follows behind. Just as I reach for the wine glass from the cabinet, he stands directly behind me, pressing into my back. My heart thumps while I stand motionless, intoxicated by his presence. I want to turn around but am afraid of what might happen if I do. I am standing perfectly still, completely frozen and not daring to breathe as I listen to his husky breath behind my ear. Every cell in my body is screaming for this man to lie down on top of me and make love to me, and it takes every ounce of will power to ignore that longing. Perspiring in all the right places, I swallow hard and wonder what Officer Jay Evers will do next.

Will he make me spread eagle?

Will he read me my rights?

Or will he just have his way with me?

My vote is definitely for the latter. For one mouth-watering moment, I imagine myself surrendering to him, wrapping my arms around him and kissing him relentlessly. Refraining from any more fantasies, I sweep around, leaning back against the counter and smile. “On second thought, maybe a glass of wine is not the best idea.” A glass of wine or even a sip of wine, for that matter, will more than likely end with a guaranteed sexual encounter. And I am not about to let that happen.

“What’s the problem?” he asks. “You don’t trust yourself? Are you afraid that you might lose control?”

“None of the above,” I say as I stare down at the floor. What else can I say? I can’t very well admit to him that he is dead on.

“Look at me,” Jay says.

I slowly lift my head up and witness Jay’s dreamy green eyes digging into my soul. “I’m going to kiss you now, Ms. Jones.”

“I can’t let you do that, Officer Evers.”

“Shhh,” he says in a whisper. “You can and you will. And for the record, when I say I’m going to kiss you, I’m not asking for your permission.”

At that moment, I am a cat in heat, but miraculously, I maintain my composure, move past him, ashamed of my weakness and say, “Shall we return to the front room?”

Jay and I resume our comfortable position on the sectional sofa. There is a short silence while I soak up the wonderful ambiance of his presence, while erotic memories continue to flood my psyche.

“So?” I say warmly, as if waiting for him to make some type of confession.

“What made you invite me over?” he asks.

“Technically you invited yourself over. You said you had something important to talk to me about.”

“Yeah, but we could have met anywhere. It was your idea for me to come over here.”

I know exactly what he is doing. He is trying to feel me out and see how I feel about him. “Yes, I did invite you over,” I say. “And?”

“And? I think you wanted me to come over here.”

“And what if I did? Would that be such a bad thing?”

“No. Quite the opposite.”

I fix my gaze on Jay’s lips, the kind I can kiss all day. And all night. “I have thought about you…a lot.” I have done it again. Am I really bold enough to start something with this man again, knowing I might regret it later? We have been playing around long enough, and it is time to set the record straight. I turn toward him, clasp my hands together and say, “I need to tell you something, Officer Evers.”

“You have my attention.”

Unnerved, I am about to speak, but nothing comes out, but before I can try again, Jay asks, “Am I making you nervous?”

“Not really,” I say, knowing it is only so true. “Okay, this is what I want to tell you.”

“Still listening.”

“I cannot involve myself with…”

Jay interrupts. “I know what you’re about to say so let me spare you the words. My timing seems perfect in my coming over here this evening as I did.”

“Oh, why is that?”

“Because it’s totally over between my ex-girlfriend and me. We had a long, long talk a few days ago, and she’s staying in San Diego for good.”

Covered in shock and doubt, I listen to his every word, hoping he is genuinely sincere. “It’s been totally over between you two before,” I say, “And yet, you always manage to get back together.”

“But things are totally different this time.”

“How do I know that you really mean it this time?”

“I give you my word,” he says. “I am officially broken up with my ex. And I truly mean it.”

So much I want to believe him, but how can I? This is the same story he sold to me before, and I have no valid reason to believe that this time will be any different.

“I want to believe you, Officer Evers, but I just don’t know.”

Jay moves towards me and wraps his arms around me. “You have to believe me because what I’m saying is the truth.”

Weak at the knees and in my heart and head, I unwrap his arms from around me. “I promised myself that I would never make this same mistake twice.”

“But it won’t be a mistake.”

“History says that it will. I promised myself that I would never again date an unavailable man.”

“First off, I’m not unavailable to you. I am 100 percent totally available to you. And second, promises can be broken, especially if circumstances warrant it.”

Not believing him, I continue to shake my head. I am just not buying any of what he is saying.

“So that’s it for us?” he asks.

I allow my eyelids to fall shut so that my mind might go blank, but it doesn’t happen. All I can think about is the man who sits beside me, offering me another chance at his love. Jay scoots closer to me and moves his face to mine, seemingly taking a different approach to making his case. “Remember how we used to make love on the kitchen floor?”

I feel myself moistening in all the right places as I absorb the smell of his sweet breath. “How can I forget?”

“Don’t you miss that?”

“Maybe.” Of course, I miss it, but I am not going to tell him that.

“I think you do miss it.”

Though I enjoy taking this trip down memory lane, I find it painful and yet enticing at the same time. How can I not be turned on by a man who I deem the love of my life, but yet it is painful because it can never happen again.

“Don’t you miss us being together?” he asks again.

For a moment, time stands still, and I say nothing. I tune everything out and hear only the sexy words that fall from Jay’s lips. Not wanting to let on just how intoxicated with passion I am, my answer to his question is, “Not really.”

“Aren’t you a little curious?” he asks.

“No,” I say. “I’m not.”

“You like hearing me talk about this, don’t you? I can tell that you do.”

“You have me all wrong,” I say, flat out lying.

Lost in the moment of lust, I rise to a standing position, having explored old times long enough. “I’m sorry Jay, but I think you should probably go now.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Actually, I’m not sure, but you still have to leave.”

I can no longer allow him to toy with my emotions, being pulled in two different directions. A part of me wants to give in to him, and rekindle what used to be. And the other part of me, wants to run as fast and as far away from him as possible. But at that moment, all I can do is step aside so that he can leave.

Jay stands and moves his lips to mine, stopping only inches before kissing me. “We were really good together, Summer, and you can’t deny that. Can you?”

“I admit, we used to be good together, but we’re not together anymore.”

“So, why am I here?”

“You’re here because I invited you here.”

Jay is not making this easy. It seems every time I manage to make any leeway into ending this thing, I am slowly but surely being pulled back into it. And as much as I want to give our relationship another try, deep within my heart, I just do not think that this time will be any different from the last.

 

 

Episode 5

 

“Officer Evers, I’m sorry, but I just can’t do this anymore,” I say, feeling as though I am constantly repeating myself.

“So this is really it for us?”

“Seems that way.”

I escort Jay to the elevator, all the while rethinking his proposal.

Am I making a mistake?

Is it really over between us?

Will I be able to live with my decision? Of course, I will. I have been through this ordeal with Jay many times before, and it always ends with him returning to his ex-girlfriend.

While we wait for the elevator, I exchange a look of amusement with him. He stares at me, with a solemn look on his face, which lacks the confidence I am accustomed to. I can’t help but recall his love making, his mouth on mine, his hands intimately caressing my body. Jay must be reading my mind because as I entertain such naughty thoughts, he says, “Come here,” directing me towards him in a very authoritative manner.

“What?” I ask with a hint of intrigue.

“Come over here, and I’ll tell you.”

As I am about to approach him, he steps forward and clasps my body tightly to his. He brushes his lips against mine so sensuously I feel a desperate want rising dangerously. He parts my lips and explores the inside of my mouth with his tongue. His hands move underneath my sweater and his kiss deepens to a hunger that makes my head spin.

“Why are you doing this to me?” I ask him.

“I’m proving my point. I’m not giving up on us, Summer, and I still want you.”

How easily I have succumbed to him.

His mouth comes across mine again, arousing me so swiftly that I think that I will pass out with a deep aching and longing for him. Finally, the elevator door opens and Jay steps on, leaving my head spinning in all directions. When I reach the inside of my apartment, I stand against the door, not moving, not hearing, not seeing. I want to soak up the remarkable moment and burn it into my brain for all time to come.

Not two minutes pass and I am still enraptured in the moment of what has just transpired minutes earlier. I have done it now. I have started something that I might not be able to stop. Just as I am about to head into the bedroom to ready myself for bed, there is a knock at the door. Upon opening the door, and much to my surprise, Jay stands before me.

What is this return visit all about?

Did he sit in the lobby then decide he has more to say? Whatever his reasons are for returning, his behavior is working magic with me. I stare up at him, trying to read his mind and, most of all, wondering what it will feel like to make love to him again after such a long time.

“What do you want, Jay?”

“Isn’t it obvious? I want you.”

“We have to stop this.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“I came back to repeat what I said earlier.”

“And what’s that?”

“I’m not giving up on us.”

Seconds later, Jay is gone.

I race into my bathroom and stand before the mirror, wanting to see the face of a woman in L-U-S-T. Though I hate to admit it, I am positively on fire for this man with little I can do about it except sprint in the other direction.

 

 

At the fitness center on Clark Street, Sarah Jane and I sit in the back of the yoga class, talking while we struggle with the yoga poses.

“I kissed him, Sarah Jane, and it was one of those kisses where you get so turned on, it’s like having great sex.”

“One of those kisses,” Sarah Jane says. “I know all about those kinds of kisses.”

“We had a long talk about his ex-girlfriend, and he assured me that they were completely over this time.”

“Isn’t that what he told you last time?”

I pause for thought. “I know, but this time might be different. I didn’t want to believe him at the time for the same reason you don’t believe him now, but I’m starting to rethink things. I’m in need of an honest opinion, and you are just the woman to give it to me. What should I do Sarah Jane?”

“I know what you want to do.”

There is no hiding anything from Sarah Jane. She seems to have me all figured out.

I look to Sarah Jane and smile. “What would you say if I told you that I was thinking about having sex with Jay just so I can get him out of my system?”

“I would say that you’re crazy. You really think having sex with this man will make you forget about him?”

“No good?”

“If anything, you will be even more driven to him,” Sarah Jane says to me.

I know it is a terrible idea to begin with, but I can’t resist entertaining the idea if only so Sarah Jane can talk some sense into me.

“You really think it will be different this time?” Sarah Jane asks.

“I do,” I say, not completely convinced. “Sort of.”

“But are you willing to take that chance? If he goes back again to his ex-girlfriend for the 100th time, you will be more angry with yourself than him.”

“See, that’s why I came to you because you always tell me things I don’t want to hear.”

“That’s what I’m here for.”

Sarah Jane and I leave the yoga class and head for the women’s locker room. No sooner than I open my locker, Sarah Jane says, “I have some questions for you.”

“Not the true or false questions.”

“Yes, the true or false questions.”

I always dread the true or false questions because this is Sarah Jane’s way of making important points, unfortunately at my expense.

“True or false?” Sarah Jane questions. “Jay has told you in the past that he and his ex-girlfriend were finished.”

I don’t hesitate because the answer is obvious. “True.”

“True or false?” Sarah Jane continues. “After telling you that he and his ex-girlfriend were through, you later find out that he and she got back together. True or false?”

“I don’t want to answer any more of these questions,” I say, practically whining.

“True or false?” Sarah Jane demands.

“True.”

“So you tell me,” Sarah Jane says to me. “Why do you think that this time will be any different?”

I absorb Sarah Jane’s words and don’t answer right away because I don’t have a leg to stand on. “It probably won’t be, but I am hoping that it might be different.”

“Right. You want it to be different this time, but that has nothing to do with it actually being different this time.”

A long silence lingers over us as I realize that Sarah Jane’s words have unwavering merit. A valid point is made that cannot be denied. I have no choice but to forget all about the idea of giving Jay another chance. How can I? Sarah Jane has all but forbade me to even think about it. And Sarah Jane is right. There is no solid reason for me to believe that this time will be any different from the last. All I can do now is move forward and wish for the best.

 

 

While packing an overnight bag for my stay over at Sarah Jane’s place, I am stomped by my desire to contact Jay again, or to just let it go.

Should I call him?

Should I not?

Should I call him?

Should I not?

For five minutes, I grapple with myself about whether or not I should try again with Jay when my phone rings. And to my wonderful surprise, it is Jay.

“I want to apologize for what happened the other day,” Jay says. “I know I came on a little strong.”

His words make me smile. “I haven’t thought anymore about it.” That is a lie. That is all I think about. “No apology needed.”

“Well, it is important that I apologize anyway. Is there any chance I can stop by? Just for a moment. I have something that I want to give to you.”

Is he serious? Again?

He is determined to weaken my defenses. Suddenly, I am overcome with fear and excitement. Am I going to let what happened before happen again, and more importantly, what is it that he wants to give to me?

“I’ll only stay a minute,” he insists.

I glance at my watch, knowing from the start that I definitely want to see him again. But is it smart to see him again?

“It’s already after ten,” I say, trying to perhaps encourage him otherwise. “Besides that, I’m actually heading over to Sarah Jane’s for the night.”

“I’m right around the corner. I can be there in five minutes. I promise I won’t keep you from your plans.”

So much I want to ask him what it is that he wants to give to me, but a part of me doesn’t want to know, not yet anyway.

“I’m going to come over,” he insists. “Okay.”

I long to abandon all sense of reasoning and just say yes, and unwilling to say no, I say, “Okay.”

I just can’t help myself. Once again I yield to temptation, unable to pass up an opportunity to see Jay again, if only for one last time. I am like a heroin addict, constantly trying to convince myself that this will be the last time. Like a kid waiting for Santa Claus, I stand at the window anticipating Jay’s arrival. Unable to resist the urge, I imagine myself waiting for Jay to lift my arms above my head, pat me down and take me into his personal custody. Oh how I rejoice in my flights of fancy. I know I am testing fate by having Jay over again, especially after what happened the last time, but it is too late now.

He is already on his way.

 

 

As promised, Jay arrives within five minutes. He steps through the door, wearing cowboy boots, dark jeans and a blazer. Quiet as a couple of church mice, we nestle on the sofa while a Paul Hardcastle CD resounds from the disc player.

What exactly is happening here?

Here we are relaxing on the sofa, saying absolutely nothing to each other. Though it feels great, it also feels strange. Finally after a drawn out silence, Jay digs into his jacket pocket. “I have something for you.”

“What is it?” I ask, my heart glowing.

From his pocket, Jay plucks out a tiny fuchsia bag, big enough to hold about twenty quarters. He then hands it to me. “I want you to keep an open-mind about this. This is something that you have probably never received before and probably nothing you will ever receive again.”

“Can I open it now?”

“As you open it, I’m going to tell you what the gentleman told me who sold them to me.”

I open the suede pouch and inside are twenty beautiful fuchsia colored rocks. Enthralled by the colorful rocks, I pour them into my hand, my eyes illuminating the room while I study them as if they are priceless jewelry. “These are so cute. What are they for?”

“These are magical love rocks. Supposedly, they bring true love into your life.”

“Seriously?” I question, half believing him.

It is amazing how much magic has recently been introduced into my life. Sarah Jane has already advised me about the power of color magic and now here is Jay endowing me with magical love rocks.

“You are to put them somewhere where you can see them every day. This is what the gentleman told me, and he truly believes in their power.” Jay continues. “He went on to say that sometimes the love can become so overwhelming that if that happens, you are to remove one of the rocks from the bag.”

“Are you making this up?” I suggest.

“Of course, not.”

My eyes sparkle with enthusiasm. “I think I’m absolutely mesmerized.” I kiss Jay’s cheek. “This is the best present I have ever received. Thank you.”

“You are very welcome.” Jay pauses and lightly slides his fingers across the back of my hand. “So you like them?”

“Do I like them? I adore them.” I set them on the coffee table, forcing myself to turn away. “You have made my day.”

I treasure the beautiful love rocks and plan to keep them on my coffee table, wishing to see them every time I enter my apartment. At this moment, I am never more enamored with Jay. His precious gift moves me in a very special way that I will not soon forget.

“Like I said on the phone,” he says. “I want to apologize for what happened the last time that I was here.”

Why is he still bringing this up?

As far as I am concerned, what happened between us was a long-time coming and very much wanted.

“I enjoyed having you here,” I say. “And you didn’t do anything wrong.”

Jay takes my hand into his and looks at me with his piercing green eyes. “I know I hurt you in the past, and I’m sorry. And you may find this hard to believe, but I really don’t blame you for not wanting to take up with me again.”

Not only am I not holding anything against him, but I am finding him even harder to resist with his sincere words of humility.

“It’s okay, Jay,” I say, trying to assure him that everything is fine.

“Does this mean you forgive me?”

“Of course, I forgive you.” Little did Jay know, apologizing to me like this makes me want him even more, if wanting him any more is at all possible.

When Jay rises to his feet, I look up at his powerful set of shoulders, not wanting him to leave. “You’re not leaving, are you?” I ask.

“I know you said you were on your way out so I won’t keep you.”

“Well, thank you for the gift.”

“Thank you for being so sweet.”

Jay isn’t making it easy for me to keep my promise of staying clear of unavailable men. He seems hell-bent on changing my mind. And at that very moment, I believe he just might get his wish.

 

 

It is seven o’clock in the morning when I arrive home, after staying over at Sarah Jane’s place the night before. Having enjoyed old movies, nibbled on junk food while giggling, and talking until dawn, I am exhausted. But it is so well worth it. I can’t remember the last time Sarah Jane and I talked all night and reminisced about the past until the wee hours of the morning.

I step through the lobby of my high-rise building, remembering that I didn’t check my mail from the day before. Along with the usual bills and junk mail, I receive a letter from Morgan. In a hurry to open the pastel blue envelope, I accidentally rip the paper inside.

December 10th

I dreamed about you last night. It was fall and we were in a cabin sitting near the fireplace. You were so beautiful, so sexy, so hot, and so sensuous.

I held your hand and touched your face. I kissed your lips and you kissed me back. I kneeled down on the floor and looked into your eyes as I rubbed your feet.

Then I lay on top of you so that your heart could touch mine. I kissed your neck, I kissed your cheek, and I kissed your lips. I can taste your tongue as I inhale the scent of your breath.

I love you so much and when you kissed me, I knew that you loved me too. A very special love, more special than I have ever known. And you smiled at me.

Slowly, I caress your breasts and stomach. I remove your panties and I like what I can see and feel. Your scent is inviting. I kissed your thighs as you uttered a sigh of elation and when I awakened, I missed you.

 

I beam with admiration as I read every word. I reread the last line, And when I awakened, I missed you. This is the line that sends a warm and fuzzy sensation through me.

This is indeed a sweet man.

Once inside my apartment, I shower and slip into my night shirt, after having slept very little at Sarah Jane’s place. I adjust the volume on the stereo so that it is loud enough to reach the bedroom, but at a level comfortable enough to sleep. I lay in bed with three pillows behind my head while outside my frost-covered bedroom window, rush hour traffic resounds from Lake Shore Drive. As exhausted as I am, I have to call Morgan and thank him for the letter.

“I knew it was you,” Morgan says as soon as he answers the phone.

“And how’s that?”

“Who else would call me this early?”

“Are you sure it isn’t Caller I.D?” I ask.

“That, too.”

“Well, I received your letter this morning, and I love it. Did you write it?”

“No one can convey my feelings for you but me.” He pauses and then changes the subject. “What are you wearing this morning?”

“You’re really into this phone-sex thing, aren’t you?”

“This is not phone sex. There is a difference, and I will be happy to explain it to you.”

“So what’s stopping you?” I ask. If he is going to flirt with me this morning, I am going to give it right back to him.

Morgan chuckles and then lowers his voice to an almost whisper. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Are you?”

“Have I ever not been sure?” He speaks with unwavering confidence.

“I might be able to recall a time or too,” I say, playfully.

“So, are you going to reveal to me what you are wearing?”

“What would you like for me to be wearing?” I ask, enjoying the sexual tease.

“Someone’s a little feisty this morning,” he says.

“Actually, I’m exhausted,” I say while yawning. “Sarah Jane and I did everything last night but sleep.”

“You’re not going to go out on me after all of your playful chatter this morning, are you?”

“I can’t help it. I am in need of some much needed sleep.”

“Too sleepy for some early morning company?”

His proposal surprises me and entices me. But then again, how much can I enjoy a visit from him if I fall asleep even before he arrives. “Morgan, I am so tired. I will not be any good to you this morning.”

As if he doesn’t hear a word that I say to him. “So am I welcome to come over?”

“What are you going to do while I’m sleeping? Besides, what about work?”

“I’m scheduled off for today anyhow.”

Morgan’s persistence convinces me that he is definitely up to something. But what? Is it his intention to come over again and seduce me to no return? Or did he have much bigger plans? If I am going to find out, I will have to let down my resistance and agree to let him come over.

“What are you going to do while I’m asleep?” I ask him.

“Isn’t it obvious?” he questions. “I just want to be near you and see you. Is that so unusual?”

“Actually, that’s very sweet.” Morgan seems to have taken companionship to a whole new level. Though I am still not sure if his coming over is a smart move, there is no way I can say no to someone who just wants to be in my presence because I find it excruciatingly romantic.

“Okay,” I say. “When?”

“In about thirty minutes. Can you stay awake that long?”

“I’ll see you when you get here. I still don’t know what you’re supposed to do while I’m asleep.”

“Will you let me worry about that?”

I anticipate Morgan’s arrival with much delight and anxiety. I am now seeing him two, sometimes three times a week. Then it hits me. For the first time since my breakup with Jay, I am a couple again. And it is nice. Morgan is offering me something that Jay cannot offer―Availability. And that is a great thing.

 

 

Morgan arrives, bringing with him a box of Dunkin Donuts and his leather briefcase. I set the steel iron tea kettle on the fire. “I only have tea and orange juice. Is that okay?”

“That’s fine,” he says. “You’ll find that I’m not a difficult man to please.”

“Have a seat,” I say as I grab two coffee mugs from the kitchen cabinet.

Instead of sitting at the table, Morgan steps behind me and kisses the back of my neck, sending a delicious tingle down my spine. What is it with men always wanting to get it from the back?

“Can I help you,” I ask as I turn to face him.

“I sure hope so.” He brushes his cheek against mine, and then kisses me again and again.

This is one affectionate man.

I gather two salad plates from the cabinet and join Morgan at the kitchen table. I glow as I reach for a glazed donut from the box. This is what life is all about─having someone to come home to and share moments like this with.

“So, you’re really going to skip out on a day at work and spend it here in my apartment while I nap?”

“I don’t have a problem with it? Do you?”

I close my eyes for a moment and smile, feeling utterly flattered.

“Does that make you feel good that I enjoy your company so much that I’m willing to do what I’m about to do?”

“As a matter of fact, it does.” I bite into my donut, unable to remove the smile from my face.

“I brought some work for me to do while you’re sleeping.”

“You could have done that work at home if you wanted to,” I say.

“There’s a lot of things that I could have done at home if I wanted to, but if I work at home, I won’t have you sleeping in the next room.”

“You’re a hard-core romantic, aren’t you?”

“I’m working on it.”

When the tea kettle reaches a boil, I prepare steaming hot tea for both of us.

“I have something in my briefcase I think is yours,” Morgan says. He leaves the table, heads into the front room and returns with his briefcase.

I watch him shuffle through his papers, wondering what it can be. Then I see it. It is a Tiffany jewelry box. Morgan opens the box and plucks out a lovely bracelet with an attached heart-shaped charm.

“Is this yours?” he asks.

Pleasantly surprised, my eyes light up with wonder and surprise.

“I think it’s yours,” he says.

I reach for the bracelet, admiring it from every angle, and then align it close to my wrist. “You have great taste.”

“I chose you, didn’t I? Let’s put it on and see how it looks.”

With a pleased look on his face, he helps me lace it around my wrist.

“Thank you,” I say before I kiss him.

I am convinced that there is definitely something valid about color magic. Not only did Jay give me love rocks but now here is Morgan gifting me with a beautiful Tiffany bracelet. Whatever I am doing, I plan to keep on doing it, at least until the gifts run out.

“The pleasure is all mine,” Morgan says to me.

“Why are you being so nice to me?” I ask, playfully. “What are you going to do to me?”

“You just wait and see.”

“Should I be nervous?”

“Most definitely.”

“Are you sure you don’t mind being here while I’m asleep?”

“If I did, I would not have come.”

This is a new experience for me. Never before did anyone wish to be in my presence to the point of just being in an adjacent room while I sleep. But it is what Morgan wants, and I am happy to oblige.

 

 

Episode 6

 

After several hours of restful sleep, I awaken to find Morgan kneeling at my bedside. He smiles at me. “I’m sorry. Did I wake you?”

“How long have you been in here?” I ask him.

“About two minutes. Are you thirsty?”

I nod yes, flattered to find him in my room.

Morgan hurries into the kitchen for water and returns with a tall glass and hands it to me. I ease up into a sitting position, my back against the brass headboard and drink the delicious water that he gives to me. “What time is it?”

He scopes his watch. “One o’clock.”

I polish off the water, set the glass down on the nightstand and move to stand. “I’m starving.” I climb out of bed, and then head to the kitchen while Morgan trails behind me.

“Were you able to get any work done?” I ask him.

“Plenty.”

As soon as I step into the kitchen, I see that Morgan has washed the few dishes that were left in the sink and put them away.

“You’re just a man of many talents, aren’t you?”

“And then some,” he says.

After I shower and dress, Morgan and I head out to the neighborhood café, Twilight. As we stroll down Broadway Street, I ask, “Can I ask you something, Morgan?”

“The answer is yes.”

“You’re saying yes, and you don’t even know what I’m about to say.”

“It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is you need or want, is fine with me.”

Morgan’s statement is more than flattering, it is something else, something I can’t properly label at the moment. “That’s mighty kind of you, Morgan, but seriously, I just want to ask you what else Sarah Jane told you about me before we met?”

“Is that all?”

“You will soon find out that I have a very curious brain.”

“She told me that she thought I might like you.”

“Is that all? Now it’s my turn to look surprised.”

“Why do you want to know this?” he asks me.

“I told you, I have a curious brain, and I’m always curious to know what people say about me. I’m funny that way.”

“She told me that you were working on a book, and that you were very spiritual and that you loved to read.”

Morgan stops in his tracks and wraps his arms around me, and pulls me close. “Does that meet with your approval?”

“Most positively, categorically, and certainly, yes,” I say.

“But are you sure?” he questions, causing us both to share a warm smile.

Morgan releases me from his arms, and we continue strolling down Broadway Street. “I knew I’d like you when we first talked on the phone,” he says.

“How?”

“Because I fell in love with your voice,” he says. “You have an amazing voice.”

I turn to him, smile then kiss him.

“So that we might get better acquainted, tell me about some of your favorites,” he says.

“Like what?”

“Like, what’s your favorite ice cream?”

“That’s easy. Banana.”

“Banana? Where can you get banana ice cream?”

“Hardly anywhere, which is a good thing because I hardly touch the stuff anymore. It’s too addictive.”

“What are some of your other favorites? What about candy?”

“If I tell you, will you promise not to buy it for me?”

“I don’t know about all of that.”

“Okay, then, I’m not going to tell you.”

“Okay, I promise. I won’t buy it for you.”

“Hershey’s chocolate,” I say. “I’ll tell you, Morgan, it’s almost orgasmic. Notice, I said almost orgasmic.”

“I did pick up on that,” he says. “What else do you like?”

“Enough about me? What about you?”

“My favorite ice cream is vanilla, favorite candy is chocolate clusters, nowhere near orgasmic, I might add.”

I smile at his comment because he’s right. It’s pretty hard for any kind of anything to compare with an orgasm.

Morgan is that special person whom I long for, and I have found him. Though our relationship is still new, I know what I know. He is a great guy, regardless of how I might feel about someone else.

 

 

My spirits are in high gear when I awaken the next morning feeling refreshed and vibrant. My relationship with Morgan is blossoming full force. I enjoy his humor, his wit and his kindness. And in time, I trust that my passion for Jay will disappear, making way for me to fully bond with Morgan. With that wonderful thought in mind, I conclude one thing.

My life is pretty good.

At six o’clock that evening, Morgan enters my apartment, carrying a long silver flower box wrapped with a pink ribbon. Anyone who knows me knows that the best way to my heart is through little gifts and trinkets.

Upon opening the box, I see six hot red tulips, and I am eager to read the card that is attached: There’s a special place within my heart that only you can fill.

“That’s so sweet,” I say to Morgan before I gift him with a sweet kiss.

We enjoy a bottle of white wine while listening to New Age jazz. For minutes on end, we sit snuggled on the sofa, not saying anything. Then out of nowhere, Morgan flings his glasses from his face and sets them on the table in one swoop. He leans back on the sofa and rolls me on top of him, so that we are face-to-face.

“I’ve been thinking about you all day,” he says, and then kisses me, kisses me and kisses me some more.

“I can tell,” I say, totally flattered by his aggressive behavior. Though my body is screaming to take our relationship to the next level, I still feel as if maybe it is just too soon. As I debate with myself if I should stick with my plan or just go for it, Morgan wraps his hands snug around my back and pulls me close, grinding against me. I soak up his warm breath and feel numb, not sure if I am inclined or reluctant to continue at this pace. During this quiet moment, I hear fading police sirens outside my window, all the while Morgan’s breathing growing slower and deeper.

“I want to make love to you, Summer.”

I swallow hard and say nothing. I rest my cheek against his, pondering how I might respond to his request.

“Summer, did you hear me?”

Silence. Silence. And more silence.

He lifts my face and stares into my eyes. “Don’t you want to make love to me?”

“Yes. I do, just not yet.”

After a short silence, I slide off of his body and ask, “Do you believe me?”

Morgan rises to a sitting position. “Of course, I believe you, but sometimes I feel as though you’re running away from me though. Are you running from me?”

“Absolutely not. I like you. I like you a lot.”

“Are you sure?”

“I am not running from you.” I buckle down next to him on the sofa and give him a friendly bear hug. “And the reason I’m sure is because I adore you.”

What I say to him is true. I just want to wait a while longer. What’s also true is that a tiny part of me knows that it is my undying feelings for Jay that makes me reluctant to submit myself totally to Morgan. Even though I try to bury Jay in my past, he still remains present in my heart and head, making it difficult for me to move forward. I know I will not be able to continue like this much longer. Eventually, I will have to decide, but still, the answer is unclear to me.

Am I going to let Morgan slip away because of my lustful feelings for Jay?

Or am I going to snatch him up before he gets away?

 

 

An hour after Morgan leaves for the evening, I lie in bed, staring up at the ceiling, hoping the answers will come to me. Though no ideas bloom, my mood declines with every passing second. I am in a tight spot and don’t know what to do next. Though Morgan and I share a special relationship, and I like him a lot, our relationship lacks the same historic energy which I share with Jay. And how can it? Jay and I have a past, and there is no way Morgan can compete with history.

Without delay, I erase the visions of Jay from my mind. The incessant fantasies of him need to stop. And they need to stop now. Several weeks have passed since I crossed paths with Jay, and yet I still continue to dream of him. I am starting to believe that Jay might forever occupy a sacred place in my heart, and that there will be nothing to stop it.

 

 

I comfortably wear sweat pants and socks, while I stand at my kitchen counter, preparing a spaghetti dinner. Usually, I can make it through the week on cereal, soup, sandwiches, pizza, and Chinese food. But this afternoon I am feeling good and choose to take advantage of my sunny disposition. While I boil water for the spaghetti, I cut up onions and green peppers, and then season the green peas while they simmer on the stove. When the phone rings, I see that it is Morgan.

“What are you doing?” Morgan asks.

“Cooking.”

A few days have passed since he contacted me, which is highly unusual, but I am surprised and delighted to hear his voice, especially since our last get-together left him high and dry.

“What are you cooking?”

“Spaghetti,” I say.

“So does that ruin my plans to bring pizza over after work?”

Preferring pizza over spaghetti any day, I say, “No, not at all.” I decide to stash my spaghetti dinner into the refrigerator, reserving it for another day.

“Does that mean I’m welcome to come over?”

“That’s exactly what it means,” I say, wanting to make nice after disappointing him the last time we were together. “And just in case you were wondering what I’m wearing, I’m not telling you.”

“I guess I’ll have to wait until I see you then, huh?”

The butterflies fly rampant inside my stomach when I end my call, wiping out my appetite all together. As much as I wish to see Morgan, I fear that tonight might be the night that we finally make love, and I am still uncertain if I am ready to go there.

Bearing a Giordano’s pizza and white wine, Morgan arrives at my apartment at a little after five o’clock, and we dine underneath the luminous track lighting in the kitchen. I bite into my pizza, careful not to burn my tongue. “I thought you were mad at me, Morgan.”

“I was a little disappointed, but I am not mad at you. I could never be mad at you.”

“Good, because I don’t want you to be mad at me.”

“Good, because I’m not.”

Twelve minutes later, Morgan dumps his leftover pizza crusts into the garbage. “I’ll take care of the dishes.”

“No, that’s okay,” I say. “You don’t have to do that.”

“I don’t mind.”

“You’re so helpful, Morgan.”

“I’m glad you think so.”

I am about to head into the front room and turn on some music when Morgan stops me. “Don’t leave. Stay in here and talk to me.”

He rolls up his sleeves and prepares the dishwater.

I drop down into the chair. “I know what I want to ask you, Morgan.”

“Yes, I’ll marry you.”

“Very funny. Are you a partner at the firm?”

“Why? Do you have a thing for partners?”

“I am just curious.” It makes no difference to me at all one way or the other, but because of the curious person that I am, I just want to know these things.

“No, I’m not,” he says. “But I am up for partner next year. I’ll let you know how it goes.” Morgan pauses as he rinses the silverware. “Now it’s my turn to ask you something.

“Sure, what is it?”

Morgan looks in my direction and then turns away. “Never mind. I’ll ask you later.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to ask me now?”

“I’ll ask you later.”

What is that all about?

He obviously has something he wants to say, and his resistance to do so is definite cause for concern. Once Morgan finishes drying the dishes and storing them away, he fills two champagne glasses with white wine and escorts me into the front room. We cozy up on the sectional sofa while the eloquent sounds of Pat Metheny resounds from the stereo.

“Let’s make a toast,” Morgan says. “Shall we?”

“We shall,” I say as I hold up my glass. “What should we drink to?”

“To possibilities.”

“To possibilities,” I say.

Just a shimmer of light shines through from the street lights as we clack our glasses. I guzzle down my wine like a pro as it is sparkling and sweet. “This is good.”

“You don’t play around, do you?”

“Not when it comes to good wine.”

Morgan sets his glass down on the table, and then sensuously massages my arm. The brisk breeze from the open window flows throughout the room and anticipation rockets through me as I wonder what is soon to follow. Morgan’s affectionate behavior towards me reminds me of my teenage years when I was scared and unsure of myself. Even though I am now a lot older, the apprehension I am experiencing in this intimate setting is all-too familiar. With my eyes closed, I sit comfortably, soaking up the silence as Morgan continues to massage my arm.

“That feels nice,” I say.

“You like that, do you?”

“I do.”

There is a short silence, then. “What do you think about us going to the Sybaris? You think you might like that?”

I open my eyes, turn to him and smile. “Yes, I would love that. I’ve always wanted to go there.”

“And you’re sure?”

“Most positively, categorically, and certainly, yes,” I say in my most confident fashion.

“Maybe next week?”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” I say.

“Are you sure because I don’t want to rush you?”

“I wouldn’t go if I were not sure.”

With the acceptance of his invitation to a luxurious suite hotel, I am fully aware of exactly what I am consenting to. And I hold no qualms about it.

The date is now set.

Morgan and I will make love for the first time at the Sybaris. I am more than ready to take the next step, and even if I’m not ready today, I will definitely be ready then.

 

 

On my way home from the stylist, I collect my mail. Along with my Psychology Today magazine and my cable bill is a pastel blue envelope from Morgan with a letter inside:

What If

I think of you and I sometimes wonder, what if?

What if you were with me now?

What if we were a twosome and you were always by my side?

Can you fill the void deep within my heart?

Can you accept the affection I crave so much to give?

Can you comfort me?

Will you love me if I love you?

Can you warm my spirit and make me whimper?

Can you warm my body and make me moan?

There’s so much I want to say, I can’t say.

There’s so much I want to do, I can’t do.

The way is barred.

To really know want is to be without.

To really know passion is to have and grasp.

Listen to what I say to you today, because today is most important.

I love you.

The words leap from the paper and graze my heart. And for the first time, I believe that he truly loves me. The fact that he successfully conjures up such memorable sentiments is testament enough.

I continue to muse over Morgan’s beautiful words and instantly transport myself back to the night I reunited with Jay many weeks ago. My mind should have been on Morgan, but the opposite is true. It is Jay who dominates my thoughts. I regret not returning Jay’s calls. But it is only because I am bewitched by him, and have no faith in myself to do the right thing.

Since the first day I lay eyes on Jay, I am charmed with a passion that will not die. And not a day escapes me that I don’t daydream of him if only for many, many seconds.

 

 

Episode 7

 

In an extended meditation, I sit comfortably at my kitchen table, mulling over my ambiguous feelings for Morgan. I eat, sleep and drink ambiguity, day in and day out. I just don’t know what to do. I stare at the edge of the table and toss down my chilled lemon tea, wishing that I were as crazy about Morgan as he is about me.

And why shouldn’t I be?

He is smart, intelligent, witty, ambitious and he’s a writer. He is everything that I can ever want in a man. But none of that seems to matter. My heart is just not there. If only I had not reconnected with Jay, maybe things could be different between Morgan and me, but that is not the case. I did reconnect with Jay, and I know that what I feel for him is far from over. And I also know that I cannot go on like this much longer, dating Morgan while wanting to be with Jay. Something needs to change, and it needs to change now. I am in love with Jay Evers for the second time. And if it isn’t love, it is lust. Committed to silencing my passions for this man once and for all, I know exactly what is required─move closer to Morgan. It is the only way.

With that important awareness in mind, I dial Morgan’s number.

“Hi, honey,” I say.

“Would that be Summer?”

Right away, I decide I am going to say exactly what is on my mind. “I know we have our special day planned for next week at the Sybaris, but I want to see you tomorrow. At your place.”

“You mean you’re going to come over here?”

“Is that okay?”

“But I have invited you over here many times.”

“I think I can explain it all to you if you give me a chance.”

Hopefully, going to his apartment will signal to him that I have graduated to the next level of our relationship.

“Is this going to make me happy?” he asks.

“I hope so,” I answer.

“Why don’t you just tell me now?”

“I’d prefer to tell you in person. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Making love to Morgan will be interesting. He will be the first since my last time with Jay, and I eagerly anticipate the event. My only wish is that my first time in a long time would be with Jay instead.

What is it about Jay that makes me so ga ga? I fail to expunge him from my head despite everything. Still the same, I am not giving up and proclaim never to see him again. I cannot and will not. And not just because he is unavailable but because of something much more crucial. I am in love with him, and knowing that will make being with him the worst mistake of all.

 

 

I prepare for my engagement with Morgan, which begins with a long hot shower. After that, I moisturize my skin, and then sprinkle Johnson’s baby powder over my chest, stomach and thighs. For luck, I select a pair of red lace panties, with matching red bra. As I pull my panties up on my hips, images of Morgan and me intertwined induces an uncomfortable sensation, causing me to question my plans. But I am committed to my decision, and there is no turning back.

I brush my curly hair and a disturbing thought confronts me. I might have to change my telephone number to avoid Jay in the future, but it is too soon to worry about such trivial matters. Now is the time to focus on Morgan and only Morgan.

Before trucking off to Morgan’s place, I drop in on Sarah Jane, wanting to catch up on the tidbits of her life. Sarah Jane munches on corn chips as she bums out in front of her bedroom television, watching a love story classic, The Way We Were.

“Guess where I’m going tonight?” I ask as I climb upon the bed.

“Where?”

“The 6000 block of Sheridan Road.”

“What’s over there?”

“Morgan.”

“What about the Sybaris?”

“I guess I couldn’t wait.”

Sarah Jane closes the bag of chips and sets them beside her. “Wait a minute. Something has happened. What is it?”

“Nothing has happened. I’m just ready. It’s time, don’t you think?”

“I know it’s time, but you’ve always been so patient.”

“Enough with the patience,” I say, hoping to convince Sarah Jane that nothing has happened to change my mind.

Sarah Jane aims the remote control at the television, lowering the volume. “This is about Jay, isn’t it?”

I blink my eyes in wonder. How can she know? “What makes you think it’s about him?”

“Because I know you. You never got him out of your head. Am I right?”

Sarah Jane studies me, seemingly trying to figure me out. “Why don’t you tell me what’s really going on?”

I raise my shoulders. “I told you, I’m ready to move forward.”

“Is this what you really want to do? Because if not, I don’t think you should.”

“But I do want to.”

As I glance at the dirty clothes on Sarah Jane’s bedroom floor, I realize that I left my personal items at home. “I need to go back home.”

“For what?”

“My toothbrush for starters,” I say as I climb off the bed.

Sarah Jane’s eyes gleam. “What do you have planned for Morgan?”

“Not that, nasty. But I do have to go back home.”

“You’re just stalling. You don’t really want to go over there, do you?”

It is as if Sarah Jane can read my mind. “Yes, I do.”

“Okay, but I want to know everything. Every blink of the eyes, every position, every leg here, leg there, every─”

“Okay, I got it.”

 

 

After all this time, tonight will be the night. The night that Morgan and I finally make love. In honor of the special occasion, I decide to wear something a little more sexy and change my clothes. I now sport a navy miniskirt and a low-cut blouse. As I slip into my three-inch heels, I realize that I am living the life of adventure and excitement. And I love it.

I have toyed with both Morgan and Jay, not being totally honest with either of them, and definitely not committing to either as well. Though I am having fun, I frown on my behavior. I am ambivalent, and I don’t like myself for it. But maybe, just maybe, this night might change everything. I will sever all ties with Jay and at the speed of light, fast forward to Morgan. And that is it, no ifs, ands or buts. I make my decision, and I am sticking to it all the way.

During the entire cab ride to Morgan’s condominium, the knots in my stomach grow tighter and tighter as if maybe I am making a mistake. But when the cab drops me off in front of Morgan’s building, my stomach settles instantaneously.

Then I am certain.

This is the right thing to do.

 

 

On the corner of Tonight is the Night, Morgan awaits me at his front door and gifts me with an enchanting smile. “What took you so long?” he asks. “I was starting to worry.”

I step inside and set my overnight bag on the floor. “I’m sorry.” I waltz my arms up his shoulders and hug him. “The important thing is that I’m here now.”

He buries his face in my neck. “You smell good. Is that a new perfume?”

I lift my blouse to my nose. “I don’t think so.”

Morgan notices my overnight bag. “What’s that?”

“Just some personal items I might need.”

With his place cold enough to store meat, I hug my arms as I examine the condominium, noting the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook Sheridan Road. Though I favor a chilled environment, Morgan takes it to a new level.

“Is the heat on?” I ask him.

“I’ll turn it up.”

His apartment is furnished with an Asian flavor, embellished in red and black with oriental paintings mounted on the walls. Even the sofa is blanketed with a rich red cover inscribed with Chinese lettering.

“You weren’t kidding about the red and black, were you?” I ask.

“I was not.”

“Where’s your bedroom? Can I see it?”

“Right this way, Madam,” he says, eagerly leading the way.

Once inside, he clicks on the ceiling light. The fire-engine red comforter neatly folded on the platform bed is the first thing which catches my eye. Everything in his room rests in its own place, from the coins in the oriental glass container to the CDs in the decorative CD rack.

“What’s with the oriental fetish?” I ask.

“Most of it came from my mother. She was really into oriental art, and I sort of inherited a lot of it when she passed.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Morgan. I never knew that.”

“It’s okay. It happened a long time ago.”

“How did she die?”

“Breast cancer.”

“Isn’t that the same thing that happened to your fiancé?”

“Unfortunately, yes, but enough of these gloomy tales. I have you now.”

Morgan’s loss of his mom and his fiancé pulls at the deepest part of my heart, and I want to love him even more. “Did you know that red and black were two of my favorite colors?” I ask.

“I did and you should feel right at home.”

“As a matter of fact, I do,” I say as I drop down on the bed like it is my own.

“You’re awfully relaxed this evening,” he says as he eases down next to me. “First you agree to come to my apartment, something I have wanted you to do forever. And now, here you are in my bedroom, sitting on my bed like you own the place.”

I caress his cheek with my fingers and smile. “I like you, Morgan, and maybe I haven’t been adept at showing you that, but I’d like to change all of that now.”

“Did anything happen that I should know about?”

“Not at all.” I can’t very well explain to him that my coming here tonight is a much needed action in order to sever the hold my ex-boyfriend has over me. Instead, I scoot into his lap and wrap my arms around him. “If you still want me, I’d like to stay here with you tonight.”

“Tonight?” he questions as he kisses me. “You can stay here forever, but are you sure?”

“Oh, yes. Most positively, categorically, and certainly, yes,” I say.

I kiss him for moments on end, exploring his mouth with my lips and tongue, wanting to kiss him forever. When our lips part, Morgan says, “I’m glad you’re here.”

He rotates my body off his lap and onto the bed. He lays rammed on top of me, his erectness in full bloom as the bright light shines on my face. “Are you going to turn off that light?” I ask him.

“Why would I want to do that? It’s not often I have such a beautiful creature in my apartment and in my bed.”

“Well, since you put it that way, “I say. “No seriously, can you turn off the light?”

Morgan clicks on the lamp by the bed and then turns out the ceiling light. He then resumes his position on top of me, caressing my hair and face, before kissing me. . . kissing me. . . rough. . . hard. I worry I might collapse from exhaustion, and the main event is still to come. Morgan snakes his hand up my skirt and inside my lace panties, probing every crevice with his fingers.

“Let’s go into the kitchen,” he says.

Though his suggestion seems odd, I follow his lead.

Once in the kitchen, Morgan hoists me up on the counter top, and then slithers his hand up my thighs. And it suddenly hits me. Morgan is a freak, and he is just what I require. He clasps his lips with mine and works his hand inside my moist panties. The lights beam across my face, even brighter than the bedroom lights. But not wanting to suspend the moment, I say nothing. Morgan has waited a long time, and I am anxious to play it through to the finish line. Tonight is his night. His night to do things his way. With a delicate ease, he spreads my legs farther apart and slithers his finger inside me, prodding deeper and deeper. Drenched in his eroticism, I soak up his hot breath. Quivering in the magical minute, I find myself utterly aroused, more so than I imagined. Parts of my body lay dormant up until this point. And for the first time, I desire him, almost need him. And I am elated.

This relationship might work after all.

I lean back on the counter, saturated in his body heat, every part of me screaming for the finale. Unexpectedly, Morgan maneuvers his body downward and positions his head between my thighs. As his head rests snug in my moist love nest, his lips and tongue shower me with a level of love and pleasure I never knew. A fire brews inside me that is bigger than anything I have ever imagined. The only word that comes close to what I am experiencing is ecstasy, pure unadulterated ecstasy.

“Oh, my God,” I utter in elation. “Please don’t stop, pleassssssse don’t stop.” I am so close to that big moment, and I hope with every ounce of my being that Morgan will not stop before the end. This man simply ruins me for anyone else, and I am totally his for the taking. At this moment, I have one wish and one wish only, that Morgan promise to pleasure me like this again and again for many days to come. After months of denied pleasure, I am ready to explode. Morgan seems to pick up on my potent vibes because once he stands, unbuckles his pants and drops them to the floor, it is lights, camera and action!

 

 

Episode 8

 

The digital clock reads 11:32 p.m.

Consumed with a hint of guilt, I stare into space while Morgan lays sound asleep next to me, still clutching my hand.

It is over.

The moment I postponed and postponed until I could postpone no more finally came and went, and I am glad to have taken the dare. This being my first sexual encounter since my breakup, my body offered Morgan a marvelous welcome. Though at times somewhat painful, overall he is good, maybe even better than good. However, as nice and wonderful as Morgan may have been, he is not the one my heart aches for and cries out for.

Why can’t I fall for him the way that I have fallen for Jay?

And most importantly, what is next for Morgan and me?

In deep thought, I check out the falling snow and icicles forming on the windows. Seemingly, my erotic escapade induces a snowstorm, and I like to believe that everything that I recognize with wonder has meaning. I understand the falling snow as a symbol of the beginning or end of something. With troubling thoughts about my future with Morgan rambling through my head, I am inclined to leave, but I can’t do that. This is our first night together, and I want to wake up with him, even though a good night’s sleep will be impossible.

Careful not to wake Morgan, I ease from his arms and step out of bed, hoping a warm shower might relax me, enabling me to fall asleep. Underneath the streaming hot water, I stand, thinking, pondering and reflecting. I stand perfectly still and relive the evening’s events, from the time I arrive at Morgan’s apartment, all the way to this very moment. Everything seems to happen so fast, and I need more time to digest it all. My feelings of guilt alarm me. But why?

Why do I feel so guilty?

Then it hits me. It is Jay I long to make love to, yet instead I make love to someone else. As I continue to grind an axe with myself, I lather my body with body wash, and am startled when Morgan slides open the shower curtain.

Am I in a Psycho movie or what?

“I thought you might like some company,” Morgan says before he steps inside the shower and joins me.

“Can’t sleep either.” I say to him.

“Not without you I can’t.” He saddles his hands on my shoulders and kisses me. As the water cascades down my back, Morgan wraps his arms around me, his chest locked against mine. “I love you, Summer.”

Now having heard the words every woman wants to hear, I am too numb to respond.

“When my fiancé died three years ago,” he says. “I didn’t think that I would ever fall in love again. Not that I didn’t want to. I just didn’t think that it would ever happen. Then I met you.”

How can I not be moved by Morgan’s profound words?

There is no question in my mind. Morgan is here to stay.

 

 

When I come from Morgan’s place the next morning, I prepare my gym bag for my yoga class while I converse with Sarah Jane on the phone.

“I’ll have you know,” I say to Sarah Jane. “I finally did it.”

Sarah Jane screams, nearly blasting my eardrum. “You didn’t.”

“Oh, yes, I did.”

“How was it? Did he hurt you? Did you like it?”

“Calm down, Missy. It was fine. Just fine.”

“Was it big?”

“I don’t know,” I say. “I didn’t look at it.”

“Well, did it feel big?”

“It felt normal.”

“Did you do anything?” Sarah Jane questions.

“Like what?”

“That thing that men like so much.”

“Most certainly not.” I zip up my gym bag and place it on my shoulder.

“Did he do you?”

“I’m not saying.”

“Why not?”

“‘Cause it’s none of your business.”

“Everything you do is my business,” Sarah Jane says. “I just can’t believe it.”

“I have done it before, you know.” I head into the kitchen for some water. “It isn’t like it was my first time.”

“I know. I know. I’m just so happy for you,” Sarah Jane says. “Is this going to be an ongoing thing now?”

“Maybe.”

“Oh, no,” Sarah Jane says, her exuberance fading. “You’re going to break up with him, aren’t you?”

“I didn’t say that.” What is it about Sarah Jane that makes her so in tuned with my feelings at the most troublesome times?

“You didn’t have to. I can hear it in your voice.”

“Just because we slept together doesn’t mean we’re perfect for each other.”

“You’re going to run away from him,” Sarah Jane insists.

“I’m not going to run away from him.”

“Yes, you are. You’re going to break up with him.”

“I’m not going to break up with him.”

At this point, I am not quite sure what I plan to do with everything still so new. What I do know is that Morgan and I spent a wonderful evening together. And what happens after that will be anyone’s guess.

 

 

Relaxing in the lotus position on my living room floor, Sarah Jane and I meditate with our eyes closed, hands in our laps. Promising it will encourage clarity and enable us to make better decisions, Sarah Jane persuades me to take up meditation with her.

After five minutes pass, I open my eyes and sigh loudly. “I’m sorry Sarah Jane, but I’m not getting this meditation stuff.”

With her eyes still closed, Sarah Jane says, “It takes practice.”

I push myself up from the floor and ease down on the sofa. After a short silence, I say, “I like Morgan a lot. I’m just not that into him. I might even love him, just not the way that he loves me.” I pause. “Sarah Jane, have you ever been with someone who is so perfect for you, yet you just couldn’t stop thinking about someone else?”

Sarah Jane remains silent.

“Sarah Jane, are you listening to me? I’m talking to you. This is important.” I am very stressed at this moment. I have to figure this thing out. I keep asking myself: Should I be with Morgan or should I be with Jay?

“I am listening to you,” Sarah Jane says. “I just have my eyes closed.”

“Well, open your eyes.”

Sarah Jane opens her eyes and looks up at me. “I heard every word that you said. You like Morgan a lot, maybe even love him, but you can’t stop thinking about Jay.”

“I didn’t say I couldn’t stop thinking about Jay.”

“You didn’t have to.”

“I am talking about Morgan. You’re the one who keeps bringing Jay into the picture.”

“Because Jay is the picture.”

I ignore Sarah Jane’s comment. She’s so in tuned with my feelings and it starts to annoy me. “Have you ever been with someone who is so perfect in every way, yet─Never mind. I forgot who I was asking.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means that the only person you ever thought was perfect for you is your fiancé.”

“That’s not true,” Sarah Jane says. “I once dated a school teacher who was also perfect for me. Anyway, what’s got you so irritable?”

“I think it was a mistake for me to make love to Morgan. Now he thinks our relationship is going to soar.”

“How do you know what he thinks?”

“Why wouldn’t he think that? And if I break up with him, he’s going to think I’m a nut.”

“But you are.”

“Yeah, but I don’t want him to know.”

“Give the man a chance, will you. So what you’re not into him as much as he is into you. That doesn’t mean anything.”

“You think things will change?”

“I know they will. That’s how women are. All you need to do is forget all about Jay. If you can just do that.”

“And how do you suppose I do that?” I ask, secretly wishing that there is a magic formula for falling out of love or out of lust, or whatever it is that I am feeling.

“That’s something you’ll have to figure out for yourself.”

 

 

Sarah Jane is right.

I fail to award Morgan a respectable chance. Our courtship needs time to grow. It is too soon to tell whether our relationship will blossom. To symbolize my new intentions, I surprise Morgan by showing up at his office for lunch. This being the first time we have seen each other since our memorable night together, I am eager to evaluate my disposition in his presence.

In Morgan’s bright and tiny office, I sit across from him, looking around his organized desk.

“Here’s what I have planned for us this evening,” Morgan says with a sparkle. “I’ll pick you up after I leave work, and we’ll take a long walk along the lake front.”

“But it’s freezing outside.”

“That’s okay. We’ll dress for it, and then we’ll come back to my place, drink hot chocolate and watch Investigation Discovery. How does that sound?”

“Sounds intriguing, however,” I say. “I was thinking that we might slow things down a bit.”

“Why would we do that?”

“Because,” I say.

“Because what?”

What I want to say is that I need time, lots of time to purge Jay from my head, but I can’t say that. Instead, I say, “Because it feels like we’re moving too fast. That’s how it feels to me.”

“That’s not how I see it.” Morgan approaches me, kneels down so that we are eye to eye, and slithers his hand onto mine. “I want you to relax, okay? He caresses my fingers. “Just relax into this relationship and go with the flow and stop trying to control it. Can you do that?”

I nod in agreement, in an effort to give our relationship a fair chance.

“Will you do that?” he asks again.

“Yes.”

“You promise?”

“Yes,” I say, realizing that there is no way he is going to let me weasel my way out of this relationship this soon into it.

“Thank you. Now, I would like for us to reschedule for the Sybaris, that is if you still want to go.”

“Of course, I want to,” I say, knowing that is not the truth. “I was just thinking we might postpone it until the weather breaks.”

“We can do that.”

It is my hope that by the time the weather breaks, I might be in a different place emotionally. I can only wish.

 

 

Three First National Plaza

I step off the elevator at the office building where Sarah Jane works and bypass the four handsome businessmen conversing in the reception area. I jaunt across the wheat-colored carpet, down the corridor until I reach Sarah Jane’s desk, which is the epitome of disarray. Stacks and stacks of paper rest on every corner of her desk. While the sweet sounds of Celine Dion resounds on the desk radio, I wait while Sarah Jane finishes up with a call. Immediately upon completing her call, Sarah Jane looks up from the desk. “Hey.”

“Ready?” I ask her.

“Almost.”

Sarah Jane delivers a document into the corner office, and then garners her purse from her desk drawer before we head out. We originally plan to lunch at a new Mexican restaurant, but because of the crowd, we buy McDonald’s instead. After returning to Sarah Jane’s office, we locate an unoccupied conference room where we can eat in private. In this windowless conference room, Sarah Jane and I dine at the long, shiny table, large enough to seat ten people.

“I had such a disturbing dream last night,” I say as I unwrap my cheeseburger. “I dreamed I sold everything I owned, withdrew all of my money from the bank and showed up at this love booth. I was trying to buy love, but I didn’t have enough money. I pleaded with the lady. Lana was her name. I explained to her that all the money that I had was what was in my hand, but she wouldn’t listen, didn’t even care.”

“A love booth?” Sarah Jane says. “Are you kidding me?”

“I know. Isn’t that just the craziest dream?”

“So what happened?” .

“Nothing. I didn’t have enough money.”

“That is so sad,” Sarah Jane says with a chuckle.

“Do you think that dream means anything?”

“I’m no expert, but I would have to say yes. I think it represents you trying desperately to obtain something, but with little success.”

“You mean like Jay?”

“Could be.”

Though I don’t put too much stock in the meaning of my dreams, I haven’t completely written them off either. While I munch on my French fries, my cell phone rings. I dig into my purse, pull out my phone and see that it is Morgan.

“It’s Morgan,” I say to Sarah Jane. “I’ll call him back.”

I bite into my cheeseburger. “There’s a side to Morgan I’m beginning to see more and more of every day. He’s very territorial.”

“So are most men.”

“And then there was yesterday.”

“What happened yesterday?”

“I accidentally, of course, called Morgan, Jay. I was so embarrassed. I thought that I would die.”

Sarah Jane swallows the French fries in her mouth. “What are you doing calling him Jay? That’s like the worst thing you can do.”

I take another bite of my cheeseburger, and then wipe my mouth. “You think I don’t know that.”

“I read a few years back in the Times that a man actually shot his wife for calling him by her ex lover’s name.”

“Thanks a lot, Sarah Jane. Now I feel so much better.”

“Think about it. How would you feel?”

“You’re right. I can’t let that happen again.”

“Have you been seeing Jay and keeping it all to yourself?”

I smile and wonder how Sarah Jane can sometimes be so intuitive. “What makes you say that?”

“You little bitch. You have been seeing him, haven’t you?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t say anything differently either. In light of this, you might as well break up with Morgan. That’s what you want to do anyway.”

“I can’t do that, remember? You told me that I have to give Morgan a fair chance.”

“Why would you listen to me?” Sarah Jane asks.

“That’s a good question. Why would I listen to you?” I pause. “I guess I’m just playing it through.”

“You mean you’re scared.”

“That too.”

I wipe my mouth and stuff my food wrappers into the McDonald’s bag. “Listen. I have to tell you something.”

“I already know you’ve been slutting around with Jay.”

“Much worse than that,” I say. “I think I might be in love with him.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Sarah Jane says as she tosses our McDonald’s bags into the wastebasket. “That’s why you’re so stomped by Morgan. You’re all wrapped up with someone else.”

“I know. What am I going to do?” I ask, hoping Sarah Jane has a quick answer to my dilemma.

“Poor little Summer. How do you get yourself into these things?”

“I must practice a lot.”

“Your situation reminds me of this ancient Danielle Steel movie called Once in a Lifetime. It’s a story about this woman torn between this sexy movie star that makes her heart sing vs. this professor who is perfect for her in every way, but does she want the perfect man?”

“Not if she’s anything like me,” I say. “So, what happens in the end?”

“I’ll let you tell me.”

 

 

A hot shower and a cup of Lipton tea later, I relax on my sectional sofa, still wondering how to handle my ambivalent feelings for Morgan and Jay. Over the years, one way I have learned to uplift my spirits is to read my favorite author, Susan Jeffers. And I do just that. Halfway into the second chapter, Morgan arrives and reclines next to me while we finish watching an episode of The FBI Files.

“You want to order out?” he asks.

“I’m not really that hungry.”

“Not even for pizza?”

“Not even for pizza.”

“That’s a first. You’re always in the mood for pizza.” It seems this back and forth between Jay and Morgan has taken a toll on me and my appetite.

“Should we watch something On Demand? Anything you’re in the mood for?”

“Not that I can think of.” I sigh and stare up at the ceiling. Ambivalence is a joy stealer and an appetite suppressant.

“Okay,” Morgan says. “What about the bookstore? You want to walk down to the bookstore?”

“No, not really.”

“You’re not in the mood to go to the bookstore?”

“I was just at the bookstore earlier with Sarah Jane.”

“What do you want to do then?”

“We can do anything you want to do, Jay.”

“Jay? Who is Jay?”

I am filled with dread, and my heart stops. Did I screw up again?

While I fish for an answer to his question, Morgan scans my body from top to bottom, but he does not speak.

“I’m sorry, Morgan,” I say, taking Morgan’s hand into mine. “I don’t know why I said that.” But I did know why I say it, because I can’t stop thinking about Jay.

“Who is this person?” Morgan asks as he casually releases my hand.

“A friend.”

“Just a friend?”

“Sort of.”

Morgan stands to his feet and steps away from the sofa. “And what else?”

“What do you want me to say?”

“I want to know why you’re calling me his name. Are you seeing this person, dating this person?”

“No, I’m not dating him. It’s just…”

“Just what?”

A long silence hovers over us before I can build up the courage to speak. “I…”

“What is it?”

“I don’t know how to say this,” I say. I look away from Morgan, searching for a good lie to save me from this terrible moment, but all I know is the truth.

“Jay is someone from my past and recently, he has returned to my life.”

Morgan is quiet for a moment as if pondering my words. “You once told me about a certain someone you dated who refused to commit to you. Is this the same person?”

How had he remembered that?

“As a matter of fact, it is.”

“And you like this guy?”

With tact and all the courage I can summon, I say. “Actually, we never stopped liking each other.”

“What are you saying? Are you still seeing this person? Are you dating him?”

“No,” I answer quickly. “No.”

“But you want to. Is that it?”

Embarrassed and cloaked in shame, I am without words. What can I say?

My eyes remain hallow of emotion. So much I want to dismiss this moment, but I can’t. I am smack dab in the middle of it, unable to speak.

“Talk about a slap in the face,” Morgan says.

“I’m sorry, Morgan. I am so sorry.”

“So am I.” Morgan heads towards the door, and before I can blink an eye, Morgan is gone.

With teardrops in my eyes, I lean back on the sofa, gaping up at the ceiling, thinking, wondering and pondering.

What am I going to do now?

I have just lost a wonderful man for a man I want to have. I kid myself into believing that I can make myself forget about Jay by romancing Morgan. That ploy proves to be an utter failure. Why had I even agreed to meet someone new, knowing I am head-over-heels in like with someone else? Somehow it takes the very act of coming face-to-face with a potential prospect for me to realize that Jay Evers is deeply embedded in my heart, and no other man will do, no matter how hard I try.

And I feel terrible.

Here is a great man right before my eyes, and I am ready to kiss it all goodbye.

And for what?

For a chance at a relationship with someone who is totally unavailable to me. Using another human being to forget another one is a big fat bowl of wrong. Unfortunately for me and Morgan, the lesson I need to learn the most is usually the one I can only learn in the aftermath.

It is time to wake up from this fantasy world I live in and face the facts about who it is my heart longs for, and Morgan is not him. As painful as it is to admit it, letting Morgan go is the best thing for all concerned. It is the opportunity for the both of us to find true love.

 

 

Episode 9

 

I luxuriate in a warm raspberry bubble bath and revel in the stillness and quiet of the moment. Suddenly, I am reminded of a program I saw the other day where an author claimed to have concrete proof that love is more important than money. He illustrates his point by asking all of the people in his attendance if they would walk across a tightrope 1000 feet above the ground for $1 million. Not one hand went up. Then he ups the ante and offers $5 million for anyone willing to walk a tightrope thousands of feet above the ground. Still–no hands go up. Then he changes the story just a bit and says, “Okay, so you won’t walk across the tightrope for $5 million dollars, but will you walk it to save the life of your child, your parent or your spouse?” Every hand in the audience went up. My conclusion: He was right. We might not do it for money, but we will sure as hell do it for the ones that we love, which I find very interesting because up until I heard his story, I believed that most people believed money to be more important than love. I was wrong.

As I continue to remind myself just how important love is to all of us, I reach for the book The Greatest Secret of All which rests on the fluffy rug near the tub. I grasp the book from the floor and flip to the first chapter, while I listen to an ancient Van Morrison tune, Someone Like You. It is a slow melodramatic tune with soft piano music, similar to a melody heard at the end of an uplifting love story. It is a tune I have loved for many years, and which I plan to dedicate to that special person who touches my life like no other. I look forward to the day when I will set out to sing praises through Van Morrison to that special soul.

After my bath, I sit comfortably on my bed, talking on the phone to Sarah Jane while I rub lotion on my legs and arms.

“With Morgan out of the picture, I guess there’s nothing to stop you from going after Jay now,” Sarah Jane says.

“Why would you think that?”

“I just figured.”

“You just figured what?”

“Don’t get upset. It’s just a harmless comment. I just thought since Morgan is no longer around, there would be nothing to keep you two apart now.”

“But he’s bad news, Sarah Jane. You said it yourself.”

“Yeah, but didn’t he tell you it was over between him and his girlfriend?”

“He has told me that many times,” I say.

“I thought in light of your break up with Morgan, you might be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt this time, and give him another chance.” Sarah Jane pauses. “Who knows? You two might be meant for each other.”

Sarah Jane’s change-of-heart attitude surprises me. For the longest time, she tells me to stay away from Jay and forge ahead, not backwards. And now, out of the blue, she says the exact opposite. Did she know something that I didn’t know? I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe she is right. Is Jay the one I am supposed to be with?

 

 

Who should I listen to?

Logical Mind or

Intuitive Mind?

That is the question, but what is the answer?

My Logical Mind tells me that Jay is bad for me, that he has proven time and time again that he will never be completely through with his first love. That’s what the Logical Mind says, and the Logical Mind is loud. Then, I have the Intuitive Mind. My Intuitive Mind speaks softly, tells me that I will never be happy by going against what is in my heart.

Now, I’m no expert, but from what I have read, following your heart is usually the way to go, if, and this is important, if I am willing to deal with whatever circumstances that present themselves based on my decision. Over and over, I relive my conversation with Sarah Jane as I walk to the grocery store on Broadway Street. With Morgan out of the way, what is to stop me from pursuing the person I yearn for so desperately?

Upon returning to my apartment, I head straight for the love rocks Jay gave to me, which rest on my coffee table. I empty the rocks into my hand and run my fingers over them. With thorough precision, I weigh the pros and cons of following my heart’s craving and smile, the excitement churning inside. But I need to give my decision some serious thought. Many moons ago, my high school teacher told me that when in doubt about anything to always follow the heart, theorizing that the heart always knows best.

Though I had recently spoken to Sarah Jane not more than two hours earlier on the phone, I feel the need to talk to her again, hoping she might offer another perspective on my situation.

“Have you ever wanted to do something so badly, but you knew you shouldn’t?” I ask Sarah Jane.

“You know I have.” Sarah Jane pauses. “Wait a minute. Is this about what you and I talked about earlier?”

“You know it is.”

“You want to know if it’s okay for you to be with Jay even though it’s possible that he might still be involved with someone else.”

“Pretty much.”

“I say go for what you want. You can wrestle with yourself all day and night trying to do what you think is right. But, if you think about what it is you want, then the answer is simple.”

“Just like that?”

“Just like that. You have to ask yourself, what does Summer want?”

By the gallon, I want Jay, morning, noon and night, and now, I have come face-to-face with the depths of my spirit and the essence of what I really want. There can be no more pretending, my passion too intense to be put down for any reason. It is time to rekindle what once was, and nothing else matters. It is against my better judgment to reconnect with Jay, knowing what he put me through before, but I just can’t deny my feelings for him anymore. Immediately, I call Jay and leave a message for him to call me ASAP. What I plan to say to Jay I have thought about so often, and I need to say it in person, before I lose my nerve.

Two days pass with no word from Jay, and I can’t blame him, especially after the way I dodged him for so long. Though Jay has ample reason to avoid me, I am not giving up. I don’t know exactly how, where or when, but for certain I will inevitably make contact with Jay Evers.

 

 

After another four days pass of leaving messages for Jay with no success, drastic measures are in order. Not knowing where Jay resides since he recently moved, I plot to cruise the nightclubs until I find him. My difficult task can take days, weeks, even months, but what other choice do I have? I am a woman with a purpose.

Friday night comes and my first stop is the Exodus Reggae Bar, but to my disappointment, Jay is nowhere in sight. Then Saturday evening comes and I maintain a positive outlook. I doll myself up and hit the road again, making another appearance at the Exodus Reggae Bar. But luck is not on my side.

Two more weekends of combing the Exodus Reggae Bar in search of Jay pass with no success whatsoever. Then on the following Saturday, I remember Pinky’s Place, which draws an even bigger crowd than the Exodus Reggae Bar. I head for Pinky’s Place on the following Saturday, and just as I approach the busy establishment on Halsted, I see Jay leaving the club. And he is alone. All I can think about is that if I had arrived one minute later, I would have missed him. Frantically, I search for a parking space to no avail. When my eyes spot a driveway, I swerve into it, shift the gear into park, click on the hazard lights and lunge from the car. By this time, Jay is halfway down the street. I sprint up behind him and tap him on the shoulder.

Jay wheels around fast.

Out of breath, I am panting. “Hey, you.” At this moment of connection, the flame inside my heart is indescribable.

“Summer,” Jay says, seemingly surprised. “Are you okay?”

Desperate to catch my breath, I say, “Yeah, I’m okay. Will you come with me to my car? I don’t want to get towed.”

“Sure.”

I lead the way and Jay follows me. Upon reaching my car, I open the passenger side and let Jay in, and then race to the other side and jump inside. After waiting for Jay to return my calls, seeking him out at the nightclubs and chasing him down like he is a thief, the moment arrives when I am once again in his presence. And it feels amazing. For all my trouble, he is worth it. My only wish is that I do not die before I lock lips with this man one more time. Still a little out of breath, I turn on the motor and turn up the heat. There is no way around what I have to say to him so I just say it because it’s true. “Officer Evers, I don’t blame you for not returning my calls.”

“That’s mighty big of you.”

Glowing from within, I say, “I’ve been looking for you and looking for you.”

“Well, looks like you found me.”

“Yes, I did. I came here to tell you something, something I have wanted to tell you for weeks now. I’m just going to say it, and then I’ll let you go and you can think about it later.”

“Sounds serious,” he says.

“It is.”

Out of nowhere, an incredible urge overpowers me, and without pause, I open myself up to my instincts, lean over and kiss him, slowly and with all the hunger in my heart. Again and again, I kiss him, and I don’t want to stop, not ever.

“From the day you reconnected with me,” I say. “From the day I reconnected with you, I have put you off and pulled you back, over and over. And I apologize for my mixed messages.”

Silence. Silence. And more silence.

“Do you forgive me?” I ask him.

“I’ll think about it,” he says with a devilish smile.

After a long walloping breath, and with fire in my eyes, I say, “I want to be with you, Officer Evers. I mean really be with you in every way, if you still want me.”

“But you said you didn’t want to trust me again.”

“Forget about what I said,” I say, sharply. “Listen to what I say today, because today is most important.”

I have come a long way. I arrive at a place where I can admit my true feelings and, most importantly, what it is that I truly want. Hoping this isn’t just another fantasy, I blink my eyes again and again and discover that it is real this time.

“I do trust you, Jay, and I want us to be together.” I relax against the seat. “That night you invited me to your place, it took a pound of will power for me not to go home with you because I really wanted to.”

“I’d love to be with you, Summer. It’s what I wanted all along.”

With stars in my eyes, I beam with uncontrollable enthusiasm. “Let’s celebrate. Let’s go to Orlando.”

“What’s in Orlando?”

“Universal Studios, and it is the place to be,” I say.

“And when do you want to do this?”

“This week, my treat.”

For seconds on end, Jay’s eyes radiate a mysterious glow that sends my heart ablaze.

“I’d like that,” he says.

A long time passed since I first attempted to bury my affections for Jay. And for all my struggles, in the end, I pursued him with an insatiable fervor despite everything and everybody. And at any price.

En route to my apartment, I travel down Clark Street, Jay trailing right behind me in his Nissan SUV. Though the night is cold, my heart is in flames, in flames for this man. So many nights I dreamed of the day Jay and I would come together, and at last that day is here.

I continue to monitor my rearview mirror, checking to make sure that he is still behind me. I smile when I see that he is. The night air from the open window sends shrills of lust through me. All I can think about is having Jay stay with me for the night and do all sorts of obscene things to my body.

After months of coveting him from afar, I still lust for him and ache for him. Having stalled our relationship for several weeks, we are already behind schedule. But still I can’t sleep with him just yet. And as much as I desire to rip his clothes off and pounce on him, I resolve to control my lust no matter what.

Arriving at the front of my building, I creep into the driveway, my eyes glued to the rearview mirror as Jay pulls up behind me. I turn off the motor and eagerly await his arrival. Moments later, Jay opens the door on the passenger side and steps inside. Several seconds will pass before either of us says a word, and then, “Well, well, here we are,” Jay says.

“Yes, we are. What do we do now?”

“What do you want to do?”

“Would you like to come upstairs?” I ask, unable to believe what I have just asked him. After just making a pact with myself not to rush things, my natural instincts kick in, and I can’t restrain myself.

“I would love to come upstairs,” Jay says. “Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

I am all too ready, but as much as I wish nothing more than to wrap my legs around his magnificent body, it is just too soon.

“I’m ready, but let’s wait until we get to Florida. Is that okay?”

“Are you sure you can wait that long?” he asks me.

He is a cocky little devil. “I can wait. I’m sure of it.

“That’s too bad,” he says. “I really wanted to come.”

“I wanted you to come, too.”

I radiate within, wondering if we are talking about the same thing because what I have in mind has a dual meaning.

“I’m glad you came out tonight to find me,” Jay says. “I’m sorry I didn’t return your calls, but─”

“Officer Evers, you don’t have to explain. It’s okay.”

Slowly Jay leans in, moves his hand up my shoulder and kisses me lightly on the lips once, twice, and then three times. As he pulls away, I celebrate his gorgeous green eyes, wanting to lock lips with him again and again.

“So are you serious about Orlando?” he asks.

“Most definitely. Can you get a few days off?”

“I’ll figure something out. Are you sure you don’t want me to come upstairs?”

“I’m sure I want you to but we can’t,” I say.

He kisses me again before stepping out of the car. “I’ll call you.”

 

 

With my escapade to Orlando approaching fast, there is much to do.

First thing Sunday morning, I reserve two seats on United Airlines for myself and Jay. We are scheduled for a seven o’clock non-stop flight that evening, and with Universal Studios being my favorite vacation spot, I anticipate sharing the experience with Jay with much excitement.

Once I complete the reservations online, I yawn from sleep deprivation after having replayed in my mind my meeting with Jay to the point of exhaustion. I hope to unite with Jay earlier in the day for brunch and try to reach him on his cell phone, but I can’t get him. On his voicemail, I convey all the details of our excursion and leave word for him to call. In the meantime, I stuff my tote with jeans, t-shirts and my pink and red night shirts. When my phone rings, it is like a bolt of electricity surging through me. It has to be Jay calling because I feel so good inside.

“Hey, you,” I say in my phone-sex voice.

“Hey, yourself,” Jay says. “I got your voicemail. Thank you for that information.”

“I take it you don’t have a problem getting the time off.”

“It’s all taken care of,” he says. “I was thinking that I would pick you up around four-thirty. That’s enough time, isn’t it?”

“That’s fine, but I was kind of hoping that I would see you before then.”

“I’d love to, but I have a lot to take care of before I leave, seeing as we won’t be back until later this week. I’ll see you this afternoon.”

Before I can say another word, Jay is gone. Disappointed that I will not see him until later that afternoon, I do my best to block it from my mind.

What else can I do?

He is unavailable and that is that. In the back of my mind, I wonder if he is still involved with his ex-girlfriend, and then instantly I erase the concerns from my mind. Surely if he were involved with someone else, he wouldn’t be heading off to Florida with me, or would he?

After I finish packing and doing the dishes, I can relax for the rest of the day, entertaining myself with books and movies until Jay calls for me.

Instead of informing Sarah Jane that I am heading out of town with my new beau, I plan to shake her up with a call from Orlando instead.

While enjoying the gorgeous view of Lake Michigan, I listen to my favorite Bob Marley song, Is this Love. I am on top of the world right now because life couldn’t be better. As I sing along with the energetic sounds of Bob Marley, the romantic lyrics send me on a trip down memory lane as I relive the day that Jay and I reconnected and how I resisted him for so long. Even after making peace with my decision to rekindle our love affair, a tiny grain of doubt lurks in the back of my head, but I snub it fast. I have to. After everything I endured to land at this point, I continue full speed ahead.

 

 

At four-thirty that evening and right on schedule, Jay shows up. I head downstairs, carrying along my tote and overnight bag. Upon reaching the outside, Jay steps from his white SUV, sporting a baby blue shirt and jeans. He collects my bags and places them in the back while I step into the SUV and patiently wait for him to join me.

Once inside Jay sways his hand on the gear shift and turns to me. “Are you sure about this?”

Without even giving his question a second thought, I lean towards him and plant a big kiss on his lips. “Most positively, categorically, and certainly, yes.”

“You don’t have to tell me more than once.”

Jay shifts gears, and we are on our way. Nervous and excited, I can’t remember if I brought everything I need. Though we will only be gone for a few days, this is a very special trip, and I want everything to be perfect, if at all possible.

“So have you given any thought to what we will do in Florida?” Jay asks me.

“You mean besides Universal Studios?”

“Yes, besides that.”

“Oh, yes, I’ve thought a lot about that.”

“Just so you know, it’s even better than you remember,” Jay says with a seductive smile.

“What?” I ask, trying to appear naive.

“You heard me.”

I can’t help but blush. Is he referring to what I think he is referring to? I don’t want to heighten my expectations too much. But boy, do I hope he is right.

Jay eases his hand onto mine, softly stroking the back of my hand and then caress my fingers with his fingers. I beam all over, lust pulsating through me. What can be better than this moment? Absolutely nothing except the many moments to follow. I find myself allured by our romantic adventure as we enter Lake Shore Drive. With joy in my heart, I glance out the window when traffic begins to lag. It is a traffic accident of some sort and every lane is lined with cars and SUVs, and it isn’t long before we roll to a complete stop. But it is okay because as long as we are together, we can be stalled forever.

Jay pops a CD into the disc player and my favorite song, Is This Love, plays through. Radiating a cheerful glow, excitement shrieks from my voice. “I love this song.” I can hardly contain my enthusiasm as I was just listening to the same song earlier in the day.

With traffic moving again, Jay accelerates while he and I sing along with Bob Marley. But our duet is soon interrupted by Jay’s cell phone. From the corner of my eye, I study him as he glances at the number before returning it to his pocket.

“I guess that wasn’t too important,” I say.

“Not as important as being here with you.”

He is too good to be true. “You are so sweet,” I say. “Have I told you that yet?”

“No, you haven’t. Why don’t you tell me now?”

“You are so sweet,” I say.

“You’re pretty sweet yourself.”

It is official.

We are back together.

 

 

Bound for Orlando, Florida, Jay and I are seated in 13A and 13B. Eager to become airborne, I fasten my seat belt and gaze out the window, the man I adore sitting only inches away. While Jay reads the Chicago Tribune, I admire everything about him, his sexy muscular build and hypnotic green eyes. A smile fills every part of me as I inhale. Bewildered with joy, I close my eyes and sit perfectly still. My search for Mister Wonderful is over. And I yearn for the entire world to know.

Thirty minutes into flight, I drift into a delicate sleep. When I awaken, I find Jay staring at me with a welcoming smile. It creeps me out because I remember awakening the other day in my apartment to find Morgan staring at me the same way. Were they practicing the same rituals?

Jay brushes the tips of his fingers across the back of my neck, and then behind my ears. I close my eyes, treasuring his touch.

“Have I told you lately just how beautiful you are to me?” he asks me.

“Not lately you haven’t. So why don’t you tell me now?”

“You are so beautiful to me.”

I smile to myself, and then turn away, afraid of what I might reveal if I stare at him too long.

“You never did tell me what changed your mind about us,” Jay says.

“No?” I ask, innocently.

“No, you didn’t.”

“Of course this may sound like a cliché, but life is short. And if a person is lucky enough to find someone who they connect with, who makes their heart go pitter patter─”

“Pitter patter?” Jay questions, playfully.

“Yes, pitter patter. When something like that happens to you, you have to grab hold of that person.” I consider myself fortunate to have reconnected with you, and I’m not going to let you slip away for any reason.”

“For any reason?” he questions.

“Not for any reason,” I say. “In any relationship, you roll the dice and hope for the best.”

“My thoughts exactly.”

Just as I inhale a breath of peace and tranquility, Jay’s cell phone rings again. I watch him glance at the number right before he ignores the call. Though I have made peace with my decision to be with him regardless of the possible detrimental effects it can have on my life, I am now doubting myself. Again.

Have I made the right choice?

Am I doing the right thing?

Over and over I wrestle with myself and enough is enough. Jay is my guy. Case closed.

 

 

It is a little after eleven that evening when Jay and I check in at the Buena Vistas Suites Hotel. Once inside the chilly room, I turn down the air conditioner, which is going full blast. I step across the peach carpeting, flop down on the king-sized bed and kick off my shoes. Without delay, Jay heads to the bathroom after setting his suitcase by the bed.

Our suite is well furnished with everything we might need for our four-day stint in Orlando, including a coffee maker, refrigerator, two televisions, and a DVD player.

Exhausted from my travels, I unpack only my velvet dress and the toiletries I need for the night. I will unpack the rest of my things in the morning. Making love to Jay is all that I can think about, having wanted him for so long. But there’s also something else that refuses to leave my mind. It’s the sexy story that Sarah Jane shared with me. As Sarah Jane tells it, her fiancée recently began strangling her while they make love and from what Sarah Jane describes, it is an out-of-body experience. That description alone makes me insanely curious, and I want to silence my curiosity. It is my plan to introduce it to Jay, but I can’t just spring it on him. I have to wait for just the perfect moment.

When Jay comes from the bathroom, I collect my body wash, baby powder and night shirt and head for the shower. My trip to Orlando does not completely revolve around Universal Studios. Other adventures await my exploration, Jay being one of them.

In the shower, I brush my teeth, and then lather my body with strawberry body wash, making sure to cover every crevice. I then step from the shower, smelling fruity fresh and shroud my body with cocoa butter until every inch of my skin is soft and moist. As soon as I slip my silk night shirt over my head, Jay knocks on the door.

“Who is it?” I ask as if singing a song.

“Police officer. I need to ask you some questions.”

I have heard that statement many times before, and I know exactly what it means. It’s role-playing time. I open the door and find Jay wearing just his pants and no shirt.

“Good evening, officer,” I say. “If this is about the man that I held hostage and had my way with, I can explain.”

Jay licks his lips. “You’ll get a chance to explain it all downtown.”

“But, Officer, I’m not dressed to go downtown.”

“You look fine to me.” Jay clutches my hand, leads me into the other room and backs me up against the wall. I inhale his hot breath while he elevates my arms above my head. He kisses my cheek, and then instills his tongue into my mouth, which I welcome with much pleasure. If kissing him feels this majestic, what else is to follow?

I exhale a sigh of elation. All I can hear is the subtle humming of the air conditioner and Jay’s strained breathing. Just when I am about to lose myself in the torrid moment, Jay pulls away. “I’m going to take a shower.”

I swallow hard as if to say, okay. I have such a hard-on for this man, if such a thing is even possible for a woman.

When Jay escapes into the shower, I crumble in the center of the bed, trying to recover and catch my breath. I inhale lengthy breaths, holding each breath in for as long as I can before exhaling. After a minute or so I begin to wind down. Calmer. . . Calmer. . . Calm.

While waiting for Jay, I unpack the rest of my things, placing them neatly into the dresser drawers. By the time I finish, I hear the bathroom door opening. Like a bat out of hell, I dive into the bed, click on the radio and switch the channels until I find a New Age jazz station. Moments later, I turn and witness Jay standing before me. My heart skips a beat as I gawk at Captain Evers, the gargantuan, erect wand protruding through his boxers.

Damn! Is he ready or what?

It seems I unwound for nothing because I am all roused up again, this time even more so. Jay dims the lamp and lowers the volume on the radio. He then extends his hand to mine and guides me off the bed and down on the carpeted floor

This is different.

Though a huge bed exists above us, Jay chooses the floor, and I am all for it, following his direction every step of the way. I become more and more stimulated by his aggressive gestures, close my eyes and bask in the enjoyment of it all. Jay eases me down on top of him, and then skates his fingers across my lips. With our bodies pressed tightly together and his erection full and hard, my body says yes, yes, yes.

In an almost hypnotic state, my head moves down on him, craving his erectness inside my mouth. I free his sex from his boxer shorts and aggressively massage it, becoming more amorous and impatient. By the time I reach the tip of his sex, I devour it like a banana, my tongue circling every inch of him while my lips inhale him like a straw. Stopping for only a minute, I look up and find Jay’s eyes dead locked with mine.

Stimulated, inflamed and provoked to no end, I scroll up on his body until my lips and tongue meet his. In one quick sweep, he is now on top of me, grinding his upright member against my inner thigh. He caresses my shoulder continuously while his hot breath sails across my neck. I release shallow breaths as Jay kisses me, seemingly sucking the breath from my body, and I feel myself moistening just underneath him.

I want this man, and I want this man NOWWWWWWWWWWW!

In a flash, he is about to enter me when he spreads my legs and slips his finger inside me. A chill spirals through my body. I try not to swirl my hips but his finger gratifies me too much to lay still. With his finger still inside me, he kisses me, kisses me and kisses me some more. “You like that, don’t you?” Jay asks in a whisper.

I say nothing but instead let my revolving pelvis speak for me. He seems to know just what to do to hold me at his mercy. Enthralled, I am hyperventilating. I feel hot and lightheaded but in a strange, sensuous way. My heart is beating faster and faster, and if he does not make love to me at once, I am going to shout out his name along with some nasty vulgarities that I might regret later.

Just when I expect him to enter me, he asks, “You want me to make love to you?”

“Yes,” I say, out of breath. “Yes.”

Jay is an erotic little demon. It isn’t enough what he is doing to me, but he discusses it as well. Desperately, I want to feel him inside me, but I can’t bring myself to make the first move. A half-minute passes before, at last, he is inside me, all eight inches of him. I imagine I might struggle to accept all of him, but it turns out not to be much of a struggle, having been ready for him for so long. I embody what I want, Jay inside of me in all of his splendor.

The sweat on his forehead glistens underneath the dim light as he prods inside me slowly and then at top speed. I worry I might pass out from an overdose of euphoria. I am tempted to say, Scottie, beam me up! I can’t take it anymore.

Jay is brandishing me with a level of ecstasy I don’t even know exists, and my pleasure is mounting. I wrap my legs around his back, pulling him deeper and deeper inside me. He assaults me the way that I need to be assaulted. I do not want to miss out on anything. And at the rate I am going, I definitely will not because after all is said and done, I climax so hard I go into spasms.

 

 

Episode 10

 

Three hours later, I awaken, my head snug against Jay’s chest. I hope to sleep through the night, but my elation keeps me awake. I inhale a state of bliss, blink my eyes and smile. This is as good as it gets, waking up in the arms of the man I adore.

Why have we stayed apart for so long?

No man has ever made me feel this good. And though we are just in the beginning stages of rekindling what used to be, this is more than just great sex. A marvelous chemistry lurks between us from the moment we first met, steadily building with time.

Out of the blue, it dawns on me that I have neglected to inform Sarah Jane of my sensational news. Careful not to wake Jay, I ease out of bed, and then set way into the next room to call Sarah Jane on my cell after having it off for several hours. I dial Sarah Jane’s number and glance over at the clock. It is 3:45 o’clock in the morning and Sarah Jane will not be up yet, but so what. I am on fire, and it is imperative that I disclose my tidings to her right away.

“It’s me, Sarah Jane,” I say in a whisper. “Your best friend.”

“I’ve been calling you.”

I do my best to contain my squeals of excitement. “Guess where I am?”

“Summer, I just looked at the clock. Are you aware that it’s not even four o’clock?”

“Who cares? Guess where I am?”

“Obviously out of your mind.”

I lay back on the sofa and put my feet up, beaming with joy. “I’m in Orlando with Officer Evers.”

“What? Did you just say that you were in Orlando with Mr. Police Officer?”

“I did.” I am proud of what I have done and am totally without shame.

“I guess you decided to follow your heart.”

“I did, thanks to you. He’s asleep now in the other room.”

“How was it?”

“How was it?” I repeat, smiling. “Let me put it to you this way. If I died today, I would die a very happy woman.”

“You have been carrying a torch for this man forever.”

“And it was all so worth it. This is the man of my dreams, Sarah Jane, and I’m not kidding. This man made me feel so good, I thought I had zoomed off to another planet.”

“What exactly did he do?”

“I don’t kiss and tell,” I say, even though I am dying to blab all about it.

“I’m not talking about the kissing,” Sarah Jane says. “You know you want to tell me.”

I share with Sarah Jane all the sordid details of my extravaganza with Jay, leaving very little to the imagination. After ending the call, I climb back into bed and snuggle up to my prince. Inflated with joy, I close my eyes. Life can’t be any better than this. Looking upwards, I say softly, “Thank you, God. I can die now. At last, my life is complete.”

 

 

Later that morning, Jay and I shower and dress. We eat breakfast in the hotel restaurant, which is included in the price of our room. Famished from my late night workout, I order the French toast, bacon and sausage, hash browns and a little orange juice to wash it all down.

It is close to eleven by the time we make our way to Universal Studios, where we spend a spectacular day. Because it is February, the least busy season, the lines are not as long as usual.

I became an enthusiast for Universal Studios two years ago when my sister and two other friends and I visited for the first time. One trip was all that was necessary for me to become a serious devotee. From that point on, it remained one of my favorite vacation spots.

The entire theme park is a movie set, mostly where old black and white movies were filmed. But the main attraction is the virtual reality rides: The Simpsons and Spiderman are two of the biggest attractions and also my favorites. And our visit would not be complete without a visit to Twister, the living, breathing tornado. Though it is Jay’s first time visiting the park, I can tell that he is really enjoying himself.

That evening after hiking miles and miles all over the theme park, Jay and I return to our room.

“I really had a nice time,” Jay says. “I didn’t think I would enjoy myself as much as I did.”

“Sounds like someone has been bitten by the Universal Studios bug.” I am pleased to hear him say this.

I desperately need to sit down and slip out of my shoes, my feet aching for relief. After we shower and change, we cuddle on the bed, facing each other while listening to a Bob Marley CD.

“I want you to know I have really enjoyed being here with you,” Jay says.

I peer into his eyes, not ever wanting to turn away. “Thank you for saying that. I know this is really a place for kids, but I really like it.”

“What did you think about last night?” Jay asks.

“Last night,” I repeat. “I thought last night was incredible.”

“So did I.” Jay pauses and touches my hand. “I want to ask you something, and I want you to keep an open mind.”

“Has my mind ever not been open?”

Without any preface or warning of any kind, he asks, “How open are you to anal sex?”

It is as if my stomach did a 50-foot drop. “Are you serious?”

“Yeah, why not?”

Of all the things Jay could have asked me, that one thing had never come to mind.

“I don’t know about that, Officer Evers. I mean, I like to experiment and have fun as much as the next person, but I think I might have to take a pass there.”

“Will you at least think about it?”

“I have thought about it, and the answer is no.” There is no sense feeding him false impressions about something that I am totally against.

“Well, I guess that’s the end of that discussion.”

Is this something that you are heavily into?” I ask.

“It’s something that I’m curious about, but if you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to do it.”

I can’t help but wonder if there are more kinky ideas floating around in Jay’s head, and if so, how willing am I to dare explore them with him?

 

 

“If you could be in any other profession in the world, what would it be?” Jay asks as he and I enjoy a late dinner on the patio balcony underneath the beautiful moon light.

“A police officer,” I say with no hesitation.

“Really? Why?”

“Why not? Police officers are confident and courageous, two attributes I don’t share.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Because it’s true. You’re a prime example.”

Jay leans in towards me and says, “I’ll let you in on a little secret that might surprise you.”

“What’s that?” I ask, hoping that his next statement will prove less shocking than what he announced earlier.

“It wasn’t until the day I actually put on my uniform for the first time that I was magically transformed from a man of fear and doubt to a man of pride, confidence and courage.”

There is that word magic again. “Yeah, right,” I say, not believing a word of what he is saying.

“You don’t believe me?”

“No, I don’t.”

“I’m telling you, Summer, it’s the uniform that gives you the confidence that you desire. Anyone can put on that same uniform and experience what I did.”

Is there any truth to what Jay is claiming?

“I’ll tell you what,” Jay says. “When we get back to Chicago, I’m going to have you dress up in full gear, and we’re going to take a short walk, maybe a couple of blocks, and you will see what I mean.”

Though I am not totally convinced of what Jay is suggesting, the idea makes me curious, curious enough to perhaps explore the idea even further.

“Isn’t it illegal to impersonate a police officer?” I ask.

“Tell me what isn’t illegal in this world.”

“Are we really going to do this?” I ask, gleaming with enthusiasm and wonder.

“We’re going to do it,” he says with conviction. “And you will see firsthand for yourself that it’s not the person. It’s the uniform.”

“Okay,” I say. “So, what about you? What other profession would you like to be?”

“That’s easy. I only think about it all the time. A cowboy.”

I laugh. “So how exactly would you make your living?”

“Ride horses, throw ropes, catch animals, I don’t know, write country songs.”

I laugh, enjoying the magnificent view of the specimen before me, wanting to hear him talk about anything. “Tell me some more about your job.”

“What do you want to know?”

“For starters, does that Taser gun really hurt?”

“I don’t know. You want me to Taser you?”

“No, I don’t want you to Taser me.”

“Are you sure because it will be no trouble at all?”

“Very funny,” I say, laughing. “So, what’s it like for you on the streets, fighting for your life every minute of every day.”

Jay chuckles. “Okay. You’ve been watching too much TV.”

“What are you saying? That your job isn’t dangerous?”

“Of course, it is.”

“So tell me about it.”

“Are you sure?”

I nod in anticipation and give him my full attention.

“About a week ago,” Jay begins. “I received a call from a woman, not too far from where you live. As a matter of fact, she kind of reminded me of you.”

I blush all the while wondering if he is being serious or just kidding with me.

Jay continues. “Anyway, she was afraid that someone was inside her unit when she arrived home.”

“Why did she think that?”

“Her front door was open, and her bed looked as if someone had been sleeping in it. And she always makes her bed before she leaves for work.”

I am engrossed in the story and do not blink once, my eyes fixed on Jay. “So what happened?”

“I entered the unit while she waited in the hall. After I swept the place, I realized that if anyone had been there, he or she was gone now. So I called for the woman, and she approached me. I then leaned in and whispered in her ear, there was no one here, was there? You made this whole thing up, didn’t you?”

“And what did she say?” I ask.

“She denied it, of course. So I confronted her again, and this time, she flung her hands up in defeat. Okay, Officer, I did it, she said. I made the whole thing up so that you would come here tonight and make love to me.”

“She didn’t say that,” I say wildly amused.

“Yes, she did,” Jay says. “And I went for it, too. I made love to her in every room of her unit, on the table, in the chair, several times, and multiple times in the bed.”

I smile because I know I have been duped. “You made that whole story up, and here I am believing you with baited breath.”

“That was pretty good though, huh.”

“Only because I’m so gullible.”

As Jay and I continue to enjoy warm and friendly banter, I realize that now is as good a time as any to ask him about strangling me. “Have you ever strangled a woman, you know, in bed, while you were making love to her?”

“Yes. Next question.”

“What do you mean, next question. Let’s go back a tad. Tell me about it.”

“Why? Why do you want to know?”

“I’m curious.”

Jay peers at me for all of a minute, as if trying to read my mind, then, “What? You want me to strangle you in bed?”

“Would that be such a bad thing?”

“Actually, it would.”

“Why?” I have to admit, I am rather shocked at his resistance to my suggestion, having believed that he might have been thrilled.

“I did that very thing to a woman before, and it drove her nuts.”

“Do tell, “I say, now even more intrigued.

“No, that kind of stuff messes with a woman’s mind, and not in the way that you think.”

“What do you mean?”

“What I mean is, I’m not going to do it. Unless…”

“Unless what?” I ask.

“Unless, maybe, you might be willing to do something for me.”

Right away, I know exactly what he is talking about. He is talking about the anal sex that he proposed earlier.

“You have some nerve,” I say to him. “So that’s the way it’s going to be. If you strangle me, I have to be willing to do something for you.”

“It sounds pretty fair to me.”

I don’t speak right away, not because I don’t have an answer for him. My answer is no, but I can’t speak at the moment. I want to digest the conversation I have just had. Here I am asking my boyfriend to strangle me, and in return, he wants to have anal sex. Am I in the Twilight Zone or what?

“Maybe you could forget about what I proposed to you,” I say, wanting to end this conversation. “And I will forget about what you proposed to me?”

“But I don’t want to forget about it. I’m excited now,” he says as he begins to kiss me. “Come on, you know you want me to strangle you?”

He continues to kiss me, readying my body for sex, but still the same, I am not giving in to his proposal. I don’t care how much I want him to strangle me and put me in a coma. My answer is no, and that is my final answer. I force myself out of Jay’s clutches for fear that if I make love to him now, I might end up doing something that I might later regret.

“I have to take a shower,” I say to him, before heading to the bathroom. I am infatuated with him, in total lust and curious as hell about being strangled while making love. And most importantly, I am horny. Because my brain is working properly, I decide to stop the momentum before it is too late.

 

 

I sit in bed with my back against the headboard. The television is tuned to HBO. Jay comes from the shower and climbs into bed.

“For the year that we were apart, and you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to, did you make love to anyone else?”

Flattered and amused, I ask, “Why? Why do you want to know?”

“Because like every other man, I want to know that what’s mine is all mine and nobody else’s.”

“But we weren’t together during that time. How could I be all yours?”

“It doesn’t matter. Once you’re mine, you will always be mine.”

“That must be the most arrogant statement I have ever heard.”

“But you like it, don’t you?”

I scoot closer to him, wrap my arms around his back and smother him with kisses. “I wish that we could stay here in Orlando forever.”

“Are you sure about that? Forever is a long time.”

I nod my head and smile. “Just listen to us, talking as if we’ve been together forever.”

“I know,” Jay says. “It’s disgusting, isn’t it?”

“I think it’s fabulous.”

Can Jay actually be the One?

All signs point in his direction. Not only is he intelligent, but he is fun, a first-rate conversationalist, affectionate and passionate beyond words.

What more can I ask for?

 

 

No hotel in Orlando is ever complete unless it is comprised of a lavish swimming pool. A few hours before the sun goes down, Jay and I relax in the lounge chairs by the pool. While Jay is engrossed in a paperback spy thriller, I glance over at him and smile.

Is this really happening?

Have I really reconnected with the man I so love to be with. In many ways, Jay is almost perfect. He is terribly handsome, he loves his job as a homicide detective, he has a warm heart, he is witty and just phenomenal in bed. He is the kind of guy I always dreamed about, but never thought I would actually have.

I slide my sunglasses onto my face and glance up at the beautiful sky. I inhale the warm air, enjoying every minute of these fine moments. A minute later, Jay closes the book he is reading and turns to me. “Do you believe in Karma?”

What a fascinating way to begin a conversation. His question could not be more appropriate for this moment. “I used to,” I say, “But not anymore.”

“Why is that?” he questions.

I look away from him and glance up at the sky, having given much thought to the role of karma in our lives. “I think life is a series of randomness and some people get the short stick and others get it all.”

“That doesn’t sound like the positive person I used to know.”

“Positivity is definitely overrated.” Maybe Jay is on to something because I have somehow become slightly jaded about a lot of beliefs I once held firm to.

“Positivity is overrated? Is that your position?”

“That is my position.”

“And how does that play out for us?”

“Us?”

“Yes, us. Are you positive about us?”

“I would not call it positive so much as I would call it hopeful.”

The days have long-gone when I expect everything to always turn out in my favor. Life is simply not like that. Sometimes things work out, and other times they do not. And as much as a cliché as it is, it is also very true. My new attitude is the realization that life is 100% unpredictable. I don't know what the future holds for me and Jay. All I know is that for the moment, I am happy to be exactly where I am.

 

 

Breakfast has always been and probably always will be my favorite meal of the day. There is something tantalizing about pancakes, waffles and French toast that I just cannot get enough of. And Denny’s French toast is my weakness. After a breakfast fit for a queen and king, Jay and I bike along the trail for several hours before stopping to relax on the park bench. I breathe in the fresh air, enjoying the warm weather. “How did we end up here?” I ask him.

“On this bike trail?” Jay asks, seemingly confused by my question.

“I mean a month ago, you and I were living our separate lives, doing our own thing. And now, here we are in beautiful Florida rekindling what was.”

“I guess you have good karma,” he says with a hint of sarcasm.

I smile, almost hypnotized by his sexy green eyes. “Meaning that if I end up with you, I must have done something right. Is that it?”

“Pretty much.” Jay pauses. “Our getting back together: Is this something you think you might have predicted?”

“Probably not,” I say. “That’s how life is. You never know what’s waiting for you just around the corner.”

I like that Jay is a thinker because I am a thinker, too. We are compatible on every conceivable level, and though nothing is ever promised to any of us, I am sure hoping for a happy ending.

 

 

Before we leave sunny Orlando, Jay and I shop at a nearby mall. I plan to purchase gifts for Sarah Jane and the bookstore is first on my list. As Jay browses the books in the Best Seller section, I approach him, pretending not to know him.

“Excuse me, sir, but are you looking for a date this afternoon?” I ask, my hands on my hips, posing.

“As a matter of fact, I am,” Jay says as he pivots around me.

“What a coincidence. I had a special feeling about you the moment that I walked through the door.”

“Do you have this special feeling often?” he asks me.

“Only when I run into special people.”

Jay brushes up against me, exhales an amorous breath and whispers, “I think we’ve overused the word special.”

I step back, inhale a bird’s eye view of Jay from bottom to the top. “You know, you are one handsome man. As a matter of fact, I’d be willing to leave my husband and three children just to have coffee with you.”

“I can say the same thing about you.”

“Then say it.” I enjoy our seductive role playing game. It is our signature activity.

“You are so beautiful,” Jay says. “I would be willing to quit my job just so I can have the afternoon free to stand here and look at you.”

“You don’t have to quit, man, just take the afternoon off.”

“No!” Jay declares. “You don’t understand. I would have to quit.”

“I think I know what you mean, because I’d be willing to pay money just to stand here next to you.”

Jay steps closer to me and slides his hands down my shoulders. “I’d pay even more money just to run my fingers through your hair.”

I am in the moment now, and I can feel what I am saying. I scale up on him, our lips almost touching. “I’d pay double that amount just to stroke my tongue back and forth across your lips.”

Jay clenches both of my hands into his. “And I will quadruple that amount to suck your fingers, one, and then the other, and then the other.”

Consumed by lust in an almost trance-like state, I say, “Take me, Officer Evers, take me now.”

“Right now?”

“That’s right.” I fling myself into Jay’s arms, kissing him, kissing him, kissing him. “I don’t care who’s watching. “I want you, Officer Evers, and I want you now.”

Several seconds will pass before I realize that Jay and I are performing before an audience of three older men. I am flushed with embarrassment. Quickly Jay and I compose ourselves and bolt from the bookstore.

After four memorable days in Orlando, playing miniature golf, dining out, shopping, theme parks and non-stop love making, it is time to head home to Chicago. I assumed I might have a good time with Jay, I just didn’t know how good good would be. The bond between us grows more powerful with each passing day, and I can’t help but theorize if our life back in the real world can live up to this one.

 

 

Orlando International Airport.

Jay and I wait to board Flight 428 to Chicago after checking our luggage and going through security. It is 6:45 p.m. and our flight doesn’t leave until eight o’clock, giving us plenty of time to kill. While Jay reads the newspaper, I stare out the window across from me. I relive the last four days we spent together, enjoying the fond memories. When Jay’s cell phone rings once again, I observe him glance at the number before returning it to his pocket. Having seen Jay ignore the caller twice already, I am tempted to ask him about it, but I hesitate for fear of appearing nosy, though it will only be the truth.

As if Jay can read my mind, he turns to me. “It was nobody.”

“Nobody as in nobody or nobody as in someone you don’t want to talk to?”

“Nobody period!” he says with a sting.

Startled by his tone, I flinch, not ever having witnessed that side of him before. But I choose not to make a big deal about it. No one is always in a good mood. Even I have days when I am not the most pleasant person to be around.

“Don’t mind me, Summer, I’m just not that eager to get back to Chicago. That’s all.”

“That’s understandable. I too, would rather stay here in Florida forever.”

“I’m sorry,” he says as he folds the newspaper. “I shouldn’t have snapped like that.”

“Don’t give it a second thought.”

I excuse myself to the ladies’ room and upon my return, the vibe between us has somehow mysteriously changed. Jay seems a million miles away, not reading, not writing, not doing anything.

“Hey,” I say as I sit next to him.

Seemingly in a daze, Jay does not respond. Either he is engrossed in his thoughts or purposely ignoring me. Very gently, I tap him on the shoulder. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he says, unconvincingly.

He display a distant and cold persona, not paying me any mind at all. Either he is angry with me, or I am just plain paranoid. And I doubt it is the latter. Obviously, something is bothering him. So much I want to ask him about it, but I hesitate for fear he might snap at me again.

Unexpectedly, Jay rises to his feet. “I’ll be back.”

“You come right back now,” I say, playfully.

His eyes dart towards me, oozing animosity. “Don’t talk to me like I’m a kid,” he says before he dashes away.

My eyes reach upward in search of the answer to the unasked question. Have I become involved with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? He seems like a completely different person all of a sudden, and it frightens me.

Fifteen minutes pass, and Jay has yet to return. As not to come off as some nervous girlfriend who freaks out when my boyfriend is away, I hold out for as long as I can, nibbling on my fingernails. It will be another five minutes before I finally go looking for him.

Through the mass of eager airline travelers, I wind my way towards the restrooms, assuming I might find him there. Just as I embark upon the men’s room, I observe Jay, standing near the pay phone but talking on his cell. I creep towards him and make immediate eye contact with him. Patiently, I wait for him to end his call. But it doesn’t happen. Only a half-minute will pass before Jay snatches his cell from his ear, his eyes pelting anger in my direction. “Do you mind? This is kind of personal.”

Accustomed to his mood shifts by now, I don’t say a word. Instead I calmly step away and return to the waiting area. Jay is just full of wonder. With each passing minute, our wonderful vacation is inexplicably transforming into its opposite. While I munch on my fingernails, the few that remain, the butterflies in my stomach remind me that something is not right. And then there is the curiosity. Who is the mystery caller who unnerves Jay so?

Three eaten fingernails later, Jay returns, buckles down next to me. “Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to be rude but sometimes when I’m pushed to my limits, I’m not a nice person.”

“Who was that?” I ask him.

Jay doesn’t speak, as if he isn’t sure he should, and then says, “It was Becky.”

Becky, as in his ex-girlfriend. Why doesn’t his answer surprise me? Once again I have willingly put myself back into another flimsy predicament. Not being the type to remain silent for long, I say, “Listen, Jay, I don’t like to be in the dark about anything so if there’s something going on between you and Becky, I would really like to know.”

“There’s nothing going on between us. If there was, I wouldn’t be here with you.”

“Well, what was that conversation all about?”

Jay exhales with a hint of annoyance. “It has nothing to do with you, Summer.”

“Is she trying to work things out with you? Is that it?”

“I don’t know,” Jay says.

“You don’t know? How can you not know?”

“I don’t know what’s in her mind.”

This cannot be happening to me again. It seems reciting those very words is the only thing that keeps me calm. “It’s not over between you two, is it?”

“Of course, it is.”

I shift my body back, taking a moment to regroup. “We had such a beautiful time in Orlando, and it seems now that everything is going south.”

Jay wraps his arm around me and gently nudges me against his shoulder. “I’m sorry if all of this upsets you, but it’s upsetting to me, too. We did have a great time in Orlando, so let’s not ruin it.”

“Too late for that. You have an ex-girlfriend who may want you back even if she is in San Diego.”

“Are you changing your mind about us already?” he asks.

“No, not exactly.”

“Well, what’s the problem?” he asks.

“I don’t know.” I comb my hand through my hair, and then stretch out my arms. “I’m just a little uneasy about all of this.”

“You’re allowed. I’m sorry if I upset you. But I want you to know something. You are the one I want. And nothing is going to jeopardize that. Nothing.”

Jay is king at knowing just the perfect thing to say at just the perfect time.

“Thank you for saying that,” I say, feeling a little more at ease.

Though not completely relaxed, one thing is for certain. Jay is my guy. And I resolve to do anything to maintain what we experienced in Orlando.

 

 

Episode 11

 

In flight to Chicago, I request hot water for my peppermint tea, which I bring with me. After having been on such a high in Orlando, I begin spiraling downward as we cruise closer to O’Hare Airport. To break the agonizing circle of dread in my mind, I close my eyes and reflect on a saying my mother declared long ago: What ventures upward, most certainly plummets downward. Truer words were never uttered from my mother’s mouth.

Waiting for the flight attendant to return with my water, I inhale a long breath, and then glance over at Jay who seems engrossed in the newspaper.

“Anything exciting happening these days?” I ask him.

“Not particularly.”

“I never really cared much for the day’s paper. It’s so depressing.”

“That’s for sure.”

For a minute, I hesitate to inquire about his ex-girlfriend, and then decide to venture ahead anyhow. “Is the only reason why you and Becky aren’t together now is because she had to go to San Diego?”

“That’s part of the reason, but there were other things as well.”

“Like what, if I might ask.”

“I’d rather not talk about it. The important thing is that you and I are together now.”

His defensiveness again causes me great concern. My only hope is that I have not made the same mistake, for the second time, with the same man.

 

 

Back at my high-rise, Jay drops me off before heading home himself. Though I welcome the chance to spend another night with him especially since it is our first night back in Chicago, Jay doesn’t feel the same. But it is okay because I have many things to do myself.

After turning on my cell phone, I see that several messages await me. The first two are from Sarah Jane. And another message, to my surprise, is from Morgan.

“Hello, Summer, it’s Morgan. I hope you haven’t forgotten me already. Anyway, I just want to say hi, and hear how your book is coming along. No need to return my call unless you want to. Bye.”

What a sweet message. Not expecting to ever hear from him again, it is quite a surprise. How can I not return his call? Not only am I a sucker for humility, but I also wish to chat with him.

I plan to do right by Morgan. Having already released him so that he might find someone to fill the void in his heart, all I can do now is continue to befriend him, which includes being completely honest with him about my new-found relationship.

After I sip my Mango tea, I waste no time returning Morgan’s call. I sit on the edge of my bed and dial his number, which I still know by rote.

“Good evening, Morgan.”

“I didn’t expect to hear from you.”

“I didn’t expect to hear from you either,” I say.

“Thank you for calling.”

“Thank you for calling.”

“You’re very kind,” he says.

“So are you,” I say. “You know, we can go on and on about who is the most kind, and in the end, you would come out as the all-time champion.”

“You think so, huh?”

“I know so,” I say. “So how have you been?”

“Great. And what about you? How’s the book coming along?”

“It’s coming.”

“What else is going on? Anything exciting?”

“Actually, I just got back from Florida, just tonight.”

“You and Sarah Jane?”

“No. Me and a friend.”

“A male friend?”

Right way, I know exactly where this conversation is headed. “Yes, it is a male friend.”

A small silence grounds me as I search for what to say next.

“Was it Jay?” he asks me.

“Yes,” I say, realizing that there is no way out of this.

“I get the feeling that you weren’t going to tell me that if I hadn’t asked,” Morgan says.

“It’s weird talking to you about stuff like this. Did you forget that we used to date?”

“No, I can never forget that.” Abruptly, Morgan changes the subject. “Summer, it’s been great talking to you as always. I’m going to hang up now, but let’s keep in touch.”

“For sure.”

What a relief to end that call. For a moment, I was certain he had my back against the ropes. I couldn’t reveal too much, especially the fact that my new boyfriend, Officer Evers, makes my heart sing like no other. Morgan seems exceptionally skilled at backing me into a corner until I speak the truth whether I want to or not. All the same though, he is a blue-ribbon guy, and I am glad that we crossed paths.

 

 

At nine o’clock the next morning, I settle back into my daily routine. I return to the gym and resume my afternoon writing schedule and yoga class. Following the gym, I make a pit stop at Jewel grocery store, wanting to prepare a steak dinner that evening. As I head home, Jay enters my mind and I smile to myself. It is less than twenty-four hours since I saw him last, and already I miss him and Captain Evers and want to see him. I consider calling him but then nix the idea, not wanting to come off as needy. Besides, it is always better for him to call me. That way, I don’t have to worry about interrupting him. Ideally, I would like to stay in constant contact with Jay, even if it means talking for one minute once a day. But having been involved with him before, I know it will not work out that way. He has already proven that he is the type that requires a lot of space and private time. But it is okay because what he lacks in that department, he makes up for with his singular wit, warm heart and illustrious sex.

 

 

The faint scent of chlorine from the pool nestles my nose as Sarah Jane and I step off the elevator at the fitness center. Dance music echoes throughout the vast warehouse-like space, which consists of at least forty treadmills, a juice bar and a retail shop that sells overpriced workout apparel. And that is just the main level. In the women’s locker room, girlie scented perfumes, deodorants, hair sprays and shampoos saturate the air while naked and half-dressed women ramble to and from the showers.

After Sarah Jane and I disrobe and change into our exercise clothes, we zero in on the treadmills. Across from the juice bar, we occupy the last two available ones, hustling at the same swift pace.

“So tell me more about this hunk of burning love in your life,” Sarah Jane says.

“I told you most of it over the phone. What I didn’t tell you is what I found out on the way back from Florida.”

“And what’s that?”

“My worst nightmare.”

“That doesn’t sound good.”

“It’s my belief that the only reason why Jay and his ex-girlfriend aren’t together anymore is because she had to move to San Diego.”

“I don’t like the sound of that. But you sort of knew that anyway, right?”

“I wondered about it, but it seemed to be pretty much confirmed on our flight back to Chicago,” I say. “He said that their relationship was over way before she left town.”

“You believe him?”

“I believe him.” I try my best to convince myself that Jay is on the up-and-up about no longer being involved with his ex-girlfriend, but in the back of my mind, I am not completely sold.

“If they’re still secretly together, her living in San Diego doesn’t make it any better,” Sarah Jane says.

“But I’m just not sure I’m ready to stop seeing him. I’m just not.”

“I didn’t really think you would.”

“I was forewarned from the very beginning that he had a girlfriend in San Diego, so I did know. I just didn’t think it would get so complicated.”

“As long as you’re happy.”

“That’s just it. I am not happy.”

“Just remember, you can get out of this relationship any time you want.”

“Thank you. I’ll keep that in mind.”

Sarah Jane is right more times that I care to admit. I am no victim in this whole thing and can get out of it anytime that I want. The only question is: Am I ready to get out?

Fifty-five minutes later, Sarah Jane and I work up a heavy sweat on the treadmill and then revisit the locker room. After stripping down to our panties, we trample through the shower area, toward the swimming pool and duck into the steam room. Having the sweltering room to ourselves, Sarah Jane and I stretch out on our backs. At opposite ends of the dank built-in ceramic bench, we fluff the towels underneath our heads, our hands at our sides.

With much delight, I consume the eucalyptus fragrance as it stimulates my senses. Immersed in the splashing sound of the hot vapors congesting the air, every muscle in my body loosens and unwinds so much that I can easily fall asleep.

I wipe the moisture from my forehead. “Do you think that I made a mistake getting back together with Jay?”

“I think you did what you wanted to do, and what can be wrong with that?” Sarah Jane pauses. “What will you do if you find out that he is still with her? Will you break it off with him?”

“Probably.”

“Probably?” Sarah Jane questions.

“I don’t know what I will do.” I rethink her question and quickly change my answer. “Definitely, I will break it off.” As I listen to myself utter my statement to Sarah Jane, I can’t help but wonder if I truly mean it.

 

 

I wanted to hear from Jay by the time I returned home, but to my disappointment, my wish is not granted. A call from him would pacify me and induce a feeling of security in me and the relationship. And on the flip side, not hearing from him provokes many questions.

Where is he?

Is he on the phone with Becky?

Is our relationship over?

Was our excursion to Orlando just a fling?

With an extraordinary sense of power, I manage to restrain myself from calling him, though I ache to do so. After our glorious stay in Orlando, it would have been nice to hear from him to reassure me that our coupling isn’t just a fling.

When the phone rings, certain it is Jay, I lunge to the phone and snatch the phone off the table, nearly spraining my wrist. But to my dismay, it is not Jay.

“Oh, hey, Morgan,” I say in a less than enthusiastic tone.

“Is this a good time?”

I hesitate for a moment, and then say, “Yes, it’s fine. What’s up?”

I nibble on my fingernails, thinking only of Jay.

“I need to ask you something,” Morgan says. “And I need you to be totally honest.”

“Okay.”

“Is it at all possible that you and I can start over again?”

My eyes expand. This I have not anticipated. Our relationship ended weeks ago, and I trusted Morgan had accepted it, or at least I assumed he did. Either he did not comprehend it from the beginning, or he refused to consent to it. With all the grace I can garner, I say, “Morgan, I thought we went through this already.”

“We did, but I have good feelings about us.”

I relinquish a frustrated breath. I am in no mood for this. I am in love with Jay or I think I am, and here Morgan is asking for another chance. And as eager as I am to end this call and track down Jay, I wish to be kind. “Morgan, I appreciate you suggesting that we start over, and I am very flattered because you are a great guy.”

Morgan cuts in fast. “But you’re involved with someone else.”

“I am.” I refuse to nurture his false hope. It is only fair that I disclose my situation so that he might move on.

“Well, it was worth a shot,” Morgan says. “However, I do appreciate your honesty, and I wish you well, Summer, because you deserve it.”

To the high heavens, Morgan touches me with his warm words and good wishes. As disappointed as he may have been, he isn’t bitter or mean, and I will always respect him for that. After regrouping from my unplanned conversation with Morgan, my center of focus immediately scurries back to Jay.

Where is he?

Why have I not heard from him?

What is going on?

Are we still a couple?

Is it over?

The suspense of not knowing gnashes at me to an almost breaking point, and the butterflies in my stomach run rampant. I consume deep breaths in an effort to calm myself. Inhale. . . exhale. . . inhale. . . exhale. . . Ten breaths later, I feel myself settling down. Settled enough to know that I need to call Jay and cannot dodge the idea any longer. Against my better judgment, I dial his number.

“Hello, Officer Evers. It’s me.”

“I’d know that delectable voice anywhere,” Jay says. “I was planning on calling you earlier, but I was so busy trying to catch up on some unfinished business.”

“What kind of unfinished business?” I ask, relieved to finally hear his voice and feel assured that we are still a couple.

“Calls to make, people to see. You know the drill. So how are you?”

“I’m great now that I’m talking to you.” At this moment, I am all smiles.

“You really know how to push my buttons, don’t you? Listen, can I call you right back?”

“Sure,” I say.

I end the call, and my heart and soul dance the dance of good cheer, making light of the fact that I distressed myself for nothing. I rest on my fluffy sofa, reading while I wait for Jay to return my call. Halfway through my new book, The Prospering Power of Love, I glance over at the clock atop the television. An hour passes, and Jay fails to return my call. Unable to overlook my uneasiness, I check to make sure that my cell phone is on. And it is.

So why doesn’t he call?

Refusing to stress myself out again, I attempt to erase him from my mind and conjure up something else, anything else. But it is useless. Eventually he will call, I know, but the question is when.

The Prospering Power of Love is a little more than a hundred pages and already I’ve completed it, even taking time to highlight some of my favorite passages. Again, my eyes flash over at the clock: Eleven Fifteen. That means more than two hours have passed since Jay said that he would call back.

For seconds on end, I stand motionless in the center of my living room, thinking, pondering, and wondering.

Should I call him again or should I wait?

This inconsistency of his is starting to annoy me to the fullest. While envisioning all the places he can be gallivanting, the phone rings. Choosing not to sound anxious, I delicately pick up the phone. “Hello.”

“You weren’t asleep, were you?” Jay asks.

“No, just finishing up some reading.” I wish to scream at the top of my lungs, Where in the hell were you, but I keep it all inside.

“Can I come over?”

“Of course.” Is he kidding? His company is all I want.

“I have something very important to talk to you about.”

“As long as it’s good news.”

“It is. The best. I’ll see you in a bit.”

“Don’t forget your handcuffs and your gun,” I say, unable to resist reminding myself how much I love officers of the law.

Jay clears his voice as if to make a statement. “I never forget my gun.”

What did he want to talk to me about? It can’t be marriage because we have just gotten back together. Whatever it is, I will find out soon enough. After I brush my teeth and wash my face, I apply some lip gloss and brush my hair. I then sprinkle baby powder inside my panties and underneath my arms in preparation for the excitement Jay never fails to purge from me.

To rid my mind of the anticipation of his arrival, I flip on the television. But it does not work. All I can do is fantasize about how sexily he will strut through my front door and, most of all, what he will talk to me about. On the Discovery Channel, I catch the tail end of The New Detectives. Just as I am about to learn the identity of the murderer, Jay phones from the lobby. Eagerly I wait by the open door and see him step off the elevator. With a cocksure swagger, Jay coasts towards me, carrying a tiny gift bag and a large shopping bag.

“Hey,” I say.

Unexpectedly, Jay grasps me into his arms, lifts me off the floor and twirls me around as if it’s New Year’s Eve.

Surprised and enchanted by his gesture, I ask, “What was that for?”

“For being so sweet and so beautiful.”

After releasing his grasp and lowering me back to the floor, we step inside. With glitter in my heart, I close the door and hang up his coat. He wears black designer dress pants and a gray turtle neck sweater, looking more appetizing than ever. Unable to drift my attention away from the gift bags, I ask, “What’s in the bags?”

“A little something for you. Remember what we talked about in Florida, about the power of the uniform?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, today is your lucky day.”

I can’t believe that he is serious. “You’re serious about this, aren’t you?”

Jay begins to pull the complete police officer uniform from the shopping bag. “I had everything altered to fit you.”

I examine each piece of clothing, the shirt, the pants, the hat, the handcuffs, the stick, even the holster which holds the gun.

“Am I wearing the gun, too?”

“You have to wear the gun. The gun is the uniform.”

“Are you sure it’s okay to do this?” I ask as I wrap the holster around my waist.

“I’m making it okay,” he says.

There is something about a man with confidence that just cannot be ignored.

“Now,” he says, handing me the bag. Go on into the bedroom, change into your uniform and then come out here and punish me.”

“I can do that.”

Several minutes later, I appear before Jay in full uniform, my crisp shirt tucked neatly inside my pants. Having a whale of a time, I am all smiles. I love what the uniform represents. I love the way it looks on me, and, most of all, I love the way it makes me feel.

Is this really happening to me?

Am I really dressed as an officer of the law?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, role-playing is good for the soul.

There is no way of skating around the fact that everything that Jay said is true. There is something about wearing a uniform of power that gives me power, if only imaginary.

I strut out in front of Jay and pose in an authoritative stance.

Jay steps back and give me a bird’s eye scope from top to bottom. “What do you think?”

“Are you talking to me?” I ask, as if I am Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. “I’m just kidding. I think you were right.”

“It’s your world, Summer. I’m just living in it.”

I place my hands on my hips. “That’s right, and don’t you forget it. I hope no one gets out of line today because I would hate to have to take them down.”

“Shall we go for our walk?” Jay asks.

“Are you sure it’s okay?”

“Like I said before, I’m going to make it okay, besides, you’ll be with me.”

Jay and I leave the apartment and head over to Broadway Street. I trot alongside Jay like a woman with a purpose, not uttering one word. With each confident step I make, I want to yell the words confidence, courage and pride. Wearing a police officer’s uniform has magically inspired confidence in me, and I feel fearless.

Soon, Jay and I return to my apartment. High on exuberance, I remove my hat and say, “Well, you were right.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

I escape into the bedroom and disrobe from the uniform, then return to Jay who sits in the kitchen, drinking a bottle of water. I carry the shopping bag which contains the mind-transforming law enforcement attire. “Am I returning this to you?”

“No, it’s yours. However, you won’t be able to wear it outside anymore. I know we just did it, but we can’t do it anymore.”

“Okay. I’ll have to get my kicks by wearing it inside my apartment then.” I join Jay at the kitchen table, noticing the small gift bag beside him.

“We know what’s in the big shopping bag,” I say. “So, what’s in the small one?”

“Oh, this, this is nothing. Just the keys to my heart.”

“What are you talking about?” I ask, playfully as I take the bag from him.

Inside the gift bag, I pluck out a set of keys and dangle them. “What’s this?”

With a sincere expression on his face, Jay rises to a standing position. “Those are the keys to our future.”

“Very funny.”

“I’m serious.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“I want you to move in with me. Do you believe that?”

“Move in with you?”

“I have been thinking a lot about us and my future, and I want you in it. I want you to move in with me so that we can give living together a try.”

To say that I am shocked is an understatement. “I don’t know what to say. Are you serious?”

“You are the only woman I can see myself spending the rest of my life with.”

Jay seems to always know the perfect thing to say. “Thank you for saying that,” I say.

“Is that all I get?”

“What did you have in mind?”

“What are you offering?” he asks in a seductive tone.

“How about a kiss?” I say.

“I’ll take a kiss.”

I kiss him with all the affection I can muster before Jay abruptly pulls away. “I want you, Summer. Right now.”

“Isn’t that kind of forward?”

“What’s forward about it? We spent four days in Orlando, doing everything under the sun. What’s forward about wanting to make love to you right now?”

“Since you put it that way,” I say as I head towards the bedroom.

Jay grabs my arm and flings me back. “No, not in the bedroom. Right here.”

“On the hard floor?”

“Sometimes a little pain is good for you.”

“You’re a kinky little thing, aren’t you?”

“It takes one to know one. Isn’t that right, Summer?”

Ignoring his question, I say, “So tell me some more about this idea of me moving in with you? Where did that come from?”

“I’m crazy about you. And I had the best time in Orlando.”

“As did I.”

“My concern is that with you so busy at the gym and your yoga classes and working on your book and research and Sarah Jane, I won’t be able to see you as much as I want to.”

“Yeah, but moving in, that’s a pretty big thing.”

“I know, and I’m ready to take that step with you.”

Jay is highly talented with perfect responses. “But we just got back together,” I say.

“Whose fault is that? I have been trying to get back with you for weeks. Isn’t that right?”

“Yeah, but─”

He feasts his mouth onto mine. “No buts. We connect, Summer, and there is no denying that.”

“I don’t deny it.”

“Well then, say you’ll move in with me.”

I step away from him and slouch down on the kitchen chair. “I have to really think about this, Officer Evers. This is a very serious thing for me.”

“It’ll be great, Summer. During the day when I’m at work, you’ll work on your projects and then at night, I’ll have you one-hundred percent at my side.”

“That does have a nice ring to it.”

“And that’s just the beginning. We’ll have breakfast together, dinner together. We’ll make love early in the morning and late at night. I’ll rub your feet for you and give you massages, wash your back, and all those wonderful things that I enjoy doing for you.”

This is all happening so fast, but at the same time, it just sounds so good.

Jay continues. “We’ll do our laundry together and shop for groceries together. Then we’ll snuggle underneath the covers and watch old movies.”

“You do make it sound tempting.”

“Says yes, baby, please says yes.”

“What about my condo? Will I sell it?”

“No, you can lease it out. There’s even a great service that will do it for you.”

Jay’s responses are right on target, but still, I am not going to lose all sense of reasoning. “I still have to think about it. Just give me a day or two.”

 

 

After making love into the early morning hours, I awaken to find Jay laying across from me, staring at me. If he weren’t so incredibly handsome, it could have been a startling experience.

“I love you, Summer. I’ve wanted to tell you that ever since we left Florida.”

I snuggle against him, having wanted to hear those words for so long. “I love you, too.” I kiss his cheek. “You’re so sweet. I just want to squish you.”

“You can do anything you want to me. Move in with me, Summer.”

His persistence alarms me. “You’re really rushing this, aren’t you?”

“Why shouldn’t I? We click together and you know it.”

“What about my things?” I ask, reaching for any and every excuse I can think of.

“You can put a lot of your things in storage. I’ll pay for it.”

“You have answers for everything, don’t you?”

As much as I want to throw caution to the wind and just say yes, I have to be smart about such a big step.

“It will only be until we get married,” he says. “I want you next to me every morning.”

I swallow the saliva in my mouth, brows raised. “What did you just say?”

“I want you next to me every morning.”

“No, before that.”

“Until we get married?”

“Yeah, that. Are you serious?”

He kisses me. “Yes, very serious. So will you do it?”

“I don’t know, Officer Evers. I have to really think about this.”

Jay rolls on top of me and buries his head in my neck. “I love you, Summer, and I’m going to marry you. Eventually, we’re going to marry.”

His words sound awfully good, but being too much in shock to respond, I close my eyes, soaking up everything that is transpiring at warp speed. If I answer him at this very moment, it will be an outright yes. But it isn’t like that. I have ample time to scrutinize his offer, and I am going to use every minute of it.

 

 

Episode 12

 

As I contemplate accepting Jay’s proposal to move in with him, I am reminded of what a celebrity once said about blind certainty. He said that the one thing that he hates more than anything else is blind certainty. And what is blind certainty? It means that despite the fact that a person can never know all the variables involved in a situation, he or she claims to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what they think will happen, will surely happen.

It’s impossible for me to know all the variables involved in my decision to move in with Jay. There is just no way for me to be perfectly certain about anything. This is the one lesson that I learned after having my heart broken many times over. A position of “I don’t know” enables me to possibly make smarter and safer decisions. I really don’t know what will happen if I move in with Jay. It might work out. It might not. The important thing is that I am willing to acknowledge that fact. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. These are powerful words. I am hoping that if I say them often enough, I just might learn something.

Moving in with Jay will be a big step, and with so much on the line, I need to be absolutely sure that I am not making a mistake. As not to do something that I might regret later, I plan to mull it over and provide Jay with an answer in a day or so. And it is no secret that Jay’s desire to marry me one day definitely stacks the odds in his favor.

I set out to talk to someone, that someone being Sarah Jane, hoping she might cast some light on my situation and perhaps examine it from a different angle. I waste no time meeting Sarah Jane at the Three First National Plaza building. It is only four o’clock in the afternoon, and Sarah Jane does not finish work until five o’clock. But I can’t wait, needing to talk to her as soon as possible.

In the firm’s lunchroom, Sarah Jane and I convene at a table near the window.

“Marry you? When?” Sarah Jane asks, suspiciously.

“I don’t know, one day.”

“It’s always one day, Summer.”

“I believe him.” I knew all along that Sarah Jane would be totally against the idea, but I choose to discuss it with her any way.

“You just start dating him again. Isn’t this kind of sudden?”

“I’m just as surprised as you are.”

Sarah Jane pauses and then asks, “Are you going to do it?”

My eyes scan upward, searching for the answer, but I say nothing.

“You are, aren’t you?” Sarah Jane suggests. “Otherwise, you would have said no right out.”

“Probably.”

“No probablies to it. You have already decided.”

I hate it when Sarah Jane reads my mind. “We’re two people who reconnected and want to be together. What’s so terrible about that?”

“Nothing, except for the fact that he has all these plans for marriage, and you two haven’t been back together for not even a month. And then there’s something even more important than that. Did you forget that he may still be involved with his ex-girlfriend?”

“He said that it’s totally over between them, and I believe him.”

I trust that Sarah Jane will support my decision to move in with Jay even if she hasn’t come out and actually said so.

“What about your condo?” Sarah Jane asks.

“Jay and I already discussed it. I’m going to lease it out.”

“Seems like you have everything all figured out,” Sarah Jane says.

“You support me on this, don’t you?”

“Of course, I do. You have to do what’s in your heart. That’s all any of us can do.”

It warms my heart to hear Sarah Jane make that statement. Even if she’s not in complete agreement with what I’m about to do, I’m glad to know that she’s on my side.

 

 

I awaken from a dazzling dream, and I am all smiles. All smiles about my wondrous life to come. In my perfect world, I greet Jay every night with a savory meal before snuggling up in front of the television. Then we make love into the wee hours of the night, Jay constantly yammering about how special I am until I can barely stand it.

Ah, the fantasies.

Romantic instrumental music plays from the stereo while I compile my to-do list. I love instrumental music, find it relaxing and uplifting and liken it to the experience of traveling through space, remembering only the best times of my life. My favorite song is Late One Night by Dan Siegel, and if such a thing as heaven exists, this will be the song playing the day that I arrive if I am lucky enough to get there.

The euphoric high from the dream seems to carry over into reality because I am filled with zest as I climb out of bed. Rare opportunities to share my life with a terrific guy befalls on me, and I am not about to let it fade away for any reason. While I brew coffee, I compose a list of things to do in preparation for my move.

 

Disconnect electricity, phone and cable.

Schedule movers

Pick up boxes from U-Haul

Transfer mail

Lease out condo

 

I study my to-do list and continue to fantasize about my new life to come, and oh what a delight it is. Before turning over the keys to my new tenants, I clean it from top to bottom. Most of my things will go into storage, taking only my clothes, favorite CDs, books and other necessary items with me.

Early in the afternoon, the movers stockpile my things into a storage unit on Broadway, and then transport the rest of my things to Jay’s place, now our place. Jay will not arrive until later, though it would have been splendid if he was there to welcome me.

Jay lives in a two-bedroom condo on a quiet street in the Gold Coast. Having only visited his place once, it exhibits a strange feel to it, knowing it is now my new home. His unit is shrouded in charcoal gray carpet, and other than the leather couch in the living room, only a big screen television and sound system exist. And his place is messy. Clothes, shoes, books, a slew of CDs and unopened mail lay scattered everywhere.

Immediately, I haul my way to the nearby Jewel grocery store and purchase cleaning supplies and an Air Wick plug-in air freshener. In addition to that, I purchase chicken breasts, salad, white wine and dinner rolls.

For our first night together, I plan to surprise him with a delightful meal. Upon my return from the store, my cell phone rings and I hope it might be Jay. But it is not. Instead, it is a wrong number. Before I can even think about preparing dinner, I will have to wash the dishes, wipe down the wooden kitchen table and run a mop over the grungy kitchen floors.

In an effort to organize his apartment and create order, I stack his Bob Marley CDs along with the other reggae artists CDs next to the big screen television. Next is the bedroom and bathroom, which I set out to tackle later. While the chicken breasts bake in the oven, I toss and season the dinner salad. Eagerly expecting to hear from Jay all day, I ponder why he fails to call. Obviously, he isn’t one to call on a systematic basis.

I prepare to wash the pots and pans and fill the dishpan with hot water. Again, the phone rings. Optimistic that it might be Jay, I sail over to the phone and glance at the unfamiliar number. “Hello.”

For seconds, I hear nothing but silence, and then a young woman asks, “Is this Summer?”

“Yes, who’s this?”

CLICK!

The disconnection inflames my ear.

Now that is strange. Who is this mystery caller who knows my name? My first reasoning is that it might be Jay’s ex-girlfriend, but not wanting the incident to botch up my mood on my first day in my new home, I push it from my mind. I will query Jay about it later. But for now, I will resume my cooking and cleaning.

In Jay’s bedroom, I absorb the clutter and the unmade bed, which is minus a headboard. His bed is masked with girlie magazines, mail, clothes, and a bottle of men’s cologne. Housework is definitely not a priority for him. The bedroom floor is an exact replica of the bed, only worse, more newspapers and more girlie magazines.

Twenty minutes later, order is restored, which includes making the bed with crisp white cotton sheets. Next is the bathroom, which is a snap, it being the cleanest room in his unit.

Now I can unpack some of my things. After I put hangers on my dresses, pants and blouses, I store my t-shirts, underwear, night shirts and socks in the three drawers Jay reserves for me. For my miscellaneous items, I will need to purchase a storage unit from Target department store. My new home feels more like a boarding house than anything else, seeing that I brought such few things with me.

With everything neatly stored away, I climb up on the bed and stretch out on my back. Tonight will be our first night together in our apartment. I gaze up at the cracks in the ceiling, close my eyes and a sadness falls over me. Maybe it is the mystery woman who phoned me and hung up or maybe it’s just PMS.

Or maybe it is the fact that Jay is not here to welcome me when I move in. Instinctively, I know something is not right because I have learned over the years that discomfort is a way of communicating with me, forewarning me of unfavorable happenings to come.

 

 

It is 7:30 p.m. when a full of life Jay wanders in. Considering he only works until four, I expect him much earlier. But this is our first night together, and I will not fret over it.

Without warning, Jay hurls me into his arms, air lifting me off the floor. “God, you feel good. And you smell good too. As a matter of fact, this whole place smells good.”

“That’s a great welcome. Can I expect this every night?” I ask.

“Every night and three times on Fridays.” He oozes a fiery enthusiasm as he returns me to a standing position.

His grand behavior is just what I need to elevate my mood. “What’s got you in such a good mood?”

“It’s you, Summer. You have me in such a good mood. I’m off work at home with my girl in our place. What more can a man ask for?”

“Not much.” I help him off with his coat. “I made us a little something in honor of our first night in our place together.”

Jay extends his hand towards me and motions me to come to him. Again, he flings me into his arms. “I’m so glad you agreed to move in here with me.”

“So am I.”

Jay’s eyes search the room. “Sorry about the mess, but it looks like you did all right. All settled in?”

“All settled in,” I say, unable to ignore his highly aromatic cologne. Do you normally wear that much cologne?”

“I showered at the station and may have gone overboard with the aftershave.”

“Excuse me,” I say, “but since when do you shave?”

“Women can shave too, you know.”

All the tension that coursed through me earlier mysteriously vanishes upon his arrival. And for the first time, I am confident I made the right decision moving in with him. A short time later, we congregate in the kitchen underneath the bright ceiling lights. I load Jay’s plate with salad, a chicken breast, and two dinner rolls. After I set his plate before him, I then fix a plate for myself and slump down across from him.

“This looks great. You never cooked for me before.”

“Of course, I did,” I say.

“But not like this.”

“I guess there’s still a lot we don’t know about each other.”

Not wasting any time, Jay wolfs down his food.

I break off a chunk of my dinner roll and slide it into my mouth. “I received a strange call today. A lady called here, asked if I were Summer, and then hung up.”

“It was probably Becky,” Jay says with his mouth full.

“Why? Why would she do that and, most of all, how did she get my number?”

“I don’t know how she got hold of your number.”

A long silence falls over the room before I ask, “Are you still involved with her?”

“No. I’m not, and I hope I don’t have to keep repeating myself. Becky and I are no longer together. Okay?”

I am not buying it, no matter how much he professes otherwise. There is more to this story than he chooses to admit, and eventually I plan to get to the bottom of it all.

“You’re here with me now, not Becky,” he says. “And that’s all that matters. You prepared this marvelous dinner, and I don’t want to ruin it by talking about Becky.”

I attempt to push the incident from my mind but with little success. This matter feels totally unresolved. “Can I expect to hear from her again?”

Jay polishes off the last bit of his dinner roll. “She’s not going to call you again, but if it’ll make you happy, I’ll talk to her about it. Is it settled now?”

“It would put my mind at ease.”

“Okay then, it’s settled.

Eager to put this Becky incident behind me, I change the subject. “So how was your day?”

“My day was fine. These are the things that couples discuss, aren’t they?”

“Some couples do,” I say.

“Okay, well, we’re not going to be one of those couples.”

“Why not?” I ask, playfully.”

“Because it’s boring. It’s boring, Summer. I don’t want to come home every night and talk about my day. Okay.”

“That’s a very odd statement. Who doesn’t want to talk about their day?”

“I don’t.”

“Well, can I at least ask you where you went after work today?”

“What business is it of yours?”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me.”

My mouth hangs open but nothing comes out.

“Don’t look all shocked. Just because we live together doesn’t mean I have to tell you my daily whereabouts.”

Losing my appetite, I push my plate away. “I didn’t ask you to.”

“It sounded like that to me.”

“Don’t you think you’re overreacting just a little? I only asked you a question.”

“And I answered it.”

If I didn’t know better, I would think that he is purposely trying to pick a fight with me. His defensiveness alarms me, unnerving me, almost to the point of paranoia.

Why does that one question about his whereabouts rouse so much negative emotion?

“Why are you being so defensive, Jay?”

“Because I don’t like being harassed.”

“Who’s harassing you? No one is harassing you.”

“It sure feels like it.”

I look to the left, and then to the right. Who is this person who sit across from me? “You’re like a different person sometimes, you know that? You’re in one mood one minute and then the next, you’re somebody else.”

“That’s just your imagination,” he says as he munches on the last bite of his salad.

With venom in my eyes, I peer across the table and for less than five seconds I despise him. But I refuse to foster such hostile emotions. I shake my head, hoping to slough off the animosity. Maybe he is just having a bad day. Although I would like to believe that, I sense it is much more serious.

 

 

After dinner, I wash the dishes and glide the mop over the floor again. I can hear the television blaring from the front room where Jay’s eyes are glued to the cable sports station. As I wring out the mop, an uneasiness wavers in the pit of my stomach, and it will not fade. His outburst at dinner disturbs me and until it is resolved, I will not be myself. As surely as my name is Summer, his whereabouts after work are the topic of a heavy discussion. Though I hesitate to bring it up again for fear it might ruffle his edges, I resolve not to live in fear.

I dry my hands on the dish towel, step into the front room and wait for a commercial interruption in his program. “Hey. You have a minute?”

As if Jay knows exactly what I am about to say, he says, “I’m sorry for the way I went off on you earlier.”

I display nonchalance, not knowing whether to be shocked or happy or shocked and happy.

He rises up and approaches me, and then kisses me over and over.

“What is that for?” I ask him.

“I shouldn’t have gotten so upset with you before. Will you accept my apology?”

“Of course,” I say, still trying to figure him out.

“The reason why I was late coming home was because I worked a few extra hours.”

“And it has nothing to do with Becky?” I question.

“It’s not like that. Just remember. It’s you I’m here with, not her, and I’ll make sure she doesn’t call you anymore.”

“You promise?”

“Yes, I promise. Trust me. Everything is great.”

“I am not trying to be nosy or anything,” I say, still convinced that there is more to this story. “I just want to know what is going on.”

I wrap my arms around him and force a fake smile. At this moment, things seems fine. But I wonder.

Are more outbursts of his to come?

I have just moved in with him, and we are already off to a bad start. But things can change for the better or maybe even perhaps for the worst.

 

 

Hot baths bore magical healing powers.

In a long, relaxing, lemon-scented bubble bath, tranquility is restored. I inhale the tart flavor of the lemons and scoot down into the tub so that only my head and knees are above water. And at that moment, life is okay. I have reconnected with a marvelous man, am living in his place while he watches TV in the next room.

What can be better than that?

While in a daze and appreciating this serene moment, I am startled by a knock at the door.

“Come in,” I say.

Jay steps inside and rests on the edge of the tub wearing an earnest look on his face.

“You look so sexy in that tub. I just want to dive my head right between your legs.”

“Oh, Officer Evers, you old dog, you.”

“Ruff, ruff,” Jay says. “Listen there’s something I have to tell you. I guess I should have told you sooner, but I didn’t, but I’m going to now.”

“What is it?” I ask, easing up into an erect position.

“It’s really not that big of a deal.”

“What is it?” I ask again, knowing that whenever anyone says it isn’t a big deal, it surely is.

“I really like having you here,” he says.

“Okay.”

Jay pauses, and then licks his lips. “And I want to be completely honest and up-front with you.”

“Thank you. I appreciate that. Now what is it?”

“There’s no easy way to say this so I’ll just come right out and say it.”

“Please do.”

“Becky is returning to Chicago next month.”

I close my eyes and hope to be dreaming. This cannot be happening to me again, but it is no dream. History is repeating itself right before my eyes, and this moment cannot be real. Did I really lease out my apartment for this, to live with an unavailable man?

“I knew it wasn’t over between you two,” I say with a snap.

“It is over between us. I just wanted you to know because even though we are no longer together, we have decided to maintain our friendship.”

“Really? So the two of you are going to be friends now?”

“Yes, and I don’t think it’s a bad idea.”

“Of course, you don’t. I gave up my apartment so you and I could be together, which was a huge mistake.”

“Don’t say that.”

“I’m sorry, but I’m not convinced. When she was in San Diego, things may have been different, but with her coming back to Chicago and you agreeing to maintain a friendship, this whole thing stinks to high heaven.”

“My friendship with Becky doesn’t have to be a problem.”

I want to believe him, even need to believe him, but how can I? “This changes everything, and you know it.”

“So what do you want me to do? Break off my friendship with her?”

“I want you to be honest with me, and tell me what’s really going on.”

“I told you everything.”

Having heard enough, I say, “Do you mind stepping out so that I can get dressed?”

“Sure, but this conversation is not over.”

“For now, it is,” I say as he closes the door behind him.

I rise from the tub and grab the winter green towel hanging over the shower curtain. My chances of having a solid relationship with him, knowing that he might still have feelings for his ex-girlfriend are next to zero. At least now I can explain his sporadic outbursts, which are a clear sign of his conflicting feelings for his ex-girlfriend.

Though I so want to make my relationship with Jay work, I doubt that it will ever happen.

 

 

At opposite ends of the leather couch, Jay and I convene. While Jay entertains himself with Seinfeld reruns, I reread my book, The Prospering Power of Prayer. Usually reading one of my favorite author’s books would transform my mood. But not this time. I am still numb from my earlier conversation with Jay, and that is all that rummages through my head. This is my life in all its troubles. And I could scream in agony.

How did I end up again in the same screwed up relationship, with the same man? How has this happened? Somehow in the midst of my search for love, I obviously found it necessary to go back in time and relive my past.

What I can’t escape is the possibility that I have perhaps chosen the wrong man for the second time.

Have I chosen the wrong man?

When I first began my search for a new love, all I could think about was rekindling my love affair with Jay even though deep in my heart, I knew I had traveled down that lost road many times before with no success. I was so captivated with his impeccable looks, charm and police badge that I lost all sense of reasoning. Then Morgan showed up in my life, who is everything that I want and need, and yet I even let him slip away.

I am about to spiral downward into a black den of despair, and I have to stop myself. If I don’t snap out of my dismal train of melancholy immediately, I might not ever recover. With that thought in mind, I stand and head into the bathroom, closing the door behind me. After shutting off the light, I drop to the floor, my back against the door and my head between my knees.

A plan of action is needed fast.

One thing is for certain. I want out, and I want out now. But having just moved in, Jay will think I am crazy for giving up so quickly.

What am I going to do?

I don’t want to stay, but I can’t go either. I glance upwards, in search of an answer, but there is nothing, not one idea to save me.

Two hours later, I shake my head with worry as I bypass Jay in the front room, sitting in front of the 42-inch flat screen television set. He seems totally uninterested in anything but the basketball game before him. Not only do I have to compete with Becky for his attention, but now I also have to compete with sports TV.

While I boil water for tea, midstream into my pessimism, I hear Jay call to me.

I step into the front room. “Yeah?” I say in a sour tone.

“Come sit down next to me.”

Burdened with worry, I flop down on the couch next to him, my hands in my lap. “Is your game over?”

“It just went off.” He leans over and kisses me. “I love you, Summer. Did you know that?”

“Do you love me because you love me, or are you just saying that because you know that I’m pissed?”

“I love you because I love you.”

Not feeling the love at the moment, it is difficult for me to pretend otherwise.

“What’s wrong, honey?” he asks me.

I turn away from him and blow out a tainted breath. “I’m sorry if I’m not in the best mood. It’s just that I’m still in shock after our conversation earlier.”

“Are you still thinking about that?”

“Does that surprise you? Yes.”

“I think you’re trying to make it into something bigger than it is.”

“Somehow I thought our first night together would be special,” I say.

“It is special.”

“You know what I mean, like maybe we would have done something special or something.”

“We can.”

I can’t help but exude discontent. I glance at my watch. “It’s already eleven o’clock.”

“What does that mean? The night is not over.”

“If you say so.”

“I have never seen you so blue before.”

With every ounce of energy, I raise my shoulders. “So what do you want to do?”

“What do you want to do?” he asks. “Hey, Summer, who’s on first?”

“I don’t know. You maybe.” Jay chuckles as only a coo-coo bird can chuckle, and then tickles me. “I’m not going to stop until I get you to smile.”

Finally I manage to pull a bogus smile from within. “Okay. Okay,” I say. “I’m smiling.”

“You want to go for a walk?” Jay asks.

“As cold as it is?”

“We can make it a short walk then come back, snuggle up and enjoy a bottle of wine,” Jay says. “How does that sound?”

Now that, I can go for.

Back from our long stroll along Lake Shore Drive, I return refreshed and in high spirits. The cold air was truly what I needed to clear my head and change my focus. With an unstable sense of hope, I resolve not to bail out on Jay. A fine opportunity presents itself, a chance for me to rekindle something wonderful with a man I cherish. And though I am not sure how it will turn out, I am willing to give it my best shot

 

 

Episode 13

 

During my workout at the gym, I vacillate between staying with Jay and abandoning ship. Despite the fact that I intend to stick it out, I continue to change my mind. Though it might be better to cut my losses, a fragment of me believes that our relationship might blossom, but the other part, the essence of who I am, tells me that it is doomed to crumple. And at this point, I am not certain what to do.

Immediately upon my return to Jay’s condo, I am in dire need of a sympathetic voice and ear.

“Mr. Murphy’s office,” Sarah Jane says when she answers my call.

“Can you talk?” I ask.

“Of course. How’s married life?”

“I think I screwed up, Sarah Jane. Big time.”

“It can’t be that bad.”

“It can’t be that good either. I moved in with this guy entirely too soon, without thinking straight and I just don’t see much of a future for us.”

“Because?”

I hesitate to answer for fear of the I-told-you-so speech, and then I decide to tell her any way. “I think he may still be involved with his ex.”

“But you always knew that, right from the very beginning.”

“I know, but I guess I thought things might be different. And then you know what else bothers me? Jay and I never had one date. Other than the day that I reconnected with him at the Exodus Reggae Bar, he didn’t take me out one time.”

“What about Florida?”

“That was my treat. All we did was make love. I’m not even sure that I love him anymore. I thought I did, but now I’m not so sure.”

Things are sure taking a turn for the worse. I acknowledge the fact that I have feelings for Jay, but what kind of feelings?

“There is no doubt that Jay is attractive, sexy, witty and charming,” I say, “But is that enough to build a relationship?”

“Some people think so.” Sarah Jane pauses. “What are you getting at here? Are you telling me that you no longer want to be with Jay?”

“I don’t know what I’m saying, but I will tell you this. I have been thinking a lot about Morgan, wondering what my life may have been like if I had chosen him instead of Jay.”

“Wow, I certainly didn’t expect to hear you say that.”

“Neither did I, and I’ll tell you something else that you might find hard to believe.”

“What’s that?”

“I think I might even be in love with him.”

“Morgan?”

“Yes,” I say. “Hard to believe, isn’t it?”

“You’re right. I am shocked. So, what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know,” I say. “I really don’t know.”

“Remember what you used to always tell me,” Sarah Jane says. “At any stage of life, you have the power to change it all any time you want.”

“Did I say that?” I question, picking at my fingernails.

“Yes, you did. Are you going to move out?”

“You can read my mind, can’t you?”

“I can read pain.”

As I continue my conversation with Sarah Jane, I am feeling somewhat better, and I switch the phone to the other ear. “I want to leave, but where would I go?”

“You can live with me. I would love to have you.”

“Really? You wouldn’t mind?”

“Of course, not.”

“Thank you. I’ll keep that in mind.” I pause, reflecting on my past. “You know the night before I moved in with Jay, I had the best dream. My life with Jay was perfect in every way.”

“Aren’t your dreams usually the opposite of reality?” Sarah Jane asks.

“That’s right, they usually are, and yet I did it anyway.”

That dream alone should have alerted me from the very start that moving in with Jay was a major mistake. But whoever said that love and lust were smart?

 

 

The excitement of living with Jay has completely worn off, and oh, how I wish for a place to retreat to on days like this one. If only I could turn back the hands of time, I never would have leased out my apartment. Never. But there is no sense in playing the I wish game because I can’t win. I hate to acknowledge regret. I prefer to view all of life’s events as learning experiences. But this time I can’t ignore it. I have screwed up royally. From the very start, I had been totally against dating unavailable men. Even my intuition communicated with me loud and clear how much of a bad idea it was. And yet I did it anyway, that being my biggest downfall of all.

I visit with Sarah Jane for as long as I can, dreading my inevitable return to my futureless relationship with Jay. I can only postpone my date with fate for so long. Just as surely as I know my name is Summer Jones, I know that Jay’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend is far from over. Conflicted in all directions, all I can do is hope for a sign, something that will make it perfectly clear to me what I need to do.

It is a little after 10:00 o’clock in the evening when I make my way back to Jay’s place, and I am all tuckered out. The blaring television signifies that Jay is home and wide awake, which is too bad because I hoped he might be asleep. I step through the front door, trying my best to remain positive. Seemingly more focused on Comedy Central, Jay doesn’t seem to notice me. With a stiff upper lip, I step over to the sofa. “Hey.”

“How are you?” he asks as if he were happy to see me.

“I’m good.” I slouch down on the sofa next to him, don’t even bother to remove my coat and notice two champagne glasses on the end table.

“What’s that,” I ask pointing to the champagne glasses.

He licks his lips and doesn’t answer right away. “Becky stopped by earlier.”

I am shocked to the core, and I rise to a standing position. “Becky was here?”

“Yeah.”

“In our apartment?”

“Yeah, so what?”

My eyes shift upward before I exhale a long breath. “You don’t see what’s wrong with that?”

“No, I don’t.”

“You and she are still together, aren’t you? My guess is that you two never officially broke up.”

Jay remains silent as if he doesn’t hear a word I say.

“Am I right?”

After a long silence, I ask, “Are you going to answer me?”

“Sit down next to me.”

“I don’t want to sit down. I want an answer. Are you and she still together or not?”

Jay stands and lowers the volume on the television. “I’m not sure.”

I have heard enough. It is happening all over again. “Why would you have me move in here if you knew things between you two weren’t finished?”

“Because we were apart at the time. I didn’t know this was going to happen. I really didn’t.”

“You know it all makes sense to me now why you asked me to move in here. You wanted to keep your options open. As long as we were just living together and nothing more, you would always have the option of getting back together with your ex. You were never going to marry me.”

“You are so wrong about that. I love you, Summer. I just happen to still have feelings for her also.”

“The only thing I am wrong about is thinking that this time would be any different than the last.”

If ever there was a sign for me to pay attention to, this is it. My reunion with Jay has turned out to be a big fat failure and staying in it, hoping that it might work out somehow would be futile.

I escape into the bedroom and lock the door behind me. I sit on the edge of the bed and rest for a moment, thinking, pondering, contemplating. My heart is beating faster and faster. Several minutes pass before I have the mental strength to stand on my feet. I have to leave and I have to leave NOW.

Abruptly, I charge over to the closet and hurl my two suitcases, tote and overnight bag to the floor and swing them open. After I yank my clothes from the hangers, I toss them into the suitcase along with the dresser drawer contents. I then dial Sarah Jane’s number, and am quickly transferred to Sarah Jane’s voicemail.

Calling on my parents is not an option. My situation of being between residences is privileged information, and I am not about to disclose all the nasty details to anyone but a select few. Upon frisking my mind for a place of refuge, my options are grim. Then it hits me. My last hope─Morgan Moran. However, I am not completely certain about his telephone number. The last four digits are 1679. That I know for sure. It is the prefixes, 728 and 784 that I can’t straighten out. Not speculating any further, I try them both. Moments later, relief sweeps through me when I hear Morgan’s sympathetic voice on the other end.

“Could this be Summer calling me at such a late hour?”

“It is.”

“This isn’t a booty call, is it? It’s okay if it is.”

“Very funny,” I say, drawing a smile from inside. Morgan is making this so easy.

“It’s okay if it is a booty call,” he says again.

“It’s not, but I do need to ask a huge favor.”

“Consider it done.”

“But I haven’t asked you yet.”

“It doesn’t matter. I can’t think of anything that I wouldn’t want to do for you.”

My eyes water as I struggle to resist crying. His kindness impresses me in a way that touches me right where I live. “Can I come over tonight?”

I am aware that I am doing more than dropping by, however, it sounds less desperate than can I move in with you tonight.

“Of course. Are you okay? Do you want me to pick you up?”

“No, I’m fine. I’ll just meet you there in about thirty minutes. Okay?”

Upon ending my call with Morgan, I continue to overload my luggage until I run out of space. Having discarded all of my moving boxes, I use garbage bags for the remainder of my things. Not knowing whether I will ever return, I leave nothing behind, not even a coffee mug.

I pile all of my things by the door and grab my purse. With my car in the shop, I have no choice but to call a taxi. In front of the television, Jay doesn’t budge, seemingly oblivious to my presence. He doesn’t even ask me what I’m doing or where I’m going because he knows it’s over between us. I hoped he might offer to help me with my bags, but that doesn’t happen. I am on my own. I consider saying something before closing the door behind me, but so not to ignite a fuse, I opt to just leave.

With all of my bags piled by the entrance in the lobby, I resemble a sophisticated bag lady. Though it would have been helpful for Morgan to pick me up, it is best that I depart from Jay’s place alone.

I wait outside, on the lookout for a white Flash taxi. I stuff my hands into my pockets and lift my coat collar. My tears have dried. I am numb and at the same time relieved to be out, out of Jay’s life forever. Having composed myself and assembled my wits, I can see the event for what it is─an unfortunate experience that could have been a lot worse.

En route to Morgan’s place, seated in the back of the taxi, I feel a little embarrassed having to share with Morgan that the man I supposedly loved has chosen his first love over me again for the third time.

But what else can I do?

In need of a place to stay and Morgan willingly offering one, pride simply occupies no place in my life.

The taxi driver helps me unload my bags into the lobby of Morgan’s building on Sheridan Road. To my surprise and delight, Morgan awaits my arrival when I step off the elevator. He approaches me and greets me with a smile. “How much stuff did you bring with you?”

“It’s an ugly story. I’ll have to tell you all about it.”

Once inside Morgan’s apartment, I hang up my coat in the hall closet while Morgan lumps my bags in the corner of the living room floor. Having not visited Morgan for some time, I check out the oriental paintings on the wall as I hug my arms. The fact that I am a little chilly doesn’t go unnoticed by Morgan.

“I’ll turn up the heat,” he says. “Can I get you anything? Some water, coffee, tea.”

“Tea would be great.”

In Morgan’s kitchen, I sit across from him, my hands folded while the water boils for tea. I pan across the drop leaf table at him in the dimly lit kitchen while an extended silence dominates the room, seemingly both of us at a loss for words.

“So what’s in all the bags?” Morgan asks.

“A few of my personal things.”

“A few of your personal things?”

“A lot of my personal things,” I say with a smile. “Thank you for letting me come over here. That is very kind of you.” With a solemn look on my face, I stare down at the table. “Sometimes I don’t think I deserve a friend like you.”

“Why would you say that?”

“After what happened between us? And instead of you punishing me for it, you reward me with your kindness.”

Morgan listens to me, but he does not speak.

“I’m sorry, Morgan, for what happened between us.”

“It’s okay, Summer,” he says as he glides his hand over mine. “Just try not to think about it.”

“Thank you for being so nice to me,” I say with tears in my eyes. “And giving me a place to stay tonight.”

“You’re welcome, but please don’t cry because I might start crying too.”

A shallow chuckle bursts from my mouth.

“I knew that would get you,” he says.

“And you were right.” I blot the tears in the corner of my eyes with my pinkie finger.

“Are you ready to tell me what happened?” he asks.

Though embarrassed by the whole thing, I choose to spill it all anyway. “My old boyfriend, you know, the one I told you about.”

“The unavailable one?”

I nod yes as I am covered in shame. “Yeah, that would be the one. I moved in with him, and let’s just say, it ended very badly.”

“I thought it might have been something like that.”

“I can’t believe that I let the same thing happen to me again?”

“That’s how love is. It eats you up and spits you out.”

“I should have known better.”

“Matters of the heart are not that simple, although we always think that they are.”

“I gave up my apartment for him. And for what? To be with a man who would probably always be forever on-again, off-again with his ex-girlfriend.”

“Some women give up a whole lot more than that.”

“I had only lived there a few days, but no one is at fault here but me. I saw the worm and I walked right upon him.” I pause for thought. “I really believed that we had a chance. Boy, was I way off track.”

“You think you’re the only woman who has ever followed her heart instead of her head?”

I shake my head, still angry with myself for allowing Jay to disrupt my life once again. “Yeah, but I had ample reason to stay away from him, if only for our history together. I knew what I was getting myself into, and I forged straight ahead, despite anything and everything that made sense.”

“You’re not going to wallow in regret about this, are you?”

“I was kind of hoping to,” I say, smiling.

“You don’t want to do that,” Morgan says. “But somehow I get the feeling that you’re into self-punishment, aren’t you?”

“How did you know?”

“I can just tell.”

What I needed more than anything this evening was a sympathetic ear, and I find just that in Morgan. He is perfect in so many ways.

How had I let him get away?

And for what?

To be with a man who would probably always be forever entrenched with his ex-girlfriend.

The tea kettle whistles, and Morgan prepares tea for us and hands me mine. “Be careful now. It’s pretty hot.”

“You’re so kind, Morgan. Anyone ever tell you that?”

“Only you. So what are you going to do?”

I blow on my tea and sip it. “About what?”

“About your living situation.”

“Oh, that. Well, obviously, I don’t have a place of my own anymore. I’ll probably move in with Sarah Jane. It’s not like I have a lot of options.”

Right out of left field, Morgan says, “You’re welcome to stay here if you like.”

“I can’t impose on you like that.”

“You wouldn’t be imposing.”

“Thanks, but I can’t do that.” I glance at my watch. “Shoot, I almost forgot. I have to call Sarah Jane, and let her know where I am.”

After I leave word with Sarah Jane, I return to the kitchen, scoot my tea cup to the center of the table and fold my hands in front of me. “Life is strange isn’t it?”

“It can be.”

“I mean you plan on things working out a certain way and, boom, it doesn’t happen like that at all, doesn’t even come close.”

Morgan leans back as if collecting his thoughts. “When we first met, I was so sure about us.”

“Really? You thought that when we first met?”

“I sure did. But then when we broke up, I just made peace with the fact that if we were meant to be together, we would be together.”

“Now that’s faith for you.”

I always did admire people who could blindly trust that things would always work out for the better, a skill, I have yet to master.

“Did you ever think that maybe,” Morgan asks. “That your getting together with this guy is the miracle needed to bring you to me?”

“Now that I never thought about,” I say, thinking that I may have loved Morgan all along and just didn’t know it because of my temporary insanity towards Jay.

“Think about it. It’s almost midnight. What are the chances that you would have come to visit me at this hour of the night unless what happened happened?”

“Not very good.” Morgan’s words make the hair on the back of my neck leap to attention.

“Not good is right,” he says. “I’m not saying that this is the beginning of something between us. I’m just saying that this wonderful moment that we’re sharing together is the result of your fiasco with this guy.”

“That’s pretty deep.”

“Maybe, but you get where I’m coming from, don’t you?”

I nod in agreement. “We always did have the best conversations.”

“Yes, we did.”

 

 

I insist that I sleep on Morgan’s sofa even after he offers me his bed. Already having welcomed me into his home, I choose not to impinge on his bed as well. Being an early riser like me, Morgan is up and out by the time I awaken. I wallow in regret all throughout the night and hardly sleep at all. Though the regret game serves no purpose, I am so good at it.

It will be several hours before Morgan can relocate me and my things to Sarah Jane’s place, and I decide to relax and catch up on some reading. While I wait for the steam to warm the bathroom shower, I comb through Morgan’s clothes closet, admiring his organization, his pants and his shirts, perfectly separated by color. Unable to resist snooping around in his chest of drawers, I peak inside, starting with the top drawer. As I riffle through his things, I am reminded of an episode of Sex in the City when Carrie was combing through her new boyfriend’s things like a crazy person. My nosiness continues and nothing out of the ordinary stands out. The top drawers are stuffed with plaid boxer shorts and neatly folded socks, and the bottom drawers are filled to capacity with sweaters. Just as I am about to close the bottom drawer, a folded piece of pastel blue paper lodged towards the back catches my eye. I reach for it, having to discern more. Upon unfolding it, I see that it is a letter, titled The Night You Left Me. After examining it for a name and not finding one, I ease down on the bed and read it.

The Night You Left Me

I remember when your presence took me to a warm and delightful place

My spirit was alive and vibrant

My heart danced, my eyes glistened, and my smile sang the song of joy

But now, no more. Alone, I am so without

My heart stings with desire

I want, I want, I want, but I cannot have

I can feel the longings in my arms and fingers

When you’re not on my mind, you are

When I’m not wanting you, I am

When I’m not sad, I really am, like today

I close my eyes. I can see you, feel you, smell you

Your presence surrounds me, bombards me

Muddled and locked up

Locked in a dark hole with no one to talk to but misery and despair

No way out, not even a flicker of light

Darkness wavers over me and I can’t shake it

The woe in my heart weighs me down

And I ask my myself

Oh, I ask myself

How much more will I suffer before I shed my last tear.

I read the last line of this moving letter. Right away, I suspect that Morgan has written this letter for me, but I won’t know for sure unless I confront him, which will mean admitting that I have been rummaging through his things. But so what. The curiosity of it all simmers inside me and probably won’t die down until I learn the particulars. Not able to postpone it any longer, I pick up the phone and call Morgan.

“I’ve been a bad girl, Morgan.”

“Oh, really? How bad?”

“I’m a little embarrassed admitting this to you, so I’m going to just come right out and say it. I was going through your dresser drawers and came across one of your letters.”

“Is that right?”

“I’m sorry,” I say, knowing he has already forgiven me. “I know I shouldn’t have done that, especially since you were so nice about letting me stay here last night.”

“I don’t know, Summer,” he says in a playful tone. “What you just told me is pretty serious. What do you think we should do about this?”

“You can forgive me,” I say in a child-like tone.

“Forgive you? I don’t know. I’m going to have to think about this.”

I enjoy playing along with him. “Come on, Morgan. I said I was sorry.”

“Okay. You talked me into it.”

“That was easy. And since you’re in such a good mood and everything, might I ask you who wrote that letter?”

“You can ask, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to tell you.”

Not sure if I should pursue it any further, I say, “Okay, well, I’ll see you when you get home.”

“I wrote it for you, Summer, the day you left me, or I should say the night you left me.”

“Really?” I ask, trying not to let on just how happy his words are making me. “But you never gave it to me.”

“No, I didn’t. It was probably best that I didn’t.”

A prolonged silence sails over us. “Thank you for everything, Morgan, for your kindness, your warm heart, the letter you never gave to me and, most of all, for your forgiveness.”

“You’re most welcome.”

Morgan has done it again. He kindles my spirit with his impeccable eminence. And if I am to learn anything about building character, Morgan will be the one to teach me.

 

 

All settled in at Sarah Jane’s apartment, Sarah Jane and I drink lemonade at the kitchen table while we wait for our pizza to be delivered. A sweet green apple scent courses through the apartment, making its way into the kitchen.

“So much has changed in such a short time,” I say.

“You’re no longer ga ga over Jay, the man you fancied as the perfect specimen.”

“And I’m without a place of my own,” I say.

“You’ll have your own place again soon.”

I inhale a skimpy breath and cross my legs. “Okay, enough of this joyless talk. What kind of pizza did you order?”

“One half cheese and the other pepperoni and sausage. Extra large of course.

“You ever notice that when something is happening to you or when you’re going through something, it seems like time stands still, but then you blink once and it’s all over?”

“I’m not following you,” Sarah Jane says.

“Just think. Not two weeks ago, I was living on Lake Shore Drive in my own comfortable, wish-I-had-it-back one-bedroom condominium. Now look at me. I’m living out of garbage bags.”

Sarah Jane laughs. “I guess when you put it like that.”

“I used to pull my underwear and pantyhose from my dresser drawer, now where are they? I don’t know. Maybe they are in my tote, my suitcase or one of the three garbage bags that I brought with me.”

“Will you stop it?” Sarah Jane says. “You’ll have your own place again soon.”

“I’m just reminiscing and reflecting,” I say in a docile voice.

“Well maybe you shouldn’t if it’s going to have you talking like this.”

Still reflecting, I say, “I think I may be in love with Morgan.”

“You mentioned that before. Did anything happen at his place last night that I should know about?”

“He was a perfect gentleman.”

“Not too perfect I hope.”

“A perfect gentleman,” I say. “He was great to me last night, a perfect friend even after I broke up with him to be with someone else. Still, he showed me nothing but warmth and kindness.”

“He is quite a guy.”

“So why didn’t I know that before?” I ask, angry with myself.

“You did know. Your heart was just somewhere else.”

“Do you think that you could show kindness to someone who has broken up with you for someone else?” I ask.

“Probably not. Morgan is a unique individual.”

“You can say that again.”

“Morgan is a unique individual.”

I laugh, amused with Sarah Jane’s bland sense of humor. “You have to be a comedian, don’t you?”

“You want to know what I think,” Sarah Jane asks. “I think Morgan loves you, too.”

“You think?” I ask, wishing with every breath that Sarah Jane is right.

“Without a doubt, the way that he allowed you to stay with him last night, knowing that you had just been with another man. It’s love in every sense of the word.”

“I sure hope you’re right.”

 

 

Life is just so unpredictable, I surmise as I stand in front of the bathroom mirror and brush my teeth. Twenty-four hours ago I was with Morgan at his condominium. And just twenty-four hours prior to that, I was with Jay. Now this night makes the third night that I sleep in a home not my own. Though it is always nice to stay at Sarah Jane’s, I prefer my decision be based on want and not need.

Sarah Jane approaches me and stands in the doorway. “Are you okay?”

“I’m okay, but I have to tell you. I have my eye on Morgan. Big time.”

“So what’s the problem?” Sarah Jane asks.

“He would never have me now after what I did to him.”

“Are you kidding me? Of course he would. Morgan is just as crazy about you as you are about him. He’s been crazy about you from the first.”

“I know,” I say, hoping Sarah Jane knows what she is talking about. “But that was before I broke up with him.”

“Let me tell you something about men,” Sarah Jane says. “They don’t hold on to stuff like women do. I’m not saying that men always forgive, but they are more forgiving than women.”

Filled with an abundance of fear, guilt and regret, I nibble on my fingernails. Did I really have a chance with Morgan?

“Even if he did forgive me, he’s not going to forget about what I did.”

“Who says he has to forget? I’m telling you that Morgan wants to be with you. Tell him how you feel, and he’ll lie down for you.”

I halfheartedly consider Sarah Jane’s proposal for all of ten seconds. “Maybe I will tell him how I feel. Then again…”

“What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Sarah Jane asks.

“He can tell me he doesn’t want to hear it, that’s what.”

“So what? Isn’t it worth the risk? The only thing is when you tell him, you have to tell him exactly what you want.”

“What do I want?” I ask, confused.

“You know what you want, don’t you?”

I shake my head, not having given the question much thought before this moment. “No.”

“You want someone to be your friend, someone to date and someone to spend weekends and holidays with. Right?”

“Yeah.”

“And what else?” Sarah Jane asks.

“I want us to be together exclusively until we decide to marry or not to marry.”

“Great. Tell him that.”

I can only wish that Sarah Jane is correct in her assumption.

Is it possible that Morgan wants me as much as I want him, because if he doesn’t, I am setting myself up for a lot of pain.

I reflect on everything that happened to me in the last few weeks, concluding that Susan Jeffers, my favorite author, is right. Something good can many times be found in something bad. Something good indeed has come from my turbulent experience with Jay. I have found love in a place that I was not likely to look.

Right in front of me.

 

 

Episode 14

 

I am gung-ho about my quest for Morgan Moran. With all the sincerity in my heart, I will declare my love for him. Having gone through hail and rain in search of love and romance, there is no sense in pulling back now.

While I stand in the bathroom, washing my face, Sarah Jane continues to encourage me to go after Morgan.

“When are you going to tell him?” Sarah Jane asks me.

“Tell who, what?” I ask, toying with Sarah Jane.

“You know what I’m talking about. When are you going to tell Morgan how you really feel?”

“Tonight,” I say, sensuously. “I’m going to make my surprise visit around seven.”

Although there is never any way to really predict how anything will turn out, I prepare to give it my best shot and a little more. I shower and coordinate the sexiest outfit I own. I adorn my body with an ebony suede miniskirt, low-cut white blouse, DKNY tights and my shiny come-get-me boots. After a quick dab of my Cool Water perfume to my neck and arms, I proceed with my mission.

It is a little after seven o’clock when I arrive at Morgan’s place, but to my dismay, he is not there. Filled with disappointment, I return home. After finally building up the nerve to admit my feelings to him, my heart is crushed. And I almost crumble. I should have phoned first, but choosing to surprise him, I end up surprising myself instead.

I expect Sarah Jane to bolt from her bedroom, wishing to know all the details of my visit to Morgan’s, but as I bypass Sarah Jane’s bedroom, I see Sarah Jane sitting on the floor, immersed in an intense telephone conversation.

Massively discouraged, I change into my pajamas and prepare peppermint tea, wishing to ease my aching heart. A gush of uneasiness rollicks inside me. Earlier, I was self-assured about confronting Morgan, but now I am not so sure anymore. It worries me that if I don’t do it tonight, I might not ever build up the courage to do it again. Adhering to that belief, I call him.

“I was just at your place not long ago,” I say to him.

“I’m sorry I missed you,” Morgan says. “I would’ve called, but I wanted to give you a chance to get settled in first.”

“That’s okay. I was just glad that you were there for me when I needed you.”

I have now lost my nerve to tell him how I feel.

“So are you coming back over here?” he asks me.

“No, I don’t think so,” I say, the letdown still rampaging through me. “It wasn’t that important.”

“It had to be something,” Morgan says, “if you were just over here.”

“No, seriously,” I say. “It was nothing.”

“So how are things going with you and Sarah Jane?”

“Great. I am a lucky woman to have such great friends.”

“Yes, you are.”

With little else to say, I say, “Okay, well I guess I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Was there a reason for this call?” he asks.

“No, not really.”

“Just wanted to call and see if I was at home?” he asks.

“Something like that.”

“Okay, Summer, I know there’s more to this, but I won’t force you to talk about it. We’ll talk soon.”

Morgan leaves a hole in the pit of my stomach. I yearn to tell him how I feel, but the fear envelops in me again, and this time I can’t shake it.

How will I deal with the pain of Morgan rejecting me?

Disappointed that things have not gone as planned, I am faced with a few options.

One, I can forget the whole thing;

Two, I can tell him over the phone; or

Three, I can return to his place and tell him in person.

As I contemplate my choices, I realize that it is the third option that frightens me most of all.

 

 

It might be better to tell Morgan over the phone, I think as I blow on my peppermint tea. But before I make the call, I need to mull it over some more. In the midst of my heavy contemplation, Sarah Jane strolls into the kitchen, drops down in the chair across from me and asks, “So did you have your talk with Morgan?”

I shake my head in discontent. “He wasn’t home.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”

“Then, as soon as I returned home, I called and sure enough, he was there.”

“Well, what’s the problem? Get back over there and finish what you started,” Sarah Jane insists.

“I don’t feel good about this anymore,” I say, purposely leaving out the fact that I have already called him and lost my nerve. “And to be honest with you,” I continue. “I’m not even sure any more about the whole thing.”

“You just have cold feet. That’s all.”

“Cold feet, cold hands, cold everything.”

“You’re not going to be happy until you finish this thing. I know you, Summer. This is going to haunt you every time you think about that man. You’ll always wonder what if.”

Though I know Sarah Jane is probably right, I am frozen with fear. “Will you stop?” I suggest. “I’m under enough pressure.”

“Obviously you’re not under that much pressure if you’re willing to let him get away from you.”

I sigh, and then exhale a long-winded breath. “Maybe I’ll tell him over the phone, and then if he’s not interested, he won’t have to witness the gloom on my face.”

“Yeah, but if you do it in person, he’ll know that you’re really serious.”

“Will you give me a break? The phone is the best I can offer right now.”

“Okay, okay. I hope you get together with this man soon so you won’t be so crabby.”

“I’m not crabby. I’m stressed.”

“Same thing.”

I rise to my feet and close my eyes. “I’m going to do it. I’m going to call him right now and tell him how I feel.” I step forward, and then stop. “I don’t know, Sarah Jane. What if he doesn’t want to be with me?”

“What if he does?”

With a twisted mouth, I roll my eyes at Sarah Jane. “You’re no help at all.”

I sit on the edge of the bed in Sarah Jane’s bedroom. With butterflies in my stomach, I punch in Morgan’s number. “Hey, Morgan, it’s me again.”

“Summer, so nice to hear from you. So did you figure out what you wanted to tell me?”

“I did. What I wanted to say was,” I say, hesitating again, “That I really like you.”

“As I you.”

“And I think you’re a terrific guy, a really terrific guy.” Feeling like an eighteen-year-old, I wipe the sweat from my brow. “What I’m trying to say is. . . I think we have something truly unique, and I’d like a second chance, but only if you want to, only if you want to.”

“It’s not a matter of me wanting to,” he says. “My concern resides more with the fact that you’ve just broken up with your boyfriend. And I have to be frank with you, this may be a little too soon for you.”

“I see your point,” I say, simply out of obligation to agree with him.

“How do I know that this isn’t a rebound yearning?”

I nod in agreement, knowing he is probably right.

“Is this a rebound thing?” he asks.

“I don’t think it is.”

“That’s not good enough. I need to know that you’re totally over your ex-boyfriend before I involve myself in something like this. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“I do.” Though I understand, it does nothing for the ache in my heart.

“I appreciate you sharing this with me because it means a lot,” Morgan says. “And I know it isn’t easy for you.”

“No, it isn’t, but I appreciate your honesty as well.” With a teardrop in the crack of my eye, I flop back on the bed.

After a brief silence, Morgan says, “I’d love to have a friendship with you though, if that’s possible.”

“Of course.” I agree quickly as not to let on just how completely devastated I am.

“If you want to talk some more,” Morgan says. “Give me a call. Okay?”

“Okay, thanks.”

I stare at the ceiling and don’t move for a long time. Never before did I experience such woe in the center of my soul. And not just because he rejected me but because I once had a chance with him and I blew it. Big time. In my heart, I know he is right to feel as he does. Still, it offers little solace because I yearn for this man, wanting a life with him. And nothing, absolutely nothing else will suffice.

 

 

Being in mourning, nothing matters anymore. I cease going to the gym and put my book project on hold, my despondency too overwhelming to concentrate on anything. Even food is a turnoff. Though I plan to find an apartment until I can move back into my condo, my enthusiasm is next to nil, and I decide to put it off until another time.

Later that evening, I lay on my side in Sarah Jane’s made bed. Having yet to shower or brush my teeth, I wear a long bathrobe and white socks. My hair is matted together like something cats play with, which suits me just fine. My stomach continues to growl as I have not eaten anything in a day and a half, not counting the several cups of tea, which I can’t seem to live without. Who needs food? I have misery and despair to keep me full for a lifetime

Sarah Jane enters the room with a broom in hand and proceeds to sweep. In a trance-like state, I stare at the stack of mystery novels against the wall until it becomes just one blur.

“I ordered some pizza,” Sarah Jane says.

“I don’t care. I’m not eating anymore. I’m going to starve myself until I die.”

Sarah Jane chuckles. “Whatever you say, Summer. After you starve yourself, what should I do with the body?”

“I don’t care what you do with it. You can sell it to science for all I care.”

“You can just slit your wrist and be done with it.”

“That’s not funny, Sarah Jane.”

Sarah Jane sets the broom against the wall, flops down on the bed and faces me. “Poor little Summer.”

“Oh, shut up.”

“So tell me. How long is this going to go on?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say.

“Oh, yes you do. This pouting and moping, not eating.”

“What else can I do?” I ask, completely all out of options.

“You can go to Morgan and tell him how you feel.”

I close my eyes and turn away from Sarah Jane. “I did tell him how I felt, and then he told me how he felt.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t tell him in person.”

I return my focus to Sarah Jane. “Give it up. I can’t go through that anymore. I won’t go through that anymore.”

Sarah Jane kneels down on the floor so that her face is directly in front of me. “Will you listen to yourself? And you say I am dramatic.”

“Love does strange things to you,” I say as I turn away from Sarah Jane. “Tell me something, did you take the day off just so you could harass me?”

“I most certainly did,” Sarah Jane says. “What did you think? That I took the day off for nothing?”

Sarah Jane shifts to the other side of the bed so that we are once again face-to-face, and attempts to coast her fingers through my hair. “And what is with this hair? You have to do something about this.”

“I’m in pain, Sarah Jane, can’t you see that?” I say, trying not to laugh. Unable to hold the humor in any longer, I burst into laughter, and Sarah Jane immediately joins me.

“Okay.” I flip onto my back. “I may have laughed, but I am still in pain, Sarah Jane, and I don’t know how to make it stop.”

“I do.”

“And how would I do that?” I can hardly wait to hear Sarah Jane’s answer.

“Get up,” Sarah Jane says, “Eat something, take a shower, brush your teeth, do something with your hair, and then go to Morgan and tell him what you want from him.”

“Sarah Jane, I’m not doing that anymore. Besides he’s at work.”

“Even better. If you show up at his office, he’ll know for sure that you mean business.”

“Or that I’m desperate.”

Sarah Jane stands and finishes sweeping. “Okay, sit around with messed up hair, moping, hoping and wishing.”

I roll onto my side, facing the books and magazines against the wall. “Thank you, because that’s exactly what I plan to do.”

“That’s fine with me,” Sarah Jane says, before she disappears into the other room.

Just when I expect Sarah Jane to leave me to my misery, she soon returns. “Do you mind if I light some candles?”

“I don’t care if you burn the whole room down,” I say.

“Don’t be so dramatic, Summer, it’s not the end of the world.”

“It is to me.” I pause and see the white candle which she has brought into the room. “What’s the white candle for?”

“For someone who initially had no interests in Feng Shui, you sure have a lot of questions.”

“You started it,” I say.

“White is for clarity, and we both know you can use some of that.”

Exhausted from all of Sarah Jane’s interruptions, I say, “Will you please leave me to die now?”

“Of course,” she says before she disappears.

Again, I try my best to wallow in my misery when Sarah Jane bursts into the room. “Summer, what’s this? I found these in the garbage.”

I lift my head long enough to see what Sarah Jane is talking about. It is the pouch of fuchsia love rocks that Jay gave to me.

“Oh, those. Make sure you put them back where you found them.”

“But what are they?”

“Jay gave them to me. Supposedly they are to bring true love into my life. Need I say more?”

Sarah Jane opens the suede bag and drops the rocks into her hand. “Do you mind if I keep them?”

I no longer value anything that comes from the hands of Jay Evers. “Just so long as I don’t have to see them.”

“All right, I’ll leave you to your misery now.”

“You said that before.”

“Well, forgive me.”

“Is there a color I can wear or a candle I can light to keep you out of this room?”

“Don’t be silly. There is no such thing,” Sarah Jane says right before she fades into the next room.

I return my focus to the stacks of books against the wall when one book in particular catches my eye. Forty Years of Learning. Instantly, I climb out of bed, slide the book from the stack, and flip to the table of contents. I understand why it looks so familiar. It is my book, and the title, Forty Years of Learning fascinates me. I am not exactly sure why until it hits me. I will turn forty in just a few years, and I have to read this book. It is a must.

I rush into the other room, with book in hand, and interrupt Sarah Jane who seems fixated on the cable channel E.

“Sarah Jane, is this my book?”

Sarah Jane glances over the title. “I forgot to give it back.”

I flip through the pages, admiring the subject matter of the table of contents. “Did you read it?”

“I’m sure I didn’t,” Sarah Jane says.

“I don’t think I ever read it either, and I can’t understand why.”

“It’s good to know that the only thing that can get you out of the bed is a freaking book.”

I am exploding with enthusiasm. I return to the bedroom, flop down on the bed and begin reading, knowing why I purchased it in the first place. Ideas such as trusting the future, letting go of the past, learning from your mistakes and the miracle of love are spotlighted. Why I failed to read it before remains a mystery to me.

Forty minutes into the book, I stumble upon a statement that strikes a nerve, sometimes the thing that you want the most is wanting you back.

Is there any truth in that statement?

Is it possible that Morgan is longing for me the way that I long for him?

An hour later I complete the one hundred and sixty-one page book, and my spirits enliven with a miraculous sense of hope. This is the reason that I love books so much―because they hold the power to transform my mood instantly.

The next day I awaken cheerful and inspired. I beam with optimism as I step out of bed after I resolve not to abandon ship with Morgan. For the second time, I will confront him and convey to him in my own special way just how much he means to me. Meeting with him in person will affirm my true sentiments. And this time I am not without a backup plan. If after my face-to-face engagement with Morgan, he still proves unreceptive, I will make peace with the outcome. A little lesson that I learned from Morgan is that if something does not happen despite your best efforts, it is not meant to be. I can breathe easily, knowing that I did all that I can. It is my new attitude that paves the way for a momentous encounter with no added stress.

This time will be different. I will not doll myself up like before, trying to manipulate him with my feminine wiles. I intend to speak from the heart. No need to show off anything else. As added ammunition, I bring with me an iPod with the Van Morrison CD programmed on it, which includes one of my favorite tracks, Someone Like You, a song that I plan to dedicate to Morgan.

I hail a taxi to Morgan’s office and head for the twenty-first floor. I step off the elevator, expecting to be nervous but, surprisingly, I am not. After having released all my expectations, I will come out a winner no matter what happens. Endowed with confidence and finesse, I saunter over to the receptionist. I wear my flare-legged jeans, a pair of red panties for luck, and a pink shirt. Completely sold on color magic, I plan to go to Victoria’s Secret and purchase as much pink and red as I can find.

After asking to see Morgan, I wait in the reception area, my legs crossed, not reading, not thinking, or hoping. Just being. This is going to be a glorious day. That is my affirmation, and I cling to it. Less than a minute later, Morgan greets me with a smile. “This is a treat.”

I rise to my feet and smile. “Can we talk?”

In Morgan’s office, I sit across from him, on the edge of the chair, not bothering to remove my coat.

“You look so serious,” Morgan says.

“That’s because I have serious stuff to say.”

Morgan eases back, seemingly relaxed, as he waits.

“I was such an idiot, Morgan,” I say sincerely.

“I─” he tries to interject.

“Wait. Let me finish. I want you to listen to something for me, a song chosen just for you.”

“What’s this song about?”

“It’s about you,” I say as I dig into my bag and grab my iPod. “It’s all about you.”

“I can’t wait to hear it.”

I step around to his desk, turn on the iPod and hand him the headset. I then return to my seat and cross my legs. “It’s track number seven, but before you listen to it, I have three things I want to say. The first being, I love you.”

Morgan blushes like I have never seen him blush before, and I continue. “The second is this. I mean every word on this track. And third, despite everything we talked about, I want to be your girl, Morgan, and never go another day without having you in my life.”

Seemingly somewhat enchanted, Morgan listens to my every word, but he does not speak. Though I always planned to dedicate the song, Someone Like You, to that special person, it is not until this very day that I realize that Morgan is that person. Never did I imagine that the lyrics, searching a long time for someone like you, that those words, those beautiful heartfelt words would one day be dedicated to Morgan Moran.

While Morgan listens to the song, I admire him with a joyful heart. He doesn’t budge an inch, as if hypnotized by the song. Less than five minutes later, Morgan removes the headset and his eyes falls shut.

I wait for him to speak, but he says nothing. Several seconds will elapse before a word utters from his lips. Then it happens. Morgan opens his eyes and his body shifts back. “I’m without words, Summer.”

“And I meant every word.”

Morgan rises to his feet, steps around the desk and helps me into his arms. He smoothes his hand across my face and then sensuously past my lips. “From the very start, you tugged at my heart strings and stole my heart.” He then wraps his arms around me and grips me by the waist so that not a speck of air dwells between us.

I peer at him through his round glasses and smile. “Love touches us in the most beautiful ways. And you’ve done that to me, Morgan.”

He kisses my eyelids, and then my forehead and both sides of my face. “Do you know how much I love you, Summer Jones?” he asks in a whisper.

His question makes me feel so special, and I can’t hide it. “I know I wanted you to love me.”

Enraptured in the moment, I kiss him gently, over and over, my heart pounding as he gazes back at me. I smile with a glow that could start a fire. “Will you be my guy, Morgan Moran, be with me on weekends and holidays and be my greatest friend until we decide to marry or not to marry?”

“To use your own words,” he says, “Most positively, categorically, and certainly, yes.”

 

  • * *

 

 

 

About the Author

 

Avid journaler. Dog lover. People lover. Writer. Lover of children. I believe that that there’s good and bad in all of us and that the people who like us choose to only focus on the good. I possess an insatiable curiosity about all things. I adore character driven movies and instrumental music that transports me to a place of nirvana. I believe that Leonardo DiCaprio is the most fascinating actor of all time. If I could write as well as he acts, I would be rich. Contact me at [email protected] or http://londontracy.wordpress.com.

 


Pink

Tapping into the notion that we love with our hearts and not our heads, Pink explores one woman’s struggle to choose between the man she always wanted and the one who’s almost perfect. It’s been a year since Summer Jones’ heart was broken by Jay Evers, a man who refused to commit to her because of his on-again, off-again relationship with his first love. A year later, Summer licks her wounds and is ready to fall in love again. After Summer makes a marvelous connection with the handsome and charming Morgan Moran, Jay resurfaces in her life, and he is just as irresistible as he always was. Now Summer has to choose between the man she always wanted, and the new man in her life who is as close to perfection as there is. "This romantic tale made me want to revamp my entire wardrobe in pink."--Los Angeles Police Officer "Wonderful storyteller with a definite way with words...couldn't stop reading this book."--Max Gartenberg Literary Agency London Tracy lives in Evanston, Illinois.

  • Author: London Tracy
  • Published: 2017-05-17 02:50:13
  • Words: 58774
Pink Pink