He was having dinner with Arianne, perhaps one of the most beautiful and charming women he had ever met and yet he couldn’t stop thinking about her room-mate, Elaine. For the life of him he couldn’t understand what it was about Elaine that made him so attracted to her. She frustrated and infuriated him to no end yet he couldn’t help admiring her. She was highly intelligent, accomplished, self-confident and industrious—all the qualities he admired in a woman—but she wasn’t his type. Arianne was more his type–tall, statuesque, gorgeous smile and a brunette. And yet, it wasn’t she who excited him. Just thinking about Elaine inflamed him.
How was it possible to be attracted to a woman who wasn’t his type? The more he tried not to think about her, the more he did and lately, he found himself fantasizing about her. It got to the point where all he wanted to do was to explore these turbulent feelings he had for her, if only to satisfy his curiosity and to get her out of his system.
“A penny for your thoughts.” Arianne’s soft voice with its Irish lilt interrupted his thoughts, startling him.
He smiled apologetically. “I’m sorry, Arianne. I have a lot on my mind.” That was true.
“I’m getting used to people being preoccupied with their thoughts. Elaine was the same way this morning.”
He stiffened when she mentioned her room mate’s name. “Really?” he said, trying to sound disinterested.
“Yes, she has been very preoccupied lately. Maybe she’s got something or someone on her mind.”
“Someone?” He wasn’t prepared for his jealous reaction. Was Elaine seeing someone?
“Yes. She has been going out with a guy she met at the gym.”
“Which gym does she go to?”
“I think it’s called Core Collective and it’s in Kensington.”
“Is it serious between them?”
“I don’t know—”
“Have you met him?”
“Not yet but she told me that he looks a lot like Taye Diggs.”
“Let’s not talk about your room-mate anymore. Let’s just enjoy the rest of our evening.”
She smiled. “Good idea. Now, I wanted to tell you that I found this great flat facing the Thames and…”
Try as he did, he just couldn’t stop thinking about Elaine and the man she was dating. He was so jealous that he didn’t know how to deal with it. For one maddening moment, he thought about stopping by the gym to see who this man was.
“Who are we kidding?” Arianne asked after a while. “You’re with me but you’re thinking about someone else.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, his expression contrite. “You’re such a lovely person.”
“But, I’m not the one you want to be with. I won’t be at the flat next week Saturday so you can stop by then and let Elaine know how you feel.”
He stared at her. “Elaine?”
“Yes, Elaine. I’m not blind, Garth. I’ve seen the way you look at her and the way the two of you act around each other.”
“Elaine’s not my type–”
“I know. You’ve said that often enough. I’m your type but I’m not the one you can’t stop thinking about. When I tell you that other men hit on me, you never get jealous yet when I mentioned that Elaine was seeing the guy from the gym, you couldn’t hide your feelings. I saw the expression on your face. You have to be honest with yourself and face your feelings. You have to deal with them because they won’t go away no matter how much you tell yourself that she’s not your type.”
Garth sighed, dragging his fingers through his hair. “You’re right,” he admitted. “I tried so hard to fight my feelings for her but it’s no use. I’m sorry.”
She reached out and put her hand on his arm. “I sensed that it was she whom you were interested in before you and I even started dating but I guess I was hoping that once you got to know me better, you would lose interest in her. I could have spared myself a lot of embarrassment if I had just stepped aside like I’m going to do now. If you want to be with Elaine, I won’t stand in your way.”
“That’s very noble of you, Arianne,” he remarked, covering the hand that was on his sleeve.
“Please, I’m not doing this to be noble. I’m doing it because I don’t stand a chance.”
“But, you know how she feels about me. I don’t stand a chance.”
“You might be surprised.”
“Do you really think I have a chance?”
“There’s only one way to find out. And all it takes is courage.”
His heart somersaulted at the thought of facing Elaine but he had to. After dinner he took Arianne home and he saw her to the door but didn’t go inside. As he drove to his place, he thought about what she said and made up his mind that he would stop by the flat on Saturday to see Elaine.
It was after nine on Saturday night when he stood outside of the flat, his heart racing. Taking a deep breath, he rang the doorbell. A couple minutes later, he heard the latch drawn back and then the door opened. Elaine stood there, watching him. She was dressed in a purple, sleeveless top and a black pants. She looked like she was either on her way out or had just returned from somewhere. “Good evening,” she said. “Arianne’s not here.”
“I didn’t come to see her,” he informed her tautly. “I came to see you.”
She looked surprised but she stepped aside so that he could go in. “To what do I owe this pleasure?” she asked. She was thrilled to see him but wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of knowing that. “You’re lucky you didn’t come earlier. I came in just a few minutes before you rang the bell.”
“Were you out with someone?” he asked jealously.
“I went to dinner with a friend,” she said evasively.
“Is it the friend who looks like Taye Diggs?”
“Arianne told you about him?” She rolled her eyes. “That girl talks too much sometimes.”
“Why, wasn’t I supposed to know?”
“Why should you care if I have a boyfriend or not?”
He ignored her question. “Is it serious between you and him?” he asked tightly, his expression tense as they stared at each other.
“Why is that any of your concern?” she demanded, her heart racing as she sensed the tension between them. She knew she ought to walk away before anything happened but she couldn’t. She stood there, facing him, her chin raised and her eyes flashing.
“I hate to admit it but what concerns you concerns me. You haven’t answered my question. Is it serious between the two of you?”
“Not that it’s any of your business, but he and I are no longer seeing each other.”
“Make up your mind. You want me to see him or not to see him?”
“No, I don’t want you to see him or anyone for that matter.”
“Are you going to dictate who I date now?”
“You’re the most infuriating woman I’ve ever met.”
“If I infuriate you so much, why don’t you leave me alone then?”
“You know why I can’t leave you alone.”
“I’m not a mind reader.”
“You don’t have to read my mind to know what I’m feeling right now,” he muttered thickly. He suddenly reached out and pulled her roughly against him, making her gasp, her eyes wide as they met his stormy ones. “You can feel, can’t you?”
She tried to push him away, her breath unsteady and her heart pounding wildly. “What about Arianne,” she protested desperately.
“Arianne isn’t blind, Elaine. She knows how I feel about you. She saw my reaction when she told me about you and the guy from the gym. I was jealous and I couldn’t hide it.”
“Yes!” he hissed. “The thought of you and him drove me insane with jealousy. Are you going to see him again?”
“No. I ended it tonight.”
“Is it over between Arianne and you?”
“Yes. It was she who told me to deal with my feelings for you.”
She reached up and put her arms around his neck. “And here you are, dealing with your feelings.”
Groaning, he bent his head and his mouth closed hungrily over hers, his hands pressing her tightly against him. He pushed her up against the door as they exchanged wild kisses, all the pent up longing breaking free. He knew that after tonight that he would never be able to walk away from Elaine. He couldn’t walk away from love.