The Girl Least Likely…

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PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

When he came into the library, I panicked.  I was afraid that if he saw me, he would come over and say hi and I was petrified that I wouldn’t be able to hide my feelings from him.  He was the most popular guy on campus and I was—well, the girl least likely to attract someone like him.

“Hi.”

“Hi,”

“May I join you?”

“Yes.”

He sat down and stared at me so hard that I wanted to cover my face.  “Are you busy Saturday night?”

“No.”

“How about dinner and a movie?”

Stunned, I nodded.

He grinned.

 

99 Words

This was written for the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields For more details, visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

News of a Wedding/Span #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

Although my gaze was fixed upon the water as it rushed forth as if it were late for an appointment, my heart was otherwise engaged in a very distressing matter–a matter which has placed my very constitution for happiness in grave danger.

The whispers of the impending nuptials between George Allerton, my employer and the beautiful Lydia Bridewell have been growing louder.  Yesterday, I overheard Alice, the maid telling Beatrice, the cook that the wedding could be as early as a fortnight.  I wanted to inquire of Mrs. Moore, the housekeeper, if this were true but thought it best not to touch on the subject for fear of betraying my feelings if she did confirm it.  So, I held my tongue and suffered in silence.

For his part, Mr. Allerton has said nothing to me which I find to be very strange as it would be imperative for me to find employment elsewhere.  The thought of leaving Riverdale Manor, little Amy and Mr. Allerton fills me with torment.  Over a span of four years, I have grown to love my life here.  I cannot imagine finding the same happiness elsewhere.

Necessity bids me now to bring the matter of my leaving before Mr. Allerton as soon as possible.  I have made up my mind to broach the subject this evening after dinner and when we are alone in the drawing-room where he and I have spent many evenings together engaged in stimulating conversations.  It is obvious to me that he enjoys my company as much as I enjoy his and it warms my heart that he treats me not as a servant but as an equal.

My gaze swept over the beautiful landscape with the lush green grass and trees which swayed gently in the breeze.  I shall miss this place which has brought me such joy and peace.  I shall miss the solitude and the walks I have enjoyed with Mr. Allerton.   I shall miss seeing little Amy chasing after butterflies while I read or sketched.  And I shall miss Mrs. Moore who has been so kind and good to me.

Tears pricked my eyes and I turn to head back to the manor when I espied Mr. Allerton striding towards me.  I stood there, my heart racing.  Perhaps, he was coming to address the very matter I wanted to bring to his attention this evening.  He had been in town on business.  The manor was never the same when he wasn’t there.  When he went away for days and weeks at a time, it was torture for me.  I missed him dreadfully.

He was standing before me now, his hair as black as the night was tousled from his habit of running his fingers through the thick tresses and his face was slightly flushed from the exercise.  His eyes raked my face making me feel as little self-conscious.  I touched my face which felt hot.

“Miss Foster,” he said as he towered over me.  “I was told that I might find you here.  How have you been?”

I wanted to say that I have been miserable because he had been away and because of the news of Miss Bridewell and him.  Instead, I stepped back a little, attempted a smile and replied, “I have been well, Sir.”

He studied me with those penetrating dark brown eyes of his.  “You don’t look well,” he said, looking concerned.  “In fact, you look very pale.  Are you unwell?”

“No, Sir.  I’m fine.”

He didn’t look convinced but he didn’t press the matter.  “Let us stand over there in the shade,” he suggested.  I followed him over to a group of trees and we stood under their shade.

Perhaps now was the time for me to bring the matter of my leaving to his attention.  Taking a deep breath, my hands tightly clasped in front of me, I said, “Sir, it has come to my attention that I need to find myself another situation.  I will advertise and hopefully find a suitable position very soon.”

He stared at me.  “What the deuce are you talking about?” he demanded.  “What new situation and why should you advertise?  I think you may have been out in the sun too long, Miss Foster.”

“Sir, it would not do for me to remain in your employ after you are married.”

“Married?  Now, I know you have taken leave of your senses.  Where the devil did you get the idea that I’m getting married?”

“There has been talk of your upcoming nuptials to Miss Bridewell and—”

“Miss Bridewell and I?” he exclaimed.

“Yes, it is believed that in a fortnight you two shall wed.”

He laughed.  “It is true that in a fortnight, Miss Bridewell shall wed but it shall not be to me.”

I looked at him, confused.  “But, Sir, everyone said that she was to wed Mr. Allerton.”

“Yes, she is to wed James Allerton, my cousin.”

I was so overwhelmed with relief that I had to lean against the tree lest my legs give way beneath me.  When I heard the name Mr. Allerton in relation to Miss Bridewell, I just assumed that it was him to whom they referred.  I had forgotten all about his cousin, James whom I recalled had been particularly attentive towards Miss Bridewell whenever they were in each other’s company.

“There is color in your cheeks again, Miss Foster,” Mr. Allerton remarked now, watching me closely.  “I suspect that it has to do with my clearing up a little misunderstanding.”

“Yes, Sir.  It means that it is no longer necessary for me to quit your employ.  I can stay at Riverdale for as long as I am needed here.”

His expression became very serious and he moved closer to me.  “What if I needed you to stay permanently at Riverdale?”

My eyes widened.  “Permanently?” I repeated.  “What about when Amy no longer needs a governess or you decide to marry?”

He reached for my hand.  The feel of his warm fingers against mine made my heart flutter and my breath quicken.  His eyes met mine in a steady gaze.  “Miss Foster—Emma, Amy is no longer in need of a governess,” he said quietly.  “She’s in need of a mother and I am in need of a wife.”

I gawked at him.  “You mean…?”

“Yes, my dear Emma, I am asking you to marry me.”

I felt as if I were in a dream, one from which I hoped never to wake.  This was all so incredible.  My heart was pounding wildly against my ribs and my face was on fire.  “But what will everyone think of you marrying someone beneath your station?”

“When it comes to my heart and what constitutes my happiness, I care not about what others think. And I have always treated you as my equal and not as someone beneath my station.”

I smiled.  “That is true, Sir.”

He smiled.  “Since I am soon to be your husband, don’t you think it’s time you called me George?”

“Yes, George.”

He didn’t answer.  Instead, he held my face between his hands and kissed me.  My heart was bursting with happiness.

At the end of summer, we were wed.

 

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Span at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

The Second Date

Marla was taking a stroll on her last vacation day in the summer, enjoying the quiet neighborhood close to where she lived and the beautiful weather when her cell rang.  It was Dean.  Smiling she answered it.  “Hi, Dean.

“Hi, Marla.  I just wanted to call and tell you that I had a really great time last night.”

They had dinner at the swanky Polo Bar.

“Me too.”

“You mentioned that you like Jazz so I was wondering if you would like to go to Bill’s Place with me tonight?”

“Sure, I’d love that.”

“Good.  I’ll pick you up at seven.”

“It’s a date!”

He smiled.  “Yes, it is.  The second of many, I hope.”

Sources:  Trip Advisor; Conde Nast Traveler;

More Than Friends

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When I saw you today, I had to let you know how much your friendship has meant to me, especially these last couple of months.  Losing both of my parents within months of each other has been hell for me.  I couldn’t have made it through this nightmare if it hadn’t been for you.  You’re presence has been like a balm to me, comforting and strengthening me.  It will take a while for me to process losing two incredible people but knowing that you’re just a phone call away helps.

When I saw you today, I wanted to tell you how beautiful you looked and how seeing you brightened my day.  Your lovely smile makes my heart beat faster and whenever we hug, I don’t want to let go.  We have been friends since we were in high-school but I have secretly been in love with you and wish that one day I would have to courage to tell you.  I don’t date anymore because I always that the woman was you.  Whenever you talk about a guy you’re dating, I smile and listen but it hurts inside because I wish I were him.

I’m sitting here in the park, watching the ducks in the pond, wishing that you were here with me.  I take out my cell and look at the display.  I want to call you—just to talk but you’re probably busy.  Sighing, I’m about to slip it back into the breast pocket of my jacket when it rings.  My heart skips a beat when I see the number.

“Hello, Brittany.”

“Hello, Chase.  What are you doing?”

“I’m sitting on a bench in Central Park watching the ducks.”

You laughed.  “You and I used to do that a lot.”

“Yes.  We used to like hanging out here after school.”

“And you used to walk me home.”

“Yes.  I wanted to make sure that you were safe.”

“You were always looking out for me.”

“Yes.”  I wanted to say, that’s because you meant the world to me.  You still do. 

“Chase, this afternoon when I ran into you, I wanted to tell you something but didn’t have to guts to do it.”

My heart was racing now.  “Is that why you’re calling now?”

“Yes.  It’s easier for me to do it over the phone than in person.”

Dread filled me.  “Tell me what it is.”

“Chase, I don’t want us to be friends anymore.”

My heart sank.  “I was afraid that you were going to say that.”

“No,” you replied, “you don’t understand.  I’m handling this all wrong.  What I meant to say is that I don’t want us to be just friends any more.  I want us to be more.”

My grip on my cell tightened.  “You do?”

“Yes.  Today when I saw you I wanted to tell you how I feel but I got cold feet.”

“How do you feel, Brittany?”

“I’m in love with you, Chase.  I have been since my first year at high-school.”

I swallowed hard.  “You have no idea how happy I am to hear this.  Brittany, I’ve wanted to tell you that I love you for such a long time but I was afraid to because I didn’t know how you felt and the last thing I wanted to do was ruin our friendship.”

“Oh, Chase, all these years we’ve wasted not telling each other how we really feel.”

I got up from the bench.  “Let’s not think about the years we’ve wasted,” I said.  “We have the present and the future.”

“Do you have any plans for this evening?”

“No.  And even if I did I would cancel them.”

“Come over to my place at seven for dinner and…”

It was the “and” which made me blush.  “I’ll be there for seven,” I told you.

“Good.  I’ll see you then.”

“I’ll bring the wine.”

“Bring your appetite too.  I hope you have a big one.”

I could feel my face grow red.  “I do,” I assured you.

You laughed and ended the call.

I glanced at my watch.  It was a quarter to six.  I left the park and hurried to my flat which was a ten minute walk from there.  I could hear the birds chirping.  Did they sense how ecstatic I was?  Perhaps they did.

 

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Balm.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

 

Carmelo Finds Love

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Carmelo Pagliani, a Neapolitan shipping magnate and billionaire owned palatial homes in Tuscany, Monaco and Beverly Hills.  He was never married but he enjoyed the company of beautiful, young and exotic women.  He didn’t have any children.  Life was as he wanted it.  No long-term commitments and no worries about alimony or child support.  He was a free agent who enjoyed the fruits of his hard work.

He came from a large family.  He was the fifth of five brothers and four sisters.  His parents owned a pizza shop which became popular because Sophia Loren visited it once.  The photo of her and his parents hung in a prominent place on the wall.  As a boy, he worshipped the actress and always went with his father to see her movies.  Many years later, he met her at a Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda show in Mexico City.  She was beautiful and charming.  A frame photo of them stood on the mantelpiece in his Tuscan home.

Carmelo was used to getting what he wanted, whether it was to do with business or women.  A couple years ago, he expanded his business to South America.  Last week, he met Dondrea, a stunning African American woman in St. Barts.  He was there alone and she was there with some friends.

The first time he saw her, he wanted to meet her immediately.  One evening before dinner, he approached her as she was stepping off the elevator on her way to the dining-room.  She was alone.  Her friends must have gone ahead.

“Good evening,” he said, holding out his hand.  “Carmelo Pagliani.”

She smiled and shook his hand.  “Dondrea Williams.”

“Is this your first time in St. Barts?”

“Yes, it is.”

“And how do you find it?”

“It has beautiful beaches.”

“Did you come here to celebrate New Year’s?”

“Yes.  It’s strange not being in New York on New Year’s Eve.”

“So, that’s where you’re from, New York?”

“Yes.  What about you?  Where are you from?”

“Naples but I live in Tuscany.  I too am here to celebrate New Year’s, something I’ve never done alone.”

“You didn’t bring a wife or a girlfriend?”

“I don’t have a wife or a girlfriend.”

She stared at him.  “I find that hard to believe.”

He smiled.  “It’s true.  I’m single.  What about you?”

“I’m single too.”

“Do you think your friends would mind if you had dinner with me instead?” older black woman

She shook her head.  “No, they wouldn’t.  I’ll just let them know.  Do you mind if I introduced you to them?”

“Not at all.”  He followed her into the dining-room and over to a table where five people were sitting.  They glanced up as they approached.

“Guys, I won’t be joining you for dinner this evening,” she informed them.  “This is Carmelo.  He invited me to have dinner with him.”

Her friends introduced themselves and shook his hand.  They exchanged in a lively conversation with him for several minutes before he and Dondrea excused themselves.

“You have very nice friends,” he commented as they sat at a table for two.

“Yes, I do,” she agreed.  “We’ve known each other for years.  They are like family.”

Dinner with her was a wonderful experience.  He enjoyed her company and their conversations.  He didn’t want the evening to end so he invited her to join him for an after dinner drink in the bar.  Afterwards, they went for a walk on the beach.  He escorted her back to her room.  Outside the door, he said, “Thank you for a lovely evening.”

She smiled.  “I enjoyed it too.”

“Will you have breakfast with me in the morning?”

She nodded.  “Yes, I will.”

“I’ll meet you in the lobby at seven-thirty.”

“Goodnight, Carmelo.”

“Goodnight, Dondrea.”

They had breakfast and then they went to the beach where they spent most of the day.  That evening and every evening after that they had dinner together.  And they had breakfast every morning.  During the day, they went on excursions, to other beaches and had lunch at the Shellona Restaurant which overlooked Shell Beach.  On her last evening, he took her for dinner at Casa Club.

When they returned hours later to her room, she invited him in.  He spent the night.  The following morning, they ordered breakfast and had it on her terrace.  Then, he went to his suite while she got ready to leave for the airport.   He was in the lobby waiting for her and he went with to the entrance.  An airport limo was waiting and so were her friends.  He said goodbye to them and while they got into the limo, she and he faced each other.  He took her hands in his.

“Thank you for seven incredible days,” he said quietly.  “I’ve been to St. Barts before but I’ve never enjoyed myself this much.”

“I enjoyed myself very much too.”

“We have each other’s number so we will be in touch.”

“Yes.  Goodbye, Carmelo.”

“Goodbye, Dondrea.”  He raised her hands to his lips.

Then, she was getting into the limo and he stood there watching as it pulled away.  After she left, the rest of his stay at the hotel was dull and he missed her terribly.  He was relieved to get back to Tuscany.

He sat in his study now, staring at the page of his address where her number was written.  Several weeks had passed and he hadn’t called her as yet.  His business had kept him busy and fear prevented him picking up the phone.  Fear of what?  Fear of commitment.  Marriage was something he had never seriously considered but now he was and it was because of Dondrea.

Dondrea was different from the other women he had been with.  Those had been mere dalliances. No feelings had been involved.  When he got bored with them, he ended the relationship.  It hadn’t been casual with Dondrea.  From the very beginning it had been serious for him.  And that’s what scared him.  He knew that he could easily fall in love with her and by the third time they were together, he knew he had.  He wondered if she felt the same way.  With all of his heart, he hoped so.

He picked up the receiver and dialed her number.  His heart skipped a beat when she answered.  “Hello, Dondrea.”

“Carmelo.”  She sounded happy to hear from him.  “How have you been?”

“Busy.  That’s why I didn’t call you before.  How are you?”

“I’m well, thanks.  I’m been reminiscing about St. Barts.”

“Me too.  Dondrea, how do you feel about spending the month of June in Tuscany with me?”

“I’d love to!” she exclaimed.

He smiled.  “Good.  You’ll love it, I promise.”

They talked for hours and then, they ended the call.  They telephoned each other every week.  Then, one day, he decided he would fly to New York and surprise her.  She was beside herself with excitement when he showed up at her apartment.  He spent three weeks with her and on the night before he left, when they were relaxing on the sofa after dinner, he reached for her hand.  “Ti amo,” he said quietly.  “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she replied.

“Enough to move to Tuscany?”

Her eyes widened.  “You want me to move to Tuscany?” she exclaimed.

“Yes.  I have a villa in San Gimignano.”

She thought about it for a moment.  “Yes.  I’ll move to San Gimignano.”

He smiled.  “Molto bene,” he murmured before he kissed her.

The following year, Dondrea left New York and moved into Carmelo’s villa in San Gimignano.  In May, with friends and family present, they tied the knot.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Surprise.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Sources:  St. Bart’s Restaurants; Destination Saint-Barths; St. Barts Travel Guide; Date Billionaire;

 

KISSING My Professor

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I don’t know why I came over to your flat.  No, that isn’t true.  I came because I couldn’t wait until Monday to see you.  You’re surprised to see me which is understandable but you’re still polite and pleasant.  You invite me in.  As I follow you through the foyer, my eyes travel over you.  You look very handsome in the black shirt and trousers.  Your hair is slightly damp.  How I long to run my fingers through its thick, silky tresses.

My eyes alight on the table set for dinner.  You’re expecting company.  The two wine glasses tell me that it’s a woman.  My heart sinks.  I scold myself.  What do you expect? I demand.  A man like you wouldn’t be unattached.  There has to be a special woman in your life.

You stop and face me.  You smile at me, making my heart stop.  You’re about to say something, when I mumble, “I’m sorry, Professor Carlyle.  I can see that you’re expecting someone.  I shouldn’t have come.”

“Don’t apologize, Annette,” you reply softly.  “I told you that you could stop by any time.”

My eyes shift to the table and then back to you.  “I should leave before your date arrives.” I turn to leave when you catch me by the shoulders.  I gaze up at you, my heart pounding wildly against my ribs and my breath quickening.  What beautiful eyes you have.

“I don’t have a date,” you tell me.  “The table is set for my sister and her husband.  They needed a quiet place to celebrate their anniversary.  So, while my parents are babysitting the kids, I offered them the use of my flat.  I prepared the meal and set the table for them.  They should be here at any minute.”

I couldn’t hide the relief on my face.  The dinner wasn’t for you and some woman as I feared but for your sister and her husband.  “Your sister is very lucky to have a brother like you,” was all I could think to say.

You smile.  “That’s what brothers are for.  Now, since you’re here, I was wondering if you would like to have dinner with me?”

Stunned, I stare at you for several minutes and then, I manage to say, “I’d like that.”

You are staring straight into my eyes as you inform me, “This is the first time I’ve asked a student to have dinner with me.”

“Could you get into trouble with the university for this?” I ask.

“No one has to know.  It will be our secret.”

“Yes,” I reply breathlessly.  You are still holding my shoulders.  Your fingers feel strong and firm.  Our bodies are inches apart.  I can feel your warm breath on my forehead.  In the background, soft music is playing.  The air is suddenly very charged between us.  I can’t tell if it’s your heavy breathing that I’m hearing or mine.

My eyes drop to your mouth.  I watch enthralled as it parts before it starts to move closer.  My eyes fall shut when it touches mine.  I feel the heat course through my body, making my head spin.  As our lips lock, my hands grip your shirt at the waist.

This feels like a dream.  I can’t really be standing here kissing you.  If it’s a dream, I don’t want to wake up.  Your hands leave my shoulders to cup my face as the kisses become more intense.

The sudden peal of the doorbell jolt us and we reluctantly fall apart.  While you go to answer the door, I try to pull myself together.  When you return with a pretty brunette and a tall, attractive dark haired man are in tow.  You introduce me to them.

“It’s nice to meet you,” your sister says as she shakes my hand.  “Did you help him to put all of this together?” she asks, referring to the dining table.

I shake my head at once.  “No.  He did it all by himself.”

She looks at him.  “I’m impressed,” she admits before hugging you.  “Thank you.”

You smile.  “You’re welcome.  And now, Annette and I will leave you two alone to enjoy your evening together.”

Your brother-in-law claps you on the back.  “Thanks, old Chap.  It was rather sporting of you to do all of this for us.”

“It’s my pleasure.  Besides, it gives me an opportunity to take this beautiful young lady out for dinner.”

I smile shyly up at you, thrilled that you think I’m beautiful.

“Well, have fun you two,” your sister says.

“You’re welcome to stay here for as long as you want,” you tell her.  “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.  It was nice meeting you, Annette.”

“It was nice meeting you too.  Goodnight.”

You take my hand and precede me to the front door.  We enjoy our own sumptuous dinner at a lovely restaurant overlooking the Thames.   It’s the first of many dinners and dates.   

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Sumptuous.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Her Boss

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It was her first day back to work after a month long vacation in Jamaica.  Since she left there ten years ago, she hadn’t visited until now and was happy that she did.  She had forgotten the verdant mountainsides, crystalline rivers and white beaches surrounded by a turquoise sea.  She stayed with her cousin, Winston who owned and ran a beach resort.

The funny thing is all that time she was away, she couldn’t help thinking about Zain.  She missed him.  When she went shopping, she picked up a vintage wood carved hand-painted vase and a bottle of Rum for him.  She was looking forward to giving them to him.  He must have gotten the postcard she sent.

Winston was a party animal and he dragged her to different nightclubs, bars and house parties where she met all sorts of men.  They were interested in her and she found some of them very entertaining but she just wasn’t into any of them.  How could she be when she was in love with Zain?  Zain was her boss, for Pete’s sake.  Before she became his secretary, she was his father’s.  After Sadiq Patel decided to go into early retirement, he handed the company over to his youngest son along with her, his trusted secretary whom he hired fresh out of university, a decision he always prided himself was the one of the best ones he had ever made.  He used to say to her, “If I were at least twenty years younger, I would leave for my wife for you if you’d have me.”

Teona knew that he wasn’t serious.  She used to shake her head and say, “You and I both know you would never do that.”

He chuckled.  “You’re right, Teona.  I don’t have the courage to do it.”

She knew courage had nothing to do with it.  He was crazy about his wife.  Death was the only thing that could come between them.

On her last day working with him, they had hugged and she had cried.  She had loved working for him and was going to miss him terribly.  Mrs. Patel and he returned to New Delhi.  The last she heard, they had opened a restaurant.

Pakistani male modelThe first time she met Zain, he was in his father’s old office, sitting on top of a table.  To say that he was handsome was a gross understatement.  He was drop dead gorgeous and for several minutes all she could do was stand there, tongue-tied, staring at him.  A slight smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.

“Hello, Teona,” he said.  Unlike his father, he had a British accent.  “My father has told me so much about you.  I’m looking forward to us working together.  Please have a seat and we can go over the company’s books to see where we are.”

That day was a complete blur for her as she tried to get him up to speed with everything and at the same time distracted by his good looks.  They soon came up with a system which worked perfectly for them.  And she soon found that, like his father, she loved working for him too but for completely different reasons.  It was too bad that he had a girlfriend…

The ringing of her phone jolted her back to the present.  It was Zain.   She quickly picked it up.

“Welcome back,” he said.

“Thank you.”  It’s good to be back.  She didn’t think she would ever go away for that long again.

“Come and see me after you’ve settled in.”

“All right.”  After she hung, she checked her emails, deleted many and responded to some.  She went to the washroom to make sure she looked fine.  She grabbed the bag with the stuff she had brought back for him and went into his office.

He was sitting at his desk but got up when she went in, closing the door behind her.  She walked over to him and extending the bag, she said, “I brought these back for you.”

He took the bag and looked inside.  “Thank you,” he said, smiling.  “I got your postcard.”  He set the bag down on the carpet beside his desk.  “Did you have a good time?”

She nodded.  “Yes, I did.”

“Has it changed much since you left?”

“Yes, it has.  I’d forgotten how laid back life there was compared to here.  It was nice not rushing around and being able to just walk out to the beach instead of having to drive there.”

He was leaning against the desk now, arms folded, watching her.  “Did you stay at a hotel or with family?”

“I stayed with my cousin, Winston.  He has a beach house.”

“What else did you do besides go to the beach?”

“Well, I went river rafting, zip-lining and visited Ochos Rios, Negril and Kingston where the Bob Marley Museum is, nightclubs, bars and parties.”

“Did you meet anyone?”

“Well, I met a lot of men, most of them were Winston’s friends.”

“Were you attracted to any of them?”

She shook her head.  “No, I wasn’t although most of them were really nice.”

“I missed you.”  The statement took her by surprise and the expression on his face made her heart skip a beat.

“Sure you did,” she replied, lowering her eyes.  “It’s the first time since we have been working together that you had to work with another secretary.  Did you get along well with Stacey?”  Stacey and she covered for each other.  The older woman was extremely competent.

“Yes, we got along famously but when I said that I missed you, I wasn’t speaking as your boss.”

She swallowed hard.  His eyes captivated her.  “What—what about Amrita?”

“We broke up.”

Her eyes widened in shock.  “You did?  How come?”

“She kept hounding me to get rid of you and gave me an ultimatum.  It was either you or her.”

“Why did she want you to get rid of me?”

“Do you remember the day when you and I were in here working on a project?”

Yes, she remembered.  How could she not?  They had spent most of the morning on it and finished it just after noon.  He ordered in take out and they sat on the sofa to have it.  Over delicious Thai food, they talked about all sorts of things, including her trip to Jamaica.  When they were finished eating and had put the containers in the garbage, she was about to take up her notes when he reached out and rubbed the right corner of her mouth with his thumb.  “You had a bit of sauce,” he explained.

“Thank you,” she murmured.  His hand was still holding her face.  They stared into each other’s eyes and their heavy breathing mingled.  Her gaze dropped to his mouth and watched, mesmerized as it drew closer…The loud knock on the door startled them and they sprang apart just as Amrita walked in.  She looked from one to the other, her expression dour before she inquired stonily, “Am I interrupting something?”

Flustered, Teona muttered, “No, I was just leaving.”  She turned away, grabbed her notes and almost ran out of the office.  For the rest of the day, she relived those last few moments in Zain’s office—when he rubbed the sauce from the side of her mouth and the kiss they almost shared.  The following morning she was on a plane headed for Jamaica.  And now she was back and here in his office.

“I remember,” she answered.  I thought about it a lot when I was away.

“Amrita knew that she had interrupted something.  She sensed that there was something between us and that’s why she wanted me to get rid of you.”

“So, instead of getting rid of me, you dumped her?”

“Yes.  Why should I get rid of a perfectly good secretary?” His eyes twinkled and his lips twitched.

“Is that the only reason why you didn’t get rid of me?”

His expression changed.  He looked very serious now and he reached for her hands.  “You know it isn’t,” he replied, pulling her closer to him.   His heated gaze met hers squarely.  “Just like you know what would have happened if she hadn’t interrupted us.”

By now she was having trouble breathing normally.  And her heart was pounding like crazy.  When she was standing inches from him, he released her hands and cup her face between his hands.  Then he was kissing her.  Now that her hands were free, she wrapped her arms around his waist as the kisses became more passionate.

Several minutes passed and then as things were getting really heated, he broke off the kiss, his breath harsh and unsteady.  “We’d better stop,” he gasped.

She nodded, trying to catch her breath.   “Yes, I’d better get back to my desk.”

Reluctantly he released her and ran his fingers through his hair.  His eyes were stormy as they met hers.  “Have dinner with me tonight.”

“Where?”

“My place at seven-thirty.”

“All right.  I’ll be there.”

He leaned over and kissed her long and hard on the mouth.  “It’s great to have you back.”

“It’s great to be back,” she murmured before she turned and walked unsteadily out of his office.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Courage and yesterday’s prompt, Verdant.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Sources: The Nature Conservancy; Road Affair; Etsy; Road Affair