Puppy Love

“Adorable,” she said as she watched him with the three puppies.  He had brought them over from their next door neighbor.

“Who, me?”

“No, silly, the puppies.”

“Yes, they are.”

“As adorable as they are, we aren’t going to keep all three.”

He sighed.  “I was afraid you’d say that.  Okay, which one do you think we should keep?”

She got up from the sofa and went over to them.  She sat cross legged on the floor and looked at the little critters.  She picked up the black one with the white patch on its tiny nose.  She cuddled him against her.  “This one,” she said.

guy with puppies“Good choice.  Well, Patch, it looks like this is going to be your new home.”

“Patch?” she looked quizzically at her husband.

“Don’t you think it’s a fitting name?”

“It’s a bit corny but it will do.”

“I’ll take his brother and sister back over to Bill and Cheryl.  Are you sure you don’t want to keep them?  You know to keep Patch company?”

“I’m sure,” she insisted with a laugh.  “One puppy is more than enough.  While you take them back, I’ll fix up a place for this little guy.”

He sighed and got up.  “All right.  I’ll be back shortly.”

As she fixed up a basket with old blankets for Patch, she wondered what Erik would say if he knew that there was going to be another addition to the family.  She smiled.  Tomorrow, they would go shopping for a crib and think about turning the spare bedroom into a nursery.

Love vs Tradition

“You’re such a hypocrite, Kaito” Hana told her brother.  “You object to my relationship with Danny because he’s not Japanese and yet you’re sleeping with Duana, my African American friend.”

Kaito looked up from his laptop, his expression darkening as he met his younger sister’s incensed gaze.  “I don’t have to explain myself to you,” he retorted.  “After our parents died, I became responsible for you.  Danny may be a nice guy but he’s not the right one for you.  You should be with someone like Riku.”

“Riku?  You know very well that I’m not in love with him.”

“That could change.”

“It won’t,” she insisted.  “I’m in love with Danny and he’s in love with me.  I don’t care what you say.  I’m not a child.  I’m not going to marry Riku or anyone else for that matter.”

“Has Danny asked you to marry him?”

“Not yet but when he does, I will say yes.”

“Not if I have anything to say about it.”

“You’re my brother not my father.  You being responsible for me doesn’t give you the right to dictate who I marry or who I love.  Riku is a nice guy. We’ve known each other since we were children but I don’t love him.  I’m not going to marry someone I don’t love just to please you and your love for tradition.  I hope Duana does the smart thing and dumps you.”

His mouth tightened.  “I don’t want to discuss my relationship with Duana with you.”

“You won’t have a relationship with her much longer.  I will see to that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Tonight, we are going out on a date with Danny and his friend, Leshawn.”

What?” Kaito rose to his feet.  His eyes flashed and his fists clenched.  “How could she be going out with someone else while she’s still in a relationship with me?”

Hana watched him.  She never saw her brother act like this before.  He was always so calm and reserved which sometimes annoyed her.  Nothing seemed to faze him and here he was now, like a volcano about to erupt.  “You made it clear that you didn’t want there to be anything serious between you.  You were fine with the way things were–purely physical.”

He dragged his fingers through his hair.  “This guy she’s seeing tonight, has she been out with him before?”

Hana shook her head.  “No, this is the first time and I hope it won’t be the last–”

“Imaimashī!”  He grabbed his keys off the desk and headed for the door.

“Where’re you going?”

“Where do you think I’m going and why do you care?” he retorted before he stormed out of the room.

As soon as he was gone, Hana picked up the phone and called Duana.  “Kaito’s on his way over.  He’s as mad as hell.  I’ve never seen him like this.  I think he’s jealous.”

“You told him about Deshawn?”

“Of course.”

“Oh, Hana.  I didn’t want him to think that I was interested in Deshawn or anyone else.”

“Well, maybe you ought to be.  You can’t continue hoping that things will change, Duana–that Kaito will change.  He’s set in his ways.  He’s been a bachelor for so long that marriage isn’t a possibility right now and if he did get married, it would be to a Japanese woman.  You’re better off moving on.”

“I wish I could but you know I love him.”

“Yes, I know.  He’s my brother and I love him too but I think he’s a jerk.  You deserve better, Duana.”

“Right now I can’t imagine being with anyone else but Kaito.  Thanks for calling, Hana.  I’ll see you later.”

“All right.  Call me on my cell if you need me.”

“I will.”

Hana hung up the phone and left the study.

Duana was about to change out of the white dress she had worn to church when the doorbell rang.  Her heart began to beat faster.  It was probably Kaito.  It was and Hana was right.  He looked furious.  As she slid the latch back, she asked herself why she had allowed her friend to talk her into to going on a double date tonight.

“Hello, Kaito,” she said when she opened the door.  Giannina Oteto

“Don’t hello Kaito me,” he snapped as he brushed past her.  He swung round and faced her as she closed and locked the door behind him.  His eyes were blazing with anger and jealousy.  “How could you go out on a date with another guy when you and I are in a relationship?”

“It–it was Hana’s idea and–”

“I know it was her idea but you didn’t have to agree to it.”

“She called me and told me that you were coming over.  She warned me that you were very angry.”

“Don’t you think I have reason to be?  How would you feel if I were going out for dinner with another woman?”

“I would be angry and jealous,” she admitted.

“That’s how I feel right now, Duana.  The thought of you going out with another guy is making me crazy.”  He reached for her hand.  His expression was drawn and tormented.  “Don’t do it, please.  Don’t go out for dinner with this guy, please.”

She swallowed hard.  “I won’t,” she promised huskily.

He released his breath in a shaky sigh.  “Thank you,” he muttered.

“Why don’t you spend the night?” she asked.  “I didn’t make any dinner because I was going to eat out tonight but we can order in.”

He nodded.  “Yes, I’ll spend the night.”

She smiled.  “Good.  Let me call Hana and tell her that I won’t be joining her and the guys for dinner tonight or any other night.”

He nodded again and removed his jacket as she called his sister.  As soon as she finished the call, he took her into his arms.  “I’m sorry for the way I’ve been,” he said.  “I grew up believing in family traditions and determined to honor them at the expense of Hana’s happiness and my own.  I love you, Duana and tonight when I realized how close I came to losing you, it opened my eyes to what really matters.  When you meet that special someone, making a commitment to him or her is more important than holding onto tradition.  Tomorrow, I will let Hana know that I no longer object to her relationship with Danny.”

Duana put her arms around his neck. “She’ll be happy to hear that,” she told him.

“Yes, she will be,” he agreed.

“I love you, Kaito.”

Kaito lowered his head and kissed her.

“Just because something is traditional is no reason to do it, of course.”Lemony Snicket, The Blank Book

Not a Jolly Christmas

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Photo by Akshata Ram

It was Christmas but she wasn’t feeling jolly.  Her relationship with Bo was over.  They’d been dating for a year and just when she thought that things were getting serious between them, he broke up with her.  She’d sat there on the park bench, stunned.  She hadn’t seen it coming.  She was speechless.

“Why?” she finally managed to ask.  “What did I do wrong?”

“There’s no easy way to say this, Chloe.  “I like you but I’m not in love with you.  If we stay together, you will be happy at first but then miserable later on.  You deserve to be with a guy who will love you as much as you love me.”

She flinched as if he’d struck her.  “I can’t believe it.”

“I’m sorry…I never meant to hurt you.”

It was the worst moment of her life.  She collapsed on the bed.  I can’t be Santa’s helper today.  I can’t face those kids.  Bo’s going to be there.  I can’t face him…

She wrote Bo a letter of resignation.

 

172 Words

 

This was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy and Joe. For more information visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Sources:  Love Bondings; Cosmopolitan;

An Old Crush

He had just finished making a business call when he noticed Cyiarra.  She was sitting alone at a table having a glass of wine.  It had been a year since the last time he saw her.  He walked over at once and her face broke out into a big smile.   When he reached her, she got up and exclaimed, “Ajay, fancy running into you here,” before she hugged him.

He hugged her back, thinking she felt really good.  “You look great,” he remarked when they separated.  She did in that black dress which hugged her figure and she had taken out the braids.  Her natural hair looked better.

“Thanks.  I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how gorgeous you look.”

He felt his face get hot.  “Are you waiting for someone?”

She nodded.  “Yes, but you can sit and chat with me until he gets here.”

He sat down.  “So, who’s the guy you’re waiting for?”

“Someone a co-worker set me up with.”

“So, this is a blind date.”

“Yes.  What about you, what are you doing here?”

“I’m having dinner with a client.”

“Man or woman?”

“Woman.”

“Is she single?”

“Yes.”

“Beautiful?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure it’s just a business?”

He smiled.  “It is, I swear.”

She didn’t look very convinced.  “I always thought that you were a bit of a flirt when we were at high school and it got worse when we were in university.  I used to watch you.  You were always surrounded the cheer leading type of girls.”

“Were you jealous?”

“Yes.  You must have known that I had a huge crush on you.”

“I didn’t.  You had a funny way of showing it.  Every time I saw you you were talking to that guy, what’s his name.  The one who won the ugly sweater contest two years in a row.”

She laughed.  “Oh, that was Malcolm.  He was a really sweet guy.”

“He was always hanging around you.  It was obvious that he had a crush on you.”

“I guess he did.  I’m surprised you noticed, though.”

“I noticed everything about you.”

Her heart skipped a beat when she saw the expression on his face.  “So, why didn’t you ask me out?”

“I don’t know.  I guess I was nervous and afraid that you’d turn me down.”

“Turn you down?” she exclaimed.  “Are you serious?  I would have jumped at the chance to go out with you.”

“What about now?” he asked.  “Would you jump at the chance to go out with me?”

“Are you asking?”

He was about to answer when his date walked in.  “She’s here.”

Cyiarra followed his gaze.  The woman making her way over to the table by the window was stunning.  The elegant red slim pants suit flattered her slim figure and accentuated her olive skin.  Her black hair fell in thick waves past her shoulders.

Cyiarra looked at Ajay.  “She’s stunning.”  She couldn’t help being jealous.

“Yes, she is but I’m not attracted to her or anyone else.”  His eyes were riveted to her face.  “I’ve eyes only for you, Cyiarra.”

Cyiarra’s pulse quickened.  She took a sip of the wine.

He reached into his pocket for his wallet.  He opened it and took out a business card.  He jotted down his number on the back and gave it to her.  “This is in case things don’t work out between you and this guy.”

She looked at him.  “Are you hoping that they won’t?”

“Yes,” he admitted before standing up.  “It’s good to see you, Cyiarra.”

“It’s good to see you too.”  She didn’t tell him to enjoy his dinner.

He walked away.

Cyiarra watched him, wishing that she was having dinner with him instead of this other guy.  She glanced at her watch.  He was five minutes late.  Not good.  It would be embarrassing if he didn’t show up.  She was about to take another sip of wine but decided that it would be a good idea having too much on an empty stomach.  She was hungry.  Where was he?

Just then, a tall and very attractive African American man suddenly materialized in front of her.  “Good evening,” he said.  “I apologize for being late.  The traffic was bad.  I hope you haven’t been waiting too long.”

She waved his apology aside.  “No, I haven’t been.”

He stretched out his hand.  “Cyiarra, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you too, Keenan.”

He sat down.  “Brie didn’t mention how beautiful you were.”

Cyiarra smiled.  He seemed like a nice guy but every now and then, her eyes drifted over to the table by the window.  A couple of times she noticed that Ajay was looking in her direction.

Dinner was pleasant but by the end of it she knew without a doubt that it wouldn’t be a second date.  She smiled at Keenan.  “Keenan, thanks for a lovely dinner.  I enjoyed it very much.  You’re a really nice guy but…”

“…but, you’re not interested.”

“Sorry.”

“Well, it was nice meeting you any way.  I wish you all the best.”

“Thank you, Keenan.  It was nice meeting you too.”

“Do you need a ride?”

“To the subway would be fine, thank you.”

While he paid the bill, she pulled on her jacket and grabbed her handbag.  As she stood up, she looked across the room at Ajay.  He was watching her.  She wanted to go over and say goodnight but decided not to.

She called him in the morning.  That evening they went for dinner and dancing.  A year and a half later, they got married.

Danny

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Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

I stood before the shed where they found my friend, Danny.

We used to hang out every day, daydreaming about how we were going to change the world.  He wanted to be a lawyer for the poor and disadvantaged while I dreamed of being a social worker.

Danny was more than a friend to me.  He was the older brother I wish I had.  I am the youngest of three girls.  My sisters didn’t have much time for me.  They were too busy with their friends and social engagements but, I didn’t mind because I had Danny.

He and I were thick as thieves.  We were inseparable.  That’s why his sudden change in behavior was a shock for me.  The sweet, easygoing guy I loved so dearly had become a stranger to me.  He had mood swings, was hyperactive and seemed to have trouble concentrating or staying on topic.  He became withdrawn and spent most of his time in this shed.  I learned later, that he was taking Crystal Meth.  It claimed his life and his dreams.

This morning, I wanted to stop by on my way to the Centre where I run a Crystal Meth Addiction Treatment Program.

199 Words.

This story was inspired by a program I watched last night on CNN about a mothers addicted to Crystal Meth.  The story that really touched me was that of a young man whose mother was taking it.  On the wall of their home hung framed photos of him as a boy and as a promising football player.  All those dreams of a bright future were dashed when he became addicted to Meth and if convicted of selling it, he faces life imprisonment.  What a waste of a young life.

This was written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details, visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Source:  Serenity Acres

Nils

She stood there, smiling and trying to act like she was interested in what the guy in the green shirt was saying when he walked by.  Their eyes met and she caught the tantalizing scent of his aftershave.  She had noticed him the moment he entered the room.  His spiky blond hair, strong, square jawline, piercing blue eyes, flaring nostrils and amazing looking lips made her head spin.  Underneath the navy blue silk shirt she could see his bulging muscles and body.  He looked away and her eyes followed him to see where he was going.  She saw him head over to the bar and sit down on one of the stools, leaning over and resting those massive arms on the counter.

She turned to the guy in the green shirt who hadn’t missed a beat  and was still talking about the latest in technology and smiling sweetly, she said, “Excuse me, I just spotted someone I know.”  She walked away.

She headed straight for the bar, her heart beating faster with each step.  She went and stood right next to him.  When she turned her head, he was looking at her and she could see from the expression on his face that he liked what he saw.  She knew she looked good in the off the shoulder black dress.  This close, he was even more devastating and she couldn’t seem to catch her breath.  Her stomach was doing bizarre things.  “Where’s the guy I saw you with?” he asked.

“I ditched him,” she admitted and saw his eyebrows arch.  “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.  He seemed like a nice guy but I just wasn’t interested and rather than stringing him along, I excused myself and here I am.”

“His loss,” he remarked.  “May I buy you a drink?”

“Sure.  What are you having?”

“A Blood Orange Punch.”

“Hmmm.  Sounds interesting.  Does it have alcohol in it, though?”

He shook his head.  “No.”

She slid onto the stool beside him.  “I’ll have one, then.  Thank you.”

After he ordered the drinks, he held out his hand.  “Nils.”

“Corinne.”  When their fingers touched, she felt a spark that rendered her a little breathless.  She was happy to note that he wasn’t wearing a wedding band.  “Nils.  That’s a Swedish name, isn’t it?”

He nodded with a smile.  “Yes.  I was born in Sweden but moved here with my parents when I was five.  What about you?”

“My parents are from Nigeria but I was born here.”

“You know you’re easily the most beautiful woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting?”

She lowered her eyes, feeling self-conscious.  “And you’re the hottest guy I’ve ever seen.”

His eyes darkened.  “After we’re done here, I’d like to take you back to my place and…”

She laughed, her pulse racing as their eyes met.  “Do you usually work this fast?” she asked.

He shook his head.  “No, not usually but then I never met a woman like you before.  While I’m sitting here talking to you, all I can think about is how good you would look in my bed.”

“All right. Let’s finish our drinks and then leave.” She had never done this before and it was both terrifying and thrilling.

They talked some more as they drank the Blood Orange Punch.  As soon as both glasses were empty, they bade Michelle, their hostess, goodnight and left.  Michelle watched them go, a smile on her face.  Good for you, Corinne, she thought to herself.

A short ride in his Ferrari brought them to his flat which overlooked the Thames River.  As soon as he closed the door and locked it, she was in his arms and his lips were ravaging hers.  Her arms wrapped themselves around his neck as she responded wildly to his kisses.  And then, he swept her off her feet and carried her to his bedroom.

The next morning when she came out of the bathroom, he was lying on his stomach, completely uncovered and she felt her body respond.  “I should go,” she said, although she didn’t want to.

“Stay and have breakfast with me,” he suggested.

“All right.”  Her heart lurched when he climbed out of the bed and walked over to her.

“Let’s make it a late breakfast,” he murmured as he pulled her into his arms.

They ended up having a very late breakfast and many more breakfasts after that.  In a couple of months, they were engaged and then in the following Spring they got married.  Michelle was her maid of honor.

Corinne never imagined that when she went to Michelle’s launch party, she would meet her soulmate.  A smile touched her lips as she remembered the quote,When your eyes met mine, my soul pointed at you and whispered to my heart, “Him..”  Yes, Nils was definitely her soulmate.  She squealed now as he picked her up and ran towards the foamy waters as they licked the white sandy beach of Bora Bora.

 

Sources:  BBC Good Food; Best Image Quotes; Quotes ‘nd Notes

The Admission

She turned on the radio and tried to listen to a talk show her friend had told her about but there was so much static, that after five minutes of endless crackling, she changed it to another station.  As the smooth sounds of R&B filled the car, she tried to relax but she couldn’t.  All she could think about was Mac and the redhead she saw him with last night at the café.  Red, hot jealousy had burned in her as she watched them.  Thankfully, he didn’t see her and she managed to slip out unnoticed.

After leaving the café, she had fumed all the way home, chiding herself for feeling the way she did.  Never once did she entertain the thought that she would fall for the very same guy she had pegged as conceited.  All the women at the office fawned over him but she had remained aloof, or so it appeared.  She treated him professionally but kept him at a distance, making it crystal clear that she wasn’t interested.  Yet, deep down, she couldn’t deny that she was strongly attracted to him and seeing him with another woman last night, forced her to acknowledge that she was in love with him.

Gripping the steering wheel, she fought back the angry tears and tried to figure out what she was going to do.  How was she going to continue to act indifferently toward him when she was in love with him?  Of all the men at the company, why did she have to fall for him?  Everyone kept raving about what a nice guy he was but to her he came across as cocky.  It was probably a bruise to his ego that she didn’t go for him.  Well, the joke was on her now because she wanted him too and it was driving her crazy.

Two days ago they were in the last two to leave the office and as she was clearing off her desk, he went over to her.  She didn’t look up but was painfully aware of him and the whiff of his cologne was tantalizing.  He looked incredible in the striped navy blue suit, black shirt and tie.  His spiky hair gave him an edgy look which she found very attractive.  He was sexy and he knew it and that irritated her.  She tried to ignore her pounding heart and busied herself with putting away papers and signing off the computer.  She could feel him watching her and she resisted the urge to look up.

“It’s been a very hectic week,” he commented.

“Yes.”

“Any plans for tonight?”

“No.”

There a brief pause and then, “Have dinner with me, then.”

Her head shot up then and she stared at him.  He couldn’t possibly be serious.  Why would he think that she would have dinner with him?  Of all the conceited—“No, thank you,” she said curtly.  “Perhaps you should ask Joan or Nancy or one of the other women.  I’m sure they would love to have dinner with you.”

“I don’t want to have dinner with any of them, Brianna.  I want to have dinner with you.”

“I’m sorry but I can’t—”

“Why not?”

“I—I just can’t.”

“That’s not a good enough reason.”

“It’s the only one I can give you,” she retorted.

“What are you afraid of?” He asked, startling her.

“I’m not afraid of anything,” she said quickly, too quickly.

“I think you’re afraid of being alone with me.”

“Why should I be afraid to be alone with you?” she demanded, wishing she didn’t want to kiss him so badly.

“You’re afraid because you want me as much as I want you.  I wanted you from the moment I first met you—”

“This is exactly why I can’t stand you,” she cried, her voice sounding a little high-pitched.  She wanted so desperately to get out of there now.  It was becoming increasingly hard to stand there so close to him and not want to tear off his clothes.

“What do you mean?” he asked, frowning.

“I think you’re conceited and that you think you’re God’s gift to women.”

“You mistake self-confidence for conceit and you’re wrong about how I see myself when it comes to women.  I don’t think that I’m God’s gift to them.  Women find me attractive just as men find you attractive.  That is something neither of us can prevent.”

She quickly lowered her gaze, feeling chastised.  He certainly put her in her place and in a very gracious way too.  “I’m sorry,” she mumbled.

He reached out and touched her arm, making her jump.  Her eyes were wide as she stared up at him and her heart was beating at an alarming rate.  Somehow she found herself trapped between him and the desk.  And she stood there, helpless, watching mesmerized as his face got closer.  Her eyes dropped to his lips and hers parted in anticipation.

Then, he was kissing her and she was kissing him back ravenously, her arms going around his neck, clinging to him as she was leaning back over the desk under the onslaught of his kisses.  At one point he lifted her on top of the desk and continued to kiss her and then his cell phone rang.  He ignored it.  It stopped ringing.  They continued kissing and then, it rang again.

Groaning in frustration, he pulled away from her, fumbled for the cell and answered it.  “Hello?” he panted.  He listened for a moment.  And then, he said to her, “I have to take this call.”

Well, when he turned and walked away a little distance to talk, she used that as an opportunity to leave.  She slid off the desk, grabbed her handbag and ran out of there.  She knew that if she had stayed there, she would have made love to him right there in the office.  She still had reservations about him and was afraid of getting hurt.  That night, she couldn’t sleep.  All she could think about was how his lips felt and how it thrilled her to know that he wanted her as much as she wanted him.

The next day, she avoided him as much as she could and when he managed to ask her why she had run out on him, she replied, “It was getting late and I had errands to run,” before she walked away.  At the end of the day, she made sure she left before he did.  After picking up her winter coat and some suits from the laundry, she decided to treat herself to a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and sandwiches.  She had just finished her second sandwich when Mac walked in.

The blare of a car horn jolted her back to the present and she saw that the light had changed to green.  As she drove off, she was sorely tempted to go over to Mac’s flat and confront him.  No, I won’t give him the satisfaction, she decided, her mouth tightening.  I won’t give him the satisfaction of knowing how much it hurt to see him with her.  No, I’m going home and take a nice, hot bath.  I’m not going to let Mac ruin my weekend.

She turned down the street that would take her home.  Ten minutes later, she let herself in her flat.  After hanging her coat in the closet and putting her handbag away, she got undressed.  The hot water felt good against her skin but it couldn’t erase him from her mind.  She donned a pair of pajamas and went over to the sofa to watch some TV.  She stared at the screen but nothing registered.  All she could think about was Mac.  Closing her eyes in despair she leaned her head against the back of the sofa.  They soon opened again when she heard the doorbell.

Glancing at the clock above the mantelpiece, she wondered who would be stopping by to see her at nine-thirty.  She got up from the sofa and went to answer the door.  Her eyes widened when she peered through the keyhole and saw Mac standing there.  Immediately, her heart began to race. What is he doing here?  She opened the door.  He looked so good in the white shirt and jeans.

His expression was serious as he met her gaze. “I’m sorry to be dropping by at this time but you and I need to talk.”

“Okay.”  She moved aside to let him in and closed the door behind him.  After he removed his shoes, she preceded him to the living-room.  They sat down on the sofa and he turned so that he was facing her.

“Why did you run off that afternoon when we were together?” he asked.

“I told you—”

“Yes, I know what you told me but I want to hear the real reason, Brianna.”

She looked down at her hands.  “I was afraid that if I stayed, I would have let you make love to me.”

His eyes darkened.  “Why would something so incredible make you afraid?”

“I just didn’t want to get hurt.  You could have any woman you want and you say you want me but that could change…”

“Since I met you, I haven’t looked at another woman—”

“Then, who was the redhead I saw you with at the café?” she demanded, rising to her feet.

He looked up at her, startled.  “Redhead?” he repeated, knitting his brow.  “Oh, you mean Amber.”

“Yes.” She couldn’t hide the jealousy that was raging inside her.  “I was in the café and I saw when you came in.  I sat there and watched the two of you.”

“Why didn’t you come over and say hello?” he asked, looking perplexed.

She turned away.  “I didn’t want you to see me.”

He got up and taking her by the shoulders, he turned her around to face him.  She kept her eyes downcast, not wanting him to see what was in them.  “You’re jealous,” he realized.  “There’s no reason for you to be.  Amber is my cousin.  She was having boyfriend problems and needed my advice.  We decided that we would go to the café and talk there over cappuccinos and sandwiches.”

Brianna raised her eyes then.  “When I saw you with her, I thought…”

He released her shoulders and slipped his arms around her waist, pulling her against him.  “You thought I was seeing someone.  Oh, Brianna, after what happened between us at the office, how could you think that?  I told you how I feel about you that evening.”

“You said you wanted me—”

“Yes, and I do very, very much but desire isn’t all I feel for you, Brianna.  What I’m trying to say is that I love you.”

“You love me?” she could hardly believe it.

“Yes!”

She reached up and cupped his face.  “I love you too,” she confessed.  “Admitting to myself that I was in love with you was the hardest thing for me to do because of the man I thought you were.  Perhaps, I painted that unflattering picture of you because I was afraid to let myself fall in love with a man who could have any woman he wanted.”

“You’re the only woman I want and love,” he declared huskily before he lowered his head and kissed her.

As she responded to his kisses, she thought how true these words were: You can’t stop the feelings you have for someone.  You can’t lie to yourself either.  Your heart knows the truth all too well.

 

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