Luis

Nichelle watched Luis as he sat at a table by the window of a Tapas restaurant having lunch with a very beautiful woman.  She had thick black hair and olive skin.  Who is she and what is he doing with her? she wondered jealously.  She wanted to go over there and find out but she didn’t want to make a fool of herself.  Instead, she grabbed the takeout and quickly walked out.

All the way back to the office, she fumed.  Was he playing her?  Didn’t last night mean anything to him?  It was the first time they made love since they met last month and it had been explosive.  She felt her body react as she had flashbacks.  He was like a wild animal.  And afterwards, they lay spent, arms and legs wrapped around each other.

When she woke up this morning, he had already left but on the kitchen table was a covered plate.  When she lifted the lid, it was a Spanish Omelet.  It was hot and delicious.  She finished it in no time and washed it down with a cup of hot chocolate.  He was an excellent cook and it warmed her heart that he had taken the time to make breakfast for her.  Wasn’t that an indicator that he had feelings for her?  If that’s the case, why was he having lunch with another woman? a traitorous voice inquired.

The take out sat unopened on her desk as she didn’t have an appetite because she was so upset.  The tears threatened to come but she blinked them back, determined not to lose it at work.  There would be plenty of time to break down and let the tears flow like the rapids when she got home later.

Somehow, she managed to get through the rest of the afternoon but as soon as it was five o’ clock, she packed up and was out of the office like a flash.  She turned the radio in her car but turned it off immediately when she heard a slow jam she and Luis had danced to when they went to a nightclub on their fourth date.  Things had gotten hot and heavy between them on the dance-floor.  She was acutely aware of him.  Their bodies were touching.  The smell of his aftershave filled her nostrils and his hand pressed into the small of her back as they moved to the music.

When the music ended, they walked back to the table, his hand around her waist.  She noticed the admiring glances several woman tossed his way but he seemed oblivious to them.  And when he took her home, he gazed down at her, his dark eyes searing her before he bent his head and kissed her.  His lips moved hungrily on hers, making her head spin and her knees go weak.  She clung to him, her fingers gripping the sleeves of his jacket as she responded feverishly to his kisses.  And then, he broke it off, breathing heavily, his eyes smoldering with desire.  “I’d better leave,” he panted, releasing her.

She stared at him, bereft, longing for him to take her in his arms again but he was stepping away, his hands clenched into tight fists at his sides as though he were trying to control his emotions.  “All right,” she said, unable to hide the disappointment on her face.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said before he turned and walked away.

She closed the door and leaned against it, frustrated.  After she took a cold shower, she went to bed.

Now, she was frustrated but for a totally different reason.  She let herself into her flat and headed straight for the bathroom where she took a hot shower.  After donning a pair of pajamas, she was about to fix herself a salad when the doorbell rang.  Sighing she left the kitchen and walked to the foyer.  She really wasn’t in the mood for company.  She peered through the keyhole, her heart skipping a beat when she saw that it was Luis.

Taking a deep breath, she opened the door.  He looked so good in the white silk shirt which accentuated his swarthy complexion and the jaded jeans which hugged his narrow hips and muscular thighs.  His hair, dark as a raven was slightly tousled.  How she longed to run her fingers through its soft thickness.  Focus, she chided herself.  Don’t get distracted.  She opened the door wider for him to go in.

He was smiling but when he saw her expression, the smile faded.  “What’s the matter?” he asked after she locked the door and turned to face him.  He reached for her but she moved away.

“Let’s go into the living-room,” she suggested and started walking towards it.  He followed her, looking perplexed.  “Before I tell you what’s on my mind, I wanted to thank you for breakfast this morning.”

“Did you enjoy the omelet?”

She nodded.  “Yes, I enjoyed it very much.  You’re an excellent cook.”

“I learned from my mother.  What’s wrong, Nichelle?  You won’t let me touch you and you’re avoiding my gaze.”

She hoped she could get through this without making a fool of herself.  “Luis, are you seeing another woman?” she asked and saw his bewildered look.

He shook his head.  “No, I’m not seeing another woman,” he replied.  “Why would you think that?”

“I-I saw you today having lunch with a beautiful dark-haired woman at the Tapas restaurant.  Who was she?”

He looked thoughtful for a moment and then said, “You’re referring to Consuela.”

“Consuela?  What is she to you?”

He studied her closely now.  “You’re jealous,” he concluded.

She raised her chin, her eyes flashing at him.  “You haven’t answered my question.”

He ran his fingers through his hair, his features relaxed now.  “Consuela is my sister.”

She stared at him, thinking she must be hearing things.  “Your sister?” she repeated.

He nodded.  “Yes.  Consuela is my younger sister.  She invited me to have lunch with her today because it has been a while since we’ve seen each other.”

“When I saw the two of you together, it never occurred to me that she was your sister.  I thought…”

“You thought that I was two-timing you.”

She nodded, her eyes downcast.  “I’m sorry,” she mumbled.

He reached out and pulled her towards him.  “Nichelle, look at me.”

She raised her eyes to his face and trembled when she saw his expression.

“I thought I had made my feelings for you very clear last night and this morning but I guess I was wrong.  Would you like me to spell them out for you?”

She nodded.

“I love you, Nichelle,” he muttered thickly, his eyes darkening on her upturned face.   “I love you so much.”

Her heart was racing now and her eyes were brimming with tears as they met his.  “I love you too,” she cried and gasped when his mouth covered hers in a passionate kiss.  She put her arms around his neck as he picked her up and carried her to her room where they spent the next several hours.  It was after mid-night when they emerged to enjoy a late but very light dinner which he quickly prepared while she made the salad.  They toasted to their future.

It wasn’t until she took the last sip of the wine when she felt something touch her lips.  Startled, looked into the glass and her eyes widened when she saw what looked like a ring.  She reached in and took it out.  It was an exquisite ring with a heart shaped diamond.  She looked at Luis who was grinning.  “I slipped it in when you weren’t looking,” he said.

She brushed aside the tears.  “It would have served you right if I’d swallowed it,” she scolded him.  She looked at the ring again.  “It’s beautiful.”

“It would look even more beautiful on your hand,” he said and he took it from her.  Getting down on his knee, he took her left hand in his.  “Nichelle, will you marry me?”

She nodded.  “Yes, Luis.”

He slipped the ring on her finger before he raised her hand to his lips.  “You’ve just made me a very happy man,” he murmured softly before he rose to his feet and resumed his seat.  “More wine?”

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

True love doesn’t have a happy ending, because true love never ends.

 

 

Working Overtime

Never in all the years she worked with Gabriel did she anticipate falling in love with him. She had been so determined to keep their relationship purely professional and then, out of the blue, she developed feelings for him.  She blamed it on all those nights they worked together on different projects.  He was so disarmingly attractive.

Tonight, she was a bit uneasy.  She wished she could come up with an excuse not to be there.  She dreaded being alone with him.  Unfortunately, they had a finite amount of time to work on this project so they had to get started on it now.

Just then, he walked into the boardroom.  “I hope you don’t mind, but I ordered takeout,” he announced.

She busied herself with the files and papers so that she wouldn’t have to look at him.  “I’m not hungry,” she said.

“You can’t work on an empty stomach.” He came and stood in front of her, forcing her to look at him.  “Do you have a problem being alone with me?” He asked suddenly, making her blink.

“Why would I have a problem being alone with you?” she asked, wondering how he could have guessed that.  Was she so transparent?

“You tell me.”

“There’s nothing to tell.”  She pressed against the edge of the table, her eyes wary.

He was standing really close now and her heart and pulse were racing.  She swallowed hard, riveted by the expression on his face and the color of his eyes.  His gaze dropped to her lips.  For an emotionally charged moment they stood there, close to each other and dangerously close to stepping over the line when she broke the spell by turning away abruptly.

“We have lots of work to do,” she muttered. “We need to get started.”

“Okay,” he conceded and moved away.  They sat down at the table and began to work.

The take out arrived about half-hour later and they ate as they worked.  It was after nine when they finally finished the project.  Gabriel got up and stretched while she gathered the papers together.  He looked at her.  “Would you like to grab some coffee?” he asked.

“No, thanks,” she quickly refused. She started when he got up and went over to her.  She held the files in front of her as if to protect herself.

“Are you going to meet him after you leave here?”

“Who?”

“That character I saw you with yesterday.”

She racked her brain, trying to figure out whom he was talking about when she remembered that she had gone out to lunch with David.  Gabriel had seen her leave and he was in the reception area when she returned an hour and half later.  He hadn’t looked at all pleased.  Much like now.  “You mean David.”

“Yes,” he snapped. “Is he the reason why you won’t go for a coffee with me?”

She stared at him in surprise.  He looked and sounded furious.  There was a glint in his eyes.  Was he jealous of David?  “David is my friend from college.  He invited me to lunch to celebrate his engagement.  He and his fiancee are getting married in June.”

He raked his hands through his hair, his eyes troubled as they met hers.  “I’m sorry for my outburst,” he muttered.  “I thought he was the reason for your behavior towards me.  Lately, you have been acting as if you don’t want to be alone with me.  If he isn’t the reason, what is?

She could tell him that he was mistaken or come clean.  Instead, she asked him a question.  “Gabriel, were you jealous just now when you thought that I was in a relationship with David?”

“Yes,” he admitted.  “I was insanely jealous.”

Her heart was thudding now.  “Why?”

His eyes were dark and stormy now as he moved closer to her.  “Why?  Because I’m in love with you.   I’ve been in love with you for a long time now but kept it to myself because  of our work relationship.   You always made it clear that it was strictly business between us.”

She took a step closer.  “Gabriel…”

“Do you have any feelings for me?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said.  “I tried so hard not to fall in love with you because we work together and I never wanted to get involved with someone I worked with but…” the rest of her words were hushed because he was kissing her.   The files she was holding fell on the floor as she wrapped her arms around his neck and surrendered to the feelings that she had bottled up inside.   For several minutes they exchanged frenzied kisses then she drew back, trying to catch her breath.  “It’s getting late,” she gasped.  “We should be going.”

He nodded, releasing her.  His face was flushed and his breathing was labored. “You’re right.”  He bent down and picked up the files after placing the scattered papers in them.  He handed the files to her.  “We have an early day tomorrow.”

As she took the files from him, his fingers caressed hers.  She exhaled her breath shakily.  “Do you think it will be awkward working together now?”

“It doesn’t have to be,” he said.

She smiled.  “Good.”  She grabbed her handbag and they left the boardroom.  He walked her to her car.  She reached up and kissed him.  It felt so good doing that, so liberating.  “See you tomorrow,” she said when she pulled away.  She was about to climb into her car when he stopped her.

“Have dinner with me at my place tomorrow night,” he said softly.  “I will prepare my specialty.”

She laughed.  “Your specialty?”

“Yes.  Greek lemon chicken and potatoes.  Trust me, you will love it.  Come at six.”

“Sounds delicious.  I’ll bring the wine.”

He smiled and kissed her.  “Good night, Olivia.  Call me when you get home.  If there’s no answer, leave a message.”

“Good night, Gabriel.”  She climbed into the car.  She waved as she drove off.

She was tired but she knew that she wouldn’t fall asleep for a while.  Her thoughts would keep her awake for awhile.  She would be thinking about Gabriel, his declaration of love, his kisses and the home-cooked dinner he had planned for her tomorrow night. At work, it will be business as usual between them but outside of the office…she smiled at the thought.  Just then, Jill Scott’s song, “He loves me” played on the radio.

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