Friday, October 30, 2009

Chapter 19

Once Terrance left, after Charlotte profusely assured him that she was alright and that if she needed to talk that he would be the first person she called, she threw herself into her work.

She started back working on the invitations and inserts that she designed that morning. Since most of her business is spread through word of mouth and websites online, she posts everything that she does in her blog so that potential clients can see what she is capable of doing before they hire her.

She was just about to send her design to the client, when an instant message box popped up on the screen. She didn’t recognize the name, but then again, her computer had been set up to keep her permanently logged in since forever ago, which was the last time she actually logged into it. As she was thinking back on it, she had no idea what her password was. But regardless, there, smack in the middle of her screen was a small box from ‘ibzdaone’.

Ibzdaone: I miss you.
WhosThatLady: Who is this?
Ibzdaone: Who else would be telling you they miss you? You talking to somebody else already?
Ibzdaone: You cheating on me, Charlotte?
WhosThatLady: Damien?! What do you want? Why are you sending me an IM? We broke up! Move on!

When she realized it was Damien she got upset. She hadn’t talked to him since they broke up. She hadn’t really even given him a second thought after she’d hung up the phone with him that day. But, leave it to Damien to act like that day never happened.

Ibzdaone: What do you mean ‘we broke up’? You talking ‘bout that little spat we had over the phone the other day? That didn’t mean anything. Baby, I miss you. Can I come see you tonight? I miss you so much.
WhosThatLady: OMG!!!
WhosThatLady: Are you serious? Are you out of your mind?!
WhosThatLady: I can do this right now. Don’t IM me, don’t call me, don’t text me, don’t send me emails!!! It’s over. We are not together anymore. You are no longer my boyfriend, man, significant other… whatever you used to call yourself. ITS OVER!

Then she closed out the window. She also clicked on the little smiley face in the bottom right corner of her screen and logged out of the messenger. She never used it anyway, so it didn’t matter anymore.

But she couldn’t believe his audacity. After days of not hearing from her, especially after the conversation they had that morning, he still thought that they were together.

She scoffed at the idea that he was serious and pushed it to the back of her mind, dismissing it as a joke he was playing to see if she would fall for it and roll over for him. Those days of her dismissing her anger with him were long over.

She went back to her design and sent it off to the client with a note asking them to get back to her as soon as possible so that she could get started on her project. She was getting that giddy feeling that she usually got when she was working. It was one of the reasons that she chose to do what she was doing. She loved her job and she loved working for herself.

She started thinking back to her younger days when she first started thinking about her career. Her mind immediately turned to Jeremy.

He played such a huge part in her life growing up, it was a wonder they let all that time pass since they’d seen each other.

Thinking about him just made her start thinking about the earlier events of the day. She wondered if Jeremy would take her call or if she had to wait for him to call her, if he ever did. She thought about calling his house number, but then decided against it when she checked the time. Robin could’ve been home. Her voice was the last one she wanted, or needed, to hear right now.

She went to her bedroom and grabbed her cell phone off the bed and dialed Jeremy’s cell number. After four rings, it went to voicemail. She hesitated at first, but then decided to leave him a short simple message.

“Jeremy, this is Charlotte. Please call me when you get this message. We really need to talk, especially after today. Whenever you get this message, and it doesn’t matter what time it is, please call me. I love you.”

She tossed the phone back on the bed and walked to her bathroom.

She hoped a nice, long, hot bath could help de-stress her. She was definitely ready for Calgon to take her away.
____________________________________________________________________

Jeremy pulled into the first parking spot he saw in the small lot of the emergency room at Hermann Hospital. He didn’t care that he was crookedly parked across two lanes. His wife was in the emergency room. If he got a ticket, he figured he’d deal with that later.

He ran across the lot and straight into the building up to the nurse’s desk.

“Excuse me,” he said to a nurse who was standing behind the counter looking into a file cabinet. “My wife, Robin Johnson, was admitted here a little while ago. Can you please tell me where I can find her?”

The nurse told him that she was in with the doctor at that moment, but that she had some paperwork that needed to be signed first.

He looked at her like she had five heads sticking out of her neck. He didn’t care about the paperwork, he wanted to see his wife and find out what was going on. He didn’t even know yet why she was admitted.

“Look, lady, I don’t have time to sign insurance papers or whatever that is. I need to find my wife and find out what’s going on. I don’t even know what she’s doing here. This morning, before she went to work, she was fine. Then I get a call saying that she’s in the hospital and still no one has told me what’s going on or what happened?”

“I can tell you what happened,” a voice said from behind Jeremy.

When he turned around, there stood a tearful Greg.

“I can tell you what happened to Robin.”

“Wait, you work with her, right? I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name.”

“I’m Greg, Greg Taylor. I…”

“Mr. Johnson,” a doctor said, walking up to him from the nurse’s station. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’m Dr. Randall, your wife’s doctor. I need to get some information from you. We need to get this paperwork signed.”

“Like I told the nurse, I can handle the paperwork later. I want to see Robin. Now.”

“Mr. Johnson, we need to get that paperwork signed. We can’t perform any surgeries or do the proper blood work without it. Your wife is incapacitated right now and you have to make the decisions, but you need to do it now. What blood type are you?”

Jeremy had taken a step back from the doctor. He had no clue what was going on with Robin, but from what the doctor was telling him, she was in really bad shape. He didn’t know what to think or do. But he knew that he had to listen to the doctor. Whatever he needed to do, he was going to.

“I’m A and she’s O. We found that out when she had her miscarriage a few years ago. Doctor,” Jeremy said, “I can’t give her blood if she needs it.”

“I can,” Greg said.

Jeremy looked at Greg, who still had tears in his eyes. He wondered what this man’s deal was. He was grateful that Greg was there when Robin needed someone and it was very noble of him to stay at the hospital for her support until he could get there, but Jeremy was becoming uncomfortable with the situation now.

“That’s very nice of you, sir, but...,” the doctor started to say before Greg cut him off.

“I can’t explain it right now, but this is something I have to do. Losing Robin is not an option,” he said, and then looked at Jeremy, “for either of us.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chapter 18

It’s Tuesday morning and Charlotte is puttering around in her kitchen fixing herself breakfast when her phone starts ringing.

She looks at the caller ID and realizes that it’s Mrs. Mathers from the mall. She’d forgotten to call her back the day before. She composed herself and answered in her most professional voice.

“Hello, this is Charlotte,” she said.

“Oh, Charlotte, I’m so happy I finally caught you. This is Mrs. Mathers. I met you at the mall the other day? Do you remember me?” the older woman asked.

“Yes, ma’am, I remember you. I’m sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I’ve been extremely busy wrapping up some loose ends. What can I do for you?”

“Well, I was really hoping that you would be able to help us put together this anniversary party. I don’t want Robin and Jeremy, that’s my son-in-law, to have to put this all on themselves. I mean, you know how much work goes into these things. I just wanted to get in touch with you and see if you had time to fit my event onto your calendar. Do you think that’ll be okay? I’m flexible as to the date, if that’ll help. I just really appreciate what you did for me the other day and want to show my appreciation by hiring you, pending on your previous work, of course. Do you have a portfolio or something that I can see that shows events you’ve already done? I’d love to meet with you. Do you think you’ll have time to fit me in today? I’m retired, you know, and have plenty of time. I’m so excited to get started.”

The woman paused. She’d been talking for quite a few minutes.

“Charlotte, are you there? You’ve been awfully quiet,” the woman asked.

Charlotte hadn’t been listening to the woman after she heard the names Robin and Jeremy together. Who else could she be talking about?

She was mentally kicking herself for not putting two and two together when Robin told her her name at the mall. She was a little shocked. She’d met, and actually liked, Robin upon first meeting her. Now she didn’t know what to do. After what happened with Jeremy, she wasn’t so sure that she wanted to meet her at all. She was nervous that Robin would pick up on her feelings for Jeremy as soon as she said hello. She knew that her emotions and feelings would show on her face anytime she was around him and that a person would have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to notice it.

Charlotte snapped back to reality when she heard Mrs. Mathers calling her name.

“Charlotte,” the woman was practically yelling, “are you still there? I can hear you breathing.”

“Yes, I’m still here. I’m sorry, I got distracted for a moment. Mrs. Mathers, what is Robin’s last name?” Charlotte asked, hoping her suspicions were wrong.

“Well, she used to be a Mathers, like me, before she got married. Her husband’s last name is Johnson, Jeremy and Robin Johnson. Charlotte, what do you say we get together for lunch and you can show me some samples of your work? Do you have testimonials? I love reading testimonials,” the woman babbled.

Charlotte’s head was spinning. She didn’t know what to say about that. There was no way that she could plan this party now. That would mean working with Robin to put the event together, and that was the last thing she wanted to do. She’d slept with this woman’s husband. There was no way she could smile in her face and pretend like nothing ever happened.

“Mrs. Mathers,” Charlotte started, “I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but I’m looking at my calendar right now and I just don’t know if I’ll be able to fit your event in with the three others I’m currently working on.”

It was just a small white lie and Charlotte hated to have to do it, but she just didn’t see any other way to get out of it.

“Well, I’m sorry to hear that. I was looking forward to working with you. You’re such a nice girl.”

Charlotte flipped through her rolodex.

“Mrs. Mathers, I can give you the name and number of an associate of mine. We work together sometimes on different projects. Is that okay?”

Mrs. Mathers agreed to that and Charlotte gave her the information and ended the call.

She did have some jobs lined up and more than likely would’ve been able to take on the party, but with the added drama of Robin and Jeremy thrown in the mix, she couldn’t guarantee that she would put her all into it, let alone be in the right mindset to get it done. She felt like passing this on to someone else was for the best.

After grabbing a bagel from her pantry, she walked to her bedroom and sat at her desk. She stared at herself in the mirror for a long time. She couldn’t believe the mess she’d gotten herself in.

The phone ringing broke her out of her trance. Looking at the caller ID, she saw that it was Terrance.

She answered it and they talked for a few minutes before they decided that he was going to bring over snacks and some movies in an hour.

She was happy about that, feeling as though the distraction would do her some good. And Terrance wasn’t a bad distraction at all.

She got dressed in comfortable clothes and then went to her office. She figured she could at least get started on a little bit of work before he arrived.

She sat at her computer and completed a few invoices and even got started on a design for a wedding invitation she was supposed to be building when there was a knock at the door.

She opened it find Terrance standing there with bags of junk and movies. She stepped aside to let him in and they got settled in right away.

They were about half an hour into the first movie when there was another knock at the door. She wasn’t expecting anyone, so she looked out the side window first.

It was Jeremy.

Terrance was still sitting in the living room when she opened the door.

“Hey, you,” she said. “What are you doing here?”

She stepped out onto the porch and pulled the door halfway closed.

“I came to see you,” he responded. “Robin’s at work and I needed to talk to you …”

He was interrupted when Terrance opened the door looking for Charlotte.

“Babe, what’s going on?” he asked.

He stood behind Charlotte and eyed Jeremy. When Charlotte turned to face him, he outstretched his hand towards Jeremy.

“What’s up, man? I’m Terrance, and old friend of Charlotte’s. How you doing?” he said, as he and Jeremy shook hands.

“”Sup Terrance, I’m Jeremy, a very old friend of Lady’s, I mean Charlotte’s.”

Charlotte watched the exchange between the two of them and noticed the darkness that settled in both of their eyes. They were sizing each other up.

“Charlotte,” Jeremy began before she had a chance to explain, “I’m sorry for coming over unannounced. I see that I’m interrupting things here. Look, I’m gonna go and…” he turned and started walking to his car, “I’ll call you… sometime, okay? Terrance it was nice meeting you. Charlotte…bye.”

She watched as he got in his car and pulled off.

Terrance took her hand and gently tried to pull her inside, but she watched his car until she couldn’t see it anymore. She, then, let him guide her back in the house. She wanted to curl up and cry when she saw that sad look on Jeremy’s face.

“So, that’s him, huh, your complicated and ‘not ideal’ situation?” Terrance said once she sat down.

She nodded her head yes. Her mind was replaying the look on Jeremy’s face over and over again. Her heart was breaking a little more each time she was forced to watch it.

“I’ve never seen you look at a person the way you looked at him, not even me.” He said the last part in almost a whisper, but Charlotte caught it.

“So, what’s the problem? Why don’t ya’ll just work out whatever it is that’s wrong and get together? It’s obvious that he cares for you, too. He had that same look in his eyes that you did.”

Terrance sat down next to her, waiting for an answer.

“Because I’m not his wife,” she told him, just before she broke down and cried.
__________________________________________________________

Jeremy didn’t know what to think or do once he started driving away from Charlotte’s house.

He went over there because, after finding out that the person that Robin met at the mall the other day was Charlotte, he needed to talk to her and let her know how he felt about them meeting and see what they were going to do about their future.

But he never would’ve guessed that he’d find her at home with another man. Just the other night, that was him. As much as he tried to tell himself that he had no right to be jealous, he couldn’t help it. The second Terrance walked out that door Jeremy wanted to rip his heart out.

He couldn’t believe that she just stood there. He wasn’t sure what he expected her to do, but he needed for her to do something. His heart was officially crushed.

His cell phone ringing shattered his thoughts and brought him back to the real world.

“Hello?” he said into the phone.

“Mr. Johnson, this is Nicole. We need you to come down to the construction site and sign off on some invoices. There are also a couple of things that need your approval. Are you available to come in today?” she asked.

Jeremy welcomed the work distraction. His company was contracted to build a huge business center on the North side of town. With him being the owner, he didn’t always have to be on site, that’s what he had a General Manager for. But he liked to know where the company’s money was going towards when it came time to make big plans and changes.

“I’m on my way there right now, Nicole. I’ll see you in about 20 minutes,” he told his assistant before hanging up.

He drove the 20 minutes to the site and headed straight for the trailer. He got the paperwork signed with Nicole and then headed into the building to see what kind of progress his guys were making.

He was just about to get into the outdoor elevator when he heard his name being called over the intercom. He was being told that he had a phone call holding for him in the office trailer.

Upon arriving, he picked up the receiver and spoke into it.

“This is Jeremy Johnson,” he stated.

“Mr. Johnson, this is Nurse Banxter at Hermann Memorial Hospital. Your wife, Robin Johnson, was admitted to the hospital a half hour ago. We need you to come down here,” the nurse told him.

“What’s wrong with my wife? What happened?” he asked, yelling the questions at the nurse.

“Sir, the doctors are asking that you come down to the hospital as soon as possible. They’ll be able to explain everything to you once you get here. We’re located in the Medical Center, at Fannin and McGregor. Do you know how to get here?” the nurse kindly asked.

“I’m on my way,” Jeremy said into the phone before hanging it up and running out the door.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chapter 17

“Baby, you here?” Robin called out as she walked through the front door.

When the car service dropped her off, she didn’t see Jeremy’s car in the driveway. She figured maybe he parked in the garage, but after checking there, she still didn’t see it.

Robin walked to her bedroom and hung up her hanging clothes case in the closet. She would send the clothes to the dry cleaners later.

She walked to the bathroom and started the water in the shower. She had to rinse off as much of Greg as she could before Jeremy came home.

Where was Jeremy, she thought. He knew she was coming in on the first flight home. It’s 7 o’clock in the morning and he’s no where to be found.

She went back and grabbed a pair of underwear and made sure her bathrobe was on the back of the door before she pushed it partway closed and stepped into the shower.

She had set the water as hot as she could stand it so that she could scrub all the cheating away with her loofa brush. Anything she could think of to get what she had done with Greg all these years off her body would never be enough. She was determined to be the good wife that she hoped was inside of her.

She ran her loofa over her stomach and cringed. She had a whole 4 days ahead of her before she could actually see the doctor. The thought of waiting that long was going to kill her. She made it up in her mind that she would go get a couple of more tests, making sure to check the expiration dates first, and try to satisfy her curiosity. She would tell Jeremy right away if she was pregnant.

She finished up in the shower and got out. She could hear moving around in the other room and it scared her. She quickly dressed and then grabbed a hair brush. Looking in the mirror at her self holding the brush over her head and seeing how ridiculous she looked, as well as wondering what she was going to do with the brush, she put it down and picked up the plunger. At least that way, if she had to swing it, she would be able to put some space between herself and the perp.

She made sure her grip was tight and pushed slowly pushed the door open with her foot. When she rounded the corner to enter her bedroom, she was met face-to-face with Jeremy.

“Babe, what are you doing?” he asked, seeing her with the plunger positioned over her head.

He laughed as he took a step back. There she was standing in her lace and silk robe, hair done up in a towel with a plunger poised over her head.

“I didn’t know that was you. You weren’t hear when I got in the shower. Where were you?”

She eyed him suspiciously. This was the first time that he’d ever given her the impression that he might be cheating also.

He didn’t say a word but reached up and took the plunger from her right hand and guided her down the hall to the kitchen with her left. She stopped him once they got halfway down the hallway.

“Jeremy, I asked you a question, where were you?” she demanded. She was getting frustrated now because this was so unlike him to not answer her when she asked him something.

“Baby, trust me. Just… just come with me,” he answered.

Once again, he took her hand and led her down the hallway. As they rounded the corner, she could see that the table was set for two and there was a bouquet of daisies in a vase in the center. Her favorite breakfast foods were strategically placed around the table.

“When I talked to you yesterday, you sounded so tired, so I wanted to do something nice and romantic for you. You’ve been working so hard lately and I know we haven’t taken a vacation together in a while. I was hoping that this could be the start of us trying to do more things together, more romantic and loving things together,” he told her.

He pulled out her chair and helped her sit down.

“Robin, lately, I don’t know for how long, but I’ve been feeling like the spark is gone, something’s been missing. I can’t put my finger on it, but whatever it is, I want to try to make this work. But only if you’re willing.”

She looked at him, amazed. She had no idea what to say to him. Then she started to panic. Maybe he knew what was going on and this was his way of telling her and that he was ready to start over. Whatever it was he was trying to say, she was willing to do it, for him.

“I am,” she told him.

Then she pulled him close and kissed him to seal the deal.
________________________________________________________________________

After breakfast, Robin went and put on some clothes to lounge around the house in.

Jeremy had mentioned to her that they would spend the day together and get to know each other again, to be like they used to. She wanted to do what she could and he was trying to see if they could.

They sat around all day, just talking about everything. He told her about the jobs his company was working on and what they had lined up in the coming months and she filled him in on her jobs and deals she had lined up.

Eventually, he got around to asking about her parents and how they were. He then remembered something about an emergency with her mom the other day.

Robin told him about how her mom was supposed to go down the bank and deposit money for their anniversary party but got sidetracked and lost it in the store she wasn’t supposed to be in. She explained how some woman helped her mom find the money. She expressed how shocked she was that this woman, who was probably about her age, would turn the money back in, whereas she couldn’t be sure that she would. She also filled him on how the woman didn’t want a reward or anything like that, but asked instead for them to help her promote her business.

Robin, then, went to her purse and pulled out the business card the woman had given her. She told Jeremy how she instantly got good vibes from the woman, especially since the woman was willing to take on the task of dealing with her parents and their anniversary party.

Robin handed Jeremy the card and all the color drained from his face.

Of course, Robin didn’t notice at all. She told him that she needed to remind her mom to call the woman if she hadn’t already. She reached for the phone and mentioned to him that she needed to do it while it was still on her mind, because she was forgetful, too.

Jeremy took that opportunity to excuse himself to the bathroom.

When he got in there, he closed and locked the door. He immediately turned on the cold water and splashed his face.

“They’ve met already,” he whispered softly.

He was freaking out. If Charlotte planned this party, there was no way he could hide their friendship.

He hadn’t really wanted them to meet because he knew how he felt just talking to Charlotte on the phone, but to have to be around her, in person, with his wife? A blind man could see how in love with her he was.

And that, Jeremy was sure, would be the one thing that Robin would notice.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chapter 16

Jeremy whistled as he walked through his front door. He was in such a good mood that he actually played pretty well on the basketball court. He usually does okay, but today was special. He felt young again, like he did when he won championships back in high school and college. He just felt good.

And he knew he owed it all to having Charlotte back in his life.

He went and took a long shower, letting the hot water soothe his overworked muscles. When he got out, he dressed in some lounging clothes and turned the tv on. He put it on his favorite old skool R&B station, and danced his way to the kitchen. He heated up some leftover Robin put in the refrigerator for him and settled down in his favorite chair.

He ate while his mind took him back to his night, and morning, with Charlotte. He couldn’t stop thinking about her.

It was strange how he went from an occasional thought over the past ten years to nonstop thoughts, over the course of a couple of days. He was just amazed by her. And to think, she felt the same way he did. He just couldn’t get over that.

He replayed her words over and over in his head. And it didn’t help that she’d told him she loved him. Just thinking about that made his heart flutter. He hadn’t felt that feeling in a long while. She was bringing out of him something that seemed to have been hidden away for a long time. He tried to remember the last time that Robin did something for him or to him to make him feel butterflies, or at the very least, even a small flutter. He came up empty-handed.

And, as he was soon beginning to realize, thinking about Charlotte and Robin at the same time was depressing him. That thought alone made him uncomfortable. How someone could cheat on another person was beyond him.

He didn’t regret what he’d done with Charlotte, but the fact that he was going to have to hide that from Robin was killing him. He wasn’t used to keeping secrets from her, they shared everything. He married her and made a commitment to her and in one night, he broke that.

He started thinking back to the night he proposed to Robin. They were so happy back then, not to say they weren’t happy now.

They went to a small jazz hall that she loved going to. After eating, he took her down to the Galveston on the seawall. He’d made reservations at a hotel on the water and he wanted that night to be perfect. After checking in, they went for a short walk down on the sandy beach and just talked and kissed and just made the night perfect. When they’d gotten back to the suite, he had her to close her eyes and he let her to the bedroom. There, he stood her in front of the bed where he’d had the concierge place rose petals all over the bed and had chocolate covered strawberries and champagne waiting. There, in the middle of all that was a small box with and engagement ring in it.

He got down on one knee while he was holding her hand. He squeezed her hand and told her to open her eyes. She was looking down, in the direction of his voice and immediately saw him on one knee. She teared up before she even had the chance to look around the newly decorated room. He drew her attention to the ring on the bed and then told her how much she meant to him, expressing just how many ways he loved her.

She was so hysterical and happy that she got on the phone and called her mom before she even gave him an answer. He remembered how he laughed at the fact that she was calling and telling everybody that he proposed before she gave him and official yes. He didn’t care, though. He loved her with all his heart. She was going to marry him and that was all that mattered.

But now, things were different. He loved her, but something in their relationship had changed a while ago. He couldn’t put his finger on it but he could tell that they both knew it, but they both were fighting hard to keep their relationship together. He couldn’t say that he his love for had changed in a bad way, but his love for her was different nonetheless.

And he figured that she was in the same position.

He was brought back to reality by the phone ringing. He looked at the screen as it displayed Charlotte’s house number. His smile was automatic. He couldn’t help it.

“Hey you,” he greeted her.

“Wow, you sound really happy. What’s going on?” she countered.

“Nothing. I was just sitting here thinking about things, some good and some bad, but either way, I was happy when I saw your name pop up on the called ID. I never thought I’d be one of them,” he said.

“One of who?” she asked.

“You know, one of those people who blush and smile at the mention of someone name. I never thought I’d be one of those dudes. And if anybody else finds out that I am, I’ll know it was you who said something.”

This was another thing he missed with Robin, he realized. The playful banter and the talking about nothing. They used to do it all the time, and now, everything was so serious or wasn’t anything at all. He couldn’t just walk up to her and talk about the green, purple and yellow socks he started to buy her when he was at the store. She would wonder what he thought she had to wear with that and even if she did have an outfit, where would she wear it? She wouldn’t be caught dead in socks like that. Her reputation was at stake.

But with Charlotte, it was different. Everything seemed to be. She probably would’ve playfully scolded him for not buying them for her, and the scarf or hat to match. And she would wear them, just because they came from him.

“Oh, you know I will tell every person I come in contact with. You just wait til I get a chance to talk to Sam. You know I’m telling her.”

Jeremy racked his brain trying to remember who Sam was. Then he remembered she was Charlotte’s younger sister. The one who used to pretend that she was his girlfriend. When her friends would come over, she would pretend that he was there to see her. He played along with it, too. All her little friends were so jealous of Sam. They all thought Jeremy was the most beautiful boy they’d ever seen.

He laughed as he remembered that and relayed it to Charlotte.

“You know, if you ask her about that today, she’ll deny that that ever happened. She tries to play the role of the bad girl now. I don’t know what I’m going to do with her,” Charlotte told him.

They talked about an hour longer before his call waiting chimed in. He asked Charlotte to hold on while he clicked over.

“Hello?” he said into the phone.

“Hey baby, good, you’re still awake,” Robin said. “I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be home first thing in the morning. The meeting we were supposed to have tomorrow got cancelled, so I’m going to head out early in the morning. I miss you so much.”

Jeremy didn’t know what to say. He went from about hundred miles per hour talking to Charlotte to zero when he started talking to Robin.

“Okay,” was all he could muster up to say.

“Okay, baby. I’ll see you in the morning. Love you,” she said.

“You, too,” he replied. His mind and mouth just wouldn’t form the words.

After clicking back over, Charlotte noticed the change in his tone.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“She’ll be back in the morning. I was kind of hoping to get in some more time with you before she came back. Now that’s out the window.”

He sounded so sad and heartbroken. She wanted the same thing, which was the reason for her call. But it seemed that when they got to talking, she always forgot her reasoning and just went with the flow.

“Well, that’s what I was originally calling you about. I wanted to see if you wanted to come over. You could stay with me until the very last minute. I want to see you, too,” she finished quietly.

“Hang up, I’m on my way” was all she heard before the dial tone sound.

Ten minutes later, he was knocking on her front door.
_____________________________________________________________________

Robin hung up the phone with Jeremy and sat back down on the bed.

“Babe, come on to bed. I told you, we’ll figure this out. I promise,” Greg said to her.

She turned around to face him. He noticed right away the tears streaming down her face. He reached over and pulled her to him. He wrapped his arms around her and spooned her. He let her cry until she fell asleep. He never would’ve expected for Robin to react this way. She didn’t even know whether or not she was pregnant yet. He figured it had to be something else that was bothering her. She was withdrawn from him since she took those tests.

He couldn’t put his finger on it, but her demeanor, body language and attitude towards him had changed in the last couple of hours. He was sure about that. He just hoped that she wasn’t pulling back from him. That, he wouldn’t be able to take again. If that was the case, he wouldn’t go down without a fight.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chapter 15

Charlotte was a little confused. She honestly felt that her heart was with Jeremy, but she didn't know what was going to happen there. She was in love with a married man. A man who was happy with his wife, regardless of how much they both wished that "wife" was Charlotte. She couldn't compete with that.

So when Terrance showed up, things for her got even worse. Terrance was the only man that she knew that could compete with Jeremy for her feelings. Had Terrance not been called to duty, she would've married him back then.

How thin was the line between loving someone and being in love with someone?

"Can I come in?" Terrance asked.

Charlotte was standing in the doorway staring at him. She shook her head out of the daze she was in and stepped aside as his six foot four frame waltzed into the room. She closed the door behind him and leaned against it.

She didn't know what to do or say. If they were still on the phone, it would've been easier, but given that he was here, now and in the flesh, it was throwing her off her game. This was something that she had to mentally prepare herself for.

"I'm sorry, have a seat," she said, motioning to the sofa in her living room.

"I was just about to, um, fix myself a drink. You want?" she asked. She knew she definitely needed something to stop herself from going crazy.

She walked over to the bar in the corner and pulled out two highball glasses. She filled them both halfway with Alize. Her bar, her rules, she thought. He knew she knew nothing about mixing drinks, let alone what went into which glass.

She handed him his drink and sat on the floor cushions lining the wall under the window. She chose sitting on her floor over sitting on the sofa any day. She purposefully had her entire house lined with the thickest carpet underlay she could find. When you walked on it, your feet would sink into the carpet.

"So..." she began, "what brings you out here?"

"I came to see you. I just got back yesterday, went to see my mom and dad last night, my Big Mama this morning and now you this evening. I didn't want to call and you maybe not be here. And I didn't want to call and you maybe be here and not want to see me. I just didn't know what to expect. I mean it’s been a couple of years, you know?"

"Three years, two months and four days, to be exact. But who's counting?"

She coyly took a sip of her drink and watched him over the rim. She noticed that he'd set his drink down and was intensely watching her.

“Why are you sitting way over there?” he questioned.

“I like it over here. Why don’t you come join me? I don’t bite.”

Terrance stood up and Charlotte looked up just in time to see that he was just about to walk into a cluster of small lights she had hanging over her reading chair.

“Watch your head!” she yelled.

He ducked, but not in time. He knocked one of the lights off and Charlotte caught it. She laughed as he looked like he was about to cry. He apologized as he tried to fold his long legs under him like she did. She cracked up even more as he tipped over trying to sit Indian style.

Once he got settled, they sat and comfortably talked for the next couple of hours. It was fun catching up with Terrance. He told her about the things he saw while he was away and she caught him up on what had been going on in her life.

She asked him if he’d met someone while he was away and he thought that was a strange question. She told him about how there were men that she knew who got called to duty and came back married or engaged to women from where ever they served. He denied having a wife or fiancĂ©e, claiming that he was still in love with her.

He then told her about the ring and how he would’ve proposed had things been different. He asked her if she was seeing someone now and she hesitated with her answer.

“It’s complicated. I’m in a situation that is not ideal and I have no idea how I’m going to handle it,” she told him.

That was one thing she always loved about him. She could tell him anything and he would sit and talk it through with her, no matter what it was about.

But this wasn’t something that she really wanted to share with Terrance. She wasn’t exactly sure that she wouldn’t come out hurt in the situation with Jeremy. She thought it would be best to keep her options open. After all, Jeremy was married. And right now, one of her options was sitting and talking with her in her living room.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chapter 14

It was about 3 o’clock when Jeremy finally heard from Robin. She explained to him that when her flight got in yesterday, her immediate supervisor was waiting in the town car at the airport for her. That had never happened before, so she knew that she was in for an all-nighter with the team. She told him how she kept meaning to call him, but she just couldn’t break away. Then, when she finally made it to her hotel room in the wee hours of the morning, she was asleep before he head even hit the pillow and she had no idea how she was awake to head up their presentation to the clients this morning.

Jeremy, being the understanding one, had no reason to doubt her story. He knew how hard she worked and had no reason to ask more than the necessary questions.

Robin, on the other hand, was just good at lying. She could spin a story to cover just about anything, which is why she was having a freak out over what she was going to tell Jeremy if it turned out she was pregnant. She didn’t want to know, but she knew she had to find out sooner or later.

So after getting off the phone with her husband, Robin walked the 6 blocks to the nearest drug store. She bought three different kinds of pregnancy tests and told herself that no matter the results, pregnant or not, she would break it off with Greg. Things were just getting too complicated and she was becoming careless.

She rushed back to the hotel and up to their room. When she walked in, Greg was just putting on a shirt.

“Babe, where are you going?” Robin asked him.

“I just got a call from LW and he is sending me a fax with the changes for the LW meeting we have Tuesday morning. Watch out, though. He might be trying to reach you on your cell and you know we don’t want him to know we’re here together. I told him I was here for a baseball game with a buddy,” Greg responded.

Greg stopped at the door when he saw the lost look on Robin’s face. He tried to get her to tell him what was wrong, but she just waved him off.

“I’m fine. Hurry down so you can come back up. I’m getting hungry,” she told him.

He hopped over to her and placed a soft kiss on her lips.

“Be right back, love,” he replied. Then he was out the door.

She knew that she had at least 10 minutes to kill before he came back upstairs. She’d been holding it for about thirty minutes now, so she was ready for a release.

She picked up a small plastic cup from the small kitchen counter in the room and took it in the bathroom with her. If she was going to do this, she wanted to make sure she had enough for all three test.

She knew she should probably wait until the next morning, when her HGC levels are at their highest, but tomorrow she would be back on a flight for home. She didn’t wanted time to calm down from the freak-out she knew she was bound to have.

She did her business in the cup and then set it on the counter. After washing her hands, she opened the first test. She dipped the stick into the liquid and set it aside. She opened the second test and did the same thing. After opening the third test, she poured a few drops onto the spot for the urine and set that test aside. She poured out the remaining liquid and flushed the toilet. She washed her hands again, said a little prayer and left the bathroom.

She went to the kitchen and set the oven timer for 5 minutes, as all the test claimed they would be done in that time.

She walked over to the window and peeped out. She was nervous and was getting fidgety. She sat down in the high-backed chair in front of the window and crossed and uncrossed her legs. She swore she could hear the ticking of the clock on the bedside table, even though it was digital. She knew then that she was extremely paranoid and thought she needed a drink.

Just as she got to the minibar, she heard a very small bell ding. She rushed to the stove to turn the timer off, only the stove still read two minutes. That’s when she realized that it was the elevator dinging out in the hall. She listened for footsteps, but they passed her hotel room door. It wasn’t Greg, yet.

She opened the minibar and took out two small bottled of rum. She downed the first one in two gulps and then just as she opened the second one, she heard the oven timer go off. Her hand froze in mid-air.

She slowly walked over to the oven and turned the timer off. She stared at the bathroom door for a few seconds before she slowly made her way to that door.

She pushed the door open and walked over to the counter. She took a deep breath and then looked down at the tests.

This was going to be so confusing.

She picked up the box for the first test. It was supposed to have two pink parallel lines if she was pregnant and one pink line if she wasn’t. There was one pink line that was barely there. She figured that meant ‘no’. She gave a little smile at that response.

Then she moved onto the next one. It was supposed to show two lines for a positive reading and one line for a negative reading, also. Only this time, there were two very thick lines. Her breath caught in her throat upon reading that one. It was positive!

She dropped that one in the sink and picked up the third test. She was glad that she got a third one because, surely, this one would give the real result, right?

She picked up the box for the third test. It was supposed to give a simple yes or no answer, only there were no words in the window. Clearly, the test was wet enough to produce an answer. She just knew she followed the instructions to a T. But there was nothing in the window of the test.

Clearly frustrated she picked up the box again. Looking for anything about a test not giving you a response, she came across the expiration date of the test. It was dated a year and a half ago.

She picked up the boxes for the other two test and looked at the expiration dates on them, also. She was dumbfounded. All the test expired more than a year ago.

How was she supposed to get accurate results from these test, she wondered.

She sat down on the toilet again with her head in her hands. She was going over and over in her mind what to do when Greg walked back in. She was so wrapped up in her own thinking that she didn’t hear him calling her name or step into the bathroom. The first thing he saw was her sitting on the toilet. The second things were the tests lined up on the counter.

He looked back at Robin then walked over to the test results.

“Robin,” he said, trying to finally get her attention. “What’s all this?”

She jumped when she finally heard him. She looked up at him through the tears in her eyes.

“I don’t know,” she told him. “I should have checked the dates on them before I bought them. They’re all expired!” she screamed.

She half laughed and half cried as she shook her head.

“Just my luck, huh? One says it positive, one says its negative, and the other one, it don’t say nothing,” she screamed again.

She got up and walked out of the bathroom and flopped down on the bed.

Greg took a moment and looked at the tests again. He knew that Robin wouldn’t calm down until she knew the truth. And he knew he couldn’t get her to go to a clinic. She would only see her own doctor.

“Baby, don’t worry so much about it. I promise you it’ll be fine. Like I told you already, we’ll get through it and work it out. Just trust me. I got you, baby.”

Robin sat up and grabbed her phone. She was an hour ahead of the time it was at home. Looking at the clock, it was just a little before 5 pm. She would try her doctor’s office first and if she couldn’t reach her there, she would page her.

She got through to the office and made an appointment, but the earliest she could be seen was a week and a half from today. She booked the appointment and immediately started going through conversations in her mind about what she was going to tell Jeremy.

But, her thoughts were interrupted by a wave of nausea. She ran past Greg to the bathroom and slammed the door.

She definitely knew her body and her body was definitely telling her she was pregnant.
____________________________________________________________

After her long shower, Charlotte sat on her bed while she got dressed. She heard the faint sound of her phone indicating that she had a voicemail.

She got dressed and then played the messages on her phone.

“Hi, Ms. Roberts, it’s Mrs. Mathers. We met at the mall when you helped me out? I wanted to speak with you about a few things, if you had some time today. Oh, and I wanted to say thank you again for your help yesterday. You came along at just the right time. I really hope that you’ll be able to help us with this party. Anyway, give me a call back whenever you get the chance, please? My number is 555-6985. Thanks again. Bye.”

Charlotte went back and checked the number that she missed while talking to Jeremy yesterday. Sure enough, it was the same number. She hated to miss calls from important or potential clients, but she would miss them all again if it was for Jeremy.

She broke out into a smile again. She realized that she’d become one of those blushing girls who just beamed with smiles and hearts and love at the mention of their man’s name. She’d just never had that before. It felt… nice.

She went to pick up her house phone to call Jeremy, but when she did, she got no dial tone, but she could hear faint sounds coming from the other end of the phone.

“Hello,” she said, thinking maybe the telephone lines got crossed.

“Charlotte,” the voice said into the phone. “What’s up girl? Man, I missed you.”

Charlotte rolled her eyes. The lines weren’t crossed, she just happened to pick up the phone at the exact moment it would’ve been ringing.

“Damien, why are you calling me?”

“Huh, who is Damien? Oh, wait, I forgot you had it like that, you and your “many menses”?”

The guy on the other end of the phone laughed at his own joke. Charlotte still didn’t recognize the voice.

“Who is this?” she asked, getting a little nervous. She was very good at remembering voices, especially guy’s, but this one, she couldn’t place. She knew it wasn’t Damien or Jeremy. And she hadn’t given out her house number to anyone in a long time.

“I’ll give you a hint: Thud,” the person said.

Charlotte laughed out loud for a good five minutes before coming back down to earth.

“Thud” was a nickname she’d given to one of her ex-boyfriend’s from a few years ago. His real name was Terrance Hudson, but he always went by “T Hud”, which Charlotte turned into “Thud”.

It had been years since they talked. Terrance had been shipped off somewhere overseas with the military three years ago. That was the only reason they’d broken up.

“Terrance. God, its been, what? Three years? How are you? Where are you?”

Charlotte was shooting so many questions at him, he didn’t know what to answer first.

“Hey, wait, slow down. Let me answer the first five then you can shoot the next ones at me,” he laughed. “First of all, I’m back. For good. I’ll explain all that later. Secondly, I want to see you. I need to see you. I could really use a friend right now. And lastly, I’m standing at your front door.”

Charlotte almost dropped the phone. She couldn’t believe it.

Terrance was the one person that she’d met since Jeremy who could actually be competition for him. When they were dating before he left, Terrance had bought a ring and was going to propose. They’d already talked about marriage before all that and they were happy, truly happy. The only reason they weren’t together now was because of his call to duty. But now that he was back, she didn’t know how to react to that.

“Well…” he sang into the phone. “Are you going to open the door?”

“Yeah,” she said, shaking the memories away. “I’m on my way.”

She hung up the phone, threw on some lip gloss and ran to the front door. She looked through the peephole and immediately her heart skipped a beat.

She opened the front door to see a much more mature looking Terrance standing there.
“Hi honey,” Terrance said, with his arms spread wide. “I’m home, baby!"

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chapter 13

It was about five a.m. when Charlotte turned over to look at the clock. She’d dozed off a few hours before, but was having a restless sleep. She looked behind her at Jeremy, who was frowning in his sleep.

She snuggled up closer to him and laid her head on his chest, the fine hairs tickling her nose.

She smiled to herself as she thought about their night. She pulled the covers up more, trying to keep the coldness of the room from stealing Jeremy’s body heat from her. She closed her eyes and sighed to herself. Things couldn’t have gone more perfect last night in her eyes.

She thought back to how, at first, she didn’t know what was going to happen. Jeremy was laying with his arms wrapped around her tightly, like he thought she would run away. His head was buried in her hair.

He released his hold on her and moved her hair away from her neck. Then he gently placed a trail of kissed from her collar bone on around to her lips. She’d never had anyone kiss her as intensely as he was kissing her at that moment. She realized, in that instance, that every kiss she’d received from him so far, he was kissing her like it was the last time. That feeling made her feel sad, and before she knew it, a lone tear trailed down her face and over her cheek. Jeremy noticed it right away.

“Honey, what’s wrong? Did I hurt you?” he asked, scooting away from her body.

“No, no, nothing like that,” she said. “It’s nothing.”

He looked at her in disbelief.

“How can you expect me to believe its nothing when you’re crying? Charlotte, talk to me,” he pleaded.

She sighed and took a deep breath. She told him how she felt and he admitted that that was how he felt. He didn’t know what was going to happen, but he felt like he needed this with her. They both did.

She reached out and hugged him tightly. When she pulled back, she placed a soft kiss on his lips. He followed her lead and from there as they kissed, caressed and made love to each other’s bodies for the first time.

Afterwards they talked and cuddled until they could no longer keep their eyes open.

As Charlotte was reliving what she believed was a dream come true for her, Jeremy pulled her as close to his body as he could get. Charlotte giggled at his efforts. It was funny that they both woke with the same intentions and she knew that she couldn’t get any closer to him than she already was.

After they got resettled, they stilled their bodies, listening to the other breathing.

Just as they both started to doze off, a familiar song started to play on the radio. The volume was barely up, but they couldn’t help but make out the one song that they felt was most fitting to their situation.

“Wow. If that’s not a slap in the face, I don’t know what is,” Charlotte said.

To hear “As We Lay” playing on the radio at that moment, it was bizarre.

Jeremy listened to the song, with his eyes closed. He was thinking the same thing she was.

“Jeremy,” Charlotte spoke, “I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, or even the rest of today for that matter, but I don’t want to go back to a life without you in it.”

She sat up and pulled the blanket up around her. She wanted to see his face and his reaction to what she was about to say.

“I don’t want you to be out of my life again. I love you, I always have and I know I always will. I know that once we leave from here, reality will set in and we’ll both have to go back to the way things were yesterday morning before we both set foot in La Madeleine. But I’m willing to accept whatever may come, as long as I can still have you be a part of my life.”

Jeremy sat up.

“I know, and I feel the same way. I have loved you since day one and I will probably be kicking myself to the end of time because I waited so long to tell you that. But I’m glad we got a chance to talk about it and get it all out in the open. And I can honestly tell you that after last night, if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m glad we talked and kissed and I’m glad I got to experience real love making. I love you, girl, and nothing is going to change that, or change us. Period, point blank.”

Charlotte smiled at him. That was exactly what she needed to hear from him.

“I know that we can go from this day forward still being friends, best friends. I don’t know what I would do if I lost you again,” Charlotte said.

“Well, that’s one thing you’ll never have to worry about. You’re stuck with me.”
“I like the sound of that!” Charlotte said, as she let Jeremy pull her in for kiss.
_________________________________________________________________________

After leaving the hotel, Jeremy plugged his car charger into the slot on his cell phone. He didn’t want to have to think about what he was having to return to once he got home, but at least with Robin out of town, he had a little time to think about it.

He powered the phone on and set it on the pedestal on his dashboard. Once it was completely on, it beeped to let him know that he had voicemails. He hesitated as he pushed the icon for voicemail. He’d never turned his phone off all night long when Robin was out of town. She always called him before she settled in for the night.

As the recorded voice was telling him he had two new messages, he thought back to the day before. He couldn’t remember talking to Robin after she left. He found her note telling him that she had to leave earlier than expected, but still, she didn’t call him to say she made it or goodnight.

He snapped out of it when he heard a male voice coming from his phone.

“J, what’s up man? I was just calling to see if you wanna hang out tomorrow. I know you’re busy today, but maybe we can hook up and go play some ball at the courts? Hit me back.”

That one was from David. He figured he’d call him back and tell him that yes they could go play basketball. Maybe it would help him take his mind off Charlotte. Not that thinking about here was a bad thing, but thinking about her just made him want to be with her. He just wanted to hold her hand, kiss her cheek, hear her laugh. Anything.

He sighed as he listened to his next message.

“Hey JJ,” his mom said, using one of her nicknames for him, “its your mom. I was just calling to see if you wanted to come by Sunday and we can go to brunch or something. Maybe we could invite Charlotte to join us? Okay, give me a call. Love you, son.”

He smiled and shook his head at his mom’s message. Saying that she was happy to hear from Charlotte was an understatement. He figured she was already planning the wedding, even though Robin is still very much his wife. It didn’t slip past him that his mother didn’t say anything about Robin in the message. He already knew that it wasn’t an open invitation to bring Robin. His mother was a very outspoken woman and one time when Robin went to brunch with Jeremy and his mother, his mom made it plainly clear that it wasn’t an open invitation to outsiders, but since she was there she might as well stay.

Jeremy couldn’t understand it. His mother always just told him that it was just something about the girl that rubbed her the wrong way and he just chalked it up to her thinking that she felt like nobody was good enough, worthy if you will, to be with her baby. That is, with the exception of Charlotte. If his mother knew what they’d done the night before, she would call Robin directly to tell her to pack her bags.

Jeremy scoffed at the idea of letting on to his mother about anything. She was already pulling Charlotte back into the family circle. If Charlotte agreed to go to brunch with them, which he couldn’t see why she wouldn’t, the meal would definitely be interesting.

He hung up the phone just as he was pulling in his driveway. He took a deep breath and then almost immediately released it. He laughed to himself as he realized that his clothes, and now his entire car, smelled of Charlotte’s perfume. His smile faded, though, as he realized that that was not a good thing. He turned the car back on and cracked the windows of the vehicle hoping that the fresh air would push out the perfume smell. His clothes were another issue all by themselves.

Once he entered the house, he stripped down and put the clothes in the hamper. He made a mental note to do a load of laundry as he stepped in the shower.
_________________________________________________________________________

After making it home, Charlotte fell across her bed. She couldn’t believe her night. She loved every minute of it, though. She couldn’t stop smiling, either.

She jumped when her house phone rung. She looked at the caller ID and saw her sister’s name on the screen.

“Hello?” she said.

“Char, hey. You okay? Your cell phone is going straight to voicemail,” her sister told her.

“Oh yeah, I forgot I turned my phone off last night. Hold on,” she said as she reached for her purse.

She propped the phone between her shoulder and her cheek while she dug in her purse for the phone. Once she pulled it out, she powered it on.

“Girl,” Charlotte started, “you won’t believe what happened to me last night.”

“I can only imagine after reading the very vague text you sent me last night. I waited up all night waiting for details from you. I finally went to bed at 2 a.m. with no word from you. Did you and Jeremy…,” Samantha said, not finishing her thought.

“Can I plead the fifth?” Charlotte asked. “I’m not 100% sure what is going on, but I know I liked it and I definitely would do it all over again. But, if you must know something, know that Jeremy and I finally expressed how we felt, I mean, feel about each other. All those years, all this time, if I would’ve just told him… That wife of his? That could’ve been me.”

Samantha and Charlotte were both quiet for a minute after that. Neither of them knew what else to say. For Charlotte, it was slowly sinking in that there would probably be consequences to her sleeping with a married man. For Samantha, she was beginning to realize that her older sister wasn’t the angel she thought she was all these years. And she was surprisingly happy about that.

“You know what, sis? I’m proud of you,” Samantha told her sister. “All these years I’ve been the bad one, the one going after what I wanted regardless of the consequences. I’m glad you broke out of your shell.”

Charlotte laughed. It wasn’t that she was goody-goody, she was just careful about how she handled people and situations. But she thought what her sister said was sweet nonetheless.

“Thanks, Sam,” Charlotte said, exhaling. “Okay. I’m going to jump in the shower. I’ll talk to you a little later.

Charlotte went to the bathroom and stripped her clothes off. As she pulled the shirt over her head, she stopped in mid-air. Jeremy’s scent was all over her clothes. She smiled at the thought of him still having the cologne she bought him, and remembering that she loved it.

She thought about all the little things that he did, just for her benefit, just to make her smile. She couldn’t help it as her love swelled just a little bit more for him.

"As We Lay" lyrics by Shirley Murdock

This is an old(er) song that I just love and it just happens to be what I centered my story around. In order for you to understand some parts of the story, here are the lyrics to the song.

It's morning, and we slept the night away
It happened, now we can't turn back the hands of time (oh no)
Yes we've stolen this moment,
We forgot to face, one simple fact
We both belong~ to some else
As we slept, the night away

It's morning, sunlight shines across your sleeping face
A new day, brings reality that we must go our
Se~parate way
What a lovely night, we had (yeah yeah)
As we shared each other's love
We forgot about all the pain we'd cause as we slept the night away

As we lay
We forgot about tomorrow as we lay (mmhmm, hey hey)
As we lay
We didn't think about the price we'd have to pay( oh no, no no nono no no no)

It's morning
And now it's time for us to say goodbye
Goodbye baby
You're leaving me,
I know you got to hurry home to face your wi~fe, whoa
I would never want to hurt her no
She would never understand
You belonged to me for just one night
As we slept the night away

As We Lay
We forgot about tomorrow
As we lay
We didn't think about the price we'd have to pay...oh no
We should have counted up the cost
But instead we got lost
In the second, in the minute, in the hour hey hey, hey
As we lay
We forgot about tomorrow,
As we lay, whoa
It's morning (it's morning) (oo oo)
It's morning (whoa)
It's morning

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chapter 12

If you had asked either of them if they thought they’d end up where they were, they both would’ve said no. Jeremy was married and Charlotte, up until that morning, had a boyfriend.

So when Jeremy led Charlotte up to a room of the hotel they decided to only sit in to talk, she was freaking out, surprised, concerned and a whole range of other emotions all at the same time.

Her concern was that she didn’t think that Jeremy could, or ever would, cheat on anyone. That just wasn’t in him, she thought. But at the same time, she was surprised at how okay with that she was, which surprised her even more.

Jeremy, on the other hand, was freaking out inside. He couldn’t believe that he’d already went further with Charlotte than he intended to, but now he was leading her to their own private hotel room. He realized that he was on autopilot and that his heart wasn’t responding to what his mind was telling him anymore. He felt that if he was going to make any moves outside of his marriage, he wanted it to be with Charlotte. His want and need for her was well worth the risk, he told himself.

He just hoped that she felt the same way.

“After you, Madame,” Jeremy said as he held the door open for Charlotte.

“Why, thank you, my good man,” she responded.

She couldn’t believe that they were being so cool about everything. She was all over the place on the inside. But as she entered the room, excitement took over. She wasn’t sure what was about to happen, but she knew that she couldn’t wait to do whatever that was.

“Charlotte, I need to be straight up and honest with you and get this off my chest before anything else happens,” Jeremy said. Then he took a deep breath.

“I meant everything I said earlier, when I told you that all I want is a little bit of time to spend with you. I didn’t bring you up here to sleep with you,” he blushed, “but believe me when I say that the things I’ve already done to you in my head… how flexible are you…”

He stopped and looked at her sheepishly.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for that to come out that way.”

Charlotte couldn’t hide the smile that lit up her face. She thought he was so cute when he was rambling on, especially when he was rambling about embarrassing things.

“Okay, let me start over. Like I said earlier, I just need some time with you. I don’t care if you don’t say a word, I just really feel strongly about having to be around you right now. I need to make up for lost time. And if something happens in the time that we get to spend together, then so be it. I just hope that you feel the same way.”

For a minute, Charlotte didn’t say anything. She was searching for the right way to tell him that she felt the same way. She just wanted some time.

But she wouldn’t be upset if something more happened. And she wanted him to know that.

“I agree.” That was all she said, and it immediately brought a huge smile to his face.

“Cool, cool. Okay,” he said, clamping his hands together, “let’s check out the room service menu. I’m getting hungry again. Oh, and we can order some wine or something, set the mood and talk. I mean, that’s what we’re here for, right.”

She smirked at him. He was one of the few guys that got her personality and that could challenge her wit. That was another thing she loved about him. He always kept her on her toes.

“No, that’s not what we’re here for. You’ll find out soon enough, though. Mark my words on that one, buddy,” she said teasingly.

So they looked over the menu and ordered light dinners. Jeremy opted to order a bottle of champagne, for them to celebrate finally telling each other about their feelings for each other. When the food arrived, they sat down at the small table in the suite and ate together. They talked about everything except what they were doing in the hotel, his wife and Damien.

After they finished their meal, they moved over to the bed, Jeremy laying across it on his back and Charlotte sitting at the head of the bed hugging a pillow.

This was the moment of truth.
__________________________________________________________

Robin and Greg sat at a small corner table in the restaurant of the fancy New York hotel. She loved going there because they didn’t have to sneak and hide their relationship, plus, they’d been there so many times that the hotel staff knew them by name.

“Baby, don’t worry about it. Maybe this is the push you need to finally up and leave and come be with me, where you belong. I don’t see this as a problem. I see it as that push you need, that we both need,” Greg told Robin.

She was telling him about how she felt earlier and her thoughts on why. She was freaking out, again, and he was sitting across from her all happy. He wanted to be with her, to marry her, but she kept giving him excuses as to why she couldn’t leave Jeremy “just yet”. He saw this as a good thing for him because now she could be with him and the added bonus was a little Robin or Greg running around. He was ecstatic.

“I can’t do this, Greg. What if the baby is Jeremy’s? What will you do then? I knew it was a bad idea to start this thing up with you again. I should’ve followed my first mind.”

She was doing more talking to herself than him, really. He didn’t care though. Either way, this could be the nail in the coffin to get what he wanted.

“Okay, babe. Let’s really look at this whole thing. You feel sick, nauseous, right? Well, maybe it could be something you ate, or even just the plane ride. You’ve been working really hard lately and eating food that’s not really good for you. You don’t even know if you’re pregnant. You could be jumping the gun on this,” he said, trying to comfort her.

But he didn’t believe a word of it.

“I know,” she sighed.

“I mean, I haven’t even missed a period yet… wait, I’m not sure,” she said, trying to think back. “I need to check my calendar. But Greg,” she said while putting her hands in her lap and leaning across the table, “what if I am pregnant? What then?”

The pleading look in her eyes made him reach out across the table. She took his hand and he soothingly ran his thumb across the back of her hand.

“Baby, I can assure you that whatever situation may come, we’ll get through it the best way we can. Together. I’ll make sure that everything work out for the both of us. I promise.

Robin smiled across the table at Greg, hoping that what he said was true and things did work out, whatever was going to happen.
_______________________________________________________________

Jeremy rolled over onto his stomach and leaned his chin on the heels of his hands and stared at Charlotte.

She was leaning with her back against the headboard of the bed with her eyes closed. He thought she looked beautiful. He still couldn’t believe that he was here with her, after all this time.

“Lady, you okay?” he asked?

Her eyes fluttered open as she looked over at him.

“Yeah, I’m okay, just sitting here thinking and listening,” she said, referring to the soft music playing in the background.

He moved to sit like her, with his back to the headboard. She immediately placed the pillow she was hugging in his lap and laid her head on it. He took that moment to touch her hair. It was still as soft as he could remember. He used to always sit at the head of his bed and she would lay across his lap when they would hang out in his room. She was one of the few females that his mother would allow in his room. Her motto always was: No babies in this house with the same last name as me. Both her and Jeremy’s father were the only children in their respective households, so that would only leave Jeremy to father a baby with their last name. His mom wanted to do everything in her power to make sure that didn’t happen before he graduated high school.

She raised him well, though. And he wished that he listened to her more often. She was the one that always teased him and Charlotte saying that they would end up together, but the two of them always laughed it off, saying that they were just best friends. Boy, would she be happy now.

But Jeremy didn’t know how to tell her without Robin finding out.

Robin. How would he explain Charlotte to him. He didn’t want to disrespect either of the women by making anyone uncomfortable.

He sighed out loud and Charlotte sat up and looked at him.

“I wish things were different,” Charlotte said. “Because I just don’t know how we would be able to see each other on a friendly basis after this without her,” she spat, “having something to say. Look at me,” she said, laughing to herself, “I haven’t even met her and I already don’t like her.”

Jeremy didn’t say anything. He laid down on the bed and then reached for Charlotte. She let him pull her down next to him and wrap his arms around her.

There was really nothing left to be said. They were both getting what they wanted, even if for just one night.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chapter 11

After the second kiss, Jeremy was feeling really bad. Although he was enjoying the time he was spending with Charlotte, he felt bad because he didn’t feel bad about his action towards her. He thought he should be feeling guilty, to say the least, but he was perfectly fine with what he was doing.

Charlotte, on the other hand, was having a really hard time dealing with her feelings. She tried to put Robin out of sight and out of mind, but it wasn’t a total success.

They decided they needed a change of scenery, somewhere where there were lots of people moving about and intimacy would be hard to achieve. So they walked across the street to the Hilton and decided to sit in the lobby. It was still early in the evening, so they figured it would be okay.

They sat on the sofa across from the front window of the hotel. Charlotte tried not to think about how much she enjoyed his kisses and Jeremy tried not to think about how right she felt in his arms.

They talked about what they did for a living and about how, when they were younger and in school, they both wanted to be owners of their own businesses, and the fact that it came true. Jeremy talked about the struggles of trying to get his company off the ground and how his mom was his biggest supporter and Charlotte told him about how nervous she was when she planned her very wedding on her own.

They talked about getting together with all their old friends, but then decided against it. Charlotte didn’t want to meet Jeremy’s wife, and she told him that. She didn’t want to have a face to put with a name. “Out of sight, out of mind,” she’d told him. He didn’t completely believe her, though. He just wasn’t all that comfortable with Robin meeting Charlotte. Hell, he already knew he was in hot water with his mom. Now that she’d made contact with Charlotte, she was bound to throw it in Robin’s face any chance she got.

But that would just have to be something he dealt with when it happened. Now that Charlotte was back in his life he couldn’t very well let her slip away again. Robin would just have to understand and he figured he would have to find a way to present Charlotte as a friend, a sister even. He just wasn’t sure how he’d be able to pull that off.

“What’s going on over there in that head of yours,” Charlotte asked Jeremy. “You’ve been quiet and in and out for the past few minutes. I’m starting to think I’m just talking to myself.”

He laughed. One thing he could never do to Charlotte was ignore her.

“I’m just thinking about how crazy this all is. I mean, I have my best friend back, but at the same time…” he trails off.

Charlotte looks at him eagerly, waiting for him to finish his sentence. She wanted so badly to get inside his head. She knew that when he was deep in thought, he was quiet and that when he finally did speak up, he meant every word he said.

“I’m so married,” he said as he dropped his head against the back of the sofa. “Going any further with you would be so wrong, so very wrong, but yet, that’s all I can think about. Not the consequences, but how right is sounds, and is.”

He leans back again. Expressing himself in this manner was not what he wanted to do. He wanted to start over, to go back to yesterday when none of this had come up. It was just easier that way. He wouldn’t be confused and he definitely wouldn’t be contemplating getting a room. But he was, on both accounts. He couldn’t help it. He just wanted to kiss her all night, they didn’t even have to do anything else.

And to be quite honest, Charlotte was thinking the same thing. She just wanted time with him, just to be near him. She felt like, after all they’d confessed to each other, they deserved it. So what if he had a wife. He was going to go home to her. For pete’s sake, he married her. She just wanted, no NEEDED, a little time alone with him. Just for once and then she would be satisfied. No. She knew that was a lie. But she knew that if she got that time she could remember it and him forever.

Charlotte shook out of her daydream when Jeremy got up from the sofa.

“I’ll be right back,” he told her.

She took that moment to send a quick text message to her sister.

Hey sis! Guess who I’m out with? Jeremy Johnson! Yes, that Jeremy. I’m turning my phone off for a while and will talk to you when I make it home. Love you!

She’d just turned the phone off when she was startled by a presence standing over her. She looked up just as Jeremy reached his hand out to her. She looked at it and then back up at him. She knew what he was asking without even having to say the words.

“Charlotte, I want us to be the most truthful we’ve ever been in our entire lives right now. I would really regret not asking you this if we left from here right now. You know that the decision is completely yours to make, whatever you decide to do. But please know that all I’m asking for is extra time. You can just sit and stare at the wall for all I care. I’m just not ready to let you go yet.”

He stood there with his hand outstretched to her for what seemed like an eternity. Neither of them ever let the other one’s gave fall from sight.

Charlotte sat with her hands folded in her lap for only a second before she reached out to take his hand. Once he felt that contact, he gripped her hand as though he was holding on for dear life. She smiled at him as he placed his other hand on the small of her back and guided her over to the elevators.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chapter 10

What do you do when the man of your dreams is kissing you like you’ve never been kissed before? You reluctantly stop and take a few steps back because, of course, he’s married. To someone else.

Charlotte hated that she had a conscience. Yes, it had allowed her kiss a married man, but at the same time, it was something she felt like she had to do. She wanted to let him know that she understood how he felt because she felt the same way.

But it wouldn’t matter, her feet were moving her toward the exit faster than her mind could think about what she’d just done.

“I’m sorry,” she said as the walked towards the front of the bar.

Jeremy jumped up and chased after her. He reached her just as she pushed the door open.

“Lady… stop,” he said as he grabbed her arm. He caressed her face. “Please don’t go.”

She closed her eyes the second his hand touched her face. This is what she wanted, yet she wasn’t sure it was what she should have. All she knew was that if she didn’t put some distance between the two of them, she wasn’t sure what would happen next.

“I’m sorry, I think I should. What just happened, what we did, it was wrong, so very wrong. I loved it,” she smiled weakly at him, “but it was so wrong.”

He was lost. He heard and understood what she was saying, but neither of them could get past the fact that it felt so right.

Jeremy took Charlotte’s hand and led her out of the doorway and back into the building. They were standing in the hallway leading to the restrooms. It wasn’t the most ideal place to have their conversation, but the talk needed to come out.

“I wish I’d said something years ago,” Charlotte said, turning away from him. “When we were in school, I used to wish for the day that you would come to me and tell me all the things you just told me.” She turned to face him. “The same things that I felt, and still feel for you now. Jeremy, I have loved you since day one, and I’ve never stopped.”

Jeremy leaned back against the wall. All this time he thought the feelings he had for her were one sided. To find this out now, it was like a relief and a hardship, both at the same time. He was married! He loved his wife. But -and this is where things got complicated- she was not Charlotte.

He dropped his head in his hands and sighed. He didn’t know what to say to fix the situation.

Charlotte stepped back from him and leaned against the opposite wall. She was spent, also.

As she watched him, she absently reached up and touched her lips. She could still feel his mouth pressed against hers. That moment will be etched in her mind, and heart, until the end of her days, she thought. The feelings that were rushing through her at that moment were like nothing she’d ever felt before. She was bursting inside and there was no way she could let that show.

Jeremy looked at the ceiling for a second and then back at Charlotte. He gave a hint of a smile.

“I still can’t believe how this is turning out. I would’ve never guessed that you felt that way about me. All those years,” he said while shaking his head, “we could’ve been grooving all this time.”

She giggled lightly at his choice of words. His sense of humor, compassion and his gigantic heart were just some of the things that made her fall so deep in love with him. The way he knew her, inside and out, also played a part.

“I can’t believe it either. But, considering how the past 10 years went, would you change it? If you could go back right now, still in the dark about what you know now, would you do anything differently? Would you tell me?”

Charlotte waited patiently for his answer, but they got interrupted by her cell phone ringing. She pulled it out to see who it was then silenced the ringer and put the phone back in her purse.

“Wow. That was just what we needed right there,” Jeremy said sarcastically.

Charlotte took a step closer to him.

Everything was whirling so fast in her mind she couldn’t do anything to slow it down. Now that she knew that he felt the same way, she wanted him for herself.

“I have to be honest with you. Again.”

Jeremy tilted his head, wondering what else she could possibly say.

“I want you. I, she stressed, “want you. For myself,” she finished.

She leaned against the wall next to him. It was all she could do to keep from jumping him right there in the hallway.

“But I know I can’t have you. And that just kills me.”

She sank down to her feet. She realized then that her heart was breaking.

“I’m in love with a married man,” she whispered. “I would never want to break up a happy home. And it was not my intention to come here and kiss you and, just all this,” she said, gesturing between them. “I am so sorry for that. But I feel compelled to lay it all out on the line here. I want you. I need you.”

It was tearing Jeremy apart to see her like that. He’d always considered her to be a rock. He knew she had feelings, but she was always strong. To see her breaking down was something new to him. He wanted to hold her, to make all the pain go away.

He sat on the floor beside her and put his arm around her. He felt her body tense and stiffen, then he felt her relax against him.

“I can’t believe I’m acting like this,” she said as she played with some lint on her pants. “I just never expected this. I don’t know what to do.”

She made the mistake of looking at him. Being that close to him, there was only one thing to do. This time, it was her leaning into him.
_______________________________________________________________________

Robin lay back on the bed of the hotel room. She was in heaven. She always enjoyed her getaways with Greg. She just hated that she had to lie to Jeremy about what she was doing.

She met Greg a few months after her and Jeremy got married. At first, she kept her distance from him, but then they got scheduled to work together on a deal. She had no choice but to be around him. And of course, he took advantage of the situation. No matter how many times she told him she was married and that she would never cheat on her husband, he kept pushing. After a couple of months, she gave into him.

It started off simple with dinner dates and talking on the phone.

Robin could never say that Jeremy didn’t pay attention to her or that he didn’t do for her because that wasn’t the case at all. They both worked, but with Jeremy owning his own contracting business, he had more free time. So he mostly took care of the household, which was a huge burden off her. She really had nothing to complain about. But yet, she still wanted more. So to her, Greg was just that.

But two years into her marriage, she got pregnant. Of course, she didn’t know which man was the father. She didn’t know what she was going to do. She was terrified to tell Jeremy. What if it was Greg's baby?

Unfortunately, two months after she found out, she had a miscarriage. That forced her to tell Jeremy that she was pregnant and that she’d lost the baby. He insisted on going with her to the doctor. After all, he thought it was his son or daughter that they’d lost.

Robin felt so bad about the baby, the miscarriage and Jeremy, that she even broke up with Greg. But that didn’t last very long. She found out that she liked the adventure of it all. She loved Jeremy and figured what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. She just figured that she had to be more careful.

Then, to make matters worse, over time her feelings for Greg started to turn from lust to love. He wanted her to leave Jeremy, but she kept putting it off. She didn’t want to have to give up what they both gave and did for her. Greg wanted her to divorce Jeremy and marry him, but she liked the idea of having it good on both sides. She wanted to hold on to Jeremy for as long as she could. He was too good of a man to let someone else have him. That was something she realized back when they were in college.

Back then, all the other guys just wanted to sex her, but Jeremywas laid back and easy going. He didn’t force or push her to do anything. He did things for her that you saw in the old movies and she loved that about him. If she was on good terms with his mother she would thank her everyday for the man she raised. She knew that he deserved better than her, but until he came to the realization himself, she was going to take every advantage of it.

“Damn, baby, that was amazing. Where did that come from?” Greg asked Robin.

They’d just finished a “huddle-room session”, a term they used to describe their sexual escapades. They were both breathing hard and tired.

“Oh, you know. I still have a few tricks up my sleeve. I wasn’t going to use them all right away,” she said as she kissed his cheek.

She rolled over and climbed out of the bed. As soon as she stood up, she immediately felt nauseous. She ran to the bathroom, slammed the door and threw up in the toilet. She’d been feeling ill for the past couple of days now.

“Babe,” Greg said as he pounded on the door from the outside, “are you okay? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, babe. I guess you were really working on my bladder there. I’ll be right out,” she said.

She washed her face and brushed her teeth, refusing to look at herself in the mirror. She didn't want to see the truth in her own face.

“Oh, God, please don’t let me be pregnant. I can’t go through this again,” she whispered to herself.

She looked down at her stomach and rubbed her hand across it. She lowered her head and said a silent prayer, wishing God to make the baby be Jeremy’s.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chapter 9

After a very long hug, Charlotte reluctantly let Jeremy go. She reckoned that she could’ve stayed wrapped up in him ‘til the end of time. But she knew that her thoughts were inappropriate, considering his situation.

They each took their seats and shyly smiled at each other. Charlotte took the initiative to speak first.

“It’s so good to see you. You haven’t changed at all, well, except you don’t look as tall as you used to. Either way, you look really good,” she said with a slight blush in her cheeks.

“I could say the same thing about you. You still look like the same 18 that hugged me that day at graduation,” he started. “I can’t believe this. Wow.”

“I know. I have to be honest with you, though. I thought about not coming. I wasn’t sure what to expect,” she told him matter-of-factly. “I’m having a hard time with some things and I didn’t want to burden you with them, considering.”

He didn’t know what to say to that. He was feeling the same way. With both of them, they really wanted to see each other, but it was simple fact that, as far as they both knew, the other one was in relationship with someone else. Plus, it was ten years later.

“I know exactly what you mean. But I look at it like this: we were friends back then and we can be friends now. I mean we already kind of picked up the other day where we left off ten years ago. It’s as if no time has passed at all. I think once we get over the initial shock of seeing each other after all this time, things will get back to normal. I mean, I would like for them to get back to normal, wouldn’t you?”

He could look in her face and tell what she was thinking. She knew, just as well as he did, that he was rambling to cover up what he really wanted to say. He was grateful that she was kind enough not to tease him about it.

“I would really like that. I missed you, for most of the years we were apart,” she joked, “but I seriously can’t wait to really catch up with you and see what’s been going on. I know there is so much to tell you about what I’ve been through and done and seen and…” she paused and looked him in the eyes, “and all the mistakes I’ve made and things I let slip by.”

She looked away from him and closed her eyes after she said that because his stare was too intense for her to bear. She took a couple of deep breaths to try and get her heart’s pace back to normal. She couldn’t believe she’d just said that to him. Sure, she was known for her bluntness, but when it came to her feelings about him, she could never find her tongue. She hoped that he wouldn’t press her right then. Maybe later she could explain.

“Lady, are you feeling okay? I’m gonna get you some water,” he told her as he stood up from the table.

“No, no, I’m okay. I think I just need to get some air. Can we sit at one of the tables outside? I feel like the room is closing in on me.”

“Of course.”

Charlotte stood up and Jeremy put his hand on the small of her back and let her out the side door of the restaurant. Where his hand was placed, if felt as if all the heat in his body radiated through her skin and straight to her heart. She was in deep and she had no idea how she was going to make it through the rest of the evening. They’d only been talking for about 10 minutes. She had to pull it together.

“Wait, do you mind if we get something to eat?” She felt she needed something to keep her mind and hands busy.

“Oh, yeah,” he shook his head as if he was remembering something, “I totally forgot where we were. I’ll get it, if you want to stay here. What do you want?” he asked.

That was the Jeremy she remembered. He’d always been such a gentleman, pulling out chairs, holding doors. She knew that his wife was getting the royal treatment from him. Then she immediately thought about Damien. He never did anything like that for her.

“Um, get me whatever you’re getting. I’m good with that,” she said. She trusted him.

He headed off back into the restaurant. As soon as he was out of eyesight, Charlotte let out a high pitched squeal. She couldn’t believe that she was there with him. Just like old times, she thought.

She craned her neck around the pillars on the side of their table to look in through the window. She could see him placing their order. She watched him as he reached for their glasses and for the plates handed to him by the server. She was watching his body. He stilled moved fluidly, as though he was floating on air. It was so effortless. And his body… even beneath the shirt she could visually outline every muscle and each individual pack in the six pack.

She tried to make it seem like she wasn’t looking when he came back out of the restaurant, but she knew she was caught.

“Enjoy the view?” he asked, joking with her. “I saw you eyeballing me.”

“Yeah, I was trying to see if anything had changed. Are you still overdoing it in the gym?”

He laughed. She always did tease him about always working out and staying in shape. He knew that it was all in fun because she used to go with him back in the day.

“I do what I can, you know how it is. But after eating this,” he said, pointing to his plate, “I’ll be spending hours each day in there.”

She looked down at her plate and nodded.

“I know what you mean, but we can’t help it. It’s just too good.”

They both laughed and agreed as they dug into their food.
________________________________________________

“Let’s go hit The Spot, get a drink and talk some more,” Jeremy said.

They’d already finished their food and were talking for two hours. The Spot was a small bar that he went to sometimes after work. It was quiet and mellow, the perfect place to talk about the past.

“Okay,” Charlotte readily agreed.

They then went to their cars, which Charlotte noticed were not parked next to each other, but across lanes from each other.

Once they made it to their second destination, they found a corner, ordered some drinks and jumped right into the all important conversation.

“Okay,” Charlotte began, “I have a confession to make. I originally had an ulterior motive to contacting you after all these years. I don’t know what I was doing the other day, but something had me rummaging through my Memory book.”

She stopped and looked up at him. His eyes, she realized, she would have to stop looking into. They were mesmerizing.

“I came across the note you left in the back of my book. Do you remember me giving you my book and you telling me not to read what you wrote right away? Turns out I’d never read it until the other day. I don’t know how I could’ve missed that. But anyway, when I read it, I started thinking about you, something I realized then that I hadn’t done in a long time. I couldn’t believe that I’d let all this time pass and I hadn’t spoken to you. So I reached out using the last number I had for you, and thankfully your mom kept that number. I was so elated to talk to you that I forgot my main purpose in calling you.”

She didn’t want to ask him her next question, but she knew it would bother her if she never did.

“What did that message mean? I mean, if I’m reading more into than you meant, please let me know, but I have to know if it meant more. I have to know if I meant more.”

She could finally breathe after confessing that to him. No, it wasn’t all that she had to say, but it was a start. She could tell him the rest, or not, after she got more information from him.

Jeremy looked at her for some time without saying a word. She didn’t want to press him and make him not tell her what he had to say, so she waited patiently. Besides, she wasn’t so sure she wanted to hear what he had to say. It could’ve been bad.

“Well,” he sighed, “I don’t even know where to begin.” He paused again for a moment before starting again. “I… when I wrote that, I meant for us to have this conversation,” he said gesturing between them, “right then. Ten years is a long time, you know.”

He watched her, as eyes dropped, no longer meeting his. He thought she looked hurt, as though she was expecting something that she didn’t get.

“But,” he said, trying to recatch her line of sight, “that time hasn’t changed the way I felt, or feel, about you. Lady, I’ll be honest with you. From the time I met you back in Pre-K I felt like you were my best friend, that person I could lean on and run to if I needed it. You had always been that. And then one day, I saw you as something more, someone so beautiful. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you have always been pretty to me, but this was different. My feelings for you changed into something much more than I ever thought I could feel for someone. At first, I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that I had to control it. You were my best friend and I didn’t want anything to ruin that. And then you had a boyfriend. So to keep from going crazy over you being with someone else, I started chasing girls.”

“You and I were never single at the same time, so I never acted on my feelings for you. And please believe me when I say that they have never gone away. I do regret not doing anything about it because, well, who knows what could’ve happened?”

He finished and slumped down into the sofa they were sitting on. Charlotte was still lost in craziness of what he’d just told her and was unmoving.

After a minute of her not saying anything, Jeremy moved closer to her.

“Charlotte, are you okay? I don’t blame you for being speechless, I know this is a lot to handle and you probably never saw me as anything more than a brother, but I must say that it feels good to finally get this off my chest. You know, come to think of it, you probably never even loo…”

Charlotte kissing him cut him off. She had no idea what to say to him, but everything in her entire being told her to just kiss him.

But apparently, she wasn’t the only one feeling that way. Jeremy was kissing her back.