Kylisha began to take bolder steps in fashion right after the new year arrived. Her clothes were more formfitting now and she wore colored lipstick all the time. With Deshawn as her new friend, Kylisha couldn’t help but be more fashion conscious these days.
Kylisha liked her new look. From the appreciative glances she received from men it was clear that they liked it, too. Yet there was one member of the opposite sex that stood out the most – Gene. For some reason his compliments touched her the deepest and carried the most weight, despite her resistance. The fact that those compliments had increased in number since the Christmas party only added to Kylisha’s dilemma.
Before it was just, “Good morning, Miss Greene.” Now there were all these addendums to his greetings. “Good morning, Miss Greene. That’s a nice color on you.” Or, “Good morning, Miss Greene. Nice outfit you have on today.”
Words weren’t the only way Gene displayed his newfound interest in Kylisha. He was a man that put action behind his words. Kylisha had been sent greeting cards, cute teddy bears, and other novelty gifts over the last two months. Twice Gene invited her out to lunch with him.
Though Kylisha always politely refused his lunch invitations, Gene didn’t seem deterred by her rejection at all. He would simply buy her lunch anyway and have it delivered anonymously the next day. Anonymous is how all her gifts came.
Though Kylisha didn’t have proof about the nonfood items, she was pretty sure who was responsible for her lunches. Each meal came from one of the fancy restaurants Gene offered to take her to just the day before. Therefore, it had to be him.
To keep down office gossip, Kylisha always took the nonfood items immediately out to her car and locked them in the trunk. As for the food, she shared that with other members of the staff, particularly Rosemary.
Although Kylisha’s generosity won her many brownie points with her coworkers, it gained her nothing but irritating looks from Gene. Months had passed by now and she still hadn’t confronted him one way or the other about his secret interest in her, despite the fact that they worked in the same office. Gene had also given her a private email address to respond to him discreetly if she was too shy to do so directly.
Why oh why can’t things go back to the way they were before? Kylisha silently lamented as she sat at her desk typing a report for Mr. Rozier on that sunny February 14th day.
Even Arnaz was upping his interest in her. He asked her out on a date just this morning after giving her a box of chocolates. Kylisha politely declined, claiming she wasn’t interested in dating anyone right now. Though she thanked Arnaz for his Valentine’s Day gift, she asked if she could pass it on to Rosemary since she wasn’t a big chocolate eater.
After granting Kylisha the right to give her candy to anyone she pleased, Arnaz went away disappointed and dejected. Gene, who’d been coming from his stepfather’s office at the time, had smiled with pleasure from Kylisha’s desk all the way to his own office.
Kylisha had wanted to kick Gene for being so smug. She was almost tempted to change her mind about Arnaz’s request just to spite Mr. Arrogant. But she didn’t. She wasn’t that kind of woman.
During lunchtime, Kylisha and Rosemary congregated at their usual table in the break room. Other employees gathered in the room to eat their own meals. Arnaz was one of them. He seemed content to sit next to Kylisha and maintain their friendship, despite the fact that she rejected his request for more than that just that morning.
Arnaz’s quick ability to forgive said a lot about his character. It almost made Kylisha want to rethink her position about dating him. Almost.
Ten minutes into their lunch, Gene entered the break room for a soda. He was eating lunch in his office again. This was the third time that week.
He must be working on something big, Kylisha mused, recalling how he hadn’t gone out to lunch in a while. It didn’t dawn on her that she was the big thing Gene was working on. But then again, why should it? Gene was still getting the same out amount of female callers on a daily basis.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, ladies,” Gene said to Rosemary and Kylisha. He gave the fellows in the room a respectful nod. Only Arnaz didn’t nod back. Or rather his return nod was a little stiffer than everyone else’s.
“Same to you, Mr. Waldenhall,” Rosemary and Kylisha echoed.
“Got any special plans for tonight, ladies?” Gene asked, once again addressing both women, though his eyes were locked on Kylisha.
“My hubby is taking me out to a romantic dinner tonight,” Rosemary replied. She gave Kylisha a nudge to prompt her to respond in kind. The way Kylisha and Gene were staring at one another one would think they were trying to hypnotize each other.
“Uh…I’m flying solo again, just the way I like it,” Kylisha replied, lowering her gaze to her food.
“I’m flying solo tonight, too,” Gene replied, giving her something to think about as he turned to put change in the soda machine.
Kylisha’s head snapped back up. Surprise was in her eyes, but no words came out of her mouth.
Just then, a delivery man showed up in the doorway with a large bouquet of red and white roses in his hands. He’d been let into the building by Mitch, who was going out for lunch today.
“Delivery for Kylisha Greene.”
“I…I’m Kylisha Greene,” she said, raising her right hand as if she was still in elementary school.
The gray-haired delivery man nodded and came forward. “Sign here please.” He put a clipboard and pen in front of her. After the necessary signature had been obtained, he gave Kylisha the large vase of roses and left.
“Who’s it from?” Rosemary asked, peering over Kylisha’s left shoulder to see the attached envelope.
With trembling fingers, Kylisha opened the small red envelope and pulled out the white card therein. “It says from my secret admirer.”
“Him again, huh? Girl, that man is serious about you,” Rosemary said, mentally counting the roses. “He has to be in order to send you twenty-four long stemmed roses. My husband doesn’t even spend money like that on me anymore.”
“Well, he should,” Gene inserted from by the soda machine. “I think all special ladies should be pampered with the finest things.”
“Amen to that,” Rosemary replied, turning to give Gene an approving nod. “I think I’ll tell him that when I go home tonight.” She chuckled and turned back to Kylisha. “Any idea who this secret admirer is by now?”
“He hasn’t revealed himself to me yet,” Kylisha replied, doing her best not to look Gene’s way as she danced around Rosemary’s question. There was way too much attention on her right now.
If Kylisha had looked in Gene’s direction, she would have seen in his eyes the satisfaction of knowing that his gift had touched her heart. The pure elation on her face was undeniable when the delivery man presented the red and white bouquet to her. Even now Kylisha couldn’t stop touching the roses in front of her.
“Though I appreciate every sweet thing he’s ever done for me, in a way, I kinda wish he’d stop. Especially since it’s becoming such a distraction in the workplace,” Kylisha continued, keeping her gaze on the bouquet as she sent a subtle message to Gene – her suspected admirer.
“Well, he sent you an email address this time,” Rosemary said, pointing to the last line of text on the small card on the table. “Just write him and tell him to stop with the gifts. If you want him to leave you alone altogether, tell him that, too, in your email.”
“Is this the first time he sent you an email address to contact him through, Miss Greene?” Gene asked, backing her up in a figurative corner.
Kylisha swallowed hard over her suddenly dry throat. “No,” she squeezed out, unable to lie even to save face. It just wasn’t in her to do so.
Gene smiled. “Then maybe you really don’t want him to stop sending you gifts after all. Maybe you just want him to stop sending them to your job,” he deduced, causing everyone to look at him with intrigue. Many started to wonder if maybe Gene was Kylisha’s secret admirer or else knew of him.
Arnaz didn’t have to wonder about anything. Kylisha’s blush and the way she refused to look at Gene even when he spoke directly to her told him everything he needed to know.
“I personally think a real man wouldn’t hide behind anonymity. A real man would state his interest and his intentions directly to the woman he wanted,” Arnaz said, causing the air in the room to suddenly become charged with electricity.
Calm as ever, Gene simply smirked at his rival. “A real man also wouldn’t gravel for a woman’s affections. If the woman he wanted told him no, he’d move on with his life. Only a punk would continue to run behind her like a fool.”
“If she’s worth it, a real man won’t mind looking like a punk to get her,” Arnaz fired back.
Gene scoffed. “No woman is worth a man’s pride.” Then he turned to leave the room with his drink. “Enjoy your roses, Miss Greene,” Gene said over his right shoulder.
Enjoy her roses?! How could Kylisha do that after what he just said?
© 2006 by Suprina Frazier
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