Uncaring about the mess he’d just made in his office, Gene gently pulled Kylisha into his arms. She wasn’t entirely willing, but she wasn’t downright reluctant either.
“You’re the right one, Kylisha,” Gene said, cupping her face tenderly in his hands. He could see mutual desire in her eyes. It gave him hope, made lowering his pride not feel so bad.
Kylisha suddenly lowered her gaze from his. She shook her head as if to clear away any cobwebs he’d just spun within her mind. “No, it won’t work, Gene,” she said, moving away from him.
Gene felt grieved when she stepped out of his arms.
“We’re too different,” Kylisha continued, now pacing in front of him. “You’re a playboy. I’m a virginal homebody who rarely dates or even wants to. In fact, you’re the second man that I’ve ever kissed in my life. The first one was a quick courtesy peek on the lips from the guy that took me to my senior prom.”
A virgin? Gene winced. She certainly doesn’t kiss like a virgin, he thought, feeling completely out of his league now. Although Kylisha had shared a lot of her secrets with him last night, she had not shared that one.
“You like new things. I salvage old things and fix them up for further use,” Kylisha went on to say. Like Gene, she was careful to keep her voice low so as not to draw unwanted attention their way. “You get tired of things quickly, I hold on to things for a long time. And though you were raised poor, you had an abundance of people loving you, while I grew up in a lavish upper middleclass home where the only warmth I felt came from the furnace or from one of the three fireplaces in the house.”
“Last night we discovered we had a lot of things in common, Kylisha,” Gene countered. Then he proceeded to tell her a few of them. “First of all, we both hated school and barely made it through even though we were no less intelligent than anyone else. We both lost at least one parent at the age of eleven, were both raised by at least one grandparent, and both love quality cars. But most importantly, we both enjoy kissing each other.”
At those potent reminders, Kylisha abruptly stopped pacing and stared at him. Her cheeks flushed as red as the roses on the floral dress she wore. “Those kisses were…mistakes. As I mentioned before, it is highly unwise for us to start dating.…”
“Mistakes?!” Gene interrupted. “They didn’t feel like mistakes to me.” He moved to stand directly in front of Kylisha. “Did they feel like mistakes to you?” he added in a softer tone.
Kylisha’s green pools glossed over until they looked like wet Zambian emeralds. Her bottom lip trembled with unspoken emotion. Her breasts rose and fell erratically as she struggled for control.
“Oh, baby,” Gene said in a comforting tone. “Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.” As he spoke, he traced her bottom lip with his right index finger. “There’s nothing wrong with us wanting each other, baby. Nothing at all.” Gene bent to replace his finger with his mouth.
Kylisha promptly turned her head to the side, causing his lips to land on her cheek instead. “Yes, there is something wrong with us wanting each other.” She stepped away from him. “You see, I don’t want to want a man like you. In fact, I despise playboys,” she practically hissed.
Gene blinked rapidly against the blow of her words. Now it felt as if a stack of bricks had fallen upon him.
“I’m so sorry for leading you on in any way,” Kylisha continued. Her tone was softer and slower now that she’d circulated several deep breaths throughout her body. “I’m sorry for making you think you had a chance with me, when you actually never did. And although I do thank you from the bottom of my heart for every good thing you’ve ever done for me, I can’t allow my gratitude to expand into a relationship that I just don’t want.”
With his mouth in a straight line, his eyes steadily blinking away all evidence of his pain, Gene walked back towards his desk and sat on the edge of it. He folded his arms across his chest and remained silent for three full minutes, giving them both some much needed time and space to collect themselves.
The rain on the roof grew louder. It was the perfect backdrop for the internal storms raging within Gene and Kylisha.
During those moments of silence, Gene did his best to get a better grip on his tattered pride. He’d never begged a woman in his life. Doing so today had ripped gaping holes in his ego, created potholes of pain in his heart. He’d never be the same again.
“So now it’s back to business only, huh, Miss Greene?” Gene said in a professional tone as he finally broke the silence.
“Yes, Mr. Waldenhall,” Kylisha forced out in an almost whisper.
Gene nodded, despite his frown. “All right. You’re dismissed,” he concluded, turning his attention to the scattered messages on his office floor.
Kylisha bristled at his dismissive tone and aloof behavior. Yet she remained silent as she went to the door and left without looking back.
She thinks I have a lot of women now. She ain’t seen nothing yet, Gene mused from a very bitter place in his heart. Kylisha had rejected him enough for two lifetimes and he was not happy about it at all.
When the lights in Gene’s office suddenly flickered from the storm, he didn’t even notice. He was too busy picking up every single message he’d flung away earlier. Too busy trying to cloak his pain with anger because the woman he really wanted didn’t want him in return.
* * *
Kylisha went straight to the ladies room after leaving Gene’s office. She did not pass Go. She did not collect two hundred dollars. What Kylisha did collect was wads of tissue for her crying eyes.
So caught up in misery, Kylisha failed to see Arnaz coming from the break room area, where he’d just clocked out. Yet he definitely saw her, tears and all, before she dipped into the restroom.
I knew he was going to break her heart, Arnaz mused, shaking his head with sadness. Now it’s up to a better man to restore it.
© 2006 by Suprina Frazier
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