After that last incident with Kylisha, Gene pacified his wounded ego by dating more than ever. Now he was seeing a different woman almost every night of the week, including Sundays.
Today was a Sunday. The woman Gene was going to see tonight had green eyes and a slender figure just like Kylisha. Unfortunately for him, Selita didn’t kiss like Kylisha. She didn’t arouse Gene as quickly, either.
But she’ll do, Gene mused, trying to convince himself that it was okay to settle for second best in this situation. After all, Selita not only wanted him, she wasn’t afraid to show it. Unlike Kylisha, who was too afraid to take a chance on love.
Love? I’m not in love with anybody, Gene mused as he drove to his parents’ house for dinner on that cloudless afternoon. Deshawn must be rubbing off on me.
In a way, Deshawn was rubbing off on a lot of people. She’d been sprouting love talk nonstop ever since she fell hopelessly in love with a photographer named Foster Humphrey. Gene was headed to his parents’ house to meet the guy now. Unfortunately for him, Kylisha was invited to Sunday dinner, as well.
Had it been any other woman, Gene would have thought she was trying to get to him through his family. Not only was Kylisha good friends with one of his sisters, she was starting to attend church with his family on a regular basis.
However, since the woman in question was Kylisha, Gene knew she was most likely going to Brighter Day Baptist Church for the inspirational teaching and wholesome fellowship alone. She made it very clear that day at the office that she didn’t want anything to do with Gene outside of business.
It was the recollection of Kylisha’s hurtful words that enabled Gene to hide his true feelings from her, his family, and even from himself.
* * *
Over dinner, Deshawn talked about how she met Foster at one of her independent fashion shows. While he was busy taking pictures of the runway models for the upscale magazine he worked for, she was busy helping those same models change into new outfits behind the scenes. Neither Deshawn nor Foster was aware of the other for the longest time. Both were trying to do the best jobs they could at the gala, even to the point of staying late afterwards.
“I think it was fate that caused us to collide into each other after that show,” Deshawn recalled.
“Fate?” Gene said, mentally patting himself on the back for having kept his eyes away from Kylisha for the last hour. “You sure you just weren’t being clumsy again, Deshawn?” he teased.
“Clumsy?” Deshawn sent him a daggered look. “I don’t have a clumsy bone in my body and you know it, Gene.” Every word was said with attitude and a sassy snap of her neck.
“Now you don’t,” Gene countered with a mischievous grin. “But I remember a certain someone not being about to walk fifty feet without tripping over something.”
Everybody at the table laughed, including Kylisha who’d been silently eating two chairs across from Gene for the last half hour. He had to still himself against the beauty of her smile and the richness of her laughter as both caressed his eyes and ears. Oh, how Gene missed kissing those luscious lips of Kylisha’s.
“That was an inner ear thing,” Deshawn protested in between bouts of laughter.
“It really was an inner ear thing,” Lavender said, coming to Deshawn’s defense. “Now stop teasing the girl, Gene, and let her finish her story.”
Gene nodded, quickly complying with his oldest sister’s wishes. In his opinion, Lavender deserved the same consideration as his mother and grandmother. “Go ahead with you story, baby girl,” Gene said, giving Deshawn a wink of encouragement.
“Thank you,” Deshawn replied with another sassy snap of the neck. “Now where was I?”
“We collided in the hallway after the show, baby,” Foster said. He’d torn himself away from the delicious collard greens and cornbread on his place to give that input. Having been raised in New Hampshire, he wasn’t used to this kind of southern cuisine.
“Thanks, baby.” Deshawn gave Foster a loving smile. After wiping a few crumbs off his chin, she proceeded to share how as soon as she bumped into Foster’s muscular frame that night, she knew her life would never be the same again. “Foster thought he’d knocked the wind out of me from the impact, but I was breathless for a whole nother reason altogether.”
“Skip the lust part please,” Mitch said, exerting his fatherly right not to know too many personal details about his stepdaughter’s romantic life.
Everybody laughed. Many nodded in agreement with Mitch. They didn’t need all those details, either.
“Okay, Daddy Mitch,” Deshawn acquiesced. “Let’s just say that there was a strong physical attraction at that first meeting. I mean, look at the man.” She pointed to the handsome mocha-skinned man beside her. Foster, in turn, put on his best sexy smirk, causing everybody to laugh even harder.
“But there was more to it than that,” Deshawn continued once the laughter had simmered down some. “When I looked into Foster’s eyes, I knew I’d found my soul-mate.”
“I felt the same way, which is why I asked her out that very night,” Foster said. “I love you, baby,” he added, leaning over to give his beloved an affectionate kiss on the cheek.
“I love you, too,” Deshawn replied with a wide grin.
As everyone ooo’d and aah’d about Foster and Deshawn’s tender moment, Gene and Kylisha were having a tender moment of their own. At the first mention of soul-mates, their eyes found each other across the table and embraced. They swam in each other’s depths for almost a full minute before Kylisha lowered her gaze to her food and drink.
Gene was about to look away, too. But when he saw Kylisha’s lips close around the straw of her iced tea and suckle hard, he couldn’t help but stare. Not too long ago his tongue had been her straw. Not too long ago Kylisha had been just as eager to slurp him up, too.
Receiving a discreet nudge from his perceptive grandmother, Gene self-consciously snatched his gaze from Kylisha’s mouth. Fortunately, his stare-fest had been interrupted before anyone else noticed the depth of his interest in Kylisha.
“Good looking out, Grandma,” Gene leaned to whisper in Janelle’s ear.
“No problem,” Janelle whispered back with a pleased grin upon her face. She seemed happy about his interest in Kylisha.
Gene was nowhere near happy about the situation. In fact, he couldn’t wait for dinner to be over. To have Kylisha so close and not be able to touch or kiss her was tortuous for him. Especially in so informal a setting. At the office, he could hide behind the cover of professionalism. At his parents’ home, Gene was stripped of that particular cloaking device.
As soon as dinner was over, Gene went straight home to brood. He even canceled the late night date he had planned. After spending time in Kylisha’s presence, no Kylisha substitute would do.
* * *
After dinner at the Rozier/Waldenhall’s, Kylisha went home and got straight in her Bible. She needed all the peace and strength she could get after being around Gene for the last two hours. Oh, how she’d wanted him to kiss her tonight. Every time he’d looked her way, she’d tingled from top to bottom and back up again.
God, I need help, Kylisha prayed, flipping through the pages of her Bible. At the book of Proverbs, she came upon a yellow post-it note that she’d stuck there for safekeeping.
Smiling, Kylisha picked the note up and read the joke written thereon. One thing you’ll never hear in church – “Hey! It’s my turn to sit on the front pew!”
Arnaz left that joke on Kylisha’s desk on Friday. He’d also left his home number and a message for her to call him if she ever needed a Bible study partner, be it in person or via telephone.
Bible study partner, Kylisha mused, seriously considering Arnaz’s offer. I’ve never had one of those before. Maybe it’s time that I do, she decided, picking up the phone.
© 2006 by Suprina Frazier
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