Before going to church on Sunday, Kylisha treated her eyes with more medicated drops to relieve the puffiness in them. She’d been crying intermittently ever since that incident at the café with Gene. The pain she’d seen in his eyes when she told him about Arnaz, the pain she’d also felt as a result had all been so unexpected. So overwhelming.
If Kylisha didn’t know any better she’d think Gene was in love with her. That maybe she was in love with him, too.
No! Kylisha told herself as she guided her car into an empty parking space in the church parking lot. She refused to even entertain the thought that there was more to her and Gene than physical attraction. If so, then why was her heart still aching? Why did she want to start crying all over again?
Blinking back pending tears, Kylisha took a moment to collect herself before getting out of the car. Strength now, God. Please, she prayed, taking in several deep breaths.
With her head bowed, Kylisha failed to see Gene’s vehicle pulling into a parking space two rows over.
* * *
As usual, Kylisha sat in the west wing with the Rozier/Waldenhalls. It mattered little that Deshawn was currently out of town. They all considered Kylisha to be part of the family by now. She didn’t need a friendship badge to be in their presence. She was welcome any time.
Sitting on the same pew as Grandma Janelle, Kylisha bowed her head for a time of meditation as she often did before service. That always readied her soul to receive the Word of the Lord.
Halfway through her meditation, Kylisha’s nose was suddenly assaulted with a familiar smell. The only person she knew that wore that particular brand of expensive cologne was…
It can’t be! Kylisha mused, turning towards the back row that Skeet and Avery usually sat on. Gene! Her breath caught in her throat.
Like a proud peacock, Gene strutted towards her in a brown suit that matched the color of his eyes and accented those delicious broad shoulders of his. The gaze of several female admirers followed him step by step. Some seemed to forget where they were as lust shrouded their features like a veil.
If I’d known he was coming today, I would have sat somewhere else, Kylisha mused as Gene planted himself one pew behind her. She still wanted to relocate, but feared it would draw the wrong kind of attention. Too many eyes were looking this way as it was.
Facing forward again, Kylisha did her best to remain focused. It was hard to do so with Gene sitting right behind her. It grew even harder when praise and worship began and Kylisha discovered something new about him. Something that unwillingly endeared her to him even more.
Gene Waldenhall could sing with the best of them. His voice had great range and he knew just how to use it to bring out hidden nuances in every song. Kylisha actually felt caressed by his voice as it filtered forward and into her ears.
God, it’s not fair, Kylisha complained inwardly. The man is not only handsome, but can sing, too? How am I ever going to get over him now? she mused, having always been partial to crooners.
On top of that, Gene fit in smoothly with the flow of service. He seemed right at home with the other worshippers, even though he’d been out of the fold for a long time.
Kylisha had to force herself to remember that Gene was one of those people that could fit in anywhere. That trait helped him tremendously in his line of work, made him able to deal with all kinds of people.
By the start of the third song, Kylisha had just about gotten her emotions under control. Suddenly the praise and worship leader said, “Take this time to give somebody a hug, tell them that God loves them and you do, too.”
No! Kylisha screamed inside. She forgot all about that portion of every service. Though it was the church’s way of spreading brotherly love among the congregation according to Romans 12:10, Kylisha dreaded that act with a passion today.
Speaking of passion, Kylisha felt that and so much more when Gene walked up to her during this time, gave her a tender embrace, and whispered, “I love you,” in her ear.
When he reluctantly released her, their gazes met and held for the longest time. That’s when Kylisha knew that there was nothing brotherly at all about Gene’s hug or declaration. In a nutshell, the man had either just revealed the depth of his feelings for her or he’d just attempted to sway her decision concerning Arnaz.
Believing the latter, Kylisha’s eyes darkened in hue with ire. How dare he pull such an underhanded trick? she mused. Just two days ago he had a slue of women calling him at work. Now he’s supposed to be all in love with me? Yeah right!
Leaving her Bible and purse on the pew, Kylisha headed straight for the ladies room. She needed some time alone to get her anger under control. If they hadn’t been in church, she would have slapped fire out of Gene’s face for daring to play with her emotions like this.
After twenty minutes, Kylisha still hadn’t regained her composure. She was starting to think she never would after being plagued with an abundance of what-ifs questions.
What if Gene was actually sincere? What if he’d actually decided to turn his life around? What if all Gene really wanted to do was conquer her? What if the moment that he did, he lost interest and returned to his old ways?
I can’t take that chance, Kylisha mused, putting a cold compress up to her forehead. She had a headache out of this world right now.
Just then, the head usher, Gene’s mother, entered the room. “What’s wrong, Kylisha?” Roberta asked, instantly noting her puffy eyes.
“I’m not feeling too good right now, Mrs. Rozier. I think I probably should’ve just stayed home today,” Kylisha replied, careful not to look directly at her. Roberta looked entirely too much like her son right now for comfort.
“Can I get you anything?” Roberta’s features oozed concern as she moved to sit on the cushioned pink and green bench beside her.
“Yes.” Kylisha nodded. “If you could bring me my Bible and purse, I’d appreciate it. I’m going to head home and lie down for awhile.”
“Before you go, at least let me pray for your healing. God may just manifest it fast enough for you to stay for the rest of the service,” Roberta suggested, patting Kylisha’s back in a soothing manner.
Kylisha shook her head. “Though I appreciate your prayers, I think I’m going to go on home anyway.”
“Okay,” Roberta resigned, unwilling to add any additional stress to Kylisha’s life.
After a brief moment of prayer, Kylisha’s things were returned to her. With each step she took towards her car, she felt relief saturate her body. Yet with that relief also came sadness.
It saddened Kylisha that a place which had brought her such joy had suddenly turned into a place of pain. The way she felt right now she might never come back to this church. She definitely wasn’t going to attend anymore Rozier/Waldenhall Sunday dinners.
* * *
After the service, Skeet pulled Gene aside. “What did you say to Kylisha to make her leave so early today?”
“Nothing, except the fact that I love her,” Gene replied, speaking discreetly low on account of all the female admirers still watching him.
Skeet winced. “Wrong timing, man. I know you’re eager, but if you don’t slow your roll a bit, you’re going to blow this thing big time.”
“I know.” Gene was still kicking himself for being so zealous. He’d been the one to send his mother in to check on Kylisha. When he got the report that she wasn’t feeling well and was leaving early, it had taken a discreet note of wisdom from his grandmother to keep him from running after Kylisha.
Janelle’s note had read, ‘She needs time alone to think. Give it to her.’
Concluding his conversation with Skeet, Gene quickly made his way to his car. After this dismal failure, he needed some time alone to think himself.
© 2006 by Suprina Frazier
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