“Hello, Gloreatha.” Gene smiled, moving to give the pregnant woman a warm hug as she entered the room. They’d remained good friends after their December breakup due to the gracious way he’d handled things. Gene always tried to end things on a positive note with his ex-lovers. Sometimes it worked. Other times it didn’t.
“Hello yourself, handsome,” Gloreatha replied, returning his hug and smile.
“Looks like you and Erik have been up to a lot since the last time I saw you,” Gene said, sending Kylisha a covert message as he released Gloreatha and stood at a respectable distance. That message – this woman was not pregnant by him. In fact, Gloreatha had gone back to her ex-boyfriend after breaking up with Gene.
Gloreatha chuckled. “Yes, we’ve been very busy.” She rubbed her belly with one hand while adjusting the large tan bag on her shoulder with the other. “The baby’s due late fall.”
Kylisha suppressed a smile of relief at the computer. A frowning Arnaz went to the break room to clock out for lunch. His plan had not worked and he wasn’t happy about it at all.
“So what have you been up to lately?” Gloreatha asked. “Still playing the field? Or have you finally decided to settle down?”
Gene briefly looked Kylisha’s way before turning back to Gloreatha. “I turned in my player’s card a while back, but I’m having a little trouble convincing my lady of that fact.”
Gloreatha’s eyes went from Gene to a blushing Kylisha. She smiled knowingly. “Keep at it,” she said, turning to Gene again. “She must be pretty special to make you want to change your ways. Even I couldn’t get you to do that.”
“She is very special,” Gene replied, shooting another quick glance Kylisha’s way. He smiled when she turned even more crimson in the cheeks. He liked seeing Kylisha blush.
“But then again, you’re pretty special, too,” Gene continued, returning his attention to Gloreatha. “Your heart was just meant for another man.”
Gloreatha grinned. “Speaking of that wonderful man, Erik’s about to m-a-r-r-y me!” She held up her left hand and showed off her sparkling diamond.
“Congratulations,” Gene said, looking impressed by the huge rock on her finger. “That brother spent a nice chunk of change on you. You deserve that and so much more, Gloreatha.”
“Congratulations,” Kylisha echoed, turning to give Gloreatha a sincere smile. She looked happier about the wedding than the future bride.
“Thanks,” Gloreatha told Kylisha and Gene in turn. She reached into her bag and retrieved several small envelopes. “I stopped by to drop off enough invitations for your whole family.” She paused to hand Gene the cream-colored envelopes. “I was also hoping you could do me a favor.”
“It all depends on what you want,” Gene teased. “If you want me to rob a bank for you, then no, I can’t do you that favor. I’m allergic to jail, remember?”
Gloreatha giggled. “You still crazy, boy. No, I just need you to talk Deshawn into making a last-minute wedding gown for me. My original seamstress didn’t take into account how much I might expand, so my original gown doesn’t fit right anymore. On top of that, she’s all booked up and can’t make me a new one in time for the wedding.” Gloreatha blew out a breath of frustration. “Anyway, I need someone with a certain level of expertise to make me look beautiful, feel comfortable, without appearing too frumpy. I need Deshawn, Gene.”
“Well, Deshawn’s in Florida doing a few shows right now, but…” Gene began right before thick tension returned to the room.
“Ready to go to lunch, Kylisha?” Arnaz said, speaking out of turn.
Kylisha frowned at his rudeness. Times like these she wanted to rescind her decision to date him. “I’ll be ready in a few minutes, Arnaz,” Kylisha said, saving her document even as she spoke.
“Good,” Arnaz replied, giving Gene a smug look that said ‘she’s mine’.
“Congratulations again on your upcoming wedding,” Kylisha told Gloreatha on her way out.
“Thanks.” Gloreatha nodded. She put a halting hand on Gene’s arm. He looked like he wanted to throttle the rude man in the blue and brown work uniform.
Meanwhile, Kylisha quickly escorted Arnaz out of the building. She, too, sensed the testosterone in the room rising to a dangerous level.
Once they were in Arnaz’s car, Kylisha asked him delay starting the engine until they’d had a chance to talk. There were loud pipes on the vehicle. Once they were revved up, it was hard to hear anything, even the radio.
“What you did back there was uncalled for, Arnaz,” Kylisha said, scolding him for his offensive behavior in the office. “Rudeness is totally unacceptable in a place of business.”
“So is fraternizing with the boss, which is what you did for months behind everyone’s backs,” Arnaz fired back. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve been at it again based on what I saw today.”
“Don’t make this about me and Gene, when it is clearly about you and Gene,” Kylisha retorted, tired of all the jealousies, including her own. “As for seeing things, I saw something of my own today. I saw a Christian man trying to paint another Christian man in a bad light.”
Arnaz scoffed. “Gene’s not a Christian. He’s a player trying to act like a Christian in order to get a woman.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t really know anymore,” Kylisha admitted. “But I do know this one thing. Gene was a much better man than you a few minutes ago. He didn’t allow jealousy to make him act out of character.”
Arnaz looked away. The muscles in his jaw clenched with ire. He hated being compared to Gene in any way. He hated it even more when Gene came out ahead in the comparison.
After a few short moments of silence, Arnaz turned back to Kylisha. “I’m sorry,” he said, suppressing his pride for the sake of their relationship.
Kylisha smiled at his humble tone. “All is forgiven.” She finally buckled her seatbelt. “Now where are we going to eat today? I’m hungry.”
Arnaz chuckled. “Anywhere you want, lady. Anywhere you want.”
* * *
Back inside the building, Gene and Gloreatha now sat in his office. After contacting Deshawn for her, Gene invited Gloreatha to stay and talk awhile. As expected, the main topic of conversation was Kylisha.
Gloreatha asked many questions about the beautiful secretary with the amazing green eyes. Questions like: Why her over all your other women? Is she serious about that rude guy in the uniform? If so, why? Especially since he’s so rude. Yet it was Gloreatha’s last question that stood out to Gene the most.
“What I want to know is, why are you waiting in the wings for Kylisha to come to you on her own?” Gloreatha asked. “She’s obviously shy in the ways of love, which means you’re going to have to be the aggressive one.”
“I don’t want to take the risk of running her away again,” Gene replied, recalling what happened the last time he came on too strong.
“Well, you better do something before Arnot convinces her to run away with him for good,” Gloreatha warned, changing Arnaz’s name to suit her illustrative purposes.
Gene nodded in agreement. If only he knew how to break through to Kylisha.
© 2006 by Suprina Frazier
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