Unforgettable, My Love Has Come Along, page 2
“I don’t mind if we can’t find anything else,” I responded, leaning back in the sofa.
“Not again!” Maydine winced, nestling comfortably in the sofa across from me. “Anna, please see if you can find something else for us to watch.”
“Fine, you two!” Harriett murmured. She was seated in the small sofa next to me, sighing as she savored a cup of green tea.
I propped my feet up on the coffee table and scrolled through the channels. After an unsuccessful search for something of interest, we settled on NCIS.
By the second commercial break during NCIS, Maydine was soundly sleeping. Typical Maydine. I smiled knowingly.
“Don’t forget to give me the photos,” Harriett broke into my thoughts. “You haven’t given me any recent photos of yourself.”
“Yes, I remembered.” I quickly walked to the entertainment stand and opened a drawer.
“You don’t have to do it now,” she exclaimed.
“That’s okay. I already created your little pile.” I pulled out stacks of photos and located hers. “Here you go.” I handed her the pictures and placed the rest in the drawer.
“Thank you!” Harriett beamed and promptly began looking through the stack.
“I will add more before you leave,” I said, burrowing in the sofa to find a comfortable spot.
“Okay,” Harriett replied. “Nice shot!” She held up a picture of me sporting a full-length red satin evening gown. “You look fabulous.”
“Thanks Sis! You know I try.” I grinned at her before turning my attention to NCIS.
Suddenly, Harriett’s mumbling caught my attention. Am I getting paranoid? Did she say Mr. Conway? “What did you say,” I asked tentatively.
“I was just saying that I would show Mr. Conway these photos.”
“What?” I gasped loudly, sitting up. “Please don’t show my pictures to Mr. Conway.”
“Annalisa please!” Harriett pleaded, clearly frustrated.
“What’s…going on?” Maydine was fully awake. “Mr. Conway. Who is Mr. Conway?”
Without sparing any details, Harriett filled in the blanks while I stared at her in frustration. Suddenly, Maydine knitted her brows then she leaned back in the sofa and crossed her arms.
“Mr. Conway! Conway …” Maydine’s voice trailed off, then a bright smile lit her face.
I stared at her, surprised at her burst of emotion.
“I know Mr. Conway,” she said, looking totally amused.
A loud gasp escaped Harriett’s lips as she wrestled with the turn of events.
“You know him?” I inquired, with arched eyebrows.
“Yes, Annalisa Jones!” Maydine smiled. “He is a nice gentleman. I haven’t spent any quality time with him because every time he comes to my office, I’m usually on my way to a meeting or attending to something.” Maydine was the principal of Creek Cross Elementary and Middle School in Jamaica.
The room grew quiet and they stared intently at me.
“What?” I gave a hollow laugh and flopped backward on the sofa. “I am still not interested.”
“He seems very nice, very business-like,” Maydine encouraged.
“I told her,” Harriett jumped in.
Maydine looked me straight in the eye, and said, “I can tell you this. He’s always very encouraging and inspiring.”
I looked away as my heart raced. I did not respond. Actually, nothing came to mind.
“Does he know that you are busy finding him a mate?” Maydine joked, reclining in the sofa.
“No, but I know he is seeking a wife,” Harriett responded, making her case.
“He seems very confident. I am sure he has many choices,” Maydine stated.
“He is not looking for just any woman,” Harriett remarked sharply. “He is seeking a special lady, a Christian lady.”
“Well, I hope he finds that special someone,” I blurted out.
“I am sure he will,” Maydine said wholeheartedly.
“Oh yes,” Harriett agreed. “There must be ladies vying for his attention and affection.”
Maydine smiled knowingly. “If my memory serves me right, he is a very classy dresser, quite dapper.”
“What’s his first name?” I interjected half-heartedly.
Harriett gave an awkward laugh. “I don’t…remember his first name.”
“O…kay then, so much for knowing your Mr. Conway,” I said, barely concealing my annoyance. I was taken aback by her lack of knowledge in this regard.
“Annalisa, let me give him your number,” Harriett begged.
I shook my head in frustration and rolled over on the sofa. “Let’s get back to NCIS.”
The room grew quiet and I turned to look at my sisters. They were both staring at me in disbelief. I laid there hoping that something would pop into my head and give me the magic answer. No convincing excuse came to mind. “Don’t give him my number, give him my email address.”
I had no intention of responding to any email from Mr. Conway.
CHAPTER 2: LOVE CALLS
Summer ended and I was glad for the change in the climate. Cooler temperatures prevailed reminding me that winter was on the way. Tallahassee’s subtropical climate was characterized by hot, humid summers and cool winters. Last summer was particularly hot and occasionally temperatures were above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
I was home comfortably snuggled under sheets in bed, when the phone rang. Ouch! My right hand hurt as I reach for the phone.
“Hello!” I answered cheerfully.
“Hello! How are you?” a deep, strong masculine voice asked.
“I am great! Thank you,” I replied, trying to identify the voice.
“That’s great to hear,” he chuckled softly. He knew I could not place his voice.
“Jamie? Aldane, I know it’s you,” I said, stretching my hand to release the knots in my limb. My nephews are a treat, using what I call their Bond (007) voices.
“No, this is not Jamie or Aldane.”
Feeling slightly embarrassed, I glanced at the caller ID. The call was coming from Jamaica but I did not recognize the number. “I’m sorry, who is this? You have the wrong number.”
“I have the right number. I am blessed to have your number,” he declared in a self-assured voice.
Strangely, an unexpected tingle of nerves hit me. “Who is this?”
“Is this Annalisa?”
“Yes, this is Annalisa.”
“I am Conway, Orane Conway.”
Orane Conway! Orane Conway! Why does his name sound so familiar? My eyes widened involuntarily and my bottom lip quivered from nervous tension. I had totally forgotten about Mr. Conway. “Who?” I asked, trying to regain my composure.
“Orane Conway. Your sister, Dr. Harriett Selby gave me your number,” he stated calmly.
“Oh. Oh.” Words failed me.
“I am sorry to call so late, but I was thinking about the right time to call and finally felt the go ahead.”
Did he actually say that he was thinking about the right time to call? I chuckled softly and quietly rolled on my side to turn on the bedside lamp. “Well, if you feel the need to call, who am I to send you away?”
“Yes,” he replied. “You do not want to send away the messenger before he gives the message.”
Laughter bubbled up within me. A sense of humor! Great! Stay on neutral subjects, I cautioned myself. “So, how are you? I asked.
“Like you, I am doing great. God is good.”
“Are you a Christian?” That is not a neutral subject!
“That’s great to hear! How is your walk going?”
“I take it one day at a time. I have fallen off the wagon a few times but God is good,” he stated quietly. “How has your walk been?”
“It has been very exhilarating. God is always up to something. Which church do you attend?”
“Riverdale Pentecostal church. I have been there for a few years.”
“Sounds good,” I remar
“My pastor is a great role model,” he continued. “I have learned valuable lessons from hearing him preach the word.”
“What about you?” he asked.
“I attend Hope Apostolic Church. This is my first involvement in an apostolic ministry. My pastor is an extremely dynamic preacher and teacher of the word. I am growing.”
“So it has been a good experience. Great! I spent most of my life attending Pentecostal churches. I love being in the house of the Lord.”
“Me too!’ I responded enthusiastically. “I love praise and worship.”
“Same here and I cannot get enough of the word.”
“The word of God is truly powerful,” I said quietly. “I want to walk in His ways.”
“That’s just beautiful!” Orane said in a deep dramatic voice.
Spontaneous laughter erupted from me. “You’re funny!”
“Yes. I have jokes,” he chuckled. “It was nice talking to you. I just wanted to say hello. You have work in the morning, so I won’t keep you.”
Ouch! That’s my line!
Secretly, I wished that we could talk more but I did not want to appear eager. “You are right. It was nice talking with you too. Thanks for calling.”
“May I call you during lunch tomorrow?”
I paused. Did Harriett give him all my numbers?
“Yes,” I responded, then hesitantly asked, “Do you have my cell number?”
Orane chuckled sensing my apprehension. “No. You are going to give it to me now.”
I laughed too, knowing that he knew where I was coming from.
“I love to hear you laugh,” he remarked with a hint of a smile. “You seem like a wonderful person.”
“You’ve been hearing things about me,” I said in a leisurely tone.
“All good,” he chuckled softly.
Orane and I exchanged numbers then said goodnight. A slow smile crept up the corners of my mouth as I placed the cordless phone back on its base. A refreshing and interesting man!
I lay back on my bed and closed my eyes, giggling softly. Neutral subjects were clearly not my thing! I hoped my questions were not too direct for a first conversation. I did not want to come across as uptight or overly professional.
I grabbed the sheets, pulling them closer to me. There was a strange feeling in my stomach, nervous excitement. I totally surprised myself; I gave my heart permission to speak freely with him. Sleep came much later after I replayed our entire conversation in my mind.
The following day, I woke up smiling then screaming when I saw the time. I must have slept through the alarm. Usually, I have devotion before sliding out of bed but that morning, I could only say a prayer. I threw my legs over the side of the bed and ran to the bathroom. A few minutes later, instead of my habitual spread for breakfast, I ate a cheese sandwich and drank tea.
Thankfully, I had taken out my work attire the night before. I quickly pulled on a dusty pink shirt, black skirt suit and accessories, then applied light makeup and a touch of perfume. As I struggled to put on my shoes, I caught sight of my reflection in the mirror and started to grin. “I am going out with joy,” I declared boldly. I grabbed my purse and was on my way.
That day, my cell phone was closer than a brother. I took it everywhere I went, a very strange occurrence for me.
Hours later, during lunch, the anticipated call came.
“Hello,” I answered, moving to exit the building.
“Hi Annalisa! This is Orane. We spoke last night.”
“Hi! How are you?” I asked cheerfully.
“Great!” he responded. “It sounds like you are having a wonderful day.”
“Yes, I am. I just finished lunch,” I replied, taking a seat in a nearby gazebo.
“What did you eat?”
“Ah, a little something that I threw together, brown stewed chicken and steamed white rice. It was tasty though.”
“Are you a good cook?”
“I can help myself in the kitchen but I would rather just eat. Can you cook?”
“You are being modest,” he laughed. “Yes, I can cook, but like you, I rather just eat.”
“Shameful!” I teased him mercilessly. “This is not good.”
“Guilty. I embrace it,” he chuckled. “Your sister told me that you live in Florida.”
“Yes. Tallahassee, North Florida. I work at my alma mater, Colgana University as a senior personnel officer.”
“HR. I can tell that you love your job.”
“I do,” I grinned.
“Not sure if your sister mentioned that I operate a small business that offers information technology services.”
“Yes, Mr. Entre…pre…neur!”
Orane chuckled. “I always wanted to own a business.”
“What did you do before you started the business?”
“I started out as an accountant. Later, I joined the sales team at an Information Technology company and a few years after that, I started my own business.”
“Thanks!” I could hear the smile in his voice. “I know that you have to get back to work. May I call you at home later?”
“That’s fine. I will listen out for your call.”
“Great talking with you again. Talk with you later.”
I gazed at my cell phone. Way to go Annalisa Jones! I will listen out for your call. Not even suggesting a time to call. I burst into senseless giggles as I walked back to my office. Unsurprisingly, my mind slanted toward optimism. I am showing my interest, I told myself. I giggled even more.
Naturally joyous, I daydreamed on and off as I worked, laughing softly as my thoughts were hijacked by buoyant pieces of my conversation with Orane. I looked forward to talking with him again and…perhaps again.
A chill of nervous excitement began in my stomach when my home phone rang around nine o’clock that evening.
“Good evening!” I answered pleasantly, curling my long legs beneath my body and leaning back on the green cushions on the off white love seat in my bedroom.
“Hey Orane! How are you?” I felt spontaneous knowing mixed with excitement as I greeted him.
“I’m good! Are you doing good?”
“Yes, I’m good. I was just catching up on politics.”
“You’re interested in politics?”
“Yes. Actually, I wasn’t so totally involved until Barack Obama decided to run for President.”
“America could have its first African-American President.”
“Imagine that, in one of the greatest countries on earth,” I exclaimed.
“Senator Obama is a natural orator. His delivery is excellent.”
“Yes,” I agreed wholeheartedly. “So classy, natural and conversational.”
“The whole world is watching,” Orane said thoughtfully.
“So true. I am now officially a political pundit,” I declared.
“It’s like that.”
“At one stage I thought I would get involved in politics,” Orane confessed. “I worked at the community level.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“Life happened back in the day,” he sighed heavily. “I still have aspirations but I am waiting on the Lord for the right timing.”
“Alright, Senator Conway!”
Orane chuckled. “So apart from politics, tell me something interesting about Annalisa Jones.”
“Okay, let me see…I cry at the drop of a hat.”
“Yes, it’s a family tradition. I would hate to be the one to break it.”
Orane laughed softly. “So you cry whether you’re happy or sad?”
“Yes. My tear ducts are always full,” I winced. “I cry at the movies, weddings and funerals. I cry because of God’s love for humanity, you name it, I will cry. I am a crier.”
“I will walk with a handker
“Best to do that.” I grinned. “I take it, you don’t cry easily?”
“No. I don’t cry easily.”
“I can teach you. Let’s practice. Boo-oo, booh! Boo-oo, booh!”
Orane burst out laughing. “You are something Annalisa.”
“I told you, I have a lot of experience in that area.”
“I would rather you teach me how to laugh.”
“Okay. Ready. First you…”
“You are unbelievable,” he chuckled with satisfaction.
I giggled, feeling an increased level of comfortableness with him. “So tell me something interesting about yourself.”
“I’ll prefer if you discover that,” he responded in a leisurely tone.
“Ohhh, smooth operator!”
“I’m just saying.”
I pressed him gently. “Get me started. Tell me one thing.”
“I like hot cocoa and bread.”
“Cocoa and bread! Seriously?”
“Yes, and for the records, I do cry before the Lord sometimes when I pray.”
“Awww! That’s just beautiful.”
Orane inhaled then exhaled. “So there! All my business out in the open.”
“Just a little,” I grinned. “I gathered that you live in MayPo.”
“Yes. I have been living in MayPo for over ten years. I am originally from Ocho Rios.”
“Ocho Rios! Great place to live. Back in the day, some friends and I would drive from Kingston to Ocho Rios just to hit the beautiful beaches.”
“I understand. The beaches are phenomenal. Do you miss them?”
“Definitely,” I exclaimed. “Jamaica has mighty fine beaches.”
“How long have you been away?”
“Seems like forever. But really, only four years. Before I left, I worked in human resources at Enterprise Bank in Kingston.”
“HR again. You like dealing with people.”
“Yes. It’s my calling, my destiny. People and cultures fascinate me.”
“I take it that you like traveling.”
“Absolutely! I would put traveling on my list of fun things to do.”
“I enjoy cultures too,” Orane mentioned. “Isn’t it amazing that we are all created in God’s image?”
“That’s what fascinates me,” I said in hushed tones.