Unexpected Packages, page 20
The immediate response to his perusal came as no surprise. She lowered her head before he could see the heat in her gaze.
“I called you a few minutes ago, but you didn’t answer,” she said instead of answering his question. “I was a little worried.”
His fingers lifted her chin until her gaze met his. Heat smoldered in his eyes and her chest tightened.
“I left my cell phone at home. I’m sorry to have worried you, but I must say I’m glad for the reaction.”
He held her gaze a few moments more before he released her chin and diverted his eyes to just over her shoulder. Connie saw the labored rise and fall of his chest and realized he was struggling with his emotions just as badly as she was.
“What are you doing here?”
Desperately she wanted him to say it was because he couldn't bear to stay away a moment longer. Then he’d take her in his arms and they’d head upstairs to make love. It had been six long, sexually frustrating days since she’d felt his wonderful weight upon her, thrusting into her deep core. A shiver danced up her spine. She had to get control of her thoughts or else they’d drive her crazy. Who was she kidding? She was already going insane. Her body was constantly on fire, and only one person could douse the flames. Even now the throbbing between her legs grew more intense the longer she stood close to him.
“It’s been a rough week … at work, and I needed to get out for a while to get some air. You know clear my head and relieve some tension,” he said, leaning against the door.
Connie was grateful for even the small amount of distance he’d put between them. But his eyes still roamed over her body with an intensity that licked the flames of her own desire. It took everything in her to stand there under the scrutiny.
“Have you lost weight?” he asked, tilting his head to the side.
It had a tendency to happen when you didn’t eat. And she hadn't had an appetite since last week. At least one good thing was coming out of this whole fiasco.
“Yeah, a little I guess,” she said, forcing her body to move.
Connie motioned for him to follow her into the kitchen.
Concern laced his simple question. It warmed her insides. Any other guy would have told her good but not Kenny.
“Not that it would hurt for me to drop a few pounds …,” she began in a teasing voice.
“You don’t need to drop a few of anything,” he said, his voice coming out rough with irritation at her kidding on herself. “You look great just the way you are.”
Kenny had always been good for her ego and self-esteem. Not once had he ever said a disparaging word about her need to lose weight or the way she dressed. Connie paused. Then, what was the problem again? Why had she gotten rid of this man?
“Thank you,” she answered quietly still deep in her thoughts.
“I only speak the truth.”
He picked up one of her text books from the table.
“How did exams go today?”
Glad for the change in subject she filled him in on how her tests had gone that day and what she was currently trying to study. She wasn’t surprised when he offered to help her. For the next two hours, they were immersed in a Q & A session.
“Wow, I hadn't realized it was so late,” he said, getting up to stretch. “I’d better head home.”
Connie glanced at the clock over the stove. It was a little after eleven. She hated to see him go, but he had to work tomorrow and she had more exams.
“Okay. Thanks for helping me study,” she said, following him back out to the foyer.
“No problem. I just hope I actually helped you and not the opposite. It’s been awhile since I was in college.”
A frown puckered her brow.
“No one would be able to tell it by looking at you,” she said, her gaze moving appreciatively over his handsome face.
A hint of color showed on his face and her smile widened.
“Thank you,” he said softly.
“Just speaking the truth.”
They stood staring at each other. Connie wasn’t sure who moved first, but suddenly they were within a breath of each other. Her breathing came out labored, causing her breasts to rise and fall noticeably. He was so close all she had to do was just reach out to him.
“I had better get going,” he said but didn’t move.
She called his name on a sigh. Someone moved bringing them closer. The hardened outline of his erection pressed against her stomach. She wanted it inside of her. Before she could change her mind, Connie reached up and looped her hands around his neck.
“Connie, I don’t think this is a good idea,” Kenny said but didn’t move away.
She pulled his head down until her lips were inches from their target. Her tongue stroked his parted lips. When he gasped, she claimed his mouth fully. Connie closed her eyes and sighed as pleasure moved through her. She thrust her tongue between his lips and made a sweep of his mouth. She felt and heard his groan of pleasure as he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her closer to the heat of his body. When she felt as if her lungs would collapse from lack of air, he lifted his head. His eyes were glazed over with desire. The same desire Connie was sure could be seen in her own eyes.
“Kenny, I want you,” she whispered against his neck.
She placed hot kisses against his skin. Strong hands moved from her waist down over the curve of her ass to pull her closer against his hardened member.
“I want you, too, Connie. But I don’t want you on a temporary basis. I want you in the forever way.”
He moved his hips to thrust against her center before he reached behind his neck to remove her hands. Kenny brought her fingers to his lips and kissed them softly.
“When you’re ready for that, let me know. I only hope it’s before we both die of sexual frustration.”
With that he was gone.
Connie stood there in the foyer, her arms hanging loose by her side. She felt emptier than she’d felt in days. Her body ached in places only Kenny knew how to touch.
“Oh, Constance, you need to rethink some things,” she told herself as she headed back towards the kitchen.
At four o’clock Friday afternoon, Connie breathed her first real breath all week. It was over. She had just taken her final test of the school year. Whew! She thought she’d done pretty well, but she would have to wait a few weeks to find out exactly how well. It was now eight o’clock, and she was on her way to the gas station. Roger had called to see if she could come in early to cover for someone who’d called out sick. Since she didn’t have anything else planned, she’d automatically said yes. When she walked into the store, he greeted her with a smile of relief.
“Constance, thanks so much for coming in. My wife and I have made plans for the evening, and she would kill me if I had to cancel on her,” Roger said, heading towards the backroom.
“It’s no problem. Not like I have a life,” she said under her breath.
“What’s that, hon?” he asked, coming back out.
“Nothing. I didn’t have anything planned tonight anyway.”
“Okay, but I owe you. Why don’t you take tomorrow night off? You just finished up finals, right?”
“Well, it’s settled. I’ll work for you tomorrow night, and you go out and have a good time. Release some steam. I remember how it was during finals. But anyways thanks again,” he said and headed out the door.
It had been a slow night for Connie. With classes over, there was nothing to occupy her thoughts. An image of Kenny and how he’d looked standing in the foyer last night before he had left sprang to mind. Just the thought of him …. The bell chiming over the door signaling someone had entered cut off where her errant thoughts had been heading. Automatically her gaze moved to the clock on the wall. Almost one o’clock. She looked up to see an attractive African American woman walking towards the counter
“Hi,” Connie said in greeting.
She tilted her head and studied the woman now standing directly in front of her. She couldn't shake the feeling that she knew her. Connie wracked her brain trying to figure out where she’d seen her before.
“Hello,” the woman said, staring at her in return.
“Can I help you with something?”
“No, I just wanted to come by to get a look at you. You’re very pretty,” the woman replied, a sparkle in her brown gaze.
A frown creased Connie's brow.
“I beg your pardon. Do I know you?”
“No, but I believe you and I will be great friends. That is as long as you don’t tell my son I disobeyed him by coming here,” she said, laughing out loud. “My name is Marcelle. Marcelle Jamison.”
No wonder this woman looked familiar to her. She was Kenny's mother. Connie shook the offered hand in greeting wondering why she was here. She had said it was to get a look at her. Embarrassment moved through her as she glanced down at what she had on. Another of her famous baggy sweats and oversized t-shirt ensembles. A sigh filled her lungs. Oh, well, it didn’t make any difference.
“My son has finally gotten it right I’m happy to say. So why is it you and he are not engaged yet?” Marcelle asked, her face openly curious.
Connie’s mouth opened in surprise but no words came out. Engaged? What should she say? She didn’t think it her place to break the news to Kenny’s mother that they were no longer together, but what choice did she have?
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Jamison,” she began.
“Please call me Marcelle. Mrs. Jamison was my husband’s mother,” she said with a wave of her hand. “May she rest in peace.”
“Mrs. Jamison, Kenny and I aren’t seeing each other any longer,” she said instead.
She didn’t think she had the right to address her by her first name given the circumstances.
“Yes, that’s what he told me, but I’m curious about whose decision that was.”
It sounded as if she already knew the answer. Yet Connie found herself hesitating under Marcelle’s close scrutiny.
“Mine,” she said quietly, not meeting her gaze.
“And why would you do that, dear? My son is quite a catch or so I’ve heard,” Marcelle said, smiling.
Pride for her eldest son shined brightly on her face. And she should be proud of him. Even though they were no longer together, Connie could not deny the fact that Kenny was a wonderful man. He would make some woman very happy. He had made us very happy while he was here, her heart reminded her. And if you give him the chance, I bet he would be willing to do it again.
“Yes, he is,” Connie admitted.
“Then, I’m confused? I know he cares for you deeply. I see it in his eyes when he speaks of you.”
Her eyes widened in shock. First, his friends and now his mother. All of this after she had kicked him out of her life.
“He’s spoken to you of me? Recently?”
Marcelle leaned against the counter, her smile never wavering.
“Yes, he has. My son is quite taken with you. Why don’t you put him out of his misery and I dare say yourself as well, and go to him?”
It sounded so easy when someone else said it. But Connie knew otherwise.
“It’s not as simple as it might seem. I have a problem putting my trust in the right man,” Connie said before snapping her mouth closed.
Embarrassed by her comment, she lowered her gaze. What had she been thinking to confide in Kenny’s mother of all people? But the look of compassion and concern that had been in her gaze had drawn the truth from her before she’d been able to stop it.
“And Kenny’s done something to cause you to doubt him? He’s proven he can’t be trusted with your heart?” His mother prodded softly.
Connie shook her head slowly, answering no to all of the above.
“You know, dear, it’s not fair to condemn him for the actions of others. When Kenny’s father and I met, it just so happened to be days after an incident on our college campus. A few white boys had taken it upon themselves to pick on a few of us black girls. Now if I had held that against James, I would have missed out on the best years of my life. Not to mention, I would have deprived you of ever meeting my son. All because I took my anger out on him because he looked like those who had harassed us. As it turned out, James’ looks were one of the perks to dating him. He’s quite a handsome devil even to this day.”
Love sparkled in Marcelle’s eyes at the thought of her husband. That’s the kind of love she wanted to have with someone. No matter how much time passed, it never faded. Someone she could …. Trust with her heart.
“It’s not that simple for me,” Connie began, shaking her head. “Kenny’s so … and well, I’m just … not. How can someone like him ever be truly happy with someone like me? I am so far removed from what he’s used to. I mean he’s gorgeous, and I’m … cute.”
Frustration over the situation got the best of her suddenly. It wasn’t fair for her to finally meet a man who seemed to like her as she was and he turned out to look like all the other men who had ever hurt her. Talk about irony.
“Dear, surely you aren’t saying you broke up with my son because he’s too handsome,” Marcelle asked, amusement in her voice. “Why I don’t believe I’ve ever heard that one before.”
At the look of amusement on her face, Connie lowered her head to her hands. Great, now Kenny’s mother thought she was some kind of fruitcake.
“Connie,” Marcelle’s warm, soothing voice called.
Embarrassment kept her head lowered until she felt a warm touch on her hair.
Connie raised her head to see the look of amusement gone. In its place was an understanding that could only come from one who knew. Marcelle reached across the counter to take Connie's hand in her warm grasp.
“You know love comes in all kinds of unexpected packages. It’s up to you to decide if you want to simply sit and admire the way the package is wrapped. Taking in the tight corners, all the beautiful colors and the pretty bow on top. Or if you want to take the chance that what’s inside is ten times better than the way it’s wrapped. It’s never easy to give it just one more try when we’ve been hurt before. But when you meet that someone who takes up your every waking moment with thoughts of them ….”
Marcelle’s eyes were closed and the sweetest of smiles graced her face. When her eyes opened, they shimmered brightly.
“Let’s just say you owe it to yourself to give it a chance because you deserve it.”
Marcelle gave Connie’s hand a gentle squeeze and left the store. For a long time, Connie stood rooted to the same spot. Her thoughts filled with what Marcelle had said and then of her time spent with Kenny. From the beginning, he had filled up not just her waking thoughts but her sleeping ones as well, starring in her dreams from their first meeting. And when they were together, everything seemed to be better. He never let her put herself down and had seemed to make it his personal mission to begin filling in the gaps where her self-esteem was lacking. He paid attention to her and seemed to be able to see everything there was to her even when she said nothing. Even since they had broken up, he had still remained a constant in her life. Calling her to check on finals. Helping her study. Telling her she didn’t need to lose a pound because there was nothing wrong with the way she looked. No, not much had seemed to change this week with the exception they weren’t having sex. Connie could admit that while her body craved his, it wasn’t all she’d missed about him. She missed that special smile that was just for her. The look in his eyes when he saw her. The way she felt when she was wrapped in his arms.
All her life she’d dreamed of having the guy that all the women looked at with longing. She’d wanted
“Oh my God,” she said aloud.
She’d had it all within her grasp, but she’d thrown it away because …. Well, because he had looked too damned good to be true, and she couldn't imagine he would truly want her. But Kenny did. It was in the way he’d held her the first night they’d made love. It was in his eyes last night before he’d left.
Glancing at her watch, Connie promised herself she would make it right as soon as she could. She was ready to go after what she wanted. She wanted to open the box with the pretty wrapping paper because inside she knew what she’d find.
Connie awoke with a start and sat straight up in bed. Her eyes darted around her darkened bedroom searching for her clock.
“Oh, no,” she whispered, her voice raspy with sleep.
It was after eight o’clock Saturday night. What had happened?
When she had gotten off this morning, she had headed over to Kenny’s house. She had wanted to tell him what she had discovered in the wee hours of this morning and hadn’t wanted to wait. She had stood ringing the bell for a good five minutes, but he hadn’t been home. The key she still had to his house had almost burned a hole in her pocket, but she had refrained from using it. Reluctantly, she had headed home. On the way she had called and left him a message on his home phone and tried his cell, reaching voice mail there as well. Connie had forced herself to stay up, not wanting to miss his call, but her body had been weary and shaking from lack of sleep. Finally at about ten o’clock, she’d had to admit to herself she needed some rest. Her eyes had burned from being forced to remain open. She’d promised herself she would only sleep for a little while, and then she’d try him again. A little while had turned into all afternoon and most of the evening if her clock could be believed. Though she hated to admit it, she did feel refreshed. Sleep had not come easy this week with finals and then the whole thing with Kenny.