Fated Exchange

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Tuesday

A soft touch on my thigh woke me out of my sleep. I stirred slightly opening my lids. My golden eyes focused on the caramel skin under me. In my sleep, I must have shifted onto his chest.

“Sorry for waking you up. I was moving your leg.” Kenneth’s soft tone caressed my ears.

“You need me to move?” My voice was still a little groggy.

“No, you’re fine. Your thigh was rubbing my…you know and I wanted to get a little more comfortable.”

“Sorry, Kenny,” I giggled. “How long have you been up?”

“A while.”

“And you just have been laying there?”

“I was watching you sleep. Does that sound creepy?”

“Yup,” I sighed relaxing into him even more and earning a chuckle out of him. “Hey, do you think you could take off today?”

“Um, yeah. Yeah, I can do that. What’s up? You want to hang out all day?”

“Not exactly. I was hoping we could have lunch with Janie today. I really want her to meet you.”

“What time today?”

“She has two-thirty available.”

“That’s cool. So we’ll just lay naked in bed all morning until then?”

“If you want to.” I rolled over to grab my cell phone off the charger from the nightstand. I emailed my supervisor telling her I was taking a personal day and texted Janie to confirm our plans. “I’m all yours, Kenny.” I rolled back over to my first position and looked up at his smiling face.

We laid in bed having casual conversations about an assortment of topics ranging from anime and comics to video games and cell phones. After a couple hours of that, we rolled over and watched TV. But daytime television was so sparse with the good shows. Soon my stomach rumbled. Kenneth gave me a shirt to put on and a toothbrush to use. Unlike yesterday, I insisted he let me help him make breakfast. And once that was done, we ate together.

Being here with Kenneth was as easy as breathing. I felt free. I felt good. I felt weightless. I felt renewed like I did the morning after I spent the first night with him. Knowing his name and feeling so comfortable with him to finally give him my full name left me feeling even lighter than I already felt from being around him. I really wanted to ask him what he thought about all of this but was too afraid. If he wasn’t feeling what I was feeling, I honestly didn’t know how I would react.

“So it’s almost been a week since we met, well met in person and we haven’t read any eromangas. We’ve been watching videos.”

His eyebrow arched and he snickered slightly. “You know, you’re right. We could do that tonight if you want.”

“Sure. You know we…haven’t…talked about anything else either.”

“Like what?”

“Us.”

“What about us, beautiful?”

“I don’t know. Are you having fun?”

“Yeah, you’re really cool to be around.” His eyes danced across my face. “Are you having fun?”

“Yeah,” I nodded my head. “You’re really cool, too.”

“Oh, I know I am. I’m the best thing to happen to your life.”

“Aren’t you the arrogant one,” I snickered.

“It’s not arrogance, it’s confidence.” He added a cocky grin to his haughty attitude.

“And what makes you so confident, mister.” I leaned down on the counter to look up at him from under my lashes.

“I’m confident I’m a cool guy ’cause I’ve been told many times. And I’m confident I’m the best thing to happen to your life…” He leaned on the counter putting himself at my eye level. “’Cause you scream louder with me than you ever have in the past two months over the headset.”

“So you’re basing your statement off of how good you sex me?”

“So you’re saying I sex you good?” He gave me his famous smile.

“According to you, you do.” My smile faded as I hesitated over the words. “But seriously.”

“Seriously what?” his features became firm.

“Are we friends?”

“Yeah,” his response held an inflectional flare.

“Are we…more than friends?” I was trying to egg him on.

“Yeah,” his tone was still confused.

“Like…we’re…” I spoke slowly hoping he would fill in the blanks but he didn’t seem to catch on to my roundabout wording.

Just then, his cell phone rang. He excused himself and took the call. My body slumped onto the counter. This was so hard. I didn’t want to put myself out there and be the only one who was here building lasting connections. But I wanted to know so badly how he was feeling. I wanted to know in depth how he felt about me. I wanted to get lost in him. I wanted to delve as deep as I possibly could and drown in him the right way. And I wanted him to feel the same. I wanted him to agonize about my feelings for him. I wanted him to want me just as bad as I wanted him.

“Why is this so hard,” I groaned aloud.

“What is?” I didn’t hear Kenneth return to the kitchen.

“Um, nothing. Did you notify your job about not coming in today?” I asked changing the subject.

“Yeah, I did that while you were brushing your teeth.”

“So where’s Rhett?”

“Don’t know. He probably went home with someone he met last night.”

“He certainly is a suave one, that Rhett.”

“That he is. Come on. Let’s go back to bed. I’m really loving this lazy day with you.”

We lay curled up in each other’s arms as we watched more boring TV in his room on the bed. I decided not to try to pry anything out of him. Maybe trying to get an answer from him was so hard because I wasn’t meant to know. My bad habit of fantasizing about my future with him would just have to do. After a significant amount of time lounging around, I checked the time on my cellphone and texted my location to my favorite cab company.

“So I’m going to head home to shower and change.” I slivered out of his grasp and reached for my gown to put on. “Boy am I going to look crazy wearing this thing in the middle of the day.”

Kenneth chuckled but it sounded off. “You know if you want, you can bring a toothbrush and clothes here to keep…for when you stay. I wouldn’t mind it.”

I turned to face him. “Isn’t that quite soon?”

“I figured it would be good so you wouldn’t have to go home in a ball gown or wake up so early to go home and change for work,” he laughed.

“I see your point.” I turned my back to him. “I already owe Rhett toothbrushes and pills and I’m not paying him the way his clients do,” I chuckled. I zipped my dress and smoothed the soft material over my silhouette. I felt his eyes burning into my back. Turning around, I met his intense stare. “You alright?”

“Yeah.” His eyes fluttered as if waking up from a dream.

The two of us rode the elevator down to the lobby in an awkward silence.

“So, I’ll see you in about three hours at Nelson’s Bistro on Thirty-Eighth street,” I beamed.

He nodded his head. Our lips met for a quick kiss before I headed to the cab. Once I was home, I showered and changed into a pair of dark wash skinny jeans and a simple scoop neck purple top. I dressed way too quickly and had some time before I had to leave. Grabbing my laptop, I laid across my bed. I did nothing productive as I waited for time to pass by. A text chat message popped up on my screen.

KingZeus: I’m bored.

KammiWithaK: Ha. Ha. Me too.

KingZeus: These cheesy cop dramas are not the same without you.

KammiWithaK: What channel are you watching?

KingZeus: 47

I turned on the TV and watched what he was watching.

KammiWithaK: I saw this one. The murderer is the undercover cop.

KingZeus: Thanks for ruining it.

KammiWithaK: It really wasn’t a good one lol!

KingZeus: Hey…give me your phone number so I can hear you laugh.

Workout hesitation, I gave him my number and grabbed my phone. About twenty seconds later, my phone vibrated in my hand.

“Hey you,” I spoke into the device.

“Hey you, too,” he greeted in a sexy tone.

The two of us chatted as we finished out one episode and watched half of another one.

“This one is getting really good but I have to go catch my bus now. Tell me what’s happening. Hold on while I connect my headset.” I connected my wireless headset, slipped my phone in my purse, and stepped into my sneakers. Kenneth stayed on the line with me as I walked to the bus stop, waited for my bus and arrived at my destination.

“Thanks for giving me a play by play.”

“No problem.”

“I’m here now. Janie should be out any minute.”

“Good. I have to get dressed and my cab should be here soon. I’ll see you soon.”

“Alright! See ya!”

I disconnected the call and pulled the earbuds from my ears, letting them dangle around my neck. Janie walked out of Shakes Café exactly at 2:00pm. Her hair was still up in the tight ponytail she always wore when working and her plain yellow tee and jeans matched my relaxed attire. We started walking in the direction of the bistro where we were meeting Kenneth.

“How was work?”

“Easy going, not too busy and no difficult customers today.”

“It always amazes me that there are difficult customers. It’s just food,” I laughed.

“It’s because people are stupid,” she laughed with me.

“So I have some news to share.”

“What is it?”

“We exchanged names and phone numbers.” I looked over to her with a cheeky grin.

Her face turned to me and she sighed. “Congratulations. Although, that is day one stuff. You should have been exchanged that information, especially if you’re sleeping with him.”

“He knew my screen name.”

“Do you know how backwards you guys sound? If this is what dating will be like for Sasha, I’m scared as a parent.”

“Argh! You make it sound so wrong. So what if I slept with him our first time meeting without knowing his real name, I’d been talking to him two months prior. You know there are people who sleep with people an hour after meeting and they know a lot less about that person. I don’t see what the big deal is.”

“The big deal is that you dive head first. You love too quick and too hard for these jerk guys that you know nothing about. You’re talking big future plans like moving in together and redesigning the bathroom and they don’t call you back for a second date. They don’t even call just to hook up. They just disappear.”

“Wow. That’s mean,” I pouted.

“I’m not trying to be mean. I just don’t like seeing you hurt. You’re amazing and you’re funny and silly and fun to be around and I want the guy you let into your heart to feel the same way about you. There’re a lot of things you don’t know about him and I know that little heart of yours has already let him in too much. You need answers and I’m going to get them for you.”

We continued our walk in silence. I knew the words that Janie was saying were coming from a place of love. She was practically the only family I had left. I knew she had my best interest at heart. When Janie and I arrived at Nelson’s Bistro, we walked right inside. The perky hostess showed us to a table after I informed her there was another in our party joining us soon. Janie and I both looked to the door. A tall man waddled in.

“Is that him?” she asked.

I looked closely at the face. I shook my head. My foot tapped the table impatiently as we waited. I glanced at the time on my cellphone. I was beginning to feel antsy. “He’s late. I wonder where he is.”

“It’s two-thirty.”

“That’s what I’m saying. He’s supposed to be here by now. I hope nothing happened to him.”

“Charlotte,” she eyed me strangely. “Calm down.”

I huffed annoyed. Another tall figure walking through the entrance caught my attention. I looked over to see a man dressed in a navy polo shirt and khaki colored pants. It was Kenneth. I quickly stood so he could see me before making my way over to him.

“Kenny,” I called and waved.

His head turned in the direction of my voice. A wide grin curved his lips as his eyes fell on me. “Hi Char,” he greeted with a kiss on my cheek. “Sorry I’m late. The cab was late picking me up.”

“It’s alright. Come on.” I grabbed his hand and pulled him toward our table. Janie’s eyes were already on us. “Janie this is Kenneth. Kenneth, Janie,” I introduced.

A smile spread across Janie’s face as she rose from her seat. “Hello.”

“Hi. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Same here.”

We all took a seat. Kenneth and I sat down on the same side and he sat in front of Janie. A waitress came over and took our drink orders. All three of us requested a glass of water with lemon.

“Have you been to this restaurant before, Kenneth? Charlotte and I come here often after work to wind down from the day.”

“No, I’ve never eaten here before. Is the food good?

“I like it. It’s not as good as the food where I work. But I can’t patron the same place I work. It feels weird.”

“Where do you work?”

“A couple blocks over at Shakes Café.”

“I know where that is. I’ve been there a couple of times with some coworkers.”

A silence fell between us as the waitress brought our drinks and we placed our lunch orders.

“So where do you work?” Janie asked Kenneth.

“I’m a manager for “Electro Tronics.”

“I imagine the pay isn’t much. What kind of future can you have there?

“Janie.” I shot her a dirty look.

“I’m just making conversation, Char.” She flashed me a smile.

“It’s alright, Char.” Kenneth smiled at me as well. “The company does like to promote from within. The corporate office is a couple hours from here and they do offer a lot of executive training programs so there’s always that route to take, but I have a passion for photography. I take a lot of photos of our city skyline.”

“I always thought photography was more of a hobby than an actual career. Can you make serious money taking pictures?” Janie continued to use her false polite tone.

“Well it depends on how dedicated you are. I have a website that buys my photos often.”

The conversation stopped when our food was brought to us.

“I’m sorry if I’m being rude. I’m having a bit of a pregnancy scare. It has me thinking about finances and future goals,” Janie explained.

“It’s alright. I don’t mind the questions.” Kenneth smiled as a hand stealthily found its way to my thigh. He squeezed lightly before removing it. I couldn’t help but smile.

“Did you confirm that, yet?” I asked Janie.

“No, not yet. I’m actually kind of scared of what Randall will say.”

“Randall is Janie’s fiancé,” I informed Kenneth. “I’m sure he will be thrilled.”

“Oh, Charlotte,” Janie’s hand reached across the table for mine. “You have such a kind soul. Thank you.”

I chuckled quietly to myself. I knew what she was doing. Janie’s eyes turned toward Kenneth. “She is such a beautiful person. She’s so warm and nurturing. That’s why we made her my daughter’s godmother, though she’s more like an aunt. Do you have any nieces or nephews?”

“No, I don’t. I’m an only child.”

“I can just imagine your mother must be hounding you to settle down and make her a grandmother.”

Kenneth chuckled. “Yeah, she is.”

“Do you want kids?” Janie asked.

I looked toward Kenneth, my eyes boring into him. I desperately waited for the answer.

“I would like to have four kids, actually. I want a big family since it was only me growing up.”

“My, my, what a coincidence! Charlotte said the exact same thing no more than a week ago.”

I placed my head in a hand to conceal my amusement.

“That is a coincidence, Charlotte.” Kenneth pulled my hand from my face and intertwined our fingers. His beautiful face wore the same amused expression. “I wonder what other things we have in common. We should talk more about this stuff.”

At a loss for words, I just nodded my head. My heart fluttered the longer I stared in his light brown eyes.

“So what do you do in your spare time, Kenneth? Do you cut meat, sharpen knives, or dig holes?” Janie’s question caught us both off guard. My mouth fell slack and Kenneth laughed heartedly.

“No, nothing like that. I read comics, play video games, drink, you know normal stuff.”

“Alright. Seems normal enough. Ever have a STI? Do you have one now?”

“What!” I ripped my hand from Kenneth’s and buried my head in my palms.

“No and no.” I heard Kenneth answer.

“You know, I’m going to head to the ladies room. Janie, would you like to come with me?”

“No, I’m fine. You go on and take your time,” she beamed at me.

A humorless laugh came out of me as I excused myself. I made sure to hurry. I didn’t want Janie’s ludicrous questioning to scare him off, even though I was grateful for it. Her investigation gave me answers to a few of the questions I had swirling around my head. After drying my hands, I walked out and headed back to the table. Both Janie and Kenneth stopped talking as I approached.

“What were you guys talking about?” I asked as I took my seat.

“Nothing,” they responded in unison.

I eyed both us them suspiciously. I wanted to question that but just then the waitress came over to the table.

“Can I get you guys anything else?” she asked cheerfully.

“Just the check please,” Kenneth spoke for the table.

Janie gulped down the rest of her water and Kenneth glared at his plate. There was an awkward beat between the three of us. The waitress brought the check over as a silence loomed over the table. We paid separately and met outside of the bistro. Janie waited a distance away from us as Kenneth and I had a private moment.

“How was my interview?” Kenneth asked me.

“Yeah, sorry about that,” I smiled.

“It’s fine, beautiful. How did I do?”

“I don’t know, yet. I have to confer with Janie.”

He smiled weakly. “So, I’ll head back home then. Wanna meet for dinner at Alphonso’s around seven?”

“Alphonso’s is rather fancy.”

“I want to talk to you about something important.”

“Alright,” I smiled timidly before kissing him on the cheek. “I’ll see you then.”

“See you later, Char,” he smiled waving to the both of us before leaving.

Janie and I rode the bus home purposely avoiding any questions regarding lunch. I wanted to have that conversation when we were in her home. Once there in her living room, I wasted no time asking what I wanted to know.

“So what do you think of him? Cool guy right?”

“Yeah, he is. I never doubted you when you said he was.” She grinned coyly.

“What’s that look for?”

“Watching the two of you was pretty interesting.”

“What do you mean? I didn’t act any different than I normally do.”

“I’m just saying it was pretty interesting.”

“So, am I OK to dive all in and get ahead of myself with him? Although, I admit I already have,” I giggled a little.

“Well he’s not a total jerk like most of the guys you slept with but… Remember Trevor. He was really nice and you guys clicked and junk but it just didn’t work out. He became really distant and just stopped calling you.”

“What are you getting at?”

“I’m just saying your relationship sort of fizzled out. After dating for eight months, he packed up all his stuff and left you alone in that apartment. He didn’t even have the balls to talk to you in person. He sent you that letter saying it was nothing wrong with you. You were a great person but he just fell out of love with you.”

My eyes stayed locked on hers as she brought me down a path I sealed away forever. The feeling of that emptiness was slowly coming back to my chest.

“I don’t want you to get hurt like that again. During a break up, it’s really easy to rationalize with yourself that the problem is with the other person and you were the best you that you could be. But it’s really hard when the reason is you. I mean how do you deal with the fact that the person left because of you. Especially when you didn’t do anything wrong. You give a person your all and it’s just not good enough for them. This has the potential to end up just like that.”

“How?”

“When you went to the bathroom he asked me what I thought of love at first sight.”

“And what did you say?”

“I told him the truth. I said I believed it was possible. And then, he asked me did I believe someone could fall in love with a person sight unseen. And to that, I told him I believe love is an enigma and many things are possible but I have a hard time believing that that is possible.”

My lips pursed together as I couldn’t think of anything to say.

“Look Char, love is a dangerous and remarkable thing. Some people take it very lightly and throw the word around like a worthless thing and others hold it in high regard. And then there are others like you who use the word so freely, use it so liberally, but put so much meaning into it. You fall in love so easy but love so hard.”

“You told him I love hard?”

“No, I just told him to be cautious and precise with his decisions ’cause if he hurts you he’ll have to deal with me.”

I giggled. “Thanks, mom.”

“As taken as he is with you now, I just don’t want you to get your hopes up and he’s not thinking long term like you are. Just because he thinks he loves you now doesn’t mean it’ll last.”

I felt like my soul was tearing as I listened to her. She was right. This whole thing could tank at any moment and I don’t think I can go through that pain again. I forced a smile to my face. “I hear you.”

We continued to talk more about work and other things. Janie was preparing for the return of her loved ones. After a while, I couldn’t take anymore small talk and had to get out of there.

“He wants to meet for dinner so I have to go get ready. I’ll see you later.”

I rushed out of Janie’s home and down to mine where I didn’t have to fake a smile. I tried to push Janie’s warnings away from the forefront of my mind as I prepared to meet Kenneth for dinner. I wanted to be happy in this moment even if it was an illusion. I sighed stubbornly. Even if this whole thing blew up in my face, I still wanted to pursue this.

I went to my closet to look for the sexiest cocktail dress I owned. I pulled out a short black halter-top dress. The entire dress was covered in tiny white rhinestones to make it shimmer. It was a real attention grabber. As I finished getting ready, I made sure not to think of anything but Kenneth and his reaction to my dress. Inside the bathroom, I sat down and fixed my hair into a wavy updo and did my makeup. Smiling, I looked in the mirror. Any man would be happy to have me. The smile quickly faded as a voice in my head spoke.

If any man would be happy to have you, why don’t they stay?

That thought hit me hard. If I continued to stubbornly cling to illusions, I would never have a happy reality. So many times a man has entered my life only to leave, skipping out after they got what they wanted. And it happened every time. My heart opened so quickly for the people who were not deserving of my love. When does a person learn from their mistakes? How many times did I have to cry myself to sleep over the loneliness I felt before I changed this awful pattern of mine?

I thought Kenneth was different. He certainly treated me different than most of the guys I’ve had relationships with. However, there were some guys I dated who were just as nice as Kenneth. They stuck around for a month or two and things were good. I could see a future with them just like I could see with Kenneth but they also left me. I couldn’t handle that again. If Kenneth turned out to be just like those guys, if Kenneth turned out to be just like Trevor, I didn’t know what I would do. The words in Trevor’s letter still haunted me to this day.

I’m sorry for leaving like this. I couldn’t bear to see the look in your eyes while breaking your heart. I know I said I would never hurt you but I’m sorry I have to. This is solely on me. You are still the same funny and smart person you were when I met you. You truly are a wonderful person but lately I just been feeling like there is more to life and I need to find it on my own. I hope you can one day forgive me Charlotte, but I’m leaving and not coming back for you.

My cell phone chimed causing me to take note of the time. I had a text message from Kenneth. The message read, “I’m here already. Are you close?”

I placed the phone down. Janie’s words were still ringing in my head. I couldn’t willingly do this to myself. The phone chimed with another message. This time he wrote, “Are you alright?”

Although Kenneth seemed to be everything I could have ever wished in a mate, I still had to question his motives. He didn’t seem to have any intentions on asking me to be his girlfriend. It didn’t matter if he treated me like his girlfriend; it was nothing without affirmation. My phone vibrated wildly on the counter. Kenneth was calling this time. I just stared at his name flashing on the device. I wanted this to work. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be happy with Kenneth.

I grabbed a makeup wipe from the dispenser and cleaned my face. I removed the pins from my hair. I took my dress off and hung it back in the closet, putting on a tee and leggings. My phone was ringing again. I watched his name flash again. Once it stopped, I grabbed my keys and left. I knocked a couple times before Janie opened her door. Her confused eyes looked into my somber ones.

“What’s up? Aren’t you supposed to be at dinner?”

“I couldn’t go. I just keep thinking what if I have another Trevor incident. What if we’re coasting along smoothly and then one day he just up and leaves? What if he falls out of love with me, too?”

“Aw sweetie,” she cooed. “You want to come inside?”

“No, I need to be alone. I’m going to go for a walk.”

“This time of night?” I could see the panic on her face.

“I won’t be out long. I’ll come back before it gets too dark.”

Her eyes were still fearful.

“I’ll be alright. I have my weapons,” I smiled weakly. “I just need to go to my thinking spot.”

She nodded her head. “Call me when you’re on your way back. We’ll go get some ice cream or something.”

“Sure, sure. I’ll be back soon.”

The air outside was cooler than I thought it would be. I wish I grabbed my jacket. I looked up at the changing sky. The setting sun gave everything an orange and pink hue. It was the opposite of the black and gray muck that was swirling around inside me. After walking a couple blocks, I spotted the park that was near our building. The same park we brought Sasha to. That was my destination. I took a heavy seat on a swing and just swayed. A breeze whipped across my face. There was a stinging in my eyes. My fingertips pressed into the area under my eye. It was damp. I hadn’t realized I was crying. The cold hollowness in my chest expanded as I let the tears pour freely. I heard footsteps in the distance. Someone must be walking his or her dog. Looking up at the approaching figure, my heart raced. My feet slid across the rubber and cork blend to halt my motions. Kenneth approached me quickly, stopping right in front of me. I looked up to see his concerned face before turning my head. I couldn’t bear to look at him.

“How did you know I was here?” I spoke with a dejected tone.

“I went to your place. Janie heard me banging on your door and came out. I told her you didn’t come to dinner and she said this is where you would be. Are you alright?” With my peripheral vision, I saw him move to look closely at my face. “You’re crying?”

He moved closer to me but I put a palm up to halt him. His concern for me made me happy. It made me feel wanted, as if I would always be wanted by him. But I’ve felt like that before and I knew the results. With every ounce of joy, I felt an equal portion of fear; fear that I would end up broken just like all the times before. I couldn’t handle the thought of an inevitable rejection. To save myself from that I knew I had to end this now. I had to convince him that ending whatever this is was good for the both of us. Looking into his eyes, with a firm face, I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out. The look in his brown eyes tore into me. I felt weak, powerless. I felt stupid, foolish. And most importantly, I felt mad, hysterical madness because I could have prevented this. I chose to ignore my own warnings and put myself in this situation. I had to truly be mad, to let myself get so attached and to get so lost. To let feelings like this grow, to fall in love with him so hard, I had to truly be mad. Without thinking, the words flowed from my throat.

“This is wrong. Don’t you think this is wrong? We saw each other for the first time last Thursday and the things I’m feeling just aren’t right. It’s wrong.”

“What’s wrong?” his eyes were confused.

“These feelings I’m having are wrong; this tightening and emptiness I feel when I’m not with you. I feel apprehensive when we’re apart and elation when I see you again. I just met you. I feel like I’m obsessed and that’s just wrong.” My tone was surprisingly calm considering how I felt inside. Kenneth on the other hand seemed even more confused but said nothing so I continued. “Don’t you feel scared? I just told you that I’m incredibly uneasy when I’m not with you. I feel like my center of being is thrown off. That’s just…crazy.”

Still he said nothing. His eyes lowered now, leaving my gaze. The longer he remained silent, the more I was beginning to think he agreed with me. He slowly moved forward and knelt down on his knees. He took my hands in his and captured my gaze.

“I don’t feel scared and I don’t think what you’re feeling is wrong. I feel the same way, the exact same way. When I’m not with you, I feel like I’m thrown off, too. I feel incomplete, like a part of me is missing.”

The pressure in my chest lightened as he spoke. I wanted to smile but I fought that feeling. I had a mission to complete and I would see this through. I wasn’t going to be foolish this time. This time I would save myself from the heartache and loneliness that was sure to come.

“That’s crazy. You can’t feel what I feel because what I feel is not normal. It’s wrong. We just met. There’s no way that you could feel whole for the first time in your life. There’s no way you feel at peace and just sheer happiness from being with me. For the first time ever, you feel understood and cared for not just because you have an amazing body but because you have an amazing personality.” A tear rolled down my cheek. “Intense feelings like this won’t last even if you do. People don’t feel like this for one another. That’s not reality. That’s the kind of thing books are filled with.”

His eyes seemed sorrowful. A part of me was relieved about that. At least my pushing him away hurt him. His voice snapped me out of my thoughts.

“Charlotte.”

He called my name as if he was beginning a rebuttal but no words came out his mouth. There was nothing he could say. And that was good. A clean break was what was needed to give the least amount of pain. I stood up.

“Let’s just end whatever this is, Kenny.” Taking a deep breath, I willed my legs to move. I placed a gentle hand on his shoulder as I walked away, walking away from this, walking away from him. A firm grasp on my wrist halted my movement. I turned around to see he had a hold of me.

“Maybe people just can’t comprehend a connection like this so they try to discourage it by saying it’s dangerous or it’s not real but I’m a firm believer in fate. Nothing can discredit my feelings. I feel safer with you then I’ve ever felt in my life. I love the way I feel when I’m with you. I love the way I feel when I see you and I don’t think it’s wrong or too fast. As crazy as these feelings sounds, I wouldn’t want to trade it for anything. You’re such a fun and amazing person and I’m so glad I found you. Out of all the people connected through the internet, I found a woman who lives in my city, who is near my age and who likes the same things that I do. I know our meeting wasn’t conventional by some standards but I think this is fate.”

No words came to me as I just stared at him.

“If you think this is too much then we can end this but if you’re trying to save me from whatever feelings you’re having then don’t. If your intense feelings will eventually fade, that’s fine. But I don’t want to end this because of that. If being with you means I’ll get hurt, I don’t care. I want to stay.”

“Foolish man,” I whispered. “Don’t you know how foolish that sounds?” Another tear rolled down my cheek.

“I do but I’ll be a fool for you, Charlotte.”

That was it. That was all I could take. My resolve shattered as tears left my eyes and I fell to my knees in front of him. Launching myself at him, I threw my arms around his neck and squeezed tightly. His arms wrapped around me.

“I want to be a fool, too, Kenneth. I’m so glad you feel the same way. I’ve been hurt so many times but I don’t want to run away from these feelings. If being with you means that one day you may stop feeling like this for me then that’s fine. I’ll be a fool, too.”

His grasp tightened. “If you will give me a chance, I’ll show you that I will never intentionally hurt you, Charlotte.”

I felt a hand push my head deeper into his shoulder. My breathing slowed and the tears stopped. He stood us both upright and looked down at me. His thumbs gingerly brushed away the streaks of liquid from my cheeks before his lips tenderly pressed into mine.

“Can we take a walk?” Kenneth asked me suddenly.

The sun was finished setting, leaving the sky a deep blue. It was the opposite of the bright and vibrant colors I was feeling inside me now. We walked along the path until we came to the large grassy field. We walked on the cut grass to a secluded area covered by some bushes. He pulled me down to take a seat on the soft ground.

“I know we did things kind of out of order. We spoke for two months before seeing each other. We had sex before knowing each other’s names. And I fell in love with you before even establishing any kind of relationship between us. But I want there to be no more confusion with anything. I want you to be perfectly sure of my feelings for you.”

Kenneth moved a hand toward his waist, catching my attention. He pulled a small spherical red and white object from his pocket. I instantly recognized it to be a pokéball from the iconic show Pokémon. My chest ran cold for a different reason now.

“I wanted to give this to you at dinner but now is just as good of a time.”

He opened the ball revealing a ring. The band was gold and did not join to form a complete circle. In between was a jeweled pokéball with white and red diamonds respectively. The show’s catchphrase “I choose you” was engraved in the band.

“Charlotte, I choose you. Will you be my…girlfriend?”

My breath hitched as I choked back a laugh. “You are something else you know that? I thought that was for something else.”

“I know. I thought it would be funny. So what do you say, beautiful?”

I paused a moment just to be dramatic. “Yes. Yes, I would love to be your girlfriend, Kenneth.”

He slipped the ring onto the ring finger of my right hand. I crashed into him toppling us over and smashed my lips into his. Our lips moved passionately against each other before we parted for air.

“I have something to say to you, too,” I smiled looking down at him. “I love you.”

He smiled and palmed my cheeks. “I love you, too,” he declared before pulling me into him for another kiss.

“You know the ring is on the wrong hand,” I informed grinning.

“The ring for marriage goes on the left hand. But don’t worry; you’ll get that one soon.”

I looked down at his grinning face. “No joke?”

“No joke,” he spoke looking firmly into my eyes. “You are everything I ever wanted in a woman, Charlotte Webster. You’re everything I ever wanted in a partner. I would propose to you right now to show you how serious I am but I want to give your friend some more time to get to know me. I know she doesn’t trust me fully.”

A giggled escaped my lips. “She will with time. She’s my heart’s guard dog.”

“That’s fine, beautiful. I have plenty of time.”

Feeling immense jubilation, I lowered my lips to his forcing my tongue into his mouth, kissing him hungrily. The fire in my belly needed to be extinguished right now. I moved to straddle his hips. His fingers laced into my golden hair and massaged my scalp. My hands caressed his cheeks, neck, and chest as we continued to kiss passionately. His hands left my hair and ghosted down my back to hold my waist. My hips began grinding into him. He moaned deeply into my mouth and I did the same. My body was heating up even more. Kenneth’s fingers hooked into the helm of my leggings and panties and pulled them down, exposing my moist center to the night air. A hand came between us and a finger slid into my passage. I ripped my lips from his and let loose a throaty moan. His finger pumped inside me steadily coaxing out even greater moans. My hips rocked with his movements.

“Charlotte,” he spoke my name in that low tone that always set my nerves ablaze.

“Yes,” I breathed looking in his gorgeous eyes but he said nothing. Without warning, I felt another finger slide into me joining the other. My eyes slid shut and a louder cry pulled from me. My hips bounced harder and my muscles massaged his fingers.

“I love the way you feel, baby.”

“Uh huh,” I spoke breathlessly in response.

My lips pressed into his again as my hips bucked harder. The mounting build up in my lower belly was dying for release. My kiss became more demanding with each passing second. My tongue dueled against his, pushing deep into his mouth to taste the very depth of him. He moaned and bucked his hips up against me. I released his lips with a wild pant. My muscles tightened and my hips squirmed with my climax.

“Cumming,” was all I could get out as another moan took my ability to speak.

The sound of hurried footfalls and rustling bushes invaded my ears. Without time to react, a figure burst onto our scene. I stared at the gaping mouth and wide eyes of my best friend.

“Janie! What are you doing here?”

Seeming to thaw from her shock, she whipped around giving us her back. “I…I came to find you. It was getting dark,” she stuttered.

“Didn’t you send Kenny out here to get me?” I yelled still frazzled.

“Yeah but I didn’t know if he found you. It’s getting dark. You said you would be back by now.”

I was rendered speechless. Kenneth just laughed out.

“I see I’m not needed here. So I’ll see you at home.” She started walking away. “Oh, and remember my irresponsible one, the police patrol this park for the very thing you two are doing. I suggest you carry on in a home like a responsible adult,” she called out before disappearing from view.

I looked to Kenneth who wore a goofy grin.

“Is the mood ruined?” I asked.

“Not really but I don’t feel like being arrested tonight.”

I stood up and pulled my pants up over my bum. Kenneth stood as well. I couldn’t help but stare at the bulge in his pants.

“I like the tent you’re pitching in there.” A finger lazily dragged across his erection.

“Ha, ha. Funny.” He gave me a sarcastic laugh.

I took his hand in mine as we headed back to my house. We ordered in since we missed the dinner reservation. The two of us sat comfortably on my couch eating a pepperoni and bacon pizza while watching a romantic comedy. During the course of the movie, I drifted off to sleep. I felt several taps on my hip stir me awake. My eyes opened and I realized my head was in his lap. I sat up feeling vastly relaxed.

“You fell asleep.” Kenneth spoke with a groggy voice and stretched his limbs. I guess he fell asleep, too.

“Come on. Let’s go get naked and go back to sleep. We both have to work tomorrow.”

Locking up my house and heading to my bedroom, we both stripped down. We climbed into bed together and held each other tightly. Being in Kenneth’s embrace gave me a peace I certainly could get addicted to.


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