At first she obeyed and didn’t move at all.
But then her nerves got the best of her and she turned her head, causing his lips to land on her pulse point, somewhere beyond her ear, instead of on her cheek as he had intended.
He only smiled and said, “I love your perfume. It’s..?”
“Sexy 212,” she told him rather breathlessly, aware that she had given him a chance to do something much more intimate than a quick kiss on the cheek.
“Very sexy.” He stepped back, waved and headed for his car.
After watching Terence get in his car and drive off, Yvonne closed the door. She returned to the living room and went to stand in front of the fire place. She looked at the lacquered black and white box with Japanese characters on the lid.
“He thought your box was neat, K.” She spoke softly, “And he didn’t say it was high time I got over you, either.” Pause. “He’s not too bad, is he?”
Verna entered at that moment and asked her if she would be eating in the nursery or downstairs alone.
“I’ll eat upstairs, thanks.”
Just after she ate, the phone rang. Answering it in her room, she flopped onto her bed. “Hello?”
“Yeah. I just called to tell you how much I enjoyed your company today.”
“I enjoyed yours too. Well, what I got to enjoy.”
Yvonne laughed. “When we went out with Kendo, I hardly spoke to you. You two were so engrossed in the discussions you were having, I didn’t want to interrupt.”
“Yeah, I know.” He sounded sorry. “That is part of why I called, as well. I was hoping I could make it up to you by taking you out… without your son in the mix.”
“Oh. That would be nice, I suppose.”
“Great. How about on Wednesday?”
In three days?
“I’m sure that won’t be an issue.”
“Super. See you at work tomorrow.”
On Wednesday morning, Yvonne dressed with no particular care. She went into the nursery. Kendo was already awake. “How does Mommy look, baby?”
He grinned and shouted something unintelligible and Yvonne’s heart burst with love. Grabbing him out of his crib, she held him close to her. “Oh, you I love.”
Kendo continued to communicate with his mom in partially intelligible syllables and she couldn’t help laughing. She stood there for a while just feeling his warm body against her, breathing in his freshly bathed and powdered smell.
Then kissing him one more time, she put him back.
Soon after, she said goodbye to Maria and left.
The day was going as usual when her mother came to see her.
She put her cheek out for a kiss. “Hello, my baby.”
“Shouldn’t you be in court?”
“Defence’s client fainted,” she said drily. Yvonne laughed and she continued, “So I was hoping to wrangle lunch out of you.”
“Consider it a done deal.”
They went for Chinese food and lost track of time. So much that Yvonne was thirty minutes late coming back from lunch. She entered her office to find Terrence pacing the floor.
He stopped when he saw her but the expression on his face was hardly joyous. Granted she thought she saw relief, but it was only a little. She wondered mostly why he was there in the first place.
“You’re late,” he said tersely.
“I know… I’m sorry. I was at lunch.” She rounded her desk.
Terry watched her, biting his tongue to keep from saying ‘with who’.
But he couldn’t help it. “Who’d you go with?”
“My mother,” she replied cheerfully.
“Oh, okay.” Some of the tension escaped him.
She sat down and looked at him, bemused. “If didn’t know better, I’d say you were jealous.”
She motioned to a chair as her phone rang. “Hello?” the frown lifted and was replaced by a bright smile. “Hi darlin’!”
Having gotten the information he’d been looking for, Terrence had been more than ready to leave Yvonne’s office. Until her phone had rung and she had called the person ‘darling’. Terrence sat down.
“Yeah,” she said, “I have the office to myself now. Yes. The leather sofa would be a very sexy addition.” She giggled. “You are so bad. At least the filing cabinet is still in front of the adjoining door…”
Terrence was now looking at the filing cabinet with a pronounced scowl. Yvonne thought she was going to die. He was definitely jealous. But for some reason she wasn’t disturbed by it, it didn’t make her angry or annoyed. She thought it was cute- very unlike him.
“I have to go now. My immediate superior’s just itching to grab the phone from me. Love you too.” She hung up and looked at him.
Terrence looked back at her. The scowl was gone and his expression was almost normal but his eyes flashed dangerously. “Who was that?”
“I didn’t know you were so interested in my life, Terry,” she teased.
“I’m not going to lie and say I’m not,” he began quietly, “but you seem to spend a lot of company time flirting.”
She suppressed yet another smile, surprised she was enjoying this so much. By now, the old Yvonne would have been stating the facts- she wasn’t obliged to record her calls or let him know every time the phone rang. She wouldn’t have been bothered to explain herself and she definitely would’ve let him know that she only flirted with the love of her life. Without that love interest- because she hadn’t dated anyone since Kendo- this conversation was almost absurd.
But she didn’t say all that. “I didn’t know one could flirt with one’s sister.”
“Say that again.”
“I was talking to my sister.”
“Oh,” he breathed. “So… you were talking about redecorating the office?”
“Yeah. It looks empty as it is.”
This was almost too good. “Is there something you wanted from me?”
He nearly jumped. “What?”
It was as if she had read his thoughts. There was so much he wanted from her. The moment she had mentioned the sofa he’d had to drown out the most indecent thoughts by staring hard at the filing cabinet, trying to recall the last file he had placed in there.
He couldn’t tell her that.
“You were waiting for me,” she prompted, when he took a while to respond.
“Um, yeah.” He smiled suddenly, “Would you believe me if I told I just wanted to see you?”
“Oh, come on. Gimme a little credit.”
“Since when have you been so interested in me, Terry? It’s all so sudden.” She frowned now, slightly worried.
“For quite some time, lady, I’ll tell you that.” He shrugged, not ready for this expression. “I just… didn’t know how you would take me, after all you’ve been through.” Lord knows how I’d like to take you, he thought.
All Yvonne saw was his face flush a little- she had no idea the direction his thoughts had taken.
“Wow. I’m touched that you would consider that in your pursuit.” Then she fluttered her eyelashes. “My boss has never fancied me before.”
He had the presence of mind not to be offended, but still said, “I’m serious.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
He got up to go back to his office. He smiled at her, “We still on for tonight?”
“Is Maticelli’s okay?”
“I love Italian.”
“Super. Pick you up at seven-thirty?”
And then they both smiled.
“Am I interrupting anything?” came a dry voice from the doorway.
Yvonne’s smile widened to make Michael welcome. “No, you’re not interrupting.”
“Could’ve fooled me,” he muttered, not altogether jokingly. “I walk in and you two have dopey smiles on your faces.”
Terrence’s smile faded. “She’s all yours, dude.” He waved and left.
“That was rude,” Yvonne told her best friend.
He shrugged. “My bad.”
“And you sound so sorry.” Eve’s voice was dripping with sarcasm.
He only shrugged again.
“How’s your flight attendant lady?”
“In Scandinavia,” he scowled.
“That’s why you’re in a foul mood,” she teased.
“No, it’s not.”
“Then what is it? You come in here acting like a bear with a nail in its paw. You either share or shut up.”
His scowl deepened but he didn’t speak.
“Michael Zimmerman,” Yvonne intoned, “are you going to tell me or do I have to beat it out of you?”
Finally his glare gave way to a grin. “That hasn’t worked since the twelfth grade, babes. Nothing is wrong. I swear it.”
She eyed him dubiously. “If you say so.”
“I do,” he insisted, not wanting her to worry. Or persist.
Michael had actually come to discuss business, so that is what they did for the rest of the afternoon. They left the building together, crossed the street to their regular bar, ordered drinks and waited for the rest of the ‘Paxell Posse’, as the bartenders had nicknamed them.
Jean-Luc came in next.
“Where’s Pauleen?” he asked of a lady from their department.
“She said she has a ‘hot date’ and therefore could not hang with her colleagues.”
Jean-Luc scoffed. “Hm! Hot date. I bet she’s gone home to shower and spray her hair stiff with mousse and plaster her face with make-up!”
“Hey!” Yvonne protested. “Not all women do that.”
His expression softened. “I know, cherie. Some of us just wish there were more women like you… soft and sexy. Natural.”
“That is so sweet, Jean. Thank you.”
“Oh look!” Michael crowed. “He’s blushing.”
“Shut up, Zimmerman... I don’t blush,” muttered Jean-Luc.
Terrence and some other men from Paxell joined them soon after. The discussion about Pauleen’s date seemed to set the tone for the conversation that evening.
“Where the hell are the ladies we used to hang out with?”
“Married with kids,” one man supplied.
“Trying to snag a man without us over her shoulder,” said another.
“Daunted by the fact that a fellow mom can still look so good without travailing in the gym,” Michael quipped.
“Now, I know you aren’t talking about Carol and Wendy!”
“What? Of course not, but they do seem rather absent,” Mike said.
The other guys laughed.
“So when are you going to start having ‘hot dates’, Ma?” Jean-Luc asked Yvonne.
She smiled and looked at Jean. “Tonight, my dear.”
“What?!” was the collective response. Even Michael was dumbfounded.
“I said, ‘tonight’,” she said again. She kind of thought it was funny- they often took it for granted that she wouldn’t always fit in as one of ‘the boys’. It made her wonder for a split second how she would have handled her evenings married to Kendo.
She dismissed that line of thought quickly. No use looking into the impossible.
When her hour of socializing was over, she went home to bathe her son and put him to sleep. She had more than enough time to bath and change for her own date.
Eve stepped out of the lavender scented water after a while, all the while mentally steeling herself not to call him and cancel. She liked Terrence because he seemed pretty safe, but after this afternoon’s conversation, she wasn’t sure if she wanted him to pursue her as a romantic interest. It had been a long time since Kendo, but she didn’t feel much like officially jumping on the dating wagon yet.
Terrence had been a regular feature because of his relationship with Michael and she had gotten to know him over the past two years. Now she was venturing into a new dimension with him and she was feeling very anxious about it.
Still in her towel, she gathered all her hair and piled it on the top of her head and pinned it there in elegant disorder. She chose to wear a simple black dress, which happened to hug her in all the right ways. She put diamond studs in her ears and a diamond pendant at her throat and a diamond studded Cartier watch on her wrist. Studying herself in the mirror, Yvonne Baker was pretty satisfied with what she saw.
When she opened the door for Terrence, she was sure she had made the right choice.