“You look… hot,” he admitted.
“Thanks. Let me get my jacket.”
He helped her put it on and then they left.
Seated in a quiet corner of the restaurant, drinking wine, Eve and Terry spoke about everything except work. After a gamut of topics, she began telling him about her brother and how he was so protective of her.
“He even interrogated Kendo,” she remembered with a smile. The smile faded as she realised that she had just brought up her dead fiancé in a conversation with her date.
Terrence didn’t seem offended, he just looked at her with a patient gaze. “Are you over him?”
There was a long pause, as she considered the answer to that question. She looked at the candleholder, down at her hands and finally at him. She smiled ruefully. “I don’t know. I think so… but you can never be too sure. I know I will never forget him, though. I was so ready to spend the rest of my life with him so it’ll probably be there in small measure.”
Their first course arrived and Terrence changed the subject. In fact, he didn’t raise Kendo’s ghost for the rest of the pleasant evening.
When they arrived at her house, he walked her to the door. She thanked him for the lovely meal and company.
“I should be thanking you,” he said to her. “You could’ve been out with any one, but you chose me.”
“You’re the only one who asked me!”
“That doesn’t mean they don’t want you,” he said slowly.
“Well, they’re hardly beating down my door, Terry. That usually means they’re not interested.” Eve laughed a little. “Who is this mysterious ‘they’ I’ve never heard of, anyway?”
He looked at her strangely, before saying, “Maybe not beating your door down, but ‘they’ are there… I wouldn’t be so sure about that second part though, sweetheart.”
The once over he gave her was palpable, his desire undeniable. “Trust me on that one…. I’m a man. I know these things.”
He bent his head and placed a feather-light kiss on her lips.
“Good night,” he said.
During the course of the following afternoon, Yvonne’s black leather sofa arrived. After that came a steel and glass table to match the rest of the décor in her office. Michael walked in and whistled with glee. Yvonne straightened up and left the cushions where they were.
He wiggled his eyebrows. “You’ve made your bed, now you must lie in it!” he rushed toward her, lifted her up and put her on the couch. Leaning over her, he whispered dramatically, “Oh, Yvonne, my love, it’s been so long!”
She giggled as she sat up, Michael perched beside her.
“Am I interrupting something?”
Yvonne froze. Turning around, Michael grinned at Terrence.
“Yes, actually… but I guess I was just about done ravishing this young woman.”
Yvonne stood up, laughing, patting her hair and straightening her clothes. “It was great,” she said wryly, casting Mike a sideways glance. “We should try it again some time.”
Then she looked at Terrence.
He didn’t look too amused, she noted.
She looked back at Mike, who was still sitting on the couch, looking content. When he saw she was looking at him, Michael grinned and said to Terrence as he stood up, with a final, unnecessary tug at his zipper, “I was just leaving.”
Terrence went over to the sofa and table. “Nice.”
“Thanks.” She went and sat down at her desk. He followed her.
She spoke before he could. “Sorry if you’re mad about me fooling around with Mike.”
“Why? Because I said so yesterday or because of something else?” he didn’t wait for a response. “You two are best friends, it’s expected.”
“Not that I’m crazy about seeing you wrapped in his arms, but I’ll try not to show it… after all, I’m not your man or anything.”
Her head snapped up and her eyes flashed briefly, but it was too fast to read. Then she smiled, “You’re right about that.”
His eyes narrowed ever so slightly but he stood up to go as he placed some documents on her desk. At the doorway, he paused to gaze at the filing cabinet by the door which joined his office to hers. Frowning, he said, “I don’t see why I should walk down the corridor to get here. That will be moved shortly.”
Then he walked out.
Yvonne smiled to herself and got back to work. His jealousy was kind of sweet.
At five, Terrence and Michael came to her office together.
“Let’s go,” they said.
She grabbed her bag and got up from her desk, ready to join them for the usual after work ritual.
“Any hot dates tonight, Eve?” Harry asked.
“Yes, actually. Jean-Luc asked me to dinner,” she said, winking at Jean.
Everyone else turned to look at him. Jean-Luc toasted them silently, smirking.
As she changed for dinner, she reflected on the fact that Terrence had probably looked more displeased than everyone else. Tonight, she chose a strapless red number and again, it seemed to be the right choice. She knew this when she saw Jean-Luc.
“I’d say you look sexy in a potato sack, but right now you look stunning, Yvonne.”
She smiled her thanks. She had been out with Jean-Luc before and she always enjoyed his company. The night went by easily. She enjoyed both her meal and the company.
She let him choose all the food and tasted everything he offered her with his expert palate. Each of the dishes he’d chosen increased the pleasure of the previous ones and he seemed to enjoy just watching her savour the taste of the foods he loved too.
In between each course, he let her talk about her son and all his latest antics, then they spoke of other things and had a wonderful time.
When he dropped her off, he opened the car door for her and walked her slowly to her door.
“Still no sparks, eh, Eve?”
Her eyes widened as she regarded him, surprised. She knew he had feelings for her, but after the first few dates, they had become good enough friends that he treated her as such and nothing more. She should’ve known that he may still feel more for her than she ever had for him.
He smiled ruefully. “Don’t worry, you don’t have to say anything. I know when a woman is a friend- and you are a good one.”
He laughed when she raised an eyebrow quizzically. “Friend and woman alike. Just let me know when you need an ego boost or some lovely French food. I’m willing to indulge you. Er- just make it clear to Terrence that we’re just friends.”
He considered her shocked expression. “Oh, yes. I saw the way he wanted to ram my glass down my throat, tonight and I believe I’m too old for fighting.” He hugged her and kissed her cheek. “Good night, Cherie.”
“Good night, Jean-Luc.”
About twenty minutes after she’d changed out of her dress, her cell phone rang.
Looking at the screen, she didn’t know whether to frown or smile.
“Hey Eve. How was the dinner date?”
“It was great, actually,” she said honestly. “Good food, suave companion, nice conversation…” her voice trailed off when she realised who she was talking to.
She shouldn’t have worried. When he spoke, he sounded fine.
“Well, that’s nice. I wasn’t sure you’d be home yet, but I wanted to remind you about the conference call tomorrow.”
“I am home,” she informed him easily, “and thank you for the reminder. I’ll be available for that as agreed.”
“Great.” Pause. “Good night then.”
“Good night, Terry.”
He hung up and she did the same.
Shaking her head, she walked over to her bed, out her phone on the table and got into bed. Within minutes, she was fast asleep.
When she walked into her office the next morning, the cabinet was all the way in the corner of the office. That whole day the door remained closed and unused. Then at five, Yvonne came up with an amusing idea.
She picked up her bag and opened the door on her side of the short passage. She opened his with a quick knock. He looked near astonished when he saw her. “Hi.”
“Hey there. Don’t mind me, I’m passing through,” she said, walking towards the door on the other side of his office. She was sure she saw irritation cross his face but all he said was, “Sure.”
She strode into Mike’s office to be welcomed with an audible, “Hey, babes!”
Terrence didn’t show up for drinks that day. At first Yvonne thought that it was because she had upset him by going through his office on her way to see Mike, but it turned out that wasn’t the case. Someone said he was picking up a relative from the airport.
Michael invited Yvonne over to dinner at his place with his girlfriend, Flora.
When she arrived, Michael was alone. A quick kiss on the cheek and he led her into the kitchen.
“She left me alone in here with the oven on- told me to watch the casserole, but if you don’t want it burnt beyond recognition you better take a look at it now.”
Yvonne laughed. “You’re hopeless. Where is your lady friend?”
“She headed to the store to get-” he stopped speaking as the front door opened. “Well, she’s back.”
“Baby, is Yvonne here yet?”
“We’re in the kitchen,” he hollered back.
Michael’s willowy girlfriend came rushing in, with a wave for Yvonne and a long kiss for her man.
When the kiss finally ended Yvonne and Mike were shooed into the living room while Flora finished up cooking.
Every now and then, Mike’s girlfriend would come out and sit on his lap and caress his head while engaging Eve in conversation. Yvonne didn’t mind at first but it was if they forgot she was even there after a little while.
Yvonne would clear her throat and the flight attendant would get up and go back to the kitchen. Mike would smile apologetically and say something like, “I haven’t seen her in ages.”
Eventually, dinner was served and the three of them sat down to a lovely meal.
Part way through, Yvonne was about to ask the two of them a question when she saw Mike notice the way his woman was looking at him. At that point he put his fork down and leaned over to kiss her.
Yvonne had to look away. She remembered how it had been with Kendo. Whenever he had been near her, her attention had hardly ever strayed too far from him.
She left immediately after supper because the public displays of affection involving her two companions reminded her too much of what she was missing. She wasn’t in heat, but she knew that it was nice to have someone to cuddle with and kiss. And she hadn’t had that in a while.
She spent the rest of her evening talking to her sister on Skype and playing with her son. It was during those moments that Yvonne realized just how much she cherished her family. She hugged her son to her and whispered to him, “I love you, K. So much my baby.”
Kendo smiled a toothy smile and said, “Mama.”
Tears sprang to her eyes for the umpteenth time, wishing Kendo’s father was around to see him. There would always be that part of her that wished he was still alive and part of her life. Given the situation between them at the time of his death, she wasn’t sure if she would have ever gotten what she wanted.
Would Kendo have come back to her? Or would she have gone through life without him anyway, pining away from a distance about the wonderful relationship that could have been. She didn’t like to think about it.
She shook her head and smiled back at her son, kissing him and settling back in the rocking chair, trying to put him to sleep.
Her phone rang after nine. It was Mike, who sounded extremely happy, but she didn’t want to consider why.
“Hey, babes. I almost forgot, Terrence told me to tell you to call him when you get home.”
“Oh, gee, thanks, Mike.”
He sounded a bit sheepish as he protested, “At least I told you.”
“Right. Thanks. Say goodnight to your lady love as well alright.”