After Shattered

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Chapter Three

Terrence had no reason to complain with their work throughout their ‘probation period’ but whenever he walked into their office, he always interrupted something rather unorthodox for the office. It wasn’t ever overly inappropriate. Just a little.

For instance, on Tuesday he found Yvonne in front Michael’s chair giving him a massage.

Granted it was nearly five, but to any stray witnesses the image was a beautiful black woman with her hands in a man’s partially unbuttoned shirt. She was leaning against his desk, his head bent slightly toward her chest as her hands stroked up and down, kneading his shoulders and neck.

Terrence had stood there for a moment, with one eyebrow up.

“The pains of high school and varsity sport,” Mike had grinned, when he had finally been released.

Yvonne had clucked her tongue, “He just likes me touching him.”

Mike had wiggled his eyebrows in return and Terrence had laughed.

So much for appearances.

The following day he’d walked in on them talking about a sex toy Mike’s sister had given him. The most catching thing was that they’d been working during the conversation, furiously typing out figures and programming instructions. He had chosen not to mention that particular encounter to anyone or make his presence known at the time.

Then on Friday, Yvonne was relaying the details of an office prank with relish. Michael was laughing so hard he was crying as she told the tale of how her team had broken in yet another filing clerk in Accounts. They had changed the identification code so that no matter which finger she put on the laser, she remained locked out. They had given her a key for her to use in the afternoon after the finger ID incident until they could get her a new code. She realized too late that there was no keyhole on the records door to begin with. Somehow they had even sent her to the men’s room and she had walked in on the senior executive of Sports and Apparel.

Of course, almost anyone would have seen the hint of malice in all their activities, but Yvonne made the girl’s mishaps sound so hilarious and harmless one couldn’t help but laugh. And that is exactly what Mike did.

“Oh,” he chuckled, “you are bad.”

“I learned from the best,” she answered sweetly.

“Yeah,” he popped his collar. “We’re bad, baby, very bad.”

“Do you ever suppose we’ll grow out of it?”

Michael was quiet for a little while. Then he’d grinned and shook his head.

They lifted their bottles of Perrier in a silent toast, most probably to the Terrible Two.

Terrence, by this time, was resting against the doorjamb. He spoke slowly, “You two are amazing.”

Their heads snapped back to look in his direction. “Hi,” they said in unison.

Terrence said again, “Amazing. Just like twins. Only,” he paused speculatively, and then looked apologetically at Mike, “Yvonne’s so much cuter.”

Yvonne hooted and Mike digested the painful information.

During the customary drink after work that night, Yvonne received a pleasant surprise. In the middle of their conversation, Michael’s eyes widened with recognition. “Eve, look who’s here.”

Her eyebrows dipped into a slight frown, not bothering to crane her neck or search the crowd. Terrence looked around and couldn’t see the person who Michael had smiled and nodded at. This same person had brought a slight scowl to Jean-Luc’s face.

“Who?” Yvonne asked casually.

“Ken,” came the mockingly dreamy reply.

Instead of responding to the usual mockery, she lit up like a Christmas tree. She slid off the swivel stool and turned to seek him out. Once she spotted him, she squealed and moved forward to greet him.

Terrence supposed he had been expecting a laid back Caucasian man, much like Mike or some distinguished African-American man to complement Yvonne Baker. He had least expected an Asian man and since he’d been expecting some grand expression of affection for all her excitement, the chaste peck on the cheek she gave him hardly qualified.

She returned with him, hand in arm. Mike, Jean-Luc and Terrence all stood up. The ladies in their group just smiled and waved.

“Ken, this is Terrence Matthews the new SECD,” she informed the handsome Asian. “Terrence Matthews, this is my boyfriend Kendo Kunosawa.”

Japanese? Yvonne sure was a bag of surprises… or more like a proverbial box of chocolates.

They exchanged greetings.

Eve and Kendo only stayed long enough to allow her to finish her drink then they were off. Obviously everyone assumed they were going to have a splendid weekend.

Terrence was part of the group that held that assumption, so he got the shock of his life when he stepped out of the shower at Mike’s place and Yvonne barged in. She halted in the door way with a hollow smile, which turned to an expression of pure surprise that surely mirrored his.

“Oops,” she muttered, involuntarily casting a fleeting glance downward. Then she closed the door and Terrence presumed she had fled in search of Michael.

By the time Terry had gotten dressed and made his bed, Yvonne had indeed found Michael and to his evident distress she was crying.

Terrence didn’t have to be told that he was an unwanted intruder so he mouthed the word ‘café’ to Mike, who nodded and he slipped out of the apartment.

Michael was lost because Eve hadn’t said a word.

“Babes, at least tell me what’s wrong.” It took him a while to figure out where to even start. “Does this have to do with Kendo, Eve?”

She moaned, “Yes.”

“What happened?” he tensed. “Did he hurt you? I swear-”

“He did not hurt me, Mike,” she said firmly, looking him in the eye. Then her face crumbled again. “Well, not physically,” she cried.

Michael did what he could and held her, letting her cry. He didn’t like it for a number of reasons. It physically hurt him to see his best friend like this and he was helpless until Yvonne could articulate why she was in this state. Furthermore he wasn’t used to seeing her this way, she was one of the strongest women he knew. Uncontrollable crying was unfamiliar and not something he associated with Eve.

Finally she brooked the flow of tears enough to tell him why she was so distraught.

Kendo’s Japanese ex-girlfriend, a former international model, had come to Kendo’s house- where Eve lived when he was in town- and claimed she was pregnant with Kendo’s baby.

Michael bit off a curse.

“What did he say?”

“He was furious,” she said miserably.

“Well, then what’s the problem?”

Eve’s face threatened tears again. “His father- and him- despite the fact that he knows me and Kendo were talking about marriage-” she missed the surprise on Mike’s face “-they think he should do the honourable thing,” she said, bitterness spewing from her mouth. She began to cry again, softly this time. “I love him so much, Mike.”

“Ssh. What if the baby isn’t his after all?”

Eve stopped crying and looked at him solemnly.

Just the look on her face in that moment broke Mike’s heart. In a barely audible voice, she responded to his question.

“I hope to God that’s the truth.”

Later on, when Terrence returned to the apartment, he cast a mildly curious, concerned glance at Yvonne. Michael was relieved when instead of breaking down, she sent him a cheeky grin and said, “Sorry for barging in like that. I heard the shower and automatically assumed it was Mike… I didn’t know you were staying with him.” She turned to scowl at Michael, whose jaw had dropped momentarily upon hearing that his best friend had walked in on an exposed Terrence, who waved her apology away.

“It’s okay-”

“I should do it more often…” she giggled. “Great for the office grapevine.”

Terrence opened his mouth and shut it.

“I’m kidding,” she told him. “Your dignity is safe with me,” she assured him, receiving a grateful smile in response.

Yvonne ended up having lunch with ‘the boys’ and after thanking Michael for ‘always being there for her’ she left.

“I’ve always got your back, babes,” had been Michael’s response. “Mad love for ya.”

Terrence watched his friend from college smile at Yvonne Baker - his heart completely on his sleeve.

She had smiled back. “Mad love.”

Mike had gotten a kiss on the cheek, Terrence a wave and Yvonne had left the two men in the living room. They had a long talk about both their lives once she was gone. Mike had a lot of good things to say about Yvonne, but it seemed he was a bit hurt that she had not told him sooner about the pending engagement to Kendo. He didn’t say anything about how he actually felt, but Terrence was sure he didn’t need to be told.

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