I parked in the drive of my townhouse, head drifting down to rest on the steering wheel. I was frustrated to realize Schi’s words were so accurate. Besides my dogs and work, I didn’t have a life. I was just existing, no living in the true sense of the word. My heart was still aching, wanting what I couldn’t have; might never again have. But still I wanted.
A date. A simple date.
Trading small talk with a man.
Snuggling close enough so his cologne lingered on my skin.
Warm fingers trailing up and down my arm.
Legs intertwined and trapped beneath his.
Hell, morning breath that wasn’t my own.
One bad choice and now, nothing.
I inhaled deeply, trying to relieve my stress. Stress was not good. It led to other things which I didn’t want to deal with right now.
My neighbor’s car was in her drive. I scanned the fence separating our backyards and saw Cecelia Black’s gardener’s hat bobbing around the periphery. Great. Just what I needed.
I inhaled deeply again.
Cecelia and her husband, Sam, had been my neighbors since I moved in. A peculiar pair. They owned a funeral home, a very unique funeral home. Sam did the humans, Cecelia focused on animals. I never understood the need for funerals for pets but according to Cecelia, it was quite profitable.
I also didn’t understand the living arrangements. They had a mini-mansion attached to the funeral home, Sam’s family house. Cecelia, however, said she wouldn’t be caught dead living there. Ironic indeed. Their compromise was the townhouse since Sam refused to keep up two massive homes.
I knew once Cecelia spotted the car, she’d be tapping on my terrace door, ready to carry on a rapid fire conversation which apparently, reenergized her but left me even more drained. You’d think that with a new baby and a husband plus a part-time job, the woman would be as exhausted as I was on most days. But so far, that had not been the case. She wasn’t truly bad, just…over the top. And I wasn’t up to over the top right this moment.
I closed the car door as quietly as I could and entered the house with a minimum amount of noise. The Schnauzers greeted me happily at the door. I’d named those two bundles of love Millionaire and Billionaire because that’s exactly what I planned to be in a few years. After petting each one profusely, I opened the sliding glass door and let them out into the backyard, hoping beyond hope Cecelia had returned inside; would miss the frolicking dogs signaling I was home.
Waste of time. It wasn’t five minutes before the tap came on the door.
I sighed but let her in. No use in prolonging the inevitable.
“Having a great day, girlie?” She pushed a stroller with baby Samuel inside.
Cecelia was a study in black—black hair, black eyes, black blouse and black skirt, her usual attire. She and Morticia could be twins.
“You look peaked. How about when you get off later tonight, I’ll hand Sammie over to his dad and we’ll just chill. Okay?”
Chill in Cecelianesque meant smoking some of the home grown and cured Mary Jane she grew near the back fence. Good shit, too. So good I often wondered if she’d ever sewn a dog’s head on backwards or something when she was stoked.
“We’ll see. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on so it’ll be late.”
Cecelia rubbed her hands together. “Got a hot date tonight?”
First rule of Mo: Let them believe what they want to believe. “Yep.”
“Anybody I know?”
Second rule of Mo: Keep your lips zipped. She’d be an unsuspecting reader just like everyone else in the morning.
She pursed her lips. “You’re lying.”
“Really. It’s no one you know.” I turned to the refrigerator and grabbed sandwich fixings.
“Yeah, right. Just say none of my business.”
I closed the refrigerator door. “OK. None of your business.”
She balled her fists. “Ooh! That is so selfish of you. You know I want to know. No one ever comes over here where I can get a look at them, so yes, I’m curious as hell to know who this mystery man is. I don’t understand why you are so tightlipped!” Her face suddenly morphed and she leaned closer, voice dropping down to a whisper. “Are you… gay?”
Refer back to Rule One.
“Cecelia,” –I sat the fixing on the countertop and turned to look at her— “you already know I’m not sharing any information. My private life is just that, private.”
Eyes rolled heavenward. “So…is that a yes?” She flicked her black hair away from her face. “I mean, I know plenty of lesbians. There is nothing wrong with that…lifestyle if that’s what you like. Personally, I don’t get the bumping clit thingie but if it works for you…”
Ain’t no shame in chick’s game. I stared hard, hoping she’d read my mind.
She finally got the picture. “Alrighty then. I can see you need some quiet time.” She turned the stroller and rolled towards the door. “Me and Sammie will leave you to eat in your own silence. Bye.”
The door slid close with a thump that made my glass jump.
I shook my head as I watched her navigate the patio bricks. I’m many things but gay ain’t one of them. I’ll leave the “bumping clit thingie” up to Schi.
I took a few bites of my sandwich before I dumped the remainder in the trash and rinsed the saucer and glass in the sink. The dogs were scratching at the door, so I let them in, set the alarm clock and lay across my bed for a catnap.
I felt a weight on my bed.
Thinking it was one of the dogs, I turned over slowly.
Familiar hazel eyes.
Inches from mine.
Skullcap covering the remainder of the face.
My arm hair stood erect.
Punch! Chop! Slash his neck!
I was pinned to the bed; no muscles responding to my brain.
But no fear either.
Masculine cologne triggered a memory of…it eluded me.
I needed to look at the rest of him; see if anything jogged my memory bank but… my eyes refused to unlock from his.
He didn’t move.
I didn’t move.
Two pairs of eyes boring into each other’s soul.
Lungs breathing in concert.
Who are you?
I was startled at the telepathy. Amazing.
I have no future with a man!
If you must lie to someone, it should not be yourself. I am your future. Clear as if he had spoken the words aloud.
I felt something akin to…hope tapping at my heart’s door.
Might be, but I’m coming for you. Be ready when I do.
He lifted off the bed and walked to my bedroom door.
Our bodies never touched. No audible words passed. His eyes were branded on my brain.
He turned with a hand on the knob. I watched his lips part. I’m M—
The alarmed screamed.