Gemini

Page 8

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I didn’t think I even had the capacity to feel anything for a woman again beyond sexual attraction. But I knew what I felt for Allison in the car tonight was more than just sexual. Even though I have never wanted a woman as much sexually, the emotional connection was even stronger; I can’t even find a word to describe it. It just felt right being with her. I instantly felt like I could trust her and mostly, I never wanted to leave her. I could have stayed there all night asking her question after question. It pained me to have to say goodbye so quickly, only just getting to know her and not knowing how I would manage to get that kind of alone time again.

This I know for sure: I need to see her again and I want to help make her life better, even if mine has gone to shit. I want to make up for my past mistakes. God, this is all too much to handle. My life was so simple before I found Allison: shallow job, shallow girlfriend...shallow life…no risk of getting hurt again whatsoever.

But as of tonight, I have entered into a lose-lose situation that has turned my world upside down.

If I vowed to never contact Allison again, my heart would break. I also know that getting to know her and having to tell her the truth would absolutely shatter it. So, I am inevitably going to get hurt. I vowed I would never let myself hurt again.

Fuck.

I take one last drag of the cigarette before rolling down the window and tossing it out, deciding to get out of the car at last.

Once inside my condo, I collapsed onto the leather couch, holding my head in my hands. I looked at the clock and saw that it was now 1:30 am. Glancing down at the phone number and email written on my hand in beautiful feminine script, I got up immediately to transfer the information into my newly charged phone before it faded away.

I had an intense urge to email her right then and there but decided that would come across as strange. I also have no job information to give her, which is supposed to be the reason for emailing in the first place. Dummy. So, I nixed that idea and instead decided to text Karyn the lie that I received an email about the New York trip being postponed a week, suggesting that we have dinner tomorrow night, since I’ll be in town.

I entered the bedroom, taking off my clothes that now reek of smoke and walked into the master bathroom to turn on the faucet in my large walk-in shower.

I got in and willed the hot water to wash away these feelings of agony.

The one girl you can’t have Cedric, is the only one you want.

Thanks to all the tension built up tonight, though, my thoughts quickly turned impure as I closed my eyes and imagined Allison na**d here in front of me, wearing nothing but my handwriting on her breasts.

I grabbed the shampoo and roughly stroked myself to release the tension that has built up all day and conclude that I am screwed.

CHAPTER 9

ALLISON

Do you feel like a new person today, Gemini? Something has grown back, and unless you’re a reptile with a new tail…that probably means that some part of your soul has woken up from a deep sleep.

When the alarm clock sounded at 5-am, I felt like even though I had barely slept, I was more alive than I had been in months.

It took me a while to get to sleep last night because I couldn’t stop smelling my hands and thinking about him. I sniffed them until every last drop of Cedric evaporated.

The sight of the sun rising through my bedroom window was bittersweet.

It’s Tuesday and I have to be at the diner for the breakfast crowd at 6:30. I hurried out of bed, ran to the bathroom to pee and as I sat on the toilet, I looked at the now fading writing on my hand, the only proof left that Cedric wasn’t a dream.

I snuck a peek into Sonia’s bedroom on the way to the kitchen and saw her mop of red curls hanging over her pillow, her shallow breathing evidence that she was sleeping soundly. She must have come in really late, sometime after I fell asleep.

The coffee machine I set to brew last night made its last bubbling sounds, telling me the java was almost ready. I grabbed my favorite mug (It said ‘Dy-no-mite’ and had a picture of J.J. from the show Good Times.), plopped two teaspoons of sugar into it and poured in some cream and coffee. Taking my first sip, I jumped, startled by the sound of footsteps behind me and turned around.

“Oh no ya don’t! You didn’t think you were gonna sneak out of here, without filling me in on last night did ya…you little hussie?” Sonia hoarsely yelled and groggily wiped her eyes, pouring herself a cup of coffee.

“Well, I didn’t want to wake you!” I laughed

“So…what happened with Cedric?” Sonia was chomping at the bit, pulling out a chair to sit, taking a first sip of coffee cringing at how hot it was.

“Ohhhhh….Sonia.” I sighed. I didn’t even know where to begin shaking my head and closing my eyes.

“Oh my God. Shut up! You have that look. I know that look. Did you sleep with him?”

“Sonia!” I shouted. “Of course not!” I suspected my face was beet red.

“Ok. So…what happened?” Sonia laughed, leaning toward me in suspense.

I sat down at the table across from her and relayed the entire story from how he arrived at the diner just in the nick of time to the conversations on the ride home. I was running late, so I had to give her an abbreviated version, without missing any of the important details like the subtle hand squeeze.

Sonia sighed. “I am gob smacked, Al…this guy sounds too good to be true. Did you ask him if he has a girlfriend?”

I shook my head. “No, the conversation never got personal in that way.” Of course, I wanted to know. “He never went there, so I never asked him either.”

I was so curious as to whether he was available. I felt such a connection with him. It was scary how quickly I developed feelings for a total stranger. It was so much more than his perfect looks. It was the look in his eyes when he talked about his sister. It was the way he seemed affected when I told him my mother had died. It was the way he looked at me when he let go of my hand, like he didn’t want to. It was the way he looked at me like he could see through me into my soul. It would break my heart if there were never a chance of experiencing anything more than last night. I didn’t know if I could survive without a taste of him.

“Allison. You have to let him know you’re interested. Guys are stupid sometimes. And a guy who looks like that probably has a million women hitting on him. He’s not going to bother with someone who seems complacent or who plays hard to get. It’s 2013…it’s ok for the woman to make the first move, like I did with Tom.”

“I am sorry, Son…but I am not making the first move here. He said he would email me that contact information. If I email him first, it’s going to seem way too desperate,” I said.

“Well, why don’t you just email him just to thank him for the ride home?” Sonia suggested as she got up and put her coffee in the microwave.

I dumped mine in the sink because I was running late. “Sonia, I’ll catch up with you tonight and we’ll talk more. I’ve got to run, I am going to be late.” I rushed out of the kitchen and threw my uniform on foregoing a shower since I had taken a bath last night.

***

By the time I got to the diner, I realized I was ten minutes late. As I walked in, the breakfast regulars were already there and I was relieved to see that Delores had a good handle on things. She grinned when she saw me and called me over to ask how last night went. Apparently, Sonia had sent her a text that I was alone with Cedric after I called looking for the credit card.

I gave her an even shorter version of the story as she listened to me, her eyes popping out of their sockets with interest, while I filled small containers with sugar packets.

Wedding Bell Blues by the Fifth Dimension was playing on the overhead and I couldn’t help this giddy feeling I was experiencing. I felt alive. I took orders with enthusiasm, chatting up customers more than usual. I was giddy for a man who I wasn’t even sure was single.

I couldn’t shake this amazing feeling that came over me today. I felt that he wanted me last night. I could see it in the way his eyes seared into mine.

***

Right around 1:30, I checked my phone and saw that I had three new emails on my Yahoo account. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest when I saw the third one was from Cedric. I clicked on the email and it seemed to take forever to load (of course).

Allison Ophelia,

It was nice getting to talk to you last night. I spoke to my mother this morning and she gave me three contacts you could try at the agency that provides Callie’s services. It’s called Bright Horizons. The main office is ironically based in Malden, where you live, but they provide services to most of the Greater Boston area and nearby suburbs. Here are three names: Beth Stephens (Human Resources) 617-856-9899, Michelle Aguiar (Clinical Supervisor) 617-856-9881 and Shannon Bryant (Social Worker) 617-856-9890.

She said to try them in the order listed above. So, you’ll have to let me know how it goes.

Good luck with everything. Maybe I’ll see you around the diner again.

Best, Cedric

P.S. Sorry you had to work late because of the ass clown who left his credit card ;-)

Allison Ophelia. I laughed out loud at the last line too, covering my mouth in amazement. Wow. He operates fast. I read the email a few more times…okay, maybe ten…and exited out of the screen, putting my phone back in my purse, even giddier than before. Even though I wanted to respond right away, I decided to wait until I got home because I couldn’t stand to type on the touch screen of my iPhone.

***

That afternoon, I ran into the apartment, dropped my keys and purse and went straight to my laptop. I opened a blank email screen and began to type and erase over and over again. My lack of focus was made worse by the distraction of looking out the window and noticing that the leaves on the large tree outside had transformed into beautiful fall foliage.

Or was it just that everything in the world seemed brighter today?

I decided to get up and make a cup of jasmine green tea before returning to the laptop. After that first sip of steamy goodness, I finally just bit the dust and typed.

Cedric Othello,

You are so not an ass clown! Thank you so much for providing me with these contacts and please thank your mother too. I look forward to calling them in a few days. I can’t believe Bright Horizons is based right here in Malden. I looked on their website and it’s just a stone’s throw from my apartment. I will definitely keep you posted. Please do stop into the diner again if you are up in that neck the woods. I’ll save you a slice of coconut cream pie now that I know you like it. Even though I was working nights yesterday, my usual shifts are Monday through Friday 6:30am to 3:00pm. Also, thanks again for the ride home. I really enjoyed talking with you too. Take care. --Allison

I stared at what I wrote for about five minutes before hitting send. Once I sent the message, I sighed and abruptly closed the laptop and put it away. I was happy that I decided to let him know what shift I worked. I was worried that he would come back when I wasn’t there thinking that my normal shift was at night because of yesterday. Not that he was necessarily planning to come back to see me, but I could hope, right?

***

One week later, I received a call from Bright Horizons after leaving one voicemail for each of the contacts Cedric gave me. It was almost 4:00 in the afternoon and I had just returned home from the diner and was resting on the couch watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show when the phone rang.

“Hello?” I answered.

“Yes, I am looking for Allison Abraham?”

“This is she,” I said in my most professional voice, suspecting it might be job-related.

“This is Beth Stephens from Bright Horizons, how are you?” she said in a friendly voice.

“Great. I have been expecting your call.” I hoped that didn’t sound cocky.

“I got your voicemail and was wondering if you had some time to come into the office this afternoon. I remembered that you said you lived in town and I had a meeting just cancel, so I would have some time to meet with you,” she said.

“That would be great. I could be there in twenty minutes.” I was beaming.

“Excellent. Just give them your name at the front desk and I’ll come out. Please bring a current resume and valid license. I’ll see you then.”

“Thank you, Beth. See you shortly.”

I hung up the phone and immediately went to my bedroom to pick out something professional to wear. I wouldn’t have time to shower. I picked out a pink satin sleeveless blouse with a bow on the front and a gray wool pencil skirt. I ripped off my diner uniform and threw on some nude colored pantyhose. I changed into the skirt and put on the blouse, sniffing my armpits. I added a short gray cashmere cardigan over the blouse. As I looked in the mirror above my bureau, I decided that my long hair made me look messy, so I twisted it into a bun and secured the sides with two bobbi pins. I dabbed on some concealer, very light eyeliner and some Bonne Bell lip gloss, puckering my lips. I was ready to roll. I grabbed my coat, left the apartment and walked the three blocks to the Bright Horizon’s office.

***

The small brick building housed three offices, one of which was Bright Horizons. A middle-aged Hispanic woman sat at the front desk and I told her my name.

Beth Stephens, a tall middle-aged blond woman, came out shortly after and we shook hands, then made our way to her office down the hall.

“So, tell me about your experience at Simmons, Allison.”

“Well, I had completed almost a year in the special education graduate degree program there. I took classes like child development and psychology. My mother passed away a little over a year ago and I decided to take a leave of absence until I could save enough money to continue. I have been waitressing full-time, but am looking for a way to get some experience working with kids with special needs.”

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