Excerpt Two

“The transition was almost too much for me. The blaring light from the morning sun, coming from my window on the right side of my bed was blinding but I welcomed it. Then my alarm went off from my phone. It did its vibrating dance on my nightstand as I grabbed for it to turn it off. Just in time to rise and get ready for work. With the sunlight dancing from my light curtains, I had no choice but to talk myself into having a good day since the sun was out to play. No sooner had I resigned myself to having a positive outlook on the new day, my phone vibrated on the nightstand, the noise was soft as it moved across the top. The phone lit up with the name ‘Mitch’. I quickly picked it up and swiped right to answer it. “Hello.” My voice held an edge of raspiness from the sleep.
“Good morning! Did I wake you up?” he greeted, sounding concerned. I was hoping he was genuine. Being that he used to be one of my closest friends, and also my ex, I safely assumed it had to be genuine.
I yawned. “No, I woke up before my alarm went off, so you’re good. Why are you calling me so early?”
“Well, I just wanted to call you and say hi.” His voice held a smile. I could hear it.
“Oh, well this is very kind of you, thank you. And good morning to you as well.” I was pleasantly surprised, rubbing the side of my neck to loosen it up.
I had known Mitch since I was 14 and he was 15. I was a love sick puppy for him from the age of 18 until about 22, then he decided to cheat on me. Interesting how things worked out like that. He chased me for years and the moment I gave in to his advances, he couldn’t handle it. Sure, he asked for another chance after the mistake had been made but I knew I couldn’t trust him from that moment on. We were miserable about it for a while but enough time had passed that we were both in good places. Had relationships outside of one another so time did, in a way, heal the old wound. So much so that I was able to maintain a real friendship with him. We had moments where there would be flirtatious acts, skirting with the idea of being together again but it was always short-lived. It never went past the talking stage, and I was fine with that. I didn’t feel like playing games with him anymore and he wasn’t ready for what I wanted. Even now, with us being 29 and 30, he still couldn’t quite figure it out. I wasn’t going to help him with that either, that was something he had to do on his own.
“It would be nice to get some breakfast with you before you went to work but, I’m already on my way to the office myself so, maybe we can do dinner tonight, what do you say?”
I had forgotten that we were suppose to do breakfast. He had only just asked yesterday and I agreed. I felt somewhat like a schmuck for forgetting so quickly like I did.
“I’m so sorry, I totally forgot, dinner sounds nice. I think I was supposed to get drinks with Sandy after work so let’s play it by ear, okay?”
He sighed, and it sounded like disappointment. “Alright, that’s cool. Let me know. I’m going to go now but hit me up later, yeah?”
“Okay, and I’m sorry again, Mitch. I’ll text you later.”
“It’s alright, I’ll talk to you later.”
“Bye.” I pressed the end icon and talked myself into getting up. It was 7:38am, which meant I had about an hour to take a shower, make me something to eat (or get something on the way to work), and hurry off to work in time to be there a few minutes early. Luckily I pack my lunch at night so I was happy on that front. I had a moment of remembering the dream and how weird it was. All that darkness, the eery noise, and the heavy breathing. I didn’t like dreams like that. I wasn’t afraid, but I was uncomfortable. As it were, I couldn’t sit in bed and dwell on it, I needed to get a move on.
As soon as I got out of the shower, I threw on my favorite band shirt (this selection just happened to be Pink Floyd; cliche), some black skinny jeans, and my black and white converse sneakers. I didn’t need to dress fancy for my job.
I worked as a fantasy liaison. More or less a phone sex operator but I was no longer just a worker bee, I was the operation manager. Moving up in rank helped a lot! I no longer had to worry about clients and things of that nature, I could just worry about the other girls and boys. I made sure the day to day was carried out efficiently, making sure the employees got their breaks, that nothing illegal was going down, and that the systems remained up and running. Even in the sex industry, you have to remain professional. I did that very well.
I had enough time to brush my hair, and with the tiny curls that I had it took a long time to wrangle it in. I was growing out my natural hair and the curl pattern was very tight but it didn’t bother me much until it came time to try and put it in a ponytail or Bantu knots. Any natural woman would tell you it was literally a pain in the neck, wrists, and fingers, to get it styled just right for the twist out to come out as close to perfect as possible. If I had the time, it took my time. But this morning, I only had a certain amount of time to lend. So ponytail it was.
Having done that and made breakfast, I was ready to face the day.
I left my gray furred cat, Mr. Chow but most days just Chow, in the living room to his own devices. He was a happy cat for the most part, but he didn’t feel like being bothered this morning and that was fine by me. I departed and felt like I was missing something but didn’t have time to stop and think about what it could be.
Traffic wasn’t too thick as I made my way towards the downtown area from Normal Heights, taking the street way down Park Boulevard to try and avoid as much of the traffic on the freeway as possible. It was nearly impossible to avoid any traffic, what with transplants moving in, but today proved to be an anomaly. It was extremely surprising because it normally was hell. I thanked God for small miracles. I was glad that I had envisioned myself having a great day and was hoping it would stay that way. We were about to find out if that was going to remain true.
I parked my car in the open spaced parking lot off to the right of the high-rise that held our business firmly tucked into a whole floor off of sixth and G. We were working on either another building, but bigger, to house all the workers or purchasing an extra floor from the property owners. So far, neither of these things were taking place. It wasn’t from lack of funds, that wasn’t it at all, it was simply procrastination and time. Things like that took time, our manager told me. Time and money. I didn’t care what happened, I didn’t plan on staying with the company for long if I could muster my way out before anything else happened.
All these thoughts were going through my mind as I took the leisurely stroll to the building door.
When I got in the elevator, I was trying to make sure to remind myself to smile. I had a habit of not smiling a lot and it made people feel “uncomfortable”, namely my co-worker Ana. I didn’t really care if it unnerved her that I didn’t smile all the time (“A lady should always appear happy, even if she’s having a bad day!”), it was the fact that my boss was fucking her and he was actually someone I cared about, as friends. So I humored him and smiled every time I walked into the door, like now. It made me unhappy to have to do it but it was a small price to pay for him to have some sort of happiness. For his girlfriend’s sake.
I saw him as I walked through the first few cubicles from his corner office. Our eyes met, he nodded his approval. I just arched my eyebrow, feeling my smile starting to waver a bit. I played the part for all of a second until I saw Ana. Unfortunately…she was only a foot or two away from my office door thanks to someone saying I needed a “friend”.
“Good morning, Kaela!!!” she sing-songed with her high nasally-toned voice. I let her use my shortened name even though she wasn’t my friend and I didn’t see her being a friend in the near future, or far future for that matter.
Her blonde hair was pulled back in a simple pony-tail, her brown eyes glittering with so much warmth and happiness that her face was glowing, cheeks rosy against a porcelain skin. She waved a well-manicured hand and I caught a glimpse of something sparkling awfully bright. She was wearing a powder blue cardigan and a plain crew-neck white t-shirt and that allowed my eyes to be all for that sparkle. All that simplicity against this massive glittery shine.
I made my way over to her desk and lo and behold, she was the proud owner of a brand new engagement ring. I tried to keep the surprised look off of my face as best as I could but it reached my eyes before I could stop it. “Wow…congratulations! D did a great job!” I said as I held her left hand in my right, staring down at the monstrosity of a ring. It was huge! As far as diamonds, D probably spent at least more than a month’s salary on it, maybe two months. White gold. Diamond cushioning diamonds. It was almost disgusting.
I looked back at D watching from his office with a broad smile on his face. He was happy that I was shocked. Oh well. I smiled at Ana and then excused myself to walk over to D.
He was pretty handsome as far as handsome faces went. Dark, thick wavy hair, deep green eyes, square jaw with a bit of stubble developing, dimpled chin, his bottom lip was sensuous and full, top lip not really the same but I didn’t care because I wasn’t dating him. He was wearing his most casual best as well: black band tee (Ramones, I silently judged him for it), dark blue denim, and black and white high-top Converse Chucks. It was strangely coincidental that we were both almost wearing the same exact outfit. But he was wearing the Rolex his dad passed down to him and it was a very nice piece; a little uber high-end meets somewhat low-end, “affordable”. His tanned olive skin was all due to some good old Greek blood.
I put out my hand for him to shake. “You bastard, how could you not tell me? I thought we were friends!” I said to him through smiling clenched teeth.
“I wanted it to be quiet for a while. That’s all.” He let go of my hand and wrapped me up in a gingerly hug. He even pat my back. I returned the hug.
I stepped back from the hug and my smile melted. “This is insane.”
“Which is precisely why I didn’t tell you that I was thinking of popping the question.” He started walking to his office. I took that as a signal to follow so I did. I didn’t close the door however because I didn’t want Ana to come to the door and be all weird about it.
“If I had told you, you would’ve tried to talk me out of it and I didn’t want anyone trying to tell me what to do.” He said as he sat in his chair.
I gaped my mouth, playing offended. “I would never!”
He laughed. “You would too! My parents were pretty overjoyed. I outdid myself with the ring, right? That thing is a beast!”
“You can say that again! I don’t like it but then again, I don’t want a ring that big.” I said, sitting down in the chair in front of his desk while he sat across from me in his chair behind his desk, playfully smug look on his face.
He looked at me across from the desk and the light he had faded around the edges. “I know you don’t. How’s the loverboy?”
I sighed. “I don’t want to talk about it right now. Maybe later when you’re not all glowing from this new development!”
He smiled, his lips kind of glistening from his chapstick use. “My new ‘development’ is suppose to be a discrete development, so we can talk about your love life in great detail since I have nothing exciting to talk about. I’m prying on purpose.”
I swiftly gathered myself and stood up in a rush. “No thanks. We got work to do anyway, that’s why I’m here, isn’t it? Come in, do my job, clock my hours, then leave. We can do the personal stuff on our own time, remember?” I tried for a sweet smile but it probably failed seeing as how I did not enjoy talking about my love life, or lack thereof. No need to discuss such trivial matters.
D gave me the raised arms, the sign of surrender. “You’re right. No need to talk about that. Very inappropriate of me. I apologize, Kaela.” He stood as well. “I apologize but are you not going to tell me because of our little past?”
I was waiting for him to bring that up, to tease me about it.
We almost had a relationship. And I do mean almost. I had to nip it in the bud before it got too intense. We had a few dates and found that we got on really well, but the fact that his parents probably wouldn’t approve of their successful and handsome son being with someone who wasn’t of the fairer skin tribe didn’t sit well with me. As much as he and I enjoyed one another’s time as a couple, I decided to let him know if it wasn’t dating with a purpose, then we couldn’t continue. He didn’t like it, he didn’t have to like it because I wasn’t comfortable with his parents’ views and he didn’t appear to be the type to go against mommy and daddy. He understood and it just so happened we ended up working together. So fun! I was just glad that we had ended on amicable terms and it wasn’t a nasty end to it all.
I just breathed out a little harder than was necessary, almost annoyed. I decided to shake off the memory.
“Nope, that’s not it at all, and we’re way past that anyway,” I made it a point to look out of his door to where his fresh fiancee was sitting. I couldn’t see her but I did it for effect. He got the idea, of that I was sure. “I just don’t have much of anything to talk about in that area of my life. If I did, I’d have no issue sharing that with you but not in the office, you know that.”
He nodded. “Okay. Well…we have some things to go over, as far as work is concerned. Some numbers to look at. I’ll let you get into your office, get your things together. Then we can meet in the conference room in about, let’s say 45 minutes, an hour maybe?”
“Yes,” I agreed. “I’ll shoot for 45 minutes but I’m probably counting on an hour. I need to check my emails anyway, maybe do a call-back or two if it’s that type of morning.” Thinking of the emails was really making me tense up. I started realizing what kind of day it might be. “I’m hoping for just a call or two. I have to send over some emails to IT, my computer has been acting a little lagged. I need someone to either come out and check it out or lead me through it via phone. I’ll send you a call or message, keep you in the loop. Did we ever hear back from corporate?”
D turned on his computer monitor. It was fairly new so you couldn’t hear the hush of it stirring to life. “I did not actually. You should probably ask Morissa or Andy about that. They were handling that whole thing, I’m not even sure what’s going on.”
“Well, if you are truly my superior, then you’d have known that we are going through some major changes,” I teased D a bit, it warranted me a snarky look which I answered with a smile. “Apparently, we’re getting a new CEO. No one knows who he is, where he’s from, or even if ol’ boy has social media. Which is actually very odd seeing as how almost everyone has some sort of online presence. They’re keeping this all very under wraps, kind of like someone I know who just got engaged on the low.”
D rolled his eyes and said,”Rub it all the way in now, get it all out of your system so you don’t accidentally blurt it out while we’re in the meeting please.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it. Not my business to blurt out. I promise,” I gave him my word. “But it doesn’t mean anything to you that they’re not telling us who they’re replacing Scooter with? I mean, I know Scooter isn’t as young and succulent as you or I, but he wasn’t senile. Yet.”
“Not my concern. My only concern is keeping my end of the business up and running and making sure my team is strong. And bringing in numbers better than the year before, that’s really all I care about,” D slapped his keyboard.
I put my hand on my hip and almost said something smart but thought better of it. I really needed to get a move on with my tasks. I felt like I was already behind. It made the bottom of my neck ache. “I’ll talk to you later. Congratulations again. I won’t speak of your little secret anymore.”
“It’s not a secret really, don’t say it like that. Just…I don’t need this ruining her chances here. I really just don’t want anyone judging her anymore than they already do,” D said with sincerity.
He really did love her. For a second I was doubting that and questioned his getting engaged-wondering if he did it to please his folks because he was almost 40 or if he really was having these feelings for this girl. I should’ve said woman but I couldn’t. Ana was younger than him, younger than myself. She was still in college for Pete’s sake, but she managed to steal his heart in as little as 8 months. And that was why I was questioning his getting engaged so soon. I shouldn’t have been but it was there, in the back of my mind. But, none of my business.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say all of that. But I’m going now. See you at the meeting,” I backed out of his office and hurriedly walked two doors down to my office door, and by Ana’s cubicle. I didn’t want to look at her but I had no choice because she was right there. I gave her a quick upturn of the lips that could pass for a smile, then opened my door as swiftly as I could without looking like I was trying to get away from her. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her, it was that something about her didn’t jive well with me. Her energy didn’t sync with my own. And there was nothing wrong with that, I just chose to stay away from anyone who I felt didn’t mix well with my aura. It sounded weird saying it like that but that was the best way I could explain it. It still sounded bitchy but it was the truth.
As soon as I got inside of my office, I shut my door and gave myself a moment to appreciate my view. It was downtown San Diego, and it was so heavily congested with high rises that my view was literally me looking into another building’s window. What a morning it was already, and it wasn’t even 10 yet. Not even close.”


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