[English novel] SOMETHING GREAT (Điều Tuyệt Vời)

Thảo luận trong 'Thư giãn, giải trí' bởi novelonline, 30/10/2015.

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    Tác giả: M. Clarke

    Nhằm mục đích thư giãn cũng như nâng cao khả năng đọc tiếng anh của mọi người, mình xin lần lượt post các truyện tiểu thuyết tiếng anh nổi tiếng trên thế giới. Nếu có gì sai sót mong mod nhắc nhở. Thanks nhiều ạ !

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    Something Great Page 1

    Chapter 1

    “You’re staring,” I said to Becky, who was sitting across from me.

    “I can’t help it.” Becky continued to smile at a stranger, flirtatiously batting her eyelashes, pulling a strand of her light brown hair behind her ear. “He’s kind of cute, and he’s looking right at me.”

    Oh…she is good. “But you think a lot of guys are cute,” I mumbled lightly.

    “It’s probably the alcohol talking.” She took a drink of her martini.

    Becky and I had been roommates since my senior year in college. Our living arrangement transferred after graduation, which was pretty cool considering the expenses that went with living in an apartment near the beach. I had to say, it was an added benefit having your best friend live with you…sometimes.

    Though Becky and I lived together, at times it was difficult when our schedules got busy. Sometimes we hardly saw each other, so it was nice to go out to dinner together even though it was in the middle of the week. We were both tired, but our friendship meant more than a little rest.

    Becky looked behind her, then turned back to face me. “Twelve o’clock on your time. You see him?”

    Trying not to make it obvious, especially since he’d caught my eyes after Becky turned around, I took a quick peek again. “He’s okay.” I shrugged my shoulders.

    “You have such high standards. It’s no wonder…wait a minute. I don’t get you. Not to be mean about it, but you know you can do so much better than what’s his face.”

    “You’ve told me that like, millions of times.”

    “Oh…is that all? And I still can’t get it through your thick skull,” she giggled.

    “He’s not that bad,” I pouted, circling the rim of the glass with my index finger.

    Becky’s eyes moved again, starting from the back of the room, and stopped right behind me. “Oh my…talk about eye candy. Now…you can’t say he isn’t good-looking, because he just bumped the others out of the ocean. I think I need to cool off. Perhaps he should cool me off.”

    “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I said, thinking, here she goes again.

    “Look behind you,” she ordered, taking another sip of her martini.


    “Why not? Afraid you may like what you see?”

    “Becky, it doesn’t matter if he’s cute or whatever. I’m not a cheater. I’m not here to look for men. I’m here to be with you, to keep you company, to help you find someone. Just because you’re not happy, don’t think I’m not.”

    Then I saw the look in her eyes, the look that said I’d gone too far. My mom used to say, “Think before you speak, because words can really hurt, and you can’t take back what you said, because the damage is already done.” I didn’t mean to hurt her. In fact, it had just slipped out from annoyance. Since the day I started seeing Luke, she’d told me nonstop how much he didn’t deserve me.

    Sure, I understood. She cared for me like a sister, but enough was enough. I was an adult. I was allowed to, and could, make my own decisions. Even my parents didn’t tell me who or who not to date. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say that. It’s not what I meant.”

    “If you’re sorry, then look behind you.”


    Becky crossed her arms. “I won’t ever ask you to look after this.”

    With a heavy sigh, I turned. With perfect timing his eyes caught mine, and they stayed locked for what seemed like an eternity. As if he had somehow spellbound me, I couldn’t move. My heart skipped a beat and I couldn’t breathe. Look away, I told myself, but I couldn’t. I would have sworn I felt my heart lurch and fall into my stomach. Heat like I’d never known before flushed my face. Dangerous tingles awakened every part of me. I couldn’t understand this strange hold he had on me, and I didn’t know if I liked the feeling at all.

    He was gorgeous, about six feet tall with broad shoulders, wearing dark slacks; I couldn’t tell what specific color, but who cared? His pin-striped dress shirt was unbuttoned at the sleeves and rolled neatly about a quarter of the way up his arms. Leaning back against the bar in a cool, relaxed manner, he was eye candy all right. Most likely, he was there to wind down after work.

    I finally managed to turn back around and look at my friend, who gave me an “I told you so” look.

    “Breeeeathe,” she mouthed, curling her lips as far as she could, a huge smile on her face.

    “He’s cute. I’ll admit it. So what?”

    “Cute? You used the wrong word. He’s hot.”

    Becky was right, but I didn’t want to make it obvious that she was. Taking deep breaths, I turned my attention elsewhere, but my heart continued to beat a mile a minute. Why did he have that affect on me? I had never felt that way before. It was exhilarating and dangerous at the same time.

    Peering up at my friend after I felt the heat on my face cool down, I wanted to take a gulp of her drink, but I knew I couldn’t—I was allergic to alcohol—so I took a sip of my soda instead. When I did drink, which was rare, I would have a strong urge to urinate, and my whole body, literally from head to toe, would turn red, like I had a bad sunburn. Not to mention it would only take me a few sips to get tipsy. Yup…the alcohol affected me in more ways than one.

    “Want me to invite him over here?” Becky offered.

    “No,” I said quickly. “We don’t know him.”
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    Something Great Page 2

    “Who cares?”

    “If you want to invite him, then that’s up to you since you’re interested, not me.” I felt the rush of heat again. Looking down at my drink, I tried to think of something else besides the hunk standing by the bar, whose face and the way he made me feel from just one look kept invading my mind.

    “Darn,” Becky said suddenly, looking upset.

    Her tone snapped my attention to her again. “What?”

    “I think he has a girl friend. A blonde just wrapped her arms around him and kissed him.”

    Without thinking, I turned quickly to find his back turned toward me, and sure enough, there she was. A feeling of disappointment fell on me. Oh my gosh! What am I thinking? I have a boyfriend. Well, not really a boyfriend; we were dating, though it had only been a month. Feelings of relief and guilt swept through me. I am dating Luke, I kept telling myself.

    “He’s just one fish in the ocean. There’ll be others for you to catch,” I muttered, gulping down my beverage. The icy, cool drink helped me temporarily, but the heat kept coming back, so I changed the subject and hoped the hot flashes would disappear. “So, how’s work?”

    “I just got tons of submissions to read. It’s never ending. I’m excited about a few of them, but I also need a break from reading.”

    “You always say that, but then you drown yourself in the stories.”

    “I do, don’t I?” she giggled. “Books are like picking ice cream flavors. Not everyone likes vanilla. The key is to find the flavor that is currently popular, and that determines which authors I take my chances on.”

    “You’ve been doing well so far.”

    “I have had some hits and a few misses, but I have to admit, I enjoy what I do. So, tell me; how’s job hunting?”

    “Did I tell you I have an interview next week?”

    Becky peered over my head. “No you didn’t, but that’s great. I know how much you hate that job. I’m so glad we’re catching up.”

    “I don’t hate it, but I need something different. I really hope I get this one.” I paused, looking at my friend, who seemed to be half listening to me. “What are you doing? Are you staring at them again?”

    She ignored my question with a bright beam in her smile. “Look behind you…no…don’t look behind you!”

    “Are you okay?” I let out a small laugh.

    Becky leaned closer toward me, like she was going to tell me a secret. “The blonde walked away. She probably went to the bathroom.”

    “So…your point being…?”

    “He’s leaning against the bar, but he’s looking right at you. Well…not at you, but your back.”

    I busted out laughing…that was one of the most ridiculous things she’d said in a long while. But just the thought of him looking at me made me tense up. “My back? He could be looking at something, or someone, near me. Why would he be looking at my back? For goodness sake, stop staring.”

    “You think I’m making this up.” She waved to the waitress coming our way. “One more please.” She held up her glass. “Thanks, and we’d like the menu too, please…actually, are you ready to order?”

    I nodded with a smile. “The same.”

    “I’ll have the fish taco combo and she’ll have the chicken salad.”

    After the waitress repeated the order she walked away.

    “I don’t know how you have the same thing every time we come here,” she added.

    “I don’t know, I just like it, and that’s what I feel like having again. What is it, pick on Jenna day?”

    “No…sorry,” she said sheepishly. “Anyway, just to prove my point, I dare you to turn around.”

    “No.” I leaned back comfortably with my arms crossed.

    “For someone so sweet, who never cusses, who plays by the rules, who orders the same thing every time, you sure can be stubborn.”

    “Well, I can’t be all good,” I smirked.

    “Turn around before she comes.”


    “Ugggh. Okay…if I’m wrong then I owe you a favor, but if you’re wrong you owe me one.”

    That sounded like a risk I was willing to take, because I knew for sure she was wrong. Why would he be staring at my back?

    “Fine.” I turned. My heart stopped for a second and then pounded in my chest. The familiar warmth flooded all over my body. Becky was right. Our eyes matched perfectly. He raised his bottle of beer and gave me a delicious smile that melted deep into my gut.

    I didn’t even know if I smiled back, but I somehow managed to turn back around. It didn’t matter anyway, because guys like him were trouble…big trouble. Guys like him couldn’t be trusted. Why? Because he was too damn good-looking, and his ego was probably as big as the restaurant we were sitting in. I was already judging him and I didn’t know him, but it didn’t matter. I was dating Luke, even though Becky thought he wasn’t good for me. At least he wasn’t trouble.

    At some point in my rambled thinking, I had to look up to my friend, whose feet were tapping on the wooden floor that my eyes were glued to. “Okay,” I said, looking squarely into her eyes. “You win.” My left index finger went straight to my mouth, a very bad habit I had when I got nervous.

    Becky reached over and took my finger out of my mouth. “You’re going to bite your finger off over a guy you don’t know?” she giggled. “By the way…I can’t wait for you to return the favor.” A mischievous grin was smudged on her face
    Sửa lần cuối: 30/10/2015
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    Something Great Page 3

    “Great,” I said under my breath. “I can hardly wait.”

    Chapter 2

    A feeling of warmth brushed my face as I stretched my arms to the ceiling. The sun’s rays projected into my room, making it appear as though I was in the center of heaven’s light. Mesmerized by it, I took in the beauty. Gazing toward the open shutters I had forgotten to close last night, I knew it was going to be a beautiful day. Yesterday had been dark and gloomy, but today the sun was showing who the boss was. It was like that in Los Angeles…even in the fall, sometimes if felt like it was spring.

    The thought of the guy I’d seen at the restaurant the previous week had faded, and I couldn’t remember what he looked like anymore, only how he’d made me feel. In a way, I had forced him out of my mind, because the guilt from thinking of someone else while I was with Luke felt wrong. I wouldn’t want Luke to be thinking of someone else while he was with me, either.

    Luke and I had met at a work meeting. His company became one of the clients I managed, so I spoke to him often on the phone. He was the owner of a fabric dying company, and our company bought fabric from companies like his, then sold the fabrics to clothing companies or designers. Basically, our company was the middleman, and I did all the negotiating on the prices and made sure everything happened in a timely manner.

    Lately I had been bored with my job. I needed more of a challenge, more excitement, and more from my everyday routine life. It was time to move on if I wanted to grow in my areas of expertise…but exactly what did I need? I wasn’t sure, but I knew that if I stayed where I was, that’s what I would be doing for the rest of my life.

    My boss understood. I was good at what I did and he knew it. My salary wasn’t great, just enough for me to pay the bills, and I was basically living from paycheck to paycheck. This was another reason why I needed to move on. Thinking about the interview I was excited to have, I continued to lie in bed, when suddenly….

    “Aaaahhh,” I screamed, bolting out of my bed to look at my cell phone. It was seven in the morning, and my interview was at eight thirty…that day. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten to turn on my alarm. I didn’t have a clock per se, so my cell phone was my alarm. Strange…it was on, but I must have turned it off and gone back to bed.

    Frustrated and mad at myself, I jumped into the shower. After dashing out, I brushed my teeth and pulled my hair into a high ponytail. With just enough makeup on, I got dressed—a dark gray pencil skirt, a white blouse, and a thick gray sweater to match the skirt.

    Breakfast was out of the question as I walked out of my bedroom. I noted Becky had already left. She must have had an early meeting or gone to the gym. Surely she would have woken me. Clutching my leatherwork bag, I dashed out the door in world record time.


    Just before I opened the double glass doors to enter, I tilted my head back to look up at the tall building in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. Feelings of excitement and nervousness burst through me, giving me tickling tingles from my fingertips to my stomach. Breathe, I told myself as I walked in.

    Stepping on to the shiny cream polished floor, I felt like I was stepping on gold. I didn’t like to compare, but my current place of employment was nothing like this. Gazing around, but continuing my rapid pace due to the time, I noted men dressed in suits and women dressed in pant or dress suits. I couldn’t help but wonder which company they were working for, since there were so many in one building. Seeing the elevator sign, that was where I headed.

    There were six elevators, three on either side of me. Others were already waiting for the elevators to open. Noting that the button to go up was already pushed, I waited just like everyone else. When the “ding” sounded, I waited patiently until the ones who were waiting before me entered first. It was crowded inside the elevator, but I didn’t care. I was happy to be on it so I could get there just in time.

    Looking at the buttons, I was surprised to see that there were fifty-four floors. I knew the building was tall, but I hadn’t realized there were that many floors. That thought alone made me feel queasy. It was bad enough that my stomach had dropped when the elevator soared. Since the button for my floor was already pushed, I closed my eyes and waited for my turn to exit.

    On several occasions I had to step out so the person behind me could exit, but I was glad when I finally exited on the twenty-eighth floor. A lady about my age walked out at the same time I did, trailing behind me. She must have been the one to push the button to this floor. Perhaps she is my competition for the job.

    The clear glass window caught my eye first. It covered the entire back wall, the sunlight beaming dimly through it. What a fantastic view of downtown LA! The receptionist, sitting behind a semi-circular desk, peered through her glasses and looked straight at me. She’d obviously heard the embarrassing clicking noise from my heels, which made me feel like an elephant. With her hair tied up, she looked sharp and business like.

    “Good morning. How may I help you?”

    “I have an 8:30 interview.”

    “Your name?”

    “My name is Jeanella Mefferd, but you can call me Jenna.”

    She looked down the list. “Ah, yes…there you are.” Then she peered up with a smile. “Please have a seat. We are a little behind schedule.”

    Smiling back, I took a deep breath and eased my shoulders, relaxing for the first time since I stepped inside the building. The fact that they were behind would allow me to give more thought to my answers to the questions I may be asked. “Thank you,” I said, turning my back to her and moving toward the empty chairs.
    Sửa lần cuối: 30/10/2015
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    Something Great Page 4

    As I waited patiently, I couldn’t help but look at my competition from the corner of my eye. Dressed in a black dress suit, she looked confident, and somehow I felt intimidated by her appearance. Perhaps it was from knowing she may have more experience than me, or maybe it was just my own insecurities. Who was I kidding? There must have been tons of interviewees. What made me special? What made me stand out from the rest?

    Megan Crawford was the name she gave to the receptionist. Sauntering over to the empty seat next to me, she gave me a quick smile. Suddenly, it wasn’t sunny anymore. The air around me, which I hadn’t felt before from being too nervous, instantly became cold, and I shivered. I had to stop thinking negative thoughts, or I wouldn’t make it through the interview.

    Sitting next to a stranger was bad enough, but sitting next to your competition was even worse. She looked calm and collected, whereas I fidgeted like a child in my seat. Feeling antsy, I pulled out my cell phone. There were several texts, one from Becky and others from my friends Kate and Nicole. I clicked Becky’s first.

    Good luck, and let me know how it went. XO

    I texted back. I will.

    Then Kate’s.

    Go Jenna!

    Haha. Thxs! Hugs!

    Then Nicole’s.

    You’ll do great!

    Thank you!

    Though I was excited to get texts from my friends, there was no text from Luke. Maybe he would call me later?

    “Ms. Mefferd,” I heard.

    My head popped up and my heart raced faster than it ever had, except for the time I saw him. Oh God! Why am I thinking of him at a time like this? Funny, though…it actually helped me calm down. Okay. I can do this. “Yes?”

    I turned my head to the receptionist to get more direction. She pointed to her right. “They are ready for you. It’s the first conference door on your right.”

    “Thank you,” I said, standing up. Not wanting to be rude, I turned to Megan. Before I could say a word, she spoke.

    “Good luck,” she smiled.

    I wasn’t sure if it was sincere, but at least she was polite. “Thanks. You too.” Then I turned and headed to, hopefully, my future. This interview would make me or break me…well, maybe not break me, but it was a huge opportunity, and I had to do my best.


    Three pairs of eyes set on me as I paced toward a rectangular table. “Good morning,” I smiled, hearing the clicking sound from my heels. Why does it have to click so loud?

    “Good morning,” they said in accord.

    There were two males and one female, and they each had their wooden nameplate in front of them. Feeling a little flushed from anxiety, I tried to take several unnoticeable deep breaths as I sat and placed my workbag next to me on the floor.

    “Ms. Mefferd, why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?” the lady asked with a smile.

    I hated that question. Why do they have to ask this question at every interview? “I was born and raised in Los Angeles. My resume, which you have in front of you, lists the schools and colleges I’ve attended, along with my extracurricular activities.” I paused, thinking I may have given too much random information. Focus! “After graduation, I was hired at Tom Bradley Fabric Company. I’m currently still employed there, but he already knows about the interview today.”

    “Yes. We’ve already placed a phone call,” Mr. Miles said. “He speaks highly of you. From what I can see on your resume, you’ve played many roles for that company.”

    Mr. Miles’s words sparked a confidence in me I didn’t know was hiding beneath the surface. My face lit up and my tone became different—stronger, with conviction. “Yes. Not only do I work with the clients, I am also the assistant director of the Human Resources Department. Benefits and Workers’ Compensation are my specialties, along with customer relations.”

    “Ms. Mefferd,” the other male asked. “We know what we are looking for. The question is…what are you looking for?”

    I had never been asked that question before, and I was surprised they had asked it. What did I want? “Mr. Miles, Mr. Cole, and Ms. Simmons.” I gazed into their eyes, one person at a time, as I called their names. “I want to work for a company that is fair, where I can learn, grow, and challenge myself to be better. I want to give my all to a company that will treat me as if I were a part of their family.”

    There was silence. It was so quiet that I could hear the whistle of the wind blowing outside the window. Not one of them looked at me. Had I said something wrong? Had the sun not beamed through the window, I certainly would have been shivering at that moment.

    Several more rounds of questions followed about what I did for my current employer, and how long I had worked there. It seemed like I had been at the interview far longer than I had expected. Feeling light headed from not eating breakfast, I just wanted it to be over.

    “Ms. Mefferd, we are looking to fill this position as soon as possible,” Ms. Simmons said. “We also have a long list of interviewees, so it may take a week. If we feel that your qualifications meet our standards, you’ll be hearing from our Human Resources Department. Thank you for your time.”

    With that, I stood up and shook all three of their hands, gazing at each of them with a smile. “Thank you so much.” Then I walked out as softly as I could. Darn these heels!

    Chapter 3

    Feeling good about the interview, I decided to celebrate alone by feeding myself breakfast. But one never knew about these things. The last time I thought an interview went super well, I never got a phone call. Whatever happened, at least I knew I’d given it my best; but still, if I didn’t get this job, I knew I would be very disappointed. Who was I kidding? I would be devastated.
    Sửa lần cuối: 30/10/2015
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    Something Great Page 5

    First things first, I needed to eat. My face felt warm and my head was starting to throb, an indication I needed food…quickly. I had been unable to eat much the previous night due to the anxiety building up from the interview, and my body was giving me a warning sign. Recalling a coffee shop I had been to in the area, I decided to head in that direction, since I didn’t have to be back to work until after lunch. A warm muffin and coffee would surely hit the spot.

    Pacing down the sidewalk, I inhaled a deep, cool breath. Many pedestrians were walking on both sides of me, but I didn’t pay attention to them. I was too busy focusing on the location of the coffee shop and the soothing warm sun I wanted to be under for a while longer. As I neared the delicious smell, I peered through the shop windows as I walked by. Then finally, I spotted what I was looking for two buildings down…Café Express.

    Entering the double glass door, I quickly noted it was filled with customers, but many of them were leaving; I must have just missed the morning rush. Since the line was short, it put a smile on my face as I stood behind a man. Peering up, I looked at the breakfast menu, and everything sounded delicious. Decisions, decisions…what do I order? I thought to myself as I laced my hair back with my fingers.

    The guy in front of me was taking so long that I decided to gaze around the room, looking at the small unique fixtures on the wall. Small paintings and cute little mugs of different sizes and designs added a nice touch to the ambiance.

    I was just about done looking at every fixture when I suddenly froze. Heat zapped through my whole body. Sitting under a fixture of a butterfly mug, I saw him. I hadn’t thought about him for days, and there he was, all dressed up in his work attire of a suit and tie. His eyes were beaming as they pierced through me, but he looked surprised, and radiated an irresistible smile. Surely he wasn’t smiling at me, so I glanced behind me; there was no one there, except for the painting I was admiring earlier.

    Without thinking I turned back to him. He lifted his cup of coffee at me with a flirty twitch of his eyebrows. I gasped inwardly and took a step to my right, knowing that the man had finished paying, and I suddenly felt something scorching hot and wet, brushing against my hand. My eyes followed my workbag as it fell straight to the floor and landed on top of a pool of brown liquid.

    “Watch it, lady!” the man snapped, cursing beneath his breath, brushing off the soon-to-be stain on his light gray suit.

    “Oh…I’m so sorry,” I apologized sincerely. Without a care for my bag or the rude man, I brushed the wetness that burned my skin. Frowning, I brushed it harder as if I could make the pain go away.

    Then I heard a male voice I didn’t recognize. It was deep and soothing, and beckoned me to awaken.

    “Excuse me, but I think you owe this beautiful lady an apology.” His tone was strong and demanding.

    I peered up to see him standing in front of me, blocking half of my view, as if to protect me with his body. Silence filled the air in the coffee shop; most likely, everyone felt the same tension I felt as we waited for the guy to apologize. If he didn’t, what would he do? Thank goodness there was no one else behind me in line.

    “I’m sorry,” the guy said quickly, though not sincerely, and walked out the door.

    He turned to me. “Are you okay?”

    “I…I’m okay. Thank you, but it really was my fault. I wasn’t looking,” I said softly. I really wanted to tell him that it was his fault for distracting me, but I didn’t.

    Surprisingly, he grabbed my hand and examined it. His hands on mine felt light as a feather, but his warmth penetrated through my skin, making me hot all over.

    “Ice,” he said to the cashier, still holding my hand. At his command, one of the cashiers blinked and went to the back room. “It’s not bad, but you should put ice on it just in case.”

    Feeling myself crumble from his touch, I slowly pulled my hand away and peered up at his beautiful soft brown eyes. I swallowed a nervous lump down my throat. “Umm…thank you, but I’m really fine.”

    The cashier came back with a bag of ice and placed it in front of him. “Thank you,” he said, and without asking for my hand, he snatched it and placed the bag of ice on top of it. Smack in the middle of the shop, there we stood, attracting attention. By now, most of the customers were minding their own business, but I could still see a few looking at us curiously.

    Not knowing what else to do, I accepted his help by placing my other hand on top of the ice bag, so he could release my hand. “Thank you. You’ve been too kind.”

    He took several napkins and started to wipe the liquid that had clung to the bottom of my workbag, and some that had splashed on the sides. Has he been holding it all this time? He was so sweet, yet I didn’t even know him.

    “Oh…thank you, but I can do it.”

    When I leaned toward him to retrieve my bag, my heels slipped on the wet floor that hadn’t been cleaned yet. Before I could make a fool out of myself, he caught me with his arms. In his hold, I didn’t want to be let go. Seeing his eyes at my eye level, I knew he had bent down somewhat to catch me. As I stared into his eyes, time stood still. The coffee grinder, the cash register, the voices from the conversations people were holding in their small groups, were all muted. I heard nothing but the sound of him breathing, and I felt nothing but his hot breath on my face and my own heart beating erratically.

    Then…unwanted…I saw nothing but Luke’s face. With a great amount of effort, I released myself from his hold, recaptured my bag, thanked him once more, and strode out of the shop as fast as I could, without looking back. Hunger was no longer on my mind or my stomach. All that echoed inside my head was that he called me beautiful, and his kindness had fed my heart and my stomach.
    Sửa lần cuối: 30/10/2015
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    Something Great Page 6

    Chapter 4

    “Over here,” Becky mouthed, waving her hand.

    I saw her from the distance. “My friend is already seated,” I explained to the hostess. She gave me a warm smile and gestured for me to go. As I weaved around the tables, I noted that Nicole and Kate were already there, as well. Nicole and Becky wore their work clothes, but Kate was in casual attire since she didn’t work in an office.

    Excitedly I paced faster. It had been a couple of months since the four of us had gone out together. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months as life sped by. We were all busy with our own lives, not like it was when we were in college and it was easier to be under the same umbrella. After hugs and kisses to each of them, I pulled out my chair and sat. Drinks were already on the table.

    “Sorry I’m late. I had to catch up since I was out half the day.”

    “So, how was your interview?” Nicole asked, taking a sip of her water.

    “Who knows? I think I did okay, but you never know about these things. I thought I had a terrible interview with my current job, but I got the offer.”

    “True,” Becky muttered.

    The conversation stopped when the waitress came by.

    “Hello,” she smiled at me. “Looks like everyone is here. May I take your order?” After we ordered, she left.

    “Anyway, it’s not the end of the world if I don’t get it,” I continued. I gazed at my friends, who were intently listening and giving me the “I know you’re lying” look. “Okay…it will be end of my world if I don’t get it. I’ve had my eye on that company for so long.” Exhaling a heavy sigh, I plopped my head on my crossed arms.

    “It’s okay, Jenna. Think positive. There’ll be other opportunities if you don’t get this one. Everything has its right timing. Everything folds into its place the way it was meant to be at the right time. Geez, I sound like a Hallmark card. Maybe I should write a book,” Becky snorted.

    I strongly believed what she’d said, but I had needed to hear it from a friend’s mouth. With that, I sat tall and enlivened the mood. “So, how was everyone’s day?”

    “Breast feeding and feeling like a cow,” Kate sputtered.

    We all broke into laughter, except Becky laughed a little harder. Liquid sprinkled out of her mouth from trying to hold it in. “I’m so sorry,” she laughed, dabbing the table with her white linen napkin. Thank goodness dinner hadn’t arrived yet.

    “It’s fine,” Katie continued. “I get spit up on by my baby all the time. I’m used to it.”

    Giggling, we calmed ourselves down. Kate was the first one of our group to get married, and the first one to have a baby. Her being pregnant was one of the reasons why she’d married her college boyfriend. I still remembered her beautiful wedding as if it had happened yesterday. Becky and I were in her wedding party, and Nicole was her maid of honor. Having been placed in a group project together in college had brought our band together.

    “That’s all I do all day long. Feed, burp, diaper change, and clean spit ups. Don’t get me wrong…I love my baby, but I’m so glad I’m out here with all of you. I miss just hanging out,” Kate continued. The wetness in her eyes made her eyes twinkle. “We should do this more often.”

    “We need to set the next date now,” Becky suggested, taking out her cell phone. “Cause….” She paused as she clicked away. “We say that all the time, but it’s difficult and time just flies by. Next thing you know, months have gone by.”

    The rest of us took out our cell phones, punched some keys, and marked the date on our phone calendars. After about fifteen minutes, the waitress came back with our dinners. Becky and I had ordered the same seafood salad, Kate was having seafood linguini, and Nicole had ordered salmon with assorted vegetables.

    “Becky told us you’re seeing someone,” Kate said suddenly. “What’s his name, what does he do…give us his history.”

    I shot my eyes to Becky then shifted my gaze to Nicole and Kate. “His name is Luke, and I met him about a month ago. His company is one of the companies I deal with. He’s cute and nice.” I didn’t have much to say after that.

    “Do we get to meet him?” Kate asked, turning her fork, making a ball with the linguini.

    “I met him already,” Becky blurted. “He’s no good for her.”

    I nudged Becky on the shoulder and gave her a look.

    She ignored me. “You need to date around. Don’t be exclusive with him. If you don’t you won’t know what you’re missing…like that guy we saw last night. You need to do this while you’re young and not officially in a relationship. I know you don’t have much experience.” She paused. “Hardly,” she giggled. “But that’s okay. Our little miss innocent here is finally adventuring out.”

    “Let me ask you this.” Kate leaned over. “When you kiss him, do you see stars and fireworks? Do you explode…way down there?”

    Becky and Kate giggled, but Nicole was keeping to herself. She had been quiet, which was unusual, but I didn’t ask. Instead, I kept one eye on her facial expression, which was pretty much blank. Her fork played with the broccoli, but never entered her mouth. While our plates were already a quarter empty, she had hardly touched her food.

    “Well?” Kate twitched her brows, demanding an answer.

    I didn’t say a word…I didn’t have to. My roommate sitting next to me did, since I told her practically everything. “She hasn’t kissed him yet,” Becky shared.
    Sửa lần cuối: 30/10/2015
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    Something Great Page 7

    Kate’s brows raised. “Really?”

    “You know how Jenna is,” Becky reminded. “She’s careful. She’s safe. She’s not like us. I’ve kissed guys on the first date…hell, I’ve even had one night stands.”

    “Well…in my defense, we’ve only dated like four times. I’m seeing him again on Friday night. Maybe I’ll let him kiss me.”

    “That’s like three days away. I want to meet the guy who finally stole Jenna’s heart. Can I come?” Kate said out of the blue, teasing.

    Becky and I flashed our eyes at her in accord.

    “I’m just joking. I’m just so excited for Jenna,” Kate said. “It’s been so long.” Kate paused. Her eyes grew and cringed. “Shoot…my ni**les are hard and my br**sts feel like water balloons ready to burst.” Kate started eating a little bit faster. “I’m going to have to go soon.”

    “But you just got here,” I pouted.

    “I know, but when they get really full, they don’t feel good, and then I start leaking…the joys of breast feeding.”

    “Wow. Sounds like something I may not want to do,” Becky commented, sticking her fork into her shrimp.

    “You say that now, but just wait until you have the little one in your arms,” Kate gushed. “It’s just the most wonderful feeling you’ll ever know…well, next to sex, of course.”

    With her statement, we started to laugh again. But when Nicole didn’t laugh with us, I knew for sure something was wrong. “Nicole, is something wrong?”

    Nicole’s eyes were focused on the table at first, then tears dotted her cheeks. “Keith broke up with me.”

    “Oh, sweet Nicole.” Kate wrapped her arms around her, making her face disappear into her shirt. Nicole had been dating Keith for about a year after meeting him at work. Actually, he was one of her bosses at a huge insurance company. In a way, I’d had the feeling that it wouldn’t last. Keith was not the type of guy to settle down. How did I know this without really knowing him? Because there were two types of guys…the ones that would break your heart, and the ones who would treasure it.

    “What happened?” Becky placed her fork down.

    Nicole finally took a breather, sat up, and wiped her tears. “Actually, I broke up with him. He didn’t ever want to get married, so I left him. I mean…why would he just drag out our relationship if he never wanted more?” Her eyes started to pool with tears again.

    I wanted to comfort her, but I was sitting on the opposite side of the table, so I tried my best to comfort her with my facial expressions and with my words.

    “It’s okay,” Kate said softly. “It’s better you know now than in another year.”

    “Okay,” Becky said loudly. “Next Saturday, everyone at our place for dinner. We’re getting Nicole wasted.”

    Then that was that. Kate said she didn’t have enough milk pumped, so she needed to head back home to feed her daughter of two months. Becky and I stayed to console Nicole.

    Chapter 5

    Thank God it was Friday!

    When I entered our apartment, Becky was already home. “Hey, Becky,” I said out loud.

    “Hey, there,” she greeted, popping out of the kitchen with an apple in her hand, and then eyed my chest. “I love the delicate ruffles on your cream sweater.”

    “You can borrow it, if you like.”

    “I’ll let you know,” she winked. “So, got any plans tonight?”

    I watched her take a bite of the apple. Apples had never looked so good, and my mouth was salivating. I guessed I was hungry and didn’t know it. “Got another one?”

    She went back to the kitchen and tossed one to me. “Thanks.” With the first bite, the juice streamed down my throat. With a crunch my teeth pulled the meat off it, and I savored the taste. “Good,” I managed to say while I was chewing, and then remembered her question. “Oh…Luke is taking me out. We’re going out to dinner.”

    Taking another bite of her apple, she leaned against the white wall next to the television. It wasn’t a big one, but it was big enough for our smallish apartment. Her eyebrows narrowed, most likely trying to think of something to say. “Oh yeah…I forgot. Okay, have a great time, and give me details tomorrow.”

    My mouth was full, but I spoke anyway. “What details? We’re just going out to dinner. I’m not sleeping with him.”

    “That’s fine, but you’re gonna kiss him, right?” Her tone sounded muffled from a mouth full of chewed up apple.

    “What?” My tone went up a notch. “I’m not making the first move.”

    Her eyes sparkled. “I had a feeling you were going to say that. I think he will, and when he does, you’ll know if you see or feel fireworks.”

    I was just about to say something when our land phone line rang, but Becky beat me to it and answered it. “Hello…yes…yes. Hold on a minute please.” She looked at me with a questioning look. “It’s for you.”

    During the whole week I’d been trying to forget about my interview. I had a strange gut feeling this wasn’t a personal call. My family and friends usually called me on my cell phone. Swallowing a nervous lump in my throat, I answered.

    “Hello, this is Jeanella Mefferd. Yes…yes…yes…sure…no problem. I can do that. Thank you so much.”
    Sửa lần cuối: 30/10/2015
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    Something Great Page 8

    I hung up with a frowning face and looked at Becky, who had been staring at me the whole time, as if she knew. Perhaps the speaker had told her what company she was from.

    “It’s okay,” she said softly, pulling me into a hug. “There’ll be other jobs, I promise.”

    I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Not only was I a bad liar, I couldn’t even fake disappointment that long. “I got the job!” I squealed at the top of my lungs.

    Becky pulled back, squinting her eyes, looking surprised. “You….” She socked me lightly on my arm. “Congrats!” She pulled me in again and squeezed me tightly.

    “Ahhh…I can’t believe it. I thought they would take at least another week to decide.”

    “So when do you start?”

    “They said as soon as possible. I’ll have to go in and talk about details.” Floating above the ground from the awesome news, I plopped myself on the sofa. Becky went to the kitchen to throw her apple core away, sank down next to me, and narrowed her eyes at my sweater. “You’re not wearing that tonight, are you?”

    For a second, I had forgotten I had a date, and I stared at my half-eaten apple. “Should I wear something else? I thought you liked my sweater.”

    As if she had sat on a pin, she jolted up and quickly pulled me along with her to her bedroom. “You need to wear something else if you want him to kiss you.”

    Becky’s room was like mine, very simple. A queen size bed sat in the middle of her room, a tall wooden dresser was placed at the corner, and a small desk was situated on the opposite side of the dresser. One positive thing about our apartment was that we each had our own bathroom, but the down side was that when our guests needed to use one, they had a peek of our rooms.

    On top of the desk were a computer and her cell phone, and the top of the dresser was adorned with several Swarovski crystal picture frames I had gifted to her on her birthday. In one of the frames was a picture of us that I had slid inside. Another one held a shot of the four of us—Nicole, Katie, Becky, and I. The third frame held a picture of her family—her parents and her younger sister.

    Rummaging through the closet, sliding hanger after hanger, she pulled out a black dress. “Here. This is the perfect dress. He won’t be able to resist you with this on.”

    I was just about to take a bite, but instead I shook my head vigorously. “Noooo way. That thing is way too tight and too low. I don’t want to tease him or send him the wrong message.”

    “Just try it on, and if you don’t like it, you can take it off. It doesn’t look the way you think it looks.”

    How could I say no when she gave me the puppy eyes and an alternative? With a sigh, I exchanged the apple for the dress and tossed it on her bed. After I stripped off my sweater and pants, I slipped it on and stood in front of her long closet mirror. To my surprise, I liked it. It transfigured me into an elegant woman. Dipping just enough to show the cle**age of my br**sts…but not too much…it fell nicely on the curves of my body.

    I felt different, more confident and even beautiful. Turning to face Becky, I knew she would give me an “I told you so” look, and sure enough she did. Shaking her head with a proud gleam, she lit a huge smile. “Love, love, love. See…I always know what’s best for you. Come on, let’s fix your hair and makeup.”

    Becky handed my apple back to me, tugged me to the bathroom, and started to fuss with my face and hair. “If only that guy from the restaurant could see you. If you had been dressed like this, he would have come to our table for sure.”

    “He was with someone, remember? Why are we even talking about him?” I arched my brows. “I’m going out with your favorite person.” Rubbing in the word “favorite,” I watched her grimacing facial expression.

    “Okay…I’ll give Luke a chance if you tell me that you like him after you kiss him.” She reached over with one hand while holding the curling iron with the other. Placed in front of me were a pair of fake diamond earrings and a pendant necklace. “Here. Save some time, put these on.”

    “You don’t give up, do you? And thanks.”

    “Nope, not when it has to do with your happiness.”

    Needing free hands, I bit the apple in my mouth and put them on. They added a touch of flavor to the dress. Then my mind wandered to thoughts of Nicole, and I turned to face Becky as I took the last bite of the apple, but she guided me back to face the mirror. “That was a good idea putting us in a group text,” I slurred as I chomped away.

    “Now hold still or I’ll burn you by accident,” she scolded. “And yes…it was a good idea. Glad I thought of it.” She giggled proudly with a smirk on her face.

    “At least we can be close to each other through texting, since it’s difficult to get together. We’re still on for tomorrow night, right?”

    “Didn’t you read the text?”

    “That’s the problem with group texting; if you don’t scroll up, you miss things. I guess somehow I missed it. Nicole seemed fine when I called her last night, but you know how she is. She won’t say much.”

    “Don’t worry. If she says she’s fine then she is. Just worry about your date tonight.” She let go of the strand of hair that she’d just curled. It bounced softly against my cheeks, but it was hot so I turned a bit to the right. I thought about telling her that I had run into him, but it didn’t matter. The likelihood of running into him again was slim to none. And again, I was dating Luke, not him.
    Sửa lần cuối: 30/10/2015
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    Something Great Page 9

    Just as she finished curling the last section of my hair, the doorbell chimed. Looking at my watch, I saw that he was right on time. Startled, I flashed my eyes to Becky.

    “I’ll open the door. Go get your black heels, sweater, and your purse.”

    “Thanks.” I hugged her, speed walked to the kitchen to throw the apple core away, and headed toward my room.

    Taking a peek through the crack of my bedroom door, I could see Luke standing by the door waiting, looking slightly uncomfortable next to Becky. He wore casual black pants and a yellow sweater, bringing out his emerald green eyes. He looked simply “nice.” Smiling, I paced toward them, wondering what kind of questions she was drilling him with. She was really good at that. Though at times it was annoying, I knew her heart. Her intentions were always good.

    The clicking sound of my high heels caught Luke’s attention. When I caught his eye, his eyes popped open with a shy smile. I couldn’t read what he was thinking, but I think he liked what he saw.

    “Hello,” I said nervously. Though the unbuttoned sweater covered the front of the dress somewhat, you could still see a little cle**age. I wasn’t used to wearing any type of clothing that even showed a peek of my br**sts…except my swimsuit, sort of.

    “Hi,” he greeted. “You look very nice.”

    “Thanks, so do you.”

    Then it was silent. The three of us stood there for an awkward several seconds until I finally spoke. “Shall we?”

    Luke nodded and I led him out the door. Just before I closed the door behind me I looked over my shoulder. Of course Becky was right behind me, puckering her lips, making a kissing sound. “I can’t wait.”

    I busted out laughing, but just before it became even louder, I covered my mouth. Shaking my head, I mouthed. “I love you too. Don’t wait up for me.”

    She raised her brows in surprise, but her interpretation of “don’t wait up for me” was different than mine.

    Chapter 6

    Luke wasn’t the “perfect gentleman” type of guy. Most men opened the car door for their date, but he never showed that kind of charisma. But what did I know about men, anyway? They were all different, just like us. Was it too much for me to want him to open the door for me?

    The restaurant was nice, dimly lit, and not too crowded. White linen tablecloths covered the tables that were adorned with candles on top, giving it a romantic ambiance. I had to give him credit for that. The hostess took us toward the back to a table for two, but the tables were very close together. I had hoped there wouldn’t be anyone sitting near us.

    The hostess pulled out my chair, and after I sat, she placed the white linen napkin on my lap. “Thank you,” I said to her.

    “The waiter will be right with you.” She smiled and left.

    “How was your day?” Luke asked. He had one eye on me and the other eye on the phone. “Sorry…checking an urgent email.”

    “That’s okay. I had a fantastic day actually. I got the job I was talking about.” I tried my best to contain my excitement, but he looked at me like he had no idea what I was talking about. I clearly remembered texting him about it the night before. Apparently, he hadn’t read the text or had forgotten.

    “Yes, of course, I remember,” he said slowly and mechanically as his eyes flickered to his phone, then to me. “That’s wonderful. What position will you be holding for the company?”

    “I’ll be going in to talk about that next week.”

    “I see,” he nodded, looking past me, seemingly in deep thought, but not about our conversation.

    The waiter came by with the menus. “May I take your orders for your drinks?”

    I was just about to ask for a glass of water when Luke broke in. “We’ll both have glasses of water, please.”

    He didn’t even ask me what I wanted. I brushed it off, thinking he knew I always ordered water.

    “Sure.” The waiter left after he told us the specials.

    Gazing from top to bottom of the menu, I had a hard time deciding what to order, especially when all I could think of was the need to use the restroom. “Excuse me. I’ll be right back. Can you order me the salmon special if the waiter comes back before I do?”


    Not knowing exactly where the restroom was, I headed toward the back where restrooms were usually located. This place was like a maze, or I had a very bad sense of direction. Seeing a bar, I thought I’d ask the bartender.

    Though there was no one standing behind the bar, I figured the bartender went to get something and would be right back. From where I stood, I could see the waitress and waiters, but I didn’t feel like walking in that direction again just to ask a question, so I waited. I could see the pendant on my neck sparkling brilliantly against the mirrored wall. What a great fake diamond!

    From the corner of my eye I saw a figure, but dismissed it and shifted my eyes to the right, where they settled on the elusive restroom sign. I was just about to head in that direction when someone spoke to me from behind in a deep, manly voice that sent shivers down my back.

    “I’m your prescription. Let me be your new addiction.” His words glided like butter, smooth and cool.

    Startled, I twitched, and turned my body to his voice. There he was, all six feet of him, peering down on me with that smile that could make me do just about anything. Though there was nothing to laugh about, especially seeing this hottie in front of me, I couldn’t help but giggle from his words.
    Sửa lần cuối: 30/10/2015
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    Something Great Page 10

    He wore beige casual pants and a black sweater that fit perfectly to the tone of his body. His hair was brushed to the side, showing his nice forehead. Whatever kind of cologne he had on made me want to dive right into his arms…maybe it wasn’t the cologne, but just him.

    “Pretty cheesy, huh?” he chuckled.

    I shyly giggled as I stared down at my shoes. What’s wrong with me? Answer him. “Umm…kind of,” I smiled as I peered up, only to have him take my breath away again.

    “Sorry. I just had to say that. You looked so lost and vulnerable. Did you need some help?”

    Great! To him I was just a lost puppy…lost and vulnerable. “I actually found what I was looking for.” I was staring into his eyes, melting, feeling myself sinking into him. Snap out of it!

    “You certainly did,” he said with a playful tone.

    Arching my brows in confusion, I thought about what I’d said. From his perspective, my words had been about him.

    “We meet again, for the third time.”

    He was counting?

    “You left so abruptly at Café Express, I didn’t get to ask you for your name.”

    “Umm…my name? Oh…my name is Jeanella Mefferd, but you can call me Jenna.”

    Extending his hand, he waited for me. “I’m Maxwell. But you can call me Max.”

    Nervously, I placed my hand in his to shake. It was strong, yet gentle…just right, and heat blazed through me from his touch.

    “Are you here with someone?”

    “Yes.” I looked away shyly.

    “Are you lost? Do you need some help?”

    “Actually, I was looking for the restroom. Since I didn’t know where it was I thought I’d ask the bartender, but I guess there isn’t one, and I’m on my way to the restroom.” I rambled nervously as I slowly pulled my hand back to point in the direction I meant to go. I had just realized we were holding hands during our short conversation. “So…I’d better go.”

    “I’ll walk you there.”

    What? “Oh…no need. I’m sure I won’t get lost.” Feeling the heat on my face again, I turned before he could say another word, but it didn’t matter what I had said. His hand was gently placed on my back, guiding me to the women’s room. I turned my back to the bathroom door to thank him, but he spoke first.

    “I think this is my stop,” he muttered, looking straight at me. “I’m not wanted in there. What do you think?” He arched his brows, and his tone held a note of challenge.

    Huh? He wants to go in with me? I gasped silently, as I was still lost in his eyes. “I think the women in there will throw themselves at you.” I couldn’t believe I’d said those words. I couldn’t take it back. What was I doing, flirting with him?

    He seemed to like what he heard. His arms reached out, his muscles flexing as he placed one on each side of me on the wall. With nowhere to go, I was trapped inside the bubble of his arms. He leaned down toward the left side of my face and brushed my hair with his cheek. “You smell…delicious,” he whispered. His hot breath shot tingles to places I hadn’t expected them.

    Out of nervousness and habit, my left index finger flew inside my mouth. Max gave a crooked, naughty grin and slowly took my hand out of my mouth. “Did you know that biting one’s finger is an indication one is sexually deprived?” His words came out slowly, playfully, but hot. “I can fix that for you, if you’d like.”

    He did not just say that to me! I parted my lips for a good comeback, but I couldn’t find one. Feeling my chest rise and fall quickly, I tried to control the heated desire. Sure, he’d helped me once, but that didn’t mean we were friends, or flirting buddies, or that I would allow him to fix my sexual deprivation. Oh God…can guys tell if you haven’t done it in a very long time? This had to stop or else…oh dear…I wanted to take him with me into the restroom.

    Needing to put a stop to the heat, I placed my hand on his chest… big mistake. Touching him made the heat worse, and tingles that were already intensifying burst through every inch of me. I had to push him away.

    As if he knew what I meant to do, he pulled back, but his eyes did the talking instead. There was no need for words; I felt his hard stare on my body, as if he was undressing me with his gorgeous eyes. His gaze was powerful, as if his eyes were hands; I felt them all over me, completely unraveling me.

    Just when I thought I was going to faint, his eyes shifted to mine again. “It was really nice to meet you, Jenna. I’m sure we’ll see each other again, real soon. I better let you go. Your someone must be waiting for you. By the way….” There was a pause as he charmed me with his eyes again. “You…took my breath away. If I were your someone, I wouldn’t let you out of my sight for even a second, because someone like me will surely try to whisk you away.” He winked and left.

    Oh no…don’t ever wink again. That wink made me shiver even more, let alone his words. I pushed the door with my behind without thinking. Thank goodness there was no one by the door, or I would have knocked a stranger over with the force of my push. Max was right. How long had I been away, but did Luke even care? Oh no…what if he came to find me and he saw…oh no! I quickly took care of business and headed back toward our table.

    Wiping Max and his words out of my head, I had to think of an excuse. What would I say if he saw us? How could I explain? Anxiety was rising to the surface, and so was my blood pressure. Just as I turned the corner to our table, I saw that another couple had been seated next to us. I gazed around the room, a little upset. Why would they seat another couple next to us when there were other empty tables around us? I didn’t understand.
    Sửa lần cuối: 30/10/2015
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    Something Great Page 11

    “Luke, I’m so sorry,” I apologized as I sat. “I got lost and then….”

    Oh no…Max was sitting adjacent to me, and his beautiful date was sitting across from him. My face felt hot, but my hands felt cold as the blood drained down to my toes. Max having a date was not the issue. Flirting with me when he was on a date was. How wrong was that? He was trouble for sure. In a way I felt guilty, guilty towards Luke, because I had enjoyed it.

    “Are you okay?” Luke asked.

    Placing my hands on my cheeks, my cold hands soothed them somewhat. “I think I’m coming down with something,” I whispered, trying not to attract Max’s attention, but who was I kidding? He was not blind or stupid.

    “Would you like to go home?” Luke asked, looking concerned.

    “I’ll be fine, Luke. Maybe I just need something to eat.”

    When dinner arrived, our conversation was minimal. A part of me kept quiet because of Max. In a way, I was more interested in their conversation, because his date giggled every so often. From what I could tell, she was tall and her dark hair fell to her shoulders. Was this a personal or a business date? I couldn’t tell, but why did I care?

    Never once did I look his way, and never once did he look my way. Well, truth be told, I did peek with my peripheral vision. I wasn’t sure if Max snuck a glance, but Luke looked their way when Max’s date was a little bit too loud.

    When Luke excused himself to the restroom after he had finished his dinner, Max’s date did the same thing. Though there were more couples around us now, I felt as though this place only existed for the two of us. Feeling uncomfortable, I focused on my plate. With my fork, I swirled around what was left of my mashed potatoes. Suddenly, I gasped and turned. I knew it was Max, but the fact that he’d pulled up his chair and bumped his shoulder into mine startled me.

    “Hi, again. Ignoring me, aren’t you?” he said casually, as if we were good friends.

    I turned to him. His face was way too close for my comfort. I had no choice but to gaze into his hypnotic eyes. “Ignoring you? I hardly know you, and you and I each have a date,” I snapped. I didn’t know where the angry tone was coming from.

    “We can fix that.”

    “We can?” I asked, dumbfounded.

    Instead of answering, he tilted his head, with a look as if he remembered something he wanted to say. “I meant to ask you how your hand was earlier, but I got a little…distracted.” Max grabbed my right hand and tenderly rubbed the area where the hot coffee had spilled. He’d even remembered which hand it was.

    “It’s much better. Thank you for asking,” I mumbled, fixated on his index finger, stroking the area on my hand. His touch produced a tingling vibration that was slowly waving throughout my body, and I didn’t want him to stop, but I managed to pull back without offending him. If I’d let him continue, I would have dived into his arms, and I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself.

    “Good. I’m glad, but I think your someone is boring. And he doesn’t treat you well.”

    Now, he was being rude and arrogant. “He’s just fine. You don’t know him.”

    “True, I don’t know him. Maybe your someone is with my someone, and they’re making out in the bathroom.”

    I didn’t know why I thought that was funny, but I laughed, a good hardy laugh, the kind of laugh that gives you tears, and he laughed with me. No, I couldn’t see what he’d just planted in my mind, but the thought was hilarious. But why? Because I thought that a sweet, non-dangerous type of guy like Luke wouldn’t make out with someone like her. Nah…couldn’t picture it.

    Wiping the little tears that had settled in the corner of my eyes, I looked at Max. His eyes were soft and kind, and he looked at me with the sweetest smile. Neither one of us looked away, as if we were reaching for something deeper. I felt something that I couldn’t describe in his gaze, like I had known him all my life. There was a strong, undeniable connection, like two lost souls finally finding each other. Was it the hot, steamy flirtations we shared, or was it the laughter? I didn’t know. Whatever it was, I liked the feeling too much. But at the same time, it frightened me deeply, so I looked away.

    Just in the nick of time, Max settled back to his table. Luke showed up first. He didn’t ask me if I wanted dessert or if I was finished; he’d already paid the bill, and just asked me if I was ready. As usual, he didn’t walk with me. I followed behind him. Was someone like Luke—a readable, easy, non-dangerous type of guy—what I wanted? I wasn’t sure, but my eyes were opened that night.

    Just before Max was out of my sight, I peered over my shoulder. I figured I was safe to look since his date had come back just as I got up, but I was wrong. His piercing eyes were watching me the whole time as I exited, and just before I turned the corner to disappear, he winked at me, leaving me completely unglued.

    Chapter 7

    Luke and I walked down the long hallway in silence and stopped at my door.

    “I had a nice time,” he said. “Are you busy next weekend?”

    “I’m not sure yet. I’ll be starting my new job, and I don’t know how busy I’ll be.”

    He nodded with a smile. “I understand. How about we play it by ear, and you let me know what evening you are free.”

    “Sure,” I agreed as our eyes locked. He leaned closer. This was it…Becky was right. He was going to kiss me. There it was, his lips on mine. While he rubbed my arms, he pressed deeper. I kissed him back, but not for long, and I pulled back shortly after.
    Sửa lần cuối: 30/10/2015
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    “I’ll call you later,” he said and walked away, leaving me wondering if I’d seen fireworks…and nope. But it was a nice soft kiss. Since I hadn’t kissed many guys, I didn’t have much to compare it to. If I had to describe it in two words, it was wet and sloppy.

    Opening the door with my keys in my hand, I was almost positive Becky would be waiting up for me since it wasn’t too late, but she wasn’t. Either she was out or she was already sleeping. Not wanting to wake her, I went straight to my room. After I showered and got ready for bed, I snuggled inside my blanket and cuddled up with a book I had started reading.

    Young adult romance novels was the genre I loved to read, ever since I’d picked up a book from Target…recommended by Becky, of course. The author was one of her clients. Though I loved books about vampires, angel stories were my favorite. Just as I reached the part where the heroine described how she was feeling about the male she had encountered, my heart did a funny flip. Then a vivid image of Max’s face pooled to the forefront of my mind.

    Not liking how he was invading my mind, I closed my book and turned off the lamp next to my bed. Why was I thinking of him? I didn’t even know him. Sure, we flirted, but it meant nothing. Obviously he got a thrill out of doing it, even though he was with a date. Guys like him were trouble. Luke was safe, and he was nice, the kind of guy that would only date one woman at a time, the kind of guy that would never cheat on his girlfriend. Yes…Max made me open my eyes, but regardless, Luke was safe, and I liked it that way.

    I grabbed my cell phone to see if I had any messages. Our group had been texting away while I was on my date. Reading the texts, I chuckled out loud. Apparently, they were betting on whether Luke would kiss me and if I would see fireworks. They all agreed Luke would kiss me, but they disagreed on me seeing fireworks. Kate said I would, but Becky and Nicole disagreed. Then they ended with see you tomorrow and can’t wait. Just like them, I couldn’t wait to see my friends.


    Oh, how I loved the weekend. Still in my pajamas, I was all smiles to see Becky, but she wasn’t around. When I went to the kitchen, a note was on the refrigerator. The note read: Going to the gym, then lunch date. See you when the posse comes around at four. I’ll pick up salad and dessert. It’s potluck, just in case you missed the text. No need to make anything. See you later. Hugs!

    How I loved Becky. She was always looking after me and making my life easier. She was the sister I wished I had. Just because we weren’t related by blood didn’t mean we couldn’t be sisters. Nicole and Kate were like that for me too, but Becky and I were closer, mainly because we had lived together and had been through some hard times together. Through thick and thin, we were always there for each other, and I was blessed to have them all in my life.

    Before I forgot again, I placed a phone call to my parents, since I hadn’t spoken to them in a couple of days. I tried to call as often as I could since my mom was a worrier. My parents lived in San Francisco. My dad was a dentist and mom was a stay at home mom. Being an only child was lonely at times, so my closest friends had become my family. Of course, people changed and friends changed too, but I was grateful for everyone in my life.

    Since I didn’t have much to do, I cleaned our apartment, did the laundry, went to the grocery store to stock up the refrigerator, and watched some television. The day had gone by fast, though I felt like I hadn’t done much. Lastly, I turned on my laptop to check my email, but instead of doing that, I became so engrossed on Facebook that I didn’t notice when Becky walked in.

    “Hey, Jenna. Where are you?” Becky shouted from the kitchen.

    Happy to see her, I followed the sound of the shuffling noises.

    “Hi, Becky.” I peered into the kitchen. She had placed the salad and the dessert on the counter.

    “Looks good,” I said, admiring them both. “So…who did you go out to lunch with?”

    After folding the recyclable plastic bags, she shoved them under the sink cabinet. “It really wasn’t a date. He was an old friend I knew a long time ago. No biggy.”

    Just when I was about to ask when Nicole and Kate would get here, the doorbell chimed. That answered my question. Opening the door to let them in, Becky and I took turns giving them hugs. Nicole brought pasta salad, and Kate brought some wine.

    After we piled food on our plates, we settled around our square wooden dining table for four. Kate took care of the wine for everyone, and even remembered to pour me only a little. Since she was still breastfeeding, she had none.

    “How are you, Nicole?” I asked, thinking about her break up, then wondered if I should have brought up the sore topic. When everyone completely froze so that I could hear the sound of my own breathing, I figured I should not have spoken.

    Shockingly, Nicole put down her glass of wine, then looked up at us. “After a year, I realized I didn’t love him after all, not in the way I wanted to. I think I loved the idea of being with someone, to be loved by someone, but I wasn’t in love. You know, that kind of love where you can’t be without him? And to be honest, the sex wasn’t that great.”

    Becky had just gulped some wine, but regurgitated it, and it came shooting out of her mouth. She did that once in awhile. “Sorry.” She shrugged her shoulders, wiping up the crimson liquid around her plate. Thank goodness she’d spat it out in front of her and not at us.

    “I’m not sitting next to you next time,” Kate giggled, stabbing her fork into the salad.
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    “Anyway,” Becky turned to Nicole. “Hello…why didn’t you tell us that in the first place? It’s important, you know. Did he at least make you come?”

    “Becky!” I squealed in a scolding tone, though I didn’t mean to.

    Nicole finished swallowing her mouth full of pasta salad and poured more wine into her glass. “You know…I’m not sure.”

    “What?” Kate spat. “Are you serious?”

    “Do you?” Nicole asked hesitantly.

    “Oh yeah.” Kate’s lips curled into a smile and her eyes radiated with thoughts I could only imagine. “You wanna know something funny? The first time we had sex after the doctor gave us the green light, I squirted milk all over John’s face when I came.”

    We all busted out laughing, and Becky squirted wine out of her mouth again from almost choking, producing a choking laughing sound.

    “Oh my God, that is hilarious.” Becky coughed relentlessly. “I could just picture it—though I wouldn’t want to picture both of you naked—but how funny is that?”

    “It was that good. So….” Kate turned to Nicole. “If you were breast feeding, would he make you squirt?”

    Nicole pulled her brows together, creating a pinch in the center, seeming to think. “I’m not sure.”

    “Everything in life has ups and downs. I’m sure that applies to sex too…right?” I asked hesitantly. Did I even really know much about this topic? Not really.

    “True, that applies to life in general, but maybe not sex,” Nicole replied. “Either he’s good at it or not. There is no in between with sex, I guess…I don’t know. Anyway, thanks for the phone calls and the group texts. It cheered me up knowing you were all there for me, but I’m sure I’m fine with the break up. I guess it’s better to know sooner than later.”

    “That’s what friends are for,” Becky said sincerely.

    “Cheers to that,” Kate said, raising her glass.

    “To everlasting friendship,” I muttered, raising my glass. After the clinking sound echoed in the room, we all gulped down our liquid.

    After dinner was finished, Becky placed the strawberry cheesecake dessert she’d bought on the table. Carefully slicing each piece, she placed them on small paper plates and passed them to us. Shoving the fork through the cream, I scooped up a chunk and placed it in my mouth. “Mmmm…this is so good,” I raved. “Good choice for dessert, Becky.”

    “Knowing it was your favorite, I got it for you,” she winked.

    “You’re the best.”

    “Don’t you forget it. So…I’ve been patiently waiting all day to ask you a question.”

    “You mean, we’ve been patiently waiting,” Kate broke in, pulling the fork out of her mouth. “This is probably the best strawberry cheesecake I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve tasted plenty.”

    Nicole nodded her head in agreement and looked at me. “We have two questions. One…did he kiss you; and two…did you see fireworks?”

    Making them wait for my answer, I took another bite, savoring the sweet creamy taste, but Becky was getting very impatient.

    “Well…answer, or I’ll have to take that away from you,” Becky said playfully, tugging my plate away from me.

    “Mine.” Sounding like a child, I pulled the plate toward me. Then all of a sudden, I got really shy, but not from the thought of telling them about Luke. It was just from the mere thought of Max. Knowing Becky would get a kick out of what had happened, I had to tell her…maybe that night.

    “Yes, Luke kissed me,” I said with conviction.

    Their eyes lit up as they waited for an answer.

    “And…,” I continued. “I didn’t see fireworks.” Before they could say, “I told you so” to each other, I spoke again. “But that doesn’t mean I want to stop seeing him. He’s cute, and he’s really nice.”

    Nicole looked disappointed. “If you didn’t see fireworks, then the likelihood of having great sex isn’t there. But…who am I to judge? He could prove otherwise. So, when are you going to—”

    “Nicole,” Becky barked. “Jenna isn’t like you.”

    “I’m just making sure she doesn’t make the same mistake I did, so relax, Mother,” she said to Becky, narrowing her eyes at her. Then she turned to me. “You see…think of sex like this creamy, soft cheesecake.” She patted it with her fork. “It’s good, but how you make it and what you put on it makes it even better. There are many cheesecakes out there, but what makes this one stand out from the rest?”

    “The ingredients,” Kate added. “How much effort you put in to making it. You can take the short cut, or put more time and add different ingredients to make it even more delicious.”

    “True,” Becky seconded. “You can even spice it up by adding toppings.” She lit a sly grin. “And yes, I’m talking about food and other things.”

    “No you didn’t!” Nicole squealed, her voice went up an octave with excitement.

    “Yup, whipped cream and all.”

    Suddenly I felt hot. I’d known when I gulped the wine down that I would feel it right away, but in a way I didn’t care. I was at home with my friends.

    “Are you okay?” Kate asked me.

    “It’s the wine. You know how Jenna gets,” Becky explained. “She only drank half a glass.”
    Sửa lần cuối: 3/11/2015
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    “I wish it only took me half a glass to get buzzed like that,” Kate commented.

    “I’m okay. I just feel hot all over, and somewhat buzzed,” I giggled, taking another bite of the cheesecake, then rubbing my temples and feeling the blaze all over my body.

    “I don’t blame you,” Kate muttered, fanning herself with her hand. “Cheesecake and sex talk is making me leak milk already.”

    Laughter rang in the dining room from Kate’s remark. Looking at the cheesecake and their comparison to it, I knew I’d never experienced what they had, but then again, I had only slept with one man. Raised by extremely strict parents, I didn’t get to go out much in high school. Witnessing all the heartaches, drama, and even being a late bloomer myself, I didn’t want to go through that. And I didn’t want to just make out because I thought some guy was cute, or have meaningless sex I was not mature enough for. Studying so I could get into a good college was my main focus.

    Finally, in college I met an amazing guy—at least I thought he was, until he broke my heart by cheating on me with my roommate. I immediately moved out, and lucky for me, Becky was looking for a roommate; the rest was history. I’d dated many guys, but I couldn’t make a connection with any of them. My friends had tried setting me up on several dates, and they’d all turned into nothing. It wasn’t that I didn’t find men attractive. I was just being picky, and no one had ever made me feel the way Max did, and…dear God…I was thinking of him again.

    “Who are you thinking of?” Nicole asked. Her hand was tucked underneath her chin, glaring at me with a mischievous smile, like she knew something was up.

    Gazing at my friends, I hadn’t realized they were staring at me. Was it that obvious?

    Becky placed a fork full of cheesecake in her mouth and mumbled. “Surely it’s not Luke. Your face never lit up like that before.”

    I wanted to blame it on the wine and the effects of the alcohol, but I said one word. “Max.”

    “Who the hell is Max? Are you dating two guys?” Nicole blurted, smiling like she’d never smiled before, giving me that “you go girl” look.

    “No….” Then I realized I had just opened up a can of worms. Lacing my fingers through my hair, then down to my face from the heat of the wine, I had no choice but to tell them what had happened. As they listened intently, they all grinned as if it were happening to them. They giggled like schoolgirls and teased me at times, but it was all in fun. I assured them it was nothing, since the likelihood of running into him again was slim, but one never knew about these things.

    After dessert, we all cuddled on the sofa with warm blankets around us and with cups of coffee. We sat and talked about love and life, and everything in-between.

    Chapter 8

    My stomach dropped as the elevator soared up. This was something I would have to get used to, at least five days a week. Excitement tingled through every inch of me as I walked out of my elevator to the first day of my new job. My former boss had already known that there was a possibility I would be resigning as soon as I got the good news, so it was easier to start my new job. Thankfully, he didn’t expect me to stay the whole week. He only asked me to stay couple of days to train the girl who took my place. Wearing a brown sweater dress and a scarf around my neck, my workbag by my side, I was as ready as I’d ever be.

    Then there went my feet again, but this time it was the heels on my boots, but hearing others pacing by, making the same clinking noise, I didn’t feel so bad this time around. As I approached the secretary, she was all smiles. “Ms. Mefferd. I’ve been expecting you.”

    From her greeting, I felt warm and cuddly inside, and it gave me a feeling of belonging. “Thank you.” I quickly searched for her nameplate and found it on the right corner of her desk—Mrs. Ross.

    Mrs. Ross pointed to the left. “Go this way, and the first door on your right is the office to the Human Resource Department. Mrs. Ward will show you to your office, and she’ll go over everything with you.”

    “Thank you,” I smiled, and paced myself there. After I knocked, I heard someone tell me to come in.

    The door was already ajar so I pushed it just a little bit more until I saw a face smiling back at me. “Mrs. Ward?” I questioned.

    “Come in.” She stood up. “You must be Ms. Mefferd.” Her strong grip shook my hand. “Have a seat.”

    Pulling out a chair, I settled myself into it as I watched her skim through several pieces of paper in front of her. “Ms. Mefferd, I’m going to go over a few details we discussed over the phone first.”

    I nodded with a smile. “Sure.”

    “As you already know, the position you had interviewed for had been filled by someone else we felt was more qualified; however, we believed you would be a strong asset to our team, so we would like to start you off in the Customer Relations department. Our Knight Magazine company takes pride in customer relations, and with your experience and your personality, we feel that you can take it to a whole new level.

    “Since our previous manager took a permanent leave of absence a while ago, Lisa, whom you will meet real soon, was doing double duty. We were going to announce the opening of that position after the rep position was filled, but when they interviewed you, they felt you were perfect.

    “Customer Relations Manager is your title. We have four employees who will be working in your department under your direction, and you will be following mine,” she smiled. “Lisa will be assigned to you, and she will help you with everything you need. Before I take you to your office, let’s go over your salary and your benefits.”
    Sửa lần cuối: 3/11/2015
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    After the logistics and signing contracts were taken care of, she led me to my office. Gripping tightly on my bag, I could feel the tension in my knuckles, and the palms of my hands were moist. Nervousness and excitement had claimed me. As I inhaled deep breaths, I walked behind Mrs. Ward.

    The office was fairly large, but the five of us shared it. My desk was placed next to the large window, and the other desks were place on the either side of the wall. In the center was another table with chairs, perhaps for meetings.

    There were two females and two males. The one that approached us first was Lisa, who had light brown hair and soft brown eyes. She looked just as young as me, and seemed friendly. Then I was introduced to Rachel, Dan, and Eric, who were just as welcoming. After the introductions, Mrs. Ward left, and they all sat down and got back to work.

    Lisa knew all the ins and outs of the place. She showed me the lists of our clients, and where I could find their information on the computer on my desk. There was so much to learn and so much to do. As I sat, I turned my black leather chair around to face the window. My stomach lurched up to my heart from my fear of heights, so I backed away to marvel at the beauty of my view.

    Looking straight down I could see the front entrance, people rushing in and out of the building, and cars whizzing by. I inhaled a deep, thankful breath at the thought that I was given this wonderful opportunity. Though I didn’t get the job I’d wanted, things happened for a reason. I hoped it would be a good one.

    Before I knew it, it was almost noon. “We usually take our lunch at twelve-thirty to miss the lunch rush. Would you like to go to lunch with us?” Lisa asked, smiling.

    Though I should have said yes, I had so much to do, and knowing they would be gone for an hour, I declined. “I’m just going to grab a sandwich and get back to work. How about I join you tomorrow?”

    “Sure,” Lisa smiled and everyone left, leaving me all alone.

    Grabbing my wallet and my cell phone out of my workbag, I headed out of the office, down the elevator, and stepped out into the wind. It had been comfortable that morning…where had the wind come from all of a sudden? Trudging through the heavy wind, I entered Café Express. My heart pounded, wondering if I would see Max again. I did a quick scan of the room and relaxed my shoulders when there was no sign of him.

    The line wasn’t as long as I had expected it to be, but thinking of Lisa’s words, I guessed I was at the tail end of the lunch hour rush. To pass the time, I checked my emails and texts as I stood in line. Becky, Nicole, and Kate had texted to tell me to have an awesome first day. They were so sweet. My parents did the same. There was a missed call from Luke; Becky asking me to find a rich guy for her; Kate telling me to find someone who made me leak; Nicole telling me to find someone who would rock my sex life. I giggled a little bit too loud, and looked up when the cashier said something.

    Too engrossed in my texts, I hadn’t realized the line had moved fast. “Sorry. I would like to order your turkey sandwich, a bottle of water, and….” Should I or shouldn’t I order one? Heck…I deserved one for being good and not having sweets for the past couple of days. “One Rice Krispies Treat, please.”

    The cashier came back with my stuff and rang up the register. “That will be thirteen fifty.”

    I opened my wallet and was just about to place a twenty in his hand when a hundred dollar bill crossed my vision. “I’ll have what she’s having, except for the Rice Krispies Treat; and I’ll be paying for both.”

    I froze. I knew the sound of his voice, his smell, and his warm breath against my face when he reached over. Turning, I peered up to him. “Um…thank you, but it’s okay,” I said politely.

    “Jenna, we meet again. I got this.” There was excitement in his tone. He gave a stern look to the cashier, a look that meant, “take it now.”

    Not wanting to make a big fuss, I turned to him again. “Thank you, but it wasn’t necessary.”

    “It’s my pleasure, and since we’re friends now we can sit together.” He grabbed his change and our lunches, and headed to an empty table toward the back with one of his hands on my back.

    Having no choice, I let him lead me. “We’re friends?” I cocked my head to the side with a questioning look.

    “We’ve run into each other four times already, and we even had dinner together,” he joked, pulling out a chair for me.

    After I sat, he pushed it forward. What a gentleman! A part of me felt guilty for sitting there with him, but he was being friendly, and in a way, we were friends. “I didn’t really have dinner with you,” I corrected.

    He opened the cap to the water bottle and placed it in front of me. Then he unwrapped the paper that was tightly hugging my sandwich and placed that in front of me as well, but he held on to the Rice Krispies Treat that was inside a brown paper bag. “Here you go. You must be hungry. But we did. You sat across from me, didn’t you?” he winked.

    Oh…don’t wink. My heart did a funny flip. “Yes, but I was with someone, and you were with someone, so I hardly call that going to dinner together,” I giggled, thinking how funny this conversation sounded.

    “We can change that. And just so you know, I wasn’t stalking you.” He smiled that irresistible smile. “I come here to grab a quick bite to eat. Unless you want me to stalk you, then I can make that happen.”

    My eyes grew wide.

    “You know I’m joking, right? Someone has to protect you from people who like to accidently bump into you, make it seem like it’s your fault, and then be really rude about it,” he winked again, opening his mouth to take a bite of his sandwich.
    Sửa lần cuối: 3/11/2015
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    Stop staring. I focused on my sandwich and took a small bite.

    “So, what brings you here?” he asked, wiping his mouth with a napkin.

    “I just got a new job.”

    “Congratulations. Where do you work?”

    “Today is my first day. I’m the Customer Relations Manager for Knight Fashion Magazine.”

    His brows and tone lifted high. “Really? And what do you do for them?”

    “Basically, I make their clients happy. My team takes orders and makes sure their shipment gets to them on time. There is more to this, but this is my responsibility for right now. Someone else took the position I wanted, but I’m excited to be there. It’s a start, and at least I have my foot in the door.”

    “What position were you interviewing for?”

    “I wanted to be one of their reps. Part of the job description was to attend the New York fashion show,” I explained, finding myself opening up to this stranger who made me feel so comfortable. Here I was telling him things I hadn’t even discussed with Luke or my friends. “I know it’s not the reason to get hired for that position, but I wanted to do something exciting. But don’t get me wrong. I’m lucky to even have the position I have now. I mean…to work for Knight Magazine is a dream come true.”

    Max listened intently, nodding, and hadn’t taken a bite since I started spilling my guts. I didn’t remember much about what we talked about, but I remembered the whole conversation centered on me, which I wasn’t used to. Looking at my cell phone without trying to be rude, I noticed the time.

    “Max…I’m sorry, but umm…I need to go.” I got up, wrapped the half-eaten sandwich, closed the cap on the water bottle, and grabbed my wallet and my cell phone that were on the table. “Thank you so much for the lunch. I…I….” I didn’t know what to say or how to end the lunch. My finger laced through my hair, wondering what I should say or do at that point.

    Max stood up too. His sandwich was half eaten, like mine.

    “I’m so sorry. I was talking away and you didn’t get to eat your lunch. But I gotta go,” I

    rambled. As I was talking, Max reached into the brown bag. “May I?”

    “Sure.” I had forgotten about the treat. “You can have it. Thanks for lunch again.” I turned on my heel and started walking.

    Suddenly, Max placed his hand under my elbow. With a slight tug, I was somewhat in his hold. With a light gasp and a wave of heat flushing through me again, I was lost in his eyes. He leaned in. “I had a wonderful time,” he whispered. “Thanks for being my lunch buddy.” Then he handed me the brown bag. “Lunch buddies share their feelings, stories, and even goodies.”

    I radiated a huge shy smile and walked away. Needing that Rice Krispies Treat right that moment, I reached inside the bag. What I saw stunned me, and even tugged at my heart. He hadn’t broken it in half as I had expected. Instead, he had molded it into the shape of a heart.

    After that, I knew…unwillingly…I was making a space for him in my heart. Thinking he would be devouring his sandwich, I looked over my shoulder just as I pushed the door to exit. His eyes were set on me intently, and I got a glimpse of his wink that made me want to dive into his arms. I liked the feeling way too much!

    Chapter 9

    Luke went on a business trip to San Francisco. He had asked me to go with him, but I wasn’t ready to go away. Going away and sharing one room meant sleeping together, and I wasn’t ready for that…at least not yet. Becky was way too happy I didn’t go, and not going also meant spending time with her.

    “So, you want to catch a movie or stay home tonight?” Becky asked, folding her laundry.

    “You w…wear th…at?” I stuttered, looking at what was supposed to be underwear. “It doesn’t cover anything. It’s…just…do you floss your vagina with that thing?” I cracked a joke.

    Becky laughed out loud. “No…it’s a G-string. Don’t tell me you haven’t seen one before?” Becky tossed one to me.

    Catching it, I stretched the waist. “Of course I have. I just…don’t…have one,” I said shyly.

    “That’s okay. None of my business. You can wear anything you want, but I hope you’re not going to wear grandma panties when you start dating Max. Instead of watching a movie or staying home, we need to go shopping for panties.”

    “What? Max and I are not dating. He’s had plenty of chances, but he didn’t ask,” I huffed, then I was stunned at myself for sounding mad. I calmed down. “I meant…we’re friends. He thanked me for being his lunch buddy.” My mind went to that moment at Café Express, when time stopped and everything around me was nonexistent. I sighed inwardly, secretly. I had told Becky about the accidental lunch encounter, but of course she’d insisted that it wasn’t a coincidence.

    A comfortable silence filled the air while I helped her fold the rest of her clothes. The sound of the doorbell chiming broke the silence, and we flashed our eyes to each other in surprise.

    “I’ll get it.” Becky reached for the door.

    Keeping my ears opened to the conversation, I didn’t hear much. “Thank you,” I heard her say, and then she walked back to the living room. I turned to ask what it was all about, but stopped when I saw a tall glass vase full of red roses, and a box in her hands. I excitedly beamed a smile. “They’re beautiful. Who sent them to you? And what’s in the box?”
    Sửa lần cuối: 3/11/2015
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    “I don’t know. I didn’t open it. And they’re not for me…they’re for you. So the question is, who sent them to you?” She giggled with a smirk on her face, like I already knew who sent them. Becky handed me a card and placed the vase and the box on our dining table.

    Leaning against the chair, she waited for me to open the card. They had to be from Luke. Who else could they be from? As my heart pounded from anticipation, I opened and read the note. I was in shock, and my heart beat even faster. Did I somehow misread the sender’s name? I read it again and stared at the name.

    “Who is it from?” I heard Becky’s voice ring in my head. Peering over my shoulder, she read out loud.

    Dearest Jenna,

    Hope you had a wonderful week at your new job.

    Until we meet again.

    Lunch buddies share their feelings, stories, and even goodies.

    Thinking of you!

    Your lunch buddy, Max

    “I knew it,” Becky squealed. “Luke never sent you flowers. He’s not the sending flowers type of guy. Wait…are you not telling me the whole story?”

    I turned stoically. “I told you everything.” My voice was soft and still unbelieving.

    Turning my gaze to the flowers, I couldn’t help but smile. They were the most beautiful roses I had ever seen. They must have been expensive, because roses that exquisite were hard to find. Leaning over, I smelled the scent and touched the silk like petals. “They’re beautiful.”

    Then my eyes shifted to the white box and I pulled it to me. An oval sticker on top read Café Express. Using my nail to break the seal, I opened it. Inside were a dozen heart-shaped Rice Krispies Treats.

    “Oh my God! This was really sweet of him, but I don’t think he thinks of himself as just a lunch buddy. He wants more.”

    “But I can’t,” I sighed lightly, feeling confused. “I’m dating someone else.”

    “True, but did Luke say he wanted to date exclusively?”

    “We never talked about that.”

    “So you’re assuming. Maybe he’s dating someone else while he’s dating you. Have you thought about that?”

    Becky was right. It was a possibility. Just because I was a one-man-at-a-time dating type didn’t mean he was. “I don’t think he would.”

    Draping her arm around my shoulder, she shook her head. “My inexperienced, innocent friend, who only thinks the best of everyone, you need to figure out what you want. I think you feel safe with Luke, but at the same time, you want to jump into bed with Max.”

    “Becky!” I said, a bit too loudly.

    “Admit it. You’ve got the hots for Max. Who in their right mind wouldn’t? But you’re scared that he’ll hurt you once you let him in. I understand. I’ve been there before, and so have you. But Max may turn out to be different.”

    “First of all, Max hasn’t even asked me out. He’s just having fun flirting with me, because I’m not giving him the kind of attention he probably gets from other women, like throwing myself at him. He probably sees me as a challenge and nothing more.”

    Becky released her hold on me. “Don’t judge him without getting to know him. To me, he seems like a great package, but….” Both of her hands went up. “I don’t know him. And you won’t know until you try. You don’t ever want to regret, and think of ‘what ifs,’ because that will eat you alive.”

    “You sound as though you have a regret of your own,” I said, but when I saw the impassive expression on her face, I knew I’d touched a sore topic.

    She pulled her lips into a thin line that curled into a quick smile. “Let’s not talk about me. If he asks you out, what are you going to do?”

    Pulling out the dining chair, I slumped down on it and placed my fist under my chin as I stared at the roses in a dream-like state. “He sent me flowers and my favorite…Rice Krispies Treats. He also shaped my treat into a heart shape when we had lunch together. That was so sweet. What am I going to do?” Then I plopped my head on the table.

    Sitting adjacent to me, Becky started laughing lightly. Copying my position, she looked squarely into my eyes, seemingly preparing to give me good advice. “Why don’t you sleep with both of them, and see who makes you sing hallelujah?”

    Sing hallelujah? My eyes grew. I couldn’t hold it any longer, and I spit out a loud laugh. Becky joined me and I pulled her in for a hug. Then she squeezed me tightly and spoke into my ear. “I just want the best for you; you know that, don’t you?”

    I nodded. “I know. I don’t like being confused. We haven’t even gone out on a date, and he’s invading my thoughts…not to mention my body. I want him out of my mind.” I wasn’t ready to let Luke go. We were just starting to get to know each other. I had to give him a chance, but what would I do if Max ever asked me out?

    “I know. Just follow your heart.”

    But what if my heart split down the middle? Then I popped the question that was on my mind earlier. “How does he even know where I live?”

    Becky released me. “I don’t know, but that should tell you he’s slowly making his move. He’s feeling the water first. He knows you’re dating someone, but he’s trying to find out how serious your relationship is. And the fact that you had lunch with him gave him the okay sign to send you flowers.”

    “It did?” I sighed. Extending my arm to reach for a treat, I gave it to Becky. “How do you know so much?”
    Sửa lần cuối: 3/11/2015
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    Becky graciously took it and took a bite. “Experience. Been there, done that.”

    “Hey…I thought I knew everything about your love life.” I grabbed one for me and took a small bite.

    “I only met you during our senior year in college. You didn’t know me when I was a junior. Let’s just say…I had too much fun,” she winked. “Now go, get your purse…we’re going shopping, but after we finished our Rice Krispies Treats. Hmmm…yummy.”

    “Okay.” I had to agree with her. Delicious!

    Chapter 10

    Monday mornings were usually a drag and made it hard to get back into the swing of things after a fun weekend, but I was pumped up to go to work. In fact, I was there half an hour early, checking emails and replying to clients. As I continued to stare at my computer, the sound of the door swinging open caught my attention.

    “Good morning,” I greeted Lisa and everyone that trailed behind her with a smile, coming to work right on schedule. After the greeting, everyone went straight to work. After time had passed, I looked at the clock and noted it was almost noon.

    “You have a meeting with Mrs. Ward in five minutes,” Lisa reminded.

    Lisa was the best. Though she wasn’t my personal secretary, there were times when she acted like one. “Thanks, Lisa. I’ll be back.” Gathering my notebook and pen, I walked out the door. Walking down the hall, a few employees passing by gave me quick smiles. Smiling back, I was just about to enter Mrs. Ward’s office when I did a double take.

    Keeping my back to him, from the corner of my eye I saw Max talking to the front office secretary. I wanted to look away, but he looked so fine in his suite and tie, I couldn’t help myself. Mrs. Ross was all smiles, giggling like a schoolgirl at whatever he’d said to her. What was he doing there? Maybe he was one of our clients? Before he could turn and see me, I walked in.

    “Good afternoon, Ms. Mefferd,” Mrs. Ward greeted warmly. “Have a seat.”

    “Please, call me Jenna,” I smiled. Pulling the chair out, I sat comfortably and pulled out my pen.

    Looking at her computer screen, she glanced at me, and then back to her screen again. “Sorry, I’m reading this email. It’s regarding you.”

    “Oh….” I stiffened. “Is something wrong?”

    Still looking at her screen, she spoke. “No. You can put your pen down. You won’t be taking any notes.” Then she shifted her eyes to me with a smile. “Traveling was not part of your job description, but how do you feel about traveling?”

    “It depends where I’m going,” I joked, to be funny and to make her smile. But before she had a chance to reply, I spoke again, since I didn’t get the smile I’d anticipated. “I’m just joking. Sure. I don’t mind.” As long as it wasn’t like every week or very often, then I was okay with it. There was an excitement about traveling by myself, and since I hadn’t been to…well…I hadn’t traveled much, the thought alone was exhilarating.

    “Good. You’ll be leaving this Thursday for New York. I’ll email your flight information and have an agenda ready for you by this Wednesday morning at the latest. This is all so sudden. I need to get this ready for you.”

    “Thank you, but I was wondering why I am going, and if I am going by myself?”

    She paused and looked at her email again. Her nose crinkled, looking confused. Turning her eyes at me, she clicked her pen. “Um…I believe you’ll be representing our company at the New York fashion show.”

    My eyes grew wide and I was in complete shock. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be attending the New York fashion show. “Are you sure it’s me? I mean, I wasn’t hired for that position.” I didn’t mean to sound as though she had made a mistake, but this was too good to be true.

    “No. The email said Jeanella Mefferd will be attending. You won’t be going alone. Megan Crawford and Jake, the photographer, along with his team, will be joining you. You might want to introduce yourself to them before you go,” she suggested with a smile.

    “Do you think I was asked to go because Ms. Crawford needs an assistant? I did interview for that position.” I was so curious as to how this could have happened that I was trying to draw out any information from her, but it was to no avail.

    “I’m sorry, Jenna. I don’t have any more information. I got this email straight from Mr. Knight’s secretary.” She leaned closer. “If I were you, I wouldn’t ask any questions, and just enjoy this opportunity paid for by the company. It’s like taking a mini vacation, and you get to go to the fashion show.”

    I nodded with a smile. She was right. Why was I asking all these questions? Who cared? “Thank you. I will be looking for your email.”

    “Great. Have a good day.”

    “Thank you,” I said. Standing up, pushing the chair back into its position, I left, hovering off the ground. Excitement infused through every part of me. I couldn’t believe my luck. Walking back to my office, I gazed straight ahead to the glass window and looked at the sun seeping through. What a beautiful day it was, despite the gray clouds. How wonderful my job was, despite the fact that I didn’t get the position I wanted. It didn’t matter what the reason was for me going to New York. I couldn’t wait!

    Heading to my desk to get my wallet out of my workbag to grab some lunch, I spotted a wrapped sandwich, a heart shaped Rice Krispies Treat, a water bottle, and a note on my desk. The note read:
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    Dearest Jenna,

    Thought you might be hungry.

    Hope you liked the flowers and the box of goodies.

    Lunch buddies share their feelings, stories, and even goodies.

    Thinking of you!

    Your lunch buddy, Max

    Putting the note back down, I ran out the door. Looking to my left and right, I didn’t see anyone. I must have missed him. Noting how he was there earlier, my mind started reeling. Did he hand deliver the sandwich himself? Most likely Mrs. Ross wouldn’t have let him in, but the way she was googling eyes at him, it could be a possibility. I bet he could talk himself through anything with his looks and charm.

    Sitting back down in my chair, I ate from hunger. I didn’t have his phone number so I had no way to thank him. In fact, I only knew his first name; not that knowing his last name would help me find him. The only way I could thank him was to go to the Café Express and hope that he would show up.

    When Lisa, Rachel, and the rest of the staff walked in, I had only finished half of my sandwich. Quickly folding the wrapper around the sandwich, I dumped it into the trash. I didn’t mean to. I could’ve saved it for later, but my face flushed red, thinking that somehow they knew who’d placed it there. The rest of the day went by quickly, and I was eager to go home to tell Becky, but since I couldn’t wait, I texted on the group text.


    Turning the key and pushing, I walked into my apartment. “Becky,” I called, seeing light from the kitchen. The smell of spaghetti churned in my stomach. I hadn’t realized I was starving until I smelled the aroma of the ground beef and tomato sauce.

    “I’m here.” Becky was draining the hot, boiling water from the pasta into a strainer.

    “You made dinner?” I squealed, happily.

    “You and I need to celebrate. Congrats on going to New York. This is your dream…well…one of your dreams.”

    “I know…right? I can’t believe it.” My tone filled with excitement. Opening the cabinet, I pulled out two large plates and set them on the counter. Becky dumped some pasta on each plate and poured sauce on top of each. Taking the plates, I set them on the dining table. My eyes set on the beautiful roses that continuously filled the air with their sweet scent, reminding me of Max.

    “When do you leave for New York?” Becky asked, breaking me out of my stare, sitting across from me, handing me a fork and a glass of water.

    “This Thursday,” I replied, winding the noodles around the fork. “I’ll be back Saturday night.”

    “You should ask Max to come along.”

    I blanked out from the thought of the surprise lunch on my desk. “What?” I giggled. “I don’t even know his last name. In fact, I don’t know him at all.”

    “I was just kidding, but I could tell from your stalling that you thought about it.” Becky took a bite. “I’m sorry, but the flowers reminded me of him. Not that I’m interested…don’t get me wrong.”

    With my mouth full, I spoke anyway. “I know what you mean.”

    During the dinner conversation, we talked about what happened during my lunch hour. We discussed her job and her dateless nights. After dinner, I called my parents. I thought about calling Luke, but I couldn’t. Going to New York was a great escape. Perhaps it would help me with my decision; continue dating Luke and make it work, or let him go.

    Chapter 11

    The next day at work, Lisa, Rachel, and the team got the news that I was headed to New York. Lisa was most thrilled. Being a New Yorker herself, she was suggesting restaurants I should try if I had the time. Being that it was Tuesday, Lisa informed me that most employees were going to Café Express for lunch. Thinking that I may run into the photographer and Megan, I agreed to go.

    A part of me was hesitant, afraid that I would run into Max again, but I couldn’t refuse since I had turned them down several times before…or so I told myself to make myself feel better. There was no way around this. One thing for sure…he worked nearby, and we were bound to run into each other one way or another. I had to stop being timid, hold my head up high, and face whatever came my way.

    The group of us walked to Café Express. When we entered, waves of hands greeted us. Though I didn’t know who they were, the group I was with in line did. Instead of waving back like everyone else, I just gave a heartfelt smile.

    It seemed as though the company’s employees occupied most of the space, and there was hardly room left for the other customers. After we ordered and got our lunches, I followed Lisa to join the people that waved at us. Lisa introduced me to a bunch of people, but I quickly forgot their names except for Jake, the photographer, since Mrs. Ward had already talked about him. Megan wasn’t there.

    Jake gave me the warmest smile. His hair was slightly long, but he had a nice smile and he was cute. He had a friendly aura about him, the kind that showed he made friends easily. After arranging chairs, we sat.

    “Are we on the same flight?” Jake asked me out of the blue, after swallowing a spoon full of soup. He had ordered sour dough bread filled with clam chowder soup.

    “I’m not sure. All I know is that I’ll be flying Thursday.”

    “I’m flying Wednesday, tomorrow, with Megan,” he informed me. “I wonder why we’re not flying together? Have you been to New York before?”

    “No, it’s my first time,” I said, looking at Lisa and a few other ladies sitting next to her, who were sitting up straight, smiling, looking past me.

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