I have to say a quick thank you for Kharisma and the rest of the peeps at Tuesday Tales for allowing me to join their little group. So be sure to stop back here to read the rest of contributors. This week's prompt was the word "HEART". With that being said, lets start the story....
With This Heart: Part One
The end started with this heart. Paisley twisted the necklace between her fingers, watching as the heart-shaped locket spun slowly. She’d been on top of the world when Kaleb had placed the golden trinket around her neck. It had been a present to celebrate their six month’s anniversary. Giving a broken sob, she tossed the gift onto the chipped Formica top of her hand-me down kitchen table.
Burying her face in her arms, she fought the sting of tears. She should be over this by now – should’ve forgotten him, but her swollen belly and tender breasts made sure that she would never forget the man she’d been foolish enough to give her virginity to. Like he ever wanted it. The shock on Kaleb’s face had been enough to make her realize he hadn’t believed her when she’d confessed her innocence. He’d said it hadn’t mattered – that it was a precious gift, but he’d lied.
Now she was three months away from her advisor signing off on her doctorate, with a baby on the way and no man to claim her. Her parents would be furious when they found out. They’d scrimped and saved to send her to the best of schools. If she could have, she’d have invented a time machine so she’d go back, warn herself not to fall for a pair of big velvety chocolate eyes, and to run as far and as fast as she could from the sexy new chemistry intern….
Eight months ago…
Pushing her way inside the chemistry lab, Paisley nearly tripped over a black bag sitting on the floor. Catching herself on the edge of the lab bench, she tried to ignore the sudden silence.
“Watch where you’re going, newbie!” A slender man in his mid-thirties snatched up his satchel. “That’s an expensive laptop you could’ve ruined.”
Mumbling an apology, she shuffled around the man. As usual she was out of place. A twenty-two year old in the room full of middle-aged students just wasn’t the norm. While she couldn’t help her age any more than she could her I.Q, after three and half years of it being stared at, she should be used to it. At least now I can legally drink. Not that she would. She’d worked too hard to throw it all way on alcohol.
As she made her way to her seat she could hear the whispers of the other students as she passed. The hushed tones as some wondered why she was allowed in here, while others called her a child genius at best, a freak at worst. Sliding into her seat, she tried to huddle deeper into the wooden surface, praying that the professor would call the class to order quickly.
“Are you okay?" She nodded without looking up.
A warm hand touched her shoulder. "Don’t let them get to you.” The masculine voice so close to her ear sent unfamiliar tingles radiating down her spine. Lifting her gaze, she fell into the deepest chocolate eyes she’d ever seen. Crouching down next to her was an attractive black man. His hair was closely cropped to his head and he was sporting a sexy goatee. As he drew up to his full height, Paisley caught her breath. Standing, she’d barely reach his sternum.
Dressed in a pair of chinos and blue rugby shirt he was dressed like the average student, but his air of confidence and sheer bulk weren't the same as the majority of the men’s paths she’d crossed since arriving at the university. He was a grown man. Not a boy playing at being one. Her face heated as she wondered how it would feel to have those full lips press against her own – to feel the soft scratch of his facial hair against her skin as their tongues dueled for supremacy. Heat consumed her. What on earth is wrong with me? I don’t act this way…
“Are you sure you're okay?”
She blushed as she’d realized he’d repeated the question for a second time. Giving a nod, she covered her flaming cheeks with her hands as he moved away.
“Good. Now, class, do me and the rest of your fellow students a favor and don’t litter the aisles with your personal belongings.” He glared up at the man whose bag she’d nearly tripped over. The man flushed. “This is a working lab and such carelessness can lead not only to injuries, but can affect what data we collect here.” The man paced back towards the podium in the center of the room. “My name is Kaleb Bryant. I’m interning for Dr. Sanders. As many of you are aware, she has been expecting her second child.” He gave a brief smile. “Who decided unfortunately to make an appearance nearly four weeks ahead of schedule. So the good doctor will be gone for the next six weeks.” He held up a hand as the room exploded into a mass of raised voices – many of them protesting the fact that they wouldn’t be learning under the renowned chemistry professor. “That being said, Dr. Sanders has appointed me to instruct you during her maternity leave.”
The protests rose in volume at his words. She winced as several students complained about being taught by a man who was obviously several years their junior. Standing against the podium, Kaleb watched coolly until the room quieted back down.
“Are you through?” He pushed away from the podium. “Rest assured, ladies and gentlemen, I am qualified to teach this class. I’ve been Dr. Sanders’s intern for the past three years and am more than capable of covering for her. Now if you can open your text books to page 381, we will get started.”
Paisley stared as he rolled up his sleeves, exposing his dark arms before retrieving a pointer from the podium. When he smiled at her, she ducked her head to open her textbook. Just my luck. I find a guy who’s attractive and he happens to be my teacher.
The period flew by and if it hadn’t been for her photographic memory, Paisley would’ve been screwed. Every atom of her body was focused on the sexy man lecturing at the podium. She’d seen black men in the past, had even conversed with them. But there was something different about Kaleb. He called to her on a level she’d never experienced before. She could listen to his deep timbre for hours, and watch his graceful motions for days. Looking back later, she’d realize it was during their first meeting that she, who’d never been in love before, fell head over heels for a man who’d only spoken a handful of kind words to her.
TO BE CONTINUED...