I have to say a quick thank you for those of you following my tale. Make sure you stop back here to read the rest of contributors. This week's prompt was the word "AIRPORT". With that being said, lets resume where our story left off....
Missed the previous parts? Click HERE
Missed the previous parts? Click HERE
"With This Heart: Part Nine"
Balancing the slightly tarnished silver serving tray, Kaleb took a deep breath before heading into the living room. “Here you go, sweetheart.” Setting the tray down on the coffee table, he poured her a cup of tea. He added two cubes of sugar, as he knew she preferred, before he handed it to her.
Without a word she accepted it, ignoring the fine tremor in her hand. She took a sip, watching him warily. As if she had anything to worry about. Doesn’t she realize that she’s the safest when around me?
“Thanks for letting me stay, Paisley. You don’t know how I’ve dreamed of hearing our child's heartbeat while I was over there. Knowing you were here waiting for me to come home…”
She held up a hand. “Kaleb, I’m tired and out of sorts. I’m not up to listening to your sweet talk.” Placing the cup back on the coffee table, she folded her hands on her lap. “You say that – that woman was trying to protect you. From making the same mistake as someone you both know…”
He sat down on the edge of the coffee table, unwilling to push his luck by sitting next to her on the couch. “Yes. My uncle. He fell in love with a white girl – married her even.”
Paisley nodded. “Go on.”
“Everything was great for the first year. Then rumors started circulating about my Aunt Pamela – that she was screwing anything with a pulse. At first Malachi and I didn’t believe it. She acted like she was so in love with my uncle. We thought it was nothing more than rumors started by certain members of our community.” He fidgeted. “White women aren’t always accepted with open arms, sweetheart. It doesn’t mean that every black person is prejudiced…”
Paisley interrupted him. “Get on with it, Kaleb. I’m running on fumes here. I need a nap. Your uncle caught her cheating on him?”
He nodded. “He walked in on her and my oldest cousin, Donald.” He couldn’t help but stop the bitterness from bleeding through. “She had a thing for young black men, and after Malachi and I refused to allow her to be the “meat” of our sandwich, she set her eyes on Donald.”
She paled. “Dear Lord – to sleep with your husband’s nephew…”
“Son. Donald was Uncle Ray’s boy from his first marriage. How he loved Aunt Lorraine. She was white too – not that you could tell by looking at Donald. He took after his old man…dark as molasses in the dead of night. It damned near killed him when he lost her to cancer when Donald was ten. Up until Pam there had been a parade of white women in and out of Uncle Ray’s house. He was so desperate to replace Aunt Lorraine, to give David back the mother he’d lost, he chose the wrong one.”
She reached for her cup again. “So your sister-in-law went off the deep end on me because your uncle’s wife cheated on him with his son?” Her gaze grew shuttered. “I hate to say this, Kaleb, but other than being white – I have absolutely nothing in common with Pamela. I’m not brushing off what she did. It was wrong. No man deserves to have that happen but I’ve never been one to throw myself at men.” She gave him a tight smile. “In fact the only man I’ve ever thrown myself at is you.”
“I know.” He moved closer. “That’s why what she did was so wrong.” He sighed, reaching for her hand. “If it were something as simple as a father catching a son in bed with his new wife, it wouldn’t have been as bad.”
She tucked her hand in her lap, out of his reach. “Explain.”
“You’re asking for family secrets, sweetheart. Give me something of equal value and I will.” He was trying to keep his patience, but all he wanted was to feel her in his arms. The emotional rollercoaster he’d been on since he’d touched down had worn on his nerves. He hadn’t wanted to have to deal with all this family drama, a brother who doubted his intelligence, or a slippery girlfriend who’d promised to be waiting for him, but hadn’t been. He hadn’t asked for much - all he’d wanted since he’d landed at JFK was to see his girl waiting for him at the airport, wearing the sexy dress as she’d promised.
The cup trembled in her hand. “You want me to pay you?”
“No – it’s not something as simple as money. I want to feel you in my arms again.”
He took the cup from her when her trembling increased until he feared she would spill the hot liquid all over her.
“You’re blackmailing me, Kaleb?”
“If it gets me what I want. I’ve just spent six long months in hell. I’ve thought of nothing more than feeling your body against mine.” As her cheeks reddened, he chuckled. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking you to spread those lovely thighs for me, Ms. Dawson. I simply want what you gave me so willingly before I left.”
He watched as her face flushed and her breathing became more erratic. Tracing a finger over her cheek, he smiled. “You need to get your mind out of the gutter. As much as I want you, I’m not going to take you until we clear this issue up between us.”
“Then what…” she tilted her head against his palm. “…exactly are you asking for?”
He nodded to the couch she sat on. “We curled up together on that couch so many times I dreamed of it when I was over there. Let me hold you – keep you safe, even if it’s only for a short time while I explain my family’s sordid past.”
She studied him for a moment as if weighing if he could be trusted. Her hesitation stung Kaleb. There had been a time when she’d trusted him impeccably.
“All right but if I fall asleep on you, you have no one to blame but yourself.” Her words so reminiscent of his own many months ago before they’d curled up to watch their first movie together. “I’ll risk it.” He toed off his tennis shoes as she stood. Arranging himself comfortably on the couch with a throw pillow behind his shoulders, he held his arms open. “Come here, Angel.” The familiar endearment slipped off his tongue without thought as she moved into his arms. Parting his legs, he helped her arrange her body so their child was supported by his thigh. Wrapping his arms around her, he drew a deep breath – peace settling over him.
“Pay up.” She groused as her head tipped back to look at him. He pressed a kiss against the tip of her nose.
“Okay.” He gave her a squeeze. “After all, a deal is a deal.” He drew a deep breath, steeling himself to rehash the past. “Aunt Pam’s sleeping with Donald wasn’t the only thing which colored my family’s opinions on whites. My aunt left my uncle that day, but it wasn’t her desertion which set my uncle on his destructive path. It was Donald’s death. That bitch walked out of his life on the day his son died – leaving nothing but a shattered shell.”
TO BE CONTINUED...