Here’s an excerpt from my upcoming book, In Search Of A Healing Place.
Setting: Farryn and Tyrone are engaging in some paint play after a brief tiff during breakfast. Cherise and Jonathan are dancing through some awkward growing pains in their marriage. Enjoy!
She heard Tyrone join her in the living room. Still silent, he walked over to the small CD player and soon she heard Jay Z spitting his rhymes to the seductive beats that even she had to admit made her like it despite the fact that she wasn’t a rap fan.
She was focused in her routine of ripping tape and adhering when she suddenly realized what she was hearing from his side was slightly different. Turning to look over her shoulder, she was aghast to see that he’d never picked up the tape she’d thrown, but was instead rolling the almond mocha paint to the wall without even the least bit of preparation. Being the daughter of a contractor, it had been impressed upon her the importance of doing a job right. Without a second thought, she walked over to him. “Hey! You can’t just throw paint on a wall without taping off; it leads to a big mess to clean up in the end.”
Nonchalantly, Tyrone continued painting without so much as a glance in her direction. “Looks like it’s going on fine to me. I’m not trying to create a masterpiece Rynnie; I just want to add some color to this cracker box.”
“Yeah, but don’t you want it to look nice?” She was trying to maintain her cool, but it was quickly slipping away. How could he just slap paint on the wall like that? And all in that one area? She went to reach for his arm to stop him at the same time that he was turning toward her resulting in the roller covering her left breast in one swipe.
Both stood still in shock. Farryn looked from her sweatshirt to his face and when the corner of his mouth lifted into the semblance of a smile, she fisted her left hand as she felt her blood begin to boil. “I can’t believe you’re about to laugh at me!” she grounded out between her teeth.
“Look I didn’t mean, it was an accident—it’s just that it’s so funny Rynnie!”
Farryn blinked a moment before her eyes hardened. “My. Name. is. Farryn!”
Tyrone continued to smile down at her. She was so cute, even when she was infuriated at him–maybe even especially when she was infuriated with him. It just made him want to pull her into his arms and kiss the stress right out of her body. How he painted his wall was no biggie. He couldn’t understand what was setting her off. Everything didn’t have to be perfect all the time. “Farryn,” he said softly, “why don’t you let me get you another shirt to put on?” He slowly put his roller into the paint tray before reaching for her’s. Then he gently took her by the hand and walked her into his bedroom.
Farryn watched as he walked toward his bureau, that she noticed he had switched from the original wall it had been the first day that she’d seen his bedroom. She slowly lowered herself into his armchair and absent-mindedly began to fold the few shirts he’d casually over the back.
Tyrone turned to face her, and smiled in spite of himself. “Sweatshirt of tee?” He asked holding both up.
“I’ll take the tee,” she said without lifting her head. She was already remorseful for her tantrum. “I feel like I need to apologize again.”
She watched as he kneeled before her. She looked into his eyes, cautious again for what she would see. There was his usual hint of mischief but beyond that was a startling sense of compassion that surprised and comforted her.
Tyrone slowly, reached his hand out to touch hers. “You don’t have to apologize for wanting my place to look the best it can. I wish I had your way of seeing things. But we both know this is the first wall I’ve ever painted. I was frontin and I should have just admitted that I didn’t know what I was doing. So why don’t we just go back in there and act like the last few minutes didn’t happen while you attempt to show me how to paint a wall decently.”
Farryn found herself smiling even as she was getting lost inside his dark seductive eyes. It was easy because they were nearly hypnotic. It made her understand why the women fell for him so easily. But she was determined not to become one of them. Still, she couldn’t make herself move away from him. She wanted to, but she couldn’t.
Tyrone found himself repeating the techniques he’d learned in therapy in his head. She looked like she wanted him to kiss her, but that didn’t mean she wanted him to kiss her. He was actively breathing and then praying to a God he had to admit he didn’t know very well. Finally he was able to stand and step back from her. “Well I guess we better get back at it huh?” He said roughly before turning on his heel and heading back out to the living room.
She took a deep breath and joined him a moment later. “So, if you like, you can just watch me. M-my dad was a contractor and this was how he taught me so…so I guess it’s been ingrained in me to do it like this. It’s good if you have someone to cut in like this,” she said softly as she kneeled and picked up the paintbrush and began to edge along the blue tape across the wall. “If you like, you can do that wall,” she suggested while thumbing to the wall behind them, “and then I can show you the next step.”
He nodded and began to imitate her on the opposite wall, on the lower edge of the wall while she climbed up onto the stepladder and began to edge the top part of the wall that she had started. Thirty minutes later, he was doing the same thing on his wall before he stepped down and waited for further instructions. By now, she had started with the paint roller making big sweeps onto the wall.
Tyrone watched as she picked her paint roller up, step to the wall and do what looked to him like a big W before she went back and began filling in. In wide sweeps, she managed to put the paint down evenly and not in globs and drips as he had been doing.
She turned and looked over her shoulder. “You want to try?”
Tyrone reached for the roller. After adding more paint, he took her place at the wall and began to try to imitate her. A few moments later, he saw that while it was not as evenly painted as hers was, it was much better than his first try. It did not take him long to finish the wall. He was so into what he was doing, that he had not realized she had stepped away to the opposite wall and had not only tidied what he had done but was halfway across that wall as well.
He agreed to paint the wall beneath the pass-through while she did the window ledges and then took the darker complimentary paint to complete the moldings. By noon, they had completed the small space and with the aid of the ceiling fan, Farryn thought the paint should be dry shortly.
They each covered their paint cans and Tyrone picked up the paint trays and walked them to the kitchen where he placed the disposable rollers, brushes and trays in a garbage bag and set them outside in the large industrial garbage container that sat on his back porch.
When he walked back into the living room, he saw that she’d already rolled up the drop cloth and was closing her cell phone, looking up as he entered the room. “The guys will be here in a couple of hours. You wanna go grab some mocha lattes?”
“Sure why not. Might as well take a break,” he shrugged. “I need to go freshen up.” As he walked toward his room, he turned back. “Are you ok? You need the sweatshirt or …anything?”
“Yeah, the sweatshirt and a washcloth would be great.”
Cherise sat on the sofa opposite Jonathan in the media room pretending to read the new novel, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted by The Black. It wasn’t that it wasn’t compelling, it was just the situation between her and Jon was so distracting. The loss of what should be lay heavy on her heart and she was not sure how to bridge the impasse. She didn’t even know with what or whom she was competing. She just knew he seemed to prefer to be at work more than he did at home. Now ever since that night she’d discovered he was hiding in his study, she found herself walking on eggshells around him. She was sensitive to every mood, every expression—constantly searching for some understanding into how he was feeling. Inside, her heart was aching and she found with each day, she wanted to diminish more of herself in hopes that she could get rid of whatever it was about her that was burdening him so they could go back to the way things once were.
So she kept to herself more, despite making an effort to make more appreciative gestures. She left cards in strategic places to surprise him and there were days she would have gift baskets delivered to his office—all in an effort to thank him for what he had done for her.
Each gesture was eventually met with his thanks and appreciation. But they were words she didn’t and couldn’t accept in her heart because on some level it wasn’t feeling like it was enough. In fact, she wasn’t feeling as if she was enough and that caused her great despair. Suddenly what Jeanette, a classmate in college told her came to mind. While fuming about a guy she had been seeing and in that moment, actively deleting his contact information, she’d explained, “A guy will always let you know how important you are to him depending on how quickly he responds to you.” She had gone on to explain when they had first started dating, her texts would get a quick come back as opposed to then, where it would take sometimes hours for him to respond. Because it was his third occasion, Jeanette was deleting him and then refused to take any calls or respond to his texts any longer.
But Jonathan wasn’t a boyfriend, or some guy she was seeing. He was her husband. She wondered if the same rule applied. Should she take it personally when he didn’t return a phone call immediately? She just couldn’t help but to remember the way it was. He’d jumped on a plane and left a business meeting to get back to her when Tyrone had attempted to kidnap her. She couldn’t help but to doubt that he would move that quick for her if the same thing happened now. Finally giving up on the book, she reached for a pen and made a note on the page near a paragraph that described a love scene between the characters Grayson and Ivy. She stood up and surprisingly garnered Jonathan’s attention away from the Miami Heat’s game. “I’m about to turn in.” She said in explanation to his questioning eyes.
He looked at his watch. “It’s still early.”
“Yeah, but I’m–I’m exhausted.”
“I’m sorry that this game took so much of my attention.”
“I’m sorry that I don’t know anything about basketball to share your favorite past time.”
They both stared at each other, both searching for more words to fill a silence. Words that meant nothing and everything as they both sought to grasp on to any type of connection.
“Well, I’ll go on and head up.” Cherise said finally, smiling to ease over the unease in the room.
He smiled back. “I’ll be up soon.”
She nodded and began to move past him when suddenly he reached out and grasped her hand. Cherise snapped her head to him, her eyes stretching wide in surprise. For a moment, their gazes remained connected. Slowly, he pulled her to him until she sat onto his lap. She looked at him and waited.
He made himself take his time letting his gaze linger over her face. When did this become so hard for them? He wondered. He watched as she dropped her head and he slowly took his fingers to grasp her chin, lifting it, so that their gazes meshed again. “I miss you,” he whispered, before pulling her closer. Hampered by the book in her hand, he smiled at her, “You may need to put that down a second.”
She smiled in return and lay the book down on the table beside the sofa. She turned into his arms, and placed her arms around his neck and enjoyed the feel of him pulling her tighter against him. She reveled in the feel of his heartbeat against hers. Slowly she laid her head down on his shoulder and inhaled against his neck. Tears came to her eyes as she felt his large palms against her back and then through her hair, the way that she remembered he used to do. It was things like this that made her feel loved long before they made love. She blinked rapidly trying to bank the tears that begged to overflow. Slowly she felt him pull back from her and inside she was crying out for him not to stop. She looked at him, afraid he would see her wet lashes. She waited for him to speak, but instead felt the softness of his lips against hers. His kiss was gentle, non-demanding, still she felt herself warming inside the way honey softens inside tea. She had forgotten how much she enjoyed his taste, enjoyed the way his tongue invited hers and then insisted on the rhythm of the dance. He’d begin with a slow wind and then it eventually became as erotic as the Lambada.
She sighed fearing more than ever that what he’d started would end before they went into flight together. Maybe he did really miss her; maybe he felt the desperation of her hold. All she knew was that she took comfort in the next two things–him clicking off the lamp and then him setting into motion a different dance when he turned her so that she straddled his lap. She smiled even while she laughed within.
Farryn steadied the picture she had just hung on Tyrone’s living room wall and then immediately stifled a yawn that overcame her. Finally, she sat down onto the leather sofa that now adorned the once barren room. She looked around and saw the changes they had made in the course of the day and smiled with intense satisfaction. She’d been surprised when the truck had pulled up and instead of what was supposed to be left over furniture, was a room full of brand new furniture complete with an entertainment unit and flat screen television. It couldn’t have been better if an interior designer had put the room together. She was happy with the result but couldn’t help feeling conflicted over the fact that Tyrone didn’t have to work for it. Then she looked at the expression of satisfaction on his face and regretted that she’d wanted to withhold this bit of joy. After all, so far he had been upholding his part of the deal. He’d been producing great changes in the mail department and already was receiving commendation on how he’d streamlined a lot of the processes, making things much more efficient than it had been. Maybe that was why his dad had decided to splurge on his son. Anyway, if Ty continued to advance like this, he wouldn’t need her anymore. She wondered why that thought didn’t feel her with any sense of satisfaction. She looked up just as he walked toward her with two bottled waters.
Tyrone handed her a bottle and slid onto the sofa beside her. He looked appreciatively around the room. It was amazing that only that morning they started with little more than a blank canvas. Now his gaze swept across framed pictures, small ethnic sculptures and fig trees complimenting the Russet leather sectional and recliner placed strategically around the room so as to face the flat screen television. He could see his mother’s hand in all the choices. She was a natural at interior design and was completely responsible for the homey despite extravagant furnishings at their family estate. He turned toward Farryn and reached for her hand. “This is great Farryn! You have done so much for me that now I am starting to feel selfish. I don’t even know how to thank you for all that you’ve done for me in just a few weeks’ time.” He waited for her to look at him before he continued, “You know, I never thought that I could be happy with so little in my life. Today, it feels like the lottery. I don’t know what you said to my dad, but I am grateful and will thank him tomorrow as well.”
She let her gaze search his face, moved by the sincerity in his eyes. “I’m glad that things are working out for you Tyrone. I don’t know what it was that landed you in prison, but I am glad that you are making the best of your second chance. As far as I can see, you are doing great.” Pulling her hand from his she patted his arm, “Well I think that I better get going and let you relax and turn in for the evening.” She said rising from the sofa.
He stood as well. “I can’t thank you enough Farryn,” he murmured as he walked her to the door. He pulled her jacket out of his closet and helped her put it on. Then he opened the door and walked her out to her car. They walked in silence partially from exhaustion and he knew also because everything had been said that could be. He was thankful and she was appreciative that he was. But what wouldn’t and couldn’t be said was anything about what was growing between them. Each of them would rather not talk about the chemistry humming between them because neither of them knew what to do about it. So in view of that, he knew they each took comfort in the silence. After she clicked her key fob, he reached for her door and as she slid in, felt immediate regret that she was leaving him and that he wouldn’t see her before Monday, if even then.