Scene: Cherise and Jonathan begin to bridge their impasse.
She hadn’t known it could feel that way–that anything could feel that way. Never had she felt so loved and cherished. She turned over, grabbed his pillow, and pulled it close, inhaling his scent. The ache within her opened and sobbed. She missed him. She wanted to awaken in his arms this morning and instead he was gone. She couldn’t help wondering if the impasse that had been bridged the night before was only temporary. Throwing the covers back, she dragged herself upright. She felt love drugged. She moved into her bathroom and took the time to draw a hot bath. She poured her oils into the water and as she sat on the side of the tub, she inhaled the fresh aroma. She regretted that it was about to quickly cover the scent that they’d created together. With a sigh, she slipped into the water and let her head loll back on the bath pillow.
Suddenly her head snapped up. She looked into the dark eyes of her husband. Their gaze remained connected, neither of them saying a word.
He had a mug in his hand that he slowly placed on the lip of the tub. He smiled. “Good morning my love.” He leaned down and kissed her softly on her lips. “How are you?”
She smiled and then felt the tears slide unbidden down her face. He knelt down and moved closer to her pulling her against him. “What’s wrong babe?”
“I-I thought you’d left without saying good-bye.” She whispered before sobbing against his shoulder.
“No. Oh no sweetheart. No I could never do that after …I could never sweetie. I love you so much. Do you hear me?”
Cherise nodded, feeling silly. Of course he loved her. He stood by her didn’t he? He took her in against his own brother’s actions right?”
He pulled back from her and began to undress swiftly before he slid into the tub pulling her onto him. “I know we’ve been through … something, but I love you babe. I will never stop loving you. You should know that. Look at me. Don’t you know that?”
She wanted to tell him– she did. She wished that she could say that she was sure beyond anything in life, but the truth was there was this whisper of doubt that seemed to permeate her very being. It colored things and it made her feel like she was losing him even when he was in front of her. She didn’t say any of this though. She was too afraid of ruining this moment, so she merely nodded her head and lifted the corners of her mouth into what she hoped was a sexy moue, before she leaned forward and kissed him. She pulled back, and looked into his eyes and was happy to see that she’d pleased him. She liked that. She wound her arms around his neck and let him take the lead in the dance that she was quickly growing adept.
Jonathan leaned back in his office chair. After the night before, the last thing he wanted to be was here in this office, but it couldn’t be helped. Paperwork had to be completed, and it looked like it was going to be a whole week of evenings just like this.
He shouldn’t have been surprised that Katrina had insisted on running out for pizza and beer. He watched her just as he raised his bottle to take a swig. He normally wouldn’t have crossed boundaries like this, but he appreciated the fact that she never complained when he asked her to work late. Besides, he really needed the beer. He’d been listening to her talking about the number of bad dates she’d been on in her life and that had gone a long way to lightening the mood and the guilt he’d felt at having to be away from home.
“So what’d he do after you so unceremoniously induced vomit all over him?” He asked in a pretend droll voice.
After a lengthy laughter Katrina said, “After several choice names that I won’t even repeat, he grabbed his coat and his last words to me was along the lines of I would be the last drunk he tried to pick up.”
“I guess even date-rapists have their standards!” Jonathan replied, his eyes reflecting tease.
“Yeah well even mobsters contribute to their charities.”
“Hilarious! So I guess that’s the last time you let someone take you home from a bar.”
Katrina looked up and smiled briefly, nodding. “Yeah that was the last time. I got away by the skin of my teeth.”
He noted the subtle change in her and then decided to try to keep things light. “Well I wish I had attempted to use that method in getting rid of many a bad date.”
Katrina looked up from her laptop, “Nah, you don’t seem the type. Besides, you wouldn’t have wanted to take a chance on soiling one of those nice suits that you wear all the time.”
Jonathan smiled across the desk, “So are you saying that I would protect a suit over my precious time?”
“I’m saying that you would resort to other means to get rid of a bad date.”
Jonathan chuckled, “Yeah you’re probably right. Besides my time being under attack is not the same as my body.”
“Exactly, although I’m sure many ladies stood in line to do that as well.”
Jonathan merely smiled and decided not to answer. He couldn’t deny that when he and his brother had been in college, women hadn’t used ingenious tactics to get closer to them.
“Besides I can’t see you having to endure anything.”
Jonathan wrinkled his brow. He moved to lift up another contract to work on. “What do you mean by that?”
“Well you just seem as if you’re an upfront type of guy,” Tilting her head to the side, she continued, “You’re what I call the real thing.”
Jonathan shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve done my fair share of dirt I suppose. I always tried to be honorable and upfront with women that I dated in the past. But there are times that a man can’t always be forthright—can’t always be himself as it were.”
“I would think if you’re in an authentic relationship that it would free you to be just that.” Katrina said, her fingers pausing over the keyboard.
Jonathan looked away from her, allowing his gaze to fall upon his wall-to-wall shelf of books. He cleared his throat. “Yeah, it would seem so wouldn’t it? However, men and women don’t see things the same way. And …” He paused and looked away from her. How could he explain to her that it was sometimes the love of a woman that might make you hold your thoughts and feelings in? “Well,” he smiled, “It doesn’t matter. Fear sometimes gets in the way I suppose.”
Katrina narrowed her eyes. She’d seen the pain flash in his eyes momentarily and it had cut her to her heart. She’d always thought her boss was happy albeit distracted. But the idea that he might actually be unhappy just did something to her. He’d been so kind to her. So different from the men of her past. Since puberty, she’d been fighting men off of her. They’d taken one look at her curvy shape and desired her, wanted her and many had taken what they’d wanted—felt they had every right to do just that. For many years she had thought they had the right too, until she had given nearly every bit of herself away. But by the grace of God she was still here and had managed to rebuild her life. But Jonathan hadn’t been like that. When he looked at her, she could tell he looked at her, not her breasts or hips or behind. He was interested in her as a person and she liked that. She felt safe with him. She lifted the modified contract from the printer and reached to hand it to him across the desk but inadvertently disturbed the stack of papers on the corner. Instantly, she jumped up and kneeled down and hurriedly began to gather them, “I’m so sorry. I can be so clumsy at times!” She spluttered.
Jonathan leant down to assist her, “Don’t worry about it Katrina! This can happen to anyone!”
“I just don’t know how I could miss a stack like that! Now putting this back in order is going to delay everything!”
“I will take all of this home and do it myself. In fact, why don’t we call it a night.” He said warmly.
Katrina looked up, overcome by the compassion in his eyes. She moved forward one knee at a time. That was when she realized that her boss was a man too. She was grateful that he didn’t get mad at her, call her stupid for her mistake or any list of names that she had lived with most of her life. She’d learned in life that sex was something that at least in a brief moment, was a man’s panacea to all that ailed them and it made her want to soothe him of his angst. So she kept moving toward him. She watched the desire change to surprise as she drew near. “I’m so grateful to you Jonathan,” she said as she handed him the last of the papers. I’d be willing to do … anything for you,” she said as she lifted her hand to his knee, “Anything whatsoever that …you might need or want.”
Jonathan stood up abruptly, grabbing her hand. “Katrina, you’re already the best assistant a person could want. Besides, there is nothing…absolutely nothing that I would need from you that would require you to be on your knees.” He reached down for her other hand to pull her up. At that moment they both heard the swoosh of the lobby door opening. Simultaneously, they looked toward the entrance of his office, frozen, in anticipation.