I know I said I wouldn’t post any more teasers, but I can’t get beyond this scene. Therefore, I am calling for help from you to provide feedback. So the question for today is: Would you forgive Tyrone? Read the following excerpt, then please– please give me your HONEST opinion. Thanks a bunch!
Tyrone disconnected his cell and slumped down in his armchair. He’d been looking forward since last week to seeing his little girl that evening. He reached over and grabbed the stuffed teddy bear that he’d left work earlier that day just to pick up. He hugged it close to him and felt the pain blossom in his chest. If he’d been shot, he didn’t think it would have been more painful. Since the recent decorating, he had taken every picture that his mother had given him of Diamond and had them professionally enlarged. These he’d placed strategically around the living room on the tables and walls. He felt hurt but at the same time couldn’t help but to feel the punishment was justified. Still, he loved his daughter. Every picture of her development made him see more of himself in her. Maybe it was because he’d wanted so badly to have a connection with her, but pride filled him nonetheless. His mother’s phone call disappointed him.
The doorbell ringing surprised him. He slid off the chair and walked toward the door. After looking through the peephole, he snatched open the door. “Farryn! I’m surprise to see you here.”
She smiled and walked past him. “I’m surprised as well.” She murmured as she shrugged out of her jacket. She stopped mid sleeve, arching an eyebrow, she suddenly looked at him and whispered, “Are you alone?”
“Nope, got a model butt-naked in my bed waiting for me as we speak,” he teased.
She continued to stare at him a second longer, searching his face before she realized he was bluffing. Then she walked toward the closet and hung her jacket up.
“Well since you’re making yourself at home I guess you might as well join us.”
Farryn smacked her teeth. “Whatever gutter brain,” she said as she slid onto one of the armchairs.
Tyrone smiled. He’d missed her although he’d gone out of his way to avoid her. It had been almost three weeks since they’d painted the apartment and despite her offering to come over and give more cooking lessons since that night, he’d politely declined. He had never felt what was beginning to brew between them with any other woman in his life and it had scared him. He needed a moment to figure out what to do about it.
“Water? Juice?” He offered her.
“No, nothing for me.”
Tyrone really wanted something stronger, but he’d been making a concerted effort not to drink. It was all part of the Project Ty Reform—the name he called his goals in private. Now with no excuse to leave the room, he finally sat on the sofa across from her, surprised at the need to wipe moisture from his hands onto his pants leg. He leaned back and crossed his leg over his thigh. “So what’s up?”
“I was bored. You were turning down my cooking lessons and it made me curious.” She answered as she reached for a pillow and pulled it close. Suddenly she looked around the room. “Hmm, these pictures weren’t up when I was here last. Who is it? She’s beautiful!”
Tyrone smiled. He hadn’t thought about the fact that Farryn would one day see the pictures. He had only been concerned with surrounding himself with reminders of his daughter. Now that she had seen them, he knew it wasn’t something that he could shrug off. “She’s my daughter.” His voice sounded strained to his ears, but inside he felt liberated. He had not realized that it had been such a burden to keep secret until now saying it aloud to someone who didn’t know.
The look of shock on Farryn’s face was priceless. She managed to recover after a moment to her credit, but he had seen her shield slip just a bit before she could. “I think I’ll have that water now,” she said finally.
He smiled and got up to get it. It gave him an opportunity to decide how much to tell her if she was inclined to ask questions. As he poured the water into a glass, he made up his mind to be completely transparent with her. He grabbed a bottle of his favorite root beer and then headed back out toward her. He had nothing to lose at this point, but if his feelings continued to grow for her and he was fortunate enough to have those returned, he wouldn’t want that omission hanging over his head.
He placed the cool glass in her hand and then turned and walked toward his CD player and put on mellow jazz. He’d been playing more John Coltrane and had found his haunting melodies more often than not mirrored the emotions of his soul. Once he returned to his seat, he felt he had sufficiently masked his emotions and one look over to Farryn told him she had done the same. He let the silence fall between them. He would follow her lead. In the meanwhile, he let Coltrane’s melodies roll over him.
Farryn sipped her water as she tried to find her words. Well she knew what she wanted to ask, she just hadn’t figured out the tone, so she ended up doing what she didn’t want to do the most. She blurted out what was had been spouting up within her ever since he divulged the little gem about his daughter. “I didn’t know you had a daughter. Is the mother still in your life?”
Even though Tyrone knew the question was coming, he still felt shock and was more than a little tongue-tied. He turned toward Farryn and again weighed how much he should say despite the speech he’d just given himself in the kitchen a moment ago. He inhaled a cleansing breath and let his gaze connect with her’s.
“Have you ever had a single moment in time that changed your whole life? A single pivotal moment that you knew if you had the power to go back and change it would alter your whole existence?”
Farryn searched his gaze and reflected. There were many moments that she wished she could go back and change but she couldn’t pare it down to one moment in time. Shaking her head slowly, she said softly, “I can’t think of one such moment, at least not right now.”
“Well maybe you’re fortunate in that,” Tyrone murmured. “Unfortunately, I can. I did something that—I’m not sure if I can forgive myself, let alone expect it from anyone else. I was a spoiled man that acted like a boy because I was used to getting what I wanted—whenever I wanted it.” He paused and slid forward, he rested his elbows on his thighs and he looked down at his shoes as he replayed the night of the frat party in his head.
He cleared his throat and continued. “This particular night I knew I wanted this girl named Cherise. I had seen her around campus and knew instantly that there was something different about her. She was wholesome, sweet—so different from the girls that constantly threw themselves at me because of my football celebrity status. We spent hours talking about everything. I was determined to be a gentleman with this girl, but circumstances changed and we ended up in my bedroom. What was supposed to be a simple sweetheart’s dance ended in more—much more. This girl, she probably only wanted a few touches and some kisses. But,” Tyrone stopped and ran his hand through his hair, “once I got started I couldn’t—didn’t stop, despite the fact that she insisted that I should.”
He looked up at Farryn now. He had to see the impact his story was having on this woman whose opinion meant so much to him. He knew the moment the information sank in because he started to see the look of incredulous surprise burnish across her features.
Still, he could not stop now. He had to tell it all, so he continued making his tone deliberate, “I took this girl’s virginity as if I had a right to it and …the thing is, in that moment, I believe on some level I felt that I did. Because I was Tyrone Wheeler and she was this girl that was in my bedroom, though her only fault was her naiveté. I can’t begin to explain any of what was all going through my mind that night, I was high—but none of that is any excuse for what I did to her.”
Tyrone looked away from Farryn now and focused on the large picture of Diamond that was the focal point of the wall in front of them. “My daughter was the result of what I did to her. And my brother…” he stopped again as he began to think of all his brother had done for him in rescuing Cherise. Tears threatened to overflow, but he pinched his nose and cleared his throat again. “Anyway Cherise left school and ended up in a desperate state. By chance, she crossed paths with my brother and he took her in and took care of her, he did all the things I should have been doing–the least of which I should have been doing. In the meanwhile, they fell in love and married and now my daughter is being raised as his.” He finished quietly and then reached for the bottle of root beer to quench the parch that overtook his throat. He sat back and waited. He expected Farryn to jump up and leave, never to speak to him again. When he finally got the courage to look up he was shocked to see tears flowing rapidly down her face.
“I’m sorry that I upset you, let me get you some tissue,” he said as he jumped up and ran into the bathroom. He placed a box of Kleenex on the table after handing her a few sheets. He wanted to wipe her tears and apologize for being a monster. He wanted to assure her that he would never do anything like that again and share how much counseling, changing his association and abstaining from mind altering products had helped him. He wanted to share all of those things, but strangely he couldn’t–at least not until she voiced her reaction to all that he had said, so he just tucked his head and waited.
“I’m not even sure why I’m crying. It’s just everything you said is so painful. I feel pain for Cherise and your brother and I feel sad for you. But most of all I think I feel sad for the little girl.”
“Yeah it’s a pretty sad situation all around.” Tyrone continued to look forward. He almost wished that she would leave so that he wouldn’t feel so ugly next to her—so unclean. It surprised him when she sat down next to him.
“I can’t begin to know what it feels like to have the type of regrets that you do. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t figure out how to redeem yourself…” Then she stopped talking abruptly and suddenly turned to him, “I mean—well maybe I shouldn’t have used the word redeem. I guess, well, I don’t even know if you feel as if that is something you need. Did I make you feel uncomfortable?” She asked reaching out grasping his arm.
He looked at her in amazement, “I can’t believe you are concerned about making me feel uncomfortable when, I feel like the biggest screw up after telling you all of that.”
Farryn looked down at her hands now clasped in her lap. Then she looked up at Tyrone before reaching for his hand. “Are you planning on repeating that mistake?”
He looked deep within her eyes. This time he didn’t want to waver, he wanted her to see his heart, he hoped that she would be able to peer within his soul, he slowly shook his head. “No, I never will repeat that mistake again. I live with that memory upon a higher consciousness and my greatest regret is that I can never make that up. I can never give her back what I took from her. At the same time, I don’t regret my daughter. I only regret that she will never know that I am her father.”
“Well that’s the thing about actions. They have consequences and some things can’t be fixed no matter how much we wish it to be so. I do hope that you can have some connection with your daughter at some point. In the meanwhile I’m proud of you.”
Tyrone looked away and exhaled. “Don’t say that.”
She looked at him questioningly but remained silent.
“Don’t say you’re proud of me. You really know so little about me.”
“After all that you’ve told me, I think I know quite a bit. I know that you are a man that didn’t have to be so forthright but you made a choice. I know that you have learned to make the best out of new circumstances. I know that you not only show up to work, but you have exceeded your father’s expectations by taking the initiative to streamline workflow and implement new processes.” Then she took her hand and gently touched his chin and turned his face toward her.
“And I know when you could have taken advantage of my cooking lessons that you chose to hide because of a shame that you have learned to live with and that tells me something about the man you not only are, but want to be. So,” she slid forward and stood, “keep moving forward Ty. Your future is in front of you.”
He stood and was now just a breath away from her. He could see that she wanted to take a step back, but admired the fact that she stood her ground. He leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Thanks for listening and not…not condemning me. You can’t know how much that means to me.” He reached for her hand and walked her toward the door and then reached in his closet for her jacket. He noticed that she was suddenly silent. As he helped her slide her arms in the sleeves, he leaned down and whispered, “Are you okay?”
She shivered in spite of herself. “Why wouldn’t I be okay?”
He turned her so that she faced him, “I don’t know. You tell me. You sat there and listened to the worse admission a person could make and you took it like a champ. And now …I don’t know. All of a sudden you seem to have clammed up.”
She felt the heat flow upward and flush out onto her face. She slowly looked from his chest, to his neck, then to his plump lips and finally into his eyes. She took a step forward, then rose up on her toes and rubbed her lips against his. Then she pulled back a little and hesitantly looked at him.
He gazed at her through hooded lids. That one taste sent a bolt of desire shooting through him and it took everything in him not to grab her and back her up against the wall. Instead, he gently grasped her cheek as he slowly lowered his lips to hers again. He slowly tasted her lips but was careful not to deepen the kiss. He wanted to do this right. This was a woman he wanted a future with and this was a moment he didn’t want to regret. He stepped back and smiled. “That was delicious and…promising. I look forward to exploring whatever this can be between us. How about you?”
Farryn found herself blinking as his words settled. She’d been so sure that she’d wanted his lips on hers. She wanted to know what it felt like to be in his arms. She been curious for weeks and the vulnerability he’d shone had attracted her. Now she was looking at the reality of the situation. This was a man just finding his way, with a daughter. Did she want to get entangled within his world, his drama? She dropped her eyes and then lifted them to meet his gaze again. The blatant desire that had been there was now gone and replaced with the glint of Onyx boring into hers. She felt him retreat before he took a step back.
“Thanks for stopping by Farryn. Maybe we should keep our interactions limited to the office from now on,” he stated coolly as he opened the door and stood back waiting for her to move pass before him.
She ducked her head. “Okay Ty. Thanks for …everything,” she said finally before she walked past him and into the frigid night air. She walked quickly to her car and experienced a bit of Deja Vu as she looked over her shoulder and connected with the dark eyes that watched her broodingly as she entered her car before she drove away.