Friday, December 15, 2006
Friends are Forever Pt. 4
Lucine and Angela sat in stunned silence as I related the day’s events over dinner at Bubba’s Sports Bar.
“So, are you going to be able to do this? My God, I always wanted you two to get together but not like this!” Angela gasped, twisting a handful of her long, straight hair. She had recently decided to give up her natural twists, much to my chagrin.
I shrugged. “What can I do but manage? It’s the professional thing to do.”
Lucine broke in. “But what does your heart tell you?”
I laughed bitterly at my friend, forever the romantic. “Please, in Steven’s mind I’ll always be just a friend. Besides, the man is engaged to the richest girl in Barbados. I can’t compete with that, even if I felt he wanted me.”
“You’re forgetting what happened between you two the last time you were together. Wasn’t that proof of something more than friendship?” Lucine pressed.
I turned red at the memory. “You mean when I discovered Damian had cheated on me and Steven consoled me? Girl, please, that was a sympathy shag.”
A year after our meeting on Campus, Steven returned to the island for his sister’s wedding. By that time, he was well on his way to being one of Bill Gates’ millionaires but he had remained the same down-to-earth person we all knew.
Having abandoned all hope for a relationship with Steven, I had accepted Damian’s proposal and we were planning to marry later that same year. However, I still could not bring myself to make love with my fiancé and it proved a sore point between us. So much so that he found another bedmate, who he brought to the wedding. Although I didn’t love Damian, his rejection was still a blow, and after drowning my sorrows in too many piña coladas at the wedding reception I was driven home by Steven, sobbing and tipsy.
He carried me straight to bathroom where I promptly emptied the contents of my stomach. He then assisted me in unzipping my wedding attire before leaving me to get a shower.
“Here, drink this.” Steven approached with a cup of coffee as I emerged from the bathroom 15 minutes later. I tightened the belt of my robe and nodded my thanks.
Removing his jacket and loosening his tie, he sank down on the sofa next to me with a sigh.
“Feeling better?” He asked concernedly as I sipped the bitter brew.
I smiled weakly, tears pricking my eyes once more. “I don’t know why I’m taking this so hard. It’s not like I didn’t see this coming, anyway. I guess I never expected Damian to humiliate me so publicly.”
Steven pulled me close, smoothing my fledgling locks and dropping soft kisses on my face. “It’ll be okay, Mandy,” he murmured reassuringly into my hair."I promise you, Damian's going to pay for this."
I don’t remember at which point we fell asleep, but I awoke to find myself lying on Steven’s broad chest. I smiled at the peaceful look on his face and gently stroked his cheek. He opened his eyes and gave me a sleepy grin.
“I’d better get out of here and let you get your rest,” he said as he ruffled my hair. “Angela should be here soon, right?”
I toyed with a button on his shirt, unwilling to break contact with his warm, hard body.
“Actually, she’s staying over at our grandparents for the weekend,” I replied hesitantly. “So, I’ll be home alone.”
He continued to twirl a lock of my hair around his finger, his handsome face unreadable. I turned my head and kissed his palm lightly.
“Mandy…,” he began huskily, but I pressed a finger against his lips.
“Stay with me, Steven,” I pleaded softly. “And before you ask, I’ve never been more sober in my life.”
I half-expected him to push me away and get up off the sofa. Instead I was pleasantly surprised when his hands rose to cup my behind and his lips captured mine in a passionate kiss.
The next hour was a blur of eager hands and hungry mouths as I got to finally express the love I felt for him. Afterwards Steven was mortified, thinking he had taken advantage of my vulnerability, but I assured him once more that I was sober and fully aware of what I was doing. He left the island two days later, calling me briefly to say goodbye from the airport before he boarded his flight. Apart from postcards at Christmas and on my birthday, I never saw him again until he turned up at my office, engaged to another woman.
“No, no, no! I want Vera Wang, not some David’s Bridal knock off! Do you know who I am?” Veronica yelled into her cell phone as we walked through the verdant grounds of the plantation house where her wedding would take place in a few months.
I rolled my eyes and turned to point out to the decorator the proposed sites for seating and catering. In the three months I had been planning Steven’s wedding, I was becoming more and more puzzled over his choice of bride. Veronica was spoiled, arrogant and snobbish, everything Steven definitely was not. As far as I knew he wasn’t marrying her for money; he had an extremely lucrative career with Microsoft and was paying for all the wedding expenses. So far I had managed to prevent Veronica from bankrupting him with her lavish plans.
I turned as Veronica tapped me on the shoulder. “Mandy, I have to view some gowns with my stylist Frederik. Stevie will come and fill in for me, okay?”
She dashed off before I could reply. Steven had been back and forth between his job in New York and the wedding planning in Barbados, so I had only been seeing him sporadically since our first meeting.
Half an hour later I heard Steven calling my name and I saw him strolling through the gardens towards me. I grudgingly admitted to myself that I was glad to see him.
“Hey, how’s it going? Veronica’s not driving you nuts is she?” he grinned, his brown eyes twinkling.
I rolled my eyes and pushed my sunglasses up on to my head. “I’m sorry, is that a rhetorical question?”
I filled him in on our plans for the venue. He nodded, satisfied with the decisions made so far.
“I’ve been meaning to tell you,” he began as we moved to the interior of the house, “your locs look fantastic. The colour really brings out your brown eyes.”
I smiled and began to thank him, but my words trailed off when he reached over and ran his fingers through my hair. I stared at him breathlessly as he stroked a few strands before dropping his hand. He gave me a slight smile, then stepped back to let me enter the house.
I tried to concentrate on the interior decorating plans but my mind was in turmoil. What was that all about?
We wrapped up the meeting 15 minutes later, and I hastily said my goodbyes. I was halfway to my car when I heard Steven calling my name.
“What’re you doing this evening? Veronica just called to say she has to fly to New York with Frederik. Do you want to hang out?”
I hesitated. “Um, I suppose, once Veronica doesn’t mind.”
He shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. Pick you up at 7?”
I gave him directions to my apartment and headed off to my next appointment.
Pt. 5 next week!