Saige left her mother’s house, furious with Ben. In her mind, the relationship is well and truly over. At a loss for a destination, she heads to the one place, besides her mother’s, she knows she will always find acceptance.
For a change of scene, she turned right to go around the lake instead of the usual left. It was slightly longer, but not enough to matter and she wanted the extra drive time to make up her mind where she was going to go.
She couldn’t really go see Brodie or Stan. She’d relied on them enough for awhile. Besides, she knew if she and Stan were alone they would break all their promises to be friends. With a spark of inspiration, she decided to go visit Mrs. Cross.
Now that her mind was made up, she drove faster and with a purpose. She arrived at Mrs. Cross’ apartment a little after seven. Knocking loudly on the downstairs door, she got no response. She was about to leave a note and was digging in her purse when Romy arrived. All smiles, he invited her in. He was dressed in a long sleeved, red and white striped shirt and black shorts, carrying a pair of cleats in one hand as he juggled his keys.
“Gran’s at church.” He tossed his keys on the counter. “The lads and me were playing rugby. I imagine I’m a bit ripe. Got a few moments? I’ll take a quick one so I don’t offend your olfactory system.”
“Sure, I don’t have any plans. We’ll chat when you don’t smell like sweaty boxers.” She waved him off.
Laughing loudly, he took off his shirt and socks, tossing them in the laundry as he passed. Saige’s eyes lingered on him until he was out of sight. Once he got in the bathroom, shorts and boxers landed in the hall.
“Be out in a tick,” he called, slamming the door.
Saige amused herself looking at the photos on the wall. There were several with Romy and his brothers clustered around their father and grandfather in one happy, rowdy group. They
looked so much alike, the boys and their elders. Romy had the same grin as his grandfather and his father’s ears and eyes. As a child, his features were almost too big for his face, giving him the look of a caricature. Once he hit his teen years, he had grown proportionally and now his big ears and long nose complimented him nicely.
He stood at the end of the hall in clean shorts, tossing his towel and clothing into the washer, still shirtless. He had as magnificent a physique as Brodie. Leaner of build, he was muscular and delineated like a martial artist rather than a body builder. He sported several scars on his back and chest, some slashes and others that looked decidedly like bullet holes.
“Fancy a cup of tea or something?”
“I’d love some coffee. I missed lunch and dinner. It’s been a day.” She gave him a detailed description of the day she’d had.
“So, you’ve become wildly popular all of a sudden, eh?”
Did she catch a note of jealousy? Impossible. She and Romy were just friends, like Brodie and Stan. Who also wanted more than friendship from her.
“Apparently. Who knew? It’s amazing what a girl misses when she thinks she’s in love.”
“Thinks, is it? I thought you loved him madly.”
“I thought I did. Now I’m not so sure. I don’t really want to talk about Ben. How are you, Romy? Staying out of trouble?”
He winked, sitting beside her with two cups of coffee. Hers was fixed just the way she liked it. She wondered how he knew that much about her.
“I don’t particularly want to talk at all, but I suspect you do. So, what shall we talk about, Saige? Shall we make small talk for a wee bit before I admit to you I too have carried a torch lo these many years?”
Romy’s smile was tinged with tenderness. He had incredibly expressive, dark chocolate eyes. They revealed a lot that she’d never seen before. Either he was good at hiding his feelings, or she was blind. Perhaps a smattering of both? She set her coffee down, suddenly moved to tears. Romy put his arms around her, holding her close to his bare chest. Saige could hear his heart pounding with a comforting beat.
“Romy, I’m so confused! I thought I knew what my life was like and nothing’s the same. It went upside down and cockeyed.”
“Shh, love, don’t cry. I’m here. It’s all right.”
He talked to her continuously, saying little, but comforting with his tone and nearness. His hands held her, stroking her hair calmly, with a gentle strength. Slowly, gradually, his touch changed, becoming a lover’s caress. He let his hands tell her how he felt, what he wanted, without him saying a word.
Once Saige calmed down, Romy held her away from him, gazing in her eyes. “Come on, fix your face. I’m taking you to dinner.”
“I don’t have anything with me ….”
“Wash it off then. You don’t need all that to look pretty. You’re beautiful without makeup. Come on. Gran’s going to be home soon. I want you to myself a while longer.”
© 2012 Dellani Oakes