The renovations being done to Terry’s home were finally complete. For the last six months, he had been staying at his new place, but the last stages of reconstruction had still been underway. After Terry had stayed at Mike’s penthouse, he’d been house hunting and staying in various apartments up until that point. Just before he’d bought his current home, he’d returned to roost with Michael for a little while.
At Terry’s house warming party, Mike noticed that his friend seemed rather pensive. He had been like that for a few days but whenever he’d asked Terry about it, he’d waved it off with a breezy, “I’m fine.”
While Terrence joked around and entertained everyone, Michael could tell something was on his college buddy’s mind. As the evening progressed, Mike thought he should ask him about it.
“You okay, man? You should be happy your style is officially un-cramped. I know living with me must have killed your swag a little.”
Although Terry smiled, it was hardly convincing. “I guess putting it together took too much out of me, dude. I’ll be fine soon.” His eyes lit up a moment later and he said slowly, “Maybe sooner than I thought.”
Michael turned his head so that he could follow the line of vision. He couldn’t blame his friend for the sudden change in his mood. Yvonne had just walked in.
She was wearing green and black and was looking ab-so-lutely sexy. She looked around her, caught sight of the two of them and smiled.
Terry was happy that the tension that had arisen from moving Michael out of the office had faded away. It had taken a few days but Yvonne had not found any reason not to believe that the move had been completely professional. The tension dying down meant Yvonne was still willing to trust him as a friend. For that he was grateful because it had meant he could invite her over for this party without anxiety.
Kissing them both on the cheek in greeting, she expressed her appreciation for how he had decorated the loft apartment.
“Nice, Matthews. Very nice.”
“You would say more than that if you had seen it a year ago,” Michael derided. “It was a disaster.”
“I have pictures though,” Terrence offered.
“Oh I’d love to see some later,” she said earnestly. “Where do I put my gift?”
To that minute, neither of the men had even noticed that she was holding a box. Looking down at her hands, they then saw the present wrapped in black and silver paper, tied with red ribbon.
Terrence took it from her and put it on the counter of the bar.
After introducing her to some of the other guests, Terry took Yvonne across the open space to the living area, he sat her down in front of the coffee table and began showing her area by area how the open dusty place had been transformed into the elegant apartment it was now. Of the many pillars that had cluttered the space, only four remained.
Within the rectangle that they formed was the set of tan leather sofas on which the two of them sat. Above them was an oval skylight. Looking to the right, one could see how the wall had been completely replaced by glass between the bathroom and the small alcove where the guests’ coats were stored. The L-shaped bar was off to the side of the main dining area, which was situated right in front of the wall to wall window.
The first bathroom was furnished with modern fixtures, all in blue, green and silver. The bathtub was sunken into the floor, with little lights drilled into the floor at different angles. Terry demonstrated out how they gave the illusion of candlelight when the main lights were turned off.
“Well, that’s neat,” she commented.
“I like to offer my guests a chance to relax in comfort.”
Next he showed her the second bedroom which had a light wood panelling detail on the walls. Then came Terry’s study, connected to his bedroom complete en suite bathroom.
Terrence did his best to keep himself between Yvonne and the bed. He didn’t want a view of her anywhere near it. He didn’t want to think about it, talk about it or dream about it, so he rattled off the renovations quickly and motioned toward the door.
His attraction to her was becoming harder to dismiss and bury under the urbane façade of boy next door. He didn’t want to tempt himself or say the wrong thing and risk upsetting her. So he did all he could without actually pushing her out the door.
Stepping out of his personal space, Yvonne moved toward the spacious kitchen. The counter top was pristine, the appliances all matched and made his kitchen look like a professional chef’s domain.
“Wow. Do you actually cook in here, or it’s just for open house and magazines?”
“I’ve got these amazing little fairies who come out and do magic when I’m sleeping, so I guess someone cooks and cleans,” he smiled.
She chuckled. “It’s very nice.”
“Thanks. So that’s my house.”
“I’m impressed. I actually like the vibe here.” Pause. She took another look around. “Where’s the music coming from?”
Terrence smiled as if he had been waiting for that question all along. “It’s a hidden home theatre. Everything is concealed overhead or within closed wall space, like in the one pillar over there,” he pointed to the living area, “There’s a shelf for my consoles and stuff. It’s mostly wireless.”
He looked like he had just won the presidential elections. “Thanks.”
“How’s Kendo?” Terrence asked Yvonne later, after he had done another round of checking up on all his guests.
“Oh, he’s fine. Getting bigger every day,” she responded enthusiastically.
“I’ll bet… I was wondering if he would mind if I took him and his mom out some time.”
“Oh. Um,” Yvonne started, not quite sure what was going to come out of her mouth, “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. He loves going places.”
“Great,” he breathed with relief. Pleased with himself, he said again, “Great. Excuse me, I have to play host still… apparently until all these people leave.”
She laughed. “Sure, go ahead.” Thinking to herself, Maybe while you’re gone I can figure out just what I am doing!
For someone who had suspected his motives not too long ago she sure had agreed pretty quickly to go on a date with him.
Somehow she managed to convince herself that it was because he had been a perfect gentleman and had asked her away from the professional arena that the invitation had been accepted.
Terrence sat across the table from Yvonne, listening to her rattle off the facts about the contract they were putting together before it took the final trip to legal. He knew from past experiences that she preferred to compile the general terms for herself and then send it to her colleagues for polishing. What he had only recently realised was how sexy she was when she was doing her job.
In her own right as a woman, she was off the charts, but in her element as a working professional, she seemed to buzz with an energy that made her eyes sparkle. She leaned into the table a little bit as she spoke and it drew his attention to her elegant hands that fluttered every now and then when she emphasized a point.
Her forefinger traced a line under some words typed on a piece of paper in front of her and he frowned. He wondered how that would feel against his collarbone, followed by a sweet soft kiss. Shaking his head slightly, he refocused, trying hard not to think about anything but her words.
He really enjoyed listening to her voice. It was like a warm, creamy beverage settling in his belly, soothing away irritation.
That idea made him chuckle.
The noise made Yvonne stop.
“You don’t like that idea?”
Terrence opened his mouth to tell her it was fine, but she tilted her head to one side and said, “Me neither. We’ll leave that part the way it is. It can always come as a pleasant surprise after the first quarter.” Then she smiled at him.
He wanted to tell her how cute she looked in that moment, but all he did was smile back. Not the usual polite or laid back smile. He let her have it- told her without words.
“So uh…” she cleared her throat, “so, we’ll leave that out and see how it goes.”
“Great,” Terrence chuckled.
A few seconds later, she was back on a roll and the moment passed.
When the day for their date came, Yvonne found herself taking a backseat in their afternoon with Terrence, as he played with her son, fed him and even sang to him. Granted it was just Itsy Bitsy Spider, but she thought it was amusing. And it was kind of cute.
On the way back to Yvonne’s house, she asked him, “You’re a business and computer genius, you have incredible taste in interior décor, you are very good with small children… is there anything you can’t do?”
He chuckled. “Would you believe me if I told you that I can’t swim?”
She smiled. “No.”
“Drats. Okay… I can…” he searched his mind for something to tell her, with a twinkle in his eye, “never cook an omelette without it falling apart.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?”
“You’re a guy. Naturally, your species has been known as ‘men- the ones who can’t cook’,” she teased. “It wouldn’t be normal if you could cook an omelette.”
“Well, gee,” he began drily, “I guess it’s good to know I am normal.”
“You are... your realm of expertise ends at making coffee and glasses of water.”
Terrence burst out laughing. “I’ll have you know I can cook exceptionally well.”
“I’d have to see it to believe it.”
“I’ll have to invite you over when next I host, then.”
They both went inside when they got to the Greenwood home. After putting a sleeping Kendo to bed, Yvonne invited him to stay for a glass of Maria’s lemonade. They chatted about work and then the conversation switched to Terrence’s life as star quarterback for SCU. When he mentioned his cheerleader girlfriend, they inevitably began talking about Terrence’s relationship history.
“I’m assuming you don’t have a girlfriend now?”
“Right.” What kind of weasel would that make him, if he had a girlfriend and he was trying to play happy family with another woman?
“Well, because you won’t date me!” he exclaimed.
Her jaw dropped.
He laughed. “I’m just playing. I’ve been too busy to get serious with anyone.”
She nodded in understanding. “What was the cheerleader like?” He didn’t seem the kind to date the stereotypical cheerleader.
“The cheerleader was class valedictorian, cute and blonde… I stayed with her for four years.”
“What? What happened then? Shouldn’t you be married with two and a half kids, have a house with a white picket fence and all that?”
“I don’t think so. I- we didn’t see things that way. We split because we- were leading lives headed in two very different directions.”
Eve didn’t look convinced. “Who said that?”
“Her father,” Terry responded with an easy smile, his eyes warm behind stylish glasses. “He was a prominent southern politician. He needed his family to play a role. The last thing he needed was a computer geek for a son-in-law.”
“But you were star QB!”
He smiled, “Before my knee injury, Eve.”
“Oh… you never mentioned that! Do you still love her?”
Terrence laughed out loud. “No. It’s been eight years.” Pause. “Actually, ten years almost. I’ve been playing the field ever since.”
“Are you not getting tired of playing the field? You’re what, thirty-three?”
“Yeah.” He regarded her carefully. “I think I’m slowing down… but it’s always nicer when someone’s slowing down with you.”
“What about you?” he asked her.
“What about me?”
“Before Kendo… any serious guys?”
She wrinkled her nose. “One. Michael hated him. I was at school when I met him; he had already graduated from Harvard and was working for his dad. We were- or fancied ourselves- madly in love with each other… but we soon found out we weren’t.” A shadow crossed her face before she could hide it.
Terrence searched her face for a little bit. Then he asked softly, “What happened?”
“Oh, I got pregnant and I aborted. He never forgave me. He had wanted me to quit school and be a homebody but I didn’t want that for me.” She laughed without humour. “Not much luck with men and babies, huh?”
“Good for you,” he finally said softly. “I’m glad you stood up for what you believed in and it didn’t mess you up. That almost happened to me and the cheerleader, but it was a false alarm… Hearing your story proves how different the two of you are.”
“What does that mean?”
“Just that my tastes have changed- for the better, I hope.”
That was clearly a statement about her. She felt her breath catch in her throat. “Oh.”
They looked at each other, both trying to read the other’s expression. Terrence wasn’t sure what message she was sending, but at least one of them excited him. And that was his cue. Breaking the gaze, Terrence looked at his watch.
“I better get going. I’ve taken up so much of your time.” He stood up, running a hand through his dark hair.
She stood up too. “Well, I enjoyed it.”
“Yeah,” she said sincerely. “Thank you for a great afternoon.”
“Thank you,” he replied, making her laugh a little.
At the door, he said, “Stand still.”
She tensed, as her mind conjured up images of arachnids. “Why?”
“I’m going to kiss you,” he said.