She nearly jumped out of her skin. “Jesus!”
A lamp switched on and it illumined the figure of Jack reclining on the little black leather couch near the front window.
“Jack! You scared me to death!” she scolded, even as she took in the fact that he had on a suit and a loosened tie, a combination that made him long, lanky and devastating.
“I’m so sorry. I thought I’d warn you I was here.”
“What are you doing here in the dark?”
“Meditating,” he said. Then he recapitulated and told the truth. “No, I came in to work on the architectural designs and I never got started.” He smiled. “What are you doing here, isn’t it kind of late?” He looked at his watch.
She felt self-conscious. Sure, this was his office, and she was his office administrator, but the fact that it was eleven at night, and that they were alone in it somehow changed its flavor. “Thought I’d work a little. Couldn’t go to sleep yet.”
“Something on your mind?” he asked.
The same thing that was always on her mind, whether sleeping or waking, and that made it hard to sleep sometimes. She looked at his clothes. Where did he go off to every time he dressed like that? She felt tortured by a strange mixture of anger and anxiety. To be more accurate, of fury and despair.
“Where did you go? You’re all dressed up,” she asked.
“I went to feast.”
A feast sounded worse than a date. Why pour salt on the wound? “What is a feast?” she asked.
He sat up straight. “A feast is a community gathering, sort of a devotional meeting.”
She should have known it was something wholesome like that. Jack was a damn eunuch. Couldn’t see a woman if she were dangled in front of him. Except…maybe there was someone at these “devotional meetings.” Some skinny ass white girl with lanky blond hair and a valley girl voice. Again the fury mixed with despair, like ink coloring water. She was going crazy.
“Do you…do you have a girlfriend there?” Now she had done it. Now she couldn’t retreat anymore. She leaned her body up against the door jamb leading to Jack’s office. They had been talking like that, from a distance. Him in one corner of the room, her in another.
Jack got up from the couch now, and moved to where she was. He leaned on the other doorjamb and said, “No.”
That was all he said. But his eyes were trying to say something more. Or maybe it was that she wanted them to. She wouldn’t look away, she could only wait. Not breathe and wait.
Despite his outward calm, a million thoughts whizzed through Jack’s mind. Inside him there was a war, between his ethics and his desires, his upright character and his obsession. He was aching to taste those carmine lips so close to his; kiss those eyes, luminous and misty, that bore into him with fascination.
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