Texas Heat Ch. 02: Second Chance

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Addie Andrews

“And I’m not sure why you would ask me to go to that meeting by myself anyway Evy! I mean, you’ve worked with me for more than 10 years! You know I’m a fucking idiot! Now the Board knows it too! And if I go, you go! You think they’re going to keep you if I get fired? You’re wrong! They’ll clear out this entire office! They—”

If I closed my eyes tight enough, I could make his voice disappear. I’ve had plenty of practice doing it. I mean honestly, if I saved a thousand dollars every time Michael went ape shit after a Board meeting, Bruce and I would be able to buy a penthouse on Fifth Avenue instead of renting the small, two-bedroom walk-up on the lower west side. I sighed, this was going to result in a major headache. Of that, I was certain.

“And after last week’s quarterly report, you knew they were going to be brutal! Did you really have to see the doctor on the day of the meeting? I mean really Evy! How inconsiderate are you?!”

When I’d had enough, I just stood and left his office. We certainly had that type of relationship after 11 years of working together. Instead of making my way to my newly renovated, much larger office, I went to the ladies room and locked the door behind me. I was nauseous. Had been nauseous almost every morning for the last three weeks. Every morning, like clockwork. The only diagnosis I could come up with had me scared shitless. I wasn’t ready. And Bruce? He would be in heaven. After five years of marriage, there wasn’t much else he wanted besides a baby. Oh, and of course he’d want to know why I wasn’t as elated as he was.

I had no answer for him. I was somewhat content, but I wasn’t ecstatic about my life. I didn’t regret selling my house or my car and moving in with Bruce. I mean, it made sense. I was only 45 minutes from work by train now. And I could catch up with work, listen to music, read or sleep on the train instead of worrying about traffic. I made enough that I took cabs to and from Penn Station, so I didn’t have to deal with the hustle and bustle of Manhattan other than making my way onto a New Jersey Transit train.

Bruce and I were comfortable. We had a nice nest egg divided into both conservative and relatively risky interest earning accounts. We had a pretty comfortable routine with respect to work and household chores. We’d traveled to a few different Caribbean islands and we’d made our way to visit friends in quite a few different states. Our most recent trip had been to San Francisco, where I fell in love with the Redwood Forrest. Next summer, we planned to spend two weeks in Bermuda. A second honeymoon of sorts. But Bruce would gladly forfeit our vacation to become a dad.

And we hardly ever fought. I mean a disagreement here and there, sure. But a gut based, tear filled, screaming match? Never. And I’d had some opportunities to go ballistic. Like the 60 and 70 hour work weeks? And when he started hanging out with his executive pals every Friday night and coming home in the wee hours of the morning totally drunk? Or when his little pals started frequenting gentlemen clubs and I found some phone numbers in his pockets? Or when he told me he was going to a conference, but actually went to someone’s bachelor’s party that lasted an entire weekend? But I didn’t blow a gasket. Instead, I simply asked him not to do it again and he promised he wouldn’t. That was pretty much it. Respectful. Kind. Tame. Mellow. That was us.

I sighed, glancing into the full-length mirror on the back of the door in the bathroom. I frowned at my size 12 hips. I’d been so happy when I lost the weight a year ago, but now I missed my plump little figure. I continued the examination, critical of my dark chocolate, rounded face, almond shaped eyes the color of amber, pudgy nose and full lips. God, was I really turning 42 this year? Was this really the cream of the crop for me?

I sighed at the question as I placed a hand over my belly. Was there really someone growing in there? And if I wasn’t happy with myself, or my marriage, did I want to risk making someone else’s life miserable? I could clearly fool Bruce into thinking we were happy, but a child would probably figure out I was full of shit, wouldn’t it?

I stuck my tongue out at the image in the mirror and unlocked the bathroom door. It was time to go and soothe Michael. Maybe a bottle of warm milk this time? I smiled at the thought.


It was after 8pm when I arrived home that night. I’d scheduled a doctor’s visit for the following week and decided not to mention my nausea, or my missed period, to my husband. Actually, after smiling warmly at our Puerto Rican downstairs neighbor, who knew I was married but flirted with me outrageously anyway, I unlocked the front door and realized Bruce wasn’t even home yet. I glanced at the pricy watch on my wrist, a gift from Bruce for my 40th birthday, and frowned. He was usually home by now.

I tossed my trench coat on the antique straight back chair in the tiny foyer and took a moment to dig the cell phone out of my purse. I’d forgotten to turn the ringer xnxx back on after I left the office (Michael asks the staff to silence their cell phones). There were three messages from Bruce.

First message: “Hey, I’m gonna get stuck here tonight. Call me back.”

Second message: “me again, did you forget to turn the volume on your phone back on again?”

Third message: “okay, well, when you figure out you left the phone on silent, call me back.”

He’d left the last one 15 minutes ago. I called him back.

“Hey, finally figured it out?” He asked with a smile in his voice.

We’d had this conversation about 250 times, so there was nothing new to add.

“Yeah, finally. What’s up?”

“You okay?”

I sighed silently. He was, if nothing else, still very perceptive when it came to me.

“Michael was on the rampage today and I have a headache, that’s all.”

He sighed, “yeah, you guys had the Board meeting yesterday, right?”


“Well, you probably should have taken today off.”

I shook my head, “you know it’s worse if I let him stew. It’s okay, I’ll just take a couple of Advil and go to bed early.”

“You’re not going to eat anything?” He asked, his voice reflecting concern.

“Well, how late are you going to be? I might eat when you get home.”

“No, don’t wait for me. I don’t think I’ll be home before midnight. Maybe one.”

I nodded, “okay. Then I’ll just have something light. You’re going to use the car service, right?”

I hated the thought of his fragile, chubby little frame on the subway that late at night.

“Of course. Try to get some rest, okay?”


He’d disconnected the line by the time I said “kay,” but I didn’t care. I really did feel a headache coming on. I decided on a piece of toast, three Advil tablets, and a glass of water. I’d make up for it in the morning, but I was truly and absolutely exhausted.


Two weeks later, I was staring at myself, yet again, in a full length mirror. This time I was wearing a very pricy, knee-length black cocktail dress with black sheer stockings and black 3 inch stilettos. I’d planned to wrap a colorful sash around my shapely hips, but I vetoed the idea. I was positive it would accentuate the little bulge in my stomach area. I know I was only eight weeks, but I was confident I was showing (even though I knew that was absurd). I had no idea why Bruce couldn’t tell.

Instead, I went with oversized earrings. They had just a hint of amber hidden in a warm array of colors. Not only did the earrings accentuate my face instead of my hips, they also brought out the honey color of my eyes. My hair, which I wore shoulder length now, was pulled back into a severe bun. I grabbed the deep red cape, one of my favorite articles of clothing, from the closet near the front door and waited patiently for Bruce. He was so cute in his tuxedo. He was sliding his phone closed as he made his way to toward me.

“Are you sure you want to go? I can go alone.” He offered, the perfect amount of concern in his intense blue eyes.

I considered the offer for the hundredth time, but bowing out was simply not an option. Not only was Bruce’s employer a corporate sponsor for this art exhibition, but almost every member of our Board of Directors would also be in attendance. Michael had asked me to attend the event weeks before Bruce even mentioned it. I couldn’t back out now.

“It’s okay, I’m fine.”

“Are you sure? You’re not sleeping, you’re sick almost every morning…”

I smiled just a little. My husband was just a little clueless, wasn’t he?

“I’m fine. Let’s go or we’ll be late.”

We had opted to use his car service instead of trying to catch a cab up to the MOMA. While formal gatherings and art exhibitions were not high on my list of favorite things to do on a Friday evening, I was looking forward to the event. I loved up-and-coming artists, even if I couldn’t understand the hidden message in most of their work. And this event, designed to raise money for the world renown Museum of Modern Art, was probably going to be a dozy.


The event, as predicted, was well attended by a wide variety of muckety-mucks. I didn’t recognize most of the faces, but I knew enough of them to feel relatively comfortable. As usual, when I attended these events, mine was one of the only dark-skinned faces in the room. I noticed a few others, but they were few and far between.

I was chatting with Michael, two of our Board members and their companions, commenting on some ridiculous sex scandal in the news, when I noticed Bruce was no longer at my side. That was to be expected. He had tons of people he needed to schmooze with himself. I was sipping a club soda with lime and hating the taste of it (it reminded me of Alka Seltzer). But I was absolutely banned from alcohol for the obvious reasons. I would have preferred to be sipping on vodka, neat, but oh well.

Michael was retelling a story I’d heard many times before, so I tuned out bakire porno and started to take in my surroundings. I loved the amazing colorful outfits and the dazzling jewelry at these gatherings. Some women were so brave, wearing bold reds and greens. Some wore jewels worth enough to purchase a house for some middle class couple. I was always dumbfounded to find myself in such places, feeling out of sorts, and yet feeling special that I had been invited. Today, I was feeling a little less special and a little more nauseous. But that was par for the course nowadays.

My eyes were hopping from face to face, and I felt a little flutter of excitement when I recognized more than one famous personality in the room. I tried not to stare like an idiot fan at a very well known singer, one of my favorites actually, when my eyes encountered, of all things, a head full of cornrows. I grimaced, taking in the rest of the person’s body. A tuxedo, a very nicely tailored tuxedo, and cornrows? What the hell? That was an odd combination to say the least. The person’s back was to me, so I could only admire the excellent cut of the jacket, comfortably outlining a broad back. The long jacket was tapered at the waist and the slacks hung perfectly. The fabric, as flattering as it was, could not hide the powerful body beneath it, huge biceps and wonderfully muscular thighs. My eyes stayed glued to that back, even as Michael attempted to draw me into the conversation more directly. It was such an odd combination, that exquisite tuxedo and cornrows. And it had been so long since I’d seen a head full of cornrows like that. Thick, heavy ropes of dark, rich hair, braided straight back and hanging past the stranger’s shoulders. The image was achingly familiar…one that I had tried very, very hard to erase from my brain.

Of course now that the image was staring me in the face, I couldn’t help but think of the person that went along with those braids. For a moment, I couldn’t banish the image of her, wearing a white wife beater tee that revealed a taut, flat stomach, and small, firm breasts. Those heady, perfectly sculpted thighs and muscular biceps that were as wide around as my thighs. I thought of her rich caramel skin and her wide, flat face with the narrow nose that had an odd bump on the ridge. And I remembered the heat in those deep, rich chestnut eyes…the heat, and ultimately the pain. Because even though it had been more than five years, I still couldn’t forget the look of defeat on her face that final evening.

I shook my head. No. I had enough on my plate without drudging up that memory. I had no room in my life for eccentric, non-committal millionaires. Well, other than Michael of course. And I wasn’t exactly sure Michael was a millionaire. I smiled at my silly thoughts and was about to turn away from the person who had dredged up the painful image when the person turned and…



It was not possible.

My heart hitched, just a little. And the feeling of nausea intensified in a way that had me clamping a hand over my mouth. Michael noticed the gesture and was at my side immediately.

“Evy, what’s wrong? Are you okay?”

I couldn’t answer him. My brain wasn’t working. My eyes were glued to that person, that woman, in the tuxedo. It just couldn’t be.

Michael was still asking questions, but instead of answering, I just started to shake my head and move backwards. I needed Bruce. I needed Bruce to take me home. Now. I had to get out of here. What was she doing here? I left Michael, bewildered I’m sure, and fled from the room. I’d seen Bruce briefly a few minutes ago. He’d been in one of the smaller rooms I was avoiding. The room had wild, violent images of nude bodies casually tossed onto canvases in a way that disturbed me. I’d left that room quickly, but now sought it out desperately. He wasn’t there, but a few of his colleagues were. They pointed in the direction of a room that I thought was off limits. I took off in that direction, trying to clamp down on the chaos that was swirling through my brain and stomach. The room was relatively dark. There wasn’t anyone there except for a couple making out in a poorly lit corner. I was about to turn, about to search elsewhere, when I noticed the hint of turquoise on the man’s wrist. Turquoise blue…like the turquoise and platinum watch I had custom-made for my husband for our fourth anniversary. I sighed. You had to be fucking kidding me.

I was tempted to just turn and leave. To convince myself that the chubby man dressed in the nicely fitting tuxedo that I’d helped pick out, was not Bruce. It just looked like Bruce…and the little blonde, skinny skank that worked as one of the Administrative Assistants in his office. I sighed again, the migraine that had threatened to visit me after seeing that form from my past now settling in for a long visit.


My voice was cool, calm and collected. Unlike his beat red face when he turned and quickly moved a few feet from the woman he head been holding bedava porno in his arms a second ago. I simply raised a brow.

“I’m not feeling well. Can we go?”

He wasn’t sure what to say or do. I think my demeanor made him even more flustered. He just stood there, staring at me in shock and horror. I licked my lips.

“Bruce? Should I call a cab?”

I was trying to behave. Trying to give him a way out by simply behaving in a normal, sane manner. And I was trying not to hurl. I just needed to leave. I had to get out of there before anything else happened.

“Evy, I-…I-…Evy, I was just—…it’s not what—”

I couldn’t wait anymore. I turned and fled again. I sought out the first exit I could find and found myself on the street, in the middle of a nightmarish traffic jam from all the limos and other cars waiting on the guests inside. I had left my cape and the goose pimples on my arms should have clued me into the fact that it was chilly, but it didn’t really register. I couldn’t care less. I had to get out of there. Now. I had to leave. I had to get home. I had to—


That voice…that deep…raspy voice. I closed my eyes tight. This was not happening. Anyone could see I was losing it. My brain was on overload. It was all too much. My marriage, the sleepless, restless nights, Michael’s panic attack, the pregnancy, Bruce and whats-her-fucking-face…and now Pasadena. I just couldn’t handle it. First, the little I had eaten was ejected, forcefully and painfully, from my body. And then…it was like a jackhammer inside my head. The mother of all migraines. The lights, the honking horns, the chattering people…I don’t know how I wound up on the ground. My body might have sought more sturdy support…or I just collapsed. Either way, I was sitting near a pool of my own vomit, my eyes closed, my breathing shallow. I thought I might faint, but I don’t think I lost consciousness. At least I don’t think it did. But I don’t remember exactly what happened next either. I remember strong arms around me, helping me to my feet. I remember walking, walking…a strong hand holding my elbow, guiding me. I remember a surprised doorman, an elevator with mirrors everywhere, and a thick, plush carpeted corridor. Then I heard a door closing and that strong arm was leading me to a very comfortable sofa. I felt a cool cloth on my forehead. I lay back, hoping I didn’t offend anyone by putting my feet on the sofa, and shut down completely.


The first thing I realized when I woke, and was brave enough to open my eyes, was that the jack hammer had dulled a bit. Then? An inky blue-black sky and the spectacular Manhattan skyline. The Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, a gaping hole where the Twin Towers once stood…a huge window, taking up the entire length of a wall, highlighting the spectacular view. I looked around slowly, taking in the extravagant images of white sofas, red pillows, red rugs tossed casually over a white carpet, wonderfully intelligent art pieces decorating stark white walls, dim lighting…where was I? A penthouse? Fifth Avenue? I couldn’t be sure. Whoever owned this place clearly had money, that was for sure.

I sat up slowly, removing my feet from the white sofa. My head rejected the idea of movement, but I didn’t have much of a choice. I removed the cloth from my forehead and placed it on the glass table beside the sofa. I couldn’t see anything past the view and the wonderfully decorated room. I sat back against the thick, comfortable cushions and waited.

I heard footsteps before I saw anyone. Cloth against carpet. Someone in socks. And although I think a part of my brain was prepared to see her, the rest of me was not. My heart hitched again and I forgot to breathe for a moment. The jacket and tie were gone and the crisp white shirt hung loose, the top few buttons undone. She was carrying a brandy snifter and knelt before me.

“Try this.”

Even in my dazed state, I remembered I couldn’t. “I can’t.”

“It’ll calm you down a little.” She assured me.

“I can’t, I’m pregnant.”

That made her pause. She stood abruptly and left the room with the snifter. I just sat and waited for whatever was next, imprinting the image of her in my mind for the long days and nights ahead. I’d missed her. I had convinced myself that I hadn’t, but I had. I sighed, so much for making the “right” decision all those years ago. I leaned my head back and sighed again. God, what had I done with my life? Why had I listened to Zee? I should have trusted myself and just taken a gamble. But then again, I hadn’t been way off. Even she had agreed that perhaps she wasn’t the one for me…at least back then she wasn’t.

I’m not sure how much time passed before I heard her footsteps again. This time she held a mug with steam curling out of the top. I sniffed the mug when she handed it to me. Peppermint tea. Pasadena Williams serving me peppermint tea? Times had certainly changed.

I sipped at the hot liquid, allowing it to soothe my upset tummy. She sat back on her haunches and just watched me with those cool, veiled chestnut brown eyes. After five or six sips, I set the mug down on the glass table and turned to face her. A few moments of silence hung between us until I couldn’t take it anymore.

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