Now, what happened next wasn’t right on my behalf or the cute little sales clerk behind the counter. Lauren and I were talking about phones and her possible move to Raleigh, North Carolina. A light bulb went off in my head. “Sir,” I said to the clerk. “I forgot my voicemail password.”
He smiled and asked what my number was. I gave him Shun’s and he handed over the pass code. Lauren and I exchanged looks that read, did this really happen? “Remember,” he said after handing Lauren her new battery, “it’s the last four digits of your social security number.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I replied and then we high tailed it out of the store. “Can you believe that?”
“No,” Lauren replied as we hopped in her car. “That was too easy. So, why did you do that?”
Shrugging, so many thoughts ran through my mind. I didn’t trust him. I wanted to be nosy. I needed proof that I wasn’t being played. Wait, scratch that. I knew I was being played, I knew I had the key to Pandora’s Box and I was going to open it. Could I handle what was going to be inside?
Later that night while I was working on a project for the city of Durham, an environmental study, my eyes were drawn to my phone. People talk about having an angel and a devil on their shoulders. Well, my devil bitch slapped my angel and talked me into picking up the phone. Dialing Shun’s number, I – for the first time ever – prayed he wouldn’t answer. He didn’t. Part of me wanted to hang up, but somehow my finger pressed the star key and when the electronic voice said, “Please enter your password.” I entered it.
Pandora’s Box was opened. The first message was a song, I want to say Nelly’s Dilemma, and then a female voice said, “This is how I feel about you.”
My mouth hit the floor but I continued to the next message –did I mention that this was Valentine’s Day? “Hi, Shun, thank you for the roses and the chocolates. I can’t wait to see you tonight.”
This was the first time I threw a cell phone against a wall and watched it smash into pieces. Thank God for insurance. I knew it was over between me and Shun, but just like the pieces of the phone on the floor, that’s how my heart felt. People write poems, books and romantic comedies about your first love. I need a serious drama about your first heart break. Was I bitter? Not yet.
Over the next eight months, I worked harder than ever. What else did I have to do? But things were about to change. While sitting at my desk, I noticed a tall, chocolate colored brother walking my way. Turning away from him, I pretended that the spreadsheet on my screen was the most important thing in the world.
“Excuse me?” he said.
Looking up, damn his sparkling brown eyes were amazing, I said, “Yes?”
“I’m looking for Mimi Collins.”
“Richard Roberts, “he said with his hand extended. “Steve Perry said we’re going to be working together on a research project for Carolina’s Medical Center.”
My boss was an asshole 364 days a year. Today, he was my best friend. “Really? This is the first I’ve heard of it.” This man is so damn fine.
Richard leaned against the desk. “I know. I begged to be a part of this project. I’m originally from Charlotte and my dad was a doctor at the hospital. Perry thinks my connections will work in our favor.”
I knew he was talking, but I couldn’t take my eyes off his lips. OK. I was horny. I was in trouble.
In order to down play my attraction to this man, I had to pretend that I was angry. “You know what, if Perry didn’t trust me with this project, he should’ve just said so instead of assigning me a chaperone.” I hoped that I sounded mad as hell and not like some high school girl with a massive crush on the quarterback. The extremely fine chocolate quarterback with warm brown eyes.
He held his hands up. “I don’t have anything to do with that.”
I folded my arms across my chest. “I bet you don’t.”
“Listen, we don’t have to competitors. We’ll get a lot more accomplished if we work together as a team.”
Oh, I know where I’d like to put in some team work, I mischievously thought. “Umm, OK.”
“I’m really excited about this project and working with you. Can we start over?”
Tilting my head to the side, I decided to stop playing angry and just offer him the nonchalant version of Mimi. “Whatever.”
Richard had the nerve to smile, revealing those pearly white teeth that could easily be used in any toothpaste commercial. “I’ll take that as a yes. How about I treat you to lunch and we can talk about the project and what you’ve done so far?”
“When I go to lunch, I don’t talk business. I mean, I put in twelve hour days, can I have one hour to simply eat?”
“Point taken. Still, I’d like to take you to lunch, unless you have plans.”
If I was smarter, I would’ve lied and said yes, I have plans. But I heard myself saying, “Sure, why not?”
He glanced at his watch. “Do you want to leave now?”
Turning back to my computer screen, I was surprised that it was as late as it was. “All right. Let me head to the ladies room real quick.”
Walking into the bathroom, I stopped at the mirror and gave myself a quick once over. Today had been a jeans and tee shirt day. Damn! Suddenly I wished that I wasn’t wearing a purple “Ride the Pony” Mustang shirt and well-worn jeans with a small hole in the knee. Well, at least my ass looked great, I thought as I turned around and took a glance at it in the mirror. My hair, though. Some serious Jimi Hendrix issues.
“This is just lunch with a coworker, not a date. Remember that,” I muttered.