Chapter Two

She hurriedly shook that feeling and deftly released the sheet from the bed while simultaneously wrapping it the rest of the way around her, and glided to the adjoining bathroom. Once in the door, she realized his tastes and design choices are a consistent, recurring refrain.  The floor and backsplash tile were a collage of muted oranges and reds, the stained-glass window displayed the brighter versions of the same colors.  Again, she was mesmerized by the beauty of it.  She could hear him in the background; it wasn’t muffled or unintelligible, but very echo-like. She felt as if she were in a tunnel, sort of like what people describe when their blood pressure gets so high that it’s dangerous.  She knew it wasn’t her blood pressure though, it was her common sense, cocooning her and bringing her back to a point of reference.  Wrapped up in her thoughts, she realized that she’d left her clothes out in his bedroom, thereby thwarting her plan to change and make a quick escape.  After debating with herself for what seemed like hours (but was probably all of 3 minutes), she swathed herself more tightly with the sheet and opened the door.  She was startled to find him standing there, coffee-colored arm extended with her former night’s garb at the end.  Feelings of relief and shame washed over her as she mumbled thanks, snatched the clothes from him and secured the door, all in one continuous motion. She felt trapped as she dressed, methodically, and searched the leftover alcohol fog left in her brain for his name.  She knew he would be waiting outside that door and wanting to have more pointless conversation.  Jimmy, Jarrod, James…wait, was it a “J” name or an “M” name? She could not, for the life of her, even remotely recollect.  That was it! She didn’t normally do this type of thing but desperate times call for desperate measures, right? She quietly and nimbly started searching through his drawers and cabinets for an empty medicine bottle or package with his name on it.  She promised herself that she wouldn’t look at what kind of medicine it was-just the name. Pay dirt! She found an envelope that had the name John Freeman on it. That was it…JOHN! How could she forget something so normal, so average? So now she was dressed, informed and ready for the “great escape”.  She opened the door, and “John” in his entire cocoa-y splendor was standing right there, purposefully putting himself in her personal space. Normally, Tati would have been offended and possibly intimidated but maybe it was his body language and his Spirit, she felt he was doing it to send another type of message.  She gracefully waltzed around his massive body-silently thanking God for the 17 years of dance instruction-and made her way over to the chair that contained her other personal effects, and efficiently gathered them. Pirouetting around, she found him near again. It was so disquieting that this man, in such a short time, could have such an effect on her! She summoned up her strength, looked him the eye and articulated, “Look John, I know what you’re probably thinking….” Interrupting her he whispered, “Tati, please, I…”  “No, John, I have to say this before I lose my nerve. Last night, when I met you, there were extenuating circumstances. Obviously, I had far too much to drink but that was the after effect of a very lengthy and difficult situation, and you need to know that this would never had happened if I had displayed a little self-control. I mean, you’re a very attractive man and you seem really sweet but….” 

“Tati…” Why does this dude keep interrupting me? If I was sober, I’d never have tolerated this foolishness! “First of all, I have to tell you, my name is Collan, Collan Freeman. My brother and my father are named John, although I don’t know how you’d know that. Second, I don’t know what you think happened but what really happened was your friend, and I use the term loosely, left you there-although you were obviously too impaired to drive or even take care of yourself.  I came over and checked on you and felt that if I’d left you and something happened I wouldn’t ever be able to sleep again.  You couldn’t tell me where you lived so dropping you off at home wasn’t an option. I even looked in your purse but couldn’t locate your identification. You should never do that, by the way,” He said in a soft yet stern voice. “I decided that you’d be better off with me than left alone anywhere. I put you in my bed, fully clothed, and when I came back in to get some blankets and pillows for the guest room, your clothes were on the floor. You called me over to you. You sounded so, sad, so distressed, that I felt I had to. Once I came over to you, you begged me to hold you. It was so sincere and heart-felt and you looked so beautiful, that I did. I stayed on top of the covers and just tried to hold you until you fell asleep. You eventually cried yourself to sleep.”  Stunned wouldn’t even come close to how Tatiana was feeling at the present moment. She couldn’t have felt worse if she’d been hit with a train and then run over with an 18 wheeler. The only difference is she wouldn’t have had to face the horror she was facing now.  She felt the warmth creep up her neck and hit her jawline, and although her common sense told her differently, because she was too brown to show it, she just knew he could see her mortification. There could be nothing good that this man could say about her and, right now, she didn’t have a great deal of positive things to say about herself. Clutching her possessions even more tightly, and mumbling a weak, unconvincing “thank you”, she dropped her head and abruptly pushed past him to the door.  The sooner she got away from him the sooner she could forget the craziness of the night before. She could hear him saying something as she was closing the door, but she really didn’t care. She wasn’t going to stay and be embarrassed a minute longer, and facing him would bring nothing but embarrassment to her. As she slid into her car, she once again gave a mental thank you to the Almighty for sending her a smart and street-wise Te Te that taught her when she goes out to put her I.D. in her pants pocket, just in case. If not for that, this Collan/John person would have her address!  She pulled her seatbelt across her and instinctively reached around to feel for her license in her back pocket and…NOTHING!  Thoughts raced through her head like the last leg of the Kentucky Derby. Oh no! Where could it be? Agitated, she desperately searched her purse(although she knew it wasn’t there) and then her jacket, and then what happened next made her heart drop into her size 8-and did I mention, fabulous-shoes. There was no mistaking who was at the other end of the knock, knock, knock on her car window. She slowly and painfully turned around to see those eyes-those kind, yet slightly amused, eyes.


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