Musings in the Dark: The End of a Love Affair (2)


The End of a Love Affair (2)

             I didn’t smile back.  “Well, what’s the other reason?”
“I was concerned about you, Zuri.  I meant it.  No one else in the field office showed the least bit of concern about you or what had happened.  Especially not J_____.  When I made a comment about it to Wolf Bridges, he said that you guys were always like that.  Then he told me that J_____ was the father of your baby, and that you guys were probably fighting about it.”
I closed my eyes as my face got warm.  How do I explain this to a guy—my sometime partner--I’d been working with for the past three months?
            “Zuri, I don’t care about that part.  What you do and who you do it with is your business.  I just don’t like the fact that nobody seemed to care, not even J_____ that you might be hurt.”
            “Kit,” I said, sitting up.  “Thank you.  And you’re right; very few seem to care what happens to me.  I’ve not endeared myself to anyone in the field office because of my loyalty to J_____.  You see how he ostracizes everyone. You know how I’ve treated you.  So I’m surprised that you’re sitting in my house, demonstrating that you care enough to check on me.  I haven’t given you a reason to be so concerned.”
            “I know we didn’t get along at first; you thought I was trying to replace J_____ when he went missing.  And your penchant for going off by yourself without notifying me irritated the hell out of me.  We were partners and I didn’t know you were pregnant then.  Your stubbornness could have gotten you and your baby killed.  You could have at least considered your child’s safety, Zuri.”
            “It was very early.  And I wasn’t sure if I was pregnant.  I really didn’t mean to worry you, Kit.  I guess J_____ has rubbed off on me more than I thought.”
            “He’s rather notorious, isn’t he?”
            “You have no idea.”
            “How is it that you’ve stayed with him so long?”
            “We’ve been through a lot.  You know how it can be, working with someone 24/7, sometimes so close you’re like one body.  J_____ isn’t a bad guy; he’s just misunderstood because nobody knows what motivates him.”
            “Do you?”
            “I thought I did.  But I’ve since learned that he really is a selfish bastard and it’s time for me to get away from him.”
            Kit blinked.  Then he looked at me.  “Zuri, do you mind if I ask you something personal?”
            I knew what he was going to ask me.
            “There’s gossip going around; Wolf was the one who told me, but I never put any weight in hearsay.  Is J______ the father of your child?”
            I wasn’t sure what to tell him.  J_____ and I had sex a few times and I had been trying to get pregnant.  He knew it and we already had an understanding about our relationship should I conceive.  But Kit didn’t need to know all of that.  “No. Not that it’s anyone else’s business, but I went to a fertility clinic.”
            “Hmm,” Kit said.  “Then why does everyone think he is?”
            “Kit, what’s with all the questions?”
            “I’m just trying to fill in all the blanks.  I don’t like what people are saying about you and what that means for me as your new partner.”
            “I don’t care what people say about me, Kit.  They can get in line with the rest of the assholes waiting for me to give a shit.  They’ll never get within shouting distance of the truth.   J_____ and I had an affair, but he didn’t impregnate me.  If you’re thinking that I’m a loose woman who fucks every partner I get, then let me make life easy for you and point you towards the door.  I don’t have to get along with or like anyone in that office; I’m there to work.”
            “You misunderstand, Zuri.  I never thought that.  I just heard the rumors and thought I’d come straight to the source.  Like it or not, we work together.  J_____ has issues with it; he’s territorial about you, but he’s just going to have to get over it.”
            I decided to tell Kit the truth.  “J____  has opted to treat this event as if it doesn’t matter to him at all.”
            Kit looked like someone had just goosed him.  “What?”
            “When I saw him in the hospital after he returned, he took one look at me and asked how the cases were going.  He was rather nonchalant at seeing my pregnant state.  I admit, it hurt me that he could be so nonplussed about something that means so much to me.  He knew how much I wanted a baby.  Since then, I’ve decided that my child is more important than our friendship.”
            “What an asshole,” Kit said.
            “Eight months ago, I would have defended J_____.  But I’m tired of him.  I’m tired of working in that field office and having nothing to come home to.  I need to get control of my life and that means getting away from J_____.  I’ve decided to get reassigned.”
            “What?  When were you going to tell me?”
            “In a few weeks, but I may as well tell you now.  I want to transfer back to Quantico as a firearms instructor.  I’d keep normal hours, do something I like, and most importantly, be able to be a mother to my child.”
            “You’re leaving?”
            “I need to,” I said.  “J_____ has proven himself to be what everyone’s been saying all those years.  A selfish, inconsiderate bastard.  I don’t have time for that anymore.  I’m going to be a mother and I want to put all my energies into being the best mother possible.”
            “You know he won’t just let you go, Zuri.  J_____ is possessive of you.”
            “Did he tell you that?”
            Kit closed his eyes and sighed.  “He didn’t have to.  I know the look.  Maybe it’s best that you get reassigned.”
            “I promise I was going to tell you.”
            Kit got up and sat next to me.  I stared at him; at those piercing obsidian orbs and at his mouth.  He had a beautiful mouth.  Why hadn’t I seen that before?
            “I believe you,” he said.  “Your obligations are to you and your baby.  You don’t owe me anything, Zuri.  Not even an explanation.”  Absently, he ran one hand over my bare foot and it was as if I’d received an electric shock.  I took a quick breath and looked at him.  He trailed one finger over my instep and I closed my eyes.
            “Kit...” I decided to ignore his actions and concentrate on the facts.  “I did mean to tell you.  I hadn’t quite worked it all out.  I was going to put in my request next week and hopefully be able to start back at Quantico after my baby is born. I’ve spoken with my old instructor and he’s pulling strings.  I always loved my firearms classes.”
            Kit seemed entranced by my foot.  I was glad I’d gotten a pedicure yesterday after leaving work. “That’s reasonable, Zuri,” he said.  “I know how good you are with your weapon.”  Then he murmured, “I’ll miss you, though.”
            I looked him dead in the face.  I didn’t hear the man right, I’m sure. Kit and I had been working together on and off for about three months, and we'd never once been able to have a conversation without it becoming heated.  I resented him for trying to replace J____ especially when I didn't know if he was dead.  It didn’t matter to me that it hadn't been Kit's choice to be partnered up with a woman everyone else called “the bitch.”
            “Why, Kit? This is the first time we've ever been able to sit down and actually talk.  I was sure you didn’t like me.  I sure as hell didn’t like you.”  No point in lying about it.
            “I’ll miss working with you.  You’re an all right partner, better than most I’ve had, in spite of the fact that we didn't get along.”
            “Kit, that doesn’t make a lick of sense.  We never knew each other and I pushed you away every chance I got.  I’d think you’d be relieved that you didn’t have to put up with me anymore.”
            He looked at me.  “Once I learned that you were pregnant, I could overlook your early erratic behavior.  And now knowing the truth of your relationship with J_____, I can forgive you for it.”
            “Thank you, Kit.  That’s very magnanimous of you.”  It was; for I’d been nothing but nasty to him when we first started working together.  “You’re very kind.”
            “Zuri, I’d like to be friends,” he said.  “You don’t have an ally in that office.  Not one.  Louis, maybe, but he plays the middle and sometimes you can’t trust him.”
            “Figured that out, have you?”
            “Didn’t take but two days.  Anyway, I came by to extend the hand of friendship.”  He did so, stretching his hand.  I grabbed it; his palm was warm and his hand was strong.
            “I accept,” I said.  It might be nice, having such a handsome man as a friend.  “But once I’m back at Quantico, you’re going to be stuck with J_____.  Good luck with that.  Let me recommend you keep a nice bottle of vodka, scotch or tequila in your desk. You'll want a nice stiff drink after dealing with him on a regular basis.”
            “I don’t drink,” he said.  “Do you?”
“Wine, occasionally. I'm just giving you a heads-up.  Once J_____ knows I’m gone and he’s working with you, you’re going to catch all kinds of hell.”
Kit laughed; it was a pleasant rumble and a dark lock of his hair escaped the ponytail. He smoothed it back into place with one easy swipe and smiled at me.  “I can handle J_____.  And just in case you’re wondering, your being at Quantico can’t stop me being your friend.”
            Why hadn’t I tried to get to know this man before?
            Kit sat back and looked at me.  “Are you hungry, Zuri?”
            I was amused to see that he hadn't made a move towards the door. As if he didn't want to leave. I wasn't bothered by Kit's presence; in fact, I was enjoying the company. J_____ was as close as I’d come to having male company in many years.  I cursed myself for allowing him to put a chokehold on my life.  But never again.
            I smiled at him and rubbed my thickening middle.  “I’m starving.”

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