Musings in the Dark: The End of a Love Affair (6)


The End of a Love Affair (6)

My baby is a blessing.  When I came home from the hospital with Jelani, I hadn’t received his furniture yet due to him being about three weeks premature.  My mother sent a crib for me to use until his furniture arrived, which was just dandy fine with me because he was sleeping in my room, not two feet from me.  And I was nursing him. My mother also told me that she and my father would be coming down to stay for a couple of days to help me out.  I was happy yet irritated.  Happy for the help and for my parents to see their new grandson.  Irritated because my mother would absolutely try to tell me how I should raise my son.  She was also hinting around at meeting Jelani’s father.  That was going to be a disappointment….and an argument.
            I shed most of the weight from the baby, and six weeks after Jelani’s birth, I was back to my size sixteen with the exception of my chest.  Needless to say, I had a set of casaba melons up top and all I could do was sigh.  Jelani eats so much and he has grown and changed so much.  When I nurse him, I find myself at peace.  It was during one of these times when I thought about my offer to Kit.  I really wanted to have my friend over for dinner.  Even though I was an utter shit when we met, he has been nothing but extraordinarily nice to me and extremely considerate under the circumstances.  He had taken care of me, looked out for me, and helped me bring Jelani into the world.  A home-cooked meal would never be enough to thank him for that.
            Kit had told me that he had something to tell me.  But he and J_____ got busy with old cases and new ones, and I hadn’t had a chance to really talk to him.  He would call and check on the baby and me, and I found our conversations lasting longer each and every time.  When my mother and father visited and got on my nerves, I found myself calling Kit to vent and gripe about their interference.  He always took my calls, but I made it a point not to call him so much.  He was so easy to look at and to talk to.  He had a beautiful smile, an arresting gaze, and a pair of wonderful, strong hands with clean nail beds.  I’d never seen him with his hair down.  I’m not at all sure what was contributing to my pleasant thoughts of Kit Eastman:  my newfound maternal insight, my disappointment in J____, or plain old feelings of like and dislike.  I liked Kit.  I did.  I really liked him.  After being around Kit for most of the year, I have come to see what a good man he is.  I’d be a fool not to recognize it.
As I nursed my son, changing breasts, I also chided myself for being a fool and not recognizing what I was sure Kit felt about me.  The times when I caught him looking at me had been revealing. I was sure he didn’t realize that I recognized the look in his dark eyes.  And truth be told, I was hungry.  Starving.  I was in desperate need of sustenance.  I’m a flesh and blood woman with needs and desires, and they had not been attended to in years.  J____ had been a fairly decent lay; I climaxed, but I know I’d gotten a better peak if I’d chosen to ride Kingda-Ka in New Jersey.
Was Kit good in bed?  I admonished myself.  All that had ever been between us was friendship and some stolen looks.  That did not a relationship make; much less a sexual one.  After J____, I wasn’t about to be another friend with benefits.  The point was that I did want to know more about Kit.  What would it be like to be with him?  Would he be interested in dating a single parent?  Could we date?  We no longer work together, so it was possible.  I sighed.  There’s nothing wrong with me wanting someone in my life, someone worthy to be around Jelani.  I knew I could be everything for my little boy, but I am not a man and Jelani needs a good father figure.  I knew better than to think that J____ would step up to the plate.
            I made up my mind to invite Kit over for dinner the next day.  It would be Friday and he could relax and enjoy a good meal and some conversation.  And even though I was no longer with Violent Crimes, the cases would always hold my attention.  Some were too weird not to.
            I put Jelani down and flipped through my recipe box to look for a fast and easy meal. Chicken, no…beef, no….hm…fish.  Fish.  I haven’t had fish in a dog’s age….fish would be good.  I reached for my cell and dialed Kit’s number from memory.  After a couple of rings, he answered.
            “Agent Kit Eastman.”
            “Agent Eastman?  It’s Zuri.  Zuri Troy.”
            “Agent Troy!”  I can hear the smile in his voice.  “As if I could forget you.  How are you?  How’s that fat little joker?”
            I secretly liked the nickname he’d given Jelani.  Jelani was a fat little joker.
            “We’re fine.  Can you come for dinner tomorrow night?”
“Did you forget?  I owe you…from being in the delivery room.”
“Agent Troy, you don’t owe me anything for that.  It’s I who owe you.”  A pause.  “It was beautiful to see.”
“Kit,” I smiled down at my baby, who was looking up at me with his big brown eyes.  “be at my house at eight o clock sharp.  I’m preparing fish and vegetables.  I hope you like fish.” 
“I love fish.  What kind?”
“Salmon and rainbow trout.”
“Agent Troy…”
“And I thought I told you my name is Zuri!  Eight sharp and be casual, please.  I’m wearing jeans, so don’t you dare dress up.”
“Zuri,” he paused.  Breathless, it seemed.  “Are you sure?”
“I’ve never been surer of anything else.  I want you over for dinner.  Kit, please come.”
“Okay.  I’ll be there.  Can I bring anything?”
“Well…no champagne or wine because I’m nursing, but anything else is welcome.”
“Okay.  I’ll see you later, Zuri.”  I could hear the smile in his voice.  He was as happy about that as I was.
“No later than eight, Kit.  Jelani will be very upset if you are late. So will I.”
This time he did laugh.  “Okay.  Good night.”
I hung up, smiling down at my baby.  For the first time, as a woman, I felt whole.  This was right.  I wasn’t setting Kit or myself up for anything, but he was turning out to be a really good friend.

The next day, Jelani’s furniture arrived.  Unexpectedly, of course.  I directed the driver to bring it into the spare bedroom.  However, he was not under any obligation to assemble my son’s bed, and being that I was his last stop and he was ready to get off work, he was not the least bit charitable.  So he left me with an unbuilt baby bed and all I could do was sigh.  My gurgling baby appeared to be amused with what his mother was having to put up with on his behalf.
“S’okay, you’re sleeping with me again tonight, little joker.”  I kissed his head.  I love my son more than life itself.  I hadn’t given the job or my transfer a thought.  I didn’t have time to put the bed together tonight; I wanted to nurse Jelani and take a leisurely bath before I started preparing dinner.  But as it stood, Jelani was seven weeks old and slept whenever the mood took him and I’d learned to sleep when he did.  So we both zonked out for a few hours and when I woke up, I realized it was seven-thirty and I’d not yet begun dinner.  The baby was still sleeping and I took that opportunity to take a quick shower.  I came out and slid into my old comfortable beat-to-hell jeans and slipped on one of my tank tops.  I was not about to get all cute, not when I’d just had a baby, was nursing, and was comfortable like I was.  I didn’t think Kit would mind; he’d always seen me look very chic and professional, except the day he came by my house.
I fluffed out my dark, kinky spirals and looked at myself.  I’d gotten more than my fair share of figure back.  My hips were curvy and my boobs had their own gravitational field.   I glared at the mirror.  Wonder if I’ll actually keep this shape after Jelani stops nursing?  I hope so.  I was a curvy, sexy little thing, so unlike I was before my pregnancy.  I wiggled my toes.  I’d been painting my toenails dark purple since being on maternity leave and they were freshly done.  I laughed.  J____ would never believe this.
Jelani awoke and wailed a moment and I picked him up.  I started cooing to him and playing and he began gurgling and smiling and I lost all track of time.  I’d forgotten I was supposed to be starting dinner when the doorbell rang.
“Damn!” I said. Dinner was supposed to be on the table and the fish hadn’t even been seasoned.  I went to the door, Jelani in my arms, and opened it.  Right on time, standing outside my door in a white shirt open at the throat and a pair of dark blue jeans, holding a bottle of what appeared to be wine was my partner.
His hair was down and he stared at me like I was something to eat.  My nipples sprang up as if they wanted to be his snack.  “Kit!” I said.  He just looked at me.
“Kit?  You okay?  Come in.”  I moved out of the way and he entered.  His stride was confident and he was wearing the hell out of those jeans.  Every bit of woman inside me woke up at once.  “What did you bring?”
“It’s sparkling white grape…no alcohol for you, Mom.”  He handed me the bottle.  “And is this the fat little joker?”  He gave me a look.  “Is it okay if I hold him?”
“Sure.  He weighs a ton and I gotta admit, he and I took a nap and I haven’t started dinner…so, do you mind?”
“Naaah, give him to me.” 
I handed him my son and Kit took him, holding him like he was a pro.  Jelani gazed up at him, wiggling and gurgling.  He reached for Kit’s nose and his tiny fingers slipped over the tip.  Kit chuckled softly and began cooing to the baby.
I watched him for a second and then I really got a good look at him with my baby.  No, I couldn’t have possibly noticed this before.  Not what I’m seeing now.  Even when he had on that hospital gown, it didn’t make him look like this.  I guess it’s the single woman in me finally clamoring for attention.  I stared at this man in front of me, belatedly realizing that he was…handsome, to be general, and fine as hell, to be specific.  I was looking at his jeans and I guess I was staring.  Why didn’t I notice this earlier?  I cursed myself for being too professional to pass up ogling opportunities like this.  And so close!  I fanned myself.  It had to be the sight of him holding and playing with my baby like he’d done it before.
I wondered if he had.  Then I coughed.  “Fish okay with you?” I finally said, getting my hormones under control.
Whatever you cook is alright with me.  I’ll eat anything.”

            I walked past him into the kitchen to begin cooking and he followed me.  I have bouncy baby seats in every room for Jelani bounce in while I do what needs doing.  One sat on the far kitchen counter.  Like a pro, Kit laid him in the chair, bounced him, and turned to help me.  I’d gotten out the fish and a box of wild rice and he actually washed his hands and began washing the fish.  I was too stunned to stop him; I wasn’t used to having a man in my kitchen.
            Kit patted the trout and salmon dry and I put the rice in the rice cooker with vegetable broth.  I told him to season the fish with salt, pepper, dill and lemon and pats of butter.  He followed my instructions while I beat up muffin batter.  Then he leaned back on the counter, glancing ever so often at Jelani, who was dozing, but watching me.  I felt it too.  I kept moving around the kitchen, pulling down seasonings and dishes, warm in spite of myself. I don’t know what it was that was making him stare so hard…I’d never felt like this before.  It wasn’t uncomfortable, but erotically pleasant, in ways that I’d never felt for years.  I didn’t want to fidget, so I lightly sprayed my popover pan and poured the batter into the deep cups.  Kit watched me and his eyes were like hands; fingers, touching me all over.  I could feel his breath against my neck and the heat of his body behind me.  It was like he was right up on me, when in actuality he was across the room.
I took a deep breath and as I looked at the pot of boiling water.   I unconsciously stood on one foot, which is what I usually do while waiting for my coffee to brew in the morning.  And I could feel his gaze all over me and I finally recognized the churning in my stomach for what it was.  I was hoping he approved…anticipatory of what he was wondering as he looked at me.  I put two bags of frozen vegetables in a colander and slipped it into the boiling water.  I didn’t have to wonder long.
“Zuri,” he said.
I put my foot down and exhaled.  “Yes?”  I couldn’t look at him.  I was nervous…yes me, a trained Agent and an expert marksman, nervous.
“Zuri…you’re beautiful.  You’re so damn beautiful.”
I turned to look at him and knew it was the truth, just by looking at his eyes.  “What?”
“I said that you’re beautiful.  Motherhood definitely becomes you.”
I looked down at my chest and hips and was about to fire off a sassy comment to squelch the tugging sensations going on in my crotch when he read my mind.
“And I’m not talking about your…curves…either, though they’re beautiful too.”
“I can’t help but look at you.  You should know that by now.”
“Kit, I…”
“I’m sorry if I’m offending you, Zuri.”
“You’re not.  I just thought…”
“I just thought you were thinking something else.”
“Do I want to know what?”
I grinned.  “Not unless you want me to tell you.”  I tested the veggies and stirred the rice.  Kit picked up Jelani, who was bouncing happily in his chair, and took him into the living room.
He thinks I’m beautiful.  My crotch sang its happiness.  Isn’t it amazing what having a baby will do for you?  But clearly, he thought that all along, even before he knew I was pregnant.  And watching him with Jelani was wonderful in itself.  Jelani isn’t used to anyone but me and Mom and Dad, and yet here he was gurgling at Kit.  Probably captivated by those sexy dark eyes.  From what I know of the secretary pool, those eyes could stop traffic. 
When dinner was ready, we ate at the table with Jelani on one side.  Kit told me about working with J_____ and how they would never be friends.  He said in no uncertain terms that J____ missed me and even A. D. Brady missed me.  The field office was rife with gossip, and people tried to get Kit to talk, and he wouldn’t.   J_____ was doing an MIA since coming to see me in the hospital.  I didn’t care anymore that he hadn’t been around to look in on me.  He called from time to time, but he’d allowed himself to become sucked back into those violent cases and I know how he is.  I was fine with it.  Whatever we had was at an end.  I used to love him, but not anymore.
            There were others to consider now.
Jelani began to cry and I knew why.  He was hungry.  I picked him up and sat on the couch, adjusted my tank and began to nurse him.  I’d left Kit sitting at the table and when I nurse my child, I tend to forget about everything else except him.  So I didn’t notice when Kit got up to go stand over by the wall to watch me nurse my son.  I was humming as Jelani fed.  I was hoping he’d go to sleep so I could clean up the kitchen, and spend time talking to Kit.  I stroked his forehead, smiling at the spattering of soft brown fuzz on his head.  He smelled so good, better than chocolate, fresh air, everything.  I smelled his head and adjusted him so that he could feed from my other breast.  When I switched arms, I noticed Kit standing over by the wall watching me.  There was a tenderness in his eyes, a sweet seductive pain and our eyes locked.  I didn’t notice that my milk had started to spray in Jelani’s face.  Jelani wailed and I attached his lips to my awaiting nipple and, suddenly embarrassed that Kit saw my naked breast, looked for something to cover me. 
“Don’t…please.  If you’re uncomfortable, I’ll go in the kitchen, but don’t…”
I looked at him.  I wasn’t uncomfortable, but you know, my breast was kind of on display for him to see…
“My wife used to breastfeed our son when he was a baby and I loved watching her with him.  I’m sorry if I’ve made you uncomf—“
What he’d said was news.  “You’re married?”
“I used to be.  We divorced five years ago, after our son died.”
“Oh,” I said.  “I’m so sorry.”
“She would let me watch her nurse our son.  I didn’t realize how much I missed it until just now.  But if my staring bothers you…”
            “I’m not uncomfortable, Kit.  I’m at home.  I didn’t want to make you feel awkward.”
“I’m not.  That’s just…beautiful…to me.  Sorry.”
“Stop apologizing.  Come sit down beside me.”  With my free hand, I patted the sofa cushion. He eyed me warily and ran his fingers over his left brow.  Was he nervous? Was I?  I did a mental reconnaissance and decided I wasn’t and I wanted him to sit with me while I cared for my baby.  We’re both adults and from what he just told me, he’d seen this before.
            “Do I have to come and get you?  Sit down.”
            “Yes ma’am,” he said, smiling and coming to sit on the other end of the couch.  I glared at him. He looked at me and there was no trace of a smile or grin in his voice when he said, “I’d better sit here, if it’s okay with you.”
Our eyes met and his expression told me what his voice was not able to articulate for fear of embarrassment or anger.  I shivered unconsciously, waking my baby who’d finally drifted off to sleep.
Kit’s eyes went from mine to my son.  “You woke him up.”
I looked at my son.  “I see I did.”
Jelani stuck out his little tongue and scrunched up his face.  A minute later, I smelled
something foul.  Kit looked at my face and laughed.  “What’re you feeding that kid?”
I laughed back.  “Breast milk.”
He shook his head and I eyed him as I began to rock Jelani.  “Don’t you say another word!”  I would have never thought that he and I would be able to engage in bantering such as this.  It was so fun and soooo relaxing to verbal spar with a man other than J_____.  I got up and went to go change my son.  Not surprisingly, Kit was there to help and he saw the pieces of Jelani’s bed lying all over the floor.
“Troy…Zuri, why didn’t you tell me the bed needed building?”
“Uh, it arrived right before you did.”
He looked at me; those eyes of his penetrating right through me and my crotch gave a yell I’m sure he heard.  I sighed.  Without a word, he bent down, giving another fantastic view of his denim-clad ass.  I shook my head.  It’d been two years, seven months, two weeks and three days since I’d had a really good lay.  And without the least bit of doubt, I had a strong feeling this man would give me way more than that.  I grabbed Jelani’s diaper bag and carried him out of the room to change him.
After he was freshly changed, I sang him to sleep.  My little joker was all tuckered out and I put him down in his crib, turned on the monitor and shut the door.  I adjusted my tank top and ran my hands over my jeans and went back into the bedroom where Kit was assembling the baby bed.  And I was not surprised to see him almost done.  How’d he do it so fast?  Must be an old pro.
“Need help?”
He turned to look at me.  “Not really, but your company would be nice.”
I grinned.  He began screwing in the upper rails and eyed me.  “I heard you singing to him.  That wasn’t ‘Rock-a-bye-Baby,’ wasn’t it?”
I rolled my eyes and dropped down next to him to help him.  “No.”
“So?”  His eyes twinkled and I decided that I really did love his eyes.
“Okay, it was an Al Green song, all right?”
“Al Green?”
I blushed.  I’d been Al Green fan for years and to get Jelani to sleep, I usually sang to him “Still In Love With You,” or “Tired of Being Alone,” which is one of my favorites.  Jelani liked the melody.  I liked Al.
“Yes.  And what’s wrong with Al Green?”
“Nothing.”  He tightened the rails.  “You mind playing him for me?”
            I loaded Al’s Greatest Hits into my cd player and hit play.  Sure enough, that wonderful melodic intro came on and I found myself swaying with my eyes closed.  And I began to sing along to “Still in Love With You.”  I LOVE this song!
When I opened my eyes, Kit was lounging in the doorframe, smiling at me.  Unashamed at all (did I mention how liberating having a baby is?), I held out my hand to him.  He came forwards and took it, coming close enough to slide his other arm around my waist.  The glimmer in his eyes told me more than I’d ever expected.  His mouth said, “I never thought I’d ever see you like this, Agent Zuri Troy.”
We began to dance to the music, eye to eye.  I was damn comfortable too, I don’t mind saying.  He fit so well with me, chest to breast, my hips aligned with his, as if we were parts of a puzzle.  “I could say the same myself, Agent Kit Eastman.”
“Well, that basement office doesn’t leave much room for dancing around, you know.”
I nodded.  “I do.”
And we danced and I couldn’t help singing along at my favorite part, “When I look in your eyes/you let me know how you feel/when it hurts so, to let you go/seems to me that I’m wrapped up in your love/baby don’t you know that I’m still in love with you/sho’ nuff in love with you…”
Kit was looking at me funny.  I had to explain.  “Jelani likes it when I sing this to him.”
I felt his arm around my waist tighten and pull me closer.  He wasn’t smiling anymore and his eyes were wavering limpid pools of black and were focused on my face.  I found I didn’t want to breathe.
            “He’s not the only one,” he said, his voice low.  I stared at him, knowing my mouth was parted and I looked stupid, but the kicker came when he said to me:
“You’d better slap my face, kick me out, shoot me or something, Agent Troy.”
“Why?”  I breathed, knowing the answer.
“Because of what I’m going to do next…”

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