Kyle sat in his office upbeat. He opened the blinds to let light filter into the dim office. It was a cloudy day outside, but the sun was shining somewhere in the world probably even in the next county. Wherever it was shining, he was feeling the effects from it. He and Breanna had been seeing each other for three weeks and he felt himself changing.
He hadn’t lost his temper once and his sudden change in attitude baffled people around the office. He was speaking, laughing at jokes and even made suggestions during department meetings. Normally, he would sit and not add any input or pay attention to what discussions were going on. Breanna was slowly changing him to the person he was before marrying Frances.
This morning he left a surprise for Breanna on her desk. She should be in soon and he couldn’t wait to see her reaction. He got up and walked to the window that overlooked the bullpen. He shook his head and frowned.
“Dammit! She was in.” She hadn’t come to his office or called him. Yet that’s what they had agreed on, at his insistence. No special endearment at work—and there was none. So why did it feel so much like she was rejecting him by not responding to the gift he’d left on her desk?
All emotion died when he blinked his eyes to make sure he saw right. He saw Breanna stand up and hug Brent. Kyle’s face glowered in a mask of fury. Why in the hell is she hugging him?
His nostrils flared as tension ran through his body as he watched them. He loathed Brent’s cheesy smile. The jealousy cut through him as Breanna smiled back. His attention dragged away from them to Bruce walking up the steps. He turned away from the window and went back to his desk. The bright rainbow that hung over his head a few minutes ago had washed away and the storm clouds moved back in to reclaim their territory.
Bruce knocked once before letting himself inside Kyle’s office. “Good morning, Kyle.”
Kyle mumbled a grumpy reply, “Good morning.”
“Oh, hell, what happened to put you in a bad mood again?”
His index finger rubbed across his eyebrow. “Nothing. What can I do for you, Bruce?” He tried to shake off the irritation of Brent and Breanna hugging to focus on work. He had to trust Breanna and know she wouldn’t do anything to hurt him.
“We’ve been invited to attend a conference in New Mexico. Our plane leaves tomorrow morning at 10:00am. Don’t be late.”
Abruptly, his head lifted up. “Excuse me? We’re going to New Mexico for a conference? How long is this conference, Bruce? A day? Two days?”
“Seven damn days of exchanging ideas about the coffee business. We’ll know more about coffee beans than the average person should know.”
A whole week including the weekend away from Breanna didn’t register in his mind. What would he do without her? What would she do while he was away? His absence would give Brent seven days to pursue and entice Breanna to be with him.
“You gotta be kidding me, Bruce. Now is not a good time for me to go on a business trip.”
“Come on, Kyle, it won’t be all bad. We’ll get in a round of golf or two and I hear the entertainment is going to be to our liking if you know what I mean.”
Kyle knew what he meant. The last conference he attended was in Las Vegas. The actual meetings were thirty minutes to an hour long while the rest of the time was spent gambling or entertaining cheap hookers. He was neither interested in gambling his money away or risk catching a disease by having sex with a hooker. If he wasn’t having sex with Breanna, he wasn’t having sex at all.
“I’m not interested in golf and I’m sure as hell not interested in the lively entertainment they’ve lined up. Bruce, you’re a married man for God’s sake.”
“I’m married not dead, Kyle. When Frances did her shit to you, you should have thrown it back at her. You’re a good-looking guy, you could’ve nailed any woman you wanted but instead you chose to be upstanding and let that bitch break you. And boy did she break you good. When’s the last time you had any, Kyle. I’m 62 years old and get more sex than you.”
He pushed away from his desk and crossed one leg over his knee. “You’re telling me way too much, Bruce. Anyhow, I don’t drop the dipstick just anywhere. You have to be careful these days.”
“I’m packing so I’m good,” he said in a deep belly laugh. He closed the door and took a seat at the end of Kyle’s desk. “I’ve notice you and Breanna are working more closely together. What is her deal?”
Kyle shrugged his shoulders. “She is coming along fine. I won’t have to supervise her as closely anymore unless she runs into a problem.”
“No, that’s not what I’m talking about. Is she seeing anyone?”
Yeah! She's seeing me you freaky old fuck! “Not that I know of, why?”
Bruce looked again at the door to make sure it remained closed. “Kyle, I don’t like to meddle in your business but you should pursue her. I get you don’t like to mix it up outside your race but she is a sweetheart and I think she would be good for you.”
“Why me and not one of the other eligible men working here?”
“They aren’t any except for Brent and he can’t pleasure a woman like her. He’s too much of a pansy. She needs a strong man. A man with big hands like yours to caress the fine curves of her body. Hell, any man can bed a woman his of own race. But to taste the forbidden nectar of a luscious woman like Breanna…damn. I have died and gone to heaven just thinking about it.”
Kyle crinkled his brows. “You’re a dirty old man, Bruce.”
He nodded in agreement. “Tell me something I don't know. Anyhow, have you really taken a look at her?”
He tried to play down his excitement. “I have and she is attractive.”
“Marla is attractive. Breanna is gorgeous.”
Kyle frowned. “I wouldn’t even compare those two together.”
Bruce folded his arm across his wide belly. “You and Marla got off to a bad start. She accused you of being over friendly which led…”
His expression darkened. “It led to an investigation of sexual harassment against me. I don’t like Marla and nothing will change that. She and Brent are trying their best to turn Breanna against me.”
“Do you have any proof of that?”
“If I did I wouldn’t do anything, Bruce. Brea…I mean Breanna doesn’t listen to them bash me. She’s forming her own opinion about me.”
Nothing got past Bruce. He might be nearing retirement, but his mind was sharp as a whip. “I see. Keep up the good work, Kyle. I’ll meet you at the airport in the morning.”
Kyle jumped up from his seat and watched Bruce round the bend that led to the stairs to the fourth floor where his office was located. He leaned over the railing to see if Breanna was in her cubicle. He saw the top of her head.
Hurrying down the steps, he rushed over only to see Brent relaxing and chilling in her cubicle. They both looked at him. Breanna sat at her desk with a container holding her breakfast in front of her. “Kyle, is anything wrong?” She asked coolly.
He looked at that two of them then cast his eyes on Brent. “Don’t you have enough work to keep you busy so you aren’t always hanging out in her cubicle?”
Brent sneered. “How would you know how often I’m here unless you’re spying on us from behind your closed door, Kyle?”
“Tread carefully, Brent—you don’t want to go there with me.”
“You’re the one that needs to tread carefully! Bruce is one step from kicking you back to a cubicle so don’t look down at me like I’m your underling. If I play my cards right, I will be in that office flicking my nose up at you.”
Breanna looked at both men. “Wait a minute; we’re in a business setting not outside. What is going on with you two?”
Brent dumped the remainder of his breakfast in the trash. “Boy wonder can’t stand we are close, Brea. He is shaking in his boots that you’ll join the club railing against him. Don’t let his false persona fool you. Yeah, he’s been talking it up with folks around here the last few weeks, but we all know its bullshit on his part and we’re still keeping him at arms-length.”
“Keep talking, Brent,” Kyle warned.
Breanna stood between the two hostile men. “I don’t know anything about that club but Kyle must need to talk to me or he wouldn’t be here. So, Brent, we are done with breakfast. We’ll take a break for coffee later and talk some more, okay?”
Brent winked his eye and patted Breanna on the shoulder. “Yeah, we will,” he said going back to his cubicle.
Kyle grabbed Breanna roughly by the hand. “Let’s talk outside.” He knew he was rough with her, but he was pissed to the point of no return. They took the stairs, her heels clicking against the marble as she followed behind him.
Once they were outside, he didn’t stop until they were in the parking lot and away from prying eyes and ears. “What the hell is going on with you and Brent?”
She pushed strands of hair away from her face. She was upset and let him know it. “First of all who in the hell do you think you are! You don’t drag me out here like you are about to beat my ass! I’m not your property, Kyle!”
His jaw twitched and she had every right to be angry what him. What he did to her would appear controlling and obsessive on his part. He put his hands on his hips taking a hard stance. “I’m fucking pissed, Brea! Every time I turn around that bastard is with you! Why does he occupy so much of your time?”
“Oh, no, sweetheart, you ain’t seen pissed until now. You are way out of line, Kyle. Who I talk to on the phone is my business. Who I socialize with at work is my business! All you need to worry about is what we do together. And if I were to base that on what is going on now, it would be absolutely nothing. I am so mad at you right now it isn’t funny.”
“Be mad at Brent! You don’t really have a reason to be mad at me!”
“Really! Do you think it was cute to have the heels of my shoes bang out a melody as you dragged me down the stairs!”
He couldn’t make her see his view on the subject and was pushing it by arguing with her. “You don’t understand how it looks to me, Brea! Brent is always around you.”
Her usually light brown eyes had turned black and her shapely brows formed into one as her face knotted with anger. She shook her head. “You will understand how it looks when I walk away from you. And don’t follow me! You need to stay out here and cool off.”
“Brea, wait! What about getting your car tonight?”
“I’ll catch the damn bus. I don’t want to talk to you anymore today,” she yelled back at him as she stomped around the building.
He kicked the front tire of his car. “Damn that woman!” He spewed as the security guard on his rounds through the parking lot stopped to check on him.
“Everything okay, Mr. Lombardi?”