A seal upon your heart, p.17
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       A Seal Upon Your Heart, p.17

           Pepper Pace
 

  “That child will never grow into a woman if she lives here. I wanted her to…” Sister Louise paused. “Live life.” She whispered. “And several sisters offered to take her in. But then…she left them and that has worried me. Because she is an innocent and the world is hard. We try to give them the skills to succeed but we can’t prepare them for the hardness of the world when we ourselves have retreated from it.”

  Tim let out a slow breath. He felt deflated.

  “Mr. Singleton, I’m going to ask you this. Please look after her.”

  “I have.”

  “And take care with her.”

  He rubbed his face. “I will.”

  “She’s a child of God.”

  Tim nodded. “I understand Sister. I’ll let you go. Thank you for the information.”

  “If you need anything more; more information or…just council, please call me Mr. Singleton.”

  Council. “Goodbye, Sister.” He hung up.

  ~***~

  Martier had spent most of the day scribbling in her notebook; writing poems, and exploring her thoughts on paper. She read her words and then hugged the little notebook to her chest, reciting them by memory.

  Close your eyes; let me kiss your lips

  Touch your cheek with my fingertips

  Tell you that I'm in love with you

  And hear you say you love me too

  When she wasn’t doing that she listened to classic rock and if a song she recognized played, she wondered if Tim liked it. She kissed him a thousand times in her mind and when the evening approached she thought about dinner with him. Maybe he would kiss her again.

  When she heard his car drive up she dashed to the window and peeked out. She waited patiently, rearranged the few items in her cabinet, turned on the television but as the sun began to set, she snatched up her notebook and began to write;

  Dear God,

  Why won’t he come?

  ~***~

  As soon as Tim drove up to Martier’s cottage Tuesday morning she came hurrying out of the small house. He didn’t have to blow, she must have been waiting right at the door.

  “Good morning.” He said pleasantly.

  She buckled up. “Good morning.” They rode in uncomfortable silence for a while and then Tim cleared his throat and Martier’s entire body came to attention. She waited quietly for him to speak.

  “I meant to tell you that I spoke to that cop’s Lieutenant yesterday when I went in to work.”

  She watched him silently, but now her posture stiffened. “What did he have to say?”

  “Well he tried to say that he wasn’t acting racially biased-”

  The air rushed out of Martier’s body. “I wasn’t doing anything but walking. There was nothing suspicious about that!”

  He nodded and almost reached over for her hand. “I know, I know. Believe me, I let them know. That asshole-I mean…he’s going to be reassigned by the end of the week. He’s also going to be taking diversity classes and I wish I would have thought to have him give you a face to face apology.”

  Her eyes widened and she shook her head frantically. “I don’t ever want to ever see that man again.”

  He looked at her. “You won’t. The lieutenant assured me that no one will bother you and you can walk anywhere you want, Okay?”

  The tension began to melt from her. “Okay.” She sighed. She believed it, too. She gave him a long look. “Thank you.”

  Tim nodded.

  Tim went straight to his office and sank into his chair. Riding in together had been hard. He had wanted to reach out and touch her hand. Wasn’t attraction based on sexual desire? He should want to pounce her bones and instead he just wanted to feel her hand in his.

  He cursed. He was going straight to hell. Because…it wasn’t just sexual attraction and he knew it.

  On the way home Martier wondered if they would eat dinner together. But he drove her straight to the cottage with a pleasant smile and a quick goodnight. She tried not to show her disappointment as she went into her house. Patience. The message light on the answering machine was blinking and she hurried to it. This was her first ever message!

  Dhakiya was back from her trip and she had something to tell her. The ill-contained thrill in her best friend’s voice tipped her off to what the surprise might be. She called her back quickly.

  “Dhakiya?! What?!”

  “Sis…I’M ENGAGED!”

  Both girls began screaming. “I knew it! Tell me everything!” Dhakiya described her magical weekend and the romantic engagement.

  “You have to see the ring! Can I come over?”

  “Yes! I want to see it. But bring your suit and we’ll swim for a while until your FIANCEE comes home.” They squealed and Dhakiya promised to be there within half an hour.

  Martier heard the car pull up and rushed outside to meet her. She had already changed into her bathing suit and Dhakiya gave her a long wolf whistle. She circled the younger girl.

  “I never thought I’d ever see you in public wearing something so skimpy.”

  “Well what in the world did you’d expect I’d swim in?” She said, trying to sound confident and not slouch or cover her near nudity.

  “A sack.” She ignored her and grabbed her hand in order to get a look at the ring.

  “Beautiful…” She stared at the diamond ring for a long time. Then she hugged her friend. “I’m so happy for you.” They went inside and Martier had made tuna salad for dinner along with slices of tomatoes from the garden. They ate and Martier hesitantly told her about the innocent walk that she’d taken a few days before.

  “I’m sorry I wasn’t here. And I’m really happy that your boss is a lawyer and can take care of such things.”

  Martier’s slow smile kept growing and Dhakiya gave her a curious look. “Why are you looking like the cat that ate the canary?”

  She couldn’t hold it in any longer. “I kissed him. We kissed each other. Oh Dhakiya, I had my first kiss!”

  Dhakiya gasped. She covered her mouth and stood up. “You kissed your boss?”

  Martier came to her feet. “No, not my boss, the man I love.”

  “Oh my God…You didn’t go and fall in love with a rich white man.”

  “What in the world does that have to do with anything?!”

  “It has to do with everything. It has to do with why you couldn’t walk around this neighborhood. It has to do with why he’ll…” Dhakiya calmed herself and reached for the younger woman’s hands. “…why he’ll take the treasure that lies between your thighs, but he won’t give you what you most desire.”

  “Tim is not like that. He let me live here without caring what others thought.”

  Dhakiya just stared at her as if she was very very young. Martier quickly changed the subject and she explained about discovering that she could swim. Dhakiya shed her outer clothing down to a simple blue bathing suit. She was shapelier, her curves filling out her pretty bathing suit and she was every bit as beautiful as Martier.

  They dragged the floating loungers from the shed and swam for a while; laughing, splashing and dunking each other the way they had never been able to do as children. As the sun disappeared and the day became night, the outside lights came on and Dhakiya looked around in surprise. It was so beautiful and she had to admit that her friend had really lucked out.

  “So…what was this kiss like?” She asked reluctantly yet curiously.

  They were lazing in the loungers, their fingers and feet trailing along the surface of the water. Martier checked to make sure that Dhakiya wasn’t going to make fun of her. She saw only open curiosity.

  Martier closed her eyes and smiled. “I never dreamed that a kiss could feel so wonderful.” Even in the dark Dhakiya could see the excitement in her eyes. “His touch was so tender. I…” She giggled in embarrassment. “I wrapped my arms and legs around him like a fool.” Dhakiya covered her mouth and giggled.

  “I screamed the first time a man ever kissed me. It overwhelmed me.” Sh
e admitted, still giggling.

  “Yes! I hung on to him because I had to. I wanted to touch him and hold him and couldn’t get close enough!” She sat up and almost fell off of her floatee. “Is that how it is when…” She looked around discreetly. “Is that how it is when you…make love?” She whispered.

  Dhakiya was grinning. “I was wondering when you would ask me about making love.” Martier was embarrassed but she was more curious than ashamed of the topic. “It’s like when you touch yourself but magnified by THREE…no TEN!”

  Martier’s expression was open and accepting but a crease had formed between her eyes as she watched her friend wordlessly. Dhakiya did sit up then.

  “Sis…don’t tell me that you still have not touched yourself?”

  Martier looked back at the house to make sure Tim was nowhere in sight. She whispered quickly. “How can I when Sister Callista is always there?!”

  The older woman stared at her. “You’re telling me that you’ve never masturbated?”

  “Shhh!” She looked around embarrassed. “No.” She whispered again. Not intentionally anyways. But since kissing Tim, sometimes when she relived it her body would throb. And sometimes the feeling would become so intense that she would lose her breath and would have to press her thighs together until it stilled.

  “You’ve been living free from the Sister’s watchful eyes. So now what’s your excuse?”

  Martier lay back down so that she wouldn’t have to look at her friend while they talked about this practice that was supposedly taboo. She knew Dhakiya’s position on it but she was still unsure about her own. “You make it seem as if everyone does it. Some don’t need that.”

  “Tell that to yourself the next time you’re fantasizing about the man.” She snickered.

  Martier gasped and then sat up and swept water at her friend. Dhakiya shrieked and of course did the same to Martier until they were out of the lounger and splashing and chasing each other.

  Tim watched them from his bedroom; not like he was spying or anything, though he was partially obscured by the curtain. Okay, he was completely obscured by the curtains. But when he had heard the car drive up he’d gone to the kitchen to investigate and had seen Martier’s friend from the window.

  The two were lively and it made him feel good to see them bring activity to the place. He’d gone back to his dinner of cold cuts and beer and then his workout. He thought he heard Martier scream and he dropped the weight and dashed to the kitchen and was almost to the door when he realized that she was laughing. After that he kept checking…just in case one of them drowned.

  ~***~

  If she had already claimed this man as her own then all that she did with him would be fine—because she intended there would be no one but him. If it were his fingers that she imagined tracing the shaved flesh between her thighs then it was fine. If she ran her fingers over her nipples and they grew hard because she imagined it were his fingers than there could be no wrong in that…no judgment if she cried out his name breathlessly when the pleasure overtook her. And then of course no shame when her body glowed and her lips smiled at her own imagination.

  CHAPTER 22

  The next day as they drove to work Martier talked about her friend’s engagement and their swim that had lasted until nearly ten pm. She seemed happy and animated and this is the way he wanted her to be.

  She wondered if Tim would come to the wedding with her if she invited him. But that was far in the future. By then he would know that she had put his name out into the universe and claimed him as her own. She went about her duties; making the coffee and then checking for messages while humming happily to herself.

  He had client meetings today and sent her out to get lunch. She took hers downstairs with Claudette and the girls.

  “Did you wear your new bathing suit this weekend?” Claudette asked innocently.

  Martier’s eyes grew large before she remembered to mask her emotion. “Um…yes.”

  Claudette sniffed and hid a smile. Martier was just relieved that she didn’t ask for details.

  She soon left the ladies so that she could check for messages and as she was getting on the elevator she saw Karl. Karl French. He was the man that had flirted with her so blatantly the week before. He was getting off and when he saw her he turned right back around and got back in with her.

  “Hello there pretty lady.”

  Martier hid her grin. He looked very nice. His suit was not traditional like the ones that Tim and the partners wore; suits with superb lines and never off the rack. Karl’s suit was equally superb but with more of a trendy flair. The fit seemed tighter, the legs slimmer, the fabric was bold; and it all seemed to work for him.

  “Please tell me that you forgot my name and that the reason you didn’t call me for lunch had nothing to do with me being horribly distasteful.”

  “Neither.” She pressed the button for her floor. “You are Karl French.” He looked impressed that she had remembered his name.

  “And you are Martier Besigye.” And now she was impressed that he had remembered. “And about that lunch…?”

  She stepped out of the elevators and turned to him as the door opened. Couldn’t he see that she had already set herself to another? Wasn’t it in her face? Didn’t she have a special vibe now that she was in love? She’d seen it in others. She gave him a soft smile.

  “No. I have to decline. I’m sorry.” Karl clutched his heart in a show of good-natured disappointment as the doors closed.

  Martier walked back to her office still grinning. Even if you had set yourself to another, it still felt good to have a handsome man flirt with you.

  Jakob Marx and Tim were just exiting the office. They hadn’t seen her approach and Jakob was smiling in that way that people have when they are speaking candidly.

  “Ok, sir. We’ll see you two tonight. Oh and this serves as your heads up; Elaina plans to invite you and Priscilla to dinner this weekend.”

  “Oh for fucks sake, Jakob. When will your wife stop trying to manipulate my love life?” Tim said in annoyance.

  “Dating a rich, attractive woman who incidentally has huge knockers isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, then?”

  “Jakob…” Tim said sharply as his eyes finally fell on Martier. Jakob turned and saw the pretty assistant watching them as if she was unsure. Oh right, the girl from the convent. He’d said knockers. Oops.

  “I’ll see you two tonight.” He said as he clapped his friend affectionately on his back. “Hello Martier.” He said as he passed her. She ducked her head in something like a nod and stammered something that might have been hello.

  Tim’s face had gone a shade of pale as he watched her. She quickly took her seat and wouldn’t meet his eyes. She busied herself with putting her things into her cubby. His brain was trying to form an explanation before he remembered that he didn’t have to. Yes, they’d kissed. But he had been the one to stop it and he had been the one to say that they shouldn’t. Didn’t that expunge him from guilt? He’d made no promises…

  Well was he supposed to be alone forever?! Wasn’t he doing her a favor? She was 23 and her future was wide open. She would fall in love, get married and have a family. Tim’s chest felt tight at the idea of that. He’d wanted that once upon a time. But it wasn’t too late for her. And he would be damned if he would be a desperate older man trying to cling to her!

  “I’ll be in my office.” He said while pointing to his office.

  She finally looked at him. There were shadows in her face that he’d never seen before. Her beautiful bowed lips were downcast.

  “I understand.” She said softly.

  He went into his office and shut the door, searching his mind for the hidden meaning behind those words.

  ~***~

  She had no idea how she made it through the day. She felt completely numb. Her mouth moved when she answered the phone and when the clients were no longer there she supposed it was an indication that she had provided the correct service.
<
br />   Tim worked in his office for the remainder of the day. His phone lit up several times indicating that he had called someone and she could tell that his private line had rang several times bypassing her phone. Was he talking to her? The lady that he was going out with tonight; Priscilla. Rich, white Priscilla with huge knockers?

  Well that meant Priscilla was everything that she was not. Her stomach tumbled and she felt like crying only that was dumb. You don’t cry over a man that was never yours in the first place.

 
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