“That woman’s trouble Bray. You need to leave her alone,” Sara snapped. Bray has lost his mind over this woman. He’ll bring the entire house of cards down if he’s not careful.
“Shut up, Sara. If I want to hear your lip, I’ll scrape it from my zipper. Tasha’s mine. She may have left, but I’ll kill whoever she hooks up with.”
“You would sacrifice everything over her? Our revolution against the powers that be comes secondary to your failed booty call?”
Bray shouted, his eyes wide with rage and spittle dripped from the corners of his mouth, as he grabbed Sara by the face and shoved her into the wall. His eyes were mad, and Sara grabbed his wrist and tried to break his grip. When that failed, she lifted her right foot and brought it down on his arch. He grunted in pain, and Sara slammed her right fist into his temple. Bray dropped to his knees and wiped at the blood.
“After everything we’ve gone through, you would risk us all over her?”
“I love her,” Bray muttered. “I want her.”
“She’s not worth our lives, and you know that.” Sara leaned against the wall and tried to regain her breath. Bray scooted back against the wall and nodded.
“I know, Sara. Tasha’s gone. We won’t have this conversation anymore.”
Sara closed her eyes and shook her head in disgust. What do women possess that drives men insane with jealousy? There are more than enough women in the world to replace Tasha, but he’s hung up on this one.
Bray massaged his temple. He could say what he wanted; Tasha wasn’t going anywhere. If she did, he’d take steps to correct her wandering ways-regardless of who got in his way.
Across town, Tomas thought of Tasha. His mind kept wandering to the mysterious beauty, and he wondered if it was possible for him to speed up time until they reached Saturday.
Who is she? Where does she hail from? What did she do before she waitressed at Sparky’s Restaurant?
The Secluded Sanctuary, a rundown, flea-ridden weekly hotel, sat on the outskirts of Fredericksburg, not far from the abandoned train depot and warehouse districts. Tasha pulled up in front of her room and shut off her vehicle.
Her room was situated at the end of the row, far removed from the prying eyes of the clerk, a disheveled, greasy haired twenty-something male, who smelled of cigarettes and booze. He’d checked her into the hotel logs, and then let his eyes roam over Tasha’s body.
Tasha looked down toward the office, a solitary light bulb burned in the office, and after checking the area, she unlocked her door. She pushed the door opened, then stepped inside and dropped into a crouch. Tasha closed her eyes and slowly counted backwards from thirty in her mind. At zero, she opened her eyes and looked around. She was alone.
She crab-walked over to the thirteen-inch television and turned it on. An old black-and-white cowboy movie played.
After showering she climbed in bed, her toes poked out from beneath the blanket, and she thought of Bray.
Why did I ever get involved with him and his friends? Haven’t I lost enough? He’s never gonna let me go. Restless sleep fell over her. Saturday would arrive soon, and she’d know if Tomas was up to the challenge, or if she’d need to move on.
It rained on Saturday. Dark clouds covered the heavens, large drops of rain banged against the metal roofs of the vehicles. Tasha stood in front of the window that held the air conditioner unit, watching the rain fall to the ground.
On the television, a weatherman tried to guess what the weather would do, and he kept repeating, “By noon, the sun should come out and dry up some of the puddles. This is only a shower.”
Over the sound of the rain, Tasha heard her phone chirped. She picked it up and opened her messages.
“Hi. It’s Tomas. Would you still like to meet at 1300? If we get rained out at the park, we can have lunch somewhere in town, and then go hit a bookstore?”
“A bookstore sounds fun,” Tasha sent back. “If you’d like, we can meet at the library, and then ride together from there.”
“I will meet you at the library, and I look forward to seeing you. Same time okay with you?”
Tasha smiled and sent a thumbs up to Tomas, then she wrote a one-word response, ‘Perfect.’
Across town, Tomas smiled at the phone, but inwardly he cringed. He’d not placed any forethought into the meeting, having suggested a hike and picnic through the park as his first option.
He pulled out his Samsung tablet and typed in first date ideas. Soon, he was swarmed with ideas, but none that seemed to stand out to him. At noon, he showered, trimmed his goatee, and dressed.
Tomas pulled into the parking lot of the library and waited. Down the lot, parked near the exit, sat a faded red Mustang. Tasha stepped out and checked her surroundings before striding toward the steps of the library. Tomas stepped out of his vehicle, onto the sidewalk and gave Tasha a wave. She waved back, smiled, and looked behind her.
“Hi,” she said, as she drew close to him, her breaths rapid and shallow, a black tendril of hair clung to the right side of her face. Tasha’s dark skin shimmered from the perspiration that dribbled down her neck.
“Hi,” Tomas responded. “Shall we go into the library?”
“Sure,” Tasha said. “I love libraries.”
Tomas offered his arm to Tasha, and she smiled at him. Warmth flooded Tomas’s body as Tasha looped her arm through his, and they climbed the steps to the landing. “You sir are a true gentleman. Are you the only one in Fredericksburg?”
Tomas grinned and replied, “One of only a few.”
Tasha returned Tomas’s grin and batted her eyes at him, and then quipped, “How did I get so lucky?”
“I was just asking myself that same thing,” Tomas quipped back. Together, they walked into the library, the smell of calm and old books teased their noses as they wandered aimlessly between the rows.
Time seemed to stand still as the couple oohed and aahhed over their favorite authors and books. For Tasha, it was a rare moment of peace in a world gone mad.
Tomas and Tasha spent an hour in the library. “Come with me,” he said, as he took Tasha by the hand and led her out to his vehicle. “I must confess, I didn’t plan the entire date. So, I thought I’d take you to some of my favorites.”
“Sure, Tomas. I’m with you.” He grinned at her, and a wide smile spread across Tasha’s lips.
“What did you do, prior to working at Sparky’s?” Tomas asked. Tasha bit down on her lip. Tomas noticed it but waited to see if she’d answer.
“Um, I bounced around a bit. I spent some time with a group of um, rough and tumble types. Then, I grew up.”
“I chose to leave Tomas.”
“And they let you leave? Wasn’t there like repercussions?”
“It’s not like that, Tomas. I joined them, and when I decided to leave, I left.”
Tomas steered the vehicle through the rain and pulled into O’Shea’s parking lot. Tasha’s eyes had narrowed, and Tomas cringed. He didn’t want to anger her or ruin his chances with her, so he said, “I meant no disrespect.”
“None taken,” she shot back.
“Um, Detective Konan’s uncle and aunt own this restaurant. I enjoy their appetizers, and thought we’d eat an appetizer here, and then I’d prepare our main course a bit later.”
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