In the kitchen, Kristin relayed everything that happened at the computer center. Then when she revealed the name of the company, Jana disclosed something that sent chills up and down her spine and wiped the smile off her of face.
“That company is owned by Van,” Jana said, hiding a secret smile of pleasure as she turned to put the empty glasses in the sink. Next, she took out a clean glass from the country blue cupboard and slid it towards Kristin, before taking the chilled iced tea pitcher from the fridge.
“I thought he did lawn service. That’s what I saw on his truck,” Kristin finally replied, trying to figure out why she suddenly felt so panicky. Even her hands were shaking as she received the pitcher and glass Jana offered her.
“He does. Van owns three businesses. The computer center, the lawn service and a car dealership. He’s doing very well for himself, too. He’s thirty-four-years old, divorced, his mother is deceased and his father lives in an upscale retirement home in the area. He has no kids and no major character flaws,” Jana informed, trying to help set the stage for a real-life love story.
“Whoa... that’s more information than I needed,” Kristin interjected as she poured herself a glass of iced tea. Her hands were less shaky now.
“Honey, look, I know it’s been eight months since our husbands died and I’m certainly not trying to rush you into anything romantic,” Jana said, omitting the fact that she was not against giving Kristin a little nudge in that direction. “But I saw the look that passed between y’all and I just wanted to reassure you that Van’s okay to work for,” she continued. And to fall in love with, too, Jana added to herself.
“Mama Gray...I...” Kristin tried to interrupt again, but it was no use. Jana was on a roll. She took a big sip of her drink as her mother-in-law went on.
“No, sweetie, listen. I’m not blind and neither are you. The way Van looked at you just shows that he’s a man, honey. A full-blooded, flesh and bone man who saw a beautiful woman in front of him. He didn’t say or do anything out of the way, because he’s not like that. His grandfather was my uncle and out of all my cousins he's my favorite. Believe me, Van can be trusted,” Jana insisted as she remembered just how trustworthy her cousin was.
Years ago, when Jana was still a newlywed and living in an modest apartment in town, she’d gotten very angry with her husband one day about mishandling the money and decided to return home to her parents. In her anger she’d taken the car, gotten drunk, and nearly driven it into a tree near the thick woods of her cousin’s house. Fortunately, Jana was not hurt. But she was unable to get the car restarted.
Suddenly, along comes this lively eight-year-old lad, fresh from his fishing hole. In no time, Van went under the hood and got Jana’s car started, without any tools. Next, instead of letting her drive again in that condition, the young boy expertly drove her the rest of the way to his house.
Fortunately, his parents happened to be at a revival meeting that evening and that exempted them from a lot of unwanted questions. Then having learned a few positive things from some of the TV shows he’d watched in his young life, Van commenced to giving Jana lots of coffee to drink and called her husband to come get her. To this day, none of their relatives know how close she came to leaving her husband that day. Nine months later, Sammy was born.
“Okay, Mama Gray, I believe you. Van may be a very trustworthy man. It’s just that I’m still grieving and it feels strange whenever a man looks at me that way.” Or causes me to feel the way he just did, Kristin added to herself. “I guess that kind of stuff makes me miss Sammy even more. I only wanted that look from him,” she said sadly.
“I know, sweetie. I know,” Jana said, reminded of her own husband. “But you need this job and Van is as fair a boss as you’ll ever get.”
Kristin shrugged in resignation. She did need this job and somehow everything else she was feeling had to become less important. Suddenly feeling tired, Kristin said, “I’m going up to bed, Mama Gray. See you in the morning.” Then she emptied her glass and put it the sink before going upstairs. It was Jana’s turn to do the dishes. That night, Kristin dreamed of chestnut eyes and grooved cheeks.
* * *
Driving home, thoughts of Kristin invaded Van’s mind. He couldn’t believe how beautiful she was. Although he was sorry that his cousin Sammy had died, he couldn’t shake the urge to try to get to know Kristin better. But how?
As if in response to his unspoken question, his car phone rang. Van immediately pressed the speakerphone button. “Hello?”
“Mr. Rogers, Brenda Combs here. I just wanted you to know that we filled that vacancy today. The new instructors’ name is Kristin Gray. She’s also new in town and very pleasant. Mr. Rogers? Mr. Rogers, are you there?” Brenda asked, suddenly hearing loud honking in the background.
“Ahh...yes, I’m here. Did you say Kristin Gray?” Van replied, quickly taking his hand off the car horn where it had fallen in shock.
“Yes, sir, that’s what it says on her application. And I think she’s going to be a great asset to our company,” Brenda continued, excited about her new hire.
“Uh...I trust your decision, Brenda. See you tomorrow,” Van replied after a moment and hung up. Oh boy, this complicates things a bit. Now that she’s an employee of mine, how can I get to know her better without appearing out of line? Not knowing the answer to that right now, Van drove the rest of the way home in silence, deep in thought.
* * *
That night Van lay in bed still thinking about Kristin, her luscious lips, her caramel skin and those generous curves. Curves so delicious that they made a man want to be fruitful and multiply. He couldn’t wait to see her again.
Should I act cool? Or suave? No, as her boss, I should probably act professional. Should it be strictly professional? Or just moderately professional based on whose around? Van mused, trying to think sensibly, trying to plan out his steps for tomorrow in order to keep himself out of trouble.
Yet despite his logic, despite his reasoning, in the back of Van’s mind was this question: Did I remember to take my blue suit out the cleaners?
© 2007 by Suprina Frazier