“I was in a car accident on the way home from the hospital. Nothing is broken though, just bruised,” Royal told Layla as he opened the door wider for her to enter. She looked as tired as he suddenly felt, so he knew this wasn’t a social visit. This woman was here to sleep.
“Oh, so that explains that ugly bruise on your forehead and the bruises on your chest.” Layla crossed the threshold in her long black leather coat over blue hospital scrubs. She paused in front of him and reached up to gingerly examine the darkening bruise on his face.
Royal flinched. Not just from her cold hands, but also from the sudden flashback of Delia doing the exact same thing a few hours ago. Except she’d touched that spot with her soft lips, as if she’d been trying to make his little boo-boo all better. That was yet another sign of how good of a mother she was.
As for that bruise on his chest, it wasn’t a bruise at all. At least not in the regular sense. It was a passion mark, left right above his heart by Delia.
“It is very tender?” Layla asked, pulling her hand back down to her side. She moved to walk ahead of him down the hall.
“Yes, plus the fact your hands are cold. I’m getting you a heating pad tomorrow,” Royal replied, wisely omitting the part about Delia as he closed the door behind them. After Layla’s outburst in that Vanna situation, he stopped talking to her about his love life.
“It’s cold outside today.” Layla rubbed her hands together and blew on them. “Plus, you know I have circulatory issues.”
“All the more reason to get that heating pad for you. In fact, I think I’ll buy two. One for your home and your office. That way you won’t be touching your patients with those icicles, either,” Royal said in a teasing manner, though he meant every word.
Layla chuckled. “My patients never complain about my hands.”
Maybe not to you, Royal mused, recalling Delia’s earlier words. Aloud he said, “Either way, you’re still getting those heating pads.”
“If you buy them, I’ll use them,” Layla replied, crossing the threshold of the den.
Royal laughed. “Now you’re starting to sound like a Kevin Costner movie,” he said. “If you build it, they will come,” he added, theatrically quoting that famous line from Field of Dreams.
Layla laughed a full belly laugh, instantly turning her usually serious face into a thing of exceptional beauty.
Too bad Royal couldn’t see that beauty right now. He was too busy looking at the den countertop, remembering what happened there thirty minutes ago. He also recalled that he hadn’t washed it down yet.
Unfortunately, Layla was headed straight that way for a beverage…or maybe even a sandwich before bed. Oh, no, Royal couldn’t allow that kind of mixing to go on in his house. Too unsanitary.
“You might want to have a seat and let me bring you what you need from the fridge instead,” Royal said, grabbing her by the arm.
Layla stopped short in her tracks and stared back at him. “Are you trying to be courteous to me? Or is there another reason I can’t look in the fridge for myself?”
“I’m not going to lie, Layla. I had company tonight and things got kind of rowdy in here.”
“So that bruise on your chest really isn’t from the accident, huh?” Layla’s eyes scanned downward.
“No.” Royal released her arm and went towards the den’s kitchenette area.
“I knew it didn’t look like a regular bru—” Layla suddenly gasped, having just spotted the scratch marks on his back. “What kind of woman did you have in here last night? You have scratches all up and down your back on both sides.”
“I know about the scratches and I’d rather not talk about them, okay?” He moved closer to the sink.
“Fine. I just hope you wrapped it up,” Layla retorted, unable to leave the matter alone. “Unless you didn’t learn a good enough lesson from that Vanna situation.”
Royal’s head snapped back around to face her. “What part of ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ don’t you understand, Layla? What I do in my love life, in my own home, is none of your business! You’re making me regret ever telling you about any of my women.”
“I never wanted to know about them anyway!” Layla countered. “I was just listening out of friendship.”
“Well, be a friend now and butt out.”
“Fine!” Royal concluded, turning around to the sink to wash his hands.
“Double fine!” Layla said, determined to have the last word before she stormed out of the room and ultimately out of his house.
Royal didn’t even bother turning back around when he heard the front door slam shut a few minutes later. Good. I wanted to be alone anyway, he mused, truly aggravated with all women right about now. Delia, Layla, and even his mother since he dreaded getting back up in a couple of hours to play chauffeur.
After washing down the countertop and every other place he and Delia had been in the kitchenette area, Royal called the twenty-four hour hotline to the car rental company that he normally used, took a quick shower, and then finally went to bed.
© 2008 by Suprina Frazier