Thursday, December 15, 2005

Teach Me To Love - Chapter 16 Part 1

          Arriving at her job the next day, Tonya pushed a Crain’s Business Magazine to Rachel and offered to help her with her things up to her classroom to give them a chance to speak alone.
          The cover was enough to let Rachel know exactly why Tonya had given her the magazine.
          As they stood outside the office, Rachel stopped and started at the cover of the magazine. Her eyes were at first not believing what she was seeing and then admiring the picture.
          Leaning again a very large oak desk, Derrick James was on the cover, proud and arrogant. He looked directly in the camera as if he was taking the picture just for her. Those deep mahogany eyes of his were sensual and direct.
          “You should call him,” Tonya suggested.
          “Why? He doesn’t’ need me. Look as if he’s doing well by himself.”
          “He’s heading up the US offices for his father’s company which will soon be his. He probably would love to see you.”
          Rachel snorted and started walking towards her classroom. “I was just his high school teacher, Tonya. No one ever remembers their high school teachers.”
          “I don’t think so, Rachel,” Tonya said. “You were also mine and you’re just not someone to easily forget.”
          Stopping in the middle of hall, they faced each other. “What makes you think he hasn’t?”
          “He never breaks a promise. He took something from me and promised to return it. Since it’s been so long, I know he still has feelings for you.”   
          Rachel found the whole thing ridiculous. She was not going to even dwell on Derrick James and his little high school crush. “What could he possibly have that would make you think that foolishness?”
          “A picture of Jessica and Justin you kept in your drawer at school. You had it in the box I was supposed to send you when you left Davenport High School, but he took the box. When it was time for him to go to court, he brought it back to me and told me to send it to you, but kept the picture. That’s why it took so long to send it to you. He was depressed a long time after you left and I let him take the box. I thought something of yours would make him feel better because of the crap he was going through. When I asked why he took the pictures he said that he couldn’t keep the box when he went to jail, but he could keep the picture and when he got over you he would return it to me,” Tonya explained.
          “That’s stupid, Tonya.” She started to walk again.
          Proudly, Tonya said, “Derrick doesn’t break his promises, Rachel. He still has the picture.”
          “How do you know?” Rachel challenged.
          “I just know,” Tonya assured her. “I should let you know I called him about a week ago.”
          Gasping, Rachel asked, “Why did you do that?”
          “Because I wanted to see hat he felt about you, but rest assured he never returned my call.”
          They began to walk again and Rachel bit her tongue to fight the urge to question Tonya some more about getting in touch with Derrick.
          Tonya reiterated, “You should call him. I think it would do you some good because if you apply one more layer of makeup to your face, people might mistake you for Dionne Warwick’s twin.”
          “You’re not funny, Tonya.”
          “I wasn’t trying to be, Rachel,” she said seriously. “Don’t think I didn’t see what the two of you had. You and he had something special. You didn’t look at him like you looked at us when we were students. He was a friend to you. A friend that you needed and still do.”
          Abruptly, Rachel stopped again in the hallway and glared at Tonya angrily. “Why are you doing this to me?”
          “Because I don’t want to lose you. I want that spirit back. I want that brilliant smile you graced us with ever day in your classroom to return. I can’t stand to see you become some lifeless shell trudging around here like it’s your last days. Jesus, Rachel, just because you were born with a bad lot in life, doesn’t mean that you’re destined to keep on the path. You and I both know that Robert will never love you and if you think you have it bad now, just wait until five years from now. It’s going to get worse.”
          Rachel snatched her items from Tonya and brusquely walked away heading to her classroom. At her break, she noticed the magazine was on her desk and she picked it up tenderly to touch the photo of Derrick James and then put it in the garbage turning her back to the container pretending she had never saw it.
          When the end of the day came, the twins came up to meet her in her room to go home. She taught fifth graders and it was very convenient that the children were with her at the end of the day. They spent time doing their homework at the desk in her classroom while she finished her grading and preparing for the next day. Justin would always finish his homework first and help his mother clean and straighten up the room while Jessica finished up her homework.
          Justin came to her desk with a handful of trash after he had finished cleaning up and waited patiently while Rachel finished fathering all her items up to leave before he spoke. “Momma, do you like your job?”
          “Yes, Justin. I love my job.”
          He looked bothered and she asked, “What’s the matter?”
          “I kind of knew that. You don’t look like you do when you’re at home. You look so happy here.”
          “What do you mean by that, honey?”
          He shrugged his small shoulders and dumped the trash in the garbage can by her desk. The magazine caught his eye and he knelt and picked it up staring at the picture of Derrick in awe. “What did he do, Momma?” Justin asked.
          “He owns some company that makes generic products for different companies, I believe.” She knew a little about the business that Jerald James ran when she had looked him up in the past. Not all the details because it had been so long ago when she had looked all the information up before giving up on her search for Derrick.
          Justin must have found what she told him interesting and tried to find the page that stated the article, but he because confused and couldn’t understand what he was reading. She was impressed by his attempt to find it and took the magazine from him and found the beginning of the article. Justin stared at the article for a long while before he looked up at his mother who was carefully watching the expression on her son’s face.
          “I can’t understand the words, Momma.” He actually looked very frustrated.
          “Well, it is a bit advanced for you, Justin. Why do you want to know about him?”
          “Because I like his face. He’s got funny eyes.” He went and showed the picture to Jessica who smiled.
          “He’s cut too,” Jessica said, giggling covering up the beautiful smile that was just like Rachel’s.
          Lately Rachel had nothing to smile about. “Well, why don’t I read the article and then tell you about him when I’m done tonight or tomorrow,” she promised.
          Justin smiled. “Thanks Momma.” He went over to help Jessica, leaving Rachel to think about Derrick James once more.
          Getting home after dropping the twins off at their after school activities, she was able to do a thorough cleaning and work a little on her business plan. Popping a frozen meal into the oven that she had cooked at the beginning of the week, Rachel started on her studies for her final exams tomorrow night.
          She was finishing up her masters in psychology, with a minor in business entrepreneurial. With only one more class to go, she would be able to walk across the stage by the time the twins finished school this year. She had used the summer from school to do her internships and completed the entire extra curriculum that she needed to do in order to get everything.
          It felt so wonderful to know she had accomplished this practically on her own despite her husband negativity against her going back to school so much.
          Soon as the twins came home, they changed out of their school clothes, straightened up their room, ate their dinner and went back into their bedroom to play until bedtime. It was Thursday and Robert wasn’t due home until late. Even though he never told her what kind of hustle he was into, he still kept a certain schedule that she had quickly picked up on.
          Grabbing the magazine, she ran her bath; she lit jasmine scented dollar store candles around the tub and eased herself into the warm water until it was up to her neck. Thoughts of the day’s events flowed through her mind and when she was tired of that she looked over the edge of the tub to the magazine that was on the floor with the cover of Derrick James staring up at her. Reaching over the edge of the tub, she tenderly caressed the picture leaving watermarks all over the cover. Closing her eyes, she touched her own lips remembering the deep kiss he gave her and how delicious he tasted.
          A door opening and closing startled her and she quickly sat up in the tub to hear Robert talking with someone who had come in with him. Ignoring that, she turned on the waterproof radio by the tub, opened up the magazine and read the article. Derrick was going to head the offices for his father and their US headquarters would be located in Detroit.
          She thought about fate and how Derrick had said in the past that it would all work in his favor.  Had fate brought him to Detroit? Would his words become truth?
          Putting the magazine down, she sighed forlornly. It was stupid to think about that. The past was the past and it should stay there. She took her time in the bathroom combing out her thick brown shoulder length hair while listening to the soulful sounds of Angie Stone from her first CD Mahogany.
          Hollering in the front room made her jump and she hurried to finish putting on her nighttime clothes. Coming out the bathroom, she could see three men in dark suits sitting in chairs staring at Robert who was sitting across from there looking rather uncomfortable.
          Walking through the dining room towards the front room drawn to the man in the middle of the other two men, Rachel found herself unable to take her eyes off of him but all types of warning bells were going off inside her head. Her gut was screaming, “Danger! Danger!” The closer she got to the man, the more familiar he seemed, but she couldn’t’ place his face to save her life., yet wondered if he recognized her.
          “Rach, bring me a beer,” Robert growled.
          “She jumped a little, nodded and rushed to the kitchen to grab a beer from the refrigerator. She peeked in the twins’ room to see that they were fast asleep. Returning to the living room, she handed Robert a beer and looked at the man one last time. He had these black onyx eyes that narrowed at the sight of her and looked her from head to toe.
          Rachel had to walk past the man in order to leave the living room, but just as she did, he grabbed her arm and smiled lewdly down at her. Instantly, she remembered that this was the man who was at Derrick’s house that last day she had seen Derrick. She remembered that day six years ago as if it had been just yesterday as the same hand that was now grabbed onto her arm had hit the roof of her car interrupting the passionate embrace she and Derrick had been in.
          “Mrs. Herlong,” he said, giving her an avaricious glare. A brief moment of terror gripped her as she thought he had recognized her and would tell her husband of her kissing another man. “I’m Carne Smith, please to meet you.”
          She tried to take her arm away from him, but his grip became tighter. Almost borderline painful if she yanked any harder.
          “You wouldn’t happen to have seen any large amounts of money lying around this apartment, did you?” Carne asked.
          Her voice became very dry as she forced as she forced out a small, “No sir.” Although Carne couldn’t have been much older than Robert – maybe a few years younger – he had this very direct confidence about him.
          Rachel had no idea what money Carne was talking about. Why would money just be lying around like that? Who exactly was this Carne and why did she feel so scared knowing that Robert owed money to this man?
          Rising from his seat, Carne’s eyes peered through her reading her like a book. “You have no idea what little Bobby does in his spare time,” Carne said moving around her looking at the room in distaste. “It’s obvious he doesn’t take care of you, by the look of this place...” His eyes moved back to hers and his hand reached up and touched her bruised cheek. “...and you.”
          She didn’t move but his fingers felt ice cold on her skin sending chills down her spine. Rachel felt like a hunted animal and she really felt that this man took sick pleasure in corrupting people for his own need. Shaking her head, she watched the devil dance in Carne’s black soulless eyes as if he knew the secret to eternal life and would never tell the world.
          Robert was sweating profusely and avoiding all eye contact with Rachel as if he had done something really messed up.

Sylvia Hubbard
Author of Stone's Revenge just newly re-released @ .
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