E Three - The Reunion Part 2


E Three - The Reunion Part 2

Kingsley

Chris placed his now empty tea cup off to the side on the kitchen table. Leaning forward on both elbows he studied his wife for several seconds before saying, “Wait a minute. Are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting? That our amazing and rock solid Alexandra, mother of three and wife of an equally amazing husband, who also happens to be my best friend, is having an affair?”

“Yes, Chris, I am. If not yet in the physical sense, then in the emotional and mental sense that is getting very close to crossing over that final, irrevocable line.”

“In only three days? Soph, c’mon.”

“I know . . . “

“No. Stop. Sophia, baby, you know your ability to read people astounds me. I think you are the most amazing woman, no, the most amazing person, I’ve ever met. But this makes no sense at all. Mature people like Alex don’t just fall into lust at first sight like some addlepated high school freshman. Heck, I’d put serious money down to bet Alex never did anything like even in high school.”

“And you’d be right, Chris. She’s told me so herself it took a long time to develop those feelings for David. But no one’s immune, honey, unless they are some heartless sociopath. You remember how I practically fell all over you in high school? I made an idiot out of myself.”

“I remember.”

“That was your cue to sooth my wounded pride, Chris. Say something nice, quick. Tell me I wasn’t as silly as I think I was.”

“I won’t lie. You were crazy in love at first sight. It shocked me. For all of two seconds and then my heart shattered at the thought that if I asked you out you might say no. Who ever knew such insanity was contagious? I’ve been picking up the pieces of my heart ever since. Whenever I think of how empty my life would be if I’d never met you, I have to start all over picking those pieces up. But, baby, we were in high school. Our frontal cortex was way behind our hormones in the developmental race.”

“And you never get those feelings anymore?”

Chris’s head snapped back. “Oh. Well, okay but when I’m with you I don’t have to engage any barriers to my, um, urges toward you, prefrontal or otherwise. Things are natural between us. They way they should be.”

“Uh huh.” Sophia narrowed her eyes. “And there are never any other times when, say, your body gets ahead of your all powerful prefrontal cortex, sweetie? Like when a certain well tatted up young lady shows up for one of my tea parties, for instance?”

“Oh.” Chris made a show of loosening his shirt color. “Crap. Uh . . .”

“Yeah. I notice how quickly you head up to the apartment when you see her drive up.”

“You do, huh? Well, doesn’t that prove that the higher reasoning part of my brain is functioning? I get out of the range of Jackie’s all too exposed artwork.”

“And,” Sophia smiled as if she were a cat and Chris was a cornered canary, “away from the effect she has on you with her rock hard 20 something mixed martial arts trained body. A body that is quite different from the body of your 40 something wife whose daily walks will never make me look like Jackie.”

Chris squirmed in his chair. “I admit it, Soph, it might help if Jackie wore a gunny sack. But I doubt it. She has raw sex appeal and she knows it too. That doesn’t help. So, yes, I remove myself from the kill zone of her pheromones and exposed skin everywhere and come up here and fantasize about you.”

“Oh, I’m sure.”

“Don’t minimize the effect you have on me, hon. It’s the most powerful force in the universe. At least my universe. And if all else fails, I’ll grab a tool catalog. That always works.”

“So that is why you now have two extra of every tool in the shed instead of the one extra you had before Jackie showed up.”

“Three. I’ve covered up my indiscriminate tool buying by giving David some of them. I’d bet UPS is making twice the tool deliveries all over town than they were before Jackie showed up. She should get a commission. But I take your point. None of us are immune. We are sexual creatures. Men and women have been casting overlong glances at one another forever.”

“And I’m not immune. There was that celebrity chef who came in a few weeks ago with his son. I practically fell all over myself when I first met him. My refuge was not to run up to the apartment but to think about you for only a moment and the spell was broken.”

“I wish it was that easy for everyone, Soph. And, if there was ever someone I would expect to break such a spell just as easily, it would be Alex. Frankly, I just can’t get my head around it.”

“But think about it Chris. Two black families move into a sundown county in the south with the support of the white sheriff and his deputies. All the men involved, black and white, had served through some of the most horrendous battles of the gulf war. No one messes with them and the families get through it but at what cost to the children? Alexandra could not have had anything like a normal childhood. She had one white friend through all that time and then she died in childbirth leaving her white child to be raised by a black family in that county? Given Alex’s discipline, she would have repressed every emotion, every hormone, every impulse that might betray her and her family and leave them vulnerable to ridicule or worse. No wonder she took years to develop the deep affection she has for David so that she felt safe in accepting him.”

Chris stared down at the table top for nearly a full minute before speaking. “So, it’s your theory that these repressed emotions and hormones have decided to pop out now, with Alex in her 30s?”

“Why not, Chris? Why does it seem so strange to you? You yourself just admitted it can happen to anyone and any time. And you, darling, are no longer in your 30s.”

“Ouch. Thanks for reminding me.” Rising from his chair, Chris picked up the empty tea ups from the table and put them in the kitchen sink. Glancing out the window, he said, “Did Kingsley and his grandfather rent an EV?”

“Yes. The new Tesla economy model. Why?”

“Because you can just make it out in the far corner of the parking lot. Close to David’s shop where it juts out a bit.”

Rising, Sophia joined Chris at the window just as the car drove off. “He spotted us,” Chris said.

“Yeah. But that doesn’t solve the problem. Alex will have opened by now and be downstairs. Come down and watch the store for us, will you, Chris? I’m going to see if she’s up for a little chat.”

<>

Sophia didn’t want to admit it to herself but, truth was, she wore her soft shoes downstairs so Alexandra wouldn’t hear her coming. She wanted every advantage if a serious confrontation between the two women was in the offing. As it turned out, she needn’t have worried. She and Alexandra were so well tuned to one another that Alex, despite Sophia approaching without a sound, was the first to speak.

“I know you’re there, Sophia,” Alex said. “And you don’t have to worry. Nothing has happened and nothing is going to happen.”

“At least not overtly, is my guess,” Sophia replied.

Turning with an embarrassed smile, Alex said, “I suppose it was pretty obvious. I’ve never had anything like this happen to me so I didn’t know how to hide it. He said he would stop by this morning to say a kind of goodbye. He just parked where he said he would and watched me make it into work. I was hoping to catch a final glimpse myself.”

“I think we scared him off,” Sophia said. “Chris and I spotted him from the upstairs window. We saw him look up at us and then he drove off.”

“Oh,” said Alex. “Kind of sad but maybe it’s better this way. He’s going to be staying in town while his grandfather is here but will keep his distance. And just so you know, it was Chris and David who sat me down for a little talk.”

Sophia grasped Alexandra’s upper arm. “What was that?”

“Yup. David was scared. He knew something was wrong and he sought Chris’s advice. All three of us sat down the other evening in our apartment after the kids were in bed. They were so kind and understanding. David had every right to be upset but he was worried about me more than himself, I think. He could tell I was in over my head.”

“Why that dirty, sneaky husband of mine. He so faked me out. I just spent the better part of an hour upstairs trying to convince him something was going on between you and Kingley. He made it sound like he couldn’t believe something like this could happen to you.”

“We swore him to secrecy until I could talk to you myself. They both explained how they know what it’s like when our hormones go into overdrive. After all, they told me, they are men.”

“I still can’t believe it. Chris actually fooled me.”

“Sophia, honey. This is about me now.”

“Oh, sorry. He’s just never been able to fool me before. At least not that I know of. I’ll have to keep my eye on him.”

Alex sighed and leveled a stare at Sophia.

“Yes, yes,” Sophia said, “right. Not about me. So, they said the right words and the spell was suddenly broken?”

“Not all that fast but it didn’t take too long. David was so patient and mature and it made me realize just how much I love him and how stupidly I was behaving. I have kids to think about and a husband who is a truly amazing man. Yet, I was acting like some pubescent teenager. Kingsley is this big strong black man with presence and intelligence to burn and boy, burn in me it did. But, with a big dose of love from the right man, the fire is barely an ember now.”

“And how did Kingsley take it?”

“Not well. I think he’s used to having his way. He’s a strong personality that will take him far in his home country. He wanted to test an electric vehicle while he was here because we’re so far behind Europe and China, something like his country. He thinks it could be a viable option in Africa. Plenty of sun for solar to build a dispersed and resilient electrical grid and electric scooters and cars to take advantage of it. We went over the details of his plan together and all the numbers make sense, Sophia. It’s easy to share his vision. He’ll probably make it happen. He’s that kind of man.”

“It’s nice to have so much in common that you can discuss things together. Chris and I have that.”

“As do David and I. We share everything. I’m used to it. Maybe that’s another reason it was so easy to relate to Kingsley. But it’s over. I’ve regained my sanity, got my feet back under me, come down to earth and all that.”

“You sure, Alex? I sense a certain wistfulness.”

Alexandra laughed. “Always the perceptive Sophia. I won’t lie. It was new, intriguing and all that. But David and I had ways back in the south for keeping those feelings alive between us. Maybe the stress of circumstances there forced us to be more cognizant of the need for such attentions to the health of our relationship. We may have assumed on some level we could ease up when we moved here. Every relationship suffers when that happens.”

“Well, I’m glad you’ve worked it out, Alex. I’m feeling a lot better now.”

“Me too. And don’t be too hard on Chris, Sophia. He told us he’s never deceived you before and didn’t want to start. I was going to explain all this to you this morning so he wouldn’t have to, but you were ahead of us.”

“Well, I guess, as they say, love is blind,” Sophia said. “He sure fooled me.”

“Not really, Soph. David saw things as they were because he loves me. You were distracted by your love and concern for me. So, you probably weren’t tuned into Chris’s tells, to use a poker term.”

“That could be.” A smile crept across Sophia’s face.

“Sophia, I know that look. Don’t you dare use this on Chris or try to guilt him. He was doing the right thing by us and made it clear it would have to be solved this morning no matter what because he was going to come clean himself if we didn’t fix it.”

“Oh, okay. You’re right, Alex. I promise. Nothing more than a gentle tease then I’ll let him off the hook. Actually, I’m quite proud of him for standing up with his friend the way he did. And he did give you his word after all.”

“It’s an honor, having such good friends. But we have another problem. It’s kind of all related. I’ve already mentioned how we may have assumed too much when we moved here from the south. Well . . . .” She took a deep breath before continuing. “It’s Kingsley’s being here that triggered this issue too and it’s a problem that I hate to see come into our little Sophie’s Cove world. Kingsley’s grandfather is staying behind to rekindle a romance he has nurtured all on his own for more than five decades.”

“Yeah, I know,” Sophia said. “With someone he doesn’t know as well as he thinks he does.”

“Exactly. He seems to be a really nice guy. Perhaps it’s none of our business but I think we should discuss the possibility that he should at least be given the chance to know what he’s getting himself into.”

“Agreed,” Sophia said.

“Good. I’m in the mood for a cup of double bergamot tea named for Charles, the second Earl Grey, if you still have some.”

Sophia gave Alexandra a look of shock and indignation and, with a terrible imitation of an English Public School accent, said, “Run out of The Earl, my dear? Never.”

Both women laughed and Alex said, “That’s a good thing. Gwendolyn and the sailor who came home from the sea is at least a two cup problem.”

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