by Jamaica Treasures at Smashwords:
2017 by Brenda Barrett
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Brenda's Official Blog:
Porter, is it?" Mrs. Beckett, the human resource director looked
over her glasses at Sky and then down at the resume in her hand
before Sky could answer.
have an MBA from Harvard?" The lady looked up at her again. "How
old are you?"
resisted the urge to roll her eyes and point out that her age was at
the top of the document.
she replied in a well-modified tone.
needed this job—if she had to suffer through obvious questions she
would suffer through them. She had no idea why Jefferson
Pharmaceuticals called her at the time they did even though she had
not applied for the job. Nevertheless, it was an answer to prayers
because she was at a crossroad in her life.
had the option of staying in the States with her cousin, Addi, and
find a job in New York, or return to Jamaica. The decision had been
made for her with an invite to a job interview.
did you do it?" Mrs. Beckett leaned back in her chair.
what?" Sky thought that she had missed something.
your undergraduate degree by twenty and your MBA by twenty-two?"
just worked hard," Sky said. "I did more courses than the
usual in my undergraduate studies and graduated with a perfect GPA
and then went to Harvard Business School on a scholarship."
Beckett smiled. "I am impressed."
you." Sky nodded. She was now warming up to the stern looking
you know this is a family owned company. Travis Jefferson is the
current president of this company. His father, Manuel, started out
selling cough syrup. Since the eighties the business has grown
are the leading pharmaceutical company in the Caribbean. We are a
large company and we continue to expand everyday. This position of
Business Development Manager is a senior management position, Miss
you have no experience whatsoever. You have a very nice degree, no
doubt, but I am afraid that I can't in all good conscience recommend
you for this position..."
couldn't believe what she was hearing. She had not applied for this
position. She had not even heard about it until she was asked to send
in her resume. And now, after scraping together her airfare and
spending her last dollar on an expensive suit, she was told this
madness. Now, she would have to report the bad news to her father who
had so exuberantly greeted her at the airport.
had been excited at the possibilities of her living back home and
closer to him. She was going to have to burst his bubble.
got up slowly, disappointment ricocheting through her like fireworks.
this lady think that she had just been hanging out in Kingston? Did
she have any idea how far she was coming from to be having this
could have done this over the phone!
am sorry Miss Porter." Mrs. Beckett held out her hand to be
didn't look sorry.
looked at her outstretched arm and for a split second considered
being rude, but she didn't. She shook the lady's hand and searched
for something to say that was pleasant, something that didn't scream
door to the office was unceremoniously opened before she could
formulate a word and a rather handsome guy pushed his head around the
good, she is here. Send her to my office Bertha, will you?"
frowned and looked from Mrs. Beckett to the mysterious gentleman.
Beckett looked miffed. "But I already checked over her resume as
you asked me to, sir, and I think..."
came into the room fully. He was tall—over six feet. He had dark
nutmeg brown skin and jet-black wavy hair, which was brushing his
collar—some of it was falling in his chocolate brown eyes. He was
the definition of tall, dark and handsome.
pushed his hand in his suit pocket and looked at Sky for longer than
was polite and then back at Mrs. Beckett.
interview was supposed to be a formality, Bertha. If I didn't have
that meeting I would have been around to welcome Sky into the
Jefferson Pharmaceutical family."
then his magnetic brown eyes were eating her up. "I am sorry for
the misunderstanding, Skyler." He moved from the doorway and
advanced to her with a smile in his eyes.
name is Travis Jefferson. Will you be so kind as to walk with me to
nodded as if she was in a daze. He called her Sky with a hint of
familiarity that was puzzling and exciting at the same time.
was the Travis Jefferson, the head of the company. She had no idea he
was so young, maybe early thirties and no idea that he was so
attractive. Sky tried not to stare when she walked closer to him. She
could smell his cologne—something earthy.
had the insane urge to stop and sniff him. Instead, she concentrated
on looking professional and followed him to the bank of elevators.
His office was three floors up from where she met Mrs. Beckett.
stood apart from her in the elevator and stared at her as if he
wanted to say something.
felt a bit self-conscious. She suffered through his silent regard and
then followed him through the carpeted hallway and into his office.
here in the hallowed hallways of richness was obviously where the
executives resided. Every door had a name embossed in brass, each of
which had a VP of whatever on it.
door was wider than the rest. There was a sub-office before another
door. A lady who Sky assumed was his secretary was sitting at a desk.
She was on the telephone.
my calls, Betty, and no visitors," Travis said before they
headed to another door, which Sky assumed was his office.
The office was large and tastefully done. One section of the wall was
made of stone, with little niches in the wall, which were filled with
flowerpots with bright looking plants—each blooming a different
small conference table was at one end and in the middle was his desk.
There was a patio filled with plants and a view of the mountains in
Sky looked around. "This is a dream office."
indicated for her to sit in a seat across from him and then he leaned
over the desk smiling. "I have been keeping track of your
educational pursuits, Miss Porter."
have?" Sky was trying not to act surprised.
he could see that she was.
scratched his head and then laughed. "My God, it's going to take
time explaining this to you."
are you going on about?" Sky asked frowning. "Do you know
me from somewhere?"
smiled. "I believe I do, Miss Porter. Not from some other place
but some other time."
can't believe I lost my books in the fire." Sky sat down heavily
on the bed beside Addi. "My Econ texts could have gone up in
flames for all I care, but my future book, the one that I had
recorded the future prices of stocks and shares, is gone.
had gotten the call last night from the security company that the
hardware store was on fire.
morning there was nothing left of the place. Where there once was a
huge warehouse was now a big black hole of nothing.
wished that she hadn't left her stuff there the night before. She had
been working part time at the store for the summer. Today was
supposed to have been her last day.
there was no store.
was a good thing she had handed in her Economics assignments for the
first summer session or she would have been in deep trouble.
wish you had remembered that last night was the night of the fire,
Addi," Sky said morosely. "Why didn't you write that down,
record it for future reference, that would have been perfect!"
began losing the memories shortly after coming back. By the time, I
thought to write down anything significant, I didn't know what was
definite anymore. I am so sorry Sky. I did tell you about the fire in
'95, didn't I?" Addi sighed. "I wish you hadn't taken your
book to the store. Why did you take it there anyway?"
was copying the stuff to a new book." Sky felt a very real urge
to cry. "I had stuff in there pertaining to '95.
I am going to have to live my life like an ordinary person. Working
summer jobs and applying for scholarships because I lost my future
book with all my glorious future stock predictions. I had plans,
Addi. I was going to be rich by twenty and retire by twenty-five."
Addi said gently patting Sky on the shoulder. "It's not the end
of the world. The good news is nobody was at the store when the fire
sniffed and then stood up. She was going to mourn in her room in her
empty soulless house.
Addi held on to her hand. "I have something to tell you. Now
please, promise me that you will not explode."
squinted her eyes and looked at Addi. They were both eighteen, but
Addi was the calmer of the two. Sky was prone to volatile bursts of
emotions. She was known to cry broken heartedly, laugh loudly, and
generally enact whatever she was feeling with gusto.
was not so out there, with her feelings or reactions. She had it all
together. She was calm, mature and took things in stride. Maybe that
was a left over from her time traveling.
Sky answered. Addi had always had it together from they were tots.
She on the other hand was a volcano waiting to erupt.
Addi cleared her throat, obviously trying to choose carefully what to
know when you went to college last year, I applied to some colleges
So?" Sky knew she wasn't going to like where the conversation
was going. She could see it from Addi's body language that she was
expecting an overreaction from her.
Grandma Wallace filed for us. Mom and Dad said they wouldn't be
leaving this year. Daddy said he is not sure he will ever be going.
He doesn't want to leave Uncle Stan to run the business alone.
said she is not leaving Daddy so..."
Sky wanted to squeal get on with it.
I guess I will be going alone," Addi said quickly, looking at
Sky as if she expected retribution. "I have three college
acceptance letters. I am thinking of taking the one to New York
sat down on the bed again, feeling shell-shocked. "But this year
you are supposed to join me at Mount Faith University!"
don't want to," Addi said stubbornly. "I am leaving, Sky. I
think this is the best thing for me. I was thinking of doing
psychology. I could live with Josh. He is in New York doing
internship at a tech firm."
exhaled noisily. "But what about me? Have you thought about me?
When you leave Jamaica I'll have no one."
covered a snort. "Sky, you have your dad and... Monica and your
new baby brother, Michael."
gosh, don't remind me about them," Sky muttered crossly. "Dad
and Monica are caught up in a world of their own. If I disappeared
now they wouldn't care. Dad only cares about his new offspring—his
long awaited son."
chuckled. "You love your baby-brother."
Sky's heart softened somewhat. He was a cute child. And sometimes she
did think of him as the sweetest baby on the planet.
father and Monica Campbell from next door had started hitting it off
almost as soon as the ink was dry on her parents divorce papers. Two
months after the divorce, they were married.
year later they had a child together and her father was acting like a
first time father.
made her feel left out somehow. Monica was a lovely woman and quite
accommodative, she had to grudgingly admit. Sky didn't feel
comfortable in her house on the hill. Even after eighteen months she
still thought of Monica as 'the lady next door', even after her
father moved in with her.
home was not hers. After coming home from school she spent most of
her time with Addi anyway.
you have Aunt Ivy," Addi said haltingly because she knew that
Sky did not really have Ivy as a viable parenting option or even as a
glanced at her. "You know my mother is crazy. I can't have a
regular conversation with her. Besides, any day now she will be going
back to England to live."
there is always my mom and dad." Addi shrugged. "They are
not leaving. They'll be right here. My mom is already talking about
they are not you," Sky said bitterly. "You deliberately and
willfully want to leave me, Addison Porter. You are the worst cousin
in the entire world."
got up from the bed and stretched. "I am sure there are other
cousins worst than I."
laid back in the bed and looked up at the ceiling. "I am not
looking forward to going back to school in two weeks then. I was
hoping you'd be there. Now my life sucks big time."
chuckled and unraveled her hair from her messy top bun. "You'll
I won't be fine." Sky turned on her back and hit the bed. "I
won't be okay ever again."
turned on the radio to drown out her tantrum.
this!" Addi pinched her. "This is your new jam, Waterfalls,
grunted. "There is nothing, nothing at all that can make me
why is your feet moving up and down in tandem to the music?"
Addi asked as she combed out her hair.
is a nice tune," Sky looked at Addi grudgingly. "This
changes nothing. You are still the worst."
didn't answer she just gave her a smirk and continued combing out her
thick long hair.
got up and stuck her face beside Addi's. They looked nothing alike
except for the nose. They both had the Porter nose, short straight
with a little flare at the end. That was where the similarities
wore cinnamon shade makeup for her lighter skin. Addi wore brown
sugar for her darker complexion.
had freckles along her nose bridge, little discolored imperfections
that increased with exposure to the sun. Addi's skin was smooth and
even toned. She rarely needed makeup and she surely didn't need
mascara, she had thick stumpy lashes that looked like perfect little
the other hand, she had brown hair and not in a shade that was
remarkable in her eyes either. She was going to put a rinse over it.
She didn't like it. It was nowhere near as luxurious as Addi's.
hair was jet black, thick, long and looked like a lions mane when
out. Whereas she had to use volumizing sprays and potions to have
even half the body that Addi had. She resented her curls and would
have gotten it processed a year ago except that her only time with a
flat iron had her hair looking thin, long and lifeless more than she
was comfortable with.
Addi was quite obviously the better looking of the two of them in her
humble biased opinion. She made crossed eyes and pushed her tongue
out at Addi. Then she felt like a cow for comparing herself to her
slumped dramatically beside her.
are leaving because I am totally ugly aren't you?"
Addi laughed. "I can't bear to see your ugly face any more."
I have no boobs," Sky said despairingly.
was in hysterics. "Yep. I am going to pursue an education away
from here because you have no boobs."
Addi and no boyfriend." Sky groaned. "My life sucks."
life is fine." Addi turned to Sky. "Stop feeling sorry for
yourself. It's unattractive."
am unattractive," Sky muttered, "that's why I have
know very well that you are gorgeous." Addi shook her head in
exasperation. "And you have your whole life ahead of you filled
with glorious possibilities. I don't have a boyfriend and my life is
don't have a boyfriend because you like Randy Vassell and nobody
meets up to chocolate coated Randy." Sky stuck out her tongue at
Addi. "You two were a thing in another time. Remember?"
up." Addi scowled. "I don't remember many details. I wrote
stuff down but..."
wrote stuff down about you and Randy but you didn't write about the
fire or any significant financial details we should know!"
take it back," Sky said in exasperation. "You are not the
inhaled, "I didn't think my memories of before were going to be
relevant to us now. Everything changed for the family. You were the
one with the financial details and all of that. There was no need for
me to write down anything."
grimaced. It was true. She had confidently assured Addi that she
would take care of them financially with all of her information.
at her now. No book. No nothing.
doesn't talk to me anymore," Addi said defeat in her voice. "It
is one of the reasons I am going too. He just stopped corresponding.
He used to send me a card for my birthday, he doesn't anymore!"
you told him to stop. There is just so much a guy can take. You
pushed him away." Sky elbowed Addi. "Josh told me that he
is working in Kingston as a junior accountant. Why don't you stay in
Jamaica and go to a school in Kingston, so you can be near him? You
guys could get it on again."
Addi shook her head. "I am going to New York."
stupid answer." Sky got up. "I still think you are the
grinned. "I have a feeling by the end of the semester when you
find a boyfriend and you get obsessed you'll be asking who is Addison
likely." Sky muttered. "Not at all likely."
they replaced old Dr. Mathers this year. There goes my easy A in
International Marketing." Emma, her old roommate and now
classmate said as she sat beside Sky. "The man was blind as a
bat, and slightly senile. The university should be ashamed of
themselves for letting him go for as long as he did."
who is the new teacher?" Emma grunted as she slapped her
knapsack on the desk. "I hope it's another senior citizen with
know." Sky yawned and pulled her hoodie over her hair and
crouched down further in her chair. "One Dr. Jefferson or
something. Wake me up when he is done."
chuckled. "Too much partying in the old year, huh?"
Sky cracked one eye opened. "Well... a little. My cousins came
from New York and I was very instrumental in planning my neighbors
wedding. The bride is a dressmaker and we thought that we should do
an elaborate dress. She looked gorgeous. It was fun."
for you." Emma grimaced. "I flunked three courses last
semester...have to take them over this year. My mother spent all
Christmas talking about it. You would believe that I had murdered
someone or something the way she kept carrying on."
were a little wild last year with the constant partying." Sky
pointed out gently.
was not wild. I was a totally normal teenager with an unusual amount
of freedom and like thinking friends." Emma huffed, "I
don't know how you took ten courses."
not partying." Sky smirked, "and having zero social life. I
want to get out of here. Not prolong the pain."
didn't fail any of the courses did you?" Emma asked hopefully.
Sky shook her head, "A for every single one. Sorry to be so good
at the school thing."
snorted. "Yeah, you are forgiven. So where are you living this
campus, in the town. A relative of my mother's has an apartment
there. It's empty so I got the go ahead to live there and drive her
Emma widened her eyes. "Super cool. I wish I had a set up like
nodded. "It's a nice place—two bedrooms. Each of them with
their own bathroom. Bungalow style. Each apartment has a view of the
pool at the back."
totally wasted on you." Emma sighed, "I would have parties
every weekend. Pool parties."
shook her head. "No parties, unless it's okayed by the other
residents. I am afraid it's not a place that's party friendly."
totally your speed then." Emma straightened up when the
classroom door opened and then widened her eyes in disappointment.
"He's young and disabled!"
spoke so loudly that the man who had wheeled himself in the classroom
looked up to where they were sitting and nodded.
I am disabled. Thank you for that observation Miss...?"
was looking at her. Sky sat up straighter. "I er...It wasn't
Miss It Wasn't Me."
rest of the class chuckled.
moved around to the desk putting a stack of books on it and then
introduced himself. "My name is Travis Jefferson. I am sure I
will get to know your names by the end of this semester."
didn't dare make eye contact with him. She was feeling embarrassed.
All through the first hour she kept her head down.
leaned in to whisper to her near the end of class. "This guy is
fine. It's a pity he is in a wheel chair. How old do you think he
don't know," Sky mumbled. "Stop talking."
wasn't listening though. "Seriously Sky, he looks a little like
an Indian Superman, don't you think? A dark honey Christopher Reeves
with brown eyes. Look at the cowlick and the jaw line. We have
ourselves an undercover superman."
up!" Sky growled a bit too loud.
Jefferson looked up at them from his place in front of the class and
then spun closer to the edge of the dais. "You have something to
say to me, Miss It Wasn't Me?"
er..." Sky swallowed. He was pegging her for a troublemaker; Sky
could see it in the narrowed gaze thrown at her.
groaned inwardly. This was not going to be an A class for her.
Superman hated her.
vowed not to sit beside Emma for the rest of the semester. Maybe she
would sit farther in the back.
wheeled himself to his van, maneuvered himself on the ramp and
secured his chair to the driver's side of the vehicle. He always felt
a tinge of thankfulness when he thought about the freedom of driving
a car for himself, living on his own and pursuing a career. A decade
ago when he was bed ridden, all of this was not an option.
tap on his window had him winding it down and staring at the teacher
outside. One year ago he would have eagerly wound down the window and
smiled at her. Today he didn't, Amelia Perkins was on his list of
persons to avoid.
Travis," she smiled at him. Her smile perfect. "We are
having a get together at my place. It's a back to school kind of
thing and a meet and greet for the new lecturers in our department.
It's at eight. You remember where my place is don't you?"
Travis nodded, "but I am afraid I can't make it. I have other
you in pain?" She asked concerned. Looking him over, pity in her
eyes when she looked at his lifeless legs.
Travis gritted his teeth. "Rich cripples can have plans too."
gasped. "Travis, when are you going to allow me to forget that
silly conversation from last year? I didn't mean it when I called
grimaced. "I took no offence to that Amelia. It's the truth.
What I took offence to was you inferring to your friend, Sandy, that
I could be dateable because I am tied to the rich Jefferson's.
said, and I quote, 'Travis has two things going for him, the fact
that he is good-looking at least from his waist up and his family's
millions. Ooh, those millions, I would date a cripple to get close to
closed her eyes in mortification. "That wasn't a conversation I
ever, ever wanted you to hear. We were just girls having fun saying
know." Travis nodded. "It's amazing the things you can hear
when people don't know they are being listened to."
wound up the window in her face and started the vehicle.
was no denying it, he was still smarting from the overheard
conversation. He backed out of the parking lot and wondered when he
would stop feeling the twinge of hurt he felt when he heard Amelia
discussing him with her friends so crassly.
her it had been last year, something to be dismissed. To him it was
just six weeks ago. And he was feeling particularly bad about the
whole conversation because he had feelings for her.
had been prepared to let her in, to trust her, to consider a
relationship with her. That was a huge step for him. He hadn't had
those thoughts about anyone for years.
had thought that his heart had died with his legs. But it hadn't
died; he had just chosen the wrong woman to consider offering it to.
backed out of the parking lot and headed home to his apartment. He
hadn't been lying to Amelia when he said that he had plans. It was
his mother's birthday; he had to give her a call.
was also his fifth year anniversary of being an independent adult. It
had taken him years to convince his overprotective mother that he
could live on his own.
than convincing his mother was convincing himself that he was worthy
of the opportunity to be alive, because he shouldn't be alive. It was
his fault that he was in this wheelchair.
often thought of his wheelchair as punishment for his sins. His
of the things that he had taken for granted before the wheelchair he
was so appreciative for now.
had not thought that his legs were a blessing until he lost the use
of it. Just the simple act of running, of wriggling the toes in warm
sand of exercising and feeling his leg muscles burn.
the very thought of feeling his legs.
turned the car into the apartment and greeted the security. Someone
was parked in his parking place.
space was right before his apartment, it was wider than usual so that
he could maneuver his chair out of the van and straight to his door.
He had chosen the corner apartment for that reason.
didn't want to blow the horn; it was six in the evening. It would be
inconsiderate to the other residents in the building.
who would be so stupid as to park their car in the furthest spot from
the rest of the parking spaces.
would be so utterly foolish that they would park in a space with an
obvious disabled sign... he felt himself getting angry and then
were twelve apartments in the compound. Eleven of them were currently
occupied. The apartment to the right of his was usually empty. For
the five years he had been living there he had met the owner once. A
fast talking lady named Corvette or was it Yvette?
door opened and a girl stepped out in a short shorts and a slouchy
wound down the window. "Is this your car?"
jumped and then turned to look at him like a deer caught in
she nodded vigorously, "it is."
you move it?" he asked impatiently. "It is in my parking
sorry. I am so sorry, Sir!" she said a mortified tone to her
voice, she moved closer to his side of the car and he saw that it was
his student from today.
pretty one, the loud one that he had called Miss It Wasn't Me. What
was she doing here?
hoped that she wasn't going to be living beside him. He didn't like
having students in his space. They were usually noisy and untidy and
didn't know how to respect boundaries.
this one, he couldn't remember her name was obviously one of the
popular outrageous ones. She had legs that went on for days, a smooth
honey complexion and curly brown red hair that was perched on top of
her head in a casual topknot.
probably would have a boyfriend coming over at various hours of the
night and an assorted batch of girly friends crowding the swimming
pool where he took his morning swim.
watched as she backed out of his space and then he drove in. He
waited for the ramp to be lowered and then he wheeled himself out and
headed to his door.
was parking in the proper designated area for her apartment. He
waited for her to come out of the car.
was getting the best of him. He had to find out if she was going to
be his neighbor. If she was he had some ground rules to lay down.
First one was not to park in his parking space.
came out with a box in hand, slammed the car door and armed it.
again Mr. er Dr, Jefferson. She wasn't making eye contact with him.
She fuddled with the door and almost dropped her box.
wheeled closer to her. "Let me help you with that." He
indicated for the box and she looked at him half scared.
okay," he held out his hands. "I won't drop your box."
reluctantly handed it to him and pushed the key into the door and
opened it after two tries.
you'll be my neighbor?" He asked the obvious question. He had
taken a look in the box. It was filled with cleaning supplies. She
had probably just moved in.
she said shyly. "My mom's cousin Yvette owns this place. She is
gone to Italy for a while."
see." Travis nodded. "What's your name again? I had four
new classes today. Quite a few names to remember and since you are
going to be my neighbor I can't keep calling you, Miss It Wasn't Me."
name is Skyler Porter," She said smiling at him. "I really
didn't mean to..."
okay Miss Porter. Apology accepted. I hope I won't have any problems
with you being my close neighbor. I hate loud noise and parties, the
walls are not as thick as I would like."
no, I don't do parties," Sky said hurriedly, "I study a
lot. I really don't have a social life."
see." Travis handed her the box and wheeled himself to his door.
"Have a good evening Miss Porter."
too, Dr. Jefferson," She said quickly. He heard when she closed
the door. He suppressed a laugh—she only studied and didn't have a
social life. Yeah right.
spent most of the first week back at school flitting from class to
class without a breather. In the nights she cleaned the apartment
room by room. Yvette had not had anyone clean it for what seemed like
years. The furniture had layers of dust, the bedding and sheets were
musty and the refrigerator, though it looked new was not working.
had three different repairmen coming by to look at it. The last one,
a cocky self-assured guy named Brian, who looked a lot like the boxer
Mike Tyson, announced to her that it was an easy fix.
flirted with her mercilessly and smacked his lips in an obscene
manner when he spoke to her. Thankfully he solved the mystery of the
refrigerators malady. Though she nodded while he elaborated on the
mysterious problem, she had no clue what he was talking about.
she could think was, why on earth didn't he hurry and leave?
let him out of her place close to midnight on Friday night, after he
tinkered with the back of the fridge and got it working again.
was very grateful to him for the fix, and even more grateful when she
heard what he was charging. She paid him quickly, all the while
thinking of all the things that she was deprived of not a fridge for
could cook and have leftovers and drink cool water and she could have
her chocolate bars rock hard instead of room temperature.
want us to do something tonight?" Brian intruded on her
was standing too close when she let him out of the apartment. Sky
hadn't even realized it at the time. The guy had no concept of
casual invitation to go out with him was not welcomed. What on earth
made him think that she would be willing to go anywhere with him?
I am good," she said briskly.
scowled. "What's wrong with you, don't like blue collar
just don't want to go out with you." Sky scowled back at him. "I
had a stressful week at school. All I want to do now is go inside,
put my chocolate bar in the fridge and wait for it to harden and then
laughed. "I like you."
rolled her eyes. This guy was not going to take any rejection of him
would probably like you, if you weren't coming on so strongly."
my thing, you know." Brian winked. "I see a pretty girl
like you I just have to get a word in, make myself memorable."
considered rolling her eyes and then decided not to. Brian looked as
if he had a chip on his shoulder a mile wide and he looked as if
rejecting him with a no would not cut it.
sighed. "I have a boyfriend, Brian. I can't go out with you."
Brian asked crossing his arms over his chest and showing off his
considered going inside and slamming the door in his face, but she
had a funny feeling that this level of persistence would not be
solved with a simple slam of the door. She imagined he would keep
coming back and hounding her to go out with him.
do you want to know who?" Sky asked frowning. "How is that
any of your business?"
women lie," Brian said smugly, "and if you really don't
have a guy you are fair game. I like you, I am going to pursue you,
wear you down. You'll see what a great guy I am when I am done."
shuddered, and it wasn't from the chilly January night. It was the
thought of Brian hounding her, maybe for the next year and a half she
would be living in Mount Faith. She wracked her brain for a name. She
didn't have any single guy friends.
don't think I should tell you," she tried hedging, "he's
Brian asked raising an eyebrow.
Sky frowned, "he's ah..."
Brian was enjoying watching her squirm.
looked out at the parking lot in front of the house in defeat and
then she spotted Travis Jefferson's van.
had been going on and on about him all week. She had even found a
ridiculous article about people in wheelchairs and sex. "If
you live beside him, Sky, you must find out if he's all there, down
there. I wouldn't mind dating him. I don't care if he's in a
looked at Brian and smirked. "I'd prefer not to say his name
because he is a lecturer at my school."
Brian nodded and then laughed, "nice try."
am serious." Sky hissed, "he lives next door and he
wouldn't like me talking to you so long out here. Now go before he
chuckled. "Likely story."
inhaled. "Goodnight Brian. Thank you for fixing my fridge."
She was about to close the door when Brian put his foot in the
so fast. I was thinking we could go out tomorrow. Spend the day
together. You know. Get to know each other better."
Sky said firmly, "leave me alone. Now!"
else what?" Brian sneered, "Your boyfriend from next door
will come to your rescue?"
felt real fear at the look of determination in Brian's eyes. He was
acting way past creepy.
almost slumped on the wall in relief when she heard the door from
next door open. And then she heard Travis Jefferson's voice.
is everything all right?"
had never called her Sky before, always Miss Porter.
she almost pushed Brian out of the way and stood in the corridor,
was dressed all in black his hair was ruffled more than usual. He
looked at Brian with a frown. "What are you doing here?"
Brian straightened up guiltily, "I... er... thought that Sky
was... er... single. I had no idea she was telling the truth. Listen
man, I don't trample on other men's territory. I am a lover not a
fighter. This is just a misunderstanding. Goodnight."
walked stiffly to his car and then drove out.
slumped on the wall and sighed. "Such a pity he is borderline
dangerous. I think he is a good electrician. He's the only one who
knew how to fix my fridge. Thank you Dr. Jefferson."
nodded. "No problem. That's what boyfriends are for and he is
heard the conversation?" Sky groaned, "I am so sorry. I
couldn't think of anyone to use as my imaginary boyfriend. I saw your
worries." Travis wheeled back to his apartment. "Goodnight
were back to her being Miss Porter.
Dr. Jefferson." She straightened up from the wall.
a full month Sky watched as he swam in the mornings. She watched as
he pulled himself out of the water and into his special chair. She
was fascinated with him. She had turned into a low-key stalker.
could probably memorize his schedule by now. He swam every morning at
six without fail. Her back patio gave a clear view of the pool.
could time the squeak of his wheelchair as it progressed along the
pool lounge area. There was a special place at the end of the pool
where he stopped and lowered himself from his chair and into the
first morning she saw him entering the pool she got anxious like a
mother hen, waiting to see if he could manage all by himself. She
didn't have long to wait. He was an expert at it. She felt ridiculous
had she gotten so invested in him?
following morning she observed a couple of details as she watched
him. His chair was different from the one he rode to class. He wore
black swimming trunks, his legs were skinnier than his upper body,
but his upper body was rippling with muscles.
he hauled himself from the water with the help of the rails he always
gave a glance at her section of the apartment like he knew she was
dismissed that idea after the first week. He didn't know she was
watching. He didn't have the same kind of madness that was infecting
had breakfast at seven thirty, she heard him in the kitchen banging
around. He liked to listen to the BBC World News for half an hour and
then he played music. He liked stuff like Enya, Sail Away and Sail On
by the Commodores. He played it constantly.
could hear it especially when he opened his patio doors. She
concluded that he had a thing for sailing.
left for school at nine, most days, except for Wednesdays.
watched him at school. She couldn't believe that she had not seen him
before her class with him. He was truly a lovely looking man.
she was reminded of that every class because she had not quite
managed to shake Emma who seemed to be as obsessed as she was
becoming about him.
she sat, Emma was there with little tidbits of information.
found out his age!" Emma announced in mid-January. "He is
week later she announced, "I know how and why he met in the
accident that crippled him," Emma had told her almost panting
with glee at the announcement. "I have all the scoop on him. All
had pretended that she didn't want to hear but she had found herself
traipsing behind Emma as she headed to the cafeteria like an obedient
puppet and playing nonchalant as Emma scarfed down her burger and
fries and told her some nonsensical story about a party that had gone
Dr. Jefferson?" Sky snapped in the middle of Emma's telling. "I
have to go to another class."
Jefferson." Emma looked at her smugly. "You came here for
Dr. Jefferson didn't you? Not to have lunch with me."
would have gotten up then and stormed off, but her curiosity was
heightened. She had wondered more than once how he got injured, so
she swallowed the retort at the tip of her tongue and glared at Emma.
I want to hear about Dr. Jefferson." She didn't know if her
voice could be anymore longsuffering.
cackled. "Good girl. It is time you admit that you think he is
the finest lecturer here, wheelchair or not."
admit it." Sky growled.
before I give you any details, you have to promise me something."
Sky looked at Emma, her eyes narrowed.
please, please let me come over to your place for the weekend. My
current roommate is driving me nuts. She talks too much, she has
boyfriend issues and she is constantly hogging the phone. I just want
a break. Besides, I can get to see gorgeous Dr. J. all weekend. What
does he do on the weekend?"
gritted her teeth. "No."
Emma grinned. "Because I am not telling you what I know until
you help me."
Sky closed her eyes and then opened them. She was going to regret
having Emma over for the weekend. All the reasons why she had a
problem with her roommate were identical to problems she had had with
Emma said moving into storytelling mode, her eyes lit with glee. "I
called a friend of mine in Kingston who knows everything about
everyone and I was telling her that I had a crush on my teacher, Dr.
Jefferson. And girl, let me tell you, I have enough information to
fill a magazine."
Sky asked skeptically.
interrupt." Emma grinned. "You'll love this. So, hear this,
Travis Jefferson is rich. I mean rich, like crazy rich. His father is
Miguel Jefferson of the pharmaceutical Jefferson's. The guy has a
Caribbean empire. Anyway, Travis is his prized only son. He has like
two or three older sisters or something.
Travis was reportedly wild. You know the kind of wild I am talking
about—lots of girls, drinking and all of that jazz. He was on his
father yacht one day, a couple of years ago, and some friends of his
challenged him to a water ski race. Rumor has it, that Travis was
drunk; the guy who challenged him was drunk too and they had some
sort of love rival or something.
raced then collided. Rumor has it that the collision was not an
accident, that somebody tampered with the jet skis. Anywho, Travis
was crippled and his frenemy and love rival damaged his brain. That
is why Dr. J Hotty is in a wheelchair."
Sky nodded, "thanks for telling me."
more," Emma said rubbing her hands together, "a juicy bit
Sky was so interested she was leaning toward Emma like a dutiful
puppy waiting for the next morsel.
and a professor had a thing last year and they broke up."
professor?" Sky asked feeling odd. Why hadn't she thought of him
economics lady, the one who looks a little like Malinda Williams in
that movie, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. And she dresses like a
runway model. Always matching."
Perkins," Sky whispered. "And I haven't seen the movie yet.
It's not out in local theatres yet. How did you even watch it?"
matter," Emma said smugly. "What is important here is that
Dr. Jefferson is functional. Miss Perkins looks like the type that
would care about that."
are something else." Sky got up.
you this weekend." Emma winked at her. "I am taking my
one or this one?" Emma came to her room door and held up two
bathing suits. "I am going to meet Dr. Hotty at the poolside."
peered over the sheet at Emma and groaned. "Go away."
know you want to join us." Emma chuckled. "Yesterday you
watched him like you were starving. I saw it, don't deny it. I can't
understand why you are so shy."
covered her head with the blankets and listened as Emma walked away.
She heard the door to the patio open and Emma's flirty laugh as she
approached the pool.
had arrived for her weekend stay from Friday. And had spent all the
weekend trying to chat up Travis at the pool. When she wasn't trying
to get Travis' attention, she was eating all her groceries for the
inhaled ruggedly. That's what she got for being curious about Travis
Jefferson. Emma would thankfully be gone in six hours. She had a
group meeting for a project. Then Sky would have the apartment to
herself. She was never going to bargain for information again. She
closed her eyes trying to shut out Emma's laugh as she recounted some
story or the other to Travis.
never laughed back and the conversation seemed one sided. Good. Sky
thought jealously. She wished she was as bold as Emma but she was
not. She would never be. She was cured from all girlish nonsense like
last crush, Rusty, had been a disaster.
only had he been her mother's secret lover but things could have
ended up much worse if her cousin had not changed events. She could
have given up her virginity to Rusty. The very thought was
was the man who would have killed her father had Addi not intervened.
than that, she had spent her future obsessed with him. What could be
more dismal and psychologically screwed up than obsessing over the
guy who killed your father?
hadn't said this to anybody but she was concerned that she couldn't
trust herself to make good decisions. Since she heard about the
decisions that she had made in another time, she was teetering on the
edge of clinical self-doubt. So this fascination with her neighbor,
her current lecturer was probably another bad idea.
when she closed her eyes his face came up in her mind's eye. She was
tormented about him. It was like madness. She wasn't sure that this
was on the scale like a crush she briefly had for Rusty.
got up and held her head in her hands. She assessed herself honestly.
What was it that she found so fascinating about Travis Jefferson?
was handsome, yes. A fairly good lecturer, yes. He was really strict
with assignment dates and he had a sadistic streak where he gave them
surprise exams. There was something about him that she found
attractive. She didn't know what it was and it was driving her nuts.
it was just regular teenage hormones chipping in after a long
four-year break. Her nineteenth birthday had come and gone at the end
of January and she had escaped the usual pitfalls of attraction to
what a person she had chosen to be fixated on. A man that was
unavailable. A man that was older than her by quite a bit, not that
it was majorly significant but still...And she couldn't forget that
he was physically disabled. She had never taken much notice of people
in wheelchairs before Travis Jefferson.
whatever it was, would pass.
turned on her radio and headed for the bathroom. She needed to wash
her thoughts away, sing at the top of her voice, start the day fresh.
She usually felt energized after doing that.
morning oldies belted from her radio. She sang aloud to The Supremes,
Baby Love, and then You Can't Hurry Love.
exited the shower and wiped the steam from the glass and picked up
her brush pretending to be Diana Ross. You can't hurry love oh you
just have to wait...
little mad streak had her dancing along and pretending she was eight
again and entertaining the family with Addi as her faithful sidekick.
finished with her antics when the song ended. She dried off and
headed for the closet, which still housed some of Yvette's clothes.
Clothes, which Yvette had casually, said Sky should wear or give
had turned Sundays into Yvette's Clothes Day. Some of the outfits
were very nice, others were weird, like the black jumper suit that
was littered with pointy sequins that was dangerous to handle. Where
had she worn them?
Sky took out a simple soft gray cashmere dress, which hugged her body
in the right places and actually made her look like she had curves.
It had long bell sleeves and stopped at her knees. This would be
today's dress, though it was nice enough to wear to school.
let her hair down and put some moisturizer on it, hoping that it
wouldn't dry out and become frizzy. Her hair hung down her back in
little red brown curly tendrils. Her real hair color was growing back
from the roots with a vengeance and snaring at her attempts to hide
gave her hair a little flash and headed to the living room.
came racing in, her eyes dancing in excitement.
invited us to breakfast!"
squealed. "I don't know why you but he said you should come
along. I tried to tell him that you were sleeping but unfortunately
you were singing so loud that the whole Malvern could hear you. Why
were you singing at the top of your voice like that?"
Sky was on her way to the settee.
froze. "In his apartment?"
Emma ran to the guest room, "I am going to dress to the nines!"
sat down abruptly. Breakfast? She was finally going to see inside his
apartment. Eating with him. What kind of stranglehold did Emma have
on Travis Jefferson that she could wring this kind of invitation from
closed his eyes in exhaustion when he entered his apartment after his
swim. He had never had such a stressful morning in all of his
thirty-one years. Fending off a chattering, perplexing teenaged
female had all but wrung him out. The chattering he could handle, but
when Emma had walked into his apartment, apparently looked into his
fridge and then declared that she would come over and fix him
had been too much.
had actually considered yelling for security or squeezing the panic
button that was on his chair.
he had come to his senses before overreacting. He had managed to see
the light side to Emma's behavior. She wasn't sinister in anyway. She
probably weighed a little over a hundred pounds. Coupled with her
overly bright smile, she looked like a pixie.
wouldn't do him any bodily harm; she just had no concept of
boundaries. She barreled in where others were afraid to go.
didn't want the security thinking he was a wuss that couldn't handle
a girl with a crush.
other option was to tell her firmly to leave him alone but that had
not worked yesterday. She had gone blessedly silent and then started
instead of vinegar he was trying honey. He had actually invited her
to breakfast, told her he liked to prepare it himself and asked her
to bring Sky with her. Sky was supposed to act as a buffer. In the
six weeks that Sky was his neighbor he had not had any occasion to
complain about her.
was silent as a mouse except when she sang in the shower. She had a
pretty nice voice he couldn't complain about her singing.
for that encounter with the persistent electrician, a couple of weeks
ago, he hardly saw her outside of class.
week was the first time he had seen her on campus. She was sitting in
the Greens on a picnic blanket talking animatedly to a mixed group of
people. There were more guys in the group than girls. He hadn't
missed the look that the guy to her right was giving her. He had been
staring at her with adoration. Sky seemed to have that effect on men.
had actually stopped and watched her for a while. If he were to be
honest he was curious about her. He had greatly misjudged her based
on her looks. He had instantly summed her up as a party girl who
probably had more than one boyfriend.
had debunked his theories—he had given his class two exams so far
and she had completed them with grades in the nineties and she had no
visitors, male or female.
had just chirpily told him that Sky was dating her books and that she
had more than the usual course load this semester.
hated when people judged him based on the fact that he was in a
wheelchair and yet he had had no problems summing up Sky after an
initial meeting. He was remorseful about that. One thing was for
sure, he was quite happy she was his neighbor and not Emma Brown.
wheeled himself into the shower and turned it on warm.
whole apartment was refitted for his needs; he had bought the place
and extensively remodeled it. Counters were to his height; the shower
was retrofitted to accommodate a wheel chair. His whole life was on a
different level literally.
would take him ten minutes before when he was on his feet, like
taking a bath and getting dressed, now took him at least thirty
showered quickly and pulled on a pair of specially designed jeans and
then his grey sweater. It had been the usually cool morning. By the
time he had brushed his hair and teeth and wheeled into the kitchen,
it was eight o'clock.
wasn't terribly pleased to hear Emma knocking on his patio door
shortly after he had decided that cereal, toast, eggs and orange
juice was all he was willing to exert himself over this morning.
helper cooked him good wholesome dinners in the week, on the weekends
he didn't pretend that he was a chef. Takeout from a lovely mom and
pop restaurant around the corner usually sufficed and barring that he
went light with his selections.
reluctantly wheeled to the door and opened it, letting in an over
eager Emma who was dressed as if she was going to a party. She was in
a short pink dress and sky-high heels with a face full of heavy
suppressed a groan. What he should have done after the swim was, come
inside and lock the door and not answer the knock when he saw that it
was Emma. He changed his mind almost instantly as Sky appeared behind
morning, Dr. Jefferson." She held up a bottle of juice, the same
type he was about to remove from his fridge. "I brought juice to
contribute to... er... this invite."
morning, Sky," he smiled at her taking in her simple dress her
make up free face that was beaming with health and her flip-flops.
She was a breath of fresh air compared to Emma.
TJ what are you fixing?" Emma had gone straight to the kitchen,
flitting about as if she owned it.
looked at Sky. "Don't tell me she is going to be living next
shook her head. "Five hours till leaving time".
no more weekends, please," Travis whispered. "Or I'll have
to call security or take out a restraining order."
are you two whispering about?" Emma came around her high heels
clicking on the floor.
wheeled toward Emma and scowled. "I know you are hard of hearing
but if you call me TJ ever again, you will pay."
recoiled. He could see that she was finally taking him seriously. But
then he felt really bad for saying it but he didn't dare take it
withdrew like a puppy that had been freshly kicked and he had to
admit he felt a sense of relief at that.