I just finished number fourteen or so. Author first draft. Still has to go through edits/style/proof. Not happy with the title.
A small unedited excerpt.
At Last Love
by Roscoe James
“Look, Bob, I think it’s better if we let things cool down for a while, that’s all.” Evelyn Loise Stanton, local television personality and good daughter, heart thumping, tried to gauge how badly her most recent flame would take her decision.
“What?” He was duly surprised, as they all were when the time came. “I thought we had something, Evie. I mean, well, I really like you. I thought you felt the same way. What is it? What’d I do?”
As a small child Eve had once asked her father how many times her heart would beat in her lifetime. He’d pulled her into his lap while they looked the answer up together in an old encyclopedia. At nine years old the number had been unfathomable. She didn’t know why the memory of that particular moment came into her head. But there it was. The heart, her heart, unrelenting in its pursuit of that unfathomable number, just wouldn’t leave her alone. She buried the thought and got on with the task at hand.
Eve had pondered Bob’s question many times. Always in the same context. Bob had done nothing wrong. Her recollection was that he’d done everything righter than most. He’d been attentive, involved, had even seemed genuinely interested in her life beyond her job. He had the movie star good looks of Hollywood laced Los Angeles and the clothes to go with them. His career was on the rise and he was even mildly interesting in bed. But this was not the time or place to lose focus.
The ball was in her court and Bob was harboring hope. She didn’t want him to suffer unnecessarily. She just wanted him out of her life.
“I’ve got that Matheson piece coming up, I’ll be traveling a lot, and I need to go visit my mom. My life is complicated right now. I just don’t think you’ll be happy—”
Her producer and one of her few close friends, Bonnie Wells, strode past in the fluorescent-lit hallway. So familiar with the ebb and flow of Eve’s courting habits, Bonnie averted her eyes, not wanting to witness the carnage. Bob fidgeted, fluttered the folder in his hand, ran his fingers down the length of his tie, and sallied forth undeterred by Bonnie’s presence.
“It’s because of what I said.” His jaw ground to a defiant jut and he waited.
The Matheson piece had been a constant just over her horizon from field reporter to investigative reporter. Reason number one for needing space at moments such as this. She had no idea who Matheson was or what the piece was about but no soon-to-be ex ever questioned the time consuming notion.
When she didn’t say anything he leaned close, a wisp of hope back in his voice, and whispered, “But I love you, Eve.”
And just like two nights earlier in bed, when Bob had whispered those same words for the first time in the midst of their naked sweaty congress, her palms became clammy, the flutter of her heart jumped erratically accenting the sudden panic that gripped her. She had a sudden urge to run outside to find a pocket of air that would let her start breathing once more.
But she stood her ground. She always did.
“You’re nice, Bob.” Extracted herself from his space she moved to the center of the hallway, ready to make her escape. “And I like you too, but—”
“I got too close. That’s what it is. I get it, Eve.” His initial shock morphed into consternation before he went on, “Intimacy is only skin deep with you, isn’t it?”
Bob. The good knight. The warrior that had fought hardest for her attentions. Her very own Icarus that had chanced to fly too close to her affections, the wax holding his wing feathers in place turning soft, struggled to stay aloft.
“You know how it is. I’m just—”
“Yeah. I know how it is. I get it.” The man that had unconditionally worshiped her for the last three months turned on his heel and walked away. Obviously Bob was a man of pride as well.
Eve tugged at the edge of her top, flipped her hair off her shoulder, and walked away.
She didn’t watch as Icarus plunged unceremoniously into her apparent indifference and drowned without much of a struggle in just a few beats of her unrelenting heart. The tragic death of love was of no interest to Eve. She couldn’t fathom the death of something she didn’t believe existed.
Not that Eve didn’t want to be loved. Love was the dream of every little girl. The question was one of faith. She often pondered how people could fall for such a sham. She could understand passionate attraction and desire. Lust was easy and, if done properly, could actually be fun. Something you could put your hands on, so to speak. But people always wanted to bring devotion and commitment into the picture and Eve wasn’t buying. As an adopted child she lived her life on the cusp of fear. Even after nearly thirty years of being someone’s daughter the idea of abandonment, just as her birth mother had done to her, was almost a phobia for Eve. A phobia that had left a trail of Bobs in her wake since college, all neatly dispatched, none ever missed, all long forgotten.
That didn’t stop her from crying as soon as she closed the door to her office and the world was out of earshot.
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