Just a little taste…
So, do you have any special plans for tonight, Shante?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact I do,” she answered excitedly, packing her briefcase. “I’m going to go home and cook a very romantic dinner. Some shrimp scampi with a little bow tie pasta and chicken, and then some chocolate covered strawberries for dessert.”
“Mmm.” A small smile teased Mark’s lips as his eyes closed.
“Then I’m going to take a nice hot shower and buff-puff my body until it is soft and supple before I cover it from head to toe in creamy vanilla lotion.” She heard Mark make a soft pleasurable sound from deep within his throat and giggled before continuing. “After that I’m going to slip into something new and very sexy, open a bottle of wine, and have that wonderful dinner by the fire…alone.”
Mark hung on every word she said as she painted a picture in his mind. When she emphasized the last word, his face dropped and his eyes sprang open. “Huh? I’m sorry, did you say alone?”
“Yes, Mark, alone,” she said with a small chuckle as she slung her bag over her shoulder.
“I don’t understand, Shante. A woman as beautiful and smart as you are should not be alone at all, but especially not on Valentine’s Day. What’s up with that?” he asked, following her out of the office.
“I’m alone by choice. Being alone is not the same as being lonely. I have friends, family, and a great career. My life is full.”
Mark nodded but didn’t comment. He held the door open for her and they walked into the blistering wind that was sweeping through Manhattan off the Hudson River. Shante held out one hand to flag down cab when Mark reached out for her other. “Shante, is there something wrong with me?”
She turned a confused look on him. “What? No, what makes you ask me that?”
“Well, I have asked you out on several occasions and you turned me down each time. I get the impression you are not against having a relationship. You’re just not in one at the moment. So I have to ask, is it that you’re not comfortable starting a relationship with someone you work with? Or is it just me?”
Shante pulled her collar up and adjusted her scarf higher on her neck. “Mark, it has nothing to do with you, really. It’s just that I am new to this company and this city, and you’re right, I don’t think it is a good idea to get involved with someone I work with.”
Mark sighed and gave her a half smile. “Okay, well, I appreciate your honesty and will respect your decision but if you change your mind…” He added a wink and left his sentence unfinished.
Shante laughed and hugged him. “I hope we can still be friends.”
“Absolutely, I wouldn’t have it any other way.” A cab came to a stop in front of them. “Here is your cab. You enjoy your evening and I will see you on Monday,” he said and swung the door open.
She slipped into the back of the cab and gave the driver directions to her apartment building. With a quick look out the back window as the cab pulled away, she saw Mark walking away dejectedly and a pang of guilt rang through her. She rested her head back and sighed. Shante hadn’t been completely honest with Mark. she didn’t know him well enough to give him full disclosure. New York City was to be a new beginning for her. With an advance from her new company, she had come to town with a list of five apartments they recommended and one month to get it together before she started her new job. Her hometown of Philadelphia was a great place to live, but New York City was an incredible city. It was the perfect place to advance her career and get over a relationship.
Yes, she was new to the city, but not that new. It had been over a year since her arrival to The Big Apple. She’d done well at her job, made a few good friends, seen wonderful plays and musicals with and without her new friends and had dinner at some of the best restaurants. But it wasn’t until the holidays came around that she felt the tug of loneliness. Here it was Valentine’s Day and she was getting geared up for a date with herself with less enthusiasm than she shared with Mark. But she would rather be alone than in another relationship to nowhere. Mark was a really nice guy, that part she truly meant. She didn’t believe it was a good idea to date someone at work. Rule number one for her was always keep work and home separate. Having someone in her life would be nice for sure, but if there was no one in her life to treat her special, then by god she would do it herself.