M. E. Reid
Blinds partially open, Gregorio stood in the shadows indulging in his morning ritual -- watching the woman come out of her garage to retrieve the newspaper. He hadn’t met her or even seen her up close and personal, yet from a distance, an overwhelming attraction persisted, and he took every opportunity to get a glimpse of her.
She had ginger-colored skin, long dark brown or black hair worn swept up and away from an oval-shaped face with a generous mouth and the kind of pouty lips capable of generating his wet dreams. Always, at that time of the morning, her house cast a shadow over the driveway, so he could only speculate about the color of her eyes. But with her skin tone, they were probably hazel, and he imagined freckles fanning out over the bridge of her pert nose and her cheekbones.
Unlike the current anorexic fashion, she fit the category fashionably termed full-bodied, and this particular body came in an enticing package capable of initiating a rhythmic beat to his pulse. Weight proportionate to height, she had an hourglass figure delineated by ample breasts that he visualized fitting nicely in his palms. Although taller than the petite women who had his attention in the past, he estimated he’d top her ass by several inches.
Today she wore a leg brace, extending from mid-thigh to mid-calf, but despite its presence, she moved with studied grace. Her long legs were well defined and her fine ass had his cock throbbing as he watched said ass disappear into the garage.
What was wrong with him, jonesing for a married woman? Moreover, a married woman with a dying husband, as if he didn’t have plenty of opportunities to get busy since discarding Cecilia. Hell. He’d had several paid-to-get-laid one-niters -- a need satisfied -- the extent of his interest until he’d seen this woman. She made him realize getting the neediness out of his system wasn’t what he wanted for the rest of his life.
Returning home after months of travel, he had intended to settle down, adjust to his new lifestyle, and relax. Except Patrick, remaining true to his profession and sense of duty to the Calderones, had scoped out the neighborhood and gathered information about all the neighbors for Gregorio’s review. Yet the only ones who piqued his interest were the couple directly across the street.
Husband dying from stomach cancer, handicapped wife -- whoa, that wasn’t PC. She wasn’t handicapped, but mobility-impaired. The husband told Patrick that the wife had been quite an athlete in her youth, and her physical limitations stemmed from the culmination of multiple sports injuries. With two sons, and a husband deployed with the Corps for most of the children’s growing years, she had maintained her athleticism by being the stand-in dad, supporting her sons in various sport’s endeavors by coaching and keeping them on a strict exercise regimen.
A tennis injury took her out of the athletic arena when she damaged her rotator cuff, and during a basketball training session, she tore the ligament in her left knee, hence the necessity for the occasional use of a leg brace. Yet, despite her injuries, she still had the poise and toned physique of the athlete.
“Aianna,” he whispered, liking the sound of her name rolling off his tongue, and he didn’t think he’d ever get tired of watching her.
Gregorio started but didn’t turn around. “Yes, I’m fascinated, but no, I won’t do anything about it. It’s probably my punishment for letting Cecilia kill my mother and attempt to kill my brother.” He glanced over his shoulder and snorted. “Why else would you have found the perfect home and setting across the street from a woman who all my money, power, and good looks can’t acquire for me.” Then he mumbled, “Remarkable how one’s tastes change with maturity.”
Patrick laughed. “There are plenty of women to be had, why this one?”
“Can’t say, I just know I want her.” He shrugged. “What do you think the folks would have said about me jonesing for this particular woman?”
“Your mother would have cared less. Ewyn is proof of that. Now your dad…I don’t know. Somehow, he knew Ewyn was gay, almost from the time the pipsqueak started walking and talking. Hence, his insistence on keeping baby-boy out of the business, knowing Ewyn wouldn’t have a place in its structure.
“Your dad didn’t have the prejudices some of the older council members had, and he did cross the color line a few times himself. Still, if he were alive, I think he’d tell you to have fun, but keep it impersonal. If you’re thinking permanency -- mixing bloods -- I’m not sure how he would have reacted.” Patrick paused a moment, then asked, “How would you react if it was one of your girls?”
“You can ask me that, after everything I’ve gone through with Ewyn? His first partner at college was Black. Knowing Ewyn had come to terms with himself and it made him happy, nothing else mattered.”
“True, and I say to each his own…live and let live. Hell. Your Irish relatives had a shit fit when your mother married an Italian, and she wasn’t crossing color lines.”
Gregorio grinned. “Oh yeah, Dad told me about it.” He watched the woman reappear in the garage, get into her car, and back it out onto the driveway. “Besides, the mixing bloods wouldn’t apply to me and Aianna. I believe we’re past the procreation stage, not that I wouldn’t welcome the opportunity to try.”
“Greg. Will you give it a rest? You’re forty-eight and Kyle said his wife is forty-seven. It’s not impossible.”
Gregorio nodded. “True, but unlikely. Hell. Her kids are in their late twenties, mine are in their early twenties, and I don’t know about her, but I’m way out of touch with modern day child rearing. I’m dreading the whole grandkid thing with that time comes.”
Aianna had driven away before he turned from the window. He walked to his father’s leather chair, the only thing he’d brought with him from the family estate, and dropped down on the seat. Steepling his fingers beneath his chin, he stared unseeing.
“Pat, I want you to monitor her work activities. From what the husband has told you about her job, and my intimate knowledge of the good, bad, and ugly side of business, something isn’t right with that setup. Without knowing the entire story, maybe I’m being presumptuous because I want an excuse to get to know her, or I’m bored and need something to occupy my mind.” He looked up.
“You’ve established a rapport with the husband, so you’ll be able to get close to her. Get more information on her employers, then let me know if I need to intervene. Through you, I’ll help her in any way I can.” He snorted. “I sound like Ewyn. Am I making any sense?”
“No.” Patrick chuckled. “Yet I know what you mean. She’s a good-looking woman who appears vulnerable because of the leg brace but, from what her husband has said about her, she’s no push over. Stop worrying.”
“I hear you, but it’s more than looks and vulnerability that have my attention. Did you tell her anything about me?”
Patrick sighed. “Boss, I’ve only spoken to the husband. She works during the week. On weekends, one of their children stops by to spend the day with her and Kyle.”
“I sound like a teenager anticipating his first date, huh?”
“No.” Patrick tried not to laugh. “You sound like Ewyn when he met Devin.”
“Oh shit, that bad?”
“Come on, Greg, relax. You’ve never had time for yourself,” he said. “You were married before you were out of short pants, and you’ve had more responsibilities laid on your young shoulders than some grown men will ever have. Now you’re free and over twenty-one, enjoy yourself while you’re still young enough to appreciate it. Plenty of women are out there.”
Eyes narrowing, Gregorio made no response.
“Oooh-kay, I’ll keep an eye on her and keep you updated,” Patrick added. “Since the floor show is over, do you want to eat? Breakfast is ready.”
“Sure, why not.” Gregorio eased out of his chair. “Being an invalid, I need to maintain my strength.” Headed toward the breakfast room, he trailed behind Patrick, watching those broad shoulders shaking from what he suspected was silent laughter. “Why the hell you came up with that story -- early retirement because of health issues, an extended cruise around the world, and you’re my care giver,” he grumbled.
“Greg. For years, you’ve been prepping the cousins with the health issue as your reason for selling out. It seemed the most plausible scenario to give the other families and anybody who showed an interest. Hell. Nobody can dispute it since you added credence to the lie by actually going on the cruise, then dropping off the radar.”
“Okay! You’re right.” Gregorio settled at the table and stared outside through sliding glass door. The breakfast room was his favorite place because it provided an unobstructed view of the tranquility.
Two palm trees positioned at each corner of the property provided adequate shading during the summer months. One, slightly elevated on a slope, had a cascading formation of river rock running from its base, simulating the flow of water down toward the walkway edging the pool and spa. Beneath the other tree, Patrick arranged the patio furniture into a cozy seating pattern around the fire pit. Aloe Vera plants and an assortment of shrubs and flowers were strategically interspersed with lighting throughout the rest of the area. In a small way, the overall appearance reminded him of his home.
“I hadn’t realized how much I needed to get out of the business until I moved here,” he remarked.
“Well, obviously, you’re enjoying the solitude.” Patrick placed their breakfast on the table and sat across from Gregorio. “You haven’t been out of the house for more than a week, staying closed up in your office working on the computer, day and night.”
“So what. I’m perfecting my invalid image.”
“Yeah, right.” Patrick snorted. “Time you get out, get some fresh air, go for a drive.”
“I can get fresh air in the backyard. What’s up with the push to go out?”
“The Martin Luther King celebration is today.”
Wondering why that should interest him, Gregorio looked over at Patrick and frowned. “Oh-kay, I’m all for civil rights, but you don’t expect me to expose myself by participating.” He chuckled. “Wouldn’t that debunk your invalid myth?”
“Funny, Greg. Sometimes I wonder about you.” Patrick sighed. “What, or who have we been talking about all morning?” he grumbled. “There’s a march through downtown and it’s hosted by Aianna’s organization.” Eyes sparkling with mischief and the corners of his mouth twitching, Patrick sipped his coffee, his gaze fixed on Gregorio. “I’ve been told she’ll be at Bordwell Park, monitoring the vendor stands.”
Gregorio shoved his chair back, tossed his napkin on his plate and stood. “Maybe a drive after breakfast and a walk in the park will do me good…get me out of the house for a couple of hours. I need to change,” he remarked and strolled out of the breakfast room.
© M. E. Reid