#HolidayShorts, Home At Last 3



When you write fiction regularly you quickly begin to realize that almost anything can germinate an idea from a seed to a full grown tree.  I first got the idea for Laura and Garrett’s story about four years ago when I heard Gregory Porter sing Hey Laura for the first time.  That mild torture of being involved with someone who may or may not be involved with someone else is perfectly reflected in that song.  As well as that confidence of caring for someone and knowing they care too, no matter who else they spend their time with.  Hmm… definitely sends my mind in several different directions all at the same time.

Wondering what Ken has to say?

Let’s see.

Home At Last 3

Reentering the house Laura moved in a stupor. She’d lived here for awhile though so maybe muscle memory would keep her from bumping into any of her own furniture. Woodenly she picked up the things that had fallen when she and Garrett had collided with them. As she placed them one by one back on the table in the foyer, she could feel Ken’s eyes watching her.

It was true that Ken didn’t know a thing about Garrett. But she hadn’t been exactly truthful to Garrett about her and Ken either had she? Why had she done that?

Shaking away the thought she headed further inside, hoping to get to her bedroom and change into something that made her feel less exposed.  She was obviously preoccupied but she managed to call out over her shoulder, “I’ll get dressed and make us some tea Ken, then we’ll talk.  I… I’ll explain.”

“So I get you fully clothed but you can talk to him in the middle of the sidewalk in a nightie and stocking feet?”

Stopping on her path to the bedroom, she silently debated with herself whether she’d get through the rest of the day without throwing a shoe at a man’s head in complete exasperation.

Without quite fully turning around she said, “Ken, I can only imagine how difficult this morning has been for you and for that I’m sorry.  Truly. I want to talk to you but please, may I just get dressed and put on some tea, so we can have a civilized conversation?”

“Now you want civility.  What I saw you doing with that white guy who had you pinned against the wall didn’t look particularly civil.”

Whirling around to face him, Laura worked to keep her voice at an even keel, “Okay, no getting dressed. No tea. We’ll just talk now. How ’bout that? Let’s start with the basics shall we? Garrett is not white, he’s biracial. Not that it matters to me. Not that it should matter to you. Because we’re not those people are we? What else do you need to know before I put my clothes on?”

Ken was not a bad person and was always a gentleman. She knew he was aware that he was pushing hard, too hard probably, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself. Obviously the vision he’d witnessed of her in a carnal fever with Garrett was playing on a loop in his head and making him act out accordingly.

“One question and then I’ll make the tea while you get dressed. Is he the reason we haven’t made love yet, the reason you keep holding back from me?”

“Yes.” Laura spoke definitively, because she had girded herself for this question long before Garrett appeared on her doorstep, but the admission still took the wind from her sails. Shoulders slumped she couldn’t look in his eyes when she said the rest, “It was only partially him though Ken, mostly it was me when I was with him. I didn’t want to be that person again. That person I was… with Garrett. It’s not something I’m com… it’s not how I see myself. I was afraid.”

“I see.” He said quietly. “Go on, get dressed. I’ll make the tea.”

“Ken…,” Her eyes did a hurried scan of his face trying to gauge how he’d taken her answer. She honestly thought it was a handsome face even when he was angry and hurt as he seemed to be now.

“Go on.”

“Okay, I’ll only be a few minutes.”

Laura closed her bedroom door and rested her forehead against it. In those first days and weeks that she and Garrett had been apart, she’d had many daydreams about their reconciliation. She’d envisioned something very similar to the inescapable clinch they found themselves in this morning, without the unmitigated shock of course.

Even after all this time and being mad as hell at him, she’d hoped that she would know enough about the advent of his arrival that she could’ve been prepared —looked her best — but nothing was ever that structured or pre-planned in their relationship. Once it was clear that neither she nor Garrett could continue denying the immeasurable heat and compatibility between them, they always came together like two hurtling freight trains. It was a maelstrom with them: breakneck and dizzying.

Ken, on the other hand, had scrupulously pursued Laura from the first moment they’d met at a swanky TPM event over the summer. Handpicked as the new Director of Special Projects by her dad, a rarified position that came with a lot of perks and autonomy, she’d heard whispers about Ken Armister. Clever, confident, and good-looking, in a take no prisoners kind of way. He was the type, that phrase “all a titter” had been created for.

Still it surprised Laura when he made an audacious move and asked her out. Most of the men that worked with her dad would’ve been terrified to talk to her for more than a brief greeting. But not Ken. He was fearless or more likely, given his meticulous nature, he had thoroughly calculated the risk/reward ratio then decided it was worth it. They’d been on a few dates but to call herself his girlfriend was an overstatement — a lie — that she couldn’t believe she’d propagated.

At her suggestion, Ken had spent the night before in her guest room because he’d been working late nearby. His client, an indie film studio called R66 Films, had had three academy award nominations in the last five years and were gearing up for a fourth that was the hands down favorite to win come February. The plan was to celebrate their success with a special screening of movie previews for their roster of next year’s films, then have a star-studded holiday dance party on the stage of the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn not far from Laura’s house in Ditmas Park.

It had been a fun and exhausting night. Laura had spent a good deal of it swilling eggnog and happily dancing her cares away while Ken worked the room. It had been a good launching pad for them as a real item — a potential power couple.  Laura had been looking forward to a leisurely and flirty brunch with Ken when the knock at the door came.

Walking to her bedroom mirror to survey the damage she was surprised she didn’t fare worse after the night and morning she’d had. Disrobing quickly she decided to forgo the shower until after tea and she’d had a chance to talk to Ken again. Pulling some leggings and a tee-shirt out of the drawers, she tried to imagine what he must think of her and none of it was good. She had dressed and was wrapping up her braids when she heard the tea whistle. When it was still whistling 40 seconds later, she knew.

The sound of the teakettle and the water boiling away when Laura opened the bedroom door sounded deafening. She went quickly to the kitchen and turned off the stove. Then she went into the living room and checked the door of the other bathroom to see if it looked occupied. As she suspected, it wasn’t.

Ken didn’t want to stay for tea.  He hadn’t left a note.  Ken, was just gone.


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