Dr. House was just one of her television boyfriends. His nonchalant attitude and 5 0’clock shadow, were his two most sexiest traits. Joy had always had a tender spot for bad guys. She was infatuated with thugs and rogues. They were a true challenge. She vowed to make those that fell prey to her trap, a gentleman yet.
Jake however, stepped to the challenge. He was cocky and ill mannered. Yet soft and sensitive in his own way. His charm and bad boy sense of sensibility confused Joy. She’d met her match. Love came easy. She finally felt as if she could let her guard down.
Joy dazed and out of touch with reality stumbled into the bathroom. She turned the stainless steel knobs on her sink, until the water was an even flow. The cold water was sure to wake her from her confused state, she thought. Splashing her face with the cool fluid she arose from under a waterfall of relief and peered into her vanity mirror. The lights were gold, which provided a lovely glow to accentuate her natural beauty. Joy tried to focus her eyes as the water dripped from her eyelashes. Blinking hard and wiping her eyes gently she looked into the mirrors reflection.
Her face appeared to be distorted, like an abstract painting. Her face was split into two parts both filled with unpleasant emotion. Wiping the mirror in an attempt to clear her vision, she found no change in her reflection.
Joy became frantic as she started rubbing her face. She memorized the height of her cheekbone, the shape of her eyes, and the fullness of her lips. Peering back into the mirror, her reflection had changed. The mirror reflected her true consonance. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying. Spiraling curls escaped from her sloppy bun, tickling her eyes and the nap of her neck. Joy shook her head as she gripped the sink, trying desperately to hold herself up. She was suddenly filled with exhaustion. She dried her face gently with her hand towel and retreated from the bathroom. She made sure to turn out the lights behind her.
“Wow the doctor was right. These are some strong meds, I better lay down.”
As Joy threw back the covers to her king size bed, she jumped into the fluff of her feathery pillows, her door bell rang. “Oh go away.” Joy begged with a whining tone, hoping that if she were quiet her uninvited guest would go away. Again the door bell rang, three quick alarming chimes. Joy kicked wildly at her covers and flung her robe closed. She jumped out of bed and stomped down the hall towards the living room. It was 10 after 9.
“Alright, Alright, hold your damn horses.”
“It’s me Charles, open up.”
“Charles?” Joy whispered to herself. Oh my God, it must be something wrong with Sam. Joy ran and unlocked her well bolted door.
“Charles is everything alright?’
“Yes, Yes. I didn’t mean to startle you.” Charles grabbed Joy by her shoulders and stepped inside the door. Then what’s wrong?” Joy’s forehead wrinkled as she closed and locked the door, behind them.
Charles sat down on the couch, and put his head in his hands. “I just…I was just working late….just over the bridge…a client Jake and I were working with on a special project. The dude called to inform Jake that, he had been awarded the grant,” Charles bit his lip and shock his head. “Hum, funny thing. I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited, I grabbed for my cell and dialed his number. It had gone straight to voice mail before I had realized Jake was gone.” Charles began to sob like a baby. He fell back into the cushions of Joy’s couch to take refuge. Joy was both stunned and filled with a strong desire to console him. Her loneliness overwhelmed her.
“I didn’t even know he was working on a grant.” Joy rubbed her sweat beading hands on the front of her robe. She was surprised and oddly nervous.
“Yes it was a surprise. He kept it a secret because he didn’t want to jinx it by getting too excited. You know how superstitious he could be.”
“Yea I do. Too superstitious if you ask me. It often got into the way of his faith in himself and others.”
Charles turned to Joy, with a sudden interest to converse about their lost loved one. “ It was just hard for us growing up is all. Belief in the supernatural was unheard of. Down South it was God and Church. First and foremost we learned the ways of the land. Home remedy’s, old sayings, and superstition. We held on to every word big mama and the rest of our elders spoke. “
“Yea I know he was always quoting something from the Anderson handbook of life. He ruled it to be just as valuable as the bible.” Joy laughed from deep in her gut. It felt good and scary at the same time. She stopped abruptly as the guilt surrounded her and spun her back to reality.
Charles noticed her discomfort and searched his mind for something to say to clear the redness from Joy’s chest.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t meant to be disrespectful.”
“No. Its quite alright.” Joy smiled nervously, as her hands began to shake. “So what now? The grant I mean. Is there any way I can finish the project with you, in his absence of course?” Joy’s voice trailed off as she headed for the kitchen. “Drink?” Joy called over her shoulder.
“What? Oh yes, please! I could use a nice stiff one right about now.” Charles stood quickly and wiped his sweat beading hands on the lap of his slacks. He loosened his tie and unbuttoned his collar, on his way to the kitchen.
“The fund is entirely up to you, Joy.” Charles uttered as he claimed his seat at the bar.
“What do you mean?” Joy looked up from her alcoholic concoction for clarity.
“The money is yours. That is the reason for my visit. I came to give you the check. Its for a million dollars,” Charles nervously handed Joy the check. He was kicking himself for handing such a large amount of money over to someone, who had no idea it existed. “The money’s yours.” Charles didn’t realize he was still gripping onto the check. He had to repeat the fact that it didn’t belong to him, in order to understand.
Joys eyes widened with both surprise and disbelief. “Wow! I had no idea.”
“He was working on some government grants for your literary program.”
Joys eyes began to well with tears. She could no longer see Charles in full view. Her mind raced.
“Joy let me help. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.”
Joy was shaking so hard the drink no longer needed to be blended. She had shaken her toxic blend just perfectly.
Charles reached for Joys arm carefully, as he took his position behind her. He carefully removed the glass from her shaking hands and gently placed it on the counter. Charles couldn’t help but smell the aroma of Vanilla and Shea Butter enticing him. He leaned forward into Joys soft natural curls, to cure his temptations. Lingering for too long he quickly retreated pulling his head back.
Joy was still in shock from the news. She hadn’t noticed Charles slight slip in judgment. She couldn’t be sure she was strong enough to ward off his in advances, if in fact there were any. Charles cleared his throat, as he placed his hands gently on Joys forearms. He still stood behind Joy rather close; and as much as he knew his love was rising he couldn’t find the strength to pull away. When Joy didn’t respond Charles squeezed her shoulders softly, in an attempt to massage the tension and stress from her back.
“Joy can you hear me?”
Joy leaned her head back, as he felt the stress disseminating from her brow. She was overcome with comfort and relaxation. Charles noticed, wanting desperately to see her facial expression, he trailed his fingers seductively along the length of her neck. He removed the curls from his view. Joys mind drifted reminiscing about Jake, warmed her soul. She felt so calm as Jakes arms wrapped around her. Closing her eyes she let nature take its course. Leaning against Jake, Charles welcomed her advances. He and Sam hadn’t been sexually active in well over a month.
Joy’s resemblance to her sister shocked both Jake and Charles when they first met. They got more than they bargained for. The two of them were so head strong and stubborn as could be. A trait both Jake and Charles couldn’t resist. They enjoyed the challenge. With the two sisters sharing the same genetic make-up, he was confused at how different the two of them were.
Joy felt Jakes strong hands caressing the small of her back, as she kissed him passionately. She moaned and relaxed in his arms. She drifted into a daze of hypnosis that she couldn't shake.
“Jake,” she moaned as Charles lifted her from her feet, and placed her on the kitchen counter. The cool granite singed, as her hot center warmed its surface. She begged for Jake to heal her burning desire. She yearned for his touch and longed to feel him inside her.
Charles now past point of mere arousal ignored Joy’s obvious confusion and unbuckled his pants. He was having difficulty with the button on his slacks, so he ripped them open. Joy flew from under her night gown. Her eyes were closed as Charles kissed her neck and moved down to her chest.
Again joy called out to Jake now loud and clear as she was excited by his lustful foreplay. She had, had enough and was ready to receive him. Charles now fully aware of indiscretion paused and pulled back from Joy as if startled.
“Joy, Oh My God,” Charles spoke as if stunned he were in Joys apartment. Joy looked dazed and confused as her medication was now in full effect.
“Jake what's wrong?” She responded as she noticed the look of hurt and deceit on his face. Charles could hardly muster a sound as he tried to clear his throat. He busied himself trying to fasten his pants and locate Joys night gown.
“I'm sorry Joy. I'm really sorry. Joys eyes began to redden and fill with tears.
“Jake, why are you doing this? What have I done wrong?”
Charles looked up from his solemn embarrassment and noticed the hurt and pain on Joys face. Suddenly it dawned on him that Joy truly believed that he were Jake. Charles decided to play along, hoping that Joy would awake from her moment of psychotic break with no memory of his advances upon her.
“Its nothing, Joy.” Charles responded hoping that his choice to follow along wouldn't come back to bite him on the ass. Hopefully her and Sam wouldn't speak of her romantic encounter with her dead husband Jake. Sam would be sure to get to the bottom of Joys rendezvous, with her alleged mysterious man.
“I just have to get back to work is all. You know! The project I'm working on. We have some loose ends to tie. After that I'm all yours sweetheart.”
“Okay I understand.” Joy sniffed as she slowly put her clothing back on. “Do you want me to make you something to eat before you go.”
“No thanks babe its late. You should get some rest you have a job of your own to get to.” Charles hurried towards the door to free himself from guilt. He didn’t bother to look back at Joy. He couldn’t bear to see the look of confusion on her face. The only thing he could do now was hurry home, to Sam and the kids. He nearly cheated on her with her own sister. He felt like a crumb. How could he stoop so low?” He felt even worse about the money. Joy didn’t even know about the fund. The things he could have done with that amount of cash would have been tremendous. She had no use for the money. Her business was going well. Especially now since she had no responsibility’s or children to feed. Part of Charles ached for the lose of his close friend and blood. The other he envied. In death Jake was still the best thing since sliced bread. Just how long will he and Sam have to chase their dreams. Sam had spent so much time trying to live up to Joy’s expectations, she could never concentrate on her own affairs. At least that is the way Charles saw it. She could never do no wrong. He was the breadwinner. The frustration of it all had seemed to be tearing him up the last few years. He’d grown tired of his job and even more so tired of brushing the troubles of his marriage under the rug.
Charles knew that he was in trouble but he knew he couldn’t just out right go to Joy for help. However in her current state of mind, approaching her now would be his best bet.