© Still by Rae Lamar — A Serial Short
Kiva Burke normally logged out of her social media app before beginning her work day, but she had forgotten this time. Too much on her mind…or maybe her subconscious had been at the wheel this whole time, patiently waiting for the detour, ready to swerve and drive her off a cliff…
No harm, no foul.
Attempting to work for the next several minutes, Kiva pretended not to be waiting on — hoping for — another message from Dylan Davis. When a half hour of her life passed, she opened her bottom desk drawer. Her bag was inside, unzipped, so she dropped her phone there and slammed the drawer shut.
She ignored the buzzing phone, pretending again to focus on the first of many business e-mails that she had ignored for the better part of the day. But after reading the first sentence of the same e-mail six times straight with no clue of what she’d read, her eyes shifted from the computer monitor to the bottom desk drawer. Biting her lip, she snatched the drawer open and quickly removed her phone.
It’s been a whole week. Is that a respectable amount of time
…to hold off our inevitable conversation or is it still too soon?
Kiva smiled. Unable to stop herself, she responded.
Yes, I suppose so.
Good. I was tired of waiting.
“Oh really,” she said aloud as her finger tapped out a reply.
Tired? You’re the one who just dropped a message
…and left me hanging for thirty whole minutes . . .
Dylan’s reply appeared just as she placed the phone on her desk.
Crazy work day. Had to put out a fire.
…Nice to know you were waiting for me.
Minutes passed before Kiva settled on sending a bold-faced lie.
Fortunately for her, Dylan decided not to call her on it so she she added more for good measure…
I wasn’t looking for a conversation . . .
…my intent was just a simple hi and bye.
Her finger hovered above the screen as she debated what to say next. She was on a roll but, after two straight lies, Kiva suddenly felt like she owed him a little bit of truth…
But I’m glad you reached out.
Her phone buzzed almost immediately.
In true, Dylan-mode, he dismissed her drivel and cut to the chase.
What made you reach out to me?
Kiva attempted to tap out several responses and deleted every single one until he sent another message to interrupt her struggle.
And try the truth this time.
She leaned back in her chair and giggled. Dylan hadn’t changed a bit. Grinning, she tapped one letter after another until the first honest words were written and then the rest began to flow.
If it was the truth he wanted, the truth he would get.
I was listening to Hello and it made me think of you.
…So like millions of other fools compelled by that song,
…I took it too far and searched far and wide to find . . . you.
That song must be something serious.
Yessir . . . the #1 cause of bad decisions since the day it dropped.
Damn, Ki. . . why I gotta be a bad decision?
…You got me curious now. I’m ‘bout to check it out.
…It’s on YouTube?
A’ight. Stand by . . .
While waiting on Dylan, Kiva tried reading her e-mail for the seventh time and actually comprehended it enough to craft an efficient reply. After clicking SEND, she glanced at her phone thinking he should have found and listened to the song by now.
Maybe another fire happened, she thought to herself. As much as she wanted to wait him out, she was too curious about his reaction.
Did you listen? What do you think?
Kiva opened her drawer, dropped her phone in her bag and straightened her posture. “Come in.”
The door opened and two of her colleagues rushed in to chat about some not-so-good news regarding an executive resignation and subsequent budget cut. Kiva blinked at the news then cut her eyes to her monitor. In all her morning and early afternoon angst, she hadn’t yet opened the e-mail announcement that fully explained the highlights she’d just received from her fellow executive assistants. When one of the senior vice presidents passed by Kiva’s open door, the gossip ceased and the ladies slipped out and shut the door behind them.
“Outstanding,” Kiva mumbled, fully expecting that things were about to get incredibly unstable around the office really soon. She moved her mouse and clicked on the announcement when another thought fought its way to the forefront of her mind. Abandoning work again, she opened her drawer and checked her phone.
Yeah, I heard it. She needs to cut that crap out. This is unacceptable
…in my place of business . . . got me up in here, holding myself and shit . . .
A wave of laughter escaped her mouth before she could catch herself.
She was tapping out another message when he sent another.
‘Bout to put on some NWA or C Breezy and stop lovin’ these hoes…
Still smiling, Kiva erased her pending text and tapped out a different response.
Oh . . . so I’m just one of “these hoes” now?
Her phone buzzed immediately.
Never. You know exactly who you are to me.
…And you should also know that I’m Atlanta right now.
Kiva dropped her phone on the desk and backed away like it had caught fire.
He tried it…now what?
Leaning back in her chair, she released a colorful string of curses.
Dylan was supposed to be eight-hundred miles away in his home office at his corporate headquarters, not hopping planes to work out of satellite locations…especially not this week and not in Atlanta. No wonder he waited a week before communicating with her again. Dylan had been biding his time, waiting until he touched down in her city to continue their inevitable conversation that would ultimately lead to the reason why she shouldn’t have reached out to his ass in the first place.
Kiva knew what came next…and Dylan was punking her. She could picture him now, probably leaning back in his chair, his eyes dancing and his ever-ready smile in place as he patiently waited for her next move.
Staring at the dark screen of her phone, she weighed her options.
The decent thing to do would be to call Todd and let him know that she didn’t need the space she’d asked him for, that there was nothing left for her to sort out about her past…
The smart thing to do was to resume their engagement and their lives together…
And the RIGHT thing to do would be to say goodbye to Dylan forever and really mean it this time, to let everything that was in her heart for him fade to black so she could go back to her future with Todd…
Her hand went back to her phone.
Her perfectly-manicured finger tapping out what would eventually be revealed as a dream come true or a magnificent mistake.
Wanna do dinner?
Correction — CERTIFIABLY cuckoo-bless-my-heart-batshit crazy…
Kiva continued berating herself in the corner of the fancy cage as it glided up to the fifteenth floor. She’d been living in Atlanta for almost ten years and this was the first time she’d ever stepped foot inside this five-star hotel, never mind experiencing the glassed-out, gold-trimmed elevator that was lifting her up to where she didn’t belong.
But it was too late to turn back.
She’d started this mess and now it was time to finish it.
Kiva had spent a sleepless night debating her choice in meeting Dylan this evening. After receiving her abrupt request for dinner, he had immediately responded with a reckless remark of his own.
You don’t want dinner.
As frustrated as she was by the truth of that text, Kiva couldn’t fight her smile. Even after all these years, Dylan was still able to sneak past her defenses.
Still, he was punking her…again.
And, like a fool, she refused to allow him to win.
Which was why, after three years, Kiva was now only one solid wooden door away from finally laying eyes on the one man whom her heart believed was the love of her life.
She lifted her small fist to knock on the door, her mind still actively trying to recalculate her route and send her ass back to Todd but it was futile.
The heart wants what the heart wants.
The door clicked and swiftly swung open before she could knock.
“I’ve been listening out for you,” Dylan said, bypassing the formalities. “Figured if you even made it this far, you’d probably run away before I ever realized you were here.”
Kiva stood motionless, the dumbest of dumb expressions on her face as her eyes devoured every inch of him. Her soul danced. “That’s…creepy.”
That ever-ready smile appeared on Dylan’s face, and Kiva’s mouth mimicked the movement with unconscious ease. Without words, he stepped aside and invited her into his hotel suite and she hesitated only a moment before crossing the threshold and offering a quick nod so he could release the door to swing closed behind them.