Legacy of Love(3)

By: Donna Hill



“Thanks. It was definitely a team effort. Is Sharlene around?”

“Sharl is in her office. Go on back.”

“Thanks.”

Zoe walked down the hallway with its cool white walls, and turned a corner to Sharlene’s office. Her door was open.

“Hey, girl,” she said, poking her head in.

Sharlene looked up from examining a batch of fabrics. Her sandy brown eyes lit up in her golden butter-tone face. She took off her glasses and set them on the desktop. “Hey. This is a surprise. I thought you’d have your hands full with the shipment today.”

Zoe walked inside the office, which was definitely a reflection of Sharlene’s personality and taste. The office was filled with design ideas that included vibrant fabric swatches, see-through drawers filled with marble, granite and wood samples, easels for her drawings, a drafting table, decorating accessories, colored pencils and paints. Zoe lifted a stack of magazines from a club chair and plopped down, suddenly feeling exhausted.

“You look like you could use a vacation,” Sharlene said, noticing the sluggishness reflected in Zoe’s tired-looking eyes. “Still not sleeping?”

Zoe shook her head and covered her mouth as she yawned. “I wish what I was doing was sleeping, but the dreams…”

Sharlene leaned back in her Herman Miller chair. “Still the same?”

“Yes, only more intense.” Without warning her nipples hardened and the tiny bud between her thighs began to throb as images of the man who came to her in her dreams, the faceless man who made passionate love to her emerged in her mind. Her nostrils flared as her pulse quickened. She hadn’t told Sharlene everything, not the parts about the faceless seducer who left her trembling with longing.

“Are you all right? You look flushed.”

Zoe quickly shook her head. “Fine. Just tired.”

Even Sharlene, who was as open-minded as they came, would think she was losing it if Zoe told her what had been going on at night. “And hungry.” She forced a grin. “Can you get away for a bit?”

“Sure. My eyes were starting to cross looking at all these fabrics.” She stood and took her purse from the shelf behind her desk. “Want to head over to Gladys Knight’s place?”

“I was thinking the same thing. We should be able to get a table. It’s still early.”

The two friends walked out together staying on Peachtree Street to the restaurant three blocks away. The locale was famous not only because of its owner but for its mouth-watering menu, specifically the chicken and waffles, the house specialty. After a short wait, they were seated in a booth by the window and their orders were taken.

“You look like you could use a drink to go with that vacation,” Sharlene commented, once the waitress was gone. “Is something else bothering you?” She gazed steadily at Zoe.

Zoe lowered her eyes then finally focused on Sharlene. “This is going to sound totally crazy.”

“Maybe, but tell me anyway.”

Zoe leaned back, stretched her arms out in front of her and cupped her water glass. “The dreams are more than…just dreams.”

Sharlene’s perfectly arched brows rose. “Okay, so what are they?”

“They’re physical.”

“Physical?”

“Yeah.” She leaned closer. “He comes to me in my sleep,” she said under her breath.

“What?” Sharlene said in confusion.

“The image of a man… He comes to me in my sleep, and…he makes love to me.” She swallowed and realized how ridiculous it sounded.

Sharlene was quiet for a moment. “You dream about being made love to?”

“Yes.”

“By a stranger?”

“Yes, but it’s as if I know him.” Her voice was beginning to take on a desperate edge. “But I can’t see him. Not really.” She shook her head. “Forget it. It doesn’t make sense.” She took a sip of her water.

“Zoe, remember what Nana Zora said,” Sharlene reminded her gently.

Zoe’s eyes jumped, as she stared at Sharlene, whose earnest expression seemed to invite a response. Sharlene was as much a family member as any blood relation, and had been privy to Zoe’s Nana, her mother and aunts’ tale of the Beaumont women’s curse. Unlike Zoe, Sharlene was fascinated by it all, and wished that her own family history was as exotic and exciting.

“Well, come on. Your thirtieth birthday is in three months. Nana said—”

“Don’t! Don’t start. Okay.” She rolled her eyes and looked away.

Sharlene leaned across the table. “What if it’s true?” she said in a low whisper. “Wouldn’t that be too fabulous and romantic?”

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