Legacy of Love(7)

By: Donna Hill

Zoe greeted the security guard, swiped her ID card through the slot and proceeded to her office. Once inside she slipped out of her suit jacket and just as she was about to hang it up on the hook, that familiar scent filled her senses. She pulled the jacket to her nose. Instead of hints of smoke and soot from the fire it smelled like…him.

Her hands shook and the jacket fell from her fingers.

The phone on her desk rang and she jumped a half inch off the floor.

Exhaling deeply, she returned to her desk and picked up the phone. “Zoe Beaumont.” Slowly she lowered herself into her seat.

“Zoe, it’s Mama.”

Zoe sat straight up. Her mother never called her at work. They saved their long, often giggly conversations for Sunday afternoons.

“Mama, what is it?”

“Your grandmother’s been asking for you.”

“Is Nana all right? What’s wrong?”

“I…I don’t know. She’s getting more distant everyday. Most days she thinks it’s fifty years ago. The only thing that makes sense is her asking for you. You have to come, baby.”

“I was planning to come this weekend. But if you think I need to leave earlier I will. Sharlene is driving down with me.” She could feel her mother’s relief seep through the phone.

“Good. I’ll fix up the guest room. Thank you, baby.”

“Ma, you don’t have to thank me. Please. You take it easy. Where are Aunt Flo and Aunt Fern?”

“Taking turns looking after your grandmother. She hardly notices…” Her voice cracked. “Just come as soon as you can.”

“I will. I promise. Give my love to Nana.”

Zoe replaced the phone in the cradle. She’d heard the anxiety and fear in her mother’s voice. Miraya Beaumont was as reliable as the North Star. Nothing threw her off course. So to hear uncertainty in her mother’s voice completely unnerved Zoe.

She swiveled her chair toward her computer, and powered it up, intent on finding a flight out of Atlanta that wouldn’t bankrupt her. Just as the search engine got her to the website, Mike came in.

“Hey. Good morning. What’s up?”

“Morning. Did you hear about the big fire up on 9th?”

“I was there.”

Mike frowned. “What?”

“I mean, I decided to walk today and literally walked right into it. Awful.” She shook her head at the memory. “It looked like the whole block was going to go up in flames.” A little shiver went through her as the image of the man of her dreams invaded her senses.

“It’s been on all the news channels, but it looks like they finally got it under control.”

“Thank goodness. I hope no one got hurt.”

“Yeah.” He came around to the side of her desk. “Here are the bills for last month’s shipments.”

“Just leave them. I’ll take care of it.” The Delta Air Lines home page filled her computer screen.

Mike dropped the folders on her desk and spied the page. “Vacation?”

“Not really. I need to get home in a hurry.”

“Everything cool?”

“It’s my grandmother.” She keyed in her information. “I was planning on driving down this weekend, but my mom called just a little while ago and she sounded…” Her fingers flew across the keys. She sniffed, pulled open her desk drawer to get her purse. She took out her wallet and flipped through the compartments for her Visa card, keyed in the numbers and waited.

“I think it’s best that I don’t wait.” She swallowed the knot in her throat.

“Hey, do what you have to do. Family first. I got this. Don’t worry about it.”

Zoe forced a smile. “Thanks.”

The screen flashed her confirmation number and the button to print her itinerary and boarding pass. She pressed Print.

Mike placed a large comforting hand on her shoulder. She tilted her head toward him and blinked back the tears burning in her eyes.

“Need a lift to the airport?”

“No. My flight is at 6:00 a.m. I wouldn’t do that to anyone,” she said, only half joking.

“It’s not a problem.” He stepped back. “Just let me know.”

She bobbed her head. “Thanks.”

Mike strolled out.

Mike really was a great guy. He was intelligent, hard working, fun, sexy. He definitely had it all. She sighed. But even with all that she couldn’t take her mind off of what had happened to her less than an hour earlier. The impression of him, his scent, the look in his eyes, the arch of his cheekbones, the curve of his bottom lip.

Her heart raced as the image of her night stalker come to life replayed in her mind. Yet her pulse didn’t race with fear or trepidation, but rather with anticipation and curiosity. Who was he really and why did he have that kind of effect on her? Was he really the man of her dreams? She logged off of the Delta site and laughed lightly to herself. There you go being ridiculous. If that were true, then it meant that she really was buying into all that foolishness that her mother, aunts and grandmother had been saying for as long as she could remember. Ridiculous.

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