I check my wristwatch. It's seven-thirty and Landard still isn't home. I take out my cell phone from my pocket. He hasn't text, either. The last we spoke was when he messaged me about going to his interview. I place my briefcase on the table while loosening my tie. I'm worried. Like, really fucking worried.
Something must have gone wrong at the interview. It's possible the assholes rejected Landard on the spot and I can only assume he is taking it pretty badly. I glance down at my phone again. I know he won't want to tell me crap about what happened, but Landard could at least tell me where he is right now.
Just as I'm dialing his number, the front door squeaks open. I quickly walk out of the kitchen to stand in the living room, greeting Landard at the door. Right away, I notice his head is down and there's a small duffel bag in his hand. I'm not saying I know everything about Landard but I'm pretty certain he's not in the mood to talk. Since I know he won't say much to me, I decide on another approach. I take slow steps over to him. Very gently, my arms wrap around his torso. I hold Landard tightly. To my shock, he slouches in my arms.
"What happen," I whisper the words.
"I ain't any good to anyone," he mumbles quietly.
"What do you mean?"
Whatever part of Landard that was willing to confess how he truly felt, it suddenly vanishes. Within seconds, Landard is easing out of the embrace, gently pushing my hands down from around his hips.
I want to say something but I don't know what to say. To me, Landard is such an amazing person. He believed, even before I could, he was meant to go to Yale and graduate. And he did. He graduated and was Ivy League player of the year. It seemed like every day he pushed himself to be the best he could possibly be, and it hurts to hear him say those things. It's sad he actually believes he's not any good to anyone.
Apart of me feels like Landard would have never said these kinds of words a year ago. He was confident. He was sure of himself. He was happy. Now, it's like Colorado is turning him into an empty shell. I mean, he has his moments. There are times when we're excited to be together but lately, I can sense the change in his personality. And I know telling him I'll take care of everything isn't going to make this right. Landard doesn't want to be treated like he can't contribute.
I get it. I absolutely get it. He wants to be strong for me...for himself... and for his family. I don't want to take that away from him…
Yet, I am.
It was me who begged him to come back to Colorado. This place is my home. It's where my entire family lives. Plus, I knew I could be someone in Colorado. But Landard, he can't be anyone here. He's a ghost and everyone is only looking through him, not really seeing him the way they should. He's a fucking Yale grad for God's sake! But none of that matters because most people can't see beyond certain boundaries.
Black is Black.
White is White.
There is no mixing of the two.
"Land," I call his name gently. He stops at the entrance to the kitchen. His back is facing me.
"I was out playing ball," he briefly explains, as if to ease any suspicion I might have had.
"Do you want to talk?" I watch as he dumps his duffel bag on the couch. He hasn't looked at me since he came through the door. This is always a red flag. Something is wrong. Really wrong…
"Nah, not now," He warns, "I can't do that right now."
I look down at the tiled floor. I hate to make him upset but we have to talk. " I understand but I had a thought. And maybe you could tell me what you think."
Landard grumbles, "I ain't playin', Duncan. This whole mess with your dad, I ain't taking the offer. We done talkin' about it. Alrigh'."
His tone makes me feel like a knife jab to the heart. I suddenly look up at him. He is diverting his eyes.
Landard, from the very beginning, was always the one to hold me in a strong gaze. His clear, brown eyes could freeze me in an instant. It's been the most powerful feature about him and right now, the very thing Landard prides himself on, is slowly fading. It's as if he is losing himself. For him not to look at me, reveals how much Landard is changing.
"Listen," I reach forward to hold him but he avoids my embrace. He slides my hands down and away. I counter the move by being persistent. I force myself on Landard hard, not allowing him much time to dismiss me. My arms clench Landard so tight, he is forced against the kitchen counter with my head pressed near his chest.
" Come on. Stop dis," his voice is firm but I can tell he doesn't mean it. Because this time, he doesn't push me away. Landard needs this hug, just as much as I do.
"This isn't about my dad," I confess. "It's not about my mom, either. It's not even about me. It's about you. I see what this place is doing to your life. I only asked to come back here because I thought we could be happy but we're not. So, if you wanted, maybe we could move somewhere that will accept us both. Not just me. But you, too."
I lift my head from his strong chest in order to look at him. To my relief, Landard is staring into my eyes. He is looking at me the same way he used to. It's the type of gaze that leaves my face bright red and my lungs desperate for air.
"You serious," I can hear the doubt in his voice.
"I am," I assure him. " We can move. We can go-."
Without warning, I'm kissed hard and long. I'm lifted up by the hips and Landard wastes no time sitting me on the kitchen counter as he stands between my legs, kissing my lips and smoothing his hands through my hair. I kiss back with just as much force. I can't help pulling on his shirt, trying really hard to undress him so I can feel his skin against my palm and smell his deep, amber cologne over every inch of my body.
"You really gonna do dis for me," Landard murmurs the words against my open mouth.
Before I kiss him again, I say, without flinching, "I swear. Anything. I'll do anything for you, Land."
Landard looks into my eyes but doesn't say a word. He suddenly lifts me from the kitchen counter and I'm carried straight to the bedroom.
TBC… Sorry for any errors. I'm trying to build something nice here for the two love birds but tragedy is right around the corner. Again, all for fun. This story is completed but I'm just adding extensions.