As they both struggle to understand the situation there is a new development.
Gerard looked up from his spot on the sofa. “Good morning.”
She came to an abrupt halt, her heart racing. “Oh.”
“Yep, I’m still here.” As he spoke his eyes traveled slowly down her body. He’d noticed the short gown last night, and her shapely legs but the tension between them had forced his mind in another direction. However, this morning he allowed himself to enjoy the view.
Ayasha’s eyes grew wide as she saw him checking her out. She immediately tugged on the hem of the gown self-consciously. “I need to get dressed.” She stuttered.
“Don’t need to hurry on my account.” He was still staring at her.
She was angry, he was unnerving her in her own home. “Stop it.”
“Stop what?” He fringed innocence.
“You know what.” She refused to meet his gaze.
She looked so flustered it was hard for him not to laugh. “Hey, for a guy in my situation, I’m fuckin’ happy to feel something.”
Her eyes grew even wider. “Feel something?”
“Well, I can’t physically feel anything but emotionally….it’s good to feel something in that way.” He lowered his voice, “Ain’t nothing wrong with my eyesight. And getting to enjoy looking at a half naked beautiful woman…”
“I’m not half naked.” She sputtered.
No she wasn’t but he knew if he said that it would elicit a response and that was what he’d wanted. “You should definitely wear short skirts.” He said letting his gaze travel to her legs again.
"Oh.” She huffed turning around and practically running back into her bedroom.
Gerard smiled to himself. What he’d told her was true, he couldn’t physically feel anything so it was so important to mentally feel something. At the same time he realized it was a very good thing he’d been quiet last night when he’d entered her room. If she got his upset about him looking at her in a gown he could just imagine how livid she’d be if she knew he’d spent hours watching her sleep, watching the gentle rise and fall of her breasts. Those hours, like now, made him feel and that gave him hope because it had been a very long time since he’d felt anything but empty and dead inside.
When she came out of the bedroom several minutes later Gerard hadn’t moved. He let his eyes slowly take in her form fitting jeans and tee. Her black hair was now captured in one long braid. On her ears she wore silver and turquoise drop earrings.
“I’m late.” She said refusing to glance over at him. “I overslept.”
“My fault.” Gerard said with a sigh. “Kept you up late working on the computer then woke you up when I went to the basement.”
She forced herself to look over at him. “About that. Sorry if I came off cross.”
Her choice of words made him smile, “Cross? Yes, you were cross but I’m sorry, that was my fault. I’ll stay out of the basement.”
She nodded causing her earrings to sway. “Thanks. Now I have to get to the store and open up. I’ll be back around seven tonight.”
He watched her grab her bag. “You drivin’?” He couldn’t remember hearing a car pull up last night.
“It’s just two block away.” She answered as she slung her bag over her shoulder. “I usually walk.”
The hours he’d spent alone while she slept had given him lots of time to think and that caused many questions. “Uh, Ayasha?”
“Yes?” Her hand was on the doorknob.
“Can I ask you something?” When she nodded he went on, “I was just wondering why you lied?”
Her face lost all emotion. “Lied?”
He was regretting his question. “Not exactly lied but... hell, I know you don’t paint in that basement. Besides not having enough light, I didn’t see and paint or brushes. So I was just wondering…”
Ayasha looked trapped. Several moments passed while she decided how to handle the question. Finally she sighed, “Okay, correct. I don’t paint in the basement. Actually there is an unattached garage and that’s where I used to paint.” She turned back to the door.
“Used to paint?”
“I told you Kyle threw away my art supplies. I haven’t had the money to replace a lot of them yet.” She said turning back to face him.
Anger toward the man filled Gerard. “That was a fucked up thing he did.”
Ayasha sighed, “It was.”
“So why’s that beautiful portrait in the basement?” He asked not ready to let the conversation end.
She turned and answered without looking at him. “For a reason and turns out that if it weren’t for that reason I wouldn’t still have the painting. Now, I really have to go.” She opened the door but when she looked back and saw the look on his face she stopped. His eyes were looking past her, and they looked lifeless. “Gerard, I’m really sorry I have to go in today but I’m the only one working this morning.”
He forced himself to look at her. “Hey, can’t put your life on hold just cause some guy gets trapped in your house.”
She was encouraged by his attempt to stay upbeat. “True. I don’t believe that excuse would work with my boss.” She held up her fingers to make a pretend phone. “Sorry, can’t come into work today. I must entertain my trapped man.”
Gerard’s eyes suddenly came back to life. “Your trapped man?” He laughed.
Ayasha laughed, “See? It just wouldn’t sound right.”
“Okay, well, can’t be late but I will check the Net when I get time today and see if I can find out anything.”
“About me in LA?”
She nodded, “That and I’ll check some more Native American sites. Maybe grandmother’s stores were based on the legends of other tribes.” She walked through the door then turned when he called her name.
“Will you explain to me about the portrait tonight?”
Ayasha sighed, “God, you have a one track mind. Why does it matter?”
He honestly wasn’t sure why, he just felt in his heart it was important. “Just does.” He shrugged.
“Okay, fine. I’ll tell you tonight. She moved back to the door. “Uh, I’m going to shut the door just on the off chance one of my neighbors is watching.”
Gerard laughed, “Ayasha, if they are then they are already gonna think you’re talking to yourself.”
“Well, shit.” She muttered realizing he was right.
As soon as the door was shut Gerard rushed to the front windows wanting to watch her as she made her way towards the sidewalk. He smiled to himself enjoying the sight of her shapely butt as she turned but suddenly his smile faded, suddenly…..
With only minutes to spare Ayasha got the store open on time. However, she felt guilty, while she wasn’t late, she almost always arrived twenty minutes before it was time to unlock the doors.
She looked up from her spot behind the counter to see the blond who’d poked her head in the door. “Hey, Tina.”
“Didn’t think you were gonna make it on time.” Tina smiled, “I was sorta worried.”
Tina who worked next door in the jewelry shop knew Ayasha always arrived early.
“Overslept.” Ayasha answered with a sigh.
“Oh. Well better get back to the shop.” She said as her eyes spotted two woman nearing the entrance to her store. “But if it’s okay, I’ll drop by tonight with that book you loaned me. I’m having dinner with Jeff in the Springs so I can only stay a minute. Meant to bring it today but I forgot.”
Ayasha searched her mind for an answer. Then it hit her, this was a good idea. “Sure.”
She watched Tina through the plate glass windows as she headed back toward the jewelry store. At first she’d froze when Tina had mentioned stopping by because of Gerard but now she realized this could prove to be a good chance to find out if she truly was the only one who could see him.
“Oh shit.” She muttered to herself as that thought repeated in her brain. “I still can’t believe any other this.” She whispered.
It was just after lunch that Ayasha finally got a chance to spend a bit of time on the computer. First she checked sites looking for any information on Gerard’s condition. She found one site that said he remained in grave condition but what was truly heart breaking was the accompanying photo that had been snapped as Mikey and his wife were leaving the hospital. In the picture it looked as if Mikey had aged ten years overnight. Her first thought had been to keep Gerard from seeing the photo but slowly she began to rethink that decision. Maybe seeing his brother’s reaction to what had happened was important, maybe he needed to realize his actions…. Her thoughts were interrupted when the bells on the front door alerted her to a customer.
Ayasha stood but the smile on her face faded as she saw Kyle walk in.
He walked directly over to the long, wooden counter. “Hey, Ayasha.”
She forced herself to remember his father was one of the shops best customers. “Hello.”
When she saw Kyle’s eyes glance past her to the computer screen she cringed wishing she’d closed the window.
“Holy shit. Still pinning over that faggots death?” He sneered.
Ayasha clinched her fists. “He isn’t dead.” There was absolutely no point in addressing the rest of his statement that she knew well.
“Yeah, whatever. He’s in a coma or some shit, right? Might as well be dead.”
“Why are you here?” She asked trying to keep the anger from her voice. She knew her co-worker would be coming in soon and hoped Kyle would leave before that.
He absently ran his hand over the smooth counter top. “Wasn’t nice you slamming that door in my face last night.” He looked up. “And who the fuck was visiting you? I didn’t see another car.”
“That is none of your business.” She answered narrowing her eyes.
He gave her, what she knew was, an evil smile. “Don’t be like that. I’ve been worried about you. Don’t you think it’s time to stop all of this?”
“All of this?”
“You know, calling off the engagement. I told my old man you’re just confused and scared.”
Angrily she cut him off. “I am not confused and I sure as hell ain’t scared. You know why I called off the engagement.”
“Hey, so what, you heard me talking to Todd. Come on just between us you know what I told him was true. There ain’t a lot of guys who’d ignore your past. Well, they might ignore it but they sure as fuck wouldn’t want to marry you.”
Ayasha froze. “My past?”
He grinned as he leaned on the counter, “You really don’t think my old man didn’t have you checked out, do you?”
“Checked out?” She clinched her fists. “You mean he found out I was born on the Res? So what? It’s not like I ever tried to hide my heritage.”
He laughed, “Yeah, like now you’re back to dressing the part.” His eyes scanned her jewelry and hair style. “Maybe you should add a few feathers.”
“Oh, Honey. Hell your heritage ain’t the worse of it and you know that. Gotta say it took me a lot of convincing him on my part to overlook your rap sheet.”
Ayasha felt herself begin to shake.
Kyle saw he was making her sweat. “Fifteen years old and picked up for soliciting at a truck stop in Missouri.” He shook his head, “And that was just the start. I had to convince the old man that you ain’t like your mother.” He was enjoying his so much. “How many times was she arrested?”
“Get out.” Her voice shook.
“Quite a few.” He said ignoring her words. “But I told him we should judge you just cause your mamma was a drunken whore.”
Ayasha was to the breaking point, something she’d tried so hard to control. “I told you, get out.”
“Now is that any way to talk to a customer? Don’t think Tom would like to know that’s how you treat his customers when he’s not here. Heck, come to think about it, I bet he don’t know about your past, does he?”
The sound of the front door opening caused Ayasha to flinch. However, as she saw her co-worker Dawn walk in she was relieved. Kyle would never act any way but pleasant in front of others.
“Hey, Dawn.” He said turning to her. “Don’t you look pretty today.”
Dawn smiled, “Oh, thank you. How are you today, Kyle.”
“Just fine.” He said pushing away from the counter. He turned back to Ayasha. “Well, gotta be going now. We’ll talk later.”
Ayasha forced herself to smile knowing Dawn was watching. “Goodbye.” She turned around and took her seat at the computer. It wasn’t until she heard the door close she let out the breath she’d been holding. Her whole body was still tense and her mind was racing. Kyle knew about her past, he was holding it over her head. For the first time in her life she’d actually found a place where she’d believed she’d spend the rest of her life. She liked it here, she loved her job but now all of that was in jeopardy. No, her boss didn’t know about her past. He didn’t know she’d been arrested. If Kyle told him she wasn’t sure how Tom would react. Ayasha’s head began to pound. She just had to get through the rest of the day, she told herself. Then she could return to her home, her sanctuary and forget all of this but the thought caused her heart to began to race. Her home had been invaded, when she returned there she wouldn’t be alone. She honestly didn’t know how to feel about that.
The day had dragged along but as she neared her house she began to feel slightly better. Quickening her steps she jammed her hand in her bag looking for her house keys.
Gerard opened his eyes when the door opened.
As soon as she saw him Ayasha’s heart began to race. She watched as his body swayed slightly.
“What’s wrong?” Gerard asked blinking several times in confusion.
She closed the door, then switched on the small table lamp. “I was going to ask you the same question.”
He realized something didn’t seem right. Turning back to the windows he glanced outside. What he saw shocked him. “It’s getting dark.” He whispered.
Ayasha threw down her bag. “It’s almost seven.”
His head whipped around. “What? That can’t be. You just left.”
“I left this morning.” Ayasha said slowly as she walked towards him.
He ran his hand over his face. “No, you just left.”
Slowly the truth began to dawn on her. “Gerard, I left this morning. What did you do today?”
Fear and confused showed in his eyes. “I remember you leaving. I was watching you through the window. But…”
“I remember you started to turn the corner but that tree blocked my view.” Now the truth dawned on him. “Then nothing.” He whispered. “Oh, shit. Ayasha, what happened?” When she didn’t answer he closed his eyes. “I was gone.”