Chapter 3: To Thyself Be True
“. . . the woman has a dilemma—a juicy dilemma.” -Rg2
“Bev.” The uneasy voice at the other end of the line grabbed Beverly’s attention.
“Joan?” she replied in a raspy tone, lazily looking over at the glowing red digital numbers on her nightclock reading one forty-eight a.m. “Is everything okay?”
“Sorry to call so late. I hope I didn’t wake your husband.”
Beverly instinctively glanced over her shoulder only to find Stan crouched in perfect still, eyes fixedly closed and mouth partially open, his snores intensifying with each breath.
“He’s in another world. What’s the matter, hon?” she asked with a motherly concern, worried by the unusual lateness of the call.
“I need to talk to someone,” Joan let go hesitantly. “I would’ve called my mom, but she’s away, and with everything she’s going through right now, I just . . . ”
Beverly cut in, “Joan, you know you can call me anytime. Hold on a minute. I’ll change phones.” She reached for her evening gown and made her way downstairs to the study.
“What is it, Joan?”
“I saw him tonight.”
“You saw who tonight?”
“Devern Garrett. I met him a few weeks ago at the studio. He just came out of nowhere, Bev.”
“Go on,” Beverly replied, listening intently to not just her words, but the inflections of her voice, as if a psychiatrist.
“He’s asked me to spend Christmas with him. I told him I had plans already.”
“Yes. But I wasn’t totally honest.”
“Roger’s the only man I’ve ever heard you speak of. Does Devern know about him?”
“Well, no, not really. Why does he need to know about Roger?”
“For the same reason you felt compelled to be dishonest with him about your plans for the holiday,” Beverly replied, her maternal instincts and years of relationship experience starting to come into play. Joan took a moment to let the comment sink in.
“This Devern guy, he must be quite fond of you to want to share Christmas. How do you feel about him, Joan?”
“Bev, you know how I feel about Roger.”
“I didn’t ask how you feel about Roger. I’m asking about Devern. How do you feel about him?”
As simple as the question was, Joan struggled with the answer. She really hadn’t taken the time to analyze her feelings. But sure enough, having let the cat out to Beverly, the litigator who dissects matters of the heart as well as she does legal cases, self-analysis was unavoidable.
“I think about him. And I don’t know why I do.”
“You say you’ve known him for only a few weeks?”
“Yes. We’ve had dinner and I’ve been to his place and . . . ”
“You’ve been to his place,” Beverly repeated her statement, her voice suddenly taking on a more authoritative pitch. “You, you didn’t…”
Before she could even finish the sentence, Joan interjected.
“No! Of course we didn’t, Bev. Nothing happened. He just held me,” she assured her, the cadence of her voice softening at the end.
“Hmm,” Bev released, questions beginning to creep into her mind. “I don’t know too many men who invite women to their place for just an innocent snuggling session.”
The comment made Joan a little ticked.
“I may as well be talking to my mother about this.”
Detecting the curtness in Joan’s reply, Beverly realized she was parenting instead of listening.
She eased up. Besides, she knew Joan had good taste in men.
“So how does he look?” Beverly inquired, her curiosity indicating to Joan that she was now wide awake. Delicious girl talk respected no time frames. The spontaneous question lightened the mood of the conversation instantly. Knowing Beverly as she did, Joan saw it coming.
“What does that matter?”
“Oh, come on, girl. You know the man’s gotta have something going for him physically. Is he attractive?”
Egged on by Bev’s excitable curiosity, Joan began to visualize his face . . . the ruggedly polished five o’clock and carefully carved mustache against his brownstone skin, the dark, halting eyes inset beneath thick brows, the seemingly sculpted jaw and hand-drawn lips that begged for repeated kisses. She forgot someone was on the other end.
“Just over six feet. Deceivingly slender. Mild spoken. Nicely dressed. He reminds me of my father.”
The last part struck a chord. A recent encounter flashed in Beverly’s mind.
“This wouldn’t be the guy that came by the office a few days ago, would it?”
The question was met with a brief pause.
“Yes, that’s Devern.”
“Umm, yum-yum,” Beverly gestured softly, careful not to speak too loudly lest Stan should walk in and question her past-midnight chatting. Joan couldn’t help but laugh, considering her friend’s weakness for attractive men. Though she was happily married, Beverly’s window shopping days were far from over.
“I see why you haven’t told Roger about him.”
“Oh, Bev, stop it,” Joan replied, attempting to defuse any notions that Devern was a threat to her relationship with the blue-eyed entrepreneur. “Roger’s my heart, you know that.”
“Uh huh,” Beverly remarked, not exactly convinced of the declaration. “So why do you think of Devern?”
Joan feigned a yawn at the appropriate moment and decided to end the conversation, declining to answer the question.
“Well, it’s late, Bev. I’ve kept you up entirely too long. Stan’s probably wondering where you are.”
“Yeah, he probably is,” Bev returned, aware that her friend really wasn’t ready to deal with what seemed to be hidden emotion. She let it go at that.
Love Letters, Poetry, Novels . . . Romance. -Rg2
© Roy Greer/Romance by Rg2®