Authors: Farrah Rochon
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #General
It read: “
The Harlem Sentinel
welcomes our newest associate editor, Paige Turner.”
“Thank God,” Torrian said with a deep sigh. He’d found her. He wrote down the address on a scrap of paper and punched it into his GPS system once he slid behind the wheel of his car.
It took over an hour to drive the eight miles to Harlem. He turned from Fredrick Douglass Boulevard onto West 136th Street, moving slowly as he checked building numbers. He pulled up to a brownstone that wasn’t all that different from his own. A car was pulling from the curb, and he quickly parallel parked into the space.
Anticipation rushed through his blood. He knew he’d missed her, but until this moment, when he was mere minutes from seeing her face again, Torrian hadn’t realized just how much his mind, body and soul craved this woman. He needed her like he needed air. It’s why his world had been suffocating without her.
He rushed up the steps and tried the handle, but it was locked. The buzzer panel next to the door indicated there were four offices in the building. Just as he was about to buzz
The Harlem Sentinel
, the front door opened, and Paige emerged from the building.
She stared at him, not saying a word.
He stared back, doing likewise. She was so beautiful that she robbed the breath from his lungs.
After several moments, Paige asked, “What are you doing here?”
“I…I needed to see you,” Torrian managed.
“Why?” she asked, moving past him and heading for the sidewalk. “Want to serve me with papers for a slander lawsuit?”
Torrian followed her down the stairs. “Paige, I know you weren’t the one who told Stein,” he called.
She stopped, turned.
He stared into her eyes and almost lost himself in their beauty. God, he’d missed her so much he ached from it.
“I’m sorry,” he said. It’s what he should have said from the very beginning.
Ignoring his apology, she said, “I already know I wasn’t the one who told Stein.” She folded her arms across her chest. “When did you figure it out?”
“Another doctor in Latoya’s practice confessed to leaking my condition to the press.”
She nodded, turned and started walking away from him without a word.
Torrian reached for her arm, “Paige, wait!”
She whipped around and grilled him with her glare. “You know, Torrian, for a second there I thought maybe you had just a little bit of faith in me. But now I realize if that doctor hadn’t come clean, you would have gone the rest of your life thinking I’d stabbed you in the back. Sell your apology to someone else, because I’m not buying it.”
“Paige, please,” Torrian pleaded, wishing to God he’d never accused her. After everything they had been through, for him to have cast her to the wolves without ever listening to her side of the story was the most faithless thing he could have done. She was giving him exactly what he deserved.
“Try to see it from my perspective,” he said. “The only people who knew about my eye condition were me, Theo, Latoya and you. Theo and Latoya had never said anything in all the time they’d known. Then the story breaks days after I shared my condition with you. What else was I supposed to think?”
“That I respected your privacy enough never to share something you’d told me in confidence. What you were
supposed to think is that I was selfish and ruthless enough to end your career just to further my own.”
She pierced him with a look that shot straight to his heart. “You have no idea how much you hurt me. I’d fallen in love with you, and you tossed me away as if I were a piece of trash.”
Torrian shut his eyes, unable to stomach the sight of the pain he’d caused her. An even more frightening realization gripped his gut—the fear that he’d lost her forever. He couldn’t let that happen.
“Forgive me,” Torrian said softly. “I would do anything to make this up to you, if you only give me a chance.”
“Why should I?” she asked. “Would you have forgiven me if the doctor hadn’t come clean? Answer me,” she said. “Why should I forgive you, Torrian?”
“Because I love you,” Torrian answered. “More than anything I’ve ever loved before, and anything I’ll ever love again. Please, Paige, give me another chance.”
Torrian’s heart thumped a wild beat in his chest as he waited for her response, then shattered into a million pieces when she turned and walked away.
aige sat on a bench, watching as park goers moved along with their day. She didn’t want to go back to her apartment. Although she should probably spend as much time there as possible, seeing as she would have to give it up soon. Her pay at the
was half of what she’d made at
Big Apple Weekly
. And the lack of free meals from restaurants she had to review was seriously cutting into her food budget.
But Paige had no desire to sit on her big green chair and stare at the space between those four walls. There were too many fresh memories there. During those weeks she’d wanted to keep their—whatever it is they’d had together—secret, she and Torrian had spent most of their time at her place. Now, Paige couldn’t stomach being there alone.
“Suck it up, Olivia,” she said under her breath.
She pushed herself up from the bench. She was not going to hide from her life just because Torrian had swept in, turned it upside down and swept back out again.
But he’d come back.
As she headed out of the park, her mind replayed the scene that had unfolded on the sidewalk in front of the
. She’d been too shocked at seeing Torrian to fully comprehend the first thing out of his mouth, but she’d heard him say that it was another doctor who’d leaked his medical information to the press. And she’d heard his apology loud and clear.
Then threw it right back in his face.
Paige mulled over the rest of what he’d said. As she thought it over with a more open mind, she could see how the process of elimination would leave her as the likeliest suspect. Why wouldn’t he think it was her? He knew about her ambition to be a high-profile reporter. What would be more high-profile than helping to break the sports scandal of the year?
Paige thought about some of the other things she’d done to further her career, like writing reviews geared more toward what she knew her readers would want instead of what she’d truly felt in her heart. She’d compromised the value she held most dear—honesty. How could she blame Torrian for thinking anything different of her?
He had every right to point the finger at you.
Yet as soon as he discovered he’d been wrong he’d come straight to her. And she’d had the audacity to throw his apology in his face.
“Paige, you fool,” she said, picking up the pace as she made her way through the park. He had come back to her, and she’d pushed him away. She would not let him get away again.
She loved him.
Urgency pulsed through Paige’s blood like a rushing river. She had to find Torrian. He would likely be at the restaurant. After a quick stop at her place, she would go to the Fire Starter Grille and beg for his forgiveness if she had to. It would be the very least she could do after the way she’d treated him today.
Paige came upon her building and stopped short.
Torrian was sitting on the top step, elbows on his knees, his gloved hands clasped.
For long moments they simply stared at each other. Paige climbed the first step, and Torrian stood. She took the second step, and he stepped down to the third and held his hand out so she could join him.
“You can tell me to go, but I couldn’t leave things the way they were,” he said.
“I’m not going to tell you to go, Torrian. I wouldn’t let you get away if you tried.”
Understanding crept into his eyes, lighting them as her words sunk in.
“I’m sorry for the things I said to you,” Paige continued.
“You don’t have to apologize.”
“Oh, I do,” she said.
“I should have trusted you.”
“No, you shouldn’t have,” Paige said. “Not too long ago, I would have done exactly what you accused me of doing. That’s just how much getting ahead meant to me.” She took his hands and brought them up to her lips, kissing the soft leather of his gloves. “But I found something that means even more to me. And I don’t want to lose him. Ever.”
He grabbed her by the neck and crushed her to him. “Oh God, Paige,” he breathed into her ear. He pulled her away just enough to rest his forehead on hers.
“I love you so much,” he said. The moisture of his breath tickled her face; the fierceness of his words warmed her soul.
“I love you, too, Torrian. Please say that you’ll forgive me.”
“There’s only one thing I’ll never forgive you for,” he said. Paige looked up and stared into his eyes. “Leaving me again,” he finished.
A grin spread across her lips. “You’ll never have to worry about that,” she assured him. “I’m here to stay.”
HUDDLE WITH ME TONIGHT
Copyright © 2010 by Farrah Roybiskie
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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