tagRomanceI Want To Be In Love

I Want To Be In Love

byHLD©

This story is the sequel to "Some Things Are Meant to Be". It picks up right around the end of that story, so you may want to read that one first. If you're looking for quickie sex, this is probably the wrong story for you. This continuation of Melanie and Kevin's tale is inspired and takes its title from the Melissa Etheridge song of the same name. Thanks to my editor, michchick98. I hope you enjoy!

***********

"I'll see you around, Kevin," I said, trying to keep my voice from shaking. I reached out and squeezed his hand as if to say, "I'm sorry," then turned and walked away.

Trying to keep my gait firm and deliberate, I walked through the airport as if I had blinders on. I didn't want anyone—especially Kevin—to see me like this. I didn't have any checked baggage and went straight to the parking garage. Once I stowed my carry-on suitcase in the trunk of my car, I got in, started the engine, then leaned my forehead against the steering wheel and began to cry.

I don't know what brought this fit on.

No, that's not quite right. I do know.

It was Kevin Westcott. Or rather, it was the last three days I had spent with an old friend from high school. Everything had been perfect. He was cute and kind. There was romance and passion. All of the cares of my life melted away. There was just him: with his goofy smile, puppy dog eyes and the promise of safety and security and love.

When we were in high school together, none of the girls—myself included—ever looked at him seriously as boyfriend material. I guess we were all too into the "bad boys" of the school. Kevin was never a bad boy. He was squeaky clean, and not because he was uptight or anything.

He didn't drink or do drugs or get tattoos or skip class. If you ever asked him why he never did anything that was bad, he would tell you simply, "Because that's not right."

Right and wrong. He knew the difference and he never thought to do anything other than what was right. I didn't recognise it in him when we were younger and after graduation he never really crossed my mind again, to tell the truth. Every now and then, his name would come up when reminiscing with a mutual friend, and that was usually followed with, "What ever happened to him?"

I'll tell you what happened: In short, Kevin Westcott became a keeper.

He was one of the nerdy kids in high school. We all knew he would make something of himself; he was too smart not to. While he wasn't terribly motivated, he never seemed like he ever truly applied himself. Yet, he still got a 31 on his ACT and made A's with very little effort. He could have given me and Ajay Patel a run for valedictorian if he had wanted to. I, on the other hand, studied a lot. Probably more than I needed to, but things seemed to come far more naturally to him than me.

Of all the kids I graduated with, Kevin was the most enigmatic. I don't think he kissed a girl until our senior year. He couldn't talk to any of us socially. And he was above dumbing himself down just to try and fit in. He was tall and skinny. Average-looking. Unathletic and clumsy. He moved awkwardly as if he wasn't quite used to the way his body was built. He was certainly smart and a boon to anyone who ever needed a partner for a group project. But none of us thought of him as anything other than a schoolmate.

When we met again almost eighteen years after graduation, he had filled out nicely. He put on a little bit of weight; it was just enough to add some meat to his bones, but not too much. His face was still boyishly handsome and he maintained sandy blonde hair with very little grey. He had a new confidence about him and that was very appealing.

Maybe it was just me being shortsighted, but Kevin was one of those boys you wanted to marry, but never wanted to date. He promised security and stability, and at 18, I foolishly wanted a guy who got my motor running. I never thought of him as exciting because we ran in different crowds. Mine was the cheerleaders and pretty people; his was the Dungeons & Dragons and computer club nerds.

Our last three days together had been magical. Maybe it was because we were both trapped in a snowbound airport with no other familiar company. Maybe it was because we were both in a single place in our lives. Or maybe my eyes were just opened.

Those three days with Kevin flipped a switch within me. He stirred passions I hadn't felt in a long time. Certainly not with my ex-husband.

I could tell he was in love with me. I think he had been since high school. It would have been very easy to fall for him. He was a little plain, but still handsome. He was employed; well kind-of employed, but he was financially stable. He treated me like a princess. He is still one of the ten smartest people I know. He's funny and self-deprecating. And when we made love, he made me scream with pleasure and spent all night cuddling.

That's why I had to walk away from him.

Kevin was too good of a guy for me just to use and throw away. Because that's what I would have done to him. I probably could have gotten him to marry me, buy me a big house in the suburbs and sucked him dry if I had wanted.

But I couldn't do that to him. Not that way.

In the last year, I've gotten a divorce, been laid off my job, lost my house, and moved my kids across three states to live with my parents. I was a wreck in all possible ways: mentally, emotionally, financially and even physically.

I was in no condition to start a relationship, and I knew it. I prayed that Kevin knew it too. He looked heartbroken when we shared our last kiss. That's why I had to leave him standing there in an airport full of people. It was for the best.

At least that's what I told myself.

So there I sat in my car, bawling like a baby. I had turned my back on what could have been the best thing to ever happen to me.

When the tears stopped, I wiped my eyes, tried my best to put on a smile and drove home.

Home. It seemed so familiar, yet so different.

It was the house where I spent the bulk of my years growing up. We moved in when I was six and my parents started teaching at the university. It's a big house with four bedrooms and more than enough space for anyone who wanted to live under its roof. My brother was long gone; his job with an aerospace company seemed to be weathering the plunging economy well. In some ways, the war in Iraq was a boon to his work designing and building laser guidance systems for missiles.

Now it was my folks, me and my two children, Toby and Emily. When I came crawling back to them, practically begging for a place to live, they threw open their doors without comment or complaint, although I felt that on some level they were disappointed.

After all, for the previous decade, I was the successful one. My career in commercial lending was lucrative and glamourous. My husband and I drove BMWs and had a big house of our own. We did all the things we were supposed to: travelled with the kids, had a nanny to watch them and lived the high life. Then it all came crashing down.

We were in a house that was more than we could afford. The divorce nearly wiped me out. I don't think my ex-husband ever cheated on me, although he very quickly found comfort in the arms of a red-headed secretary with big tits who was ten years his junior. I managed to avoid paying palimony by getting laid off.

The housing market imploded and all of our savings were exhausted when we were forced to sell the house at a loss; neither of us wanted to buy the other out, so we sold it and both of us started over. I took my kids home to my parents; he comes to town for one weekend a month and they spend summers with him.

I've been looking for a job, but I haven't had much luck. A couple of companies have made offers, but none have panned out. Either they were offering me a pittance of what I was making before or they wanted me to re-locate or travel. I know I shouldn't be picky, but I never thought things would be as bad as they are.

My most recent trip was turning out to be the final straw. A company on the west coast offered me a job, but the cost of living out there is still way too high for what they were offering. So on a cold January day, I was headed home before getting side-tracked by a freak blizzard that shut down nearly every airport on the east coast from Atlanta to Bangor.

And that's when Kevin Westcott turned my life upside down.

I tried to push thoughts of him from my mind as I drove home. Pulling into the driveway, I saw the lights inside were still on. I parked my car in the spare spot next to the garage and went inside.

Just as I opened the door, my son Toby rushed into my arms. I picked him up and spun him around, both of us giggling. Emily, my daughter, was always a little more reserved, but she still gave me a warm hug.

These two children are the reason why I do everything. I held them tight even as my parents came out to greet me.

We speak English around them, although Mother and Father both think they should be taught Japanese, too. Everyone asked about the trip and what I had done over the extra two days I was away. I deflected questions from the children and my father, but my mother instantly knew something was up. I only hope my own matronly intuition is half as keen when it comes to dealing with my children. She would never say anything to me, especially not in front of my father, but I knew she would ask me in private.

The rest of the evening passed quickly. I tucked the kids into bed, said good-night to my folks then went to bed myself.

As I lay there, all I could think about was Kevin's strong arms. How they held me close. How he would twitch in his sleep, but never release me from his comforting grasp. How his heartbeat sounded so close to mine. How his breath felt so warm against my skin.

I eventually fell asleep, but not before another fit of crying came over me.

What the hell were you thinking, Melanie Nakamura?

***********

The next month passed. I was a mess the whole time. My savings were gone. The only thing I owned outright was my car. I had a mountain of debt to pay off. I got sick; supposedly it was a winter cold, but I know it was partly due to the stress. And despite my best efforts, there were no new job offers.

But that wasn't the worst part.

Each night, I sat in my room, Kevin's number on the screen of my cell phone. All I had to do was hit "send". Only I never did.

What would I say? How could I approach him without seeming like I was only after him because of his money? How could I be sure I was attracted to him because of who he was, not for the things he had or what he could do for me? How could I be sure he wouldn't break my heart again?

Valentine's Day came and went. I half-expected to receive a card or gift, but none came. I didn't blame Kevin; I had been ignoring him for a month. What right did I have to expect anything from him?

I made a vow that I would only call when I had a job. But oh, how I wanted to hear the sound of his voice! And feel him pulling me close to him.

Mother tried to get me to talk a couple of times. She inquired about my trip to San Francisco, each time taking a different angle to get me to crack. But I resisted. Until she blindsided me.

"So who did you have sex with when you came back from California?" she asked me one day. Emily was at school. We had just put Toby down for his nap.

"Mother!" I exclaimed, unable to believe the she came right out and said it.

"Tell me, Melanie," she said in a very gentle, non-judgmental way. "It's okay; you're a woman and you have needs. Who was he?"

I blushed as dark as a Japanese girl can. "An old friend from high school."

Her eyebrow went up.

"We ran into each other at the airport," I admitted, secretly happy to finally be able to talk about my romantic encounter from a month ago. "Do you remember Kevin Westcott?"

"Kevin?" Mother couldn't conceal her surprise, but she still smiled warmly. "He was always a very nice boy."

"He still is, Mother," I said, trying not to sound nervous. "He paid for our hotel room while we were there."

"What is he doing now?"

I almost told her that he was a successful computer programmer and businessman, but I didn't, instead adopting his lie. "Kevin teaches history at a community college in Virginia."

Mother covered the disappointment well; I think she was hoping that I'd meet a guy who was financially well-off. She had wanted that with my ex-husband, and the fact that I had always made more than him was disconcerting to my parents. Both my mother and father were tenured university professors; she in chemistry and he in Japanese literature. They had familiar academic prejudices against community colleges as intellectually inferior.

She didn't say anything for a few moments. "Is he going to call on you again?"

"He has called a couple of times," I admitted. That much was true. I didn't answer the call, afraid of what I would do or say. I knew there was a chance Kevin would hate me for this, but I felt I had to weather this part of the storm myself.

"Why don't you call him?"

"Mother!"

"Why not, Melanie?" she asked with that sort of dismissive, but matronly, tone. "You're a modern woman. It's okay for you to call boys now."

I rolled my eyes. I really wanted to call Kevin back. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Not yet.

She didn't say anything else about Kevin and I was happy to let the subject drop. I spent the next two weeks chasing down more job offers and networking my heart out. My parents were happy to have me and the kids around. They played the role of doting grandparents to a T and weren't hesitant to give me some money to follow some employment leads.

When I was finally ready to give up and take the first thing that came down the pipe, even as a greeter at Wal-Mart, someone answered a resume I had posted online. I flew out to Seattle, made my pitch and hoped for the best. While I was waiting in the hotel room that night, I got a call. It wouldn't pay as much as I'd have liked, but at this point in my life, I was a beggar and I couldn't be a chooser.

My new job was out of the financial field, but that was okay. After all, an MBA and a career in banking hadn't done me any good over the last year. I was flying home when purely on impulse, I changed my travel plans.

"Hello, Kevin?" I said when his phone rang. "It's me . . . Melanie Koiz—er, . . . um, Nakamura."

"Melanie?" he sounded incredulous, as if he wasn't quite sure whether he was hallucinating or not.

"Yes . . . Listen, I'm sorry I haven't called you back earlier," I hoped he wouldn't be too pissed off at me. "I'd like to make it up to you."

"Um. . . sure," he stammered.

"Can I take you out to dinner?" I asked.

"I . . . uh, when would be good for you?" he sounded puzzled. "Hold on, someone just rang the doorbell."

It was all I could do not to jump into his arms when he opened the door. We both stood there staring at each other. Time seemed to stand still.

"Hi," I said meekly.

"Hi," was all he could reply.

"Kevin, you can hang up the phone now," I giggled. If I'd had a feather, I could have knocked him over. "Can I come in?"

He didn't immediately reply. I didn't know what I would do if he said, "No"; the cab that dropped me off was long since gone. His jaw hung open, unable to form any words. Taking the initiative, I stepped over the threshold and put my arms around him. He automatically embraced me and pulled me close.

It was all I could do not to break down and cry. In that instant, I had never felt as safe and as comfortable as I did in Kevin Westcott's arms.

"Kev, I'm sorry," I whispered.

"Don't be," he replied. I tried to say something more, but he silenced me with a kiss. It was one of those wet, sloppy, delicious kisses that could go on for days. It wasn't hungry or desperate. Instead, it was filled with passion and—dare I say it?—love.

His arms wrapped around me and pulled me into one of his gentle bear hugs. I felt myself lifting up on my toes to reach him.

We stood there in the foyer with the front door wide open for the world to see and held each other. After several minutes, he pulled back and set me down. I smiled sheepishly as he retrieved my suitcase from his front porch, then closed the door behind him.

He seemed to be searching for something to say.

"I wanted to call you back," I answered his unasked question apologetically. "But I couldn't. Not until I had straightened a few things out."

Kevin smiled weakly. "It's okay."

"No, it's not," I replied firmly. I had to say this, if only for myself. "For the last six weeks, I've treated you like shit and you don't deserve that. But, Kevin, you have to understand this: I'm still not in a good place. Things are a little better, but I can't rush in to anything. Not right now."

"I understand," he said softly; I'm sure he meant well, but the look in his eyes told me that he didn't.

"Why don't we get something to eat?" I suggested. "My treat. We'll catch up over dinner."

He put on his best smile, but not before his self-control almost slipped.

There was a flash of hunger in his eyes. It made my heart pound. The look he gave me sent chills up and down my spine. It was as if a part of him wanted to tear my clothes off, throw me over his shoulder, take me to his bedroom and ravage my body.

I don't think I would have stopped him.

Instead, he asked politely, "Do you need to get cleaned up?"

"No, thanks," I said and he led me through his very nice house and out to the garage. His house wasn't one of those new McMansions, but it was nice enough. He lived in an older, upscale neighbourhood. His house was probably build around the Civil War and had seen its share of upgrades and additions. I could tell he was a gadget guy and there were all sorts of electronics and other things lying around. I had to stifle a giggle; in some ways Kevin hadn't changed much since high school. Only the price of his toys had.

There were two cars in his garage. One was a Honda Accord sedan and the other was a restored Shelby Cobra 427 in candy apple red with a white racing stripe that ran down the driver's centerline. I later found out that he was also restoring a Jeep CJ7 in a shed in his back yard. We got in the Honda.

"Where would you like to go?" he asked.

"Someplace nice," I couldn't take his hand (stick shift) so I settled for wrapping myself around his arm. "Remember, I'm buying."

Kevin blushed and drove us to a little mom-and-pop seafood restaurant. They knew him by name and seated us in a romantic booth in the back. I don't remember exactly what we ordered, but the food was good and the company even better.

"So what brings you to town?" he asked, not beating around the bush.

"I got a job," I replied excitedly. "I went out to an interview and they made an offer yesterday."

"What are you going to be doing?" Kevin sounded nervous.

"Working as a translator for an electronics company that does a lot of business in Japan. They needed someone who speaks fluent Japanese and English," I frowned. "There's a lot travel involved, which is one downside, but the pay is good and I don't have a lot of options at this point."

"What company?"

"Neurodyne," I pulled out the business card of one of the managers who hired me.

"Very nice." Even though Kevin smiled, I could see the disappointment in his eyes. "They do good work. And even in this economy, they're profitable, too."


"I had hoped . . . I didn't want a job out on the west coast or one that was going to send me to Asia a lot, but not much else was panning out."

"Mel . . . if you need a job, ask me," Kevin looked hurt.

"What would you have me do?"

"My foundation can always use some help."

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