Convinced that Baron was somehow connected to this sudden blessing caused Aurelia’s love for him to grow. Like a chain reaction, the pain of not being able to have him grew as well.
“Do you need me to come back to
“I thought about that, but I hesitate to take you away from your family so soon after your brother’s illness,” Bambi replied. She smiled fondly at Claude as he took a seat beside her at the lunchroom table. He winked in return, causing her heart to flutter with renewed love.
After a long morning of grueling finals, they were both eating a late lunch in the near empty cafeteria. Almost everyone else had taken their exams and gone home.
“So if it’s all right with you, I suggest you let me and my sorors fill the orders instead,” Bambi continued, forcing her attention back on Aurelia, despite the butterfly wings flapping in her stomach from Claude’s presence as he ate silently beside her. “I can mix the fragrance privately to keep anyone from learning your formula. Then my sisters can come in and help bottle, label, pack, and ship it. It’s the least they can do considering how you helped them out with the talent show. They won the grand prize, you know.”
“I’m glad they won. However, I insist on paying for their labor out of the sales budget,” Aurelia replied firmly. “It’ll be my way of helping them earn some money for personal Christmas presents since they were so giving to underprivileged kids with the prize money they won.”
“You’re the best, Aurelia. I’ll let the girls know as soon as I get off the phone with you,” Bambi said with admiration in her voice.
“When you’re done talking to Aurelia, let me holler at her for a minute,” Claude inserted, looking entirely too excited to speak to the V.I. native.
Bambi frowned. Rage attacked her soul. Before she knew it a rush of Vietnamese had come out of her mouth. “Đầu ngu! Khi nào anh sẽ ngưng chạy theo một người cô gái không thương anh để theo một người dã yêu anh?!”
Claude’s eyes bucked. As realization sat in, a knowing smile graced his lips. “No need to call me stupid, Co Truc,” he replied, fluently using her Vietnamese name.
Bambi gasped. The cell phone in her right hand dropped to the hill of mashed potatoes on her plate below. “Y…you understood what I said?” Aurelia was a forgotten entity for the moment…by both of them.
“Yes, thanks to the teenage years I spent bagging groceries in a neighborhood store owned by another set of Vietnamese people.” Claude leaned closer to her and added in a more discreet tone, “Had I known you were in love with me, I would have definitely paid more attention to you. You would have had all of my attention a long time ago, Co Truc. But since I thought all Vietnamese people were like the ones I used to work for, who didn’t approve of interracial unions and actually fired me for taking their daughter on a date, I didn’t dare go after you. Why set myself up for another disappointment like that? Thus I went back to dating among my own people.”
“You wouldn’t have been disappointed with me,” Bambi whispered with glossy eyes.
In response, Claude leaned even closer and captured her lips.
With three and a half years of pent-up desire fueling that kiss, it was no surprise that it was fervent, deep, and long. At the end of it they both issued the same four-letter word…
Applause came from the five cafeteria occupants that remained at various tables.
“Bambi? Bambi? Bambi!” Aurelia’s loud voice could be heard coming from the mashed potato area. She’d been calling her friend’s name for at least a minute now.
Bambi and Claude broke all the way apart at that sound and laughed. “Better answer your mashed potatoes,” he teased, no longer wanting or needing to talk to Aurelia about anything.
“Sorry about that, girl,” Bambi said once she’d retrieved the phone and wiped most of the potatoes off of it. “Me and Claude…”
“You and your man,” Claude quickly corrected with a sensual smile.
“Me and my man were kinda busy for a couple of minutes there,” Bambi amended, getting a nod of approval from her official new boyfriend before he returned to his meal.
“Try three whole minutes exactly.” Aurelia chuckled, despite the twinge of envy that attacked her soul simply because it had not been her and Baron kissing for those succulent minutes. “By the way, congratulations on finally getting your man. I wish you and Claude much happiness,” she said, quickly counterattacking and annihilating that envy with heartfelt best wishes for her friend.
“Thanks, Aurelia. Now while my man cleans his plate, let’s clear up any lingering business between us. I have a feeling I’m going to be very busy tonight…in more ways than one,” Bambi said.
“Very busy,” Claude echoed, giving her a hungry look that had nothing to do with the food on his plate.
Returning that heated look, Bambi nodded her consent of any unspecified romantic plans that he might have for their first night as a couple. Then she forced her attention back on the call she needed to complete with her business partner. After that, more kissing!
© 2009 by Mi’Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier