Chandler couldn’t help but notice how withdrawn Inaya became after their predawn tryst ended. She said very little to him, barely looked at him, and even insisted on separate showers.
Was she also having ‘morning-after’ regrets because they fast forwarded to the sex stage without any real commitment? Chandler certainly was. Conviction descended upon him again as soon as they finished. Now he could barely look himself in the eye as he shaved in Inaya’s turquoise themed bathroom. He dreaded what was sure to be an awkward conversation over breakfast.
Mindful of the time, Chandler finished getting dressed and then headed to the kitchen where Inaya was cooking breakfast. She’d taken her shower first and thus was already dressed.
On the way to the kitchen with his black overnight bag in hand, Chandler slowed his steps and casually perused her immaculate home. During last night’s ride to Walmart, he learned that Inaya moved here when her sister got married. How she opted for a smaller place instead of the two-bedroom condo she used to have because she didn’t want her mother trying to move in with her whenever Uzuri grew tired of paying her own rent.
It’s a shame she had to downsize just to keep from being taken advantage of. At least she downsized into something nice, Chandler thought, continuing to admire his surroundings.
Inaya’s living room was spacious and inviting with brown and gold furnishings. On either side of the sofa were two high-back chairs. One gold with brown stripes. The other brown with gold stripes. An oval-shaped cherry-wood coffee table sat in front of the couch. A cherry-wood entertainment set stood on the south wall. Within it were a TV/DVD combo, a stereo, and various self-help books.
Inaya’s kitchen and dining room area had wide archways, yellow and country-blue décor and a cozy breakfast nook. On the nook’s table were blueberry muffins, croissants, scrambled eggs, ham, and grits. Mugs of hot tea and glasses of orange juice were also on the table.
Chandler’s stomach began to growl. He forgot about everything else as his new focus became food. After the vigorous night they’d had, they both needed sustenance.
“You’re looking as good as ever and you got it smelling good up in here, too,” Chandler said, announcing his presence and complimenting her at the same time. If focusing on other things kept them from going into the awkward zone, he would forgo his usual direct approach…for now.
“Thanks! I love cooking. Baking most of all,” Inaya replied, using blue mittens to carefully remove a pan of muffins from the oven. Her hunter green business suit and cream-colored silk blouse were covered by a long black apron. “By the way, feel free to have a seat and dive right in. I’ve been sampling as I went along, so I’m already full. Plus I have a couple more pans to take out and cool down before work.”
“A couple more? Wow! You really do love baking. It’s just the two of us, but you’ve clearly baked enough for ten people.” He put his bag beside the fridge, eased his large frame onto the small wooden bench and began to fix his plate from the bountiful spread before him.
“I’m what they call an emotional baker. I bake all the time, but I tend to bake more when my emotions are high. It’s my way of letting off steam.” She placed the pan on the top row of a multi-level cooling rack as she spoke.
Chandler frowned, unsure how to take those words. “Are your emotions high because of me?” He was suddenly too anxious to eat.
“Yes and no.” Inaya turned off the oven and reached inside for another pan.
“Yes and no?”
“Correct.” She put the pan on the second row of the tall cooling rack and then turned around to face him. “Yes, because I went all the way out of my comfort zone with you in more ways than one yesterday. No, because I’m still upset about what happened with my mother last night. Either way, my coworkers are going to love this latest treat.”
“First and foremost, I appreciate you venturing out of your comfort zone for me. I didn’t expect so much so soon, but I’m thankful nevertheless.” Chandler took a deep breath and blew it out. Then he broached a subject he should have brought up yesterday. “Secondly, I also went out of my comfort zone with you.”
“You’re kidding, right? I seriously doubt that I’m the first black woman you’ve ever been with.” Inaya smirked.
“No, you’re not.” He smiled sheepishly. “However, you’re the first woman of any color that I’ve been intimate with since I got saved three and a half months ago.”
Inaya’s eyes bucked. “You’re a…a Christian?”
“Yes, I am. And I was successfully practicing celibacy until…until last night.”
Inaya winced. “Now I have even bigger regrets about what we did. I thought you were just a nice person like me. Why didn’t you tell me that you were a Christian? Had I known, I would’ve never tried to seduce you. Messing with one of God’s men is just asking for trouble and I’ve already had and still have my fair share of that.”
At her frightened look, Chandler immediately sought to reassure her. “I’m sure God will forgive us both for last night’s indiscretion.” It pained him deep inside to learn that she wasn’t a Christian. He assumed that she was because of her compassionate nature and kind heart. Now he had to find out why she wasn’t a Christian and then how to pave the way for her to become one. Especially if they were going to have a future together.
“Maybe He’ll forgive you. But I seriously doubt if He’ll forgive me.”
“Why would you say that, Inaya?” Chandler asked. Anguish attacked his soul when the fear in her eyes quickly turned to despair. He wanted to grab her hands and start praying for forgiveness now. Yet he refrained to avoid scaring her off even more.
“Because I’m still suffering for stuff that happened in my teens, even though I’ve repented for it all, including the things that weren’t my fault.”
“What kind of stuff?”
Inaya let out an exasperated breath. “Do you really want to know?”
“Yes, I do.”
She looked at the clock on the stove. “We got forty-five minutes before we both have to leave. I suggest you eat up while I take the rest of these muffins out the oven and do my best to summarize why I’m no longer a Christian.”
© 2014 by Suprina Frazier