Nyema sat in the restaurant at exactly five minutes to one. The cool afternoon air said that Florida was entering into the season and the summer was soon coming to an end. She’d stood outside for about ten minutes before finally coming into the restaurant. The man who greeted her was far too happy to hear the name of the man that would be soon joining her. She didn’t like what this said. She felt at odds about meeting him here. Looking around again, she actually contemplated just leaving.
The problem with that was then she’d have to explain to her brother-in-law why his closest friend showed up at the restaurant and found himself dining alone. Nyema picked up her little notebook and pen then moved it the other side. It had started on her left hand side and to the left of the elegant table setting when she was first seated by the nice, French gentleman that practically did a little jig when she mentioned her client’s name. Do French men jig? Oh, never mind. It doesn’t matter. The notebook had then been moved to her right because she has always been right handed. It moved again a few seconds later and now she was thinking of moving it again.
She didn’t know why she was so nervous. Nyema laughed at herself. She’d mentally begun to admonish herself as soon as the thought had started to formulate. The reason being, she knew good and well why it was that she was nervous. When Rayna’s husband, Christopher Leigh, had come to her and made the request that she take on his “buddy” because he was going through a hard time, she should’ve just said no. That, of course, wasn’t what she did. She’d known something was off as soon as she’d picked up the phone.
“Family Matters Therapy Center, Nyema Norton speaking, how may assist you?” she quickly answered the line.
Joanne had gone out to pick them both up something to eat and she’d been expecting a call. It was the only reason she’d bothered to answer the phone that day.
“Dawnie? Is that you? Where’s Joanne?” she’d heard a male voice respond.
Since he referred to her by her middle name, it could only be one of two people: Chris, Rayna’s husband, or Victor, Zoie’s husband. Lynnie’s friend, Dario, would never dare to act that familiar with her. Those were the only males within their circle. Considering the fact that there were six very attractive sisters and one amazing mother in the Norton clan’s immediate circle that was a sad, sad statement.
“Which newfound brother is this? Is it Chris or Vic because I haven’t been able to take a moment to decipher timbers and such to just know by voice?” she said as she’d sifted through the file on her patient that was to come in that day at two.
“I’m sure Ray and Z. will appreciate knowing that you think that their husbands sound too much alike for you to know them apart on the phone,” the voice had responded then a chuckle quickly followed.
“Hello Christopher, what’s going on? I don’t usually hear from you so recalling your voice isn’t something that I decide to store in my database of things to remember,” she’d responded distractly because Joanne had walked in with their lunch.
Her stomach uttered its protest the instant the scent of the grilled salmon permeated the room. She was starving and the rice that was on the side of that entre with steamed vegetables was screaming for her complete attention. It’s amazing what the mind can recall and what is chosen to forget.
“Cut me to the quick, why don’t you, sis? Man! I’ve been with your sister for almost two years now and I can’t get a little phone recognition,” he’d said and she had to let him off the hook, but one last jibe first.
“If you would provide me with a regular auditory sample, then I will be more than willing to oblige any reinforced comfort my recognizing your voice will offer,” she paused and listened to the silence. “I’m just kidding. I knew it was you all along. Victor only calls when there is trouble at the school and his secretary is the one who initiates that call. What can I do for you?”
“The things that you hold in that head of yours are astounding. I didn’t know what in the hell you had said. Anyway, I called to set up a meeting with you, but realized that I couldn’t do a meeting. I was told that you had a couple trips coming up that wouldn’t free you up,” he stopped talking and she heard him take a breath. “Listen, this is kind of a touchy subject and I really don’t know how or what to do here.”
“Start at the beginning. It’s always the best and tends to get you to where you need to go the quickest. I’m free for the next hour or so. However long you need, go ahead and take it,” she typed a quick note to Joanne to make sure that she didn’t schedule anyone to fill the one o’clock she knew she had open. “Everything is fine with Ray, right?”
“Oh, yeah. She’s good. Tired, but good. It’s not anything to do with the three of us, Dawnie. It has to do with my friend. I’m really worried about him and I don’t have anyone else to turn to. If I go to his family members, then I’m afraid they will take this to a level that is far worse than what it already is. You know, James? He was my best man at the wedding and he comes by from time to time.”
He’d been quiet and she realized that he was waiting on her to respond. She’d begun to take notes. She hadn’t known why. Something just said to do so.
“Yes, I remember him. I also remember Zoie and Lynnia not being his biggest fans. I think there is a bit more there with Zoie. She never would expound on why it was that she didn’t care for him. Anyway, what seems to be the problem?” she’d asked.
What he said in response had her sitting back in her seat. Chris had told her that James had been the father of Zoie’s baby. Nyema hadn’t been aware that her nephew’s father was a known donor. Did Zoie know? She had to have known. Why didn’t she tell any of the sisters? It seemed like something that they should know. They’d put Victor’s name on the grave stone because it was a special request and just seemed like the right thing to do since the father’s name wasn’t known. Now, having not only a name, but a face to go along with it just made it feel wrong. She wondered if Zoie even took a moment to talk with James. Her sister probably hadn’t since she didn’t really like him and she was dealing with the loss of her child, the fact of being a newlywed, then her miraculous chance to be a mother. Talking to James about any of it would have probably been on her very short list of things to do.
“Houdini couldn’t have pulled a better trick out of his hat if he wanted. What are the odds that one of the few people that Zoie didn’t like would be the person to give her the blessing that Nathaniel would have been? I can’t believe that she didn’t say anything,” Nyema had taken a drink of her tea then a deep breath before speaking again. “Okay, so James is having a hard time dealing with everything? How am I supposed to be part of this little equation?”
“Nyema, I don’t know if you will be able to help at all, but I don’t know what else to do. I’ve done all that I can think of. You are my last resort. I know that this is probably going to be a bit much for you. It will be going above and beyond the call of duty as my sister, well sister-in-law, but it’s needed. I really believe that you might be the only one to get him out of this…” Chris had paused for seconds then was off again. “He isn’t himself. I’ve never known him to hole up in his place and stay. He travels, socializes, meets and beds women. He is not a homebody. He is not one to back down from a challenge. I didn’t think that I’d ever see the day that the wind was knocked out of James Kenyon’s sails, but it is. He is literally coasting through life. I took him out the other day for a beer and we passed a baby store. His eyes stayed focus on this bear blanket and he went inside the store. He came out five minutes later with the bear and a little mitt. I just about lost it because I had no clue what to say to that. The man didn’t say word. He hailed a cab, got in it and left my ass standing there with my mouth open. He’s not dealing. I didn’t think he wanted to be a dad. He argued the point of not wanting to have anything to do with the kid once Allison was pregnant. She was the one that was supposed to get his donation. Seeing the broken man that he is now tells me differently. I just need you to talk to him. I need to see if you can get him to talk about all of this. I know it’s a tall order, but I’m hoping that it works. I’ve never seen him like this. What do you think? Are you willing to do this?”
Nyema hadn’t said a word. She’d been attempting to process all that he’d relayed to her. Chris had mistaken her hesitancy for apprehension in dealing with an adult patient. His assessment couldn’t have been further from the truth. She was a little concerned about that factor, but she’d studied family psychology as well as adult psychology during her college years. She often kept up with those studies when her schedule allowed for it. Dealing with children could be far easier, but she was up for the challenge.
Her hesitancy came because she felt instantly like a hypocrite. Speaking to a child, coaching them through their pain is one thing. When children ask a question, you can lead them in a different direction and usually get away with the misdirection. An adult tends to be a bit more astute and far quicker in catching on to misleading or misdirection. It wasn’t often that she had to employ such tactics, but it was there if she ever needed it. Her arsenal was full of those types of tools.
Nyema didn’t want to talk to James Kenyon for a number of reasons. The one at the very top of the list was the fact that she shouldn’t be attempting to lead anyone else to learning to cope with loss since she hadn’t fully learned to deal with her own. See! She was the biggest hypocrite ever! There was no way that she should be meeting with this man. He would see right through her tactics and advice. She was insane. Why? Why did she do this to herself?
Nyema looked to the entrance again. Her mental castigation immediately ceased. Seeing the handsome, dark hard, blue eyed, clean shaven, six plus foot man that smiled at the waitress that had just walked in front of him reminded her why she agreed. She watched him. It wasn’t an open watching. She made it look as if she were looking around the restaurant, but her focus was on watching the man walk. Awful! Insane! Silly! All of these words described her perfectly. She had to be all of those things because she was sitting the ogling the way the man strode with a purpose toward her. Watching him move was an appetizer to seeing him smile and maneuver his way to her, wading through the adoring throng of women. Her license to practice should be taken. She shouldn’t be taking on a man that she had any form of attraction to as a potential patient.
Placing her hand on her notebook, she turned her attention to the table setting before her. She would remain professional, see if this was a lost cause then move on from there. When she looked up again, he was standing right next to her, smiling with a cleft in his chin. Had she actually thought that she would be able to remain focused and professional in his presence? That wasn’t likely since she didn’t seem to have the ability to make her body respond to her mental commands. This meeting was going to go well. Chris was going to owe her big time if she made it through this lunch without making a fool of herself.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt from the upcoming release. Thank you again!
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