After a 14-hour shift and six hours of sleeping, Monica rolled onto her back and wiggled her nose. Her head turned left guided by the smell of her favorite vanilla latte blend.
She stopped drinking them for two reasons, but mainly she told herself it was because they were making her already large bottom even larger.
The other reason forced her through a gamut of emotions, none of which she wanted to address this morning.
This was her weekend off and Chase was picking her up at eleven for a wonderful mission trip.
She mumbled, "I must be dreaming," and rolled back onto her stomach for more sleep since her alarm hadn't sounded.
She felt her mattress shift, heard someone take a loud sip of the coffee, and said, "Ahhh, the best dreams are the ones that come true."
That voice she knew all too well. If she slept with a gun under her pillow, she would have cocked and used it.
She quickly sat up, and there he sat on her bed in her messy bedroom, looking very put together in a stylish polo, jeans, and lightweight tennis shoes.
He held a coffee mug -- one she didn't recognize. A new one he had bought for her. In his other hand, he held a saucer. On it, an everything bagel with vegetable cream cheese -- her favorites.
She wanted to shoot him dead.
"You really are not beautiful in the morning," he joked. She wasn't. She kept her hair pulled back most of the time. At night, she let it fall upon her shoulders.
By morning, a voluminous mess danced over her head. Her eyes swelled at night, so she awoke with the appearance of crying.
The thought of making him cry prompted her to scan the area, searching for anything she might stab him with.
"I've already removed all sharp objects." He pressed the gifts in her direction. "Here, baby. Your coffee is getting cold."
Timothy Bryson had been in and out of her life since third grade. At thirty-three years old, she'd grown tired of him popping in anytime he felt the need to see her.
Visits were sporadic, three months, five months and the last visit...nine months. Longer and longer time spans had her believing the last visit had indeed been the last. She'd been wrong.
"Do you want my arm to fall off?" he held the coffee, quoting a line from one of her favorite movies.
"I want you to disappear, forever. I have a date in..." she reached for her cell phone for the time. Before she retrieved it, he recited, "It's 0800 hours.
Your date is picking you up at 1100 hours. Going to Pennsylvania. I like this guy. He's classy. Got a bit of a criminal record. But I'm sure you've talked that out.
Bank account is in good standing. Comes from a decent family. His sister-in-law just had a baby girl, Sophia."
She hated him. Hated how easily he could access her life. She wasn't even sure what he did -- some type of double spy.
It amazed her that he rose from the ghetto streets of Indiana and became this incredible force. She had often teased him, saying black people weren't spies. But Timothy Bryson was.
He loved his career more than he could love anything or anyone else -- another good reason to hate him.
"You ran a check on Chase?"
Still holding her breakfast, he admitted easily, "Of course. It's my job to protect you."
"No, it isn't. I have Ryan."
"And me," he emphasized. "I want you to be happy."
"If you truly want that, you'd go far away forever."
She did not know that every time he received a new assignment, it might hold his forever.
Would anyone he loved ever see him alive again? Would she, the only woman that he loved, see him again? Or even know he was no longer walking the earth.
In just a few days, he would step into the unknown once again. "I'm out of the country for the next two years."
She blinked, feeling that familiar pain in her heart. "Where are you going?"
He saw it, the shift of concern move into her eyes.
He stared into the cooling coffee. They both knew he couldn't disclose anything. Everything he did was classified.
"You didn't have to break into my apartment to tell me that. You could have just left, Timothy."
He slightly bobbed his head. "I could have. But if this is my last chance to see you, I wouldn't leave until I did." Offering for the last time, he asked, "Are you going to have this?"
The smell no longer enticed her. Shaking her head, she stared down at her hands, noticed they were shaking. "I don't want it," she said.
"Alright." He finally set them onto the small round table covered by a flowery cloth.
She liked color and print and it pleased her that he bought her a mug from Italy with pink and yellow flowers on it.
However, he struggled, looking for an empty place to lay the mug and saucer on. She really never practiced housework and decided he'd have to take the coffee back into the kitchen.
Before leaving the room, he gave her messy morning appearance an admiring look. "I've missed you, Monica."
She rolled her eyes, and he started out of the room. From behind, he ordered, "Get your fat rump up and into the shower. I'm hanging out until your date arrives."
"No, you will not. I don't want Chase to see you. He might think..."
"That you have feelings for me?" He turned and looked at her with tears in his eyes. "We'll always have feelings for each other.
Despite my numerous proposals, you don't want to be married to a spy. So...I've accepted that. But until you belong to another man, I'm always going to find you."