IT HAS been three weeks since the marriage proposal and Chante knew what she had to do. She knew it since the night she said ‘yes’ to Dr. Leo Cadman. Her sense of right and wrong had been bothering her like crazy since. It wasn’t like she didn’t have feelings for Leo. In her heart there was a special place for him. Even her common sense was telling her she did the right thing in accepting the ring. But how could she deny the little nagging voice telling her she was a fraud?
If it were just her and Leo in the equation, the conclusion would be a given. There was no doubt that he was the perfect man for her. She could learn to love him totally. But the existence of one Jared Lowell made the equation more complex than it should have been.
Considering that Jared hasn’t even hinted about his true feelings- or any feeling for that matter- about her, Chante thought she was awfully stupid to feel guilty about accepting Leo’s marriage proposal.
Couldn’t she just consider Jared an infatuation and move on with her ‘happily ever after’ with an eligible doctor who obviously was crazy in love with her?
She knew the answer. If she was really honest with herself, she knew it all along. It wasn’t like a bolt of lightning that just came out of the blue. She was in love with Jared and she had to tell Leo the truth. Whatever the consequences or outcome about her decision, she had to do it soon.
The engagement ring he had given her lay heavily in her left hand ring finger. She shouldn’t even have worn it out onto the streets. The single solitaire diamond reflected the light from the street lamps she passed by.
She spotted a small café, entered the premises and sat at a barstool. The bar of the café faced a glass mirror looking out into the street. It was a small dive compared to the more glitzy ones but it was in Queens and near the home she shared with her brother, Markey. His sleeping meds had taken effect almost immediately and Chante took the time to go out into the fresh air and think about her dilemma.
Droplets of rain cascaded down the glass window as Chante let out a sigh of frustration.
“Swell…” she muttered under her breath.
Even the weather was a reflection of the guilt in her heart. It was a good thing Leo was gone for the entire week. He had to attend a medical conference in Atlanta, giving Chante precious time to work out how she would handle the situation when he came back. Initially he was hesitant to leave so soon after the proposal. He wanted to spend as much time as he could with her but Chante reassured him it was fine. The medical conference was a step forward in his career as an ER doctor.
But even Chante understood why she wanted him away. It would give her time to put her thoughts into perspective and she could only do that if she wasn’t feeling so guilty about him being around her all the time.
She had to break the engagement. It wasn’t fair to the guy. How could she pretend to love him when she knew that her feelings didn’t go deep enough to deserve the ring he had given her?
And Jared was gone too. He left word that he would be gone for a few days to attend to some personal concerns. That left Chante feeling gloomy and abandoned, but also relieved that he didn’t have to know about her current status – engaged to Dr. Leo Cadman.
She was hoping that by the time Jared got back, if he ever came back at all, she would have untangled herself from this farce of an engagement.
Right now, she felt trapped between a rock and a hard place, but one thing was for sure, she had to break an engagement that she was sure she couldn’t live up to.
She probably would end up alone and miserable just the same, but at least her conscience wouldn’t be nagging her day and night.
Chante ordered a beer and nursed her drink. She glanced at her watch and decided to drink up and head for home. The rain was now just a drizzle and she could sprint the few blocks home.
She pulled out her purse to pay the bill when a familiar voice greeted her.
“Well-well-well, if it isn’t my favorite girl. Fancy meeting you here.” The voice sneered.
Chante whirled swiftly around, a sudden fear creeping into her heart. She knew that voice.
“Oh… hi Jimmy… ,” Chante addressed him with a squeaky voice.
The new arrival was Jimmy Derollo, her ex-boyfriend. The guy always gave her the creeps. Chante wondered what she ever saw in him. Even now as he sidled towards her in the bar, she felt her skin crawl and the hair on the back of her neck stand on end.
Their last confrontation weeks ago on the sidewalk while waiting for the bus was something Chante wanted to forget. The hard slap she gave him on the face after he tried to kiss her still resounded in her ear. She vaguely remembered the threat he made as she swiftly boarded the bus. But she couldn’t forget the murderous look in his eyes as the bus pulled away from him.
The bar was half-full and Chante knew that Jimmy wouldn’t try anything stupid. One scream and even the bartender would probably come to her rescue. Still…she wasn’t sure if she could deal with him once she was outside the confines of the bar. He could follow her home and she came alone.