Levi kept his eyes on Ma as he gently nudged my leg with his knee underneath the table. I blushed and lowered my eyes to my plate. Ma then spoke about the trip we annually took as a family... and then she actually invited Levi along.
“So Levi, what do you say?” Ma offered without any hint of approval from me.
Levi looked over at me and swallowed the food that was in his mouth. “Well Nia, is this all right with you?”
I parted my lips, but nothing came out. I looked at my mother who was motioning with her hands for me to agree. I stared back to the only safe place in the room—my plate.
“I don’t know about that.” I shrugged, looking back up between the both of them.
A wave of confusion floated across Ma’s face as she disappointedly gasped, “Nia.”
Levi slowly pulled the napkin from his lap and placed it on the table. “It’s okay Mrs. Moore. I don’t want to impose upon your family.” He peered down at his ringing phone and then back to us. “Please excuse me, it’s the hospital.”
“I thought you were off tonight?” I coldly glared at him. “Are you sure that’s the hospital?” I dismissively raised my glass and began sipping my lemonade.
“Nia,” Ma pleaded.
“Yes, I’m sure. I would never lie to you.” Levi shook his head, and then rose with the phone pressed against his ear.
I suffered moments of uncomfortable silence as Levi left the room. Ma shook her head just as Levi had and condemned me with her glares. I winced as my chest ached from the blistering wounds.
Levi walked back into the room, sliding his phone back into his pant pocket. “I’m sorry ladies, but I have to go. Something’s happened.”
“What is it?” Ma questioned.
“One of my patients has passed.” He sighed, sorrowfully glancing away. “The family is asking for me.”
My heart softened. “Are you okay?”
“I’m okay, but I have to get down there. I just feel bad for not being there with him. He wanted me to be there.”
I rested my hand over the front of my neck as a lump swelled in my throat. “I’m sorry,” I said, realizing what he had sacrificed to be here with me tonight. “If I had known …”
Levi pulled his coat from a nearby chair and shook his head at me. “It’s not your fault. That was my decision. I wanted to be here.” He then placed his hat onto his head and wiggled his fingers into a pair of fitted gloves.
“I’ll walk you to the door.” I dabbed the corners of my mouth with a beige linen napkin and stood.
“Thanks.” He gently smiled.
Levi kissed my mother on the cheek and thanked her for a lovely evening I thought was everything but that. Surprisingly, he took me by the hand as we walked toward the front door. As we stood in the foyer, hand in hand, I tried to gather words to explain my behavior. Levi must’ve ignored my attitude because as he prepared to leave me for the night, he kissed me like it was the first time.
“Levi, I’m sorry about tonight. I shouldn’t have behaved the way I had. You did nothing wrong.”
He curiously peered at me. “Then what is it? You know you can talk to me.” Then he gently caressed my cheek.
I nervously cleared my throat. “There’s just so much going on with me, Levi.” With pain-filled eyes, I gazed at him. “You deserve someone better. After thinking about how good of a man you are, I just can’t drag you into this mess.”
“What are you talking about?” He squeezed my hands and then interlaced our fingers.
Troubled by my chaotic life I felt that I just didn’t deserve someone like him.
“Nia, are you still talking about the past?” Levi questioned.
I apprehensively nodded and slowly closed my eyes.
“Why dwell on it? There’s nothing you can do about it.” He touched my cheek, causing me to look up again, and repeated, “Nothing.”
He kissed me again and I became lost in his world.
“Just let me love you,” he softly whispered in my ear. We gazed at one another as he opened the door. “Just think about it and I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Levi disappeared into the night, carrying with him my heart.
I stood at the door breathless, eagerly anticipating tomorrow.
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