How about another taste of Ruby’s? I’m in! This scene features Renee and Malcolm who recently met and are into each other in a big way. There’s just one problem…..Maxine is interested in Malcolm too!
Malcolm pulled into his condo parking garage and eased the Denali into its usual spot. “You should come up for a few minutes. I have a great bottle of wine I’ve been waiting to open.”
I checked my watch, noting the time. It was only eight thirty, but Jessie was waiting. “It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just… I should really get back–”
My words fell away when he leaned over the center console and his lips brushed over mine, ever so briefly. They were as soft and plump as I remembered from our first brief kiss.
“I’d really like to spend a few more minutes with you.”
I gulped back any argument I might have tried to come up with and nodded. He got out of the truck and met me on my side, tucked my hand into his as he walked through the garage to the interior elevator. We stepped inside and he pressed the number ‘4’. The doors closed and the cube climbed for a few seconds before the bell sounded and the doors opened again.
“Wow, almost door to door service,” I remarked as I followed him down a brightly lit hallway dotted with closed doors. It seemed quiet, and then I remembered. It’s Friday night in downtown Decatur. Most people are out for the evening.
“Yes, that’s a nice perk. I don’t have to see the lobby unless I want to.” He inserted a brushed gold key into one lock and then another.
I rubbed my palms together, watching him unlock his door. “I can’t wait to see what kind of system a security expert has in his own home.”
He laughed. “Well, remember though, I’m the muscle. Brent is the systems man.” He swung the door open and waved me inside ahead of him. “Aside from a deadbolt and the standard ADT system, I don’t have anything impressive here.”
I feigned disappointment. “Aw, I thought I was going to see something along the lines of Mission: Impossible in here.”
“Maybe my next place,” he said, still laughing. “Come on in. Make yourself at home.”
The front door opened into a small entry way which led to the kitchen and just past that, the open space of the dining room and living room. Most of his furniture was eclectic and urban—bright, bold colors like a deep red microfiber couch and a mustard yellow sitting chair and end tables painted a glossy black. The prints on the wall were either framed posters or African Art pieces. Then there was this… oversized dark wood behemoth with white cushioned chairs.
“Did you bring this table with you?”
I heard rustling in the kitchen—drawers opening and closing, the sound of glass tinkling against glass. Malcolm came around the corner holding an open bottle of wine in one hand and two stem-less wine glasses nestled in the other. He nodded us over to the living room where he set the drinks on the table. I settled in next to him and let him pour.
He handed me a glass. I took it, and after waiting for him to pour himself a glass, lifted mine in toast and took a sip. I have never been much of a wine drinker, let alone red wine, but the taste wasn’t too bad. A hint of sweet, but not overpowering. It was fragrant and a deep, bold red.
“That table was a gift from Maxine,” he said, just as I took a second sip. I laughed but forgot I was swallowing so I inhaled and started to cough, then panicked because I couldn’t breathe.
He took the glass from me and rubbed and pat my back until the coughing fit subsided.
“You couldn’t wait until after I’d swallowed to tell me that? Why on earth did Maxine give you a table?”
He sipped his glass of wine, sinking into the couch, his long legs stretched under the coffee table, the collar of his dress shirt unbuttoned enough to reveal a hint of curly chest hair.
“I woke up one morning to a phone call from this guy. He said he had a delivery for me. I tried to convince him that it was a mistake, but he had my name and address. I called the store and checked on it; they said it was paid for by Maxine Donovan. When I called her about it, she sounded so excited.”
He paused, took another sip, then let his eyes wander over to the table and back to mine. “So, I let them in and they put it together.”
“It’s a big table,” I said, glancing at the table again and back to him. “A really big table.”
“I think of it as a metaphor.”
“Maxine. How she likes to throw her weight around. Make herself noticeable. Larger than life, too big for a room. Like the table.”
I nodded. Truer words have never been spoken about my friend Maxine. “She’s always been that way.”
“I find that she likes for people, especially men, to know her power. What she can do with her name or her money. She tries hard.”
“Mmmm.” I mused, sipping more wine. I’m feeling a bit loose, so I relaxed against the soft fibers of the couch. We were close, so close that felt the heat radiating from his thigh, which lightly brushed mine. “She has a big heart, though.”
Malcolm lifted an arm and dropped it around my shoulder. I leaned in so that I was up against him. He felt solid, like a wall. It was a comfort to be wrapped in so much strength. “How about you?” He asked. “Is your heart big?”
“My heart is big. It’s my wallet that isn’t. That’s the difference between me and Max.”
“I think there are a few more differences between you and Maxine.”
The tone of his voice, the softness and tenderness in his words made me lift my face to his. “You’re right. There are huge differences between us. She’s New York stylish and I’m homegrown comfortable. She’s a well off business owner and I’m just trying to make ends meet. She’s–”
“Not someone I’m interested in right now,” he said, cutting me off. “I’m impressed by her business acumen but I’m interested in homegrown Renee. What makes her tick?”
“I’m… I mean, I have to say, I don’t know why you’d be interested in me when you could have someone like Max. In fact you could have Max.”
“I don’t doubt that. If I wanted Max, I would be with her. What if I want you?”