Sunday evening, done with dinner with her old friend from high school, was the perfect time to stop by and say hello to another. She given thought to calling first, and she would have, `cept all she had was an address given to her by Mavis four months ago. She didn’t ask how Mavis knew where to find him, just accepted it and sent him an invitation to her college graduation.
She was perfectly okay receiving her diploma in the mail, but that of course was not acceptable to Mavis. “Five plus years, Sydney King and you are going to march across that stage and I’m going to be there to watch you,” she’d said. There was no way she could say no to that and truth be told, she was glad she’d hadn’t. What a rush walking across that stage had been, and a sense of pride at finishing something she’d dreamed of. She was done, finally, the recipient of two degrees. Art and engineering. Yeah her. Graham didn’t show, not that she’d thought he would. Really he’d done more than enough, way more than she could ever repay. The least she could do was to stop by and personally thank him.
According to her smartphone’s GPS, she was a mile from his house. A new house, expensive looking homes which she expected. The homes were smaller though, than what he’d lived in before. All new construction with limited grass, and cool designs. She followed the British accented male voice of her GPS and made a left turn onto his street. G’s home was in the middle of the second block, between two newly built homes.
She was a little disappointed that he moved from his old home. Talk about coveting a house. She so did. Coveted the house and the young man that lived in it. So many memories, of her being tutored there by him, the kid sister of his boy’s girlfriend. So many fantasies of herself all kinds of married to him. She could laugh at that now, and cringe at her younger self sneaking into bed with him that one time. All behind her now, she thought.
She parked in the drive, picked up her gift for him and made her way up the side walk leading to his home, careful not to trip over feet as she maneuvered around the large slabs of stone that were placed on top of each other to form a walkway. Interesting she thought of G’s home and its modern design. Stone of half of it, the part facing the front and the side was made of large opaque glass. Was he home? The answer was yes if the muffled light behind the glass was an indication. She also hoped he was alone.
She’d dressed well. Unlike her child hood’s love of jeans and t-shirts, the adult Sydney preferred dresses that showcased her figure and with her hair, free and full, falling softly around on her head, bouncing with the force of her steps, she could make quite the impression. Had made quite the impression on a bunch of young men in college. Of her ability to attract the male gaze she was sure of. She rang the doorbell.
“Surprise,” She said, when it opened. Dang she thought, was life always going to be good for him? Good thing she dropped her crush or she’d have a problem on her hands as G had changed, and only in a good way. Relaxed in athletic shorts and a faded Rice University’s t-shirt, he was the same handsome dude from her youth. Dark thick hair, and brown eyed, tallness. His muscles had thickened, filling out the slim boyhood body her young girl had grown up admiring.
“Sydney King,” He said, his smile wide as he looked her over.
“In the flesh.” She said, smiling. “I usually don’t show up to people’ homes without calling, but I didn’t have a number for you. Mavis gave me your address for the graduation invitation and all.”
“No worries. Come in,” he said, opening the door wider.
“Sure.” She said, scanning him and his home as she entered it, and resisting the urge to stare. So, gorgeous and male was both the man and his inside living space. Wood, dark, tiled flooring and so much light, which meant windows, everywhere, and her view was limited to the foyer, but yeah it was nice in here.
He closed the door behind her, giving her the once over from head toe, which for some reason he didn’t try to hide.
“So, I bet you’re wondering why I’m here.” she said, a little disconcerted.
“To say hello?” he said.
“Yes,” she said, chuckling. “That and I wanted to personally thank you for supporting me,” she said, charging into her prepared speech as she handed him her gift. “This as a small token of my appreciation for all you done for me. Starting in high school tutorship, for encouraging me to finish high school and college and if that wasn’t enough for funding my education. I wouldn’t have done it without you. You were right! I needed to do it.” She leaned in, up on her toes and placed a kiss on his cheek.
“Thanks.” he said, surprised and moved.
She could tell he didn’t know what to do, that she’d caught him off guard.
He cleared his throat. “You’re welcome,” he said, and she could tell he meant it. That he was proud of her. He cleared his throat. “I knew your dreams remember.”
“I do,” she said, smiling. “Which was why I wanted thank you personally for helping me reach them.”
“You’re welcome again. Congratulations.” He said, smiling, shaking his head, before he tore open the gift wrapping, letting it fall to the floor. He smiled as he stared at a picture of her, dressed in her cap and gown, one hand outstretched toward the dean, accepting her diploma. “Thank you.” He said.
“You welcome,” she said, watching him smile at her picture, pleased with the look of pleasure on his face as he did so. He really wanted the best for her, which she’d known, but wow at having him in her corner, she thought.
“It’s perfect.” He said. He opened his arm, and pulled her in for a hug.
“Your first kid though college, huh.” She said, into his neck, arms around his waist, and she could feel the old familiar pull that she always felt around him.
“Something like that,” he said, chuckling, releasing her.
“Well, without your financial support it would not have been possible.”
“It would have. You’d done what you needed to do. You always have, standing in the hall, waiting to ask me to tutor you. You remember?”
“I do.” She said, her smile rueful.
“You always find a way. You always have.”
“Maybe. Anyway, thanks.” She said, bending over to pick up the wrapping paper from the floor. It needed picking up, and she needed a place to hide her pleasured reaction to his words.
“So, you’re back for good?” He asked, watching her bent form as she made short work of picking up the wrapping paper. She looked perfect in her dress, a bold pink number, trimmed in white, simple and a compliment to the smooth brown of her skin and the figure it contained. It hugged her curves of two nice sized breast, just enough hips, and the right amount of ass that had apparently caught up with her legs. No more braids, instead it was hair thick and natural, forming a halo around her head and wow, someone had really grown up, he thought, taking in the physical changes again that accompanied her growth.
“Yes.” She said, standing upright again, meeting his gaze.
“Working?” He asked.
“Yes. I’m going to work for OCAAT” She said, chin up and bracing for his reaction of displeasure. Not that it would change anything. Her life decisions were her own from now on.
“OCAAT huh,” He said, his expression she couldn’t read.
“Yep.” She said, all challenge against the disapproval she expected from him. “It’s important work. You know this. It’s the same from when we volunteered, except OCAAT is not this remarkable organization that does so much for our kids.” She said.
“I know. I understand, it’s a good choice.” He said, nodding, hearing the commitment in her words. “Sydney all grown up.” He added.
“Yep.” She said, chuckling, smiling back at him.
She laughed, shook her head. “Here I was, all prepared a ‘What the hell Syd,” she said, in her best imitation of a male voice. “I expected all kinds of responses, but not that one.” She added, and dang he was handsome when he smiled. How had she forgotten its impact on her senses.
“It’s your life and OCAAT is a great organization. Changing the world one child at a time.”
“Yep.” She said, pleased and still surprised again at the lack of anything remotely like the disappointment she’d expected.
“So you’re back for good?”
“We’ll see, huh.”
“Any word from your sister?” He asked.
“Ah. . . no.” she said. She rarely thought of her sister, or she tried not to think of Shelby King. Some days it was harder than others.
“How’s Crystal and Nico? Are they still living in Austin?”
“Nope, moved back to Hillsborough. I kept in touch during college, saw them as often as I could during spring breaks and holidays. Nico’s the same Nico,” she said, smiling.
“I bet.” He said, smiling too, remembering she thought. The doorbell rang, interrupting whatever he was about to say.
“Expecting someone?” She asked.
“Yep.” He said with a grin or grimace, she couldn’t tell which. “Hey,” he said, to a woman, an Aster look alike if ever there was one, Sydney thought. The same as Caroline in college, when she’d gone up to see him that one time.
“Heather, this is a Sydney, a good friend of mine from high school.” He said, moving aside so Heather could enter.
“Hi. Nice to meet you,” Heather of the blond hair said, swinging it out of her face as she moved inside. She smiled, studying Sydney for signs of encroachment.
No worries, she wanted to say to Heather, instead she said. “Hi,” before returning her gaze to G. “I’m out. I didn’t plan to stay any longer than it took to drop that off.” She said, pointing to the picture in G’s hand. “Thanks again G,” she said.
“You’re welcome again. See you around.” He said, watching as she moved past Heather and through to the outside. She smiled one last time before she turned away.
“Hey,” he said, planting a kiss squarely on Heather’s lips. “A friend from high school that I used to tutor. She finished college this year,” he said, smiling, and closing the door.
“Helping the under privilege?”
“No, not at all.” He said, slightly irritated by her words. “We attended the same high school.” It had never been that, he thought.
“I didn’t mean to offend you.” She said, watching him.
“I’m not offended,” he said, smiling, and yeah he was. It didn’t matter as he and Heather weren’t that couple.
“What high school?”
“That’s a good school I hear, in a good neighborhood. A great place to raise kids.”
“It was. It is,” he said, smiling at the memory of his old student, friend, now an adult. He hadn’t seen her since the summer before her freshman year in high school. He’d wanted it that way. Wanted out of her life, so that she could figure it out of herself and she must have silently agreed, as she didn’t return much.
He kept up with her, loosely, via Mavis, without out much promoting. Off to this city or that, with friends, working at OCAAT, taking summer classes somewhere. It was with supreme glee that Mavis kept him abreast of Sydney’s life and his yeah he’d taken pleasure in seeing her forward progress, too. It had been eight years since he’d last seen her, crying in his arms at his apartment, a young woman on the verge of adulthood. That memory was a far cry from the Sydney he encountered today. Beautiful, as he knew she would be, all filled out and filled in and confident to boot.
Finally, home to find her nephew he’d bet, the reason for joining the OCAAT. Of course, it was. She grown up for sure, but he’d bet in this way, focused on her task, a goal, she was the same Sydney.
“Hey, where’d you go?” Heather said, her expression cautious as she gazed back at him.
“What. Nowhere. I’m here, with you.”
“Doesn’t feel like it.” She said.
“My apologies then,” he said, pulling her close as he pushed his thoughts of Sydney to the back of his mind, to contemplate later, tonight it was a here and now, and Heather.