“I always look forward to meeting Larkin,” Yajaira thought to herself as she drove to his office. She stops at an intersection and reminisces silently, “I remember the time when we sat in my car, enjoying the view of the East Bay from the top of the Oakland hills. We talked for hours as we waited for sunset. We spoke about every topic imaginable. If I had something to say that I couldn’t quite articulate, he patiently waited. He always waits. His complete attention anticipates a beauty in what I have yet to express. His patience coaxes the words from me with ease. I can’t help but be completely transparent before him. Because I have his patience, I have no need to hide anything; my faults are not made beautiful; instead, they are left alone—accepted and held. I am not beautiful because of what his eyes see; I am beautiful because his eyes allow me to be. His vision dares not dictate the form my beauty takes. This beauty defies the curves and shades of his imagination. He knows that it is boundless and beyond his comprehension. So he cannot help but bow before it and let that beauty breathe. I never thought a man’s patience could be so arousing. Now I know nothing sexier than this virtue.”
She finally arrives. She knocks and peeks around the side of the door. Sitting behind his desk, Larkin motions her in as he finishes a phone call. Yajaira walks into his office and sits across from him, looking at the bookshelf as she waits.
“Uh, huh, uh huh, I know exactly what you mean,” he says, half-interested in the phone conversation.
Every few seconds, he steals quick glances of Yajaira. She is wearing a lavender turtleneck and jeans, sitting with her legs crossed. At second glance, he sees her pull her sepia braids over one shoulder as she bends down to see a book low on the shelf. She turns his way and he quickly averts his gaze, looking as if he’d been honing in on some random spot on his desk. The snapshots he took with his eyes made him curious enough to stare, but wise enough not to.
With the phone still in his hand, he walks to the shelf, remembering a book that might interest Yajaira. He leans over her, reaching for the book. She’s not sure if this is deliberate, but she feels the warmth of his body close to hers and it makes her uncomfortable, and yet excited. Sitting perfectly still, she waits, wondering how much longer it will take.
Larkin is stalling. He smells gardenias and cocoa butter. The scent rises off Yajaira’s copper skin. He stops to breathe her in. Larkin doesn’t want to move, but he also fears arousing her suspicion. When Larkin finds the book, he slowly hands it to her with a seductive look of invitation, and within the same instant quickly snatches back his provocative energy. Covering the receiver, he whispers, “I think you’ll like this.”
“Thank you,” she says, smiling. As she peeks at the book, Larkin takes a step back, brushing back his long bangs with his fingers, lightly biting his bottom lip searching for a way to prevent his hormone buzz from becoming transparent.
“Is he flirting?” she wondered. She quickly dismissed the idea, forcing herself to believe she imagined it. However, the more she resisted the thought, the more she hoped it was more than her imagination. She doubts she should be feeling this way, especially toward a priest.