Trapped into Marriage

By: Dez Burke

Chapter One

Keyonna laid down the receiver, a dismayed look on her face thanks to the phone conversation she’d just had.

Only minutes ago, she’d answered the ringing phone with enthusiasm, hoping it was a call she’d been expecting from an important, prospective client. But then the eagerness dissipated at the sound of the voice of her long-absent boyfriend.

“Keyonna, it’s me,” said the warm, familiar baritone.

“Mark!” Keyonna breathed, half-dazed. And then, recovering her composure, she continued lamely, “Umm…hello.”

“Hello?” he mimicked drily, his deep voice warm and humorous. “We haven’t seen or heard from each other in two years and all you can say is hello?”

Keyonna found herself smiling, noting that Mark was still the light-hearted, easygoing dude she’d known since she’d been in high school. They’d been best friends first and then, when they got older, things got heavier and they fell in love. Or so she’d thought.

However, Keyonna reminded herself that right now she should be angry, not amused with him. Heaving a sobering sigh, she allowed the silence to stretch for a few moments as they both struggled for something to say.

“Are you…”

“How’s the…”

They both spoke simultaneously, and then shared a nervous laughter which seemed to ease the uncomfortable tension hovering since she’d picked up the call.

“You first,” Mark offered.

“So where are you calling from?” she asked.

“From right here in Boston. I’m at my aunt’s home. Didn’t you know I got back?”

Keyonna lowered herself into the nearest chair in her spacious office, feeling even more dazed as she pressed fingers to her now throbbing temples. “Of course I didn’t. How would I? When did you return to the country?”

“About two days ago. I figured you’d hear I was coming home. So Trisha never called to tell you?”

Keyonna’s lips twisted wryly. Trisha was Mark’s cousin, and a few years younger than Keyonna’s twenty-six. Both girls had never got along that well.

“No,” Keyonna murmured, and then sighed deeply. “Wow, Mark. It's such a surprise to hear from you. And believe me, I’m glad you’re back but…”

Shaking off the urge to ask him what the hell he wanted after staying out of touch for two years, she added, “So I take it your duty tour is done?”

“I’m basically redeployed back to the States so it looks like I’m home to stay,” Mark told her, his tone full of that charming warmth. “Lord, Keyonna. I missed you. My aunt has organized this dinner in honor of my homecoming though I begged her not to. You have to come, baby. It’s tomorrow.”

“Well, I…”

“I know, I know; a party is hardly the place for us to reunite after two years. I planned for us to meet somewhere secluded and romantic where we could catch up on old times but…” Mark paused and Keyonna could almost hear him shrug. “I didn’t even have time to call you since I returned - until now. So you’ve got to come. I need to see you again.”

Keyonna’s head was reeling. Well, fine; it was understandable that a man like Mark would think he could simply show up after two years and she’d drop everything just to see him again. He definitely had the looks, money and social status to make any sane girl do just that.

But Keyonna knew that if she needed to be brutally straight with herself, she wasn't enthusiastic to see Mark again.

Not as much as she should be, anyway. Yeah, sure, there had been a time she’d been susceptible to his undeniable appeal. She may have even believed herself in love with him once. He’d been her dream guy ever since they’d started dating when she was twenty-one. But then he decided to sign up with the Navy and then a year or so later, was deployed to Afghanistan.

The relationship had endured for another year and part of Keyonna had felt proud that Mark had a role in ensuring their nation’s freedom and security. She'd been more than willing to make whatever sacrifice required, while still keeping their romance alive.

But then things started to change as Mark was away more and more often and for longer periods of time. She'd known his job was very dangerous and she’d tried to understand the reasons why he couldn’t always be there when she needed him.

And yet even she couldn’t blind herself to the signs that Mark didn’t seem ready to maintain the relationship with the kind of dedication that she was willing to put into it.

The bottom line was: Mark chose to focus solely on his military career, giving Keyonna the chance to slowly overcome the girlish infatuation she’d felt for him in her younger adult years. The starry-eyed Keyonna whom Mark had known was long gone, replaced with someone tougher who’d seen a bit of life’s ups and downs and was wiser for it. She was through with their sweet little fantasy love but apparently, Mark hadn’t gotten the memo.

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