High school passed in a blur. So did college. As Lesley presently stood on the porch of her father's house she knew life had begun. She hadn't dated anyone since she left Texas. Her mind wandered to Jake. It's been 10 years. What did he look like now? An image of rich jet black curls and a tall strong physique fleeted across her mind and she smiled. A familiar pain pricked her chest and she rubbed against it. Her mother had told her that there would be other men in her life. So far she hadn't met any. At least not any that incited the feelings Jake had incited in her. She hadn't fainted at the feet of any other person or even swooned for that matter. Not that she tried. She was just concerned with getting a job and giving herself the kind of life she had always wanted.
Lesley raised her eyes to see Oliver running towards her. She smiled. The more active of the twins, Oliver was always running or jogging. His blonde hair shone in the sun and his tall frame and strong torso moved with agility. He finally got to her and Lesley could see excitement written all over him. She arched a brow in a silent question and he held a letter to her face.
"I got this from the mailman."
Lesley saw the sender's address and practically tore the letter from his hands. She opened the letter with trembling fingers and gasped when she read its content. She looked at her brother and screamed.
Vanessa heard her babygirl's voice and ran out to see what was going on. She saw Lesley hyperventilating and Oliver was roaring with laughter. She grabbed Oliver by his hair and demanded an explanation. Yelping in pain, he quickly gave her the open letter Lesley had read. Vanessa scanned through the letter quickly then her concerned expression turned into one of pride and joy. She hugged her daughter fiercely and then practically ran into the house to share the news with her husband.
Lesley finally calmed down as the news sank in. She just got a job at one of the most prestigious firms in the state. Lesley was aware of her talent and she had always known she was headed for greatness, but getting a very good job doing something she loved barely a year after graduating from college was something many American youths only experienced in their dreams. Her life was coming together and she was so grateful for it.
An excited Lesley was already up and gulping down coffee when her father came into the kitchen at 6 am on Monday morning. His jaw dropped. Usually, he woke up before anyone else in this house.
"Good morning daddy," she choked out.
"Good morning baby girl. I thought you said it was a nine to five job. "
Lesley scrambled around him to rinse her cup in the sink, careful not to spill anything on her peach-colored silk blouse which was tucked neatly in a black knee-length pencil skirt that showed her curves.
"I resume at nine daddy, which is why I have to be out of here in thirty minutes." She grabbed her coat off the rack and slung her purse across her shoulder before racing out of the house.
The traffic was crazy as usual and Lesley found herself willing the cars in front of her cab away as her cab moved in a slow crawl. From the corner of her eyes, she saw a Bentley. The windows were tinted so she couldn't see the occupant of the car. She sighed as she ogled the car unabashedly. Someday, she thought to herself, I'll drive around in one of these.
Jake couldn't believe his eyes. Even though he had been consciously searching for her for months now he was still shocked when he saw her. Her unruly brown hair was tamed now and trimmed to a stylish shoulder length. Her facial features were more defined. Jake's eyes lingered on her highlighted cheekbones which were the only part of her face visible to him because she was in a car. He drove slowly and allowed the cab to go ahead of him. His heart picked up a rhythm and beat in faster tempo as he trailed her cab till it came to a halt in front of one of the many skyscrapers in Manhattan. His jaw dropped when he saw her alight in front of a building. She was sleekly dressed in a peach-colored blouse and a black pencil skirt that stopped just below her knees. When she turned from the cab and stepped onto the curb the long slit at the back of her skirt parted to reveal shapely calves and satin skin. Jake was suddenly so thirsty that he swallowed repeatedly in a bid to wet his dry throat. He parked and watched her enter a particular office then he took out a ball pen and a notepad to scribble down the name on the signboard outside the office. Brian Terrence and Sons Chambers. Jake started. A law firm? Lesley was a lawyer. Jake shook his head. Even though she was so bright and strong-willed he had somehow never imagined her as a lawyer. A model maybe. He shook his head again and drove off.
"How was work today, honey?" Vanessa asked her daughter at the dinner table that evening.
Lesley replied between mouthfuls. "It was OK. Everyone seemed nice and friendly. I have a cubicle to myself."
"When will you get your first case?"
Lesley rolled her eyes. "Mother I just resumed work today. I'm sure it'll be a while before I get to handle a case by myself. Thank you for your enthusiasm."
Her mother shrugged casually and got up to put her dish away.
Taylor McBride reached over and placed his palm over his daughter's hand. "I know you'll do exceedingly well, honey. You were outstanding in law school."
"Dad, I was just fortunate. I'm sure there are a lot of outstanding, tried and proven lawyers at Brian and Terrence chambers who have made their mark in the justice system of this country and not just in theory."
Taylor looked at his daughter and sighed sadly. She worked twice as hard as everyone else and she excelled in whatever she did. But she never took the glory, instead, she seemed to think she would never be good enough. The psychologist he had spoken to 3 years ago had told him that her near-rape experience might have dealt her self esteem and self-worth a serious blow. Hence she was perpetually trying to prove something to herself. Bile rose up against his throat as his face contorted with suppressed rage at his brother.
Thomas had disappeared after that incident —a wise decision for his own safety— Taylor felt that perhaps if he had been brought to justice, it might have given Lesley some kind of closure. He rose abruptly and excused himself from the table, walking sullenly to his room.
The three siblings at the table ate the rest of the meal in silence.