A Warm Welcome Home

by Kayla Harris

Stacy arrived in Norfolk, VA at approximately 8 AM, having taken an early flight with United Airways from Washington, DC. The flight was short, smooth, and relaxing. With good food, no outbursts of screaming children, or annoying seatmates wanting to go to the bathroom every fifteen minutes. She updated her numbers and appointments in her palm pilot, and finally began reading On A Wing and A Prayer by Linda Walters. Too bad there werenít any single, sexy men aboard the flight. She was captivated by the storyline and couldn't wait for some down time to finish it. Making her way through the terminal, Stacy got her luggage from the carrier and headed downstairs to meet her mother. Though sheís here on business, her mother insisted on picking her up. She'd informed her that her company provided a car service for her, but she wasnít having that. "Weíll meet you at the airportÖYour dad and I want to see our baby girl as soon as you get off the plane. We can have breakfast before you get too busy for us, you being a professional and all."

As she made her way down the escalators toward the waiting area for passenger drop off, Stacyís heart lurched at the sight of the finest brother sheíd seen in a long while. He had to be six-five, about two hundred, twenty pounds, and he had the prettiest caramel complexion that looked as if it had been kissed by the sun. As she got closer, she saw his eyes, and her stomach dropped. They were a blend of green and brown, with specks of gold, framed with long curly lashes. They seemed very familiar. He looked like he worked out on a regular basis. His faded denim jeans molded to his solid frame, with thighs the size of hams. She knew he had to have an onion booty. With a body like that, she would expect nothing less. His blue button down oxford shirt barely held in all of those muscles in his chest. She was about twenty feet in front of him before she realized he was holding a sign with her name on it.

Connor noticed her as soon as she stepped onto the escalator. Though she looked beautiful in the pictures Mrs. Brooks had shown him, she was even more gorgeous in person. She had changed a little since he'd last laid eyes on her, but the difference was welcomed. He watched the men take notice of her, whether they were alone or accompanied by a female. Over the years, she'd let her hair grow past her shoulders, and it helped to pronounce her high cheekbones, those heart shaped lips, and those bedroom eyes. Whenever he would look into them, he would get weak in the knees and lose all train of thought because they, alone, left him breathless. When they were kids, she was a petite thing, shorter than the other kids were; she was rather skinny with big doe eyes. There was nothing skinny about her now, she'd filled out nicely. She had to have gained about thirty pounds, having a voluptuous body, yet firm and definitely in shape. He wondered if she remembered him.

"Iím Stacy Brooks," she said, looking into those hypnotic eyes. "And who exactly are you?"

"I would know you anywhere, string bean. Donít you remember me, baby girl? He asked, opening his arms wide for a hug.

"Oh my god! Coni? Boy, come here and give me a hug. How have you been?"

She was astonished. Completely caught off guard. Never in a million years would she have guessed that this hunk of a man was no other than Connor "Coni" Harrison, one of her dearest childhood friends. Growing up, Coni was her number one supporter when everyone else didnít seem to understand her. He lived next door until he went into the Army. Stacy never understood why he didnít keep in touch over the years. Being his only real friend, she hadnít blame him if he never spoke to the others in town, but was crushed when he never wrote like he said he would. Her mother, who had remained friends with his Mom over the years, would give her sporadic updates on him.

She'd called him Coni ever since they were six years old. No one else was allowed to. He would never forget the day her family moved next door to them. It was as if God had answered his prayers and sent him an angel to watch over him. She had the soul of someone much older than her years, and the gentleness of a mother protecting her young. Always having her best interest at heart and wanting to protect her, he couldnít explain the feelings running through him as he hugged her now. He'd always thought she was beautiful, but he'd never gone through these types of emotions before, even for his ex-wife. He let go of her before he embarrassed the both of them. "I canít complain. Youíre looking good, girl!" Taking a step back to access her more closely.

Lord! What in the world just happened? Stacy felt as though she'd just gotten off a roller coaster. Coni felt too good to hold, and she didn't necessarily like what had just happened. It'd been too long since a man had held her. She had to think of something to distract Coni and get herself together. "Well, you know meÖI try,Ē as she did a turnabout for him.

Connor got an eye full as she strutted her stuff for him. Damn, nothing but sex appeal, and he knew from experience, she had no clue. Of course, she knew she was attractive, but she had no idea the affect she had on the opposite sex. "Youíre looking very debonair yourself. Kandi is keeping you rather healthy, isnít she?" she said with a smile.

The light in Connor's eyes dimmed a little, but he quickly masked his feelings. He couldnít blame her. Itís not like he'd kept in touch over the years. He had married what he thought was the woman of his dreams, but he'd quickly learned that was not the case soon after his honeymoon. He couldnít understand what had gone wrong, but he realized he just hadn't known the woman he'd married.

"Weíve been divorced for three years now. Kandi lives in Pennsylvania with her fiancť."

"Oh my. Iím sorry Coni, I didnít know. That must have been hard for you."

"Itís all right Stacy. You couldnít have known, so thereís nothing to be sorry about. Are these all of your bags?"

"Yes, this is it." Her mother hadn't given her that bit of information. Out of all the things she told her, she conveniently forgets to tell her that. Wait until she saw her!

A million thoughts were running through Connorís head as he drove Stacy to her parentís home. He was now in a sullen mood. Kandi hadnít been on his mind for over two years now, but one mention of her name brought back all of the humiliation and disappointment of their relationship. He was indeed over her, but the reality of their divorce devastated him. Heíd always believed when he married, he would be with his wife forever. Thoughts of divorce was so far from his mind when it came about, he felt the helplessness of it all. His parents had been happily married for twenty years before his fatherís death. His mother, Elaine, had been fortunate to find love again, and she couldnít have found a better man in Henry Martin. He knew without a shadow of a doubt they were still madly in love after ten years of blissful marriage. He prayed daily for that type of bond for his marriage. However, it was not to be.

Still shocked over the revelation of his divorce, Stacy was mulling over what had happened in Connorís life over the years. She knew he was in the Army, but she had to admit she would always drift when her mother would give her information on him. She felt betrayed that her mother knew more about him than she did, so therefore, she hadnít listened carefully during her motherís many conversations about him. What had caused his divorce, but most of all, why hadnít he kept in touch like he said he would? She would find out all the answers to her questions if it was the last thing she did. They had unfinished business. Connor Harrison owed her an explanation.

-to be continued-

A Warm Welcome Home by Kayla Harris

© Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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