#My52 “Captive Heart”

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#My52 – Week 15

Word Prompt – sweat

Word Count – 1470

Reading Time – 5 mins, 4 secs

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Mark Kelly arrived at Colton Contracting’s latest job site at four in the morning hoping to complete the job and end his day by noon. Two other firms before them were fired for shoddy work and missing deadlines, but Mark knew he had the best, and most experienced team in the city. However, hearing his crew foreman unleash a litany of expletives while staring at blueprints, Mark knew his day took a turn for the worse.

“What’s up, Dale?”

The foreman removed his hard hat and gestured toward the blueprints, his arms flailing.

“It’s all wrong. This shit is all wrong. No wonder those other assholes got fired. How did they get hired in the first damn place?”

Despite the bad situation brewing, Mark rolled his lips inward and hung his head, holding in a chuckle. Raising his head, he tried again.

“What exactly is the problem, Dale?”

He threw his hands up in air quotes. “The problem is those morons put these systems in backward. Any current running through here will fry this son-of-a-bitch like my wife’s overcooked pork chops.”

Mark laughed out loud this time, but his guffaws were cut short when Dale walked over and threw back the lid of one of the housing boxes.

“At least one of those moron firms already knew this to be true.”

Clenching his fists in anger, Mark approached the junction box… or what was left of it.

The large generator was a mass of melted components and burned wires. It was an eighty-thousand-dollar piece of equipment and one of ten.

After dozens of calls to his boss, the site owner, the site manager, and exchanging more than a few curse words with both fired electrical contractors, Mark sat in his vehicle thirteen hours later, ready to rip someone’s head off.

And the freeway was a parking lot.

A broken air conditioner meant he had no choice but to roast inside his Tahoe, drenched in sweat.

Not wanting to touch his precious house fund, he’d saved money from two paychecks for repairs, then gave the money to Yvonne for culinary classes… her latest bright idea.

In the four years they’d been a couple, Yvonne had opened a yoga studio, taken florist classes, real estate classes, and tried her hand as an Instagram fashion stylist… all paid for by Mark.

The ventures all ended before classes were completed or websites built because Yvonne got bored and moved on to the next big thing.

Mark was unperturbed. He loved his girlfriend and would do anything to make her happy, regardless of costs.

He leaned over and dug left-over takeout napkins from the glove compartment and scrubbed them down his face and across his neck.

The digital display over the rear-view mirror read one-hundred-seven degrees. Twenty degrees higher than the temperature outside his SUV.

Traffic inched forward six-feet and stopped again.

Mark gripped the steering wheel in frustration.

All he wanted was to get home, shower, drink a beer, then fall into a coma in his bed and life was conspiring against him. He and his crew solved the bulk of the problem, but tomorrow would be a day of getting it all down on paper for the lawsuits sure to be filed.

His cellphone chimed and a quick glance showed Yvonne’s name on the display.

He always took her calls but at this moment, he wasn’t in the mood. He’d make it up to her later.

Yvonne Bellgoode was his dream girl, and he’d loved her since junior high school. Mark didn’t mind she never acknowledged his existence until he returned from college thirty pounds lighter and with an electrical engineering degree. He at last felt worthy of the brown-skinned beauty.

He’d spent five years trying to win her over, but it wasn’t until Carl Peete, Yvonne’s high school sweetheart, went to prison for drug distribution—and Mark received a promotion and significant salary increase from Colton Contracting—that he got his chance.

His cell sounded again with Yvonne’s name on the display and he ignored it… again.

Honking car horns brought his attention back to the road, and he pulled forward another six feet.

His phone beeped, signaling Yvonne left a voicemail this time. Against his better judgment, he played the message.

“Mark, where are you? Why aren’t you answering your phone? This is important.”

He grimaced. Everything was always important with Yvonne.

“Mommy and Daddy were so happy to hear about me going to culinary school, they drove up to help me celebrate. Isn’t that wonderful? I called Toma’s and ordered charcuterie trays and two bottles of Dom. Be a sweetie and stop by and pick the order up. After the appetizers, I’ve made reservations for us at Luminarias for eight. And wear your black suit, not the blue one. I hate those narrow lapels. See you soon.”

He fumed, increasing the sweat pouring from his bulky frame.

Toma’s. The most expensive food shop in Burbank. Two bottles of Dom Perignon alone was three hundred dollars, and the trays were almost a hundred each. Dinner for two was three hundred dollars at Luminarias, so before this day ended, he’d spend close to a thousand dollars for a celebration planned without his input when all he wanted to do was go home.

The throbbing in his head increased, guilt trying to worm its way in.

He loved Yvonne and would do anything for her, but it wasn’t lost on him their relationship was growing more one-sided. His older brother, Prentiss, had said the words just last weekend as they watched basketball playoffs.

“Was that your phone?”

Mark slipped his cell under the sofa cushion. “No, I’m good.”

“It was too. It’s her again, isn’t it?”

Pushing his phone deeper into the sofa, Mark shook his head.

“Don’t even try it. It was her. Call number six in less than two hours.”

“Prentiss-”

He held up his hand, cutting Mark off, and muted the television.

“Hey! Virginia’s winning.”

“I hate Virginia.” Prentiss tossed the remote aside and considered his brother.

“Look, man. We don’t step on each other’s toes. Private business is just that, private.” He leaned closer. “But, Markie, this isn’t normal. She called twenty minutes after you walked in the door asking if the game was over because she wanted to go shopping. Twenty-six minutes after that she wanted to go to dinner.’

Mark waved him off, chuckling. “You know females have no clue about sports. She just misses me.”

“Not true. I know women who know more about sports than I do. And Yvonne well knows of how long a basketball game lasts.”

Mark threw up his hands. “Okay, she knows. What’s your point?”

“She’s selfish.”

“Oh, wait a damn minute-”

“You asked.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t expect you to diss my woman.”

“Calm down, little brother. I just call ‘em like I see ‘em.”

“And how is this your business? What happened to the private part?”

Prentiss Kelly walked over to the mini-bar, grabbed two beers and tossed one to Mark.

“Are you happy with Yvonne?”

Dragging his hand through his dreads, Mark was incredulous. “What kind of question is that? I’m happy. Yvonne is my dream girl.”

Re-taking his seat, Prentiss smirked.

“Yeah, man, I know. Everyone knows. You’ve mooned around behind her since we were kids and she didn’t even know you were alive.”

“Who could blame her? I was a pudgy, science geek.”

“You had at least half a dozen girls trying to get your attention.”

“But they weren’t Yvonne.”

“So? They were smart. Ambitious. Pretty… and nice. They weren’t mean girls like Yvonne.”

“She wasn’t a mean girl, just outspoken, and none of them were even in the same class as her.”

“No, they weren’t—and they still aren’t. Teresa Banks is a full partner in the Beckes law firm. You know them right? The city’s attorneys? Lily Townes owns one of the largest event-planning businesses in the state. About Towne handled the birthday party for the governor’s wife last month. And Cynthia Rivers’ name is moving up on the top local pediatric cardiologists’ list. Successful women. And Yvonne?”

He swigged his beer. “What’s the latest career you poured money into for her?”

Slamming his beer down, Mark leaped to his feet. “You don’t know a damn thing about what Yvonne and I have.”

Prentiss was unmoved. “Chill and sit down, dude.”

Instead, Mark paced around the sofa, his jaws tight with anger.

“Fine. Have it your way.” Prentiss leaned forward, resting his arms on his thighs. “I know you believe I don’t like Yvonne, but that’s not the issue.”

Mark whirled around, glaring at his brother. “Then what is? Why are you so concerned with my private business?”

Prentiss’ expression was stern. “Because I don’t enjoy seeing my brother get used like an ATM.”

To be continued…

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