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Loving Me, Loving You

By J.D. Walker

Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

Visit jms-books.com for more information.

Copyright 2017 J.D. Walker

ISBN 9781634864336

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com

Image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License.

All rights reserved.

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This book is for ADULT AUDIENCES ONLY. It may contain sexually explicit scenes and graphic language which might be considered offensive by some readers. Please store your files where they cannot be accessed by minors.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

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Loving Me, Loving You

By J.D. Walker

Sara Yoo would be the death of me someday.

My mother and I were having dinner at her favorite restaurant as we did once a week—unless she said otherwise because, yes, she was the boss of me—and it never failed to be an exercise in embarrassment and futility on my behalf.

“Mom!” I hissed, hoping she’d take the hint while knowing she wouldn’t. She never did.

I prayed my face wasn’t tomato-red as I listened to the woman who gave birth to me inform the new male server—quite loudly—that I was thirty-five, single, and in need of sex and a boyfriend, in that order.

“You’re not seeing anyone, are you?” she asked, her innocent smile anything but.

Naturally, the man looked at her as though she had snakes for hair, and instead of turning to stone, he quickly placed our food on the table before running away. He was likely straight, though his retreating form wasn’t bad to ogle. Which meant I was as desperate as my mom had implied.

I sighed and picked up a fork to focus on eating. When Sara was lucky and her target actually responded to her efforts to pimp me out, the victim in question often gave me a pitying smile, looked me over from head to toe, and found me wanting.

A couple of times, I’d gone out with the men my mom had foisted on me, if only to shut her up, and the dates had been disasters of epic proportions. It never went past a one-night stand, if I was that lucky.

It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate Sara’s over-enthusiastic attempts to find me someone. She’d been happily married to my dad for twelve years before his heart gave out, and she wanted me to find a love like she’d had. I just resented the idea that she thought I couldn’t do it myself, though that seemed true enough after all this time.

I loved my mother. She was the best, but she didn’t know when to quit. As she tried to corner another member of the wait staff, I’d had it.

“Mom, enough already,” I snapped.

She sniffed delicately. “You’re in a fine mood, I see. Rough day at work?” She sipped her water. “I don’t know what the problem is. You’re cute as a button, though you could smile more, and you have an excellent job, perfect skin and no halitosis. What’s not to like?” The bar was high, wasn’t it?

“I’m too short, too Asian, too thin, too old, not Korean-enough…need I go on?” I stabbed a piece of potato on my plate and stuffed it into my mouth. I was whiny and pathetic, but after trying for so long, I was tired.

“Nonsense,” she replied. “And what do you mean, ‘too Asian’? What’s wrong with being Korean?” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. I noticed, then, that she had a new hairstyle, very chic. Sara was beautiful, but she seemed to have a glow about her, too. I wondered…But I was getting distracted.

“Nothing’s wrong with that. I just meant that some people—”

“It’s all in your attitude,” she continued, talking over me. “Your father’s parents were first generation Korean and spoke no English when they came to this country. My great-grandparents prospered, despite the language barrier. You should be proud of your roots. Determination is the key. ‘Try, try again,’ I always say.” It had been the mantra of my childhood.

“Right, because you went out of your way to make me as Korean as possible,” I retorted sarcastically. “I don’t even speak the language, Mom. The last Korean-American guy I went out with a couple of years ago was offended at my lack of knowledge about the land of my ancestors. I’m a freak to people with a similar background, not to mention everyone else I’ve gone out with. And forget about the long hours I work. That tends to stop things in their tracks.”

Sara sighed. “I wanted the best for you, Hanson. I didn’t want you to be stigmatized in any way. You’re as American as I could make you.”

“Isn’t America supposed to be a melting pot of cultures? Live and let live?” It was an old argument. “You mean well, Mom, but I want you to stop. I can’t do this anymore.”

“Don’t say that! The perfect man for you is right around the corner, and I will find him if it’s the last thing I ever do on this earth.” She kept on talking, and the more she said, the angrier I became.

“Sara!” I finally yelled, and the entire restaurant heard me. Mom looked hurt, but at least I had her attention. “I mean it. I’m done with men, and I don’t want you to interfere anymore.”

“But Hanson…”

I raised my hand. Thankfully, she shut up, though her displeasure was evident. And she pouted, which was a powerful weapon. I remained firm.

“Don’t you think I would have found the right man by now, especially with you introducing me to every two-legged male on the planet? How many failed attempts have you seen me through since I was eighteen? Maybe I’m meant to be a bachelor, and the only male I’ll ever have for the long haul is a pet, if I’m ever home long enough to care for one. I’m tired, Mom. Can’t you understand that?”

She fiddled with her cloth napkin, her still-lovely face devoid of wrinkles, and frowning. “I want you to be happy, Hanson. You’re my only child and you’ve never truly been in love, and I want that for you. Your father adored me, and I, him. Please don’t give up. Maybe just take a short break. I promise to be more tactful in the future.” Right.

I took a deep breath. “Promise you’ll stop asking men to date me. It doesn’t help, you know?”

“I’ve had more success at finding you men than you have, admit it,” she replied with a smirk.

I smiled reluctantly. “Nevertheless, no more meddling, yes?”

“Fine.” She sipped her wine and we spent the remainder of our meal discussing her plans for expanding her accounting firm to another city, with her usual mild attempt to get me to work at her company.

“No, Mom. I prefer where I am.” We were too similar in temperament to get along well together in the same space, and she really didn’t need to know how much I hated what I did for a living. I’d become an accountant only because she’d wanted it so badly.

She wiped her hands and tossed the napkin on the table. “Nothing I say seems to please you today.”

“You should be used to that by now,” I murmured.

She narrowed her eyes at me, even as she flagged someone down for the bill. “I suppose the next thing you’re going to say is that you never wanted to be an accountant, either.”

“Uh, well, I…”

And apparently, that was the last straw, because she immediately got up and left, just as the bill arrived. Damned convenient.

I paid quickly with cash—I was not a fan of credit—and left a huge tip for the surely traumatized wait staff before hurrying outside, just in time to see Sara hop into her car and drive off with a screech of tires.

“Mom!” I yelled, but she didn’t stop. I was an idiot.

I likely wouldn’t hear from her for a few weeks, at least, which was what happened whenever I pissed her off. It may take longer this time, what with tonight’s revelations. Dad, when he was alive, had been able to sweet-talk her out of any mood. He’d been a well-known photographer with a perpetually sunny and mild temperament. He was her total opposite and they had been the perfect fit, somehow. He’d never pushed me to be anything but myself.

I was too like her to ever do more than rub salt in wounds, so I’d just have to wait her out. I felt guilty for the relief coursing through my veins.

* * * *

An hour later, I was back in my office, working on spreadsheets on a Friday night. I usually remained at my desk until the wee hours of the morning, and worked on weekends, too, what with not having a life to speak of, and lots of deadlines to meet. I slept around five hours a night, and less when things were very busy, which was often.

As a senior manager in line for partner, I had to toe the line and put in the hours. It was the next step, and it would make my mother happy. But I couldn’t remember the last time I’d taken a vacation, or even had a weekend off after I began working at this firm five years ago. I was burned out.

Mom thrived on that level of stress, even now; I despised it. I wanted out, to do something else—be someone else—but I had no idea what. My focus had been on my mother’s dreams for me for so long…and after Dad had died, I’d thought that pleasing her would ease some of her grief.

Now that I thought about it, maybe I’d let things go too far. I didn’t want to die of old age never having really lived. I wanted to be able to love myself again.

* * * *

It was after three in the morning when I stumbled into the elevator of my apartment complex. The security guards at the front desk were used to my late hours and barely acknowledged my presence.

I walked down the hallway of the sixth floor to my door in the middle, and after dropping the keys three times, finally opened it. I removed one shoe after another as I moved toward the couch, discarded my belongings, and by the time I did a face plant into the cushions, I was wearing only my shirt, socks, and boxers.

* * * *

When I awoke, sunlight streamed through the curtains into the living room, and drool covered one side of my face, as well as the cushion where my head lay. I sat up slowly, neck hurting because of the angle at which I’d slept, and my back stiff from not moving for a long period of time. I used my wrinkled shirt sleeve to wipe away the drool, then rubbed my eyes.

I needed to clean up and head to work soon, but I was so tired. At least the coffee was already made, since I had it on a timer. It smelled wonderful, and sometimes it was the only thing that kept me going through the day. I was begging for an ulcer, I just knew it. I dragged myself down the narrow hall to empty my bladder and shower.

After dressing in yet another dark gray suit, white shirt, and nondescript tie, I wandered into the kitchen, still half asleep. I could hear LeVon playing the Rolling Stones down the hall, and Mrs. Sandino’s kids screaming happily about something. Since I also heard their T.V., it was probably cartoons. Mr. Grayson practiced his violin when he wasn’t on tour with the symphony.

I knew my neighbors because they had all introduced themselves to me when I’d moved in eleven years ago. I’d been invited over for lunch, dinner, and what-all any number of times by them, but I’d managed only a couple get-togethers over the years. It had never bothered me how loud things could get in my building. It made me feel like I was a part of something, even if I really wasn’t. These people were living and loving, while I was a pretender.

I drank my coffee, then poured more into a stainless-steel tumbler before grabbing my wallet, cellphone, and laptop. It was nine o’clock.

* * * *

As usual, when I worked on a Saturday or Sunday, the building was mostly deserted except for security and other workaholics like me. I nodded to Tessa at the welcome desk and took the stairs to the first floor.

The company where I worked took up four floors. My floor was empty, which meant I would be able to concentrate without people interrupting me with stupid questions and budget changes all the time, half the reason I was constantly behind. I had mentioned to Camelia Green, my supervisor, the need to hire competent people to help the firm rather than bog it down. She didn’t think there was a problem and gave me more work to do, while hinting that if I wanted to make partner, I’d just have to suck it up.

I removed my jacket before sitting at the desk and turning on the computer. I kept breakfast bars in a drawer and grabbed one as I waited for the boot-up process to complete. I swung around my chair to look out the window. The sun wasn’t so bright that I couldn’t see into the glass building across the street. I could just barely make out a man sitting in an office like mine, focused on a monitor and typing like his life depended on it. He had hair vivid enough that the color was visible from where I sat. I couldn’t tell much else, except that he wore glasses.

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