I kept hearing my phone ring.
I answered groggily without looking at the called id. “What?”
“Why are you hanging out with Leela?” I heard Tisha’s mouth.
How the fuck did she know? Not wanting to talk about my debauchery sex fest, I diverted. “It is early in the morning. Tish. Call me later.”
“It’s almost noon. Why the fuck is ‘Mr. Early Bird’ still asleep? Had a late night with your new friend?”
I squinted my eyes at the bedside table trying to confirm the time. I guess I should’ve expected to sleep late after the exertion of unexpectedly being with two women. I’d awaken and quietly left the women still asleep about five this morning, not wanting more from them than a good time. Driving home, I questioned if I had fucked Leela because she once belonged to Kari or if last night truly was a “she offered, I took” situation. The longer I drove, I realized that it had been about opportunity and she fit the bill. I never wanted Kari to know that I’d been with his ex. I didn’t care about getting revenge with a woman I knew Kari never really loved. Didn’t really want revenge. Just wanted to no longer feel the pains of betrayal. “How did you know I saw Leela? And why are you yelling?”
“I’m not yelling. Leela posted on IG a pic of you and your cousin at a bar.”
“Yeah, Jamal and I saw her while we were watching a Wizards game. It’s not that big a deal. Definitely not worth you calling me all loud like you jealous or something.”
“Umm…she captioned it with ‘isn’t he yummy’ and received over 1500 likes?”
Shit. I swear I hate social media. My temples pounded. I had way too much to drink, sipping alcohol off two women’s bodies, in addition to the alcohol at the bar, is way too much liquor. “So, she took a pic. She probably only posted it hoping Kari sees it. But that dude on social media even less than me.”
“What did she say when you saw her?”
Ignoring her question, I asked, “First of all, why do you follow Leela on IG? You never met her.”
“I don’t follow her. She keeps popping up on my feed because she stay posting every single fucking moment of her life and guess her 65,000 followers, care. Kam asked me to keep an eye on her when Kari broke up with her. Leela went all Fatal Attraction on him, trying to kill him and threatened to hurt herself type of shit. That’s how he got that scar on his palm.”
I rubbed my aching temple. “He never told me.” I recalled the scar the last time he and I met up for drinks before everything went down. Great, she’s a crazy bitch. Then again, we did some wild shit last night. She had to be some sort of crazy to allow me to do all the things I did to her last night. I just prayed it wouldn’t come back to haunt me.
“Aaron, what happened last night? Why do you sound out of it? Did you have a wild night or something?”
“Shit, no,” I protested too loud, hurting my head. “I’m still tired from all the traveling. Leela is in town for work, she seemed happy to see me though I’m not sure why since I’m just a reminder of how Kari fucked over her. She spoke to me and Jamal briefly, and she was with a friend who was ready to leave. That’s all.” I hated lying to her and rather plead the fifth, but she was too persistent for me to not lie.
“What did you expect to happen?”
“I don’t know. She seemed too excited to see you based on her post.”
“What did the comments say?”
“Why you’re arrogant ass care about the comments?”
“She could have been talking about Jamal? I’m assuming both of us was in the picture and Leela said she recognized Jamal before me.”
“No offense because your cousin cute and all, but her pic captured you looking at your best. She was def talking about you, she would have placed a heart on the picture if she could. I ain’t go lie I even drooled for a minute.”
I chuckled and turned over in the bed. “I told you let me hit that one more time and you won’t remember your man’s name.”
“Why do I even entertain you?”
“I make your cloudy day, bright.”
She grew quiet.
“What? I went too far.”
“Hey, we can tell each other anything.” Okay, most things. No way in hell would I ever tell her that I had sex with Leela, especially not a threesome. Any chance I had with Tisha would be over forever.
“I guess I finally understand what Kam saw in you, why she was so crazy about you.”
“You only deal with me because I’m different now, remember?” I teased though my heartbeat faster, for some reason.
“In some ways you are but this flirty, handsome, charming, charismatic man is the one that she crushed on for two years straight before she ever said one word to you.”
“She told you that?”
“What did you think we talked about? We’ve been friends since we were kids?”
“You didn’t like me for years, so I assumed she only complained about me.”
“No, Aaron she was absolutely crazy about you, thought she was the luckiest woman at FAMU when you became a couple. She only complained in the latter years.”
I hugged my pillow needing something to grab on as I remembered how in love we were when we first got together. “Kam told me that too. It’s funny because I thought the same about her. I couldn’t wait to talk to her, to see her. It’s why I married her within months of meeting her before someone else snatched her up. I’d always been afraid to lose her, held secrets I shouldn’t have because of my damn fear.”
“Oh, Aaron. I am so sorry.” Her voice now sounded soft.
“You don’t have to apologize. It’s okay you brought her up. I need to learn to talk about her without it bothering me. She had the opportunity to be with me when we thought Kari was dead and she still pursued the divorce.”
“No, I mean I am sorry for doubting that you ever loved her deeply. If I’d known how much she meant to you, I wouldn’t have…” her voice trailed off.
“Encouraged her to cheat with Kari,” I finished quietly. “She was my wife for ten years and she spoke highly of me for most of them, and yet you thought I couldn’t possibly love her that much, so it was okay for her to cheat on me, right?”
“Aaron, let me explain.”
“A part of me knew you had encouraged her to be with him, I guess I hoped that I was wrong.” I squeezed the pillow tighter, hating that the one person that I now cared about deeply, contributed to the end of my marriage. “No need. I know you hated me. Look, I better go.”
“Please, Aaron, neither one of us are the same people. I can admit I judged you harshly and at times unfairly. Kam fucked up your marriage even before Kari, too. Please, I can’t hang up with you mad with me.”
“What difference does it make if I’m mad with you anyway? You never cared about my feelings when I was married to your friend. Come to think of it, you’ve been keeping up with Leela for Kam maybe she asked you to do the same for me.”
She protested strongly, “That’s not true. I care about you. Want to always be there for you. She doesn’t know we talk almost every day.”
“She knew you ran after me the night Kari came home. What did you tell her about that night?”
“I told her we talked a little bit longer and you seemed okay and you headed to the airport. Come on, I couldn’t tell her we had sex within minutes of being alone.”
I closed my eyes tight, my stomach clenching almost painfully at how intense the passion had been between us. I inhaled and exhaled. “Okay, then why haven’t you told her about our friendship? She could tell we had gotten cool with each other while she lived in your complex.” Kam had chosen an apartment in the same complex when she left me and returned home to Atlanta.
“Because I don’t know if she would be okay with us being the type of friends we are.”
“I don’t owe Kam anything.”
“But I do, she’s still my best friend.”
“I don’t know why I keep forgetting that. You were and will always be her friend first. This is all fucking twisted. Maybe I can’t let go of the past because I keep dealing with people connected to my past. I don’t think being friends is a good idea anymore. Bye, Latisha.” I quickly hit end and turned my cell off before I changed my mind.
Already missing Tisha, I covered my head with my pillow until I drifted off to sleep only to dream about me and Kam at Florida A and M University where we were both students. I woke up, my mind foggy as I drifted back in time to the night, I met Kam and my life forever changed.
“Hey, I’ll pass through after I leave the party.” Standing outside the townhome where the graduate student party was being held, I had been trying for the past ten minutes to get off the phone with Vonnie, the woman I’d been dating off and on for the past year. “For the last time I’m not out with another woman. It’s ten at night, why would I be talking to you, if I’m hanging with another woman.”
“Then why can’t I join you?”
“No, baby. I’m already late trying to finish up my paper. It’s just a gathering for students interested in policy, you would be extremely bored, I promise. I’ll text you when I’m on my way. I hadn’t planned to attend this party at all, but Miguel insisted.
“Aaron, don’t have me all night waiting.”
Pierre, my frat brother, who rode with me to the party, shuffled from foot to foot, nearby pointed to his watch, reminding me to get off the phone.
I cajoled, “Don’t be like that. Take a nap and I’ll fuck you back to sleep when I get there. Bye.” Clicking off the cell, not giving Vonnie a chance to say anything else, I debated whether I should just bring my ass back home. Spending the night would mean, she would want to spend the day and I had way too much shit to do, then to be hugged up with a woman all damn day. I really should end things with her. She’d been asking for more commitment than what I’d wanted to give. I liked her a lot, sometimes thought even love until she would say or do something that made me dismiss that whole idea. I didn’t see long term relationship or marriage at least until my thirties and my career as a business executive on track for upper management. Besides, she dropped out of college her junior year to work retail and had been content with her job. I had a mother who held it down as a loving wife and mother and was a bad ass corporate lawyer. No way would my mother be cool with a future daughter in law who only had dreams of being manager at Express.
When Pierre and I entered the door to Miguel’s townhouse where the crowded graduate student party was being held, a gorgeous woman with skin the color of a new penny, walked toward me from the kitchen. She looked like she was leaving, her brown leather jacket in her hand. I’d seen her around campus when I had been an undergraduate and thought about approaching her, but she seemed the type you marry, not just fuck with. I didn’t know anything about her, not even her name. Sometimes I would hang out longer on the set, hoping to see her. She always dressed stylishly, and she had a unique beauty with that reddish-brown skin and curls that bounced on her shoulder. The kind of beauty that automatically made you popular, but she didn’t seem to care about that from what I could tell. Even tonight, she’d only worn a black fitted V-neck sweater that cupped her full breasts, dark jeans, and heeled boots, when she had the bod to reveal so much more. I hadn’t realized that she was a graduate student. Or then again, maybe she’s in her first year like me. She gave me a shy smile as she passed by me on her way to the door. I don’t know what compelled me to quickly block her path. “Hey, you can’t leave yet.”
She tilted her head to look at me. Her voice huskier than I imagined it would be. “Why can’t I leave yet?”
“Because I want to get to know you.”
Before her full pale pink colored lips could spread into a smile, someone tried to open the door from the other side, and I pressed it closed and locked it. Even the way she frowned in concern was cute. Wryly, she said, “I think you have to at least let them in.”
The person began banging on the door. “Not until you tell me your name.”
“Aaron stop flirting and open the damn door.” Miguel called from the kitchen across the crowded party of highly educated students getting high or drunk.
“Stop blocking,” I yelled back still looking at the pretty woman, who seemed amused by my attention. “There’s a very pissed human being on the other side of this door, and it’s all your fault.”
She touched her chest. “My fault?”
“Yes.” I nodded emphatically. “Tell me your name, so I’m not just calling you the ‘sexy woman I met at Miguel’s party’ when I take you out tomorrow.”
“Don’t you mean ask me out?”
I crossed my arms, and her gaze drifted to my toned biceps that I’m sure she could see through my brown sweater. “What time you want me to pick you up?”
“Fine,” she sighed deeply as if she was annoyed but the twinkle in her brown eyes told me she was anything but. “Kameron Patterson.”
“Youngblood,” Kameron finished before admitting softly, “I know who you are.”
I leaned against the door, the pounding of the person on the other side, mirroring my heartbeat as we both grinned already smitten with each other.