Chapter 14

A year and a half ago.

The sound of Kam’s apartment door closing behind me signaled another end to my relationship with Kam and with her family. I’d officially become the ex and Kari the new man in the eyes of Kam’s dad, sister, and her sister’s children. They would soon call him Uncle and I would become a distant memory. Although we hadn’t visited them as often as we should have, her family had become mine. I respected her father, loved Kandy, and her children like my own sister and niece and nephews. I didn’t realize all that I would miss when we divorced. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about what it means to be divorced. People in my family didn’t divorce. Marriage was held to a very high standard on both sides of my family and I had failed. Not only did I lose Kam, but I also lost her family.

Kam and I’d become friends in the time since Kari’s “death” until his return. I’d adjusted to our new relationship in which she was no longer my woman, my wife. I rarely got hard around her anymore or fantasized about her  The pressure to not fuck up that had existed almost since the moment I met her, had ended and I found that we enjoyed each other more. Now, I wouldn’t even have her friendship anymore. Because Kari was still alive.

I lost my step and had to hold on to the side of the apartment building. My God, my little brother was still alive. I stared up into the night sky, hoping God didn’t see my heartache about Kam as a sign that I didn’t thank him for my brother’s return. Tonight, I couldn’t stop staring at him in disbelief that we could touch him, as he told all of us of his incredible journey of being the sole survivor during a terrorist attack. Seeing him and Kam together had been painful at times and weird at other times, like an out of body experience. Yet I couldn’t deny the love that flowed easily between them. Somehow, I knew that they would be together for the rest of their lives. The way that I thought she and I would be.

“Aaron.” A voice called from behind me.

I wiped my eyes and started to walk again. “Not now Tisha. Tonight, was hard enough. I don’t need to hear your mouth, telling me I fucked up again about something.”

“I wanted to make sure you’re okay.” I could hear her footsteps quicken, trying to catch up with my long strides.

I didn’t alter my pace, I didn’t want her to see my pain, my grief instead of the joy I should be feeling. I’d never been comfortable with people seeing my emotions. “I’m fine. I need to catch my flight. I know Kam sent you after me, tell her she doesn’t have to worry.”

“Aaron, please wait. Please.”

The slight desperation in her voice softened my determination to ignore her. I made it to my car and turned so abruptly to face her that she stumbled into my arms. Her lush body pressed into mine and I grabbed her waist to catch her. I looked down into her flushed brown face, a face I’d always thought attractive. Although lately, I noticed the smoothness of her brown skin, the way her button nose wrinkled when she smiled, or that she hummed when she was excited. Or that she had nice legs and an ass that I pretended to not notice. Or that being in her presence gave me a yet to be identified energy. That I could finally identity as sexual. My eyes were suddenly drawn to her partially open lips, I asked, “What do you want?”

Tisha seemed similarly mesmerized by my lips. “I…I…” She cleared her throat and took a step back and my hands dropped from her waist. “Kam didn’t send me. I wanted…I couldn’t let you leave without seeing if you’re okay.”

I shrugged. “I’m okay. Feelings of numbness honestly. Still in shock. I’d planned to stay a couple of days, catch up with Kam and the baby, Ma, and…” I hesitated and met her concerned gaze. “And you.”

“Me?” Her deep voice squeaked, and she shook her head.

I folded my arms. “Why are you shaking your head?”

She admitted softly, “Can’t believe I looked forward to catching up with you, too.”

“What? The great LaTisha deems me worthy of her conversation?” I teased with a half-smile. A ray of light broke through the storm clouds at her words.

She reached out to touch my forearm. “Sorry about giving you such a hard time. You’ve really been there for Kam and truth be told, you’ve been there for me. Your actions haven’t gone unnoticed. Never thought I would say this but you’re a good man, Mr. Aaron Youngblood.”

Tightening my jaw, I looked down at her hand on my forearm wondering why my sadness seemed to be disappearing the longer she remained in front of me. I half-smiled and calmly responded, “You just said my whole name with reverence, as you should have been doing ever since you first met me.”

“And we’re back to why I can’t stand you.” Her hand on my forearm balled into a fist and she punched my bicep. Just as quickly she held her hand wincing in pain. “Fuck, why are your arms so damn hard.”

I immediately rubbed her hand gently hoping to comfort her and started to refrain from the nasty thought that popped in my head. Fuck it. “That’s not the only part of me that’s hard.”

Tisha’s pretty brown eyes widened in surprise and lust though she tried to remove her hand. “Boy, stop being inappropriate.”

I held tight. “Oh, now I’m a boy? You just called me a good man a few seconds ago.”

“You’re acting like a boy with that cheesy line that’s not even true.”

“All you have to do is look down for proof.” I chuckled when she averted her gaze past my shoulders. “Scared?”

She scowled and met my amused gaze. “I’m not scared of you. I just wanted to check on you. I see you’re good. Now, I can leave.” Her feet remained planted despite her words.

“Then leave.”

“You have my hand.”

“You could make me let it go if you wanted.” I smiled enjoying the hunt and that she was my prey. “Tisha admit that you like me.”

“You’re my best friend’s husband.”

“That’s not who I am now. That’s who I used to be.”

“I have a man who I love.”

My jaw tightened again at the mention of her boyfriend, who I met a couple of times and didn’t like him simply because she did. “Are you telling me things I already know to remind me or you that we can’t have sex?”

Her gasp so loud it was almost hilarious. “Sex, Aaron? How did we go from me checking on you because my heart hurts for you, to us having sex?”

I shrugged not giving a fuck about anything but this moment. “Why not? I have lost a lot in the last year. I don’t want any more regrets in my life. These past few months, I’ve grown closer to you, actually enjoyed the way you call me on my shit, your terrible mouth, your candor. You are the most real woman I’ve ever met and since you decided to chase after me…”

Tisha put her free hand up. “Chase? I didn’t chase after you.”

“Let’s rewind. I left and you rushed behind me. Like I said, since you decided to chase after me, I’m going to give you what you’re too scared to ask for.”

She scowled, though she didn’t pull from my grasp. “I always knew you were arrogant, but you have freaking lost your mind.”

I smiled. “Not at all. I am of sound mind and body. No more dishonesty or hiding how I feel. Fuck my image or what people believe I should be or who I should be with. Whatever I want, I’m making it clear. And I want you so bad I can taste it.”

She stared at me like I’d grown two heads.

“Why did you follow me?” I squeezed her hand. “My own mother didn’t walk me to the car, so why did you follow me?”

Tisha responded carefully, “Because I care as a friend. I didn’t follow you hoping we would have sex.”

Placing her hand against my heart, I said sarcastically, “Oh, so we’re friends now? I live in another state. I have no reason to be here anymore. Are you going to call me, check on me once I get in that car?”

She nodded her head emphatically. “Yes.”

I countered, “I don’t believe you.”

Tisha’s nose also wrinkles when she frowns, I mused as she snapped, “You don’t believe I care about you or that I plan to check on you?”

“No, I don’t believe you only care about me as a friend.”

“That’s all you and I can ever be.”

“Says who?”

“It’s not right.”

“Well, you’ll excuse me if I no longer follow what’s right or fair. My brother is in there with my ex-wife and they are completely in love with one another. They didn’t give a fuck who they hurt as long as they got what they wanted. Well, I want you.”

“You’re just hurting right now, Aaron. Maybe you want revenge.”

“I can’t deny my pain, but I don’t want revenge. I also can’t ignore the fact that you standing in front of me, wearing the hell out of those jeans, is making the pain fade.” Imploring, I clasped my hands around the one against my heart and placed a soft kiss on her neck. “Mm…you even smell good.”

“Aaron, let my hand go.” Her voice faltered.

I studied her glossed lips. “I need you.”

“You just want sex, you don’t need me.”

My gaze traveled to her confused yet curious stare. “I do. I need to feel alive and not this numbness. And when you around me, you bring this crazy energy.” I kissed the other side of her neck.

She moved her head. “I don’t want you. You’re confusing me, Aaron.” Tisha protested weakly as I pulled her flush against me, “What are you doing? Stop.”

“Something I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time.” I dipped my head and brushed her lips with mine before she could stop me. Her lips tasted like mint and were oh so soft, full, pliable against mine. Capturing her moan with my tongue, I lifted my head just enough to look into her eyes. “Is your daughter home?”

Tisha slapped the pissed out of me.

“Shit, you hit hard.” I dropped her hand and before I could utter another word, she wrapped her arms around my neck, kissing me wildly.  I hugged her to me, lifting her off her feet grateful that she gave in to me.

In between accepting her tongue in my mouth, I murmured, “Why did you slap me if you were going to let me get it anyway?”

Her hand caressed the back of my head. “Because you drive me positively insane.”

I moved away from the car, still holding her. “So, are we taking this inside or in my car, because I don’t think we going to make it to my hotel?”

Tisha responded breathlessly, “Lacy won’t be home until tomorrow afternoon.”

Her admission was her permission, and we kissed the short distance to her apartment. When we made it to her door, I cupped her ass while I retrieved her keys out of her back pocket. Her tongue delved deep into my mouth as I unlocked the door. Tisha became the aggressor as she pushed me against the front door, snatching my sweater over my head. She savored every inch of my chest. I growled in pleasure when she tugged my stiff bud between her teeth and my hands were under her shirt, massaging her full breasts under her bra.

I ran my fingers through her relaxed hair that framed her face expertly as she struggled to unbuckle my belt. “Damn, baby, we have all night.”

She managed to get the belt loose and unzipped my jeans. “I might change my mind. So, we need to do this before my sanity returns.”

“Then let me keep you crazy.” I immediately dropped down and had her jeans and panties around her knees and my tongue in between her legs, imbibing her sexual essence.

“Ooh shit,” she yelled as she used the door for support as I ate her completely out.

Present Day

Now, I watched Tisha from the sofa as she played with my niece on the very carpet, we first had sex. She crawled around on the carpet after baby Kari who made my heart joyous with her constant loving energy and smile.  All I wanted to do was hold and kiss her chubby cheeks, spoiling her. I’d enjoyed the lazy Sunday of watching cartoons, building blocks, and puzzles with my niece and Tisha. I’d felt normal and I hadn’t had that feeling in a long time. All because of the beautiful woman in front of me.

Tisha had become my best friend, yet she was more than that. Realistically I knew that at some point, we wouldn’t be able to be friends. Her man or my future woman wouldn’t allow it. We had too much chemistry to not want to act on it from time to time. I marveled that she’d captured my attention because she wasn’t the type of woman, I usually gave my time. Yes, she always dressed well, her hair always fierce and on point, enhancing her attractiveness. I used to love when she would do Kam’s hair because she knew how to style to emphasize Kam’s beauty. She’d been doing her own hair and her friends since she was a child and had dreams of having her own beauty salon. Instead, Tisha had become a mother right out of high school and worked her way up to an administrative assistant for an executive at a Fortune 500. She’d never attended college or beauty school because providing for her daughter who had a deadbeat dad had been her priority. She had an edge, a rawness to her personality earned from the life of having to do it all, that the women I’d dated didn’t have.

Tisha was also not my type physically. She’d had womanly curves probably most of her life and not just due to age and pregnancy. The women I’d been with either worked out at the gym religiously or were genetically toned and fit like my former wife. Yet, watching her laugh and entertain the baby, the black stretchy material hugging her shapely legs and plump ass just right, the top of her large breasts tantalizing me from her V-neck t-shirt, she had the perfect body for me.

My phone suddenly beeped and I already knew it was Vonni who’d been texting me almost non-stop since I left Tallahassee.

“You can get that if you need. Whoever it is, wants you.” Tisha held a sleepy Kari against her chest. “I’m going to lay her down for a nap.”

“Wait, let me kiss my niece.” I jumped up and when I went to kiss her baby-soft cheek, she reached for me sleepily. I started to take her, and Tisha slapped my hand lightly.

“You’ve already held her too much today, spoiling her when you’re going to be leaving soon. She needs her nap or you’re going to see the other side of baby Kari. She’s a different child when she’s sleepy.”

I grumbled. “Okay.” Missing baby Kari already, I flopped back down on the sofa and responded to Vonni without reading her latest text.

Texting me over and over isn’t going to make me talk sooner than I want. I already told you we will talk when I come back to town to get Dominick for Spring Break.

“Is it one of your women?” Tisha asked drily, as she came back into the living area, picking up toys.

“You know I don’t have a woman. It’s Vonni.”

“You’re not going to talk to her? Your cell keeps going off.”

“I don’t know what to tell her. I already know that nothing happened between her and Kari. Not ready to talk about her and me.”

“Don’t just ignore her, Aaron. I’ve been on the receiving end and that’s not cool.”

My tone sharper than I intended at the reminder that I’d hurt Tisha, I defended, “I already told her I need time and that we’ll talk when I go back in a couple of weeks to pick up Dominick for Spring Break. She gets like this, bothering the hell out of me.”

Tisha placed her hands on her hips. “Did you lead her on to have sex with her and now you’re just using this thing with Kari as an excuse to avoid her?”

I shook my head vehemently. “No. We were having a good weekend but that whole Kari thing reminded me to slow us down. I don’t need to get all involved and have Dominick and even his little sister who adores me to have their hopes up, to be let down if she and I don’t work out. And blowing up my cell reminds me of what I didn’t like about Vonni. She gets under my skin and not in the best way.”

“From what Kam said, she thought you were only caught up in how Vonni looks anyway.” She resumed picking up blocks.

Watching her expression, I asked quietly, “How come you jealous of Vonni, a woman you never met but not Kam, a woman you know I loved?”

Tisha retorted, “First, I am not jealous.”

“Um…you straight up said, you were jealous of me and Vonni.”

She glared at me before she bent to gather puzzles. “I know you’re over Kam, but as much as you used to love Kam, you messed around with Vonni when you were first married. Men can be crazy when it comes to sex and maybe she’s that woman that you can’t stand but can’t help fucking.”

“For the record, I did fuck up in the beginning but for years Vonni did nothing for me. It wasn’t like every time I was around her, I felt tempted. Still doesn’t explain why you would be jealous when you told me in the kitchen that we can only be friends?”

Truth and insecurity flickered across her face. “I know I’m not your type. You’re Aaron Youngblood, a successful, handsome, sexy black man who can have any woman you want. And your type prefers the skinny bitches or the ones with fake bodies. I’m bigger than the women you usually date and that’s never going to change. I bet Vonni is probably around the size of Kam even after two children.”

Sighing deeply, I softly commanded, “Come here.” I straightened up on her sofa and opened my legs. When Tisha walked in between them, I squeezed her thighs before running my hands over her ass and lifted her t-shirt to kiss her belly button. She rubbed her hand over my hair, and I pressed my head against her bare stomach. “You’re not my usual type at all. You are thicker than the women I date, you have way too much mouth, challenge my every thought, and are so infuriatingly resistant to my charms most of the time.” I then looked up at her and she met my gaze. “I admit I can be shallow like most men but never doubt that I don’t find you beautiful and sexy just as you are. Dewayne is a lucky man.”

She tugged my hair, her smile genuine and sexy. “Oh, you remember I have a man?”

“I do and…” I tapped her ass so she could back up. “I think it’s time I go before I make you forget.”

Instead of backing up, she placed her hand on my shoulders. “Do you have to go now? I don’t have plans for dinner. And Kam will be back in a couple of hours to get the baby.”

“I need to see if I can get a flight back to DC today. I drove down to Tallahassee with the intention to fly back from there. I didn’t plan to see you and I have a couple of meetings tomorrow.”

Tisha looked down.

I tilted her chin up. “What?” 

She admitted, “I miss you already. Now that you’re here and you came here to see me, hard to say bye to you.”

I’d started feeling melancholy watching her play with the baby, that I couldn’t be here with them all the time, that Tisha wasn’t my woman or Kari my daughter. “It’s not bye. I’ll come to visit anytime you want, or you can visit me. I can’t promise I won’t try anything, but I’ll do my best to keep my hands to myself. Be respectful of your relationship and our friendship.”

She laughed. “Apparently I like it when you don’t keep your hands to yourself and that’s not good. You’re definitely my weakness and I probably need to stay my thirsty ass away.”

“Which is why I’m leaving. Baby Kari is asleep and there’s nothing stopping us from having sex but will power and I don’t have much.”

Tisha groaned. “Me either. So yes, you better go. Maybe phone buddies are all we can be. Seeing you in the flesh is a detriment to my sanity.” She tried to step back, and I grabbed her back to me to rest my head against her stomach.

“Then let me have this moment since it might be a while before I see you again.”

I held her tight and closed my eyes while she brushed my hair with her fingers over and over. Her touch soothed me after an emotional weekend. Tisha had the right to be skeptical of me and my intentions. She couldn’t afford to see me as a potential. She had Dewayne, a man she probably believed wouldn’t break her heart like she believed I would. I did have too much shit in my life for her to take me seriously. Hell, any decent woman would steer clear of me. I had to get my life back together. I had to get me back together before I stepped to her or any woman.

Someone knocked on her door.

I hugged her even tighter, not wanting to end this peaceful moment between us. “Please don’t tell me it’s your man. I don’t feel like fighting today.”

“That’s just Lacy, who keeps forgetting to bring her key. She’s going to be excited to see you.” She unwrapped my arms and pulled me up to stand. Tisha tugged on my beard. “Besides, Dewayne is at a meeting with his church.”

I rolled my eyes to the ceiling. “Wait, a ‘church man’? I really don’t have a chance, do I? I can’t tell you the last time I stepped foot in someone’s church.”

“Maybe you should start again.”

I shrugged. “Don’t hold your breath.”

I walked with her to the door, expecting to greet Lacy and not my brother. Kari’s eyes widened in surprise when he noticed me standing right behind Tisha. He then looked between me and Tisha with a concerned frown, the type of disapproving look he used to give me when he saw me with Vonni while I’d been married to Kam. So, he doesn’t like me and Tish together.

Ain’t this a bitch?

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