Leela placed her arms around my neck like she was my woman and pecked my lips, while I patted her back awkwardly. I glanced around the bustling Ronald Reagan Washington National airport hoping no one recognized me.
She looked up into my face, with a smile only on her cherry red lips. “I guess it was meant, right? I was hoping to spend time with you and you’re the first person I see when I get off my plane.”
I tried to remove her arms, though she held on. “Yeah…but I have no time to catch up. I already missed my first flight out of here and still haven’t reached my gate.”
Leela nipped my ear as she whispered, “Although it was foul, I forgive you for fucking me all night and then ghosting me.”
I jerked my head back. “Leela –
She ran her sculpted nails over my sponged styled hair and pressed her lips hard against mine interrupting my words. “Looks like you have a second chance to get it right. I’m in D.C. for a month or so. We should get together again when you return to the city. This time just the two of us.”
I looked down into her expectant expression wanting to be the biggest asshole to her, but she’d already been hurt by Kari. Then I’d used her to deal with my pain. So I apologized. “It was fucked up how I left you and I’m truly sorry. But I’m seeing someone now. So, we can’t hang out.”
Leela planted a slow kiss on my neck. “Like I give a fuck.”
I finally removed her arms from around me and kept one of her hands in mine, hoping to lessen the sting of my rejection. “Well, I do. You and I were both betrayed and hurt by people we loved, and we were looking for an escape. We had a night of fun. One night was all it was supposed to be.” I squeezed her hand. “I really have to go and I do wish you well. Please take care.”
Leela snatched her hand away and growled, “Fuck you.”
I watched her storm away headed toward baggage claim. I looked upward and prayed that this was the last of Leela. Her whole nicety energy was a woman scorned. I thought about what Tisha had said about her and how Kari ended up with a permanent scar on his hand. I picked up my cell out of habit to call Tisha. Then it hit me. We just agreed to not be friends and I’d never told her about my night of debauchery with Leela and her friend. This time I was on my own because there was no way I could call Raquel and tell her I just ran into my brother’s ex with whom I had a threesome either. As I skipped the caffeine I desperately needed and rushed to my gate, I comforted myself with the thought at least Leela didn’t know my cell or where I lived. I also prayed that my conversation with Vonni would end as it did with Tisha rather than Leela.
Later that night in Tallahassee, Vonni and I’d dropped Dominick and Dallas at the movies and she and I had drinks at a restaurant inside the theatre. Vonni had been cordial and soft-spoken since I first made it to her home. She looked pretty with her long hair in a ponytail, make-up emphasizing her doe eyes and cheekbones. She’d worn a fitted wrap dress and heels to get my attention. I’d greeted her much as I had in the past with a hug and a familial kiss on the cheek and I’d suggested that the children go to the movies while we spent time together talking.
We shared nachos as I sipped on a Sprite and she had a strawberry daiquiri. We hadn’t spoken about anything, in particular, just enjoying the nice spring evening. I had been relaying my vacation plans again. “I’ll pick up Dominic for seven in the morning and we’ll be back on Saturday evening and I’ll fly back on Sunday.”
She tilted her head. “Or you can just spend the night instead of staying in a hotel and you can wake up and get on the road even earlier.”
“Vonni, I don’t want to confuse the children. I don’t want to confuse you either. I think it’s best we focus on being parents to Dominick only.”
Vonni leaned forward with an earnest expression. “Aaron, you never let me explain what happened with Kari.”
I held my hand up. “I believe the both of you. I’m not angry anymore. It just made me realize that you and I were rushing it because we were used to being together. Sometimes you just want to do what’s easier, especially when you’re lonely for the familiar like I’d been. I thought about us being together and I know we would be good for a while. We still have chemistry and the sex has always been hot but that can only go so far. I don’t believe we have what it takes to go the distance.”
“How can you say that without trying?”
“Because I know. And it wouldn’t be fair to Dominick to get comfortable with us being together, to only break up in a year or two.”
Her shoulders drooped and her eyes teared. “How come you never loved me? Why am I never your choice?”
I grabbed her hand. “I do love you, always have. The day you told me you were pregnant, I wanted to tell you so much that I would leave Kam and be with you, but I couldn’t. Blame my parents. I wanted a love like they have, and I thought Kam was it because she was more like my mother than you.”
She bit out. “I knew you believed I wasn’t good enough for you or your family.”
I shook my head vehemently. “In my shallow and uppity ways, I did think that, but I was so very wrong. Who the fuck was I to judge you or your choices? You have always been more than enough. You are a beautiful, sexy, smart, and vibrant woman. Just not the one for me. I can’t explain why, because God knows I would love nothing more than to be with my son every day. But I would be settling and so would you.”
Vonni appeared to be digesting my words and her face relaxed.
“I’m sorry I’ve never told you how much I admired you. The moment you became a mother, you could have decided to live off my child support, but you didn’t. You went back to school so you could provide for him whether I was in the picture or not, which you’ve told me over the years whenever we had words. And you’ve provided a wonderful life for my son. My son…our son is amazing, and you are why he is the way he is. I thank you for making sure he will be a much better man than me. He’s confident without arrogance, he’s a kind soul, something I know he didn’t get from me. I’m still arrogant and selfish as hell most days.”
Vonni laughed through her falling tears. “Every day all day.”
I grabbed a napkin and gently wiped her cheeks. “Hey, stop all that. No need to cry over or about me anymore. You always deserved better than the man I was. And now you deserve a man who will love you just as hard as you love him.”
She sniffed and used her fingertips to dry her eyes. “I almost prefer the Aaron I’m used to, it makes it easier to curse your ass out. You being all sweet and sensitive only makes me love you more.”
“I can be a hard ass if it makes it easier, but I really just want us to be chill with one another.” I looked down knowing the next thing I would say could shift the positive energy between us. “I also want Dominick to live with me in the fall and go to high school in D.C.”
“What?” A scowl appeared on her face. “You can’t take my son away from me. Is that why you being so sweet? Kill me with kindness to get your way?”
“Woah…Woah. I’m talking to you this way because I owe you so much and I should’ve thanked you years ago for being an amazing mother to the only child I’ll ever have. The last time I was here, he asked to come with me, and he hasn’t done that in years. I don’t want to fight you on this one and I don’t want you to make him feel guilty if he chooses me.”
“Why does he want to live with you? Did you say something to him or did Kari?”
“No, it came completely from him. Boys need their mothers more than their fathers, but young men need their fathers more. We’re going to spend the week together and I’ll talk to him again about what he really wants to do. I won’t pressure him either way. I only want him to live with me if that’s what he wants. I don’t want to take him from you unless he chooses to be with me.”
She waved her hand. “You can’t raise him any way you travel too much.”
“I have help in my office, I travel because I don’t have anyone at home. If Dominick is with me, I won’t and on the rare times I need to travel, I can get my parents to look after him.” I took her hand again. “I know you’ll miss him, so I’ll arrange it where you and Dallas can see him once a month or he flies down to see you. Expenses on me. And he spends the holidays and the summers with you. Please. Let me be with my son before he’s an adult.”
She pulled her hand from mine, picked up her purse, her hand and voice trembling. “It has always been what you want. You have come in and out of my life since I was eighteen fucking years old with your charm and promises of tomorrow that you never fucking delivered. I finally think that this time will be different. That you and I can finally be together and yes, it was fucked up, I tried to kiss your brother. But I only did that because he was the next best thing to you. Whereas the woman you chose to be your wife instead of me, wanted him and not you and fucking betrays you with him.”
She chuckled sardonically. “Your precious Kam is fucking marrying your little brother and I work my ass off to raise your only child, yet you still don’t see me as wifey material. Do you know how many nights I cried myself to sleep taking care of that boy by myself while you and Kam led this high society life in D.C? You have always picked and chosen when you wanted to be a father, visiting a few times a year at your convenience whereas I was a mother twenty-four seven. Now because your little wifey is gone, you want to be a full-time father? Now that your son is almost grown, when the hard part of raising a child is almost done, you want to step in? Give me a motha fucking break. Nigga please, you will not take my son away from me. I’m carrying my ass home and I expect my children to be home as soon as their movie ends.”
Before I could say another word, Vonni marched off. I sunk back in my chair, at a loss on how to move forward peacefully with the mother of my son. I’d known I’d hurt her over the years, but the heart wrenching pain in her voice, that emanated from the depth of her soul would haunt me probably forever. For the first time, I understood why Kari needed me to forgive him.
“Dominick wants to live with me. We had a good time over the break and he wants to be in a bigger city for high school. But his mother is not going to let that happen without a fight,” I complained. I’d just returned from Florida and had been telling Raquel about my trip. We had been cuddled up on her sofa after a much-needed quickie. “She barely had two words to say to me when I picked up and dropped off Dominick for our trip.”
Raquel scooted behind me to massage my shoulders. “Relax, Aaron. You have a few months before you need to do anything. Keep trying to talk to her, to your son. Maybe she’ll come around. Maybe she won’t. Maybe he’ll change his mind about wanting to live here. You and he had fun but leaving the only home he knows may be tougher than he realizes.”
I twisted my neck enjoying her soothing hands. “No, he wants to be here for high school. He’s thinking about academic and tennis scholarships. Between my and my parents’ connections the world will be his oyster.”
“He’s willing to give up his friends and move here? At his age, I’m surprised. Is this something you really want and you’re just trying to convince your son?”
“Or maybe my son really wants to be with me.” I shrugged her hands off my shoulders. “Look, you met me as a single man with a child in another city. If having to share me with my son is something you don’t want to do, I understand. Dominick is my priority and if he really wants to live with me, I will do everything in my power to gain custody.”
Raquel argued. “Custody battles are the hardest for children.”
I glared. “You don’t think I know that. Again, if this is too much, do whatever you feel is best.”
She wrapped her legs around my waist and her arms around my neck, her nude body encircling mine. “Aaron, I want this relationship, so stop telling me I can go because you don’t like what I’m saying, okay?”
“I’m serious. I have an opinion and I will always say it even if it makes you angry. I’m too grown to keep my mouth shut. If that’s the type of woman you want, then you can go on back to your place and we’ll be just neighbors who slept together.”
I continued to sulk though I knew she was exactly what I needed.
“Alright, Aaron.” She sounded annoyed.
She loosened her grip on my body and before she could move, I pressed her into the sofa and tightened her arms back around me. “I do want to know your thoughts, your opinions even when I don’t like them. My ex-wife accused me of not allowing her to have a voice.”
“Sounds like you didn’t agree.”
“I don’t know. Still not sure how she didn’t feel that she didn’t have a say so in our marriage. I’m used to getting my way, but I loved her so much, I would’ve done whatever she wanted.”
“Do you still love her?”
I smiled thinking of Kam. “I will always love her, but we weren’t meant to be, or she would be here right now and not you.”
“Too much. I cheated at the beginning of our marriage and she cheated at the end. The detail of what happened in between is a lot to get into tonight. But you and I have time for all the talking in the world.” I shifted in her arms to kiss her sweet lips. “It’s just you and me now unless you still have some man you need to call to tell them it’s over.”
She quirked a brow. “Does this mean you and I are in a relationship now?”
I moved to sit next to her and squeezed her naked thigh. “Raquel, let me do this better. I want to be your man so there’s no confusion. I’m ready to take a chance on love again with you.”
Raquel’s lips curved into the brightest smile, illuminating her beauty. “I’m ready to do the same.”
Pulling her face to mine, right when I was going to kiss her, I teased. “I have a gift for you.”
Her gaze remained focused on my mouth. “It better be your body. I need you so much right now.”
I chuckled. “It’s on my coffee table.”
She squinted. “At your place?”
“Yep. If you want it, you have to get it.” I picked up her hand and placed it on my hard dick. “Then you can have this.”
She squeezed my erection. “Well then let me hurry.”
I stretched out on the sofa, awaiting her return, certain Raquel would love the Minnie Mouse diamond charm bracelet I purchased. I did miss her while on my trip, though Tisha loomed heavier in my thoughts. I hated that I wanted to call her more than I wanted to call Raquel, especially to talk about Vonni. I needed to talk to Tisha more than ever about this potential custody issue. I stared at the ceiling hoping that soon Raquel and not Tisha would consume my thoughts. That Raquel would be my lover and confidante.
Raquel walked back in the front door with a small gift bag and a brown envelope. “Hey, you must didn’t see this. It was on the floor like it was pushed under your door. I didn’t know if it was important.”
I stood and took the unexpected envelope from her. My gut told me to open it in private and I quickly lied. “Oh yeah, I forgot that I told my assistant to drop off some papers.” Trying to distract from the nagging feeling that the envelope contained bad news, I snatched off her satin robe and picked her up in my arms. Raquel grabbed my neck, squealing in surprise.
“You can open my gift later, right now I need to fuck my woman again.”
She traced my mustache with her finger, her eyes already shining with love for me. “I am so glad I gathered the courage to speak to you on your balcony.”
I gazed into her brown eyes. “Me too.”
And we spent the rest of the night making sweet, sweet love. All my worries about tomorrow temporarily gone in the arms of one lovely Raquel Scott.
Early the next morning, while sitting on my own balcony, I opened the envelope. My stomach lurched painfully and I had to swallow my own bile.
Leela smiled back at me from a selfie she must have taken when I dozed off after we had all climbed in bed. I’d fallen asleep on my back in the middle of Leela and Kiki, our naked bodies barely covered. Bottles of alcohol and condom wrappers lined the bedside table. Then the crazy bitch left her number on a pink sticky note with a smiley face, telling me to call her. All that I could lose if this picture got out flashed before me.
What. The. Fuck.
***Thanks for reading along with Aaron and his ever-winding journey to love (and apparently mayhem). Wishing you a wonderful and safe HAPPY NEW YEAR!!***