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Unforgettable Kiss

Do you ever forget your first kiss?

This time I was alone managing the café. Al was off today, Calvin neglected to tell me. Once I got started with my shift, I decided to stop my internal complaints because Wednesday mornings were never as busy as Mondays, and I was getting an extra day off with pay to devote to my art. During a slow period, mid-morning, I made a mango smoothie with soymilk for myself. In between dancing to the pop music playing throughout the store and slurping, I heard someone say, “Nice tat.”

I froze, recognizing his voice immediately in disbelief. Based on the sound of his voice, the object of my obsessive thoughts stood a few inches away. I turned around, praying I didn’t look too crazy dancing. “Excuse me?”

“The tattoo on the back of your neck, the flower. I like it.” Dressed in a gray suit and blue tie, as handsome as the devil, Tre smiled and placed both hands on the counter.

I self-consciously touched my tattoo, having forgotten that the image of a sunflower was visible when I wore my hair up. “Thank you. Um…can I help you?”

“Yeah, I need you to make me another cherry vanilla latte. I swear I never had one as good as yours. You must have the magic touch.” He appeared ready for work, but his staff was absent. There were also no other customers in line or in the café. Just me and him. Utterly alone.

I blushed. “Thanks, but I only followed the directions. We all make it the same except we may be the only café that offers cherry flavoring. So, do you want cherries and whip cream on top again?” I tried to contain my excitement and respond in a professional manner as I moved to stand directly in front of the counter, mere inches from him. I can’t let him get to me again now that I’m a grown-ass woman.

“Yep. This time I want four cherries and whip cream, please.” He tilted his head and looked at me. “I definitely think it’s you and it’s not just the cherries. I’ve had two more lattes at two different places since I had the one you made for me, and all I could think was that Raini Blue makes the best iced vanilla latte.”

I almost couldn’t breathe. How did he know my name? Did he really remember me? “What? How did you know my name?”

He frowned slightly and then pointed to my very visible name tag on my uniform shirt. “Am I pronouncing your name right?”

“Yeah.” Disappointment reigned that he didn’t remember me, though deep down I’d already known that he meant more to me than I did to him. And he probably never knew my nickname. Only Royalty and my family called me Raini instead of Lorraine, and I used my middle name, Blue, as my last name now.

“Did I say something wrong?”

Crap. My expression must have shown on my face. “No. I need to fix your order so you can go. I can only imagine how busy you are.”
 
“Yeah, I’m always busy, and I don’t have much time today, but I also wanted to see you again.” He lightly touched one of my hands that rested on the counter.

At his almost caress, a small jolt traveled my body and I backed up. “Um, let me make your drink.”

Tre raised one eyebrow. “No need. I really don’t want a drink. I used it as an excuse to see you again. I was hoping you were alone.”

“You came here just to see me?” My feet remained planted on the floor, too nervous to move toward him again.

“As if you don’t have men hitting on you all of the time?” His eyes were so gorgeous and sexy as he grinned.

I folded my arms. “You’re hitting on me?”

“Isn’t that obvious?” he teased. “I show up again, as busy as I am, smiling in your pretty face, to get a latte that I could get anywhere or have any of my staff pick up for me. Man, I got to work on my game. Usually women know when I want them.”

“You’re the mayor. Why would I assume you were trying to talk to me?” I refused to acknowledge that he said that he wanted me, as if we were talking about the weather. I stared at him, wondering what he really wanted. He couldn’t possibly be so attracted to me after seeing me once that he would come back to my job during the middle of the week alone. He had to remember me.

“I am the mayor and a single man attracted to a beautiful woman.” Tre drummed his fingers on the counter. “A woman that I can’t stop thinking about.”

I remained silent, unsure how to respond to his direct approach. This man wasn’t playing with me.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you my number, and if you feel comfortable, text me your number.” He pulled out a card from his wallet. “I promise I’ll call you no matter how busy I am.” His cell rang and he checked it. “I got to run. Call me and we can have dinner or do whatever you want. I would love to take you out and get to know you better. Hope I see you soon, Raini.”

As he hurried away, I held the card in my hand and stared at the gold embossed lettering, knowing I would never use it. I would never be comfortable around him or in his world. I intended to throw the card in the trash, but instead put it in my pocket. I guess I wanted proof that seventeen years after he kissed me, Tre LaSalle finally asked me out.

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON APRIL 3!!!

My female protagonists

One of my readers asked me why my female characters have to go through so much to get to their HEA. That women have all the baggage and that they are strong in every area except when it comes to men. And that in reality, there are women who know their worth and in essence (not her exact words) they don’t really have baggage. I thought about what she said and I completely agree that there are plenty of women who know their worth. But I do think that in some way we all have baggage, some more than others. If we have any failed relationship, though we may take those lessons with us, we have been impacted in some way.

I usually write from the women’s perspective and my women characters have some challenge when it comes to love, whether it’s personal insecurities, trust issues, daddy or mama issues, or simply afraid of letting go to the power of love. I want my books to be relatable and honest. Yes, I do believe that there are women who are fearless and have no qualms about falling or being in love. But I think there are more women who struggle with this thing we call love whether she is single, married, in a situationship, or in a complicated relationship. I once asked some college women whether or not they need a man and there were questions about what did I mean by “need” before I explained further I asked the men and every hand went up without any explanation.

I meant “need” like we need to breathe. And so many women scoffed at me. Again I asked the men and overall they agreed that they needed women period. We do need each other, it is why we exist. Even if you’re homosexual, you still need that opposite sex or energy somewhere in your life. When we accept it, our lives become so much easier.

Some of our struggle as women accepting that we “need” men (I know some of you are cringing as you read this, LOL) comes from our personal family histories such as whether or not we saw our parents in healthy relationships or whether we have a good relationship with one or both of them. Or our very own past experiences with love that didn’t go the way we wanted or expected. Or the fact that as black women we haven’t always been afforded the luxury to depend on men due to the long legacy of slavery ( our marriages and families were often torn apart), then segregation, and then plain old racism where our men aren’t given the same opportunities as other men. And let’s not forget how we as black women are not seen as beautiful as other women of other races. I could do a whole thesis on how though other races love our skin, our lips, our bodies, and even our kinky, glorious hair in which we can rock any and every style, somehow many of us still feel not as worthy or beautiful. It doesn’t help that there are men out there who feel the same way and want any woman but us on their arms.

I hope that through my stories of love that as you read them, not only can you relate to them, I’m hoping that you learn from them. Maybe your issue is not self-worth, maybe it is never witnessing healthy love, or you were sexually abused/assaulted, or conflict never resolved with one or both of your parents, or that you are independent and not sure how to compromise and allow men to truly be there and support you. Or you want a relationship or marriage so bad, you don’t stop to think if this person is the right one for you. Or you may be able to sit back and reflect on why your relationship is working. Bottom line, I hope you view love just a little differently.

This is not to say that I believe that if a relationship fails or it succeeds that it’s only the woman’s fault, but I am saying that in some way she contributed to it and through my stories you may see yourself. From my experiences both professionally and personally, I have created female and male characters that embody people I’ve met and there’s a little bit of me in each of my characters (okay, maybe not Devin Toussaint from One Week and my upcoming novel Unforgettable Kiss).

To my reader who posed the question, I thank you for reaching out because it gave me the opportunity to explain why my women protagonists can be downright frustrating at times. I also encouraged her to keep reading because I have women and men characters who are dealing with all sort of challenges and I can’t wait for you to meet them and fall in love with them as I have. Happy reading and I hope I continue to get questions and feedback from my readers. Thank you!!!

COVER REVEAL!!!

RELEASE DATE APRIL 3!!

The beautiful and free-spirited Raini Blue is a struggling artist with aspirations to have her own gallery. Believing she is content, she’s comfortable with her job at a local bookstore and selling her wares in the New Orleans French Market. But her world is about to shift when Tre LaSalle, the man with whom she shared her first kiss as a teenager, comes back into her life.

Between his new role as mayor of a world renowned city and being a single father to his eight-year old daughter, Tre has little time for relationships. Until Raini Blue. Intrigued by her beauty and her resistance to his charms, he is determined to win her over.  

Tre ignites her passions and awakens desires long dormant, but Raini wonders if he can truly accept her bohemian lifestyle, whether or not her family’s checkered past will hurt his political aspirations, and ultimately, can she trust him with her heart?

The Aftermath: Excerpt

I walked into the Beverly Hills Wilshire Hotel, the one from the movie Pretty Woman.  I passed the opulent lobby holding his hand, nervous because we were headed to the reception. Once we entered, the breathtaking ballroom, I blinked back sudden tears.  Variations of red roses, crystals, and candles were placed throughout the lavishly decorated room. The red and gold wedding cake had to be at least ten layers and the groom’s special red velvet cake had five. Laughter, gaiety, and music filled the air. 

He suggested, “We should go ahead and pay our respects to the bride and groom and then eat.”

I shrugged. “Doesn’t really matter.”

As we moved down the long receiving line, I gripped his hand tighter and he looked down at me and said reassuringly, “You’ll be fine.”

Grateful for this man who’d been there for me the last few months, I smiled. As we neared the end of the line, my heart pounded and my breath became shallow, and I almost stopped in my tracks. When we approached the blushing bride, she frowned slightly ever aware of cameras as she graciously thanked me for coming without touching my offered hand.  The groom captured my hand in his and he almost smiled with love before catching himself. We locked eyes and he bit the corner of his lip before letting my hand go. My fiancé gently pushed me forward. I wanted so bad to look back, but I didn’t.

My fiancé hugged me to him when we made it to our table. “You did good. It’s finally over and you survived. Now we can finally focus on us and our special day.”

I smiled weakly because it’s not every day, you attend the wedding of the love of your life to someone else. Jordan Mathews was officially married and lost to me forever.

While my fiancé mingled and I remained alone at our intimate table for two, purposely avoiding looking in the direction of the happy couple, I checked my phone and almost dropped it.  I put it down quickly searching the room, hoping my fiancé wasn’t near.  Afraid to read it, hand trembling, I picked my cell back up. It simply read.

Please meet me in room 556.

I glanced around the reception again and I didn’t see my fiancé nor Jordan. The beautiful bride glowed with happiness while being photographed with her bridesmaids and her family.  I re-read the text, debating whether to go to him. I’d never been so scared in my life.  Although he was the past who could ruin my bright future, I wanted desperately to go to Jordan.

The Escape Trilogy Giveaway!

The Escape Trilogy Giveaway! The Obsession releases this Friday and I have a giveaway. Tell me your favorite love story and win a chance for a $10 Amazon gift card AND one of my e-books for free! Contest over 2-13-20 at 11pm CST.

My favorite love story is Blues Dancing, a tale of young, obsessive, passionate love in which we often make wrong decisions for that love. Whetstone is a beautiful writer and she does the impossible in making me believe in the type of love that can lead to drug addiction. Very intense book and not your typical novel of love.

Sample Sunday: The Obsession

Prologue

I got settled in my First-Class comfortable seat.

I buckled up and looked out the window wondering how I would get over this heartbreak. I googled his name. As I suspected we were photographed together at the Mercedes event, we did look happy and like a couple. The caption simply read, Jordan Mathews and his date. I smiled despite myself, at least I wouldn’t have to prove I spent time with him.

I went through my text messages. My brother would pick me up, so I needed to remind him what time my plane arrived. I’d already silenced my phone and didn’t realize I had nine text messages, with four from Ray which I immediately deleted without reading, and three from Jordan pleading with me to reconsider our friendship. I knew eventually he would stop if I didn’t respond. My cell suddenly lit up. It was Jordan. I held it debating whether to answer. I missed him terribly already and hearing his voice would make me smile.

I quickly answered and said, “Hey, I’m fine. I’m settled on the plane.”

He could tell I was about to hang up. “Skye, wait! I don’t understand. I told you I love you and you still walked away. What more do you want?”

“Jordan. I want more than to be an occasional date or fun time with you. I know you can’t or don’t want to offer more than that. I can’t fight you on this. I’m not strong enough if you’re going to be this persistent in calling or texting me. I don’t want to fall in love harder than I already am with you. I don’t know if my heart could take being so intimate with you and knowing you’re that way with someone else. Please don’t contact me anymore.”

“So, you do love me?”

 “Of course, I do. You made it impossible for me not to fall in love with you after only after a few days.”

“Then if we love each other, why are you doing this?”

“You made me want more.”

“Skye, all I know is I love you and I haven’t loved anyone in a long time. I cannot promise more than that right now. My life is crazy…” He sounded frustrated but also steadfast in his attitude about being in a relationship.

“Then Jordan, we have nothing more to discuss.” I ended the call. I had a feeling that this time he wouldn’t call or text me again.

I fought hard to stop my tears as I turned off my cell.  I asked the flight attendant for a blanket and pillow. I planned to sleep off my depression.  When she brought me the requested items, I covered my head and sunk down in my chair.  I prayed like hell that there wouldn’t be anyone sitting next to me.  I heard some commotion in the walkway area leading to the plane, but I was too emotionally spent to care what was happening. The way I felt at that moment it could’ve been a terrorist attack and I wouldn’t care.  I almost jumped in my seat when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I peeked from under my security blanket and had to wipe my eyes to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.

Jordan smiled down at me, his cell still in hand. “Hey. You think you can let me finish before hanging up on me?”

I remained silent in shock, not believing he was on the plane, much like when he introduced himself to me at the Bistro.

“I’m really here standing in front of you. I couldn’t end things like we did.”

Passengers were continuing to board and there were phones flashing and whispers of excitement all around us, but Jordan only had eyes for me.

“How did you even get in here?” I was finally able to find my voice.

“Being a celebrity has its perks.” His eyes twinkled.

“What does this mean?”

“It means I need to buy clothes and a toothbrush if I’m coming with you or you can make it simpler by getting off this plane with me.” Jordan grinned as he gazed into my eyes. “Everything is happening fast for me too and I didn’t know, still really don’t know how we’ll work, but I do know I need you and want to try.  I love you, Skye Baptiste, and right now I want to spend a little more time with you showing you how much and figuring us out, if that’s okay with you?”

“Yes.” I couldn’t believe that this man who had millions of fans found a way to get on this plane just to prove that he did really love me. “I think I would rather get off the plane.”

“Thank God, for a moment I was thinking my grand gesture was going to be an epic fail.” He took my hand in his and pulled me up into his embrace.  He held me tight as he kissed me deeply. I could hear cheers, yells, and applause all around us from the flight crew to the passengers.

I pulled back to look up at his handsome, happy face and loving the warmth that flowed through my body at his obvious joy. “I love you, too.”

Jordan grabbed my bag from the overhead bin and took my hand. As I followed him, a pleasant voice announced loudly, “Please place your seats in an upright position and turn off all electronics and keep seatbelts on as we prepare for landing.  And welcome to New Orleans.”

My eyes flew open and I looked around frantically, disoriented.  It took a moment for me to regain my bearings.  I sat utterly alone in First Class and the plane had just landed in New Orleans. It’d all been a dream. Jordan didn’t use his celebrity status to get through security to whisk me away forever like my very own fairy tale.  He was still in Los Angeles and I was now back home.  I inhaled deeply my chest constricted painfully with sadness and disappointment. My fantasy didn’t become reality.

Fronting

More than a year had passed since “The Escape” which is what I called the few days I spent in Los Angeles with Jordan Mathews. We’d spent every day together, growing more in love as each day passed. Although he told me he loved me at the airport when I’d headed back home to New Orleans, he didn’t want to be in a relationship. I knew that I couldn’t be with him just as a friend, so I decided to end all communication with him. After our last conversation at the airport, Jordan called and texted a few more times asking me to call him back or telling me that he missed and loved me. I would replay his messages and reread his texts, but I never responded. Then one day his calls and texts stopped, and I hadn’t heard from him again. I’d fallen into a deep funk for weeks and became downright depressed for months.  My friends and family assumed my somber and irritable mood had been because of Ray, my ex, and the reason I’d needed to escape to Los Angeles in the first place.   

I eventually told my best friend, Toni, the truth.  She’d never liked Ray and she’d been so hard on me about moping over him, I had to tell her the real reason of my melancholy.  Understandably, skeptical at first, she didn’t believe me until I showed her the picture of me and Jordan at the Mercedes party.  He and I had never taken a pic or a selfie and that photo had been the only proof of our brief time together.  Once I finished relaying what happened between Jordan and I, she’d expressed excitement for me and then anger that I’d kept something like that from her. She eventually forgave me and would berate me almost every day for not contacting him again because she believed that I could handle being just his friend.  I knew otherwise.

I went back to work shortly after I’d returned from California, only to give my two-week notice.  I refused to take any more calls or texts from Ray and didn’t fight him for my part of the money he took out of our joint account. It was his way of controlling me and keeping me involved with him.  I refused to be pulled back into him and his manipulative ways and whatever money I lost was worth my peace of mind.  I believed somehow God would take care of me. And God did because on my last day of work I’d been offered a training position in a company that paid much more than my old job. I’d already decided to remain in New Orleans at least until I fully got back on my feet since my savings had been depleted and I didn’t want to ask Jordan for money though I instinctively I knew he would give me money if I needed it.  

With my higher-paying position, I moved out of my brother’s place, and leased a two-bedroom townhouse in Metairie, a suburb city of New Orleans. After about six months, I was finally able to breathe again, and I’d started going out again.  I met Andrew, a light-skinned cutie with a thick build from his college football days, dancing to Frankie Beverly and Maze at the Jazz Fest.  He worked in finance and had recently ended a relationship when we’d first met. We had chemistry and after dating for a month, we’d become official. He treated me well and we usually had a good time, though he didn’t give me screaming orgasms like Jordan did.

I still thought about Jordan every day and avoided social media and entertainment magazines as much as I could. I’d thought he was out of my system until Toni heard on the radio that he would be hosting an after party for the Bayou Classic football game over Thanksgiving weekend at Harrah’s Casino.  

At first when she’d told me about Jordan, I tried to act nonchalant and ignore my feelings. I reminded myself to focus on my new relationship which had been going well. But then Toni brought me a flyer one night and when I saw his picture, I knew I at least wanted to see him again.  Toni suggested that she drive in case I got lucky and ended up with Jordan. I told Dre a partial truth that I would be hanging out with Toni for Bayou Classic, while he hung with his frat brothers and his friends. I just prayed we didn’t somehow all end up at Harrah’s Casino.

The night of the party, I waited impatiently for Toni, who was always notoriously late for everything.  I paced incessantly in my living room toes already pinched in the Jimmy Choo shoes that Jordan bought me while on a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive.  When Toni finally pulled into my driveway, thirty minutes late, I didn’t wait for her to get out the car and hurried out of my home, shivering in the cold air.

When Toni saw me headed toward the car, she screamed, “Girl, you look hot! Ain’t no way you’re not leaving with that man.” I twirled briefly in my form-fitting black long-sleeved, cleavage showing dress that stopped mid-thigh, with several sparkly bangles adorning my arm. I patted my blonde streaked brown hair that I wore full of loose curls and wild. “I’m loving the hair.” 

“I hope your heater is on.” I jumped in the car and gave her a quick once-over.  She looked good herself with a dark blue halter dress with coordinating shoes and micro braids in a top knot. “Did your husband let you leave the house in that?”

She smiled. “He loves when I look sexy, even when I’m not with him.”

“Well, just don’t forget you married.”

Toni teased, “Depends on what celebrity I see tonight.” 

“Now you know you only have eyes for Craig.”

She shook her head. “No, no, no. My heart and soul belong to him, but my eyes are another story.” She had been married for what seemed like forever and we rarely went to parties or clubs anymore. She’d only came out tonight hoping that I’d reunite with Jordan.

“Well, as long as you’re just looking. I don’t want hubby ever to blame me for corrupting you. You know how man feel about their wives hanging out with single women.”

Toni waved her hand. “What he doesn’t know if that I’m the corrupt one of our friendship.”

I arched an eyebrow. “Yes, because this was your idea for me to possibly step out on my boyfriend, not mine.”

She gave me a side glance. “Well if this is only my idea, why are you wearing your fuck’em dress?”

“I’ll have you know I didn’t have any other dresses in my closet.”

“Liar.” She snatched the tag off the back of my dress. “I hope you weren’t planning to return this expensive ass dress.”

I covered my mouth. “Oh my God, do you know how embarrassed I would be if anyone besides you saw that?”

“Mortifying.”

“Glad you saw that.”

Toni smiled. “You know I always got your back and tonight I hope you get yours blown out.”

“I can’t take you anywhere,” I admonished though I secretly hoped that somehow Jordan and I would have sex again. Just one more time and maybe I could get him out of my system once and for all.  

Ten minutes later, we parked and arrived at the gorgeous Harrah’s Casino with its Mardi Gras themed décor.  We walked past the noisy machines and gambling crowd as we headed to the club within the casino. Toni presented our tickets and the moment we went inside I became a nervous wreck and though I tried to pretend otherwise, Toni noticed.

“It’ll be fine. Relax. You look way too hot tonight for him to ignore you.”

I wiped my hands on the bottom half of my dress. “What if he doesn’t want to talk to me?”

“Hello! You have a fuck’em dress on and all you did when you last saw him was fuck. Even if you don’t go home with him, you’ll at least get a chance to see him again.”

The club was packed, the DJ spun the latest hits and if I wasn’t so anxious, I probably would be having fun. We grabbed two drinks from one of the waitresses with a trayful walking through the party.

“I’m going to be at the bar. I think you should approach him by yourself. I’m sure he’s over there somewhere.” She pointed to a section that was also crowded though sectioned off with a red velvet rope. I looked where she pointed and through the throng of people, I spotted Jordan, laughing at something the guy next to him said. I stood there for a moment, openly ogling him. He seemed happy and looked better than the last time I saw him, wearing a black sweater and dark pants, with his chocolate brown skin that glowed even in the dim light of the club. I almost lost my nerve but then Toni nudged me. “Jeez! That man is sexy as a motherfucker. How did you let him go?  Can you please go say something to him? Please before I embarrass you.”

I knew she would do something crazy, if I didn’t make a move, so I walked away from her and toward him.  As I approached him in the VIP section surrounded by fans and security, I realized I couldn’t just walk up and say I needed to speak to Jordan.  I took my phone out of my sparkly wristlet and found his number. God, I hope this was still his number. I hadn’t heard anything from him since his last text shortly after I returned to New Orleans more than a year ago. I quickly texted him before I lost my courage.

Hey, Jordan. This is Skye. I’m here at the party. I see you’re in VIP, but I can’t get in. Just wanted to speak.

I watched him, practically gulping down my second Jack and coke, through the dancing crowd as he laughed, drank, flirted, and moved to the beats. After a few minutes, he pulled out his cell from his back pocket. He read his text and his eyes widened before he glanced briefly around the club. Jordan then shrugged his shoulders, and then returned his phone back in his pocket and continued to party.

My heart dropped to my stomach.  I’d always thought we would still be cool if we ever ran into each other again. Guess, I’d been so damn wrong. I needed to get out of here before I made an even bigger fool of myself.  I found Toni talking to a guy at the bar near the VIP section. She’d always liked flirting as much as I did, though she’d been happily married for nine years now. I pulled her away from the random. “If you’re not ready, I’ll catch an Uber, I got to get out of here now.”

“We came together, we’ll leave together.” She frowned. “But what happened?”

I folded my arms. “Nothing.”

She looked incredulously. “So, he saw you and he didn’t want to talk to you?”

“No, I couldn’t get into VIP.”

Toni looked toward the special section. “What? So, he doesn’t even know that you’re here?”

I blinked back my threatening tears. “He does but he doesn’t want to see me.”

Toni grabbed my arm. “What happened? Why are you crying?” She pulled me back toward VIP.

I resisted. “I texted him, he read it, and ignored it. I’m not going back there.”

She continued to march toward the velvet rope, dragging me behind her. “Yes, you are. I watched you mourn over this man and you didn’t have to. He told you he loved you and he wanted to remain in your life, and you denied him. And now he’s right there and you’re too much of a punk to see him.  Wipe those damn tears. We’re going back if nothing else, I can at least meet that sexy ass man myself.”

Toni literally pulled me the rest of the way.  As we approached, Jordan’s security team were escorting him from the roped off area. Toni pushed me forward hard causing me to bump into Jordan. He grabbed my arms roughly as I fell into him and he quickly apologized. “My bad.”

He looked down at me and his full lips widened into a bright smile. “Skye?” Jordan then held me tight within his strong arms for the briefest of time before letting go. He nodded at one of his men and when he looked back at me, his smile had vanished. His security seemed impatient because fans were still trying to approach him, and I’d stopped their process of getting him to the next destination.

I clasped my hands in front of me to stop myself from touching him again. “I heard you were in town and – “

Jordan interrupted me nodding. “You wanted to speak. Well, you did. It was good seeing you. Take care.” He pushed past my shoulder as if I was a stranger and he and his entourage walked out of the party without a backward glance. Crushed, I stared after him, shaking my head in disbelief that he would be so cold.

Toni who stood nearby, came closer to me. She put her arm through mine and said sympathetically, “You tried. Let’s go home.”

I kept replaying the night over and over on our way back to my house. “Toni, I never expected that he would dismiss me like that if he ever saw me again. I really didn’t matter to him.”

On the way to my house, Toni reassured me, “He does care. I saw the look on his face and the hug he gave you when he didn’t expect to see you. That initial response was all genuine. The way he acted afterward was him protecting himself.”

I asked, “Who does he need to protect himself from? I’m the one that would be devastated in the end if we were ever together.”

She glanced at me before returning focus on the road. “Everything you ever told me about that trip tells me that man really cared for you and you were too scared to take a chance on him. I watched you mope for months and my guess is he felt the same. So, I don’t really blame him. He probably doesn’t want to be hurt again.”

“I wasn’t trying to hurt him. We wanted two different things.”

“Well, he may see it as he opened up to you and you left anyway.”

I leaned against the passenger window agreeing with her that his reaction ran hot to cold too quickly for him not to care. “What should I do?”

“Call and text him until he talks to you.”

“And say what?”

“First, apologize for being stupid. He obviously still has some feelings for you. See if there’s a chance.” Toni slapped the steering wheel. “I wished you’d called me while you were in L.A. with him because I would have told your scary ass to be whatever he wants you to be. It’s Jordan fucking Mathews. Are you kidding me? Most men want to date a while before committing to a relationship. You only knew him a few days and you expected him to be faithful to you? You were just scared to be with him. Admit it?”

I defended. “You weren’t there, we were already acting like this great couple and I couldn’t go back.”

“Nope. You were scared because you’d just dealt with Ray’s bitch ass.” Toni glared at me. “I’m still mad that you kept Jordan a secret from me, your best friend. I guarantee had you told me you would’ve been with him at this party as his woman instead of wondering if he’ll speak to you again.”

“I can’t contact him again. It hurts too much and I don’t want to come off like a stalker. Plus, I’m with Drew now. “

“Drew is cool, but he’s no Jordan Mathews.” At my lack of response, Toni sighed loudly. “Fine. Be a fool once again. And please don’t come to me all sad when he leaves town and you still didn’t speak to him. It’s your fault if you don’t at least try to talk to him again.”

I vehemently shook my head. “I won’t be sad. I’m over him. It was your idea to come to this party, anyway. I didn’t want to see him in the first place. Now, I feel like a damn fool.” I knew I was lying to myself. His hug brought back all kind of sexy memories.

Toni hit the steering wheel. “Seriously? You’re going to try to blame me for tonight? I told you he was going to be at this party and you almost passed out. You know you wanted to see him, so stop fronting. Just because he didn’t kiss your ass when he saw you.”

I didn’t say anything else because she was right. When she’d first told me, he would be hosting one of the many celebrity parties during Bayou Classic weekend I’d almost fainted. And I didn’t protest too hard when she bought us tickets to the party. I don’t know what I expected from him, but his coldness toward me as if he never met me, hurt to the core.

Toni pulled into my driveway. “Hey, it can’t hurt to try one more time. He’s probably leaving tomorrow. This may be your only chance.”

“Tonight, was a sign for me to let that fantasy go, once and for all. It has been more than a year.  I have a boyfriend and Jordan’s probably sexing some woman right now.” I shook my head, thinking, he didn’t want anything to do with me. “I’m done. Text me when you get home.” I trudged from the car to my house and turned to wave to Toni once I opened my front door.

She called, “I wish you would reconsider.”

I went inside my home and got in the bed without taking off my clothes and cried myself to sleep.

***

My cell beeped waking me out of a fitful sleep.  I rubbed my eyes, struggling to open them.  I looked at the time on my phone and it read 3:36am. It’s probably Toni letting me know she made it home two hours later. I did a double take when I read the message.

Can I come see you?

I popped up in my bed, making my head swim.  It was Jordan. Before I could think and change my mind, I texted him my address.