fiction

Sliding Doors: Part X

well… Happy 2012 everyone. 🙂

hope the first week of the new year has been awesome for you all. mine has been pretty filled with writing, but that’s no different than any other week i suppose. annyhooo.. if you’re new to the Sliding Doors series, feel free to acquaint yourselves right up there ^ next to “About.”

as always, sharing is caring and comments are awesome.

enjoy!

__________________________________________

December 2010

“I’m really quite boring. I’ve had a pretty uneventful life thus far.” Nigel’s words slid through his intoxicated smile, landed in the glass of brown liquid he put to his lips.

The brunette across from him, all legs and hair and strong Australian accent, was flirting, tanned leg bouncing softly, sliding against his jeans. Close. Body language had always been a source of fascination for him. So much communication could be relayed with so little words. Women who had mastered the art of subtle, nonverbal communication were his weakness. Rubik’s Cube personalities drew him in.

She bit the lip above her dimpled chin, cast a sly, stormy blue stare his way. Gleaming hair made for a Paul Mitchell commercial cascaded down the bare shoulders hoisting her tilted, elegant neck.

“So you’re a liar as well. Figures. Lawyer, liar, close enough.” She stood, moved closer, stared him down from above. Five inch heels added to five feet and ten inches of thin, svelte angles. A cloud of sweet smelling air wafted his way. (more…)

Sliding Doors: Part IX

hey!

if you’re new to the Sliding Doors series, you can find previous installments riiight ^ there next to “About.”

as always, comments are awesome, and sharing is caring. :-)

grazie!

___________________________

December 2010 

“You look sick, son.”

The old man’s voice was an ancient river, running thick and heavy with wisdom; always slow and deliberate, on his own time. Nigel looked out the immaculate window at the deceptively bright day, the sun’s smile glinting off the last traces of last week’s snowfall.

His own smile had left two weeks ago. Gone with the wind, or some sick abortion clinic in California.

“I’m cool.” He adjusted his sweater, classic argyle hiding his seeping heart.

Ruined.

His mind was too full, heavy as the bags of salt that weighted his car down this winter. His father wouldn’t understand. Couldn’t understand the strength it took to be here today, just to stand and be present without being reminded of that woman.

Jade was a poison. A jagged stab in his side. The type of nagging pain that ate at you, a vulture over a rotting carcass.

Fuck her. His mind had this biting stand-by on auto-reply each time he felt the nip of sadness trying to creep in.

“Come here, son. Tell me what’s troubling you.”

Nigel stopped, turned to face the man who gave him his black stare, his sharp nose, his acute temper. He kept his face mute, stone. “I said I’m cool, Joe.”

(more…)

Sliding Doors: Part VIII

hey! as always, comments are appreciated, and sharing is caring. :-)

if you’re new to the Sliding Doors series, you can find previous installments riiight ^ there next to “About.”

grazie!

______________________________

Ruined.

Like a Van Gogh painting after an encounter with a destructive teen, abandoned carelessly in some alleyway to be discarded and forgotten, maybe serve as the leaking rooftop to some cardboard transient home.

Like a revered pharaoh’s tomb, left open to be raided by looters looking for a quick fortune, carrying legacy away in broken pieces, sold on the black market for half its worth.

That’s what she’d done to his heart.

That’s how he felt.

Ruined.

Fucking ruined.

He’d never love anyone that way again. Wouldn’t give it the opportunity to rip this kind of hole in him, spill his contents with the jagged-edged shards of glass that were X-Chromosomed people.

He swiped at his slow-leaking right eye, the unsavory combination of twenty-four sleepless hours, an inordinate amount of Jack Daniels, and these fucking tears he couldn’t stop, coloring his eyes stop sign red. He swiped again, irritated at the pain he usually hid so well manifesting itself to the outside world.

He stared down at the black Ferragamo wingtips cloaking his feet in comfort, the fine cream pinstripes riding down the Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit coating his body with affluence. The arrogant aroma of sophisticated perfection emanated from him with the vigor of a freshly cut onion. He was a picture of privilege; an expertly painted canvas of success. He’d spent most of his life aiming to attain, and then doing exactly that: The boarding school education he’d begged his parents for. Carletta Drake’s virginity in the eighth grade. A starting spot on the varsity basketball team, and the lead debater on the debate team. The valedictorian title at his top-ten ranked private high school. A scholarship and J.D. From Columbia. A deliriously sexy six-month long tryst with a stunning starlet. And after that, any and everything he wanted; women and watches being his most fervent conquests.

He lived as if no woman was out of his league. Nothing was unattainable. His rap sheet, the Nigel chapter in the history book of life, was one filled with beautiful women and absurd amounts of sex.

Yet, reality had proved him as counterfeit as a three-dollar bill. It was a lie.

(more…)

The Acquiescence

word.

“the anticipation of love-making got you shaking when you’re standing near me…”

the build up has been almost impossible to handle.

anticipating which scent you’d bless the atmosphere and my nostrils with on this night. what words would ignite the grin that led to the touch, that led to sweet kisses. who would be the first to intimately invade the other’s personal space.

and now, i stand before you. vulnerable, yet confident. skin glowing like nature’s light has kissed it and permanently named it Golden. i’m wearing brown … skin. supple brown and Chanel … perfume. i turn, slowly. enjoy the tour your eyes take from the curve of my nose, up the peak of my hardened chocolate mounds, down the valley between my toned thighs, to the very last pink polished toenail.

you are immersed, visually. i dare to drown you.

the smirk on my glossed lips do well at keeping secret the fact that my heart is doing an Olympic sprint in my chest. a subtle lift in your eyebrow hints at your intrigue with my confidence. (more…)

Sliding Doors: Part VII

heyyyy. as always, comments are appreciated, and sharing is caring. 🙂

if you’re new to the Sliding Doors series, you can find previous installments riiight ^ there next to “About.”

enjoy!

_____________________________

“You’re sure you’ll be alright. Do you need me to meet you out there, babe? It’s no problem, really.” She could hear the suppressed worry leaking through the other end of her cell.

“No, Nate. Honey I’m fiiine. Just a one day meeting, and I’ll be back home.”

Nathaniel released an unsure sigh. “Alright, I’m sure you can hold your own with those women. Call me later, my love.”

Having been elected to the board of one of Detroit’s most prominent nonprofits for African American women provided Jade a perfect travel excuse: the ambiguous and inescapable “meeting.”

She learned long ago that the politician in Nate was fond of certain buzz words. ‘Meeting’ was one of them. Attach that to anything, and immediate understanding was garnered.

The plan was to meet with one of her corporate connects to discuss a potential sponsorship while she was out here. That made her omission of the real reason for travel seem a little less … deceiving, in her mind.

A little.

When she got up to the counter at Hertz, she whispered her love to her husband, pressed the end button on the latest 4G Android phone he’d gotten her. She could barely get used to one before Nate was upgrading her with its replacement. An unused ipad sat on her nightstand at this very moment. If she let him have his way, their child would be learning to type on some four-thousand-dollar gadget by age two.

Their child.

Jade looked down at her mosquito bite of a belly, froze knowing a little version of herself could be nestled inside. She imagined what color her eyes would be. Tar pit black like Nigel’s, or deep syrup like hers. Her small, flat nose, or a sharply contoured one like Nigel’s.

Or Nate’s.

She sighed heavily. The brief hiatus she’d had from these tortured thoughts from the hangar exit up until now was over, as soon as it began.

She was really about to go through with it.

She was really going to have an abortion.

Throughout the night and today’s less than smooth flight, she’d been slammed with this realization ever so often. Like fifty footballers ready to win a championship, thoughts of what she was about to do trampled onto the field of her mind, caused her to stop, think, sigh. Cry.

Nigel must hate her. With his whole self.

Her conversation with him last night told her that much. Of all the turbulence she and Nigel had experienced during this rocky, jagged road of a pseudo-relationship they were on, she’d never seen Nigel so angry at her, so wounded she could practically see the blood seeping from his chest.

Moisture gathered, clouding her vision, her heart, each time her memory framed the picture of Nigel’s face, tears streaming down smooth dark cheeks last night.

He’d pleaded with her not to go through with it. Not to kill his child. He didn’t have to tell her that by aborting this baby she’d be murdering his love as well, stabbing their already fragile relationship in the heart.

His pain had caused such an ache in her heart that she’d had to leave; walk away and regain strength to face him in all his nakedness, something she’d never seen beyond the physical.

It hurt so much to hurt him.

It hurt even more to love him.

And Nathaniel was her husband. Not Nigel. No matter how much he felt it, no matter how strongly she wished it. Daily she had to remind herself of this undeniable fact.

The balmy sunshine served as a warm greeting as she pushed her rental away from the airport. Seeing a palm tree after months piled on months of not, passing by familiar sites and stomping grounds, showered a little joy through the pall of melancholy looming over this whole excursion.

The muted-mustard colored house was one she’d been to many, many times. Each room held kept secrets, each wall a story of youth and coming of age.

Bedford Avenue.  She had gone back to Cali.

Where so many dreams came true, and her repeatedly broken heart was nursed to health form puppy love devastations. She hadn’t felt ready for the world until the owners of this home had given their blessing, had told her she was fully prepared to be out on her own.

This was her oven.

She followed the familiar red brick paved, circular driveway around past the gate of the huge, ranch-style home. The door was open before she could step onto the long porch with both sandaled feet.

“So you had to be knocked up to come back to Cali, huh. If I’d have known that I’d have took care of that a long time ago.” A smile that put the sun to shame beamed at her.

Same perfectly round head, bald now. Same slim build, though proof of hours of sweat and working out forced her to notice the new definition. Same black “beater” he was so fond of. Tattoo-less tawny skin.

Oh, how this man had lived in the pages of her Dear Diaries during her adolescence.

“Shut it.” She returned his smile, joy ping-ponging between them like an old Atari game.

Kevin encased her in a tight hug, kissed her forehead like he always did. He’d been kissing that spot since their days as the Most Popular Couple of Dorsey High’s senior class.

“Gina’s in the back.” He held her a little longer, rubbed her shoulders up and down consolingly. He knew how hard the call had been for her to make.

Knew how difficult of a decision this was for Jade.

She entered the large home, dark, gleaming hardwood floors meeting her every step.

It even still smelled the same. Like cinnamon.

“Um, I suppose you weren’t going to tell me you chopped all your hair off then, heifer.”

Gina’s cozy, albeit rude voice, was like a special blanket she’d been missing. Her tan skin and thick, silky black hair, a favorite lost stuffed animal. Gina was her comfort, her innocence, her entire early life history in human form. She wrapped her arms around her best friend, her sister since age four.

“You know I go for shock value.” Jade’s hands reached up, smoothed her short tresses. Sometimes she forgot she’d changed her appearance so much over the years.

They embraced the way sisters embrace when they’ve both been missing each other more than the other would ever know; let unspoken apologies linger, rest between them, become understood.

They spent the day reminiscing about childhood, about the time before there ever existed a Joy, or a rehabbed Gina. Before the saying “when life gives you lemons” was even a shadow of a reality in their sunny lives.

Since their parents, her godparents, had died in a freak boating incident, Kevin and Gina had moved back to the big mustard-hued house, refused to sell their past to some newly married couple that wouldn’t appreciate its history, or know the importance of leaving the three antique light fixtures hanging above the modern bar in the kitchen.

They wouldn’t know that Gina’s mom bought them handmade from an local artisan in Mexico during a volunteer teaching stint in Guanajuato. Or that they were her favorite items in the whole house.

Jade lay on the high-backed leather bench in the dining room while Gina worked in the kitchen. They ate cangrejo con coco for dinner, the coconut flavored crab taking her up nine clouds and back. Their household had always strongly embraced their Dominican heritage. Gina’s cooking made you feel as though you’d escaped to the DR for a meal-long getaway. Jade wished she would go ahead and open up a restaurant already. The money her parents had left them was more than enough to do so.

Being an ER surgeon didn’t allow for much free time, though.

The sun had started her descent to clock out, let the moon start his shift. They had both lain on the plush area rug in the expansive living room, the heavy aroma of chicken-filled empanaditas permeating the air around them, before Gina addressed the reason for Jade’s visit.

“Are you sure about this?” She looked across at Jade’s belly, too big to just be full from a big meal, yet too small to be recognizably pregnant in something not particularly formfitting.

Wind sailed out of Jade’s mouth, deflated her. Around the room, several framed pictures of Gina’s handsome son Devon told the story of a happy, slightly mischievous seven-year-old.

Nigel’s face, his tears, his bleeding heart, flashed in front of her eyes, made a pang reach the depths of her.

“I have to.” She said, head falling towards the floor.

“Alright. Well Dr. Renata confirmed you for 10 a.m. tomorrow. Good?”

She felt light-headed, helium traveling up her chest, into her tear ducts.

“Fine.” She nodded her head.

She wasn’t fine at all, though. Not at all.

***  

January 2004

Ostrich?

Not Ostrich. Giraffe.

Nigel couldn’t take his eyes off of the long neck below him, the head atop it pushed all the way back into the fluffy white pillow, eyes squeezed close, chin up, elongating her neck even further.

Her neck was like a giraffe’s. Why had he never noticed this before?

“Oh yes, right there Nigel. Yes!”

Her primal moans brought him back from large grasslands full of tall mammals with spotted coats.

He needed to focus. He picked up his rhythm, pulled two fair-skinned legs from either side and hoisted them on each shoulder, leaned in a little.

Toni’s neck extended more, writhed against the pillow, top teeth pinching the pink of her bottom lip without mercy.

He picked up his pace a little more, kept a nice long stroke, just how she liked it.

After a year of navigating Toni’s long curves, he knew every move, every angle, every combination that guaranteed the progression from oohs and ahhs, to her summoning the B.C. days in some ancient Gaelic tongue.

Toni’s bedroom sounds could earn her a Grammy for Best Porn Performance in a Duo or Group. He loved it. Loved knowing he could make her body rock so harmoniously.

He was almost there. He pushed deeper, unlocked a higher pitch from Toni’s vocal chords. Mossy strands of her naturally auburn hair clung to her neck, kissed her forehead.

She grabbed the pillow above her head, pushed against it again, chin up. Images of giraffes running on dry fields flooded his mind once more. He looked to his left, then to his right, five mile legs landing her feet on either side of his ears. Long.

Like a giraffe.

Damn. He lost it. He tried to fight through it, take her to her nirvana she was peeking at from below. Refocused again, pushed harder, speed increased to Indy 500 stats.

“Ohhhh my – ”

The pounding stole Toni’s stormy voice away; he watched the marvel that was a woman’s orgasm ripple through her body, wave after wave of her pulsating almost bringing him back to the tipping point. A few forced jerked movements after her quake subsided, and he collapsed beside her, a pile of heavily breathing rocks.

“You did that.” Her voice was back, deep, sultry and husky, per usual. Her chest caved in and out, face blissful, eyes staring wildly at the vaulted ceiling above them. Small tremors caused her body to move with after-shock every few moments.

His cheek turned up into a half-smile, his eyes on the ceiling too. The giraffes refused to stop their stampede behind his irises, his throbbing member reminding him that he still had a deposit to make.

Toni’s left arm fell brokenly to his chest, her high-noon skin starkly bright against his own midnight. Her hand snaked down beneath the soft white sheet covering her favorite playmate.

“Mmm. You’re still hard?”

“You know it takes a while. I’m good.” He said, the sensation from her rubbing stirring a fire once more. This wasn’t what he wanted, though. Finishing with her had never been a problem.

His piece had spoken its piece tonight.

He yawned, feigned exhaustion. The O’Jays played on a continuous loop in his inner ear. His body was here, but his mind was on the other side of town; lying next to Jade, entangled in her body like purposely knotted shoe strings in your favorite pair of sneakers. She was so compact, struggled to wrap her arms entirely around his body when they lay together.

Not giraffe-like at all.

“Get it up, I put it down errytime it pop up.” Toni’s voice was whispery, mimicking Amil and one of her favorite nasty lines from an old Jay-Z song. Her body was turned towards his now; a slow, sedated smile on her face. One elbow propping her up, the other under the sheets directing her hand motion on his growing manhood.

He used to love that about her, the ability to cite random hip-hop quotes for every occasion without thought. Loved the polished, corporate exterior, and soft, yet rebellious tomboy personality that radiated from within.

It used to make him smile.

It still did, sometimes. But sometimes just wasn’t enough anymore.

“Toni, I … don’t know how to say this.” He was shaking his head, chest heaving with the impact this breakup would have on his life. The deception had to stop though. Toni was beautiful. Smart. Supportive for the most part. A great lay. She needed someone who would love her the way he once did.

The way he now loved Jade.

A tide of fear washed over Toni’s face. Lust drained like a pulled stopper in a bath. “Then maybe you shouldn’t say it.”

“Toni, we both know that our relationship has been failing for a while.”

“If you weren’t so busy screwing your little cunt, maybe we could be working on us.” Toni’s casual words were snake venom, coursing through, constricting him unsuspectingly.

She turned to the nightstand, picked up the joint she’d been smoking before the oral pleasures that had started this whole episode. Pinched between forefinger and thumb, she pulled expertly, held, then released in small puffs that lingered above their heads in the light casting in from the hallway.

“What?” was all he could manage.

“You aren’t that naïve to think I didn’t know, are you? What do they teach in law school these days? Don’t you know anything about discovery, exclusionary rules, hearsay and shit?”

She’d never said anything. Not one peep, not one suspicious question. Nothing.

He wondered why. He hadn’t exactly been moving in stealth, but it unnerved him to know that she had chosen not to confront him until now.

Another cloud of smoke pushed through the air above them.

He sat up. “What is it you think you know?” His voice was even, unaffected.

“Oh, I don’t think anything. I know what I know.”

Toni was smart. She wouldn’t reveal her hand unless he fessed up first. And that wasn’t likely to happen. The testosterone wiring within him was programmed to auto-deny any and everything; to escape unscathed.

He was known for his honesty, not for his stupidity.

“Then why haven’t you said anything to me about what you think you know?”

“Again, what do they teach in law school? You don’t indict unless you feel you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

“Negative. You indict when you feel you have enough evidence to go to trial. And as OJ proved, trial does not mean conviction. And this tells me that what you think you know, is insufficient.”

She reached for the black lace thongs on the end of the bed. Slid them a mile high up to where they belonged. Took another puff of the diminished rolled paper creating a smoky Starry Night above the nightstand.

“Details are unimportant. I know you’ve got a little whore on the side. Everything else is moot. You’ve had your fun. Now you can stop.” She faced straight ahead, eyes never connecting with his.

“You don’t know anything. Our relationship has nothing to do with outside entities, Toni. I’m speaking on you and me.”

“You didn’t seem to have a problem with my father being an outside entity, now did you?” She slid an acerbic eye his way. “Get rid of your little slut, Nigel.”

Nigel rose from the decadent bed, calmly put his striped boxers, then his shirt on. Toni had used the looming cloud that was her father as an manipulation tool one too many times.

No more.

“And bring me a latte back. This port is going to require an all-nighter.” She had already switched gears, the CPA in her focused on a presentation for a potential client in the morning.

He paused, glacier eyes stared at her. “Get your own. Not coming back.”

At this he saw panic flood her face once more, the cloak of assuredness peeling off like old paint. “What do you mean? Nigel, we have a life to plan. To live. Are you really going to leave me for some no-class skank?”

Nigel stepped into his shoes, paused again. “No. I’m leaving you for my peace of mind.”

Her face dropped, anger mounted. He watched her gallop her long legs over to him and block the doorway.

As if he couldn’t move her.

“You can’t just walk out on me, Nigel. Remember who owns you before you do something stupid.”

“And you remember I’m a man, before I do something stupid.” The ice in his eyes froze her with fear, matched only by the fire of his rage. “Now, move.”

The moment her body moved an inch, he barged through stormily, almost knocking her over on the way out.

Sliding Doors: Part VI

heyhey! i’ve been trying to get this up for the last few days but alas, tis here! thank you all for reading (and harrassing me about getting the chaps up lol) and i do hope you enjoy! 🙂

if you’ve not read the previous five installments, you can find them right up ^ there next to “About.”

feedback and the clicking of that nifty little share button are always welcomed and appreciated. also, if anyone sees any typos, please let me know. mine eyes read what i mean, and not what’s really there sometimes. thanks! *smiles*

__________________________

PART VI

Nerves.

This was not going to go over well.

She’d gone through a million words, a thousand phrases, to somehow contrive a way to convey her thoughts in a manner that wouldn’t cause immediate ire.

She’d failed.

The time on her phone told Jade she had less than ten minutes to decide what she was going to say.

She’d called Nigel to meet her at this small, nameless coney island in Taylor, miles from Detroit and anyone who would care or be informed enough to recognize the wife of any Detroit politician.

Not so far though so that she couldn’t get back within a half-hour if Nate was to need her.

The small restaurant was just crowded enough, limp-haired blondes and brunettes feeding their equally limp-haired children. Worn flip flops and dingy tanks with words like “Hooters” and “Guns N’ Roses” on them seemed to be the going uniform.

No one cared who she was. She was just another pregnant black girl to these folks. Good. That meant no one would be paying attention to them. And no one would overhear the very personal public conversation she was about to have with him.

At least he’d have to control his anger, his voice, his emotions, here around strangers.

She hoped.

Her head turned to each side of her slowly, big frame shades covering her brown eyes. Noticed the elderly white couple in the left corner, gray hair and varicose-veined-hands picking over country omelets, still touching ever so often, still in love.

Years ago, she’d have rolled her eyes and proclaimed with indignation her views on the probability of growing old with someone.

Now, her soul sang the song of one who was starving for that kind of love. That wanted nothing more than to marry its mate and hide away in that feeling until she was a silver-haired beauty.

Black don’t crack, after all.

She looked down at her small hands, the extravagant ring taking up much too much space on the left one.

It looked out of place. A glass slipper on a lowly maidens foot.

A coat of moisture gathered on her palms, dew settling on a new dawn.

She was afraid.

She was sad.

She was confused. It was all too much.

Early morning. A fresh sun just making it’s way to this side of town, rays peaking cautiously through the big windows to her right like a peeping tom. She’d told Nathaniel she was going to see her mom for a couple of hours, and then to run a few errands. That allowed for plenty of time to hash out whatever rebuttal points Nigel might counter with.

Suddenly her ten minutes were up and the glass door on the opposite end of the small restaurant swung open, a loud clanging of the collection of almost-rusted bells hanging on it announcing his entrance. He didn’t break his long-legged stride until he was at the booth she rested in, the bland formica tabletop sighing under the weight of his arms as he slid in across from her.

Nigel’s smile was a thousand miles, a thousand watts.

“Hey love.” She muttered, her expression an awkward mix of joy and pain.

“Hey sweetheart. Breakfast at sunrise? We haven’t done this since New York.” He reached across the table, caressed her hand, covered the bright diamond.

She took a deep breath, stared at Nigel. Exhaled.

“What’s wrong Jade? Is it Nate?” His smile disappeared, face instantly became one of worry as he noticed her uneasiness.

“This isn’t easy, Nigel. So I’m just going to say it.” She breathed. Drew her hand back to her side of the table. “I don’t want this baby.”

Tears welled. Damnit. She didn’t want to cry.

He was startled, as if she’d just struck him clear across his face with the palm of her hand, as if she couldn’t be serious. As if this was the very last thing he’d expected her to say.

Then he connected, saw her eyes.

“What do you mean?” He kept his voice even. His eyes honed in tight with confusion.

“I mean, I’m going to have an abortion.”

His head was shaking slowly, rejecting the words she’d just let free.

She repeated herself, slower this time. More regret pooled in her eyes.

Nigel’s hand traveled up to his chest, covered his heart. Brows drew together like magnets between his dewy eyes. “This is a nightmare, right? I’m about to wake in my home and find everything is normal and you’ve never told me you want to kill my child, right?”

“I’m sorry, Nigel. I’m not ready for all this. I don’t want this. Do you realize our situation?”

Hatred spread across Nigel’s features, his stare became dark.

Inside, he could feel his heart ripping, one millimeter at a time. She could never un-say this. Never take those words back. Denying his child was denying him. Denying them. And all the risk he’d been taking for all these months.

“Fuck.” He was almost unable to speak. Anger and sadness competed for sole propriety of his emotions. He looked at Jades face, sunglasses removed, a constant stream of tears flowing now. Her ringed-hand swiping unsuccessfully. “You’re almost four months pregnant, Jade. You can’t.” He tried to soften his expression, hide the disgust he felt at her for ruining his morning with this.

“I’m not sixteen weeks yet. But I’m going to go out of state. Change my appearance. Not using my name. I’ve got it all covered. I’ve got a friend that … does these kinds of things. Discreetly.” She looked out the window, at her hands, around the room. Anywhere but in his eyes.

“Are you serious? A friend that does these kinds of things?” Shock vibrated throughout, consumed him. Who was this woman sitting across from him?

“This baby is going to bring a lot of problems, Nigel. A lot of pain. I just can’t do it. I don’t want to do it. Maybe if we were–”

“Maybe if we were what, Jade? A real fucking couple? Not running behind my brother like rebellious teenagers? More in love? What? Maybe if we were what? What Jade!” He felt his voice rising with his anger.

He forced his back against the hard seat, tried to calm himself. An old man in the corner looked over at them, a tinge of fear in his eyes at Nigel’s hushed yell and Jade’s tears. He held his wife’s hand across the table, their plates littered with half-eaten omelets.

Nigel glared back briefly. Fuck love.

She brought him to this fucking restaurant in the middle of nowhere on purpose. Why he kept letting this woman ruin his life, he didn’t understand. Time and again she proved to be bad for his health, his psyche, his heart.

Yet something kept him coming back. Ensnared in something intangible, unreal.

But this was his child, his life seed she was talking about.

“Does Nate know? Your husband? He’s not going to go for this either. You plan on telling him you can’t have my baby while you’re married to him?”

She fondled her dark Chanel frames. “Miscarriage.” More tears dripped, her eyes a broken hose.

He cringed so deep it hurt. Her words exploded in his chest, shrapnel ripping his insides. She wanted no connection to him. The woman he’d sacrificed so much for, the sole reason he’d ever seen Detroit soil at all.

“When?” He managed.

“Tuesday.” Jade dried her face with one of the coarse napkins on the table, weary remnants outlining her eyes. She sniffled quietly, shame emanating like a foul odor. Covered that shame with dark sunglasses once more.

“It’s Saturday. When did you decide–” He struggled with his anger, temper raging. Pushed his locs back roughly. Looked at her face. Beautiful. Evil.

He hated and loved her with a passion that scared him. Made him unsure of what he was capable of. Unsure of what she was capable of.

His hands fell to the table harder than they should have. Jade jumped. Full glasses of water shook, created puddles beneath them. He slipped out of the booth forcefully, tried not to break the clanking glass door on his way out.

 ***

 The crushing sound of fist on leather-bound sand exploded over and over throughout the small hollow gym. Nigel’s rage forced the heavy punching bag back violently each time he struck it.

The more he thought, the angrier he became.

What had his life become? A series of indecent proposals, nameless one-nighters, and illicit relationships. Was this karma? Did he not attend church enough? Had he done more wrong than the average man? Broken more hearts? Ruined lives?

He didn’t understand.

Right now, he could only focus on hitting this bag.

“Yo, you alright?” Aaron came from nowhere, cautious and concerned.

Nigel didn’t realize he’d started beating the bag furiously until his friend’s voice broke him out of the trance.

He stopped, his chest heaving heavily, sweat running from every pore. “Yeah.” He shrugged.

Aaron. His friend of five years, and assumed brother from another mother now. Even with the sandy hair and freckles, he was more Nigel’s twin than Nathaniel would ever be.

“You do know I can see you, right?” Aaron’s eyebrows climbed up his sharply lined forehead.

“Just getting some time in, man. What’s up?” His pride wouldn’t let him risk getting emotional about a woman in front of his boy. Today would not be the day he discussed Jade with Aaron.

Breaking down in his car had been enough. He just wanted to punch the bag in peace. Transfer this negative energy brewing inside to anything not human.

Aaron’s shoulders relaxed in a casual shrug, sensing the just-leave-it-alone in Nigel’s tone. “Aight man. Nothing. About to head home. Jade and the baby good?” he said as he turned to walk towards the exit.

Aaron was the only other soul who knew the real source of the bump in Jade’s belly.

All Nigel could do was nod.

 ***

 December 2003

“You better like this. Took me two hours just to decide which one to get.” Nigel’s face was bright, happy, as he handed the small, baby blue box to Jade.

“Ooh la la. My favorite color. How’d you know?” She purred, recognizing the signature blue Tiffany’s box.

“You’ve only mentioned it around thirty times. And actually made me watch Breakfast At Tiffany’s, which I am still awaiting reward for.”

Nigel cast his glance over at the rich, linen-covered dining table, long cream candles in crystal holders creating a soft glow in the hotel room they would calling home for the weekend. The dark cheery desk against the high window strewn with items: a sterling silver money clip, an Italian leather wallet, a black Burberry blazer, Harlem Nights on DVD.

His favorite movie. Jade had seemingly purchased Esquire’s entire list of gifts for men as his Christmas gift. She was adorable. And worth every penny he’d spent on her gift.

He leaned over, his lips landing softly on hers. She smiled, genuinely.

This was what being loved felt like. Warm.

Nigel’s habit of random and unexpected kisses to her face made every part of her glow. Made her wonder why she’d been calling the bland and sub-par emotional exchanges she’d been a part of in the past, love. That was not love. This, was love.

This, was everything.

“Open it, woman.”

Her pink, french-tipped manicured fingers delicately pulled the top off the box, revealed two sparkling diamond drop earrings and a simple hoop bracelet, diamonds lined around it like little flawless, dainty soldiers.

Understated, elegant, simple.

Beautiful.

Tears misted in her eyes without permission, revealed the soft side he rarely saw.

“This is gorgeous.” Her voice cracked with immeasurable joy.

Nigel felt that familiar feeling pervading his chest again, the feeling that had been creeping in for the last few weeks, each time he was around her. Each time he saw a smile that he’d caused, or her oh-so-expressive eyes that went from sexy to sweet to fiery to sultry to just, beautiful.

Trying to stifle it wasn’t working. She consumed his thoughts, lived in his spirit.

Now he felt the planted seeds of love in his heart.

He had fallen in love with a stripper. The life he led.

He thought of Toni. Pleading with him nightly to bring that old thing back, to put himself in reverse and back up to that space when nothing but her mattered.

And he had tried, he really had. But Toni’s sense of entitlement, her selfishness, her inability to recognize any flaw she owned, yet constantly point out his, created walls. Built a barrier brick by brick over the last two years that had become hardened and immovable.

He was going to have to break her heart.

It wouldn’t be easy, but he was not going to make her happy. Wouldn’t love her like someone else would. And ultimately, he wanted that for her.

Jade’s arms around his neck delighted his senses with sweet perfume and skin of silk.

“I’m glad you like it.” He wrapped his arms around her, picked her small body up and carried her over to the plush king bed in their one-bedroom suite high in the Manhattan sky.

“I love it.” She nuzzled her face in his neck, his short locs grazing her forehead. “And I love the Trump. This is living. This bed is heaven.” She smiled up at him, on her back now.

“Only because you’re in it.”

He was gazing. Staring into her eyes with those familiar ink pools that always seemed to stir her. His eyes, his presence, his lovemaking, so intense it made her dizzy.

“I love you.” It spilled out before she could stop herself, an knocked-over glass full of amorous feelings and enormous trust. She’d never said I love you first.

He smiled. Looked deeper into her, as if he was examining her very heart to confirm her truth. “I love you more.”

She’d been scared to even imagine this moment. Scared that it would be some perfect dream and she’d wake up in her tiny apartment, lonely and without this wonderful man.

Now, it was real. No one could take this from her. In their moments alone, there existed no Toni. She didn’t dance for strangers to make a living. There were no social barriers prohibiting them from being proud of their attached hearts.

There was only him. And her. And this.

And love.

on wet pavement

his eyes were the first to betray the calm demeanor he was trying to convince her he possessed.

his eyes.

seemed like the devil himself had slithered beneath the rain-soaked cement, slipped into the soles of his 500 dollar Prada shoes, inhabited his body, and now rested, quietly demented in his eyes.

those eyes told her feet to move. she couldn’t though. she didn’t.

she was frozen. stood still as if a statue had been erected and taken her place, the only sign of life the heavy tears forcing their way forward. for a split second she saw them like they used to be, smiles abounding, love filling their every pore.

was it possible for a six week relationship to have a ‘used to be’?

for some, six weeks might have seemed far too short a time to have met, fell in love, become engaged and purchased a home, but for them it was as natural as the wind gently blowing through the trees.

he was perfect. any swoon-worthy quality a woman could dream up, he possessed. tall, handsome, sensitive, strong, attentive, very gainfully employed as a highly regarded FBI agent. and the sex. at the mere thought of their passionate bedroom acts, her brain would cue up that “Best I Ever Had” song by that Degrassi kid. although she wasn’t sure if this was a testament to her fiance, or the fact that the song had been over-saturating every radio wave for the last month.

her friends had warned her of the possibles. maybe he was unstable. maybe he was already married. suggested she take her time, not accept a key to his home after seven days of knowing him. all pretending to be happy for her, and yet all secretly thinking that this just couldn’t be real. they dubbed him Mr. Too Good To Be True.

haters.

his mouth was moving, angrily. she tried to hear him above the ire ringing in her ears, but only caught key words. bitch. hoe. triflin.

she heard those loudly. clearly. saw the spittle droplets fling forcefully from his bottom lip and become obscure on the wet ground. she looked down at her left hand. the diamond engagement ring shone against the lone streetlight, proving it was worthy of its $15,000 price tag.

her mouth curved into a nostalgic smile, as the day returned to her when he’d choked out the words “i want to marry you.” he was so nervous that day. so full of love for her. so genuinely happy when she’d kissed his mouth and said yes. her smile curved a little more.

she looked back up at him, those eyes still telling her he was at the brink.

her own were cloudy. could barely see through the tears. she didn’t bother looking down at her hand again, just kept her stare on his dilated pupils. those dark irises, glaring at her, daring her to make any sudden move.

she looked down at the spot on his waist where she knew his gun resided. the gun he had a legal right to carry wherever he went. the gun he wasn’t supposed to have on him while intoxicated. she knew every nut, bolt and curve as if it were her own.

she thought about earlier that evening, when she’d suggested he leave his ‘baby’ at home. this was a celebratory night. he would be drunk before eleven. he’d laughed at her. he never went anywhere without it.

she smiled again.

“fuck you. and fuck this ring.”

in one swift motion, she slipped the ring off and threw it with all her might, into the darkness of the parking lot. fuck him. the alcohol polluting her blood stream told her she meant it with everything inside her.

something snapped. broke loose. those eyes raged, turned dark.

the first blow found her face on the ground, the dirty pavement kissing up at her aggressively. she turned over, saw that familiar steel. saw those raging eyes. tried to close her’s and envision a nice summer’s day. didn’t want those aphotic irises to be the last thing she saw.

she was too late.