Please see "Chapter You May Have Missed" for previous chapters/parts.
The two, along with little Camden, stood from the table and skated over to the locker which held their belongings. Neo handed Lelani the small key to the locker and turned his attention back to Camden who was sitting on the bench flinging his legs back and forth on the carpeted floor making the wheels of the skates spin. As Neo helped Camden with his skates, Lelani pulled their coats and shoes from the locker, placing them on the bench next to Camden. She let the door of the locker swing shut, revealing Tayla’s short stature on the other side. She stepped backed and looked up at Andre, who was standing just behind her nemesis.
“Leaving so soon? I told you not to try and run, didn’t I?”
“I’m not running.”
“So let me get this straight. You’re not running but you’re not staying for the countdown either?”
“Tayla, I think it’s none of your business what I’m doing or where I’m going.”
“So if you won’t tell her then I think you should tell me. Why do you keep running away from me, Jicole.”“
“I asked you not to call me that anymore, Andre.”
“Oh, so now it’s Andre. Seriously, we need to talk. You owe me and explanation.”
“I know, but this is not the time, nor is this the place.”
“So when is? I just can’t seem to get a hold of you these days. You so busy dealing with ole boy, you aint got time for shit.”
“Don’t disrespect him like that. Leave him out of this.”
“You need to tell me what’s up, Lelani.”
“Look, if you wanna talk, then meet me at Lake Eola in 30 minutes. Alone.”
“Don’t have me go out there and you not show. I’m tired of playing games with you, girl.”
“No games. Straight up. Eola, 30 minutes.”
Dre nodded in agreement and turned to leave. When Tayla lingered, he snatched her by her upper arm and pulled her away. He didn’t want her messing up anything between him and Lelani, even if it was just an impromptu meeting to discuss things. Lelani turned around and looked over at Neo. He stood and gave her a long hug. He softly whispered into her ear. He offered to accompany her to the lake, but she declined. She felt that it was time that she face Dre, and she knew that she would have to do it alone.
After leaving the skating rink, Lelani drove Neo and Camden back to their hotel. The Grand Bohemian was a luxury hotel in downtown Orlando that catered to the upper-class wealthy, superstars, and professional athletes. She pulled into the underground hotel drive and let the two out at the entrance. Neo suggested that she return after her meeting with Dre and gave her the spare key to his suite. He lightly kissed her cheeck and squeezed her hand before exiting her car. As a tear fell from her eye, she smiled at Neo’s thoughtfulness and drove off.
By the time Lelani reached the lake park, 25 minutes had nearly past. She got out and headed towards the swings. The cold, chilly air breezed through her hair. The moon was high in the sky; she could tell it was almost midnight. The light reflected off the lake’s water. She could hear the sound of the waters running over the fountain, that marked the center of the lake, splash against its stone frame. Lelani took a seat in one of the swings and twisted her feet around in the sand. She dropped her head and took a deep breathe. In just a few minutes everything would be coming into the light.
In the distance, Lelani heard footsteps crunching on the icy grass. She looked up to see a tall slender figure appear in the darkness. The silhouette resembled Dre’s. Unsure what the next few moments held, Lelani dropped her head once more and prepared for the confrontation.
Dre approached the swings and took one next to Lelani. He was quite, and with each passing moment, the tension between the ex-lovers grew. There wasn’t much to be done, they both knew they each had a story to tell and the air to clear. Lelani untwisted her feet and pushed off ground, thrusting her self into motion. The rusty chains echoed as she swung. Andre peeled himself from the swing and placed himself in position behind Lelani, initiating a push to return her forward.
“I’m sorry, Lelani. I never meant to hurt you.”
“Really? You could have fooled me. You you realize that what you did started all this? You sleeping with my best friend was like the first domino falling in a domino chain.”
“I know I fucked up, but you left me no choice. You thought school was more important than I was. I needed attention that you weren’t willing to give me. Shawnda was there and it just happened.”
“No, things like that just don’t happen, Dre. Especially since you did it so publicly! I mean, everyone knew! I was looking like a straight dumbass.”
“I’m trying to apologize. I been trying to apologize. You ran away. You didn’t even give me a chance to make amends for it.”
“What could you have done? The deed was done. You fucked her! There’s no taking that back!”
“Ok, there’s no excusing my actions, but only God’s words could describe what I was feeling when your mom told me that you left to Miami. You didn’t even tell me. You just left!”
“You made that decision. I left because you did some foul shit. That wasn’t something I wanted us to go through.”
“Us? We didn’t go through anything cuz you left me. So what the hell are you talking about.”
“Dre, the day that you and Shawnda happened, I found out that I was pregnant. When I found you guys at her house, I was on the way over there to talk to her about it. I didn’t expect you to be there doing what you were doing.”
“What?!?!? You were pregnant?”
“Yeah, Dre. Pregnant. I was scared when I found out and I needed someone. I wanted to tell you but then that other shit threw me.”
“Lelani, I had no idea.”
Dre pulled the swing to a stop and walked in front of his ex-girlfriend. He grabbed her hand and led her over to the jungle gym platform to sit down. She slid in next to him and rested her head on the cold pole that made up the gym framework. She held back the tears that were welling in her eyes.
Dre confessed the details of his affair with Shawnda. He told Lelani that she had called him over and asked him to help her with a problem she was having with her car. After several attempts to get it up and running, he told her to call his friend at the detail shop he worked at. Dre ended his tale with the sexual particulars. His tone was remorseful and Lelani could tell that he was being sincere in his apologetic attitude.
When Dre finished his confession, Lelani picked up on her end of the misunderstanding. She told him about why she went as far as to move to Miami to distance herself from him. She explained that she didn’t want the abortion, but without knowing if their relationship was going to continue, she wasn’t going to drag a child through the stress and pain that she was already feeling. Admitting to the petty antics she used to avoid him, she apologized.
“It wasn’t easy for me, and I know it wasn’t easy for you. I never told you about the baby and it was your right to know.”
“I can’t believe you would do that. And even if you had wanted that, how could you just go through with it by yourself? I was suppose to be there, no matter what.”
“Well, there’s no changing it now. Its over. We’re over. Sad but true.”
“It doesn’t have to be that way. I still love you, Lelani.”
“I will always have love for you, Dre, but I’m in love with someone else now.”
“That dude from the rink?”
“Yeah. And he cares for me, too. I can’t abandon what I have with him for something that may or may not work between us.”
“Understandable. But I do want you to know something else.”
“Shawnda and I have a child together. She got pregnant that day.”
“Really? I didn’t know. I never spoke to her after that. I put her on my black list. What you guys have?”
“A little girl. We named her Cicely Jicole.”
“Wow. Why would you do that?”
“After two of the ladies I truly love. You and my mom.”
“How does Shawnda feel about that?”
“She didn’t care. After she had her, she started trippin out. I have custody of Cicely. Shawnda comes by every now and then, but not enough.”
“Sorry to hear that. Well I wish you the best with her.”
A silence came over the conversation again. This time, the tension seem to be less invasive. Looking down at the time on his phone, Dre told Lelani he needed to get back to Cicely to bring in the New Year. They stood from the platform and they both walked over to Lelani’s car. He opened the driver side door and let her get in. He squatted down next to her in the seat and kissed her forehead. Dre apologized one last time and wished Lelani the best. He closed the door and stood in the street, watching her pull off into the night.
Lelani arrived back at the Grand Bohemian a short time later. She glanced down at the clock display and it was 10 minutes before midnight. She hurriedly exited the car and paced the hotel foyer to the elevators. She didn’t want to miss the countdown. She pulled the key from her pocket and inserted it into the door lock of room 2701. Inside the suite, she heard the echo of Dick Clark’s voice coming from the TV. She turned the corner leading into the living space, seeing Camden stretched out on the sofa and Neo curled up behind him, both asleep. They were draped in a Miami Heat fleece throw.
Lelani removed her shoes from her feet and stepped down in the living area. She leaned over Camden and kissed Neo awake. He pushed his hand into her hair, using his thumb to stroke her face. Lelani broke the kiss and stepped backward. Neo slowly removed his arm from underneath Camden‘s head, trying not wake him. Neo and Lelani made their way into the next room and closed the door. The couple brought in the new year making love.
Mykell awoke into the new year to the sound of her cell phone ringing. She rolled over and checked the display. After her eyes focused on the number, she mashed the ignore button and set the phone back upon the night table. She lifted the comforter up above her head and adjusted the pillow comfortably beneath her head.
Just as she was drifting back off to sleep, her phone rang for a second time. She reached out and pulled it into her makeshift cocoon under the covers and flipped it open to answer it. She said hello twice before the voice on the other end spoke.
“Hey, big head. Happy New Year!”
“Who is this?”
“Oh, you don’t know me no more?”
“If I did, I wouldn’t have asked.”
“Damn. Same slick mouth I used to know. It’s D, girl.”
“What do you want, boy?”
“I called to see how you was doing. I haven’t spoken to you since Palm Beach.”
“So why call me now. Don’t you think if I wanted to talk to you I would have called you?”
“I thought it was because you’ve been so busy modeling. You know you miss me.”
“Um, not really. Besides, you’re with Torrance. Why should I even care?”
“Cuz it’s me! Don’t start acting like that now. Torrance is a right now chick. She don’t mean nothing to me. I want you, Mykell.”
“You only want me now because you can’t have me. When I wanted you, you was playing me. Now look who’s getting played.”
“You think it’s a game. I will have you! Like I told you in Pam Beach, that’s my pussy!”
“Ha! You wish, nigga.”
Before Mykell had a chance to respond, Dayshawn ended the call. Mykell searched through her phonebook and dialed Dallas’ number. Before he could say good-morning, Mykell hurriedly informed him of her conversation with Dayshawn. Dallas calmed her so he could clearly get the entire story. She repeated it slowly, leaving no detail out. Dallas reassured his girlfriend that he would handle the situation. The two continued to talk until Dallas got another call.
Unable to go back to sleep after talking to Dallas, Mykell peeled back the covers and swung her body into a sitting position. She slid her feet into the plush slippers sitting on the floor next to the bed and walked across the room to exit. Mykell smelled the aroma of a southern breakfast flowing down the hall. Her mother Georgetta must have been in the kitchen early preparing the meals for the day. A tradition for her family was to have all of her extended family over for New Year’s dinner.
The light shone through the skylight in the kitchen, brightening the breakfast table. Mykell slid into the chair centered in the bay window and began fixing her plate with food. She watched her mom season the chicken lying in the sink. The silence between them continued from the previous night. Her mother looked up from the chicken and eyed Mykell with sadness.
“You can‘t say good morning, girl?” Georgetta directed towards her oldest daughter.
“Sorry. Good morning, mama,” answered Mykell.
“Why don’t you just get up and say it? Why do I have to ask you to say it?”
“Is it that serious?”
“Not serious, just a little respectful to speak to people. I taught you better than that, missy.”
“Didn’t mean to be disrespectful, mama. Just a little upset.”
“Why? What could have possibly upset you this early?”
“Nothing that Dallas can’t handle. I’m ok.”
“Well since you brought it up. Who is this Dallas character anyway? I mean you told me his name before but who is he?”
“He’s just a guy, ma. A nice guy.”
“That’s it? Just some nice guy?”
“Yeah, just some random nice guy I know.”
“If you say so, Mykell. Hurry and finish that breakfast. I got things to do at that table.”
“And your sister and Quentin will be here later. I expect you to be cordial.”
“Why should I be? Quentin robbed my sister of her young adult years by knocking her up and marrying her.”
“Mykell, watch your mouth. Your sister got herself into that. It was not just Quentin’s doing. He was just man enough to step up. So I don’t want you bad mouthing him.”
“Whatever. Well, don’t expect too much more than that from me.”
“Now that’s enough. If you cant anything nice or respectable, then I suggest you keep your mouth closed.”
“If you say so.”
Mykell finished her breakfast and retreated back into her room. She took a seat at her computer and powered it on. As it booted up, she thought about Dallas, as she could only imagine what he was doing. Mykell went through the motions of checking her emails and personal web pages. She had gotten a few modeling inquiries in her profile page at BPI’s website, but nothing that she really wanted.
An instant message window popped up from a user that wasn’t on her buddy list. She hit the accept button, curious to who would be contacting her via instant message. She maximized the message window and read the message.
“I told you that you would hear from me again.”
“Who is this?”
“Don’t worry about that. You will soon see. I’m at your house right now. Waiting for you to come home.”
“Ha. I’m not home, so you’re wasting your time.”
“I know. But you have to come home sometime. And I will be here waiting on you when you do.”
“Whatever. Well, whoever you are, I’m not scared. My boyfriend has connections and can make you disappear. So keep playing!”
“Are you trying to scare me with your boyfriend? I don’t think he’s that dedicated to you.”
“How would you know. You poppin shit via internet. You playing internet gangsta, fo real.”
“Trust me. I’m real. Just wait and see, lil mama.”
The mysterious persona, signed on as MykellIAm4U, quickly signed off and left Mykell wondering much. She paced across the room and pulled her cell from the table. Mykell dialed Dallas’ number in hopes of reaching him again. The other end rang until Dallas’ voicemail answered. She left a brief message for him to return her call. She replaced her phone on the night table, trying to slow her racing heart. Although she tried desperately to convince herself otherwise, Mykell was still skeptical about the extent of her relationship with Dallas.
Without letting her instant message conversation interfere with the rest of her day, she set her thoughts aside and prepared for the family gathering.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Please see "Chapter You May Have Missed" for previous chapters/parts.