~I dropped the box of B-Way Burger fries on the table and sat back, chest heaving, telling me to slow down and catch my breath.
“That was every fucking thing,” I murmured, chewing the last in my mouth.
“Okay. Can we now go for that tour?” Ivie grumbled as she paced the only interior wall of the solarium.
She then turned to observe me over her shoulder. Mya, across from me, swiped her nervous eyes from Ivie over to me.
“Maybe we should find out what’s wrong with our friend before we go voyaging through her home.”
I shook my head and mumbled, “It ain’t my home.”
Ivie turned completely to face us as my eyes swung over to the New York City skyline behind me.
Mya gasped. “Why would you say that, Wynter?”
The nightlights of the City across the water roused me. It reminded me of how small my world was compared to the grand scheme of life. That humbled me. My friends being here in my tender state warmed me.
My head shot over to them, eyes narrowed with suspicion. “You two never said how you knew I was here. How’d you even know about this place?”
Once again, Mya’s telling eyes roved up to Ivie.
Ivie stepped over to resume her seat around the coffee table and grabbed her paper cup. “Your building people were expecting us. They were told to.” She sipped from the straw.
“By whom?” I demanded with wide eyes.
“By Ragee.” Mya giggled nervously, eyes bouncing between the two of us. “Your husband.”
“You tripping, Wyn. Making us nervous,” Ivie complained.
I sighed harshly, sitting up, and propping my elbows on my knees, burying my face in my palms.
“Please tell me those rumors about you and fine ass Teke ain’t true!” I heard the panic in that inquiry.
They heard about that?
“Of course not, Ivie! Why in the hell would you say shit like that?” Mya chided.
“Because she ain’t saying shit, but is damn sure acting weird. What the fuck, Wynter?”
“Well, Raj wouldn’t invite us here to be with her if she cheated.” Mya’s tone turned less confident. “Would he, Wynter?”
“Bitch, say something!” Ivie demanded.
I lifted my head. “I couldn’t tell you why Raj invited you guys over.” No matter how much I needed it, I didn’t know. “I can’t tell you lots of things about him. And to address your question, Ivie, the reason why is because right now, I know him almost as well as I do Teke.” Mya gasped again. “Only difference is I haven’t fucked Teke. Never wanted to.”
“Oh!” Ivie threw her weight to the back of her chair, expressing relief. “Because for a minute, I was believing the one about y’all not really being married again!” Her arms lashed the air dramatically.
She didn’t get it.
“You should, because it’s true.”
The room seemed to have muted all at once. Even the sounds of the traffic pollution from below ceased. My friends exchanged a gaze resembling shock and confirmation.
Ivie’s eyes returned to me first in a glower. “What the fuck did you just say—”
“You’re not married?” Mya wouldn’t let her finish.
“I am. Legally.” I shook my head, pinching my nose. This was my breaking point. I knew this secret shit was a bad idea and would blow up in my face. No more. I may not be able to tell the world—and honestly, had no desire to. I owed the public shit. But my friends, the people who knew and loved me didn’t deserve the dark because of my impulsive decision to save Van while pursuing a lifelong dream. Nothing good came from deception and secrets. “Listen… It’s a complicated story. We’re gonna need time and alcohol to get you caught up.” I stood, leaving them for the living room where I knew I’d find the perfect liquid potion.
Mya’s torso swayed forward. Ivie’s upper body leaned over her knees as her face was frozen in shock. Mya’s hair flowed over her shoulder like a curtain when she twisted her neck to look at Ivie next to her. All of their movements resembled robotic at this point. Three shots of Mauve would do that to novices to it. We had three each for the number of years I was due in this shit. I ran down mostly every detail of my relationship with one Ragee McKinnon—all but his abuse.
“So…” Ivie stalled. “That was all a front? Even what we saw of you two with our own eyes when we came to his mansion? You were acting?”
I shook my head, my eyes closing in relation. I rubbed my lips together, pained by the flash memory of unmodified happiness.
“No, Ivie. Keep up!” Mya barked. “That was real.”
Ivie shook her head this time, likely trying not to succumb to the oblivion of premium brandy. “I’m just confused about what’s real and what’s fake.”
“That makes two of us.” I rolled my eyes.
“So, when did you start fucking him?”
“The end of January.” My eyes settled at a spot on the table as my mind raced with this bullshit. “And I don’t even know that he wanted it, but I know he enjoyed it. The fucked up thing about it was afterwards.”
“Why do you say that?” Mya asked with pinkish eyes.
The Mauve had hit its target, bull’s eye with her.
“Because afterward, his first words to me were that he knew I’d gotten tested before all this shit—he did, too; I made sure of it. It was all my idea. But he wanted to know what type of birth control I was on.”
“That R&B motherfucker!” Ivie breathed, mouth balled tight and eyes focused below.
Mya blurted, “Why’d you request STD testing if you knew it was all fake?”
“Because it was another event in my life where I felt my hand being forced. I had little control, and the only power I could execute when the Mike Brown guy had my back up against the wall because I needed help with Van. That was the only counter-clause I could come up with. My only requirement was that he was tested. I remember Mike Brown laughing in my face like ‘yeah, okay…he can do that.’ And I guess the joke was it was useless because we’d never have sex—”
“But you did,” Ivie clarified.
“Yeah we did.”
Mya’s chin dipped, in search of understanding. “And it was good?”
“It was the most passionate thing I ever experienced in my life. Like…I would never have dick like that again.” I cringed on a long exhale. “I’m sure.”
“Well, fuck that!” Ivie glared. “We gone figure this out.”
I shook my head, eyes closed as I was now feeling the magic of Mauve. “That’s not why I’m telling you guys. I only came clean because I don’t want you being a part of the lie. Like…that’s why I stayed away all those months. It’s why you didn’t hear from me. And I will not allow him to bring you guys into this under the guise of being a co-conspirator to something that isn’t even real.”
“Fuck ‘im.” Ivie’s head swayed softly, her mouth turned up in anger. “Fuck ‘im! Go fuck Teke. He cute and ‘bout to be popping with B City.”
I rolled my eyes. She was knocking on drunk’s door.
“Well, I don’t think this is fake now. I think it’s real,” Mya spoke up, eyes bouncing around the solarium. “I think this is very much real, no matter what he said today about him being the reason you soared in boot camp. I spoke to him myself to arrange everything, and this time I could feel the pain in his voice. I should have known something was up. But I ignored it, not really knowing the guy.”
“Yeah.” I rolled my eyes. “And that part.”
Ivie’s eyes fell upon me. “What about that part?”
I took a deep breath. “He said he fell in love with me.”
“Ahhhhhh!” an incredible roar shot from Ivie’s belly as she shouted, her arms flaying in the air again. “Bullshit!”
“No!” Mya’s voice was unusually strong, drawing my attention to her. “I believe it. Why is that impossible?”
Ivie and I shot daggers into Mya’s naïve regard. No one had faith in Mya’s opinion about relationships period. She was the most sensitive and gullible out of the three of us.
Ignoring that argument, Ivie charged, “Don’t start with that bullshit!” she warned with fervor. “It’s that illuminati bullshit! Don’t do it. Don’t do it!”
I rolled my eyes again.
“No,” Mya continued her fight. “It’s not about ‘Mya being naïve.’ If you’ve not listened to the details of her story,” her hand pointed toward me, “this was very much a legitimate relationship. She gave herself to him, too. I heard that single Ragee just dropped. It reeks of sensual passion!”
“Wynter’s a freak!” Ivie avowed. “She can give him the voodoo punani. A good fuck don’t mean nothing to her. You know this!”
Is she calling me a whore?
“No.” Mya pressed on. “There was more that happened, and I’m sure we’re not hearing the whole story.” Mya eyed me keenly and I returned it, just not as confidently. “And I’m not asking for the uncut story because that’s between you and your husband, but I’m willing to bet you’re in love with him, too.”
Ivie tossed herself against the back of the chair again and swung her arms open wide. “Ugh! This bitch with this happily ever after bullshit,” she grunted.
“No,” Mya began her response with the same word again. “I don’t want to know. That’s not me asking for more or for you to admit anything. I just want you to be real with yourself. And if he’s in love with you, I think you need to really consider your next move because the contract can be legal, but so is your marriage license. It’s real. So if you want it, you better think long and hard—without your hyper-hungry pussy—about your next steps.”~
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