Pssssttt! We have another release coming 09.06!

I Get Lost In Your Love

 

 

 

#Dirty30 & Get Laid in Vegas.

That was the plan. That was the entire plan and ExZhia Bishop had prepped her mind and body to be completely in line with the plan. She decided that she would leave her morals, common sense and decency back home in Dallas and just go for it. Determining that she only lived once, and turned thirty once. She wanted to do something brazen and completely out of character for her and she had her plan. That was until a morning run turned into an accident that shifted her plans as well as her life in a way that threatened to ruin her birthday and her opportunity to sow her wild oats.

Daniel is in a weird space, one that he dreads deeply and wishes to be delivered from. Divorce is hard in itself but the added level of betrayal he was experiences made him feel broken in more ways than he can verbalize. He had to shake back and in order to do that, his close friends conclude that a spontaneous trip to Vegas is the thing that he needs.

Two paths that constantly cross are surely meant to be tangled in some way. Right?

I Get Lost In Your Love is a witty, fun-filled love story about pain, growth and the journey of love.

Most of you have already gotten a look into this book at the end of Right At Love (https://goo.gl/PoswkD) but here is an extended sneak peek!

 

Chapter 29!

…but it’s literally the Prologue, so not really!

 

This chapter should be called…running (literally running) into a fine man at the park! But nope, I decided to go with an ode to the slaying of my youth. When I say slaying, I don’t mean it in the sense that my loveable Houstonian Beyonce meant it. I mean it in its natural sense- the overkill and literal death of my youth. I don’t know why we as women freaked out when we hit the curve to turn thirty but I was definitely following suit with the norm. Well, it was either that or I had some sort of death wish. What other reason would I be running like I stole something at five in the morning? Ok, I wasn’t running that fast because I just wasn’t naturally athletic per say. Ok, let me be honest because this was my first time running all year. I mean, I ran to the elevator when it was about to leave. I also ran into the church when I was behind schedule. I even ran to the mailbox but my feet never increased in its speed or tempo when I did that. But everyone says they ran to the mailbox so I think it’s only fair that we count my trips as running as well.

I’m rambling before I even introduce myself. My name is ExZhia Raine Bishop. Yeah, my momma was tripping hard when she named me so all my real friends call me Zhia. All the people in my life that liked being assholes called me Ex. I’d been living with that name for the last twenty-nine years and I probably came out the wound wanting to change it to something simple like Leslie or Brittany but my momma all out cried the first time I ran the idea by her. She started going off about my roots and the fact that my African ancestors would turn over in their graves if I Americanized my name. I didn’t even know if my name had African roots for real because sometimes my momma be reaching. I wanted to tell my momma that the chances of me visiting Africa in my lifetime were slim to none. Maybe I would be able to make it in my second like when I came back as a white woman named Leslie with good credit dripping in white privilege. Yes, white privilege is a thing and I was well aware of it. This ain’t what this book is about though, so we won’t get into that. As I already stated, I’m twenty- nine years old and pretty sure I was experiencing a premature midlife crisis. When my best girlfriends called me to see how I would be celebrating my Dirty 30, I literally had a mental breakdown right in front of the elevator that I had just run to. It was a mess. A complete mess. I literally cried in my corner office at one of the biggest technical advancement corporations in the world. I had snot and spit-ugh! I was a very low day for me. After that breakdown though, I was able to pull myself together and actually create real plans. I would hit Vegas and get sloppy drunk. So drunk that the fact that I was thirty, unmarried with no kids didn’t throw me into the great depression of two thousand and eighteen. Was going to Vegas and getting drunk the ideal situation for me? No, not at all. But I spent so much time crying about turning thirty that I forgot that I had to actually celebrate my birthday. So my last minute plans were the same as everyone else’s- go to Vegas, get drunk and maybe have a one night stand with a fine stranger that I’ll never see again.

The one night stand thing was a reach being that my momma drilled me with these things that I found annoying in my old age- morals. Farah Bishop was so serious about waiting until marriage that I think she made a song and dance to go with the saying. Though I did get buck wild in college- it was a very contradictory version of what most would expect to be attached to that term. I didn’t all out wild out but I did toss my v-card out the window and throw my ass in a circle a few times because ain’t that what college is really about? Losing cards and ass throwing? Of course, it was.

So, here I was running and sounding like I was about to have an asthma attack at the crack of dawn because well- it seemed like what I should be doing. I was not a size two and like I said- me and athletics? Nah. I was one of those people who looked to be in great shape and was absolutely not. I had a nice full figure that I inherited from my southern roots. I was the weirdo stuck between being thick and fat- you know that silver lining- I paid rent there. Honestly, though, I wasn’t trying to change anything about my body. I actually loved my body even with my cellulite, big thighs, and ass. I wasn’t the sexiest thing but the way my confidence was set up, you couldn’t tell me shit about me. My hair was in its natural state, graced with about fiddyllem different curl patterns that I tortured myself by trying to tame every night and morning. I was moving up the ladder at Prime Source, which was a fast-growing technical engineering company out of Dallas that I started to work at fresh from Sam Houston State University. I should own the company honestly but you know that glass ceiling black women encounter in corporate America? Yeah, I’ve hit my head on it a few times. I was one of the head engineers which afforded me a corner office and a fat salary but I knew this was as far as I would get for a while. As an old dirty bastard- thirty-year-old- black woman, I wasn’t doing so bad.

I was just about to pick up the pace in my run when Spotify failed me. My face scrunched up as I pulled my watch to my face to look at what was blasting through my ear. “Camila- what? Ew, no!” I groaned as I skipped to the next song, listening as Monica filled my ear. “Yassssss!”

“Oh shit!”

That wasn’t me. Nope! I didn’t yell out when the collision happened. I was too busy trying to register the pain that was radiating through my ass. “Fuck!” I hissed as I lay on the ground looked up at the sun as it pulled from its slumber of the night. I blinked before allowing my eyes to close because this shit hurt. My entire body hurt.

“I’m sorry, beautiful! I didn’t see you!”

I wasn’t even listening to whoever was talking to me because I was pretty sure I was about to die. He sounded like Jesus because when I pray, this was exactly how Jesus sounded- like a fine, black man. I felt his presence near me, then I felt a hand on me, then two and honestly- it was the most action I’d had in a while so that drew my eyes open. I blinked a few times, my eyes adjusting to the light before they opened completely. Yeah, I was dying. “Jesus?”

I saw his smile, his teeth perfect and shining. His hands were still on me. I really didn’t mind dying though because Jesus was fine and I knew he was probably gone send me to Hell if he was reading my thoughts right now. Jezebels always went to Hell is what my mother told me.

My ass was stinging so bad that it was making my head throb. “Am I at the Pearly Gates or nah,” I groaned as he looked down at me.

His face twitched before he moved his hand from mine down to my ankle. “I can assure you that you are not. Does your ankle hurt?”

“Everything hurts,” I replied as I went to move.

“Please don’t move,” he insisted as he pressed my shoulder down. “I’m going to call an ambulance.”

“I can’t go to the hospital. I have to get to work.” I replied as I tried to move again, only to have pain shoot through me. “Ugh!” I gritted as he pressed his hand to my shoulder more firmly.

“Please?” He asked again and for some reason, I listened. I kept my eyes closed before for some reason that made my pain less present. “You took a pretty nasty fall and I’m sorry that I ran into you. I saw you but then you were out of my path until well- you weren’t. Then we collided.”

“Yeah, I was there for the collision but I didn’t see you.”

I heard him telling someone our location in the park- more than likely the ambulance- but I was in too much pain to eavesdrop productively.

“Is there someone that I need to call?”

I shook my head. “There’s no one that needs to know that I busted my ass in the park.”

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was but my ankle did have a slight sprain. I really couldn’t be in Vegas walking around like Sir Limp A Lot so this ankle had two weeks to get its life together.

“How are you feeling, Ms. Bishop?”

I looked at the curtain as the nurse pushed it back and immediately wondered why the hell I was behind a curtain and not in a real room. “Ma’am, I have real life insurance.”

She laughed, clutching the chart to her chest. “Of course you do, Ms. Bishop. We left you down here because we didn’t feel the need to move you upstairs. We did a scan on your head and the rest of your body and the only thing we came up with was the issue with your ankle which was already explained to you. Outside of that, there is nothing else that you need to pay attention to.” She pulled the clipboard from her chest and grabbed her pen. “Now, I wrote you two prescriptions for pain: Tylenol 4’s and Ibuprofen.”

“Two different kinds?”

“You’ll have a lot of pain during the healing process. You don’t feel anything right now because you’re on Ibuprofen. Now, your boyfriend has been asking about you since you came back here. He wants to know if it’s ok for him to come back.”

My brows hiked. “I’m sorry?”

“Your boyfriend.”

“Hey!”

Both the nurse and I turned at the same time at the sound of the voice coming from the opening of the curtain. I literally had to fight to keep my mouth was dropping open. He was not Jesus but he was so fine that I was just God handcrafted him with time, love and a lot of melanin. He was the epitome of too sexy to be real. Tall frame, possibly around 6’7, he literally looked like he was dipped in chocolate, his eyes dipped in honey. His hair was cut low to his head, waves circling his head. He was fine. I mean, next level fine. I wanted to lick him in weird places that any normal person wouldn’t want to lick a stranger.

“I wanted to check on you.” His voice was still sexy as hell. Deep and penetrating. Just looking at him was messing with my blood pressure. The nurse nodded her head before she walked out of the room, leaving me with this fine stranger that told her that he was my, “Boyfriend?” I asked with a blank expression.

His handsome face twitched into a smile as he stepped closer to me. “My name is actually Daniel. I just didn’t want them to kick me out before I checked on you.”

Looking down at the wrap around my ankle, I replied, “It’s just small sprain from what they explained.”

Those words made his face tighten. “Ah damn, I’m sorry about all of this.”

I shrugged, pressing my hands to the bed. “It’s fine. It should be fine soon anyway.”

“Well, I feel bad about this. I just wasn’t looking when I should have been and now your ankle is messed up.”

I could tell that he was really bothered and I wanted to comfort him- say something to make him chill- but these drugs had me loopy. “I –uh. It’s really fine. I’m going to call my friend and have her-.”

“No, please.” His voice. His eyes. Shit. “Let me take you home? I promise I’m not a creep or anything like that. I just- I would like to take you home. That’s the least I could do.”

I wasn’t comfortable with that at all. For one, I didn’t want him to know where I live. For two, I knew I’d ask his ass up for a cup of coffee, tea or me at the first opportunity I had- sprained foot be damned. “Nah, you don’t have to do that.”

“I insist.” He licked his lips and I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be a sexual gesture at this moment but I had all kinds of freaky thoughts running through my mind.

“I can just call-.”

“I can take you close and you can have your friend meet us if that makes you feel safer. I understand we don’t know each other but I- I feel really bad about this.”

I exhaled, shoulders humping. “Ok, we can do it like that.”

I looked around for my phone for a minute before I watched him move. He walked over to the side of me and grabbed my phone off the rolling stand. He was in my personal space and this time around, I was coherent enough to understand the level of man that I was dealing with. I was so glad that I wasn’t hooked up to anything because I knew everything on the machine would go haywire the moment he stepped in front of me. He was still wearing his workout clothes, giving a whole new meaning to the whole #greysweatpantsmatter movement. Yes, my eyes went to his print and my mouth watered, my body tingled and heated. I really really wanted to lick him. I could even feel my tongue snaking out of my mouth to do just that when he reached his hand out to hand me my phone.

“Here you go.”

I examined it as if it were a foreign object before taking it from his large hand. There was something about big visible veins in the arms and hands of a big, tall man that just screamed big dick to me. “Thank you.”

“No problem,” he replied as he took a few steps back, sliding his hands into the pocket of his sweats.

I eyed him before training my eyes on my phone, strolling to find Resha’s number. She wasn’t my number one choice but she was a stay at home mom and the most reasonable of all my friends. I didn’t have many to choose from so it wasn’t like I had a whole bunch of folk to shuffle through. There was Resha who had been married for five years and suddenly- her life was kids, husband and maybe wine. Then there was Nicki who was a year older and me and literally my complete opposite. You remember me mentioning my morals? Yeah, she didn’t know what the hell those were. I’m going to leave that at that. Lastly, there was Carmen, who still didn’t know what she wanted to do in life. She was my confused friend but I loved her. I loved them all.

I went to Resha’s number, hoping she’d answer. “Hello?”

She sounded like she was still sleeping and I had to remember the fact that is as still early. “Good Morning! Did I wake you?”

“Its six o’clock in the morning.”

I cringed. “Yeah, I know but I’ve been assaulted-.”

“Assaulted?!” Both Resha and Daniel yelled at the same time. I looked over at him as his eyes bucked and his arms fell from their folded position against his chest. I tried giving him a look that told him he could relax but he clearly wasn’t convinced.

“Yeah, it’s just a small thing with my ankle though so, it’s all good. I need you to come get me so; I’ll call you when I’m ready.”

“Zhia, what is going on?”

“It’s really nothing major, Resha.”

“You just told her that you were assaulted,” Daniel uttered as he began to pace in the corner.

I pressed the phone closer to my ear as I eyed him; out of both curiosity and my undying need to have him in my sight.

“Who was that,” Resha asked in a rush.

“You heard him?” I asked with raised brows.

“Yeah, I heard him,” Resha replied in a panic. “Who was that? Where are you?”

“It’s my assaulter.”

“You’re WHAT?” Resha screamed, possibly waking up her entire house.

Yeah, I called the wrong friend. I knew her response was aided by the dramatics that I shamelessly added to the conversation though. “Ok, let me tell the entire story because it’s clear you tripping. You know I’m dramatic as fuck and to never take me seriously. But I was running this morning- wait, I was fast walking. Let me not start this story off with lies. I was fast walking and a man ran into me on accident and my ankle got a little twisted in the process of all of that. So, he insisted on taking me home but I don’t know him like that so I agreed to let him get me close and have you pick me up. I would have called Nicki but she lives further than you. It’ll take you ten minutes to get to me.”

A significantly less panicked Resha replied, “Sometimes, I question why we’re friends!”

I released a dramatic gasp. “Oh my God, you be doing that too? I question our friendship like fifteen times a day.”

I could hear Resha curse under her breath. “Call me when you need me to come get you, Hoe.”

“Thanks, Bestfriend,’ I replied in an excited tone that clearly annoyed Resha since she hung up in my face.

I chuckled as I looked up at Daniel, who was giving me a look that I couldn’t place.

“I can’t read you,” he stated on an exhale. “I’m trying to see if this is something that I need to prepare to get sued over.”

“No,” I insisted, hands out, brows bunched. “I don’t plan to sue you; I was just messing with Resha. She’s a mother so she has this tendency to freak out first and ask questions later. I like messing with her because of that. I have no intentions of suing you. Not at all.”

I could see him visibly relax before those sexy eyes bounced back up to me. “What’s your name?”

Here we go I thought before speaking, “ExZhia, but everyone calls me Zhia.”

He did that lip licking thing again. “Cool, Zhia. I’ll check with the nurses to see if everything is good to go.”

“Perfect,’ I replied as he walked out. I was sure to get a good look at his ass when he did so.

This had to be the awkwardest of the awkward silences in world history. There was awkward then there was whatever the hell this is. I was on the verge of running down the street and around the corner on this bad foot just to get out of this car. The car was nice, nice as hell and the owner was fine, fine as hell but my fight or flight senses were tingling and I was about to go the flight route when he spoke.

“I honestly don’t mind taking you home and I am truly not a stalker.”

I glanced over at him before nodding. “I believe you- I just; Resha must be running a little late. I don’t want to hold you up any more than I’ve already have. You’ve done enough.”

He shifted in his seat to look at me. “Don’t you need to call into work or something?”

“Not really,” I replied with my nose bunched. “I did send my boss a text letting him know that I would need today and tomorrow.” I rattled with the papers in my hand nervously. “What about you?”

“Nah,” he declined. “I’m the boss so I don’t have anyone to report to. I didn’t plan to go in today anyway.”

“Oh,” I exerted. “What do you do?”

He rubbed his full beard. “I used to be a corporate guy but I retired from that last year. I own a museum.”

I definitely wasn’t expecting that from him. “What kind of museum do you own?”

“African American Arts. Just a small-.”

“OMG,” I squealed, cutting him off. “You are not talking about Speaking Roots are you?”

The coy grin that came across his face gave him away. “Yeah. That’s me.”

I raised my hand to my chest, my excitement making me grab a hold of his shoulder. “Do you know how many times I’ve been to your museum? I live there! Then you want to downplay it to just a museum. It’s everything. A café, African American bookstore, a jazz, and poetry spot. It’s literally the only place I need in the entire city of Dallas and you own it?”

“I’m really glad it’s serving its purpose for you.” He stated with a small smile. “Did you know I’m working on a second location for Fort Worth?”

I smiled big at him. I could tell he was still modest about his endeavors, he even seemed to be looking for approval but I didn’t understand why a man of his caliber would need that at all. He was black, fine and successful; definitely not someone that screamed insecurity in a manner of anything but I would indulge. “Oh wow! I didn’t know that!”

He gripped the steering wheel with his large hands before exhaling. “Yeah, it’s in its first stages but I’m getting there.”

I just kept smiling, extremely impressed by the man across from me. “Look at you!”

His eyes stayed on me for a while before he spoke, seemingly having our situation crash into him. “Your husband or boyfriend not gone try to find me and fight me for hurting you, are they?”

I’m sure my face went through a series of things before my lips parted. Nothing came out. I closed my mouth back, swallowing. “No. No husband or boyfriend- it’s just me and my dog Juicy. She may be a little upset with you but she’s too small to do any real damage.”

His laugh caught me off guard. I wasn’t prepared for it to be so warm. Because of his withdrawn demeanor, I didn’t think I would be able to hear it. His laugh settled, then his eyes did the same on me and- heat, rushing and demanding settled in the pit of my stomach.

“You’re a nice woman, Zhia.”

“Oh, it gets complicated. Trust me.”

“I’ve had the misfortune of seeing the worst of the worst so far as complicated goes.”

Sadness crept into his eyes the moment my phone rang in my purse. I sat the prescription paperwork inside of my purse before pulling my phone out.

“Hello?”

“Is this you in this Benz?” Resha asked her voice filled with sleep.

“Yeah,” I replied as I glanced out of the side mirror. “Here I come.” I disconnected the call and slid my phone back into my purse before gathering everything to get out of the car.

“Wait,” Daniel stated suddenly, “I’ll come around and help you.”

“You really don’t have to-.” My sentence stalled as he pushed his door open and walked around the front of his car. Damn! Even his walk is sexy. He grabbed my crutches from the back seat before he pulled my door open and offered me his hand before assisting me with getting out of the car. Once I stood out of it, he didn’t step back- bringing me face to face with him and quickly returning my urge to lick him.

“I’m sorry again.”

“I’m seriously going to pull my hair out if you apologize again.”

I expected him to laugh, at least smile when I said that but I got nothing, until well- I got something.

“You are extremely beautiful and I couldn’t let you leave without at least telling you that.”

Please ask for my number I pleaded in my thoughts. “Thank you, Daniel.”

He swallowed, his eyes moving to my lips. He blinked, then swallowed again before he finally stepped back. Handing me the crutches, he moved back again as I began to make my way to Resha’s car. She hadn’t even made an attempt to get out and help me but she was possibly stuck looking at Daniel. One glimpse into her front window confirmed my suspensions. Her tongue was practically hanging out of her mouth.

I leaned down, knocking on the window before I pointed down at the locks. “Can I get you to open this for me?”

She fumbling with hitting the unlock button as Daniel stood behind me waiting. Once the locks disengaged, he helped me inside of the car.

“Hi!” Resha greeted all the sleep in her throat gone.

“Hello!” Daniel greeted back as he reached across me to help me with my seatbelt. I didn’t see that move coming and I literally almost melted when I felt his hand touch the side of my thigh. Mine and Resha’s eyes connected before hers mushroomed. “I was trying to take care of your friend but this is as far as she would allow me to go.”

“Oh?” Resha spoke with a small, flirtatious laugh.

My eyes snapped to her as she continued to blush.

“Zhia, you know where to find me if you change your mind about suing me.” He spoke to me as he stood up out of the car. “You ladies have an amazing day.”

“Thank you, Daniel,” I replied.

He gave me a long lusty look ending with a flick of his tongue across his thick lips before he closed my door.

Both Resha and I watched as he walked to his car.

“Girl, what the fuck?” Resha questioned as he pulled off.

“Girl! Girl!”

That was the beginning and what I thought to be the ending of my encounters with Daniel but this wasn’t only my story to tell. But, welcome to my diary!

 

 

 

Peace?

…or the denial of such a thing.

Daniel

 

I should have stayed inside. That was my first thought when I woke this morning and I should have listened to the warning that echoed in the recesses of my mind the moment I peeled my eyes open. I wasn’t in the mood for anything and I found darkness comforting. That was where I dwelled for most of the day, into the night and then it was the same shit the next day until- today.

Today, I didn’t listen. I allowed the old me to tweak my interest of going out for a run that turned into a complete disaster. After lying in bed for an hour, staring at the ceiling while my thoughts reflected back on the last six to nine months of my life- I decided to give my body a workout that was long overdue. I was still trying to get my feet back under me, still trying to figure out where I was going next. What my next move was.

And…nothing.

I kept coming up with nothing, which equaled to more depressed nights and late mornings. Everything around me was spiraling out of control and there was nothing that I could do about it.

How does a man marry a woman, love her to the point of complete blindness, raise a child that he believed them to have created together only to have her deceive him in the most devastating way? For one, how does a man survive that? For two, how does a man find a way to live beyond it? I hadn’t figured it out yet and I didn’t see myself being able to do so anytime soon. I’d found a moment of peace, if only for a short period when I opened the museum. I needed a change; I needed something fresh- something that needed me in return. Since then, I’d been pouring my blood, sweat and tears into making it as successful as possible. In a years’ time, it had become one of the go to spots for millennial’s and beyond. I counted it as a blessing. I was good at counting blessings and I knew that God had his hand in my life, stirring things up for my better. It was just hard to see through the cloud of bullshit most times.

My phone ringing in the pocket of my sweats pulled me from my thoughts. I released a grunt before digging into my pocket to answer it, already knowing who was on the other end.

“I’ve asked you to stop calling.” I’d even changed my number to aid in my efforts to never speak to her until absolutely needed. I was still unsure on how she got my new number.

I heard her exhale, puffing air from her chest before she spoke. “We need to talk, Daniel.”

“I can’t think of one thing that I have to say to you,” I gritted as I moved through my bedroom, taking off my clothes to prepare for my shower.

“Daniel, are you seriously going to go through with this? After everything we’ve been through?”

I had to laugh to keep from cursing her out. She deserved to be cursed out. She deserved worse than that but I had never disrespected her no matter how much of a vile person she was, I wouldn’t start disrespecting her today. “Serenity.” She was everything but a representation of that name.

“I know that I messed up. I know that I hurt you, Daniel. I want to fix it; I want us to make this work.”

I leaned against the door of my bathroom, watching as stream began to fog the door of the shower. Running a hand down my waves, I tried to allow a moment of clarity. Not for me, but for her. “What we had is broken beyond repair.”

“Daniel,” she cried into the phone in a voice that once would have brought me to my knees. Seeing her upset, seeing her cry was never something that I wanted to experience but the person I am today wouldn’t allow me a moment of sympathy for her and her tears. “Please. I love you and I know that we can fix this.”

“We have a meeting with our lawyers in a few hours. You may want to prepare for that.’

With that, I disconnected the call. I sat my phone down on the counter before removing my sweats and climbing into the shower. I went in head first, allowing the water to wash over me. She wouldn’t sign the paper, which was the hold up. I’d served her papers a few weeks after everything came to the light and here we were a year later and I was finally able to say that my first and last divorce was about to be final.

I was getting the thing that I wanted but I was still losing. I was losing all the time I invested, I was losing my wife and I was losing my daughter.

I ducked my head under the water, trying to camouflage the tears that gathered in my eyes. My father always told me that a man wasn’t supposed to cry and under most circumstances, I could find my way around expressing my emotions in this manner but like I said- I haven’t found a way to deal with it.

Serenity didn’t break my trust- she severed it. She dismantled it in a way that would not make it easy to be reestablished. Not with her. Not with anyone. Nylah James was now officially Nylah Jude and there was nothing I could do about it because even though I was there at her birth; taught her how to ride a bike and properly brush her teeth- she didn’t belong to me. She wasn’t mine. Her mother broke the vows that we shared together and created her with another man. A man that I now knew would take care of her as I did because she belonged to him. Not me.

Since the separation, I had only seen Nylah a total of two times; both of those times were arranged by her biological father and short lived in my opinion. I didn’t know how to act around her; I didn’t know what to say. Nylah was the smartest six year old I knew. She was quick to catch on to things so she knew the moment that her mother and separated. She knew what it meant, she just didn’t understand why things had to change between her and I. I tried breaking it down to her, her father, Raheem, tried breaking it down to her but in her eyes, I was her father and so was Raheem. After a long conversation and a lot of convincing, Raheem got her to understand that he needed to spend some time with her while I go on a small vacation. He needed his time to bond with her and that was something that I could definitely understand. That was last year and now, he was slowly pulling me back into the fold because that was where I wanted to be. I couldn’t give Nylah up, I tried and failed. She’d just have two daddies like she loved to remind us.

I got out of the shower and dressed quickly, laying right back in bed in complete darkness. Like I said, this is how I like things.

The next morning, I was still dragging my feet but I had a slight pep in my step due to the fact that today was step one of starting over. I made it to the building where the first divorce hearing would be held and everything inside of me was torn. I was divorcing a woman that I was still in love with. In my heart and mind, I had it set in stone that I would spend the rest of my life with her. Now, I didn’t know where I would end up so far as love goes. I already know. I sound weak. But- shit I was weak. I am.

I caught my reflection in the glass of the building as I pulled the door open. I took a moment to gather myself, fixing my tie and suit jacket before walking into the building. I was almost immediately approached by Serenity who was standing off to the side, speaking to her lawyer. I had to admit, she looked flawless.

“You’re really doing this,” she whispered the moment she was in front of me, interrupting my route.

I slid my hands into my pockets before stepping around her. “This is long overdue in my opinion.”

“Long overdue,” she hissed at my back, causing me to turn around and take a step back in her direction.

“Yes, long overdue. I don’t want to stay married to you for another minute and the quicker we can get this over with, the better off we’ll both be.”

“Not me,” she cried, her voice thick with unshed tears. “Daniel, I’m so sorry. Please?”

“You don’t get to play the victim in this shit, Serenity.” I hissed, my teeth clenched so tight that it caused pain. “You are not the fucking victim! I am! Raheem! Nylah! Not you!”

“I know that what I did was wrong and I can admit to my mistake. I just want us to fix this. To fix us.”

“We were built on a lie.” I looked her over, annoyance lining my features. “There is nothing for us to fix.”

I walked off, leaving her in the lobby to meet my lawyer in the room he’d advised me to meet him in. As soon as I walked in, he handed me a folder. “What is this,” I snapped, still on edge.

He eyed me, sensing my tension as I flipped the folder open. “Her terms.”

“She don’t get no fucking terms,” I hissed as I slammed the folder down on the desk. “What the fuck does she want?”

“Nothing.” He replied. “She has agreed to walk away with nothing.”

I leaned against the wall of the room, dragging my hands down my face as frustration weighed heavy on my shoulders. I slowly took in air, forcing myself to calm down. “Nothing?” My eyes moved to him as he grabbed the folder that I didn’t even attempt to read off the table.

“She’s leaving you the house and only taking what she came into the marriage with.”

I didn’t even want the house because I knew if I kept it, I would end up selling it. The memories it held still haunted me, even though I hadn’t been there in over a year. “I don’t want the house,” I finally spoke after a moment of processing everything. “She can have the house. All I want is the divorce. I already have the loft so there is no need for the house.”

I already knew a rebuttal was coming. “What do you mean you don’t want the house? You paid for the majority of it.”

I reached up to loosen my tie, suddenly feeling like it a noose. “Yeah, I don’t want it. She needs it for Nylah.”

I could see his jaw clench before he nodded. “Fine. I guess you’re leaving her with the Range you purchased as well?”

He accepted my silence as my answer. “You can’t be serious, Daniel.”

“I am man,” I pressed as my exhaustion began to take  a toll. “Just give it to her.”

The flaring of his nostrils told tales of his annoyance. “Fine. I’ll run these updated details by her and her lawyer. Give me a minute.”

I exhaled as he walked out of the room, taking a seat at one of the chairs that was pushed up to the table. My mind wouldn’t settle, even after a while of just sitting there, having time to gather myself. I couldn’t. I had been praying, I’d been praying about my marriage, giving it to God and asking him what he wanted me to do. I knew that he was against divorce but there was no way for me to repair the damage that had been done without sacrificing my happiness. I wanted- no- I needed to be happy.

I was a single man. It felt weird yet refreshing. I had been in my slump long enough. After two weeks of no work, no daylight or communication with the outside world, I was finally ready to get back to work. I walked into the café area that occupied the building next to the museum as the night crowd began to form. I didn’t have much that I needed to take care of being that I had a reliable staff that made sure everything that needed to be done was handled before I could even get my hands into it. I was only here because I’d been missing in action for two weeks and I felt the need to show my face.

“Waddup, Boss?”

I glanced to my left as an extended hand came my way. I accepted the shake of Rodney, one of my newest employees and the most rugged of the bunch. I didn’t hire him because he was experienced in the artifacts or the ins and out of what we did here, I hired him because he needed a job. He was very persistent in getting one when I met him and now that he had the position, he was doing everything he needed to do to keep it. You didn’t have to know the workings of a job to get the position- y’all president proved that- you just had to be hungry enough to do what was needed to get it. Rodney was hungry. He was also actively asking me everything that I knew about black art, black history and black love- all of the things we celebrated at Speaking Roots.

“Nothing much. You holding it down?” I asked him as I released his hand.

“I’m barely holding myself down,” he replied. “I’ve been reading.”

A slow smile graced my face. “Ah hell!”

He sucked his teeth before waving me over to walk with him. “Ah hell is right! Do you know what they did to her?”

He stopped in front of a sculpture that got a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons. But that was to be expected because that was her roots. That was her test and her testimony. “Sarah Baartman.”

“Yes!” Rodney insisted. “Do you know?”

I nodded. “Of course I know. It’s my job to know.”

He scrubbed his waves before shaking his head. “I never heard about her in History class. I never heard about no damn show that displayed black women as freaks because they had a fat ass.”

My head dropped, I tried to stop my smile from forming but I failed. Rodney was young and sort of a loose cannon, he reminded me of myself when I was right out of high school with fresh eyes and an open mind. I could understand his confusion, as well as the slight level of anger that laced his voice.

“They had her on a fucking chain like she some sort of animal, bruh. That’s bullshit.”

I had to agree. “Yeah! The thing that will really blow your mind is the fact that she started out as a free woman. She wasn’t a slave.”

“What?”

“No!” I answered. “She wasn’t. She was born in the Camdeboo Valley based in the regions of South Africa and moved to England with a man who was also free. She was approached to perform and because of her finances or the lack there of, she agreed to become the main attraction for their show. It wasn’t until she was mistreated and mishandled that she discovered the error in that decision. That sound familiar to you?”

His eyes lowered before they bounced open. “That sounds like what strippers do to this day.”

“Bingo.” I replied before walking off, having him follow me.

“Man,” he stressed. “I ain’t ever going to another strip club again.”

“Again,” I questioned as I entered my office. “You’re only eighteen.” I sat behind my desk while looking up at him, removing the contents of my pockets and placing them on my desk. “What club let you in?”

He squinted before sucking his teeth. “Right! I ain’t never going to no strip club! Ever!”

“Man! Get out of here!” I laughed as he backed out of my office with a slick smile on his face. “Can you tell Tez that I need to see him?”

“You got it, Boss!” he yelled as he slapped the frame of my door and proceeded down the hallway. I stretched my neck, working my fingers to unlock my computer as my phone rang. It was as if the entire room got brighter when I saw the source of the call. “Hey, Butterfly.” I greeted, trying to keep the emotion out of my voice.

“Hey, Daddy,” Nylah replied, still calling me what she naturally felt was right and I nor Raheem felt the need to correct her. With all the changes that her life was taking, she still remained the same. It was teaching me a lot about how to handle life, even as a grown man. “My daddy told me to ask you for the other one because Mrs. Eryanna ain’t gone be giving him a lot. That’s what she said.”

My brows dipped as I tried to keep up with the conversation. “What’s she not gonna give him?”

“A sister.” Nylah popped as she snacked on something. “I want a brother and a sister and daddy said that Mrs. Eryanna only gone give me a brother so I gotta ask you for the sister.”

“Your dad told you to ask me that,” I questioned on the verge of laughter.

“Yes, sir. He told me to ask you.”

I exhaled. “How soon do you want this sister?”

I could hear her counting and more than likely, she was using her fingers. “Five days.”

She said that so nonchalantly that I burst into laughter. “Five days? Nylah.”

“You need six days, Daddy?”

I exhaled before leaning forward to place my elbows on the desk. “I’ll need more time than that.”

“You can’t get somebody to help you?” She questioned in a high pitched voice that let me know she didn’t understand why I needed so much time. The weird part was when she asked if I could get someone to help me, her mother didn’t pop into my head. The woman that had found a way to creep into my thoughts and dreams did. ExZhia. I often thought of her but I quickly pushed those thoughts away, knowing that I didn’t want to start anything with anyone. In the short amount of time that I was in her presence, I knew that she wasn’t looking for anything short term. She seemed to have her shit together and naturally, she would want a man on that same level.

I was still trying to find out who the hell I was outside of Serenity.

“I’ll figure it out and get back to you on that, Nylah.”

“Ok!” Her tone was so chipper that I hoped Raheem was actively working on her wish as we spoke. “You still coming to get me this weekend?”

I released a slow breath while rubbing my head. “Nylah, I wouldn’t miss it.”

“YAY!” She squealed. “I love you! I’m about to go play in Mrs. Eryanna hair! I’mma call you tomorrow, ok?”

She was so mature. “I’m gonna be waiting, Butterfly.”

She made a kissing sound before fumbling with disconnecting the call. At that exact moment, Tez- my best friend and head of security- knocked on the door. “Yo?”

I stood to dap him up before pulling him into a hug. “What’s up?!”

“Not shit.” He replied as he sat across from me. “You done handling business?”

The business he was referring to was my divorce. He was the first one to tell me to get it done as soon as everything went down. It wasn’t that Tez was anti-love or anti-marriage. He was just ant-bullshit. He knew the way I loved Serenity, the way I catered to her and for her to cheat on me in Tez eyes, it was bullshit.

I nodded. “Finalized.”

“That’s good shit,” He replied as he stretched his legs.

“How is my divorce good shit?”

He made a face that almost made me laugh. “Because your ex-wife was foul as fuck and you deserve better than that. You probably the most well rounded dude I know and the fact that she fucked you over makes me believe that she was born with bullshit coursing through her veins. With her fine ass.”

I gave him a puzzled look. “Really?”

He shrugged. “Her being fine don’t take away from the fact that she ain’t shit.”

I shook my head as I returned to my seat. “Either way,” I replied with a shrug. “I’m officially divorced.”

His large hands slapped my desk. “Good shit. So, me and the bros-.”

“Nah!” I cut him off. “I’m chilling.”

He gave me a big smile as he stood. “You didn’t let me finish.”

“When you said you and the bros that officially took me out of whatever plan you have. I am not fooling with y’all.”

He grunted before tossing his hands in the air. “Come on, Daniel witcho lame ass. You are a single man! We have to celebrate.”

“Celebrate my divorce?”

“You damn skippy,” He insisted. “We need to go out and get you a stripper to dance on you.”

The irony. “It’s gonna be a hard pass for me.”

“You better hard pass yo ass on this flight.”

“Wait…what?”

“It’s already paid for and I know you have Nylah this weekend so I booked it for next weekend.”

My head was starting to pound already. “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about your divorce party.”

My head dropped as I grabbed the bridge of my nose. “My what?”

“Your divorce party! Everyone has one.”

“This is literally the first time I’ve ever heard those two words in a sentence.”

“That don’t matter.” Tez shot down. “We are going to make it happen. In fact, we already got the room, flight and rental taken care of. All you need to do is bring ya ass.”

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get out of this easily, if at all. “Come on, Tez. I have a business to run so you know I can’t just up and leave. How long is this supposed trip?”

“Negro, you just came back from being gone two weeks.”

“Exactly why I can’t leave again.”

“This place runs itself. Why do you have an assistant manager if you don’t trust him to hold things down in your absence?”

That wasn’t the issue. “I do trust him.”

“Then it’s settled. I know you ain’t gone let me just waste my money like that.”

“I can’t do it.”

Tez shrugged his broad shoulders as if he didn’t give a shit about my dilemma.

“Two weeks.” He confirmed as he backed out of my office. “I’ll come pack your shit for you if you need me to.”

“Tez! You never even said where!”

A wicked smile covered his face as he hit the hallway. “Where else do you go to celebrate a divorce.”

“Nowhere!” I snapped.

“Sin City, Baby!”

 

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