Chapter Five: Dear Love: Is It Supposed To Be This Easy?
I don’t what to make of this man. He says and does all of the right things. I mean all of the right things. That much knowledge and insight can’t be real, can it? It sounds stupid to say I’m afraid of how easy this is. But I am. I’m afraid of how easy this is. Is this ease permanent? And if so, can it be too much of a good thing? Is it really supposed to be effortless?
“I apologize for intruding, ladies. I’m Paul. What’s your names?” he said, holding out his hand for me to shake. I reached for him, and he grabbed my hand, tight. He shook it and then stroked my palm before letting me go. I almost wanted to shiver. I licked my lips and swallowed, suddenly nervous. Shahira grinned.
“I’m Sha, and this is Gracie, and this is our girl, Kaya. Nice to meet you, Paul,” she spoke for the three of us. Paul grinned back, but didn’t take his eyes off me. We were at Happy Hour again, although we’d promised to finish early since Gracie had patient notes to transcribe, Sha had new hire paperwork for her three most recent placements, and I had a manuscript to edit.
“Nice to meet you ladies too. I just… had to come over here and say something. Kaya, you are beautiful and I’d love to take you out sometime,” he said, his last sentence spewing from him like he was afraid he’d run out of time. I just stared. That was the last thing I expected. Shahira giggled.
“I don’t even—we just met,” I said, a little overcome. Paul laughed and reached into his pocket. He pulled out a business card and handed it to me.
“My cell number is on there. You call me anytime, okay, Kaya? You’re exquisite with your big brown eyes and pretty smile, and I meant what I said: I’d love to take you out.” Paul walked away after he finished speaking and I sat there holding his business card, speechless. Grace and Shahira looked at me, then laughed and slapped hands.
“Now that’s cause for a turn up! Let’s get another round going,” Grace said, laughing. I finally came out of my daze and laughed too. I stared in the direction Paul had gone, fingering his business card. A delicious looking man, approaching me respectfully, and giving me space? Maybe Grace was right.
“Hi… this is Kaya. We met at Grayson’s last Friday night?”
“We certainly did. How are you today, Kaya?” Paul said to me. I smiled in appreciation. He’d called me Kaya—not Mama, or Beautiful, or Baby or Sweetheart. I didn’t have a problem with terms of endearment between established couples, but it made me uncomfortable when men got too familiar too fast.
“I’m good. I’m doing well; thank you for asking,” I said back.
“Please tell me you called so I can ask you out properly. I was worried that I maybe came on too strong at the bar,” he went on.
“No, you were fine. But by all means, ask me out properly,” I said, giggling.
“You have a wonderful laugh, Kaya. Anyway, would you like to go out with me sometime? The sooner, the better. I’d really like to see you again,” Paul said. I bit my lip and tried not to grin too wide. I cleared my throat.
“I’d… I would like that,” I replied. I heard Paul exhale as if he’d been holding his breath and I was surprised. Had he been afraid I was going to say no?
“That’s great. I was afraid you’d say no. Now, we just met so I’m not all that well-versed on what you like to do, so we can go wherever you want this time.”
“This time?” I wondered.
“Well, if I’m lucky enough to get more dates with you, I’d hope I’d start to know you well enough to plan something for us without you telling me,” he explained. I pulled the phone away from my ear and stared at it. This man was either a Russian bot or a unicorn. He was making way too much sense right off the bat. I was almost hesitant to trust it.
“Oh… okay. Well, there’s a great whiskey bar that also has a signature burger in town. Maybe we could go there,” I suggested. He laughed. A deep, warm laugh. And my stomach flipped.
“I know the one. And that’s a great idea. I’m a brown liquor guy.”
“Then you found the right girl, sir. I’m a huge whiskey fan.”
“Really? What’s your favorite?”
“Macallan 12. But I can be coaxed into some Knob Creek from time to time,” I said.
“I see. Well I have a collection at home. From all over the world. I have to show you sometime,” Paul said. I sat there, waiting for him to suggest we drink whiskey at his house instead. But he didn’t. Yeah, definitely a unicorn. My musings were interrupted by his voice. Shit. I hadn’t even been listening.
“I’m sorry. What did you say?”
“I was just asking if Friday was okay. We can go to Happy Hour if you want. They have a lounge area where we can talk so we won’t have to sit at the loud bar and pretend we can hear each other.” he said. I laughed.
“That sounds good. I’ll meet you there at 5:30,” I said. I could hear his grin through the phone.
“It’s a date. Until Friday, Kaya. Have a great rest of your day,” Paul said and hung up the phone. I put the phone down and twirled in my chair, a dreamy smile on my face.
When I got to the whiskey bar Friday night, it was crowded and loud. I didn’t know how we were going to have a peaceful conversation in here, and I was a little sorry I’d suggested it.
“You smell wonderful,” Paul said, coming up behind me. I smiled and turned to face him. Those dark eyes, those full lips turned up in a smile, that gorgeous chestnut skin. I wanted to giggle like a middle school girl seeing her crush on the playground. He leaned in and gave me a hug. I wrapped my arms around his neck and sighed, inhaling him. He smelled like a wonderful musk with a hint of lemon underneath. He stepped back, grinning.
“Hello again, Kaya,” Paul spoke. I grinned back.
“Hi. How are you? How was work?”
“Work was work. And I’m a lot better now. Want to find a place to sit down?” he asked. I looked around at the throngs of people clamoring for a drink at the bar.
“I think I underestimated how hype this place would be. I don’t know if we’ll find somewhere to sit in here,“ I said, worried. Paul smiled at me. For some reason, I was instantly reassured.
“Don’t you worry about anything, Ms. Kaya. I’ll take care of everything. Your only job tonight is to enjoy yourself,” he said. He held his hand out, and I placed mine in it. He gripped me tight and dove into the crowd, pulling me along. When he got to the hostess stand, he spoke quietly to the young lady standing behind it, all the while rubbing my hand as it sat inside of his. He had a gentle touch and I found myself relaxing. After a moment he stood up straight and turned to me.
“Lacy found us a quiet space to talk,” he announced. I looked over his shoulder at the hostess. “Lacy” was smiling and happy, bouncing up and down in her shoes, ecstatic to have found us a space.
“Okay,” I said. Paul laughed and turned around again, gesturing to Lacy to lead the way. She took us to the far end of the place to a comfy looking seating area. The noise from the bar was dramatically reduced, and Lacy adjusted the sconces on the wall, giving us more light to see each other. Then she skipped away smiling. A moment later, a server appeared, taking our drink orders.
“So Kaya… tell me everything,” Paul started.
“You. I want to know everything I can.”
Love, that was the best date I’ve had in a really long time. Talking to Paul, listening to him, laughing with him. It was all so… easy. But is it supposed to be? I had the biggest smile on my face the whole night, and the next day. An effortless smile. But is it real? Or is the other shoe coming?
Chapter Six: Dear Love: Is Dr. Feelgood A Certified Marriage Counselor?
When I feel like I’m losing you, and I don’t know how to stop it, is it okay infuse a little sexual push into the situation? I mean, folks say it won’t fix anything, but it feels pretty damn good to try. It binds us together, in almost the same way it did back in high school. It puts this warm hazy glow over everything. But is the haze blocking my view? Is it okay to reconnect physically as much as we can, or is it just escapism? Is Dr. Feelgood a marriage counselor too?
“Shahira, I don’t have time for this shit. I have to go to work,” Rich complained. We were standing in the living room, and I was preventing my husband from leaving—his favorite thing to do these days. I remember when I couldn’t keep his eyes or hands off me. Now I was throwing tantrums in the living room, and demanding his attention. I knew it was childish, but I was too angry to pull back from it.
“Fuck that. You don’t have to be at work for two hours and we haven’t had a meal together in weeks. Now I made your favorite cheesy omelet and maple bacon and you are going to eat breakfast with me,” I said back, standing my ground. My husband balled his fists and took a deep breath.
“I’m not hungry.”
“Yes that’s right. That’s who I am. Shahira damn Davis. Your wife. And we are having breakfast together.”
“Woman, why are you acting like this? I have to go,” Rich said, scowling. I scowled back.
“Because picking a fight with you seems to be the only way to get you to pay me any mind,” I replied.
“That’s crazy, which coincidentally, is exactly how you look right now. Please stop.”
“I am not crazy, Negro. I am fed the fuck up. I’m tired of this, Rich. I’m tired of you pretending like nothing has changed. Like nothing is wrong. Something is wrong.”
“Nothing is wrong, Sha—”
“I want to see a marriage counselor,” I blurted out, cutting Rich off. He dropped his backpack and stared at me, eyes wide with disbelief.
“You want to what?” he said. I rolled my eyes.
“I didn’t stutter, and you know I don’t speak softly. You heard me. I want to see somebody, Rich. I know something is off with us. I know something is different. And the more you deny it, the crazier I feel, and it’s not fair. We need help. I want to find someone to help us,” I said, breathing deep so I didn’t cry. I stood there, chest heaving, swallowing tears. Rich closed the distance between us and kissed me. I gasped in surprise and his tongue went into my mouth. I moaned and wrapped my arms around his neck. Rich grabbed my waist and pushed closer. His tongue swept my mouth and his teeth captured my bottom lip. I was drowning. My husband could commit that mouth when he got ready, my goodness. Rich backed me against the wall and his hands went under my dress. Continuing the kiss, he bent at the knees and lifted me against the wall. Now I’m a solid size 20. But my baby had played some middle linebacker in high school and college and still worked out with his buddies three nights a week. I reached down and around, getting Rich’s pants open. My underwear went to the side, Rich went inside, and the omelet was forgotten. He finally ripped his lips from mine and moved to sucking on my neck.
“Rich, I can’t have my clients see me all bitten up,” I protested, breathless and about to come.
“You’re mine. I’ll mark what’s mine if I want to,” he said back, pushing inside me deeper. I gasped and moaned, on the edge. Rich moved inside me, pinning me to the wall.
“I love you, Shahira. I love you, you hear me?” he panted, stroking harder. My orgasm was blinding and all I could do was scream in response. Jesus. My hands were shaking where I had them clasped around my husband’s neck. Rich followed my lead, moaning deep and spilling himself inside me. His hands gripped my thighs tighter and his mouth was practically suctioned onto my neck. Gotdammit. I was going to have to cover that before I went to work. When we were finally under control, Rich sat me down on the floor gently. He kissed my forehead.
“Now I’m hungry,” he said, his voice raspy. I giggled.
“Well now you’re going to be late.”
“So are you. I’m not done,” he said, grabbing my hand and pulling me over to the couch.
“So… did he say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about the counseling?” Kaya asked as we sat outside, drinking cold pressed juice from a food truck a few feet away. I’d decided to forgo lunch since I’d spent that extra two hours at home having sex with my husband. So the girls had gone without me and had just headed back. I took a few minutes to meet them outside and catch them up before Kaya’s afternoon strategy meeting and Gracie’s next patient.
“His exact words were, ‘Sha, we can do whatever you want. I love you.’”
“Were you on top of him when he agreed so readily?” Grace asked. I sucked my teeth.
“No… I was on my knees in front of him,” I corrected. Grace shook her head and Kaya burst out laughing.
“Well how’s he supposed to tell you no when you squatting in front of him with his dick in your hands, looking like a big ass butterscotch candy, Shahira?” Kaya said, cackling. Grace laughed as well.
“Shut the hell up,” I said, annoyed. Kaya was right; I hadn’t expected a no in that moment. But still. The important thing was that I got the yes, not how I got it.
“Do you think he’ll keep his word post-orgasmic haze?” Grace continued. I nodded.
“I think he knows I’m serious. I mean, this morning was intense. It felt like… like a reconnection, of sorts.”
“Or a distraction, Sha. He could be using the haze to blind you,” Kaya said. I sighed.
“That sounds manipulative and my husband is not like that,” I said, annoyed again. Kaya put her hands up.
“Listen. I didn’t mean to imply that he is. I just want you to get everything you want, baby. Reconnecting is more than a physical thing,” she said.
“I know that. But the physical’s still important, right? Rich and I have major heat. It was nice to see some of that back today. It was nice to see him so… so…”
“Desperate? Maybe he heard some finality in your voice? Maybe he got scared and did the first thing he could think of?” Grace said. I stood up, throwing my empty juice bottle in the trash and started heading into the building. Grace and Kaya followed me.
“Sha, wait! We’re just trying—”
“To make me think my husband is playing me? Good job!” I said, not stopping. My two best friends caught up to me.
“No honey. We just don’t want you to get hurt. I mean, you’ve been saying things were strained for a while. You have real concerns, baby. We’re just making sure you don’t throw them by the wayside because the man can still pick you up,” Grace said, her voice gentle. I sighed and turned.
“I know. I’m sorry. I just—I missed him that way so much. And this morning felt like us, like old times.”
“Well we’re glad. But Richie better follow through, that’s all I know,” Kaya added. I nodded and smiled, trying to feel better. The three of us hugged and then parted ways—me to the East elevators, Kaya to the West, and Grace up the street.
“Hey Shahira!” Grace called back to me. I turned.
“Either use more concealer or tell Richie we’re not in high school anymore!” she yelled, grinning.
“I wasn’t gonna say anything,” Kaya said, shrugging her shoulders. I put my hand on my neck and ran to the elevator, my friends laughing hysterically behind me.
Love, this morning was so perfect. My mind was clear and my body was in heaven. Rich apologized a thousand times and ate breakfast and everything. But did he do it to distract me, or because he missed me? Maybe the girls are right. Maybe Rich is hoping the haze is blinding. I just thought we were reconnecting. I mean, I know sex isn’t a cure-all, but it’s got to count for something. I guess I just want us to get everything back, and if we have to start with that, what’s the harm? There’s no harm… is there?