For early April the weather was warm, the sun beaming through my windshield forcing me to run my AC as if it were midsummer. I pulled up to a condominium development in Buckhead, not far from Lenox Square Mall. Using my hand as a sun visor, I checked the address on the building. My producer Quentin had referred me to his celebrity real estate agent friend, whom I was meeting for the first time. I’d done some online home browsing but this was the first place I was seeing in person. Quentin had told me this guy sold million-dollar homes, but his slogan was “Nothing too big or too small.” He was Cameron Small, of Small Realty Group. His slogan was catchy enough for me to give him a try.
A silver Audi A6 pulled up a few parking spaces away at exactly two thirty. I assumed it was Cameron’s. After the driver got out of the car, I stepped out and headed in his direction.
He shook my hand. “Hi, Ms. Blue. Pleasure to meet you.”
“Cameron, the pleasure is all mine. Call me Ayana, please.”
“And you can call me Cam. Everyone else does,” he said, smiling. I smiled back, mesmerized by his charisma. My entire body overheated. Could it just be the temperature?
He blushed almost as if he were reading my mind. It seemed like an eternity before he continued: “So the spot is in the building here.”
Quentin hadn’t given me any details about Cam aside from his being the best Realtor in Atlanta, but at that moment I wanted to know everything. Was he married? Did he have kids? Was he heterosexual?
Cam was wearing jeans and a black fitted T-shirt with black Prada sneakers. He carried a leather backpack. I estimated that he was about five foot eleven; he wasn’t short, but I had the feeling that he wasn’t quite six feet. He walked ahead of me as we climbed the stairs to a second-floor garden condo. I was not feeling the place, but I was definitely feeling the swagger of the guy in front of me. I watched his strong mocha arms as he rolled the code on the lockbox. The key fell out of the box and he unlocked the door. When we entered the condo, he said, “First order of business, I’ll need you to sign these forms.”
He handed the forms to me as we stood next to the countertop in the empty unit. He hovered over me as he told me where to sign and why I was signing. His face was clean-shaven with a nice dark mustache. His hair was cut low in a temple taper. He looked and smelled crisp: a light cologne mixed with Irish Spring soap. I inhaled the scent of him; his vibe was smooth and jovial, almost familiar.
“A’ight. Cool. Now that the business is taken care of, we can get to the fun part. We’re going to visit every condominium complex in Buckhead. Cool?”
I said, “I’m really not the type that needs to see everything. I want to see the three best condos in my price range, preferably two-bedrooms with a den, and I can make a decision.”
He stopped in the middle of the living room and laughed. “So Ayana Blue is not picky.”
“Is there something about me that makes you think that I am?”
He shrugged. “I shouldn’t say this, but most women are picky. Usually when men come to me, they see one or two places and they are ready to put a contract down. Women, on the other hand, can spend two, three, sometimes even six months looking at everything on the multiple listing because they have something in their mind that they’re looking for and they don’t stop until they get it. Nature of the business though.”
“So are you as patient and friendly with these women after month three?”
He laughed. “Of course. I earn a living from referrals. I’m as eager to show the sixtieth place as I am to show the first place. If I’m showing, I’m still in the game, and that’s all that matters to me. As long as I put food on the table and clothes on my son’s back, you know?”
Why did my heart sink? Just because there was a son didn’t mean there was a wife. He didn’t have on a ring, but that didn’t mean anything either.
“How old is your son?”
I had been so wrapped up in work that my flirtation was rusty. I entered the master bedroom and looked at the bathroom before I decided to pry further.
“What’s your son’s name?”
“He lives with you?”
He took a deep breath. “We have joint custody.”
“So what’s that like? Do you do week by week or do you have certain days and she has certain days?”
“Our schedule is not so formal. I guess, if anything, it’s more like I get certain days and she has others, but not always the same days. You know?”
Would I be real pressed to ask which days he’s most likely to get his son? I needed to know how his parental schedule would interfere with dating and he wasn’t giving me enough information. We had toured the condominium and were scheduled to see another. Though it was clear that he wasn’t in a relationship with his son’s mother, it still wasn’t clear whether there was a wife or a girlfriend in the picture. For fear of pressing too hard, I figured I should back off. Maybe I should have just come out and asked if he was single and ready to date. Instead I said, “Not sold on this place. We can go to the next one.”
“Cool, you wanna just hop in the car with me?”
I shrugged and we headed to his car. He opened the door for me. That was quite gentlemanly. I smiled and thanked him. As we drove to the next place, he opened up a little more.
“I’m glad you’re decisive, Ayana.”
“Why is that?”
“I usually schedule showings like these in late evening or early in the day.”
“What do you mean, ‘like these’?” I asked, using my fingers for quote marks.
“I just mean residential real estate. That’s all.”
“Oh, I thought that was some type of snobbish way of saying your pro bono properties.”
He smiled. “No, Ayana. Selling properties like this is how I got where I am. I never disrespect the game.”
“That’s good to know,” I said flirtatiously.
“And during the week I pick my son up every day so I like to schedule around that.”
“Wow. Every day?” I asked with my dating hope fading.
“Yeah, I usually have him from four to six or seven.”
“She’s a hairstylist and doesn’t usually get out of the salon until that time.”
“His mom? Your wife? Your girlfriend?” I jabbed that question in quickly so I could get the info I needed to either stop or continue flirting.
He laughed and looked at me. I couldn’t help laughing too. That was tacky, but I wanted to know.
“No girlfriend,” he said, still shaking his head in disbelief before he continued. “His mom. My soon-to-be-ex-wife. We’re in the middle of a divorce.”
“Ooh,” I said, with screeching brakes.
“It’s a nasty one.”
That was a double ooh. We pulled up to a high-rise building. As we hopped out I shifted into counselor mode. “Divorces are never fun. I think that two adults who realize they are going in opposite directions should agree to disagree and come to an understanding as to how they are going to handle the family business apart. But unfortunately, emotions get the best of us and it becomes a battle.”
We caught the elevator to the top floor. This unit was a penthouse condo with a loft and den. As soon as we entered, it felt like home. He looked at me and knew that we had struck gold.
He said, “Don’t get too excited. We have others to see.”
This place had a concierge, a twenty-four-hour doorman, a fitness center, and a meeting room. It offered everything I needed and more. The floors were mahogany. The kitchen shone with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Both of the bedrooms were large and called master suites. The loft overlooked the family room. There was a bump-out eat-in kitchen and a formal dining room, as well as a wraparound patio off the family room and kitchen. I imagined having my girlfriends over for our Friday night chats. It was as if the architect knew me personally and had designed the floor plan just for me.
“I told you that I was simple. Didn’t I?”
“Now simple is one thing, but it’s my job to make sure you’ve seen at least three to five options before you put a contract on anything.”
“If that means I get to hang out with you for a little while longer, that’s cool.”
We both burst out laughing. Why did I even let those words come out of my mouth? I really wasn’t interested in dealing with a man in the middle of a nasty divorce.
“Ayana, you are cooler than Quentin made you out to be.”
“What did he say about me?”
“Yeah, honestly. Even if it does hurt my feelings.”
He looked directly in my eyes. “He said that he’s never met a woman quite like you. He said he didn’t even know God created women like you.”
Cam nearly brought tears to my eyes. I had known Quentin respected me but to hear it from someone else was flattering.
“Aw. He really said that?”
“He said you’re amazing and the man that snags you would be a lucky son of a bitch.”
I felt almost bashful hearing these things about myself.
“But you’re not settling down anytime soon. Things are going too good,” he said.
“Cam, no one should ever be too busy for love.”
He smiled. “On that note, when can I take you to dinner?”
I appreciated his direct approach. While I had baited him, I was shocked that he had bitten almost immediately. I certainly wasn’t going to turn him down.
“I love to eat.”
“And I love a woman that likes to eat. Is this evening too soon for you?”
It was, but I wasn’t going to let him know. Some men only ask once and I didn’t want to make him think I wasn’t interested. It had been nearly a year since my last date and this was all so sudden. I felt that I needed to get my mind right. Reluctantly I shrugged. “Of course not.”
“Is seven a good time for you?”
Cam took me back to my car and we agreed to meet at Copeland’s on Piedmont.
Cam had sleepy eyes and they were so sexy under the dim lights. Over dinner I discovered that he had simply married the wrong woman for the right reason. They were young and fresh out of college. He believed he was in love and she was passionate and exciting, but he grew professionally while she stayed the same or even regressed over the years. Before long they were worlds apart. Surprisingly, that wouldn’t deter him from remarrying. He wanted to do it again with the right person. He said that he believed in marriage, that when he looked at all the men he respected, they were married and he wanted the same thing. He loved to cook and travel. He gave me a rundown of his family structure. He respected his mother and more important he loved his late father. His parents had been in their mid-forties when he was born, but he claimed their maturity had made him the man he was.
A part of me wanted to wait until I got the full report from Quentin in the morning to fall for him, but I really liked him. I was imagining that I could be with this man. This is the one thing I tell people not to do, but sometimes advice without emotion is unrealistic. I adored his zest for life, how much he wanted to know about me, and how straightforward he was about what he was looking for in a relationship. His taxi light was on and he was practically jumping up and down saying, “I’m available.” From what Quentin had told me, this man was pretty wealthy, but there wasn’t a pretentious bone in his body. For me pretentiousness was the biggest turnoff of all and the one thing I had found to be common to all the men I met in Atlanta. Not him though. He was real. He was open. He was different.
Good conversation made the hours pass rapidly. The staff began to clean the restaurant around us as we sat absorbed in each other. Ten o’clock arrived too soon and I didn’t want the night to end, but it was time to go.
After we left the restaurant and headed to the parking garage I was tempted to ask him to come back to my place, but I felt that it was too late. My car was a little distance from his, so he offered to drive me to it.
When I sat in the passenger seat, he looked at me. “Ayana, it’s been a really long time since I was out on a date.”
“So you’re telling me that a man like you isn’t swarming with women?”
“Nah, not at all. I’m picky for one. Number two, I’m all about drama-free living.”
“Yeah, but this is different. I like what I see.” He laughed. “I like it a lot.”
“Me too, Cam,” I said before I could catch myself.
He leaned over and kissed me. His masculine hand touched the side of my face. His tongue twirled slowly in my mouth and my vagina began to throb. It seemed like we were connected. Our lips were locked and neither of us pulled back. He wanted more of me and I wanted more of him. Could this be right? In a dark parking garage on our first date? Or would we ruin the possibilities if we were to succumb to our nature?
I knew better, but my body told me that I was lying to myself. I wanted to be wise, but I needed to feel him right there, right then. His hand slipped under my shirt and he began to rub up and down my back. He put his finger on the hook of my bra.
I didn’t want him to stop. Whatever was to be this night was destined. He struggled momentarily to unhook my bra, but finally it popped open. He lifted my shirt and looked delighted with my double Ds. He stared at me for a second.
“Your body is perfect.”
A woman can never hear those words enough, especially when by most standards she’s considered overweight. I was five foot six and 185 pounds, and it wasn’t every day that someone put my body and perfection in the same sentence. That aroused me more.
The armrest between us restricted our closeness. He kissed my breasts awkwardly before asking me to sit on top of him. I climbed over to his seat and he moved the driver’s seat back. He lifted my shirt over my head and I wrapped my arms around his neck as he made oral love to my breasts.
“Can I have you?”
I nodded yes. From the bulge I felt through his jeans, I wanted to have him too.
I nodded yes again. He put his hands under my skirt to feel me. “Ooh, you feel so good.”
We kissed some more as I tried to come out of my panties in the confines of his car and he unbuckled his jeans and pulled them to his knees. He grabbed a box of condoms from the armrest storage compartment, taking one out before placing the box back. I was wet and he was rock-solid as we shared an inquisitive, passionate stare for a few seconds. Was this right? Was this lust just too strong for us to resist? He used his mouth to open the packet and quickly put the condom on. As he held on to my thighs and I slid down on him, we both exhaled. All our preoccupations and inhibitions dissipated as we united. We ground slowly and sighed deeply as if this was what we both needed. He kissed me passionately as if we were longtime lovers. He looked in my eyes with each stroke. The warm and humid air made our skin stick together, forcing us closer. It felt better and better the longer he was inside me. It felt like he belonged there. Finally he exploded and I felt brand-new.
We talked inside his car for several hours longer. Finally, at around two in the morning, he drove me to my car. I looked at him and I knew at that moment this hadn’t been a mistake. His expression said he saw the same something in my eyes. We kissed. I knew that if I didn’t take the first step we would stay longer.
“Cam, I had a wonderful night.”
“I would ask you to come home with me, but…”
I didn’t want to know what had caused the but, because I was certain it would taint the wonderful night. “Don’t worry. We have to see those other condos tomorrow. I’ll see you then.”
“Ayana, you’re cool,” he said, still holding my left hand.
I reached for the handle and opened the door. “Tomorrow?”
His grip was even tighter. I set one foot out of the car and slowly pried my hand away from his. Soon after, the second foot followed and I closed the door. I wanted to scream with excitement, disappointment, frustration, and anticipation all at once but I didn’t. I took a deep breath and followed Cam out of the garage.
My state of ecstasy spilled over into the next day. Cam texted me bright and early in the morning: CAN’T WAIT TO SEE U THIS AFTERNOON.
I had planned to ask Quentin all about him since he was the one who had referred me to Cam. When I saw Quentin, I felt a little unsure of whether I should say anything. Cameron’s energy was right. He was honest and sincere. I’m usually right about these things so I wasn’t sure if I should solicit secondhand information. Then there was a side of me wondering if my analysis could have been wrong because I wanted it to be right. My intellect and my emotions battled as I tried to decide what to say to Quentin.
He interrupted my preoccupation. “How’d the home search go?”
“It was cool. We looked at two places and I’m looking at two today.”
“See anything you like?”
I wanted to laugh. Hell yeah, I saw something I liked. I only wished Quentin had forewarned me that his boy was so damn fine.
“Yeah, I saw one place that I really liked.”
“Cool. Cam is a real good dude.”
“He seems like it.”
Quentin and I went over notes for the show and neither of us mentioned Cam any further. I decided to delve more into Cameron’s background once we were off the air. I knew Quentin would know it, being that they’d been friends since high school.
When I started the show, it was the first time in twelve hours that I wasn’t thinking about Cam, because I love my job more than anything. When I’m here, I feel most like myself. It’s not exactly what I dreamed I’d be doing, but it comes so naturally.
While pursuing my PhD in psychology I started out on a journey to discover why all my good girlfriends and I were still single. We were all in our late twenties, attractive, and had good jobs or were pursuing professional degrees. Certainly the selection of good black men couldn’t be that bad. There had to be something wrong with us. Were we too dominant? Were we too picky? Or did we just have bad luck? Assuming this would be the perfect dissertation subject, I began my research. Naturally, I decided to start with the women who were in seemingly healthy marriages.
After nearly ten interviews I was shocked to learn that many of these women in the socially imposed ideal situation were unhappy, and seven of them claimed they would not marry their husbands if they had it to do over again. While I had expected to get responses about how great it was to be committed to the one, I ended up disappointed with the reality that men are men.
Besides being single, my friends and I were happy. Most of all we were free. With freedom came options and we knew we weren’t stuck. Maybe that was why we laughed, traveled, and absorbed life. Suddenly my research shifted to single women. Were they all as happy as we were? After interviewing a few single women, I found that a large percentage of them were unhappy too. They felt life had dealt them a bad hand. Could it be that being a woman is an unhappy existence in and of itself? Why did it seem that women were never satisfied? Finally it hit me. The one common denominator among the unhappy women was that none of them had really good girlfriends. The women, single or married, with thriving female friendships seemed to get the most out of life.
I went to my adviser to let him know that my dissertation would be called Girlfriends: The Therapeutic Effect. He found my topic laughable until I began to explain. Women forgo the chance for true commitment and intimacy with each other, assuming that it can be found only in a marriage. My adviser was still quite perplexed as I continued. Men are completely incapable of giving women the amount of emotional security they seek. Women in turn beg, plead, and worry men to be something that they can never be, leaving themselves eternally unfulfilled. Finally my adviser began to let down his guard and smile.
“Ayana, you’re right. I think this will be quite interesting, actually.”
“When women get in relationships, they feel like their girlfriends are disposable. ‘Finally, now I can stop hanging out and just chill with my man.’”
He laughed. “This is very true.”
“That’s crazy. What is the shift in our brain that makes us believe that we can do without our girls now that we have a man?” I paused, hoping the concept would sink in. “Men don’t want to go to the mall. They don’t want to gossip. They don’t want to watch romantic comedies. Men don’t give up sports or beer when they get into relationships. So why do we give up our natural antidepressant? Real girlfriends?”
He chuckled. “Ms. Blue, I’d like you to keep me posted. If your research is strong, I’ll approve the topic.”
He approved it and offered to help me find a literary agent. I had never imagined myself as an author, but he encouraged me to turn my dissertation into a book. He found my research and recommendations profound. With the coaxing of my single-girl crew and my bestie/sister Aaliyah, I turned my research into a book titled Where My Girls At? I was offered a two-book deal from a major publishing house and had no clue what I could write as a second book. Then one of my good friends suggested that I write about how to be a good friend, because that was a skill not all women had.
My first book talked about the importance of friends but didn’t give instructions. The sales for Where My Girls At? were nominal at best. A year later Girlfriend Confidential hit the shelves. My friends vowed that this one would not go down like the first. We had learned our lesson: getting the book on the shelves means absolutely nothing if no one knows anything about it. We all put our skills together and I had my own in-house publicity team. We sent press kits to every media outlet, every female organization, and every sorority, and attended every chick conference we could find. Girlfriend Confidential became the topic of discussion at hair salons, book clubs, and girl groups everywhere. Women began to deem me the relationship expert. I started to get e-mails from people asking for my advice on every aspect of their lives. I’d only had my PhD for a little over a year; how was I supposed to help all these people? I wasn’t ready for all this, but opportunity after opportunity came knocking at my door. The more speaking and workshop engagements I took on, the more popular I grew.
Within eighteen months I was approached with an offer to host my own satellite radio show. I was offered an afternoon slot, from one to two. The time slot already had a listener base, primarily African-American women. The show would be named after my book: Girlfriend Confidential with Ayana Blue. I accepted the job.
Before my first day on the air I was introduced to Quentin so we could map out the format of the show. He was a senior producer and had already designed a plan for success. On the first day he decided to have my girls in the studio with me. He felt that would give me an initial dose of confidence and he was right. Mandy, Cori, and my sister Aaliyah were there and it was just like a girls’ night out. With each phone call I became more relaxed. With each day I was more certain that this was where I was destined to be. My listeners needed me, my voice, and my advice.
Now I listened to the caller on the line explaining why she was unhappy and why she felt neglected by her husband. Listening is the most important component of my job. Having compassion and understanding for people’s feelings is the one thing I think comes naturally for me. I needed the caller to redirect her focus, because positivity is the first step to any happy relationship.
I said, “You really have to be thankful for the little things. Don’t focus so much on what he doesn’t do as opposed to what he does do. My dad’s favorite saying is ‘Accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives.’ If you try that for one week, I bet you’ll feel differently about him and your relationship.”
The caller didn’t say anything. So I continued, “You see what I’m saying?”
“I guess it’s just hard for me to understand why he can go play golf all day and not even think about how I feel.”
“When he’s out playing golf, he is thinking about you. He’s releasing stress, possibly making business deals. Despite what time he comes home, he’s happy. Right?”
“No, ’cause he acts like I’m not supposed to say anything to him.”
“You mean he acts like you’re not supposed to nag him. Just imagine you’re having a wonderful day and you come home to him asking you ‘Where’s dinner? Did you feed the kids? Did you wash the clothes?’ Wouldn’t that irritate you?”
“I’m sure it would. You don’t want anybody blowing your high. It’s really that simple.”
She laughed. “I never looked at it like that.”
“Before you start flipping out on the brother, put yourself in his shoes.”
“Thanks, Ayana. I’ll try that.”
“You’re very welcome, girlfriend. And thanks for your call.”
Quentin gave me a thumbs-up as we neared the end of another successful show. He loved my insight into men, women, and relationships. As if it weren’t enough that my words had the ability to talk a woman off the cliff or boost her self-esteem, Quentin’s response was a daily reminder that I was called to do this.
I paused. “You’ve been listening to Girlfriend Confidential. I’m your host, Ayana Blue, and we have time for one more call.”
Quentin signaled to me that there was a caller on the line. “Girlfriend Confidential. Tell me what you want to talk about.”
The caller cleared her throat. “I wanna talk about you.”
“OK,” I said hesitantly, because I sensed agitation in her voice.
This type of call came in at least once every few days: a woman who wanted to keep being a victim and disagreed with my trying to empower her. She huffed, “So you’re everybody’s good girlfriend, right?”
“I’d like to think I am.”
“If that’s the case, why did you fuck my husband last night? You fucking home-wrecker!”
The engineer quickly disconnected the call, but her point had come across loud and clear on air. Everyone thought it was a random angry woman, but I knew I had gotten myself into some shit. Quentin winced and it was clear he knew the caller’s voice. The guilty look on my face probably didn’t help either.
My heart pounded as I began to gather my belongings. The engineer joked about how crazy people were. I offered halfhearted chuckles, but all I could think about was calling Cam and getting to the bottom of this. The adrenaline in my body was on fast-forward as a million different thoughts stalked me. Is he really in a marriage as opposed to near divorce as he claimed? How did she know we’d been together? What if this was really just a prank call? No, it couldn’t be. There was no way some prank caller would know that I had recently slept with a married man.
Quentin watched my frenzy in disbelief, sympathy in his eyes.
“You need help?”
“No, I’m good.”
When the room cleared, I tried to avoid eye contact with Quentin. I could tell he wanted to ignore what he felt, but he couldn’t. Finally he said, “I knew her voice when she first called. I should have never put her through.”
“What do you mean?”
“That was Yasmin, Cam’s wife. I mean his ex-wife.”
I snapped. “Is she his wife or ex-wife?”
“She is his ex-wife. They have another hearing for the divorce in the next week or so. It’s over.”
I huffed. “This is ridiculous.”
“She is ridiculous. I thought she had stopped stalking him.”
Duh! Had he not thought that Cam and I might become interested in each other? Why hadn’t he thought about that when he referred me? This wasn’t good. I was writing Cam off as a one-night stand. There was no way I could risk my livelihood for a man with a crazy ex-wife.
“Wow,” I said slowly. “So she’s a stalker. Looks like I’m going to have to find another Realtor.”
“Listen, once she realizes you’re just a client, she’ll chill.”
“Yeah, sure. Tell me anything. Is he giving you a cut of his commission?”
Quentin laughed. “Not at all, Ayana. He’s a good dude.”
“Yeah, you said that once already.”
The three consecutive beeps that let you know the call has been disconnected came through the phone, but by that time I had made my point. All the women in the salon were laughing as I slapped high five with my girl Casey. She was shaking her head.
“What did she say?” Casey asked.
“She didn’t have a chance to say anything. She really don’t know who she’s playing with.”
“Yas, you are crazy.”
“C’mon, Casey, that chick is bold. She’s on here every day telling people how they need to act and she out here sleeping with somebody else’s man. That’s crazy.”
Casey just looked at me. I knew what she was thinking, but until the divorce is final, he is my husband and he needs to respect me as such. Because I’m a hairstylist, nothing happens that I don’t know about. I have eyes and ears in the strangest places. How bold of them? No, how trifling of them to have sex in a parking garage. I mean, we’re not sixteen. I’ve told Cam a million times not to disrespect me and I wouldn’t disrespect him.
I walked back to the chemical room. My client’s color was ready to be rinsed. I loved to make Cam and his hussies uncomfortable. With Ms. Ayana being in the public eye, she was the ideal target. She had no clue what I was capable of and if she knew better she would just disappear like I’d forced all the rest to.
It was going to be fun to make her life miserable, because I would get instant gratification. As she signed off the show, the quivering in her voice gave me a feeling of victory.
My client looked at me and said, “You’re happy.”
“I should be.”
“So do you know Ayana Blue or do you just listen to the show?”
I hadn’t thought she was in on that whole discussion so I was caught off guard. My neck snapped back. She said, “You just called in. Right?”
“How’d you know?”
“Well, it doesn’t take a genius to know you were calling in to the show. We were listening. Then you turned it down.”
I laughed because I’d thought I was being discreet and clearly I wasn’t but I didn’t care. When I get angry, I can feel heat rising in my diaphragm. At that point I spit fire and I am completely unaware of my surroundings.
“Yeah, she slept with my husband in a car last night.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah, they went to dinner and one of my clients waited the table. She recognized Cam and of course she recognized every girl’s best friend. She didn’t say anything to them because she wanted to spy. When she left work, she noticed they were still in the car. So she decided to watch them.”
My client’s eyes got big just as mine had when I heard the story for the first time. I continued, “These dummies decide to bump and grind in the car. I mean, damn.”
“And from what my informant says, they were clearly on a first date.”
She was as shocked as me. Not to mention that my clients didn’t know it was over between Cam and me. We had been apart for about eighteen months, but I was still hopeful. See, the breakup was my fault and I figured it was my obligation to get the relationship back together. I don’t understand why life doesn’t come with a damn rewind button. It hurts my heart when I think about how I ruined my life.
When the new FedEx guy first walked into the shop, I knew it was trouble because of the thoughts running through my mind as I watched his sexy ass. He must have read my mind because he came back every day smelling good and looking good and I tried my best to look cute for him. That was my entire mission each day. Finally I said something to him and he was game. After I had Caron, I felt like Cam just stopped paying me any attention. He was so caught up in work and making money, I felt invisible. But this guy brought me back to life.
Six months later, I wanted to leave Cam. I wanted to be with Overnight Express, as I had dubbed him. Overnight Express made me feel young and special. Once I had my heart set on it, I did everything I could to make Cameron leave me. He would tell me things like, “Because of Caron, I’m going to ignore that.” Or, “Yasmin, I want to work on this for his sake. He deserves two parents.”
Overnight Express had me strung out on love and I couldn’t hear a damn thing that Cam was saying. Every time I acted a fool, Cam would make an excuse for why we should stay together. How stupid can you be, man? I’m trying to leave you. It became clear that I couldn’t just merely allude to wanting to break up. I had to be explicit. Even if I had walked in the door holding a huge poster that had our wedding picture on it with a big strike through it, he still wouldn’t have gotten the message. Casey warned me not to leave a good man for good sex, but I just couldn’t understand at that time. Cameron was an obstacle keeping me from my heart’s desire. He became the enemy and I never thought about how hurt he would be. I only thought about how it hurt me not to see Overnight Express.
I got reckless and began to take Caron around my lover. We’d spend long days together. I hoped that he and Caron could get to know each other so that when we were a family, everyone would be familiar. Caron actually liked him too. I’d always say, “Don’t tell Daddy about our special friend.”
Little boys are so loyal, because he never even hinted that we’d spent time with Overnight Express. One day I was at work and got a call from Cam. He started out slowly and calmly. “Yasmin, someone told me that they saw you and Caron with some nigga at the zoo.”
“Is there something you want to tell me?”
“If I had something to tell you, I would have told you.”
“Yasmin, don’t make me hurt you.”
“Cam, you don’t want that kind of trouble.”
“Yasmin, who were you with?”
“My man,” I said without remorse.
My words punched all the testosterone out of him. He was speechless, and the next thing I heard was the operator. I had to tell Cam what I was feeling now that it was out in the open. These emotions had been bottled up inside me for way too long. As I began to compose an e-mail to him, the words flowed effortlessly. I told him that I had been unhappy for a long time and had found someone else. I promised him that we’d split custody of Caron. I told him that I wouldn’t fight for the house, assuming that battle would be too lengthy because the house was in his name: when we got married I was young and had racked up a bunch of bills from college, so my credit wasn’t the best. The bad part about it was that I wrote the whole message on my BlackBerry. That’s how pressed I was to just get the monkey off my back. I hit Send before I could proofread the message. I texted Overnight Express to let him know I had done it. He responded: WORD?
Word? I thought that was a strange response, but we had talked about everything from running off to Vegas to even having more kids together. Maybe he was just shocked. Cam called moments later. I was hesitant to answer at first, but then I was like, “Hello?”
“Yasmin, I can’t believe that you couldn’t say all that bullshit to my face. You and I both know I realized that we weren’t compatible a long time ago, but I was willing to work on it for the sake of Caron. So I’m going to ask you this one last time, is that really what you want?”
Didn’t I tell you I was done? The more he questioned my feelings and the more he appeared to be fighting for our marriage, the more respect I lost. “Cam, I’m sure about this. I’m not happy anymore.”
He chuckled. “And neither am I but I’m not selfish either. I know what my son deserves, but obviously you think about Yasmin before you think about Caron.” He paused. “Have you been taking your meds?”
That angered me. I yelled, “That has nothing to do with me and you.”
“Yas, calm down. So how soon do you want the separation to happen? You can stay in the house. I have a property that is vacant. I just showed it to potential tenants today. I can move in there until we work this out.”
“I don’t want the house. It’s your house.”
“Don’t act crazy, Yasmin, that’s Caron’s house. He deserves to stay there.”
I had plans to move in with my man and I didn’t know if he’d want to live in Cam’s house or if Cam wanted him living there. I said, “We can talk when I get off.”
He asked one last time before we hung up if it was really what I wanted. I confirmed. I came home to a moving truck in my driveway that evening. Cam had spent the evening explaining to then-five-year-old Caron that Mommy and Daddy weren’t going to be living together anymore. I was livid. No doubt I wanted it to be over, but he was moving out and my son was crying hysterically. It was too much for me to take. I started yelling and swinging on him. “Where are you going? Why are you leaving tonight? Why are you grandstanding? I told you we’d talk when I got home.”
Caron cried louder. “Mommy, don’t hit Daddy.”
He was trying to make me look bad so I tried to reverse it. “You’re just going to leave me and Caron so you can go do what you want, huh? Is that what you want to do?”
He just shook his head like he couldn’t believe me. It was as if he was trying to belittle me and that enraged me. “You must have another woman,” I shouted.
He laughed. “You one crazy-ass girl.”
“I’m far from crazy.”
“Yeah, I got another woman and yeah, I’m leaving tonight. I will pick Caron up tomorrow like I do normally and drop him off at the salon when you get off.”
I started to scrape up his car, but instead I ushered Caron into the house. Cam hadn’t taken much furniture, just two flat-screen TVs, his clothes, and the bedroom set we had in the guest room. My pressure was pumping and Caron was acting like a real brat. I sat on the couch and took deep breaths, trying to calm my nerves. I couldn’t believe Cam had tried to play me like that. I was so irritated.
I turned on the TV and Caron climbed onto my lap. “Mommy, why did Daddy leave us?” he asked.
“Daddy’s not nice.”
“Are you sad?”
I said, “Yes, but we’re going to be OK.”
“Why doesn’t Daddy love us anymore?”
“I don’t know, baby.”
After I put Caron to bed, I texted Overnight Express and told him that Cam had left. He responded, WHEN CAN I SEE U?
I let him come to my house that night. After I changed my sheets, he rocked my world in the bed I had shared with Cameron. He was so perfect inside me. I knew I had done the right thing. After we made love I lay there, staring at the ceiling in complete disbelief. Cam was gone and I had never been so happy. I was satisfied, single, and deeply in love with the man lying beside me. Caron’s loud cry outside my bedroom door disturbed my bliss. I popped up and threw on a large T-shirt and rushed out of my room to escort him back into his room.
I said, “C’mon, baby. Let’s go.”
“I miss Daddy,” he whined.
I huffed loudly. This had already gotten old. “Caron, Daddy is going to pick you up after school.”
We walked into his room and he begged me to lie with him. I lay in his bed, singing nursery rhymes, trying to make him feel better. Seconds later he fell asleep and I tiptoed out of his room and back into mine. My man was lying there looking slightly impatient. After locking my bedroom door, I climbed on him and began to kiss his neck. “Now, back to what we were doing.”
I giggled softly in his ear. His irritation seemed to be subsiding. Just as we were at ease and ready to get it on again, Caron knocked. “Mommy. Mommy.”
My head fell into my hands. This had been much better when we crept out to a hotel. Caron never woke up at night and I had obviously underestimated the effect of Cameron leaving. This was certainly becoming an annoying obstacle. It was painfully obvious that though we’d gotten one monkey off our backs, we instantly had another. My man said, “Shorty will be a’ight.”
Was he really suggesting that I leave my baby in the hall crying and begging for my attention? I wasn’t going to do that and I was perplexed at his suggestion.
He kept kissing me and pulling me aggressively to him. “Shorty gotta man up.”
Um, shorty was the key word. Why the hell was he suggesting that my five-year-old son get over me being hemmed up in the room with some man? I pulled away. “Baby, let me go.”
He pulled me closer. “I thought you said you missed me?”
“I do, but I have to get my baby.”
Excerpted from The Ex-Wife by Candice Dow Copyright © 2013 by Candice Dow. Excerpted by permission.
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