July 22 2014, 05:19 PM
I stood there.
Alone.
Wanting to be out of my skin. Wanting to climb out of my body and disappear. But there I remained, wearing every one of my wrongs. This was me now, drenched in my sins. Every mistake, every act was draping me and I couldn’t throw it off. The gasoline was already there but now everything had triggered the match. I was being engulfed with the flames of my own personalized hell.
I was the man on fire.
And nobody was going to put me out ♥

I stood there.

Alone.

Wanting to be out of my skin. Wanting to climb out of my body and disappear. But there I remained, wearing every one of my wrongs. This was me now, drenched in my sins. Every mistake, every act was draping me and I couldn’t throw it off. The gasoline was already there but now everything had triggered the match. I was being engulfed with the flames of my own personalized hell.

I was the man on fire.

And nobody was going to put me out 

July 22 2014, 05:14 PM

52: Man on Fire

MAX

I wasn’t synced.

Nothing worth anything was clicking because I wasn’t flowing the way I needed to.

I’d had constraints before, specific time frames to work off of. I did jobs. Local magazines, blogs, logos, a couple book covers and commissioned pieces all of which I could pull together without much difficulty. With a concentrated effort to sort the contents of my mind, I could accomplish what I needed to but now that wasn’t happening. It wasn’t so much the pressure to perform. My show was coming up, in a matter of days and another had been tentatively scheduled for two weeks from then. The owner of the gallery I was showing at had taken a special interest in me after she got wind of all the hype surrounding my show. Anybody invited had confirmed and even more were contacting her about securing invites and she was falling all over me because of it. The gallery I was presenting at was prestigious. In a stuffy, sell-one-painting-a-month way but she wanted new life breathed into the place and more importantly, new income.

I represented that.

Auctions online for a group of my paintings had already grossed thousands. This time I knew I was on the cusp of something great. My big break was right there but to me, still not there. I couldn’t focus and if I couldn’t channel something, I would be next month’s old news. That’s how it went in a city like this. The notion of being a starving artist might seem authentic, bohemian to some but that ideal lost its appeal when you had responsibilities. I had a talent and only an idiot wouldn’t attempt to profit off that. I couldn’t afford to squander any opportunities I was given. Gallery lady, in between sexual innuendos and eyeing my crotch, told me to relax and to hone in on the subjects that came to me natural.

And that was the female form.

I had a catalog of paintings and sketches of various women. Ones I saw on the subway, ones I passed as I walked, even a few I recalled from memory. I was doing just that now, only it wasn’t working out the way I had expected. Scissors down, I stared at her, disturbed by what my brain had come up with. I had put her back together but not all the parts matched.

“I’m sorry,” I said dazed. “I know you’re not supposed to look like that but I’m doing my best.”

I really had but the cut lines, my uncooperating coordination and extreme fatigue had made her disfigured. I think if she were still alive and whole she’d ask why I had done this to her. I’d have no real answer. Things just were now. For the last two hours I’d been imagining that actual body parts lay in front of me but only paper did. I had painted that girl, the nameless one I had fucked twice. She was sitting, back turned, hair pinned up. I’d captured her the best I could remember but I had hacked away at my hard work and in frustration tried to put her back together again. It was a failed mission but I wasn’t giving up. I never gave up when I got like this. Label it plain stubbornness or madness but something in my being refused to let go even when I knew I should. I stood up changing my viewpoint.

Fragmented.

The girl was fragmented, indicative of how I was coming to view the opposite sex. I saw them in parts sometimes. The curve of their lips, the round of an ass, the shape of breasts. I tried to sew all of the pieces together, see them as a man should: whole but it wasn’t working all the time and even when it did, I didn’t see any woman for who she was. I did a bait and switch, supplementing them for one person.

The only person affecting my mind and heart completely.

I wondered what she was doing, how she was doing. I had no way of knowing. Her number was off the grid, even her new Twitter account had barred me. Those that knew anything wouldn’t dare tell me anything. I had made myself into the enemy. That was proved when I went back to Brooklyn to pick up the rest of my belongings. I thought I had strategized a time when I was least likely to run into anybody but low and behold there were two of my former roommates exiting. Liam’s disapproval was obvious but Leah’s anger reached out to strangled me. I think she wanted to do just that as she stood there, regarding me like I was a stranger. No, it was worse than that. You gave a stranger indifference, Leah gave me hatred.

She asked me one very simple question: why?

That was what I had asked myself over and over, what ate at me while I sat up night after night. I could’ve given her a thesis on the topic but it all came down to one inevitable face.

I looked a once friend in the eye, ashamed but unable to steer myself from the truth. “Because,” I said remorsefully “She’s her.”

Her glare intensified because that wasn’t what she wanted to hear. If I were her, I’d have the same reaction to some half-life standing in my face with that bullshit of a response too but that was the only way to explain what I felt. I became inhumane, I used my bare hands and maimed the one person I loved more than anyone for that very reason. She meant too much to me.

Ayanna was everything.

My drug of choice, my religion, my very reason for getting up in the morning.

There was no way I could ever let her go. There was no way that I could allow her to take one step away from me because my greatest fear was that if she did, she would never come back. I loved her enough to want to destroy her. That was sick. It was condescending, narcissistic but that’s how it all added up in my brain. Don’t ask me why but every instinct told me to hold her that tight. Leah saw that. I was so disillusioned, such a poor excuse of my previous self that she pitied me.

Almost but not quit.  

Her indignation and loyalty wouldn’t make room for that.

She came closer to me, stood toe to toe to me while her finger jabbed me in the chest. “You stay away from her,” she said eyes narrowed. “I’m pretty sure you have zero credibility after all of your stunts but she loves you so there’s always a chance. She’s forgiven you before, she could do it again but you can’t give her that opportunity. If you actually love her, you won’t show yourself, you won’t attempt to contact her, you won’t make yourself a part of her life. If you actually love her, you’ll go away and you won’t back.”

Liam gently took her arm, pulling her away. He was as put off by her tone the same way I was. He gave me a warning look as they left but Leah made me want to shrink into myself. It was the scariest I had ever seen her. She had tapped into that part of herself for Ayanna. I was almost seeing Ayanna through her eyes. For Leah to pull off a mafia vibe, Ayanna had to be in bad shape and of course she was. She was like this butterfly and I had done my best to break off her wings.

I nodded at Leah’s advice. I agreed with it but that didn’t mean I could follow it. This was a reprieve but no amount of separation would be permanent. It just couldn’t be so I was laying and I was waiting. At first I managed to keep myself occupied but then I found myself  sitting on the block. The brownstone five doors down was unoccupied, there was no one to take issue with someone squatting on their stoop. I just needed to see her. I ended up hearing her first.

“I bet you’ll be hanging onto me next time,” she joked.

I peered from my hiding spot and saw her climb off of a motorcycle, a helmet in hand. She fluffed out her hair and winked.

“You know I can do that now.” Mosai the Motherfucker picked her up, held her ass as he carried her up the stairs. Ayanna laughed as they kissed.

If I wasn’t intimately involved, if I had no connection, if my stomach wasn’t in knots at the sight of them, I’d take them as inspiration. They were the couple I’d want to emulate. It occurred to me that I could’ve had that. If it weren’t for the abuse and the humiliation and my ego. I should’ve gotten angry. I expected myself to but when rage didn’t come, despair did. This all-encompassing loss. It hit me with such force that I had to check my chest to see if I was bleeding out. It felt like I’d been shot clean through. I don’t know how I did it before, I had to have put on those red glasses because there was no way to ignore how they looked. It was past attraction now, past infatuation and curiosity. What was happening between them was real and it was crushing every part of me. I looked away, cleared my throat but I didn’t wipe the tear that ran down my face.

Crying, secluded and going out of my fucking mind, I watched my life slip out of my hands.

Ayanna was happy, content with this dude and why wouldn’t she be? He’d never placed a hand on her. He’d never verbally attacked her or disrespected her in the ways I had. He was safety, I was danger. He was peace, I was dysfunction. I represented wrong and he was all things right. He’d been a threat before but now he wasn’t even that. He was winning. He was taking what was mine. I’d lost, any sane man could see that, would let go but my resolve refused to falter. Until we reached some type of understanding, I was bidding. Everyday I sat on her or the motherfucker’s place. It was the only way to have time with her. Not today though.

Hearing footsteps in the hall, I put away my sliced painting, pulled my hair up and got back to what I should’ve been doing all this time.

“How’s it coming along?”

Joelle stood there, a satin robe tied around the tiny bump where her stomach was. A normal person might not be able to tell that she was showing but I had noticed it immediately. The evidence of our baby was the only thing keeping my head screwed on semi-straight. I motioned for her to come closer. When she did, I peeled back her robe and kissed her stomach. She allowed that and only that. After my confession, things had changed between us. for one, we weren’t having any sexual contact. She didn’t treat me to anything special, her housewife special was off the table. We didn’t even sleep in the same room, hince me camping out in her spare bedroom, or the future nursery. I retreated away and traced my finger against the longest wall, the design just in pencil now. A child-friendly jungle landscape was going to be here in a rainbow of colors. When she had turned in last night, I’d been here working and eight hours later I was still awake and considering what a mess I had become.

“It’s going,” I said stretching my arms out.

“You stayed up all night again, didn’t you?”

“It’s what I do now,” I replied stripping off my shirt. “It’s not like I can rest anyway.”

I knew how I looked. My hair was a tangled mess and I had an caveman beard growing. My eyes displayed exhaustion and I’d been in the same sweats since two days ago. I didn’t look great and most of me didn’t care. Joelle did.

“How long are you going to do this? You look like you’re about to fall over, you walk around like a zombie mumbling to yourself. You go missing for days and you stare at things for no apparent reason. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen you put anything in your mouth. How long do you think you’re going to be a vegetable because I need a timeline?”

“Joe, I’m trying to—”

“A week, a month, are you going to be like this when the baby comes or are you going to be dead by then?” Joelle folded her arms and gave me a pitied look. “Look, I get that you miss her and you might not know how to handle all of this but I think you know your current methods aren’t helping. Sorry if I’m being blunt but this needs to be said before you just blow away. You did this Max. You pushed Ayanna away. You’re the reason why she shut you out and it’s not a huge chance that she’ll forgive you. Deal with that, don’t fall apart because of it. Be better. You do have someone else to be concerned about.”

Her words came from a tough love place but I wasn’t in the mood to receive it. I was trying to keep easy, be calm around her for the sake of her stress level and what that could mean for our baby but at this point, I didn’t need her mentioning Ayanna’s name.

“Is it okay if I ask you not to address her? At all. I know what I did, you reminding me of everything doesn’t improve that. I know you’re still going over what I told you. It shows in how you act around me, or don’t for that matter. I don’t want to knock heads with you. I can find some place else to stay.”

Joelle looked away. “You don’t have to do that unless you want to. I’m puking all the time, I’m irritable and I maybe I’m jealous.” That was a comment I decided not to respond to. “That’s fucked up right, that I have envy for someone who you hurt? Well I do and I’m not proud of that, I just get the feeling that you’re never going to get past this.”

She voiced what I already know. “I’m trying,” I said. “I’ll clean myself up…” That pause there was meant to be “eventually” but I thought better of it. She didn’t respect me already, lying to her would only contribute to that. I touched her arms, cautiously sweeping hair away from her face. “I’ll try to clean myself up. Not even for me but for the baby.” She stared at me, not believing a word I said. I didn’t blame her. I wasn’t very convincing. “I need to get ready. I have that thing today.”

That thing was the Spin Thrift Alley at “one of the most diverse and dynamic festivals in the country.” That was some quote I read somewhere but it was true. AfroPunk had everything from mosh pits, bike shows, food trucks and a varied list of performers. Rock bands, trip-hop, R & B—there was something for every music taste and eye. People watching was a major sport there. You could find colorful hair, creatively place piercings and fashion that was something for another world. The women also seemed to be a pull for the male attendants.

Rodney was one of them.

He’d volunteered there for that reason only.

During the summer he’d gone through yet another girlfriend and was looking to “climb back on the horse.” I didn’t bother to say anything to that as we loaded several of my paintings and boxes of merchandise later that morning. I had everything from t-shirts to iPhone cases and printed tote bags. Since he was the only person I knew with access to a van, he was my assistant by default. I was putting in the last box when I noticed Joelle at the window. She put her hand up and I nodded back. I didn’t know what our relationship was now and the general awkwardness wasn’t lost on Rodney.

He blew Joelle a kiss and she immediately left the window. “Those are those infamous pregnancy hormones I’m witnessing right? Because you and I both know that women love them some of this.”

I got in the passenger seat, continuing my sullen silence. I wasn’t in the mood for conversation, not that I would catch a break from him.

“So,” Rodney said, “what’s up with you fam? Mrs. Robinson is with child and I’m picking you up at her place, there anything you want to tell me about?”

“We’re living together. Was that what you were looking for?”

“That shit is apparent. What I’m trying to figure out is how that’s playing out with Ayanna. Two times now I haven’t seen you with her and I heard from my source aka the girl Gia, that she isn’t registered for fall semester. She dropped your emo ass didn’t she?”

I turned my face to the window, attempting to keep from breaking the glass. When I didn’t speak he carried on.

“Oh shit, she really did? Yo, check outside real quick and make sure the sky isn’t falling. She found out about your illegitimate baby, didn’t she? I told you that wasn’t going to fly man. Ayanna knows what she’s working with. Ain’t no way in hell she trying to stick around for your drama.”

As usual he had it wrong. “We have another issue,” I said tersely. “One I’m not going to discuss with you now or any other time so drop the fucking subject.”

At the light Rodney looked over and found me fuming. I scowled at him. It was the kind of look that told you to keep quiet before something unfortunate happened. He took the hint and put his hands up in defense.

“Consider it dropped my man but I have a suggestion. Get rid of the serial killer vibes before we get there. I’m trying to bag a bad one and you looking like the one who flew over the cuckoo’s nest is guaranteed to scare the honies away.”

“That would be a good thing. I’m not trying to attract anything but business.”

“Yeah until you get your eyes on Baby Momma: Part II.” I fixed him with another look. “Sorry. That was too soon.”

We made it to Commodore Barry Park and to my designated vendor table. I began to set up  while all Rodney did was try his luck with every mildly-attractive female that strolled around. By noon, THEESatisfaction the DJ pair  were performing, droves of people near the green stage. Things picked up in the market, several people stopping by my area. Girls flirted with me, asking about my artwork, the inspiration behind it all that other bullshit women brought up to start conversation. I did my best to be cordial and not snap on anyone handing me cash. I was doing alright until I started scanning the crowd. I was holding onto this small hope that I might see Ayanna. We’d gone to AfroPunk every year. I know things were infinitely different this time but that slim chance was all I was holding near.

I had false starts all over the place.

One girl with a turban and oversized earrings had the same silhouette, another had similar hair and I could’ve sworn I heard her voice in the mix. It was like I was projecting her on every chick but there was no confusion when I saw a familiar face approach. I cursed under my breath, feeling the urge to walk in the opposite direction but I couldn’t hide. That would just show how much of a coward I really was. She was with that white girl again, the Lana Del Rey impersonator who’d been way too close to Ayanna that night. Yoshi, with her tiny waist and side-show ass drew every male eye but her focus was squarely on me. And not in a good way. She strolled over to the booth and looked me up and down before scoffing.

“Look at this Kristina,” she said, “the motherfucker actually has the audacity to show his face in public.” Yoshi flashed me a sardonic look, filled with hatred. “Shouldn’t you be under a rock or better yet, dead?” Smiling darkly, she inspected one of my t-shirts. “You know Max that last one can always be arranged.”

It was then that I noticed a guy standing behind them. He was close enough to let me know he was with them but far enough not to cramp her space. Her statement caused him to nod at me, acknowledging her threat. I knew what Yoshi did, a lot of people did but she was careful enough to keep herself clean of any involvement. I was guessing that with a snap of the fingers Queenpin here would have her help make something happen to me. Rodney stood, the energy here causing him to be serious for once. I was hoping it was that but it was probably the ex-video vixen standing here in the flesh.

“Hey, Max you want to introduce me?” he asked.

I wasn’t allowed to. “I’m Yoshi,” she said, “and my girl’s name is Kristina. You are?”

“Rodney Jenkins. I’m a big fan of your work. How is it you know my buddy?”

“We have a common factor. Ayanna’s an old friend,” she said staring at me like the piece of shit I was. “One your boy left a mark on. Several really.”

My face began to burn with shame. Of course she knew about what happened. Before I’d been blocked, I’d seen the picture of Ayanna. She’d done some modeling for Yoshi’s clothing brand. They were friends reunited and now co-workers. It didn’t matter how much she was aware of, she knew enough.

“Yoshi, I—”

She shook her head. “You don’t have anything to say to me because you have no excuse. After everything my girl’s been through, you do that to her? I always thought that shy, innocent shtick of yours was cute but you had everyone fooled didn’t you? It’s always like that. The quiet motherfuckers, the ones who have the nice boy routine down are usually the foul ones. The ones that sneak up on you and have you in cooling in a body bag. You better count your stars and thank whoever you pray to that Ayanna wised up and dumped your triflin ass because if you had put her on a slab, you’d be the next one to go. Now maybe we haven’t been attached at the hip in the last years but mamí is forever and always my ace and I’ll ride out for her any day. You probably got this PSA from Leah but let me reiterate: fuck off.”

She came up to me closer. “You’re a bitch. A pathetic one at that. Next time, try to pick on someone your own size. I could set that up for you but with the folks I know, you wouldn’t last five minutes.” Yoshi linked hands with the white girl, who gave me the same glare. “Rodney, you might want to watch the company you keep. People have been known to get got together.”

Yoshi walked away while I found a chair, covering my face with my hands. This day just kept getting better and better.

“What does that mean?” Rodney asked. “Watch the company I keep.”

“Nothing,” I grumbled.

“It’s not nothing if she went through all of that in the name of Ayanna. What’s going on?” I was too disgusted with myself to reply. “She said something about you leaving a mark but that couldn’t mean…no, you wouldn’t do that, not to Ayanna, not to any woman. That’s not your calling card.”

He was trying to give me the benefit of the doubt but was still making my anger grow exponentially. “Is that what you want to hear? That I’m perfect, that I’ve never lost my temper with her? Well I did. I fucked up because that’s me now: Max equals Fuck-up. I hurt her, okay. I’m the bad guy.”

He shook his head at me in disbelief, all of his usual playfulness gone. “Yeah, you are the bad guy, the fucking twisted one. We both grew up the same way, with some no-count nigga slapping our moms around just because they felt like it and you go repeat that? I always knew you were off but now I know you’ve really lost your mind. I ain’t never seen anyone fall over a girl like you did. Years you been running after her like a damn puppy and when you finally get her, you lay hands? I’m not cool with that and I can’t be down with anybody who is. Big Booty was right. I do need to watch who I associate with. We not boys no more. You need help. Serious, strapped-to-a-table help and I’m not the one to give it to you.”

Rodney backed away from me, giving me the same look of disappointment everyone was granting me these days. “You need to clean your stuff up and until you do, we dead. Enjoy your show because I sure as hell won’t be attending.”

I stood there.

Alone.

Wanting to be out of my skin.

Wanting to climb out of my body and disappear.

But there I remained, wearing every one of my wrongs.

This was me now, drenched in my sins. Every mistake, every act was draping me and I couldn’t throw it off. The gasoline was already there but now everything had triggered the match. I was being engulfed with the flames of my own personalized hell.

I was the man on fire.

And nobody was going to put me out.

This shit felt permanent because my pain had always been. Our snap altercation had attracted curious stares. I didn’t meet anybody’s eyes except for one. An emerald green set stared at me unflinchingly, the owner of them a masterpiece. She was beautiful but not in a customary way. Her looks were almost cruel, hardened in a way. She had on regular festival attire, thrifted denim shorts, crop top and boots. Athletic but still shapely and ethnically ambiguous. She had enough melanin to qualify for any race. Her hair was red. Not orange but deep scarlet like an anime character but for whatever reason it suited her. I realized I was staring but she didn’t take offence. She watched me like she was seeing through me. I didn’t like it and since she could tell that, I got a cynical smile.

I looked away, trying not to seem affected. I looked back over and she was gone. Not moved to a different position in the crowed but gone. I thought I had imagined her for a moment but I wrote the strangeness off. I had more things to worry about than some girl pulling disappearing acts. I worked the rest of the day, turning up the charm to sell out my stock. I really had no choice since my ride was gone. By evening, I was down to my last three t-shirts. I gave them away to a group of girls and packed it up, turning in my vendor number. I left AfroPunk, my mind swimming from everything.

Naturally, I wanted a drink to toast my misery.

Coming across a small bar, I went in. I downed a shot of tequila and one bourbon before I settled with a beer. I wasn’t even a drinker like that but I needed something to bring me down. I knew I wasn’t muddled enough when I saw who had entered the bar. I stood, moved before I even thought about what I was doing. I tapped on her shoulder, held my breath and felt my heart end up on the floor.

“Hi, can I help you with something?”

I blinked repeatedly, removing my hand. “No, I-I thought you were someone else,” I said stammering.

“That’s too bad,” the girl that wasn’t Ayanna said.

She returned to her drink while I stood there dumbfounded. Sure I’d been having sights all day but I thought…it was her. I was so sure. I knew but apparently my instincts had gone to complete shit. I made it back to my seat, feeling as low as ever. I’d said it before and I’d say it again, I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t be out here like this, jonesin and mistaking anyone five foot two for her. I had to talk to Ayanna. I had to see her, if only to fall on my knees and beg for her forgiveness. Something had to give. Only one person could help me and I had just enough gumption to ask her. Five very tense minutes later, I had put my phone down, accomplishing my task but there were no guarantees.

I sat back, rubbing my forehead in frustration. “Fuck me,” I groaned.

“I would but we just met.”

I sat up straight and frowned. It was better to do that instead of cringe. She was even more startling up close. It was her, the girl from the festival. I thought she was a mirage but she was real and she was standing right in front of me.

I swallowed, not sure of why I was instantly scrambled because of her. “Was there something you needed?” I asked lowering my voice in an attempt to bolster my confidence. I didn’t fool her. She was staring at me like I was prey and it was feeding time.

“I need that seat. It’s the only one left in the place.” I tried not to shift away as she sat down beside me. “So,” she said, “I saw you out there today. You didn’t look too happy to be around, which only means one thing. What’s her name?”

Her inflection was Caribbean. It gave a tinge to her voice, making her sound throaty. She sounded like sex. Unfortunately, it drew me in. I was so preoccupied that I didn’t catch what she’d said. “Huh?”

She grinned. “Her name? The woman you’re sitting alone pinning about, the one who is holding your heart in the palm of your hand. I used to have one of those you know, a heart but it bled out for this guy. He was working for me at one point, made me massive amounts of money. He was calloused, ruthless and god, it turned me on. If he only knew how much I wanted to…” She touched her chest like she was in the middle of an explicit moment. “I would’ve screamed whatever name he wanted me to use.” She nodded, her eyes glazed over as she remembered what I couldn’t fathom. “He had this list of aliases but in the end he was just Cassius, a lost little boy too caught up in his childish emotions. He had everything, he could’ve had the world but he couldn’t stop his obsessions over her. He was counterproductive in the end and I have no use for that.”

“Okay,” I said slowly. She had ventured off and I wasn’t following.

“That’s enough about me. Her name,” she said again, “what is it?”

“Ayanna. She’s my rock. I love her. It’s more than that really but I did the unimaginable. I screwed everything up. She didn’t like what was going on and she left. I don’t blame her for that.”

I wasn’t clear on why I answered her, I guess I just needed to unload on someone who didn’t think the worst of me already. Who else would be willing to listen to me? I told the scary/intriguing girl more, used her like the therapy I was no longer seeking. She listened intently, hanging onto my every word but her interest meant something else entirely.

Summarizing my thoughts, I sighed and said, “I don’t really like my life right now.”

She bit her lip as if she understood. “You know what I don’t like Max? Wife beaters. You’ve avoided labeling yourself that this whole time and I get that you don’t want to believe who you are, denial is usually the first reaction but it’s time for you to accept what you are and in my book, that’s lower than scourge. You’re not even in the league of maggots, you’re more comparable to bacteria. My research tells me that you’re an artist, a good one at that so instead of my usual special, I’ll let you off easy.”

There was no room, no time to react before a shock of pain shot up through my right hand. The decorative statue on the table was heavier than it looked, or maybe it was just the amount of force she put behind it but my hand was now defective. I wasn’t a doctor but you didn’t need a medical background to know that your knuckles were broken. I couldn’t move my hand but right now I was more concerned with the venom in my assaulter’s eyes. She fingered the end of her braid casually, a smile painted on her lips as she leaned closer. She looked like my girl or at least someone trying to take the role. In reality, she was the person capable of ending my life in more than a hundred ways.

I gritted my teeth, breathed in short spurts as she playfully stroked my arm. “You’re lucky this is only a warning and not a final notice. If it were up to me, I’d take my time and snap everyone of your fingers in half. I kind of like the sound it makes.” She took my chin in her fingers, kissing me with tongue. “Stay away from Ayanna. For you she doesn’t exist. Remember that the next time you go moaning on and on about her. I don’t want to get a call about you again. If I do, you and me are going to have a little fun. I’ll lay you down, ride you and when you’re right there, just about to come inside, I’ll split you ear to ear. I like to feel the blood splatter and it’s warmth.”

She stood and I felt the urge to piss on myself. “This message was brought to you by Mosai. A little incentive for you to fade into the background. And me, I’m Fiona but if we meet ever again, just call me Finney.”

She disappeared and I was left with the cold feeling in my gutt. There was nothing comical about losing mobility  in one hand and getting a death threat all in one sitting but suddenly I was laughing uncontrollably. So Mosai was this serious. No guy would go through hiring a real-life assassin to teach me a lesson if they weren’t. I applauded that he was this adamant about Ayanna being protected but it wasn’t going to change how I felt.

If anything, my determination was that much stronger.

A ripped apart chest, a crushed hand and the heaviest heart in the city. Ayanna had inadvertently and inadvertently left an impact on me.

Now all you have to do is return the favor.

That familiar voice came out of nowhere, freezing me in place. Eventually, I got up holding my hand and swallowing  back my unrelenting fear. I shook my head in denial. Just like last time, I convinced myself that I hadn’t heard anything at all 

July 22 2014, 05:01 PM
Anonymous
I seriously love Mosai. It may be cause I'm a Londoner and I'm biased that way but I don't even care. Max just has me feeling all types of crap. I'm angry at him even tho he wasn't in the chapter. Every time you mentioned her bruises I swear I was picturing his demise. But at the same time I feel sorry for him and I just don't know mann

I kind of love him to. He’s a good guy and he deserves to have his love returned. Max…I don’t know what to say about him anymore. He’s lost and he’s gonna have to be the one to find himself again. I have about an ounce of sympathy for him. Some things he can’t actually help ♥

July 22 2014, 05:01 PM
you ever going to post the characters again?

Yeah. Just took it down to add the others ♥

July 09 2014, 01:22 PM
Anonymous
I think everybody slept on your short Abyss especially since it involved Abel during his heroin days which you brought up in another short (I always love your shorts b/c you put so many hints). I like Yoshi as a character. She's like that fabulous/5 start girl in everyone's hood that is loved and hated only she has a brain...even if she's drug dealing. Is it strange that I like Saito and his freaky ways? You and these male characters!

Yup. Abel has some interesting hobbies back when he did drugs and that was a little back story from his short like you mentioned. Yoshi is somewhat based on a girl I once knew. She’s dressed to the nines and multiple sources of income coming from multiple guys but she’s more than that because Yoshi has the intelligence to fill that shallow void. Even if she’s doing things illegally. Saito…definitely a dark guy, twisted and attractive in spite of all that. Men…they all come in different shapes, sizes and sexual preferences ♥

July 09 2014, 12:58 PM
Anonymous
Loved these chapters!!! can i have the chapter were ayanna meet mosai friend?

THANK YOU. The initial meeting or the unfortunate one at the rave? ♥

July 09 2014, 12:18 PM
Anonymous
...did Max rape Ayanna? I was reading the last few chapters from the comments that both of them have made it looks that way. Please tell me that didn't happen. I know this is a story but I hate him if he did. Max looses all respect.

There are allusions that something like that occurred. Ayanna would never give you a straight answer if you brought it up. Some things she’ll take the grave…I don’t think anyone has respect for Max anymore ♥

July 05 2014, 06:07 PM
God, I needed him.
That was the bud talking because I was equal parts high and horny.
I could remedy that. I tried to with my hand between my thighs but that wasn’t doing the job. I needed a body, warmth, flesh. There were only two problems with that: he was on the chastity thing and he was currently unconscious. Those two things didn’t have to be roadblocks, I discovered. I ran my hand down Mosai’s bare chest feeling the ripped action he had going on. Glancing up at him, I went under my flowered comforter, a trail of soft hair leading down to my favorite body part. I felt him up, stroked him until he was where I needed him to be. Eyes low, heart heavy, I lowered my head.
And opened my mouth ♥

God, I needed him.

That was the bud talking because I was equal parts high and horny.

I could remedy that. I tried to with my hand between my thighs but that wasn’t doing the job. I needed a body, warmth, flesh. There were only two problems with that: he was on the chastity thing and he was currently unconscious. Those two things didn’t have to be roadblocks, I discovered. I ran my hand down Mosai’s bare chest feeling the ripped action he had going on. Glancing up at him, I went under my flowered comforter, a trail of soft hair leading down to my favorite body part. I felt him up, stroked him until he was where I needed him to be. Eyes low, heart heavy, I lowered my head.

And opened my mouth 

July 05 2014, 05:50 PM

51: Young and Beautiful

AYANNA

Bantu knots.

Body suit.

Boots.

That’s about all I was donning in the middle of a Brooklyn street.

Serving professional baby hair, purple lipstick and the toughest look I could come up with, I did my best Biggie impersonation for the camera because according to the man behind it, I looked better with a screw face than I did with a smile. I took no offense to that. It was too easy for me to channel a attitude problem. My mood was more sage than sweet and that worked for me, the photographer and the small crowd of shirts and skins watching the action go down. Guy ranging from six to sixteen had abandoned their ball game on the nearby court to catch me sell my parts in multiple getups. I told her from the jump when I got the call to come through, I wasn’t going to back anything I wouldn’t wear in normal circumstances but I never had anything to worry about. She could style rings around the best of them.

I’d been digging every piece of clothing from the cut and sewn sweatpants, the razored denim bottoms, structured blazers and cut-off sweatshirts. I was all about the printed crops, the two-piece ensembles and one single pieces but the boys hadn’t come out because they appreciated fashion, they were simply feeling the t-shirts I’d been forced to wear pantless and the main attraction.

Me bearing a majority of my skin.

I had to do it be default.

A few of the specific samples were a size 0 and unfortunately I was the only one tiny enough to squeeze through. It was now my task to model the ten bodysuits for the lookbook. The things I endured for Yoshi: the public display of ass, the bleach treatment my hair had gone through and the sharp edge talons she had instructed my manicurist to give me. I was rather feeling those but she had me looking like a New York born, L.A. bred chicana. It was different but she hadn’t failed me. If this was her idea of an esthetic then FEMME was going to do some takeover in an already flooded market.

FEMME.

That was the name of Yoshi’s brand. She’d been in pre-production for the last six months and now my favorite entrepreneur was making the leap from internet t-shirt line to actual clothing. She’d been hustling up the cash for a while now, forming connections and putting together a team of designers, artists, PR people and a streat-team. That drug money had been laundered and flipped several times into an office space, a manufacturing quarters and three retail spots in Brooklyn stores. My girl was building her thing from the ground up. At this shoot were bloggers, more than a few websites and other people who reported back on anything new to hit. This thing was real and I was honored to be a part of “The Four.”

Me plus three other girls were repping the brand.

I didn’t want to put myself down but my company on set was, in a loss for a better world, bad.

Gia was the Panamanian with the beautiful auburn locks piled on her head. She had a dancer’s body, all lean muscle and not a single ounce of fat on her. With deep mahogany skin and dark eyes to match, she might be able to hypnotize you.

Petronela was on the other side of the spectrum. Think Ice Queen. She was of Polish descent and purely porcelain. Her pixie cut was colorless, pretty much white. She could be runway worthy except she was working with as many curves as Yoshi. She was short-eye material and had already been casted in a few videos.

Dao was the tallest, a Vietnamese girl with bronzed skin and wavy black hair. The shape of her face, her lips and eyes could’ve made her a beauty queen but she had this androgynous sensibility, the kind of person that could pull off male and female looks with equal greatness. She was confusing my sexuality and I sort of liked it.

Then, there was me.

Black, white and not in their league.

I was grossly incomparable. I tried telling Yoshi this but she politely ignored me, dragging me in front of the camera and positioning me for my first set-up herself. I think I got the relative hang of it after two hours, constant touch-ups of makeup and fans to keep me from sweating profusely. I was finishing up, on my last change when the natives got restless.

“Hey,” one shouted from behind the chain-link fence of the court. “We wanna take pictures too. Show us some love.”

The spokesperson of the group was a cocky little bastard with the beginning of looks bound to get girls in trouble. I walked over, eyeballing him like I wasn’t impressed.

“You talkin to me short-stuff?”

“Yeah and I’m not short, I just haven’t hit my growth spurt yet.”

“Keep hope alive then. Dwarfism might give you a serious complex.”

His buddies laughed. “You’re funny,” he said, “to be so old ma’am.”

I nodded, appreciating his retort and gave him dap. “Nice one. Since you can crack, I see if I can get you some lense time.”

I went back over the photog. Him and Yoshi were glad to get extra shots. They took pictures of the kids then pushed me into the middle of them. I already knew what was going through some of their adolescent heads.

“I can’t stop you from looking,” I said, “but don’t even think about touching my ass. Now, mean mugs on three.”

We fixed our faces, giving Suge Knight frowns. I had probably had the most fun with the miniatures, even the smart-mouthed one. When the ice cream truck came around, I gave the driver a hundred dollar bill plus change and told him to give every kid what they wanted. They all scrambled to the window, most of them forgetting their manners but that was cool. At their age, I had been described as a hood, out of control and my favorite, a street rat. I was rude and inconsiderate as a little person. Seeing kids be kids made me feel good. I just hoped they held on to that. Being an adult or in my case, pretending to be one was hard work. I couldn’t say that I had actually adjusted into my age. I went back to set, enjoying the hands that immediately held my waist when I got there. The brief kiss we shared was even better than a cigarette I thought I wanted. It was just that way with him. I could give up my bad habits for him and not even realize. I’d pulled a good one. I wasn’t worth his time but if he hadn’t figured that out yet, I wasn’t going to fill him in.

“And you say you don’t want children,” he commented. “You handled that beautifully.”

“With sarcasm and money, that’s great parenting for you.”

“Everyone has their own approach. You’re wonderful even when you think you aren’t.”

“Lie to me, why don’t you.”

I started to move past him but he sidestepped me, taking my face in his hands. “I don’t lie. Well, not to you. You’re remarkable and some day soon you might really believe that.” He sealed his words with another kiss and that determined look that made me helpless. We had this energy before but now it was on a brand-new level. We were overflowing with the vibes. Me, five months ago, would’ve sworn up and down he was just pouring it on because he wanted something. He did. Me. Not the person cosmetics had created but basic, no-frills Ayanna. Argumentative Ayanna. Wounded Ayanna. He wanted the sum of me and more and more, I felt like I could give them to him.

He deserved it.

I knew that now, I just didn’t want to disappoint again.

Mosai was owed more than that.

I took his hand, led him to the apartment that was FEMME headquarters for the day. The other models were redressing out in the open, not bothered by a male presence. Mosai was oblivious. The female form was nothing for him to gawk at considering his career. I watched him, trying to see if he got interested in anything being flashed but his eyes skated over them and came right back to me.

“What?” He asked, noticing my scrutiny.

“Nothing Blondie, just help me get out of this thing.”

I figured he could help since he was the one that got me in it. We retreated to an unoccupied room and he slid the straps of my body suit down. He touched were bruises were fading, brushed his lips across spots that had seen pain. It had only been five days and I still kept returning to the abuse, at how I had been slapped around like a trick in a movie. Mosai felt my chil. He never moved too quickly or did anything that might startle me. He knew how to go about things because of past experiences, some of which he’d gotten from Davina’s mother. I talked to Cai the other day over video. She told me some things, Rihanna did to. It surprised me. As polished and together as they were not, both had been touched by abuse and humiliation, some of it inflicted by each of them. They understood. They got that I had some level of paranoia and anxiousness and that the smallest thing made me cringe. Chopping it up with them did a lot to ease my mind but Mosai did the rest.

I put my arms around his neck as he peeled the rest of my suit off. Slashing through the rest of my emotions was this thing I knew all too well: lust. Mosai and I were good, clean affection. We had intimacy that was unreal. It was nice and everything but I was fiending. It was easier to hold out before but after getting several tastes, I really just wanted to jump him. We could’ve made that happen right now. I was practically nude and one zip of his cargos could help me out. He had to sense the switch I took because he shook his head.

“No.”

“Come on, these are the perfect conditions for a quicky. In and out…literally.” I sucked his ear, running my teeth against his neck. “If you’re trying to get the upper hand, you got it. You win. Now do me.”

He chuckled low in his throat, turning me on purposely. “These are not the best conditions.”

“Says who?”

“Me. A back room in a random flat doesn’t fit the requirement to me. I still think we should wait.”

“Until I’m dried up?” I whined. “These are the years. I gotta get it in while I still can. I gotta fill my memoir with something. Is any of this convincing to you?”

“Your skin against mine is doing a better job but no. I still want to hold off.” I groaned, frustrated to the tenth power. He held me even closer, holding my ass in an appropriate manner. I could feel that he was as frustrated as I was.

“Don’t you think I want you too?” he asked kissing the side of my face. “All day I’ve watched you with little clothing on. You’re the sexiest, most alluring thing to me. I want to do every nasty, dirty, unholy thing to you. Make you convulse on command. Let you do whatever you want to me.” He had me going, my mind imagining all that and more but of course, he brought the hammer down on my fantasies. “I want that all but I also want to wait.”

I didn’t have time to plead my case again because we got interrupted. Yoshi stuck her head in and whistled. “Making out in a semi-public place, good job guys.” Mosai turned, shielding me while I put on a shirt and shorts. “If you two can keep it in your pants for ten minutes, I want to show you something.”

I glanced over his shoulder and saw her still standing there. “We got the message, Yoshi.”

“Did your man and his bulge get that same one?”

I threw an abandoned bra at her. “Get the fuck out of here with that.”

She laughed, winking at Mosai. “Please tell me you take care of her. Nothing is worse than a dude that doesn’t know how to handle his. I’ve had my fair share.”

Mosai shook his head. “I don’t kiss and tell.”

“Classy. Keep it up good guy. I don’t want to have to see about you like some other person, who shall remain nameless.”

The person she refused to identify by name anymore was Max.

I didn’t give her the blow by blow of our “conscious uncoupling,” I only told her that we’d split for everyone’s favorite reason: irreconcilable differences but she saw through my broad terms. Once I got through explaining, she yanked me to the side and said, “He hit you, didn’t he?”

I didn’t confirm that but I didn’t deny it either. Yoshi was hip to the ways of men and life in general. Domestic violence wasn’t something we saw on made for tv movies, we got wind of that shit everyday where we lived, so she knew. She didn’t dig into me, just hugged me and gave me special treatment. She had picked me up first thing this morning and cleaned my look up on her dime, making me prettier than I felt. When the make-up artist began to cover my array of imperfections, she waved her away.

“I don’t want her drowning in concealer. This is real life. She’s real and that’s what FEMME is all about, being fearless and flawless. This girl is the dopest chick in Brooklyn. She’s a survivor and everybody needs to know that.” Her outburst got applause but she had conveniently forgotten my opinion on the matter. “You know, if that’s okay with you?”

“It is. I don’t have anything to be ashamed about.”

I didn’t believe that wholeheartedly but I had to trick myself into thinking correctly. Mosai was there to back me up.

“No, you don’t,” he said kissing my battered cheek.

Yoshi carried her FEMME philosophy to the other girls too. Gia had vitiligo across her stomach and legs and Yoshi celebrated it. When Petronela pointed out her cellulite, Yoshi pulled down the waist of her pants and showed her stretch marks. Dao didn’t have anything physically wrong, she just informed us that she was transgendered. That had probably been the biggest revelation, only because she was one of the most stunning women I’d come across. If I could end up looking like her, I would. We all had our issues with something and Yoshi pumped us up like we were the best thing in the universe. It made me love her all the more. Getting my skater boots on, I followed her to another bedroom where three computers and equipment were set up. She grabbed a laptop, put it in my lap and hit play.

The initial screen of the video was black FEMME’s logo in the middle. It fast forwarded before playing, music coming in. Flatbush Zombie’s S.C.O.S.A. was the soundtrack as my face came into focus. I stared menacingly at the screen before smiling cynically. I thought this would be just my shots strung together but Yoshi had captured me in front of the camera and off. In frames, I was reading a book while I waited, applying mascara, whispering in Mosai’s ear and talking to those crumbsnatchers from across the way. The final image was of me in the middle of them, our faces turned up like a prison polaroid. She had showcased the clothes and me.

“So, what do you think?”

I was smiling without knowing it. “I think I look like the shit.”

Cocky? Maybe but it was true. It was like I was watching some way cooler version of myself. I had edge but I was still human. Desirable, sexy, yet down to Earth and everyday. She’d captured me in my best light.

“I’m glad you think so because this is going up on the site, along with these once they’re cleaned up.” Unedited shots of the four of us were on the table, the originals already looking good to me. “And this is going to be your individual page.”

The layout featured half of my face as the background, text overlayed. I skimmed through my bio. “Born in Brooklyn…defiant style…brash…bold…always herself.” I was flattered by all of that, some of it I even found true but a lot of it was her trying to be nice. At the bottom of the page were the pieces I’d modeled, allowing the customers to shop those specific looks. I was feeling the design, the overall look except that one piece of information caught me off guard.

“I’m your partner?” I asked.

Yoshi grinned. “I was hoping so.”

Mosai smiled, apparently in on the conspiracy. “Alright,” I said, “What’s going on?”

“Just hear me out on this.” Yoshi stood, getting her sales pitch together. “FEMME is my brain-child, it’s my baby and I’m determined to make it a masterpiece but this is a major undertaking. I have the right people in place but I need an equal to bounce ideas off of. I need to be able to rely on someone and know for sure they’re not going to fuck me up. You won’t. You’ve always gone about your look in an original way and I need that fresh perspective.” She fanned out 8x11’s of me on the table. “I mean, look at you. This is what chicks need to strive to be.”

“Pale and snack-sized?”

“No, themselves. No matter what, you’re always you. Acceptance. I want girls to take what they have and own that shit with a vengeance. That’s the whole inspiration behind this name. Being you. You remember me when I was little. I had a little spark but for the most part, I was a mess and I hated how I looked. I was snaggletoothed, darker than a paper bag and too poor to keep up with the Joneses. Those evil motherfuckers our age used to call me names, throw every derogatory word at me. I couldn’t do anything about that but you did. You were the one to chase cock-eyed Marquise down and twist his arm behind his back. You made him apologize and after that you told me to forget them. ‘You’re pretty to me.’ You remember that?”

“I remember,” I said with a smile. “I still hold onto that, you know.”

“I guess I’m trying to say that you built me up and you can do that here and now with FEMME. We’ll be partners in crime and to foster that I’m making good on my earlier agreement.” She pulled a folded up check from her bag. The amount: $5,000.37. “This is your cut of the t-shirt profit.”

I was impressed. “You made this off one shirt?”

“I have a following and that’s is going to explode with you on board.” She smiled at me widely in attempt to win me over.

“I don’t know Yosh, this is a big thing to agree to. I don’t want us do anything wrong. This is your livelihood we’re talking about.”

“It can be yours too, at least part of the time.”

“We’d have to draw up paperwork.”

“Name the time and place.”

“I’d have to match your contribution by the dollar.”

“If you insist on giving me money, who am I to not take it. I have a condition too. I need you plugged in. Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, you’re gonna have to get hooked up to all three. I didn’t get known randomly. I’m retweeted, liked, reblogged by the minute. That’s a part of how I promote and you need a presence. For the brand and you.”

I hadn’t been holding out on purpose, I just had never really taken the time to keep up any social media practices. I was a virgin to selfies, followers and 150 characters. I had a blog online but it was private and password-protected. I kept a low profile, consumed with real life but she made sense.

“Deal. I think I can join the 21st century.”

“Then we’re settled.”

“Looks like it.”

“Glad to hear that partner.” Yoshi stuck out her hand and shook it before slapping my ass.

I did the same. “Likewise partner.”

She called in her manservant and the remaining models, breaking open champagne. We toasted to my new role and my sparkling new Twitter account. @akelly was alive and my first post was the photograph of me and the munchkins. I hashtagged the picture #demboys. I didn’t get out of there until two hours later. Yoshi and I had a sort of bonding session. We shot ideas back and forth along with her assembled staff. She told me to keep my week open, planning an official welcome dinner in my honor. I finally realized that I was being inconsiderate and had to cut out. Yoshi understood as she looked Mosai up and down.

I shook my head at her. “Chill with all that eyeballing stuff. I will hurt you.”

“Over him, I’d fully understand but I’ll calm down. He’s your man. I’ll respect that.”

I didn’t correct her on the “your man” thing.

I didn’t know what I should be calling Mosai officially, all I knew was that he was everything to me. Something great and pure and I wanted him around for as long as humanely possible. We hadn’t parted ways since Fire Island. After riding back to the city we had barricaded ourselves at his house, our only visitors being Leah and Liam. Doing the married couple thing, we had cooked for them and set up a movie for after. It was nice. Nice to not have to think so hard on what I could or couldn’t say, how I had to act in order to avoid a confrontation. I could breath, be who I had been before I got my face rearranged on multiple occasions. I still cried with no warning at times. I still flinched occasionally but not as much. Soon I wouldn’t be doing those things at all. Mosai would be there when I didn’t.

“I’m sorry for holding you up like that,” I said when we walked away. “We just got caught up in that whole thing.”

“I don’t have anywhere else to be. Besides, I got a kick out of watching you in your zone.”

“How did I look out there?”

“Assured, energized, happy and it looked amazing on you.”

“What did I tell you about the compliments? Take it easy.” He put his arm around me, whispering more of them until I had to give him a warning shove. “Can you believe it? My name is actually on something. Like it’s going to be legal. I’m going to own something. I’m still spinning. I’m flattered Yoshi even asked. This is a big deal for me.”

“It is but you can handle it,” Mosai replied.

“She ran the idea by you, didn’t she?”

“Yes and I told Yoshi the honest truth: she’d be crazy not to persuade you on this. You’ll be an asset.”

I stopped where I was and crossed my arms. “Alright buddy, that’s enough of that. You’re giving me all this praise but you gotta balance all that out. I need criticism. Tell me something you don’t like about me and don’t rush into it, I know there’s a lot.”

Mosai stood over me and tapped his chin as if he really had to think about that question. “There’s only one thing really.”

“Speak your mind.”

“You hide yourself. You’ll never be an open book. One side of me can appreciate that, you’ll always intrigue me while the other finds that incredibly annoying. I guess that’s hypocrisy since there are things I’d rather not divulge about myself but if you asked, I would. Did you really think I wanted to tell you what I did the other day?”

“I’m guessing not,” I replied.

We started walking again, on the hunt for dinner. I picked Bati, an Ethiopian spot on Fulton Street. It was crowded, loud like normal but the food was great and I didn’t mind sitting so close. We wedged ourselves in a corner where I proceeded to play twenty questions.

“Are you really serious? I can ask you anything?” He made a movement that said I could. “Virginity, when’d you lose it?”

“Age twelve. She was sixteen. Best night of my young life.”

“I bet. What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done?”

“I soiled myself on the tube once, became belligerent and got tossed off. Woke up in the same clothes the next morning.”

“That’s not embarrassing, that’s disgusting.”

“I’d have to agree. Next question.”

“What’s your biggest regret?”

“Going deep on me huh? I guess I’d have to say the amount of time I spent angry. I wasted a lot of years wallowing in that. Blocked more than a few opportunities for myself.”

“You said it brother.”

“You know what another regret of mine is?”

“What?”

“Not meeting you before now.”

“Neither of us could really help that one,” I replied, agreeing with him in my head.

“Now it’s your turn. Tell me a secret.”

Our food was delivered, Doro Wat with the accompanying Injera. I tore off a piece of the flat bread and scooped up the stew to keep from responding. Mosai did the same, keeping his eyes on me. I wasn’t going to get out of answering this one.

“A secret Ayanna, just one.”

“That’s not really an easy request.”

“No one said it would be.”

He wasn’t giving this up and unfortunately, I felt like I owed him something. I’d brush this off if it were anyone else asking me this. I’d promptly back them off but the urge to be rude didn’t come up with him. I was more afraid than anything.

“Okay,” I said finally. “You said you had a experience at twelve, well so did I.” I couldn’t believe I was going to say this even if I wasn’t naming names. “I got involved with someone I had no business getting involved with. I was precocious, you know? A little bad-ass really. I always wanted to get into things just for the hell of it and doing inappropriate things with an eighteen year old was my mission. I was that intelligent to keep it at a curiosity level but I couldn’t. I fell in love with this guy.”

My face dropped as I remembered it all, as I recalled Najm. That was who I was referring to through this whole secret-telling. I was the statutory rape case Najm would’ve been charged with if our situation ever got revealed. We were lucky that it hadn’t. If I wanted to laugh about how twisted I was, how twisted I still was over him, but there was nothing funny about the state of our relationship, then or now. I was sitting here with a guy who was probably the most promising prospect I’d come across, who was kind and thoughtful, who made me flutter on the inside and had this amazing ability to calm me but I couldn’t compare all of that to the open-ended feelings I had for Najm. I needed to sew that up. I wanted to…I just…I couldn’t. He wasn’t trying to hear me out anymore. How many times could you hurt someone before they got the point?

I excited my thoughts, smiling sadly. “That’s my story, so do you think I’m a freak?”

Mosai watched me intently. “No. I think you were young and impressionable. This person confused your emotions.” When I said nothing to contest that, he kissed my hand. “I’m not going to say anything more. You shared with me, that’s all I’m going to ask of you. Thank you.”

“No problem, just pouring myself out on the floor for you.”

“I’m grateful.”

We ate, the quiet between us comfortable and not forced. On the way out, while I was stealing complimentary mints and he settled the bill, I checked out my phone. My Twitter was booming. 204 new followers via Yoshi’s endorsement. I had multiple mentions, welcomes and various direct messages. Peers from school, acquaintances from all over but in the middle of that was a correspondence from @maxtheartist.

Something seized in me.

He couldn’t reach me by phone because I’d changed my number. He couldn’t come home because I had changed the locks but now he suddenly had access. Max was contacting me and it was making my gut feel strange. I didn’t have to open it, I shouldn’t have but I couldn’t stop myself.

 

PLEASE TALK TO ME…

 

That was it.

Please talk to me.

I didn’t know what else I expected but those were the only words on the screen. “Please talk to him,” I mumbled sarcastically. “How about you please get the fuck out of my head.” I deleted the message and blocked him but erasing Max from my mind wasn’t as easy. I wanted to blot him from my memory but that wasn’t happening.

“You okay?”

I put my arm around Mosai as we walked out, leaning against him. “Sure,” I replied. “Just peachy.”

It was a lie, a bad one but speaking on my inner thoughts wasn’t an option right now. I was suspended. Better in some ways but much worse in others. I was between a rock and three different men. We went back to my place. I’d been crashing at his house but he suggested that we take it back to my room. I avoided looking toward the empty space on my right and what happened there. We got undressed and got into bed together in what was our spooning position. There was a switch up because Mosai had abandoned his reading habit for straight sleep. I understood. He hadn’t been getting much shut-eye with me around. He was catching up now but I wasn’t following behind.

Hours went by but my brain was hyperactive. I couldn’t turn if off which was why soon I was on the brownstone’s roof with rolling papers. Weed was my new drug of choice and as usual, I went overboard. I smoked and smoked and smoked, leaving crumbs were my stash was. I obliterated a freezer bag of bud. I don’t know how but I got back to my room without tipping over. In bed again, I faced him. I got swept up. Mosai was beautiful, fucking as fine as they came. he didn’t just have the looks either, he could back it up with action. He was talented and I wanted another demonstration.

God, I needed him.

That was the bud talking because I was equal parts high and horny.

I could remedy that. I tried to with my hand between my thighs but that wasn’t doing the job. I needed a body, warmth, flesh. There were only two problems with that: he was on the chastity thing and he was currently unconscious. Those two things didn’t have to be roadblocks, I discovered. I ran my hand down Mosai’s bare chest feeling the ripped action he had going on. Glancing up at him, I went under my flowered comforter, a trail of soft hair leading down to my favorite body part. I felt him up, stroked him until he was where I needed him to be. Eyes low, heart heavy, I lowered my head.

And opened my mouth.

He was asleep but he wouldn’t be that way for long. I held the title in this division, getting nothing but standing ovations. When I was finished, he’d be wide awake and begging for more. At least that’s how it had always gone before. I’d never gotten any complaints or resistance so I didn’t recognize them when they came. I brushed away his hands, ignoring the panicked look on his face when I peered up at him. I took his reaction as something else as he struggled to get away.

“Stop Ayanna.”

I didn’t. I only took him deeper. He was there. Could feel that. Taste it. When I got in the zone, I went there but Mosai wasn’t going to let me. He pushed me away, so hard that I landed on my ass on the floor. In the dark, he panted heavily, his expression a veil of rage. He loomed over me and suddenly my high was gone.

“I told you to stop!”

I could only stare at him pitifully, shock making me slow to draw but I’d learned my lesson. I stumbled up and snatched the scissors from my desk. I was prepared to defend myself, I just couldn’t believe that I might have to.

It was happening.

All over again.





MOSAI

It felt like I was suffocating.

Like any air around me had abruptly vanished. I was nearly hyperventilating as I stood there naked and erect. I couldn’t stand to look down at the fluid that had landed on my inner thigh and dripped to the floor. I’d been at the brink before waking up and despite my best efforts, I had come. An orgasm was the natural reaction to have when the woman you loved was going out of her way to pleasure you but that basic instinct only made me feel disgusted. That feeling grew tenfold as I realized what I had done. Ayanna was on the floor and I had put her there. That had to have dawned on her too because in seconds she was on her feet and wielding an office supply in my direction. A pair of scissors were being shoved at me, the danger end first.

Ayanna shook her head. “Not you. You’re not him. You told me that and I brought it.”

The faith was draining from her face. Right now, she was thinking that I was a liar, in league with that bastard Max but I wasn’t. It looked that way but I would never harm a single hair on her head on purpose. She never had to fear me. I had to tell her all of that but I couldn’t. I was still trapped in that basement, still trying to trick myself into believing that what happened, hadn’t. I wasn’t very good at that because all these years later I could revert back to being that defenseless kid. I was there again, my skin crawling and my innocence gone.

“I’m so sorry, Ayanna. I didn’t mean to push you,” I said in an anguished whisper.

“Too late for that,” Ayanna snapped.

“I asked you to stop. I told you stop and you didn’t. I don’t…I can’t do that. Not with anyone, not even with you.” I sat on her bed tiredly, my shoulders sinking. “You know I’m not that guy. I panicked. I thought…I was some place else.”

“Are you trying to tell me you don’t have oral sex?”

“I don’t unless I’m severely intoxicated and right now, I’m clearly not.”

“This can’t be a religious thing, you don’t practice anything.”

“It’s got nothing to do with that, I just can’t enjoy it under certain circumstances.”

“You’re an international model, you get offers left and right and you don’t enjoy head? What man doesn’t like top?”

I glanced back at her showing her just how serious I was. “I don’t.”

Tension lived between us.

She was forming opinions, ones I wanted to correct but didn’t have the ability to. I waited, anticipated the worst but as usual, she surprised me. The bed shifted under an added weight, her cool hands going to my back. I felt like crumbling then, breaking down altogether. The fact that she could elicit that response with a mere touch didn’t escape me.

“I’m sorry.”

“I got that.” She paused. “This is about what happened to you. At that tasting, I walked in on you and Mahiri going at it. Something went down with the both of you.”

“It did.”

“And inadvertently, I dredged all that up. I thought you wanted it. In my haze, I could’ve sworn you were begging for it but you were doing the opposite. Mosai, I didn’t mean to. I wouldn’t push you to do anything you didn’t want to. I know how that feels. I was high, that’s not an excuse, I’m just pulling at things here.”

I covered her hand with mine and sighed as she wrapped her arms around me. It was a backwards hug but just as effective. “You wouldn’t have known that I have sexual hangups stemming from childhood trauma.” I laughed sadly. “Everyone says the same: it’s not your fault, you have to forgive, move on. I have. I got a career, a child, you but that pain, that humiliation is still alive and well in me. The pure hate is there too.”

“I hear you.”

I didn’t mean to but I told her. One second, I was letting everything sit on my chest and the next, I’m spiling. I relayed the events of my youth that had permanently altered me. I told her and felt some of my soul return. That was crazy, right? Counseling, anger management and antidepressants over a course of years hadn’t been this effective but talking, just feeling her hold me, that worked. I’d never talked in specific detail about my horror, not to my father, not to my twin. Cai knew about things but she hadn’t heard any of that from my lips. This was my first time telling anyone.

And she didn’t let me do it in vain.

“Now you know another one of my secrets.”

I was three in the morning and Ayanna was laying on my chest, stroking my hip gently as I talked. I could stay like that forever, her skin to mine.

“Then, I guess it’s only right to even the score,” she replied. “I got another story for you. Still about this rambunctious kid named Ayanna but I’m gonna introduce you to another character. Her name’s Mercy.”

She told me about her mother, about the crack, the prostitution, the manner in which she died. Ayanna opened herself up and I saw some of what she had locked inside. It made me see her differently but that was a good thing. We were shedding our skins, one layer at a time, piece by piece and it gave me this quiet thrill. I felt myself growing deeper for her. I knew I couldn’t part ways with her if I tried now. I was sinking fast and somehow I knew Ayanna might actually follow me. She believed in self-sustainment but she felt it too. It showed in how she touched me. How we managed to laugh when crying was the more appropriate action. How each of us wanted to protect the other.

We ended up in the kitchen. I made the pancakes and she assisted by eating the ingredients I was putting in them. Neither of could sleep after the confession session and she had a sever case of the munchies so it was the only logical place to go. I looked up at one point and found her drinking from a carton of orange juice. I was probably saying it too much but I couldn’t resist her with crazy hair and an oversized t-shirt.

“I love you,” I said randomly.

She stared at me, thought a moment before saying, “I might love you too.”

I got this look after that but she quickly changed the subject. Reading off her body language I didn’t comment. I didn’t press her to say the actual words. This was a start and that was what counted. I always felt like I needed to go faster, do more, accomplish more but not in this situation. Ayanna and I had all the time in the world.

I was still young and she would always be beautiful ♥

 

July 05 2014, 05:49 PM
so glad that mosai is back. at least for a moment, ayanna can have a glimpse of light in all of her darkness. but something tells me this won't last long.

Who knows…Mosai and Ayanna might last longer than you think…♥

July 04 2014, 04:53 PM
Anonymous
You are so good at what your doing that i domy want you to stop but everything has i's end

Much thanks. Gotta wrap it up at some point. At least until next time ♥

June 21 2014, 10:08 AM
I saw the motherfucker and the pig-tailed little girl he was holding hands with. I wasn’t sure what made my mind go to the place it did. He could’ve been her father, a grandparent but I didn’t see that. All I saw was my sister being degraded. That girl became her in that moment. I hadn’t saved Mahiri but I could rescue her. I went berserk and with my boxing skills that was pretty insane. I beat him until his face cracked under my fist. I beat him until he was unrecognizable, until all there was left for him to see was black. 
But before then I’d told him to look at me. “Remember my face when you make it to hell.”
He tried to beg for his pitiful life but it was already over.

I had relished in that.
Until I looked up and saw her  ♥

I saw the motherfucker and the pig-tailed little girl he was holding hands with. I wasn’t sure what made my mind go to the place it did. He could’ve been her father, a grandparent but I didn’t see that. All I saw was my sister being degraded. That girl became her in that moment. I hadn’t saved Mahiri but I could rescue her. I went berserk and with my boxing skills that was pretty insane. I beat him until his face cracked under my fist. I beat him until he was unrecognizable, until all there was left for him to see was black.

But before then I’d told him to look at me. “Remember my face when you make it to hell.”

He tried to beg for his pitiful life but it was already over.

I had relished in that.

Until I looked up and saw her  ♥

June 21 2014, 10:05 AM

50: Cannabutter Kisses

MOSAI

It all stopped.

Thoughts ceased, my heart quieted and every part of me was at rest.

There was no accurate way to describe the content feeling that spread over me. It blanketed us both like a cloak, this small space in time just ours. Everything was right.

But then, I sensed it.

It was invisible to the eye but the shift she took was clear to me. Maybe I was discerning, being hyperly-astute perhaps, or it could be because I just loved her. I did, indiscriminately, and ignoring that hadn’t been doing me any favors so far. I’d been through all the stages of denial, even went out and bedded two anonymous women to psyche myself out. I’d had my fair share of alcohol, marijuana and sleeping pills to contend with the notion but every attempt made to push her out of my mind only drove her back there with more force. Fighting what was so instinctual was pointless. That fact didn’t fill me with joy, I was just over banging my head against a theoretical wall.

This woman drove me mad.

She infuriated me, sent me in an emotional tailspin but all of that became irrelevant.

A weight strong enough to topple her over was bearing down on her shoulders. In no way could you call her weak it was just that nobody could withstand it all. I would like to though. If I could, I would absorb her pain, wear it like some badge but since that wasn’t in my skill set, I continued to hold her. We ended up on the floor, amongst necks of bottles and a stone wall. I think my grip was getting excessive by the way she fidgeted after a while but I didn’t care. After a few moments, neither did she. Ayanna gave in again, laying her head to the side on my shoulder. She calmed, her hands bracing my back. I was doing that as well, quickly noticing that her petite build couldn’t really be called that anymore. She could pull  off any size, I was just worried about the amount of weight she’d lost. This was no product of a diet, this was stress-induced, caused by one relationship unneeded.

I knew it then.

All of what I was getting off of her was a direct result of her excuse of a man. Max was who she ran to, the one who got her in his supposed time of need but he obviously hadn’t reciprocated. He hadn’t taken care of her the way a partner should. I wasn’t perfect. I’d made a plethora of mistakes in my years. I had been impulsive when I shamed her, was hurt enough to make her the target of ridicule. For that I was sorry, that was infinitely wrong, but I hadn’t brought her to the place he head. Their story had more background, history that was written long before I happened across the love of my life in a subway station. That should stand for something, make their bond an unwavering one but it was very apparent that he didn’t respect that.

“Mosai, I’m okay,” she whispered. “You can let me go now.”

“No, you’re not and no, I can’t,” I replied.

I did lessen my grip tho. Still holding onto her for dear life, I allowed her to sit straight up. Almost shyly, Ayanna tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, avoiding my stare all the while. Her free-form curls were reverting back to her natural color, the dramatic black dye growing out rapidly but all that mattered was that it still smelled the same. It did, like lavender. A lot had changed for her but this hadn’t.

She said, “Sorry about that whole head-on collision thing. I didn’t mean to assault your chest like that. I don’t know what that was about.”

I ran my hands against her thighs back and forth, kissing the softness of her neck as she sat on top of me. “I do,” I said bluntly. “You missed me but no more than I did you. I don’t know if you understand how sorry I am for my behavior but you need to. It has to sink in because there can’t be another time when you shut me out. I don’t care what we are as two individuals, whatever capacity we are, or aren’t, you don’t block me. You mean everything to me. I will never disrespect you like that again, not even on accident. If I do, you can teach me a lesson with Peggy Sue.”

I saw the inkling of a smile when I mentioned the pet name she held for her trusted .22. I had my in and I wasn’t going to give up that small corner for anything. “You can shoot me, I give you full permission.”

“I apologize for leading you on and then bailing. I’m at fault here too so I don’t think it’ll come to that Blondie.” That other nickname made me smile. I hadn’t heard it in so long. “I wouldn’t want to mess with your cash flow, seeing as how you have to be pretty for a living.”

“I’ve earned my living tenfold. I don’t need my day job, I only require you.”

She sighed, slumping against me. “What are you trying to do with the one-liners here? I’m only a girl. I can’t take too much of that. You talking like that, makes me feel funny.”

“Funny good, or funny bad?”

“You know which.”

Without letting those words go, I was hinting at what I was ultimately feeling and in so many words she recognized that and shared the sentiment to some degree. I loved her and in her way, she was somewhere near.

“I see that pest upstairs plotted all of this. According to him, I’ve been lovestoned. Completely caught up over you.”

I normally didn’t approve of Samir intruding in my personal relationships but I had no complaints. He’d been dishonest, having me show up at his house and bringing Ayanna along for an impromptu reunion but I was glad.

“How did you two catch up with one another?” I asked.

“A rave. We hooked up at a rave.”

“That rager in Brooklyn, right? I heard the scene was wild. I’m sorry I missed it.”

“No, you’re not.”

Her face fell and I immediately wondered why. She had managed not to look me in the eye this whole time. I placed my fingers under her chin directing her face my way. She resisted but finally she couldn’t anymore. “Was that so hard?” I asked. “I just want to look at you.”

I lost my playfulness when I noticed the variety of cuts and scrapes on her cheek. One side of her mouth was swollen, her lips puffier than they should be. I could tell her injuries had been a lot worse. They were healing, would be mostly gone in a matter of days but the point was that they shouldn’t be there in the first place. I had the sneaking suspicion that this was no accident. I needed answers because I could already feel a strangling sensation in my chest.

“What is this Ayanna? What happened to you?”

“Nothing you need to get worked up over. Everything is level now.”

“But it wasn’t before, was it? Please tell me this isn’t what I think it is. Tell me that so I won’t go completely mad.”

She couldn’t.

Ayanna couldn’t utter the words because they wouldn’t be true. She got off me, turning her back. “We’re not together anymore, okay. He’s not my dude, can’t even call him my friend. I came to my senses.” She paused. “A multitude of bruises, a few well-placed slaps and him depriving me of air did the trick.”

I stood, almost dizzy with my own anger. “Max did that to you?”

She ran her hands up her arms like she felt a sudden chill. “Yeah, Max did that to me and more but he never will again. No one will.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more.” She turned but I was already on the move. “Mosai, where are you going?”

“For a ride. Stay here with Samir.”

I was already at the top of the cellar stairs and throwing the door open. In a mad dash to find my keys and get off this bloody island. I wished I hadn’t even come to this blasted place. There was no car travel, forcing me to leave my bike miles away. Very inconvenient when your aim was to exterminate someone but I wasn’t deterred. As soon as I was back on the mainland, I could go about my simple plan but nothing could happen until I found my damn keys.

“Where are they Samir? I left them on this fucking counter when I came in.” I was going about like a crazy person and didn’t honestly care.

“Where’s the fire, mate? I’ll get your keys, just bring it down. Did it go that bad? I was only trying to get two miserable people in one place so they can be miserable together.”

“Yeah, well thanks for the gesture but I need to get back to—what the hell happened to your face?”

My best friend looked like a pirate and I was quite certain that Halloween hadn’t arrived yet. Samir was always immaculate, high-maintenanced in the way he dressed and presented so it came as a surprise that his face was a mess of stitches, bandages and plum coloring because he hadn’t been that way when I saw him just two days ago. He’d invited me out here and like other times, we hadn’t traveled together. He had keys to my residences, the same way I could enter his. Once I reported being here, he texted for me to get some vintage downstairs.

This was my first time seeing him.

“It looks worse than it is,” he replied. My eyes narrowed. “Okay, so it’s bad but it’s nothing a little plastic surgery won’t rectify. I know it doesn’t seem possible but I could come out of this looking better than I already do. I’d say that was a score.”

I wasn’t up for his comical narcissism. “I repeat, what happened to you?”

“Max happened, Mosai. You’re looking at two recent examples of his handiwork.”

I stared at Ayanna, then at Samir.

He chose to explain. “I ran into baby love here last night. We let loose, talked about you some. Long story cut short, we got a little too close for her hooligan’s comfort and this was his reaction.”

I stood there, unsure of how I would react if I moved. Ayanna came up to me, remorse covering her. “I can’t apologize enough for what I let happen. I’m sorry Mosai. That should’ve never went down. It’s my fault. I know that and I take full respons—”

“Hush. I know you didn’t do this, you don’t have to take the blame for somebody else’s actions but I do have to teach that integrate a lesson.”

“Mosai, sit. Violence only begets and I’m far too attractive to visit you in lockup.”

“He’s right. It’s over now. We’re both okay. Max…he’s not even worth it. I realize that now and I’m not going to let you do anything that’ll have you hemmed up. I’ve been guilty of that myself already. Just stay put. I don’t want to but I will take you up on the offer to put one in you.”

I fixed my face, the wheels still turning in my head. “I believe that.”

“Then promise you won’t do anything stupid.”

I nodded, only doing so because there was a huge loophole in that agreement. No, I wouldn’t touch a hair on his head but that didn’t mean I couldn’t get to him. Samir seemed to pick up on my thoughts but kept his mouth closed. I was a good guy 98% of the time but for the remaining two percent, I could outsource. Not letting Ayanna know any of this, I held her hand, kissing her across the knuckles. An idea rose and I stored it away.

“Could we go to your place? I want to be alone with you.”

She nodded while Samir crossed his arms in protest. “Are the lot of you really going to leave me alone, battered and bruised? What exactly am I supposed to do all by my lonesome?”

“I’m sure you’ll think of something.” I patted his shoulder reassuringly. “Skype your soon-to-be and do all of those questionable things you’re always trying to tell me about.” I was always hard on Samir but I had unparalleled love for him. I never wanted anything bad to happen to him in any circumstance. He was my boy. I offered him a hug. “Now, does that help your delicate sensibilities?”

“A little,” he admitted. He grunted. “Come, come children. Daddy needs dinner and several drinks. Sai take the boat, get to the shore and go have some one on one time with baby love. I’ll take a water taxi tomorrow and get the thing.”

Ayanna embraced him and Samir willingly returned the gesture. She’d broken into some part of him, just like she had with me. Samir didn’t take to everybody. “Remember what I said now, we’re both unbelievably attractive, let’s act like it.”

He pecked her cheek, waving me off when I positioned my face for one. “I’m sorry for what happened to you.” Ayanna went to grab her bag, giving me the leeway to say something else. “He won’t get away with it.”

Samir shook his head. “I know that look. It’s your “this-isn’t-over” look. Don’t be stupid about this. You’ve cleaned your act up, don’t be that man you were before.”

“I’m not but some things need to be rectified.”

He rolled his eyes at me. “Whatever you say Mafia-man. I’ll get the bail money ready.”

When Ayanna came back, I helped her into the boat out back, starting it up while she sat along the edge, her hand playing in the water before I took off. We both retreated into our minds during that ride. I tried to calm mine but I grew more and more irate as I operated. This piece of filth had committed one of the most heinous crimes in my book. Violence against a woman didn’t fly with me, it shouldn’t fly with any man. As much as this was about Ayanna and her enduring what no female should, this had something to do with me and my past. What happened to someone else years ago ran through my mind. Cai had a similar situation. Someone close to her had betrayed her body and mind because of their twisted sense of love. Rihanna, the superstar, my ex’s now wife, had drove off the deep end and taken her rage as an excuse to rape her. I hadn’t been there, found out after the fact but it didn’t help my guilt.

I was always last to know and it was truly fucking with me now.

I was stoically silent as I docked Samir’s boat and paid for us to board a ferry back to Bay Shore, Long Island. From there it was a taxi to my parking area. I came to my bike and slid on gloves. Forgetting my manners, I hadn’t even asked if she was okay with getting on back. It turned out that it wasn’t an issue at all. Ayanna was eyeing my motorcyle like it was the Holy Grail.

“You ride? A Ducati, at that?” she asked touching the custom paint job. “An 848 Streetfighter? You are doing things to me.” I smiled. A lady who could appreciate Italian machinery was majorly sexy. “You know anybody that can give me lessons. I want to be all Speed Racer one day.”

I grabbed my helmet, shed my leather bomber and placed them both on her. “I might be able to help out with that.”

I was experienced, had never gone down on this thing but just in case, I‘d take the road rash for her. I climbed on and she followed wrapping her arms around me.

“Hold on tight, Kelly.”

She responded by kissing my cheek. “Just don’t spin out on this thing. I’ll signal you when the exit comes up. Let’s go man.”

She flipped down her visor, waiting impatiently. I laughed, the warm feeling she gave me like a balm. I reved up and took off. Miles and miles out, I pulled into the driveway of her Hamptons house. Following her up to the door and into the place, I watched her toss my jacket aside and kick off her boots in the hall. Once in the kitchen, she seared the refrigerator and the cabinets.

“As you can see, I’m not working with much. We could order in if you want. Tell me what you’re feeling like.”

“Murder.”

She turned and saw the steely look on my face. I stared at her, my eyes deadly serious. “I could kill him.”

I think she wanted to make a crack, use her gift of wit but my tone wouldn’t allow her to do that. She walked up to me and stood there. “You say that like you’ve done it before.”

I didn’t break my stare as I replied. “Maybe I have.”

Wrinkles formed on her forehead. “You just going to let that comment hang out there or do I get an explanation?”

“I didn’t mean to say that.”

“But you did and you can’t take it back. Elaborate.”

“I’m not sure if I should.” I had never once talked about this to anyone. Revealing something directly from a news headlines wasn’t something I wanted to do, not to her but instinctually, I knew she could tolerate this. Ayanna could take this sin.

“Talk to me Mosai.”

I looked away. “When I was younger, I was somewhat of a punk. I was full of myself, shunning school and raising hell wherever I could. While I was in school, I had my hands in a few different things, drugs mostly. I dealt to supplement what my scholarship didn’t cover. The money was good, the credibility better but after a few events, I started to act recklessly.”

Having the love of my life double-cross me with my own twin, transfer out of school without notice and return to the States had proven to be too much.

“Teenage angst,” Ayanna said. “I follow.”

“I began to use what I sold. One night on leave, I blew an eight ball clean and then some. I went out. I was stupidly high, wasn’t really cognizant of anything until I had lowered the body of a man.”

I waited for her reaction but there was none.

I rubbed my eyes, going back to that night. I was lost, staggering like a wino when I saw the motherfucker and the pig-tailed little girl he was holding hands with. I wasn’t sure what made my mind go to the place it did. He could’ve been her father, a grandparent but I didn’t see that. All I saw was my sister being degraded. That girl became her in that moment. I hadn’t saved Mahiri but I could rescue her. I went berserk and with my boxing skills that was pretty insane. I beat him until his face cracked under my fist. I beat him until he was unrecognizable, until all there was left for him to see was black.

But before then I’d told him to look at me. “Remember my face when you make it to hell.”

He tried to beg for his pitiful life but it was already over.

I had relished in that.

Until I looked up and saw her.

That girl was standing there, a look of terror on her face. I stood, I told her that it was okay, that she was safe but she screamed and ran off. I never saw her again until her face hit the morning paper. She was a runaway who’d linked up with the child predator online and who, now was back at home where she always should’ve been. The police wrote the crime off as one of passion, the main suspect the girl’s father. He’d been recorded making threats of violence but I had been the one to cause harm. The case was cold and I had never been linked back to it.

I relayed that to Ayanna waiting for her to display that same fear and repulsion. She only breathed and nodded. “You did a good thing.”

I shook my head. “No, I didn’t. I took a life by my own volition. I killed and I enjoyed it and I’m so sure that I’d love to make Max’s heart stop.”

Ayanna bit the inside of her mouth. “I guess I should feel some sort of way about that but I’m with you. I want him gone too. I want him to suffer for the pain he inflicted. I want him to feel just a fraction of my fear and humiliation so he knows what he put me through. I’ve had daydreams of gutting him open. Maybe that’s not normal but it’s how I cope. Wanting revenge is okay but I’m know I have to be more than that. You gotta be too. You killed a guy. In my opinion, that doesn’t make you the bad guy. My situation aside, do you plan on being a serial killer?”

“No, I do not.”

“Then you’re absolved. I think everybody would like to think so but there’s no real good and bad. You do what you do, you suffer the consequences and you try to move on. Frankly, dude deserved it. Ain’t nothing lower than a child molester. Abusing women is only a close second,” Ayanna said. Her tone was bitter but when she neared me, it softened. She ran her fingers across my face lovingly. “I didn’t want to let you in on this but we’re only human. And in my head, we fall into two simple groups: there are the ugly people, who at their core are rotted out and then there are the beautiful, who fall and falter but their shit is made of gold. You fall in with them. You’re one of the beautiful people.”

I was flattered, enamoured at the same time. Her thinking that made me sheepish in a way I’d never been. “And where do you fit in?”

She shrugged, unsure of what her answer. “That remains to be seen.” She stepped on my shoes and pulled me down to her height. “I don’t want to talk about anything wayward right now. I want to forget and you’re my anesthesia.” She kissed me briefly before backing up. “Keep your eyes on mine.”

I did my best as she bent over. The eye contact only got harder when her wife beater came over her head, a bra being cast away next. My vision got obstructed altogether when she put her panties over my head. I took them off with a smile, still following her instructions.

“Now, you take your clothes off.” I didn’t move quick enough and for that, she ripped my t-shirt clean down the middle. “Am I going to have to ask you again?”

I stripped, standing stark naked. “I’m not complaining but why are we practicing nudity?”

“Because you can’t skinny-dip with clothes on.”

She ran away from me and out of the patio door. Without thinking, I followed her. I didn’t catch up to her until sand gave way to cold water. She was already under it, swimming about like a dolphin. I dove in as well, catching her by the ankle. She laughed, taking in water then rushed to the surface for air but I was on her, had her in her arms as she splashed me in the face. I returned the favor. We went on like that, behaving like two children.

It was innocent but things took a turn.

I kissed her and then she kissed me. She gave me tongue then I was gripping her with sheer urgency. I swept her up, came out of the water, stumbled and went down with her on the sand. Ayanna didn’t appear to notice. She was moving under me like a snake. Our kissing didn’t cease, the heat between us not letting up. With the lack of clothing, it made the friction unbelievable. Instinct spoke to me, told me mount her hard, to bury myself within her and take us both out of our misery but I resisted that primal urge. This wasn’t just about animal attraction, this was about her will and I wouldn’t go against it without verbal consent.

Ayanna rolled me over, bit my tongue, had me about to embarrass myself. “I want you,” she breathed in my ear. “Right now.”

“Fuck,” I groaned as she grinded into me. “I want you too, you don’t know how much but we can’t.”

“I haven’t really been in the mood recently. Now I am. Take advantage.”

“I’ll never do that. I don’t want to be a rebound. We’re both high on emotion.”

Her hand slid between our bodies, gripping my erection. I was in hell now and it felt exactly like heaven. “Isn’t that a good thing?”

I jerked, trying to use one head and not the other. “Not the morning after. We went about things this way before and look where it got us. The next time we make love, it’s going to be because we’re both making a clear-headed decision and I can’t do that if you don’t stop moving this bum.”

I gripped her backside, forcing her to. “I want you, I think you can feel that as well as I can, I just want to do things the right way.”

Ayanna  was dripping all over me in multiple places but my message got through to her. “You always have Blondie. I’m the screw-up here. You’re the only normalcy I’ve had, a first when it comes to men. Besides him and somebody else, I’ve never felt anything deeper than simple attraction for another dude but you came along and interrupted the program.” She sat up against my chest. “You’ve taken care of me, been there when I needed it. If you think we should hold off, I’ll respect that.” She rolled off me, laying to my side. “I’m sorry that I hurt you. I picked the wrong team to be on and shunned you in the process. I don’t always try to be a fuck up, I just couldn’t help it this time.”

“It’s over now. I still want to ring his neck but I’ll resist the urge. He won’t hurt you again, do you believe that?”

“I do but the damage is done.”

“And it can be repaired. All of it.”

She fell silent as we watched the sunset, remaining that way when I walked with her hand in hand back to the house. In the master bath, I started the shower and washed her clean of sand. That’s when I saw what had been done to her body. Various splotches of color were all over her. I leaned down, kissed the bruise on her thigh then worked my way up. I came to her face and pressed my lips to her scratched cheek. She cried then and didn’t apologize for it. I didn’t want her to. In the bedroom, she crawled into bed and I followed. With the drapes undrawn, we watched the sky continue to darken and the moon take its place. I felt her heart beat slow, knowing it was heavy with things I could never fully grasp. From behind, I laid my hand across her chest and murmured in her ear.

“You’re safe with me, Ayanna. Always.”

She didn’t respond, just wove her fingers through mine. After a while, she drifted off to sleep. I couldn’t. I mourned on behalf of her, for all the things I knew she’d never tell me. I stayed awake, unsure of the future but certain that I wanted no one but her.





I caught the phone on its last ring as I rushed in with bagas.

It wasn’t my device clattering on the kitchen counter but the call was one I needed to answer.

“Ayanna, what did we talk about?”

“I wouldn’t know since I’m not her. Good morning, Leah.”

She paused. “Mosai, I wasn’t expecting to hear your voice. Where is Ayanna and why are you picking up her phone? Is something wrong? Is she okay?”

“She’s fine. Still sleeping,” I replied unpacking the items I had picked up at a nearby market. I rifled through cabinets to locate a pot. “I’m picking up because we’re at her Hamptons place together. We ran into one another. Coincidentally.”

She paused again. “So you know about everything already?”

“I know and I’m still fuming.”

“I don’t know if I can forgive Max for this. I haven’t seen her like that ever. He hurt her beyond anything and I hate him for that.”

“You’re her best friend, you would. It’s going to take some time for her to recover but we’ll get her there.”

We will. I’ll let you go, just please have her call me when she’s up.”

“I will do that. I want you to know that she’s okay with me.”

I know that. Bye Mosai.”

“Goodbye.”

I knew she’d still worry. I’d seen so-called best friends feign concern then wish one another harm but not them. The friendship they had was real. They loved one another and at this point Ayanna needed all of the support she could get. I had left her in bed, planning to serve her breakfast there. I had a special treat to top it off, one I knew she’d get a kick out of. I recalled the recipe. It would take hours to produce just a small amount but it was worth it. By mid-morning, the meal was prepared. I brought up eggs, turkey bacon, toast, porridge and placed a side dish of my creation on the tray. I eased Ayanna out of her slumber. She looked better. Hair at odd ends and puffy eyed but still better.

She went right in, eating contently until she stopped suddenly. “What is this stuff?” she asked. “It tastes like butter but something different is going on there.”

“There is something different about it. There’s weed in there.”

“Weed like the plant that I smoke weed, or something healthy?”

“The first. It’s called cannabutter. You don’t mind do you?”

“That’s rhetorical, right? I don’t mind the secret ingredient, I’m just wondering where it came from? You holding out on me?”

“I had it on me. For Samir.”

She laughed when I looked away guiltily. “Right.” Ayanna dipped her finger in the butter creation and licked it. “I’m liking this more and more.” She winked and thumbed my chin. “Kind of like you, sugar,” she said impersonating Mae West. She fed me from her plate. “What can I do for you to express my gratitude?”

“You’re doing it already. You’re just being you.”

She didn’t think that was enough so for the rest of the day, she gave me “cannabutter kisses.”

They were sweet, potent and to me, full of promise ♥

June 19 2014, 07:19 PM
Anonymous
You know why I love you? Because of this: "I’m not your ideal. I’m not on a pedestal or beyond reproach. I smoke like a chimney, I kiss girls and I like to fuck even more than you do. I’m rude a lot of the time, I have the slickest mouth and half the time I couldn’t care less. There is a whole other part of me that you will never, ever be able to understand.” I put my hand against my chest, needed him to understand. “This is me. Gutter and promiscuous and goddamn amazing because of it." Genius.

Ayanna in all her glory.

Thank you for this ♥

June 19 2014, 12:07 PM
Anonymous
When is Ayanna going to find out about Joelle and Max's baby

Soon enough. We’re approaching the last ten chapters…♥