“Scorpios are romantic devils,” I said matter-of-factly, pausing to inhale from the hookah, “if I’d known she was a Scorpio, “we” wouldn’t be a thing.” I continued surfing through Monica’s Facebook friends as I talked to my therapist via FaceTime.
It’d been five months since my relationship with Sid started, and things were…going. Don’t get me wrong, Sid was great; she made me feel as if I were the only object of her desire. And whenever we were together, it was easy to forget we were in an arrangement. She spent so much time at my home she practically had her own wardrobe stored there.
On the other hand, Sid could be possessive and moody.
She once snapped on an ex-girlfriend who tried to say hello as we were waiting in line the movies. She threatened to shoot a guy who got a little too friendly at the bar one night. And there was this one time that I came home from a date and found her sitting on my doorstep, in the rain, telling me how much she loved me and I couldn’t continue to play with her emotions.
It was utter insanity; but, oddly kept me coming back.
I had to admit, I loved the intensity and passion she had for me. She was unpredictable and semi-dangerous. The more I felt like I needed to cut my ties and keep my distance, the closer I’d try to get.
But Sid wouldn’t let me get close…not that way. She never talked with me about her past, her work, her family – nothing. I was privy to some of her feelings about Monica, but even that was limited. She said she didn’t talk about those things with me because, “If she wanted to talk about her problems, she could go home.”
I thought it odd she referred to her life outside of me as ‘problems’.
Sometimes, when we were together she’d completely check-out. Other times, she’d disappear – without notice – only to return days later, in a bubbly mood, like nothing ever happened. Per the terms of our “agreement”, I couldn’t question when she did these things.
Again, my role in all of this was to ensure she was always “happy” – even if it were at my emotional expense.
That’s why I was here.
It’d been four-days since I’d last heard from Sid. I’d called, text, and stalked her social media all to no avail. Normally, I’d receive several texts a day letting me know she was thinking of me – even if she was missing in action – but this time I got nothing. Not even a read receipt from texts I sent her.
I reached out to Monica a few times, but she also failed to return my calls. I even drove by their home, looking for anything out of the ordinary, not that I knew how “the ordinary” looked. Desperate, I scoured through Monica’s Facebook friend’s list until I found Tanya’s page.
I sent an instant message along with a friend’s request, hoping for a quick response. I disconnected with my therapist and scrolled through the public photos in her profile album. There, I learned she’d opened a successful graphic design business after her honorable discharge from the army, she loved photography, had two Rottweilers she treated like children, and she’d recently launched an after-school program to mentor young lesbian women who considered themselves “stud”, “butch”, or “tomboy”.
She wasn’t bad on the eyes either.
“HEY, WHAT’S UP WITH YOU LADY?” Tanya responded to my message asking if she had a moment to speak.
“OH…HI, I JUST WONDERED IF YOU…” I didn’t want to seem rude, but it seemed senseless to beat around the bush, it wasn’t like I was reaching out to see how her day was going, she knew that.
“I JUST HADN’T HEARD FROM SID OR MONICA IN A FEW DAYS…AND I WAS WORRIED…I HOPED YOU’D KNOW…” She cut me off,
“OH, THAT. YEA, THEY’RE FINE. THEY WENT TO MEXICO ON A CRUISE TO CELEBRATE THIEIR ANNIVERSARY…SID DIDN’T TELL YOU?”
Anniversary? Cruise? I was floored. Here I was obsessing over her wellbeing and she was out romancing her wife. I clenched my jaw and sucked in a deep breath.
“NO. I GUESS SHE FORGOT.” I typed adding the eye-roll emoticon.
“LOL” Tanya sent a smile, “DON’T FEEL BAD, I ONLY FOUND OUT WHEN I CALLED. THEY WERE ALREADY ON THE PLANE.”
“ATLEAST YOU GOT AN ANSWER” I typed back, quickly. I eyed my phone again, nothing.
“MAYBE SHE JUST FORGOT TO ADD THE INTERNATIONAL PLAN TO HER PHONE AND CAN’T RESPOND TO YOUR TEXT,” we both knew better.
“YEA…OK” It was difficult to hide my disappointment. I was quickly reminded my place in her life. What if something serious were happening and I really needed her? I was wasting my time with a woman who couldn’t even bother to answer my repeated calls to see if I were okay, yet anytime she called I dropped everything to be with her. I even waited by the damn phone…
I logged out of my computer without saying good-bye. I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for Sid while she paraded around on cruises with her wife. Hell, her wife didn’t even do that. I called my sister and asked her to meet me at the Plush Kitty Bar on the west side of town. It’d been over a year since I’d visited, but they always had a good show, great drinks, and bold women. I never left disappointed.
I arrived shortly after 6 PM, sporting a pair of tight black jeans and a low-cut formfitting blouse. I left my car with the valet and received a text from my sister telling me she was running late. I grabbed a VIP booth and ordered a few shots to loosen up while I waited. I was still fuming about Sid’s lack of communication; but, I didn’t want to put a damper on the night, especially since I couldn’t talk about the relationship with anyone who didn’t already know about it.
I drank the first two shots before the third one was on the table. The waitress laughed, “somebody’s trying to have a good time tonight,” she was a cute Latina with dimple piercings in both cheeks and straight, jet-black hair that fell around her waist. She noticed me admiring her legs, I loved a woman with some nice, toned thighs.
“It’s ok…you can look, as long as you tip,” she flashed a sexy smile. I took the hint and stuck a $20 bill in her garter belt, “that’s to get you started, keep me topped off and I’ll take care of you.” I winked and threw back the third shot.
I was on shot number five when my sister sent a message saying she wasn’t going to make it because she got held up at work. By that time, I felt so good that I’d attracted a table full of people and was having a good enough that it didn’t matter.
I danced with a few women, and I exchanged numbers with a female barber named Cleo who offered to drive me home at the end of the night. I was sober enough to know I was too drunk to drive, so I agreed to let her drive me home. As we headed out the door, I heard a familiar voice step intervene.
“Nah bruh, I’m not gone be able to let you do that.”
“Yea…she’s with me. She’s not about to go home with you. She’s clearly drunk.”
“Aye I’m not kidnapping her, she said she wanted to go home with me.”
“YEAAAA…IWANNA GO. ISO KAY…” I tried to form a sentence but couldn’t even put my thoughts together. I was wasn’t a drinker and tonight proved it.
“SHE doesn’t know what the hell she’s saying. YOU about to let her go or we gonna have some problems.” I still couldn’t place the voice.
“And who the fuck are you though?” Cleo laughed and let me go as she got in the mystery woman’s face. I crumpled to the floor under the weight of my drunk body, and tried to lift my head.
“I’m her got-damn fiancée, you got a problem with it?” The mystery woman moved her jacket and flashed something, Cleo put her hands up and stepped back.
“Oh, my bad. I ain’t trying to start nothing. Yo fiancée a hoe for being in my face anyway…” Cleo walked away leaving me crumpled on the floor against the wall. I wanted to shout an insult back at her for calling me a whore, but my mind wouldn’t move quick enough.
“You ok?” The mystery woman wrapped me in something and brought her face down to my own. “I saw you earlier tonight, but didn’t want to intrude. Cleo has a history of getting women drunk, taking them home for one-night stands and recording them in the process. I wasn’t about to let that happen. Sidney would kill me if she knew it happened on my watch.”
Ahhhh, I recognized the face, and the voice when she said Sidney’s name. It was Tanya, Monica’s “boo”.
“Here let’s get you home. Clearly, you’re too drunk to drive.” I couldn’t object, it was either her or a Lyft and I was afraid I was too drunk to make it in the house even if I did make it home. I’d had seven shots and three cocktails. It was a wonder I hadn’t passed out – yet.
Tanya was every bit the gentlewoman. She got my car from the valet, carried me to and from the car, into my home, and even held the trashcan to my face when I could no longer hold the liquor I’d ingested. Concerned, she offered to stay longer, even going to the store to get ingredients to cook a chicken noodle soup from scratch so I could try to eat something.
I fell asleep while she was out. Three hours later, I woke up to a delicious smell and the sounds of rain tapping against the window. I crawled out of bed and made my way down the hall. Tanya was on the couch watching Top Chef.
“Hey…” I said groggily, I realized I was still in my club clothes. She was kind enough not to try to and bathe or change me, but I wished she had. I hated putting outside funk on a clean bed.
“HEY! You’re awake.” Tanya smiled a smile that let me know she was genuinely happy to see me. “How are you? Here, come sit down.” She rushed over to help me to the couch. I let out a sweet laugh.
“I’m ok. I’m not elderly, I just drank a little too much. I’ve done much worse.” I sat on the couch as the dizziness kicked in. “I just need to eat something and rest my body, replenish my fluids…I’ll be ok.”
“I hope you don’t mind me staying. I just didn’t know how to lock up if I left.” I didn’t have the kind of locks you could turn from the inside, I’m glad she didn’t just leave my home open. “You were sleeping so well, I didn’t want to wake you.”
“I’m glad you didn’t. I really needed the rest. I feel a lot better.” I curled up in the oversized armchair next to the sofa, grabbing a blanket from the couch.
“You need to eat,” she headed towards the kitchen and made me a bowl of soup with a glass of ginger ale. She brought it to me on a tray and fluffed pillows behind my back to ensure I was comfortable. “I can get out of your hair as soon as you finish eating, I just want to clean up the dishes.”
“Oh, no…I don’t want to hold you up. You’ve done enough already. I’m so embarrassed. This, is why I rarely drink. I just really needed to get my mind off Sid”
It did feel good to take a few hours off obsessing over Sid.
“You’re not holding me up. It’s not like I had anything planned today. I was actually enjoying this Top Chef marathon, if you don’t mind me watching.”
“No, be my guest. I appreciate the company. Take off your shoes, relax. I have some basketball shorts and t-shirts in there if you want to get comfortable.” I blew into the spoon and placed a spoonful of soup in my mouth. It was heaven.
“Thanks for taking care of me.” I spoke coyly. She slipped out of her shoes and joined me on the couch. We shared a blanket, my legs across hers.
I finished off her amazing soup and we watched the remainder of Top Chef. It finished at 2 AM and I suggested she stay over because I didn’t believe in women traveling this time of night, stud, femme, non-label – regardless. Besides, I had two guest bedrooms, toiletries, and a pile of clothes from Sidney and stud-sisters who often crashed at my place.
Secretly, I just wanted the company; thankfully, she didn’t fight me on the offer. She was equally eager for company.
“How did you get wrapped up in all of this?” I asked as we sat in the living room, watching ‘Orange Is the New Black’ on Netflix. She inhaled deeply before she began to explain.
Tanya and Monica grew up together, their parents were good friends and naturally Monica and Tanya became close. Monica’s family didn’t believe in the ‘Christian God’, they called it the ‘white man’s religion’ and said it’s ignorant for any black person to worship the ‘god of their captors’. Tayna’s family was full of church leaders. Her late father was a pastor, her mom and sister were ministers, her brother was a deacon. They believed the bible was the ‘error-free-straight-from-God’s-mouth’ word and law. She was raised to live by the book or spend eternity in a fiery hell.
Despite their differences, the families continued to socialize through the girl’s high school years, and Tanya and Monica remained joined at the hip – literally. One night, while Monica stayed over, Tanya’s mother peeked in on them expecting to find them awake chatting about boys. To her surprise, she walked in to find Monica, sitting upright on Tanya’s face, in the throes of [what seemed to be] an amazing orgasm.
She was mortified…and, though she’d never admit it, quite jealous. She snatched Monica by the hair and practically dragged her down the street to her home. She needed to let Monica’s parents know about their little face squatter.
“It’s no big deal,” replied Monica’s mom, “I experimented with plenty of girls when I was in high school and throughout college. She’ll grow out of it. And if she doesn’t…so what. I’ve got work in the morning. Are we done here?”
Tanya’s mother was livid. From that point on, the families didn’t associate. Monica’s family tried to mend fences but Tanya’s parents weren’t having it. They said they “could not allow that family’s darkness to infect their daughter’s light.” Tanya’s parents did everything they could to make it difficult for them to be together, which included her mother becoming her full-time chaperone– even at after school programs.
Her parents didn’t understand their insistence on keeping them apart actually helped keep them together. They communicated via letters passed between classes and they’d sign up for the same study sessions – which afforded them private rooms, that they used for make-out sessions.
Tanya even managed to time her mother and father’s nighttime bathroom runs so she could sneak out, or sneak Monica in, whenever she wanted. When she added on a fake boyfriend, who happened to be one of Monica’s gay cousins, Tanya’s parents were thrilled.
By the time the girls graduated from high school, Tanya’s parents were convinced she was over her “phase” and they agreed to let her stay on campus at Howard University in D.C. They had no idea Monica was also attending the same college – and Tanya wanted to keep it that way.
Everything was perfect, until two-weeks before she got ready to leave. Tanya’s sister found her stash of love letters from Monica and gave them to their parents. This time, they weren’t going to give her a chance. They told her she could live by their rules, and they’d pay for college, or she could leave – and leave everything behind – including her family and any form of financial support.
Tanya looked around for an ally…her father, her siblings and her mother stared back at her unmoved…everyone stood in their convictions. Conform or be cast out, this was the Christian way. As much as Tanya loved Monica, maybe she was confused, maybe she did need help, she certainly didn’t want to go to hell. She agreed to cut her ties with Monica; and within a week, her parents shipped her out to North Carolina to stay with a cousin who was a professor at Johnson C. Smith University.
Tanya was already gone when Monica found out. Tanya hadn’t bothered to tell her good-bye. Sadness washed over her face as she recounted their history.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up any uncomfortable memories.” I reached over and placed my hand on Tanya’s shoulder.
“Na, you’re cool. It’s not your fault. I was the one that couldn’t stand up for myself.”
I wanted to do something to comfort her, she’d been so kind taking care of me and all, “You were kids. Your family was different. Monica should’ve understood.”
“Monica understands what Monica wants and needs. She doesn’t care to understand the wants and needs of others. That’s why I never went back to explain that I couldn’t keep seeing her. She would’ve been so disappointed.”
“Well I’m pretty sure not going was a huge disappointment too,” I replied without thinking. She let out a slight laugh and nodded her head.
“Yea…well, hindsight is 20/20, right? I’m sure marrying Michael didn’t help either.”
“Whoa? What? You married a guy?”
“Yea, sophomore year of college, I married this guy from church trying to prove to myself I could be straight. It was the worst mistake of my life, we divorced the second semester of my junior year. It’s hard to keep a marriage together when you’re not interested in sex with your husband…or your husband – period. I think he took the hint when I started pointing out women to him.”
Tanya didn’t look like the type who’d give a guy directions more less the time of day.
“So, how did Monica end up with Sidney?”
“She found out I was getting married from her parents and showed at my wedding, asking me to call it off. She begged me to stand up for myself and told me she’d waited for me, but she wasn’t going to put up with this. If I insisted on marrying this man, she wasn’t going to wait any longer… I allowed my parents to put her out.”
She clenched her jaw before continuing, “Next I heard, she was married to Sidney, but you’d have to ask her how they met.” She rolled her eyes and looked at her watch. “Oh damn, I didn’t realize it was so early. The sun is about to come up.”
I looked out the window and noticed the sky was light, birds chirped on the window ledge. I checked the clock on the wall, it was 6:02 AM. I had to be logged into a conference call by 8:15.
“Crap, I have to get ready for a conference call. But you’re welcome to stay over and take a nap, freshen up. You’re not bothering me and I could use the company…it’ll keep my mind off you-know-who.”
Tanya laughed, she had a nice smile and plump lips that invited you in for a long make-out session.
“Na, I’m going to go ahead and get out of your hair. I’ve taken enough of your time.”
“You actually did me a huge favor…who knows what would’ve happened you not shown up.” I grabbed my purse and noticed my phone was going off. I made a mental note to check it once I came back inside. “At least allow me to pay for your LYFT and breakfast as a thank you for all your trouble.” I fished out two twenties and handed them to her.
She pushed my hand away, “No, you weren’t trouble…well, you were a little trouble. Trying to get all those hips in the car wasn’t easy…” she laughed, “but ain’t nothing wrong with that.”
I blushed and stumbled over a barstool as we headed toward the door. Thankfully, she had her phone in her face and didn’t see me. Her car was almost here, so we stepped out on the front porch to wait.
“Well thanks again for everything, I wish there was a way I could make it up to you.” I fidgeted like a teenage girl and looked away. I noticed a new white jaguar parked across the street, Mrs. Townsend must’ve gotten another new car.
“You’ve done enough. I appreciate just being able to talk and having someone listen. It felt good to feel like more than a standby for a while.” I nodded in agreement and thought about Sid, I needed to check my phone.
“Maybe we can hang out again? I can cook dinner?” If Monica or Sid found out they’d have a problem with this, but we weren’t doing anything. My life outside of Sid was just that – mine.
Tanya smiled, “I’ll take you up on that.” She leaned in and kissed me on the cheek. Her lips lingered near the corner of my mouth and, almost instinctively, I pulled her close. I wanted to kiss her…but thankfully, her Uber interrupted my temptation.
“You have a good day, love. I’m sure Sid will be back soon. Call me if you need me, ok?” She released her grip and headed towards her car. I walked back up the walkway and stopped in the front door.
“I will.” I smiled and leaned against the doorframe and watching as she got in the car. I could see why Monica kept her around, but I still didn’t understand why she signed to play Monica’s side-stud. I guessed that was another story for another day.
“Meka!” I was still leaning against the doorframe when Sid appeared out of nowhere smelling like she’d soaked in a tub of liquor and vomit.
Before I could open my mouth to ask her where she’d been, I felt a punch land across my face so hard that I hit the ground, cracking my nose on the pavement.
“DON’T YOU EVER FUCKIN DISRESPECT ME LIKE THAT AGAIN! I’LL BREAK YO FACE IN.”
That’s the last thing I heard before I blacked out.
Continue to Part V