“Why do you have a gun?” I asked later that evening as Tanya served me a bowl of leftover soup while I recovered in bed.
“Don’t worry about that, just be glad I do,” She sat down on the bed next to me and changed the subject, “I really wish you’d let me take you to the hospital.”
She’d insisted on calling the police and taking me in for a check-up, but I refused. I’d seen worst bruises in my life. Plus, I didn’t want to try to come up with excuses for my injuries. If it happened again, I’d file a report. As of now, I was okay as-long-as she left me alone.
“What the hell happened here anyway?”
I briefly explained Sid’s insanity over seeing her kiss me on the cheek, and inquired how she ended up back at my house. She she’d reached for her wallet to pay her driver and realized she’d left it at my house. Sure enough, it was sitting on the end table where she’d left it the night before.
Thank goodness for her forgetfulness.
“Thanks for your help…again…” I shifted trying to find a more comfortable position.
“Looks like I’m turning out to be your bodyguard,” she joked, “I’m going to have to start charging you, woman. I don’t do security for free.” She smiled, I smiled back. I felt comfortable in her presence…and secure.
“I’d offer to pay you, but now that I’m cutting Sidney off I doubt you’re in my budget.” We both laughed.
“Are you really going to cut her off?” She looked at me with doubt in her eyes.
“I’m done. I mean it.” I did…didn’t I?
“Mmph. We’ll see about that.”
“Wow, thanks for your lack of confidence.” I rolled my eyes and looked out the window. She was right. I said I was done, but part of me still worried about Sidney. I wanted to know why she’d reacted the way she did, and if she truly meant all those horrible things she’d said about me. Foolish, I know, but that didn’t stop me from caring.
“I’ve been here before, unfortunately. Monica’s sang this same song several times. It’s part of the reason she likes to arrange these little affairs for Sidney. Takes some of the heat off her.”
She went and stood at the window, blocking my view. She’d unbraided her dreadlocks and for the first time I noticed how long and beautiful they were.
“What do you mean?” I asked, still staring at her dreads.
Tanya folded her arms and turned as if to say something; I waited attentively, but she only stared.
“Why are you with her?” She narrowed her eyes and gave me a look that made me feel…dirty. I blinked and stumbled over my words, looking for an answer.
“Wha—I, ah…EXCUSE ME?” She’d completely caught me off guard. “Why are YOU with Monica?”
“Monica and I have a complicated history,”
She grunted and nodded her head, “Sid’s version, huh?”
I said nothing.
“It doesn’t matter. Monica and I still have history, you have nothing with Sidney. Why would you allow yourself to be used by someone like this?”
I frowned, “I’m not being used.”
“But you’re having sex, with a married woman — for what?”
“WHOA…here goes that sex word again! Apparently, there’s a lot of sex happening around here, but believe me, NONE of it is happening with me – OK?” I shot her an agitated look and shifted my weight on the bed.
“Wait,” Tanya sat down at the foot of the bed and continued her question, “you’re kidding, right?”
I didn’t get the joke. Why would I kid about not having sex with someone?
“No, I’m not.”
“Oh…” She gasped, “I apologize. I just assumed…the way she went off at the idea of you and me…you know.” She raised an eyebrow and looked away.
“Why do you care anyway? You’re doing the same thing with Monica…essentially.”
“It’s not the same thing. And again, I have history with Monica…”
“Yea…so. You’re still messing with someone else’s wife. She doesn’t come home to you at night…so……”
Tanya laughed, “…you have a point.” I joined in.
“But seriously,” she continued between giggles, “why don’t you have someone?”
I shrugged, “No particular reason. I just haven’t had anyone approach in a while that really caught my interest…I guess.”
“…and Sidney did?”
I shrugged again, “She was exciting…and bold. I liked that.”
It was true. Sidney was bold and extremely confident, but it wasn’t an in-your-face kind of cocky that’d make you hate her. She was humble, very charming, cunning even. You never quite knew what she was thinking, but that damn sure didn’t stop you from trying to figure it out. Sidney didn’t have to try…she just…was – and she knew it. That’s what made it so sexy.
“Sidney offered a something I didn’t have…. passion, romance, spontaneity…she’s the…the…,” I struggled to find the word.
“Fantasy?” Tanya finished my thought.
“Mmph,” she nodded, “…that’s the problem with fantasies, they always leave out the bad stuff…and everyone has bad stuff.”
“True enough.” I agreed.
“So, you like the drama?”
“Oh, definitely not.” I really didn’t, “It’s just that… nice ones…I don’t know, things get – I don’t want to say boring – but…” I struggled to find a new word.
“Boring is correct. No need to sugarcoat.” Tanya chimed in, “So…you think I’d be boring?”
“I mean, I don’t know. You don’t seem like the boring type. Carrying guns and saving damsels and all…” We both laughed. “Why do you ask?”
“Just wondering.” Our eyes met and she held my gaze, “Jameka, I know this might be odd, but I want—” Tanya’s phone vibrated and interrupted her thought. She slid the phone out of her pocket and I noticed Monica’s photo appear on the screen. She excused herself to take the call.
While I waited, I focused my attention on the now, lukewarm, soup she’d brought earlier. I tried to eat more than a few bites, but my jaw was too sore to deal with chewing. I sipped a few spoonsful of broth and finished a can of ginger-ale. When Tanya returned, I’d grabbed the TV remote, and was trying to decide between Martin and My Wife and Kids re-runs.
“Sorry about that. It was…Monica.”
“Yea,” she put her hand on her head and massaged her temples, “…she’s just. They’re…never mind. It doesn’t matter. Look, I have to go handle something right quick, do you think you’ll be okay here by yourself?”
Handle something was code for “Monica said bring your ass” – at least in my mind. I really didn’t want her to leave, but I didn’t want to seem desperate so I obliged.
“Of course, I’m a little sore but I can manage.”
“I’ll come back to check on you as soon as I’m finished, if you want”
I did want. I wanted to know what she was about to ask me. I wanted to finish our conversation…I wanted… “I mean…you can…if you want…you don’t have too. I can call one of my sisters.”
“No, it’s cool. I want to make sure you’re all right…” She slid her wallet in her pocket and walked over to kiss me on the. Her eyes said more than I could read. She reached down and caressed my face. I wondered if she was flirting with me.
“Sorry, you had something on your cheek.” She brushed her hands against her pants. “Lay back, rest. Watch TV. I’ll be back in a couple of hours.”
I was disappointed to hear I had something on my face, but smiled and said my good-byes. She’d gone and gotten me a walking stick so I could help myself in the bathroom – as I refused to allow her to help me – and made sure to place it, my phone, pain meds, bottled water, ginger ale, and a fresh cup of ice next on my nightstand. Attentive.
I suggested she take my key so I wouldn’t have to get up. I told her I didn’t have a spare so she’d have no choice but to come back. I lied. Just in case.
I didn’t remember falling asleep, but I was certain I wasn’t dreaming.
Tanya’s lips pressed against my own. Her kiss was gentle and succulent. I took my time tracing them with my tongue before I slid into her mouth. We exchanged kisses as her fingers crept up the palm of my neck. My head fell back and opened my mouth,
“Tanya…” I whispered into her ear, “Don’t stop…”
“Tanya….” I whispered again.
The sound of Sidney’s voice startled me awake. I opened my eyes to find her familiar scowl standing at the foot of my bed. My eyes searched frantically for Tanya, but she was nowhere to be found. I grabbed my phone.
NO NEW MESSAGES.
“Jameka…I just want to talk.” Sidney spoke calmly, but her tone was enough to make me uncomfortable.
In inhaled deeply and shook my head. Damn, I was dreaming, I just hoped I hadn’t woken up to a nightmare.