Complicated [Part 4] (by Cortney Joseph)

Six

So we chilled for a few days, talked and got to know one another. It was easy being around King. I didn’t have to stress myself or worry about him trying to question me about shit that wasn’t his concern.

For a change I could state what I wanted and how I felt without some type of backlash, without someone trying to force their own views down my throat. I spent days at his house where we did simple shit. I tried to protest, act like I wasn’t interested or entertained, but I was. And for the first time in a long time I didn’t NEED alcohol or drugs to calm my nerves. I was naturally at ease with this dude.

 

I sat down after taking my shoes off and folded my legs, low-key enjoying the fact that all King wanted to do was play a game of poker. “This would be so much fun if it were strip poker.”

He looked at me and smiled. “If you want to see the d, just ask. No need for games.”

“Ha. Ha.”

“So, are you finally gonna tell me what’s really going on?”

“With what?”

“You and this clown. What’s his name?”

“Cairo. And really, why do you care? Why can’t we just chill and have fun like we’ve been doing for a minute now?”

He won our current hand and picked up all the cards to deal again. “Because I have this feeling that when you leave here every afternoon, you go back to your home with him and you’re unhappy.”

“We can’t all have happy endings King.”

“Sure we can.”

King said nothing after that and I thought to myself for a few minutes. “I’ve always had a thing for older men. A man that was about eight to ten, maybe eleven years older, that’s what I liked.”

“And how old are you now?”

“Twenty-six.”

“Damn, I just struck out.”

I shook my head before continuing. “Anyway, I wasn’t promiscuous or anything like that but I sometimes went out of my way to attract the attention of older men. If they were a bit thuggish, intelligent, established, and had a little money, it was a plus. Was told all of my life to stay away from drug dealers and for the most part I did, until I started following my older brother around. Cairo wasn’t his supplier, they weren’t friends or anything, but they ran in the same circle.”

I could feel myself smiling, thinking about when he and I first met. “Out of every older man I came across, he noticed me for more than just the body I had. Back then, he cared about me and what I thought. I was sixteen and he was twenty-four. Everybody and they mama told me not to get involved with him. My father even had him arrested once because he thought he was brainwashing me. You know that overprotective parental bullshit, he stayed on our case. As soon as I turned eighteen I moved out, and relationships with my family have been tough ever since. Over the years I helped Cairo build up his lil’ empire or whatever, niggas in the streets knew about him and what he had because I was out spreading word. Trying to build up something for me and my man. That’s just the type of chick I am. He got his lil’ street fame, his lil’ groupies and shit started to change. Then, when I was twenty, someone set him up and tipped off cops that we had all types of drugs stashed away in the house, and we did. We were both selling and by then he was already had two strikes for some other major shit.”

“What’d you do Loni?”

“Normally we handled everything with gloves, but that day I put my prints on everything and took his charge. Did three years.”

“Why?”

“Because, that’s the type of chick I am. I’d go down for my man if he needed me to. Anyway, got out and he’d already started changing on me before that. Didn’t look at me the same or treat me the same. That’s when I found out he had other bitches and a baby mama. Told me that I was good enough to ride with him and fuck but I wasn’t good enough to have his babies or carry his name.”

“Y’all engaged now though?”

“I took him back after he initially denied his first child. DNA test came and his apology came with an engagement ring. Baby mama had a second baby, and she’s pregnant again right now. He probably got kids I don’t even know about but I’m still with him.”

 

King took my hand in his, moving closer as he gave me a hug. “You don’t deserve that type of treatment Loni, no woman does. If a nigga can’t see when he’s got a good ass woman beside him, then he doesn’t deserve her. He doesn’t deserve you.”

“But I feel like this is the life I get and deserve for not listening to my father when he told me not to get involved in the first place. I saw all of the signs early on and I ignored them because I thought I could change him.”

“Loni, you can’t change anybody.”

“I know.”

“If he knew what he had in you, he’d do it on his own. But because you let him get away with these fucked up situations and you forgive him, you’re telling him that it’s okay to treat you like that. And it’s not okay. It’s foolish.”

“That’s my life though, full of foolishness.”

“Hey, there’s no need to cry.” I didn’t know I was crying. King wiped my eyes. “Sometimes I just wish I didn’t care about others so much. I wish I didn’t care about him so much. I want to be selfish and say screw him and the fact that he can’t do shit without me in the background. Without me he’d lose money, he’d have nowhere to go, no one to turn to.”

King slowly turned my face to his and gave a small smile. “Wanting to walk away from an asshole is not being selfish. It’s showing that you care about yourself.” Without thinking about it, I kissed King.

 

I’d pushed him back, climbed on top, and gotten us both out of our shirts within the few minutes we laid on the floor kissing before I finally stopped myself and stood up.

“Okay, that was unexpected but definitely welcomed. What’s wrong Loni?”

“I shouldn’t have done that.”

“I don’t mind.”

I jerked my head towards him and rolled my eyes, upset. “I know that you don’t mind but I do! Ugh.”

King stood up and pulled me into his arms, running his fingers through my hair as he spoke softly. “I’m sorry. I know you’re confused, and I shouldn’t act or let you act on that. Even though we’re just getting to know each other I care about you, and I want you to be happy. I hope you see soon that you would be a happier with me.”

I looked into his eyes and he smiled again, kissing me gently.

 

I didn’t say anything else after that, I grabbed my stuff and left. Trying to rush back to my own home to clear my mind, trying to convince myself that I wouldn’t have been any better than Cairo if I’d have slept with King.

And Lord knows I wanted to.

 

I closed and locked my door behind me, irritated. I now had a headache, Tommy wouldn’t stop calling my phone, and Cairo’s dog wouldn’t shut the fuck up. After taking one of Cairo’s boots and throwing outside at the big ass Rottweiler, I closed my backdoor and headed to the back of the house.

The only thing I want to do is lie down, clear my mind, and sleep. Walking down the hall, I could see the light of the guestroom. The door was cracked open just a little so that let me know Cairo’s ass was home.

Since I never knock on doors, I walked in. Thrown completely off guard when I saw this nappy weave wearing ass hoe sucking him off. His eyes were still closed, so he hadn’t seen me. I politely turned around, went into my own bedroom, opened my closet and walked straight to the back. Using my step ladder, I reached to the top shelf and grabbed one of my converse shoe boxes and pulled out my .22. I checked to make sure it was loaded before I politely marched my ass right back into the guest room.

This nigga was laid the fuck out now, groaning as the trashy bitch threw it back on him. I didn’t say anything. I simply shot at their asses, catching her in the shoulder and barely missing his head after he pushed her out of the way.

 

“Apollonia, chill!!”

“Chill with these motherfuckin’ bullets lodged in your skull!” She screamed and ran out. I tried to shoot that bitch again before turning my gun back on him as he tried to sneak past me.

“Come on Loni, Baby, it’s not what you think … okay. I mean, we weren’t in your bed.”

“Oh-ho…” I shot again and he ducked down before running out. I chased behind Cairo, emptying my clip. Instead of shooting him in the head like I wanted to, I flinched on the final shot and hit him in the ass just as he made it out my front door. Years of anger took over and I tore up my entire house.

By the end of the night I’d cut up, broken, threw out, and burned everything Cairo ever bought and owned. My phone rang and I took one deep breath before picking it up. “What?!”

“Loni, why are their cops in your driveway and reports of gunshots at your house? Why is there a big ass fire on your lawn?”

“Because, a bitch is about to go back to jail and I’m sure that’ll make you happy since it’ll keep me away from Cairo.” I hung up on Tommy before doing the one thing I never thought I would. I called the cops and snitched, gave up everything I knew about Cairo and the way he’s made his money for the last ten years. I told them about the offshore accounts and the different illegal businesses he ran with his friends. I’m over it.

Fuck him, fuck that his kids about to lose their daddy, and I hope a big nigga named Tiny makes Cairo his bitch. I’m over it.

 

Seven

You would have thought they’d lock my crazy ass up.

 

They didn’t. Instead they let me go as long as I agree to testify against Cairo and his bullshit when the time comes. Of course, he sent out threats, but honestly there ain’t shit else he could do to seriously hurt or break me. He ain’t got no real friends, and his hit men are loyal to me… if he gon’ have me killed, he’s gotta do it himself. And the amount of time he’s facing, I’ll probably die of old age first.

 

Even though I didn’t want to be bothered, instead of locking myself in my house again I went to stay with Tommy and Red. Acting as my father since he claims he’s not dealing with me anymore, without missing a beat, she was on that judgmental shit as soon as I walked through the door, but Red’s super nice behind kept the peace, insisting that she and I just needed to talk things out.

That was fine with me; I just did not want to hear ‘I told you so’. And what did she say to me, over and over, for a week straight?

“I told you so, Loni, but you just wouldn’t listen.”

I sucked my teeth before looking past her at Red, wishing I could use my mind to remove the knife from his hand and bring it to my own. “Reginald.”

“Yes Loni?”

“Get your fiancé before I decide to lace up these Timbs and stomp a new hole in her ass.”

Tommy rolled her eyes and sat down next to me. “Loni, why do you take everything I say as if I’m trying to judge you? It’s not judgment.”

“Then what the fuck would you call it Thomasina? Because honestly it sounds as if you’re excited to rub this shit in my face. It’s finally over, are you glad? I feel foolish as fuck, are you glad? I’m hurt and confused as fuck, are you glad? Are you happy? Does this excite you? Would you like to watch me cry myself to sleep tonight? Because I will gladly leave my door open just for you to come and stand over me.”

“No I’m not happy that you’re hurting.”

“Please Tommy, just leave me alone about this, okay. Just go back to being my little sister, the one who supported whatever I did, no matter how stupid it seemed. I don’t need you and others in my ear screaming shit like you told me so. I don’t need people beating me down anymore than I’m beating my own self down. It’s over, and done with. Just support me in whatever I choose next.”

She took a deep breath, wanting to say a whole lot more. I know she doesn’t intentionally try to make it seem as if she’s better than me. She doesn’t intentionally try to throw her good life in my face, but that’s what happens and I’m honestly tired of feeling like shit when I’m around her.

 

My phone rang, saving me from having to continue the already dead conversation with her. I got up and stepped outside, sitting on the trunk of my car before I finally answered. “Hello?”

“Hey, how are you doing?”

I cleared my throat and took a deep breath, relieved to hear King’s voice. Since I’d changed my number again, I text him but didn’t hear anything. I assumed he saw the news and said fuck even trying to be friends with me.

“I’m okay, I guess. Finally feeling like the fool I’ve been playing all of these years.”

“So it took you a little longer than most, the important thing is that you finally want more for yourself. At least, I hope you want more for yourself.”

“I do. Right now though, I know I just need to get myself together.” I could hear him moving around a little before he finally took a deep breath. “Gunshots and fire, I probably scared the hell out of you, huh?”

“Eh, I would never bring you to that point. I do hope you get some type of help though, and not through alcohol or drugs either.”

“Yeah, I know. They already signed me up to see this therapist. I met her and I think she’s more of a nutcase than I am.”

King chuckled and I took a deep breath, pulling one of my knees up to my chest as I moved back closer to my window to give myself room. “Listen King, I understand if this is the last that you want to hear from me. I’ve already let you witness some fucked up shit and we were never even together.”

“That was one of the best ‘not together’ kisses I’ve ever had in my life though. And why would this be the last time I hear from you? Are you moving out of state or something?”

“I should.”

“Then how would I be able to get closer to you once you’re finally ready to get with a real nigga. Excuse me, a king.”

I couldn’t help but smile. “I don’t get you at all King. You’re so sweet and kind to me, and I’m just…”

“Hurt. I could change that if you’d let me. But, only when you’re really ready. You know, some of us men don’t like our hearts played with either.”

“I was starting to believe that y’all didn’t even have hearts.”

“Nah, that’s only bitch niggas like the one you used to fuck with.”

Yeah, used to. I liked the sound of that.

 

I don’t know when I’ll be myself again, fully. But I’m damn sure not rushing into anything. He hasn’t run away from me with all of this drama and bullshit; and if he’s meant to be in my life, for whatever reason, I don’t want to be the one to ruin whatever type of friendship or relationship he and I could have. “King?”

“Yes Apollonia?”

“For now, I hope that I can have you as a really great friend. I-I could use someone in my corner that I can trust to be real with me but not judge me. You know, tell me the truth about anything, to my face, even if it hurts my feelings.”

“Of course I’ll be here for you. I’ve been telling you for a minute now that I feel something for you, I wouldn’t just turn my back on you because you’re not ready to be mine yet.”

“You’re just going to keep throwing that out there, aren’t you?”

“What?”

Be mine. When you’re mine… and everything else that you say in regards to us being more than friends.”

“Mmhm. But you know a man like me can wait for something great to come his way.”

“You swear that you are so smooth.”

He laughed and we kept talking a little longer.

 

For a change, it felt nice to have a friend that was willing to listen and say what they felt without making me feel bad. For some reason I felt that I could open up to him, even about my jealousy towards my sister.

Yeah, I can admit it now.

I guess I can try to move forward in a more positive way. Whatever happens after all of this shit with Cairo blows over, that’s just what happens.

If more is meant to happen between King and me, it will happen. Right? Hopefully then, shit won’t be so damn complicated.

Complicated [Part 3] (by Cortney Joseph)

Four

I slammed my door and locked it, throwing my bag on the couch as I headed towards my bedroom. Not only did I not receive any type of call from Cairo, he didn’t answer any of mine.

My first instinct was to call my sister so that I could rant but then I remembered her words. Yeah, she and my father have been calling repeatedly but oh well. I don’t feel the need to try to patch things up when they’re just going to jump and gang up on me again. They’ll be alright.

 

I undressed; still tired from whatever crap I put myself through last night. Alcohol has never been good to me, but it’s always been a constant whenever I needed to or had to drown my sorrows.

I used to do simple shit like write poetry or ‘angry’ letters to get things off of my chest, but that little advice from my mother was a waste. Reading things back did nothing but make me angrier than before I wrote them. After about a year of that, I started following my older brother around. I went wherever he went, did whatever he did. When he started drinking, I did too. He started smoking, I did too. And Tommy followed me soon after.

The difference between all three of us though, I use alcohol and weed as a problem solver. The only time it gets me into trouble or an even worse situation is when I’m doing it with Cairo. Get me drunk or high and I’m willing to do anything and everything. Especially if it means he won’t leave me. Call me stupid, but that’s how it’s always been.

My phone lit up and I sighed looking at it.

Just checking to see if you made it safely. Enjoy the rest of your day.

 

I smiled to myself before turning to see Cairo just as he walked in. “And where the fuck have you been? Wanna talk about a nigga staying out all night, but you didn’t even come home.”

“Oh, so you did notice?” I rolled my eyes and yawned as I put a t-shirt and some jeans on, walking into my closet to look for my chucks.

“Where you been?”

“Drinking.”

“All night?”

“Yes Cairo, all night. I got drunk, someone stopped me from driving so I wouldn’t hurt myself, and I slept it off.”

“Slept it off where?”

I grabbed my shoes, purposefully picking up my wedge sneakers instead of my chucks. I walked back into my bedroom and stared Cairo in his eyes. Red and low. “What are you questioning me for? You don’t trust me?”

“If you want me to be honest, no, I don’t.”

“Oh, this coming from the motherfucker who loves to lie and sneak around!?”

“Aye, I don’t deny my shit. Now who were you with?”

“None of your fucking business.”

I sat down and put my shoes on before grabbing my keys and phone. “Where are you going?”

“To mind my business. You should mind yours.”

 

I drove down the L.V. Murrow Memorial Bridge, heading towards Bellevue. Wasn’t heading to do anything specific, I just wanted to get away. Blasting Yo-Yo’s first album, I rapped along as I cruised, enjoying the pretty scenery. There have been plenty of times when I considered going back to my home state, Texas, but it’s so damn beautiful in Washington when you really pay attention. Mountains, forests, lakes, and more. If I wasn’t afraid of getting lost, I’d do all type of nature stuff.

Making it into the city, I decided to get a little shopping in. It’d been a minute since I splurged on myself and since Cairo wants to be an ass, I’ll get a little retail therapy on his dime. I grabbed his card from the glove compartment and my purse, setting my alarm as I put on my shades and walked into my favorite store. Louis Vuitton.

“Good afternoon Ma’am, may I be of assistance?”

I looked the sales representative and smiled, glad that he wasn’t one of those people that prejudged as soon as you walked into their store. “Hi, and thanks but I’d like to just look around.”

“Okay, if you need help with anything please let me know. I’ll be at the register.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

He turned around and headed back to his post. Since this specific store didn’t have much to offer aside from luggage and accessories, I decided to check out their glasses. I tried on a pair of the Amber Z06020Ws first, not really liking the way they looked on me so I moved on to a pair of rimless Lily Strass. I chose three separate pairs and moved on to bags, a bit more excited since they had their new collections out.

 

Just as I was getting into my zone, my phone rang. “What Cairo?”

“So you just walk out on a nigga. Look, I’m not going for this disrespectful shit from you Loni, I’m not.”

“You are?”

“Your man.”

“Is that today only, because…”

“Just bring your ass home so that we can talk about this.” I pulled the phone away from my ear and looked at it, trying to figure out if he was talking to me.

“Um, you must be talking to your baby mama or one of our side hoes because I know you’re not speaking to Loni Banner like that. I just know you’re not.”

“Keep your ass out in the streets and see what happens.”

I hung up in his face, seriously trying to figure out what the fuck it is about that nigga that keep me there. My phone rang again and I groaned lowly before answering.

“What?”

“Damn, I thought we’d at least moved up a little bit in our new friendship.”

“Friendship? What the hell are you talking about King? What is it with you anyway? I told you…”

“Yeah, yeah, you have a man. You can relax. I’m not calling to hit on you or anything like that.”

“Then what do you want? You want me to pay you back for helping me last night? Name it.”

“I didn’t do it to get anything in return.” I shook my head. I forgot, he claims to be one of those ‘nice just because’ type of dudes.

“Just tell me why you’re calling.”

“So damn mean. I’m gonna change that.”

“I doubt it.” I bent down and looked at a few more bags before grabbing the sunglasses I wanted and headed towards the register. “You were calling for?”

“Oh, right, mean ass; I was calling to see if you’d like to join me in a few hours.”

“To do what?”

“See a movie.”

“Excuse me?”

“A movie. I take you for the type that likes gangsta movies and we’re playing Scarface tonight.”

“Way off. I like old movies.”

“How old?”

“Before my parents were born.”

“Damn. Guess I won’t get to see that pretty face of yours tonight.” I rolled my eyes and set my things down, saying no to the bracelet the man showed to me.

“If I say yes, will you leave me alone? And not talk to me any time you see me after this?”

“Uhh, no. I can’t lie, no, I won’t leave you alone.”

“Fine, but I’m really not in the mood to sit through a movie.”

“We can do whatever you want.”

I thanked the man after paying and walked out, clearing my throat. “Whatever?”

“Mmhm.”

“So, if I wanted to sleep with you…”

“A nigga like me wouldn’t object if it was what you really wanted. But you’d probably set my ass up and leave me butt naked and tied up for my sister to find me the next morning.”

“Guess I gotta scratch that off my list. Where do you want to meet up? What time?”

“Hmm, I’ll find somewhere nice and text you.”

“Aiight. I better enjoy myself too because I will walk the hell out mid-conversation.”

“Damn. Let me get my shit together then. Bye Loni.”

“Goodbye King.”

I hung up and shook my head, wondering what the hell I’m about to get myself into.

 

On the way back to Seattle, I did a little more shopping. Picked up two new dresses and a pair of shoes before I finally got fed up with my siblings and father calling me back to back. Evidently, getting sent to voicemail doesn’t mean a damn thing anymore.

I parked in Tommy’s driveway and turned my phone all the way off as it rang once again. I sat in my car for about ten minutes before I finally got out and knocked on her door. As always Red opened the door and greeted me with a smile. Since he’s never actually ever done me wrong or annoyed me, I apologized about what I said to him the night before. “It’s all good Loni. I know how you hate for everyone to gang up on you.”

“At least you seem to understand.”

“Who was at the door Babe?”

“Loni.”

 

Tommy and my father both came running in, and she threw her arms around me. “We were so fucking worried about you!”

“For what? You told me not to bother you, so I didn’t.”

“Loni, we fight but we don’t actually brush one another off. Nicola called and said you left her bar drunk, driving yourself and I got scared.”

I rolled my eyes and pushed her off of me before walking into the living room. I sat on the arm of their recliner and shrugged my shoulders. “I’m sorry, okay Loni. But I need you to understand that I’m only hard on you because I know that you deserve so much better than what you’re settling for.”

“Still you keep forgetting the fact that I am fully capable of making my own decisions and dealing with whatever consequences come my way. If Cairo is who I want to be with, you have to accept that.”

“Oh, I won’t ever accept it.”

“Then keep how you feel to yourself. All you and father do is come down on me, berate me, throwing every single failure in my face while throwing all the good shit you’ve got going on in my face. I don’t care nor do I want to hear about you being successful and happy. Congrats, but I don’t wanna hear it.”

“Sounds like you’re jealous to me.”

I looked at my father and threw my hands up. “See, that’s what the fuck I’m talking about!”

“Okay, okay, we’re not going to yell tonight Loni. I don’t think you’re a failure Sis.”

“Of course you do. Now that you’ve seen me, you don’t need to worry about me, okay. To save you the trouble of worrying about what’s going on, I am still with Cairo. My dumb ass is never going to leave him. When he cheats again, I’ll probably keep it to myself and drink my heartbreak away.”

“Loni, please don’t keep going back to him.”

I pushed Tommy’s hand away from me and got up.

 

Making it back to my own house a few minutes later, I grabbed all of my bags and headed inside. I ignored Cairo as he yelled and screamed behind me. After I sat my bags down I grabbed a pack of swishers and my papers, some white widow and vortex, a small bottle of vodka, and I went into the living room.

“I know you hear me talking to your ass! Where the fuck have you been?”

I cleared the coffee table and took my shirt off before sitting on the floor, crossing my legs Indian style. I put my hair into a messy bun and got my little party started.

“Apollonia!”

“Shut the fuck up! Either get out of my house or sit your big ass down and wait until I roll up. Either way, stop talking to me. I’m not in the mood so trust and believe that it will be nothing for me to fuck you up tonight.”

I watched Cairo from the corner of my eye and he looked at me for about five minutes before he finally sat down and pulled out his lighter. “The hell is wrong with you?”

“I don’t want to talk about it. And I don’t want to fight, so smoke or drink, and shut up.”

I went back to rolling and took a deep breath, trying to calm my nerves.

 

Five

It was another three and a half weeks before I finally left my house again for anything more than food and small necessities. I changed my phone number, changed my locks, kept my lights off, and ignored everybody.

I went on a little smoke binge, trying to figure out what to do and where to go with my life.

 

Locking my door, I turned around and squinted my eyes as the bright ass sun hit them. For mid-July, it wasn’t too hot or too cold, no signs of rain and that’s the way I like it. I pulled at the bottom of my shorts and walked to my car.

Heading towards Downtown Seattle, I nodded my head to one of the many songs that could describe my relationship perfectly. “I don’t wanna fight, you used to treat me right. I don’t understand. What happened to our plan? No, I’m not supposed to cry, but boy I can’t deny what I feel inside. Feelings I can’t hide.

Every red light, I’d take a few seconds to send texts to the people I wanted to know that I was okay. “Loving you is impossible.” After replying back to my brother a few times, I cleared my throat and thought about texting the one person I said I wouldn’t bother. King.

I mean, I did go out of my way to ignore every call, text, visit, and everything else he tried. Even saw him at the store by chance and I acted like I’d never seen him a day in my life. I wouldn’t blame him if he swerved my ass.

 

First, he asked who it was. Told him my name and I didn’t get anything back for about twenty minutes. By then I’d driven around most of the city, trying to find something to get myself into. For a reason I can’t even explain, I found myself parked at the far end of the drive-in.

Where u at?

I looked at Cairo’s text and ignored it before setting my phone back on my seat. He’d been coming and going as he pleased and for the first time I didn’t bother fussing or fighting with him. He’d come home drunk or high, or both, smelling like perfume with body glitter all over his clothes. He’d sink right into bed, trying to cuddle and kiss all over me but I’d push him aside and go into the living room.

According to Cairo during our last argument, my childish ways and refusal to sleep with him is giving him the perfect reason to go out and fuck with other women. As if he’s not already doing it anyway. I could be one of those nymphomaniac bitches trying to fuck him every hour of the day and he’d still find a reason to leave and get it elsewhere. He asked me why I’m acting as if I don’t care anymore. Truth is, I don’t think I do.

My phone vibrated and I picked it up, sighing as I read King’s reply. I could just see the mug on his face as he typed it.

You’re speaking to me now?

If you want to talk, yes.

I maneuvered myself into the passenger seat and propped my feet up on my dash board, waiting another twenty minutes before my phone finally vibrated in my hand. A small smile crept across my face when I saw that it was King calling but I kept my voice even. Didn’t want to seem pressed.

“Hello?”

“I only got a few minutes to talk, what’s good?”

Well damn. “If you want to wait until another time, that’s fine with me.”

“There probably won’t be another time Loni.”

 

I chewed on my bottom lip before taking a deep breath. “I’m sorry King. I know you were just trying to be there and you were interested, you were kind to me and I just blew you off like you were nothing.” He said nothing. “Look, I suck at apologies so I don’t know what to say to make it better or make you not hate me.”

“I don’t hate you. I’m confused though. Why are you acting like you want to be bothered with me all of a sudden? A month ago I tried everything and even got one of those ‘Nigga I don’t know you’ brush offs. I’m just wondering if you expect me to look at you or think of you the same after you made it real clear not to get at you. I should have taken the hint that day you wouldn’t give me your number.”

“I’m glad you didn’t take the hint.”

“I’m not.” I slouched down in my seat and sighed, unsure of what to say next. I don’t know how to explain the way I feel now but the seriousness in his voice hurt me a little. “I wish I knew what it was about you that makes me want to know you, and be with you.”

“You probably feel sorry for my dumb ass.”

“If I felt sorry for you I wouldn’t have tried so hard to get you away from whoever’s hurting you. Anyway, I gotta get back to work.”

“Are you at the drive-in, or…”

“Yeah, I am.”

“I’m here. If you want to be bothered with me I’m sitting in the back of the lot, next to the fence where some cars exit.”

“Yeah, sure.”

He hung up and I sighed, shaking my head.

 

Before long I’d sat through three old ass exploitation films and fallen asleep twice. After getting a few snacks from the concession, I got back in my car and slouched down in my seat, picking up my phone to call Tommy.

“Loni, what is going on with you!?”

“Look, if you’re going to yell and speak to me as if I’m your child I can hang up right now.”

“Stop being so damn angry at me for no reason. I am worried sick about you!”

“I bet.”

“Apollonia, when did it get to the point where you felt that you couldn’t come to me? We always talk about things.”

“I talk, you preach, I cry, you judge. I’m tired of that.”

“Sis, I wouldn’t have to preach and tell you the same thing over and over if you would just…”

“Just what? Stop being dumb? Stop wasting my life?”

She took a deep breath, probably trying to choose her words carefully. “I don’t want to fight with you today, Loni. I don’t want to fight at all. I just want you to know that you deserve so much better.”

“Have you ever considered the fact that maybe I don’t? Everybody can’t be perfect like you Thomasina. Little Miss Dallas. Ms. Teen Seattle. Track star, softball star, straight-A student, pretty girl with the beautiful voice. Perfect life, perfect boyfriend, perfect everything.”

“Loni, I’m not any better than you are.”

“Yes, you are. Everything has always been in your favor. And yes, I used to be jealous as fuck but now I just don’t care. I take life as it comes to me and it just so happens that I get dealt the shitty hand. It is what it is.”

“It does not have to be like that! I’ve had bad shit happen to me too but I don’t drown in it. I don’t let the past control me or my future.” I rolled my eyes, putting her on speakerphone as I set my phone down. “I don’t care how you feel about it, I’m going to keep saying that you deserve so much more than what that asshole Cairo puts you through!”

“Whatever.”

“Ugh, you are so fucking impossible!”

“Then why the fuck do you even bother trying to tell me shit I obviously don’t want to hear?”

“Because you’re my sister, and I love you, and I will never sit back and watch you get hurt when I know there’s something that could be said and done.”

“Nah, you’re just nosy and pushy and aggravating as fuck when you can’t control something. Let me guess, since you know my new number I can expect a call from Father? Let me prep myself for the good word from the reverend today.”

Tommy chuckled to herself, cursing under her breath. There was a light knock on my window and I looked up to see King. “Tommy, I’ve gotta go.”

“I’m not done talking.”

“But I am.”

I hung up and unlocked my door, watching as King got in on the driver’s side.

 

He took a deep breath and closed the door before unbuttoning his jacket. “You’re here with someone?”

“Nah. It’s just easier to put my legs up on this side.” King gave a little smirk and I shook my head, already knowing where his mind went. “Pervert. Took you long enough. I was about to leave.”

“I wasn’t going to come out of my little office at first.”

“Well, at least you’re honest.” King handed me a bag of skittles and I thanked him, groaning to myself when my phone vibrated and Cairo’s picture popped up. “Sorry.”

“So that’s him, huh?”

“Who?”

“The fool that doesn’t know what he has. The fool making it hard as hell for me to get to what I want.”

“And just what do you want?”

“You.”

I nodded and looked out my window and cleared my throat. “You don’t want me King. I’m one of those chicks that talks mad noise about doing better for herself and then I flake at the very last minute.”

“Yeah, I noticed that evening we were supposed to chill.”

“Sorry about that too.”

“You apologize for a lot, don’t you?”

I nodded. “Yep. Even for the shit I don’t do. I’m just pathetic like that.”

“You’re not pathetic. You just don’t have anyone who wants to show you how wonderful you really are. Even though it doesn’t take much or cost anything to look in the mirror and see your own worth.”

I looked him in the eye for a second, hearing nothing but my sister’s words. “I’m so tired of hearing that.”

“It’s probably a lot of shit you hear that you’re tired of.”

“You’re right.”

“I bet that clown got lies and excuses for days, and when you cry right in front of him he still doesn’t apologize or attempt to change his ways.”

“You’re right, but that’s what I like.”

“No it’s not. Do you even get what you want and need out of the relationship?”

“What type of question is that?”

“Just what I asked. Are you satisfied, happy? Do you feel special, does he treat you like his queen? The shit you do for him, does he deserve it all. Obviously you ride hard for that clown, but does he deserve a woman like you?”

“Why are you concerned? Hmm? What, you think you deserve someone like me? You don’t even know me, or anything about me. You don’t know what I do.”

“But I am more than sure whatever it is, he doesn’t appreciate you.”

I just sat quietly, refusing to answer any questions pertaining to my relationship.

 

King looked at me for a second before licking his lips. “What do you like to do Loni, when you’re not going around brushing niggas off?”

“Nothing at all. I sit at home all day, watch TV, smoke, and drink.”

“You don’t work?”

“Rich kid.” I cleared my throat and slouched down even further in my seat, halfway paying attention to Cooley High as it played. “I’ve got online boutique that I run with my sister, when we’re not fighting. She does earrings. I make necklaces and bracelets. It’s a lot of custom stuff and we do excellent work so it pays well. Since I’m Frugal Fran, I stack and save more than I spend. I don’t have to work if I don’t want to.”

“Look at you.”

“And what do you do for fun, aside from buying up run down businesses?”

“This was my parents’ idea. I just said I’d run it in my spare time.”

“So what do you do?”

“I’m an artist, independent. I’ll leave it at that.”

“Sing, act, paint? What do you do?”

“Sing.”

I nodded. “Probably a good boy too.”

“I guess you can say that. I don’t smoke, drink, I avoid trouble. I’ve never stolen anything or fought anyone a day in my life. I’m respectful to all people. I like a nice, quiet, simple life.”

“Damn King, you’re no fun. Where’s your wild side?”

“I mean, I would show you but my interest in you doesn’t include getting you in my bed.”

 

I looked at him and bit down on my bottom lip before smiling. “I like sex. Are you telling me that you’re not interested in sleeping with me?”

King looked at me, furrowing his brows for a second. “I feel like that’s a question to set me up and make you curse me out.”

“It’s not. Honestly, I love sex, and I’m a bit of a freak. Are you really telling me that you wouldn’t want to sleep with me?”

He still looked at me, I guess trying to answer cautiously. That or he’s surprised by my frankness. “Yes, however… it’d be more than a quick fuck, or two.”

“What would it be, King?”

“I’d tell you Loni, but you’re not trying to be my woman.” I turned my nose up and rolled my eyes.

“You probably don’t even last that long.”

“I can last as long as it takes to thoroughly satisfy your body.”

“Hmmph. Probably get yours first and you’re done.”

King licked his lips, focusing on the movie screen. “You’d get yours, every time, believe that.”

Braggadocios. “Whatever. You look like one of those dudes that doesn’t like going down on his girl.”

“I love it. I bet you taste as sweet as you look too.”

“Sweeter.”

King smirked before clearing his throat. “You look like one of those females who has never had a decent orgasm, at least not while getting head.”

“Excuse you? I have.”

“Not as good as it’d be with me though. You think you’re in love now but…”

Once again, I held up my hand and flashed my ring. “That thing? Loni, I barely know you and I know that you’re not in love with this clown. If you were, you aren’t anymore.”

“I am. It’s just… complicated.”

“It’s not complicated, you’re just comfortable. But, who am I to judge? We all come across people that we can’t let go of easily.”

“You should go and try to work it out with whoever you’re stuck on.”

“She’s right next to me. It’s a bit discouraging though. She keeps trying to convince me that she’s happy with settling for someone who doesn’t treat her like the queen she is.” I rolled my eyes before smiling a little. “I’ve gotta go Loni.”

“Boo.”

King laughed and shook his head. “Maybe I’ll see you Saturday.”

“Saturday?”

“Yeah. I’ll call you and let you know what’s up. Maybe this time you won’t stand me up.”

King got out and walked away after closing my door, leaving me with a smile etched across my face.

Complicated [Part 2] (by Cortney Joseph)

ONE

 

It’d been a long late night and an even longer early morning. As always, we couldn’t keep our hands off of one another. We made love, and it seemed as if he was trying to make up for all the times he’d turned me down over the past few weeks.

Of course, when I woke up he was gone; already making his way around our city to check in on the many businesses and small hustles he had personal interest and money tied in.

I sat up in bed, grabbing my phone once it started ringing. Always the first person to call me in the morning, I answered and greeted my baby sister with a somewhat cheerful tone.

“Loni, you will not believe what’s playing at the drive-in today.”

“The drive-in? I thought they tore it down.”

“Nope. Some dude bought it and his family fixed it up. But listen, they’re playing Purple Rain and I know you wanna see yourself on screen.”

I shook my head and laughed, thinking about how I got my name. Our mother, being the huge Prince fan that she is, said I decided to make my debut on a night when she was watching Purple Rain. Since she had no name for me yet, she thought Apollonia was perfect. I beg to differ. “Haa, I wish I was as fine as the real Apollonia. Anyway, I’ll be at your house in about forty minutes Tommy, you can treat me to the movie and some food since you are so excited.”

“You’re the rich one, but I got you Loni. See you soon.” I blew her a kiss before hanging up, trying to decide if I should bother her with my latest issues.

 

Just like the rest of my family, my sister Tommy has never been a fan of my relationship with Cairo. I already know that if I tell her he’s cheating again, she’ll say that I shouldn’t whine because I’ve already shown him too many times that it’s okay for him to do. But I need to get this off my chest and she’s the only person I trust to give her opinion without dogging me.

I took an extra long shower to clear my mind; got dressed in a pair of ripped up jeans, a plain black t-shirt and my Timbs before taking my towel off my head. I grabbed my keys and headed out the door.

Even though she only lives about six streets over, I hopped in my Charger and drove to her house, parking in the grass on the side of her boyfriend’s Range Rover.

I knocked, waiting as one of their neighbors stared in my direction. An older white lady who has no problem expressing her dislike of black and biracial people. I threw a smile her way, laughing to myself as she flipped me off and went back to tending her garden.

A few minutes later the front door opened and I hugged Red, Tommy’s boyfriend. “What’s good with you Loni?”

“Nothing at all, Red. Where’s my sister?”

“Getting dressed. You know it takes her a lifetime.” I nodded and smiled before heading to their kitchen, already knowing they had a big ass breakfast laid out. They always had visitors, be it his family or me and her friends, someone was always visiting and my sister loved to cook for people. “Where’s Cairo? I’m surprised he didn’t come over with you today.”

“There’s no telling where he is. You know how he gets when it comes to his business.”

“Yeah. What about you, you good?” I looked at Red and smiled. No matter what was going on between him and my sister, together or apart, he still made it a point to look out for our family. If he even felt like something was wrong with any of us, he’d come in and try his best to help us through whatever was going on.

“I’m good Bro, I promise.”

“Aiight. You know I stay ready to beat a nigga’s ass behind you and your family.”

“I know, and we appreciate you.”

 

I fixed myself a plate, smiling when my sister trudged down the steps dressed in army fatigue with her boots in hand. “You joining, Tommy?”

She looked at me and smiled. “Shit nah, it just looks cute on me. I wish I could find a jacket to match. Morning Loni, where’s the jackass?”

I looked at her for half a second and rolled my eyes. “My man is handling his business, getting money.”

Red looked between the two of us before clearing his throat and walking out. “Please don’t start that today.”

“Don’t start? I already know you’ve got a lot to tell. I can see it all in your face and I know it has something to do with Cairo’s dirty ass. I swear Loni, I don’t know why you don’t just move on.”

“I love him.”

“Love has nothing to do with being dumb.”

“Oh, so I’m dumb?”

“When it comes to him, yes. Look, you’re my sister so I’m not afraid to tell you this to your face. Cairo ain’t shit, he’s never going to be shit, and you deserve better. If that upsets you, then it means I’m right. But you’re grown…”

“Yeah, I am grown.”

She looked at me and nodded as she sat down and put her boots on. “Well, no need to talk out your issues with me. Are we going watch the movie, or what?”

 

We silently made our way towards downtown Seattle and I sat, nodding my head as we listened to Pac’s All Eyez On Me album.

Since neither of us had any weed or cigarettes, I stayed silent to keep myself calm. The tension between my sister and me was thick. I just know she has something negative to say. I may as well get this over with.

“He cheated again.”

I watched Tommy from the corner of my eye. Her face stayed calm but I could tell from the number of deep sighs she let out that she had a lot to say. “I just find it crazy.”

“What?”

“You used to tell me all the time that I should never let a nigga walk all over me, or play me. Yet, you, the older sister, let yourself get picked up and played with until this motherfucker gets tired. Let me guess, he dicked you down so it’s all good now and you’re sure that he won’t do it again?”

“No.”

She chuckled and shook her head. “What did he promise you this time? No, the question I’ve been dying to ask for years… does he hit you?”

“Cairo has never put his hands on me.” Because he knows our father will kill him.

“But he constantly puts you down. I don’t get it Loni. After ten years, he won’t marry you or settle down and let you have the kids that you want. He’s constantly cheating, getting other women pregnant.”

I looked out the window and shook my head. “Well, we’re engaged.”

“And what all did it take for you to get that damn ring? Hmm? It took his baby mama coming to you with a DNA test in hand. He apologizes and proposes in the same breath and you just let it go. Fast forward six years and you’re still engaged and that hoe pregnant again. Look Loni, I’m not trying to hurt your feelings but you’re too damn good for the shit this grimy motherfucker is putting you through.”

We finally pulled into the drive-in’s parking lot, finding a spot close to the screen. “Is this sermon over Minister Banner?” Tommy looked at me and sighed.

“Yeah, I’m done. Just, for once Sis, think about you. What does Apollonia Banner want for herself? Happiness, right?”

I nodded slowly as I looked at my baby sister. “Yeah.”

“You’ll never find it with Cairo. I’m not saying you have to jump into the next niggas bed so quickly, but you don’t have to sit around and wait. Explore a little, get out there. Find someone who loves and cherishes you. You deserve that.”

I took a deep breath and nodded, pulling my wallet out of my back pocket as I opened my door.

 

Walking up to the concession, I spoke to the few people I knew as they called out my name. The few dudes from high school that I’d cross paths with tried to step to me but I brushed them off, knowing damn well they couldn’t hold a candle to Cairo.

“Damn Loni, you still fine as shit.”

“Thanks Frankie.”

“Come holla at a real nigga. I know you’re tired of Cairo.”

I held up my hand, flashing my ring in his face. “No, I’m not. And weren’t y’all boys in school? How you gon’ disrespect him and try to step to me.”

“Fuck that bitch ass nigga.” I chuckled before rolling my eyes and continued on my way.

 

“Welcome to the Greater Seattle Drive-In. As the new owner, I am so glad to see such a great turn out at our re-opening. Today’s first feature is Purple Rain, followed by Poetic Justice and Jason’s Lyric.” I smiled, getting myself back in a good mood. “I’m King Dominic and I hope you all enjoy yourselves.”

I averted my attention to their price board, trying not to make it obvious that I’d been staring at this dude as he spoke. From the side he looked like he was kind of cute.

“Hello, what can I get you?”

“Um, give me one second.”

“Sure thing.” He leaned against the counter and I finally looked at him. Caught completely off guard. Cute? No, this dude is fine as fuck. Dark chocolate skin tone, tattoos covering his arms with the prettiest, almond shaped eyes that are the darkest shade of brown. He looked like he hadn’t cut his hair or shaved in a minute, but the rugged look was hot on him. I shamelessly looked at his full, pink lips. They didn’t look nasty or sloppy, they weren’t dry or crusty. From the looks of it, he works out faithfully; and if he doesn’t, then this nigga is just blessed.

Lawd, Loni get yourself together. I cleared my throat, trying to remember what I was about to order. “Ready?”

His voice was rough, but soft… if that makes sense. I bet he’s the type of dude that knows what to say, how to say it, and when to say it to get a bitch out her panties and in his bed.

“Shit, I forgot what I wanted.”

“Oh, well maybe it was something sweet that you wanted. Maybe some candy?”

“Yeah. Um, let me get some skittles and two bags of popcorn.”

“That’s all?”

I nodded and he turned away, allowing me to finally catch my breath and control myself.

I swear, I’ve never come across anyone, man or woman, that’s made me lose my train of thought like that, not since I met Cairo. And I’ve seen some fine bitches and niggas in my twenty-six years.

 

“Here you go. Listen, I feel like I’m going to see you often. What’s your name?” I handed him the money I owed and grabbed my stuff.

“Why you wanna know my name?”

“Aside from you being drop dead gorgeous? I wanna know your name so that when I see you again, I can say what’s up.”

“You can do that without knowing my name.”

“Okay. I want to know your name because I think that one day you and I can get to know one another. I might end up being your man.”

“I doubt that.”

“Why?”

“I got a man already.” I held up my hand and he looked at my engagement ring, nodding with a smirk on his face.

“I gotta respect that then. But in case he ever slips up and lets you go, I’d love to know your name.” He extended his hand and smiled as I shook his hand.

“Apollonia.”

“Apollonia? Okay, and I’m The Kid.”

“Nice to meet you, Kid.”

“Oh, you’re serious?”

“Yes, that’s my name. You can call me Loni though.”

“Nice to meet you Loni, I’m King.”

“Is King your real name?”

“Yes it is.”

“Cool. Well, I gotta get back to my sister.”

“Enjoy the movie.”

“I will.” I turned and finally walked away before heading back towards my sister’s Camaro.

“See you around.”

I looked over my shoulder and shrugged. “Maybe, King.”

Hmm, I highly doubt I’ll see him again but I admit that it was kind of nice talking to him. I’d just opened the passenger door and handed Tommy our stuff when my phone rang. “Who’s calling you Sis? You gave somebody your number?”

“You wish I would.” She nodded and I shook my head before pulling my phone out, sighing a little when Cairo’s name and picture popped up.

 

TWO

We sat through the first two movies before I finally got tired of Cairo calling and interrupting us. The one day he decides to act as if I’m top priority is the day I decide to take some time for myself, just to chill with my sister. Go figure.

I left Tommy’s house and went to grab something to eat before heading back to my own house. Turning my alarm on, I turned the volume on my phone up as I walked inside. “Then I let the alpine play. Bumpin’ new shit by N.W.A., it was Gangsta Gangsta at the top of the list. Then I played my old shit, it went something like this; cruisin’ down the street in my six-fo’. Jockin’ the bitches, slappin’ the hoes.

 

Walking through my living room, I noticed that it’d been cleaned. Spotless. There was a vase full of fresh flowers; dandelions, my favorite. On the couch sat two wrapped boxes. Next to those was this gorgeous bar-back, leopard body-con dress by Charlotte Russe, with a hot pair of heels to match and accessories sitting nearby. And lastly, I saw this great Michael Kors bag I’d been eyeing for a few weeks.

The strong scent of food led me to the kitchen, and that’s where I found Cairo standing over the stove. Substituting his usual Jay-Z and Kanye anthems, I heard a Babyface song playing lowly and that prompted me to ask the question sitting at the tip of my tongue.

“What’s all of this?”

He looked at me and smiled, I got caught up in his hazel eyes for a moment before I asked again. “I, uh, I owe you a big apology for last night.”

“Apology for what.” I sat at the kitchen table and put my head down. “You’re just going to do it again. Then you’re going to follow it up by reminding me that I’m not going anywhere.”

“Loni…”

“I can’t be bought, Cairo. If you think that I’ve given you ten years of my life for some shoes and shit you’re mistaken.”

“Did I say that you could be bought?”

“No. But every time you do wrong and I find out or you tell me you think that you can make me forget by buying me something.”

“Man, Loni, all you do is complain. Just accept the shit and move on. Can’t even be happy that a nigga is trying to do something nice for you.”

“Excuse me? Oh, so let me guess what happened this time. After you pulled out of me, you left and went and fucked your other bitch? What happened? Is she pregnant now too?! I swear I am so tired of your doggish ass. I don’t know what the fuck I even see in you!”

“Oh you don’t? So you just forget the fact that I’m a good ass man that handles his business?”

“Your business isn’t me! I can’t do shit for you like the streets can so…”

“Girl, shut the fuck up. Like I said, all you do is complain and when a nigga speak up about it you wanna play victim. Talking about a nigga don’t respect you.”

“You don’t! I deserve respect Cairo. All of the shit that I put up with day in and day out; your lies, the other bitches, playing step-mama to kids you got by these other bitches… you NEED to respect me.”

“I don’t need to respect you. Who the fuck are you?”

 

I jerked my head up and looked him dead in his eyes, fuming. I didn’t even realize I was crying until one tear hit my arm as I swung at him. “Who am I? I’m the dumbest bitch in the world, standing by a motherfucker than could give two shits about a real woman like me. Fuck you, I don’t need you and I don’t want you. YOU can get the fuck out of my house and take your shit with you!”

“Girl, you done lost your fucking mind talking to me like that.”

He stood there as if he was about to hit me but I folded my arms, standing my ground. “You’re always going to need me Apollonia Banner, remember that.”

He knocked over one of the bottles of wine he had sitting on the counter and walked out, calling me out of my name.

 

As soon as I heard the front door slam shut I started throwing things, wrecked the kitchen. The flowers, I let the disposal chew those up. Knowing his petty ass would take everything back; I cut the dress up, broke the heels on the shoes after smashing in some of our framed pictures with them, and melted down the gold jewelry before setting it all in a pile in the middle of the living room. Everything he cooked, I put it into one giant mixing bowl and took it outside to his dog. I hope he eats it all, chokes, and dies.

Cairo has four really pretty glass MVP trophies sitting in his personal room. I picked the lock, knocked some of his shit over and grabbed the trophies before going back into the kitchen. I sat on the table and played with each of them for a few minutes before letting them drop to the floor, one by one, watching as they broke into multiple pieces.

Since I still had my Timbs on, I simply walked over the shards and thought for a few minutes. Heading back into his room, I grabbed a few bags of his best weed and flushed the rest, dumping all of the other drugs he sold right after that. The pictures of his sons, I ripped those up before burning the one picture of their mom that he kept.

“Wanna talk big shit Nigga; you must have forgotten how crazy I am.” I knocked over his desk and broke more shit before finally walking out and closing the door behind me. Making it back to the kitchen, out of breath, I grabbed a glass from one of the top cabinets. I grabbed one of the bottles he didn’t break and poured myself a glass of wine, sitting on top of my counter with my knees to my chest as I cried.

 

The next morning I was a complete mess. In between drinks I’d come out of my clothes and managed to eat something. I heard my phone ringing. Grabbing it, I took another sip of wine before I opened my messages.

Loni, were you drunk texting?

Trying to focus clearly, I took a deep breath before replying back to Tommy that I probably did.

What happened this time?

Before I could reply my phone rang and her pretty ass picture popped up. “Westside is the best siiiiiide, wassup Thomasina?”

“Loni, why are you drunk at eight in the morning?”

“Is that what time it is? Go figure.” I giggled before taking another sip. I wanted to get the last bottle but I was too scared I’d fall on my face if I tried to jump down from my spot.

“Loni, what’s going on?”

“Nothing Tommy, I’m just chillin’. I got my t-shirt and my panties oooon. Hehe, I mean my bra and my panties.”

She took a deep breath and I heard her moving around, asking Red to reach her the keys to her car. “I’ll be over there in a few minutes.”

“Great!!”

I hung up and laughed to myself before letting my hair down, singing along with the Toni Braxton song playing on the radio.

I rather be on my own, yes. On my own.

 

I’d gotten all into my personal performance of Seven Whole Days by the time my baby sister walked in, shaking her head as she looked at the mess I’d made. “I should take a picture just so you can see how fucked up you and this house looks. Where is he?”

“Probably with his other bitch. One bitch or two bitches. An old bitch, maybe a new bitch. Ha!! I should write for Dr. Seuss. What’s a girl to doooo?” Tommy sighed and cleared her throat before walking over and grabbing my arm.

“Come on here Loni Drunk-ton.” I giggled as she helped me down. “Watch your step, dumbass left glass on your floor.”

“I did all of this. Fuck him and his precious MVP trophies. Fuck his kids, the bitches that had ‘em. Fuck his… fuck his drugs, his money.”

“Shhh.”

I stumbled over my own foot as she helped me into my bathroom. She was trying to make me sit on the side of the tub but I climbed in and sat down. “Stand up please so I can help you undress and get you showered.”

“Just turn the water on Tommy, I’ll sober up quick.”

“You reek of wine and vomit. Get up so I can help you wash your ass. Damn shame, you let this nigga take you to this point.”

“I d-don’t wanna talk about Cairo.”

“Acting like this now but y’all gon’ be back together by Friday. I don’t know why y’all even bother going through the break-up stage.” She shook her head and I rolled my eyes as I took my bra off, standing under the hot water as she turned it on. “You fight, he dogs you and you fuck up some of his shit. Y’all drink or smoke together and then y’all are good again. Stupid as fuck.”

“I’m not in the mood for church this morning Pastor Thomasina Banner.”

“Well damnit, you’re going to hear it anyway! I am so sick and tired of coming to your rescue when you deal with this sorry ass nigga. Either y’all give up for good or go through y’all shit alone!”

“No one comes to you. I don’t come to you with my problems!”

She looked at me before pushing me back and threw the towel at me. “Every time I turn around, it’s something new with you. You are twenty-six years old. You’re always walking around, singing gangsta songs and acting as if you’re so damn tough but you let one dude bring you down to your lowest point. And yes, you do call me. Every single time y’all go through it you call me as if I’m automatically supposed to be your voice of reason.”

“I don’t need your help!”

“Evidently, because you never listen to my advice anyway! You know what, I don’t want to fight or argue with you. Clean yourself up and get dressed so I can get some type of food in your system. Over here downing bottles of wine as if you don’t have a liver. Ugh.”

Tommy stormed out and slammed the door behind her.

 

By ten we were cruising down the highway, heading towards Tacoma to eat at one of our favorite family diners. After she parked in our usual spot next to this huge, mock willow tree, I put my shades on and followed behind her. Usually I’d go all out and dress up but today I wasn’t feeling it. I threw on a pair of gray sweat pants and a white tank with a pair of Doc Martens. I threw my hair into a messy ponytail. “You still look like shit.”

“Thank you so much Tommy.”

We sat in our regular seats and I thanked our waitress for the coffee I’d asked for when I walked in. I ordered my regular, an omelet with a side of grits and orange juice and she got an order of pancakes. Before long we were eating in silence and I was texting back and forth with Cairo. Apparently, during my drunken text session, I hit his ass up calling him every foul name imaginable before telling him that I hope he gets tested soon.

Well, let him take that however he wants.

 

“Excuse me, Apollonia, right?”

I looked up over the rim of my glasses before lifting my head, surprised to see dude from the drive-in. “Not to be rude, but who are you? And why are you approaching my sister.”

I gave a small smile and cleared my throat. He turned to Tommy and apologized. “I’m sorry, she and I met yesterday but I didn’t think I’d see her again. My name is King Dominic.”

“Oh, your family just reopened the drive-in, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Good looking out. I love that place. You may continue.”

He chuckled and I shook my head. “Nice to see you again. Um, I don’t mean to be rude but my sister and I are…” Tommy kicked me under the table and readjusted herself in her seat as she picked up her phone.

“I’m texting my fiancé. You’re free to talk Loni. In fact, let me go outside and call him.” That wench walked away and I shook my head as King apologized.

“I’m sorry if I’m interrupting you.”

“No, it’s fine. Have a seat.”

“Thank you. So, can I ask why you just walked away without saying goodbye to me yesterday?”

“Why? Were you looking for a goodbye from me?” King licked his lips and nodded.

“I was, and I wanted to see that pretty face again.” He attempted to touch me but I moved quickly.

“I have a man.”

“You told me that. But I don’t see him here.”

“Aha, a cocky bastard. And just how do you figure that he’s not in the restroom or simply waiting in the car for me.”

“I mean, if you were my woman…”

“But I’m not. I’m his.”

King nodded again and took my hand in his. “You didn’t sound too happy saying that. Look, I’m not trying to overstep any boundaries, but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t want to keep in contact with you and maybe build a little friendship or something. You can have friends, can’t you?”

“Yeah, I can.”

“So may I please have your number, or may I give you mine?”

“Nah.” He smiled and nodded his head before asking a waitress passing by to use her pen. He wrote something on a napkin and handed it to me before returning the pen and saying goodbye as he walked away.”

As if on cue, my conniving ass sister came back and sat down. “You know I hate people sitting over my food, but he was fine as shit. I’ll let it slide.”

“Why did you get up?”

“Are you serious? Bitch, I know you’re hung-over but you know that man was fine. I hope you gave him your number.”

“No Tommy, I didn’t.”

I finally opened the napkin and read it, shaking my head. “He gave me his.”

She danced in her seat as she started eating again and I rolled my eyes. Ain’t nobody got time.

 

THREE

And through all the motherfuckin’ pain they done drove my moms insane. So I guess I gotta do work, so I ain’t finished. I grow up to be a straight up menace.” I laid still, stretched out across my couch as I smoked and listened to the Menace II Society soundtrack.

It’s been almost two weeks and I’ve pretty much isolated myself from everyone. Tommy felt the need to go to our father and tell him my business and that pissed me off more than her preaching. I swear, if she wasn’t the only one of my siblings that I actually give a damn about, I’d cut contact with her completely.

I reached over to my coffee table and grabbed another cigarette, my fourth one today. I swear, if I didn’t have this upcoming drug test, a bitch would be faded.

 

I was just getting into my little rendition of Honey Love when I heard my doorbell, followed by loud and persistent knocks.

I sat up but took my time walking to the door, already knowing it was nobody but Cairo’s ignorant ass. I changed my locks, left his shit outside in the rain, and kicked his motorcycle over in the ditch in front of my house.

I opened my door and sighed as I looked into his eyes. I’d forgotten that I was only wearing a bra and panties until the wind hit my stomach. “What?”

“You’ve really lost your fucking mind this time, you know that right?”

I blew smoke in his face before folding my arms. I leaned against the door. “What do you want?”

“Man, why the fuck you trippin’ Loni? You know damn well we go through our problems but you’re my number one.”

“I don’t want to be your number one. I want to be the ONLY one.”

“You already knew about the way I roll.”

“Yeah, stupid me for thinking you’d change in ten years. I should have never assumed that you’d be mature by the time you turned thirty. You’re thirty-four now and you act like you’re eighteen. I’m over it.”

Cairo rubbed my cheek but I pushed his hand away. “Come on Loni, we fuss and we fight. And then we make up. Let’s just make up.”

“Get out my face Cairo. I’m over you.”

 

He took the cigarette from my hand and took a drag before putting it out. “Come on Loni, you know damn well that I wouldn’t still be around if I didn’t care.”

“Oh, that’s supposed to make me feel better? I’m so glad that you care.”

Cairo smiled and I took a deep breath, fighting the urge to punch him in his throat. He gently pushed me inside and closed the door behind him.

“What’s that song you’re always singing? Hmm?”

He started kissing along my neck but I stood still, not saying anything. “Why the hell we breakup if we always make up? Is that how it goes?”

“You’re an asshole.” Cairo’s hands traveled down my ass, finding their way inside my panties as he pushed me against the wall next to my staircase.

“You love me though.”

“I hate you.”

I exhaled as he pulled my body close to his. “I know you miss me.”

“No Nigga, I don’t.”

He smirked before he felt between my legs, pissing me off when I realized a simple ass touch could get me excited and hot as hell.  “I haven’t even done anything yet and you’re already wet…”

“And you’re not about to do anything.” I finally pushed his ass off of me and pulled my panties back up before heading up to my room. If he’s smart, he’ll leave before I get out of this shower.

 

I paced back and forth, trying to figure out why the fuck I can’t get over his ass. It never fails. He does me wrong, we fight, and I forgive him thinking that he’ll change. And he never does.

Instead, Cairo comes back and each fuck up is worse than the one before. I love him, and I hate myself for even giving a damn.

“Loni.”

I turned towards my door and mugged Cairo, wishing he’d just leave me alone. “What?”

“Look, I know you don’t deserve none of what I put you through. I don’t deserve you, I know that.”

“You sure don’t.”

“But I need you. You’re right, okay, nobody else is going to hold me down the way that you do. I’m sorry. I really am.”

“I don’t believe you.”

Cairo kneeled down in front of me, taking my hand in his. “Please baby, I’ll do anything you want me to. Just don’t leave me, don’t leave my side.”

“I want you to leave these other bitches alone but I know you’re not. And I want you to love me, but I know you don’t.”

“Come on Baby…”

I tried to push him away but it was pointless. “I’ll try, okay. I’ll give it an honest try. Just don’t leave me, I need you.”

“Fine.” He wrapped his arms around me, hugging me tightly.

 

By the time it got dark I’d said fuck taking that drug test and rolled myself a blunt or two before heading over to my family’s vacation home. My nerves were shot and the last thing I wanted to do was deal with happy people while sober.

Of course, as soon as I walked in all eyes were on me and my father demanded an explanation for my disappearance. He’d never gotten used to the moods I got in where I just had to separate myself from everything and everybody.

“If your other daughter would stop telling my business, I wouldn’t have to disappear.”

“If you would get your shit together and stop letting a loser walk all over you.” I cut Tommy a look and she folded her arms before continuing with her unwarranted advice.

“Well, we can’t all have a good old, ass kissing nerd like Reginald, now can we?” Red looked at me for a moment before adjusting his glasses and focusing back on whatever he was doing on his laptop.

“Perhaps if you got your life together you could have a decent relationship like your sister.”

“Oh God! You know what Father, I am so sorry that I couldn’t be the well-behaved and well-mannered and well-respected woman that Thomasina is. I just had to be the fuck up, the loser, the stupid bitch. I am so sorry!”

They all looked at me and I took a deep breath before sitting back. “Apollonia, you know better than to ever raise your voice at me. I don’t give a damn how old you are, I will slap the shit out of you. You will respect me. I’m the parent, not you.”

My father stormed out and I took a deep breath, wiping away the few tears that fell. He’s a short and quiet man, but he could always strike some type of fear in you if you crossed him the wrong way. Red went into the living room and Tommy started in on me.

“What the hell is your problem?!”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“No, tell me right now?”

“For what? You ain’t gon’ do shit but run your mouth to your father and quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing sermons from the both of you. Just stay out of my life, and don’t worry about me or what I do.”

 

Tommy nodded slowly before chuckling. “You took him back, didn’t you? Well you know what, Big Sister, I hope it works out. Don’t call me the next time you walk in on him. In fact, don’t call me… ever.”

She walked out and I took a deep breath, throwing the glass I saw sitting beside me.

 

Instead of going home, I hit up every bar that I could think of. I saw people that I knew here and there, but none of them held my attention long enough for me to want to be bothered with their presence.

“You know, it’s not good to drink alone.”

I looked at Nicola, a former classmate of mine and shrugged as she poured me another shot. “Just keep ‘em coming.”

“You got a ride?”

“Driving myself.”

She looked at me, concerned, and I shrugged. “I’m not letting you drive Loni. You’ll fuck around and kill yourself.”

“Well, maybe the afterlife will treat me kinder than this one.” I downed the vodka and took a deep breath, putting my head down. The room was spinning just a little bit.

 

I must have sat there for a good hour before I finally got up, stumbling as I walked out the door.

Accidentally bumping into someone, I apologized before searching my pocket for my keys. “Loni?”

I looked behind me, only to see King. “You s-s-stalking me or something?”

“Or something. Nah, pure coincidence but then again, the SeaTac area is small.” I looked at him through lowered eyes and shook my head.

“Gotta go.”

“Wait, are you okay?”

“Nope. Bye.”

I stepped in a pothole, catching myself before I could fall flat on my face. “Loni, you’re drunk.”

“Drunk and high. Woo!”

“Let me drive you home.”

I patted his chest, liking the feel of his pecks beneath my fingertips. “That’s quite alright. I’m o-okay.”

“No you’re not. Please let me take you somewhere safe, I would feel terrible if something happened to you.”

“What do you care for? No one else does.” I pulled away from the grip he had on my arm and I made it to my own car. Getting in, I sat behind the wheel for a few minutes and closed my eyes.

 

There was a light knock on my window and I opened my eyes to see him standing there. “What do you want King? What?”

“Give me your keys.”

“No.”

He opened my door and pulled them out of the ignition. “The only thing I don’t like, women who put up a fight for no damn reason. Now I don’t know who’s got you out here drinking like this, but I’m not going to let you drive and hurt or kill yourself.”

I clapped, mocking his little speech before I burst out laughing in his face. “Are you done?”

“Scoot your ass over.”

“What?”

“Scoot over.”

I groaned to myself before climbing over into the passenger seat, calling King every name in the book.

“Call me whatever you want, but you’ll thank me when your crazy ass sobers up.”

“Don’t try no shit either. I’m drunk but if you touch me the wrong way I will beat your ass.”

“Or fall trying. Just calm your nerves.”

I rolled my eyes before closing my eyes, still giggling to myself.

 

 

 

I opened my eyes slowly, groaning as the sunlight and a headache hit me. I sat up and stretched, realizing I wasn’t in my own bed. “Where am I?”

“My house and we’re in Federal Way.”

I turned my head to see King’s ass walking in with a tray. “What’s that?”

“Food, coffee, and Advil. You’re welcome.”

I took a deep breath and thanked him, vaguely remembering how I even got here. “We didn’t fuck, did we?”

He looked at me and smiled before licking his lips. “No, we didn’t. Drunk or not, you’d remember it.”

I scoffed before drinking my coffee, glad he’d set some cream and sugar on the side.

“So what did happen?”

“You were pissy drunk, extremely violent, and I was genuinely worried about you.”

I looked at him for half a second before clearing my throat.

 

I looked around and spotted my phone on his nightstand. Twenty-eight missed calls, and none of them were from Cairo.

“Sorry. And what were you worried about me for?”

“You don’t remember attempting to drive drunk? You do know we live near mountains and they don’t have railings to prevent you from falling over, right? You could have killed yourself.”

“I wasn’t that drunk.”

“Yes Loni, you were. And you’ve got a mouth on you; I’ve never been called so many different variations of ‘motherfucker’ in my life.”

“Sorry. How is it that we end up in the same places now? I feel like you’re following me or something.”

“You asked me that last night, and no I’m not following you. I am glad I showed up at that bar when I did though.”

I looked down and took a deep breath, sending Tommy straight to voicemail once my phone started ringing. “Well, thank you. I appreciate you stopping me from driving.”

“You’re welcome. Just, don’t punch or kick me if I ever have to pick up on you again.”

“I did that?”

“Yes? Hitting like a man and shit.”

“I’m sorry.”

 

King gave a small smile before laughing. “It’s all good Beautiful. Um, there’s a bathroom right across the hall and there’s fresh towels, a spare toothbrush and whatever else you might need. You threw up so I washed your clothes.”

I hung my head low, finally noticing that I was wearing a t-shirt and a pair of boxers, feeling embarrassed. “I must have been a damn mess last night.”

“Yes. But, a cute mess. Enjoy your breakfast, and don’t worry about rushing. We can leave whenever you’re ready.”

I nodded and sighed, ignoring Tommy’s call when my phone rang again. I looked around King’s room for a few minutes before I finished up and started getting myself together.

Complicated [Part 1] (by Cortney Joseph)

Prologue

 

I’m his everything.

At least that’s what Cairo used to tell me before he dedicated his time and love to the streets. Yeah, we have money and I don’t really have much to complain about; the hottest cars, clothes, trips to any part of the world I choose, and the finest in jewelry. Of course, all of that comes as gifts attached to lame apologies for the different women and the late nights out when he should be laid up with me.

I used to think that by now we’d be married with four or five babies. Yeah, I love my man so much I wanted to give him that many. I’d give him anything.

He took everything.

 

I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling as I ran my hands down my long legs. I am aching for his touch, but once again Cairo is nowhere to be found. He don’t even call me to let me know if he’s okay.

My girls, my family, they laugh and take my life as a joke. They can’t understand what it is about this man that’s got me so far gone. I think they’re just jealous, always have been. Ten years and half the chicks I know can’t even keep a man for a week. In spite of whatever dirt he does, I got mine. He ain’t going nowhere.

I looked over at the alarm clock next to our bed and sighed.

 

After turning over and covering my body, I was just drifting off to sleep when I heard our bedroom door open. I could hear Cairo stumbling, mumbling to himself as he struggled to take his jacket off. I could smell the cheap perfume mixed with the expensive alcohol he loved.

“Loni, I know you’re up and waiting for me.” I already know he’s been in the back of his boy’s strip club fuckin’ some random bitch. “Loni.” I said nothing and that led to him calling out my entire first name. “Apollonia, stop acting like you don’t hear me.”

“What Cairo?”

He chuckled to himself before sitting beside me, rubbing my shoulders gently as he leaned down and nuzzled his face close to my neck, kissing my spot. “I’m not about to sleep with you.”

“Why not?”

I pushed him off of me and sat up, staring into his eyes after I turned one of the lamps on. “Because you come in here at three in the morning, smelling like some cheap bitch that’s probably got stab wounds and stretch marks and you think that shit is okay. I’m tired of it.”

“You’re tired? Oh, but you’re not tired of those cars in the garage. You’re not tired of the stacks I give you daily for your shopping and shit. You’re not tired of that big ass engagement ring, are you?”

I rolled my eyes, hating that he always threw this money and material shit in my face. Acting as if I’m not a big part of why his hustle is so strong and his enemies have yet to take his ass out. “That’s what the hell I thought. I don’t know why you’re acting like what I do is something new to you. Shit, at least you know. I could be one of these dog ass niggas that does dirt behind your back and lie to your face.”

“Yeah, because knowing that you still fuck your baby mama and having her laugh in my face anytime I see her in public is so great.”

“I told you, you can walk any time you get ready. But you won’t, and you know why you won’t ever leave? Because ain’t no other nigga gon’ take care of you the way I do.”

“Just like ain’t no other bitch gon’ hold you down the way I do. Ugh, I’m not putting up with this tonight.” Not without a few blunts and a whole bottle of jack.

“What?”

I grabbed two of my pillows and started to stand up, trying to head to the living room so that I could sleep on the couch.

 

Cairo grabbed my wrist and pulled me back down, pinning me down as he climbed over me. Because he knows my knees weaken anytime he kisses me, and I lose my backbone the instant his large hands come in contact with any part of my small frame; he put an end to whatever angry thoughts ran through my mind. He ran his fingers through my hair as I spread my legs and he kissed from my lips down to my neck.

“Why do you do me like this?” Cairo didn’t say a word. Instead he pulled away and slowly removed the panties and t-shirt I wore. Whispered in my ear about how beautiful I am, how he can’t see himself without me being by his side. Everything he knew I wanted and needed to hear.

He looked me in my eyes and gave a small smile before apologizing as he undressed himself. “You’re not sorry Cairo.”

“I am. You know I love you, right?”

I didn’t answer. Instead, I wrapped my arms around Cairo, moaning lowly as he guided himself inside of me. He cursed under his breath and held me a little closer, taking his time and teasing me with each slow and long stroke.

“Just like I like it.” I nodded slowly, turning my face away from his as a single tear fell down my right cheek. “Is it mine?”

“Yes.” Our bodies moved to the rhythm I set as I gripped him tighter, begging for him to go deeper as I scratched his back, even though I know he hates when I leave them in more than one spot.

Just like any other time, I’d made a tiny attempt to stand up and he shut it down. He never apologizes, he never says he loves me but he’d done both of those this time and I wanted to be happy. I am happy, but I hate myself for being so damn foolish when it comes to this dude.

Sometimes I don’t want to love him, but I do.

Black Pearl (by Cortney Joseph)

Miyah rushed home with tears in her eyes, running through a throng of people without even stopping to apologize for bumping into them. There was no time to spare, and the sooner she could get home, away from the world, the better.

There was an intense pain she felt, one she was certain no one would understand; no matter how she explained it. No kind or positive words could ease it.

Nearly knocking over her next door neighbor, Miyah only stopped when she felt herself being grabbed. “I’ve told y’all little black behinds about running up and down this block like you ain’t got the sense the good Lord gave ya.” One word, one word triggered Miyah and the tears she’d been fighting back fell with such force. It shocked her neighbor, who tried her best to hold on to the young child. To check on her, to pry and find something to gossip about.

It was no use.

After a bit of a struggle, Miyah was free and running again until she reached her own brownstone. Just as she was about to dash past her father, he reached out and grabbed her, pulling her into his arms and lap. What was about to be one of their usual tickle sessions was wiped from his mind as he saw his young daughter crying.

Her body shaking in his arms, the words that slipped past her lips. “What’d you say to me, Miyah?”

“I said let me go. Stop pretending that you want to be around something as ugly as me.”

He pushed her away from his chest a little, staring into her big brown eyes. There was so much hurt, something he’d never seen in the little spit fire he’d been raising on his own. “Why would you say something like that?”

“Because it’s true. Look at me!”

“I’m looking, Miyah. I see my beautiful, perfect little angel.”

“Ugh, you have to say that. Fathers have to be kind to their kids!”

“Just because fathers are supposed to do something, it doesn’t mean they always stick around to do it. I think you know that well enough from seeing some of the other kids around here. I don’t say things because I have to, I say them because they are true.” Pulling her closer, he allowed Miyah to rest her head on his chest, gently rubbing her arms as he waited for her to calm down. “Now, tell me what happened and who upset you.”

Sniffling, Miyah took a deep breath. “At school, Mrs. Hardy was talking about the upcoming dance and everyone was saying that nobody would ask me. I said I don’t care because I think boys are gross anyway. Then, all of the girls started ganging up on me. They said even if I did like boys, no one would ask me because I was too skinny, too ugly, and too black. All of the boys like and play with the girls with the lighter skin, different colored eyes, and long curly hair.”

“Miyah…”

She asked her father to hold off, and she continued, wanting to get it all off of her chest. “They started saying that I looked like tar, and that being this dark is only acceptable when someone wants to hire a maid. They said all I have to do is lay in the middle of the street and I’ll blend right in with the stuff they use to pave it. They made me stand beside each of them, comparing my skin to theirs. And then, I failed the paper bag test.”

He was horrified at what he was being told. Sure, he knew what the paper bag test was. He’d been subjected to it himself when he was a child, with the test often dictating what he was good enough to do. Still, he couldn’t believe that it was still a thing in this day and age.

Miyah sighed. “They’re all so pretty daddy. Lighter, with long and good hair. And I went to the bathroom, and I looked at myself, and they’re right. I’m too black, too ugly. I look like I’m in Blackface all of the time, with nappy hair that feels like wool when it’s not braided. I’m ugly. Won’t ever be chosen, always gonna be second best. Not even that, dead last.”

“Let me tell you something Miyah Marie; YOU are beautiful. With this beautiful black skin, dark cocoa. I used to call you Coffee Bean because you were so brown and just gorgeous.” He held his arm out, asking her to rest her arm against his for a moment. “Look at Daddy. I’m darker than you, Miyah. We’re dark, almost all of our family is; a mass array of chocolate from toffee to charcoal. We’re black. We’re black. We’re black, and we’re beautiful. We’re dark, and we’re beautiful. You’re a beautiful dark, black, little girl. And you’ve got a head full of thick, curly, natural hair that looks amazing when you rock your afro. It’s kinky, but it’s yours and there is so much pride in your eyes when you pick it out. I see it all the time.”

“Daddy…”

“You’re black. That’s not a bad thing, it’s not ugly, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s not less than anyone or anything, and I don’t give a damn who tells you otherwise. Be they white, or black just like us. Let them be ignorant in their beliefs. You’re beautiful.”

“Why is there such a divide, why are they so convinced they’re better? I mean, I know why white people think it. But other black girls. I get the worst comments from them.”

“Sadly, Miyah, you have the misfortune of growing up in a time when the wrong idea of what beauty should be is being projected on TV and in music and even by parents to their children.” He sighed, recalling his own youth when so many of his friends swore they’d never marry black because they didn’t want dark children, especially dark little girls. Pure ignorance.

“So what is beauty?”

He paused for a moment, trying to find the right words. “It’s different for different people. What it should be; your heart, and the way you treat people. Your personality and your attitude. Beauty on the outside is nice, but it’s not what matters the most.”

“Daddy, this doesn’t help. If black isn’t ugly, why do so many people talk negatively about it?”

“I don’t know, Miyah. And unfortunately you can’t change the mind of some folks who are set in their ways, not when they have these beliefs and attitudes about black women for the wrong reasons. All I know is that it is my job to lift you back up every time someone tries to kick you down.”

“I still don’t feel beautiful, but thank you.”

“Just remember this; no matter what I, or anyone else says, it’s all about what you feel about yourself. Believe me when I say that when you take sometime to learn about yourself and to love yourself, nothing negative that anyone says will ever matter again. It takes a little time, but you’ll get there, and I will be right here to help you when you need me.”

“Will anyone ever love our black skin as much as you do?”

He chuckled. “Plenty of people already do. Come on and change out of your school clothes. We’ll go to the community center, and we’ll watch beautiful black people that look just like you.”

Miyah smiled, drying her eyes. “I think I’d like that very much.”

I Apologize.

I haven’t posted in a minute.

Haven’t even been able to make attempts at scheduling posts.

 

It’s not a serious excuse, but I’ve been lacking serious inspiration lately. At least, when it comes to what this blog is for. My short stories.

I will have some coming though, and hopefully soon. I know for certain that I have a written series/show coming, and episodes will be shared here as well as on my Wattpad account. If you like full length stories, that is where you can find a few old stories, as well as two I’m working on currently. (I’m struggling with those as well though, lol.)

Hopefully I can clear my mind and find some great inspiration soon. Thank you in advance for your patience. And thank you so much to all of you who have taken the time to check out my blog, my stories. It is greatly appreciated!!

 

xoxo,

Cortney D. Joseph

Lose My Mind (by Cortney Joseph)

Jacie sat on the arm of their couch, pouting as her husband dressed himself for work. “You look at me like that every morning, and as much as it pulls at my heart, you know I can’t stay home.”

“I know, and I truly understand you have to work to provide for us. I appreciate you so much, I thank you so much for affording me the opportunity to stay home to follow my own dream, but…”

“What?”

She sighed. “It hurts so damn much to miss you.”

“I’m only gone for eight hours. Nine at the most.”

She rolled her eyes. “I know. But you don’t understand how much I miss you, how much I hate to be apart from you, how much I hate to share you with others. Can’t focus on myself or my own work, because I’m missing you all day. It’s hell when you’re not here.”

He laughed, leaning forward to give her a kiss. “You’re silly.”

“I don’t care. When you turn around to grab your shoes and jacket, I’m going to miss you. You take a single step towards the door, I miss you.”

 

“I’m thinking it’s because we just got married and you’re a bit spoiled off of the two weeks we had together, uninterrupted.”

“No, has absolutely nothing to do with that. This was even before. Every morning, like clockwork, I open my eyes excited to wake up next to you. And then, I remember that you have to get out of bed and leave the house. When I start remembering that I have to tell you goodbye, that I have to let you go, that I can’t cuddle up under you all day long. There’s not a bit of peace I get until you come back here eons later.”

“You’re being dramatic.”

“But you love me and my dramatics.”

He laughed, nodding his head. “I do, and I promise that I miss you just as much. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten in trouble for not focusing because you’re on my mind at the most inappropriate times. But you’ll be okay, Jacie. We’re always okay when we’re apart from one another.”

“You’re okay, I’m not. I feel like I lose a piece of my heart and my mind.”

“Just promise me you won’t cry when I walk out the door today.”

She shook her head. “I told you, I’ll never make a promise I can’t keep.”

“It’s just a few hours.”

“I don’t care. I’m addicted to you, out of control, and I have no shame. Every day, every time you’re gone away. Five minutes, an hour or more, I’m out of it. Just one day. Stay home with me today, and I promise I won’t ever act this way again.”

“Thought you won’t make promises you can’t keep.”

She sighed, hanging her head. “It was worth a try, Kyle.”

 

Kyle smiled, giving her a kiss before he grabbed his keys and walked out the door. When Jacie heard the bottom lock click, she fell back on the couch and let out a deep sigh, trying her best to get her attitude in check.

Yes, she knew her interests should lie elsewhere, outside of her husband, but the way her joy and love for her husband and their life together was set up… she’d spend almost all of her days feeling incomplete until he returned. He was the muse and inspiration for her songs and stories, the blue print for every heartthrob in the romance novels she wrote. The man that drove all of her passionate love ballads. How could she ever work properly and thrive if her main inspiration was never around.

Her friends called her crazy, said she was a bit too obsessive, assumed he controlled her. These were the same friends who always asked for tips on how to find a man like Kyle. “What do I do now?”

As she turned to face the back of the couch, she heard locks clicking. Sitting up just a little, her face lit up when the door opened and he walked through the door. “I guess the good thing about being the boss, I can take off when I feel like it.”

Jacie jumped up, heading straight for his arms. “Admit it, you’re just as love sick and silly as I am.”

“I mean, with someone as beautiful and loving as you are, can you blame me? I’ll stay home today, but whatever story or song comes from this; it better be a number one hit or best seller.”

“Deal!”

“Good. Now let me get on my real job and inspire my baby to create a couple of masterpieces.”

She smiled, hugging him tightly.