Dysfunctional Love Part Three

by Jhori Barksdale


CAUGHT WITH NO EXPLANATION

"Yeah, weíve been at the same function a couple of times." Kendra kinda smirks at me with her glossy lips, making me feel even more unsettled about her reason for being here. She seems to have this glint in her eyes like she knows something that I donít.

"Ah yeah, right. Look, it was nice seeing you but I really do have to go." I put my hand inside the elevator door to keep it from closing. "Iím sure Iíll see you again." I step inside.

"So am I." She raises her eyebrow and then turns to walk away, but not before I hear her say, "So am I, girlfriend."

Once inside the elevator, my nerves seems to rise to the surface of my skin and I can almost feel the blood as it pumps through my veins. What in the hell was she doing here, is the questions that first pops into my mind once the door closes. Deciding not to dwell on it any further, I try to figure out what I am going to say to Derrick once I see him. All I know is that if worse comes to the very worse, Iíll beg his forgiveness if I have to. This past week has really made me see how much I love him and what a dumb ass Iíve been. Women are always complaining about not being able to find a good man and here I have one whoíll set the world on fire for me and Iím trippin off old shit from years ago. Especially now, to find some hoochie mama getting off the elevator who I know has it bad for him does nothing to make me feel better.

The elevator stops at the penthouse floor and I step off into the warm burgundy and gold velvet décor. The first time we stayed here I immediately decided that I would have at least one room in my house decorated in such a fashion. Two weeks later an interior designer was out to the house to changing the scheme in the library to match this very layout.

Walking over to the room door I find it slightly ajar. Something prevents me from walking right in so instead I raise my hand and tap lightly on the solid wood. After a few seconds pass by, I assume that he must be in the other room and slowly push the door open. Nothing could have prepared me for the sight I receive once I enter the foyer.

"Damn, did someone have a party in here and not invite me." I say aloud as I reach over and pick up a red Frederickís of Hollywood bra off the hall table and then drop it back down. Just plain oleí cheesy looking. Glancing around the room, I spot chairs overturned, empty bottles of champagne, food, and more than a few articles of women clothing that most certainly are not mine. Looks to me like our little spat was not too hard on Mr. Man since it seems as though heís been having the time of his life.

"Tina! I hear the surprise in his voice as he walks into the room. "What are you doing here."

"I can tell that you werenít expecting me." I say sweeping the room with my eyes.

"Well to be honest," He walks up and looks down at me, "I wasnít."

"You surly donít seem to have missed me any either. Looks like youíve been living it up since you left the house." I walk over to the sofa and push a bunch of rubble out of the way almost afraid to sit down.

"Oh this?" He looks around. "I havenít really been here. Jay had a party over here a few nights ago while I was out of town."

"Why would Jay have a party over here when he has a big ass house out in Duluth? Donít try and play me stupid Derrick."

Clearing her throat to announce her presence, we both look up to find Kendra standing in the door. Derrick quickly looks nervously over at me. "Excuse me. I didnít mean to interrupt but I got half way down the street and realized that I had forgotten some things." She reaches over to the table and picks up the red bra I saw when I first came in and then comes over and picks through some of the clothes in a pile on the other end of the sofa. "Uh, excuse me one last time." She rea ches around to the back of where Iím sitting and pulls a pair of red thongs from somewhere while giving me that same smirk from downstairs. "Sorry for the interruption." She says and then slowly swishes back out the door.

"Ok Derrick. What the fuck was that?" I jump up in a huff. "Why in the hell is her skanky drawers and clothes in your room and not on her ass where it belongs, is what I want to know?"

"Baby, itís not what you think." He says calmly although he canít look me in the eye.

"Well someone had better be telling me exactly what the hell I should be thinking." I try to remain calm but find my voice coming out in a high pitch tone.

"Apparently she left it over here the other night when Jay brought a bunch of people over to supposedly cheer me up. I havenít really been here much anyway, only to change clothes and then Iím out."

Wanting to just reach out and slap the fool out of him, I ask. "Am I suppose to believe that bullshit? First of all, if she left it the other day, why is she just now coming back for it and what in the hell was it doing off anyway? Secondly, I just ran into her getting off the elevator on my way up here. I guess she was attending to some other business elsewhere that just so happens to be in the same god damn hotel that you are staying in." I feel like all the air is being sucked out of me with each breath I take. "Here I am coming over here to apologize and beg your forgiveness in hopes of setting a wedding date and I find this shit." I point at nothing in particular. "And now you expect me to believe that youíve only been around long enough to change clothes? Is my name spelled S-T-U-P-I-D?" I stare at the man I still want to promise forever to.

Turning to leave. "I guess this shit is part of the reason I was so afraid to get married. Makes me wonder if every time we argued you went and stuck your dick in someone else." I turn to look at him one last time. "You ainít too much different from my father. The only difference is you just kicked my ass without even putting your hands on me." I walk out the door.

Standing in the lobby, try as I may, I can barely suppress my emotions. My lips begin to quiver but I refuse to give in to the pain. What hurts even more is the fact that when I looked in his eyes, I saw all the guilt waving back at me. He didnít even try to lie and deny it.

Once I reach my car and get inside, reality begins to set in. I ainít gonna cry. I ainít gonna cry. I sing those words over and over again in my head until Iíve calmed enough to start the car up.

I canít go home because I know that as soon as I step in the door his presence will be more than I can bare and Iíll break down, so I reach over and dial Evai number.

"Hey you. I know youíre dying to talk to me but I canít come to the phone right now. Leave a message and Iíll see if I can pencil you in by next week. If youíre just feeling totally overwhelmed and canít simply live with the comfort of hearing my voice on this machine, go ahead and page me at, 404-555-LOVE. Peace out.

Beep.

"Evai, I hate that message and beside itís entirely too damn long. Listen, Iím going to page you first but Iím headed to your house. I hope you ainít up in there trying to get your groove on because if you are, brotherman is going to have to go or at least put it on ice. I need to talk."

I hit the end button and pull out of the hotel parking lot.

 

CONFUSED AND UNSURE

"Damn." Is all that Derrick can think of to say. "How could I have fucked up like this." He stands in the middle of the suite looking at his surroundings. "What am I going to do?"

The telephone rings and he hurries to catch it, hoping itís Santina calling from the car.

"Hello."

"Yo, D, whatís up?" Jay asks. "We still shooting pool at Temptations tonight?"

"Uh. Yeah, thatís cool." Derrick says with disappointment evident in his voice.

"You donít sound to enthused about it, whatís up dog? I told you this thing with Tina is going to blow over and youíll be all up in each otherís ass again."

Releasing a heavy sigh and then leaning against the bar for support, Derrick says, "Man, I donít know this time." His voice comes out in a semi-whine.

"Oh sure it will. You guys have been having these little lovers quarrels for so long, no one takes them serious. I donít even know why you two even bother, knowing that you were created for one another. Man do you realize that through all the ribbing and flak that the boys give you, that deep down we are some envious mutha fuckas?" Jay laughs. "I mean Derrick man, your woman is fine and I ainít talking like, nice bodyÖ. I mean baby girl is Fah-ine. In addition, not only is she f ine and beautiful; sheís smart as hell and donít take no shit off you. Man, you canít do nothing but respect a sista who can curse you the fuck out without raising her voice or losing her cool so that no one else around knows whatís going on. She doesnít create a scene and cut up on you like a lot of women do and she carries herself like a lady at all times."

"Whew. You wouldnít say that if you had seen her a few minutes ago."

"Why? She was just over there? What happen man?" Jay asks all three questions in one breath.

"Tina just popped up over here a few minutes ago and guess who was just leaving?"

"Oh shit. Kendra?"

"You got it." Derrick winces like heís in pain at from the mention of her name. "Tina ran into her as she was getting on the elevator and Kendra was getting off."

"What did you tell her?"

"Man, it was a mess. First of all, I came into the living room to get something and there she was, standing in the middle of the floor looking around like she had walked into the twilight zone. She caught me off guard and I couldnít say shit cause you know I ainít been here and the room still looks like hell from the party you guys had up in here the other day."

"Right. Right." Jay encourages him to go on.

"So, she starts fussing and stuff and then who would come back up to the room but Kendra."

"Naw dog. Donít say that."

"Yeah, just walked right in while Tina was going off."

"Shit D, man."

"I know man. Anyway, to make the shit just down right funky, Kendra goes over to the sofa that Tina is sitting on and starts grabbing clothes and shit from behind her."

"Nooooooo. She didnít do no shit like that?"

"Jay, you know how Kendra is. Sheís an alley cat man. She donít give a fuck just as long as she gets what she wants or at least destroys what she canít have."

"Ok, well since you know this, why was she leaving your hotel room when Tina showed up?"

From the silence that hangs in the air for a good 15 seconds, the question needs no vocal answer.

"Awwwwwww dog. Donít tell me you fucked that trick?"

Rubbing his bald head, Derrick doesnít want to answer the question; not only because he feels like shit, but also because heís not sure himself. All he remembers is sitting in his car crying and then some how driving back to the hotel. As he was getting ready to get out of the truck to go inside, Kendra appeared at the driver side window saying that she had followed him to make sure that he got back ok and that she also needed to get some things she had left the other night. He didnít see any harm in it so he agreed expecting her to get her stuff and leave. Unfortunately thatís not how it happened. Once upstairs she took her sweet time searching for her clothes but he was feeling so awful that he didnít care, he just wanted to lay down and go to sleep. He told her to lock the door on her way out and went into his room.

The next morning when he woke up she was standing over him with a breakfast tray and wearing his football jersey. Upon seeing her standing there heíd nearly lost it and had to remind himself that although she was a trick, she was still a woman. Saying she had to go and damn near throwing her clothes at her, heíd gone into the bathroom and locked the door. She tried to talk to him through the door but he told her he didnít have shit to say and that she needed to get the fuck out before he called security. Sheíd left soon after that but not before telling him that she was going to make him pay big time and in more ways than one.

That had happen late that morning so he had no idea why she was getting off the elevator when Tina showed up. What he did know was that for all the problems that he and Tina had, this situation was definitely not good. How could he allow himself to get set up like this? And he knew thatís all it was- a set up. Kendra and her crew were known for doing stuff like this. In fact, it wasnít that long ago that her partner in crime, Shauntay Edwards had his boy James up in court with a paternity suit. She knew from day one that the baby wasnít his but wanted to try and get him to pay her off so she wouldnít create a scandal. Fortunately for James, he too knew the kid wasnít his and didnít care how much money he had to spend just as long as none of it went to her. Paternity test proved what everyone already knew although it did cost him a nice chunk of change.

The babyís father turned out to be a drug dealer sheíd met out in California. The man had been taking care of his son all from day one but Shauntay just wanted to get some money out of James since theyíd slept together once and he never called again. Thereís nothing more vengeful than a gold diggin female thatís been hit and ran on.

"To be honest man-I really donít think that I did anything with her, but I was so blown from all those shots of Tequila we took that I really canít say that we didnít and be sure."

"Damn D-man. You know Kendra is going to go around telling everybody you did even if you didnít. I know I was trying to fuck her, but shit man, I ainít got nobody to answer to or worry about getting caught by."

"I told you I was fucked up man." Derrick raises his voice.

"Ok Derrick. Just calm down. Iíll be there in a few and weíll go shoot a few balls and try and figure out how we gonna explain this mess to your girl."

THE PITY PARTY

Pulling up to Evaiís complex, I remove the card and open the gate. A horn blows behind me and I look in the mirror to find her on my bumper giving me the finger. For the first time all day, I allow myself to smile. Parking in a spot across from her townhouse and getting out, I walk over to her truck. "I might need to crash here for tonight, if itís ok."

She looks at me with concern. "You know you can. I got your message, whatís going on?" We walk towards her front door. Once inside I kick off my shoes and drop down in the middle of the living room floor. "Man you wonít believe me when I tell you."

"What? You went to the hotel and he told you he didnít want you anymore?" She laughs as she walks towards the kitchen. "Itís just a front because his feelings are bruised. You want a glass of wine or a cup of tea?"

"Wine." I yell out to her. "And it runs a lot deeper than that. I wish he had told me no because Iíd know that it was his pride talking and not his heart."

Waiting on Evai to come back from the kitchen, I notice the picture of me and Derrick at the Super Bowl last year. We had so much fun down in Miami cutting up and acting a fool. I donít think we were sober the whole time we were there.

"So whatís going on that has you wanting to crash over here tonight instead of going to your own crib?" She passes me my glass.

Looking back over at the picture, I almost choke on my words. "I think heís fucking that girl named Kendra."

Evaiís eyes get so big they look like golf balls. "Get out. Girl you trippin. Derrick wouldnít do no stupid shit like that."

"I didnít think he would either until I went over to his hotel and met her coming off the elevator." I take a huge gulp from my glass like itís beer. "Then when I got upstairs to his room, I walked in to find womenís underwear and clothes all over the place from some party he claims Jay threw in his room. Can you believe that shit?" The anger finally begins to overtake my disappointment. "Evai, Iím so hurt and disgusted right now, I donít know what to do."

Evai comes over and plunks down on the floor beside me, "As your best girlfriend, Iím going to give it to you straight with no chaser."

"Ok, shoot."

"Listen Tina, Iím not saying that Derrick was right, IF in fact he really did screw nasty ass Kendra------ which to be honest, I doubt he did. Yeah, things probably got a little out of hand, but I doubt Derrick would do something as stupid as that. Besides, he loves you too much." She shakes her curly head. "But, Iíll tell you this girl like I told you before; you kept putting that man out to pasture sooner or later heís going to run up on one of those aggressive ass heifers."

"Well I guess now itís the age old question of, why marry the cow when you can screw the heifer for free." I sorta laugh and frown at the same time while trying to not lose my mind.

"What I want to know is what did he say when you asked him about it?" Evai asks.

"Thatís just it---that sorry bastard didnít say shit. He just looked at me all stupefied like he didnít understand the words coming out of my mouth. Girl, I could have slapped the blood out of his gums."

"You probably scared the poor guy." She laughs.

"Will you please stop making up excuses for him Evai. He got caught. What would you have thought if you walked up in your manís crib and found womenís braís and panties all over the place and he couldnít give you a good answer? Hell, what exactly would be a good answer?"

"Come on Tina, didnít you say that Jay had thrown a party at the hotel? You know how wild he is and the kind of people that he attracts. Jay is like a football playing Puff Daddy."

"Why would he throw a party in Derrickís hotel room instead of his house?"

"Knowing Jay he was hanging out downtown somewhere and decided at the spur of the moment to invite some people over to Derrickís. You know he doesnít plan anything or bother to ask if itís ok-----he just does it. Derrick was probably as surprised then as you were today when people started showing up at his door."

Sitting there listening to Evai, I begin to calm down and take on a more rational approach to things. Once again I must call on the love that I know is strong between Derrick and I, and use that as a catalyst to try and figure out what to do.

"I think Iím gonna go home instead of staying here. I really need to think about all of this in an environment where I can really feel the love coursing through my soul."

"So whatícha saying? That I donít make you feel loved?" She rolls her eyes at me and then smacks her lips, pretending that sheís mad."

"You are so silly," I reach over and hug her, "Of course you make me feel loved. But letís face it girlfriend, you canít make me feel like my man does." I punch her on the shoulder and then push up from the floor.

"Oh how I wish I knew what that felt like." She shakes her head while grinning from ear to ear.

"You will as soon as you stop being so damn controlling. Your aggressive ass scares the men away."

"I donít want a punk for a man." She shrugs. "I need someone thatís going to come in the door, walk up behind me while Iím at the sink washing dishes-snatch my panties to the side and just do his business. I need a man that can pick me up and carry me around the room, cause we all know that I ainít no lil woman like some of us." She looks me up and down. "I donít want to be the one making all the decisions and all the plans. Iím so tired of men catering to my every whim and need. Shit, tell me no sometimes. I donít want no whining ass negro Gerald Levert-Keith Sweat, Babyface ass negro following me around, ĎCan I cook for you? Can I pay your rent? Can I pay your car note? Can I feed you your food?í ShitÖlet me be the one begging for it every now and then." She continues on her tirade.

"Well I canít agree with you on that because my baby is all those things and then some and you wonít hear me complaining. Girl, you still wouldnít be satisfied if you found all those things you say you want all rolled up into one. You donít know what you want." I laugh. "Listen, call me tomorrow and weíll do lunch----my treat." I give her a hug before going out the door.

Heading home, I think about a lot of things that have happened leading up to todayís circumstances. Coming to the realization that Derrick has tried all that he could to be the best man that he could be, I know that fighting for him and my future marriage is what I have to do. No one in this world could ever make me happier and feel more loved that he has and I refuse to let anything or anyone destroy that.

DERRICK

"Man, I donít know what the hell to do Jay." Derrick rests back against the soft leather in Jayís Green Lincoln Navigator truck. "I know I was fucked up last night but I still think Iíd remember sleeping with Kendra. All I can remember is going into the bedroom and laying down and then waking up to find her standing over me with my shirt on."

"Seriously D-man," Jay takes a drag from his Black and Mild cigar, "I doubt anything happened between you and Kendra. You love Tina so much, your dick more than likely wouldnít get hard." He flicks cigar ashes out the window.

"Thatís what Iím thinking too dog, but how do I know for sure? And how do I explain this mess to Tina. Man you should have seen the look on her face-----she was crushed."

"Just chill Derrick. Tina loves you. She ainít going nowhere. Give her a little time to calm down and then go over there and talk to her."

"Naw man. I canít wait." Derrick sits forward and places both of his hands on the dash. "Do me a favor and take me to the house. She wonít make me leave if I didnít drive there."

"Shiiiiiitttt." He drags the word out. "She might offer you her car." Jay laughs.

Forty minutes later they pull up in front of the house. The first thing that registers with Derrick is concern when he notices that all the lights are off and Tinaís car isnít in the garage. Quickly he speculates that sheís more than likely over to Evaiís.

"Yo thanks man." He opens door and gets out of the truck. "Sorry about tonight but Iím sure you understand. I gotta make things right with my baby."

"Yeah D, you know I got your back. Donít sweat this shit. You and Tina will be back to making us all sick in no time. Give me a holla when you donít have an excuse for not letting me whoop that ass in pool."

"Aight man, peace." Derrick closes the truck door and walks towards the house.

Being back in his and Tinaís home is like a balm to his battered soul. Her scent fills his nostrils as soon as he walks through the front door. Paul Sebastianís, Design. Oh how he loved to have her curl up with him and bury his nose in her neck. He was sure that no one could make that perfume smell the way that she did. The scent permeated every nook and cranny of the house that he would go into and he now realized how much he missed simple things such as that part of her.

People who didnít live there would probably say that they smelled the scented candles and potpourri that was placed through out the house, but he couldnít smell anything but his baby. Ever since he first began purchasing it for her on their first Valentines Day, heíd always made sure that she never ran low on that particular smell good.

Looking down, he notices that the sneakers that heíd left by the door the last time he was home, were still sitting there next to hers. Hurt stabs at him as he remembers they had the big blow up about setting the wedding date that evening.

Making a mad sprint for the house as rain began to pour from unexpected clouds, laughingly theyíd burst through the door and started peeling off clothes in the foyer so as not to trek the water through the house. Just the sight of water dripping from her hair and tiny body sent chills through him and made the valves in his heart pump faster. Reaching down heíd picked her up in his arms with intentions of taking her to their bed and staying there for the rest of the night making sweet passionate love. Little did he know that his next words would lead to the disaster that was now wrecking havoc on their picture perfect life.

"Sweetie, we donít need a wedding to get married. I just want to be able to roll over in the morning and know that youíre my wife. Why donít we elope right now and plan a big reception later?"

The way Tina had tensed in his arms, you would have though heíd suggested first degree murder.

"Baby whatís wrong?"

"Nothing." She couldnít even look him in the eye.

"What did I say wrong?" He asked. "Iím sorry if I offended you. I just love you so much that I want us to be married as soon as possible. If you want a big elaborate wedding, thatís fine with me. I just want it to be soon."

"But itís not that simple." She continued to fixate her eyes on his chin and not look at him. When he noticed tears in her eyes, heíd carried her to the sofa and sat down.

"Whatís the problem Santina? Have you changed your mind? You donít want to marry me anymore?"

She still wouldnít look at him and he took her silence as confirmation. Thatís when he blew up. Now, if he could take that day back, he would---if she never wanted to marry him that it would be fine just as long as she remained a part of his life.

Reaching down and picking up both pair of sneakers, he heads for the stairs. Going up into the bedroom, he places the shoes in their organized places and then go back out the room and across the hall into the bonus room. This room is like a little shrine of their relationship. Based on the collection in here, you would think that they had been together far more than their 3 years.

On every wall hung pictures from the different places that they had been together. There were pictures of cruises, vacation getaways, two separate Mardi Gras, Freaknic, Super Bowls, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, camping trips, night clubs, concerts and all kinds of parties. No one that saw these pictures could deny the love that was eminently showing on their faces. Soul mates. You could almost see a glow surrounding them on every picture.

Also in the room was mementos from different events in there relationship. Party hats, cards, dried roses; even their first concert and movie tickets were put in a frame and hanging on the wall. So much history in such a short span of time.

Going over to a bookcase, he removes a red box from the shelf and sits down in the recliner over in the corner. On the box top was cut out pictures of them taken over the years. Balancing the box on his one knee, he opens the top and takes out the contents. Love letters. All the letters that sheíd written him up until two weeks ago were safely stored in this box. Smiling, he wondered what his boys would think if they knew that she and he still wrote each other love letters on a regular basis. It was nothing for him to wake up and find a three page letter laying on the pillow next to him with a single red rose. Amazingly they never ran out of loving things to say and not one letter was ever the same. Searching through the stack, he finds the last one she wrote.

 

 

Good Morning Baby

Itís two in the morning and Iím up working on promotional material. I just peaked in on you and as usual, you are sprawled all over the bed. (Smile) And might I add, snoring so loud that Iím afraid the picture over the bed is going to fall on your head. Sweetie, can you believe that weíve been together this long? Three years. It seems like Iíve known you my whole life. I guess as my soul mate, in my heart and mind, I truly have. Iíve known you without knowing you. Iíve loved you before ever laying eyes on you. When you breathe out-I breathe in. Where you end-I begin.

Derrick, had someone told me years ago that I would know happiness like I know it with you, I would never have believed. People search their whole lives for the kind of love that we have. Baby, I promise to try my best to always be just as much if not more than what you mean to me.

I Love You,

Your Future Mrs. Derrick Melton,

Santina

 

Derrick reads that letter three times before he slowly folds it back and returns it to the box and then just sits there staring at the wall until the ringing of the phone brings him out of his dream state. Grabbing the cordless from his base, "Hello."

"Derrick?" Evai is caught off guard.

"Yeah, itís me." He prepares himself for a serious cursing out and then sits up when he realizes that Evai probably wouldnít be calling here if Tina was with her. "Whereís Tina?"

"Thatís why I was calling, she left here about 30 minutes ago headed home so I though she was there. I need to tell her something. What are you doing there?"

Evai doesnít sound very upset with him so he wonders if Tina even told her what happened. "I was waiting on Tina so that we could talk."

"I should think so. You have a lot of explaining to do Mr. Man." Derrick could visualize Evai expression as she said, Mr. Man.

"I know. I know. However, I promise you Evai. I wouldnít do anything to hurt Santina. This was just a big misunderstanding. I love heróyou know that." He says, hoping to get Tina to believe him.

"Yes Derrick, I know it and so does Tina. Thatís part of the reason that I was trying to catch her before you two talked. Man itís some shady mess going on and these mutha fuckas are scheming up scandalous shit like you wouldnít believe."

"Slow down Vai, what are you talking about? Whoís scheming?"

"Kendra." Evai spits it out like the name taste bad.

"Kendra?"

"Yes, Kendra. She set all that shit up with a little help from other sources. Her and this other person have been planning something since the rumors first started about Tina slow poking around about setting the wedding date. Sheís been trying to think of all kinds of ways to slide in and break you two up. Her problem is that she runs her mouth too damn much and itís gotten out."

"How did you find out?"

"A friend of hers."

"So what did this person say?" Derrick wants to know.

"Derrick I think you better sit down before I tell you this." Evai pauses.

"I am sitting down. Now hurry up before Tina gets here."

"Well according to this other person, people who you call your boy are involved in it too."

"My boy? Who? None of my boys would fuck with me like that."

"According to what Iíve heard, one of your closes boys is very jealous of you and what you have with Tina. Not only that, but he tried to push up on her recently and she cut him down so heís even more determine to break you guys up."

"Say what? Come on Vai, youíve got to be making this shit up. Who is it?" He demands. "And you say he tried to holla at Tina? You need to stop listening to those hens up at the beauty salon cause you know Tina would have told me about something like that."

"She told me." Evai pauses. "So take it for what itís worth."

"Ok, now youíre really messing with me. Who is it?"

"Jay." Evai lets out slowly.

"Jay? Jay who?"

"Jay. Jay! Your bestfriend James Stenbridge."

"Oh hell no. You trippin now."

"OK, well since Iím trippin, tell me this. Have you noticed how standoffish Tina has been with Jay lately? And have you also noticed that she never goes with you over his house anymore?"

"Sheís been working a lot lately; she doesnít go much of anywhere anymore except to the mall."

"Think about it. Jay is everywhere that you go. The club, parties, celebrity functions-always over to the house. When he comes over, where is Tina?"

"Like I said, sheís been working on some big promotion so sheís usually upstairs in the office."

"Does she even come down to speak?"

This gets Derricks mind to turning. "Come to think of it, she has been acting kind of strange lately when Jay comes over and she never wants to go out anymore unless itís just the two of us or with you. I just assumed she was just burned out with the partying scene."

"Un uh. She just despises Jay right about now but knows how close you two are and doesnít want to cause problems."

"But doesnít she realize that she comes first? That yeah, heís my boy, but sheís going to be my wife and if anybody is messing with her in any kind of way she has to trust me enough to tell me?"

"She just didnít want to hurt you. She cursed him out and told him to never even think about that notion again but that she wouldnít say anything to you because she knew it would hurt you."

"What did he say?"

"He said it was cool and apologized but I can tell that it really pissed him off."

"This is some shit." Derrick rubs his hand across his bald head and then down the side of his face. "Evai, are you sure this ainít some misunderstanding? And what does Kendra have to do with this? How is she and Jay in this together?"

"Theyíve been fucking off and on for over two years?" She says and allows it to hang there in the air and marinade.

"Say what?"

"Yeah, but the thing is, thatís all is itís ever-fucking. As a matter of fact, according to what I hear, sometimes Shauntay joins in."

"That doesnít surprise me in the least." Derrick says although heís still shocked from this new found revelation.

"I know. Anyway, as you know, Kendra has had the hots for you for some time now so she was not too happy when you and Tina got together, especially when you wouldnít mess around on her. She didnítí expect it to last as long as it has and when she found out that you guys were getting married, well she nearly lost her mind. Now, hereís the clincher; while sheís all in love with you, guess whoís in love with Kendra?"

"Let me guess? Jay?"

"Yep."

"So why would he try and come on to Tina then?" Derrick wants to know.

"Because here it is, you have a good woman who loves you, then thereís the woman heís in love with who is in love with you too. Bro canít get no justice any kind of way with you around."

"But I still donít understand why he would try to mess with Tina?"

"He finally told Kendra how he feels about her a few months back and asked her to marry him and believe it or not, she said no she wanted you and that fucked him up in the head. So he tried to push up on Tina hoping she would take the bait and then heíd find a way to make it look like she was coming on to him and you two would break up. He figures that if he canít have Kendra because of you, then he didnít want you to have Tina, because of him. It was his revenge tactic but it backfired when she cussed him out and deflated his little ego. You know Jayís not use to being rejected by anyone."

"Unfucking believable." Is all he can say. "This is some soap opera shit."

"So what is Kendra role in this and how is she and Jay in it together if he knows she doesnít want him like that?"

"Well, he figured that even if you and Tina did break up, you still wouldnít want Kendra and hopefully she would get the notion out of her head that the only reason she canít have you is because Tina is in the way. Once you and Tina broke up and you still rejected Kendra, she would finally realize that you donít want her and then come to him."

"This is so stupid itís barely believable."

"I know. I told you that you wouldnít believe this shit."

"So basically Jay is using Kendra to get Kendra and she doesnít know it?"

"Bingo. He has her thinking that when itís all said and done, sheíll end up with you and heíll end up with Tina so they devised this plan where Tina would catch you two together."

"So she followed me back to the hotel with intentions of getting me in bed and hopefully Tina catching us?"

"Yeah, but from what I hear, you passed out and nothing happen but she wanted you to believe that something did when you woke up. She wasnít expecting you to put her out once you woke up and thought that you all had slept together-she was hoping youíd invite her back in."

"So how is it that she was back at the hotel this evening and coming off the elevator when Tina popped up?"

"Jay got her a room there that overlooks the parking lot and also slipped the guy at the front desk some money to monitor your phone calls. She knew that Tina had been calling because every time she would call, he would call Kendraís room to let her know. When she called that last time and they told her that you had just come in and they would ring the room; once she hung up he called Kendra to tell her what happen and so she figured Tina was on your way over there. She was watching for her c ar to come down the street so she could time it just right to be getting off the elevator when she walked in."

"How in the hell do you know all of this from sitting in the beauty salon? Iím sure she didnít give out all these details to one person."

"Yes she did. The person she told is pissed off at her right now because she found out that Kendra has been fucking and getting money from her babyís father. She and I get our hair styled at the same salon and when she saw me today she asked if she could take me to eat after we finished because she had something important to tell me. This person is not someone that I would want to associate with so I told her that I had something to do but to page me later and maybe we could hook up. After I left the salon, I didnít think anymore about it until she paged me a little while ago. At first I wasnít going to call the number back because I didnít recognize it. Then whoever it was kept blowing my pager up, so I figured it must me important. When I called back it was her and she said that she just needed to fill me in on some shit that was going down about you and Tina. Of course I wanted to know what she was talking about since Tina had just left here upset. Thatís when I found out whatís been going down."

"Wait a minute---who is this person?"

"Shauntay Edwards." Evai finally reveals her source.

"I be damn." Then suddenly itís as if a light bulb come on in his head. "Hold up a minute. You know what?"

"What?" Evai answers.

"When Derrick first called and I was telling him what happen, I asked him to guess who popped up while Tina was here and he instantly said Kendra. That son of a bitch IS in on this shit. Man when I get a hold of his ass-.

"Just calm down." Evai cuts him off. "Right now we need to figure out how we are going to explain this to Tina. That is whatís most important right now."

"What does it even matter Vai? She didnít want to marry me even before all of this happen. Iíve been begging her for months to set the date and she keeps avoiding it. I have to face the fact that she really doesnít love me enough to want to be my wife."

"Wrong." Evai says. "Why do you think she came by your hotel tonight? That girl has been trying to get in touch with you for the last few days but you were never in."

"Are you serious?" Then he remembers her parting words. "Aw damn. This is all fucked up."

"Just calm down Derrick Ok? Iím thinking Tina will be walking through the door any minute and I doubt sheíll want to listen to any kind of reasoning right now. Listen to me Ok? Go downstairs and out the back door to be on the safe side. Walk up to the Amoco and Iíll have a cab there waiting for you. Go back to the hotel and call me so we can figure something out. Right about now I think Ms. Shauntay Edward will be more than happy to help us out with a little scheme of our own."

"Call them now, Iím on my way out the door." He says.

"Alright. Iím about to call Shauntay back and I want you to call me when you get to the hotel."

"Ok, peace." Derrick says and disconnects the line. Rushing to put every thing back in place, he wonders if he should take the sneaks back downstairs where they were but decides against it. He would prefer that Tina know at least that he was there.

Just as he steps out the backdoor and locks it, he hears the garage door going up letting him know that sheís pulling in. Waiting for the sound that tells him the door is closing behind her, he slowly walks around the corner of the house and peeps to make sure that the light inside the garage has gone out, indicating that sheís gone into the house. When the coast is clear, he sprints up the street to the stop sign until heís sure heís completely out of view and then slows to a trot. The cool air outside calms him enough to start thinking more rationally.

One thing he refuses to be rational about is the fact that he is going to kill Jay for trying to fuck him over. After all theyíd been through together----high school, college, the NFL draft----he still found it hard to believe that his bestfriend would betray him like that-especially over someone like Kendra who he knew wasnít about anything. He didnít understand why Jay couldnít see that even if Kendra did hook up with him; it wouldnít last long because she was like a crack junkie---no matter what, the taste and desire for more would always be there.

Fifteen minutes later he reaches the gas station the same time the taxi cab is pulling up on the lot. Waving him over he hops in and rests his head back against the cool vinyl seat.

"1318 Canterbury West Court in Duluth, please." He says to the driver who turns around in his seat. "You must have the wrong cab sir. This one was called in for the Biltmore Suites Hotel in downtown."

"Naw man, Iíve got the right one. I did want to go back to my room but changed my mind and want to go to a friends out in Duluth. Is there a problem, because I can always call another cab." He pulls a wad of money out of his pocket and begins flipping through it.

"No sir." The cabby looks up from the bills and smiles. "No siree, none at all." He turns back around his seat, puts the car in drive and pulls out of the station.

TO BE CONTINUED


Dysfunctional Love Part Three by Jhori Barksdale

© Copyright 2000. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.


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