An eerie feeling suddenly came over Lydia as soon as Stanley was out of sight. One of those creepy feelings you get when you’re at home by yourself in the wee hours of the morning and you hear a scary sound that you know better than to get up and investigate. As she and Stanley had walked across the street, Lydia thought she caught the eye of someone watching them from a light brown Ford Taurus parked at one of the meters towards the end of the block. But when she turned toward the driver, they pulled off. Now as she was securing herself in her seatbelt, from the rearview mirror, it looked like the same brown Taurus was a parked three cars over from her. Now she couldn’t say that the car didn’t belong to an employee or to someone picking up an employee. Her gut was just telling her otherwise. Since a smart woman knows to go with her gut feeling, Lydia didn’t waste anymore time getting the hell out of that lot! Maybe it was paranoia from the long hours she’d been working. Maybe not. Either way, she felt a helluva lot better once she was on I-96 heading west toward home.
The good feeling of relief didn’t last very long. A few exits before the one she took to get to her house, that same Taurus was two cars behind her in the next lane. Panicked, Lydia immediately reached for her cell phone, which for some God-awful reason was dead. She’d been so tired the last few nights, the last thing she’d thought about was setting her phone on the charger. Damn.
For sure, Lydia knew better than to go home. Finally, those safety tips that often came through her email from friends paid off. Quickly, she took the next exit that came up and looked for a gas station, since her mind was too scattered to think of where the nearest police station was.
A Mobile gas station was at the next corner. She pulled into the entrance. And that damn Taurus pulled right in behind her. These crazy people have no shame. All in one motion, Lydia detached her seatbelt and was opening her door to hurry inside when a man’s all to familiar voice called out her name.
It was as if time itself had stopped. She felt suspended in her steps, hardly able to turn around, but she did. He called out to her again.
“Lydia. I’m sorry if I scared you.” She couldn’t believe she was looking at Thomas Cunningham, the finest, sexiest, most sexually satisfying man who captured and broke her heart to date. Still, she found him irresistible. Albeit, he scared the shit out of her.
Finally, her voice surfaced to her throat, then out her mouth. “Thomas, what the hell are you doing here?” Before he opened his mouth, they both already knew the answer to that. It was the same unspoken reason he always abruptly reappeared in her life, seemingly, whenever the timing was convenient for him. To reclaim what he would always and had always believed to be his—her. That is, until Lydia decided to show him otherwise.
That last time Thomas deserted her three years ago, leaving her to look like the fool before the eyes of her loved ones, she vowed that would be the last time. Oh, she knew he’d back again. Like her mother always said, “A leopard never changed his spots.” Only, after she picked up the pieces of her shattered heart, Lydia had a surprise for him when he came back the next time.
But now that that time seemed to have arrived, as he stood before her eyes, in the most flawless, beautiful dark chocolate flesh, the strength she was so confident that she’d have disappeared just as suddenly as Thomas arrived. Inwardly, she felt weak, like a melting piece of hot wax, praying it wasn’t written all over her face as he stepped all-knowingly toward her, speaking in that delicious baritone voice that made her buckle at the knees when the right words came out.
“I’m back, baby,” he began reaching his hand out to hers. “This time I’m back for good.”
“For good,” Lydia repeated, barely audible, she was so taken aback by the strength of his presence it sickened her. “And what does that have to do with me?” she said with mock courageousness they both knew had been rehearsed.
“How about I tell you over a drink?” Thomas asked with a seductive glare in the deep brown eyes she remembered getting lost in.
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The trio of women had been friends since high school, Lydia and Sandra even earlier than that. Unable to part ways after graduating, Lydia and Sandra stayed together, attending Michigan State University. But the ever-independent Kania was bold and brave enough to venture off to Atlanta, Georgia where she didn’t know a soul.
Once they were all back together in Detroit they attempted to get together at least twice a month, which realistically turned into about once a month, sometimes, once every other month for a little girlfriend bonding. The wannabe gourmet chef of the three, Lydia, would sometimes dazzle them with her culinary skills with homemade meals at her home. Other times, they’d meet at Sandra’s for card games or board games, or meet for drinks at different venues around the city.
They didn’t usually do the nightclub thing, but this month, Kania was in a partying mood. She had a couple of things she was celebrating.
Shortly after they arrived at the club, and were served their drinks by a sexy, light complexioned young waiter named Chris, according to his nametag, Kania first announced that she’d just been made junior partner at the law firm she’d been working at for the last two years. Lastly, but definitely not least, she practically screamed, drawing many inquisitive stares their way, her engagement to her longtime boyfriend, Kenneth.
Kania and Kenneth had been dating since meeting in law school in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. For the last two years, after Kania accepted an associate position at the law firm she interned at during the summers she spent in Detroit while in college, having to move back home, they’d been managing a successful long distance relationship. The distance between them was only beneficial in leading them to the decision of making the ultimate commitment to each other. Even though they’d been talking about it over the last few months, Kania was still blown away when Kenneth proposed on his last visit to Detroit a couple weeks ago. Of course, she said yes!
It was still up in the air where they would settle. Both of them having graduated top of their law classes and currently working for very reputable law firms, neither would have any problem getting a job. Starting a husband/wife practice wasn’t a far off idea either. Right now, the planning of their becoming husband and wife was their primary focus.Kania was trying to play her usual cool role, but Lydia could see the happiness and
excitement plastered across her face. A few times she’d glance across the table and a wide
grin would be across Kania’s lips. Then Kania would point out something crazy happening on
the dance floor or something as though that was what she was laughing at. Lydia could only
laugh. Kania was just being Kania. Always calm, cool, and collected—like the ladies on the
deodorant commercials, “Never let ‘em see you sweat.” That was Kania—yesterday, today,
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