|'She's late,' I think, looking at my watch for the millionth time. It's seven thirty and she promised to be here by six. It is unusual for her to be late, but I have to understand, things happen. Even I arrived home late from work. 'That bastard of a boss, why do I have to do all the work while everyone else can slack off?'
All seems to be falling on my shoulders in a rapid pace. There are problems at work, school tuition to pay, taxes and many other things that begin to add up. It can become overwhelming at times.
Imani seems to be the only good thing in my life. It has been some time that we have been together. These last few days have been hectic at work and at college. Yet that hasn’t stopped us from calling each other. Suffice it to say, I’m not too eager to see my phone bill.
I'm preparing dinner for the two of us in my little apartment. We don’t want to go out because we want to enjoy the comfort of each other without prying eyes.
Time seems to be moving slowly as I wait. The anticipation to seeing Imani just grows as I sit on my couch. My restlessness leads me to recheck all the preparations.
I enter my dining room - which is only large enough to accommodate a table for two - to make sure that all is in place. The plates, silverware and wine cups are set.
I try to keep my problems out of my mind. Tonight, I will be with Imani so let me make the best of it. It is easy to think of the time we have spent together. From the very first day that we met two years ago, I knew that I had fallen in love.
I finish setting the table, managing not to walk into a vase on the floor. I make my way to the kitchen to check on the dinner that I am cooking. The aroma of it is making my stomach growl with hunger. Yet I force my body to wait a while longer.
'All is ready, even the surprise dessert,' I think mischievously. I can’t wait to see her reaction when she finds out what the dessert is. I know that she loves dessert and this one will be different than any that she has had. I walk out to the living room with thoughts of her still in my mind. A smile creeps up my face remembering the day we became a couple;
I met her in college, before I had graduated and gone to another to take my masters. Imani was only a freshman while I was a senior. She was so beautiful and charming. I was just a normal guy. Not many girls seemed to even like me, which had me on an emotional low. Maybe I am doing myself an injustice, I wasn't as forthcoming as I am now.
I was smitten with her from the first time that I laid eyes on her. I tutored her in basic Algebra, which was how I got to know her. She seemed to be sad as if she had just experienced something that had affected her greatly. I would try to make her feel happier. As I did, she grew more and more open until we became friends. It was then that I truly fell in love with her. I enjoyed spending time with her and she didn't seem to mind.
I was surprised when I heard that she was single. Men that many girls worshiped, asked her out and were turned down. She told me the reason why she didn't date anyone; she had quit on love because it caused too much pain and she was not willing to experience it again. I became sad but I never gave up hope.
She always went out of her way to greet me even when I stopped tutoring her. I didn’t known how to approach her and tell her how I really felt, until the day she approached me. I had just gotten out of class and was making my way to my dorm room, hoping to find my brother (who was my roommate). I hadn't noticed that she was walking with me until she tapped me on my elbow.
"Oh hello Imani! I didn't know that you were there. It's been some time," I said surprised.
"Yeah, it’s only been four days. Did you miss me?" she asked smiling.
"No," I replied playfully.
She seemed to be shocked at my response. "You are supposed to say yes!" she tells me as she punches me on the arm.
"I was only joking! Sure I missed you. How ‘bout you?"
"No," she said haughtily.
"Hey! You are supposed to say yes."
"Too bad," she replied sticking her tongue out at me.
"I'm offended!" I said comically. "How’ve you been doing in class?" I asked seriously.
"Better thanks to you," she said brightly.
"You seem to be doing better, I heard that you were sick. I was concerned but I didn't have the time to call you."
"I was sick but I'm doing much better now."
"I was concerned but it seems that you are alright."
"Tell me, how are you doing?"
"Quite well," there was something on her face that prompted me to ask, "Is anything wrong?"
"Not really," she replied, uncertainly.
"Okay. You can tell me if something is wrong. I would try to help you if I can," I inform her, walking with her down the little slope towards the dorm rooms.
"I know. I don't know about you, but I miss you tutoring me."
"I miss that too," I thought reminiscing.
"You know what?" she asked suddenly.
"Yes?" I responded.
"I have always felt comfortable around you. You were there for me when I needed someone to lean on and I feel as if I have been unfair to you," she began. I was shocked to hear that she enjoyed my company.
"What are you talking about being unfair?" I asked.
"I think I know how you feel about me. I've known from the beginning, everyone did," she said smiling. "Especially during the awkward moments when you were tutoring me, I knew."
"I didn't hide the fact that I liked you. Well I think that what I feel is more than liking you. I tried not to let it get in my way but it was hard," I say finally admitting what I felt about her.
"I had told you before that I had quit on love. But now...I believe that I have been wrong to keep love out of my life all along."
I couldn't find the right words to say anything so I kept quiet.
"What I'm trying to say is that..." she hesitated, "That I'm falling in love with you."
It was something that I had not heard or expected to hear. At that time, I was left speechless, still registering what she had told me.
"You love me?" I asked in a shocked voice. 'She loves me!' I thought in my mind happily.
"Yes I do. At first, I denied it. I thought that you were like every other guy wanting me for what I look like and not who I am." She looked deeply into my eyes and continued, "But as I got to know you, I began to like you more and more. I didn't know what to do and then I became a little depressed when you stopped tutoring me. I thought that you didn't like me or something," she replied softly.
"That's not true. I stopped tutoring you because I didn't want to get my feelings involved as I helped you."
She seemed to be waiting for me to do or say something. Imani took a step towards me uncertainly. I instinctively reached towards her and put my arms around her as she pulled my head downwards.
That following moment, I will never forget. Our lips slowly met and I felt as if I was in heaven. I had dreamed of that moment but thought that it never would have happened. The kiss grew in intensity, until I had to stop kissing her because we were still outside. I can tell that she enjoyed the kiss as much as I did. We were both smiling and a little out of breathe.
"I have always been in love with you Imani. The reason I agreed to tutor you was to be able to spend some time with you. I just couldn't find a way to tell you how I felt," I said. "Would you like to-" she cut me off as if she already knew what I was going to say.
"-Yes! Took you that long to ask me," she replied.
"Would you have said yes had I asked before?"
"Haven't I already?" she answered laughing, right before she pulled me into another deep kiss. She felt so comfortable in my arms, as if she belonged there.
After remembering that, I notice that I'm standing still, smiling like an idiot. Let me get back to what I am supposed to be doing.
As I walk into my living room, I kick my cell phone which was laying on the floor some odd reason. I pick it up and notice that I have a missed call from Imani. I press the appropriate buttons to hear the message that she had left me while I was at work. As I listen to the message, I begin to set the cushions of the couch.
"Hello Jayden!" She says excitedly. "Oh my God, I have great news! Well I'll tell you when I see you. Oh I can't wait! It will be my little surprise to you. I love you, Bye."
'Interesting,' I think. 'What is it that has her all excited?' I hope she comes soon so that she can tell me.
My living room is good sized, ideal for storing my things until I can unpack them. There is a couch on one wall facing a small LCD-HD TV on the opposite side. Pictures of family and friends along with drawings dot the walls. A glass table lays in the middle of the room and boxes of clothing in the far corner. I take another peak at my watch and it reads: seven forty-nine.
I look downwards to see if I am presentable. I have a tight, thin sleeved blue turtle-neck, showing off my chest muscles along with khaki pants. I walk to the bathroom to see if my dark, short cropped hair is combed and that my face is clean-shaven. I inspect myself carefully and when I finish, I put on the cologne that I know turns Imani on.
I tap my pockets checking to see if the little box that I had put in them, was still there. It's about time that I ask her to marry me. We have talked about marriage and we both agree that we should marry but we are hampered because we have no money. Yet now, I have reached a point where I don't care about that. Love has nothing to do with money. I love her and I want to marry her. The money I spent to buy this ring was hard earned but worth a lifetime of happiness and companionship.
I look at my watch and it's a few minutes to eight, so I walk up to and pick up my phone deciding to call her.
As soon as I pick up the phone to call her, the door bell rings. ‘Great timing,’ I think, smiling inwardly. A sigh escapes my lungs as I walk nervously towards the door. Slowly, I unlock the door and open it as I peek out into the corridor.
Before me stands the most beautiful woman that I have ever beheld. She has lightly tanned skin which would tell anyone of her Hispanic heritage. She has full lips painted rouge, a well shaped nose and gleaming brown green eyes. Her long black hair flows down to her full bosom. Imani has a slim, well shaped body which made her a very desirable woman. She is wearing a thick sweater with a tight pair of jeans. It's nothing fancy but it looks good on her nonetheless.
She is carrying a bag over her shoulders. I recognize it to be the one that she uses to keep her belongings in when she comes on an extended stay. My heart jumps with joy seeing that she brought the bag which means that she will spend a few days with me. ‘How long has it been since she has been with me for more than two days straight?’
"Hola Mi Amor," I start to say, which means, 'hello my love' in Spanish. "You're finally here. Imani, I was so worried," I say with my voice full of relief and joy.
I open the door and let her into the apartment. She smiles up at me and hugs me tightly. Imani's head rests on my chest since she is about a foot shorter than me. I bend my head down and with my hand, pull her chin up so and kiss her passionately. She responds to my kiss with as much ardor and I hear a slight moan of pleasure from her. The feeling of her lips upon mine is immeasurable not to mention her tongue.
"I missed you so much Jayden. The only thing on my mind was you," she says breaking the kiss and looking up into my eyes. Here voice is a musical melody to my ears which made me visibly lose the tension that I had been holding up. "I'm sorry that I am late, I just got caught up with class. That annoying woman doesn’t know how to teach. How do they expect me to pass this class if I can’t even understand her?” she asks me knowing that I wouldn't be able to answer her. “I was talking to my advisor to see what she can do about changing me to another class when noticed what time it was. I hurried back to the dorm room, got ready and came as fast as I could," she says apologetically. I usher her into my apartment, close the door and lock it.
"It's quite alright Mi Amor, I was just worried. Call me next time so that I wouldn’t worry so much."
“I promise,” Imani says as I turn around facing her.
She embraces me, pulling my head downward kissing me hard and passionately. I kiss her back putting my arms her petite body pulling her close to me. This kiss goes much further than the previous one. I break the kiss yet unwillingly, and see that she didn’t want to stop either but we both know what would happen if we didn't stop now.
“I love you Imani,” I say softly.
“I love you Jayden,” she replies instantly.
“I missed this you know.”
“Kissing you, us, just being here with you,” I reply raking some hair that had fallen onto her fair face, passing my hand on her cheek lightly. Imani reaches up towards me seeking to find my lips but I didn’t let her.
“Hey! I thought that you missed kissing me. Don’t you want to kiss me?” she asks enticingly moving even closer to me.
“Of course I do. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to kiss you? But we have to exercise a bit of self control Mi Amor," I say mischievously.
“That is so cruel,” she says jabbing me in the ribs with her small fist, momentarily winding me. “I hope that that hurt.”
She takes advantage of this moment to put her arms around my neck and kiss me.
"You see, you can't stop me," she says laughing in triumph.
"Taking advantage of me like that. You should do that more often," I respond winking at her. "What do you think of the place? It only took my dad and me a week to repair it."
"Your apartment looks great! You and your father are good. This apartment looked nothing like it does now," she says looking around. "You will have to give me a tour but for now can you show me where the bathroom is again?"
"You see that hallway right there?" I ask pointing to the hallway. "The bathroom is the door to the left."
Imani puts down her bag on the couch and opens it. She shuffles around a bit until she takes out a smaller bag.
"What's that?" I ask inquisitively.
“Oh this?” she asks pointing at the bag and I nod. “It’s some clothing. I’m going to go change,” she informs me as she walks towards the bathroom.
“You look fine the way you are, you don’t need to change.”
“Apparently I do,” she says winking at me, slipping into the bathroom and closing the door behind her.
‘What is she going to put on this time,’ I wonder. The previous outfits that she has worn, have made me want her all the more. I don't ask her to do this but she seems to enjoy seeing my reactions. It will be very effective because we have not been together for almost a week now which will make it hard on me to control myself.
Since I will have to wait, I take a seat on the couch and pick up a book for me to read in the mean time. The book happened to be Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune', which I have read a number of times but never tire of rereading. I didn’t notice that she had exited the bathroom until she addresses me.
“Close your eyes and stand up,” she orders, taking me by surprise and I comply. A few seconds pass by and nothing happens. Then, I feel her hand on my stomach, it slowly make its way up to my chest. Imani passes her hand all over my upper body and I shiver. Her lips brush past mine but never fully meet.
“Hmm…You smell good,” she whispers into my ears. “Now open your eyes,” Imani orders.
I open my eyes and see the outfit that she put on. Imani is wearing a tight halter top and from the look of it, without a bra. She has a mini skirt on. This has been her most revealing and seductive outfit that she has worn. My mouth slightly opens and I whisper a barely inaudible, "Oh my..."
This elicits a giggle from her as she spins around modeling for me. It seems that she gave much thought over what she was going to put on for this special occasion.
"I'm glad that you like it," she says smiling.
"Wow," that is all that I can say in reaction. I reach out to her but she evades me laughing malevolently.
“It looks like you too have to exercise self control my love,” she says seductively, plainly try to and succeeding in torturing me. “I came to eat dinner you know, I’m famished. The food smells quite delicious. You are a marvelous cook you know. Why don’t we go eat?
“You think so?”
“I wouldn’t lie to you now would I?”
“Okay, Lets go eat,” I say relenting. I lead her to the dining room. She walks very seductively yet warily making sure that I don’t touch her. I seat her and go to the kitchen to bring the dinner. It's a traditional Dominican dinner which consisting of white rice, red beans, chicken along with shrimp and a small salad. I return to the kitchen to get the bottle of wine that my father had given me. Throughout all this, Imani is staring at me keeping quite.
I sit down and say a short prayer. I cater to her and then serve myself. We begin eating but we barely touch our food. We are more occupied at looking at each other than eating. It feels as if we have seen each other for the first time. We are both enraptured with the other. I attempt at starting a conversation by asking Imani how her day was, yet she only answers using one or two words.
"Aren't you hungry?" she asks me, seeing that I have barely touched my food.
"I am, but I want something more...filling," I reply pouring out some wine for the two of us.
"As do I. Don't get me wrong, the food is delicious," she says taking the cup of wine that I give her. She takes a sip of the wine.
“Oh yea, I forgot to tell you, I have some dessert today, Mi Amor.”
“Oh really? What is it?” she asks immediately interested.
“You will have to wait until we are done with dinner to find out.”
“You know, I do not feel like eating anymore. So why don’t we just have some dessert? You know how much I like desserts.”
“Ok then, help me with the dishes then.”
“Sure, no problem,” she says getting up.
We take our time bringing in the dishes. I put them neatly on the kitchen counter. I make no effort to show that there is any dessert and am confronted by Imani. She pushes me against the counter, playfully threatening me with a finger.
“Now tell me, where is that dessert you said that I was going to have?” she asks.
“You are looking right at it, Mi Amor,” I tell her smiling mischievously and I see her grin before I pull her to me and kiss her. She breaks the kiss and looks up at me.
“Should have known. I like this dessert,” Imani says smiling up at me.
“Did I tell you that I loved you today?” I ask.
“You probably did, but say it again.”
“I love you Imani, with all my heart and soul.”
“As do I, Jayden.”
A cell phone rings and we both recognize it to be Imani's. "Damnit," I say exasperated to be called at such a bad time; right when I was about to propose to her.
"That's mine," she says walking to the living room and looks in her bag until she takes out the phone.
"Don't take it," I tell her but she didn't listen
"Hello?" she says and then there is a pause. "Yes, this is she. How did you get my cell phone number?" she stops to listen. "Oh my God!” there another pause as she was spoken to. “That can't be!" I quickly walk up to her and see her face strewn with tears. She reaches to me and I hold her in my arms as she begins to sob with the phone still in her ear. "How is my daughter? Is she okay?" she asks. "Why can't I?" she listens and then continues, "Alright, I will take tomorrow's plane and get there as soon as I can." She listens more and responds, "Goodbye."
"Daughter?" I ask bewildered. "You have a daughter?"
She can barely respond as she closes the cell phone, "Yes, her name is Tamara."
I didn’t know what to do. Imani has a daughter! After two years of being together, she never told me.
"I’m sorry Jayden, I'm so sorry I never told you." she says apologetically. "I just didn't know how."
"You didn't know? I'm your boyfriend for God's sake! How could you not tell me?" I scream at her.
I sit down and put my hands on my head. 'She has a daughter,' I think to myself. I feel anger brew within me as well as helplessness. Unwanted tears flow down my face, which I quickly wipe away. Imani sits next to me and puts a hand on my shoulder.
"Are you okay?" she asks in a sad voice.
"Do I look like I am okay?"
"Please tell me what is on your mind. There aren't many times when I see you like this. I'm so sorry Jayden."
"If you have hidden something of this importance from me for two years, I have to wonder what else you have hidden from me. Don't you love me?" I ask her.
"Don't say that," she says beginning to cry, "I do love you."
"You hid this from me for two years! The only way I find out is because something happens to your daughter," my anger and shock take over. 'How could she do this to me,' I ask myself.
"Oh God, what have I done?" she asks herself rocking back and forth.
I don't say anything because if I do, I know that I will end up hurting her more than need be.
Imani stops rocking and looks at me with a strange twinkle in her eye, “Jayden?"
"What?" I ask angrily.
"There is something else that I haven't told you,” she says taking hold of my hand.
"There's more that you haven't told me?" I ask, feeling even more helpless.
"Yes there is."
For some reason, I remember the message that Imani left me on the cell phone. "Does it have to do with that surprise that you are talking about in the message that you left me?" I ask.
"What would that be?"
"Jayden, I'm pregnant."