“Do you even want to be married?” He stood there looking at me. His eyes showed the pain he was feeling, but the set of his jaw let me know it was mixed with anger.
“How could you ask me that, David?”
“Cause somehow you let another man come between us?”
“I don’t want anyone else, I want you.” My words were spoken confidently, but I knew they were only partially true.
“Are you sure, Kayla?”
“Then tell me. Where were you last night?”
Silence. I wished I could lie to him and tell him that I was out with the girls or at Walmart picking up a few things for the house. I wished with everything within me, but I couldn’t, so I didn’t say anything. Silence filled the space where I should have been able to speak and soothe his fears.
Instead, my mind ran through the events of the evening in question.
It had been a while since he called me. His number appeared on the screen of my phone and I instantly knew it was him. His number had never been saved, I didn’t want my husband to look through my contacts and find a name I couldn’t explain.
“What do you want?”
“What do you mean – what do I want?”
“Cause I told you last time was the last time.”
“Right,” he said. His tone suggested he didn’t think I was serious at the time. I was quite serious. My mind was made up that I would from that point on stay true to my husband. My resolution was firm, but the next day I felt it waver. Every time I closed my eyes, I could see his face. My showers lasted longer than they should have as I daydreamed about him. The number of times I had to refocus my mind on the road increased dramatically as thoughts of him swept through my mind. I knew in my heart I loved the man who gave me his last name, but I knew I had a problem. In my heart, there was no doubt that I loved my husband. In fact, I told myself my heart belonged to him and only him. It was a lie. I had allowed another man in and this other man had taken residence and partial ownership. No matter how many times I shook my head or told my reflection in the mirror what I wanted to be true, it didn’t change my reality. My only saving grace was the fact that the other man was hardly ever in town to take advantage of my weakness for him.
“So I’m staying at the Vdara, I left a key for you at the front desk,” he continued.
“I’m not coming.”
“I’ve been thinking of you a lot lately. I know you told me not to call you, but…”
“I told you…”
“I know what you said, but we both know you didn’t mean it.”
“I can’t keep doing this to my husband.”
“Then leave him.”
“Just to become another one of your side chicks.”
“No, I’d leave all of them for you.”
“Then why haven’t you?”
“Why haven’t you left your husband?”
“Because I love him.”
“But you love me too. So I guess the only question is, who do you love more?”
“Him,” I said weakly.
“The card’s at the front desk. I know what you said, but I know what I felt the last time we were together.”
“That’s exactly what it was, the last time.”
“It didn’t feel like the last time. I did like you said, for the last two months, I didn’t call you, but I had a lot of time to think and…”
“And what?” I screamed at myself for continuing this conversation. I should have hung up, but the part of my heart that was his wouldn’t let me. Already, my mind thought of excuses I could tell myself for why I should go see him. I could tell him in person it was over, he would be able to see my eyes and know I meant it. I could return the necklace he gave me that I never wore because I didn’t want to have to lie to my husband about who got it for me. I could…
“And I realized I want to be with you.”
“I made a vow that I would stay with my husband. The last time we were together we almost made love. It was never supposed to go that far. We were only supposed to be friends.”
“I don’t want to be just your friend.”
“I know and that’s the problem. We can’t be anything more than friends.”
I pressed the button to end the call before he could say anything else. My eyes watered as confusion began to take over my mind.
I shouldn’t have gotten in my car, but I turned the keys in the ignition and fastened my seatbelt. I shouldn’t have been on I-15, but I maneuvered my car easily through the weekend traffic. I shouldn’t have valeted my car, but I got out of the car and took my ticket. I shouldn’t have told the woman at the front desk my name, but I let her place the keycard in my hand. I still had a chance to walk out the door, but my legs took to his room. My brain tried to make sense of my behavior. I was acting like an addict and he was my drug of choice. At every turn, my mind told me to turn around and go home, and at every turn I disregarded all logic.
He opened the door and his arms wrapped around my waist. He felt better than my daydreams. I missed how it felt to rest my head on his shoulder and take in the scent from his collar. The tingle that started in the small of my back caused my cheeks to flush. I relaxed when I should have tensed. I leaned into his embrace when I should have run away. I ignored all thoughts that would take me away from him and rationalized my actions. Like any addict, I thought I was strong enough to get just a taste of his presence, but I underestimated his effect on me.
Like the other nights, we talked about everything. The details that my husband never asked me about, I shared with him. The hands my husband had forgotten to hold, were caressed by his. The laughter that should have filled my home, shook my body as I laid next to his. I fell asleep in his arms and though we never kissed, never removed any clothing, we shared something even more intimate. He had given me something my husband had neglected to give me, his attention and his affection.
I kissed his lips for the first time before I left. I had never felt his lips on mine and if they felt this good when he was sleep, I could only imagine what would happen if he was awake. My heart ached as I opened the door and I found it hard to put one foot in front of the other as I walked to the elevator. My mind made the decision to leave despite the protests coming from my chest.
“Where are you going, Kay?” He called as I tipped the valet and sat down in the driver seat of my car.
“I can’t do this anymore. I shouldn’t have come.”
“I shouldn’t have come.”
“I love you.”
“If we had met six years ago, things could be so different. But six years ago, I made a vow that despite all the anniversaries he’s forgotten and despite the way he takes me for granted, I would stay true to him. I won’t leave him.”
“I love you.”
“And I love you. I know that now. You have a piece of my heart and that shouldn’t be.”
“Then tell me. Where were you last night?” My mind came back to the present as my husband repeated his question.
“What do you mean?”
“I came home and your engine was still warm. Where did you go last night?”
“To see him? I’ve heard you say his name in your sleep. At first, I couldn’t make it out, but then one night, you said it so clearly.”
“You are my wife and I don’t share. So either you want to be with me or him, cause I refuse to be a side nigga.” His accent always came out when he was angry and the way his lips formed the words told me despite the calm demeanor, inside he was livid.
“I want to be with you.”
“I don’t trust you.”
“I only want you.”
“No.” He shook his head. “If you wanted only me, you wouldn’t have been out with him.”
“I told him it was over.”
“How many times, Kayla?”
“How many times did you tell him it was over? How many times did you decide that you wanted to be with me only to run back to him?”
I couldn’t answer my husband. Besides the ‘last time’, I had told him at least twice that we shouldn’t continue to see each other. On the outside, it appeared platonic. His hands never found themselves in inappropriate places. His lips had only brushed my cheeks in greeting. In our hearts, we knew better than to believe the appearances. We shared ourselves with words and moments that bonded us in ways that were only meant for our significant others.
“Tell me I’m crazy to think my wife is cheating on me. Tell me I’m crazy to consider the possibility that she’s in love with someone other than me.”
“We’ve never had sex.”
“Sex? That nigga may have never had your body, but he has something way more valuable. He has your heart.”
“Not any more.”
“If only it were that easy. You opened a door that’s not easily closed.”
“I only want you.”
“You say that now, but what happens when he calls you again?”
We endured weeks of counseling. We recommitted ourselves to each other. David became more attentive and I slowly felt the tug on my heart fade. We made love and I could see in his eyes he believed me when I told him I belonged to him. My body responded to his touch and we connected in ways that caused me to question why I strayed. But he had predicted it, the call to my phone would be made by the one that almost came between us.
My breath caught in my throat as emotions I hadn’t felt for months resurfaced. I had a choice to make. Do I hit the green button and test my commitment to David or the red button and continue happily in my marriage?
I’d like to say I was strong. I’d like to say all the counseling sessions were fruitful in rekindling the flame I had for my husband and more importantly, dimmed the flame I had for another. I’d like to say the discussion I had with myself was short, because the answer to the debate within my heart was obvious. I’d like to say that, but everyone knows actions speak louder than words. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. When I opened my eyes, I made my decision, and my finger pressed the button.
by Angelique Grey