(NOTE: Contains explicit language and adult themes suitable for ages 16+)
© K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Taj opened the door for Nessa to their empty two-bedroom apartment and quietly closed the door behind him. He put the keys down on the dining room table and watched her as she slowly made her way across the living room to stand in front of the couch. His eyes followed hers as she stared at the small yellow giraffe sitting beside the remote. His heart bled for her. He could barely deal with his own feelings about what had happened between them, so he had no idea of the magnitude of thoughts that were racing through her head. Not knowing what to say or where to start, he walked into the kitchen.
“Do you need anything while I’m in here, babe? Something to eat or something to drink?” he asked with his head in the fridge.
When he didn’t get a response, he popped his head up and looked towards the living room. Nessa was standing in the middle of the floor holding the giraffe with tears streaming down her face. Taj quickly closed the refrigerator door and raced over to her, pulling her quivering body into his strong arms.
“It’s okay, baby. It’s going to be okay.”
“No, it’s not going to be okay this time,” she sobbed. “Why would this happen to us again? Am I being punished? What the fuck did I do wrong?”
Taj continued to hold her as she cried rivers into his white t-shirt. Nessa had just lost their second child in six months. That time hurt even more than the first, because they’d made it to the second trimester and announced the good news to their families. Good news that now had to be taken back. A growing baby registry that had to be deleted and a gender reveal party that had to be cancelled. He could hear his family and friends giving their condolences and sorrowful remarks. Things him nor Nessa wanted to hear. He could feel the tears welling up in the crevices of his eyes. They were both just two broken vessels trying their best to be strong.
“Listen to me, baby. There is nothing wrong with you, aight? It’s just not our time yet. When the time is right God will give us a baby and we will be the best parents in the world, okay?” he said as he got down on his knees and kissed her empty stomach.
“God is going to make a way for us. I just know it.”
“It’s just not right!” she cried as she pushed him away. “You already have a baby with Simone! Don’t get me wrong, I love TJ as if he was my own son, but that doesn’t change the fact that I want my own baby. Why can’t I fucking carry to full-term?” she said as she laid on the couch and curled into a ball.
He stood over her and watched the woman he loved crumble into a million pieces and there was nothing he could do about it. Before he could respond, his phone vibrated in his back pocket. Instead of picking it up, he ignored it and walked over to sit beside Nessa. He gently lifted her head and laid it in his lap so that he could stroke her hair.
Nessa pulled the stuffed animal close to her chest and closed her eyes as silent tears continued to slide down her cheeks. She wanted nothing more than to be able to carry Taj’s baby to full-term so the three of them could finally be the family she always wanted. She loved the relationship Taj had with his son, and couldn’t wait to see how he would be with their child. When his phone vibrated again, she looked up at him.
“Who is blowing your phone up like that?”
“I don’t know. I’m not worried about that shit. All I’m worried about right now is you. You have my undivided attention.”
Nessa rolled her eyes and then closed them again. When his phone vibrated for a third time, she sucked her teeth and he pulled the phone out of his pocket to see who was desperately trying to get in touch with him. When he looked at the screen, there were three text messages from Simone.
Simone: 3:23pm: Hey. Wyd?
Simone: 3:29pm: We need to talk. It’s important.
Simone: 3:31pm: Did you tell her yet?
Taj chewed his bottom lip and shook his head. He slid up the navigation screen and put his phone on Do Not Disturb, then flipped it face down.
“Who was that?”
“Nobody important, baby,” he assured her.
He rested his head against the back of the couch and closed his eyes as he exhaled deeply. Aside from the humming of the refrigerator in the kitchen and the heat blowing throughout the apartment, the room was silent. Taj didn’t have the heart to tell Nessa that he’d slipped up a couple months back after an argument, and slept with his baby mother, Simone. How could he even begin to tell the woman he loved and wanted to spend the rest of his life with that he’d double-backed and ruined their relationship?
“Sit up, baby. There’s something I need to talk to you about.”
“Can it wait? I’m really not in the mood right now, T.”
He bit the inside of his jaw and then shook his head. He could’ve easily let it go and kept the secret to himself, but he knew that there was only so long he would be able to hide the truth from her.
“I wish it could wait, but…it can’t. Sit up, please.”
Nessa rolled her eyes and slowly sat up to look at him.
“What? What is it?” she asked.
Taj took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.
“I love you, Nessa. You know that, don’t you?”
“I do,” she nodded.
“Good,” he paused.
“What is this about, Taj? You’re starting to scare me.”
“Look, as much as it kills me to tell you this shit, especially right now, I would feel worse if I kept it from you.”
“Kept what from me?” she interjected.
“You remember a couple months back when we had that big argument and I left for the night?”
“Yeah. What about it? Where did you go? What did you do?”
“I went out with a couple of my boys just to blow off some steam, you know? I had a couple of drinks in my system and I was pretty buzzed. I saw Simone while I was out. One thing led to another, and I…I fucked up.”
“You fucked up? You fucked up how?” she yelled as she jumped up from the couch.
“I slept with Simone…”
Taj’s words had sucker punched Nessa right in the gut. It was the last thing she expected to hear since all Taj could talk about was how much he hated Simone and although he loved his son, he wished he hadn’t had him with her.
“So, you just gon’ kick me when I’m fuckin’ down like this, nigga? After I fuckin’ lost our second baby you gon’ tell me that you fuckin’ cheated on me when I was fuckin’ pregnant? Huh? That’s the type of shit you’re on?”
“I know this shit is fucked up, baby, and I know this was probably the worst time I could’ve ever fucking told you this shit, but I wanted to tell you right after it happened…I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to stress you or the baby out.”
“What the fuck is wrong with you, huh? You say you love me and then you go and you fuckin’ cheat on me? What a fuckin’ paradox! You ain’t nothin’ but a lying ass nigga! Get out and go back to your old bitch since that’s clearly who you want to be with so goddamn bad!” she fumed as she slammed her crumbled fist into his chest repeatedly.
Taj stood to his feet and took each blow she landed on his body. He knew he deserved every bit of it for what he did. To him, Nessa and Simone were like oil and water or day and night. They were opposites in every sense of the word. Nessa had done everything in her power to give him the world, while Simone insisted on playing mind games and used his son as a pawn every chance she got. He kicked himself for not being man enough to put Simone in her place when she came onto him. If he lost Nessa over his moment of weakness, he knew he would never forgive himself.
“Baby, please just stop and listen!” he said as he reached out to grab her hands.
“Listen? What the fuck else is there for me to listen to, Taj? Huh? You just told me you slept with that bitch! I’m trying to figure out why the fuck you’re still standing in front of me! Get the fuck out!”
He sighed as his jaws tightened. He swallowed hard as he held his hands out to create distance between them.
“Nessa, just wait.”
“Wait? Ain’t no wait! Get out!”
“…She called me two days ago.”
“And? What the fuck does that have to do with anything?” she yelled, ready to start punching him again.
“I’m so sorry, baby,” he said, shaking his head.
Nessa’s eyes widened as she looked at him.
“Don’t you say it! Don’t you dare fucking say it, Taj!”
“She’s pregnant again.”
“And it’s mine…”
Her breath hitched as she played those three words over and over in her head like a broken record. She couldn’t think. She couldn’t cry. She could barely breathe. Maybe if she hadn’t been mourning the loss of her own child, she could think rationally, but everything inside her was running off pure emotion. She wanted to cut Taj deep, and she knew just how to do it. Truth was, he wasn’t the only one in their relationship holding onto a secret.
“Baby, please say something. Say anything,” he begged.
“Hand me my phone,” she said as her voice went hoarse.
“What?” he asked, confused at her request.
“Hand me my fucking phone!”
With a confused look on his face, Taj scanned the living room for her phone until his eyes landed on her purse. He walked over to the love seat, and pulled her phone out of the front pocket.
“Here,” he said.
Nessa jerked her phone from him and unlocked it. He watched her scroll through her messages, trying her best to find something.
“What are you looking for? What is going on, baby? Talk to me.”
Instead of responding, Nessa turned her volume up and played a voice recording that she’d been holding onto for the past few weeks. They both stood there listening to Simone talk freely about Taj and his son to one of their mutual friends.
“Yes, bitch! TJ is about to be four years old and this nigga Taj still don’t know that’s not his son! I mean, I can’t blame him, those family jeans run strong. What? Yeah, I could’ve gotten an abortion when I got pregnant, but the nigga told me if I kept it and told Taj that the baby was his, he’d give me money to keep our little secret on the hush, hush. That way, he’d still get the opportunity to be in the baby’s life, too. Talk about awkward when a bitch used to go to family functions with his damn daddy there. But shit, now that nigga playing games with my coins, so I’m about to show my whole ass! He lucky I don’t tell Taj the truth! The only reason I’m not sayin’ shit is because I don’t want my child support to dry up! A bitch still needs to get paid!”
“So that’s who the fuck you ruined our whole relationship for, nigga? A gold digging, lying ass bitch?” Nessa yelled as she threw her phone at him.
Taj’s chest heaved in and out, as the air in the room suddenly got thin. He didn’t know if the room was actually spinning or if he was smack in the middle of a nightmare.
“Nessa…what the fuck?! What the fuck was that shit?” he yelled with his hands raised high above his head.
“Put two and two together, nigga. TJ isn’t your son, he’s your fuckin’ little brother!”
In a relationship where both parties are hiding a secret, which one is to blame?