Insert from my new book, "New Beginnings"
(Submitted to Fall Lines for publishing)
Tears rolled down the sides of my face as I listened to the soulful sounds of Adele’s on my iPod. It’s been almost a year since Saleem and I broke up yet the pain still stings like it happened yesterday. Whoever said absence makes the heart grow fonder was probably single. Long work hours, a lack of communication and a third party, in my opinion, makes the heart grow colder. The psychologist in me is prone to analyze every detail of our relationship: “Why did this happen?” “What did I do wrong?” But the sista in me says, “Because a man will always be a man” and “You didn’t do anything wrong, he cheated on you” Regardless of why things went wrong, I know that I deserve better. I knew that it was time to walk away, so I did. Girl, get off the pity pot, time is slipping away. Its 7:00 pm, I need to get moving or I will be late for my date with Dwayne. I met Dwayne Johnson six months ago; my best friend Tracey introduced me to him at her wedding. I didn’t think I was ready to date, but apparently Tracey did. I have to admit, Dwayne was a great catch. The brotha is fine with a capital “F”. He’s 6 ft. 4 inches of pure dark chocolate, with dimples and a body that makes your heart melt at the sight of them. . More importantly, he had a great personality, a funny sense of humor and he’s a doctor. You can’t ask for more than that. Even though I was Ivy League myself, I kind of had a thing for bad boys, so Saleem being a detective was right up my alley; Maybe now it’s time to get back on the right side of the tracks for a change and to consider someone more like myself. Who knows, Dwayne could be good for me. I jumped off my bed and headed into the bathroom to take a shower. When I stepped out of the shower, I looked in the mirror to take a few minutes to fluff my hair out a bit. It’s wavy now, but the steam from the shower will give me the curly look that I was going for. To complete my grooming; I brush my teeth, floss and move into my bedroom to dry off. After trying on what seemed like a thousand outfits, I finally decided to wear the little black dress that I had laid on the bed before I had taken my shower. I put on my make-up; taken a last minute peek at my hair and now to accessorize my outfit. I stand in front of the mirror and pose to the left, right, behind, all the views that ladies do in the mirror. I captured the look needed for this evening and slipped on my toe topping shoes. I grabbed my coat and bag to venture out for another dating experience.
I arrived at Ruth Chris Steak House exactly at 8:00 pm. I pulled into a parking space and I saw Dwayne waiting for me at the front entrance. He immediately walks towards the car and reaches for the door handle to open the door. He extends his hand to assist me; such a gentleman. Men are no longer courteous towards ladies today; it’s refreshing to find a man who still believes that chivalry isn’t dead. I got out of the car to give him a smile and a hug. Once inside the restaurant, he approaches the maîtred' to let him know there is a reservation in the name of Johnson. The waitress walks us over to patio area. Apparently Dwayne arranged to have an area reserved just for the two of us; romance blooming, a man after my heart. There was a violinist playing in the background and long stemmed yellow roses graced the table in a beautiful glass vase. I looked up at him and smiled. With the recent heartbreak, I hadn’t really allowed Dwayne to get close to me but after tonight; I just might let my guard down a little bit. Dwayne pulled my chair out for me and I sat down. The violinist played Ave Maria, Serenade by Franz Schubert; it was so beautiful that it almost brought me to tears. Dwayne ordered a bottle of Pommard, a red wine. We toasted to new beginnings. It has been six months since we met and Dwayne said this toast was to celebrate six months of getting to know each other. I wondered if he really felt like he knew me. Have I really been fair to him by keeping my feelings bottled up inside? New beginnings…..those words meant a lot to him. I could see it in his eyes and it was time that they had more meaning for me as well. For dinner, I ordered a filet with a side of asparagus and broiled tomatoes. Dwayne ordered a porter house steak with sautéed mushrooms and potatoes au gratin. We talked about things we had never discussed before; family, dreams and goals. We even talked about getting married and having children one day. I had never seen him in this light, I guess that’s because my mind was too cloudy with the fog of the past. I’m sitting across the table from this man, thinking; “could he be the one?” I want to open up my heart again, but my wounds are still fresh and my scars haven’t healed. Am I not allowing myself a chance to heal, but continue to nurse my wounded heart? Perhaps this may be true.
The waiter comes to the table and asked if we would like desert. Although I’m stuffed, Dwayne convinces me to share a Chocolate Sin Cake with him. The cake comes and Dwayne picks up his spoon, scoops up a piece of cake and moves the spoon in my direction. I part my lips ever so gently to let the spoonful of cake go in. The seduction is intense; my body is wavering as I allowed the spoon to move slowly out of my mouth. Dwayne smiles and goes in for another spoonful of cake but this time, he tastes the cake. Once he pulls the spoon out of his mouth, he licks the spoon slowly with his tongue. I became mesmerize, my body went limp; the enticement led my mind astray; Damn, is what my mind is saying but my mouth says, “Good?” He smiles and nods, then goes back in for another scoop. I don’t know about him, but at this point, my temperature is about a hundred and ten. We finish the cake and after Dwayne takes care of the bill, and we talk and laugh some more, then head to our cars. I told Dwayne that I had a great evening. He opens my car door, puts his arms around me to give me a hug and I looked up into his eyes. I swear I could stay in this very spot all night long. Dwayne holds me tighter and leans in for a kiss. First his lips barely touched mine and then the next kiss is more passionate. Dwayne smiles and he tells me that the night doesn’t have to end. I looked at him and smiled with delight. He’s right and honestly, I don’t want it to. I invited him over to have a nightcap at my place. Normally, we would go our separate ways, but tonight was different. I wasn’t ready to let him go.
We arrived at my home and I ask him to have a seat in the living room. I proceeded into the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of Moet Rose, the cork screw and two champagne glasses. I also grab some cheese balls and crackers to enhance the favor of the wine. Dwayne sees me struggling as I enter the doorway of the living room and jumps up to assist with the Hors d'oeuvres. I grabbed the bottom of champagne that was tucked underneath my arm. We sit the items on the table and I settled down on couch while Dwayne opens the champagne. “I’m sorry, that was all I have to offer”, I said. Dwayne fills the glasses and hands me one. “This is perfect”, he says. “We are still celebrating the first day of our six months relationship right?” I had almost forgotten. He was right. Normally I’m not one to get emotional about anniversaries but this one was different. From the moment I laid eyes on Dwayne at the restaurant tonight, the thought of Saleem seem to dissipate in the atmosphere. The way I was feeling tonight, it was more like Saleem who? Dwayne and I held up our glasses and said, “I'll drink to that”. We both laughed. I sat my glass down and leaned back on the couch. Dwayne sat back too and I turned to face him. At first I just looked at him, without saying a word, so many things were racing through my head. He took my hand and said, “Before I met you I had been in a relationship for two years with a woman whom I loved very much….at least I thought I did, until I saw her for who she really was. You see, I never really knew what it felt like to be truly in love until that day I saw you at Tracey’s Christmas Party. When I looked at you, I saw that hurt that I was feeling, it was in your eyes, and I knew that you were feeling what I was feeling, but from the moment that were introduced, I knew that you were somebody special. I can’t say that I won’t ever make mistakes but I can promise you that I will hold your heart with care, always make you smile and that if you let me, and show you how someone is supposed to be loved”. I felt like I had just been frozen in time. I was listening to those words coming out of his mouth and thinking I had no idea that he was feeling the same way that I felt. I looked up at him with tears in my eyes and smiled but I didn’t, I couldn’t, say a word. To be honest, I didn’t know what to say. He smiled and said, “Are you overwhelmed? Is this too much, too soon?” I shook my head, and said no. It wasn’t overwhelming, it was refreshing. I was relieved to know that I could begin to let my guard down and live again. “I’m sorry that I don’t have any words….I, I have been a mess for so long that to hear someone say that they actually want to make me happy seems so cliché’. I’m sorry if I have closed you out. I feel like tonight we met for the first time and I’d love to give you the opportunity to love me”. Dwayne reached over and kissed me on the forehead, pulled me into him and held me tight. It felt nice to be held again. I moved over to lie back against his chest. I felt like I could lay in his arms all night and I did.