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"Jam, look over there. See that guy sitting in the corner? He keeps motioning for me to get your attention. You think he's cute?"
Jamaica smiles, pretends we're talking about something other than the man across the dimly lit lounge. All I can make out clearly is his watch, shining up at us from across the room. He's either got money, or wants people to think he does.
She shifts, bends down and fixes the strap on her shoe that doesn't need fixing. When she straightens she glances Mr. Bling's way.
"He's alright. Nothing to call home about. He is definitely no Jason." She says dreamily. "But I am feeling that watch." We both laugh.
"Well, I've never dated a..... what is his ethnicity anyway?" She asks, trying to decipher the origins of his dark straight hair that has been tousled with a little gel, and his olive skin.
"I'm guessing he is Chaldean?" I say, unsure myself.
"Well yeah, I've never dated a Chaldean....but he is kinda sexy. Too bad he still isn't Jason."
I have to chuckle at her antics. Jam is always cracking me up. Even though Jason isn't my favorite person, he seems to be making her happy, and that's okay with me.
The man we've dubbed Mr. Bling continues to stare over at us, intensely focusing his eyes on Jamaica.
"Girl, I need a plan. He looks like he's about to come over here. I am not feeling like this tonight." Jamaica says, rolling her eyes in his direction when she sees Mr. Bling uncross his legs and shift in his seat, preparing to get up.
He sends her a small smile with a wink.
"Oh hell no." She mutters.
Quickly she reaches out and grabs the first man walking by us. Luckily, he was smiling down at us when he was walking past, so she is saved.
"Hey babe....come, have a seat."
Jamaica stands up, slightly pushing the caramel-cutie in the seat she was just occupying, then gently falls into his lap. The man is startled, then starts grinning, the look that my friend Jasmine calls 'the sexy eye' flooding into his eyes. He licks his lips, examines Jamaica as she sits in his lap.
"So....how are you tonight?" She says, smiling. "You're kinda cute. What's your name?"
"Khan. And you?" He says, his deep voice almost getting lost in the collective noise of the lounge.
She smiles. "Well Khan, I'm Jamiaca. And you see that guy over there? With the watch? He has been staring at me all night and he was about to come over here....thus the reason why you are so lucky to be sitting under me right now. I needed a decoy."
When I glance over to where Mr. Bling has been sitting all night, he isn't there. Hopefully he got the hint. My phone chimes, India Arie's voice singing The Truth, fighting to be heard above the neo-soul band playing on the stage in front of us.
I tap Jamaica. "This is Abram, I'll be right back."
I get up, walk towards the back of the room where there is a hallway leading to the exit. It should be a little quieter.
"Hey baby..." I say, pressing the phone to my ear with a smile.
"Ata? I can't really hear you? Where are you?"
"Oh, sorry. Hold on a minute." I exit the club, leave the muffled noise behind and enter the warm air outside. It is a beautiful night, still 78 degrees at 10pm.
"Okay....can you hear me now?" I say, sounding like the popular Verizon commercial.
"...Yeah, that's better. Where are you? Are you almost here? Don't tell me you forgot." I hear the hastiness in his voice and try to think.
Quickly my mind whizzes through all the possible things that he could be talking about. I can't come up with anything.
"I'm at the Soultry Lofts with Jamaica. What did I forget?"
"Damn Ata, is it really like that? I've been telling you about this for the last week and a half... I'm going on in three minutes!"
I feel horrible. What's tonight? The twelfth...oh no. Abram is performing his new song, that he wrote about me no less, along with a few others ones at his usual spot. Only a representative from a record label is going to be there, the one he's been trying to get to for months.
"Your performance....oh man Abram. It completely escaped my mind! Why didn't you remind me earlier?" I say, knowing that he shouldn't have had to remind me.
"Come on Ata, how could you forget something important as this? You should have had this marked on you calendar in that damn blackberry you're always on. This is important to me.... and it should be to you."
I promised him I would be there. How could I forget this? My heart weighs down with guilt. I am clear across town, there is no way I will be able to make it on time, but I'm going to try.
"Oh Abram..... I'm so--"
"Nah, don't even worry about it Ata. You remember what you want to remember." He cuts me off. "Hope you're having fun with Jamaica, since that's what's important to you."
I am so consumed with my conversation with Abram that I don't even notice Jaylen step out of a gold BMW and toss the keys to the valet. Before I can get a word in to Abram, Jaylen is standing in front of me.
"Nafi...I'm telling you, it must be fate. We keep running into each other everywhere. Unless of course, you're just stalking me." He smiles, his small earring and watch shining more than Mr. Bling's inside.
"What the....? Who was that Ata? Thought you were with Jamaica?" Abram's voice rings in my ear.
I was hoping he hadn't heard that.
"No...no no, I am with Jamaica, Abram. That was just some guy I know."
I want to tell him the truth, but in his current state of anger it would only make things worse. Abram and I haven't been spending much time together because of our busy schedules, so the chances for me to be randomly bumping into my ex would be slim to none in his mind.
In the background, I hear a man announce Abram's name, followed by a thunderous applause. His whole family must be there tonight.
And I'm not.
"Some guy? I heard him call you Nafi, Ata. That's that clown from the restaurant isn't it? Now you're lying? I don't have time for this shit right now Ata. I'm supposed to be performing. Tell your date I said what up."
I try to say something, anything that will clean up some of the mess I have just gotten myself into, but a cold silence is all that responds. Abram hung up. And he is angry. Very angry. And I can't blame him.
This looks bad. So bad. I can't believe I forgot one of the most important days of his life. What was I thinking? I feel horrible.
"Nafi, is everything alright? I didn't mean to cause any drama. Dude needs to relax, for real." Jaylen walks toward me, noticing my frown.
I am angry at myself, at him, at this whole situation. Right now it feels better to focus it all on him.
"Listen to me, don't talk to me! Don't come around me! Don't speak to me if you see me out....just stay away from me! You're always destroying something in my life! Just stay away!" I scream.
The few people standing outside turn their attention towards us, look at me like I've just escaped the psych ward.
"Well damn, I just said hi." He says, clearly amused that he has once again caused some conflict between Abram and I.
I ignore him. Hurry back inside, with him following behind. When I find Jamaica she is sitting in the seat I left empty, next to the cutie who saved her from Mr. Bling.
"Jam, we have to go. Abram is pissed at me. He is performing at Grand Central tonight for that record label and I'm not there. We have to go. Now." I say, almost tearing up.
In all the time we've been dating, Abram has never been this angry at me. Sure, we've had our spats, but I've never even heard him curse before. I have to repair this right away. My head is floating, heart slamming. This looks so bad.
"That's tonight? What..." Jam's voice trails off when she sees Jaylen standing behind me. Reflexively, she cuts and rolls her eyes at him. "Why is this fool here? I know you didn't come here to meet him, did you?" She says accusingly, the hatred in her eyes acute for Jaylen.
"No Jam! Look, let's just go. I will explain in the car. I've got to get to Grand Central before Abram leaves." I respond, grabbing her arm as I turn to leave.
She waves a quick bye to Khan, still sitting there perplexed, and a little annoyed at me for ruining his night I guess, and turns back to Jaylen, the hatred still resonate in her eyes.
"If you had anything to do with this, I'd better not see you again."
Jaylen smirks, lets out a chuckle, and watches us hurry out the door.