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"Ata. Come on Ata, I know you hear me."
Abram stands at the far end of the pier, his voice loud and clear behind me.
Less than two hours after I told him I needed to be alone, he has come down here anyway. I should have known when I said I was downtown that he'd know I was talking about the Riverwalk.
I keep walking. I don't want to look him in his face and see him lie to me. I can't take it.
"Ata! Stop. You really gonna make me run after you?" He says, trying to still keep his pride. He speeds up his pace, but doesn't run.
The tears have already begun. Thinking about Abram being with another woman literally makes me sick to my stomach. I have to breathe. Remember to breathe.
I continue walking. He won't get a response from me. Not right now.
"Ata! Ata stop walking and talk to me!"
The sun, which had briefly made an appearance earlier, has hidden beneath the clouds once more, and the bright, sunny day almost looks dreary now. My short, flimsy dress whips in the suddenly strong winds, as does the pony gathered at the base of my neck. The tears spilling from my eyes slant towards my ears instead of downwards, and are almost dried invisible by the time they reach them.
I reach up, wipe my eyes with my fingertips. Keep walking. When I look around I realize we are creating a spectacle. I have now become the dramatic entertainment for the same people I was watching and shooting earlier. All eyes are trained on Abram and I.
Once upon a time I would have done anything for him. Once upon a time I would have believed a man telling me he loved me. That he didn't mean to purposely hurt me. But I am scarred. And that scar is slowly beginning to throb, past pain ebbing to the surface, reminding me why I took a year-long break from love after Jaylen. That scar is telling me he is lying.
That scar is telling me to run.
"Abram ... I think we should just let sleeping dogs lie and just be done. This is obviously not a healthy thing for either one of us. You obviously don't trust me, and now, I don't trust you." A vision of that woman flashes in my brain, causes my betraying eyes to tear.
Abram looks at me in disbelief, shakes his head. "Ata. I'm telling you, I swear to you baby, that was nothing romantic. She is a representative for the label. I told her to open the door only because I was upstairs. I swear, babe. Don't do this. I know I've been avoiding you. I'm not perfect, not even close. I can be an ass if I feel I have to be. That whole Jaylen situation, you missing my show ... it hurt me. Hurt me worse than it should have. I know pain, Ata, and that shit ain't fun. I know pain. I'm not trying to go down that road again."
Everyone knew pain at some point in their life. I was pretty close with it myself right now.
"You know the pain of having some strange man answer my door after a week of not talking to you, Abram? Do you know that pain?"
He sighs, shakes his head, knowing that this isn't going to be easy. I am so sick of the excuses men make. So tired of being on the short end of the stick. I know I was wrong, missing Abram's performance was something that should have never happened. But for him to get me back like this is unacceptable.
"Ata. I told you, Ticia is a representative of the label I'm trying to sign to. No, she shouldn't have been answering my door. Yes, she is a beautiful woman. But she's insignificant. I'm serious when I say I love you. I don't want her, or any other woman at this point. But I won't be disrespected. I won't deal with you frolicking around with your ex while I'm across town waiting on you. I won't deal with not being important enough for you to remember what could be a life-changing event for me. You should know that, Ata."
With this, he takes my hands into his. "And I know you love me too. You wouldn't be this upset otherwise. So stop crying. It's making me soft." He says with a slight smile, touching his heart with his free hand.
I can't help but curl the corner of my mouth up a bit as he gently wipes my tears away with his large thumb. The wind is still forcefully singing its pre-thunderstorm song, and numerous people are still tuned into our Real World episode.
He sounds so sincere, the look in his eyes so genuine, I calm myself, take a moment and breathe. Try to remember that all men are not created equal. Remember all the intimate conversations and tender moments we've shared in his bed on lazy Saturday mornings. Remember the look of adoration in his eyes each time I step into his viewpoint. Recall all the 'just because' emails, texts, and phone calls to let me know he's thinking of me.
He does love me.
The more I reflect, the more apparent it becomes. My body warms on the inside at the thought of this not perfect but damn near there man, loving ... me. I sniffle. Turn my face away from his piercing gaze, then back again. He pulls me to him, his cologne mixing with the smell of this windy summer day.
"Did you at least get signed?" I ask, finally, breaking the loud silence between us.
He sighs once more. "Don't know yet. I tried to get back on task after you left, but my mind was gone. Was hoping you didn't have a knee-jerk reaction and go do something crazy. She was cool about it though. They want me to meet up with them later in the week at the offices."
"Something crazy like what?"
"Something irreversible. Just kept thinking you were on your way to Jaylen's. Shit was eating me up. I knew I had to get to you today. Would've been driving me crazy all night."
"Told you it wasn't like that."
"Yeah well, the nigga has disrespected me twice already. It's not a stretch. Just be glad I didn't have to find out." He says, the irritation acute in his tone.
We turn to walk back towards the parking lot where our cars wait. The previous onlookers have now moved on from our drama and are now enraptured by a bouncy little girl dancing in the fountains, her long pigtails whipping around with each joyous movement. So cute.
"You're right. I do." I say, smiling up at Abram's handsome face.
He kisses the back of my right hand, still entwined in his left. "You do what?"
"Of course you do, sweetheart." He says matter-of- factly.
I want to inquire more about the woman from the label. Need to know the why, what and wheres of that situation, but I make the temporary decision of letting it be. Don't want to ruin this moment. Don't want this feeling of being loved to leave right now.
In time though, all questions must be answered. I just hope I am prepared for the answers.