To call or not to call: that was the question Kyra struggled with over the course of the next three days. In the beginning it seemed easy, but then there were times where Kyra felt like Meeka was right. Cincere hadn’t done anything wrong. He didn’t deserve to be lied to or mistreated, but as bad as she wanted to remain loyal this was something she couldn’t ignore. No matter how hard she tried, Kyra couldn’t deny her feelings for Justin and they were too strong to bury.
If Kyra didn’t at least call, she knew she would never forgive herself. Besides, it wasn’t like she couldn’t call Justin. She didn’t really have a choice. After all he’d done for her she owed him that much. During their brief time together as a couple, Justin taught her so many valuable lessons about life there was no way she could ever repay him. Dinner was the least she could do.
Kyra was so conflicted over Justin’s proposal it made it hard for her to concentrate on even the simplest tasks at work. She was late for her shift the day after he came to visit. The day after that she kept messing up people’s orders, and the day after that she dropped a stack of dishes. All her co-workers were asking questions and her boss even threatened to fire her if she didn’t shape up. She was officially having the worst week ever and yet, throughout it all, all she could think about was how bad she wanted to see Justin again.
Kyra kept Justin’s business card hidden in her panty drawer where she knew Cincere would never find it, but that didn’t stop her from looking at it every chance she got. Kyra kept telling herself a quick phone call was harmless, but that didn’t stop her from getting nervous. It was a lot of pressure knowing she held all the power moving forward in their relationship. One phone call had the power to change everything which was why it was so scary.
Kyra looked at Justin’s number so much she knew it but heart, but it wasn’t until late one night when Cincere fell asleep in front the TV watching old Kung Fu flicks, that she finally took the opportunity to use it. Kyra snuck off to the other room, and this time, when she closed the door she made sure to lock it.
Cincere could wake up at any minute so Kyra knew if she was going to do it she was going to have to be quick about it. Her heart was racing as she held the phone to her ear and her breathing was suspended. The ringing seemed to go on forever, but she wasn’t giving up until she got an answer.
As Kyra waited for Justin to pick up, she couldn’t help but wonder if she would finally get the get the answers she’d been looking for? And even if she did, was ready to hear them? Could she handle the truth?
Come next Friday, Kyra couldn’t wait to pluck her new BeBe mini-dress off the hanger. A $149.00 dollar price tag hung next to the jeweled trim and she had been waiting anxiously to pop it. It had been sitting in her closet for months because she hadn’t had a reason to wear it – until tonight.
Her dress was the epitome of sexy. The long black sleeves had slits in them that ran all the way down her arms and the material fit her so well it was as though it had been made exclusively for her. Its length – or lack thereof -accentuated her long legs and the open back left most of her back exposed.
“Hey, babe I’ll be back later,” Kyra announced she was leaving as she was on her way out.
“Mm, Mm, Mm! Damn girl, where you headed dressed like that?” Cincere did a double take when she walked past.
After spending hours in the bathroom getting ready for her dinner date, Kyra was smelling good and looking better. She painted her nails a pretty color red and her usually curly hair was bone straight. She wasn’t wearing much make-up and she didn’t have on any flashy jewelry, just a pair of rhinestone studs. A matching black clutch and a pair of strappy black sandals from BCBG spruced up her look.
“Oh, out to dinner with a friend.” Kyra kept her answers short, not wanting to set Cincere off or reveal too much information. She already had her mind made up and she didn’t have time to argue. She was supposed to meet Justin at the Coco Bistro in ten minutes and it was going to take her at least twenty to get there.
“And who is this ‘friend’?” Cincere got up to confront her face to face. He found it awfully strange that she hadn’t mentioned anything about going out all week.
“Just an old friend from high school. . .” Kyra stopped to admire her ensemble one last time before she stepped out the door.
“Who?” Cincere kept the questions coming. Kyra stopped everything she was doing to look at him. A pause in conversation only added to their tension.
“Justin.” The second Kyra said his name, Cincere’s facial expression changed.
“Whoa! Hold up . . . Did I miss something? I thought you said you guys don’t talk anymore?” he eyed her suspiciously.
“So then how did all this come about? And why am I just now finding out about this? ” he asked.
“He’s in town right now and he said he wanted to have dinner with me. I couldn’t say no . . .”
“Kyra, I know you’re not talking to me about going out to dinner with your ex-boyfriend. Seriously,” Cincere laughed in an attempt to disguise his anger, but Kyra could see it written all over his face.
“Yeah . . . And? I don’t see what the big deal is,” she shrugged. “We’re just friends.”
“Yeah, and you’re about to be single in a minute,” he threatened.
“Oh is that right?” Kyra cranked up her attitude in defense.
“Come on, Kyra! How would you feel if I went to dinner with one of my exes? I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be happy about it!” he ranted. Kyra kept quiet, not wanting to admit she would be just as mad as he was.
“Wow. . . I thought we were so much better than this. And I’m supposed to believe you don’t still have feelings for this dude? Be for real,” Cincere sucked his teeth at her.
“I mean, of course I care about him, Cincere . . . You have to understand Justin and I have history. We’ve been through a lot together. . .” she tried to put it to him gently, but Cincere rejected her explanation. That was the last thing he wanted to hear.
“So that was then and this is now! There’s no reason for you to still be talking to him!” The angrier Cincere got, the louder he became, but Kyra refused to back down.
“See this is why I didn’t want to tell you! I knew this was how you were going to react!” she yelled.
“I mean, let’s be real, Kyra what’s to keep you from getting some on the side? If I didn’t ask how would I know? It’s not like you would tell me!” he screamed.
“Cincere we’ve been together long enough. You should already know I would never cheat on you.”
“Yeah right,” he snorted as though she were lying.
“Whateva, Cincere. If you don’t trust me by now you never will.” Kyra met his accusations with a cold, hard stare.
“Of course I trust you. . . I just don’t trust you when it comes to Justin!” he protested.
“Cincere, why are you trippin’? It’s just dinner!”
“Whatever, Kyra, this is bullshit, and you know it,” he fumed. “How do I know he won’t try to make a move on you?”
“I already told you it’s not even like that!” Kyra tried to act surprised by what he said when really, that’s what she hoped would happen. The probability was so high she was even willing to bet on it.
“So it’s that easy, huh? You’re just going to act like nothing ever happened, and now everything is okay?” Cincere continued to question her in a hostile tone.
“No. I never said that,” Kyra took a deep breath to contain her anger. She was two seconds away from snapping on him and he didn’t even know it.
“Do you still love him? It’s okay. You can be honest.”
“No!” Kyra was so mad she was ready to storm out, but he blocked her from leaving.
“Cincere move! I have to go!” Kyra tried to push him out the way but he didn’t move an inch. When Kyra tried to pass by him again, Cincere pulled her back to him by her elbow.
“Tell him I said you’re not going and that’s that!” he demanded.
“I said let me go!” Kyra snatched her arm back and gave him a look that let him know he better back off. Cincere threw his hands up in defeat as he retreated to the other side of the living room.
“You know what? Fuck it. Go ahead because the way I see it Kyra you’re either already cheating on me or you’re about to. All I know is I’m not sticking around for when you do,” Cincere lowered his tone, but Kyra could still see the anger burning in his eyes.
“And what the hell is that supposed to mean?” Kyra put one hand on her hip and proceeded to work her neck.
“Go to dinner with him and find out. Just don’t expect me to be sitting here waiting for you when you get back.”
“Look, Cincere, I’m done talkin’ about this. It’s not like I need your permission. I already told him I’m goin’, so I’m goin’.” Kyra stood her ground.
“Then go!” Cincere pointed her toward the door and watched the woman he loved walk out on him. He didn’t chase after her, and as bad as he wanted to, he didn’t start blowing up her cell phone the second she left. Because Cincere knew it didn’t matter how much he loved Kyra, there was nothing he could do to keep her from leaving him if she wanted to. As hard as it was for him, he knew he had to let her go.
Meanwhile, Kyra rushed to meet Justin at the address he texted her earlier that day. It was a spontaneous, last minute meeting but she wouldn’t miss it for the world. They had been sending flirty texts back and forth since exchanging numbers earlier that week, and she was curious to see where tonight would lead.
The moment Kyra reached the Coco Bistro she didn’t give her argument with Cincere a second thought. Nestled inside an old coconut grove on the island of Providenciales under a canopy of palm trees and white lights, the Coco Bistro was one of Justin’s favorite restaurants, and tonight, it seemed like everyone on the island shared his good taste.
Kyra scanned the room looking for him as she waited to be seated. There was close to an hour wait, and a line of people in front of her. Most people couldn’t even get in without a reservation, but the second Kyra told the hostess who she came to see she showed her to her table immediately.
“Hey, I’m so sorry I’m late! I got here as fast as I could.” Kyra lit up as soon as she laid eyes on Justin, who was already there waiting for her.
“Don’t worry about it! Glad you could make it!” Justin stood to greet her with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
“Wow. . . Let me just say you look amazing.” Justin took a step back to appreciate her effort. Kyra twirled around slowly so he could get the full effect.
“Thank you,” she smiled wide at his approval. One compliment from Justin was worth a 1,000 compliments from anyone else.
“Come! Have a seat!” Justin pulled her chair out for her and Kyra gladly accepted. She gazed at him in pure admiration as she watched him take his place across the table from her. For Kyra, even something as small as having dinner with him seemed surreal.
“I’ll be honest, I was almost worried you might not show after the way you ran off on me the other day,” Justin started their night off with a joke, but he was the only one laughing. Kyra shielded her eyes with her hand, totally mortified that he would call her out on it.
“Listen. . . Justin. . . I am so sorry. I hope you don’t think it was anythin’ personal. It’s just. . . I-” Kyra rushed to apologize, but Justin stopped her from rambling. The feel of his hand over hers, put her at ease.
“It’s cool. No need to explain. All that matters is that we’re here now – together,” he smiled at her and Kyra smiled back.
“Good! Because I am happy to see you! It’s been a long time. . .”
“Too long. . . How have you been?” Justin studied her closely. It was clear he wasn’t just asking to ask. The concern in his eyes said he actually cared.
“I been a’ight I guess. . .” Kyra pretended to be too busy placing her napkin on her lap to look at him.
“Just all right?” he pressed. Something told him she was lying, but he couldn’t prove it.
“Oh, you know the usual, just working and going to school. . . And how about you? What have you been up to these days?” Kyra avoided his question by posing a couple questions of her own. She didn’t want to admit that she was stuck waitressing at Havana’s, and that even though she took a few college courses online she only did it mostly to shut her mom up.
Transitioning into adulthood was already hard enough without all the added baggage she had coming into it. Back then, Kyra was so focused on making it through high school she barely had time to think about college, and now that she was working full-time the idea of going back to school seemed impossible. Sure, she had a car and a job, but compared to Justin, she didn’t have much going for herself. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for her to realize that if she had any chance at catching a man like Justin she was going to have to step her game all the way up.
“Well, I don’t know if you know, but I work for my father now. . .” When Justin announced that he’d been welcomed into the fold, he didn’t say it in a boastful way. Truthfully, Kyra seemed more excited by the news than he was.
“Really? How’s that going?” she asked.
“It’s been going pretty well actually,” he nodded. “We just locked in deals for new resorts on Providenciales and Cancun.”
“Look at you!” Kyra continued to praise him as if he could do no wrong. No one would argue that Justin was indeed a good looking man, but it was his personality that attracted her to him the most. The fact that Justin was always so well read was just one of the many reasons she loved him. In her opinion, he was smarter than anyone she’d ever met. Justin was everything she ever wanted in a man.
“Yup construction is set to start on in a couple months. Everybody’s been talking about it. This new hotel is slated to be one of the most luxurious in the world,” he stated.
“That’s great. I can’t wait to see it when it’s done,” she smiled. Kyra was so happy for him she thought her heart might burst. Nothing made her happier than seeing Justin happy.
“Good evening and welcome to the Coco Bistro. My name is Bernard and I will be your server this evening. Can I get you started with something to drink? We have several fine wines to choose from.” Just as their conversation was starting to get good, an older gentleman with a curly Monopoly mustache approached their table to take their order. When he stepped up to introduce himself, the first thing Kyra noticed about him was that his bald spot had spread, leaving behind only the hair on the sides, but he was friendly nonetheless.
“I’ll take a Heineken,” Justin made a simple request and handed over his menu.
“And for you my lady?” Bernard turned to her with his pen ready.
“I’ll have a glass of Moscato, please,” Kyra put on her most polite voice.
“Very well,” the waiter scribbled a note before going on. “Would you two be interested in hearing our specials tonight? Tonight, we are featuring our shrimp skewers grilled to perfection, and served with a hot and spicy dipping sauce. We also have seared scallops, presented atop a fresh mango slaw, and for desert, we have a slice of our famous coconut pie. All of which are made from scratch using only the finest ingredients. All of which are very, very good,” he ran through their options quickly, somewhat similar to an auctioneer. Kyra took another moment to ponder the menu. Everything sounded so good it made it hard to choose just one.
“Can I please have the filet mignon with a side of the creamed spinach?” Justin piped up first.
“And how would you like that cooked?” he asked.
“And for you, miss?”
“I’ll have the pesto ravioli . . . and an order of your lobster tacos.” Kyra handed over her menu and their waiter gave them back their privacy.
Over the course of the evening, Justin and Kyra had the luxury of enjoying good food and conversation. Kyra thought it might be weird at first, but after a few drinks it was like they’d never missed a beat. Although Kyra and Justin had grown their chemistry hadn’t aged a bit.
Kyra was so intrigued by his stories she could sit and listen to him talk all day. She enjoyed hearing about all the places he’d been and all the beautiful things he’d seen and experienced. Justin was very candid about his life as they talked about everything from his college years to his goals for the future, but there was one thing he forgot to mention.
“So. . . Justin. . . May I ask what brings you back to Prince Paul? After all this time . . . why now?” Kyra propped herself up using her elbows and flipped her hair, trying to be cute. The lighting was just right and from the moment they locked eyes, the mood was set. Justin licked his lips in a way that said he was hungry for something that wasn’t on the menu and the lust in his eyes made it hard for Kyra to restrain herself. She tried to focus, but it was hard not to fantasize about the incredible make-up sex they were bound to have. As far as Kyra was concerned, Justin could get it anytime, anyplace. She didn’t care who saw them.
“Well. . . I don’t know if you’ve heard . . . but . . . I’m getting married.” Justin held his breath, awaiting her reaction. Meanwhile, the look on Kyra’s face said she was absolutely stunned. They had been having such a good evening, she was almost certain they would end up together at the end of the night, but now her fantasy would forever remain just that: a fantasy. What he just said killed the mood instantly.
“Shut up!” Kyra laughed it off like a bad joke at first, but her chest immediately started to tighten, almost as if she were suffocating.
“Nope, I’m for real,” Justin laughed nervously while Kyra fought the urge to cry. She smiled wider to hide how disappointed she was but the eyes never lie. Kyra was crushed to find out that not only was Justin marrying someone else, he actually seemed happy about it.
“Sorry. . . I hope you’re not mad at me. I just wanted to be the first one to tell you. You know. Unlike last time,” Justin stumbled through the awkward moment. Her sudden lapse into silence had him worried.
“No! No! That’s great! Congratulations!” Kyra didn’t want to seem bitter so she gave him one of those weak hugs. Kyra wanted to be happy for him, but as messed up as it sounds, she just couldn’t. As much as Kyra tried to downplay her feelings for him, she was dying inside. It was as though her heart had already stopped beating and she was just . . . there.
“So . . . You promise you’re not mad?” Justin asked, seemingly surprised. The Kyra he remembered would’ve tried to burn the place down – with him in it.
“No! Why would I be mad?” Kyra played it off as though her feelings weren’t hurt. Now she definitely didn’t have the courage to tell him how she felt or how miserable she’d been without him. It was pointless.
“Thanks a lot, Kyra. That means a lot coming from you.” Justin seemed so relieved, like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders, but for Kyra, it was the opposite. She downed the rest of her wine in one gulp and signaled their server for another, stronger drink.
“So! When is the wedding?” Kyra perked up after a shot of Patron.
“In about six weeks,” Justin tried to sound like he was excited, but the deep breath he took said he wasn’t ready. His wedding day was weeks away and yet he was so nervous it might as well have been tomorrow.
“What’s her name?” Kyra didn’t even really care to know the answer, but she still had to ask. She didn’t even know her name and she already didn’t like her.
“Her name is Eden,” Justin cracked a smile when asked about her, making Kyra sick with envy. She didn’t touch another piece of her food once he said her name. One word was all it took to ruin her appetite. Three bites into her favorite dessert and Kyra was forced to push her plate away.
“Lucky girl. . .” Kyra traced the rim of her glass with her fingertip as her mind began to wander.
“Nah, I’d say I’m the lucky one,” he gushed. Listening to him talk about her had Kyra seriously contemplating getting up and leaving. As if he hadn’t just stabbed her in the heart, now it was as though he was turning the knife. She didn’t know how much more of this she could take.
“Eden. . . That’s a pretty name. I’m sure she’s a very pretty girl.” Kyra analyzed Justin for an indication of how attractive the other woman was. How much did he really care about this Eden? And most importantly, how long could he remain faithful to her?
“Yes, she is. I love her very much,” Justin professed his love for Eden without thinking, but still, Kyra didn’t want to believe him. A part of her still wanted to believe he was The One. She still wanted to believe he loved her but it was becoming quite clear as the night went on that what she wanted didn’t matter.
“So, uh . . . How’s the love life?” Justin exhaled, more than happy shift the focus off him.
“Well . . . since you asked, his name is Cincere,” she bragged. It made Kyra feel good to have someone to throw back in his face, but even that satisfaction was short-lived. At least she had a boyfriend. Upon learning that Justin was getting married, flashbacks from the argument she had with Cincere before she left made her feel foolish for ever putting her relationship with him at risk.
“Have you guys been together for a long time?” Justin wiped his mouth and threw down his napkin.
“About a year,” she estimated.
“Sounds serious,” Justin made his remark before polishing off the rest of his beer. He knew it shouldn’t bother him that she had a boyfriend, but it kind of did.
“It is,” Kyra made sure to rub it in the same way he did, but Justin did a much better job at hiding his feelings than she did.
“You know my engagement party is coming up. You guys should come,” Justin added.
“Are you crazy? Your family hates me!” Kyra nearly jumped out of her seat at the invitation. What he just described was like walking into a death trap.
“They don’t hate you. They just don’t know you,” he explained calmly.
“How is your family anyway?” she asked.
“Everybody’s doing great. You know Quentin and Angel are on their second child now – a boy. Look.” Justin pulled out his wallet to show her pictures of his 2 and ½ year old niece and an ultrasound picture of what would be his nephew. It touched Kyra to see Justin as such a loving uncle, beaming with pride, however, it also saddened her to know that before long he’d been showing off pictures of his own kids.
“Wow! That’s crazy! Although, I can’t say I’m surprised,” Kyra commented on the fact that out of all the couples from high school, Angel and Quentin were the only ones who stood the test of time. Everyone just knew they were going to get married and be together forever, and even though they were no longer friends, Kyra was happy for them. Quentin and Angel seemed to have found the kind of love everyone wished for.
“How about you, do you have any kids?” She was so afraid of what his answer might be she almost didn’t want to ask.
“No. Not yet . . . Do you?”
The look on her face was classic. They both started laughing hysterically.
“How’s your momma doing?” Justin asked.
“She’s doing fine. You know her and Matthew got married.”
“Yeah, their anniversary just passed not that long ago. They’ve been together goin’ on four years now,” she filled him in on what he missed.
“Wow. . . Has it really been that long?” Justin looked at her in astonishment. Kyra simply nodded. The past five years without him felt like the longest of her life. She couldn’t begin to imagine what it was going to be like spending the rest of her life without him. For her, a life without Justin was no life at all.
When it finally came time for them to leave, Justin made Kyra a promise that another five years wouldn’t pass before they saw each other again, but Kyra wasn’t so sure she believed him. It was going to take awhile for her to accept that things had changed between them, and that they really were “just friends.” Justin would be walking down the aisle in a little over a month, which was hardly enough time for her to do anything to about it. Try all she might, Kyra knew she could never get him to change his mind.
On the long car ride home, Kyra came to the realization that there was no going back to the way they used to be, and just because Kyra already had a boyfriend, that didn’t mean it hurt any less. Thoughts of Justin with another woman were torture, but Kyra was so upset she didn’t have it in her to cry. She didn’t have any tears left. After tonight, it became clear to Kyra that no matter what she did from here on out, nothing would ever be the same again and neither would she.