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Almost Doesn't Count: Part 1

Hello, everyone. I know it's been a long time. While I haven't released anything in a year or so (depression is kicking my ass), I am behind the scenes creating. However, until I do release something new, I've decided to release parts of a story I wrote in 2005, long before I became a published author. I'll release a new part, on my website, every week. And it's FREE! Here's the first part:

Isis
August 2005...
They say all good things come to an end, and I guess you could just add my relationship to the list. I should have known my relationship with Louis was too good to be true. I met him when I was in court one day the year before. I’d gotten a ticket that I was trying to fight because the cop sexually harassed me before he issued it to me. Then to top that off, he lied and said that I’d solicited him. The shit I had to go through just because of my job description always annoyed me.

I told Louis I didn’t have any money and he assured me that was okay as long as I allowed him to take me out to dinner the next day. Since he was six feet tall, with a sexy smile, a body worth looking at, and was willing to help me free of charge then, why the hell not, right? A few nights out on the town turned into me staying over at his place a few nights, and eventually that turned into us fucking.

He was kind, understanding, loving, and he knew how to lay the smack down on some pussy. Louis was from California by way of Louisiana. Parents moved there when he was only a couple of months old, he’d told me. He moved to Georgia when he graduated from law school at Harvard and started his own law firm. I’d learned from my previous encounters with men to keep my feelings in my pocket, but I’d really started to feel him on a different level. I found myself starting to care about him. Hell, I thought I was falling in love with him, but he didn’t return the favor. He left me confused, and he left me with an STD.

I woke up in the middle of the night with an itchy twat. With the way I always made sure to take care of myself I knew that it would have been a hell of a chance to say I had a yeast infection. I ate right, drank plenty of water. I kept organic Greek yogurt in my fridge—those live active cultures are good bacteria for the gut and vagina. And while I knew with all that, it was possible I could still get a yeast infection, I knew this shit wasn’t random.

 The fact that I pulled my underwear down and almost got sick from the stench terrified me. My first thought was this dirty dick nigga…The very next day I ran to Dr. Smith’s, my OBGYN, office and got checked out. The son of a bitch—Louis— had given me chlamydia and I had a bacterial vaginosis. I swear I almost passed out from the news. I’d never contracted any kind of STD a day before in my life. I wanted to kill him, and I probably would have if he had been in the same room with me.

As crazy as it sounded, I was grateful that was all I had. After that embarrassment and medication, I went looking for Louis at his job but couldn’t find him. I looked for him high and low. He’d been MIA for a couple of days. I wasn’t even really upset anymore because it could have been worse to be honest. I just wanted to confront him and see who’d he’d been cheating on me with, and why.

I was twenty-three-years-old, and in my last year of college. Actually, I only had a couple of months left. I was majoring in Psychology and Human Services at Clayton State University. And, if I must say so myself, I was doing a damn good job. I was born and raised in Goodman, Mississippi. It was a little country hick town down further south.

My mother raised me all by herself. She worked and went to school almost every day, so most of the time I was at home cooking and cleaning for myself, but it was all for the better. When my mother was home she was like my big sister. She only yelled and fussed when she was tired from work or school, or when I was just being stubborn and getting on her nerves.

I had two more years to go for my masters and would be going to Georgia State for that. After I graduated Clayton State, I planned on getting a job as a counselor at a group home or something while I was getting my masters at GSU.

My chocolate complexion always garnered compliments. I stood at five-foot- eight inches tall, and I looked damn good. Most people would say I had a sweet personality. Personally, I thought I was all right if you didn’t piss me off. I could be a friend to almost everyone. And most times, I was.

“Hey you.” That was my girl Chanel.

We’d been friends since I’d moved to Georgia. We met at the airport. She was nervous and lost, and so was I. She’d told me she was from LA and I was shocked that she would be so scared in Atlanta being that she was from such a fast moving city. When she told me she meant Lower Alabama, we laughed and had been friends ever since. Over time we’d become such good friends that she was also one of my roommates.

I gave her a hug and asked, “What’s up?”

“Nothing much, girl. Just sitting here trying cram this math shit in my brain. That’s the only damn thing that’s going to hold me back. I wasn’t good in high school math. So, you know damn well I ain’t no good in college math.”

I pulled out my Tropicana orange juice from my bag and took a swallow. The weather wasn’t so hot being that it was just nine in the morning. Other students milled about, rushing to and from where they had to go while we sat under a tree in the yard on a wooden bench.

“I know what you mean. I’m glad I finished with my core classes my first two years,” I said.

She looked at me and shook her head. She’d always had trouble in that subject and told me to kiss her ass. I laughed. Chanel looked good in her all pink jump suit. I guess that was her favorite color because all her wardrobe consisted of pink.

“Guess who called right before I left the apartment?” she asked.

“Who?” I asked curiously.

“Louis,” she said.

I put my drink down and shifted in my seat. Just the of thought him made me tingle down south for more than one reason.

“What?” I asked, annoyance laced all through my tone.

“He wanted me to tell you to call him. And to tell you he’s been out of town. That’s the reason he hasn’t called you,” she finished with a yeah right expression on her face.

Then she put her math book down and sat back. She let out a yawn that told me she worked long and hard at the job the night before.

“He full of shit. He could have easily called my cell,” I said. “That’s all he said?”

“Yeah, and then I heard some woman’s voice in the background.”

As soon as she said that, my stomach bottomed out. Just the thought of that man giving his sex to some other woman gave me fever. Yes, it was just that good that it made me stupid. I shouldn’t have even been giving a damn about who he was screwing being that he had left me burning. But damn! He’d better not be the sneaky low-down dog I thought he was.

“You know what number he called from?” I asked.

She shook her head. “His name showed up on the caller I.D. I think it was a 404 number.”

As she talked, I pulled out my cell and dialed him. My right leg bounced as I sat nervously and chewed on my bottom lip. The phone rang and rang, but I got no answer. I felt anxiety settling in my gut as I wrung my hands. My mind screamed he was cheating on me—had the burning twat to prove it— but my silly-ass heart still held onto hope.

Chanel and I sat there before our first class and ate breakfast. I had run down the street to Ms. Winner’s and got her a sausage and biscuit with gravy while I got myself a chicken and biscuit with gravy. It was our normal routine. Only that morning my mind and nerves wouldn’t allow me to eat in peace. I kept thinking about Louis, wondering where he was and who he was doing.

Chanel and I talked about this and that to pass the time. Occasionally I checked my phone to see if maybe it was on vibrate or silent. Maybe that was the reason I hadn’t heard the phone ring, I thought…

I was so out of it that when it finally did ring to the tune of Usher’s You don’t have to call, I almost jumped out my skin.

I got my bearings about me before answering. “Well hello, stranger,” I greeted sarcastically.

“Hey, baby,” his deep melodic voice crooned.

Hey, baby? That was all he had to say? That was all his greeting was going to be after days of not hearing from him?

“Where have you been?” I asked.

“Just away on business,” he answered casually.

I heard his radio in the background playing Janet Jackson’s song about being so lonely.

“Why didn’t you call me?” I asked.

“Damn, no I miss you or nothing, huh? Just why didn’t you call me?” he quipped.

I allowed my silence to speak for me.

“I told you what it was. I’m trying to fight my way through traffic on 285, and I want to see you tonight. You know I missed you while I was away. It’s not like, you know, I was out doing some shit I wasn’t supposed to. I was working.”

I was about to go off on him, but remembered where I was and didn’t want everyone to know the man I was fucking and possibly in love with had given me an STD. It took everything in me not to snap the way I wanted to. His nonchalant attitude was working me.

“You know where I work,” I answered, knowing it would easily annoy him.

 He hated my job. Well, more like he hated the attention I received at my job. Louis was almost fifteen years older than I was and sometimes a bit controlling. I had a penchant for older men. They just seemed to get me more than the men my age.

“I want to see you outside of your work. You know I hate the way those people are all over you in that place,” he fussed.

 I imagined him snarling and his lip twitching.

“You knew my job description when you met me,” I responded.

“Yeah, still doesn’t mean I have to like it… Although I wouldn’t mind seeing you boun—”

I cut him off since I knew where he was about to go. “Louis we need to talk.”

I heard the irritation in his voice when he asked, “About what?”

I couldn’t believe he was acting as if he didn’t know what I was talking about. I guess his dick hadn’t started to burn or clog up yet. My doctor told me that sometimes a man would have to specifically be looking for Chlamydia for him to know it was there.

“You’ll find out tonight. Come to my job and talk to me.”

He grunted on the other end of the phone.  “All right. I’ll see you later.”

I hung up before he could say anything else. I was mad as hell for the rest of the day. I couldn’t even function in my classes. Luckily one of my teachers only sent e-mails so that took a little stress off me…until I couldn’t find a plug in the library. Then when I did find one the damn laptop wouldn’t even come on. So, I had to wait until I get to my room to my computer to get that info, pissed I would take the laptop to the HUB, basically a Geek Squad for students while on campus, later.

   I was still stressed about my laptop when I got to my Abnormal Psychology PSYC 3350 class but forgot all about it when I almost ran into my professor. Dr. West was fine as hell, but I had heard he was almost married. The man looked good and I could tell he knew it by the way he carried himself. He would catch me looking at him sometimes, and he would smile. I would smile back and give him a look that told him I would tear in into little pieces and swallow him like Reeses Pieces. At least I thought it was readable.

“I’m sorry Dr. West,” I apologized.

“No problem,” he said picking up one of my books that had fallen. “You okay? You look a little stressed.”

“Yeah I’m good. Trying not to stress too hard over all this doggone work.”

He smiled as he handed me my book. “I’ll try not to weigh you down with any more than you can handle.”

“Thank you.” I smiled and walked to my chair up top at the very back of the class.

That way I could look up and look directly into that baby face of his. He knew every girl in school wanted a piece of him. He was tall, about six-foot-five, dark skinned—the color of a Dove’s rich chocolate ice cream bar, light brown eyes, nice and curly jet black hair that sat on his head in a low fade. A smile that could charms the pants right off you, but like I said he was almost married. I didn’t believe in messing with anyone else’s man.

By the end of the day, I was tired as hell, but I had to get ready for work. For the most part I loved the money I made in what I did for a living, for now. It paid my way through school and got me the necessities I needed. When my mom called me two years ago and told me her funding would not make up the rest of my tuition anymore because they were cutting back on her hours at her job, I had to jump on something fast because I was not going back home without something under my belt. I refused to live in Mississippi all my life. I was only planning on going back for visits.

It was around eight-thirty when Chanel and I made it to our job.  We had two more roommates who also worked with us. They’d called and told us they were already at work. There were four of us: me, Chanel, Terria, and Catissa. I’d met Terria and Catissa at a party this Omega I met was throwing down at Morehouse. They were the life of the party and the floor was littered with money. I laughed thinking about it, knowing they were still in the right business.

Terria and Catissa had been renting an apartment in College Park and Chanel and I needed two more roommates. As the night went on, the four of us started talking and found out they were going to CSU also. The rest was history as they say. Chanel and I pulled a few strings with some of the people we knew in the rental office and they became our other two roommates.

Traffic wasn’t so bad, so we made it down to Forsyth Street with no issues. The weather was hot and muggy, and I knew the inside of the place we worked would be no better after the Monday night crowd gathered in. I parked my 2003 Nissan Altima and hopped out behind Chanel. Gravel crushed under my feet as we made our way to the entrance. We walked past the two big buff and rough looking men outside with the security printed on their black shirts and guns holsters on their hips.

“What’s up, Chocolate?” the one with the cornrows greeted.

“Nothing but the rent, baby.”

He smirked and nodded then turned to Chanel. “What’s good, Bubble Gum?”

“Same here, baby. Nothing but the rent,” she said, patting his cheek.

  It was nothing for us to ignore the way their hungry eyes traveled up and down our bodies. It was something that came along with the territory. We walked up stairs and into the building dragging our black carrying bags with us. Walked past two more big and buff men. They spoke. We spoke back. They weren’t as ruff looking as the two outside, and they had on black Italian suits, but we knew first hand just how dangerous they could get when patrons got out of hand.

We headed down another set of stairs into a roomed filled with about thirty more girls. All jibbering and jabbering about how much money they needed to make. There were some cold stares and mumbling amongst those in cliques. The tension was kind of thick as it always was in the kind of environment I worked in.

It was about the money and how you made it. So, I wouldn’t say we were all friends.  I only came to do the job that was described to me and nothing else. How everyone else made their money was their business, and that was what caused most of the catfights that the owner was just not having. He would send your ass home with the quickness as many girls had found out the hard way.

Me? I didn’t take no shit and I didn’t fight with anyone. I minded my business. Now did that mean everyone else did the same? No. A few chics had beef with me, but I didn’t entertain foolishness. So, as they rolled their eyes and smacked their lips when me and my girls were called to the stage, I ignored them as I had always done.



Isis
When we finished our set. I went out into the crowd and tried to make some more money before the night was out. I was doing my thing for this one regular when I noticed Louis standing in the back. He was hard to miss because he was high yellow in complexion, tall, and thick. His complexion came from his mixed heritage. His daddy was French Creole, and his mother was black and Cherokee. He’d told me that one night when he took me downtown to stay at the Omni hotel. One of his many ways to get me alone with him. His brown eyes gave off a sparkle in the dimly lit room.

Louis stood there, tall and sexy, getting his groin massaged by the backside of Minx. He motioned for me to come over. I shook my head and kept my customer satisfied. When Louis looked at me like I was crazy, gave Minx some green backs, and walked over to me, I could feel the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. The fact that he had left Minx to come to me wasn’t sitting to well with her. She looked at me and rolled her eyes as she walked by Mercedes and whispered something in her ear. I turned my back to them and put on another show for my customer. There would be no way I would get caught up in their mess.

I felt Louis brush up beside me on his way by. I didn’t know why I had expected him to swallow his pride and act like I meant more to him than I did. So, it shouldn’t have surprised me when he tried to get Terria, who went by the stage name Tiger to work for him. My blood boiled. I must have pissed him off. Usually when he called me over to him, I went without hesitation. Not tonight. I couldn’t get over what he had done. Giving me an STD and then disappearing like it was nothing was the last straw for me. I’d put up with a lot as far as his attitude and controlling ways. I deserved some kind of respect.

“Hey, Daddy, you good?” I asked the customer as I whispered in his ear and bent forward so that my breasts were in his face.

His eyes were so red that he probably couldn’t see them.

“Shit, I’m good, baby girl. Thanks for the attention,” he raspy voice croaked.

He peeled off an extra thousand from the bankroll in his pocket and stuffed it in my garter. I smiled then kissed his jaw before walking over to where Terria was bouncing her backside for Louis.

“This is my customer,” I told her over the music.

She moved her long silky auburn hair over her shoulder then glanced back at Louis before looking back at me. There were rules we had in our place of business. No one took another girl’s regular. It was against the rules. Louis was so arrogant that he didn’t even bother to pay attention to either one of us. Just kept smoking his cigar and sipping his amber colored drink as he people watched around the club. He probably couldn’t hear what was being said over the music, but the fact that he thought I was fighting for his attention gave him the calm he needed.

“He came and asked me for a dance,” she said.

“I know, but you know he’s mine.”

She knew who Louis was. She’d seen him a time or two when he had come by our place.

“I know, but I thought since he asked me and had walked past you that it was cool. Can I at least keep the dough he spread on me?” she asked.

I nodded. My beef wasn’t with her, so I wasn’t about to go off on her like I could have. She grabbed the Franklins from the floor and her g-string before trotting off to find her next victim.

“You gone get dressed now and come talk to me or what?” Louis finally yelled over the music once she was gone.

“So, you just gone come to my job like this and”—

“And what? You told me to come up here. Now get dressed and meet me outside,” he demanded.

“I’ll come out when I’m done,” I said.

“Oh, it’s like that,” he said grabbing my arm as I tried to walk off.

I saw a few of the guards start our way. I tried to wave them off. “Let me go before you start trouble for me at my job, Louis.”

“You already know how I roll, Isis. You know that means I don’t really give a damn about trouble. Since I called you today you’ve been acting funny. You hung up in my damn face and now I get all the way down here and you tripping, too? Get dressed and meet me outside.”

I looked around in embarrassment as people looked on and the bouncers were closing in.

“Okay, just let me go and leave,” I snapped at him.

The last thing I needed was for the owner to be in my face about me bringing my relationship drama to the job. When the bouncers had finally gotten to us, Louis lifted his hold on me, raising his hands in the air.

“No trouble over this way,” he told them.

“Yeah, still, we gone need you to bounce up outta here, my man,” the beefiest bouncer told him.

I was surprised when Louis didn’t put up a fuss and just left like he was asked. It was hard to believe he was a prominent lawyer at times when the hood in him came out. Louis could be a motherfucker. I’d seen him get down and dirty with the best of them.

 A few minutes later, I paid my cash out and headed out the door. It was protocol that when one of the girls had trouble with a guy in the club that a bouncer walks us to our car. When he saw Louis standing at his truck beside my car the bouncer balked and stepped in front of me.

“Thanks, Rox. I got it from here,” I told him.

“You sure?” he asked eyeing Louis.

“Yeah, I’m sure. I’m cool.”

“A’ight.” Rox gave Louis one last look before turning and heading back to the club.
“You’re still here,” I said nonchalantly as I stood in front of Louis.

In the dimly lit club I couldn’t see him all that well. But under the bright street lights I could see that, like always, he was dressed to the nines; GQ fresh. Tailored, black designer dress slacks, a maroon collarless dress shirt that hugged the muscles in his upper body and brown casual designer loafers. 

He cut his eyes at me, studied me like I stank or something. “Yes, I am. What did you want to talk to me about?”

He was standing tall. That let me know I had pissed him off. He eyes had beaded up and they were watery. When he got upset his eyes watered.

“You honestly don’t know?” I asked, a bit baffled.

He made this face like he was annoyed. “If I knew do you think I would be out here talking to you?”

I was kind of offended by the tone in his voice, but I shook it off and stood my ground.

“You had any surprises lately when you got home and tried to take a piss?”

His frown deepened. “What?”

“You’ve been out here cheating on me, raw dogging broads, and bringing me STDs and shit. That’s what. Don’t play dumb with me.”

He stood back and looked at me like I was one of the stupid criminals that he defended in court. “STD? What STD?”

“Chlamydia. I had Chlamydia.” I’d said that so loud that I had to look around to be sure no one had heard me. I kept going as I looked at him with great disdain. “How could you do this to me? Here I am being faithful to you and you out here doing God knows what.”

Louis looked as if he was about to be sick. “Wait a minute. How do you know you got it from me?”

Another question that offended me because it insinuated that he thought as less of me as I thought of him in the moment.

“Because you’re the only one who has been fucking me. I haven’t slept with anyone else,” I said slightly, laughing at his accusation when he’s the one who was cheating. “You didn’t get it from me,” I said as a matter of fact.

 Now I knew what my mom meant when she said some people were walking STD’s. I stood there waiting for him to say something to defend himself, but what I wasn’t prepared was for him to smack the shit out of me. The backhanded smack was so damn hard and aggressive that for a second, I saw spots and stars. I fell to the ground, gravel cutting into my palms and knees.

Louis snatched me up by my ponytail. “Isis, if you’ve been fucking around on me and I’ve got anything, I’m going to fucking kill you. Do you understand me? I will fucking murder you,” he snarled through clenched teeth.

Tears stung my eyes and my face was on fire from the place he’d hit me. “Louis, let me go,” I cried. 

“I’m not cheating on you. You freaking gave me this mess and you’re going to put your hands on me?”

I was livid and if I could have pulled myself up from his grasp I would have tried to fight him. He didn’t let me go though. He brought his hand around again and smacked me for good measure. The pain caused me to yell out so loud that I was sure people could hear me over the loud music.

“You call me out here to tell me this bullshit like you thought it would be okay? I should break your fucking neck, bitch” he growled out again. “Who you been fucking? What nigga you been cheating on me with?”

He was pissed. I could tell by the way his grip got tighter and tighter on my hair. I’d never been hit by a man a day before in my life so a part of me was scared to death. Another part of me was beyond angry that a man I loved would do such a thing. No damn love in the world would make me accept this kind of treatment, though. None. I made up in my mind in that very moment that we were done. Nothing would make me take him back.

Still, he was stronger and had a grip on me I couldn’t get out of. I prayed like hell he wouldn’t hit me again. I didn’t think I could take another hit like the last two he had given me. So, as he dragged me further between our two cars, I knew that if I didn’t do something he would probably keep hitting me. I was correct. My bag had fallen from my shoulder as well as my keys from my hand. I struggled under his hold while trying to get away from him. The more I struggled the harder he hit me, and it go to the point I thought he had lost his mind.

It seemed the more I cried and screamed for him to stop, the angrier he became. I managed to reach back and grab his dick which made him release me. My pepper spray was on my keys and I made a mad dash for them as he fell back into his truck. I made the mistake of glancing up at him and saw a man I’d never seen before. He wasn’t the Louis I’d come to know. There was a monster where the man used to be. I crawled backwards quickly and grabbed my keys just as he grabbed my ankle. Before he could draw back and hit me again, he caught a face full of pepper spray.

“Ahhhh, grrr! Fuck,” he yelled and fell back against his truck, clawing at his eyes.

I didn’t waste any time getting on my feet. I hit the automatic lock on my car remote, grabbed my bag and hopped in my car. As I frantically put the keys in the ignition, Louis banged on the window. He hit it so hard that I thought he would break it. I regretted like hell telling Rox he could go back to the club.

“Open the fucking door, Isis,” Louis yelled. “Look, I’m sorry okay? I just want to talk.”

Tears clouded my vision as I finally cranked my engine. I knew he was lying. Knew if I opened that door he would probably drag me from my car and beat me to death. I put my car in drive and hightailed it out of the parking lot, almost hitting Louis and a few pedestrians along the way.

When I finally made it back home, I let out the breath I had been holding. I was too shaken up and too afraid to sit in my car, so I made a mad dash for my apartment. I didn’t breathe easy until I was sure I was safely inside. I walked back into my room and just stood there looking around for a moment. I couldn’t even function mentally, couldn’t think. What the hell had just happened to me?

I tossed my bag on my full-size bed which sat against the wall under the window. My headboard wasn’t that big so I could open the window and get a good breeze on a windy night. A forty-seven-inch television sat inside of my wood grain armoire with pictures of my mother and friends on my vanity. The bathroom floor needed the strands of hair swept off of it. My white walls could use some paintings or something though. I had planned on going out over the weekend to fix that.

My mind was in jumbles as it rambled. I honestly didn’t know what to do in that moment. Rushing to the bathroom, I looked at my face in the mirror. My lips and nose were bleeding. Right eye was sorer than hell but no swelling yet. However, my jaw was stinging, and it felt as if my jaw had come unhinged.

Louis could kiss the blackest part of my behind if he thought that this was acceptable. He and I were done and as bad as I wanted to call the cops, I knew to do so would open up another can of worms. Louis was a well-connected attorney and the last thing I need were the problems he could bring to my doorstep. However, he and I were done.

I cleaned myself up as best I could. Flesh had been ripped from my hands, knees, and elbows, all of which would cost me money because I would have to spend days off from work unless I used makeup to cover it up.  

After doctoring myself, crying, and trying to figure out how I’d been with a man for over and year and still not know him, I was tired as hell. Still, I couldn’t find the sleep I so longed for. I tossed and turned most of the night. When I finally did go to sleep it was fifteen minutes until six in the AM. I didn’t even hear when my roommates came in.

Come back Sunday, November 18th at 11:11 p.m. for part 2! 

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Copyright © 2005 by Nikki Michelle
All rights reserved
Singleton’s Press
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

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