Keleya Smith is a confident Southern woman who finds herself at an inadvertent crossroad at age twenty-six, waiting for life to unveil meaning and purpose. She thought she had the ultimate catch with Kris, but their four-year relationship is destroyed with one night of deceit. The breakup forces Keleya to come to a discomforting realization: she is unfulfilled, often seeking refuge in her hobby, family, and friends. Despite the emotional damage, Keleya remains loyal to love. So when fate drops someone new at her doorstep, she transfers the yearning for intimacy, respect, and friendship to Jordan—an attractive twenty-nine-year-old native of Philadelphia. This newfound relationship with Jordan catches Keleya by surprise and tests her looming desire for her old confidant Kris. But when feelings for Jordan transform into more than casual dating, her faith in authentic relationships is challenged by an unforeseen circumstance. In the struggle to manage trust and vulnerability, Keleya finds herself caught in a whirlwind of old loves and new possibilities.
TODAY IS THE day—the day that ends nine days of waiting. Jordan’s flight would arrive in Memphis at 4:40 that afternoon, but Keleya wouldn’t see her until 8:00. Jordan would spend time with her family before Keleya came to the apartment. To ease the wait, Keleya went to her mother’s house for a few hours since Nkosazana and Janya were there. When she walked in, her sister and mother were standing in the kitchen washing and seasoning split chicken breasts. “What you makin Momma?”
“Chicken and dumplings,” Rita answered.
Because she didn’t hear any sounds from her niece in the den—who was never completely quiet for more than a few seconds—Keleya asked her sister, “Where Janya at?”
“Next door at the candy lady,” Nkosazana responded. Keleya immediately got up to unlock the storm door.
“Leya, do me a favor and call Stacy for me right quick,” Rita requested before Keleya returned to her seat. Keleya had absolutely no desire to call her sister, but she grabbed the cordless phone off the countertop as if she would comply.
Fortunately, Janya came back in the nick of time, giving her aunt a valid diversion. “What you got in that bag Smurf?”
Janya was too focused on biting and removing polystyrene from the top of a green freeze cup to reply, so she poured the contents of the brown bag onto the tabletop. “You can have some if you want,” she said after a moment. “I gotta lot of stuff.”
“I see,” Keleya noted. For $3, Janya had purchased a medium freeze cup, twenty Tootsie rolls, and fifteen cherry and banana Laffy Taffy’s.
“You wanna see the book Granny got me?” Janya asked.
“Yeah. Where is it?” Keleya followed Janya into the den to see the book. After coloring a few pages with her niece, she returned to kitchen. “I brought ya’ll some necklaces,” she said as she pulled a bag from her purse.
“Thanks,” Rita responded, “but we can only wear so much at one time Leya. You spend too much money on that stuff. I don’t understand why you don’t sell it.”
“Momma…now you know I don’t wanna sell my pieces.”
“I know you don’t want to, but if you gone spend $40 to make one necklace, why not sell it? If you sell it for $40—even though it can go for more than that cause you make good stuff—at least you get your money back.”
Keleya was once again irritated by Rita’s constant fixation on money. So she sat there with her arms crossed staring at her mother who then looked at her daughter. Rita saw by Keleya’s body language that she was not buying it. When Rita turned around, Keleya glanced at her sister, who remained oddly silent in the matter. She quickly remembered why and reflected on the few times that Nkosazana had sold several of her pieces for personal gain. “If you don’t want it, I’ll give it to the folks work,” Keleya said as she began to drop Janya’s candy back into the bag.
“No…I didn’t say that,” Rita asserted. “You sent any to your grandmomma and Tink or Carolyn?”
“Mmm hmm. I do all the time.”
Rita washed her hands and went into the den with Janya. Nkosazana sat with her sister, opening the bag of necklaces to neatly spread all five on the tabletop as they talked. “Where is Jordan?” Nkosazana asked.
Keleya slapped her hand on the glass. “Why is it that every time I talk to somebody they ask me where she at?”
“Leya, don’t play. You know ya’ll always together.”
“No we not. We spend time apart.”
“When? When ya’ll at work?”
Keleya glanced at the floor. She knew her sister was mostly right. “She been gone all week. But she comin back today, and I’m going to see her tonight,” Keleya explained while snapping and performing a short celebration dance.
Nkosazana smiled and shook her head. “When the last time you talked to Kris?” “Do you not see me over here radiating about the fact that my baby is comin home.” Nkosazana placed her hand on her hip and said, “Answer the damn question.”
“Not since August lady.”
“Mmm mm. Ya’ll need to stop. Just cause ya’ll ain’t together don’t mean ya’ll can’t be friends. Is it that bad?” Nkosazana asked, but Keleya didn’t answer the question. She changed the subject and continued to chat with Nkosazana before going home to shower.
Keleya left for Jordan’s apartment a few minutes before 8:00 and called to announce her arrival upon entering the parking lot of the building. She got out of the car holding one of the long stemmed yellow roses. Jordan was standing in the doorway waiting for her to appear. But when Keleya got to door, she wasn’t sure what she noticed first—the fact the Jordan was high as hell or the smell of weed hitting her in the face. Whatever the case, when she stepped into the apartment Jordan walked away. Keleya shut the door and stood there for a second. This was definitely not the welcome she anticipated. And when she walked over to the couch, Jordan didn’t move. Instead, she sat there with her elbows on her legs and a blunt in her hand. Keleya knew something was seriously wrong because this was a facet of Jordan’s life that she kept to herself, even within their relationship. But now, she had shamelessly unmasked. Jordan eventually sat the blunt in an ashtray and took Keleya’s hand. “Sit down Kelee.” Keleya sat beside Jordan and moved an almost empty glass of brown liquor next to the ashtray to place her purse and the rose on the table. “You brought that for me?” Jordan asked with a smile. Keleya looked at her with disappointment. “What’s wrong?”
“I should be askin you that,” Keleya snapped. Jordan sighed, leaned back and stared at the ceiling. “Jordan what’s wrong with you?”
Because of her delayed responses, it took Jordan a few seconds to answer. “I got off the plane…in the car with my momma and she took me straight to the hospital…she didn’t even tell me my grandma was admitted yesterday…I can’t deal with this…I can’t deal with people I love being sick…or death.” Jordan paused for a while and then rubbed her eyes. “Shit…I’m sorry Kelee-baby…it’s been over a week since we seen each other and…I fucked it up for you.”
Right! Keleya was fucking upset! But she checked herself and instantly pushed aside her feelings to comfort Jordan. She stood to sit in Jordan’s lap, wrapping her arms around her tightly and resting her head on her chest. “What’s her condition?”
“She’s responsive,” Jordan replied slowly. “But she’s fighting an infection…I don’t know. I just know I’m stressed as hell and it’s gettin to me…I didn’t move down here to watch her die.”
“Don’t stress out about it. I know you have a lot of things on your plate, but you shouldn’t worry about this because I think she’ll be okay…I really do,” Keleya said before kissing Jordan’s face. She wanted to be reassuring and supportive, but she also had to be honest. “Baby,” Keleya continued as she rubbed Jordan’s locs, “you gotta find a better way to deal with it…you need to find a way that’s not illegal.” Jordan gave a half smile. “Well…I take that back because legalities don’t have shit to do with it. I just want you to find a way to cope that’s not doing more harm than good.” *** Jordan looked at me and gently touched the hairline of my neck. It was so fucking soothing that I kissed her…and I couldn’t stop. I took our shirts off so that we could have more contact. And after I kissed her more, I unbuttoned her jeans. I slid off the couch onto my knees to remove everything below her waist, and then I brought her hips forward. Her brown skin was soft and smooth as normal, but cold. So I rubbed my hands up and down her legs as I rhythmically stroked her with my tongue. Sex was not the best substitute for a coping mechanism, but at that moment I felt anything was better than a depressant. I took her hand and placed it on my head so that she could feel me dive deeper. And as Jordan grew less tense, she became saturated with wet ecstasy. I knew it was selfish as hell to take advantage of her moment of weakness, but I didn’t stop until she came twice over. Plus, there was something wholly erotic about the smell of weed over Burberry Touch. And I felt like we both needed to be close to each other…very close…so we were.
Copyright© L. Cherelle. All rights reserved.