Chapter VII: No Turning Back
Five Months Later
Saturday Morning, September 18th, 8:43 a.m.
Erica awakened to the smell of breakfast cooking. She smiled to herself and was surprised that she actually was hungry. It had been five months since she had met Darren and although she enjoyed his company and his sexual techniques, she still refused to let her guard down about a relationship. She felt guilty because she didn’t want to lead him on but at the same time, she made it clear each time Darren brought up the subject that she wasn’t ready for a commitment. She just didn’t want him to get attached if push came to shove. She had even gotten so comfortable with him that they had stopped using condoms. She told him that she wanted to feel all of him; she had used foam and other birth control devices to ensure that she didn’t get pregnant. Having a baby was the LAST thing she wanted, outside of a relationship and DEFINITELY not with Darren; then Bianca and Dean would find out about their sexual activities.
She got out of bed and went to the bathroom to use the restroom and wash her face and hands. As she was walking back to the bedroom, her doorbell rang. Suddenly, it hit her: Jennifer was scheduled to come over at nine to go over some business paperwork. Erica panicked, realizing that Darren was in her kitchen and that he would answer the door. She held her breath behind the bedroom door. No one knew about her encounters with Darren beyond simple dating. Jennifer knew that she and Darren had been hanging out with each other but she knew nothing about their sexual encounters. Erica closed her eyes and leaned against the door. She heard Darren answer the door and heard him and Jennifer talking but she couldn’t hear what was being said. A few seconds later, she heard footsteps coming toward her bedroom door. There was a light knock, then she heard Jennifer’s voice.
“Erica? You up?” Erica knew she had to answer the door eventually. She took a deep breath and slowly opened the door.
“Hey Jen,” Erica tried to put on a regular face. Jennifer strolled into the bedroom and Erica closed the door behind her.
“Don’t ‘Hey Jen’ me,” Jennifer said, sitting on the ottoman. “What’s going on? Why is Darren in your kitchen in nothing but boxers, cooking breakfast? Did you…you didn’t…did you sleep with him?” She smiled a wicked smile.
“Yes Jen, we slept together,” Erica said. “In fact, we’ve been sleeping together for about five months now.”
“You what?” Jen said in a loud voice. Erica frowned and Jen lowered her voice. “Why didn’t you tell me? I’m your best friend for Christ’s sake. Are y’all together or something?”
“No, we’re not together like that,” Erica said. “We date and hang out and stuff but that’s it. There’s no love there.”
“Does he know that?” Jen said.
“I’ve told him that I don’t want a relationship right now,” Erica said, pacing the floor. “He understands.”
“You’re playing with fire girl,” Jennifer said. “You can tell a man fifty-eleven times that you don’t want to get serious but if they’re feeling you, they don’t hear that. You better hope that you haven’t gotten in over your head. What about Bianca though? Does she know?”
“No, and don’t you say a word!” Erica said in a loud voice that even startled her. “I don’t know how she’d feel about me sleeping with her brother-in-law. She probably would lose respect for me.”
“You know I won’t say anything but Erica…it’s gonna come out; somehow, some way. It will come out.”
Saturday Morning, 9:38 a.m.
Darren was relaxing in Erica’s bedroom, watching ESPN and wondering why Erica’s demeanor had changed once Jennifer arrived. When the ladies emerged from the room, Erica could hardly maintain eye contact with him. Jennifer looked at him then quickly looked away, shuffling through the paperwork she had brought with her.
“Um, Darren…I had forgotten that I asked Jennifer to come over this morning,” Erica began, stumbling over her words. “Can you excuse us for a while? It won’t take long. You can go into my bedroom and watch TV if you like.”
“Yeah, that’s cool baby,” Darren said, nibbling on a piece of turkey bacon. “If you get hungry, there’s plenty of food.” He walked over to her and kissed the top of her head. He noticed that her body stiffened and he frowned a little bit.
“Ok, thanks Darren,” Erica said, looking down into the paperwork on her lap. Darren walked into the bedroom and closed the door. He sat on the ottoman and his mind started wandering. Am I just something to do? Am I her little secret? Darren thought to himself. He knew that she had said she didn’t want a relationship but he was hoping after all the time they spent together, hanging out and making love, that she’d change her mind. He was trying to get into her heart and her head. It would hurt him to know that she didn’t have any sort of feelings for him. Twenty more minutes passed and he heard the front door close. He stood up, ready to confront Erica. She entered the room and this time, she didn’t look away from him.
“What’s up Erica? What’s up with all that funny business out there with your girl Jennifer?” Darren spoke before Erica had a chance to talk.
“There was no funny business,” Erica said. “It’s just that…she didn’t know about us.”
“Tell me: what is the deal with ‘us’?” Darren said. “Am I just something to do until Mr. Right comes along?”
“Darren, you know what I’ve told you about relationships,” Erica said. “I told you from the jump that I didn’t want a relationship with anyone. I still feel the same way.”
“Oh, so you’ll let me fuck you and spend money on you but I’m not good enough to be with?” Darren felt himself getting upset.
“That’s not true,” Erica said.
“So then what is it?” Darren asked. He saw a flicker of fear cross Erica’s face but at that moment, he didn’t care.
“I told you already Darren. I told you that first night that I wasn’t looking for a man. If you chose to ignore that and believe that I would fall for you because you give great head and because you are an excellent lover, then that’s not my fault,” Erica said.
“So I’m just your fuck buddy huh?” Darren said. He felt the veins in his neck pulsating.
“Don’t talk crazy; you know that’s not true. I really like you a lot…” Erica began.
“But I’m not good enough to be your man, right?” Darren asked.
“Darren, how many times do I have to say it?” Erica’s voice began to rise. “It’s not that you’re not good enough for me. I just can’t be in a relationship right now! I have my career to think about. Having a relationship right now would be too much for me to take.”
“And you think having sex with a dude isn’t complicated enough? Getting my feelings all involved and then you drop a bomb on me like this? What the fuck man? I thought by now that you would have given up on this not-having-a-man thing. I see what it is; I’m the side nigga until the real nigga comes along,” Darren yelled.
“Darren, please stop talking like that,” Erica said, getting a bit nervous. She had never seen this side of Darren and it scared her. She suddenly remembered his stint in jail and wondered if he’d ever put his hands on his ex-girlfriends.
“Oh, now you gon’ tell me how to talk to you now? I’m not your man; I can talk to you any kinda way I fuckin’ want Erica,” Darren said.
“That’s it…get out Darren,” Erica said. “I don’t like how this is going. I don’t appreciate you disrespecting me in my home. You need to leave right now.”
“You ain’t gotta worry Baby Girl, I’m outta here anyway. I already did my duty by fucking you and eating your pussy. My job is done. Later.” Darren snatched up his denim jacket and stormed out of the door.
Saturday Night, 10:11 p.m.
Darren sat in his apartment, head in his hands. He couldn’t believe what went down earlier in the day between he and Erica. He was disappointed, not only in Erica but in himself for letting her take him back to his D-Boy days, when he didn’t give a damn about cursing at a woman. He had never been physically abusive to a woman but he had been disrespectful with his words at times. All he’d wanted to do was show Erica that he was an upstanding man with goals and dreams. He had fallen in love with her and had hoped that she felt the same. Unfortunately, she was still set in her ways about relationships and Darren was hurt. Erica was a good person, a good woman. She had her priorities straight which was a good thing but bad for him, because she was determined not to pursue anything further than a sexual encounter and dates with him.
He had tried calling her phone but each time he did, he was sent to voice mail. The first three times he had simply hung up but after the fourth time, he decided to leave a message:
Erica, I’m sorry about how things went down today. My feelings were hurt. I have love for you and I was hoping that you felt the same about me. I thought we had more than just sex between us. I wanted us to be friends, more than friends. I know that you told me that you didn’t want a relationship right now but I had hoped that I would be your choice when you did decide to pursue one. But when your friend came over today and you acted indifferent toward me, it hurt me. It seemed to me like you were keeping me a secret as far as our feelings toward each other. You can’t tell me that you didn’t, or don’t, feel anything for me. Those feelings were real, are real. I just want to see if we can talk about things. I really don’t want to lose you. Please call me.
He had left that message nearly six hours ago, and Erica had not returned his call. He was tempted to call again and leave another message but he didn’t want to seem desperate and thirsty. He got up from his bed and walked around the apartment. As he walked back toward his bedroom, his phone rang. He sprinted to the night stand and picked up the phone, looking at the screen display. His heart sank when it wasn’t Erica’s name displayed on the screen. It was his booty-call partner Crystal. Hesitantly he answered the phone.
“What up?” Darren answered in a flat tone.
“What up with you stranger?” Crystal asked in her high-pitched ghetto tone. “You been MIA for a minute. You find another female to spend your time with?”
“Nah, it ain’t like that,” Darren lied, shutting his eyes and wishing that it were Erica on the other end. Crystal was a beautiful girl but she had no goals or morals. He had met Crystal during one of his club nights with the guys. He took her home the same night he met her and had fucked her like a dog in heat. “I just been chillin with my boys is all.”
“Well, what you doing tonight?” Crystal asked. He heard what sounded like Crystal clicking her six-inch acrylics against her teeth. He hated when women did that: wearing extremely long fake nails and constantly clicking them against their teeth or a table. He was still angry and wanted to take his frustrations out on something, or someone. He decided to take it out on Crystal’s vagina. What better way to relieve tension?
Sunday Morning, September 19th, 7:57 a.m.
After practically kicking Crystal out of his apartment after fucking her brains out for a whole two hours straight, Darren had fallen asleep around 2 a.m. His mind was on Erica the entire time: when he pushed Crystal onto the bed on her back, wrapping his hand around her slim brown neck, pushing in and out of her while tightening his grip. He had made her get on all fours and he hit it from behind, pulling her hair and slapping her ass with aggression. However, he didn’t realize that all of those aggressive moves turned Crystal on even more. She moaned, screamed, yelled, panted. His anger pulsated through his body, through his manhood. He had punished Crystal’s vagina as he wanted but this made her want him even more. She had wanted some cuddle time with him and he resisted. After not being able to break Darren down, Crystal had cursed at him and stormed out of his apartment, calling him every name in the book. Darren didn’t care: she couldn’t hurt him. The only person who could hurt him in such a way wasn’t speaking to him anyway. He fell back on the bed and looked up at the ceiling.
“I’m not a punk, fuck this shit,” Darren mumbled to himself. “Fuck that saddity bitch. She don’t want a real man. She wants a punk ass pretty ass nigga to be a lapdog for her. Fuck that. I’m nobody’s lapdog. Fuck her.” He eventually drifted off into a deep but angry sleep. He woke up around 7:30 to the morning sun beaming through his window. He lay in bed, looking at nothing. He knew he couldn’t go on this way. He couldn’t let Erica break him down. He was determined to get back to his old way of living: hanging with his boys on the weekends, sliding his number to various honeys, pulling one-nighters. He got up and got in the shower. After drying off and getting dressed, he decided to call his best friend Mario. Mario never slept late, not even on weekends.
“What up homie?” Darren asked after Mario answered the phone.
“You got it homie. What’s the agenda today? Spending time with Miss Erica?” Mario asked. Darren cringed when he heard Erica’s name.
“Nah man, we ain’t kicking it today…or ever,” Darren said. “Fuck her.”
“Damn nigga, what happened?” Mario said.
“I’ll tell you later. You up for an early morning workout at the gym? I’ll fill you in then.”
“You know I’m down. Meet you there at 10.”
Sunday Morning, 10:51 a.m.
“Damn man, it sounds like you got too far in there,” Mario said, steadying himself against the punching bag as Darren pounded the bag with aggression.
“What you mean?” Darren asked as sweat poured from his head. Punching the bag made him feel so much better. His body was a bit sore from his recent sexual activities with Erica and Crystal but he ignored it.
“I mean, she told you from the gate that she didn’t want nothing but fun and dating,” Mario began. “You’re the one who took it too far.”
“Nigga, how did I take it too far?” Darren said, eyeballing Mario while continuing to punch.
“You slept with her, man,” Mario said. “Even after she told you she didn’t want a man, you smashed.”
“I didn’t rape her,” Darren said, pausing to pick up his towel and wipe the sweat from his face. “She let me kiss her…she let me undress her…she let me fuck her, man. She could have stopped me if she wanted to.”
“I understand that bro,” Mario said. “But you could have prevented getting your feelings hurt by not smashing. When a woman says she doesn’t want something, nine times out of ten, she means it. She said she didn’t want a man and you thought you would change her mind because you fucked her good. Now you got egg on your face.”
“But we been sleeping with each other for five damn months,” Darren said, resuming punching the bag. “Any time during that period she could have said no.”
“Maybe she didn’t want to say no,” Mario said. “Did you ever stop and think that maybe women want to throw caution to the wind sometimes and say ‘hey I want a fuck buddy’. We do it, so why can’t they? It’s a double standard, bro. You just got caught up in your feelings. You can’t fault her for that. She told you and you didn’t listen.”
“I should have known you would take her side,” Darren said. “Just like you, man. These women get in your head and you automatically see them as the victims.”
“And you want me to feel sorry for your black ass?” Mario said. “If you felt like she wasn’t moving toward a relationship with you, you could have cut that off. Now you mad because she didn’t do what you wanted her to. That’s your fault bro.”
“Whatever man,” Darren said, sitting on the bench. Mario took a seat beside him.
“But you didn’t have to cuss her out like that man,” Mario said. “From what you told me about her, she will not be an easy egg to crack. You cussed her out in her house. It’s probably gonna take a LOT to get her to come around.”