Never a Ever After

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Kenneth Walker was the antithesis of everything that Shanna raised her daughter to seek out in a man. A kid from a middle class family with aspirations for a career in an unstable industry who had little more to offer her daughter than his heart. An offer it seemed that her daughter was more than willing to accept as Maia was completely infatuated with Kenneth. Leaving Shanna with a nearly impossible decision to make. Could she accept her daughter's choice in suitor or did she have a responsibility to intervene and keep Maia from ruining her life?

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Maia’s eyelids fluttered as she struggled desperately to cling to the vestiges of her slumber, while her body insisted that a sufficient amount of rest had been obtained, and it was time for her to awaken. After a minute, the brunette conceded the battle, and her honey brown eyes popped open. The first thing to strike the teen was the absence of warmth emanating from the opposite side of the bed. Instinctively, Maia reached her hand out, her fingers playing across the silky fabric of the bedsheets to discover that the expected indentation created by what should have been Kenneth’s sleeping form was painfully missing.

Lifting her head a few inches off the pillow, Maia called out timidly into the darkness, “Kenny?”

The silence that greeted her was deafening as she tossed back the down comforter and swung her legs over the side of the bed. Her honeyed gaze swept the spans of the room before propelling herself upwards and shuffling over to the overstuffed armchair that held her belongings. A cool breeze drifted past her from the air conditioner, piercing the thin material of Kenneth’s t-shirt that seemed to swallow the young girl’s delicate frame. Yet, Maia appeared unfazed by the sudden chill in the air as she dug into her purse and withdrew her cellphone.

Anxiously, Maia punched in Kenneth’s number and rested the phone against her ear by craning her neck ever so slightly to the side, forming something of a cradle in which to hold the phone while her free hand sifted through her handbag.

1 ring... Come on, pick up, Maia urged silently. 2 rings Where the hell are you, Maia wondered. By the third ring, a sickening feeling had begun to well up within Maia’s stomach as a rather unpleasant thought began nagging at her. Shrugging off the feeling Maia tried to steady what she knew to be a shaky voice as she left her message, “Hey, babe. I... weren’t here when I woke up, so I was just wondering where you were and if...if you would be back soon. So, just call me back, okay? I... I love you.”

Her voice sounded frail, weak even and Maia hated herself for it. However, the message had already been sent. As much as she would have liked to take it back the damage was done. A bundle of nerves, Maia placed the phone on the nightstand and took to pacing the floor, her gaze flitting to the window every so often as a pair of headlights shown through or an alarm was set from a remote less key entry.

There had to be a reasonable explanation for his absenteeism. Kenneth just wasn’t that type of guy, was he? Maia’s mind continued to dredge up scenario after scenario as to what could be the cause for him going AWOL, with each one being considerably worse than the last. In a desperate attempt to distract herself, Maia switched on the TV.

Surfing through the channels for several minutes, Maia finally settled on a romantic comedy about a guy who was juggling three girls at the same time. In hindsight, with her situation being what it was, it likely wasn’t the best selection that she could have made, but at least it gave her something to stare at besides her phone. The movie was an hour and a half long, and Maia’s phone hadn’t rung once during that timeframe.

In her emotionally charged state, Maia found it nearly impossible to distinguish between hurt and anger. As part of her begged reason and maturity, the other screeched at her to lash out at him for making her feel this way and herself for being foolish enough to allow this to happen in the first place. Maia wanted to call him again, but the dilemma lies in not knowing what to say as she was torn between wanting to yell at him while also wanting him to return.

How pathetic was she for wanting a guy who had made it clear that he didn’t want her anymore? Was it possible that he never wanted her from the beginning, and everything she thought they had was all in her head?

Had he been placating her until he had gotten what he sought? It was a tough pill to swallow, and Maia was in no way ready to accept it as a fact, yet it was hard to continue to deny the evidence. Taking a deep breath, Maia climbed off the bed and ambled over to the nightstand. Picking her phone up, Maia let out the breath that she had been holding and keyed in her best friend’s cellphone number. As the phone rang, Maia nibbled anxiously on the bottom of her lip while simultaneously picking at her nails.

At first, as her friend’s voice filtered through the receiver, Maia was struck speechless. She knew what she needed to say, but was not quite sure how to say it.

After Victoria repeated her greeting for the second time and asked if she was there, Maia finally spoke, “Hey, Vicki. Um, listen. I have to tell you something, and you’re not going to like it, but please hear me out. I need you to come pick me up.”

Confusion permeated Vicki’s tone as she replied, “Mai, what’s going on? I thought you were crashing at Danielle’s tonight? I’m on the other side of town. Can’t Danielle’s mom drop you off at the house?”

Suddenly becoming fascinated with her hands, Maia’s gaze dropped as she spoke in nearly a whisper, “Um... yeah about that. I’m not actually at Danielle’s house.”

In an unnaturally tempered tone, Victoria replied, “Where exactly are you, Maia?”

Pursing her lips together, Maia responded softly, “I’m at the Residence Inn. You know the one where the senior graduation party is going on?” Maia’s heart thudded so loudly that for a moment, the teen was sure that Vicky could hear it through the phone as a dramatic pause arose. Maia hadn’t needed to go into detail because Victoria knew that there would only be one reason that she would possibly be there.

“Seriously!? Maia, what the hell were you thinking? Your mom is going to kill you! You know that right? What has gotten into you lately? This is not like you at all.”

As Victoria fussed at her, tears sprang into the Latina’s eyes as she exclaimed, “Vick, can we just not? I’ve already had a pretty shitty night. Can you please just come and get me? I want to go home.”

Victoria paused for a minute before inquiring, “Is it safe to assume that you didn’t stay the night in a hotel alone?”

Despite herself, a soft smile lit Maia’s face as she confessed, “Fairly safe, yes.”

Vicki squealed in delight as she continued, “You know that I have to ask was it... was he...”

Casting a forlorn glance back towards the empty bed, Maia responded, “I’d rather not talk about it.”

“Oh, that bad huh,” Vicki quipped.

“Vicki,” Maia exclaimed.

“Ok, ok, I’m on my way,” Victoria replied.

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