Chapter 18

Chapter 18

"A little girl?!?" Carol and Remi squealed in unison as we sat at our table in the middle of a new wine vineyard that Remi wanted to visit.


"I mean, I'm excited for the boy too, but Shayla, I've always seen you as a girl mom. She's going to be your twin!" Carol smiled as she rubbed my belly.


"Shayla, baby, your nose is spreading..." Remi winced.


I rolled my eyes. "I know."


"See, this is why I had to get a surrogate. I did not want that baby to-"


"You're beautiful, Shay." Carol cut Remi a look.


"I'm not saying she's not. I'm just saying that she's brave for letting her body go through all these changes."


"Our bodies were made for this, Remi. You would have been fine, just like Shayla will be."


"Guys," I huffed. "I gained forty pounds."


"We know." Remi pressed her lips together.


"It's just baby weight, Shayla. Don't listen to her." Carol rolled her eyes.


Remi pursed her lips, "and them big ol' titties!"


"Will you stop?! We've all been waiting for this moment, and you've been over there making backhanded compliments since you found out. Just be happy. Damn!" Remi looked at Carol like she had lost her everlasting mind and then looked at me to see if I would say anything. I'm not. Carol is right. It seemed like Remi didn't have anything good to say lately, and I don't know if that stems from jealousy or not. "Anyway, what'd your parents say when they found out?"


I smiled, "girl, mama cried. Daddy held his composure, but they're so happy. They said they're gonna drive all the way from Ohio when it's go time."


"Why not just fly?"


I shrugged. "Daddy wants to put that RV to use."


"Any name ideas?" Remi pursed her lips.


"Well," I sighed, ignoring the apparent tension around the table. "Michael is definitely going to have a junior. But for my little girl? I have so many ideas... I can't narrow it down to five yet."


"Like...?" Carol beamed.


"Well, ever since Remi told me her surrogates name was 'Moana,' I really liked that name. But I also like 'Nevaeh,' 'Michelle,' 'Milan', and 'Nora.' I have so many ideas."


"What did Michael suggest?"


"He suggested I have a namesake and name her 'Elizabeth,' but that'll never happen."


"Why not?" Remi wondered.


"I'd just rather not. The name is plain. I don't even go by my full name. What does that tell you?"


"That saying 'Shayla' is more comfortable... You could just call her 'Liz.'"


I put a finger in my mouth, pretending to gag. "Yeah, no. That's too close to 'Liz Taylor.' I'm good."


"Giiirrllll!" Carol and Remi laughed. I shrugged. Why would I even give Elizabeth the thought that my child was named after her? I'd name my daughter after one of her grandmother's before I ever gave her my second name. Sorry, mom.


"Well, it's nice to know my little bundle of joy will have some other kids to play with. Roni just bought us a house." Remi smiled proudly.


Carol cocked a brow, "before the ring?"


"Sure did! We're having our housewarming and baby shower next month. And unless you want to come, I suggest you quit making comments about me and mine."


"Well, I'm glad I never entertained the thought of attending any of your events." Carol gave a fake tight-lipped smile.


"Ladies! Where did all this hostility come from? Did I miss something?" I looked between my sister-in-law and my best friend. We've been a nice little trio for three years. Everything was fine for a while. I don't know why they all of a sudden began disliking one another. No matter what differences we may have had, we all still liked each other. Now it seems like that has somehow run its course.


"No hostility, Shay. I'm good."


"I beg to differ. I swear you've had it out for me since day one, Carol. It's like you don't want me to be Shayla's friend or something."


Carol shrugged. "Nope. I never said that. I just thought you were never a good friend."


"Oh, I'm not a good friend, huh? Then how come Shayla and I have a whole company together, Sherlock? Huh? Answer me that!"


"I never said you weren't a good business partner. You're just not a good friend."


"How am I not a good friend, Carol?" Remi bore her eyes into Carol.


"Unless it's the company, you have never had anything good to say about Shayla, her marriage, or her pregnancy. I don't know. Maybe you're jealous of her."


"Ladies, come on." I sat up straight, trying to alleviate the pain in my lower back. "That's enough."


"Jealous of what?! We were fine before you came into the picture, Carol! And if I'm honest, you only tolerated me because of Shayla. If you don't want to be my friend, just say that!"


"Fine," Carol stood up and slapped cash on the table. "I don't want to be your friend. Shayla, call me when you get home." She stormed off through the vineyards.


"Can you believe her?" Remi scoffed and took a long sip of wine. "Good fucking riddance."


VII


"Are you going to leave her?" This was Shana's second time asking me that question after I began seeing her again. What I thought was going to be a one-night celebration ended up turning into a nightly thing. After the Warsaw and Zaragoza shows, I invited her to spend the night with me in my suite. However, here in Amsterdam, it was different. She's been in my suite since Saturday. Thank God for NDAs and gag orders. Otherwise, my security team would have a field day discussing knowing Shana's whereabouts. I'd overhear the chatter from crew members wondering about Shana's nightly endeavors, but as far as I'm concerned, it's no one's business where a grown woman decides to lay her head. As long as she made it to where she needed to be in the morning. And she always did. That's all that matters. "Did you hear me?" I tore my gaze from the ceiling to look her in the eye. "Are you going to leave her?"


I sighed, dragging a hand across my face, "I don't know."


Her eyebrows knit together in confusion. "What do you mean?"


"It's complicated."


"How so?"


"These things aren't easy. Marriage isn't like a boyfriend, girlfriend relationship. You can't just leave. There's so much involved. It could take years to get a divorce."


"Then don't," she shrugged as if she had the answer to all of my problems. "Separate or something. But why stay with someone who doesn't make you happy? The woman who really loves you and makes you happy is staring you right in the face. Are you really going to let Shayla get in the way of what we have?" I stared at her for a moment. She doesn't understand, and there's no explaining that I've put in the time, blood, sweat, tears, and now children into this marriage. It's not easy to just leave. She's too naïve to understand that.


"It's not that easy, Shana." I rolled over to my side and pulled the covers over my shoulder.


"How come?" She sat up, pressing her breasts against my back. "Do you still love her?"


"She's my wife, Shana."


"That doesn't answer my question."


I took a deep breath. "She's my wife."


"Well, do you love me?"


"What kind of question is that?"


She sucked her teeth. "The kind that needs to be answered. I thought we had something special, Michael. You mean to tell me you just took what you wanted, and now I mean nothing?"


I sighed, turning back around to face her. "What do you mean 'nothing' when you've been with me for the past two nights? You and I both know what we have is special, so please. Cut the dramatics. I could have any woman I want, yet here I am with you. If that means you're 'nothing,' then I don't know what to tell you." I turned off the lamp and fluffed my pillow. "I have plans tomorrow. Goodnight."


Had I known consistently sleeping with the woman would have driven her crazy, I would have never done it. I would have probably made it a bi-weekly or monthly thing. Because now she's acting like a crazy girlfriend.


"I'm sorry..." She slid underneath the covers and took my dick in the palm of her cold hands. "I'll make it up to you..." I winced. If there's one thing I didn't enjoy about being with Shana, it was her whack attempt at giving head.

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