I parked my car in front of the garage door and sighed. I'm exhausted, and I need to get some sleep, but this is the only time I'll be able to visit my sister amid her busy schedule. The rumors about Mariah and Dre were no longer rumors in the media anymore. They were true. Dre was dating my sister and funded her lifestyle while simultaneously taking care of his wife and children. It was made "official" when People Magazine saw them kissing on Rodeo Drive. When my parents saw it, they called me, went ballistic, and begged me to have a word with my sister. While she's an adult and can do whatever she pleases, it did embarrass me that she was sleeping with another woman's husband. I don't think I'll get her to stop, but the least I can do is offer some insight.
I finally got out of the car and knocked on the only thing that wasn't glass on this glass house: the front door. Mariah peered past a half wall and smiled, hurrying to greet me.
She opened the door, took one look at my belly, and squealed, "Shayla!!!" I smiled as she pulled me in for a hug. "Come in, come in, come in! Dre's gone for the day, so we don't have to worry about him barging in. Do you want a tour of the place? I know it was a boot driving all the way up here, huh?"
"You can say that again. Get me a glass of water, will you?"
"Oh, yeah! Of course. Well, suppose you hadn't already noticed. In that case, this is the living room..." While chic, having the entire inside of my house on display for the whole world to see wasn't my idea of comfortable. But whatever floats her boat. With all-white décor, bright white lights, and an incredible view of Los Angeles, I have to admit, my sister had taste... at the expense of someone else.
"So, a glasshouse... What made you want that?" I asked once we took a seat in her lounge.
She smiled. "I don't know. Dre asked what I wanted. I saw this house and... I wanted it."
"He pays for everything?"
"I don't have to spend a dime. I'm living every girl's dream, I tell ya. Sometimes I ask myself how I got so lucky."
"Hmm..." I nodded, taking in the place. "Do you love him?"
She choked on her own laughter. "No! What made you think that?"
"No, I don't love him. No, I don't want to marry him. No, I'm not pregnant. And hell no, I won't be having his babies. Anything else you want to ask?"
I shook my head and laughed, "are you happy?"
"I thought you would never ask! I'm happier than I've ever been."
"Well, that's good. How's the dancing career coming along?"
Her smile slowly faded away. "Well, before everyone knew I was with Dre, it was fine. But once the news got out, my reputation went down the drain... No one wants to work with me right now. But it's okay," she shrugged. "Dre knows so many people out there. I don't even have to worry about it."
I pressed my lips together. "Your reputation?" I already know the answer, but I want her to explain why her reputation went down the toilet.
She sighed. "Yeah, you know, with Dre being married and all... But if he's not happy with his wife, I don't see why it matters anyway. And why do I have to be blacklisted and not Dre? I just got here!"
"Why'd you tell everyone you all were just friends?"
"To be honest, Shayla, I didn't want any of you nit-picking idiots judging me. If this is a mistake, let me learn from it. I don't need any of you telling me."
"Well, I don't want you to think of it as 'judging.' We're just looking out for you. We want the best for you."
"Me too! That's why I make my choices wisely." My eyes widened at her revelation. This is what she thinks is wise? I'll keep my mouth shut.
"Have you ever crossed paths with his wife?"
"No. You see I stay up here and out the way. I don't want to see that woman. And I'm sure she'll regret the day she sees me."
"Hmm." I nodded.
"I'm just having fun, Shayla." She tried assuring me, taking my hand in hers.
"At the expense of his family..."
She scoffed and snatched her hand away. "Ain't nothin' I can do about that. They were here first. She knows he does dirt. That's her problem. As far as I'm concerned, she has the better end of the stick, because once I up and leave his ass, he'll go crying back to her and all is well with the world. I'm just getting my kicks and I'm out."
"Do you ever wonder how she feels?"
"How would you feel if my husband cheated on me?"
She sucked her teeth. "Shayla, that's different. You're family. I don't owe this woman a damn thing!"
"It's the principle, Mariah. How would you feel if Michael cheated on me?"
She sighed. "I don't know why you're asking me questions we already know the answer to. I'd be pissed. And if I caught him lackin', I'd kill him. Simple. But what Dre and I have goin' on has absolutely nothing to do with a hypothetical situation between you and Mike," she sucked her teeth. "That nigga knows better."
"Mom and Dad are worried about you, you know? And you really did it when they saw you on the news, not once, but twice."
"I've tried talking with them. They don't want to hear it."
"Why can't they just accept the fact that I'm grown and that I can make my own decisions?"
"They accept that... They're just- Well, Mom continues to insist that she didn't raise a homewrecker."
"And she didn't! And I wish she'd stop telling people that. You can't wreck a home that's already been wrecked. I'm a girlfriend. Not some married man's mistress."
"They just want the best for you."
"They'd see that I have the best for me if they'd accept my invitation to visit, but they don't, so..." she shrugged. "I'm a homeowner. I have my own car, and with the right people, I'll have an amazing career in entertainment very soon. But instead, they choose to focus on something that isn't even their business, to begin with." She has a point there, but as a new parent myself, the last thing I'd want to see is my daughter riding her married rapper boyfriends' coattails to fame.
"Are you sure you're happy?" I asked.
Mariah's face scrunched up. "Yeah, I'm sure. Are you happy?"
"I'm ecstatic! Got four months left in this pregnancy. My husband is on his third solo world tour. My business is booming. Everything is fantastic over here."
She smiled. "That's good to hear! Have you picked out any girl names yet? When I tell you, I'm loving this childless rich Auntie thing, I really mean it. I may never have kids at this rate."
I laughed. "Well, you know I've been obsessed with 'Lyric' since 'Jason's Lyric' came out. 'N'miya,' 'Zola,' 'Naomi,' and 'Nia' are in there too, but I don't have a top-five yet."
"Has Michael put in his input?"
"As long as 'Katherine' is included in there somewhere, he really doesn't care. You know he worships his mother."
"You name my niece, 'Katherine' and Ima give her a whole new name."
"Ima fuck around and call her 'Stasi' or some shit. Girl gon' be so confused!"
"Don't you go confusing my child." I warned through my laughter. "See, now I gotta find a name you won't intentionally butcher."
"Whatever Michael wants to name her, I'm purposely gonna fuck it up. It's only right."
"I really like 'N' names for some reason. But whatever it is, it has to pair well with her brother, 'Michael.' I can't-" I stopped and looked down at my stomach after feeling a small tap inside.
I continued to stare at my stomach, trying to comprehend the butterfly flutter I had just felt. "I think one of the babies just kicked."
Mariah's eyes widened in shock as she moved closer to me and put a hand on my belly. "No way."
"Yeah..." I nodded as I moved her hand to the side of my stomach just to feel a light kick on the other side. "Oh my God..."
"What, Shayla??" She asked impatiently.
I took a couple of deep breaths to calm my excitement. "So, baby girl is on this side," I pointed to the left side of my belly. "And she just kicked. MJ is on the side you're touching now. He kicked earl-"
Mariah's mouth fell agape as we both felt another kick on MJ's side. "Did he just kick again?" I covered my mouth and nodded. "Is this the first time?" I nodded again as I fumbled to obtain my mobile phone from my pocket to call Michael. I don't care if he's doing a show or what. I have to tell him. "Shayla, they're both kicking! Oh my God!" Mariah and I were mirrored images as we both teared up. I never got to make it to this point before and now I'm experiencing it with two babies. I always knew when the moment came, I'd be excited, but the overwhelming joy I feel right now is only something that can be described as love.
"Hello?" Michael breathed into the phone.
"Baby, guess what?" I wiped an escaped tear from my cheek and touched my stomach again.
"What's going on? Are you okay? Where are you?"
"I'm fine... I just- The babies kicked."
"They kicked! Mariah and I were talking baby names, and I called MJ twice, then he kicked. Baby girl followed after him, then he kicked again."
"You're kidding me."
"No! They kicked! I really wish you could be here to experience this with me. This moment doesn't even feel complete without you."
"Wow. That's so beautiful... That's exactly what I needed to hear. I'm walking into the stadium right now. Shows about to start soon. Videotape it the next time they do it again, okay?"
"Okay... I love you, Michael."
"Love you too." He hung up quickly.
"What'd he say?" Mariah handed me a box of tissues.
"He's happy. I caught him right before the show began, but I'm glad I called when I did."
"Just in the nick of time."
"Yeah," I sighed as I rubbed my belly in hopes that my babies would respond to my touch. "Daddy told me to tell you he loves you." And just like that, baby girl kicked first with MJ following close behind. I think I just got my first sign that she's going to be a Daddy's girl.