I opened my eyes to my Mother softly rubbing my back to wake me.
“I made breakfast.” She said softly.
I swallowed and sighed. “Thank you.”
“Your father called. He loves you.”
I stared at the wall for a moment. It didn’t take long for Howard and me to put everything together. All it took was two days, and Michael was served.
Not long after I met with Howard, I called my Mom and Mariah. I need them more than anything right now. Guess too much solitude had gotten to me.
Out of respect for me, Mariah hasn’t mentioned Dre in my presence. I’ve heard her speak of him once to mom, but that ended with an argument. Mom has never liked Dre. Doesn’t like the fact that he’s with Mariah. Doesn’t like the fact that Mariah continues to sleep with a married man. And because I’m in the exact same place that Dre’s wife is in, Mom doesn’t understand why Mariah won’t end it. Mariah never mentioned him again.
I was given the choice of having the papers mailed to Michael or having someone I knew serve him. Mariah volunteered with a quickness. When she came back, she told us that she didn’t get to actually see Michael. I already knew that wasn’t going to happen. There was no way he was going to let her onto the premises. He didn’t let her see the kids, nor did he take the papers. Once I get back, I’ll see to it that he takes them.
“Is she up?” Mariah softly knocked on the door. “The hard parts over now, sissy. Now all you gotta do is get the kids in the next couple of days.” She came and sat on the bed.
I licked my lips to moisten them. “Wanna hear something crazy?”
“What’s up?” Mariah asked. Mom just listened.
“I can smell my babies, and they’re not even here. I miss them so much.” I laughed a little.
Mom laughed. “That’s not crazy. That’s motherhood. When you all were infants, I could smell you all a mile away. That new baby smell is not only addicting but also robust. That's probably why I kept havin' 'em.”
“It’s like their smell is trapped in my nose or something.” I smiled.
“Yep. Motherhood.” Mom laughed again.
My sudden burst of happiness was cut short as I thought of what Michael said. That comment is going to stay with me for a while. I’m glad Howard and I were able to get everything done quickly. As long as he was getting his hourly fee, he kept the coffee coming.
Aside from that, I haven’t done anything. My mom and sister stayed with me in the hideout, running errands if need be, but other than that? I took this time to get my mind together. With newborns, this is going to be an interesting divorce…
“Come on downstairs. Let’s eat.” Mom suggested.
“I’m not really hungry.”
“Well, come downstairs at least.”
“I don’t feel like getting up.”
Mariah sighed and shared a glance with mom. “Come on, Shayla. Just come downstairs. We’re going to get the twins tomorrow. After we eat, we can get dressed, go out on the town…”
“For what? I’ve seen all I needed to see. I’ve done all I needed to do. Ain’t nothin’ out there for me right now.”
“You don’t want to get some fresh air?” Mom asked.
“Open a window.” My will to get up and do anything aside from getting that divorce or getting my babies is slim to none.
My face got tingly as an overwhelming rush of emotion came over me. “Sometimes I ask myself if this is all just a really bad dream or a joke. I never would have imagined my life this way. Now, look at me. I can’t even get out of bed. Can’t even get dressed unless it’s to see Howard. I keep telling myself this won’t last forever, but God! It sure does seem like it!” I cried.
“Everything just happened so fast…” Mom rubbed my back.
“Gee! Ya think?” I wiped several tears from my face. “Some days, I think I’m over it. Like, when I’m with the twins, I have nothing else to think about but them screaming every second. On other days like today, when I have nothing else to distract myself with, I go over everything. What went wrong? Why did it turn out this way? And most importantly, how long will this divorce take? Because this? Nah. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
Mom and Mariah didn’t have anything else to say. What can you say when someone is going through so much in so little time? You can only offer so much.
“I hope you requested to get child support.” Mariah sucked her teeth. “Ain’t no way my husband’s gonna cheat on me, and I’m not getting a dime.”
I sighed. “I never signed a prenup, Mariah.”
“So! That’s more money in your bank account. And my niece and nephew deserve every bit of it.”
“So, what are you gonna do?” Mom asked.
“What do you mean?”
“When we go to the ranch tomorrow. We’re not staying there, are we?”
I turned to look at her. “Why can’t we? The guest house is as far away from the main house as-”
“All these houses y’all got, and you want to continue to stay on the ranch with him?”
“It’s easier for the twins, mom.”
“When we pick up the twins, we’re bringing them right down here.”
My eyebrows knit together in confusion. “Why? All their stuff is at the ranch.”
“So! We can buy some more. Why continue to stay there?”
“Mom…” I groaned.
“No. No, ‘mom.’ Think about it, Shayla. That man decides he wants to come and talk it out, he can just waltz right over, disturb your peace, and now you and the twins are crying all over the place. As a matter of fact, you need to have somebody rent you out a place real quick. If he knows you’re in one of the hideouts, he can waltz right up with a key with no problem.”
“I have too much going on to house hunt.”
“That’s what you have your sister and me here for. Mariah, go on and get dressed. We’re goin’ house huntin’.”
“No! You get dressed too. You need some fresh air. These sheets stink!”
We found a five-bedroom/six-bath house in Calabasas yesterday. Mom was right. If I wanted to speed up this divorce, why continue to stay in hideouts that Michael owns? Guess I had so much on my mind that I didn’t even think about that.
With Varg and movers' help, we could furnish just a little bit of the house yesterday and earlier this morning. It helped me get my mind off of things for a moment. My Mother is always right. I don’t know how I thought that that was a crazy idea.
“Ooo, I can’t wait to see his face when we pull up.” Mariah smiled. “He can’t decline these papers if he wanted to.”
“Yes, he can, Mariah.” Mom reminded her.
“With me up in his face, he won’t.”
“Mariah, you give him the papers. I just want to get the twins and get out.” I sighed.
“You ain’t said nothing but a word.”
“Ima have a couple words to say to my son-in-law before we leave, Shayla.”
“Okay.” I sighed. I don’t want any arguments. This whole thing is messy as is.
“He’s gon’ be sick when he notices we ain’t stayin’ on the ranch.” Mariah continued to laugh to herself.
“He ought to be glad. If we were, he’d be hearing from me daily.” Mom said as she looked outside.
With mom and Mariah, I won’t even need Mona this time around. She probably needs the week off anyway. I’m sure Michael couldn’t survive a day with the twins by himself.
When we pulled up to the main house, Mariah hurried to the front door and knocked. I sighed. I wish she hadn’t done that. I didn't want Michael to be the first thing I saw upon walking in my house. Mom and I walked up, and as soon as I went to open the door, Michael opened it.
He inhaled through his mouth in shock as he took the sight of us in. “Shayla…”
Mariah put a hand on her hip. “’Hi, Mariah. Hi, Mom!’” She rolled her eyes. “I believe this belongs to you. She held the manila folder toward him. He looked down at it, then back up at me, completely ignoring the existence of my Mother and sister.
“Excuse me,” I walked past him to go upstairs.
“You have a lot of nerve not greeting me after what you did to my daughter.” I heard Mom say as I hurried upstairs. In and out. That’s it. No conversation. No sorry. No, I want you backs—none of that. I don’t want to hear it. He can say all that in court.
“Mimi!” I smiled at the sight of my daughter dressed in a sparkly silver onesie. “Heyy, baby girl!” I picked her up out of her crib and smothered her face in kisses. “What’s daddy feeding you, huh? You’ve grown so much.” Unlike the last time, she wasn’t crying her head off. She was content and peaceful. Junior gnawed on the grey glove covering his fist. “Hey, baby…” I pulled the side of the crib down to kiss him.
“How’s my Niecey Poo!” Mariah was all smiles as she took Mimi from me. She didn’t have the folder in her hand, so I assume Michael took it.
I took Michael out of his crib and hugged him close. “Mommy’s missed you so much.”
“That titty milk is making these babies grow!” Mariah said as she began putting Mimi in her car seat.
I laughed. “You should have seen them a couple weeks ago. It’s a blessing to see them get bigger.” I began putting Michael in his car seat. “Did he take the folder?”
“Yeah. Snatched it right out of my hand. Guess he got tired of hearing me and mom nag him at the same time.” She laughed. “This room is so pretty. It’s a shame Michael fu- I mean, messed up.”
“Yeah, I had a lot of time on my hands while Michael was on tour.”
“You think he’s going to finish the tour?”
“With everything going on? Probably not. But who knows?” I shrugged. Knowing him, he might just tour just to get his mind off of everything. We all know he loves his fans more than he will ever love me.
Once Mariah and I got everything together, we went downstairs to see Mom still berating Michael. So much so that he had taken a seat. All he could do was sit there and listen. Once he saw me, his mouth fell agape as he quickly stood up.
“Shayla, I’m not signing these.” He hurried to the front door to meet me.
“Okay.” I tried to leave, only for him to block the door.
“I mean it, Shayla. We have to work this out.”
“Work this out?!” Mom and Mariah said in unison.
He sighed and rolled his eyes. “I’ve already met with a divorce lawyer. He recommended a counselor.”
My eyebrows knit together as I looked at him like he had lost his mind. “Counseling? Seriously?” He’s the one who fucked up. Why do we have to go to counseling if he's the problem?
“Yes. We need to go to counseling. It’s the only way we’re going to be able to raise our children in a stable home. Why do you want to do this? Why do you want to raise our children in a broken home? Counseling will fix all of this. Isn’t that what you wanted to do last year? Why can’t we do it now, huh? Don’t you want to fix us?”
“No, Michael, I don’t. It’s amazing how I wanted to go to counseling last year, and you didn’t want to go. Suddenly, when someone outside of your wife suggests it, now you're gung-ho about it? Please.” I tried to push past him, only to be halted.
His lips grew tight as he nodded. “I’m not signing those papers until we see a counselor.”
“You can’t make me see a counselor, Michael.”
“Well, you can’t make me sign those papers, Shayla. So, which is it? Do you want the divorce or not? Because I’m not giving you a divorce unless we go to counseling.”
At that, my temper sparked. How dare he give me an ultimatum when he’s the reason why I want to divorce his ass anyway?! Counseling won’t solve anything! “You just always have to have things go your way, don’t you?”
He averted his eyes away from me. He knows he’s wrong. He just doesn’t want to admit it.
“Asshole! Come on, Shayla.” Mariah took my hand.
Michael let us through before saying, “our first session is tomorrow. If you’re not there, I’m taking my kids because you're unstable.”