Chapter 41

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Drew collected his belongings before I could say anything, leaving the twins and me to fend for ourselves for the rest of the day.

How could a day that began so fun end like this? This is insane. All because I want to vacation with my children and their father? I hope this doesn’t last forever. Because right now, this is telling me that our marriage will not go well if he can’t understand that Michael and I will be doing things like this.

I let the twins play for a bit longer before getting ready to go home. I called Carol, who was waiting for us not too far off so we could get dinner. Even though Drew left, that doesn’t mean our fun day has to end so abruptly. Paparazzi continued to snap shot after shot after shot. They got plenty of pictures as Drew and I conversed intensely.

I rolled my eyes, “Mimi and MJ, let’s go!” I called out to my children as I began to collect my belongings. We’ve got to get home before these creeps take more pictures and make up their own story about what just happened.

“Where’s Drew?” MJ asked me as he wrapped his towel around himself.

“He went home. Auntie Carol is here. We’re going to get dinner with her. Y’all hungry?” I asked. They each nodded frantically. I know they’re gonna sleep too well tonight.

After we got everything together, we made our way to Carol’s car. MJ and Mimi rambled on to her about their day and how they couldn’t wait to eat. I mostly stayed quiet.

“You okay?” Carol asked me.

“We can talk about it over dinner,” I sighed.

She nodded and went back to talking to the twins.

I don’t understand Drew. Where is all this coming from? We’ve been doing so well. We’ve never really had an issue, but now all of this pent-up anger is spilling over? I don’t get it. I get why he feels the way he does, in a way, but he can’t forget that Michael and I have young children. I don’t want to raise my children like they have to do everything separately with us. They don’t. And if my parents divorced when I was young, I would have wanted to see them together at least once. Ain’t nobody thinking about Michael. I’m thinking about my kids. Maybe if Drew stopped thinking about Michael so much, he wouldn’t feel this way.

We pulled up to a burger and shakes joint, ordered, and sat down. The twins bickered with each other like an old married couple, as per usual.

“So, what’s up? What happened?” Carol finally asked me.

“Michael wants to take the kids to Gary to show them his hometown,” I shrugged.

“And…?” Her eyebrows rose in suspicion.

“And he asked me if I wanted to go.”

“So…?”

“So Drew told me he didn’t want me to go,” I faked a quick smile.

“Drew doesn’t want you to go?”

I rolled my eyes, “at this point, I think he’s jealous.”

“Of Michael?”

“Or the relationship I have with him. I don’t know. Mike held out an olive branch and asked Drew if he wanted to go, but he declined. I told Mike I’d go because it’d be great for the twins to see us as a family operating together. Drew didn’t like that, though.”

“He doesn’t like seeing two parents raise their children together?” She narrowed her eyes at me.

“That’s what it sounds like, doesn’t it?”

“He done damn told you he wanted to marry you knowing you got two kids with your ex, but now he’s mad that you and your ex are co-parenting the way other parents only dream they could?” I rolled my eyes. “He done lost his mind!”

“He’s gotta be jealous, right?”

“There’s no other explanation for it! He calls me out of the clear blue sky because he’s worried he’s gonna lose you to Mike. He done called ya mama! And now he’s telling you you can’t go raise your kids with the man you made them with? Sumn in the buttermilk ain’t clean.”

Is it control that he wants? He never seemed to be controlling before. He’s always been a fantastic person, lover, and does a great job with the twins. But now he feels threatened? Where were all of these feelings before? Why now? Why when we’re supposed to get married next month? If this isn’t a bright red flag, I don’t know what is.

We finished our dinner, and Carol drove us home. Drew’s car was right in the driveway. I feel like we should have gone to one of my other homes, but if Drew and I plan to get married, I can’t avoid him when times get hard. That’s not what marriage is about.

The twins and I said our goodbyes to Carol.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to go in there and mediate if anything pops off?” She asked before I got out of the car.

“Positive. We’ll be alright,” I nodded.

She raised a suspicious brow, “well, alright. Call me if you need anything.”

“I will,” I sighed.

The twins and I went into the house to find it dark and quiet. Drew must be asleep or in his office.

I don’t want to argue. I barely even want to talk about what I can and cannot do with my children and their father. I hope Drew just understands my point of view and just moves on.

The twins raced upstairs to get ready for bed. I didn’t bother looking for Drew, and it’s evident he isn’t bothering to greet us. The twins’ giggles and the stomps of their feet clearly indicate that I’m home, but if he’s not worried, neither am I.

I bathed the twins by myself and helped them get ready for bed. After reading their favorite story and tucking them in, I finally went to my bedroom to wind down.

Drew was lying in bed, reading glasses on, while he flipped to the next page of his book.

He didn’t even look at me.

I scoffed and went to the bathroom to shower.

This is childish. What more does he want from me? I’ve done everything that he’s asked of me, and it still isn’t enough? Does he want me to write Michael off as my baby daddy and move on like nothing else matters? These are still babies we’re talking about. Babies that have parents that love them more than life itself. Babies that have parents that’ll do anything to make sure they’re raised with nothing but love and stability. He just wants me and Michael to exchange the kids and not have a good relationship with each other?

The difference between Drew and me is that he and his ex-wife knew they weren’t compatible. They had children to try to make it work, and that shit still didn’t work out. They tried to stay together for the sake of their new family, but even their children could see right through the farce that was their marriage. And after all of that time wasted, they finally decided to split when their children were practically out of the house.

Michael and I knew we were destined to be together. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out. No love lost, but that doesn’t mean I have to be bitter and dismissive about him.

I got out of the shower and put on my robe before going back into the bedroom to see my fiancé still in that same dumbass position as before I left him.

“Do you think I would go back to Michael even though I’m all in with you?” I finally broke that barrier of silence that separated us.

He exhaled through his nostrils as he flipped yet another page of his book, “I learned a long time ago not to ask a question I didn’t want to know the answer to.”

“So you think I will.”

“I’m not telling you what I think.”

“Why?”

He finally looked at me over the brim of his glasses, “you’re interrupting my reading."

I sucked my teeth as I went back to the bathroom to dry my hair, “excuse the fuck out of me.” So he thinks I’m going to give up everything we have together because I want to do right by my children? This is so immature. I went back to the bedroom and stood beside his side of the bed. “You don’t trust me. Do you?”

He finally set his book down and removed his reading glasses, “no. I don’t.”

I lifted a brow, “you don’t?” There it is. The root of where all of this is coming from. “I can’t believe this,” I walked over to the foot of the bed. “You don’t trust me because of Michael? Do you not realize how long it took to be cordial with one another after everything we’ve been through? You and I have talked about this. And I’ve explained to you that nothing will ever come out of Michael and me again. That is history! It’s the past! Okay? You and I are together. We- We’re engaged, for Pete’s sake! So tell me, what is your problem?!”

“How am I supposed to know that?”

“Know what?”

“You’re not still head over heels in love with that man? He asks you to do something, and you’re Johnny on the spot. I mean, riddle me this, Shayla. Why in the hell did you agree to be a part of that 'Private Home Videos' monstrosity, huh? Y’all all up on TV undressing each other with your eyes, reminiscing on the past, giggling, and shit. Do you not realize how that makes me look? I was humiliated when I saw that footage from nineteen ninety-two, when you were telling a private party, and now the world, that you’re in love with that man and that he means so much to you. Sure, that happened a little over ten years ago, but neither of you thought it inappropriate? Neither one of you thought to take it out? You’re supposed to be my wife in a month, and the world is busy playing that footage repeatedly, asking if you still want me!”

“When did you start caring about what the world thinks? You’ve always avoided the public eye because you don’t care about them. Now all of a sudden, you do?”

“When you started helping Michael pander to them every five seconds. From that shitshow of a documentary that my people are still working on to make sure I don’t look like an idiot to these stupid private home videos that show you two are still very much in love.”

“Drew, I would have never accepted your proposal to marry you if I wasn’t all in with you. Why now? Why is this getting to you so much?”

He shook his head no, “that’s not enough.”

“Drew-”

“Because you haven’t given me any reason to trust anything you say to me.”

“What are you talking about?!”

“I’m over here trying to read your mind, and this shit always ends with Michael, and you always try to cover it up by saying it’s for the kids.”

“What?!”

“And after all of this, I’m supposed to be okay with you going on a trip with this man? Do I have ‘stupid’ written on my forehead or somethin’?”

“You told me you were fine with the documentary. You were fine with me helping out a friend. You were fine with everything that I did with Mike! Now you’re flipping the script!”

“You know what?” He shook his head and put his reading glasses back on. “This shit is for the birds.”

“You’re right. This is insane. Your true colors are starting to show, and my God, if I don’t pay attention, I’m an idiot! I’m going on the trip with Mike and the kids. Apparently, we need a break from each other. When I return, I hope whatever insecurities or jealousy you’re feeling is gone by then.”

He chuckled to himself, “‘jealousy?’ Okay.”

“Why would you want to marry somebody you don’t trust? I don’t have to deal with this,” I hurriedly put a shirt and shorts on and opened the bedroom door.

“Lock my door when you leave.”

I looked back to see him reading his book looking just as unbothered as he did when I entered the first time.

Imagine being upset about two people happily raising their children together. He’s pathetic.

I went to the kids' bedrooms to wake them up. They were equally as confused as I was. But I explained to them that we’re going to our other house. I’m not about to sleep in the same place as a man that clearly doesn’t trust me. What is all of this for then? Why not just call off the wedding if this is how you feel! He’s just wasting time. If he doesn’t call it, I will. This is bullshit.

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