“We’re still friends,” Drew nodded as we walked down the bustling streets of Rodeo Drive. Drew has two daughters; Andrea, 26, and Sundai, 22. He’s dated around but has yet to find “the one.” And… he’s still friends with his ex-wife.
“’Friends’ friends? Or just ‘friends?” I looked over at him.
He shook his head no. “Just friends. I hadn’t touched that woman since two years before the divorce. Trust me. We’re just friends.”
“Yikes… Was that one of the main reasons you all just called it quits?”
“Yes and no?” He winced. “When I say we weren’t meant for each other, I really mean that. We started out as friends, which was cool and all. Got married entirely too quickly. Became unhappy because it wasn’t what we thought it would be. Had kids thinking it was going to make it better… It didn’t. We were even more miserable. We tried to stay together for the kids, but once the girls grew up and could smell our bullshit, we just called it quits. Even our kids were grateful that we split. Isn’t that terrible?” He laughed.
“I mean… If the kids can see through the charade, I guess so.”
“Yeah, so, we’re back to being just friends. The kids are grown now, so we don’t have to talk about them. We check in on each other from time to time. She remarried a couple years ago. I’m cool with her husband. All is well with the world.” He shrugged.
“Well, I’m glad you all finally found peace after that.”
“Me and you both. Now,” he stopped walking and turned to face me. “You gon’ tell me the real reason you left ya husband?”
“My answer wasn’t good enough?”
“It saves face,” he shrugged. “But a woman doesn’t divorce her husband immediately after she done had his kids.” He raised a suspicious brow at me.
“Why do you want to know so bad?”
“I thought we were explaining why we’re divorced.”
I shrugged. “Yeah, and I gave you my answer.”
“Which… I find hard to believe. I guess I just want to know because if you’re really ‘ready’ to move on, you’d be healed from it. And I believe that after healing, you’d be okay to talk about it freely.”
As I searched his eyes, I realized he was right. And although I had gone through countless sessions of therapy that convinced me I was “healed.” Am I really?
“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. I’m just making conversation,” he winked and began to walk again. I grabbed his hand to stop him.
“He cheated.” Drew’s mouth slowly fell agape in shock. He tried to keep from showing his surprise, but it didn’t really work. “While I was pregnant, he cheated.” I nodded. “I don’t like to talk about it because it’s humiliating. I’ve gone through endless amounts of therapy to work through it. And it’s helped.” I shrugged. “I’ve healed for the most part. But a woman never forgets how the father of her children treated her while she was pregnant. So, I don’t talk about it much.”
We stood in silence.
Drew didn’t know what to say and neither did I. What could I say? I don’t like talking about that. And there’s not much that I expect Drew to say on the topic either. Except for-
“I’m sorry.” He finally fixed his lips to say.
“Uh…” he looked around and found a bench for us to sit on. “I’m so sorry, Shayla….”
I shrugged. “I’m over it. I promise. Like, I said, it’s not something that you can forget. And when I found out, I ended up giving birth prematurely.” I scoffed and laughed to myself. “Why am I telling you this? I don’t talk about this with anyone.”
“I understand that you went to a therapist about it. And I’m sure you’ve talked to many others in your circle. But maybe, just maybe talking about this now, could help a little.” He put his arm around me and searched my eyes. “That still hurts you. I can tell.”
“Mmhm.” He nodded. “You didn’t deserve that. Cheating is an unforgivable act, but to do it while you were carrying his seed?” He scoffed. “That’s a different kind of betrayal. The last thing I would have ever thought of was having sex with someone else while my wife was carrying my children. That would have never even crossed my mind. I-” He shook his head. “I’m so sorry you and the twins had to go through that. You didn’t deserve it.”
“Wow…” He nodded to himself. “The King has surely fallen, hasn’t he?”
“I mean, it was a lot that led up to it. Not saying that was cause for him to do that. We were already hanging on by a thread. That was just the final straw. And I refused to bring my children into that mess.”
He shook his head in disbelief. “I’m so sorry.”
“You must have been a big fan, huh?” I laughed.
He winced. “Not a big fan. I grew up with Michael Jackson like everyone else. Although, I’m older than him. I’m not afraid to say that I looked up to the guy. I’ve been to a couple of concerts and whatnot. Saw his pretty wife in the magazines and wondered how he could possibly bag her,” he winked. “I’m disappointed, really. Because he messed up a good thing. And to betray you in such a manner is just something I just never thought he would do.”
“He is human, ya know?” I nudged his shoulder.
He scoffed. “Well, if I ever forgot, I certainly remembered now. Sheesh. I’m so sorry you had to go through that, Shayla.”
“Please don’t be sorry for me. I get enough of that from him as is.”
“I see why you haven’t dated since.”
“Aside from the fact that I have literal babies to raise and trying to navigate in this world alone, yeah. Pretty much.”
“So, I assume the possibility of friendship between you two is slim to none, huh?”
I shook my head no. “We only talk about the kids. There’s nothing else to talk about.”
“Nothing at all?”
“Hmm.” He nodded.
“You were with the man for how long?”
“And y’all ain’t got nothing to talk about?”
“Are we supposed to?”
He nodded in agreement. What are we supposed to talk about? There’s nothing to discuss. Even though Michael has tried to talk many a time, primarily through pen and paper. But aside from that, we have nothing except for these children. And I’m okay with that.
“Do you and your ex-wife still have anything to talk about?” I asked.
He shrugged. “Nothing outside of the usual.”
“What’s the ‘usual?’”
“’Hey. Hi. How ya doin’?’ Nothing more than that.”
“Do you suggest that for me and my ex?”
He laughed. “No. I mean. You don’t have to. Your dynamic is way different from mine.”
“Right,” I looked down at my watch to see that it was thirty past the hour. “Well, I guess it’s about time I get back to the office,” I stood up.
He looked down at his watch and stood up. “Oh, yeah. Guess I lost track of time.” He took my hand in his and led me back to his car.
There’s a spark between us. I may be hopeful for a spark, but knowing that I have so much going on, I probably wouldn’t even allow it.
The attraction is there. The connection… Everything. But it’s up to me if I’ll allow it to get any bigger than this. Andrew wants me. Bad. I don’t want to let him down, though.
“When do you take the kids back to their father?” He asked as we drove back to my office.
“What time will you be back in town?”
“Uh… I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. Our flight leaves at six that morning. They’ll be in New York next week. So that’s going to be a long back and forth. I refuse to stay for the night.”
“Are you busy Monday?”
I turned to look at him as he stared ahead at the road. “Uh… Aside from my Monday morning briefing, I should be free for the rest of the day. Why?”
“Starting at eleven-thirty Monday morning. Me and you. For the rest of the day. How does that sound?” He peeked over at me.
“What do you have in mind?”
He shrugged. “I’ll have everything planned. Don’t worry. Are you up for it?”
I laughed to myself. “Is this your way of asking me out on a date?”
He smiled, keeping his eyes on the road. “Would you like to go out with me Monday morning?”
The last time I’d been officially asked out on a date was probably in the seventies. That’s pathetic. I can’t count the outings Roland and I went out on or anything of that nature. But to have a man outside of my ex-husband ask me out is proof that I’m in a totally new stage in my life. And I’m all in.