Chapter 37

(Shayla)


Around eight, a knock came to the door. I just knew it was Byron. I'll just tell him I can't go out tonight. I got up from my bed and looked in the mirror. I look horrible. I walked to the front door and looked through the peephole to see Byron with a bouquet of roses. I smiled as I unlocked the door and opened it slightly, "hey, Byron..."


"Hey... Are you okay?" He asked, clearly concerned.


"No... Byron now isn't a good time for me to go out. Maybe next weekend would be better."


"Oh. Do you want to talk about it?"


"Not really," I sighed.


"You look like you need someone to talk to, Shayla. You can't just hold it in."


"I know," a tear rolled down my cheek.


"Shayla, I don't want to see you cry. Let me come in and we can talk about it, okay?" I opened the door wider for him to come in. He shut the door behind him as I went to sit on the couch. He took off his jacket and sat beside me, "you're in desperate need of a hug," he said and pulled me in for a hug. When I hugged him back, all I could think about was Michael, because Michael knew when I needed a hug and so did Byron. "It's okay," he whispered as he held me close to him. He could never make me feel weak in his arms like Michael did. We let go of each other and I wiped my face. "What happened?"


"I lost a friend that I thought I would never lose..."


"Someone died?!"


I shook my head, "no. We're no longer friends anymore. And I thought we always would."


"How long have you all been friends?"


"Three years. We haven't talked in a little over a year though, so I thought I would call to check in on him but come to find out he has moved on to bigger and better things. He doesn't want anything to do with me anymore."


"That's not right. Clearly, he was only a friend for a season."


"Yeah..." I sniffed. I couldn't believe it. But why would I think Michael would still want to be in contact with regular old me? I'm nobody compared to him now... "It just hurts, ya know? Someone I considered a best friend, doesn't even want to contact me anymore."


"I understand. I've lost some friends too. I guess that just goes to show you that some people are in your life for a season and some for a reason."


I looked up at him, "how did you deal with it?"


"I hung out with my real friends and family. People who I've been around all my life. They helped me get through it," he swallowed. "Shayla, you're special. If I ever had the opportunity to be your friend or even anything more, I would treat you like the Queen you are." I sighed at his desperate attempt of trying to get with me at such a time as this. This is pathetic. I've always found it interesting how a man likes to try to get with a girl when she's at her most vulnerable. "So, when you called, what happened?"


"I called to talk to him, but his sister answered only to tell me he had a girlfriend. After that, I just hung up. Although we were only friends, we liked each other, so I felt like he would wait for me, but I guess not," I shrugged.


"Why didn't you stay on the phone with her to find out more?"


"After hearing that, I don't really care to speak to him or her. I would have nothing to say if I had the chance to speak with him."


"Maybe it was a misunderstanding."


"How?"


"His sister may have meant that he was with a friend that just so happened to be a girl."


I made a face, "Why couldn't she just say, 'friend?' Why 'girlfriend?'"


"I don't know," he shrugged. "Maybe that's what she meant."


"You sound like my brother, Matt," I laughed. "Always trying to find the positive in things."


"Is that a good or bad thing?" he smiled.


"A good thing. Trust me."


"Great! So, are you going to call him to see if everything is okay?"


"Um, I'll try later," I got up and made my way to my bedroom to get ready.


(Michael)


"LaToya, Rebbie said after she said that, Shayla hung up. I know she was upset after hearing that. I want to call her, but I'm sure after she heard that, she might not want to talk to me. What should I do?" I lay back on LaToya's bed as I waited for her advice.


She sighed, "this is tough. I'm sure Rebbie didn't mean that you and Ola were in a relationship."


"Well, she kind of did and I'm sure Shayla took it the exact way she heard it."


"You better call her, Michael! Get this straightened out. Y'all haven't talked in almost two years, so she's bound to really think you're with someone. You better fix this now. You can use the phone in here if you want."


I went over the phone, took Shayla's number out of my pocket and called her, "I hope this works."


"Hello?" A man answered. This doesn't sound like one of her brothers. Maybe this is the wrong number.


"Hi... Is Shayla-Elizabeth there?" I asked.


"Who's calling?" he asked.


"Byron, who's calling?" I could hear Shayla ask in the background.


"I don't know. Here," he gave her the phone.


"Hello?" She answered breathlessly. The sound of her voice after not hearing it for nearly two years made my heart skip a beat. I opened my mouth to talk, but nothing came out. "Hello?" She asked again.


I cleared my throat, "um, hi, Shayla."


"Who is this?" She asked. Oh wow. She doesn't remember my voice? Maybe it changed since we last spoke...


"It's me... Michael."


She gasped, "Michael?"


"Who is Michael?" Byron asked in the background.


"Shh! Byron, get out," she told him.


"But-"


"Wait in the living room, please. I'll be out in a minute." I heard shuffling in the background and she finally came back, "Michael, is this really you?"


"Yeah, um, Shayla, I need you to know Ola is not my girlfriend. We're only co-stars. She just asked me to attend a movie as a way to celebrate the premiere of the Thriller short film and I went. What Rebbie told you was a misunderstanding."


"Wow, so you've really been single this entire time?"


"I have been... You've always been on my mind though."


"Why did you stop writing me, Michael? Why did you stop calling me?" She asked. I heard the frustration in her voice.


"I never stopped writing you. That's the thing! I wasn't able to call you because I've been so busy with the album, but I always took the time to write you because I couldn't call. I actually thought you stopped writing me!"


"No! I never stopped writing you. I waited for your letter, but I never go anything. Maybe Matt was right... Maybe a letter did get lost."


I sighed, "I believe so."


"Michael, the last letter I wrote to you was to tell you that I moved to Sacramento and received a teaching position. Did you get that? I sent that in September of eighty-one."


I shook my head, "I never got it."


"So, it's lost in the land of mail."


I managed a laugh, "I guess so."


"So, what does this mean for us?" She asked nervously.


"I desperately want us again. You have noidea how bad I miss you," I smiled.


"Me too! I have so much to tell you! We have to meet up. I have a four-day weekend. Do you think we can meet up tomorrow or something?"


"I can come up there."


"That's perfect! I can show you my new place and everything!" I could hear the excitement in her voice. "Well, actually, it's me and my brother's place. I moved out here with David."


"So, I've heard."


"How so?"


"I actually talked to Matt earlier and he told me."


"Shayla, are you done? I have a reservation for us!" Byron yelled in the background.


"I'm coming!" She called.


I made a face, "who is that?"


"My co-worker. He likes me and asked me to go out with him tonight. I almost told him to reschedule because I wasn't feeling well, but then I decided I would go with him."


"He sounds annoying."


Shayla laughed, "he is."


"Shayla?"


"Yeah?"


"Would it be weird to say, 'I love you' after all this time?"


"Not at all."


When she said that, I swear I my entire body warmed up from the overwhelming happiness I was feeling, "I love you."


"I love you too," she smiled. "Michael, as much as I don't want to stop talking with you, I have to go. I promised Byron I would go with him and you know I don't break my promises."


"I understand. He better not try anything!" I warned.


She laughed, "I'll make sure he doesn't. I'll call you as soon as I get back, okay? I shouldn't be gone long."


"That's fine. I'll be up."


"Thank you, Michael. I'll talk to you later," she said and hung up. I placed the phone on the receiver and lay back on LaToya's bed with the biggest smile on my face. I can't wait to see Shayla again.

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