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Chapter 36

After a long day of celebrating the completion of the short film, I finally made it home. I can't wait to see Shayla and tell her all about my day. I walked into the foyer to see Mariah in the office on her computer, "hey, Mariah."

She turned to look at me, "ooh, you're in trouble," she got up and raced upstairs. "Shayla, Michael's here!" She yelled. In trouble for what? The day just ended. Bill and I just dropped of Tatiana, so what could I possibly be in trouble for? Shayla stood at the top of the stairs with her arms folded across her chest.

"Hey, baby," I said nervously. "What's going on?"

"What are you doing having Bill pick up Tatiana?"

I bit my lip, "Bill told you, huh?"

"You thought he wouldn't?" She came downstairs to face me.

"I told him it wasn't of any concern to you," I sighed.

"Why are you having him pick her up? She's a grown woman! She can get herself to and from work just fine without you."

"I was just being friendly, Shayla."

"Friendly doesn't get you a kiss on the cheek, Michael." Bill didn't hold back, did he? "What's going on between you two, huh?"


"I find that hard to believe when you're picking her up from her apartment, dropping her off and kissing her."

"Woah... I never kissed her. Let's get that straight. She kissed me. Kissed me on the cheek. And that was it. And just so we're clear I told her not to kiss me."

"What I want to know is why she felt so comfortable to even kiss you?"

I shrugged, "I don't know. Ask her. I told her to stop because it's inappropriate. It's not only disrespectful to me, but also to you and our union. Is that why you didn't come on set today? Because of what Bill told you?"

"No, I didn't come on set because I had work to do. Trust me, I'd have been on set otherwise."

"I wanted you to come... Why didn't you?"

"Stop trying to deflect from the conversation, Michael. What is going on between you and Tatiana?"

"Nothing. I don't know what you're expecting to hear, but nothing happened, Shayla. I swear! Now, I will tell you that after that kiss she gave me yesterday, I did feel guilty about that. We were supposed to pick her up on my way to set today, but I told Bill to drop me off and then go pick up Tatiana. When she got on set, she felt comfortable enough to kiss me again to which I had to tell her that that could never happen again because it's disrespecting the vow I made to you. That's it! She told me to tell you she's sorry. Nothing happened, Shayla. Ask Frank. He'll tell you everything I just told you." Her arms were still folded across her chest as she tapped her foot. "If you're expecting to hear that I cheated on you, you won't hear it, because I didn't do it. I would never cheat on you, Shayla. Ever."

Her arms relaxed, "can you at least tell me why she felt so comfortable to kiss you?"

"I honestly don't know. The girl is aggressive, Shayla. She probably thought me flirting with her was the gateway to something else. I'm sorry for flirting with her. You were right. And for that, I sincerely apologize. I don't want her. I never have. I never will. I just want you," I pulled her hands down and pulled her in for a hug.

"You still should have never flirted with her," she looked up at me.

"I know," I kissed her forehead. "You don't ever have to worry about that again. I promise. Besides, she's too aggressive for me. I don't even like aggressive women."

"So, if she weren't so aggressive, you would have made a move on her?" Her eyebrow now raised.

"Nope. Can we stop talking about her? How was your day, baby? Anything new in the book?"

"I should be asking you the same question. How is your autobiography going?"

"I still don't want it published," I said in a sing-songy voice. "It's bad enough people judge me. Once they read about my upbringing, it's going to get ten times worse."

"Don't say that. Maybe you'll get some understanding, finally."

"I doubt it. Everybody is a critic." Despite my telling Shayla the truth in that nothing happened between Tatiana and me, I didn't know how to break it to her that I was attracted to her. How do you tell your wife you're attracted to another woman? And with the way Frank is talking, Tatiana will be on tour with us, so this definitely won't be the last time I see her. As long as I don't give into my attraction to her, I don't see a problem. I imagine how I would feel if Shayla told me she was attracted to another man. That would certainly take a blow to my self-esteem, so I'm sure it would do the same for her. I don't want that. I don't need that. I need my marriage as perfect as it has been so far. As long as I don't act on my attraction, I will be fine.

"Before you know it, we're going to have the house all to ourselves again," Shayla smiled.

"I know. It's going to be weird, don't you think?"

"Just a little. But we'll get right back into the groove of things if you know what I mean," she winked.

I smiled, "you are too much for me, girl. You're going to miss Mariah."

"I know. But I miss having my house to myself even more."

"Shayla," my smile faded. "I'm attracted to Tatiana. I haven't acted on it and I don't intend to. I just thought I'd let you know because Frank wants her to go on tour with us. So, we're going to be around her more often than not in a couple of months." She searched my eyes for clarity and understanding. I'm sure she was confused. I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.

"What? Um," she swallowed, tearing her eyes from mine as she searched for what she was about to say. "Why couldn't you just tell me that in the beginning?"

"I didn't know how to. I thought about how I would feel if you had told me you were attracted to another man and I knew that wouldn't feel good, so I decided not to tell you. But I couldn't keep it to myself any longer, because we agreed on not keeping secrets from one another."

"Right," she whispered to herself. "What is it about her that attracts you to her?"

"Wow. Um," I sighed. "Do you really want me to go into that?"

"Not really. I mean, she is pretty. That, I cannot deny. Y'all almost look just alike. I can see why you would be attracted to her. Except for the fact that she's shaped like a pole. Tell me something."


"Yesterday, when you came into the house frantic and determined to make love to me, were you thinking of her?" My heart raced. I didn't know how to answer that question. In truth, I wasn't thinking about Tatiana at all, but to say that she wasn't on my mind before it, would be stretching the truth.

"No," I shook my head quickly.

"You're lying," she tore away from me.

"Shayla," I pulled her back to me. "I was not thinking of her at all. I'm serious. I- Um, She-" I swallowed. "She had kissed me on the cheek. That's what Bill had told you about. And I felt guilty about that. I felt so bad. You have no idea. I told Bill not to tell you, but he did anyway. It bothered me so much. I felt so much guilt, baby. Honestly. I knew that my harmless flirting had gotten me to that. So, my answer to your question is, no. I was not thinking of her when we made love. However, I did feel guilty of my attraction to her and the fact that she had kissed me."

Shayla searched my eyes for any lies she felt I may have been telling but found none. She sighed, wiping an escaped tear, "okay. It's one thing to hear that you're attracted to another woman. That's life. You're going to see attractive women everywhere you go. But it's another thing to know we're about to be around this woman for over a year. Will you be able to contain yourself around her?"

"You don't have to worry about anything happening between us, I promise," I kissed her hands. I believe this would be threat number two to our marriage. Not too major and not too minor, but certainly a threat. Communication, trust and no secrets are key to having a healthy marriage and so far, I think we're doing well. Year four and forever to go.

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