“Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you?” Rakeem asked for the tenth time as he pulled into Asia’s parents’ driveway. We finally headed out to start our day, but before we did, there was a stop that I wanted to make. Needed to make. I had to tell Asia the truth. If I didn’t, it would eat at me for the rest of my life. Especially if Damon cheated on her in the future. I’d feel like shit, knowing I had the chance to help her avoid that hurt.
“I’m sure. I need to do this alone.”
Rakeem’s hand wrapped around my elbow and he used it to pull me closer to him. He placed his signature kiss to my temple, then one to my neck that had me blushing.
“Okay. I love you, Maliah. You know that, right?”
When we first broke up, any time he said that to me, I would ask him what love had to do with anything, because it for sure wasn’t enough to keep us together. This time, that hurt and bitterness didn’t fill me. This time, my smile widened as I said, “I know, and I love you too.”
Rakeem’s face dropped and his mouth opened partially before he smiled and took my hand into his.
“That’s the first time you’ve told me that you love me since we broke up. I’ve been waiting years to hear that, Lee.”
“I’ll make up for that while you’re here,” I promised before kissing the corner of his mouth.
He stared at me for a few seconds before getting out of the car and coming to open my door. Not letting me walk right away, Rakeem pressed me into the car gently, letting me feel the hardness of his chest and the erection that was growing between his thighs.
“Don’t kiss me that close to my mouth again if you don’t expect me to have my way with you.”
With a smile, I cupped his neck and kissed the side of his mouth. “I’ll keep that in mind,” I tossed over my shoulder as I walked away from him.
The thought of things getting physical between me and Rakeem while he was here hadn’t crossed my mind yet, but I for sure wasn’t closed off to that happening. He was still the best lover I’d ever had. The least selfish and most in tune with my body. If he wanted to end our time together with a bang I was all for it.
Once I’d made it to the front door, I shot Asia a text instead of ringing the doorbell. I didn’t want to risk one of her parents opening the door and inviting me in. Not only was I avoiding her mother, but I figured this conversation would take longer if I went inside. I wanted to cut straight to the chase and go on about my day. There was no need to dwell on such a negative, hurtful situation. This was my time to be free of it.
Asia came to the door, closing it behind her as she stepped outside.
“Is everything okay?” she asked, sending Rakeem a wave and a smile. “Y’all back together?”
I shook my head as I looked back at him, nibbling on my bottom lip. He was so damn handsome. And protective. Standing there, waiting for me. It was going to be pure torture for him to not try and lead me through this conversation or the next few days because Rakeem had always been a take charge kind of man. But as he puffed his cheeks out and blew air out of his mouth in impatience all I could do was appreciate him a little more for putting forth such great effort to give me what I needed.
“Have you talked to Damon lately, Asia?”
Her eyes returned to mine as her smile wavered. “Every day, why?”
“Has he mentioned anything about me?” Her head shook. “Me and Damon were in a relationship for the past eight months. We met right after me and Rakeem broke up, but it took us a while to commit. I made him mad around Thanksgiving and that’s why he took that random trip to Atlanta. When he met you.”
Asia scratched her cheek. Gaze going distant as her head titled.
“You said you were in a relationship with him?” she repeated, voice low and shaky.
Her posture loosened as her head lowered. When it lifted, Asia’s eyebrows were squished together as her head shook.
“So you’re saying he cheating on you with me?”
She ran her fingers through her chest before wrapping her hand around her neck.
“Do you love him?”
Did I love him?
“I’m not in love with him. I have love for him because of how well he treated me, but no, I don’t love him. Do you love him?”
Her eyes began to water as her lips parted slightly. Heading shaking, Asia took a step towards me.
“No, but I know that I can. I… wanted to at least. I was looking forward to growing in love with him as we nurtured our child together but… I can’t be with him knowing he did this to you. You’re my closest friend, Maliah.”
I took her into my arms with a small smile. “Don’t worry about me. Do what’s best for you and your baby.”
She stiffened against me, and there was no need for me to question how difficult of a choice that was going to be for her. And I wanted no parts of it. Whatever decision she made, I would support her 100%.
“I’m so sorry, Maliah. I didn’t know he was with you. When I checked his social media, I didn’t see any pictures of him with a woman so I believed him when he said he was single.”
“It’s okay. We chose not to put our relationship on social media. Damon isn’t a bad guy. He just… made a horrible choice. Instead of breaking up with me, he cheated on me. But that’s not to say that he will do the same to you.” I released her so that I could look into her eyes. “I wanted you to be aware just in case he did, though. But whatever you decide, I got your back.”
With a nod, Asia caught her tears before they could fall. “I need to talk to him. Can I call you later?”
As I walked away, I felt myself detaching from her. Whatever she decided to do, I would accept, and all I could do was pray she had the courage to accept her choice and live with it too.