A couple of days after the book event, Darnell called but he didn’t ask me to join him for drinks. He didn’t ask me out to dinner. “Do you want to run some errands with me?” he said.
I sat up in the big fancy bed in my big fancy hotel room and looked at the alarm clock. It was eight in the morning. “Um, errands?”
“Yeah, I have to go to the car wash, the grocery store, and maybe The Boy Next Door to pick up a cute shirt. I’ll pick you up from your hotel in twenty?”
“Um…yeah…sure,” I said before falling out of bed and getting ready with a hurried, neck-breaking speed.
I kept it simple with cute high top Adidas, a v-neck tee and a fitted. I hadn’t even gotten into Darnell’s Lexus and he was already smiling and shouting out of his window. “Look at you, all cute in your fitted and with some fresh kicks on!” I couldn’t help but smile. When I got in his Lexus, he eyeballed me and flashed that old familiar smirk. “Give me a kiss,” he said, leaning over and placing his hands on my cheeks. Our lips met for a soft, sweet kiss and I think my heart skipped a beat. What was happening? With that, he turned away, put the car in drive and we were off.
Darnell’s sexy smirk wasn’t the only thing that was familiar. He shamelessly flirted with an employee at the Cactus Car Wash on Ponce de Leon and that old familiar acidic burn of jealousy seeped into my gut. If Darnell still had romantic feelings for me, he had a funny way of showing it.
I took it in stride and voiced no complaint. After all, I’m a big time New Yorker now. We don’t have time for things like jealousy, foreplay and manners. Darnell flirted with the attendant and I playfully rolled my big brown eyes and teased him. “Some things never change!”
While we waited in the car wash lounge, Darnell told me what he’d been up to: he’s got a new job, he’s taking college classes to get another degree, he’s not dating anyone and he’s saving money because he wants to adopt a child in the next few years.
“Hold up! What?” I said, flabbergasted. Many years ago, Darnell adopted a dog, spoiled it rotten and then gave it away once the responsibility became a hassle. That dog and I had a lot on common.
“Yeah, I want to have a kid,” he said, beaming. “Or two. I’ve already looked into adoption agencies. I thought about surrogacy but there are a lot of legality issues I’m wary of. Besides, there are plenty of children who already need a home.” His voice was quiet and reverent. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his legs and looked up at me intently. Suddenly, every trace of the partying playboy disappeared.
“Are you for real?”
“Yes,” he contined, “I even moved into a two bedroom house in South West ATL. Can you believe it- I bought a house.” His eyes twinkled with excitement.
I was shocked. “Really? I never really knew this…”
“Yeah, I love kids. It’s not that I just want kids. I want a family. I want to grow old with a family. Don’t you ever worry about growing old alone and not sharing your life with a family?”
I nodded, speechless, melting. This was definitely a side of Darnell I’d never experienced. He was softer and gentle. He was serious and sweet. It was as if Darnell finally trusted me enough to open the door and let me see inside his heart.
It was at that moment that I realized I had never truly gotten over Darnell. While we sat there in silence, I wanted to ask him what happened to us. How did he feel about me? And where did we go wrong? But instead, I remained silent, simply thankful that he opened up that much.
I could have sat there for hours in that moment but after his Lexus was cleaned and detailed, an attendant drove it around. Like a child, Darnell enthusiastically popped out of his chair and I followed him outside to his car. The moment we left the parking lot, Darnell immediately cranked up some dirty south trap music. The bass shook the car and the seductive smirk was back. The moment was gone. The door was closed.
TO BE CONTINUED