My big chance had finally arrived. It was time to come clean and confess everything. “Jason, I’ve been mastur—”

“MOMMY!”Jason was up off the ground before I was, rushing to see what was the matter. Kyle had indeed fallen off the jungle gym and scraped a knee. After I cleaned the wound with a towelette and put a bandage on it from the first-aid kit Jason kept in the Land Rover, Jason gave him a piggyback ride around the playground area to cheer him up.

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So much for coming clean. I had the other two kids help me gather up all the picnic items and put them in the truck. On the drive home, Jason came up with what he thought was the solution to all of my problems. “Zoe, about what you were saying before, I think you’re just stressed out from working too hard.”

“But I never got a chance to tell you what I meant.”

“I know, but we can’t discuss it in front of the kids. We’ll talk about it later.” My heart felt like stopping. “Like I was saying, I think you’ve just been working too hard. Why don’t you call up Brina and plan a girls’ night out or something? I’ll watch the kids.”

Little did he know, in the past few months I had barely gotten any work done at all, since I was spending more time at Quinton’s loft than at the office. “Okay, Jason, maybe I’ll do that.”

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I decided hanging out with Brina wasn’t such a bad idea. It had been ages since we spent some time alone, just the two of us, and I was hoping she would be more receptive to my problems than Jason. I needed someone to talk to, and my husband was obviously not the one.

After we got home, I called Brina and left a message on her voice mail, telling her I wanted to get together that night. She called me back while I was soaking in the tub, and Jason brought me the cordless. He acted like he was embarrassed to look at me naked and handed me the phone with his eyes averted.

Brina and I decided to meet at a club downtown about eleven. I threw on a white spandex dress with white heels and pushed my hair up in a bun. Jason kissed me good-bye and told me to have a nice time. Then I was on my way.

When I got to the club, the Zoo, it was pandemonium in its finest form. I’ve never seen so many people sweating to get into a club before in my life. I waited on the sidewalk, opposite the red velvet rope where people were lined up awaiting a chance to get in, and looked at every car that drove by, wishing Brina would hurry the hell up. I was going to suggest we go someplace else when she got there because I didn’t think we had a prayer of getting in the place anytime soon.

She finally came strutting up the sidewalk about eleven-thirty, having parked around the block where I didn’t see her pull up. Girlfriend wasn’t playing either. I thought my dress was bordering on hoochie, but Brina’s was straight-up slutty. Hell, I’m not even sure you could call it a dress. Less than 30 percent of her body was covered, so it was more like a rag. Girlfriend had her torso, her arms, her legs, and half her ass exposed. She was sporting that black hoochie mama shit too.

“Damn, ’bout time, Brina! I was getting ready to go home and take my ass to bed.”

“Sorry, Sis.” We hugged and kissed each other on the cheek. “I was trying to make sure I had everything in the right place before I left out.”

“Not much to put in the right place. Your ass is half naked.” She gave me a slight punch in the arm, and we both laughed.

“Zoe, shaddup, Sis!”

“Brina, look at this line. We have a better chance of getting in a Michael Jackson concert. Let’s go someplace else.”

“Hell, no. We’re going up in this bitch right here. Follow-me, Sis.”

I followed her and thought she had lost her damn mind when she bypassed the entire line of people waiting and walked straight up to the bouncers instead. “Hey, Snake, ’sup, Boo?”

Damn shame she knew the man! I knew why he was nicknamed Snake right off the bat. His muscular arms were covered with snake tattoos, and to be honest, his face resembled a boa constrictor, but that’s neither here nor there.

“ ’Sup, Brina? You’re looking mighty fly tonight!” She gave him a peck on the lips, and I wanted to hurl.

She pointed at me. “This is my best friend, Zoe. It’s her first time here.”

He shook my hand and held it while he gave me the once-over. “Nice to meet you, Zoe.”

With that, he unhooked the rope and let us enter the club in front of all the others. “You ladies have a nice time.”

I joined Brina in saying, “Thanks, Snake!”

Once we found two stools at the bar, I got all in Brina’s business. “I take it you come here a lot?”

She lit a cigarette. I desperately wanted to take a pull but refused to even go there.“Gurrrrrrrrrlllllllllll,have I got some shit to tell you!”

“Well, I could use some good news, so tell me.”

The bartender came over and took our drink orders. “I started coming here about two months ago. A sistah from work turned me on to this bitch. Anyway, about the third time I fell up in here, I met this fine-ass nucca named Dempsey. We’ve been talking ever since.”

“You go girl! I didn’t know you had a new man. Tell me everything. I want all the details, and of course all the dirt.”

The bartender returned with Brina’s rum and coke and my banana daiquiri. For the next fifteen minutes, we sat there chatting and giggling while she told me all about her new love interest. Little did I know then that the Mr. Wonderful she was describing would end up beating her ass as a recreational sport in the near future.

I was a bit tipsy. Okay, I was tore the fuck up! I started looking around the club and decided it was a badass club. They had these cages with scantily clad dancers in them, both male and female, and they had live animals such as birds, raccoons, koala bears, and even a silver-back gorilla, all locked up in cages.

They were playing mostly reggae, and the dance floor was packed to the brim. The club had wall-to-wall fineass men in it. My ass had no business looking, but there was one who stood out from the rest like a black man at a Ku Klux Klan meeting. He was too damn fine but was surrounded by a shitload of woman trying to get in his pants, so I ordered another drink and just admired his fineness from afar.

He was tall,real tall,just like my husband, give an inch or two, dark like licorice and looked just as tasty. What really attracted me to him was his pearly-white smile, his dimples, and his round, muscular ass. I imagined his ass muscles contracting while he pumped his dick in and out of me. My mind was truly in the gutter.

“Brina?”

“Yes, Sis?”

I decided to come on out with it. “I met this guy. A really famous African-American artist named Quinton Matthews.”

“Cool, what kind of art? Sculpting, painting, what?”

“Painting. He’s most famous for his murals, though. You know that mural we walked to from my office that time?”

“Yeah, the one at the MARTA station?”

“He did that one.”

This guy came up, interrupted me, and asked me to dance. He was a true countrified bama so I said, “No thanks!” Besides, I really wanted to come clean with Brina.

“That’s great. So how old is he? What does he look like? Hook a sister up, Zoe!”

She was so far off base, it was pathetic! “Brina, you just got finished telling me all about your new man like two seconds ago. Dempsey. Remember him?”

We both giggled. “Hell, yeah, I remember him, but you know us bachelorettes need to have at least one man riding the bench at all times for backup purposes.”

“You’re silly!”

“I’m just telling it like it is. All of us can’t be lucky enough to find true love like the kind you and Jason have.”

Damn, why did she have to say that! I lost my nerve. I was about to tell her I was having an affair, but how could I after she said that? Everyone on the outside looking in has always thought my life was perfect. Little did they know my life was barely satisfying at the best of times and pure agony at the worst. I was about to come on out with it anyway when this pimp daddy wannabe came up to us.

“Hey, lovely ladies. ’Sup now?”

I didn’t answer, but Brina did. “ ’Sup with you?” “Chillin’, love. Just chillin’.” I pegged him to be one of those brothas who was chillin’ twenty-four hours a day. “Wanna dance?”

Brina looked at me as if she needed my permission. “Zoe, you mind?”

I couldn’t believe she would stoop that low for a dance, but I responded, “No, go for it!”

“Aight, girl. Hold my purse for me.” I took her purse, and she made her way to the dance floor, after having a hell of a time even getting up off the bar stool with that damn hoochie dress on.

I was sitting there all by myself when the one I had my eye on came over and took Brina’s place on the stool beside me. “Hello, beautiful!”

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