His voice was deep, his eyes were mesmerizing, and he looked ten times finer up close than he did from the other side of the room. “Hello.”

“How are you?”

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“Fine, and you?”

“Just great, beautiful.” Thebeautifulthing was turning my ass on big time. “Care for a refill on your drink?”

“Sure, thanks.” He waved the bartender over to order another round. I checked him out from head to toe. Everything from his black, silky hair to his freshly polished wing-tip shoes.

We got the drinks, and our conversation took off from there. He surprised me by having a civilized conversation as compared to the I-wanna-take-you-home-and-fuck-the-shit-out-of-you one. I didn’t have a lot of experience with hanging out at clubs. I married so young and started having babies, there were dozens of things my friends got to experience that I missed out on.

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We danced for a long time together. In fact, the club lights came up, letting us know it was almost closing time. I searched for Brina and finally located her over at a corner table, sitting on the pimpster’s lap. I peeped at my watch, and it was almost three in the morning. I just knew Jason was going to have a freakin’ fit. When he told me to go out, he didn’t expect me to be out so late. I was positive the all-your-friends-are-sluts speech was on my agenda before I could fall asleep.

“Well, it was nice meeting you, ummm . . .” We had talked all that time but neglected to exchange names.

“Tyson. The name’s Tyson.”

I shook his hand. “Nice to meet you, Tyson. I’m Zoe.”

“Zoe, that’s a beautiful name for a beautiful woman.”

I blushed as the DJ cut the music and people started to flood out the club doors on their way home to bed, with or without a partner, or headed to an all-night diner for some food to cure their munchies.

I started walking over toward Brina to tell her it was time to go. I had both our purses flung over my arm, having never tracked Brina down on the crowded dance floorto give hers back. Tyson followed me, but I was hoping he wouldn’t. I didn’t want to be put in the position of having the dreaded let’s-exchange-numbers conversation.

“Zoe, slow down, beautiful.”

“Sorry. It’s just that I really need to get home. It’s late, and my husband will be worried.”

“Husband? Damn!”

“Yes, see my ring?” I held my hand up so he could get a good look. “I thought you knew.”

“No, I don’t know anything unless you tell me. I really wish you had said something though.”

“Why is that?” I got defensive. “So you wouldn’t have wasted all night talking to me when you could’ve picked up another woman and taken her home with you instead?”

“Naw, see now you’re trippin’. Nothing like that, beautiful. I just got myself all worked up this evening, hoping we could get to know each other better.”

“Well, we can’t.” I don’t know what it was, but all of a sudden I became irate. “It was nice meeting you. I have to go.”

I rushed over to Brina. “Brina, it’s getting late, Sis, and the club’s closing. You want to walk out together, or should I go on ahead?”

She was obviously all into the knucklehead. “Zoe, you go ahead, girl. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Okay, bye.” I didn’t have time for the bullshit. I got about ten feet when I realized I still had her purse, so I went back and gave it to her. When I turned around again, Tyson was nowhere in sight. I was relieved. His ass had turned me ontooooooomuch. I was afraid he might fuck around and turn my ass out.

I got outside into the cool, crisp air and started heading-toward my car when I heard some faint footsteps behind me. “Zoe, hold up, beautiful!”

I thought to myself, Oh, shit!

He increased his pace until he caught up to me, which wasn’t hard, considering his legs were so much longer than mine. “Yes, what is it?”

“I just wanted to give you my number in case you want to talk sometime.” He handed me a matchbook from the Zoo with his phone number written down inside of it.

“Okay, whatever, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.”

“Why are you being so mean, beautiful?”

“No reason. Sorry I was rude. It’s just real late, and I’m dog-tired.”

“I understand. I’ll let you go. You take care, and I hope to hear from you. The ball’s in your court.”

When

he walked away, I was enthralled with his ass. I began to wonder why single men go after married women but didn’t ponder over it too long. I tossed the matchbook into a wire trash can on the sidewalk and continued on to my car.

I got in the car and sat there for a few moments, sucking on a breath mint and trying to get my bearings together. I wasn’t drunk, but I wasn’t exactly sober either. I thought about how great the conversation between Tyson and I had gone before I decided to get bitchy. Then I thought about what Brina said about always having one riding the bench as a backup.

I pulled out the parking garage, stopped by the trash can, and put my hazards on just long enough for me to jump out and dig the matchbook out with the number on it. I drove home listening to jazz and endured the infamous all-your-friends-are-sluts speech from Jason before falling fast asleep.

chapterseventeen

For a while, things went on as usual. I kept creeping around with Quinton and hoping that Jason would open up to me in some form or fashion. Mostly, I was praying like all hell I didn’t get cold busted.

Quinton pleaded with me dozens of times to leave Jason, but to no avail. I made it perfectly clear to him that leaving my husband was simply not an option. I admit I painted a pretty glum picture of my marriage to Quinton, but through all of our problems, I never stopped loving Jason for one second.

The little voice inside me kept telling me it would all backfire on me eventually. After all, nothing good lasts forever, and whatever you do always comes back to haunt you. I just couldn’t pinpoint when, where, and how the other shoe would drop. It didn’t take too long to find out.

It was a Friday night, and typically, I never visited Quinton on Fridays and Saturdays. I reserved that time for Jason and the kids. We would go out to dinner or to amovie and then cuddle up as a family and read books or play board games.

This particular Friday, I altered my routine and went to see Quinton. I had endured a rough day at the office, and I figured a round or two of hellified sex was just what the doctor ordered. My game plan was to swing by the loft, get my freak on with quickness, and head on home for a night of videos and microwave popcorn with the gang. If I’d taken my ass home from jump street, I would’ve saved myself a lot of humiliation, and inevitably, a hell of a lot of trouble.

When I got to the loft, the door was wide open like he was expecting me. I walked on in, but Quinton was nowhere in sight on the bottom level. I decided to tiptoe upstairs and try to surprise him. He wasn’t there either.

On my way back out, having no idea what to make of the situation, I heard some slow jams coming from Diamond’s loft down the hall. I sauntered on down there, hoping she could shed some light on Quinton’s whereabouts. I assumed he had made a run to a carry-out or convenience store or something of that nature. He couldn’t have gone too far with his place unlocked like that.

When I got within a few feet of her door, instinct told me to turn around. Curiosity made me keep walking, though. It was obvious she was throwing down with someone—I could hear the loud moans. My face flushed with anger. I almost half-convinced myself what I was thinking was wrong, but I had to find out if my suspicions were on the money.

Her door was slightly ajar. I gently pushed it open wider. Diamond was knocking boots with somebody all right, and that somebody was Quinton. He was banging the hell out of her up against the wooden bar spanning the wall of the room. The wall was covered with a mirror.

I just stood there for a few seconds, letting it all register in my mind. The tears built up in my eyes, matching the hostility that was already inside me. Droplets of sweat were trickling from their bodies. He hungrily took her left breast into his mouth while he caught a rhythm and started fucking her harder.

I was turning to leave when he glanced in the mirror and saw me standing there flabbergasted in the doorway. Before his skank ass could even yell out my name, I was down the hall, pushing erratically on the call button for the elevator. I pushed it about twenty times, even though once would have sufficed.

“Zoe!” Quinton came rushing toward me, pulling his pants up on the way. The pathetic bastard!

I started to not even acknowledge his ass, but the anger took over. “Let me guess,” I stated sarcastically. “You were helping her change a lightbulb when you slipped on a ballet slipper and fell in?”

“Zoe, listen to me please!” He grabbed my arm, and I immediately yanked it away.

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