[from part of chapter 5]
James poured the coffee into Pru’s travel mug and took it to her in the bedroom where she sat on the edge of the bed smoothing lotion on her legs. This was his truce. He needn’t utter the words I’m sorry. Just the gesture would do. As usual, Pru left the shower running for him, which indicated to him that all was well on her end, too. Although, he had hoped she’d invite him to join her when she was in the shower or offer to join him, she remained quiet, pensive, now mindlessly massaging the lotion onto her arms.
With his body still naked, his erection now flaccid, he kissed Pru on the forehead and got in the shower. His voice echoed off of the walls of the bathroom, singing to Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together. He was surprisingly on key. She was tickled how her white boyfriend knew just as much about R&B music as she did. When he sang, it meant he was happy. She loved it when he was happy, even though deep down she wasn’t. She didn’t understand why she needed him, why the thought of being without him left her feeling empty.
She sipped her coffee that was now tepid. The clouds parted briefly and the sun managed to break through. Pru cursed the ray of sunlight. Its orange and yellow hues highlighted the date on the digital calendar that hung on the wall. It was April 22nd. She felt her heart sink into her stomach like a heavy brick. Abrasive, painful.
It had been nine months since she buried her best friend Valerie Mayweather and it had taken nearly all of that time to come to terms with her grief. Val had been her go-to gal, the one she called when the world was crumbling around her or when she wanted to share her excitement; the person she confided in, the one she trusted with her secrets. Val had been her counselor, her shoulder to lean on.
Now, all of that was gone. She would have given anything to have Val sitting next to her right now, helping her hash out what she was feeling about James. To hear a voice of reason say ‘this is why…’ Val’s death left a gaping hole that no one else could fill.
Val would have been 35 today. Her whimsical, high-pitched voice would have greeted Pru this morning, as it had for 16 years. Val never gave anyone a chance to say Happy Birthday before she’d call singing off-key, “happy birthday to me.”
Pru laughed softly to herself when she realized she blamed the sun for the inevitable. At some point, whether today or tomorrow, she would have thought of Val. Even if she had forgotten, she would have eventually remembered April 22nd. She would have tried like hell to erase Val’s laughter and tears that were indelibly imprinted on her heart, always reminding her that ‘Val was here’.
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Genre - Romance, Interracial
Rating – PG13
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