My head rested against Aubrey’s shoulder and legs across his lap as everyone boarded the jet. I was more than under the weather; my symptoms were flu-like.
“King’s fine, right? Does Sandi mind watching him these few days? I don’t wanna push him on her,” I spoke through an aching throat.
“He’s her grandson, Nic,” he chuckled. “She had no problem with it and said she’ll take good care of him.”
I really had no one on his trip. Aubrey and I were gradually getting somewhere but I hadn’t talked to anyone since the ordeal. We were still family in my eyes. If I could grow to forgive Aubrey, then I could do likewise with those involved. They’re loyalty would ultimately lie with him before me.
“I’m not mad at them,” I croaked.
“Who?” He peered at me.
“The guys. Tell them now.”
This was their trip. I wanted no parts in making it less enjoyable for them.
“The war is over!” he yelled to them. “Nicki loves us all again.”
“O-M-G!” 40 yelled like a girl. “Our main is back! Yas! We love you, Queen Nicki!”
“Love you too,” I struggled to yell out but did.
My head lied across his chest while watching TV.
“I’m gonna get ready in a few,” he spoke into the phone, ironically giving no notion of doing such after hanging up.
“You know you need to get dressed any minute now,” I yawned.
“Maybe so,” he shrugged. “But I’m not leaving ‘til you’re comfortable and asleep.”
“I’m fine,” I told untruthfully. I wanted him here but he had obligations. He wasn’t to be faulted for it, but I loved the feeling of him holding me, placing small kisses here and there.
“Well, help me pick out what to wear.”
“Suit?” I suggested with hope of his compliance.
“Ok,” he smiled. “Black or teal?”
“Teal. Do the extra-ordinary,” I sat up in the bed.
Once he put his suit on and returned to the bedroom, a broad grin found way to my lips. Leaning over to adjust his bowtie, I said, “Handsome.”
“Thanks,” he appeared to blush.
“No problem. Just have fun and be safe.”
“I wished you could come.”
“Well, I’m sick and don’t need to get any sicker.”
“I know. Call me if you need anything, alright?”
“Alright, sir,” I saluted playfully. “Love you.”
“I love you too,” he pecked my forehead. “You gotta save me a dance.”
“Of course,” I replied as he grabbed his phone and room-key. “See you.”
“See you.” It was just me and the bed as my New Year’s date.
The grip on my phone remained tight the entire night. I missed her. And she was all I thought about or even allowed my thoughts to acknowledge.
Maybe she was ok and that was reason for not calling me. Or maybe she didn’t want to talk and was in one of those moods again. Either way I’d rather be where she was.
Loosening my bowtie, I was met with cameras flashing before entering the hotel. There weren’t many people inside as expected because of the New Year. And I was thankful.
Making it inside the room, I expected to find Nicki lying in the bed but found otherwise. She wasn’t there.
“Shit,” I hissed as I almost lost my footing while venturing to the suite’s kitchen. And there she sat at the bar with headphones on and eating a bowl of ice cream. Creeping up behind her, I removed her headphones and made her jump a bit.
“You scared the shit outta me,” she palmed her chest and laughed.
“Sorry,” I kissed her cheek and took a seat by her.
“Back so soon?”
“You say that like you didn’t miss me.”
“Did I say that?” she glared at me.
“No. But you didn’t deny it either.”
“My God,” she smiled. “I did miss you, Mr. Graham. Why else would I be up at two in the morning eating?”
“I love you,” I spewed easily.
“I love you sometimes,” her voice came out hoarsely now and coughs erupted. “Bullshit.”
“Yeah, bullshit,” I smirked. “That’s why your ass is sick now.”
“I was only kidding. I love you all the time even when you piss me off as now.”
“I’m sorry,” I touched her hand and interlocked our fingers. “You wanna have some fun. It’ll make you feel better.
Arching her eyebrow, Nicki tilted her head to the side then spoke, “What do you have in mind?”
I walked down the hall with Onika hoisted on my back. I looked up to make sure she was fine before making our first stop.
“You ready?” I asked and got a nod from her. Using the spare room-key, I was able to get in the room a few of the guys were staying in. Poised, I let Nicki off my back.
“Here,” I handed her a water-gun out the duffel on my shoulder. “A minute tops, ok? We meet up back here and go from there?”
“Bet,” she replied and I leaned down to kiss her.
Going our separate ways, I crept into the room and saw Ryan awake, watching TV on one of the couches. His hands shot up once he glanced at my hands’ hold but I motioned for him to come here and take the other gun. He was saved but would be helping us.
“You got Niko, Chubbs, and 40. Nic has OB and Hush while I got Mark and CJ,” I whispered.
“Nic!” someone yelled from where Nic was.
“Go before they wake up. A minute tops, alright? Meet me back at the front door as fast you can.”
We split up, and I moved carefully. Hoping not to make a sound, I stood at the entrance to CJ and Mark’s room. The only light in their room was the bathroom’s light as they lied sleeping. This was going to be way too easy.
Seeing their faces was hilarious and exhilarating at the same time. I don’t think I’d had this much fun in a long time. Everything with us had become so serious within months, so it was hard to. If we weren’t busy with King, then we were angry with each other, well at least I was angry with him. The arguing had come to be overbearing and hard to deal with. It had taken its toll, and all wanted was sanity.
But this was who we were. Nothing was ever consistent with us, so why was I hoping for something that was to always be temporary? I mean, my love will never be temporary but what about his ways? If there was no King, would there even be an “us”? I didn’t want to ruin it, us. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the what if’s and maybe’s.
“What you thinkin’ about over there?” he asked as the sun’s rays peered through the room’s window. The scruffiness of his facial hair teased my collarbone while his head lied in the crook of my neck.
“Nothing,” I shook my head and looked up at the ceiling. I wasn’t going to allow myself to start second-guessing once again. I needed to believe him because I loved him. We needed to trust one another. “Shouldn’t you be doing promotion or something? An appearance”
“I have nothing. And I’d rather be here with you,” he grumbled and pecked my neck. “What? What’s wrong?”
He wanted to know so I would tell him.
“Can this time be different? No more lying,” I huffed. “I hate when you lie to me. I know you’re forced to have this persona with your career as do I. But don’t give me the bullshit everyone else sees. The women, cars, money, all of it comes with the superstar territory. But you’re my child’s father and I’d like to believe my soul-mate. I deserve much more than what I’ve been dished out. I give you my best always.”
“Put the ring back on,” he murmured. It wasn’t a response I was ready for.
“It’s not that easy, Brey. No matter how much I love you; it ‘s just not.”
He moved away from me and went to the sitting-room. I quickly got out of the bed and followed after him like a lost puppy.
“What do you want me to do?” I asked as stood near the couch.
“I want you to come back, dammit! I want you to come back to me, Onika! You said you would, and you still haven’t. I’m not messing up anymore. I swear to you I’m not,” he shook with so much emotion. “You said you would come back when I need you. I need you. I need you more than you could ever imagine. And I messed up more than should be accounted for. But it never meant I didn’t love you. I did; damn, I do! You’ve been ready to come back but you won’t because it makes you weak.”
“You’re being unfair,” I whined with silent tears. “You’re using my love for you against me. I keep coming back and looking like the fool.”
“I’m not hurting you again.”
“I don’t know.” My teeth took a deathly hold onto my bottom lip. It would surely bleed if I kept at it.
“Put the ring back on,” he repeated, reaching in his pajama pant pocket. He walked close to me before kneeling at my feet and looking up at me. My left hand rubbed my right arm out of nervousness.
It had only been a month and a half break. Yet here I was across the country with him, lying in the same bed with him and displaying affection like our tiff was non-existent. It had to mean something. We meant something if I was here.
“Ok,” I whispered and he slid it back on to my finger. Pulling me into him, my eyes had to have dampened his bare chest. There would be no going back this time. It was now or never.
“It all begins today,” he spoke with a underlying happiness in the tone. His big arms scooped me up and placed my legs around his waist.
“I love you,” I grumbled. “I love you.”
He kissed my hair before carrying me back to the bed.
Everyone’s eyes washed over the shining jewelry on her finger before she could even announce the engagement again. But I sensed they wanted confirmation just to be sure.
“Y’all good?” 40 asked in more ways than one. Nicki had yet to say anything to anyone.
“We’re back on if that’s what you wanna know, Noah,” she spoke before looking up at me.
“Finally,” he sighed as if a weight had been lifted off his own shoulders. “I’m just glad I don’t have to be around him so much.”
“I wasn’t that bad,” I interjected quickly.
“Like hell you weren’t. Annoying as shit,” 40 exaggerated. I don’t know why he was fronting. We were brothers, and he loved my company when I was “single.” I was the only one willing to play videogames with his competitive ass.
“We get the gist of things, guys,” Nic rolled her eyes. She had been annoyed the entire way to the restaurant.
“You pregnant?” I blurted. Her eyes cut and dimmed at me quickly.
“Are you?” Nicki smarted off.
“Well, there you have the answer, smartass.”
“Woah!” I threw my hands up. “Someone's on edge today.”
“Well, you’re no girl, Aubrey. You don’t see Mother Nature every month nor are you sick, so leave me be. I just wanna eat my damn food then go back to the room and sleep.”
“Sorry” and “Damn” was all said or mumbled at the table.
“Yeah, but,” she paused. “I guess that’s no excuse for my behavior. I’m just really not feeling good today.”
The damn switch-up of emotions was no joke at all. Her attitude right now was something lethal.
“You didn’t apologize though,” I said.
“Did I say I was going to? Y’all better take what y’all get and be happy,” she continued as the waiters sat our plates in front of us.
“Why can’t everyone be calm and collected like Chubbs and Future?” Nicki sighed. “You niggas are always on one.”
“And you aren’t?” Hush laughed loudly, causing us to join in. “All those faces you be makin’ and shit.”
“You’re so wrong,” she finally stifled a laugh. “I get more bitches than all of you though. Cause I be schemin’ on the low.”
“Cocky ass,” I muttered as she nudged me.
“You’re not mad are you? I can and will take any bitch you bag then be glad. Get it?” she chortled as if it was the funniest thing ever. ”Like the Glad garbage bags. Bars for days, Brey. Bars for days, boo,” she pecked my cheek.
Everyone was enjoying this a little too much. She was funny but not that funny.
“Stop gassin’,” I gave a slight chuckle before pressing my lips against hers, love of my life.