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"I’m telling you Star, you’re starting to piss me off. I told you don’t be questioning what I got goin’, I’m a grown-ass man! I wasn’t trying to hurt you, told you I’ll be back when I get back".
Sean slammed the door on his way out the door headed to work.
The sun was just coming up over the city on the beautiful Friday morning. On a normal day, Star would sit on the balcony, watch the sunrise, drink a cup of coffee and read. Allowing her mind to be free and soaking up the beauty of the world. Star wanted a life that was the opposite of the life she grew up living, that is why she ran away to the city with Sean. She met Sean over a year ago and things moved fast with them two. Sean was a realtor and very successful and Star happened to be one of the clients looking for a condo to buy. After her mother passed, she needed to downsize after living three years in a four-bedroom home with all kinds of plumbing and foundation issues. She sold the house for a little of nothing but had enough to buy a condo on the North-side of Houston and if she was lucky, have a little leftover for furniture and cushion until she could find a job. Star and Sean’s attraction was instant. He was what seemed to be a mysterious bad boy turned “good” in her eyes. He had caramel skin, curly hair, and a tattoo on his neck that she could see under his tailored suit. He had the perfect slim cut build and was a tall six foot glass of drinking water. She was intimidated by him in a way, but something about him screamed danger and it intrigued her. On the other hand, she was just someone who needed saving is how he looked at it. Sean had street smarts and was not dumb by a long shot. He knew how to tell a certain type of woman within the first five seconds of her speaking and he always used that to his advantage. Star was very easy on the eyes and a sweet girl who had a little spice to her. She had a beautiful mane of hair that went all the way down to the middle of her back and was brown-skinned. Two dimples that said hello every single time she smiled and pearly white teeth that smiled right back at you.
After Sean showed Star the condo, their relationship took off rather quickly.
Star had not been in a real relationship before so she had no idea what to expect with him. She was a nerdy kid all through school and was made fun of for her dark brown skin and thick curly hair. She never made herself comfortable enough to get close to anyone, let alone a man. She was this way throughout school and it led through high school. She got accepted to Louisiana State University but denied the acceptance when her mother fell ill with Cancer. She took a few classes here and there at the local community college but never finished because the weight of her mother’s sickness was too much to bear. Star had not been touched at all by any man so the mere gaze that Sean gave her was a lot for her to handle.
Sean was the opposite and came from a wealthy family. His dad owned the realtor company that he works for and left it to him in his will. Sean’s mother was still alive and living a great life in the Memorial part of Houston which is one of the more wealthy neighborhoods. Her and Star did not have the best relationship and she was a very rude individual, but luckily, they did not cross paths often. She fell in love with Sean rather quickly and did not think twice about it. She felt like she was on top of the world and he made her feel that way. They eloped in Vegas after they went on a celebration trip when he closed on one of his biggest homes. It was not the fairy-tale wedding she always dreamed of, but she was so happy to be Mrs. Williams, that she didn’t care if they got married at a fast food joint, she was just happy to be his.
Sean never truly treated Star the way she was supposed to be treated, but good sex, constant gifts, and the penthouse she lived in with him made up for all of the red flags she felt, but could not see. Sean was hardly ever home and always going on “business trips” to meet potential buyers from out of state or the city. Sean was not the expressive or touchy-feely type. He was not romantic, but he knew what she liked so he knew what to buy her to make her feel good at the moment. He also allowed her to not have to work; just stay at the penthouse, look pretty, and even gave her a credit card that she could use whenever, however. Star was set up nice but was not living the dream that she pictured for herself and she knew it. She was just too afraid to speak on it because she’s never had much and felt as though she needed to just be appreciative; but after taking a slap in the face, Star knew she was on a side of life, she never thought she’d be on.
Star made her way to the bathroom and gazed into the mirror. She had a small mark underneath her eye and it was starting to swell just a bit. Tears welled up in her eyes and made their way down her face onto her over-sized T from the night before. Star always made a promise to herself that she would never allow any man to put his hands on her, but for some reason, she had already forgiven Sean. She had no idea where she needed to draw the line, all she knew was that whatever she said to piss him off, she would not say again. Star had never questioned their marriage up until now. Yes, she was in love, but she did not want to live this way.
Her phone began to buzz on the bathroom counter. Star looked at her phone and it read “Sean”. She rolled her eyes and picked up anyway because she couldn't resist a conversation with him.
“Hey Star baby, Yeah listen I’m sorry about this morning. I’ve just been caught up at work lately and shit has been intense, but I would never want to bring harm to you girl and you know that. I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon, I got some moves to make. I filled the Mercedes up before I left and put a G in the glove compartment for you, don’t spend it all in one place. Love you.”
Star wiped tears from her eyes and just said, I love you too and hung up the phone. She was not too fond of the apology, but she felt as though she had no other option but to forgive him. It was the first time he ever did something like that, and she was praying it was the last.
555-8900, Star dialed the numbers and quickly put the phone on speaker as she poured a mimosa.
“Hey, Kehlani girl, what you got going on today?”
“Girl nothing, I’m off today. It’s early as hell what are you even doing up at the crack of dawn? Sean put that pound game on you early this morning huh?"
“Girl if that was the case I’d be knocked out right now!” Star giggled.
“I was just calling to see if you wanted to have girls weekend out on the town. Maybe hit up some bars in Galveston, get a room on the water, you know, just kickin’ it! We haven’t done that in a long time.”
“Oh baby, you don’t need to tell me twice! When should I get ready?!”
“Now, I want the whole day and night with you. It is long overdue.”
“Ok girl, I’ll get my things together and shower at your place, cool?”
“Yeah girl that is fine with me, make sure to pack a bathing suit.”
“Say less, see you soon!”
“Okay, drive safe.”
Star hung up the phone with a smile on her face. Kehlani was Star’s rock. They were cousins, but they were sisters. Nothing in the world could make them closer and she knew after the morning she had, she needed a weekend with her sister.
Kehlani was a nurse in the medical center and always had three days off a week so Star called at the perfect time. She just had no idea how to tell Kehlani what happened. Apart from her wanted to spill her guts about everything this morning, his shady attitude and never being home; she wanted to spill all of it. Another part of her wanted to keep it under wraps, but she knew eventually she was going to end up spilling the beans. Star and Kehlani never kept anything from each other, and something of this caliber was too much for Star to keep to herself.
"Knock knock, it’s me, open up bitch I know you’re in there", Kehlani yelled loudly as she laughed to herself, knowing she was being extra.
Star quickly got up from the kitchen counter and opened the door. As soon as the door flew open, Kehlani pounced on Star like she had not seen her in years!
"Hey mama!!!! Oh girl I’ve missed you!! It feels like it’s been ages", Kehlani exclaimed.
"Girl, it has only been two weeks, cut the dramatics!"
Kehlani was the most dramatic, but that is what Star loved the most about her. It was always a fun time with her and never a dull moment. Kehlani slung her bags on the ottoman and went straight for the kitchen. "What did you get to eat here? I'm starving girl. There was so much traffic on I-10 getting here, I thought I was gonna die."
Go ahead and make yourself at home. There’s some bagels and cream cheese in the fridge. I got some leftover turkey from last night. You can make a breakfast sandwich".
"Oh yes, that sounds bomb. What about cof-"
"Coffee is in the drawer right under the Keurig. I just got some new K pods I’m sure you’re gonna like", Star said already knowing exactly what Kehlani was going to say.
"You know me so well, coffee is a girl’s best friend. So what are the plans exactly today, so I know what sexy outfit to put on," Kehlani said as she put the French-Vanilla K pod in the Keurig for a quick brew.
"Well, I was thinking maybe we can head to Cedars and get brunch, have a few drinks, and hangout. Then head down to Galveston, check-in at the room, hang out at the pool until the bars open, and have a drunken girls night. Sounds like fun?" Star said, again already knowing what Kehlani was going to say next.
"Girl! Do you even have to ask! Hell yes! You know Cedars is my favorite place to eat, what you got up your sleeve?!" Kehlani joked. Star rolled her eyes and laughed.
"I don’t have anything up my sleeve, I’m just feeling good and wanting to get away for a little bit."
Kehlani looked up as she licked cream cheese off her finger and her smile vanished as she was able to get a good glimpse at Star’s face.
"Hey, what happened to your eye?"
Star, having already forgotten that her eye was swollen, looked away and said “Girl, it is a long story. I’ll let it all out once we get to Cedars.” Kehlani looked at Star with disappointment, shook her head, and poured her coffee. There was an awkward silence for a while as Kehlani ate her breakfast and Star scrolled through her phone. Neither of them wanted to confront the elephant in the room, but they both knew that sometime today, the secret would be out so they kept quiet and made small talk.
The air on that particular October Friday morning was fresh and crisp. The sky was picturesque and there was not a cloud in sight, it was about 70 degrees outside and everything felt favorable. It was the kind of feeling a child gets on the school morning right before a field trip and both Star and Kehlani were so excited for their day ahead.
"You wanna push the Mercedes?" Star asked as she lifted the keys knowing Kehlani would snag them.
"Me? Whip the Benz? You know I’m more of a Jeep girl, but hell yes! Kehlani exclaimed.
Star laughed and went around and got in on the passenger side. It was going to be a great day, Star thought to herself, trying to pump herself up to be happy and not dwell on what happened earlier. Despite what happened this morning, a little makeup made her forget the whole thing, for now. She also made sure to bring out her best fit for hitting the beach and she felt more confident than she had in a long time. A black lace swimsuit cover-up and a red lace up one-piece bikini underneath, her favorite Steve Madden flip flops and Steve Madden cross-body bag. She also topped her outfit off with her best pair of sunglasses, a cute curly messy bun, big silver hoop earrings, and red lipstick. Star was never the person to flaunt the nice things that she only owned because of Jeremih, but on days like this where she felt low, she’d go out with her nice looking things and just be. It made her feel as if she had a place in the world, even though she was battling with self-worth and confidence. She was the most beautiful woman, but she connected her worth to her husband. With him being gone all the time and not extremely affectionate, she felt as if she was not enough for him.
"Girl, this car rides as smooth as butter on a dinner roll! You sure know how to pick out a car," Kehlani said as she checked the rear view mirrors to switch lanes on the highway.
"Oh no, I thought you were a jeep girl remember?" Star burst into laughter and Kehlani joined as she nudged her shoulder playfully. Kehlani turned on the radio and “Bad Intentions” by Nykiee was playing.
"Ouuu, girl this is my shit! I got some damn bad intentions”, Kehlani started to sing as she flipped her burnt orange hair over her shoulders.
"I love that hair color on you girl and this blowout you got! You look damn good". Star said.
"Thanks, girl, you know I had to go with something different, plus Dr. Seymour has been looking good in the E.R. lately, I had to change my look up on ‘em so he could smile at me a little more, ya know?"
"Girl, you are crazy!" Star said and giggled. "You don’t need anything more to look good, you’re gorgeous."
"Well, thank you suga", Kehlani said and blew a kiss Stars’ way. They headed over the freeway that overlooked the downtown area and jammed to the music their whole way to the destination.
They pulled up in the parking lot of Cedar’s and noticed how packed it was. "Damn, people must’ve taken the day off or something?! It’s packed in this place." Kehlani said as they approached the restaurant.
"Yeah, it’s packed! It usually isn’t like this on Friday mornings, but oh well! I see a table on the patio wanna sit outside?"
"Yeah, that works for sure, go ahead and grab the table. I think I left my phone in the cup holder, I’ll be right in!"
Star made her way back to the car and could already feel the eyes of several men on her. It felt good to be noticed, she thought to herself, but she was not trying to pay them any mind, she just enjoyed being wanted.
“two missed texts?” she said. Star looked at her phone and saw that it was Sean. She honestly did not understand the feeling that came over her when she looked at her phone and saw his name. A part of her was nervous with butterflies in her stomach curious to see what the message said and another part of her rolled her eyes because he was interrupting her feeling good about herself and trying to forget their little “disagreement” this morning. She just wanted to forget about him for a little while, while also making sure he was doing his part to keep up with her.
Star did not understand Sean sometimes. Some days, he barely says a few words and blames it on the fact that he is so caught up with work. Then some days, he acts like he is truly interested in her. She was so tired of the back and forth mixed signals from her husband, but a last-minute trip? She knew that he only mentioned the lace outfit to distract her from his shenanigans. Something was not right and she could feel it. She was not in the headspace to handle everything that was going on. “First he hits me for the first time then he decides to stay out later than one night?” Nothing was adding up, but all she knew was that she did not want to ruin the weekend she and Hailey had planned, so she left that uneasy feeling alone and headed to the table.
"Hey girl, sorry. That was Sean." Star said as she took her seat at the nice patio table.
"Oh really, you don’t look too excited, is there something going on?" Kehlani asked as she sipped her margarita and dipped a chip in salsa verde.
Star sighed heavily as she knew that there was no other way around not telling Kehlani everything. What is a good girl’s weekend without some couples drama, right? But Star knew that the physical issue they had, Kehlani was not going to take lightly.
"Ok, so let me start at the beginning. First, did you order me a drink?"
"Yes, it’s coming girl, now spill the tea, or should I say margarita." Kehlani laughed and indulged in more chips.
"You know Lani, your jokes still aren’t funny" Star said snickering.
"But, anyway, so, there are a few things that I have not mentioned about Sean that have been bothering me since we got married honestly."
Star and Kehlani both indulged in a big gulp of margarita and a few chips before Kehlani impatiently started to move her hands in the motion of “OK, AND!?”
"So since we’ve been married, I’ve felt like Sean does not pay as much attention to me as he did when we first got together. He’s hardly ever home, constantly going on business trips, and just like right now the message he sent me."
"Well, what did it say?" kehlani said as she took her finger and ran it across the rim of her glass to get all the salt she could.
"Excuse me, ladies, are you ready to order?" The waitress asked with a smile bright enough to make the sun jealous.
"Yes ma’am I’ll have a shrimp salad and two steak tacos. Lani, do you know what you want? It’s my treat."
"Are you sure, girl? You know I can pay my way."
"Yes, it is fine, go ahead get whatever."
"Ok, I’ll have what she’s having but with a chicken salad; and may we please get another round? Thank you."
The waitress took the menus and headed towards the back of the restaurant.
"So, he texted me and said that he won’t be back home until Sunday because he is trying to expand the company so he’s meeting with some people out of state. Usually, I would not look too much into it; but this morning, he slapped me."
Kehlani immediately dropped the chip in the salsa and choked on salt.
"HE DID WHAT?"
"Shh, Kehlani, don’t make a scene."
"Okay, I’m not but what the actual fuck! Star, no. I don’t care how much you love a person, you should never put up with physical abuse! Was this the first time?"
"Yes, it was the first time. I just never thought this could happen to me and I don’t know exactly what I did wrong." Star said as tears welled up in her eyes.
"Star, I’m going to say this with all the love I have inside of me for you. You and him met a little over a year ago and are already married. You remember when you were in Vegas and you called me before you guys eloped? What did I tell you?"
"Yes, Lani, I know."
"No, Star. What exactly did I tell you?"
"You told me that you weren’t too sure if this was a good idea because we barely knew each other and that you were worried I was marrying a stranger, but that you supported me."
"Right, and now you see? I was only trying to warn you, baby. What did you guys fight about this morning?"
"Well, I was questioning him, something I never do which is why I think he even chose me. He knew when he met me that I was the sweet gullible type. I did not ask many questions, I did not question things. I just wanted to be loved and feel loved and he provided that. That is why I moved with him so quickly. I think that maybe he is not used to being questioned and it made him feel like I did not trust him."
"Well, shit! How the fuck are you supposed to trust him? He’s never home, always on “business trips” I mean really. What realtor is gone away from home that damn much! Are you sure realtoring is all he’s doing? I think it’s time we do some investigations! I can take off work if you need me too, we need to follow his ass one of these days!" Kehlani said, with every ounce of seriousness in her body.
Star smiled and Kehlani said,
“I’m not joking. We can get a rental car on my credit card, he’ll never know.”
"Here you are ladies, two salads and tacos."
The waiter placed the food in front of them and their next round of strawberry margaritas.
"Thank you so much," Star and Kehlani said in unison.
"So what are you going to do Star? This is not healthy, and hell, it’s not like you put a bunch of time and years into the marriage. It has only been 6 months since you guys eloped and you don’t have any kids with him. You need to figure it out soon, I would never want to get a call saying something severe happened to you, or have you be one of the patients in my damn ER! Hell no."
"I know Lani, I know. I am going to figure it out. This weekend I just want to get my mind off of this bullshit and have a good time. It looks like our weekend has been extended until Sunday, so we get to have more fun than we expected."
"Good, maybe we can find you a new man while we’re there too, Kehlani said perking her lips as she bit into her taco.
"Man, this shit is good! Gotta love Cedars."
Sea was in over his head, but he had no idea of that yet. He knew that he was lying to Star when he said that he had some business to tend to regarding expanding his company, but he didn’t care. He knew that Star would not make a fuss about it all and especially after this morning. Sean had never been a “woman beater”, but he also did not know how to handle being questioned by someone who he thought would never question anything he does or when. His egotistical ways were starting to bleed through that tailored suit he wore daily, and things were about to get extremely messy. Juggling two lives seemed like a cakewalk for him and at this point, he felt as if he was on top of the world.
Yes, YES baby right there please don’t stop!
I’m begging you, please. Keep going, Keep going!
Oh my fucking goodness yes! Sean, I’m cumming, I’m cumming!"
"Ahh, damn," Alicia screamed. They both fell back onto the bed in unison and were heavy breathing so loud, it’d be no surprise if the neighbors heard everything.
"Damn baby, I am so in love with you," Alicia said aggressively. Why do you do this to me huh? Why I just need to know, you make me crazy baby, you know that?"
"Yes, Alicia, I do know. You’ve said that a million times already today,” Sean said as he stroked her curly black hair.
He was in love with Alicia in a way he could not explain and quite frankly was not ready to explain. Sean was not finished having his cake and eating it too, but he knew that Alicia was the one. She challenged him, which he found sexy. She knew about all of his dirty secrets, secrets that would’ve sent Star running for the hills. She fucked him better than Star, she was always hot and ready and allowed Sean to rough handle her from here to Sunday. Although she was feisty, she loved to be handled and Sean was deeply intrigued and aroused by that. Sean met Alicia at a party that one of his clients’ hosted a few weeks after he and Star tied the knot. He did love Star, but not because he was in love with her. He loved the thought of having a woman he could come home to that would not challenge him, be submissive, not talk back, sit home, and look pretty waiting on him hand and foot. She was also an unquestionably sweet girl who knew how to conduct herself out in public; not to mention she was one of the most beautiful women he’d ever laid eyes on. All of that to say, none of those qualities made her the one.
He married Star because she looked good on his arm, and made him seem trustworthy. Alicia just came at the wrong time, but he still knew she was not someone he could marry and have around his clients and his family. She was feisty and a hothead. She did not care when or where, she would pop off very quickly and he found that out after taking her to an after-hours club one night; somewhere he could be seen with her and not have to worry. She was down for Sean and would do anything for him; even kill if she had to. She never held her tongue and would always bite back. He could not have her around in his line of work because she was not professional and seemed sketchy to someone who didn’t know her. They’d only known each other for almost four months, but Sean fell hard; she was new and fun. She could rock his world in the bedroom in a way Star never could and he was mesmerized by it. He had everything he could have ever dreamed of and for now, he was content with the setup.
Alicia lit a cigarette and headed towards the balcony outside of her bedroom.
"Sean, you know I’m gettin’ sick of this."
Sean had a puzzled look as he buttoned the button on his lazy boy jeans and joined her in a smoke.
"What you even talkin’ bout right now girl?"
He took a long drag on his menthol cigarette and crept up behind Alicia and ran his hand up and down her thigh.
"I am gettin’ tired of being your little secret baby. We been at this for a few months now and at first, it was cool or whatever. The excitement kept me goin’ and surely kept my lil panties wet, but you claim you love me and I love you too, so what else needs to be understood? You got a whole wife, and I ain’t never been no side piece. The only reason I been holdin’ out this long is because of this house you got me set up in, the shit is dope and I’m lovin’ it. You may spend a lot of yo’ time here, but you don’t live here, you live with her. I’m ready to be the only one. You told me that if things was going real good between us, that we would end up having the empire together. What happened to all that?"
Sean's thoughts began to dance around frantically as he became very uptight at this side of Alicia. This side of her was more emotional and less raunchy; he didn’t know if he liked this version of her. Sean surely did want it all and in his own way. Certain qualities he liked in Star he did not like in Alicia and vice versa. It started to become clear to him that something was going to have to give. He wasn’t going to be able to keep up the charade for long, although in his mind he was going to do it no matter what. He knew deep down in his far conscious mind that this wasn’t going to last. There would have to be a choice and one he was not ready to make. So instead of going ape shit on Alicia, he thought he’d just play his cards right, for now.
"Hey baby, look, I know this is not the ideal setup, but it works for us, right? You told me this wasn't gonna be an issue when we met. You knew my situation, you knew what it is. Right now, you need to understand your place."
"Understand my place?!" Snapped Alicia as she followed Sean back inside of her bedroom. "You know what Sean, ok. If this the type of attitude you gon’ be givin’ me, you can get to stepping. ‘Cause as of this moment, I don’t know about continuing this arrangement we got goin’." Alicia ran out of her room frantic and slammed the door.
Sean rushed after her and found her in the kitchen sitting on the island in a white oversized t-shirt.
"OK, Alicia, look, lets go get something to eat and talk about this, ok? I’m tired of arguing about the same damn thing."
Alicia sat on the kitchen island with tears in her eyes, trying to to understand whether Sean was being serious with her or not. It was time for them to have a serious talk and she knew it. She felt trapped because Sean had her living in one of his properties. She knew at the moment to continue living the lifestyle she was living, she had to keep Sean around. As feisty as she was, she knew sometimes she was going to need to shut her mouth and just go with the flow of whatever Sean asked of her. But one thing was for sure, she was getting tired of the waiting games. And if Sean didn't correct things soon, Alicia was going to take matters into her own hands.
To be continued...