I pull up in front of Dylan’s apartment building around 1 a.m. I look around and I see his truck. “Okay, Lynda,” I say to myself, “you have to talk to him. Say what’s on your mind.”
I knock on the door, nervously pulling my hair behind my ear. “It’s open,” Dylan yells. I walk in and it’s pitch black, the only light coming from the TV.
“Hey hun,” I say. “Why are you in the dark?”
“Cause I’m in the bed,” said Dylan. “Come here.”
I walk into the bedroom and sit on the edge of the bed. “You’re sleepy?”
“No, just tired,” he says. “I’m glad you’re here. Why are you so far away?”
I move in a little closer, but I know if I get into the bed, with his black satin sheets and fluffy down pillow, it’s a wrap. “I want to talk to you, Dylan. I know men hate when a chick says she wants to talk, but I have a couple questions.”
Dylan sits up in the bed and turns the volume down on the TV. “What’s up?”
I look at him, propped up on his pillows and all I want to do is crawl into the bed and lay on his chest. But if I do that then things will just keep going the way they been going. I take a breath, grabbing another pillow and clutching it to my chest.
“When I called you last week, not only were you short with me like you didn’t want to talk, but I also heard a woman in the background,” I begin. “I’m not sure what we’re doing, and while I know we’re not in a relationship, I need to know what this is––and what it isn’t.”
Dylan sighs, turning his body toward me. He pushes a piece of hair out of my face and looks at me. Is that sympathy? “Babe,” he says, “we’re friends that enjoy each other’s company. I like being with you, and I think you like being with me.”
“Right,” I say. “Is that it?”
“I mean, that’s all it can be right now,” says Dylan. “I work all the time and you’re in school. And you know I’m not in a position to build a relationship right now.”
“Right …” I begin. Before I can get any other words out he’s right next me, kissing my neck. “If you can’t handle this being what it is––two adults that enjoy spending time when we can––I understand,” says Dylan, his breath on my neck.
“I can handle it,” I say. “I just needed to know for sure what the deal was. And honestly, I’m too busy with school for a relationship anyway, so this situation is perfect.”
Dylan smiles. “Cool. So come here.”
I move in closer and let him kiss me, knowing full well I just lied through my teeth.
Nyla & Tracie
“So girl, tell me what cohabitating with Donte is like?” asks Tracie.
Nyla smiles all big––full teeth showing. “It’s been good,” she says. “He’s really sweet and works hard to make me comfortable.”
Tracie and Nyla are sitting on the floor in Tracie’s apartment, putting together a look book for an internship that Tracie is up for with Smithsonian Magazine. Tracie picks up a photograph of the White House that she painted over in oil paints. “Should I include this one, or is it just weird?”
“I like it,” says Nyla.
“Alright, I’ll put it in the maybe pile,” says Tracie. “But, back to you. I’m happy that things are working out! So are you going to the club with him? How are you handling the long hours? What about his daughter?”
Nyla laughs. “One question at a time!” she says.
Tracie, laughing, picks up another painting. “Sorry.”
“It’s cool,” says Nyla. “I actually haven’t been to the club since I moved in. He hasn’t asked me to go,” she says. “As far as the hours, it’s an adjustment. I get home around 6 and he has to be at the club about 8 and he’s not home until after 1 a.m.”
Nyla flips through the book, a faraway look on her face. Tracie can tell everything isn’t peaches and cream. “But you said he’s putting in the work to make you comfortable, right?” she asks.
“Oh yeah,” says Nyla. “And it’s not forever. He has an application in to be a trainer at the gym, and he’s trying to get back into boxing as a trainer.” Nyla pets Koffee who had just came up and laid down right in the middle of the book.
“And his daughter is adorable,” she starts, “but that mother…” She trails off. “How are things with Tyler?” she asks, clearly changing the subject.
Tracie doesn’t mind, but she hasn’t been able to really put into words how she feels about Tyler. “Our date was amazing,” she says. “I like him, but my guard is still way up. I’m scared to get serious about him.”
Nyla nods. “But you tell me to live in the moment with Donte. Why are we different?” she asks.
Tracie stretches out on her floor, turning over onto her back; looking up at the ceiling. “Because you two are different. He has made a commitment to you. Tyler could just enjoy the chase,” she says. “I mean, how many women really say no to him?”
“Well, how do I know that Donte doesn’t just like playing house?” asks Nyla. “Take your own advice. Live in the moment and take everything at face value. Allow him the chance to prove you wrong––or right.”
Tracie swoops up Koffee, scolding the puppy for laying on her work. “You’re right mama, as always. I’ll try.”
“Good,” says Nyla. “Have you spoken to Lynda?”
“She’s supposed to come over tonight after her study group,” says Tracie. “I think we are all overdue for wine and a chick flick!”
“'Pretty Woman’ or ‘The Wedding Planner’?” asks Nyla, already going through Tracie’s DVD collection.
“The Wedding Planner,” says Tracie. “Maybe someone will be inspired!”
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-Photography by GMO Photo Editor, Billy Montgomery