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By the time barely-married, busy body Norelle figured out that she was beginning to look and act like the woman she blamed for her father’s death, she hoped that her own indiscretions with her son’s father, Tariq, does not cost her the perfect husband when she receives unexpected news. While walking a tight rope of half truths and lies for the sake of love, Norelle turned some of her energy toward helping her best friend Keilah look at the possibility of a second chance at love after receiving news that turned her world topsy-turvy.
“I never really prepared for our winter, because I held onto our summer.”
What did Andre expect from Keilah after he told her? Was Andre expecting Keilah to explain away his emotional duality, or more specifically, was he expecting answers to questions that were left unasked between them when they made a costly choice two years ago? While Andre attempts to deal with the pain of his past, and anxiety about his present circumstances on his own, Keilah attaches herself to a man who she knows is not right for her rather than contend with the emotional avalanche that began with the choices her mother made so many years ago. Can she hold on for that special someone waiting just around the corner?
When flashbacks of the past and present collide, both Norelle and Keilah ask themselves what won’t they do for love. Norelle must deal with her own demons while Keilah must get emotionally naked once and for all with Andre to put together the pieces of their past so they can go on … with or without each other.
For Every Love There Is A Reason takes the reader into a multi-layered tale of choices and consequences of thirty-something best friends, Keilah and Norelle, who slip and slide with laughter and tears through their own mistakes, as they try to make sense of love on their own terms.
When Keilah’s mom told her André called, she smiled. She knew André missed her because she missed him too. No matter what, or who, he was doing, she always felt she was his heart. In the back of her mind, she always knew she would forever be a “special one” and never “the one.” Her heart reluctantly lagged behind; dragging bags of memories, making getting over him difficult, like one emotional hurdle after the next. She was reluctant to return his call. Time passed and she was able to put her feelings in check, even though she knew, deep down past the apathy, the anger, and the hurt, love still endured. He seemed insistent on seeing her, and she was curious. Did he miss her? Did André finally want to share how he had been a fool all this time and beg her to come back to him? Ha!
As Keilah sat across from André, she heard nothing but the three words he casually slipped into the conversation. The clatter of dishes and the chatter at nearby tables were barely audible. Keilah’s concerns about the little pimple, which formed along her right temple, seemed minuscule. Even her weight gain was of no importance at the dropping of those three words.
Breathe, Keilah, breathe.
Keilah learned to hide her emotions. Through the years, it had become something of an art form. She quickly learned how to pull lipstick from her purse when she felt her bottom lip quiver, gliding a fresh coat of paint across a false grin. The stiffening of her jaw line could easily be camouflaged by resting it casually within the palm of her hand, while she averted attention to something else in the room. Yes, awkward moments brought out the actor in her.
Yes, that is what the hell he said. Get it together.
Keilah played repeatedly in her mind, how she’d run her lines, the gestures, the movements . . . this one moment she unwillingly prepared for. The one thing she didn’t factor was overwhelming her, the solitary tear. One monumental tear, burning the more she tried to hold it back, was building up in the well of her left eye. There is nothing capable of holding back that type of tear. Unlike actual crying, where each tear has its own specific emotion to attend to, a single tear must do the job of a million tears and contain every emotion within itself. As she sat across from André, absorbing the shocking news, she felt like she was trying to hold back a tsunami. That one salty tear was filled with so many powerful emotions—shock, hurt, anger, surprise, mourning, hate, jealousy, envy, and remorse.
After all those emotions built up that one tear, love ran from the back, thrusting through emotional commotion and desired nothing more than to submerge itself deep within that one solitary tear. Aligning itself on the rim of her left eye, love took hurt and anger by the hand and dove in. Hoping to be overwhelmed by hurt and anger, love rode the wave from the corner of her left eye, sliding quietly down her cheek, only to be caught by a napkin and tucked away for later. Hate laughed because love wanted to drown and die—surprise and shock looked on, wondering what was next. Jealousy and envy joined hate and mocked love. Remorse sat close by and wept. Mourning hugged love tightly and whispered, “You know you can’t die.” Love pushed through and she hated it. She heard those three words clearly. “I’m getting married.”
André had found her.
“K, what are you looking for?” The sound of André’s voice broke the echo ripping Keilah’s heart into a million pieces.
Rubbing the tear into her cheek, Keilah responded lightly. “I thought I heard my phone ringing. This purse is so big I can’t even find it. Well, I guess we should be drinking Moët rather than Chardonnay.”
André nervously smiled at Keilah, trying to read past the obvious sarcasm. He knew she wasn’t happy. “I said I was thinking about it. I’m not quite sure just yet. You know I am a different type of dude, so a sister gotta really come with something extra to make me take a second look. She’s a little different, K, so it could happen; you know what I mean. She’s special.”
Breathe, Keilah, breathe.
“Yes, Dré, I’m sure any woman that marries you has to be different—special. Well, Special Ed.”
Damn, like that, he’s just gonna drop this crap on me? Bang. Boom. Does he want my permission?
“Well, K, it’s a little more to it. She’s pregnant.”
What the hell did he just say?
Keilah transformed from an actor to a mime and gave the most animated Joker grin she could muster up. The last remaining pieces of her heart were now wasting away to hollow beats of invisible screams she tried to drown in a sip from her already empty wine glass.
Keilah’s mind raced back to a rainy Friday in June when she let their love get sucked out of her and poured down a drain. The uniqueness that would have “been she and he” was changed forever on that day. The uniqueness of André and Keilah, revealing it day-by-day, year-by-year, step-by–step, was sloshed and twisted into unheard cries and silent tears. Her womb wept, again.
You have a baby on the way, too.
Keilah’s womb cried out. Please give her one more chance. Oh, what a sweet and loving place I’d make for your seed. Please let me nurture your seed once again, one more time. Oh God, please.
Keilah’s eyes lied. “Wow, you’re really doing it all in one big swoop—baby, engagement, marriage. I guess you stopped tying knots in your condoms after me.”
Her womb began to fill with tears of remorse and regret which had been bottled up for two long years. The cap of repentance holding the tears inside burst, the hope of redemption of a past error were now loose and saturating her like bile. There was no second chance to right the wrong, no turning back.
“You ready for all that, Dré?”
Her womb felt like a tomb, overgrown with thorny branches reaching out. All she could hear was her womb asking, why didn’t that precious seed ever bloom? How sad, a bright crisp day in February would have been such a wonderful time to welcome him into the world. Yes, it would have been a boy, with her pouting lips and his brooding brow across cinnamon skin, and welcoming eyes just like his mommy. What a silly insecure girl you were.
André grabbed Keilah’s hand. “Nothing is set in stone, but it’s a good possibility it is going to happen.” He knew she was hurting. Why she insisted on going through these emotional facades, he didn’t know. He couldn’t really blame her; he was famous for doing it himself. He always knew she could read between the crooked lines. As he sat across from her, he searched for something in her eyes. They always told him more than she was willing to say.
Alisha meant the world to André and the whole love thing snuck up on him like a thief in the night. The strange thing was Keilah confirmed it for him. In the back of his mind, he almost wished she would have made a move; maybe things wouldn’t be where they were. She knew he was hurt, but instead of loving him the way only she knew he needed, she took a moment to grind him. She stepped from “the one” to “her.”
“You remember what went down when I called you on my birthday, K?”
Keilah remembered it as if it were yesterday. At the stroke of midnight, on André’s birthday, she had left him a “friendly” birthday message, figuring he would call back later, yet still hoping he would call back sooner. Year after year, she would want to celebrate his birthday, or do something special for him. Year after year, he declined and downplayed anything she ever suggested. Why would he deny an opportunity to celebrate? She found his birthday special because it was the day, in her mind, God allowed him to begin a new journey. She often fancied they were playmates in heaven that made a promise to meet and discover the familiar all over again in their new skin. Once she packed away that romantic notion, along with his t-shirts and ties she never seemed to be able to throw away, she put his “birthday thing” as another one of his peculiar ways.
By eight o’clock, Keilah figured André was out and about. When her phone displayed the only number she really wanted to answer, she smiled. She answered light and casual, trying her damnedest not to reveal the delight she felt hearing his voice.
Damn, I love his voice. I miss him so much. Maybe I can suggest meeting him somewhere tonight. This was the big three-oh. I could even fix him his favorite dish.
As Keilah pulled herself back from the back porch of her mind, she realized André was angry and complaining about some other chick on the front steps.
“K, I am so pissed right about now. You know what I’m saying. She took me to Applebee’s! Can you believe that shit? This is the big three-oh, and she come out the box with some okey doke Applebee’s. They did the whole corny singing and candle in a piece of dry ass cake. What’s up with that? Can you tell me, K? How many times have we eaten at Applebee’s? She knows that, damn!”
Keilah catches her breath. Isn’t this some shit, she thought. He can’t be serious. “Well, Dré, maybe she didn’t have any money right now or she got something bigger and better planned for you.” She found it amusing how he expected some new chick to take care of him, on his birthday, as she would. She didn’t know if she should be insulted or flattered.
“K, come on now she knew my birthday was coming. She didn’t try to set aside. . .be creative. . .you know. . .this is like major … it’s the three-oh!”
I am insulted. I’ll be damn; Dré has fucked around and caught feelings for this chick. “Dré, I’m sure her intentions were good, don’t be mean like that.”
André’s voice lowered, almost sweet. “K, you wouldn’t have done no whack shit like this would you? Come on now, K, you know me.”
Uhmm, no I wouldn’t do any dumb shit like that, I love you. Wait just minute! Why in the hell is Dré telling me this shit anyway? Now I am mad. “Yeah Dré, I know you. What’s your point? What are you looking for me to say? Where are you anyway?”
You want me to say I still love you. You want me to say come scoop me up and let me show you how special you really are. Hell, naw can’t go there . . . won’t go there! I cannot believe he is calling me about his new chick.
“Damn, say something, K. Am I wrong? Am I judging this situation wrong? She writes poetry on her down time. She could have written me something special on some fancy paper or even better made me a little CD of her stuff, in her own voice. Anything! It’s not about big gifts with me. Come on, K, you know me! I took care of her for her birthday. I went all out for her and she come back at me with this. What’s really up with this?”
Yeah, Dré, I know you too well, four years of loving you when birthdays didn’t seem to matter much to you. Now you have put in a year or two with a new chick and you are expecting something that would have come naturally from me. Please!
“Check this Dré, she messed up… major… but apparently you feeling this sister. So, either you stick with her or you leave her. Sounds to me like your nose is wide open. Plain and simple. You know what you want to do, so do it! What you want me to say?”
I’m through . . . done. Does he want to torture me? He knows I love him, and he wants the very love I placed at his feet, time after time, from someone that is apparently just digging on him. That type of love he was anticipating from the new chick, he had in me . . . truth . . . he knows it, that’s why he’s calling me. He’s using me as the litmus test, the verifier between truth and fiction. He knows it, that’s why he called me. Even still, he wants to experience the truth with her. Damn.
“You know what, K; I wasn’t looking for this from you. I called you as a friend. But its cool … I’m out!”
When Keilah put the phone back on the charger, she wondered what would be next. She knew André liked interesting women but he seemed blown—frighten to be honest. He sounded like he was in love. She threw it out of her mind because she couldn’t take the possibility of that. As she looked across the table at him, she knew it was now a reality and it stank like morning breath.
Keilah smiled and nodded to the server to bring her another glass of wine. “Yeah, Dré, I remember. What’s that got to do with the here and now?”
André thought to himself, Everything, K, everything!”
Keilah watched André pay the tab, starting at the top and slowly worked downward. One thing she always liked about him was how he always kept the tightest shape-ups. His hair was always cut, mustache neat and trimmed. His goatee had a sexy little peak that she loved to play with when he slept. His brow line strong, hovering over some of the most amazing gray eyes, which made her melt. His pointy nose was a source of jokes for her, but the joke was on her when he nuzzled it gently against her intimate places. Though he was, by most accounts, a redbone, his full lips undeniably were sensual and without question African. His broad shoulders were the perfect canvas for the red sweater he wore.
As André stretched his hand out to Keilah, she wondered how she could want to hate someone so beautiful. Their complicated love affair was over. She had to get over him; most importantly, she had to accept he was over her, too. At all cost she had to reassure herself she was past the “in love with André” hurdle, finished crying over the “always love André” long jump, to now being awkwardly perched on the splinter-filled “I got love for you” bench.
The walk to André’s car was quiet. The two of them usually couldn’t stop talking but silence joined them together in unspoken dialogue. Sitting in the passenger seat, she wanted so desperately to touch him. All she could do was tap his hand as he shifted the gear. What did she want to say? What should she say? What parting words could she leave with him? Even though she had, on the surface, moved on, Keilah always hoped, even prayed, André would get an epiphany in the middle of his many whirlwinds of indecision and realize she was the one and only one. Sadly, he had that epiphany when he called her on his birthday seven months ago.
Love didn’t burst. Hurt and anger blocked its path and held it hostage, with contempt running the show. Unbeknownst to Keilah, when the whirlwind stopped, André landed in the palms of Alisha’s waiting hands.
André drove slowly, keeping one eye on the road and the other on Keilah. She hadn’t said one word since they left the restaurant. He knew her silence meant she was thinking, the longer the silence, the deeper the thoughts.
Why won’t she look at me?
André puts in a CD.
No he is not playing Erykah Badu.
“Dré hit that last track on the CD. I think its number fourteen.”
Okay, she’s not tripping too bad, she said something.
As the words of the song filled the car, André tried to see if Keilah was speaking to him.
Keilah finally looked at André. “I never really listened to this last track, then one day I listened to it all the way through.”
André detoured through the park. “Green Eyes, but I haven’t really listened to it.” As the song continued, he realized Keilah was really talking to him. As the tempo changed, Keilah knew Erykah could say what she couldn’t. With each verse, the words seemed to be screaming to André; he didn’t want to understand where this was going. “It’s deep, K.” The tempo changed yet again.
Keilah realized how transparent she was at that moment and she felt ashamed.
All André could say was “Damn” as they turned down her street. Then Keilah realized he had placed his hand on hers.
André parked in front of her apartment building. Shifting sharply in his seat, he turned to Keilah, searching for the hidden message she was trying to send him. “Where you going with this, K?” Just as he tooktakes his key out of the ignition, she inhalesinhaled and motioned for him to put the keys back.
“You know, Dré, everything has a season. It’s September and in a week, it will be fall. The leaves are starting to change. Some are still green but most are starting to turn brown and orange. Nature is giving humanity clues that change is in the air.”
André touches Keilah’s cheek. “Go on, K, kick it.”
Keilah sprung back into actor mode; she had to get the words out. “Cool breezes that once were familiar begin to have a chill. Even though it feels so comfortable, so familiar, you know you have to cover yourself, but you don’t want to, but you know you have to. Whether you like it or not, change is coming. You know it’s inevitable and you don’t look forward to it. Seasons change like people change. It’s inevitable. You got to roll with it.”
Looking exasperated, André unlocked the doors and walked to the passenger side, opening the door for Keilah. “K, you really losing me. What are you saying?”
As they walked up to her door, Keilah grabbed her keys and turned to André. “As humans, we have to roll with it too, Dré. We have to endure all the seasons whether we like it or not.”
André knew when Keilah was camouflaging through metaphoric bull. “Keilah spit it out. Better yet, open this door up and let me dissect this over a cup of tea.”
Keilah pulled him close in to her. Wrapping her arms around his back, she tips upward, taking in his scent one last time. Pausing again, she stroked her lips against his right ear, and gently whispered. “I never really prepared for our winter, because I held onto our summer.”
Aligning itself on the rim of her left eye, love took hurt and anger by the hand and dove in. Hoping to be overwhelmed by hurt and anger, love rode the wave from the corner of her left eye, sliding quietly down her cheek, only to be caught by a napkin and tucked away for later. Hate laughed because love wanted to drown and die—surprise and shock looked on, wondering what was next. Jealousy and envy joined hate and mocked love. Remorse sat close by and wept. Mourning hugged love tightly and whispered, “You know you can’t die.”