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The Feisty Feminista’s opinion of me shouldn’t bother me one iota. I have some faults, but I know who the fuck I am. I’m a goddamn work in progress and I’m dealing with my shit. Maybe that’s what bothered me about it. Or maybe I just didn’t want to hear about how people viewed my relationship with Julian because I felt guilty.
Not one text or email since he left. I thought we had parted on good terms, but it couldn’t have been all that good if he wouldn’t answer my phone calls. That worried me. It more than worried me. I made me feel sick and disgusted with myself. I couldn’t stand the thought of him hurting over what I had done. That still didn’t give Serena-fucking-Vasquez the right to run that relationship down or insinuate that it meant nothing.
Elijah was on the phone when I walked into the suite. He looked up at me and smiled, but that immediately turned to a frown when he saw the state I was in.
“Hey, Naima. Yves just came in. Let me call you back,” he said before hanging up.
The suite had a little bar set up in the kitchenette. I went there and turned over a tumbler, added two ice cubes and poured myself a slug of whiskey.
“So…it didn’t go well?”
“It was fine. I mean, aside from the part were Serena Vasquez called me an opportunistic slut, it went great.” I tossed back the whiskey and poured another two fingers before heading into the bedroom.
“Serena Vasquez?” he questioned, following me into the room.
“The Feisty Feminista, Remember she did that take down of my book a few months ago?”
“Oh…her,” he said, pulling a face.
“She asked about Julian. Insinuated that my relationship with him was a publicity stunt.”
“But you know none of that is true.”
“That’s not the point. It’s just rude and disrespectful and fucking infuriating for her to imply these things.”
“It’s also her job, Yves.”
“Fuck her and her job,” I hissed as I wrestled my way out of my jumpsuit. It had failed at it’s job. Unbothered, my ass. “I just don’t understand why she has dedicated so much time and energy to taking me down.”
“Yves, you’re a public figure now. This comes with the territory.”
“Why are you siding with her?”
“I’m not siding with her. I’m always on your side. Come here.” Elijah grabbed hold of my hand and pulled me to him. “Listen, I know you’re getting a little burnt out,” he said. “I also know that you’ve been thinking about Julian a lot. Wondering if he’s somewhere licking his wounds and hating you. ”
Leave it to Elijah to get right to the heart of the issue. Selena Vasquez asking about my relationship with Julian wasn’t the source of all this anger. It was that I was scared she was right. “Do you think he is? Hating me, I mean?”
“I know that he doesn’t hate you, Yvie. He just needs to take his time with this.”
I nodded, but I wasn’t at all sure that Elijah was right.
“You need to relax for the rest of the evening. Finish your drink and put on your swimsuit so we can go up to the pool.” He kissed my forehead then began to undress.
Elijah had actually laid out my swimsuit. A black one piece with sexy cut outs. Once I set eyes on it, all I could think about was that pool and getting my body into it. I slipped into the suit and after I finished my drink, we went to the pool together.
The relentless Atlanta sun was sinking toward the horizon, but the heat hadn’t let up one bit. There just happened to be a whiskey bar in the hotel as well so we ordered whiskey gingers with crushed ice before slipping into the pool. I watched Elijah swim a few laps while I hung onto the edge of the pool. The whiskey ginger smoothed my frayed, but my thoughts fixated on Julian.
Elijah swam up to me, wiping water from his face. “Okay, talk to me.”
I shook my head.
“Yvie, baby, you have to let it out.”
I shook my head again, feeling my throat tighten with tears.
“You miss him.” It was a statement, not a question. One that hurt him to ask. Elijah was everything I never knew I wanted in a man. He filled and enriched my life in unexpected ways everyday and I was so completely in love with him. But still I had this secret longing for my sweet Julian.
“It’s okay to miss him.”
“I don’t know why I do.”
Elijah gave me a sad smile and a one shouldered shrug. “The heart wants what the heart wants, I guess.”
“I don’t know if it’s that. I know it’s better for him to be away from me. But…”
“You want to know that he’s okay and that he doesn’t hate you.”
“He doesn’t hate you, Yvie.”
“But he won’t talk to me—”
“Maybe it’s just like I said. Maybe he just needs his space. Maybe he’ll get over it one day, maybe he won’t, but you have to respect that.”
Maybe, maybe, maybe…
I heaved a sigh. “You’re right,” I said with nod and let him pull me into his arms.
We drifted out into the middle of the pool holding each other.
“Does knowing that I miss him make you angry?”
“No.” Elijah said with a shake of his head. “I mean, you’re here with me. If you wanted to be with him, you would.”
I pressed my lips to his neck in a soft kiss. “I love you.”
After a year of what I have playful called kinky couples counseling, these sorts of conversations about feelings were easier for us. A year ago, both of us would’ve denied our feelings about this; bottled them up until the anger or hurt showed itself out during a spanking or lovemaking. Guilt would’ve made me take whatever punishment he doled out because I felt that I deserved it. At least now we could talk about it.
The kinky couples counseling made other things easier, too.
“Mi amor?” I whispered into his ear.
“Can you do something for me?”
“Make me feel something else.”
He held me away from him to look me in the eye. I gave him a nod to say that I was sure.
“Okay,” he said.