Friday, December 15, 2006

Friends are Forever Pt. 3

May, 1998

“Wait, Damian, get off me, I’m not ready for this!” I protested as I struggled to push his body off mine.
Damian Proverbs halted his frantic kissing of my breasts and swore under his breath. He sat up, rubbing his flushed face with his hands. I rebuttoned my blouse hurriedly and ran a hand through my short twists.
Damian’s hazel eyes flashed angrily and his handsome face twisted into a nasty sneer. “I bet if I was Steven you wouldn’t have stopped me!”
I gasped, infuriated. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean! I know that the only reason you’re dating me is because you can’t be with your first choice. I may not be as smart as he is but don’t play me for a fool!”
“You’re just upset because I didn’t give you what you wanted,” I retorted angrily, repressing an urge to slap him across the face.
“So what? We must be the only 21 year olds in Barbados not having sex. You’re supposed to be my woman, is that too much to ask?”
I sucked my teeth and grabbed my shoes. “Screw you, Damian, I’m leaving!”
Halfway across Brighton Road to my grandparents’ house my anger cooled. As much as I hated to admit it, Damian was right. If he was Steven there was no way I would have halted our lovemaking. Problem was, Steven didn’t want me. He had made that clear before he left to study at NYU three years before and his scarce phone calls and emails hammered that point home. He communicated regularly with Damian, and seemed happy to hear that the two of us were dating.
I sighed as I strolled towards home. It wasn’t that Damian was a bad guy. Heck, he treated me well, looked out for me and my sister Angela, and brother man was straight up gorgeous! The envious looks on the faces of other girls were priceless. But he wasn’t Steven.
And on top of everything, Damian was pressuring me to accept his marriage proposal. So far I had put him off, but despite my protests he had given me a ring “to try it out”. I gazed at the tiny diamond solitaire on my left hand and shook my head. Lord, I thought, this is what happens when you try to get over one man by getting under another.
A week later, I was studying for my final year exams in the library at the Cave Hill campus when I looked up to see Steven standing over my shoulder. He rested a finger on my lips, silencing my surprised gasp, and pointed towards the SILENCE IN LIBRARY sign posted on the wall. I hastily closed my books and got up from the table. I saw some female students openly admiring Steven and I couldn’t blame them. He had grown taller and more muscular over the years and his body was shown to the best advantage in a blue FUBU shirt and blue jeans.
“What’re you doing here, are you back for good, how did you know where I was?” I shrieked excitedly, throwing my arms around him once we were outside the library. He returned the embrace warmly, laughing.
“Well, one, I came to see you, duh. Two, no I’m not back for good. Three, Angela told me,” he said. I hooked his arm through mine and steered him towards the Student’s Guild.
On the way he told me that his studies in Computer Programming were completed, and he had already landed a job at Microsoft. I was thrilled for him, even though it meant that he would be away even longer.
After we had ordered lunch and found seats on the Guild’s terrace overlooking the picturesque Bridgetown Port, I became serious. “I shouldn’t even be speaking to you right now. Why didn’t you stay in touch more? I kept hearing about you through Damian. Does he know you’re here?”
He smiled ruefully. “No, I’m surprising everyone, even my family. I’m only here for a few days.”
He leaned over and grasped my hand. “Mandy, trust me. If we had started a relationship neither of us would be where we are right now. We would be so wrapped up in each other we couldn’t see straight. You’re getting your degree soon, and I have this great opportunity. I want to do so many things with my life, and I know you do too.”
I rolled my eyes. “Forever the smart ass. What about love is all we need?”
He chuckled deeply. “Yeah, that’s all nice and romantic, for a minute or two. Until I couldn’t provide for you and the children.”
My eyebrows shot up and I grinned broadly. “Oh, the children, huh? So you had plans for a whole cricket team, then?”
“Haha, you got jokes I see.”
His laughter stopped abruptly when he saw the ring on my finger. He touched it solemnly and sat back in his chair. “So, it’s true then.”
I blushed and lay my hand in my lap. “Would it matter to you if it was?” I asked quietly.
Steven stared at me intently, his brown eyes unreadable. “You’re one of my best friends, of course it matters. If Damian hurts you in any way, he’ll have to answer to me.”
Disappointed, I nodded my head stiffly and sipped on my Coke. Damian could never hurt me as much as you have, Steven Carmichael.
Half an hour later, I walked Steven to his rental car and said my goodbyes. He hugged me tightly, then kissed me gently on the forehead.
“Be happy, Mandy, that’s all I want for you.”
“Yeah, I know you do. Problem is, I want you to love me too.”
I broke his embrace and walked away hurriedly, before he could see the tears streaming down my face.


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