Continued from #RelationshipGoals: He Was Starting A Family Without Me
So there I was, stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do I lie (or withhold the truth) to protect Abdul’s feelings or do I tell him the truth and risk losing him?
I wasn’t sure what to do with my mind and heart fixated on what used to be mine and what will never be mine again: Jackson.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Ugh, Danielle is so annoying. Here she is with the perfect guy in the palm of her hand and she’s worried about someone who has moved on.
First thing’s first: Abdul was not perfect and Jackson and I were (and still are) soul mates, so if you could take off your judgmental cap and realize that the heart wants what the heart wants for a second — my heart wanted Jackson.
Jackson’s kiss and promise of a friendship plagued my life, plagued my happiness, plagued my future with Abdul. I wasn’t sure if I was holding on to Jackson because I couldn’t have him anymore (and we always want what we can’t have, right?) or if I was holding on because, despite all the obstacles (he’d created), we were supposed to be together.
I decided that I needed to see Jackson. But as quickly as that thought ran to the front of my brain, I was able to squash it even quicker. The last time Jackson and I met up, we were playing tongue wars with each other. I didn’t think I’d be able to handle another kiss with Jackson.
And then, it happened. I saw him. Correction, I saw them.
I was going to Abdul’s restaurant one night to have a couple of drinks before he clocked out. I was going to spend the night at his place.
As soon as I walked in, Abdul looked up, smiled at me like I was a first place blue ribbon prize and kept working. I watched the girls follow him around the room with their eyes as I went to the bar. I made one turn and then glanced to my right before sliding onto the bar stool. My heart stopped.
It was Jackson, tucked away at a table in the corner of the restaurant, sitting across from a svelte woman with dark, wild curls atop her head and a smile that even warmed my jealous soul. She was unmistakably beautiful. I fought back my tears all while trying to swallow the giant lump in my throat.
Neither of them could see me staring. They enjoyed their dinner and they enjoyed each other. Jackson would brush the curls from her face after she hid her face in her hands, laughing at something he’d said. I used to courtesy laugh at all of Jackson’s corny jokes too. I wondered if her giggles were genuine.
“Danielle?” I was shaken from my fixation by Kes, the bartender who always works on the nights I wait for Abdul. He wanted to take my order.
“Dark and stormy, extra ginger, please,” I forced a smile at the bartender. As soon as he turned around, I focused my attention right back on Jackson and his beautiful soon-to-be wife. Her glow annoyed me. There she was, growing a life inside of her that she and Jackson created. I wanted them to see me, but I didn’t. Who was I kidding—I’d be terrified if Jackson saw me and she didn’t even know who I was, even though she should. She was marrying my leftovers, that wench.
“Dark and stormy, extra ginger,” the bartender’s voice was much deeper than before. I recognized the baritone. It was Abdul. My smile was instant.
He slid the drink into my hand and let his fingers linger on mine as he squeezed my pinky, “What are you looking at nosey?” He laughed.
I tried to play it off, AKA, I lied, “That lady’s hair is beautiful. I’m thinking about doing mine like that.”
“Cute, I’ll be right back,” Abdul took off in the direction of Jackson’s table. I could hear ringing in my ears. The Abdul I knew would go right over there and tell Jackson’s baby momma that I loved her hair and he’d point me out. I turned away from the train wreck before he could get it on the track.
But when I glanced over, I saw him refilling their waters. He said something to Jackson and Jackson laughed and said something back and then they shook hands and Abdul walked away smiling.
Crisis averted, I hoped. Abdul continued working. Jackson and his woman kept eating and flirting and I kept stalking them. During my third dark and stormy, Jackson and his wild and curly girl got up to leave and I watched him pull her chair out and help her up. Her bump protruded proudly and he rubbed it. He allowed her to walk in front of him as he guided her with one hand in the small of her back. And just like that, they were gone. I was able to breathe again, but it didn’t feel good.
“I need a shot,” I told Kes.
“You got it,” Kes poured me a shot of whiskey and then poured one for himself. “Cheers.” We took the shot.
I still felt the hurt of not having Jackson. “One more.”
“OK D, you’re on your own with this one,” Kes looked up at me and then looked over my shoulder, as someone was trying to get his attention.
“Hey brother, I can’t find our waiter and I forgot to give him this, could you…”
I turned around at the soothing and familiar voice. It was Jackson. Of course it was Jackson.
Jackson looked at me and smiled, “Danielle…”
“Jackson, I said trying to be as cold as possible. “Friend…” I taunted him.
“How have you been? I haven’t seen or heard from you in months.”
“Same,” I said.
“You’re here with someone?”
“Why do you care?” I asked Jackson with a harsh tone.
“Just wondering if you’re drinking alone.” Jackson nodded towards the shot.
“As a matter of fact, I am drinking alone. But my boyfriend works here, so I’m using my time wisely.”
Jackson laughed, “You would.”
“I am,” I stated plainly.
“You are,” Jackson laughed. “You look great ba…” He stopped himself. “Danielle…”
“I know,” I nodded towards Abdul across the room. “He motivates me to look great.”
“That’s your man?” Jackson looked at Abdul and back at me.
“Yup. Great to see you Jackson,” I turned back to the bar and took my shot with him still standing over my shoulder.
“You too D,” he hesitated, put his hand on my shoulder, squeezed it and then rubbed his hand down my back. And then he walked off. The butterflies he always left behind stayed in my stomach for the rest of the night.
Abdul finally got off of work and as we walked to his apartment, he said, “So…you knew the girl with the hair and her guy?”
Abdul was never the type to beat around the bush. His directness always caught me off guard, no matter how refreshing it was. If I lied to him, I would have bigger problems.
“I don’t know her, but I know her guy,” I hoped that was enough to stop the interrogation. It wasn’t.
“How do you know him?”
The defensiveness rose up in me like mercury climbing up a thermometer, “We dated once.”
“Well, isn’t that interesting.”
“I guess,” I said, trying to dismiss the topic.
“You guess. I guess you staring at his girl all night had nothing to do with you guys dating?”
I chose to hit him with the truth without avoiding it, “Oh, it had everything to do with it. I’m a girl babe, so I’m comparing and hating on her. He broke up with me, so…”
“I get it.” We kept walking.
Abdul broke the silence and clearly he was going over my responses in his head because he said, “But that doesn’t explain why he spent so much time staring at you and why he conveniently forgot my tip and lead his girl outside to the car before coming back in here bee-lining it directly to you.”
I thought about that kiss Jackson and I shared. I thought about our undeniable chemistry. I thought about Jackson’s fiance’s beautiful curls and even more beautiful smile. I thought about Abdul’s Herculean arms and how I fit perfectly in them when we cuddled. I thought about Jackson’s lips.
“He definitely hasn’t let you go and you haven’t…”
I lied to Abdul, “I have let him go. I’d never seen her before and I couldn’t help but stare.”
“Because you haven’t let him go!” Abdul dropped my hand and stopped walking.
“If you and I were to break up and I saw you with your new girl, I’d be staring at her too Abdul!”
“It’s more than staring Danielle. I saw you guys at the bar. There’s more there. Homie was ready to risk it all coming back to the restaurant to touch you. I saw every bit of that Danielle.”
I stood there in silence.
“Tell me the truth Danielle. Have you been with him in any way since we’ve been together?” Abdul crossed his arms.
I knew the truth would break us up, but would a lie save us? After staring at Abdul in all of his vulnerability, I couldn’t do anything but tell the truth.
I sighed, “It was only a kiss.”
A noise escaped his lips and I couldn’t tell if it was a laugh or if it was pained. “It’s never only a kiss.”
“But it was!”
“Danielle, keep in mind that I saw you both tonight. The flirting. I saw you. And I’m at this dude’s table, laughing and joking for tip money and the whole time he knows he’s tonguing down my girl.”
I held on the only little piece of that information that I could control, “He didn’t know you were my boyfriend until he left.”
“Was Danielle. I was your boyfriend. I can handle jealousy. I can even handle you still caring about him, that’s natural. I can’t handle you lying to me about him.”
“Don’t do this Abdul, please!” I begged him. I couldn’t believe I was about to lose him because I was honest with him.
“I just need space. Just give me that, OK?” Abdul walked away from me as I stood on the street corner, in tears.