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Kareem’s Story: “I went from being on top of the world to the bottom of the barrel in one shot. When I had nothing left, I had Nasirah. Except...things are different now. I'm different as I don't want to go through the cycle that's plagued my life. And the more I lean on Nasirah...the more I'm seeing & feeling an end to my suffering.”

Nasirah’s Story: “It wasn't supposed to be this way. I only let Kareem stay with until he got himself together. I didn't need any of his drama while trying to raise my baby boy alone. But the more he stayed, the more I got to know the real Kareem underneath glitz and glamour. Now, that I have, it's harder and harder to let him go.”

The Truth: Kareem and Nasirah have been hurting. They've both been hurting for a very long time. Now having finding themselves living together with no one else to lean on, pain unknowingly turns into passion between them as they confront what each has been through. Through anger, tears, lust, and a hint of something more, Kareem and Nasirah find out what a mix of pain and pleasure is truly like.

Chapter One - Kareem

My third bottle of Sour Monkey hit my lips as my eyes scanned my new surroundings. I went from a lavish house in Chestnut Hill to the guest room of my friend, Nasirah’s apartment in the Mount Airy section of Philly. I spent most of the day moving in and setting up my room. Paintings created by me hung on all four walls. A bedside table sat beside holding my bracelets, jewelry, journal, and some medical supplies. On top of the table was my wallet, my new keys, laptop, and my Himalayan Salt Lamp. 

I took another hard swing of my beer, looking towards the windowsill. My crystals, incense holder, and my money plant were there. They all were supposed to bring me peace, luck, and fortune. After everything I had been through the last year, I needed the Universe’s favor and the Ancestors’ guidance. I was utterly lost. 

I downed some more beer. This cannot be my life now. I thought bitterly. It’s all that bitch Maya’s fault. Why couldn’t she be faithful? I began to fight back tears, but I lost the struggle as the tears started streaming down my face. A three-year marriage down the drain over one woman’s insecurities and imagined slights.

I gazed across the room, just staring off into space as I thought of Maya. Frozen stiff, I struggled to breathe as nothing, but anger and rage filled my being. I wanted to scream out aloud, but I knew that I couldn’t because of Nasirah’s son sleeping in her room. 

While we were dating and engaged, it was Maya and I against the world. We were going to build our empire. I was a best-selling author while Maya ran her own bar. We were self-made black entrepreneurs by the time we got married. A few of my books made become hit movies on Amazon Prime and Netflix while Maya had three Maya’s Cocktails and Cuisine restaurants in the tri-state area. 

Everything was damn near perfect. Then the Coronavirus pandemic hit in 2019. I was okay because I still an author. Maya, on the other hand — she didn’t fare well at all. All three of her restaurants were closed. She was forced to lay off her employees. When the pandemic started, we were unsure of everything would play out. Never in a million years did either of us think, Maya would lose it all and through no fault of her own. But this is where our problems started as the loss of her business changed Maya forever. 

After she lost it all, I was Maya’s lover, friend, confidant, therapist, provider, and more. And it was all for nothing. Her rants. Her screaming. Even her newfound drinking. I loved her despite it all. I could deal with all of that. With her, I had gone through every aspect of grief there was. But then she cheated on me. She had been cheating on me for the last year of our marriage. She did it under the guise of trying to build her business back up. The good thing was that she did start a new successful business, but she broke my heart in the process. I finished off the last of my beer and went to open my fourth one when there was a knock on the door. I ignored it, opening my beer and downing some of it. I glanced at the door as the knocking continued, choosing to wallow in my sadness until my name was called.

“Kareem,” Nasirah’s voice called out on the other side of the door as I kept on drinking. “Kareem, you’ve been in here since you came back from being out in the street. Don’t you think you should eat something after drinking so much?”

At her words, I took the beer bottle from my mouth with a sigh. “I’m not hungry.” I lied, bitterness all over my words.

Against my wishes, the door eased open as Nasirah entered with two slices of pizza on a plate and a glass of Pepsi in hand. I let out a breath, hanging my head. I just told Nasirah that I wasn’t hungry, but like the Aries that she was — she was going to do what she wanted since I was staying in her house.

“I told you that I wasn’t hungry, Nas.”

“Boy, you haven’t eaten a damn thing since you moved in earlier. Yeah, I’ve been taking care of Amir, but I’m not oblivious. You walked past me with that six pack of beer that’s halfway gone now.” She sat next to me on the bed. “C’mon, I know you’re hurting, Kareem ... but don’t deal with it like this.”

“Why not?!” I snapped at her, the alcohol in my system beginning to take effect. “I was on top of the world just a few months ago. And now I’m on my ass. I’m hapless, I’m hopeless. I mean, why the hell not bury myself in beer and decadence, right? It’s the end of my marriage, right? That’s what decadence is for. Why not enjoy myself as much as I can since I’m single again?”

“Look, I’m just trying to help, Kareem.” She put her arm around me.

I jerked out of her embrace, picking up my beer to finish it before her eyes. “I don’t need your fucking help, Nas! Just leave me alone!”

Nasirah stood up, angered. “You certainly needed my help after that thot of an ex-wife left you high and dry.” She clapped back, cutting me to shreds. “You’re obviously drunk right now, but remember that you’re in my crib, Kareem! And I’m your friend, not your sounding board. I’ma leave you alone until you’re ready to act like the King I know that you are.”

Nasirah left the pizza and soda on the bed, leaving me be. I buried my face in my hands in complete despair. I felt like an asshole for lashing out at Nasirah like that. Here she was allowing me to stay in her place to get myself together and on my first night I was being a dick to her. My anger was towards Maya, life, and most of all...myself. I laid back on my bed as tears streamed down my face. 

This can’t be my life now. I thought to myself, sitting up and began to eat the pizza Nasirah had brought me.



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