COMING MARCH 5th!
First love. Second chances. Is it possible the second time around is better than the first time?
Running away from guilt nine years ago sent Valencia in the arms of pursuing higher education living in another city. She learns to cope with the loss of making the wrong decision led by selfishness. Valencia doesn't allow depression to settle, but instead chooses to experience life to the fullest without Lorenz, her first love. While having a life of her own, relationships teach her that having a kept secret can only get you so far.
Going back home is always a good thing, unless you’re Valencia. Valencia leaves her high school sweetheart to pursue higher education. When she returns home for good, she plans to reunite with her first love, but bad timing has a way of screwing up any romantic feelings because Lorenz has a new lady in his life.
After accepting the shocking revelation, which is difficult, she refuses to acknowledge the chemistry brewing between them.
Lastly, Lorenz attempts to reunite with Valencia, but she shuts down his advances and spews hurtful words to kill the passion from burning. It seems as if the table has turned. Valencia loses hope but seeks the comfort of Lorenz's touch. When everything seems surreal, a slip of the tongue exposes the mystery of abandoning Lorenz years ago.
Is it possible to mend a broken heart? Can a second coming be as good as the first time, or will it leave a bad taste in their mouths?
I’d driven to my destination, ran my hand against the side of my low ponytail, and pushed my seat back as I inhaled a deep breath, glancing at the stained mahogany door as my heart fluttered inside my chest with a light pound. I shook my head, not believing this was my first stop, but as I stretched my legs and proceeded to maneuver out of my car, I forced myself near his house, yet my hands began shaking. The back of my neck glistened with sweat as the sun beat upon it like I was a Hebrew slave in Egypt. My legs wobbled as I stepped closer to the door, my feet slipping on pebbles of rocks, so my first instinct was to turn around and drive away. However, the door swung open to my first love, Lorenz.
“Hi!” The whisper in my voice could be heard by a mouse.
His eyes grew wide as the corners of his mouth curved downward. “You should have called first, ma.”
No ‘hi’ back or ‘hello.’
I stepped back as I cocked my neck to the side. “You want me to go?” I asked as I stared at his wild hair.
He arched his eyebrows, shutting the door behind him as he stepped out in shorts and a tank top, showcasing his thick biceps. He rubbed the back of his neck as his gaze shifted downward before shoving his hands in his front pockets.
“Nah. You should have called, ma. I…I…” he stuttered with a slight accent, which turned me on like it had back in high school.
As I ogled him, my mouth watered thinking about the ‘old days’, then the front door opened with a snotty-nosed little girl leaning on the doorframe. I was startled, my eyes stretched wide at the sight before me. The little girl looked to be no more than four or five years old.
“Daddy,” she sang and he glanced back.
“Yes, sweetheart.” His voice was low.
“I need you in here.”
“Okay, I’m comin’,” he said, shutting the door behind him. He faced me with an apologetic expression. I couldn't do anything but send him a sympathetic fake smile.
Still stuck on the 'daddy' part, I asked to break the silence, “How old is she?”
“My baby, she’s four,” he proudly answered, his chest poked out proud like a father bear. I glanced down at his bare feet as I remembered when he used to call me his 'baby', but now she’d taken that place with him.
The door reopened as his daughter sang, “Daddy, Mommy said come to the phone.”
Mommy? I did the math in my head.
I left home nine years ago, but she was four. Something had to happen within these last five years that provoked him to have a baby. We made plans to reunite, but I had to grow up. I assumed once I got my master’s under my belt and taught in the district for a few years, I would return home like the prodigal daughter. I expected to walk up to him and profess my love, but the sight of a little girl with her hands on her hips irritated me. As I gawked at them, I wiggled my nose as the child crossed her arms, waiting for Lorenz to jump to her demands.
Call me crazy, but seeing Lorenz with a child infuriated me. He had a four-year-old daughter with another woman, which was a slap in the face to me. I was lied to. Point, blank, period! I bowed my head as I felt the rage rise against the back of my neck as the sun burned my skin.
“Valencia,” he said regretfully.
I looked up and found myself frowning at him. I resented the fact that no one told me about Lorenz’s lifestyle change. I was ready to have that talk with my momma. I didn’t see the point in hanging out at his house knowing he had a daughter. I had to go because I needed time to digest the news.
“Would you like to come in for a minute?”
Before I could refuse him, he reached out and grabbed my hand, pulling me inside his home. “It’ll only be for a few minutes. I know it’s hot outside. I’m not gon’ let you go all the way home without offerin’ you something to drink.”
I followed him since he had a tight grip on my arm. He explained to me that he purchased his three-bedroom, and two-bath home about four years ago when he brought his baby girl home. I rolled my eyes at that comment as I sat on the dark brown leather sofa. Lorenz shuffled down the hallway and disappeared into a bedroom where his little girl was.
As I sat there, my mind began to roam as I glanced around his living room. I tried to see if he had a picture of his baby mama on the mantel over his fireplace but, to my surprise, he didn’t. I wondered, why not? If he lay down to make a baby with her then he should have a picture. As I muddled in my head over how the fact that Lorenz had a child infuriated me, I began to get upset again. I knew I had to take deep breaths before I went off on him. Like damn, did he not love me enough to wait? I was so in my feelings that I was caught off guard when I heard Lorenz shouting in the back. My head turned in the direction of the forceful rumble deep in his throat. My eyebrows arched as I was stunned how Lorenz was speaking to whomever was on the phone. I glanced down at my watch and was surprised five minutes had passed. I needed something to distract me as I felt myself getting more agitated by the second, but the color of the pillows on the sofa got my attention. They were red and orange with a design. I wondered if his baby momma helped decorate his place because Lorenz didn’t have a decorating bone in his body. For the sake of my anxiety, I hoped like hell his momma or sister helped him instead of the woman he laid down with to produce a baby.
Suddenly, Lorenz’s voice roared higher in the house as I cocked my neck to the side.
“I said, just be here Sunday at three.” His footsteps were heavy as they slapped against the tiled floor stalking down the hall. “Come on, sweetie,” he called out to his daughter, who was lagging behind.
“Yess,” I stammered the word out of my mouth, gazing into his intensely dark eyes.
“Would you like some Kool-Aid or a can of Sprite?”
“Guess you gotta have that with a little one around.” I cringed. Shit, did I just say that?
He didn’t laugh or even crack a smile. After I peeped his facial expression, I muttered, “Sprite, please.”
He spun around and, with long strides, opened the refrigerator and took out two cans of Sprite and the jug of Kool-Aid. His little girl was standing close to him as she eyed me from the kitchen. I watched as he placed his daughter’s cup on the counter and poured the Kool-Aid. Her small hand took the cup and waited on him as he returned the jug to the fridge.
He handed me a can and plopped down on the sofa. “Come, sweetie.” His daughter took her time as she moved in slow motion.
“What’s her name?” I asked, fingering the tab on the can.
“Tabitha,” he said with a Puerto Rican accent, “Come here, baby.”
Tabitha moved like a snail as she stood in between her daddy’s legs while she kept her eyes trained on me. His daughter resembled him. She had the same russet eye coloring and small ears as her daddy.
I arched my brows as I called her name, “Tabitha.”
She rolled her eyes.
I know that little girl didn’t just roll her eyes, I said inwardly. I popped open the can and began to drink. Anytime I was nervous, my legs began shaking. I wanted to get out of there in a hurry. I was going to lose it if I sat there any longer.
“It was nice seeing you, Lorenz, but I must go,” I responded, jumping to my feet and letting myself out the door.
“Nice seeing you too, Valencia.”
With the news upon me, I felt like walking out of his life once again.
As Valencia marched out of my front door, she left me just as speechless as when she arrived on my doorstep. When I heard a car in my yard, I thought it was my cousin, Trey, coming to pick up his money. You can bet I was shocked as hell to find Valencia in my face. I wanted to reach out and hug her, but my resentment kept me from doing so because, unlike her, I had a warm and caring living organ, not a stone-cold heart.
I didn’t know what I’d do or say if I had the chance to see her face to face. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to tell her how I felt after she left me blindly. My heart dropped out of my chest as I recalled numerous times, praying to God to allow her to march back into my life, but nine years was a long ass time.
Valencia was nonetheless attractive for the years we spent apart. I peeped her attire, her thick thighs showcased under short shorts with elongated legs. My sight drifted upward to her small waistline and medium-sized breast; I took in her walnut complexion, chocolate irises, and round lips. Valencia had matured in the 'looks' department, causing my manhood to rise to an exciting occasion. I didn't know the plans Valencia had, but I was hooked, admiring the love of my life as she held a dark, fierce glare.
When Tabitha burst out of the door, I knew at that moment Valencia didn’t know about Tabby until now. She was hurt and it showed on her face. Clenched jaws, wrinkled nose, and furrowed brows, her right hand planted on her curvy hip and feet wide apart with a leg bent, appearing as if she wanted to spin around and rush off.
A trace of weakness surfaced below my waistline, causing my knees to buckle as I stared into angry eyes as she clammed up on me. Selfishly, I wanted my time with her as I grabbed her hand, ignoring the strained expression written across her face.
Once Valencia was in my home, I had to deal with Tabitha’s momma. That was a mistake; I regretted the day I slept with her. After I hung up with her, I played the funk like I was straight. Knowing Valencia, I knew she wanted to ask me who decorated my home. I chuckled because I knew her, but thanks to my momma and sister because I didn't have a decorating bone in my body. If it was left up to me, everything would be black and white.
My mind dwelled on the nerve of Valencia again as I sat on the sofa. Did she really think I was going to wait my whole life for her to decide if she wanted a future with me or not? What puzzled me was how she knew that I would be home. My momma? Nah, I shook my head because she would have called me and told me to be ready. Her momma? I shrugged my shoulders. No matter what, I had my daughter to think about.
I didn’t find any rest last night due to me tossing and turning in bed thinking about Valencia. I went about my day as I got Tabitha ready for the morning. We did our normal routine as we had breakfast together and watched a few cartoons while I waited for Momma’s call. She called on Sundays at exactly 2:30 in the afternoon. That was time enough for her to get back from church and rest, as she told me.
“Good afternoon, Lorenz.”
“Good afternoon Mama, how have you been?”
“Fine, honey. What’s on my grandbaby’s agenda today?” Momma was the sweetest person you'd ever meet, unless you got on her bad side.
“Oh, she’s goin’ with her egg donor today. She should be here any minute now.”
“Oh, okay. What’re you goin’ to do later on today?”
Usually when my momma asked me what I was doing, it was because she wanted me to do something for her or go somewhere. I didn’t mind but sometimes, I needed my rest like I did today.
“As soon as Tabitha leaves, I’m gonna get some rest.”
I heard her say, ‘uh.’
“Was there something you wanted me to do?”
“No, child. You get your rest,” she uttered. “When is my grandbaby comin’ to my house before school starts?”
“She’s comin’ real soon, Ma. And when I do bring her by, don’t say that I didn’t warn you. She’s a busybody and just to think, she’ll be goin’ to preschool.”
“I know that’s right. My baby is growin’ up,” Momma voiced sweetly. “You a real good daddy, Lorenz.”
I wondered if Momma was going to mention that Valencia was back in town or if she was waiting on me to do it. Ever since Valencia broke my heart, I told my momma not to ever bring her name up unless I initiated it. So if she did hear, she wasn’t going to tell me.
“Daddy, daddy. When Mommy comin’?” Tabitha asked as she jumped onto my lap.
“Soon, Baby,” I answered her as I kissed her on the forehead.
“Is that granny?” she questioned.
“Let me talk to Granny. I want to talk to Granny," she pouted.
“Tabitha, be quiet. I’m on the phone," I reprimanded her. "Go in the room until I call you,” I stated in a stern tone.
Momma yelled at me, “Don’t holler at my baby. Put her on the phone.”
I rolled my eyes as I glared at the phone. Back in my days, Momma chastised me if I butted in grown folk’s conversation. I didn't quite understand grandparents today. They let grandchildren get away with murder. I hollered for Tabitha to come back. She held her head down as she walked toward me. I handed her the phone and told her that her granny wanted to talk to her. Her frown instantly changed into a cheerful grin. While Tabitha chatted away on the phone, I heard a car door slam, which made me jump up and look out the window.
That woman was here, the mother of my child. The sight of Jennifer sickened me to my stomach as she sashayed past me as I held the door open.
Tabitha dropped my cell and ran to her momma. I watched as Jennifer picked her up. I stalked toward my phone and told Momma that I’d call her back.
“What time do you want her back on Wednesday?” Jennifer asked with a sneer.
“Have her here at 8pm.”
“You don’t have to sound so mean about it. I mean, she is my baby, too.”
I mumbled, “Well, act like it.”
“What?" she grimaced, placing Tabitha on her feet. "I thought you said something.”
I watched Jennifer grab Tabitha by the hand and put her in the back of somebody's car. As I sat on the sofa flipping through the TV channels, I realized I had to call momma back. I dialed her number and she answered on the third ring.
“I thought you forgot to call me back.”
I chuckled because I wanted to talk about Valencia.
“Is my baby gone yet?”
I couldn't hold it any longer, so I asked, “Momma, did you know that Valencia was back in town?”
“Is she really? I didn’t know that.” Her voice laced in a high pitched tone.
A smirk formed on my face. “You didn’t for real, or you just tellin’ me that you didn’t?”
“Boy, don’t be questionin’ me. I said I didn’t know. How do you know?”
“Because she stopped by yesterday.”
“She came back after all these years." Momma took a deep breath. "How was the visit?”
“It went okay.”
“She didn’t know that I had Tabitha.”
“What? I can’t believe Valerie didn’t tell that child that. That’s a damn shame, you know.” Momma cussed when she was mad.
“Yeah, but you know her priorities weren’t in the right place, as Mrs. Adam would say.”
“Yeah, but it's been nine years, to be exact,” Momma replied. “That’s a damn shame for that child to be left in the dark like that.”
I rolled my eyes because I was tired of Momma taking up for Valencia. To me, she wasn’t a damn child, but a grown ass woman who should have contacted me. But she didn’t.
“Do you know if she's here to stay or visiting?”
“I don't know.”
“Are you goin’ to find out?”
“Why not? You know that’s my daughter-in-law.”
“Momma, just because you like her doesn’t mean she needs to be your daughter-in-law. I mean, she was the one who left me.”
“Boy, she had to go to school and make something out of herself.”
“Okay, I’m hangin’ up now.”
“Oh, you hangin’ up on your momma now?”
“Momma," I sighed because I had to get her off the phone. She was working my nerves. "I would love to talk to you some more, but I have another call comin’ in for work. I will talk to you later,” I lied.