Coming February 14
Malik and Cherise walked down the cement path, chatting and giggling or more to the point, Cherise was the one doing that idiotic snorting that got on my nerves.
Malik touched her arm and then pulled away, but I could swear she edged left, walking a bit closer to him. Then she let out one of those irritating barks that passed for laughter.
What would I say if either of them turned and saw me?
I threw that thought out of my head. It was a free country. I could say I was headed for the ladies room.
At the entrance to the lobby, I stopped and let them get a little bit ahead of me. They turned right and I assumed they were going to the washrooms. I had stopped in the ladies room when I first got to the hotel, certain that I looked as untidy and uneasy as I felt. In the mirror, my white, strapless dress and makeup looked fine, but convincing myself that others would see what I saw was hard.
A door opened with a heavy whoosh, bringing my mind back to the lobby. I took that to mean Cherise had gone into the bathroom or someone had come out. I tipped my head for a look around the corner and that not-quite-nauseous feeling came back and settled in my tummy. Malik was waiting across the corridor, leaning on the wall as if he had nothing better to do with his time.
Although the lobby was cool, thanks to an unseen air conditioner, sweat gathered in my armpits and made them clammy.
Malik and I had been together since I was sixteen. After two years, I was starting to see a side of him I didn't like. What did he plan to tell me after his return trip with Triple D or the Doctor's Diva Daughter as we called Cherise in school.
I was in the middle of sneaking another look at Malik when he turned his head and almost caught me spying on him. I pressed my back to the wall and then straightened up. The door opened again and I knew I had to make up my mind. Otherwise, they'd break the corner and find me playing the stalker, but I did want Malik to know I had seen them. Before I could change my mind, I stepped away from the wall and around the corner with my chin high in the air.
My shoulders sank when I didn't see Malik, but by the time I drew another breath, I was eye-to-eye with the two of them. Where the wall to my right ended, the recessed entrance to the washroom began.
Cherise stood close to the wall, smiling into Malik's face. He stood with his arms pressed to the tiles on both sides of her head. His lips were so close to hers it was impossible for him to say a word without sucking up some of her air.
That knot in my stomach swelled into a tangle of rope that jerked and twisted, making me want to heave. I could have asked what the hell he was doing, but then he'd see the tears now burning my eyes and there was no way I'd allow that to happen. Not that he had a chance of seeing me since he was still sharing air space with Cherise.
I went past as if I didn't see them, but before I pushed the door, I looked sideways. Malik's face now rested against Cherise's as if he was whispering. Over his shoulder, her eyebrows asked why I was staring. I knew then, she'd been waiting a long time for this.
I tipped my head back, hating myself for feeling the way I did over a nineteen-year-old boy who didn't know his mind.
Thank goodness, there was no one in the humongous tiled space that served as the bathroom. I yanked a handful of facial tissue from a dispenser and blew my nose. Then I pressed another sheet under my eyes, trying not to smudge my eyeliner.
I dumped the tissue and turned back toward the mirror, pulling myself up to stand straighter. After fussing with my hair, I reapplied wine-red lipstick and then practiced a smile. I got my purse off the counter and sauntered to the door.
To hell with Malik.If Cherise wanted him, she could have him because I'd had it with him.