Saturday, June 23, 1:20 P.M.
Where Natasha was concerned, it seemed I'd never catch a break.
To top off my run of bad luck this past week, she was the first person I locked eyes with when I opened the restaurant door. Her gaze shifted to Sonya and Zoey and I knew that any chance I had with her was deader than the dried-up mouse I'd removed from behind the stove for Mom this morning.
I hadn't told Natasha about Sonya because it wasn't something I could work into ordinary conversation. I had to tell her, but I wanted to get to it at the right time. So much for that.
I dipped my head toward Natasha in some kind of greeting.
|Karim & Natasha|
Instead of owning up to knowing me, she showed me a stone face and her back.
Making no attempt to hold my disappointment and irritation inside, I sucked my teeth.
"What's the matter now?" Sonya asked.
"Nothing to do with you," I said.
My feelings made no sense. The last time I felt this way was when my parents told me they were getting a divorce. Not that I had found my way in with Natasha or was even close to it, but I'd still been thinking about calling her, fool that I was.
As we approached the counter, I was upset all over again. Since Zoey, whenever I came home, Sonya was more or less a fixture in my life. She kept going on about Zoey and how she needed time with her father. I understood that, but Sonya could be a bit much. Most of the time, she hung around with me and Zoey, dogging me about this or that. In truth and fact, she spent more time talking to me than letting me interact with Zoey.
An hour ago, Sonya had thrown a fit when I told her I didn't feel like getting any fast food, but she had a hankering for a BK meal and nothing else would stop her craving. To prevent an all-out war over nothing, I'd borrowed the van and taken her to the nearest outlet.
I should have stayed home.
After ordering more food than we could consume, Sonya insisted on sitting down to eat. I don't know what she was trying to achieve with her little act, as if we were a normal family. She and I knew where things stood, so there was no need for this playacting.
I didn't have the appetite for the burger, but since I couldn't sit there watching Sonya eat, I picked at the fries. Bad idea, because they tasted like hot toilet paper. After the third one, I gave up and packed everything into the paper bag.
Zoey was the only bright spark in my day. She blew bubbles on the fry she held in her fist and then stuck it in her mouth.
Across the room, Natasha's gaze cruised past me as if I was invisible. She sat as straight as a broomstick and I knew she had to be uncomfortable.
Her body language made me hopeful and sick at the same time.
In some small way, it seemed I mattered to her, but getting through to her was going to be a challenge. Sonya and Zoey wouldn't be easy to explain, especially since I hadn't told her about them up front.
As I listened to Zoey's baby talk, I wondered whether I'd left my brain at home. I'd never been a dreamer, but here I sat with my head wrapped around a girl I couldn't have and didn't stand a chance with in this lifetime.
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