Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me
am such a foolâI am getting too old for this crap,” Dakota said to herself as she sat on the edge of her king-size bed. Her bed was covered in peach silk sheets, with two scented candles burning on both nightstands. The lights were dim all throughout her condo, and her Bose stereo in the bedroom was quietly playing Avant's latest album. Right outside her building was the busy traffic and chaos of midtown Manhattan, but on the inside of 4D was a romantic getaway.
Dakota had already spent thirty years on this earth, but there were times she felt like she hadn't learned a thing. It still amazed her how, with all the street smarts she had from her years of growing up in Brooklyn, she was able to make her way through life and through corporate America, but she couldn't seem to prevent nights like these.
She had made her way from her bedroom into the living room, attempting not to focus on her rising anger. She hit PLAY on her TiVo box, and her television began playing back her recorded episode of
. After about twenty minutes, she had stopped paying attention to what the evidence was from the plaintiff and her mind started to wander again. She began to analyze what was happening on yet another Friday night.
“I can't believe I am lying here alone in this expensive lingerie, freezing my butt off, and God knows where he is or who he is with,” she murmured.
A dozen thoughts ran through her head as she slowly felt herself losing any bit of romantic or sexy vibes she had left in her body. The more emotional she got, the more she knew it was only minutes before she would completely lose it and leave Tony a nasty message on his answering machine. She would have told him to his face, but he was m.i.a. and wasn't answering his house or cell phone. He was supposed to be at her place at 9:00, and it was now 11:30, and not even a simple call was made to inform her of any change of plans.
Maybe he fell asleep, maybe he had a car accident, maybe something really urgent came up, maybe he is on his way and his cell battery is dead. Maybe, maybe, shmaybe. She knew he was just fine and he was just being a man. She was tired of making excuses for him, to herself, to her friends; she had to fill in his blanks constantly. It was just her way of delaying having to face the reality that he was up to no good. She couldn't give him the benefit of the doubt, because he didn't deserve it. She had done that early in the relationship, the first few times he pulled something like this, but at this point she knew from experience.
She sat there and envisioned just how the night was going to play out, how it would happen and what he would say and do. He would eventually call or show up and actually almost pretend like nothing was really wrong. He would just hope his sorry excuse would be enough, or at least his sorry attempt at apologizing and seduction. On nights when she just wanted not to waste her preparation for the night, she would just let it go, but on other nights, when her self-pride was shaking its head at her, she would make a big deal out of it.
Some nights she would call up her girls to vent, and try to get some sense talked into her head. But this relationship was becoming way too dysfunctional, and quite honestly, Dakota was not in the mood to face that. At least not tonight, not as she sat in her room in a teal-and-pink Fredericks of Hollywood negligee. Besides, she knew what they would say, or at least what they would think, even if they didn't tell her. She knew so well because she knew what she would think when she heard a story from one of her female counterparts getting played by her man. Even when the girl is in denial, it's not hard to tell when she is getting played. Dakota was a realistâshe knew her man was up to no good.
Dakota didn't know if she was more frustrated with herself or with men, because before Tony, the last guy she let into her heart was her college sweetheart, Chris, who turned out to be a real barking dog. She spent years trying to work through stuff with him and forgive him for his infidelities. Once she realized he was just taking advantage of her obvious fear to let go of him and be alone, she promised herself she would never be that way with any man again. She had convinced herself no man was worth losing her self-respect, and she wasn't taking any nonsense from any of them. She had decided she would much rather greet them, freak them, fuck them, then duck them. She preferred that over getting all caught up in fairy-tale land. In a sense, she adapted to the ways of men; she wasn't looking for a serious commitment and wasn't trying to make one. So, Tony was the first one to break through some of that wall in a long time. Still, she had made all of these rules for herself about things she wouldn't accept, but once again, love and emotions found her back in the same predicament. Dealing with the same excuses, different man ... or, better yet ... same shit, different dog.
Tony was probably the worst man that she could have let her guard down for, too. In no time, she allowed good sex to turn into feelings she had no business having. Tony wasn't just a professional athlete who was often travelingâhe had another woman in his life. Dakota heard at some point they were engaged, but he told her differently. Either way, she was aware there was a woman out there whom he kept protected. He would tell Dakota he was only with this girl for the sake of their child and that he didn't love her. Of course, he loved Dakota and wanted to be with herâat least that's what he said. Whenever Dakota would complain or catch him in a lie, he would say
I just ask that you be patient with me and understand my lifestyle
Dakota was naive when she was in loveâthat's why she tried her best not to feel that way. It wasn't worth the headache or heartache. Even as naive as she could be, she could usually see through Tony's b.s. Unfortunately, she really wanted to believe him. He was just the kind of guy that Dakota felt was a match for her. Successful, handsome, charismatic, and he had great taste. If she settled down, she wanted it to be with him, if she could only get him to do it. So she sat here on nights like this, trying to show him what she had to offer. Except he was nowhere to be found.
It was now about midnight, and Dakota broke down and called her girlfriend Chrasey. Just sitting there watching television was not making her feel any better; she was leaving room for a variety of angry thoughts to fill her head. She needed some type of human contact.
“Dakota, leave his behind alone ... stop putting yourself through this ... I don't even know why you wait on him ... You know how it goesâhe fooled you once, it was shame on him. But now he
fooling youâshame on you,” Chrasey rambled on as soon as she heard Tony was pulling one of his disappearing acts.
See, this is exactly what I didn't need right now
, Dakota thought to herself. It wasn't that she wanted to be in denial, but she wanted to try to keep from getting upset, and letting negative opinions cloud her thoughts. Besides, every female knows we love our girls until they are talking junk or telling us to leave our man. Then it's a totally different situation. It was moments like these when she understood how some women say they don't have female friends. She could see how jealousy, envy, deceit, and all those things could make females distrust one another. She could see how a female telling you your man who deep down you're hoping you can share a white picket fence with, ain't worth a darn could make a chick choose the man over the friend. Lucky for Chrasey, that was not the case for Dakota. She and Chrasey, along with their third amigo, Jordan, had been friends since college and they were almost like sisters. Of course, most close friends say that, but these three came the closest to that bond. Most friends say that until they have some really big fight, and then they can't bring themselves to put it behind them. Or better yet, that's just the case until they grow apart, or jealousy and competition or another female trait gets the best of them and they decide they are too grown-up for that play-sister crap. These three, though, had been through over a decade of real sisterhood, fights included. Not the little fights, eitherâbig fights, fights most people don't make up fromâbut in the midst of those fights, if one was going through something like a true sister, the others would still be there for her. So, when Chrasey or Jordan told her something, she knew it was from the heart and one of the reasons she hated listening. The truth can hurt. So she sat there and listened to Chrasey, and she knew deep down that she was right; she was breaking all of her own rules and putting up with even more than she did from Chris.
“Chrasey, it's just that when things are good, they are so good. Then he goes and pulls something like this and messes it all up.”
“I know, 'Kota ... and if it was the first or second time, I would tell you you're overreacting. But he does this way too oftenâyou can never depend on him. And let me guessâyou got all sexy and ready for him, didn't you?”
“Girl ... my favorite teal-and-pink teddy I had been waiting to wear,” Dakota responded. They both giggled.
“Look, 'Kota ... you just need to put your foot down. Any time you guys have plans, he feels no obligation to keep them or even call you to cancel. Each time he apologizes, and you step back out there and expect him not to do it again, there is disappointment after disappointment. It's just out of hand.” As if she was more upset than Dakota, Chrasey rambled on. “Showing up hours late without even callingâyou don't even do that to a hooker, let alone someone you care about. You need to let him go or get serious and let him know that this is the last time. If he does it again, you're through. I know you two don't have a commitment, and deep down you know there may be some side pieces somewhere, but he has to know he can't take you for a fool.”
“Yeah, you're right. When he does show up, I am going to have a long talk with him.”
After about another ten minutes, Dakota got off the phone and jumped under the covers. After ten seconds on her plush peach pillow, the tears began to roll down her cheeks. She didn't want to cry. What if he showed up right now? She would look terrible, with bloodshot eyes and a runny nose, and on top of that she was messing up her silk pillow covers. She realized, though, she wasn't crying because of what Tony was probably out there doing, but because of what Chrasey had said. Just hearing that made her feel really low.
When it came to Tony, she could barely understand herself. It wasn't like Dakota wasn't well put together. Dakota was in great shape for her age. She was five-feet-five, 125 pounds, with just enough titties and assânot too much and not too little. She had a pretty, dark-chocolate complexion, with off-black long hair reaching about a quarter of the way down her back, and brown eyes. Her high cheekbones brought character to her face, but her full lips and slanted eyes were what actually made Dakota beautiful. However, Ms. Dakota Watkins wasn't all looksâshe had brains, too. She was the top publicist at her PR firm, and the youngest female on her level. She had several high-profile clients, was making over $95,000 a year, had a nicely furnished loft in a chic area of Manhattan, drove a 2004 purple BMW, and had what would be considered a great life. Despite all that she had accomplished, her love life overall was still chaotic.
Here she was, letting Tony ruin another Friday night for her. Regardless of how many times she asked herself why, the only answer she could come up with was because she allowed it. Feeling disgusted with herself, for lying in an empty bed wearing lingerie, she finally got up and threw on an oversized night shirt. She took her stereo remote control and hit PLAY. Keisha Coles's single, “I Just Want It to Be Over,” seeped from her Bose wave speakers as she wrapped her hair and got ready for bed. She had just put her Razac Perfect for Perms hair crÃ¨me away and finished tying a scarf on her head when her phone rang. She wasn't sure if it was Chrasey calling back, or Tony finally calling.
“Hello.” Dakota tried to use her sexy-yet-upset voice.
“Hey, miss,” a male voice responded from the other end of the phone.
“Who is this?”
“It's Davidâyou busy?”
David was this “guy friend” of hers. They had been cool for some time; they had worked together a few years ago and never broke contact. A few years back, they'd had a few “indiscretions” between them, but they now had one of those “mature friendships.”
After a few minutes of conversation, he was able to hear in her voice that she wasn't at her best and offered to come over and cheer her up. She was hesitant at first, but then he offered to come make a late-night meal. Full of emotion, anger, and lust, she accepted his offer. Fully aware that she had no clue if Tony was going to just pop up eventually or not, she left her night shirt on, combed her hair back down, put on some lip gloss, and waited to see who would arrive first.
About That Time
he Burken antique clock on the wall read 6:30 P.M., and Jordan was sitting at her black marble desk trying to finish up a project that she had given a Monday morning deadline. She was quickly scanning over the forms and notes, highlighting and marking comments down as she went along. She usually took more time with her cases, but time had flown and she couldn't pull a late-nighter, not tonight.
It was Friday, and the day before her six-year wedding anniversary. Her husband had called about three hours earlier and informed her that he had a special night planned to start off their romantic weekend. He told her to make sure she was home no later than 9:30, which at that time was giving her more than enough time to finish up, so she'd promised she would.
It was still only 6:45, and she knew she had time, but she wanted to get home even earlier to take a shower and change clothes and still be ready by 9:30 instead of just stumbling through the door at 9:00 or so. With that in mind, she finished reviewing the documents and started packing up for the evening. She locked her office door and walked down the hall and placed the documents in her partner's in-box.
Already feeling a sense of relief about starting her weekend, and this was a special one that she had been looking forward to for weeks, she began to walk happily toward the elevator. Just as she went to press the DOWN button, she heard a voice call her name. She turned around to find her paralegal, Jackie, standing in the hallway with a file in her hand.
“Have a good evening, Mrs. Miller. I just wanted to make sure you remembered the Martinez case is first thing Monday morning.”
Jordan's shoulders dropped, “Oh, my goodness. I forgot Jayon asked me to work on that for him. What time are we due in court?” she asked.
“At 9:30 A.M.,” Jackie said in her sorry-to-be-the-one-to-break-it-to-you tone.
“Damn,” Jordan blurted.
She had spent all that time with that other case, when she could have been working on this one and been finished. The other case's court date wasn't until Tuesday; she had marked the deadline for Monday so she would be ahead of the game. So to remember there was actually something on Monday that she was behind on, and that now she had to stay to do, just ruined her whole happy mood.
Jordan looked at her watch and realized she could afford to spend another hour or so at the office and still get home in time for Omar's plans.
“OK. Thanks so much. Are you staying late tonight?” Jordan said.
“I will be here for about another half an hour,” Jackie replied.
“OK, great. Is that the Martinez file in your hand?”
“Yes, it is,” Jackie said as she handed her the file.
“Thanksâcan you pull the other miscellaneous file for the case from Jayon's office and bring it to me.”
“Sure,” Jackie replied in her chipper tone.
Jordan walked back down the hall to her office, unlocked the door, placed her briefcase and other belongings in the chair by the door, and plopped into her chair. She had already calculated that she would not stay past 8:00 P.M., regardless of what wasn't completed. Normally she would have just taken it home, but she knew she would be celebrating all weekend and probably wouldn't get to any work. Besides, all she had to do was type up an outline for their appearance on Monday. It wasn't the trial, it was just some pretrial procedures. The case was important, so they wanted to be prepared, but Jordan had other priorities as well. She was fully aware that her extensive workload was keeping her away from her happy home, and she had been struggling to balance the two. Omar had dropped their son off at his mother's, and Jordan really wanted the time alone with her husband; it wasn't often they had that. So, determined to get her work done quickly, she started scrambling through the file, sorting what she needed to type up her outline and notes for the case.
Next thing she knew, Jordan looked up at the clock; it was already 8:30. She had no idea the time had gone by so fast. She found herself deep into the case and must have gotten carried away. Once she realized the time, she immediately panicked. She had decided to bring it home with her and sneak some time away to tend to it, but she remembered her colleague Jayon would need the file.
She picked up the phone to call Omar, and as she went to dial the number, she heard a voice.
“Hello,” she replied.
“Hi, it's me, Jayon.”
“Oh, I was just trying to dial out to make a phone call to Omar.”
“Oh, OK. I just got back into the office and wanted to see if you were still here. Do you want to go over some last-minute things on the Martinez case? We have court Monday morning.”
“I know, JayonâI just spent the last couple of hours reviewing all our notes and preparing. Where have you been?”
“I went out with some clients to have a few drinks,” he responded.
“I am coming down to your office in a few seconds to wrap this upâjust let me make this call,” Jordan responded.
Jayon was Jordan's colleague and one of her closest friends since undergrad. Both of them ended up going back to graduate school at the same timeâJordan went to law school, and Jayon went for his MBA in accounting. A few years out of law school, Jordan and one of her classmates, Elizabeth, from Columbia University, decided to start a law firm together. At that same time, Jayon wanted to open a private accounting office, and was looking for office space. Jordan found an office building in midtown that was leasing a floor. It was in a great building, and at a fair price. It was too good to be true, so the three of them decided to lease the space together to make better use of it. It worked out pretty well, because they had all become a great help to each other. Elizabeth's specialty was tax and labor law, so she and Jayon were always able to assist each other with different clients and cases. Jordan specialized in entertainment law, but with some of the clients, Jayon would assist her as well and vice versa. This was also their way to have some teamwork despite their busy work schedules. After all, the door did say
Jordan gathered all that she had been working on and put it back in the file. She placed it in her briefcase, and picked up all of her things from the chair and headed down the hall to Jayon's office. She locked up her office, just figuring she would leave straight from his.
She suddenly remembered to call Omar. She ran back in her office and quickly dialed the number. She called the house and there was no answer. The answering machine picked up and she left a message.
“Hey, baby. It's 8:45, and I know I am supposed to be home by 9:30. I'm running a little late. I just have to work on some loose ends with Jayon for a case we have first thing Monday morning. I am so sorry ... I love you ... I won't be too lateâI should be there by 10:00. Call me if you need me.”
She hung up, locked the door, and walked down the hall to Jayon's office. She placed her briefcase on his couch and sat across from him.
“Is Jackie still here?” he asked.
“I don't think so.”
“Oh, so it's just the two of us. Cool. Do you want to order some dinner?”
“Jayon, I can't stay. It's me and Omar's anniversary, and he is actually waiting on me at home now.”
“Oh, OK. So, don't let me keep you. Maybe we can do this Monday morning.”
“Showtime is 9:30 in the morningâwe won't have much time. Real quickly, let's just take a few minutes to get on the same page for Monday.”
Jordan felt slightly uncomfortable speaking of her and Omar's anniversary, because Jayon's fiancÃ©e had called their engagement off a couple of months earlier. He had been going through a lot, which was another one of the reasons he'd asked for Jordan's help on this case. He'd fallen behind on a lot of his work, and was kind of just getting himself back together.
Quickly getting on the same page took longer than expected, and about forty-five minutes later, Jordan was at the copy machine making a copy of her notes for Jayon. She glanced up at the clock over the water coolerâit said 10:00.
“Damn,” she said out loud to herself. She knew Omar was at home waiting for her, probably pissed off.
She rushed back toward Jayon's office. “Here are my notes ... I gotta go ... I'll see you at 8:00 A.M. at the courthouse,” Jordan said hastily as she scurried into the office and toward his desk.
As she leaned over to place the notes on his desk, he reached for her hand.
“Don't go yet, Jordan,” he said, looking her straight in her eyes. “Can you stay and keep me company for a little while longer?”
As Jordan pulled her hand away, her heart started to beat so fast she thought even he could hear it.
“Jayon, I told you Omar has plans for us tonight. I'm sorry.”
Jayon rose from his seat and began to walk around his desk toward Jordan. She backed away slightly from his desk, feeling a sense of shock at what she assumed was happening.
As he approached her, he reached for her hand once again. “Jordan, I really need you tonight. Can you just stay a little bit longer?”
Trying to pretend she did not pick up on the seductive vibe, Jordan kept her hands in his and said, “Is everything OK? Do you want to talk?” She thought this might defuse the situationâshe always believed when in an awkward situation, you should act like you don't notice.
Her plan didn't work. Jayon pulled her closer. “I just want you to be here with me tonight.”
Before Jordan could register her next thought, Jayon had leaned down and begun to kiss her lips. As the little voice inside of her screamed, Jordan jerked and tried to back away. Determined, his lips continued to attempt to connect with hers.
Jordan placed her hand on his chest to keep him at a distance. With a sense of control, she finally spoke. “Jayon. What are you doing?”
He covered her hand with his on his chest. “Jordan, I know this is our workplace, but what happens here doesn't have to interfere with anything.”
She took her hand away and walked toward the chair that had her belongings in it. As she picked up her stuff, she turned back around and looked at him. Disappointed, she said, “I'm not sure what you mean by âwhat happens here.' I thought we had a friendshipâand a company.”
He just looked at her.
“Jayonâwhat are you thinking? We're not in college, we are adults and I'm married. I know you have been drinking, and I don't know if this has to do with Dawn breaking up with you, but you can't do this. To be honest, I'm disappointed in you,” she said as she stood by the door.
Despite her comment, he continued, “This has nothing to do with Dawn or how much I've had to drinkâthis has everything to do with me and you,” he said.
“Well, Jayon, my
is at home waiting for me and I must go,” Jordan said and went to walk through the door.
“Can we talk about this later, Jordan?,” he said, seeming worried that she was upset.
Without looking back at him, she said in an aggravated tone, “I guess we will talk later.”