It’s hard being in love with someone who you know is all wrong for you and being in serious like with the perfect person.
Bryce and I have an amazing time when we hang out. And while he understands that any interaction that we have is only as friends or co-workers, I know he wants more. And so do I.
What I really want is my sanity back. I want to be able to tell Eva that everything is going to be ok and mean it. I want to be sure that if I walk away from Jackson, he is going to be a real man and take care of his daughter. And most of all, I want to be sure that I can be alone without having a mental breakdown.
Maybe my therapist was right. Maybe I do need to spend some quality time by myself. I think I lost sight of that the moment I made my life about everyone else.
But when do I get to think about what I want?
“Thank you for dinner last night.” Lydia stretched out on the bed as the sunlight pushed through the blinds. “Their lasagna was almost as good as mine.”
“Was dinner all you enjoyed?”
“The music and coffee were good too?” Both Lydia and Calvin laughed. “Come on now, Calvin. You know what I think about how you put it down.”
“That’s my bad girl.”
“You love it.” Lydia paused as she heard footsteps come toward the bedroom door. “Hold on.” She shoved the phone inside her pillowcase as Tony walked in. He let out a deep sigh of fatigue as she set down his suitcase. After noticing Lydia lying on the bed, he immediately began to smile. Lydia cringed as he left the items lying in the middle of the floor. “So you’re just gonna leave those there, huh?”
“Hello to you too, Lydee.” Lydia shook her head as he came close to her. “What’s wrong?”
“Why don’t you get in the shower first? Take a moment to wash that flight off…”
“You trying to tell me I smell?”
“I’m trying to give you the opportunity to wind down.” She raised her eyebrows and pointed her finger toward the master bathroom. Disappointed, Tony began to walk toward the bathroom. “Please take those socks with you and put them in the hamper. You know I hate it when you do that.”
“Ok, Lydia.” Tony mumbled as he walked to the bathroom.
Lydia waited until Tony shut the bathroom door to pull her phone out from her pillowcase. “Sorry about that.”
“Tony came home, huh?”
“I wasn’t expecting him until Friday. Anyway, I’m going to take a nap before I cook dinner.”
“Are you bringing me a plate?” Calvin teased while licking his lips.
“I only bring plates to good boys, so no.” Lydia laughed until she saw Tony come out of the bathroom. “I will talk to you later, ok?” She said in a neutral tone of voice.
“Alright. I’ll be looking for my plate.” Calvin laughed and then hung up the phone.
Lydia looked up at Tony, who had a confused look on his face. “Who was that?”
Tony crossed his arms. “And what did he want?”
“Calm down, Tony. He wanted to pass along a number to me.” Lydia rolled over to put her phone on the charger and then slid under the covers of the bed. “You’re home early.”
“You’re not happy to see me?”
“No, I am. I just wasn’t expecting you until Friday.”
“Well,” he sat down next to her and placed his arms around her waist, “I took a few weeks off. I was thinking maybe we could go on a vacation.”
Umph. Ain’t that nice. He’s trying. “We can do that, I guess.”
“Lydia, I know you’re mad at me, and I don’t blame you. I know you feel that I have paid more attention to my career than to this marriage…”
“You have paid more attention to your career than to this marriage…”
“Lydee, please. This is hard enough as it is.” Lydia sat up on the edge of the bed as if she was about to get up, but the warmth of Tony’s hand on her back caused her to stop. “Lydia, everything I do is for you, Cedric, and Christopher.” He placed his hand over her stomach. “And I look forward to one day adding a baby girl to that roster. But I need you. You are still in my corner, right?”
“You know I am, Tony.” Lydia replied quietly.
“Look at me, Lydia.” She turned to see Tony’s eyes locked on hers. Tony kissed Lydia softly on the lips again and said softly. “Now, tell me you love me.”
Dangit! Why does he have to look at me like that! I mean I do love you and all, but you haven’t been here. Period. It’s gonna take more than a few kisses and a look in your eyes to bring my heart back home. “Anthony, you know I love you. But it’s hard. It’s like I’ve been without a husband for the past few months. You’re going to have to give me time.”
“I understand.” Tony put his arms around her in an attempt to pull her close, but Lydia pulled away. “What’s wrong?”
“I was just about to take a nap before I pick up the boys and cook dinner. I’m really tired.”
“Too tired to make love to your husband?”
“I thought you were taking a shower?”
“But I’m here with you right now…”
“And I thought I told you right now all I want is to take a nap...”
“It’s not just about you, you know. There are a lot of women that would appreciate a husband who works hard, provides for his family, and desires her the same way he did when they did when they first got married…”
“Is there a point to this, because I’m missing my nap…”
“You know what, Lydia? You’re selfish. If you wanted something from me, I’d give it to you without hesitation, regardless to how tired I felt. I’m that committed to you…”
“But you can’t give me your time...”
“That’s why I took time off…” Frustrated, Tony rubbed his hands against his head and then crossed his arms. “Is there something that I should know?”
“Like what?” Lydia answered.
“You tell me.”
“Tony, I don’t know what you are…”
“Lydia, you haven’t let me touch you in a month...”
“You have hardly been here all month…”
“Don’t play games, Lydia. I was gone this past week and that was it. Other than that, I’ve been lying next to you in that bed every night and I barely get so much as a kiss out of you before you roll over and start snoring. Now what’s going on?”
“I’ve been tired, Tony. That’s it. Chris hasn’t been feeling well, so I was up with him for the past few nights. Of course you wouldn’t know that. So please excuse me if I’m not exactly jumping out of my clothes because you came home two days early.” Lydia stopped for a moment to take a look at Tony’s face. She knew that she had hurt him. After taking a breath, she continued. “Look, before we continue to say things we don’t mean, let’s just take a moment to cool off. Why don’t you take a shower and then get some rest. Let me take my nap and I will cook you a nice dinner tonight, ok?”
Tony shook his head. “Whatever you want, Lydia.” He went inside the bathroom and closed the door.
Once he was inside the bathroom, Lydia slid down into the covers and grabbed her phone. She thought about calling one of the girls, but she decided against it. I can’t tell them anything! Lord knows they will let me have it if they knew what was going on between me and Calvin. And to a degree, I feel bad about what I’m doing to Tony. But I’m just having a little fun. I can stop whenever I want. I’m happy where I am. But right now, I need more. Lydia grabbed her phone and sent a quick message to Calvin: ‘I guess I’ll bring you a plate. What do you want for dinner?’ She left her phone on the bed as she walked over to the mini-fridge that they kept in their bedroom and grabbed a bottle of water. After taking a sip, the phone vibrated to indicate a return message. Lydia blushed as she read the following message: ‘I’d prefer you, but I guess I’ll take fried chicken’. Laughing her way to the bathroom, Lydia opened the door and said, “Tony, sweetie, what do you think of fried chicken with mac and cheese for dinner.”
He stuck his head out of the shower and smiled Lydia. “That’s perfect. You know I love your fried chicken.”
“Everyone loves my fried chicken.” Lydia stuck her tongue out at Tony before leaving him to his shower. Some love it more than others. She bit her lip and smiled as she got back in the bed and closed her eyes.
“Urie, can I talk to you for a minute, please?”
Urie choked on her bottle of apple juice as she saw Bryce running after her in the faculty parking lot, complete with a big smile and one white rose in hand. She blushed slightly when she answered. “Yes, but you do realize this could be considered highly unprofessional.”
“What is so unprofessional about giving a co-worker a small token on her birthday?” Bryce asked. After overdramatically wiping his brow, he handed her the card and the rose before he continued. “Happy Birthday, Miss Glenn.”
“Thank you, Mr. Anderson. But who told you it was my birthday?”
“I have my ways.”
“It was Donna, wasn’t it?”
“You know she can’t hold water.”
Urie laughed and then took a quick sniff of the rose. “This almost tops the poem that my sophomore honors English class wrote me.”
“Oh almost huh? Well, I thought about having my freshman chorus write you a song, but I thought that might be overkill.”
“Just a bit.” Urie began to unlock her car door and load her belongings inside.
After taking a deep breath, Bryce answered. “I’ll just cut right to it. I want to take you out, Urie.”
“You want to what?”
“I want to take you out on a date. You do go on those, right?”
“Bryce, you know I’m in a relationship…”
“I know, I know. But I also know the look on your face when you mention him. I’m no psychic, but I am perceptive. I know you’re not happy.” Urie’s eyes widened. She began to respond, but Bryce continued to speak. “No, this is not one of those sad lines that men try to feed women when they are trying to break up a happy home. If you don’t want to go out with me out of respect for him, I understand and apologize if I disrespected you.”
“I don’t feel disrespected, Bryce. It’s just that…” Urie sighed deeply. “It’s complicated, ok? There is a lot more at stake than just whether I do or don’t want to go out with you.”
“Does it have to do with the photo of the pretty young girl that sits on your desk?” Urie quickly turned away from him to get in her car, but Bryce continued. “This may be overstepping my boundaries, but the need to raise a child never justifies staying with a man that doesn’t treat you right…”
Urie raised her voice just a small bit. “Who said he didn’t treat me right? I think you are overstepping your bounds just a bit, Bryce…”
“And that’s the last thing I want. I…” Bryce took a moment to take a breath. “I just want a chance to get to know you, for real. Past the professional friendship that we’ve developed since the school year started. I like you. Everything about you to me is absolutely beautiful. I just want to show you a good time. But I won’t do it until you’re ready.” Bryce touched the top of Urie’s glove. “I’m a patient man. When I see something I want, I’ll wait. Have a great birthday, Urie.”
She waited until Bryce went back into the building before got in the car and closed the door. ARGH! Why is this happening? Urie grabbed a piece of gum out of her purse and began to chew furiously. I can’t be that chick. I just can’t. If I’m committed to a man, then that’s it. Urie paused for a moment. Then again, I’ve been with Jackson so long that I don’t know what else is out there. Maybe I should go out with Bryce. She pulled her phone from her purse and called Sydney.
“Your mama’s phone, she ain’t home.”
“Do you know how to answer the phone like a mature adult?”
“Ehh. What’s up?”
“I’m having a crisis.”
“What kind of a crisis?”
“A ‘Bryce asked me out and I don’t know what to do’ crisis.”
Sydney laughed loud and hard in the back of the taxi she was riding in. “Ha! It’s about time that man asked you out! And a perfect day too. Happy Birthday, by the way. So where y’all going?”
“Thank you. And I said no…”
“You said what!!”
“I said no. I can’t go out with him, Sydney. You know that and you know why.”
“And I keep thinking to myself how horrible of an excuse that is…”
“It’s not an excuse! It’s the truth…”
“No, it’s an excuse. Anytime the reason for not doing is less pertinent than the reason for doing, it is an excuse.”
“What is your problem with Jackson, Syd? You only know him through me.”
Sydney gave the taxi driver a brief direction before she continued. “He treats you badly, he barely spends time with Eva, and he had a child with another woman while you were dating him. I could go on but I think I made my point.”
“You have.” Urie replied quietly. “But it’s not that simple…”
“It never is. Urie, I know you love him, and I can’t judge you because I’ve loved the wrong man for the right reasons before. But sis, you can’t keep a man who doesn’t want to be kept. Sooner or later, you’re going to realize that you need more than he can ever give you.”
Urie pulled into the parking lot of her apartment complex. She smiled as she noticed Jackson’s car near her parking spot. “Well, maybe I may not have to worry about it. Jackson’s here now.”
“Oh really?” Sydney said dryly.
“Yes, really! Maybe he has some kind of surprise for me.”
“I wouldn’t get my hopes up…”
“Why are you so negative?!”
“When it comes to that man, positive thoughts are the furthest thing from my mind. Enjoy your birthday surprise, chick. Are we still on for this weekend?”
“Of course! Later.” Urie hung up the phone and rushed out the car and into her apartment building. With all kinds of emotions racing through her head, she ran up the 2 flights of stairs before getting to her apartment. After fumbling with her keys, she finally opened the door to find Jackson sitting on her couch eating a sandwich and watching television. “Oh. Hello.”
“Hey babe.” Jackson said without facing her. “I was waiting for you.”
“Really now. For what reason?”
“Just wanted you to know I was heading out of town for a couple of days…”
I’m sorry, but what?! Urie took a deep breath. “Heading out of town for what?”
“My boy’s band is playing a couple of sets in Michigan and he wanted to know if I want to come with.”
Are you serious! You’re almost 30 years old with a job and a kid. You are too old to become a roadie. And what about my birthday dinner on Saturday? “Um, that’s nice, good for him. But aren’t you forgetting plans for this weekend?”
“Yeah, about that, I won’t be there. I gotta help my guy out. You understand, right babe?”
“No, no I don’t understand,” Urie said angrily as she walked into her living room, “because you knew about this for weeks. Now I have been really patient with you while you spent all these nights trying to get used to being the new overseer of the youth center and I haven’t asked much of you for myself or for Eva. This is the first time I’ve asked you to really be there for me and I get put to the side so you can be some guy’s groupie…”
Jackson turned to look at Urie and rose his voice to intimidate her. “Don’t go getting out of your body, Urie. You always put stuff on hold with us to go take care of your girls…”
“When have I ever put anything that we ever planned on hold for someone else? You have always, always come first with me. I have never been able to say the same about you. Now here I am, excited to see your car in the parking lot, thinking that we’ll have a nice family night at my place for my birthday and instead I see you sitting on my couch and smacking on a sandwich.”
“Today’s your birthday?”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Urie turned her back and began to walk toward her room.
“I thought your birthday was tomorrow. My bad, babe.” Urie did not turn around. Instead, she took off her shoes, sat on the edge of the bed, and crossed her arms. Jackson knelt in front of her. “Look, I’m trying to be there for my guy when he gets on so that maybe we can be a part of that…”
“I don’t want to be a part of that, Jackson. I want to fix this right here. I am not concerned about anything or anybody else right now.”
Jackson tried to kiss Urie, but she turned her face. “It’s cool. I’ll let you be mad for right now. We can talk when I get back from Michigan…”
“So you’re really gonna go?”
“What part of me saying I was going wasn’t clear to you?”
“Jackson…” Urie was so mad that her body shook. I’m not even about to do this. I won’t do this with you. “Just go…”
“Get out of my house before I say something that I won’t regret.” Urie looked at him with all seriousness. “Now, Jackson.” She said quietly yet forcefully.
“Ok.” He stood up and began to head toward the door. As he headed down the hall, he heard some keys turn and the front door open. As Eva came bouncing into the house, carrying a bouquet of roses and a card, he smiled. “Hey, lil mama!”
“Hi daddy!” Eva set the items down on the floor to give Jackson a hug. After a minute, she answered. “Are you staying to have dinner with me and mom? You did remember it’s her birthday, right?”
“I know. I’ve known her longer than you!” He teased. “You got her a card and some flowers, huh? She’ll like that.”
“I got her a present too, but I can’t go get it until Grandma takes me. I hope she won’t be mad.” Urie came out of her bed room and immediately smiled when she saw her little girl. “Happy Birthday, Mama!” Eva sang. She quickly grabbed her flowers and card and handed it to Urie. “I got you a present too, but I have to get it off of layaway. Gram is going to take me to get it on Saturday. Is that ok?”
“Of course, sweetie. Your hug was present enough. You know I love thoughtfulness above anything else.” She gave Jackson a quick side eye that went unnoticed by Eva as she took the flowers to the kitchen to place in water. “Eva, would you be ok with going to Gram’s tonight?”
“I thought we were going to dinner?” Eva asked, sounding slightly disappointed.
“Well, mommy is going to go out tonight. Remember, we still have our mommy-daughter date tomorrow since you are off school…”
Eva instantly smiled. “You took the day off?!”
“Yes ma’am! We’re gonna have a great time tomorrow.”
“Yep, just us girls!” Eva looked at Jackson. “Sorry, no boys allowed.”
Boys. Such an appropriate word. “I’m sure you’re dad will be fine. Go pack a bag, ok?”
“Ok, mama. Bye daddy!” Eva kissed Jackson on the cheek quickly before disappearing to her room.
Jackson waited until Eva’s door shut before he asked Urie, “Where are you going?”
“Why do you care? You’re going to Michigan, remember? And didn’t I ask you to leave?”
“You going out with those bitter, no-man-having friends of yours, ain’t you?”
“Tonight, where I go is not your concern.” Urie opened the door to her apartment. “Call me when you get there.”
“It’s like that, huh?”
“You wanted it like that. Call me when you get to Michigan. Have a safe trip.”
Jackson shook his head as he exited the apartment. He stole a quick kiss, which received no emotion from Urie at all. “Aight, have a good night with your bitter friends.”
Urie didn’t respond to his last statement. She simply shut the door and pulled her cell phone from her pocket. Urie got nervous as she scrolled through the numbers and arrived at Bryce’s number. The fear in her rose as the phone rang. I can’t believe I’m actually about to do this. She thought to herself.
“Well, hello, birthday girl! Are you enjoying your day?”
“I guess you can say that.” She paused for a moment, let out a quick sigh, and said “Um, listen, Bryce, about earlier…”
“You changed your mind?”
“I guess you can say that too.”
Bryce let out a cocky laugh. “So, Miss Urie, do you like Japanese food?”
About PLUS Inc.
PLUS Inc. is a multi-character drama following the lives of four friends. Taking place in Chicago, IL., the ladies – Parker, Lydia, Urie, and Sydney – face life as they hold each other up through the bonds of friendship.
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