It’d been close to three weeks since I’d talked to Marcus. When he came to pick up Zana and Finley for their move he’d only given me a courteous hello. We talked a little about getting them settled. We’d decided that only one of us would go this time since it’d be a drive instead of flying in order to get their stuff cross country. When he got back, I’d expected him to come pick up the quads for his visit, but he sent me a text asking if I was okay to keep them for another week. I didn’t know what to make of things. I’d thought that night we’d made some headway, that we’d gotten over that wall and could be on the path to working things out finally, but now I didn’t have any clue where things stood.
As I rounded the corner of his street, I wondered if we’d finally have some sort of conversation about us or if he would just take them then ask me to leave. He’d moved clear across town in his attempt to get as far away from me as possible. The townhouse he rented was in a nice area. There was a park across the street which was good since he had virtually no yard. I didn’t know what his long term plans were, for a short while the fact that he didn’t go and buy a place was my comfort during the lonely nights right after he’d moved.
I didn’t want to acknowledge the real reason; he was eager to go and renting was a hell of a lot faster than buying. In the months following, we’d not discussed his long term plans, so for all I knew he could be house hunting now, looking to put down permanent roots in a home he wasn’t going to share with me.
Pulling into his driveway sent my nerves into overdrive. Taking a deep breath, I steadied my nerves before sending him a text so he’d know I was here, then got out to start unbuckling carseats. Marcus used to be the person that would make all these feelings of uncertainty and fear go away. Now he caused them any time I was faced with being around him.
“You’re early,” I heard him say from behind. He walked around to the other side of the car and started getting Graham free from his seat.
He was freshly showered. The faint scent of his soap lingered in the air. I could see droplets of water still on his skin as if he’d dressed in a hurry.
“Oh, sorry. It’s not that early and you haven’t seen them in weeks, so…”
“No, it’s fine.”
Marcus smiled at our son who responded with excited leg kicking. Marcus always seemed most at ease when interacting with our children. It was something I never got tired of seeing. Just as they say some women are born to be mothers, the same can be said for some men. Marcus was a man that slipped into fatherhood easily. I admired that about him. I struggled in my role as mom, messed up a lot along the way, but him, he just embraced it from day one. Part of me was envious of how he just did parenthood right with no hiccups.
As we entered the house, I smelled her before I saw her. She walked over to Marcus, wearing a large smile, taking Gabby from him. She seemed familiar with my child, too familiar for my liking. He wanted to dictate who I could or couldn’t have around our children yet here he had some woman here and I doubted this was the first time. He had some woman here and he didn’t tell me.
The way she looked at Marcus, she seemed pretty familiar with him too. I thought about reading her mind, but I didn’t want to know. If there was something there, I didn’t want those images in my head. She looked barely older than Finley and the way she was dressed…if she moved the wrong way, her breasts looked like they’d fall out of that top. And those pants, they couldn’t get any more fitted if they were painted on. I remembered how Florence was dressed when I saw her. Everything was short, tight, and exposed way too much skin. This is what he gravitated to when not with me?
I got the girls situated in the playpen doing my best to ignore her as much as she was trying to ignore me. I couldn’t recall a time I was so eager to get away from Marcus as I was right now. Don’t make a scene. Don’t make a scene…I kept repeating to myself. How could he not have told me? If he wanted out, all he had to do was file for divorce. Instead he chose to play games with me. Intentionally looked for the maximum ways in which he could make me feel everything I’d put him through.
“Amari, I wanted to…”
“I have to go,” I blurted out.
Marcus held onto my arm as I started to walk out. “I can’t get five minutes?”
I shook my head. He ran so hot and cold, wanting things on his schedule and I was just supposed to comply. He couldn’t spare five minutes for me the last few weeks, but now he wanted to act like I was in the wrong for being ready to leave and not talk to him. I let out a slow breath. As much as I wanted to say so many things to him, I held them in. I wanted to yell and scream at him, to let him know he’d won and I wasn’t playing this game anymore, but I said nothing. I would not put my feelings out there in front of whoever that was.
“No,” I replied, removing my arm from his grip.
I heard him tell her to give him a minute before he was calling after me. Then he was in front of me, blocking my get away path and having the audacity to look pissed.
“I’m not doing this with you now Marcus!”
“Doing what? I only wanted to…”
“I don’t care what you wanted to do! Whatever you seem so eager to tell me now could have been said weeks ago, but instead you chose to barely speak to me. Again! So I don’t want to hear it now. You have left my children up there with that…person. A stranger, and I’m not comfortable with that, so go take care of my children. Whatever it is you needed to tell me has apparently waited this long, so it can keep waiting a while longer.”
I stepped around him, and again he took hold of my arm. “Stranger? What stranger? Jenelle…”
“Jenelle? I was expecting something like Roxy or Diamond, you know something more fitting of a stripper.”
“Stripper? What the hell are you talking about? She has a bachelor’s in Early Childhood development and is working on her masters. She’s help, Amari, for when I have them.”
I pulled my arm free. “Dressed like that, and with the stench of lust clinging to her like a second skin, I’m sure she’s very helpful.”
He made no move to stop me as I climbed into the car. As I drove away, I didn’t want to think about him there with her. I didn’t want to think about her taking care of my kids. I didn’t want to think about how Marcus didn’t bother trying to deny that woman was attracted to him.
Hell he was probably just as attracted to her. Who wouldn’t be when she put all she had on display like that, and she had a lot to display. I looked down at my own, much smaller bust, the word voluptuous had never been used to describe me and that never bothered me until now. Florence was endowed and curvy just like that girl at his house. My thoughts wandered to what the other women he dated might have looked like.
“Help. If he really needed help, why did he have to get someone that looked like her?”
I understood, taking care of them alone wasn’t easy. Now that Finley was gone, life with the quads was a little more difficult. Hell I’d thought about getting a part-time nanny for the same reason. We could have talked about it, maybe even found someone willing to travel back and forth with the quads when we switched off. Even if he didn’t want to do that, why couldn’t he find some grandmotherly type of woman to help him? Why did he have to hire someone that looked like her? More importantly, why didn’t he tell me? Why did he wait to spring this on me? Was this just another way for him to try and punish me?
“Jenelle.” Her name tasted as bitter as I felt in this moment.
My phone started ringing, glancing down I saw Marcus’ number flashed on the screen. The ringing stopped only to start again.
“Is it the guilt that has you so eager to speak to me?” I asked to the air. This time when it stopped, it didn’t start again, but the voicemail chime dinged shortly after.
I drove, not feeling the desire to go home, but unsure of where I wanted to be instead. My aimless driving took me in the direction of the interstate. Putting on my blinker, I eased into the light traffic. For so long my life had been about doing what others wanted, what they needed because everyone needed something from me.
Everyone came first, always so many balls in the air for me to juggle. Every choice made was somehow wrong. I’d spent so much time just keeping my head above water, trying to make everyone around me happy. I was simply reacting to life and the events as they happened, any control I thought I had over my life was an illusion.
**Thanks to Daijah for building the interstate for me. :) It gave Amari just what she needed to run away. LOL**