John Updike -
"We are fated to love one another; we hardly exist outside our love, we are just animals without it, with a birth and a death and constant fear between. Our love has lifted us up, out of the dreadfulness of merely living."
The clock struck midnight but the night was still young. Leila and her friends were leaving the club when they ran into a bunch of guys from the university. One of them, whom Leila had a crush on, was named Ike. Ike, although a recent transfer, became popular very quickly because he was uber-smart and very fine. He had skin like the finest of imported chocolate and a smile was so bright it could melt butter. The rugged good looks of Idris Elba and the brain of Mark Zuckerberg made him a hot commodity around campus, and Leila wanted him like a bad habit. Leila however, was too shy, self-conscious, and disinterested in college hookups to get her fix.
Leila was a very pretty girl. Curvier than a cheerleader, she was smart, bookish, and driven as the day is long. Guys on campus were attracted to her, but they had about as much depth as a shallow pond. Often, they treated her like an afterthought because Leila was not going to put out. It wasn’t like Leila was a virgin; she was simply a hopeless romantic who was over how guys on campus acted with girls after being with them, and wanted something more tangible in her relationships. Leila was pretty aware that she was not built for that kind of heartbreak, and decided early on that she wanted no parts of the mental torture. As the girls chatted up the guys, Leila comfortably melted into the background, whilst being completely unaware someone in the group was not falling for her shenanigans. Leila did not know, such was her beguiling naïve beauty, that Ike clocked her from the moment she first crossed his path, and he wanted Leila just as bad, if not more.
The guys asked the girls what they were getting into for the rest of the night. One of the Greek organizations on campus was having a house party, so they invited Leila and her friends to join them. Initially, the girls were going to hit a bar for last call, but an invite by hotties to a party with free drinks seemed like a much better alternative. The girls, having taken an Uber to the club, were offered a ride by the guys. Leila, although she liked Ike, was not comfortable with the notion of getting into a car with a bunch of strange men who had been drinking half the night in order to get close to her crush. Leila said she would catch up with them at the party but Ike, who had not yet exchanged words with Leila at the point, offered to call an Uber and ride with her for safety purposes. In reality, Ike did not want Leila to suddenly change her mind and go home, but Leila was none the wiser. Ironically, Leila, while body-rolling in her mind to Wild Thoughts at the prospect of being alone in a car with Ike, simply responded “okay.”
After everyone had dispersed to the cars, and while Leila and Ike were waiting for the Uber, she blurted out shyly, “You didn’t have to stick around. I would have been fine on my own.” Ike smirked and shook his head because he could not understand her self-deprecating nature. He considered himself to be extremely lucky to be alone with her to put it lightly. Ike was completely aware of his appeal to women, and while sometimes tempting, he was over the mindless assignations. Ike’s parents met in college and knew pretty quickly that they were right for each other. Not a day went by, through thick and thin, sickness & health, fights etc., where his parents ever regretted a single year of a single day together. Ike grew up in a household with great parents who taught him everything good and hard about what love meant, what it could be, and what he could make it. Ike wholeheartedly wanted that kind of love for himself. He, like Leila, was a romantic, just not the hopeless one…the healthier kind.
Shaking himself out of his inner reverie, Ike realized that Leila was still muttering about “inconveniencing him.” He wanted to lay a deep passionate kiss on her to cut off her ramblings, but he knew the kind of woman she was. Ike knew that if he wanted any chance of getting close to her heart, and remaining there, it had to be on her own terms. Ike, ever a patient man, told Leila it was cool and that he was happy to wait with her when the Uber rolled up. He opened the car door for Leila who got inside, and slid across the seat so he could have room. After thanking him for getting the Uber and holding the door, Leila nervously turned to look out the window. The two reached the party very quickly, were greeted by their friends at the door, and were immediately separated thereafter.
Leila’s friends pushed her straight for the bathroom, launching a million and one questions, to which Leila reminded them that she had only been gone for 15 minutes on a public street and accompanied by an Uber driver. She assured them that there was not nearly enough time to get knocked up and engaged. Leila’s friends figuring that she was clueless about Ike’s interest in her rolled their eyes. After everyone touched up their makeup, they all returned to the party.
Thirty minutes passed before Leila and Ike’s paths crossed again, or better yet, until Ike orchestrated their next interaction by waiting close by for a dance and a song that Leila responded to. The DJ was finally finding his groove and Leila, after having a drink, was comfortable enough to get on the dance floor to move her body a little. The next song in the lineup was clearly her song because Leila began sensually whining her hips:
We ah sip the Henny for the day baby
Bad man, we no stray baby
Oops I done fell for your way baby
I know girl but, everyone falls…
At that moment in the song, Ike walked up to Leila and slowly started to dance with her face to face to make sure she was okay with it. Leila, still wanting Ike like a bad habit, was very okay with it and wrapped her arms around his neck while he placed his palms on her waist:
Everyone falls in love sometimes
I don’t know ‘bout you but it ain’t a crime
Neefi let me love you, love you love you for long time baby
Neefi let me touch you, neefi let me love you ‘till the morning, oh…
Mmm, ah, mmm, ah, mmm, if you let me love you…
We ah sip that Henny for the day baby
Come my, my way baby
Top down on the highway baby
And if you let me love you, wait
Shawty she ain’t even got a visa
Out of town, one night teaser
Need to tell them other…ease up
I’m falling but everyone falls…
The two moved like they were made for each other, in tandem, to the song. Some partygoers were equally feeling the groove and grinding to the music. Others watched Ike and Leila dance, sensing something special, different, and beautiful between the two and were unable to tear their eyes away. One partygoer, however, was hidden in the shadows and not so enchanted by their connected and magnetic pairing. They seethed with a dark foreboding promising pain. Their furious gaze and intense anger was unstable and focused entirely on the couple.
…TO BE CONTINUED.
bitter chocolat (2017)