leon tallis

My Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation

Whenever I have spoken up and out about issues that are important to me I have tried to do so in ways that illuminate the discussion, put it in historic and cultural perspective with love, empathy and understanding. I have never been interested in interpersonal attacks, feuds or ‘checking’ individuals publicly. Whether people perceive my work in that way or not, my intention is always to have conversations with love, empathy nuance and understanding.

When in answer to Andy Cohen’s question on “Watch What Happens Live” on July 12, “White girls and cornrows, yay or nay? "I said what I said in an attempt to not get involved in what I understood at the time to be an Instagram feud between someone with whom I was not familiar and Kylie Jenner on the topic of cultural appropriation. I have never been interested in getting involved in any celebrity feuds.

In that moment, I also felt that the topic of cultural appropriation needs way more than the 10 seconds or less I had to respond at the end of the show to fully unpack. I said as much to Andre Leon Tally after the cameras stopped rolling. So on camera with seconds left in a live broadcast I said, "Bo Derek” the first iconic example of a white woman wearing cornrows I could think of. To be clear I understood when I said, “Bo Derek” that her rocking of cornrows with beads in the 1979 film “10” and that look on her subsequently becoming a cultural phenomenon when the black folks who had been rocking cornrows for decades before her had not similarly become a sensation is an example of the ways in which what bell hooks calls imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchal systems privilege certain bodies’ performances of cultural traditions over others. This is when cultural appropriation can tend to erase the marginalized people from whom the culture emerges.

Many are taking me to task for not defending Amandla Stenberg who I now know is a 16 year old black actress known for her work in the “Hunger Games” who has spoken out quite eloquently on the topic of cultural appropriation. In researching Amandla’s work and words, I was very impressed with a video I saw from her on cultural appropriation where she chronicled a recent history of cultural appropriation and black hair specifically. (https://youtu.be/O1KJRRSB_XA)

I was most moved by the question she poses at the end of her video, a question I, too, have asked from lecture stages. “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”

For me this is the question at the heart of the discussion about cultural appropriation. What of the people whose culture is being mined for the ingredients that can be used in mainstream contexts to spice up the otherwise familiar recipes?

Far too often culture is appropriated without an understanding of the history and hardships from which that culture emerges. How do we lovingly make people aware of that history and the potential affects of cultural appropriation that further marginalize and stigmatize those already the most adversely affected by systems that disadvantage certain experiences, bodies and identities over others? These are points Amandla makes beautifully in her video.

We live in a multi-cultural society where being influenced by cultures different from ours is inevitable. But when the traditions and practices of marginalized communities are used by those in power and the material conditions of those who are marginalized are not changed individually and systemically this is when cultural appropriation is deeply problematic and even potentially exploitative.

These are some of my brief thoughts on cultural appropriation, thoughts that I felt needed a context different from the 10 seconds I had on live TV on Sunday night.

I am writing this in the hopes of continuing a dialogue about this issue in a loving, empathetic way that is not about individual attacks but about individual accountability. I always hope we can celebrate cultural differences without erasing those from whom the culture originates.

bell hooks in her essay “Eating The Other” talks about this way better than I can. Read it here: http://genius.com/Bell-hooks-eating-the-other-desire-and-resistance-annotated

youtube

An Emotional Rihanna Discusses Her CFDA Fashion Icon Award With Andre Leon Tally For Vogue.

Chapter 36.2

Chris POV

“Stalking Kelsy on instagram again?” Mijo asked taking a seat on the couch next to me.

“Who did it? Who mentioned the forbidden word?” Wackstar asked entering the living room with Red behind him.

“Nigga shut up.” I said, throwing a balled up piece of paper at him. “And looking isn’t stalking.” I said, looking back over at Mijo.

“What’s the forbidden word again? I forgot.” Red asked looking between Wackstar and myself.

“Kelsy.” Mijo answered, causing Wackstar to throw his hands up in the air. He’d been the one that I confided on when she left five months ago. We’ve been on good terms, but I kinda wished we could go back to how things were.

Kelsy was on the come up. I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing her. Magazines, billboards, music videos, red carpets. So busy, that her assistants were doing the exchanges with Elle whenever she came home to be with me.

Red leaned over me to peep at my computer. “Damn, Kelsy done grew up.” He said, sounding a little too thirsty for my liking.

“Aye nigga, chill out.” I warned, closing the computer. There was a lot to horse around about, but my girl and kid weren’t one of them.

“That’s a lot of jealousy for a person that initiated the break up.” Red said. As if I wasn’t eating my words already, he just had to point out the obvious. There wasn’t a moment when I didn’t think back to my bright idea and regret ever pushing Kelsy away.

She’s been New York based ever since, though she wasn’t officially moved out the house, it felt like she was. The last time she slept in our bed was five months ago. Our spacious home that was built for a family, was now vacant with the exception of Elle coming home every once in a while. I missed her so much, that most of the songs on my X album was about her.

Mijo patted my shoulder. “Bruh, get out ya feelings and piece your family back together man. These hoes out here doing the same shit, so don’t even start that you young talk.”

“Damn, Kelsy is fine as shit. When did she do all of this?” Wackstar said, sitting on the edge of the couch, looking over at Red phone. They’d pulled up my girl’s instagram page.

I stood up and snatched Red’s phone out of his hand. “I know my girl fine-”

“So does Fabolous.” Red mumbled loudly.

“And YG.” Wackstar added, causing him and Red to laugh like something was actually funny.

“You two bitch boys can find ya way to the door.”

“Dog lighten up, we just joking.” Wackstar said, trying to get me to calm down.

Without exchanging any other words with my overly playful friends, I got up and left the room. Privately in the kitchen, I called her.

Her phone rang to voicemail. “Hey you’ve reached Kelsy Waldron. Leave a detailed message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”

I leaned against the kitchen counter top. “Wassup big head, call me back when you get this. Oh, and good luck on the Wendy Williams show, I’ll be watching.”

●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●

In the backstage of the Wendy Williams show, my dressing room was packed. Joyce Bonelli, a celebrity make-up artist; most known for her outstanding work with the Kardashian/Jenner family and Nicki Minaj, was beating my face to the make-up gods. June Ambrose, my fairy fashion godmother and personal stylist, had me a chic look picked out. While, Vickie and I went over the remainder of the days itinerary.

A busy girl, I was.

“Did you submit the questions I don’t want to be asked?” I asked, closing my eyes so Joyce could apply more eyeshadow.

“Yes and the message has been passed along to Wendy herself. ”

“Perfect.”

Just as quick as I relaxed and my nerves seemed to calm. I felt a slap on my bare thigh. “Ma!”

I opened my eyes, causing Joyce to scalded me, and looked down at a half naked Elle.

“Connie.” I called out in between clenched teeth, picking Elle up, I sat her on my lap. Instantly, she began trying to reach for the make-up. Connie was the new nanny, being that Vickie and I had our work cut out for us.

“Yes, Ms.Waldron?” Connie replied rounding the corner with Elle’s dress in her hands.

“Connie, why isn’t she dressed and why is she in an area, I specifically asked you not to allow her?”

Connie sighed, her age defining lines visibly showing. “Ms.Waldron my apologies. Miss.Lyric has been very busy today. I put dress on, she takes it off. I tell her no, she doesn’t comply.”

Vickie, whom I’m sure noticed my irritation arising stepped in. “I’ll get her dressed, you focus on owning this interview.” Picking Elle up, they both left my prep area.

“I’ll go help.” Connie said.

“Do that, please.” I mumbled.

___________

“Well, hello.” Wendy said to me as the crowds cheers died down.

“How you doing Wendy?” I asked bending my wrist.

“I’m doing great, but let’s get a look at these shows. Show them off for the shoe cam.”

The crowd all gasped at my Christian Louboutin heel booties.

“So, I’m going to admit that us here at the Wendy show are really fascinated with you. Ok, so you first stepped on the scene when you were revealed as Chris Brown’s baby mother. Then, we soon found out that you were also, apart of the RocNation team. So how did all of that take place?”

I cleared my throat, “well, I was introduced to Jay and TyTy through a mutual friend. I had a business plan that they believed in and from there a long business partnership began.”

Wendy nodded her head. “Ok, so I have to ask, are you close with Beyoncé?”

“Well, Wendy. She and I have crossed paths and it has been nothing more than unconditional love and support. She really is the sweetest and like a big sister to me.”

“Okay and how are things between you and Chris? I’ve seen you in the New York streets frequently. Are you two dating from different states or what?”

I crossed my legs, getting comfortable on the couch. “We’re good. I’m mostly stationed here in New York because there’s alot of work that needs to be done.”

“And you’re definitely getting all of the work. Honey, your face is all over times square.”

“I was so shocked by that.” I admitted.

“ I bet you were, I mean becoming the face of forever 21 is big. Especially for your younger fans. So, back to Chris. Are you guys an item, coparenting, tell us something.” Wendy said, trying to get something juicy.

I put on a plastic smile. “We’re happy and if you haven’t, go get your copy of the X album available right now.”

“Mmhmm, good save. You really are a savvy publicist.” Wendy said nudging me. “So let’s talk about your precious baby girl Lyric.” Wendy said looking back at the photo they posted of Elle on the screen.

I smiled at the cute picture of Elle they’d captured of her and I leaving Saks fifth. “That’s my angel.”

“Let me to ya this, she’s so cute. I see such a perfect blend of you and Chris in her.”

“Thank you, but don’t let the cute face fool you. I have a feisty one on my hands.”

“So, how do you manage it all? I know you’ve been working with Drake, Fabolous, YG, Blac Chyna and many more A list celebrities. Like your Hollywood’s It girl and still you manage to raise such a beautiful baby girl.”

“Wendy, I have an amazing team. They pick up the slack when everything is going haywire. It’s important to me that Elle is everywhere I am, and with that being said. Without the support of those around me. I’d be burnt-out already.”

“So, I recently seen your spread for Vogue magazine and Andre Leon Tally, the former editor-at-large for Vogue, even named you as his favorite muse. How does it feel to make such big steps in your career?”

“It’s so surreal. I came into this industry focused solely on owning my own business.Yet, the man upstairs had bigger plans. I was featured in my good friend Micheal Costello’s ad campaign and from there many other offers came rolling in.”

“Mhm, now on to rumor control. I want to ask. How are you dealing with the rumors that you and Jay are sleeping together?”

“It makes me cringe. I mean he has a wife after all and I would never do something like that. Also, like I mentioned before, Jay and Bey are like my big brother and sister.”

___________

I turned off the television and looked over to TyTy, whom was already looking at me. “I’m not going to say it.” I said, walking into the kitchen.

“Nah bruh, gone say it. I deserve my props B.” TyTy replied, sitting at the kitchen bar.

He fought for Kelsy, nurtured her, and bloomed her into someone that the public loved. So if he wanted props for something I doubted, then so be it.

“You’ve created something special. Gave her a new speech, lighter hair, new clothes, and she’s repaid us by giving our brand a better image. Something that Rihanna, whom is your problem that you created was starting to tarnish.” Taking a sip of my water, I looked up at him. “Good job B.”

TyTy sat back in his chair, bathing in the glory. “I told you from the beginning that she’d be the one. A little rough around the edges, but with a little polish and push, the diamond will shine.”

“Indeed.”

“Okay, somebody tell me why is that lost looking girl claiming that we’re friends on the Wendy Williams show?” Beyoncé asked, walking into the Kitchen.

I pecked her lips, before she maneuvered around me to get her fruit out the fridge. “Ask TyTy.” I said, amused at his bewildered facial expression.

“Well?” Beyoncé asked closing the fridge door and looking at my oldest friend.

Rubbing his bald head, TyTy shifted his body in his seat. “Look sis, we gotta make it look like a family around here. These niggas in this industry waiting to hear about a fallen link in our chain. When you play nice with others Bey it shows you are secure and comfortable with yourself, man, and position. You hold the crown and we’re making sure you keep it.”

While he made a valid point, it didn’t fly so smooth with the Mrs. “TyTy, like I said. I don’t know that bitch.”

TyTy propped his elbows up on the bar, and tried to reason. “Ok, you don’t like Rhianna and the public is okay with it. As well as Kim Kardashian, but you do like Rita Ora -”

Beyoncé sat her fruit down on the counter top and leaned forward, closer to TyTy. “Because I know it’s not my husband that Rita is fucking.”

“Chill out you two.” I said, ending the entire conversation.

“Well, man I’ll catch you later.” TyTy said immediately standing up and slapping hands with me. “Sis.” He said giving Bey a hug and exiting the house.

TyTy was a big boy, he could roll with punches. So even though Bey’s statement got under his skin, he took the high road and left, still showing respect.

Once we were alone I glared at Beyoncé whom diverted her eyes down towards her fruit salad. “Did you really have to go there?”

Racking her fork throughout the salad, she rolled her eyes, humming ‘no angel’, purposely ignoring me.

“Bey, come on you didn’t have to go there. It’s not about me picking sides either. It was wrong and uncalled for.” I said, walking up and wrapping my arms around her waist.

Looking over her shoulder, back at me, she frowned. Her lips slightly pouted and natural face glowing, despite her present state of unhappiness, she still looked gorgeous. “Give me a kiss.”

She shook her head disagreeing, “No, because I don’t see what the problem is. He’s fucking Rita and I’d be damn if he tries to set you up with one of these thirsty fame whoring bitches.”

I leaned down to her earlobe, “I married the only woman I want. So I could never want her again. So I could have her until death do us part. Bonnie and Clyde, you know what’s up.”

Turning around to face me, she latched her arms around my neck, pecking my lips twice. Pulling away, her finger tips brushed against my cheeks, eyes locked on mine. “Just don’t forget how I ring alarms.”

Breaking our embrace she picked up her fruit and began walking out the kitchen. Turning around right before she was fully out of the doorway, she looked at me. “Oh, yeah and since I have new little sister that I didn’t adopt into my world, invite her for dinner. Tonight 8pm sharp. Oh, and TyTy and you aren’t invited.”

________

I laid in my bed, after two interviews today, video chatting with Chris. He’d left me a voicemail, sounding like a lost puppy, while I was at Wendy. Sadly, due to my schedule, I was just getting around to talking to him.

“She’s bad man, like really bad. Yesterday she took my phone and threw it in the toilet. Poor little Vickie was scurrying around trying to replace it all day.”

“She’s on her way to the terrible two’s bae. I think you just need to calm down a little, she’ll be good.” He reasoned.

I rolled my eyes, he was forever trying to take up for her antics. “She needs a spanking. At this rate, by the time she’s five we’ll have to hire the super nanny.”

Chris laughter brought a smile to my face. “I miss you Brown.”

He looked into the camera sincerely. “I miss you too baby.”

I rolled my eyes. “No you don’t. Stop lying.”

Licking his lips, Chris sighed. “I hate when you doubt me.”

“Yeah ok, I might not be there for the time being, but you bet not have any hoochies running around trying on my shoes and what not.”

“Im not even gonna comment on that. Come home and find out for yourself. How about that?”

“I’m good. We’re giving each other space. Remember?”

“Do you have to always be so damn technical?”

“You should start thinking before you speak, then maybe you wouldn’t beg for me to come back every time we talk.”

“I just want you to come home.”

“Yeah, well you’ll get to see me for your mom’s birthday.”

“Shit, I almost forgot I gotta be in Virginia on Friday.” He said scratching the back of his head.

“Shame and you call yourself her favorite child.”

“Shut up. What you getting her?”

“A gift. Oh and me and Elle won’t be in until Saturday morning.”

“Why Saturday? With ya smart mouthed ass.” Just as he asked his question the doorbell rang startling me.

Standing up from my bed and making my way towards the livingroom, I continued to talk to him. “Because I have a meeting, but look, someone’s at the door. I gotta go.”

Opening the door, I saw TyTy standing on the opposite side, with a bouquet of flowers for me. Ignoring the flowers, I pulled him in for a huge hug.

“Come on in.” I said taking the flowers out of his hand and moving out the way to let him into my home.

After closing and locking the door, I went into the kitchen to cut the stems and place the fresh roses in a vase. “TyTy, how do you think I did?” I asked, coming into the living room, getting comfortable on my sofa. He smiled and rubbed his bald head, slouching down into the love seat. “You did very well. I was pleased, Jay was pleased, and-“. He stopped and coughed. “Um, Bey was too. So, she, um wanted to invite you over for dinner tonight at 8.”

I was beyond flattered, but unfortunately I couldn’t get my hopes up. “Thanks, but I cant. Tonight I’m have some important things to tend to.”

TyTy shook his head, “Kelsy, when the bosses wife wants to rub shoulders with you, rub your shoulder back.”

I rolled my eyes, catching his drift, but refused to bag down. “I’m a busy woman TyTy. My schedule is damn near over booked. So no, tell her maybe some other time.”

TyTy sat up straight, looking at me. “Baby girl, if Beyonce wants you to have dinner, have it. Not everyone gets this opportunity, take it.”

“No.” I said. “Now, run along and deliver the unfortunate news.”

_________

I massaged my temples, while TyTy ran down the entire conversation he’d had with Kelsy about an hour ago. I opened my eyes, taking a deep breath.

“You know all of this is your fault right?” I said rocking back and forth in my home office.

TyTy frowned taking a sip of his congac. “How?”

I stood up from my chair, and made my way over towards the end of my desk taking a seat.

“I said make her sweat for it, you said give it too her on a silver platter. I said, keep her within a certain boundary. TyTy, you know what you did? You let her cross every fucking line ever drawn on this earth. So fix it TyTy, I don’t give a fuck if you have to pull ponies out your ass. Eight o’clock tonight she better be sitting her ass at my dining room table.”

TyTy stood from his seat, taking the last shot from his glass. “Jay man, I love you like a blood brother, but it’s not going to happen. This one I’m afraid, you’re gonna have to handle.”

“Pussy.” I said, before taking a swig of my D’usse’. “But, watch me handle this like a true professional.”

TyTy shook his head, “I don’t know man. You haven’t really been around Kelsy since before the tour kicked off. She’s a firecracker.”

It was true, my wife and I had traveled the world with our ‘on the run’ tour. During that time, Kelsy was left in the hands of TyTy and my assistant Sabrina. We hadn’t really crossed paths since, but I guess today was that day.

“Look who you talking to boy. I does this, just watch me work this right on out.” I said very sure of myself. I just couldn’t believe he’d actually accepted her refusal, assuming that my wife would take no for an answer.

_________________

The door swung open after knocking twice, Kelsy hair was pulled up into a sloppy bun. Her eyes scanned over me for a few seconds before I opened my mouth to speak. “You know, it’s rude to leave people standing outside.”

Moving out the way, she used her arm to gesture for me to come in. I stepped into the condo, impressed with the nice pad that TyTy had picked out for her. Beautiful city views, floor to ceiling windows, and a terrace wrapping around the entire square footage of the condo.

“Would you like some tea or coffee?” She offered, walking into the living room.

“No thanks, I won’t be here for long.”

She sighed, taking a seat on the couch. “So I take it that TyTy delivered my message.”

“To me, yes. To my wife, well, I think we would all love to live to see another peaceful day. So, no she didn’t receive your decline.”

“Jay, I am very grateful for all that you have done for me. Very grateful, but I just can’t make it tonight.”

“Of course you can and you will.”

Kelsy, sighed. “Jay, why is it so important that I have dinner with your wife?”

"If you plan on staying apart of this family. It’s important that you rub the right shoulders and make good impressions.”

“And what is of benefit for you and TyTy? I mean it has to be something to gain, am I right? Why else would you show up at my door?”

“Our, door Kelsy. You mean our door.” Walking over to the window, still able to see her reflection through the glass, I focused on the city surrounding the massive building. “Every single move you make has my signature trademark attached. Thirty percent of what you make belongs to me .” Turning around to look her in the eye, she maintained a poker face, but the red undertone of her skin was a dead give away she wasn’t happy.

"Well.” She said standing to her feet, adjusting her oversized sweatshirt. “Mr.Carter, by all means I do understand your obsessive compulsive disorder with control and power, but what you should know by now is that I’m not easily swayed.”

“Not easily swayed huh?” I asked condescendingly. “Perhaps this brand new attitude took place after I had you bent over my desk begging for me to go harder.”

Her eyes grew larger in size. “I was in a different space then-

“Tomatoe, Tomato. It’s all the same shit. The first time we were pissy drunk, blame it on the alcohol. The second time though, you were sober and fully aware of what was taking place. Your little boyfriend broke up with you and whose arms did you run into? Now whose at fault?”

“Okay and you took full participation in the adulterous activities as well, only difference is you have too much on the line for this to get out.”

“And you think you don’t?” I laughed, “Your like a baby piranha trying to keep up with adult sharks. You’ll never win. So, you will attend this dinner make my wife suspect that we aren’t fucking and continue on with the life of luxury I provided for you.”

She folded her arms. “And if I don’t?”

I chuckled. “I think the word blackballed best fits this scenario.”

Kelsy folded her arms across her chest, shifting her weight. “Dinner and that’s it.” Racking her hands through her hair she, allowed me to lead the way to the door. “Oh and next time, just send TyTy.”

I chuckled, opening the door. “No more mister nice guy, you’ll be reporting to me from now on.”

___________

5 days later

My mom told me that the new car that I’d purchased for her birthday was nice, but the best gift was on it’s way here any minute now. My daughter, her grandchild, Elle.

She’d stocked the house up with goodies and all of the things she knew Elle would love. The excitement was radiating off of her, shuffling around the house to make sure Kelsy and Lyric’s stay would be comfortable.

“Christopher, I done told you once. If you want to lay around on that game then take it to your room. In here flattening my couch pillows.” She fussed, picking one up to fluff it.

Focused on the game, I ignored her nagging until I reached the goal. “Touchdown!” I yelled tossing the controller on the floor and doing a victory dance. “That right there is what greatness looks like ma.”

She rolled her eyes at me before walking back into the kitchen. Being home bound for the weekend was a therapeutic outlet for me. Traveling alone, for the first time in a while, left me with enough time to bond with my family.


Sitting down to start another game, the doorbell rang soon as I was paired with a partner. “They’re here.” My mom sang. Rushing to the door, swinging it open. “Come here granny’s baby. ” She cooed taking Elle out of Kelsy’s arms.

“Chris get your tail out there and bring in their bags.” Mom demanded, carrying Elle on her hip. Sighing, I paused the game, dragging my body off the couch, kissing my baby’s fat cheeks on the way out.

Expensive shades covering her eyes, hair pulled back in a silky ponytail. Kelsy stood in front a black SUV next to the unloaded luggage texting on her phone with a stainless steel water bottle tucked under her arm. Playfully grabbing her phone and holding it above my head she cursed me for playing to much.

“Give me a kiss.” I negotiated.

Holding her head, she groaned. “I’m tired and not in the mood Chris. Give me my damn phone.”

I smiled, knowing that I was under her skin. “You mad?”

Rolling her eyes, she mumbled something before opening her water bottle taking a small sip. “When you done acting like a five year old, I’ll be inside waiting on my phone.”

“Oh, you real mad huh?” I said, in a loud sarcastic tone while stuffing her phone in my pocket. In return, she slammed the front door. “Fuck is her problem?” I asked, looking at the driver whom hunched his shoulders.

Grabbing the few bags she traveled with, I went to open the door that had mysteriously been locked. This had nothing, but Kelsy name written all over it.

“Momma!” I yelled, ringing the doorbell.

How the fuck she gone lock me out my own momma house?

___________

Elle looked taller since the last time I’d actually seen her outside of the frequent video calls we had. Her vocabulary was expanding and with all of those things came independence. Which I knew I was going to have a hard time with.

“Look Chris, she almost has a full mouth of teeth.” My mom said, pulling me out of my thoughts. Her and Elle were sitting on the love seat playing when in fact they were supposed to be watching the Disney Frozen movie. We all were, but while I was sitting here in physical presence, my mind was focused on Kelsy.

She’d came in and somewhat instantly slipped into her room and hadn’t came out since. That was five hours ago.

“I know, she looks bigger too.”

Mom kissed Elle’s cheeks. “Wait till Tootie see her. She’s going to go crazy.”

“Yeah, but ugh, it’s six o’clock. You think I should go check on Kels?” I asked, somewhat looking for permission to bother her if that makes sense. Better yet, a safety net just in case I needed an excuse.

“Boy let her rest. She’s probably tired.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” I mumbled. Slouching down in my seat, my focused shifted back onto the television. I was excited and nervous at the same time. It had been months since I’d actually seen her. Up until now, I actually hadn’t given it much thought, being under the same roof though was different.

Just as my patience reached it’s thinnest point, Kelsy appeared in the great room frantic. “MJ, I’m so sorry. I-I just laid across the bed and all I remember is waking up. I know she’s a handful I’ll take-“

Mom held her hand up. “Kelsy take a chill pill. I would be very unpleased if you’d come here and not let me take over like a grandmother should. If you’re still tired, sleep. Do something other than worry about Lyric because she and I have a whole weekend planned.”

Kelsy exhaled, visibly relaxing. “MJ if you should need a break-”

“Kelsy goodbye, your killing our vibe.” My mom said sounding like the typical old person trying to use slang. “Ain’t that right granny girl?” She said, looking for Elle to cosign.

Surrendering, Kels bagged off announcing that she was going to get some work done.Never making eye contact nor acknowledging me. When she left the room, my mom made sure the coast was clear before she began speaking.

“Well that was awkward.”

“What you mean?” I asked, finally interested in a conversation for the first time in five hours.

“Oh, you know exactly what I mean. If you don’t use your context clues, your a smart boy.”

I didn’t reply, not because she’d actually had a valid point, in which she did, but my pocket vibrating caught me off guard especially when my phone was sitting on my lap. That’s when I remembered that I’d never returned Kelsy’s phone to her.

Pulling it out of my pocket, I’d just missed the caller ID of whomever was calling. Staring at the black screen for a while, tempted to open Pandora’s box. I would be a liar if I was to say that I didn’t want to ransack her phone.

I was consumed with questions. What was she doing? Who was she? Who was the person she spoke with most frequently? What dirty little secrets lie encrypted in her text message history?

Still, I couldn’t bring myself to actually go through her personal information. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t. The phone ringing again, caught my attention. Looking at the name Jay flashing across her screen, I felt better about my decision. Kelsy wasn’t capable of doing half the things I’d done to her, so for me to assume or even entertain that thought was senseless.

“I’m about to go take Kels her phone.” I mumbled to my mom before heading upstairs.

____________

Six o’clock turned into the wee hours of the morning quick and somehow, I laid awake in my bed trying to figure Kelsy out. By now, even if we were on bad terms, one or the other would’ve been crept into one of these rooms. We hadn’t talked much besides the forced conversation over dinner and even then she seemed spaced out. In a trance at times. Taking small sips from her water bottle.

I wanted sex, but from the looks of things that was the furthest thing from Kels mind. I wanted to talk, laugh, and joke; like old times. Her standoffish attitude forced me to fall back though.

She just seemed off, lifeless almost; unhappy.

_____________

I pulled out a bottle of Vodka from my luggage, refilling the stainless steel water bottle that I’d concealed my alcoholic beverages in during my trip.

It calmed me, at least helped numb the pain. Was this the price of fame? Was this actually the road I claimed?

I couldn’t tell Vickie, nobody to share my secrets with. So, slow sips of vodka and sprite was what helped me cope, since I had no one to talk too.Every sober moment, I cried. Sobriety was what made it all the more real.

Being here with Chris, made me feel some type of way. Holding a secret away from him made it even worse. He was my best friend, but I just could tell him the very bad choices I made in New York.

▪▪

Flashback

The peak of my climax seemed to leave me feeling breathless and lonely. The point of being in a relationship was to avoid nights just as such, but with Chris being on one coast, I on the other. Masturbation seemed to be my go to source for curving my sexual appetite.

The clitoral simulation had served it’s purpose, but left me still yearning for more. The feeling of another on top of me, surprising me with different paces, pulling my hair, trailing kisses down to my navel.

My phone ringing pulled me out of the sexual trance, noting that it was a work call. Covering my bare bottom half, as if anyone could see, I answered in hurry.

“Hello?”

“Hey Kels, it’s Sabrina. I apologize for the late night call, but Drake just landed in New York and he wanted your address. I know you gave orders for me to keep certain information private.”

I sat up in the bed, reaching over to turn on the lamp on my nightstand. “Why didn’t he just call me?”

“Maybe he wants to surprise you.”

“What a way to spoil it, if that’s the case.”

Sabrina’s lighthearted laugh echoed through the phone. “You’re such a bitch. Maybe that’s why he didn’t call you.”

“Not bitchie enough, since he’s trying to locate me.”

“So, what’s the verdict?”

“I’ll handle it. Thanks for the heads up, keep this up and I’ma be forced to steal you from Jay.”

“Double my salary and we might have a deal.”

“Don’t tempt me babe. I just might call your bluff.” After a few more exchanges, I hung up the phone and dialed Aubrey.

________

Drake was on his way over and I was taking a quick wash up, out of the bathroom sink. A little too anxious, rushing to make sure every area on my body was clean, just in case because a girl could never be too sure.

He used his charm. Swindling me out of my address with funny jokes and smooth dialogue. Now I was running around my room trying to find the right outfit. Something that looked great on me, but not like I tried to hard.

From: Aubz-Jimmy-Drizzy

Just pulled up.

Tossing my phone back on my bed, I slipped on a tank and rushed to the livingroom. Connie, Elle’s new nanny, startled me; crocheting and watching the first 48 on the couch.

Clutching my chest, I put on a fake smile. “Connie, what are you doing up so late?” I asked hoping she would catch my drift and relocate without me having to just flat out say it.

She cut her eyes at me over her reading glasses. “I’m always up around this time.” She glanced down at my socked feet traveling up to the soft make up I applied. “Going somewhere MS . Waldron?”

Maybe it was the age difference, she was older than my mother, but younger than my Gammie. Connie’s inquisitive look made me feel obligated to explain myself.

“I’m having company that’s all.” I said, just as three knocks were applied at my door.

Connie and I locked eyes, turning off the television she gathered her yarn tote and tea. “I’ll be in my room and listening out for Miss. Lyric.”

Smoothing over my hair, I opened the door with a wide smile on my face. He looked good. Facial hair perfectly lined, messy curls; smelling intoxicating. When he embraced me, snaking his arm around my waist, I melted in his arms.

Something about a man’s touch

Breaking away from him, while inappropriate scenarios invaded my mind. I diverted my attention on moving out of the way so he could enter the condo.

“This is dope.” He said, looking around the newly built condo.

I smiled, it was something about the ones that seen you down, witnessing you do good. To me, it was the ultimate pat on the back.

“Thanks.” Awkwardly, I took a seat on the couch. I’d been around Aubrey during my pregnancy and after. We’d shared the same bed to sleep in and occasionally made out, but something about the full moon tonight had me feeling like a school girl.

Him taking a seat next to me made me turn on the television; a way to ease any tension. If all else failed, I could pretend to be into whatever was airing at the moment.

I could feel his eyes glued on me, as I tried to focus on old reruns of Martin . Reaching out, his index finger swiped a stray strand of hair out of my face.

Shifting away slightly, a nervous giggled escaped my lips. “So, what was so important at one in the morning?”

Stretching his arm out on the back of the sofa, trailing his fingertips along my exposed shoulder. He looked me in the eyes as if he was searching for something in them. “You’ve always been beautiful, but just looking at you right now. My god, your gorgeous.”

“I’ve always been gorgeous. You’re just finally opening your eyes.”

“They’ve never been closed whenever you were in my presence.”

“Riight.” I said sarcastically, rolling my eyes.

Placing his index finger gently under my chin, he turned my face towards his. Placing a small kiss on my lips, my mind went blank and in that moment I let go.

TO BE CONTINUED