Old Shambles, Wellington Inn (public house) c. 1870s
Dates back to 1552 when Edward VI was on the throne. At that time it was situated in the Market Place and Shambles. It is now the oldest building in Manchester. It’s been picked up & moved twice & it’s still standing!
LaToya and Jermaine entered the South Beach mansion together a little after one o'clock in the morning. The entire house was silent, no lights on, and it made LaToya shift closer to him. She knew now, there was nothing to worry about, but still for something or someone to be too quiet was never good.
Instead of wasting time, Jermaine led them straight to the third floor to the master bedroom. LaToya closed the door behind them, but didn’t move another muscle in the direction of him.
Since the moment he stepped in her house, he ignored her. No looks, no stares, no contact, no communication. Jermaine spoke with Zanea while LaToya stood to the back, observing everything. Every word he spoke, was said in her ear. Whatever he was doing was working though and that was for sure. Not long after his presence did Zanea bow and surrender her guns.
Surprisingly she never tried to use them. When LaToya walked in, she sat directly I’m front of the door as expecting her. The guns were closely put on each side of her body with the safety was on for both. To say she was shocked was an understatement, but Zanea started it off. The first words she spoke was to inform LaToya that Chance knew where she was and was most likely on his way and so was Jermaine. They don’t have long to speak if that was the plans.
Even with a statement like that Zanea stayed calm. Her voice never rose, she never threaten LaToya in their time, and she only rose when cars started to pull up. When LaToya tried to reach for her gun, their eyes locked. Zanea pulled them with her mumbling lowly that LaToya wouldn’t take those too. She already had taken Jermaine. There was no response before the door burst open and Jermaine walked in.
As if he had seen a ghost, his body froze and he starred at her. Even he knew she was loaded on some kind of substance rather alcohol or drugs she was high. Her body was pale and she looked weak. Nothing like her normal feisty, arrogant self. Slowly he approached her, his voice a low whisper as he read her the rights and wrongs of what she had done. He made sure to explain police weren’t and wouldn’t be involved, but he wasn’t afraid to do whatever it took to protect what was his.
Eventually she was in her submissive stance; her head bowed to the floor, sitting back on her legs, and hands behind her back. Jermaine grabbed the guns and went to the door. Even in that split second when he could have looked and acknowledged LaToya he choose not to. Chance entered, his eyes locking with LaToya as the two of them took each other in. But even he didn’t speak.
When Jermaine was back, Grey walked in and went straight to LaToya. He escorted her out the house, ignoring her comments of not wanting to leave. The car she chose to get away in was Jermaine’s red and black Audi R8, but he wouldn’t give her that satisfaction; so she put into the back seat of a black Tahoe.
Grey got in the front and the two sat in an awkward silence as they waited for Chance, Zanea, and Jermaine to exit the house. A red Escalade was parked in front of them waiting for Chance and Zanea and Jermaine got in the R8. The entire ride LaToya wondered where they going as they drove around Wellington.
Eventually her unanswered thoughts were answered as all three cars pulled up to Hampton Inn & Suites Wellington. Jermaine exited his car before Zanea and Chance got out and help her into the hotel. Five minutes into the wait Grey announced that she could go wait in the Audi. Her mind contemplated if it would be at her best interest, but overall she didn’t have much of a choice.
By the time she had made her mind up Chance was already walking out, heading towards his car. He shot Grey a quick peace sign before he looked over LaToya again. This time she didn’t return the contact. Obviously he too was upset and there was no need for that. If she could explain why everyone would understand, but who wanted to listen or better yet believe her at the moment.
Then he approached her. His facial expression said he understood why she was going out, but his tone said an entirely different story. He wasted no time getting to the point that leaving was an bad idea. All he wanted her to know was that she had to hold on and be strong. Jermaine was a handful, but he was a handful for a reason. And with that he was walking away. He started his truck and left the parking lot.
Her eyes wondered to the entrance doors, but she made no sudden movements towards it; no matter what her head spoke out she stayed outside and eventually opened the door to get inside. The keys were still in the ignition and with it being in the middle of July in Florida, some air was needed.
It took him over an hour to exit the hotel doors. When LaToya noticed him she fasten her seatbelt as she tried her hardest to stop her body from shaking. It’s a shame she could feel his anger from inside the car. She watched as he signaled for Grey to leave the parking lot and then he got in the driver seat.
Still he said nothing even as he eased out the parking spot and to the highway. The only sound between them was his is occasional phone conversations. Three or four took place, but only she could make out what was being said from his end of the conversation. The only one she really understood through his short spoken answers was about getting his G-Class back to his house. From his end of the phone call she could tell he was speaking to Max and LaToya wondered at the moment where Terrance was.
They spent the next few hours riding around, making random stops before they once again ended up at the hotel where Zanea was staying. Jermaine didn’t even have to tell her not to get out at this stop. He indicated she’ll be staying by keeping the car running as he exited to grab bags. Another hour went by before he finally made his way back to the car. This time they were going home and she only hoped that she could roll out of the car to run to her own home, but after today she’ll be lucky if he doesn’t force her to sell it.
Now they are in his house, all alone, and the tension is even higher. Jermaine is in the closet, undressing from the suit to get ready for a shower. As he removed his pants the velvet box fell to the ground and low groan left his throat. He bit his bottom lip as he picked it up and peeked inside. The bracelets were left in the truck that was now outside and he made a mental note to go out there and get them.
Jermaine placed the box on his side of the closet behind a stack of folded shirts, making sure it was hidden. Deep down he knew he’ll give it to her, but right now anger, him being terrified, and disappointment over ruled his mind. When he was ready she’ll be forgiven, but right now he’s upset.
While he showered, LaToya got herself ready for bed. But for obvious reason the room didn’t have it’s same warmth to it and that made her leave with her stuff in hand. She knew downstairs their was a marvellous view in one of guest rooms so that’s where she went.
First thing she did was opened the curtains. The city lights shined through the window at the room given all the light that was needed. As she stripped down she decided to shower, clean herself up, and then soak in the tub to relax herself. Right now all the fingers were pointed at her, or so it felt and for at least an hour or so she just wanted to escape from that feeling.
She used her black soap bar in the shower clean herself and the Jasmine liquid soap to soak in. Her hair was pulled into a high bun as her head rested against the tub. Her eyes were closed, her mind racing with thoughts. Randomly the thought of Jermaine hating her popped up and she wondered if it was possible. She knew it was wrong and most importantly childish, but every chance she had to apologize he shut them down not with words, but the distance he gave her.
What was even crazier was the words Zanea and Chance told her. One telling her she was the cause of it while the other told her to hold on to Jermaine. She knew Zanea was out of it, anyone could tell, but that didn’t take away from the hurt. They say a drunk men speaks a sober man thoughts and rather she’s drunk or not that’s the idea that comes to LaToya mind. Then Chance telling her to hold on makes her even more aware of her actions.
There’s no hiding she’s in love, but even with that there’s has to be some space. Since that rainy day that Jermaine found his way on her door step they have been inseparable. He was there when she got to her room in Atlanta, stayed everyday, left for a few hours for this exact situation, and then she was on a flight to him, from there they spent everyday together minus the few hours with her mother, and he just admitted to loving her. It was an understatement to say she needed to wrap her mind around everything going on, but she went about it the wrong way and as a grown women she could admit to that. But the “silent treatment” is just as childish as her running to her house earlier.
Thankfully LaToya set her timer for an hour or she would have sat in the tub for another hour. Carefully she stood, grabbed the towel hanging for her, and wrapped it around herself. She drained the water, cleaning the tub afterwards, before drying herself off.
Today she followed her normal routine even in a new bathroom. Figuring she’ll use the bathroom the next few days she pushed everything against the counter and put on her lace panties and slipped the over size “dance is life” UM shirt on. LaToya combed through her colored strings, a smile on her face as she eyed the waves forming. Once it pulled back up into a bun, she figured it was okay for the night.
Her stomach growled loudly making her eyes go big.
“Shit,” she remembered there hadn’t been any food eaten since the burgers they had and that was over twelve hours ago. “I’ll go find something later.”
The sound of the bedroom door opening caused her to pause in her steps and seconds later she was staring at Jermaine. Just from his facial expression she knew what he was thinking.
Closing the door, he finally held her eye contact, making her wonder what was he thinking about doing. For so long he ignored her and now he can’t seem to look anywhere else. As if someone else was there he locked the door before walking to her. His body was still tensed which made her worry, even as he took a step behind her.
They looked at each other through the bathroom mirror. Slowly he lowered his head and LaToya eased back against his chest, but quickly he straighten his stance.
As if he had hit her across the face, LaToya moved away. At the moment she no longer cared. If he planned to ignore and torture her then she’ll go home.
When she reached for the doorknob, he started to shake his head.
“Don’t. If you really wanna piss me off then go ahead, but I can tell I’m scaring the hell out of you already so if I was you I’ll let the shit go.” He watched as her hand drop from the door. Walking to her, Jermaine took note of the goose bumps forming on her body. As he stepped closer, she went against the door.
“That hurt didn’t it, LaToya?” He rarely uses her full name letting her know right then this wasn’t going to be simple for her. Not only that, but he wasn’t loud. Low voice with an irritated facial expression. “To have me back away from you was like a slap to the face, huh? Well, Babygirl that’s the same feeling I’ve been dealing with all damn day. It’s a fucking slap to the face to know every word I said you took it and tossed it back at me. Basically telling me to kiss yo’ ass because you were going to do whatever you wanted to do no matter how much fucking danger it would put you in.” For the first time since she met Jermaine, LaToya saw a new emotion. Hurt. He closed his eyes tightly, his jaw working under his skin.
“Nah. Let me talk. You have done enough for the day don’t you think? I mean did it ever register in that damn brain of yours that Zanea could possibly be there. LaToya she wanted you. You were her target and today she could have shot. Don’t you see how stupid you look after all this?”
“How do I look stupid Jermaine? Yes I shouldn’t have left, but damn man I didn’t even know she knew where I lived. You’re a man who is suppose to keep his private life private yet you made it easy enough for your ex get my address. Right now we’re both at blame. Don’t start point fingers!”
“Zanea is a bright girl-”
“And I’m not huh?”
“At the moment not very much.”
“Well you can go spent another hour or two in her hotel room then. Cause only God knows what went down inside that room once the door closed.”
“What are you assuming, LaToya?”
“I can’t assume anything that is proved to be factual, Cole. I admitted to my fuck up and I’m sorry. All day you gave me a cold shoulder, didn’t say one thing to me the entire day, but then you spend two hours with your ex. The same person, who I remember you saying had me as a target, meaning she wanted me died. Yet you love me, huh? Save the bullshit for your next girl.”
“Be careful, Babygirl. Your insecurities are showing.”
“If I have them it’s because of you. I was perfectly fine before you. But it’s nice you finally pointed out your biggest fuck up.” She couldn’t let the tears that blurred her vision fall. Her throat burnt as she held them back from him. He didn’t deserve that much from her. LaToya couldn’t allow her weakness to be shown.
“You questioning things I don’t think you need to be questioning. Me for one.”
“I can say the same for you.”
“Babygirl,” his voice trailed off for a moment. This isn’t how he had expected his day to end. At all. “Zanea is in need for help. Help that I can’t nor will I give her. I’m sorry if I made it seem as if something went down in that hotel room, but trust me I wouldn’t do that to you. Not you, LaToya.”
“You really showed me a different Jermaine today.”
“You scared me today.”
“Why can’t anyone see that I just wanted to go home? It was meant to be this serious. I didn’t know Zanea even knew where I lived.”
“Long time ago, if I remember correctly we had this conversation and I told you where home was. Home is here, LaToya. Stop fucking running from me!”
“I wasn’t running from you. But fine. I get it, okay? I messed up. Stop making me feel worst than I already am.”
What felt like forever pasted between the two of them as Jermaine starred down at her. He could tell he was only making it worst with constantly drilling it into her mind to remember, but he did that for a reason. Maybe next time she’ll remember this moment and avoid the situation. Then again there won’t be next time. He hopes to scare her enough to she doesn’t do it again.
But he had one more thing to discuss. Then he’ll allow them to make up. He couldn’t stay mad forever, but he won’t make it easy either.
“What’s with you questioning my love?”
“Who said I was?”
“I heard you. It’s all in your tone. So what’s up?”
Sighing she figured it time. Maybe after this conversation they’ll have nothing but easy days. At least days easier than this one.
“Why you say it? I mean why then? Why wait until Zanea is threatening my life to confess?”
“Are you fucking serious?”
“Deadass. Why did you?”
Jermaine hadn’t even thought of it in that light. He had been planning to say it, but never was it the right time. He couldn’t just blurt out he loved her. Knowing her she wouldn’t even believe him. Plus he had the email about the being ring final for days and he knew it was now or never. He couldn’t just pop up with a ring and had not ever told he loved her. Everything truly felt right to him. Never being in a real relationship he figured it was fine. Zanea had opened up a hole for him to push though and he took it. Not thinking much of it. Especially not when she said it back.
“I’ve known that I love you for a while now,” Jermaine turned to walk to the tub and he settled on the side of it. LaToya hopped on the counter, getting as comfortable as she could on its edge. “Please don’t let the timing get the best of the situation. Like always I’m about to brutally honest with what I say next. But just be glad I said it at all, Babygirl. Love is foreign to me. Outside of my mother, sister and my boys it’s not said. No you’re not my submissive which is also foreign. There’s a lot I have to get used to and I plan to. Me saying I love you wasn’t because of some drastic change. I knew I loved you just as long as you’ve loved me. Did Zanea make open my eyes? Give me that push? Damn right. But I’m a man. It’s kind of what we need to say those words. I love you and if I have to say it everyday then I will. But you’re honesty and I repeat, questioning something I don’t think you need to question.”
“Chance told me to hold on.”
“You need to. Correction; you will hold on.”
“You scare me at times. You’re controlling, possessive, harsh, have a quick temper, and have several stalker bones in your body.”
“But I’m also protective and territorial. Two things as a man I can admit.” He shrugged his shoulders as he replied to her. Jermaine knew what he was. He knew he was overbearing at times, but he also knew she’ll get used to it and eventually be grateful for it. “I love you, Babygirl. But I won’t even let you get in my way of me and you.”
“You love it so stop playing mind games. Trust me it’s going to get tiring.”
Hopping down, LaToya was officially done. Knowing deep down tonight was suppose to end with WW3 had her shaking earlier, but now she was at some ease. She couldn’t tell if Jermaine was fully okay with her, but she knew for the next couple days not to push any buttons.
“You not sleeping in here either. Get your stuff.”
Crazy enough she was already an step ahead of him.
“17, nigga!” Jermaine’s voice sounded throughout his indoor basketball court as he passed the ball to his opponent and friend, Ced.
“Y'all should just give up.” Jermaine smirked as he heard his team partner, IB.
“Nah. ‘Cause y'all niggas cheating. Fuck boys!” Mike went up for a layup easily giving his team another point.
It was a simple game of 21. Two teams consisting of Jermaine and Ibrahim, his friend since FIU and business partner. Then Ced and Mike also his two of his boys. He met IB playing ball, just like now, except they played against each other then. Between trash talk and random hits they strangely became close. Michael and Cedric were around since childhood.
“How the fuck?”
“How in the hell y'all got 17 when we got 9?”
“Ced. You short, b.” Jermaine doubled over in laugher at IB. He was right though. Ced had a good height on him, but he wasn’t as tall as the two playing against him leaving Mike to make most points.
“Man fuck both of y'all. Time out.”
“Just give up. Y'all lost already it’s cool though.”
“The fuck you mean? We got this, alright? My partner asked for a break so give his ass one. You know his legs short and shit then he doing all this damn running. Let 'em relax, man.” Mike reached his hand out to shake Ced’s shoulder, but his teammate shrugged him off.
“Fuck you, Mike. Real shit man.”
Jermaine and IB laughed as they watched the exchange between their friends. This always happens when the group of boys get together. Even though it was a few missing today this was still their clique.
“Aye, Ced! We can always rematch later.”
“Nah. We gon’ come up today.”
Picking up his phone, Jermaine entered the pin password before he checked his email. Today was stressful to say the least. One reason his boys ended up at his house was because we wanted to forget it. And not to mention all shit talking Mike did over the phone.
Now it was business related. The drainage coming from investments was his newest threat. Plus, Chance and he had been exchanging words about Zanea’s progress but he was honesty tired of hearing it. If there was anyone he wanted hurt it was her. Yeah last night he admitted that she helped him recognize love, but that’s it. She was still on his shit list.
“Man I’m hungry. Cole what’s in this damn house to eat?”
“Nothing. Go home and eat nigga.”
“No…..that’s stupid anyway. Why would I go all the way home when I’m here?”
“Cause yo ass don’t buy groceries here.”
“LaToya will cook for us then.” Just as Jermaine started to laugh or better yet respond he noticed her standing at the other end of the court.
He nodded his head in her direction, knowing she was probably second guessing the decision. Surely enough she started her way to them.
The ball was passed to her and thankfully her mind worked quickly. Catching it, LaToya smirked at Ced who had tossed it to her.
“Shoot.” Jermaine watched as she laughed at him, then shook her head.
“Nope, sorry. I don’t know how to play.”
“You wasn’t suppose to let him know that. You 'posed to show off.”
“I rather tell the truth then potentially embarrassing myself.” Unfortunately she asked the wrong person. Mike and Ced were the two who didn’t let anything go easy. That’s why they always played on the same team or were together. If it wasn’t for IB interrupting them, she most likely would have been there for hours talking to them.
“Don’t mind them, LaToya. I’m IB. You obviously know these two assholes. But the lightbright one is Ced or Shorter Jermaine and the dark skin dude is Mike.” LaToya held out her hand, but both decided that was too professional. They grabbed her, giving bear hugs regardless of their sweaty bodies.
“Alright that’s it. Bye now. IB good game, bruh. Come here, Babygirl.” Jermaine got up from his seat on the bleachers as he approached LaToya.
“Man hell no. We is hungry.”
“Y'all hungry?” LaToya felt Jermaine’s hands on her waist, but at the moment she was looking at Mike who gave the best puppy eyes.
“Yes LaToya. Can you please cook something for us?"
"The answer ain’t about to change cause you ask her. Mike you hungry go home and cook. IB you got a girl tell her you need food. And Ced……….I don’t know what to say about you, man.”
“Now why you do that to me, Cole?”
“Don’t nobody ever know what’s going on with you. One minute you with the girl, the next you inviting some random chick over.” IB chimed in and just like that Jermaine knew his work was done.
Pulling her to the side, in a corner, Jermaine’s hands lowered until he was palming her ass. His lips hovered over hers as he waited for her to met him half way. Once she did, he went in fully. His grip tighten on her the deeper they kissed. LaToya’s hand griped his shirt, in admit to stop him, but instead she started to pull him closer.
Thankfully she had some will power and respect left to push them apart. Her eyes darted to the boys but they were all still discussing Cedric’s love triangles.
“Don’t worry about them. Look at me, Babygirl.”
Eventually LaToya pulled away from the boys direction and gave Jermaine her full attention.
“Why won’t you feed them, J?”
“They all got houses. Mike hungry ass got the biggest one out of all of us. He’ll be alright. Besides I ain’t hungry. Not for food no ways.”
“That’s no surprise.”
Shrugging Jermaine, slapped her ass. “You owe me a lunch from yesterday.”
“I do, but now you have to wait for your boys to leave.”
“That’s simple, I’ll get them out. You down for a little play though?” Since the minute LaToya got in his car with him for the drive yesterday he had the craziest image in his head. Today he’ll act it out as her punishment.
“Good. You got an hour to get yourself ready. Met me in the room.” LaToya nodded as she backed out his embrace. Licking over her lips, her eyes moved up and down his body before she turned to leave.
“Don’t be late.” Jermaine said as his hand connected with her ass again. They both knew that he wasn’t done tonight.
Once again she nodded and rushed off the basketball court andout the room. She didn’t even tell the other boys goodbye as she walked the halls of the house, anticipation running through her veins.
Jermaine turned to the three men, who were now on IB’s case. Everyone pushed him to marry his girlfriend of ten years, but let him tell it they were happy as an ordinary couple.
“Alright. Bye for real.”
He was lying earlier about having shit to do, but now he was serious. There’s was something needing his action.