Chapter 7, The Ride to Meet a Friend

A Better Pair of Shoes, a novel
Chapter 7

The Ride to Meet a Friend (Narrated by Aisha)

For the first half of the short trip I tried to get some much needed rest, but my mind fought me unwaveringly with thoughts of Tony’s deception.  I shifted and shifted in the passenger seat, until I finally decided to return the seat to its upright position, and keep Kayla’s company.  Although, she didn’t seem like she needed much company.  I couldn’t help but notice that Kayla herself seemed preoccupied with her own thoughts.  I couldn’t tell if they were personal, or if she was overly consumed with me and Camie’s drama.  I wanted to break the silence, but I didn’t want to discuss me.  So I took the opportunity to find out exactly why we were driving five hours to meet Camie. 
“So what’s going on with Camie?”
“I don’t have all the details, she was pretty torn up about everything, but basically she’s in Tampa to visit her nine year old daughter.”
“Yes.  You heard me right!”
“No way!  What the hell??  Aisha was beyond shocked.
“Oh, don’t go acting all righteous.  I’m sure she has a good reason for keeping such a big secret.”
“Well I hope so ‘cause I’m starting to feel like I didn’t get the damn memo!  Aren’t women supposedly the ones who share everything?”
“Apparently not— well not the incriminating stuff anyway.”  Kayla replied with what seemed to be a higher level of understanding. 
“And if I recall correctly, I didn’t meet you at church— but we won’t talk about that.”  Kayla stabbed me one good time to remind me that I did have a few secrets—secrets I had buried so long ago that I had forgotten about them.  It almost felt like Kayla was threatening to expose me, but then again, if she did, she’d have to expose herself, and I was sure she didn’t tell Wood about all her indiscretions.  So I decided there was no reason to overreact.   Instead, we shared a short glance at each other and moved on. 
“I guess we all have our share of deeply buried secrets.”  I quickly offered realizing that I was harboring my share of secrets. 
“I’m just shocked.  I mean Camie seems so strait up…you know.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“So, you still haven’t told me what went down with Tony.”  Kayla followed up as if to further emphasize her point.
“I can’t talk about it right now…’s just too new and painful.”  I quickly opted out of that trap.
“I understand.”
The rest of the drive was somewhat quiet— the both of us retiring to our separate thoughts. 
As we pulled up to the Marriott, Kayla and I quickly glanced at each other and exhaled.  It was as if we both knew that things could get a little crazy.  Then all of a sudden, I found myself being scolded.
“Okay Aisha, remember, we’re here to be supportive.  Watch what you say, and try not to be all holier than thou.”
“Excuse me?  I know how to console somebody.  And if you all didn’t want me here, then you shouldn’t have asked me to come.”
“Nobody said anything about not wanting you here.  I’m just saying….” 
“Look, I got my own stuff to deal with.  I don’t need your crap Kayla!”
“Whatever!”  Kayla rolled her eyes dramatically as if I was overreacting to her blatant disrespect.         

As we entered the hotel dining area, we easily spotted Camie sitting at the bar in the fairly empty room.  I was a little caught off guard by her low maintenance ensemble and ponytail to match.  This was not the Camie I knew.  This was someone else—a frumpy imposter.   Luckily for her, I thought about Kayla’s warning and decided to bite my tongue.  Within seconds, Kayla and I had sandwiched our friend from both sides, and were showering her with hugs and kisses.  Camie smiled and shared in the hugging and kissing, but it was obvious that whatever was going on was weighing pretty heavy on her mind.  I couldn’t wait to get all the details, but I didn’t want to be the first to ask.  Maybe Kayla could see my anxiousness boiling over, but I wasn’t going to prove her right.  Camie and Kayla held hands the whole time; leaving me to feel like an outsider.  I wished that Ketly could have joined us, but I knew a young baby in the midst would be a bit much. 

A While Later

“So what’s going on girl?”  Kayla finally decided to ask while letting go of Camie’s hand to cut her steak.
“I’m just dealing with a lot right now.  I haven’t mentioned it, but Q and I are done.  Some foul things happened there, and it just prompted me to take the drive to get away—then I get here and it’s more drama.”  Hearing Camie talk about Q reminded me of the trouble in my marriage, but it also gave me something else to focus on.  So, I made sure that Camie kept talking.
“Q?”  I asked honestly surprised by the news.
“What can I say?  That fool played me—had some nineteen year old chick in my bed.”
“What?”  Kayla shouted out.
“You caught them!?”  I asked more horrified than shocked.  I suddenly began to wonder what if—what if I had caught Tony?  What would I have done?  What would I have said?
“I still can’t get that image out of my head.  I’m so disgusted that I been sleeping in the living room for the past three weeks.  I just feel like the biggest ass.  I totally let him in, you know.”  Camie sounded deflated.
“What did you do?”  Kayla had completely forgotten about her meal and was once again holding onto Camie.
“I nearly killed his ass…..I’m telling you; I don’t think I’ve ever been that crazy.  Never in my right mind would I have attempted to fight a man.”  Camie was shaking her head.
“What did he have to say for himself?”  Aisha quizzed.
“Sorry!”  Camie continued shaking her head.
“Why do men always have to totally disrespect their women?  Maybe all men cheat— I don’t know, but why can’t they be more tight with it?  I mean…show that you do care— you know what I mean!”  I was obviously taking it personal, and I could see Camie give a second glance.  Still, I wasn’t ready to talk about my problems.  So I quickly withdrew my emotions and allowed the focus to be put back on Camie.
“Now I got this other fool trying to put a wedge between me and my daughter.”  Camie spoke with so much freedom as though she had already made peace with her keeping such a big secret from us.  I still couldn’t believe she was a mother.  Although looking at her dressed way down did change her persona and could change my perception of her.
“What other fool?”  I took the liberty of asking.
“Hannah’s father.  My sister Erilyn is now telling me that he’s been back in the picture for quite some time.  It just makes me so angry because he left us, and now he gets to come back and pretend to be some hero.  I know I haven’t been there as much as I could, but now Hannah refuses to see me and Erilyn is allowing her behavior.  She’s even gone as far as to threaten to fight for custody of her.  I didn’t know where to go or what to do, so I called you guys.” 
“So what can we do to help?”  Kayla asked sounding much rehearsed. 
“I don’t know, that’s the problem, I don’t know up from down right know.”  Camie was pitiful. 
“Well, let’s enjoy each other’s company for now.  It’s been so long.”  I offered with my stomach pretty full. 
“In the morning we can come up with a solution or at least a next step.”  Kayla followed my lead.
           “I guess I can manage that.”  Camie gave an offbeat smile.                    

A Better Pair of Shoes, a novel © Grace Call Communications, LLC Copyright ©2010, 2016, 2017 by Natisha Renee Williams All Rights Reserved