The novel takes you on a transformational journey with the women of "Renegotiating Kayla". Read along as the women let go of their public faces, and begin to reveal fears and truths. You will witness an unarmoring of each character’s confidence, as they heed the warning to get real, and in particular, real honest. *Read Chapters in Sequence using the Index.
I turned my phone on vibrate and stepped into the
elevator of the large tower. I was
certainly excited to be back to work.
Referrals were already coming in, and it reassured me that I would still
have an awaiting clientele in Miami. I
couldn’t wait to see the newly bought condo Ms. Knox had described to me over
the phone. I gently rung the bell at her
unit, and she opened the door up to brighten the entire hall which was dimly
lit. The building was clean but not
regal. Some of the finishes were out
dated, and the carpet was a dingy green color.
It hadn’t lent itself to the vision I had in my head, but Ms. Knox had
not exaggerated about her unit. It was bursting with natural light that came
through the three four-foot wide floor-to-ceiling windows. The cathedral ceilings were stunning. The
mahogany wood floors were brand new and gleaming. The living spaces were large, and the two
bedrooms were both considered masters with walk in closets and attached
baths. I sat with Ms. Knox who looked to
be no more than thirty-five, at a large red wood table with six matching chairs,
which were her only furniture in the place. I assumed they were not negotiable, and would
prove to be part of the design which would earn me twenty thousand
dollars. After our short sit down, I
left filled with ideas.
Back in my car, I picked up the one message I had
gotten. Surprisingly it was Derek.
“Hello Jennifer, it's Derek. I’m calling to see if we can get together
perhaps sometime this week to discuss our daughter. Please give me a call when you get this
message.” I listened to the voice of
Hannah’s father, which was not at all familiar to me. I felt nervous. What exactly about our daughter did Derek
want to discuss? Our last conversation
had not been pleasant, and I really didn’t want the drama. Things were beginning to shift between Hannah
and I, and I didn’t want to upset that at all.
I needed to sit down and draw up my plans for Ms. Knox’s condo for a
follow up on Thursday, and I couldn’t afford to get my head all clouded with any
disagreements. I saved his number, but did
not return the call.
Just as I was pulling out of the parking at the Eagles
Towers my phone rang, and I saw Derek’s name.
I rolled my eyes, and simultaneously answered the phone.
“Hi Derek.” I
answered with no excitement.
Did you get my message?”
“No. I didn’t have
a chance to pick it up. I was in a meeting. What is it?”
I lied; hoping we could just hash it out over the phone.
“Well I thought that we should sit down and discuss our
“What exactly do you feel we need to discuss?”
“Well for one, we need to decide on our visitations. I heard you’ve rented an apartment?”
I’ll be here for a while!”
“And then what?”
“Look, I can’t talk right now. When would you like to meet?”
“How’s tomorrow evening about six…six-thirty at Monty’s
“Fine. I’ll see
said sharply and I disconnected the call.
The Following Evening
I pulled up to the bar and grill that had an outdoor patio
with about six tables. It was six-fifteen.
The place was buzzing with lots of
conversations and wait staff busily moving about. I walked thru the outdoor dining area and
entered the main room. Several televisions
were on, and showed a variety of programs.
I saw Derek stand up as he spotted me.
He looked to be still dressed in work clothes; a tan colored pair of
slacks and a light blue long sleeve dress shirt, with the sleeves folded up to
his elbows. The first two buttons were
undone and I could see his white undershirt beneath. His arms were hairy but not nappy. Funny, I had not even noticed him
before. I hadn’t realized how handsome
he still was, or how much of a man he really was. There was a quiet confidence that came
across. His hair was cut low. His sideburns seamlessly flowed out from his
hair, and into a full beard that was cut very low and had a clean line. His brows were thick and somewhat unruly. His
skin on both sides of his slender nose had little brown freckles in a scattered
formation. He kept standing until I
sat. His pale-brown lips appeared really
soft. His skin was a sandy golden color.
“Thanks for meeting me.”
Derek quickly lightened the mood.
“No problem.” I
was eager to hear what his thoughts were.
“You want to order something?” Derek was generous and still very polite.
“Yeah, I’ll have something.” I had observed a few tables on the way in,
and saw that the food looked really good.
“So how is your hometown treating you so far?” He got the conversation started effortlessly.
“Everything is cool.
The place looks so different though; it’s so developed you know.”
“Yeah, it’s come a long way from feeling country.”
“How long you been back?”
“Just about two years.”
“So how have things been between you and Hannah?” I was curious.
“Things are good. Coming along you know. I’m just so amazed by how much she looks like
you.” Derek seemed astonished.
“That first day, I couldn’t stop looking at her. It was just too eerie.”
“Yeah, I guess she does.”
“So what you been up to in Miami?
“Work!” I assured.
“Just work? I
thought you’d be married by now.”
“Yeah, me too. But
you learn to adjust. What about
you? Ever got married?”
“I did. Only
lasted a couple of years though.”
“How long you been divorced?”
“So you think you’ll ever do it again?”
“I think so.” Derek’s
response surprised me, and I felt a tiny window in my heart open to a
“So anyway, what did you want to discuss?” I brought my mind back on course.
really…I want to know if you’re planning on eventually taking Hannah to Miami
with you, and how we can make it fair for all involved.”
“Don’t you think we can cross that bridge when we get
“Well I figure if we know the bridge is up ahead, why not
address it now? I mean, I know you have
a prominent business there, and I can only assume you’ll be going back at some
“It all depends on Hannah—how long it takes for her to
trust me, and if she would even want to go.”
“I didn’t get that from you the other day.” Derek was taken aback by my no pressure
“I think I was just caught way off guard by hearing you
were back, and that Hannah was spending time with you. I speak to Eri every week, and she never
informed me. I just felt like I was
being oust or something.” I came clean.
“Well I assure you, I’m no part of an evil plot to take
Hannah away from you. I simply am trying
to build a relationship with my daughter.”
“So why didn’t you ever check for her all those years
“Honestly, I was afraid to face you! I knew I had broken your heart, and I figured
you hated me. When I got back a few ol’
timers asked me if I had gone to visit my daughter, and told me she was staying
with Eri—said you was living in Miami, and I figured it was the perfect
“You’re not my favorite person, but I don’t hate
you. I hate what you did to me. I hate that I’ve hardly been able to trust
another man…but I don’t hate you.”
“I’m sorry.” Derek
looked me dead in the eyes, and I thought I detected some sadness behind them. I suddenly felt a wave of emotion. I quickly excused myself.
As I was approaching our booth, I saw that our orders
were up, and I thought… “Great; why did I
order anything?” I didn’t realize
how much my past still bothered me until I heard myself say… “I’ve hardly been able to trust another man...” Derek spotted me, and I noticed his eyes
scanning me from head to toe. I
immediately became self-conscious.
Derek realized how delicate a topic our history still remained.
“I’m good. Let’s just eat.” There were a few long moments of silence
between us and then…
“I’m proud of you Jen—to see you so independent and
successful. I’m glad you did what you
“Leave this town.
Experience something else. I know
it’s been tough on Hannah, but maybe it was the best thing.”
“How can not having either of your parents possibly be
the best thing?”
“I don’t know, I just don’t think we were ready—might
have done more damage.”
“I guess. I can
see what you mean. I hope it was the
right decision.” I felt myself let go of
“So how we gonna split up these weekends.” Derek finally got to the heart of the meeting.
“She’s been with me every other weekend for the pass
don’t know. Maybe we’ll let her
decide.” I heard myself say, and it
“I guess that’s one way.
You sure you want to do that?”
Derek asked as if to say she may not choose to spend any time with me at
“Yeah, I’m not trying to disrupt her life you know. I just want to find my place in it.”
“I guess you are still the sweetest person I know…always
giving!” Derek and I shared a smile, and
when I could no longer stand him staring into my eyes, I focused my attention
back on my plate. “What the hell was that?” I thought. I felt butterflies in my stomach. “Oh,
God…don’t do this.”