“Flight 117 to Denver is now boarding. Passengers Patrick O’Neal and Carmen Moore please….”
I looked around, tuning out the sounds of the busy airport as I watched Fowler and Laila walking together. She was a few steps ahead of him as he kept close behind her like a personal bodyguard but everyone stopped to eye the beauty. Somehow, with both of her parents being on the darker side in complexion, she grew into a beautiful shade of caramel, coming out lighter than us with a wild streak of curls and dark brown eyes that mirrored his. She had small ears that pointed up and sharp little baby teeth that snarled and growled any time she didn’t like something. Otherwise, she was her daddy’s child. She was already talking, in attempts to finish complete sentences, reading and understanding the most basic things above her age and trying new things that I wasn’t ready for but I was told they develop faster than the average toddler.
Maybe even too fast.
I flipped through my magazine, pushing the brim of my baseball cap down as I continued to eye the models and fashion. Didn’t even notice the person walking in front of me until they plopped down beside my chair. I looked up, confused as to why they were so close when there were plenty of seats available further down but the man leaned back into the chair with his own hat and face mask concealing his face and just checked his phone. I looked around again, realizing Fowler went into another store with our daughter, following behind her so I started to gather my things. I pulled up my face mask some more, ready to move a seat down when the man stopped me.
“You’re the last horsemen?” he asked as I froze. I wouldn’t dare look at him but the voice was familiar, I just couldn’t place a name nor could I recognize the face fully but he was familiar to me. “You’re one of the horsemen, I know you are...you may not remember me but…”
He became quiet as a family walked by us before sitting down a few seats away from him.
“Do you remember anything about–––”
“I remember everything,” I hissed with emotion, feeling my eyes water, “I remember just about everything.”
“Then you know you’re job is far from over,” he said. “It’s either you or your daughter will be taken away. The way you were, the way your mother was...the way my father was. It’s never ending. I…”
He became quiet as he looked around again before slowly getting up just as I watched Fowler step out of the store with Laila.
“I just came here to warn you,” he whispered as he leaned in close against my ear, “they are going to take her if you’re not careful. They’re taking them younger and younger these days. The younger the better–––”
“Who?” I asked, looking up at him, “who is going to–––”
“I can’t say or they’ll know I said something but this shit goes much deeper than you and me will ever realize,” he said, piercing brown eyes staring me down, “you need to watch her. Be careful.”
“Aye nigga,” Fowler let out as the man stood up right, towering over him and my daughter like a lanky pole, “the fuck you in my wife’s face for–––”
“Fowler stop it,” I sniffed as the man just walked right past him, not even bothering to acknowledge him. I had to grab Fowler’s arm to keep him still before he turned to glare at me.
“And why the fuck you crying? You know him? What…” calming himself down, realizing this was serious, “what’s going on?”
I tried to wipe around my tears but now as I looked around again, everyone was starting to look suspect to me until I saw someone I knew...a face I surely recognized. I knew it was her and the moment we locked eyes, she tucked her hoodie down and started to walk off but I got up, shoving my phone in Fowler’s hand, ready to go after her until he snatched my wrist with a deathly grip.
“Point em out for me,” he threatened through his teeth, eyes scaling the place like a hawk, but before I could say anything, Fowler took off, pushing past an older white lady who screamed out. I grabbed Laila, throwing her over my hip and our things as we followed in the same direction. I could see where Fowler cornered the girl near the bathrooms. I didn’t wait a second longer when I pushed the doors opened, thankful that nobody was in the bathroom and pulled our stuff in with Fowler and the girl following. As soon as the door closed, he gripped her by the neck and slammed her up against the door as she tried clawing at his hands in panic.
“Adora!” she struggled, trying to cough as I shook my head, she looked so familiar to me. I knew who she was, I just couldn’t place a finger on it, “Adora, please...It's meee…”
“I’ma tell you like this baby girl,” Fowler went on, yanking his mask down, “I don’t ask questions, I don’t wait for fucking answers when it comes to these two right here. So tell me something or I’ma snap this neck in half–––”
Her eyes grew so wide as he leaned in for a deep inhale, trying to figure out what she is, who she is, where she comes from when she pointed to her neck to speak.
“I used to be like her,” she strained as he loosened his grip. Someone started to knock on the door, calling out to use the restroom but we kept it blocked as my daughter and I looked on.
“I sent my brother over there to talk to you...to warn you that they will take your daughter if given the chance,” she coughed. She kneeled over to wheeze and hack up spit before standing up right as she looked at me with tears in her eyes, “I didn’t mean to scare you but we have to be very careful how we move from now on. A lot of them are starting to leave...walk away from all of this the way that we did...but now they’re taking our children...they took my son a few months ago...My husband thinks…” she placed her hand on her chest to keep from crying, “my husband thinks our son died in the hospital but no...I saw him again….I saw him with someone else, being raised by someone else…”
My eyes grew wide, realizing what she was saying.
“They are born before they die–––”
“Only to come back to life to provide judgement and balance,” I finished.
“Don’t let them get to her,” she said as someone knocked on the door again. “Be careful. I’m trying to warn as many people as I can, as many mothers and fathers that left...we’ve been stolen and reborn–––”
“What you mean you saw your son again?” Fowler asked.
The tears started to swell up again as she looked at the floor.
“He was with another family, same face...same complexion and didn’t recognize or remember me as his mother. I’ve tried to find him, to follow him, see where he is, where he’ll be but it's too late. Of course my husband thinks I’m crazy because he has no idea who I was before I met him but the more you remember, the crazier you become, the more dangerous it is…They want you to forget…they want the children to forget. It’s how we were taken.”
I looked at Fowler who kept his eyes on her just as the door shoved open again with security breaking through. We all backed up as they began asking questions and escorting us out only for Fowler to clear up any confusion they may have. By the time I looked around for the girl, she was gone. Disappeared just that fast along with her brother.
“Daddy, I wanna see,” Laila said softly, pointing at the window as she sat in Fowler’s lap. Everyone was still boarding when she continuously climbed from one seat to another until she settled back in his lap with her arms around his neck as he reached to adjust her pink silk face mask. I got her things ready and situated from coloring book to her juice and blanket. Some snacks already in my purse, waiting as the final row was being filled. Laila sat between us, getting comfortable as Fowler started texting on his phone. Neither of us speaking after the incident until we were well into the air, most of the cabin was asleep with the windows drawn. Fowler leaned back in his seat on the aisle as I caught his eyes looking at me.
“What?” I asked, seeing a particular look, “what is it?”
“You know I’m not gonna let nobody take her,” he said in a low voice, “you know that?”
I looked down at the sleeping cub with drool hanging out her mouth and a red crayon in her hand.
“I know you won’t,” I said, feeling his protective energy nearly suffocate the plane, “I know you, Fowler Skye.”
“Good because know that I will kill, steal, fight, and bleed for mine on my best and worst day,” he smiled with a crazy wink, “I ain’t worried about lil bitty right here neither. She’s got more alpha in her than most of these pussy ass niggas out here,” he spat. “So stop worrying, don’t think about it. Let me do all the worrying and thinking...I need your mind to be strong and clear for my sake because when you panic, I do stupid shit.”
I looked down at my hands, trying to calm myself.
“Handle it then,” I demanded, staring him down. Fowler’s eyes squeezed tight with his wide grin as his teeth that almost mimicked fangs pressed against the silk face mask before closing shut.
“Not everyday I get to bring the monster out in me,” he said calmly. “About mothafucking time. Shit was just starting to get boring out’chea.”
“Oh look how beautiful this is,” I gasped as we entered the resort. I held my phone up, taking a panoramic video of the view. Everything was so beautiful, bright and colorful in Mexico. I felt Junie’s hand come to my lower back to move me forward as a man in a white collar shirt and khaki pants stood before our group.
“Is everyone here couples?” he asked in amazement as I looked around. Junie and I were going on a small get away with some of his side of the family. That meant Demarco and Devyn were together already sipping their second drink from the airport. Amari and Shiloh were together with her wide brim straw hat covering most of their faces. Elijah and Jordyn were standing on the other side together. My sister Siren and her husband Ahmad. So when I told Pia about it, she told Homer who wanted to see if he could get in on the trip. So in addition to Junie’s family, my side came as a separate group with Pia and Homer behind us. Fowler and Adora were here after making a pitstop in Atlanta to drop off their daughter with Tallulah and Akil. Delilah and Ben were together, and already standoffish. Piru and Francesca were here and Michael and Audrey were here.
It was a group trip but the separation was obvious, but it didn’t take away from the fact that we took up most of the lobby space, including our bags that they were struggling to get together on the cart to take to our rooms.
We were given a tour, and more drinks of the property as one by one, everyone was showed to their rooms in the same building. Only one that upgraded to something bigger was Elijah and Jordyn, getting an entire suite to themselves at the top level where the infinity pool was.
“Any more questions about your room?” the man asked as Junie looked around with his hands on his hips in amazement.
“No, that will be all, thank you,” I smiled as the man nodded off and started with the next couple. The door closed as we looked at the massive king sized bed, the glass shower that was see through, and the balcony that looked out into the ocean. Junie stepped out, moving past the hammock and yelled out.
“Aye nigga!” he hollered as I sat down on the bed in embarrassment. “Nigga you see me?!”
“Hell yeah I see you!” Demarco laughed. “All we missing is that lame ass nigga Gunna!”
“Lil Pistol?! Yeah, I called his ass and cussed him out the other day about not coming out but he’s coming up to Atlanta the week after next–––”
“Broke nigga shit,” Demarco said as they both laughed, picking fun at their favorite person and obvious best friend, and sure enough, Junie was pulling his phone out on Facetime, ready to call Gunner.
“Aye brokie!?” Junie greeted as I listened to Gunner’s laugh, “where you at? You still in Miami, simping?”
“Man shut yo lame ass up. Moe is sick. I ain’t want her traveling like that–––Where yo mask at anyway?”
“Nigga ain’t no corona in Mehico!” Junie yelled as Demarco followed behind him from the other balcony. I rolled my eyes as I started to go through my things, ready to take a shower and head for the pool.
Let the boys do them. Pia, Francesca, Devyn, and I had plans since Siren was going to spend her time with the other girls. Delilah was surely going to want to be by herself since she didn’t respond to the group chat invite. Maybe we’ll meet for dinner or something...Who knows.
I closed the sliding door back as I stepped into the shower and relaxed under the head, enjoying the heat. Squeeze in some pool time before dinner and catch some much needed rest….So much I wanted to do tomorrow and since Junie planned on sleeping in like most of the men, I was thankful I had somebody to….
I looked back seeing Junie walking into the bathroom, still on the phone as he peeked through the glass with a smile.
“Nah, next time. We got that trip to Dominican Republic planned. All shit paid for. Nigga now that I got my passport, that’s it...You ain’t catching me out here fucking with the states like that. I’m finna take off.”
“I feel you,” Gunner said.
“I’ma hit you tomorrow though. Nay and I finna head out for something to eat.”
Soon as he hung up, I laughed at how fast Junie stripped down to his bare tattooed high yellow skin before opening the shower door.
“I can’t get any alone time from you?” I laughed, stepping back as he closed the door behind him, eyes already scaling me down like he was planning on how to take me down. “A vacation from you?”
“A vacation from me? Why?” he asked, backing me into the glass as I laughed.
“What do you want Junie?” I asked instead as he gripped my thigh, ready to lift it up. “Hmm? What in the hell do you want? I want a shower by myself...that’s what I want.”
“Girl you see this shit?” he said, looking around, “I hate shower sex but I’ma take advantage of this shit right here.”
“I’m supposed to meet Pia and Frannie by the pool–––”
“They can wait,” he assured me, as his mouth came to my neck, “I want all of Mexico to know I’m fucking you in this room. Call me Papi Junito from now until the end of this trip,” he said with a fake accent, pronouncing it like who-nito.
“I am not calling you…”
I paused. My left eye began to twitch uncontrollably as I felt his tongue and teeth gently bite down on my neck.
Damn it. My weakness was his mouth, lord knows it was his mouth. Pia and Frannie were just going to have to wait...like he said…
“I’ll be down in a minute, I’m just laying in the bed waiting on Ahmad to get out the bathroom,” I yawned.
“Girl it looks like it's going to be a girls trip because Shiloh is already asleep. I wonder what Nevaeh is doing. If she’ll want to go walk around with us. Jordyn just texted me and said she was on her way to my room.”
“Okay, I’m changing my shoes now and be down in a second,” I said with another yawn.
We hung up the phone as I laid on the king size bed, staring at the balcony, and enjoying the breeze. The TV was on some spanish program talking about the hotel as I let my eyes slowly close. Drifting off into a light, very light sleep. As soon as I hear that bathroom door open up, I’m getting up and heading out. We had so much planned. Amari and Jordyn were more my speed than my sister and her little clique. Loved everyone the same but I wasn’t trying to get my hair wet. I wanted to take pictures, I wanted to look cute in my outfits I specifically picked out for this trip, day by day with backups just in case I didn’t like how something looked while here…
I had everything planned out, even tours we were going to do but as soon as I heard Ahmad’s voice, I felt little to no energy compelling me to get up.
“Yeah, she fell asleep,” he said with his usual low voice, “mmm hmm...I know it. We’ll be ready for dinner though. Yeah, alright.”
I felt my shoes coming off one by one, followed by my socks as I enjoyed the light slumber. Ahmad was taking off my jewelry, and putting my hair up underneath my bonnet before he cut the TV off and laid down beside me with his own yawn.
“Baby, I’m setting the alarm,” he said with a groggy tone, ready to catch up on his sleep from the plane, “you hear me?”
I turned over, facing him as he pulled up our own personal sheets we brought from home to cover me more so than him. I opened one eye, staring at his borderline pale complexion with a small smile.
“Are you going to socialize or try to?”
“No,” he simply said with a smile. “I just wanna chill, eat, smoke and relax. That’s it. You know I don’t like that rah rah shit. Shiloh said he finna sit out and smoke on the balcony so I may join him later on but that’s it.”
“Mmmm,” I hummed, falling back asleep as I made note to take a pregnancy test when we get back into the states.
“Ohhh shiiihh,” I gasped, gripping Ben’s chest as he bucked underneath me with control and a steady pace. He bit his bottom lip, gripped my hips tighter and changed the pace, making me match his strokes as I threw my head back.
“That’s it Lilah baby,” he breathed, slapping my thighs as my body began to shake uncontrollably, “that’s it...keep that shit going...I ain’t got mine yet. You far from done.”
I cried out again with my back arching all the way up, breast to the sky as he began to move faster underneath me. I was spent. I ignored the ringing phone and someone at the door who I’m sure was room service after ordering more drinks.
The plan was simple. Ben and I intended to get fucked up, have all the sex we can stand, argue, fuss and fight, get everything out of our system as a form of reset for our relationship. Binging on every desire, crave, anger, hurt and pain we felt within the last few years before getting remarried on the second to last day. We weren’t here for a group trip. Simply, they were here to witness our growth and rebirth, and nothing more.