**deleted Scenes mean this stuff does NOT appear in the book. Either it goes in a completely different direction or just written a different way. ***
“Hello?” Homer’s deep woodsman-like voice came through as I turned the volume down in my car. He sounded like he was on his way to chop wood for a campfire or something ultra masculine until I heard my daughter’s voice in the background talking.
“Do you know what time it is?” I questioned. “It’s practically eleven o’clock.”
“So why you calling me, woman? Shouldn’t you be the one in bed?”
“Please do not start with me. I already had a stressful day at work, and an even stressful dinner just now with Jasmine, and Francesca. Now I’m sitting at this redlight wondering why it won’t change green.”
I laid my head back on the head rest before remembering my scalp was still tender as the traffic full of brake lights and headlights came from every which direction in the busy Buckhead area.
“What happened at the job, and dinner?”
“Just downsizing talk from my Uncle and then Jasmine and Percy being childish. I would never sit through a relationship where I wasn’t happy or where I was trying to one up my partner. It’s immature, and it's not healthy. Either break up or learn to work it out. Now one is being fake to the other because her feelings were hurt. The other is cheating because God knows why men cheat.”
“Why anybody cheats,” Homer corrected. “My ex cheated on me. Not once did I think about stepping out on her, but that’s just me and the type of man that I am. I ain’t built for that. I’ll sit you down though and tell you what I got going on, and what I need from you, but I won’t cheat.”
“Not everyone can be as mature as us, I guess. Neither of them have the heart to end it. They just rather drag each other down in the mud. Ugh,” I groaned. “Next relationship I’m in? Will be my last. I have a child to think about and I can’t for the life of me add her into a toxic and stressful situation with the man I’m dating.”
There was this loud silence that suddenly came between us on the phone as I drove. That unspoken tone in my voice felt like my statement was directed to him as a warning.
“I think my next relationship will be my last one too but I’m tired. I don’t have the energy to date and get to know women anymore. I’m ready to just come home to my woman, and my kids and be done with it.”
“You make it sound like it's so easy,” I chuckled.
“It is when the two people communicate and are on the same page. Know exactly what they want out of life and each other. My last relationship, I made assumptions. I won’t make that same mistake again. I didn’t sit down and talk with her asking what she wanted out of life. Whatever I wanted, I assumed she wanted it too. Why else would you be with me?”
“Because she probably liked you Homer. So you’re open to loving someone again?”
“I’on know about all that. You jumping too far,” he laughed nervously. “You open to loving someone again?”
“I don’t know,” I answered truthfully. “If it happens, it happens.”
There goes that silent thing between us. We passed the first round of questions in a date that hasn’t even happened yet but I could tell the conversation took a shift and we were no longer speaking about ourselves separately so I tried to change the subject, and asked about Violet.
“Oh nah… Violet was tryna run hot so I got her on my shoulders walking right now. Just walking the subdivision.”
“Does she have at least socks on? A jacket? Anything?” I asked, worried she might still catch a cold.
“She got clothes on Pia. I don’t have on nothing but shorts if you wanted to know---”
“I didn’t ask nor do I care,” I laughed. “I’m well aware of what you look like naked.”
“In case you forgot.”
“I didn’t but I’m glad you’re so concerned,” I retorted with a grin. “Did she eat?”
“She ate, and bathed with no problem. I’m getting the hang of this. I don’t know how you said it was so hard to watch her.”
“I made poopies!” Violet’s voice came through as I laughed.
“And she said she made two poopies today in the potty,” he repeated. “I had a homeboy stop by to pick up something and there she was, bathroom door wide open faking like she was straining on the potty bowl. I said oh lawd,” he let out with his sudden drawl as I laughed. “I tried closing the door, she screaming out poopie, poopie. This nigga laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world.”
“It really is,” I sighed with an infectious smile. That’s my daughter for you. Always one step away from embarrassing someone.
“You ready for our thing this weekend?” He asked calmly as I rolled my eyes with a smirk.
“Our thing? Is that what you call you being obsessed with me, and wanting to date me? A thing?”
“Pia, you getting ahead of yo self baby girl.”
“Do not start with me Homer,” I laughed. “Please don’t. I’m already not in the mood.”
“What I gotta start with you for?” He asked as I turned into my neighborhood.
Our little childish tit for tat went on like that until I stepped into my quiet house. Both of our lives seemingly parallel to one another as he walked back into his with Violet. I imagined him getting her ready for bed while I undressed in my bathroom. Washed my face, brushed my teeth and slipped into my night clothes. Homer was probably taking Violet’s socks off, wrapping her hair like I told him to faithfully do every night. We both ended up putting our phones on the charger just so we could keep speaking to one another. Mainly for me to just be present while he put our daughter to bed, but it was nice to hear them two talk. Until he decided to disrupt it.
“I’ma call you on Facetime in a few minutes Pia,” he said as my eyes shot up in panic. I was lying comfortably in my bed with chip crumbs sprawled about my chest, grease around my mouth and my face for once, not protected by my bangs.
“Wait a minute I---”
The phone hung up as I shot up from the bed. I started to the nearest mirror to look my flush face over, wiping around my mouth. Dark circles underneath my eyes and bushy brows that needed some work. My colorful silk scarf was tied any kind of way and my forehead still had the five head oil spot that shined in the light and probably camera as well.
Did I have pimples coming up too? Why did I look like a teen going through it again?!
Why did this phone call feel so heavy with lingering questions? It was because of this damn date. That’s what changed. There was tension between us, and not the bad kind. I just didn’t know what to make of it besides feel like a teenager again talking to her crush.
“Get it together woman. It’s just Homer,” I muttered, staring at myself in the mirror before taking a rag to wipe my face down. “We’ve talked plenty of times before and he’s seen me at my worst. Why are you acting so silly now?”
My reflection stared back at me as the eyes lingered over my frame to the way my hands gripped the sink.
“Just Homer… A fine chocolate of a meal man who made me cry during sex. That’s all…”
I popped my head up to look back at my flushed pimply face before the phone sitting on my bed began to ring.
I brushed my hand down my chin, waiting for Pia to answer as I laid back against the stacked pillows. My daughter was curled up beside me having fallen asleep in a matter of minutes on her stomach. The soft fan blew just enough air to keep her comfortable in her slumber. I kept shirtless, brushing my fingers down my abs until Pia’s face appeared on the screen. She was sitting up against her headboard with long honey blonde braids hanging down her body on one side, and a brightly colored scarf tied around her head like a pirate. Simple black t-shirt, and I could only imagine panties below the screen. Her cheeks looked more plump than usual but seeing her full face for the first time made sense.
Pia was a pretty woman. The bangs felt like they covered half of her features because seeing her now, she looked like a completely different woman.
She stretched with a yawn before blinking, fluttering her lashes at me as she calmly asked,
“Can you see me Homer?”
I smiled. My hand pulling at my chin in thought before tucking it behind my head.
“I can see you now,” was all I said.
Pia’s eyes seemed to light up at the response as we stared at one another before she turned to look away. This was the woman the universe had planned for me.
You know she’s the one you’re meant to be with. Why hold on to that, and do nothing about it?
“Where is Violet? Is she asleep?” She asked, breaking the silence between us.
“Right by my hip on her stomach,” I said, moving the phone to show the sleeping toddler snoring soundly. “I dropped her off at the daycare the other day---”
“Ohhh!” Pia gasped dramatically as I smiled. Here comes the bullshit. “You? Daycare? Nooooo… Not the all time great father of the universe taking his own seedling to daycare for somebody else to watch? Could it be? Please, tell me, how did that feel to know that I was right?”
“Listen,” I started as she laughed. “Woman, listen to me---”
“Don’t you woman me Homer. I was right, and you were wrong. This is why a mother always knows best. I just knew you weren’t going to be able to watch her. So glad I picked the daycare and had her situated just in case because I knew. Did she enjoy herself?”
“She did,” I mumbled, giving in to defeat. “She made her lil friends. Teacher said she has an outgoing personality and can be bossy at times.”
“Wonder what side of the family she got that on?” Pia hummed in thought.
“Leave my baby alone Pia,” I said with a smile as she laughed.
“I’m not picking at her, just a simple question for Daddy,” she sighed before our eyes met. I could feel my tongue peeking through my teeth as I grinned when she laughed. “Put your tongue back in you dog. You know what I meant.”