The voice on the other end was nothing like I anticipated. It was strong, and firm. Nothing like the young, weak woman Rico had painted such a vivid portrait of.
"Hello Tanya." Everything I had rehearsed over and over in my mind was gone. Here I was on the phone with the wife of my lover, and I had absolutely nothing to say.
"Well Lida, considering you called ME; I would think that you would have more to say than Hello. So, is there something I can help you with? Or let me guess. You were calling to tell me about the yearlong affair you've been having with MY husband? I already know. As a matter of fact, the pretty little Red dress he bought from your boutique about a year ago… It was my Valentine’s Day Gift. I actually wore it to his Company Christmas party. You have great taste I must say. I know about all the trips, your emails, the text messages. I would never imagine that such a professional, stable sistah like you could be so pathetic. However, I must say you are quite entertaining. Last weekend my friends and I enjoyed you and Rico's email correspondence over wine and sushi. PATHETIC! Especially when I read that you jeopardized your business to spend time with MY man! Lida, let me tell you something. You can believe whatever you choose to about ME. I know the game. I PRETEND to be a weak bitch to get what I want. You ARE a weak bitch, and where has it gotten you? You should be schooling me. Remember, you're the GROWN woman, and I’m the "little girl."
Well girls MAKE their man come over; a WOMAN makes her man WANT to come HOME. Girls check their man for not calling while a GROWN woman is too busy with her own shit, to realize he hadn't. I don't work. YOU have a business. How do you have so much time on your hands again? Rico isn't going anywhere Lida. He may not LOVE me the way he does you, but he takes care of me. That's all I need. So you can keep taking the scraps, while I stay fed. Oh, and by the way, you may want to see if you can cancel those plane tickets for the trip you're planning with Rico next weekend. Maxwell is in town and I’m feeling a breakdown coming on that day. Rico will HAVE to make it up to me by taking me to the concert. Seems like age doesn't really play a factor in being grown now does it?"
Before I could respond, she hung up.
A girl would have called back, foolish pride shooting from her tongue. But I was a Woman, and no matter how many circles I ran around Tanya, it was time I began acting like one.
I dialed Rico.
“Rico, I’m done with you. Until you get yourself together, and come to me right, I can no longer be a part of your life. You have allowed a simple-minded woman, to convince you of your worth. You have conformed to mediocrity, and you almost brought me there with you. I’m not a second string woman, and I refuse to accept that position any longer. There is no doubt that I love you. But we don’t want the same things. Take care of yourself Rico. Goodbye.”
I felt both anxious, yet relieved after hanging up. I knew I needed to start putting the pieces of my life back together, and the first step was to get rid of my affiliation with Rico. God was not going to continue blessing me if I didn’t walk away. No matter how much we loved each other.
My personal relationships, as well as my finances were in complete shambles. The decision to close my business on the most profitable day of the year was the beginning of the end for my boutique. I was lucky to have customers on the weekend, let alone during the week. I started opening only on weekends, in an effort to save money on utilities.
The next few months, I spent regaining the respect from my children, and repairing my friendship with Cindy. I hired a business broker, and placed Seksi on the market. I changed my phone number, and avoided frequenting the places that Rico visited. He stayed on my mind daily, and even after 3 months, I was still praying for the pain to be removed from my soul. “Lord, please restore my piece of mind. Give me joy and fulfillment in my spirit. I am empty Lord, and need you. Show me that I can exist without my love for Rico. Please guide my footsteps. I am ready to move my feet.”
I woke up Sunday morning, with a feeling of uneasiness and anxiety. I got dressed, and decided to head to church. This was the only place I could find the peace I needed. I turned the coffee maker off, and blew out the candle on the way to the front door. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I motioned him inside.
“I’ve tried to get over you Lida. I can’t. I can’t do life without you in it. Please, I’m begging you. Let me explain. I can explain everything. I’m ready to come to you, my love. I’m ready.”
Tears ran down my face as I listened to Rico sobbing as he professed his love for me. Every ounce of love that I had for this man, was still there, waiting to resurface. There was no way that I wanted to be without him, it was more clear to me now, than ever before.
He continued. “Lida, I need you in my life. But I have to rid myself of the strings I have with my wife. I need your help. She promised me that if I give her just enough money to live comfortably for the next six months, she will grant me the divorce and allow me to move on. I used my bonus to pay her credit card debt off. I just want her to be ok, so I can let her go. I need her blessing for my own piece of mind Lida. Please understand. Can you help me?”
“What is it that I can help you with Rico? I can’t do anything to help you. Why can’t she take care of herself? Until you realize that you are not responsible for her, I can have nothing to do with you. I’m sorry. Come to me when you are whole, and ready. I can’t go back down that same road again.”
“Lida, my business is suffering; my house is almost in foreclosure. I can’t live like this anymore. I just want to be happy. If you can loan me the money, I can pay Tanya and file the divorce. Then we can be together. I love you Lida. Don’t you love me?”
The next words I spoke slowly escaped my lips like warm molasses,
“No, Rico. I cannot help you. I’m sorry. As much as this hurts, I just can’t help you. Now please, leave my house, and don’t ever come by here again,”
I knew that I didn’t mean what I said to Rico. I didn’t have that kind of money to give Rico right now, but if I could, Lord knows I would have written him a check on the spot. I couldn’t let him know that I was that willing to take him back into my life.
Whoever said Happiness was priceless wasn’t in my shoes right now. I had a chance to take control of this situation, and I knew that God wanted Rico in my life. He wouldn’t have placed him here if he didn’t.
That night I prayed that God would send me the answer.
The next morning, it came.
“Hello, this is Lida.” I placed the phone on speaker while I finished washing my face.
It was my broker.
“Lida, Its Tom. We got an offer on the shop. They have agreed to the asking price, and 10% as a down payment. They have outstanding credit. The buyer has a passion for the business, and has patronized your shop for years. I don’t think we will get another offer like this. Lida honey, let’s take it! We can close escrow in 30 days!”
“Accept the offer. I’m ready.” I was ecstatic. This would allow me to use the money I had in my savings to give to Rico; it would only be 30 days before I received the proceeds from the sale. God had given me my answer, and I wasn’t hesitating to follow his advice.
I drove across town to Rico’s office. I pulled in the back, not wanting to run into the missus on such a joyous occasion. I walked around front and entered through the double doors. I didn’t see his car, and figured he was probably at lunch. I asked the secretary, if she could deliver the envelope to Rico upon his return. I handed her the manila file, and left.
3 weeks later Rico had a mover deliver his belongings to my place. We decided that since his house was upside down, and he had so much debt that it would be better for him to walk away from it and stay with me. We could work on rebuilding his business, while I used this time to go back to school. I would eventually open another shop, but for now, I needed to focus on my children, and my relationship with Rico.
I gave Rico $50,000 to give to Tanya, and was content with that decision. Any woman that could be “paid off” deserved every dime of that money. Tanya had 11 days to file her response for the divorce. I couldn’t wait until Rico received the paperwork back. I needed her out of our lives for good.
Exactly 28 days after accepting the offer for the sale of “Seksi”, I received confirmation that escrow was officially closed. It was a bittersweet moment for me. Tom advised me that the new buyer was grateful for the opportunity and wanted to invite me to the grand opening this coming Friday.
I couldn’t wait. I wanted to say goodbye to the shop, and give the new owner my blessings. I was thankful that the shop was going to someone with my same passion for the business. I wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing that it went to someone that didn’t cherish it the way I did.
Friday morning finally came. Rico agreed to accompany me to the shop; he knew how hard this was for me.
“Baby, this is the beginning of your new life. When God closes one door, he always opens another one. Give this new owner your blessings, and start rebuilding your life with me. I love you Lida, I am the happiest man alive with you.” He kissed me softly and led me to the car.
Any doubt that I had about Rico, vanished. I knew he loved me, and I loved him.
I quickly forgot the luxury I had in driving a mere 7 minutes to work each morning. How we take the smallest things for granted. I switched my focus to my new life, and refreshed my lip gloss while pulling in to the parking lot. I saw Cindy’s car. No matter what happened between us, she was still there for me and I loved her for that.
Before we could park, she was already running to the car. “Lida, I’ve already met the owner. Such a nice woman. She’s anxious to meet you. Come on!”
I couldn’t focus on Cindy’s words, as I looked at the new name displayed above the building.
” What the hell?” I thought.
“Babe, you see that name? Crazy, huh? Oh well, let’s go in.” He chuckled as he grabbed my hand and led me inside.
There were chairs lined up inside, each one of them filled except four in the back. We took the seats. There was a podium positioned up front, with a bouquet of roses. An older man stood up and introduced the new owner.
A thick, chocolate sister with braids took the stage and looked directly at me. My heart dropped.
“Thank you all for coming out. My name is Tanya, and I am the proud new owner of Karma. The supporters clapped.
I looked at Rico, a paralyzed expression on his face.
“Did you know about this Rico? How could you!”
“I promise you, I didn’t know.”
“I would like to give a special thanks to the man who made this all possible. Mr. Rico Gillard. And to Ms. Lida, my motivation. You have inspired me more than you know. Thank you for showing me how a “grown woman” handles her business. Good Luck to the both of you.”
Before she exited, a caramel colored man walked over and handed Rico an envelope containing the divorce papers. There was a note attached to the front.
“Rico, my love,
Enclosed you will find the divorce papers. I have agreed to everything you asked. I don’t want anything from you, as you have done more than enough. I removed my name from the house, and used the $50,000 you gave me as a down payment on a new home. Thank you for everything you have done. Good Luck to the both of you.”