Six.

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Alice scurried down the stairs to the front door and straightened out her clothes. She hadn’t seen Andrew in two days and she was prepared for a lifetime of groveling and ass-kissing so that he would forgive her. Those days gave her insight to what she really wanted: her husband, her home, his child. She sighed and whipped the door open, but it was not her husband waiting for her. Roman looked up from his cell phone and smiled, the bright, hypnotic smile that left many women breathless in his wake. “Hey Blackbird,” he said to his former flame. Alice stood, mouth agape, confused, excited, scared at him. He was no longer the skinny, corner thug she was madly in love with. Now he was muscular, dapper, more refined. He had aged very well and her body was receptive to that fact. “What, you can’t invite me inside?” Wordless, Alice stepped to the side, pulling the door wider so he can step past her. “Damn, you still got it,” he said, looking her over as she shut the door. “Romeo, what…how…when..
“A few weeks ago. Good behavior,” he said, raising two fingers, emulating a Boy Scout signal. “You’d know that, had you kept writing me,” Roman said, looking over the space he stood in. “I didn’t…know what to say.”
“‘I love you’? ‘I miss you’? ‘I met someone else’? ‘We’re getting married’?”
“You deserve better than that…”
“Oh yeah, this feels much better,” Roman said sarcastically. Alice was his soft spot, even after all this time. She was the only person who could break him, hurt him. “Rome…Roman. I’m sorry. I had to move on. I went off to college and…”
“No, no, I get it,” he said, raising his hand. He didn’t need an explanation. “What are you doing here?”
“I had a little business in town and your mom told me to look you up.”
“My mom?” The relationship between her and her mother was strained, especially since her mother was #TeamAndrew when she found out she wasn’t excelling at her “wifely duties”. “She told me you stopped calling. Haven’t been by in months.”
“Yeah, well, I’ve been busy…” Alice said, walking past him toward the kitchen. Roman snorted outloud at her choice of wording as he followed her into the the spacious kitchen. “What’s funny?”
“Yeah, you’ve been ‘busy’ alright,” he said, still laughing at his inside joke.
“What the fuck does that mean?” Alice said, folding her arms and narrowing her eyes at him. “Look, I didn’t come here to argue,” he said. She wanted to slap his beautiful face, the face that still haunted her childhood memories. She cursed her body for still being drawn to him after all these years; he was her first love, her first, the first to careen her into the throes of passion. Her body practically vibrated as Roman took several steps towards her and reached out and stroked her bare arms. “I missed you, Bird. I spent all that time up in that cell, thinking about…what would happen when I left. I dreamed about you every night.”
“Roman…”
“Seriously, Bird. The thought of you…got me through some hard times…” he said, his hand traveling across her shoulders and down her back. His touch was still electrifying; she could feel goosebumps forming over her skin. Her heart began to race as he pressed his hard body against hers. She looked up into his eyes, trying to convey as much hate as she could muster but his hands were still on her, melting her resolve into hot, sticky goo. He leaned down and put his nose and mouth on her neck, breathing in as much of her as he could before he began planting soft kisses near her ear. The pull of hot summer days of their youth was present as he kissed her. He nicknamed her Bird because she was his freedom, his wings. She called him Romeo because his love for her was unrequited and, sometimes, irrational.
She placed her hand on his chest. “Roman…our time has passed. I’m married and I’m…failing as it is, without adding our old drama.”
“Drama? That’s a funny way of putting it…”
“I don’t know what you want me to say. ‘I’m sorry for sending you to prison’? ‘Thank you for taking the rap for me’? You do have to accept some responsibility for your actions.”
“MY actions? I didn’t kill anybody!”
“Yeah…but you got caught.” Steely silence separated them before Roman turned away, taking his leave. He stopped in the doorway. “I’ll never stop loving you, Alice. No matter what you do,” he said, shutting the door behind him. Another sharp pain shot through Alice’s pelvis, bringing her to her knees.

Desiree saw Andrew through the window as she came down the stairs. She whipped the scarf off her head and fluffed her curly hair slightly. She knew she shouldn’t be this excited to see a man she barely knew, a MARRIED one at that, but she couldn’t help herself. She took a breath before she opened the door. “Hey…Are you ok?”
Andrew looked weary, even more tired than he felt. He was angry, hurt, sad, empty. He never intended to show up at Desiree’s doorstep, but his body had driven him there. Without a word, he scooped her petite frame up into his arms and kissed her. Her lips were softer than he imagined and she was more receptive to the move than he expected. He took two steps inside and shut the door behind him. “Upstairs,” she murmured into his mouth before dismounting him and leading him up to her living space. In her bedroom, she sat him down on the bed and took his face in her hands. He looked up at her, his eyes welling with tears. “My wife…she’s cheating on me.” Desiree looked at him a second longer before she said “I have a remedy for that.”

He hadn’t done it since college, but like riding a bike, it was all muscle memory. His body knew exactly what to do. He inhaled the smoke and passed the joint back to her. They laid on the floor opposite one another, passing the purple herb over their heads. The pressure in his lungs dissipated as he exhaled, the smoke milling over them. “I’m gonna lose her,” he said plainly.
“No. No, you’re not.”
“I mean…why do people cheat. Because they’re unhappy, because they are missing something at home.”
“No. There are thousands of reasons.”
“That doesn’t make me feel better,” he said, taking another puff. Desiree sat up and looked down at him. “You had sex. Did she say she was leaving you?”
“No.”
“Does she love him?”
“I…I don’t know. We didn’t exactly talk about it. I just left.”
“How could you just leave?”
“What would you do if the person you dedicated your life to, took vows with, told you she was sleeping with someone else?”
Andrew had a point. She inhaled and contemplated. “Has she called you?”
“About 100 times.”
“She’s not leaving you,” Desiree said, puffing on the remaining roach and ashing it in the porcelain bowl next to her. “How can you be sure?”
“Because, if I was cheating on someone and about to leave them, I wouldn’t call. She wants you back.”
Andrew had never considered that. The whole time he thought that the romp in the kitchen was the close of their marriage. “But how do I go back?” he asked.
“Do you want to?”

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