V. WATER BENEATH THE BRIDGE
Night after night, I entertained different men. Indeed, I’d slipped back into my old habits. Without the stability that I’d had with Hal, I was no longer faithful to anyone. I had gone wild, no longer respecting myself enough to reserve myself for the next Mr. Right. I gave myself freely to each man that I brought home.
After Clint, I called Felix. But nine months after my night with Clint, I gave birth to Dannelle Alexandra. Like my other children, I gave her Hal’s last name. It was the only thing I could do. I wasn’t married to anyone else yet, so I still carried his name. But, I did allow the biological fathers their right to have their names on the child’s birth certificate. I continued to see Felix for six weeks after Danni’s birth, when we finally had sex, then he and I split up. Again, I ended up pregnant.
Nine months later, Felicity Rhea-Anne was born. Then, Mac entered my life again. As with the other men, his attentions didn’t last. Just three months and one night in my bed, he left me…pregnant, again. Nine months later, Samuel George was born. I began to get the feeling that my past was beginning to repeat its self. I wasn’t sure that I could keep up the brave front that I continued to put up.
It was at that time that I sat down and began to think. As a result, I let my body rest. I needed it badly. I had recklessly gotten pregnant too many times, times that my body had not been fully healed from the previous pregnancies. So I decided to just rest. I decided just to sit a few months out and heal.
Then, after a short rest, I jumped back into the game with both feet. I felt better than I had in months, and now I wanted to have sex again. I longed for the touch of a man. I wanted to continue my destructive path of lust. It was a relentless drive to find the end of life.
From that point on, it was a string of men younger than I, whom were introduced to me by Sara, Colleen, Kaylee, and Salina while we were out clubbing each night. They would flirt with men just to get them interested, and then refer them to me. Every night it was the same. Of course, they only chose men who were of interest to all of us. This was the tactic we all preferred. That way, after I used them, the girls would pick them up and sleep with them after I discarded them. Of course, we all used a love ’em and leave ’em philosophy. We’d use them for one-night stands, and then, leave them in the morning.
This went on for weeks, until we ran out of conquests. Then, Cozy walked back into my life. Though I had feelings for him, I knew that if he stayed long, he would let the cat out of the bag where my distant past was concerned…and that was something I didn’t need. Little did I know that he had no wish to reveal anything. He’d let the past die after convincing me to give up the cathouse.
Yet, as always, he didn’t stay long. After sleeping with me for a week, and getting me pregnant, he vanished like a ghost…never to return. He hadn’t changed. He’d always be on the move, trying to outrun something in his past. Whatever it was, he wouldn’t be able to outrun it. None of us would. We would, later, be forced to turn and face it. Then, Connie returned. Twice divorced, he looked worse for the wear. He’d not seen his children since the court dates, and his pain was evident. I almost thought that he had died inside from it, then he hugged me and burst into tears. It was then that I realized that he’d not cried it out of his system.
I suddenly felt the way I’d felt when Hal and I had been together. I’d found the second love of my life. I finally had a new man in my life who wouldn’t leave, and I knew it. It was finally time to settle down again. This time, someone would be there to help me with the children.
VI. A NEW CHANCE AT LIFE
Things began to settle down after Connie returned to me. We were still friends, but I felt something stronger growing in my heart for him. He was so devoted to both myself and the children, endearing himself to both as a result. The evolution of his own feelings began to show through in how he treated us. He showed remarkable patience with the children, and boundless energy as well. As for me, he showed me a special form of affection.
His love for the children was more than evident. He’d sit and play with them for hours, until they fell asleep. Once they were asleep, he’d put them into their beds and cover them. That done, he’d stand and watch them as they slept. It was almost as if he was afraid that if he turned away, they’d be gone. Perhaps he was afraid that they, too, would be taken from him. Or, maybe, he thought they’d grow up within seconds and be gone before he could say good-bye.
His love for me began to filter through the careful façade that he’d erected to keep his heart safe from all that could possibly harm it, when he began to relax his grip on his feelings. Unlike all the others, he seemed to have very little interest in sex as an object of lust. Rather, he seemed to feel that it had it’s time and place in the scheme of a relationship. This was a welcomed change for me. All that time, I’d devoted myself to the pursuit of lust only to find myself empty.
Only then did I realize that when I’d found true love, that I had felt full and truly blessed. At that point, a weight seemed to lift from my shoulders. I was once again free of my past. I was finally free to fully love someone once more. I was free to love dear old Connie.
And I did love him. I loved him more than he could ever know. I loved him just as much as I loved my children. But I loved him in a different way. I loved him in the same way that I had loved Hal.
We had been meant for each other. I knew that now. Until that point, I’d been trying to avoid and run away from him…trying to outrun true love. Until then, I’d not understood how futile my flight had been. I had literally been running in place emotionally. In the end, I had come to a sudden stop, crashing right into the very one I’d been trying to avoid. He had become my proverbial wall.
As we collided emotionally, we blended together spiritually. Our hearts became one. Our souls became entwined. Our bodies became the property of one another. We became one. Our purposes became a singular mission connecting two lives.
Life had brought us together at just the right time. We both needed someone else to cling to. We each needed someone of the opposite sex to draw close to and be with in our hours of need.
In the weeks that followed, Connie persistently asked me to marry him. Not ready for a move like that, I turned him down. I was careful to explain that it wasn’t him, that it was me. I simply wasn’t ready for that deep of a commitment. He seemed to understand, but he was visibly hurt. Seeing him in that kind of pain made me feel guilty, but I really wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment. I knew that it just wouldn’t last. Something, somehow, would cause it to fall apart. I was just sure of it.
Looking back, I realize that I should’ve accepted his proposal immediately. I was supposed to have gotten married to him, it was supposed to be my destiny…my fate. Everything would’ve worked out, and I would not be dying if I’d done it as it was supposed to be done. I would be…I would be the picture of health. Or would I?