As Keesha pressed her finger against the doorbell, she prayed he’d be there. After spending the majority of her afternoon crying on her bed, she needed the comfort of another human being. The comfort which would only come from someone she loved and someone who loved her. She needed her older cousin, Justus.
“All right, I’m coming!” yelled Justus from the other side of the door.
Keesha braced herself for him. Her eyes were red and her cheeks were puffy. Before she received the comfort she so desperately craved, she’d have some explaining to do. She didn’t look forward to that part at all. He’d ask her all sorts of questions about her feelings that she wasn’t ready to face, not to mention discuss. Even with that, she thought, please hurry.
“Lil Bit!” Justus said, as he opened the door. The smiled he beamed at her turned into a frown as he noticed the sadness which surrounded her. "What's wrong?"
The loving kindness which poured out of his voice was her undoing and like a child she threw herself into his arms and held on tight.
Justus closed the door with one hand and hugged her tightly with the other. Gently, he led her to the sofa where they both sat down. He patted her back until the sobs began to subside. "There, there now," he cooed.
Justus handed her a Kleenex and took a long, hard look at his cousin. "Do you think you can tell me what's wrong?"
Keesha nodded as she dabbed at her eyes. "AJ and I broke up."
Justus pulled her to him and said, "Aw, honey, I'm so sorry. Can you tell me what happened?"
"I'm not sure if I want to," she sniffled.
"Why not?" Justus asked. "Is he drinking again?"
"No! Of course not," she said, but deep inside she wasn't so sure. When he left her, he was hurting and she hoped that he wouldn't drown his problems with alcohol, like he used to do.
"Well, if he's not drinking, how awful can it be? Wait a minute. Another woman?" Justus asked, his eyes becoming angry at the thought of his cousin being slighted.
Keesha shook her head again. "It wasn't anything that AJ did. It was me."
"You?" Justus repeated. "Aw, Lil Bit, I don't believe that. What? Did you cheat on him?"
Justus started to laugh, but he stopped when he heard her softly spoken words.
"What is that supposed to mean?" he asked, his voice stern with disapproval.
"Justus, please don’t play the daddy act. I already have one, remember? I came here tonight because I need a friend, but if all you can do is lecture me, I'm out of here," she said, rising to leave.
"No, Keesha, wait," Justus said, taking her hand. He tugged on it until she sat down beside him again. "Tell me what happened. I'm all ears and I won't say a thing. Promise."
Keesha sighed. The words were on the tip of her tongue when his telephone began to ring. She nodded for him to answer it and she moved away to give him some privacy.
After the brief conversation ended, Justus hung up the telephone and said, "That was the hospital."
"Did something happen to Simone?" Keesha asked with a worried look on her face. "She's still alive, right?"
"You don't know?"
"What?" she asked, moving closer to him again.
"Simone woke up last night. She's going to make it," Justus said with a smile.
"That's wonderful," Keesha said. "If she's okay, why did the hospital call just now?"
"I have a deal with one of the nurses. They call me whenever Tommy leaves."
"He's still angry with you? I thought you two worked that out," Keesha said.
"Not quite. I decided to visit Simone when he's not around. It's easier on all three of us that way," Justus said.
"I'm sorry," Keesha said, taking his hand and giving it a gentle squeeze.
"Don’t be. He has a right to his anger. I'm hoping that the sessions with Gail will help him deal with that. He's had to endure too much for someone his age. I hope she can help him."
"She will. Gail is one of the best," Keesha said with a smile. "What are you doing still sitting down? Get up. Simone's awake and who knows how long Tommy will be gone."
"You're upset. I don’t want to leave you like this," Justus said.
"I'll be fine. Just go!"
"Stay here until I get back. We can talk then. I won't be there long. Like you said, Tommy may come back at any time," Justus said as moved to grab a jacket from his closet. As he shrugged into it, he asked, "You'll stay here, right?"
She nodded. "I'll stay."
Justus smiled at her and in the next second, he was gone.
Keesha plopped down onto the sofa and stared into space for a few minutes. When nothing happened to ease her sadness, she reached for his remote control. Her finger was on the power button when the doorbell began to ring. Thinking it was Justus, she ran to the door and opened it.
"What are you doing here?" they asked simultaneously.
They looked at each other for a few seconds until Keesha said, "You go first."
"I was looking for Justus," Jason said. "I needed to ask him something."
"Oh. Well, he's not here," Keesha said and then moved to close the door.
Jason stopped the door with his hand and said, "Fine. I can talk to him later. Keesha, how are you?"
"Fine," she said. "Now, if you'll excuse me-"
"Jason, please. Could we not do this right now? Please?" Keesha asked. She could feel the tears gathering in her eyes and she hoped that none would fall until he was nowhere in sight.
"I don’t want to do anything. I just want to look at you," he said softly.
"Do you want me to beg?" she asked, as one tear fell down her cheek.
Jason wiped the tear away and briefly caressed her face. He said, "You don’t have to beg. I'll leave."
He cupped her face in his heads and brushed his lips against her cheek. When he was done, he added, "I'll leave. I never intended to cause you any pain, but I can see that I have and I'm sorry. I'm so very sorry. For everything."
He caressed her cheek again and left. Keesha stood in the doorway and watched him until he had passed the elevators and went into his own penthouse. Then, she closed the door. Leaning against the door, she slowly lowered herself onto the ground. She pulled her knees to her chest and she rested her chin on her knees. Closing her eyes, she once again gave in to the tears which had been present through most of her day.