Chapter 8

Monica escorted Keesha to her office and poured the unsettled woman a cup of water. "Here, honey, drink this."

Taking the cup from Monicaís hand, Keesha swallowed a sip of the cool beverage. When the task was done, she placed the cup on the end table next to her and released a drawn out sigh.

"You want to tell me whatís going on?" she asked, handing Keesha a tissue.

Keesha shook her head and blotted the tears that blurred her vision. "No, I really donít. I should go, Iím supposed to be meeting with Simone."

Monica stopped her before she could get up. "Look, Simone got called away to an emergency, so you donít have to rush. Besides, you are very upset. Iím not going to push you, but I think it would be good to talk about whatever is bothering you."

"Talk about it? How do you talk about something you donít understand?" Keesha shifted uncomfortably. "And I donít mean any harm, but youíre probably the last person I should be talking to about this."

"Hmm," Monica murmured as she took a seat on the couch next to Keesha. "Well, is it okay if I talk and you listen?"

She nodded. What could it hurt? "Sure, I guess I can do that."

"Iím no busybody, Keesha, but Iím pretty perceptive and I try to keep aware of things. Iím like that now, but years ago it was a different story. I wouldnít say I was flighty, but I made some mistakes. I was married to a wonderful man, Jeff, and I was happy with him. But even when I didnít want to admit it to myself, I was harboring feelings for someone else. This other manís name was Rick Webber, and he was my husbandís brother."

"What?" Keesha whispered.

"Itís a very long, and very complicated story, but the biggest lesson I got from all of that is to be honest. Had I been honest with Jeff, Rick and myself all those years ago, it would have saved us all a lot of heartache."

"Monica, why areÖ."

"Keesha, like I said, Iím perceptive, or I guess the better thing is to say, Iím not stupid. Iíve been in the position youíre in now."

She felt herself becoming defensive, something she had been feeling a lot lately. "Thereís no position, Monica. Are you accusing me of something?"

Monica covered the younger womanís hand with hers. "No, Iím not, and I would never judge you; that is not what this is about. What Iím saying is I know what it feels like to be torn. I think the first thing you need to do is admit something is amiss here. The next thing is to figure out exactly what your feelings are and whom youíre feeling them stronger for."

Keeshaís voice was shaky. "I know what my feelings are, Monica. Why are you telling me stories about your past involvement with two brothers?"

"Because I see the sins of the mother being passed on to the sons. Keesha, you can pretend all you want, but I see whatís happening here. I kind of blame myself, because I asked that you go along with this belief that AJ had of you two being a couple, even when I saw that Jason had concerns. Now there is a real reason for concern. AJ had a checkup with Tony today, and I suspect you ran into him in the cafeteria. This would also explain why you ran out of there like it was on fire. You and AJ have always been friends, but since he was released from the hospital, I never see you spend any time with him."

"You think I should spend time with AJ? I think that will make things worse." Keesha lowered her head as new tears filled her eyes. "I donít know how this happened. I donít even know what this is. I love Jason, I know that, but AJ isÖ. What am I saying?" she groaned.

"Youíre saying what I already know. Youíre conflicted, and Iím sorry. One of my sons is going to be hurt because they both fell in love with you. I care about you Keesha and thatís why Iím talking to you, but you have to deal with this. If I figured this out, how long do you think it will take before someone else does?"

"Someone else. You mean Jason?"

"Among others."

Keesha never allowed herself to think of that, but hearing Monica say it put her more on edge.

"If I lead AJ on, I didnít mean to," she confessed. "I never told him we were a couple. Jason and I decided that Iíd just be there, but if he asked, Iíd be honest with him. He never asked me, but he realized that Jason and I were together, and he said he didnít care. Heís got it in his head that Jason stole me away from him and heís bound and determined to get me away from him."

"Can he do that?" Monica asked.

Keesha pressed the tissue to her eyes and shook her head. "Iím not going to give him a chance to try. Thatís why Iím staying away."

"Look, I canít tell you what to do, or whatís right; only you know that. But avoiding AJ and pretending everything is right with Jason wonít help. When I said avoidance would make things worse, I wasnít speculating. I know first hand. Someone is going to be hurt. Not dealing with it is only putting off the inevitable."

The sound of Monicaís pager filled the room. She checked the number and stood from the couch. "I have to go. Stay here as long as you like, and if you need someone to talk to, you know how to reach me." She gave Keeshaís hand a squeeze. "You take care."

"Iíll try. Thank you."

When Monica left, Keesha approached the huge mahogany desk for a new tissue, and came face to face with 5 x 7 photos of the two men responsible for her highly emotional state. More tears streamed down her face as she picked up the sterling silver, double picture frame and held it close to her heart. She couldnít run from this. As painful as it was, she knew what she had to do. Replacing the frame on the desk, she picked up her purse and left the hospital.