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“Hello.” Lela answered her phone flatly already knowing who was on the other end, thanks to caller ID.


“Hey baby, what you up to?” Jamal asked assertively trying not to sound as nervous as he really was.


Letting out a sigh of annoyance Lela responded, “I just finished having lunch at the seaport with some friends and now I’m headed to the Broadway Nassau station to catch the train home.”


“Wait, before you do that, I wanted to know if we could hook up? I guess lunch is out of the question, so let’s meet someplace where we can talk. How about Washington Square Park?” Finally getting the attention she wanted Lela said yes but not without letting Jamal know that he was treading in shallow water. “You know Jamal, I shouldn’t make this so convenient for you since you’ve been ignoring me for the past couple of weeks, but I’m curious to know what’s going on with you. I’ll be there in twenty minutes and you better not be a minute late.”


“I won’t baby, I promise.”


Breathing a sigh of relief not only because Lela agreed to meet him, but also because the bus from Chelsea Piers to the train just pulled up. Now he had to pray that the C or E train would be there to carry him the two stops to West 4th Street so that he could meet Lela on time.

 

Jamal arrived at Washington Square Park with 3 minutes to spare. He didn’t see Lela immediately so he did a thorough scan of the area. This park was always a place of peace and escape for him despite the fact that it sat right outside of New York University and played host to thousands of students, village artists, the homeless, and chess connoisseurs of various backgrounds. It was here that Jamal could blend into the crowd and yet be completely alone with his thoughts and ambitions. Most of the ideas for his marketing project were created right in this park.

 

After finding an empty bench to sit on within view of the chess tables he noticed Lela walking down the street. He knew it was her just from her sassy walk. Lela had a way of making a man take notice without even trying. She wasn’t what some would consider model beauty, but she was sexy as hell. Her cocoa brown skin with hints of red undertones was flawless. When she walked it reminded Jamal of a show horse because it almost seemed as if she pranced. Lela’s 5’4” frame perfectly fit into a size 6 whose tiny waist let out into an ample black girl’s behind. She wore her hair in a short texturized natural that complimented her oval face piercing dimples. Not to mention she was smart as a whip. This was Jamal’s woman and he didn’t want to lose her.

 

Lela spotted Jamal and sauntered over to him. Despite the fact that she was mad at him she couldn’t help but feeling warm all over when she stared at the handsome young man that she fell in love with 6 months ago. Although her friends thought he was playing her, she felt in her heart that Jamal still loved her and that there had to be a logical reason why he was avoiding her. She was willing to here him out, but she was determined not to be made a fool of.

 

Jamal engulfed Lela in a hungry hug. Lela could feel the cut of his chiseled body through his clothes. Jamal worked out the same way that he studied, very disciplined. They lingered like that for about a minute before Lela pried herself loose from his embrace. “Ok Jamal, you have my attention what’s the deal with you?” “Dog girl, you just jump right to the point, we can’t even savor the moment.” “What is there to savor Jamal? You haven’t responded to my calls and practically brushed me off this morning when I ran into you at school. I swear, if it wasn’t for the fact that we attended the same school I probably wouldn’t see you at all.”

“I guess I deserve that. Alright, let me just cut to the chase.”

 

Jamal sat back down on the bench gently guiding Lela down beside him. “Lela, I asked you to meet me here so that we can discuss our relationship.” Lela’s heart began to thump loudly at this statement. Although she was angry at Jamal she wasn’t sure that she was ready to call it quits and it sounded like she was about to be dumped, something that had never happened to her before. She began to fidget in her seat and nervously looked around wondering if Jamal and the rest of the park could hear her heart beating.

 

“Lela, I care a great deal about you and I know that I haven’t shown you that lately. However, there is a reason for my behavior.” “Oh Lord, please don’t tell me he’s gay,” Lela thought.” “Since the death of my brother, I have been determined that I wasn’t going to get caught up in these streets like he did. I have big plans Lela. My marketing project was just the tip of the iceberg for me. It’s my dream to own my own business one day and become an asset to the black community. I don’t want to be like some of these other people who just tell black folk what they want to hear to gain their support then dis them once they’ve made a pocket full cash. Naw, that ain’t my game plan. I want to be somebody that kids can look up to and help bring quality service to the hood.”

 

“I understand all of that and I support you one hundred percent. Hell, I’m from Flatbush, I know what it’s like to have substandard service in my neighborhood which is why I too am struggling to get ahead and make something of myself. What I don’t understand is what your dreams have to do with us and the way you’ve been treating me?” “If you would just listen, I could make my point.” “Well, go on then,” Lela said getting more and more annoyed at Jamal who to her seemed to be stalling.

 

“Like I was saying, I want more than the average brother who is content on getting a city job and making a little bit of dough. I want more than that and it’s going to take a lot of planning and researching. This means that I won’t be able to spend as much time with you as I’d like and I need you to be in my corner on this. Please, know sweetheart that I have never cheated on you with another woman. The only thing that I am guilty of is cheating with my time. I have been working day in and day out on that marketing project and it paid off. Ms. Jones said that she would introduce me to her friend that could possibly help me get my business started.”

 

“Wow Jamal, that’s great! I didn’t know that you were that serious.” Lela began to perk up and the butterflies in her stomach started to settle down now that she realized he wasn’t breaking up with her. “Although I am relieved to hear that you aren’t playing me, you aren’t completely out of the dog house. You could have told me what was going on instead of dodging my calls; I probably could have even helped you. Did you ever think about that?” “You’re right and I apologize for my behavior, you didn’t deserve that. That’s why I want to make a pact with you. From this day forward I promise not to dodge your calls and to tell you when I am busy only if you promise not to nag me and demand all of my time. Deal?” Lela didn’t respond, she just leaned forward and grabbed his face in her hands then gently pressed her full lips against his. Needless to say, confirmation was sealed with a wet and long awaited kiss.


(Next Episode October 27, 2005)