Maya looked at her ringing phone with wide eyes and a gaped mouth. She froze for a moment as she tried to think of what she should do. Why was Akira calling her? It didn’t matter. She had decided she wasn’t going to see him again. Her reasons were sound. She had nothing to hide. If anything, he should have a few things to share with her.
She hadn’t heard that rich, deep voice in a while. It was hard not to get excited. That would have been the time for her to ask how he was or some other pleasantry, but she wasn’t up for it. He called her. The burden of carrying the conversation was not going to be upon her shoulders.
“Are your parents working tonight?”
What an odd question. “No.”
“Can you meet me at the restaurant?”
A date with Akira. What was that thing lurking inside which prevented her from immediately saying no? Was it more than mere curiosity? Were those feelings still there simmering under the surface? She wasn’t sure but seized the opportunity to get the closure she wanted. Between her new job and Juliana being busy with a newborn, the cousins hadn’t gotten the opportunity to catch up, and she never found out if any arrangements were made with Akira.
Although none of it was anyone’s fault, Maya still felt the need to make Akira pay for what she thought she lost. She changed into her most fitted outfit and wanted to see him drool when he cast eyes on her again. Begging to go out again would be the cherry on top.
Maya arrived first seeing as how she only lived across the street. It had been a while since she spent any time at Viviana’s. When she walked through the door, the look on Aylin’s face made her keenly aware of that fact.
“Maya? Wow! It’s been ages! You look great!”
She forced a smile and hoped Aylin couldn’t tell she couldn’t remember her name. “Thanks. So do you…I mean, I like the new uniforms.”
A moment of awkwardness presented itself before Aylin realized she still had a job to do. “Are you dining with us tonight?”
“Yeah. I’m actually meeting someone here…. Could you…I don’t want my dad to know I was here…”
The little escapade with Akira was already going south, and she hated the position she would put everyone in that night. Was it wrong for her to ask them not to mention her presence? Not necessarily. But, it felt wrong.
“Your secret is safe with me.” Aylin tapped her screen a few times to find a table. “Ummm, the only table for two we have open right now is at the front window. Are you ok with that? I can put you at a bigger table in the back if you want.”
“Thanks, but it’s cool. I don’t expect to see my dad lurking the streets at this hour.”
They shared a laugh.
“How is your mother?”
“She’s good…still sick in the mornings, but good.”
“Glad to hear it. Are you guys excited? What do you want it to be?”
“Ummm, yeah? It’s weird, but it’s cool I guess. I wouldn’t mind a little brother.”
“Little brothers are the best.” She ushered Maya to her table. “I don’t think you know Archer. I’ll send him instead.”
Maya appreciated the gesture. “Thanks, but is it ok if I get Savannah?”
Skyla and Savannah had become good friends so Maya saw her more often than the other employees.
“Whatever you like, Ms. Pruett.” She winked and walked away.
Maya sent Akira a text saying she got a table up front and waited. What did he want? That question ate her up inside as she rubbed her fingers together to deal with the nerves. Finally, she saw Akira swag down the street. Despite her resolve to not continue seeing him, he still made her heart pitter patter. Perhaps she would be the one drooling that night and busied herself with the menu to keep from behaving awkwardly.
“Mmmm,” he moaned as he sat. “You killin’ it, girl. You been working out or something?”
She shrugged playfully and buried her face in the menu as she smirked. Operation Drool Fest was a success.
“I guess it’s safe to say you missed me,” he said.
Before she could answer, Savannah showed up to take their orders.
“Look who it is!”
“You know…I don’t think I’ve seen you in here since you were a teenager.”
“Hmmm…yeah, I guess it has been that long.”
Savannah leaned within whispering distance. “Who’s your cute friend?”
“He’s…” She glanced at Akira who was looking over the menu but totally eavesdropping. “Can you not tell my parents I was here?” she whispered.
Savannah’s eyes narrowed. “Maya…”
“It’s nothing bad, I swear. I just don’t want daddy to know I was here with him. Please?”
Her eyes bounced between the two of them before she let out a frustrated sigh. “Ok, fine. But I’ll be watching.”
Savannah took their orders and disappeared.
He snorted. “So you’re ashamed of me now?”
She rolled her eyes. “It’s not like that.”
“Then what is it like?” His voice was almost daring.
“My dad doesn’t like you.”
His head jerked back as his faced scrunched. “He don’t know me.”
“It doesn’t matter.” She tried to leave it at that, but his beautiful obsidian eyes begged for an explanation. “He thinks you…” Honestly, she wasn’t quite sure what he thought Akira did, and it didn’t matter. She didn’t owe him an explanation. “It’s because of my cousin.”
“Who is your cousin?”
It was her head that jerked back that time. “Are you serious?”
He looked genuine in his ignorance.
“She didn’t tell you?”
He was getting irritated.
She didn’t miss that flash of shock that shot across his eyes before he lowered them.
He smirked. “Now it makes sense.”
He slowly looked up at her. “Why you never called.”
His eyes were nearing the puppy dog state. For a split second, she was sympathetic toward him. Then she remembered something.
“I don’t have any missed calls from you either…”
He shrugged. “I just found out I was having a baby with some girl I didn’t know. I just…I needed a minute.”
Again, she briefly felt sorry for him before remembering he looked quite happy at the club last week. “What are we doing here, Akira?”
He began shifting in his seat. “Uhhh…. M-my parents went back to Japan a few years back.” He couldn’t maintain eye contact with her. “They got this huge business empire…anyway…they used me as a bargaining chip in this big deal with one of their rivals…”
She had no idea where he was going with the story, but was very anxious to get to the point.
“They made me marry the other family’s daughter. Something about unity or some stupid mess like that.”
She thought her feelings toward Akira were in check until she felt her stomach drop. Why did all the guys she got involved with all suddenly get married? And, why did it bother her so much? Did she feel abandoned? Was it the subject of marriage? Deep down, was that something she desired more than she knew? Whatever the case was, she didn’t like being in that position again.
“I didn’t have a choice…”
That touched a nerve. “Of course you did!”
“They were gonna cut me out the will if didn’t do it!”
“You still had a choice! Just like you had a choice when…” She felt the pressure of tears building behind her eyes. She didn’t want that and took a deep breath before finding her way to the point. “What does this have to do with me?”
“I still wanna see you.”
Those dark, tense eyes pierced into her soul, making her feel an odd mix of flattery, anger, and disgust. That wasn’t the kind of begging she wanted.
“It’s cool. Me and her talked, and neither of us wanted to do it. Since our parents are so far away, we decided to continue seeing other people.”
She couldn’t believe her ears. “Are you serious right now?”
He cracked a tiny grin.
“Are you seriously asking me to be your… I’m not that kind of girl! Is that what you think of me?”
He stared at her for a moment before he began to chuckle. “Come on, now. We had a good vibe. You just gon let that go?”
They did have a nice little something though it was short lived. She enjoyed it and wanted more. It was cut short, and she felt cheated. This was an opportunity to get that back if she wanted it. He was showing her what kind of person he was, and even just for a little fun, this was not what she wanted.
He sucked his teeth. “Oh, I see how it is. You got somebody else. Who is he?”
Her frustration level shot through the roof. “AKIRA! We were never together! What is this?”
“Ok, here we are,” Savannah said, setting their food on the table.
“Is everything ok?”
“No,” Maya yelled and went home.
Perhaps she let him drool too much.