Sneak Peek: The Pride

Copyright© 2011, Faydra D. Fields. All rights reserved.

Typos have been fixed in the final version of the book. Keep in mind that some of this information may have changed in the final version, as well. The changes were made to make the story flow better.

Installment #9

Emmanuel and Xavari

“Why are you playing, Emmanuel?” Xavari felt deflated. Emmanuel was taking control of the conversation, something she hated.

“I’m not. If it will make you happy to get married, if that’s what will make you know all this is going to be OK, then let’s do it.” Emmanuel continued to look Xavari square in the face.

“You know I don’t want to get married just because I’m pregnant.” Xavari dropped her eyes to her lap.

“Yeah. I know that. So why are you trying to pick a fight with me over something we both know isn’t an issue?” Emmanuel crooked his fore finger and put it under her chin. He gently raised her face so he could look into her eyes.

“Stop,” she said quietly and leaned back away from his hand. She didn’t want him to touch her so tenderly. She didn’t want to start crying. She wanted to be angry.

“You stop it,” Emmanuel said just as quietly as Xavari. He pulled her to him and she didn’t resist. She put her head on his shoulder and cried.

“I don’t want you to hold me. I want to be mad at you.” Xavari strained and stuttered out the words between her sobs.

“Tell me what you want, Xavari. You know I’ll take care of you and my babies.” Emmanuel rubbed her back with both hands as though he were trying to massage all the tears out of her body. He didn’t like anyone to cry, especially not people he cared about. Tears made him feel helpless.

“That’s just it. I don’t want you taking care of me. Take care of Xavier, yes. Take care of me, no. Don’t you understand? I didn’t want another baby this soon. I wanted to finish college and get a decent job and be married before I had another baby.” Xavari pulled herself away from Emmanuel and looked at him. He looked back at her.

“You can finish school, Zee. You’ll have plenty of help from people who care about you. I’m will…”

“UUUUUUHHHHHHH, EMMANUEL! Don’t you get it?!?!” Xavari leaped from the bed and planted herself in front of him.

“What’s wrong? I don’t understand what the problem is.” Emmanuel looked at Xavari with astonishment. He couldn’t figure out why she was so upset.

“I don’t want people helping me! I’m grateful that there are people in my life to help me, but I wouldn’t need their kind of help if I wasn’t too stupid to keep from getting pregnant again, not to mention the first time. THIS IS NOT HOW I PLANNED MY LIFE!” Xavari covered her face with both hands and cried anew. Emmanuel didn’t try to comfort her this time. He realized he couldn’t comfort her.

“What do you want me to do, Xavari? Do you want me to leave?” He’d come with the intention of staying the night with her. She’d asked him to come over and watch Xavier while she attended her classes. Somebody needed to be there when the air conditioning guy arrived, so she’d told him it made sense to keep Xavier home so he could spend some time with Emmanuel, since Emmanuel was going to be there to let the HVAC guy into the apartment.

“No, I don’t want you to go. I just don’t want you to be all excited and happy about this. I want you to see this from my perspective. I’m a 19-year-old, black female with limited education and limited possibilities. I know that children are a blessing. I know that in my heart, but my head is telling me that this is just a bad thing.” Xavari sank to the floor in the spot where she was standing and looked up at Emmanuel. She could see he finally got it.

“Wow, Xavari. I guess I didn’t think about what you wanted from all this. I was just happy to know I had another baby on the way. I can’t help but be excited. I love my children, and I’m excited about being a father all over again. I can’t help that. It’s the way I’m wired.” Emmanuel looked down at Xavari.

“Why are you wired that way, Emmanuel? What makes you want all these children?”

Silence.

Are you going to answer my question, Emmanuel?”

Silence.

Emmanuel looked away from Xavari for the first time, and she saw something painful in his eyes before he dropped his gaze. She hoped she hadn’t gone too far. She wasn’t trying to hurt him. She just wanted to know why he was the way he was. She didn’t know any man like him; not even her own father who’d raised her and her sister after their mother had passed away.

Her father never remarried and never had more children. He doted on his girls, devoting all his time away from work to her and Regina. After her death, their mother’s mother had tried to take Xavari and Regina away from their father by taking him to court for custody. Xavari found out only about a year ago that her father had come close to financial ruin fighting to keep his girls with him. She realized, however, that Emmanuel’s obsession with his children didn’t compare with her father’s love for her and Regina. She realized Emmanuel was driven by something she couldn’t fathom. She sought to soften her inquiry.

I’m not saying it’s bad to want children, but why are you so happy about having another child. This baby in my belly makes how many?” Xavari continued to look at Emmanuel, who finally raised his eyes back up to hers.

“Ten,” Emmanuel stared behind Xavari at the window sill. He realized that he was uncomfortable about not being uncomfortable to admit he was the father of 10 children by four different women. The thought of all his children made his heart smile, but a quick look back at Xavari made him suppress the grin that would have formed on his lips.

Ten children, Emmanuel? Ten. My goodness, Emmanuel. Ten. Children.” Xavari looked at Emmanuel and shook her head from side-to-side slowly.

What?” Emmanuel looked at Xavari without an ounce of shame, guilt, remorse or regret.

Didn’t you ever want to marry any of the women you have children with?”

Um,” he thought a moment and then said, “I wasn’t opposed to marrying any of them, but it never really came up. It wasn’t something we talked about. They just wanted to know their children would be taken care of, and I’ve done that.”

So why would you ask me to marry you?”

Like I said, I’m not opposed to marriage. You’re the first one to bring it up, actually, as weird as that sounds.”

Who are these women? Why wouldn’t they want to be married to the father of their children?”

Xavari? Sweetie? You don’t want to marry me and I’m the father of your children.”

There was silence between them for several minutes.

Tell me about them,” Xavari said.

Who?” Emmanuel had started daydreaming about a new baby, and his mind was elsewhere when Xavari spoke.

The other women you have children with. You know who I’m talking about.”

What do you want to know,” Emmanuel asked her.

I want to know about them. How old are they? What do they do? Who is whose momma? How did you meet them? All that.”

Why,” Emmanuel asked.

I just want to know.”

Why?”

Do any of them know about me,” Xavari asked.

Yes. All of them know about you. You all know about each other. You know I don’t keep secrets.”

I know,” Xavari said. She remembered that she’d been attracted to him because he was such a paternal guy. He exuded strength and protection, and she’d fallen in love with him because of the way he verbally gushed about his children. That part of him reminded her of her own father. She felt safe with Emmanuel. That’s why she’d let her guard down so easily and ended up pregnant by him…twice. What was it about a man who loved being a daddy that made women so crazy, Xavari wondered to herself?

Why do you all always get around to asking me this question?” Emmanuel breathed in deep and let out a long sigh.

Inquiring minds want to know,” Xavari repeated the popular tabloid slogan with a bit of sarcasm in her voice.

Yeah. I know. Well, Denise is the mother of my oldest son, William…”

Copyright© 2011, Faydra D. Fields. All rights reserved.


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