"Save that bullshit for your fans. I read your books and I see me, hear the things I've said, see you, your words, hear your voice, feel sad and bad because I know that all the pain you write about is us."
"Maybe you should write a book. Let me know how you really feel, what's going on with you."
She goes on, "Be honest. Would you be this, I don't know, well, for lack of a better word, understanding if I were---"
"I'm not understanding; I don't understand this whole lesbian shit."
"I'm not a lesbian," she says with force. Then she backs off. "Sweetie, I'm not a lesbian."
I tell her, "Look, I'm being patient. Waiting for you to get through this ... this ... this phase."
"Okay, patient. Would you be acting like a stunt double for Job if I were having a relationship, okay, even living with another man?"
"Hell, no. I'd break his neck. Go Left Eye and burn down the house. Not in that order."
She says, "Going Left Eye. Now that turns me on. That evil side you try to hide."
"I'm serious. I want you two to meet. We have to. I want both of your spirits to be at ease. I want my spirit at ease. I want all of us to be able to lunch together from time to time, have conversations, run races together, that way I don't have to be stressed and trying to figure out who I'm going to be with. It's a lose-lose for me, and I'm trying to make it a win-win for us all."
"So, she's scared of me."
"You don't see her as a threat, not the way she sees you as a threat."
"Nothing that menstruates is a threat to me. Ain't scared of nothing that bleeds."
"Okay, Mister Macho."
Nicole has immeasurable passion when she talks about her soft-legged lover. I wonder if when she's talking to her friend about me, if she speaks with the same heated tongue, one that drips adjectives made of sweet mangos, verbs made of ripe kiwis, says my name as if it were a fresh strawberry.
I say, "So, this is for me, you, and her."
"At this stage in my life, I do know what I want. And I'm going after it. I'm being honest with myself and I have the courage to follow it."
"How long did you practice that Fantasy Islandsounding speech?"
She extends both her middle fingers my way.
I ask, "You want it to be like that?"
"Ideally, yeah. If could wake up every day knowing I was going to share my life with two people I adore, do that without any stress, yeah, my world would be perfect."
I say, "World ain't perfect."
"Our world can be perfect enough for us. We can create new boundaries, new love."
We. I notice she uses the word we a lot. The ultimate team player. A company woman.
"Dunno, Nicole. Dunno. Me, you, and your friend. That puts a chill in the pit of my stomach."
"That chill is your sense of adventure tapping you on your shoulder."
"You're quoting me."
"The unknown is always an added attraction."
"I told you that too."
"Yes, you did. Got me to drop my drawers when that honey-rich baritone voice of yours whispered those words in my ear. Had me doing all kinds of shit for your ass. In and out of bed. Helped you out when your money was low, was your shoulder when your daddy gave you grief. I gave all of me to you. Your turn to give a little. Push the envelope, sweetie. Live up to your own standards."
Our pace gets closer to eight-minute miles. She's a great runner. Five inches shorter than I am, and a minute faster on a hilly mile. Arms low, nice smooth kick, floating, she moves as if my orgasm has given her strength, doubled her stamina. I'm a slow starter and I use her to motivate my stride.
Reprinted from Between Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2001 by Eric Jerome Dickey. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced without permission.
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