Of Love and Ink Ch. 04byjesstoyou©
AUTHOR'S NOTE **** Hey everyone ... thank you so much for reading! I am so flattered that my story has evoked such passion for poor Justine's plight. I feel that I need to explain a bit about who she is here before you read this next entry. As difficult as it is to admit, in a lot of ways, Justine is me ... I have lived most of this story. (So for those of you wondering who really falls in love with "a gay dude" it's me. :) Justine is growing ... her progress is slow, but in all of her turmoil, she is getting stronger, it is just not so easily seen. I guess this story for me is not so much about Justine's backbone as it is about her capacity to forgive love itself so that she can once again give as well as accept it for herself again. So if you are seeking Justine's courage, I think you will find it in her ability to forgive and open herself up once more. Thanks again for stopping by, and I do hope you continue to come back. <3 Jj. **** AUTHOR'S NOTE
After discussing Ian all night I was not sure I had enough strength to walk down memory lane with Malichai again. It was beyond me why he even wanted to hear about my lost loves. It really was irrelevant after all. Hearts are broken everyday ... why should mine be so interesting? But, in my apathy, there was a part of me that needed to purge, I guess as we sat there beside one another amid out plates of pancake crumbs that is what drove me on to tell him about Stephen.
"Stephen L. Hamlin broke me down to nothing in the span of two of the longest years of my life."
Malichai sat at the table sipping a mocha latte as I cringed at the mention of Stephen's name. I felt bile bubble up my esophagus as I restrained a curse in his name.
"Wait a minute Justine, Stephen? Wasn't he the guy who came to the loft looking for you in New York?"
I had hoped Malichai had forgotten that night. It was not the first time Stephen had found me. Malichai and I were showcasing some of Malichai's art on this particular night, and Stephen decided he would crash the show. Let's just say, the brawl he and Malichai got into left most of Malichai's sculptures in pieces and Malichai's name as an up and coming artist questionable in New York for a while.
"Yes Malichai, the troglodyte is one in the same."
"Ha! Jesus Justine! You loved a prat like that? He was so boorish and well just angry ... hell he cost me thousands!"
"Oh come on Malichai, he was not fighting with himself. You both had an abundance of testosterone flowing that night. Besides, you were born and raised in the city, I thought you native New Yorkers wrote the book on angry and boorish?"
"Funny funny girl Justine ... touché ... so, what happened with you and Mr. Hamlin?"
I tucked into a seat next to Malichai as I made to tell him the tale of a jaded young girl who thought life would fall right in line for her after high school. It is the ultimate story of innocence lost, and cynicism gained. I think with Stephen was the first time I learned what it really meant to hate. To this day, I have not forgiven him.
I was a girl of twenty-one when Stephen and I happened upon each other at a discothèque in Mainz. He was with a group of American soldiers stationed in Germany; I was with a few friends as well, one of whom was utterly smitten with the coco colored American with the green eyes. She begged me to introduce her. I guess she figured my being American meant it was ok for me to accost fellow Americans for her in the interest of German-American relations. But when Stephen and I saw each other, it did not matter who we had come out with, we were leaving together.
After our first couple of dates I decided, like Malichai learned, that Stephen was rather uncouth. Every other word out of his mouth was a swear word, and little did he know, I noticed how he ogled passing women while we were out together. After our third date I decided our time together was time wasted, and had decided to move on. A few weeks past before Stephen and I spoke again, but when we finally did I saw a notable change in his manner.
He was, sweet. In three short weeks this sophomoric troglodyte managed to grow up some to reveal the makings of what I thought, in my short years, would be a good man and mate. We dated for a few weeks before my dumb twenty one year old ass let him move in. Our relationship ran hot and cold. When we were not fighting, we were canoodling and fawning over one another. It was not until I got pregnant about a year after he moved in that the relationship did a complete 360.
"Is it mine?" Stephen's old smug self came out again as he challenged my integrity and fidelity.
"I-Is it yours? Um ... I think my hearing is off ... what the hell do you mean? Is it fucking yours? Well it's not Hans's down the walkplatz! Yes you prick! This baby is yours!"
"Justine I didn't mean ...!
"I know exactly what you meant Steve! You think because you are away half the time on your 'military exercises' that maybe I got a little on the side and lucky for you slipped up right?"
"Well not so lucky soldier, you got caught up, the kid is yours!"
He packed his things that night and moved back into his military assigned apartment. I did not hear from him for two weeks, and when we finally did speak, I wished he had just stayed gone.
"Justine ... we need to talk."
"So formal, I'm not Justine any more? You're right; we do need to talk Stephen. The Doctor says I am about two months along now, I want this baby."
He did not speak for a long time. I thought the line had been disconnected when I heard him sigh as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.
"No Justine ..."
"Justine, we are not ready for a baby! I am getting ready to leave for PLDC to get my promotion in two weeks! After that, I am more than likely shipping out to Kosovo for a year or more! I cannot have a baby right now!"
Now it was my turn to hold the phone. I was in shock. I had become one of 'those chicks' ... you know the type used, abused, and through, but still ready for more, whatever he had to give ... it didn't matter, as long as he stuck around.
"What are you saying Stephen?"
"My friend and his girl used this Doctor in Frankfurt ... he is discreet. We could do a day trip, take care of everything and be back in Mainz for dinner.
I was dying inside. My blood boiled and rolled in my veins like a derailed freight train, and my head spun like a dreidel top. My mother had sent me to Germany to learn something about the world, but this lesson was one I do not think she had in mind.
"Steve, when are you coming home?"
I did not know it when I asked him, but my decision hinged on his answer. If he had said that he was not moving back in, I think I would have kept the baby to trap him, to trap us, together. Because even with all his faults ... I think I loved the idiot, at the very least, I was so obsessed with him, that I was willing to have his baby for the sake of forcing him to stay in my life. I think he knew this as well. He moved back in a week before the abortion, and threatened to leave again the night before we went to Frankfurt because I had changed my mind. In the end we did go ... and about a year more of fighting, and his infidelity, so did Stephen.
"Justine, Steve called me from K-Town last night ... "
Stephen's best friend since high school Greg had not even closed the door before he started talking. They enlisted together on the buddy program and had only been assigned to different units once in their whole time serving until Stephen got assigned to the hospital in Kaiserslautern.
"Oh yeah, what'd he have to say? By the way, do you know what charities are here in Germany? Do you think I could donate all our furniture or should I sell it?"
I had been packing all day. I was supposed to take the train to Saarbrucken the next day to elope with Stephen. He had asked me to marry him five months before, and I quickly accepted his proposal. Ever since that day I had been planning out my life as a soldier's wife. I dreamt of our home on post with our family of four, a girl for me and a boy for him, a dog names Shadow, a cat called Tabby; the whole bit.
"There is no point in you getting on the train ... you should just stay here."
I chuckled some as I put a silk blouse into my bag ...
"Do you think he will want his Kevlar coat? I know he probably has not gotten another one since he has been gone."
"Justine, you cannot go to Saarbrucken tomorrow ... he is not going to meet you ..."
"Shut up Greg! Just shut up!"
I think I had been holding back tears when I opened the door for Greg. He never came round unless it Stephen was home. I knew his visit could not be a good sign. And the last couple of times Stephen and I spoke on the phone he had been short, and the very last time we spoke, he hung up on me making like there was a bad connection, but I knew the connection had been fine.
"Justine, he got a girl pregnant in K-Town ... his dad flew in from the states to visit, and he and the girl found out she is pregnant during the visit. His dad insists he marry her."
"No! You are lying! He would have told me something!"
"Would he have Justine? Do you really think he would have told you? Yeah, he probably would, because he is such a great guy ... right?"
I looked at Greg and immediately my tears stopped. I would not give him and Stephen more fodder to laugh at, now along with Stephen's new fiancée. I lifted my chin to him and dared him to say more. No matter what he had to say, I did not want or need to hear it. I began to unpack while he was sanding there watching me. I wanted him to leave, but apparently he was waiting for a queue.
"Give this to him would you? I'd hate for him to freeze to death."
I held the Kevlar coat out by the collar as I banged the door into the wall snapping the door jam off as I showed Greg out.
I did not notice the rain until the phone rang. The timing was perfect ... I had finished talking as Malichai took his last bite of Pancake. He looked so natural sitting there across from me, and more comfortable than I ever felt in my own home. He rarely wore clothes, and this morning he sat eating pancakes in front of God and everybody naked as the day he was born. I was fine with his nudity until he jumped up to grab the phone. It was obvious looking at his erection that he had not calmed down from our first interactions just a couple of hours before. He found my blushing despite my chocolate skin tone amusing as he excused himself, brushing against my arm.
"Oh ... hey Edward ..."
My nerves stood on end at the very mention of Edward's name. Malichai stole a glance over to me and offered a small smile meant to comfort me. But the thing I found most comforting is the fact that the second he heard Edward's sickening voice on the line, his lovely erection began to finally diminish. It was not until I saw that that I offered him a smile back and began to clear the table.
"Ed, I have only about an hour at most to spend with you this afternoon ... no ... no, Ed I know you came for a visit, but Justine needs me now ... Ed ... Edward I'm sorry! I am not going to mess this up again! One hour Ed ... I'm sorry ..."
I tried to give Malichai his privacy, but somehow I could not help but eavesdrop on his conversation with Edward. When the conversation finished I was stunned. He really did want to be back in my life as my man ... my heart did flip flops at the implications, but my head ... my head would not allow me to run amuck like a silly school girl discovering love for the first time. My heart was more than ready to love Malichai ... but my head just could not reconcile how he hurt me in the past with his actions today ... my head was having none of this love business.
"So, the fairy boy is town then?
"Malichai is no more a fairy than you are a carpet-muncher Renéee!"
"Ouch chica! I'm just messin' with you!! Unless of course you're making me an offer I certainly could not refuse ..."
Renéee shoved a piece of lettuce in her mouth as she winked a sparkling green eye at me. She had been trying to get me to switch teams for as long as I had known her.
"Nope Renéee ... no offers, unless you'd like a martini ..."
"Damn, shot down again ... I guess I will have to settle for that drink. So, when am I going to meet Mr. wonderful? He sounds hot ... I may have to go it straight for a night or two ..."
I slapped her playfully on the arm ...
"Trust me Renée ... you are not his type ..."
Lunch with my best friend in the world, Renéee Woodward was good, but I was distracted. Malichai was off somewhere in Dallas chatting Edward up and though I was sure now that he and Edward were just friends, it ate me up to think about them alone together. Not that I wanted Malichai still ... well that is not exactly true, there was a part of me who wanted Malichai with desperate abandon. But there was another part of me who was terrified of going there with him again. I was not sure I could endure another broken heart, and though I loved him still ... I was not at all certain I could trust him.
"Well now you are just bein' stingy Justine ... I can't have you, can't have him ..." she said with a mock pout as she took a sip of her drink.
I met Renéee a week after Malichai and I had broken up. Reluctantly back in Dallas, friends forced me out to a drag show at the Village, and being already smashed when we got there I mistook Renée for one of the performers that night, and she mistook me for a drunk lesbian. Once she convinced me she was just your average club hopper wearing a hot pink latex body suit, bejeweled tutu, and a glittering white afro wig and an acquaintance Jason persuade Renée I was straight, despite my overly amorous advances towards her, she and I became fast friends. She had sat up with me many a night as I sobbed my eyes out over Malichai. I remember a while before he came to town Renée and I had been doing tequila shots all night when he called and he and I had an argument that somehow Renée became involved in ...
"...'f you sss-soo much's even look at Justine 'gain I'll rip your b-balls off and s-sshove them down your throat you p-p-pussy poser!" She screamed into the phone from another line.
Renée hiccupped and giggled drunkenly, into the phone singing a made up song of pussy posers and dreams while I grunted my approval of her defense of me.
"Who the hell is this? Justine, what is going on over there?" Malachi half growled.
"This's Renée W-woo ... woo woo woo ..."
Laughing at her new song Renée was so toasted she could not even get her last name out, and in her confusion she became frustrated resigning herself to shouting obscenities into the phone at Malichai.
"Geeroff the line Ren! This is 'tween him and m-meee!" I slurred.
I could not be angry with Renée after her rants that night ... I had said worse to Malichai after all. Besides, in the back of our minds, Renée and I both knew that if I was gay she and I would be together. She is my female soul mate, and for a while, I thought I could picture us together in a less plutonic relationship, even though that was during a time I was on the rebound from Malichai ... it was no less true, and she knew it.
Though Renée did her best to respect my position, when we drank together she became brave enough to test my choices. I'd start with a little flirting between us as we became more and more inebriated ... then later on in the evening she would get bolder.
"You can't handle this chica ... you should just stick with your men." She'd say crossing her long toned legs inviting me to her while her eyes travelled up and down my body, making me more and more uncomfortable, but no less inclined to staunch the enticing air of our encounter.
"I can handle whatever you got Lady ..."
"Is that so?" She'd ask slipping her hand up my knee with a squeeze as our calves rubbed together gently.
As she called my bluff I was up out of my seat making some excuse to leave the room hastily.
"Can you bring me more ice when you come back Justine?" My drink is getting warm. She would call ending our little experiment.
Renée tried to hide her frustration, but it seeped through her voice and painted her face with such boldness I thought she would never forgive my teasing. It was because she always forgave me that I could not allow her and Malichai to meet. Not because I was ashamed of either of them, but because they both loved me, and I loved only Malichai.
It would be tantamount to a crime, an unforgivable sin to flaunt my feelings for Malichai in Renée's face as if she wanted me only as her friend. It would break her heart, and she would hate me, but she would want me still. No, they would never formally meet, and knowing for sure how I felt about the situation, there would be no more flirting between Renée and me, ever again. From this lunch on, we would be what neither of us had ever wanted or had ever really been, but what we were always destined to be ... Renée and I forever would be just friends.
"Do you really think he is ready now Justine? Can you honestly tell me he won't break your heart again?"
It seemed in the new tone in Renée's voice that she sensed our relationship had just taken an inevitable turn she'd rather it hadn't. She sipped her drink with a heartrending look in her beautiful normally smiling eyes as she looked out over the green at golfer's hitting balls into the setting sun waiting for me to answer a question I couldn't.
"Are you going to answer that Justine?"
I could not remember a time Renée had called me by my full name ... I did not like it at all. But there was no helping it. She would need some time, time that I could not offer her right then, Malichai was calling.
"Hey Malichai ... where are you? How was lunch? Is he gone?" I spat out all at once.
Renée adopted a jealous scowl as I clutched my phone praying that Edward had left for New York already. As I volleyed questions at Malichai not allowing him to give me an excuse as to why his hour long lunch with Edward was going to run over or why he feels the need to accompany Edward back to New York.
"Justine calm own ... I am back at the house. Edward is gone. We got him on an earlier flight out, he saw no reason to stay on ... and you and I need to talk. Come home now please..."
"Is everything ok? Has something happened?"
"Everything is fine Justine ... I just need you. I need you here."
"I'll be there in twenty minutes." I breathed with an air of uncertainty.
He sounded desperate. Not like he needed me sexually, but like he truly needed me there with him ... like he was hurting, and he called me. I looked at Renée and could feel the anger and hurt she felt at having watched me almost jump through the phone into Malichai's arms. She needed me to feel that for her, but it was impossible. She had a white knuckle grip on her now empty martini glass. It had been half full seconds ago. Tears had welled up in her eyes as we sat staring at each other in silence. Finally, I spoke.
"Renée, I have to go ... he's"
"He's what Justine? He's so in love with you he can feel every beat of his heart crash against his ribcage every time he thinks of you?" she bit out.
"Or what Justine ... with his every breath he longs to be kissing you, he wishes every stroke of his finger tips was caressing your skin? What Justine ... he's dying for you? Would he?"
"Renée ... please don't do this ... you know I love him, you know it has always been him, from day one."
"And what about Ian, and Stephen, and even Mathias Justine, you loved them too right? They were for you? And what about me Justine ... did you really not know you were for me."
"Renée ... stop it! You knew ..."