The moment I got in my car, I knew I needed to call the tribe. I could imagine what my best friend, Eva, would say about Xavier’s invitation and my acceptance of it. Still, she was the first person I called.
“Eva Rice,” she said when she answered the phone.
“What’s up, E?”
“Pilar Brooks, what’s going on?”
“Do you have plans this weekend?”
“Umm, a stack of manuscripts to edit, but nothing fun and exciting, why?”
Sighing, I steeled myself to hear my friend tell me how crazy I am. “I’m going to a wedding reception and I need you to go with me.”
“Who’s getting married?” Eva asked.
“Hold on,” she said. In the background, a door slammed. This is it, she’s about to let me have it.
“You mean Xavier Brooks, my goddaughter’s father and your ex husband is going to get married and you’re going to the reception? Have you fell and bumped your crazy head?” Eva snapped. “And you want me to go for what reason? Xavier and I have never gotten along.”
“If you don’t go, them I’m not going to have anyone to talk to. Kendall is probably going to be up under her daddy. Go with me, please.”
“What’s in it for me?” Eva asked.
“Whatever you want,” I said, then immediately regretted it.
“All right, I’ll go, but don’t expect me to be on my best behavior. By the way, I’m coming to your house with a bottle of chardonnay, cook dinner.”
“You got it,” I said.
“And don’t bring something home from the restaurant either,” Eva warned as if she saw inside my brain.
Moments later, I pulled into the parking lot of Miss Cherry’s Dance Studio to pick up my six year old daughter. Kendall is the light of my life and proof that my marriage to Xavier wasn’t a waste of seven years. I watched my daughter, her head filled with brown braids dance out of the front door of the studio. The smile on her cocoa brown face reminded me of her father, but the way she moved her small body took me back to a time when all I had to worry about were dance recitals and practicing the piano. Now, it was all about protecting her. Rising from the car, I crossed the parking lot to Kendall.
“Hey, Mommy,” she cried excitedly as I bent down to hug her.
“Did you have a good practice?”
Kendall shook her head. “I’m going to be the lead swan! Daddy’s going to come see me dance, right?”
Forcing a tight smile on my lips I nodded. “He said he’s going to be there. I’m so proud of you. What do you say, I make your favorite dinner and we celebrate, after you do your homework.”
“Okay,” she said.
We piled into the car and headed home, though part of me wanted to go check on my other pride and joy, The Sweet Spot. But going there would mean my night would end because my staff would show me problems or I’d spot them myself. Besides, it was Xavier’s night to pretend he was the general manager of our restaurant. The Sweet Spot was the other thing that made me realize Xavier and I didn’t have horrible marriage. When I told him that I wanted to open my own restaurant, one that specialized in decadent desserts and southern meals, he was all for it. Xavier encouraged me to quit my bland office job, cash out my 401 (k) and live my dream. For the first year, money was tight and Xavier took care of the house hold bills. When I was about to give up, because the restaurant didn’t seem to be making it, Eva and Xavier gave me the kick in the behind that I needed.
Eva, who ran a public relations firm, created a media campaign that got me and my restaurant featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Essence, Ebony, Black Enterprise and Everyday With Rachel Ray. The business picked up almost overnight. Soon, the Sweet Spot was one of Atlanta’s elite restaurants and I was pregnant with Kendall. It should’ve been a happy time for me, but it was around this time when my marriage began to crumble. Xavier and I argued all the time. Sometimes it was because the kitchen was cluttered or there were too many baby things sitting around the house.
Sometimes, I felt as if he didn’t want our child and I questioned him about it several times.
“Of course I want this baby,” he’d say. “This is just too much, the restaurant and . . . Pilar, I love you and I’m always going to be here for our baby.”
But what about me, I’d wonder, but never say. It wasn’t until Eva showed up on my door step one night at eleven-thirty, that I knew something was wrong.
“Where is your fucking husband?” she’d demanded when I opened the door.
“Eva, what’s going on?”
My friend dropped her head and tugged at her growing locs. When she looked up at me, her eyes flashed anger, then sadness. “You know you’re like the sister I never had and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t know what I’m about to say is a fact.”
“You’re scaring me,” I’d said as I clutched my stomach. Kendall had been kicking up a storm.
Eva placed her hand on my shoulder, “Are you okay? Do you need to sit down?”
“No, the baby is kicking like crazy. He does this every night.”
“I hope it’s a girl,” Eva said as she’d walked into the foyer. “Because if it’s a boy, he might turn out like his dad.”
Needless to say, my then husband and best friend didn’t like each other. They merely tolerated each other out of respect for me.
I led Eva into the kitchen and poured us two glasses of milk. She’d looked at the milk and shook her head. “I’m going to need the wine you’d drink if you weren’t pregnant.” She stood up and walked over to the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of wine. Without even asking, as was the way we did things, Eva had retrieved the wine bottle opener. As she twisted the cork, she turned to me.
“I fired Debbie today.”
“I thought she was the best assistant you’ve ever had?” I’d asked as I sipped my milk.
“Because the bitch is pregnant,” Eva said harshly as she popped the wine cork out.
“You know that’s illegal.”
“Well,” Eva said as she filled a large plastic cup, “I fired her because she said the father is. . .” She took a huge gulp of wine before saying, “Xavier.”