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     Stared at over ten movie tickets; numerous dinner napkins from Dhalias. Then there were the rocks from the pier. The rocks that he didn't even know that I saved, that I treasured. I wanted to cry because I knew that I would have to throw everything away. It was for the best. At least I'd have the memories.


     "Indy, I'm coming home, okay, and when I do, we're gonna start the paperwork for our divorce."

     I didn't say anything. Couldn't say anything. Damn! Why did he have to call at a time like this? Why did it have to be now? Why? Why? Why?

     "You hear me, Indy?"

     I still didn't say anything. What could I say? Something like, "So what, asshole, I don't give a damn 'cause you've been replaced!" might have been a little more than appropriate but for some reason, I couldn't. This was my husband here. The man whom I pledged 'til death do us part. And now that we'd parted...what?

     "Innnnndy?" he damn near whined into the phone, growing impatient.

     "Huh?" I asked, snapping back into reality. "Sorry, I didn't hear you. What did you just say?"

     He sighed heavily and I imagined him rubbing his temples with his thumb and pointer finger, wondering for the umpteenth time why he'd married me. Probably even wondering why he’d loved me. After being with him for two years, I could pretty much read his thoughts.

     "I think you heard me just fine," he stated. "You're just choosing to ignore my words again. Just like you've been doing for the past six months. You don't take me serious, do you? You keep trying to live this fucking fairytale? Things aren't cool, Indy, and you know that. We're both miserable. We've been miserable for a long ass time just don't care. You don't mind living like this but I do. I want to move on...I want to be happy. I want a----."

     I hung up on him. Couldn't bear to hear his voice anymore. That voice that I once loved, moaning my name over and over again between the sheets, calling me his Queen was now equivalent to the sound of nails scratching up and down a classroom chalkboard.

     I waited five minutes to see if he'd call me back but he didn't. I didn't really think he would. He just wanted to rant and rave and a small part of my mind told me that this was just another threat. No, my husband didn't really want to divorce me. He didn't really want to get rid of me. He still loved me. He still missed our late night talks. He still missed us cooking Sunday dinner together and then curling up in bed to watch a late night movie.

     Suddenly my cell started vibrating in my hand and I anxiously looked at the caller ID, expecting to see his phone number but instead it was someone else's. It was still a familiar number, but it wasn't his. It belonged to his replacement, Justice. Justice was the man who'd been making me smile for the past month and a half. The one who had me believing that I was a woman to be desired. Damn, had me believing that there was love and I wasn't the only one involved.

     "Hey, what's up," I said, answering the phone.

     "Nothing much," Justice replied. "You almost ready?"

     I thought for a second. Thought about how I wasn't really in the mood to be going out after that last phone call from my husband. But then again, I needed to get out. If I stayed in the house, the tears would start coming and the depression would set in. No, I had to get out. Justice was my antidepressant.

     "Yeah," I lied. "You coming to get me?"

     "Sure, I can do that," Justice agreed. "Give me thirty, babygirl, and I'm there."

     "Cool. Bye, babe."

     "See ya in a lil' bit."

     I hung up and started rushing like a mad woman trying to get dressed. Usually it took me at least an hour to get myself together and that's after I got out of the shower. I didn't even know what I was going to wear. I mean, I knew Justice and I weren't going anywhere too special but I still wanted to look good for him.

     After showering and spraying a little perfume onto my wrists and on my neck, I applied my makeup while getting my flat iron heated. Glancing at the clock on my nightstand, I saw that I had a good ten minutes before Justice started ringing my doorbell. Too bad his ass was always on time. Most times that was good but tonight it wasn't because I still didn't know what I was going to wear.

     I kept thinking about what I had that was clean as I finished up my makeup and began curling my dark, shoulder length hair. It had been over a week since I'd done laundry and I was running out of cute things to wear.

     After finishing my hair I heard the doorbell ring. "Damn!" I cursed aloud, just knowing that it was Justice. If I didn't hurry up and answer the door, he'd just start blowing up my phone. I wondered why Justice never gave me an extra five or ten minutes. He knew by now that I was never on time.

     "I'm coming!" I yelled, grabbing a sheer robe that was hanging up on the back of the bedroom door.

     I had just tied my robe around my waist as I opened the door and immediately the biggest grin came over my face as I looked into Justice's eyes. Damn, this man was fine. Tall and built with the smoothest caramel complexion and the most hypnotizing chestnut brown eyes. His ex had to have been a damn fool to give up something so beautiful and perfect.

     "Why’re you smiling so hard?" Justice asked me, laughing a little as he bent down to give me a soft kiss on the lips.

     I shrugged as I stepped aside to let him inside my tiny apartment and it was then that Justice really looked at me and saw that I was wearing a sheer robe with nothing on underneath.

     "Mmmm, damn, what's the special occasion?" Justice asked, a big smile coming across his face.

     I play-fanned Justice away with my hand. "Boy, please. You know I'm always late and—."

     "Well, damn, I'm really glad I'm on time...what's underneath?"

     All of a sudden I got extremely shy and wrapped my arms around myself.

     "Come here," Justice told me in a soothing tone as he took a seat on my couch and opened his arms.

     I hesitated a moment before slowly walking over to Justice and standing between his legs. Justice grabbed hold of the tie on my robe and yanked it a little in an effort to pull me a little closer. The effort was unsuccessful and just caused the tie to come undone and the robe separated, baring my naked body.

     I don't know why but my heart was beating so wildly that I wondered if Justice could hear it.

     Justice looked up at me and licked his lips. His eyes asked me if I was okay with everything. My eyes told him everything was fine with me and he could proceed.

     Justice nodded his head to seal our mental agreement and gently pulled me down onto his lap. He moved his face closer to mines and we began to kiss. His tongue tasted minty and I was thankful that I had brushed my own teeth after the shower and popped a mint.

I wrapped my arms around Justice's neck as his hands started exploring my body. I knew that wherever Justice had planned for us to go wasn't happening tonight.

     "Mmmm," I moaned as Justice tested my wetness. "Let's go to my room."

     Justice shook his head no and I knew why. He didn't want to lay in another man's bed. When my husband and I separated and he went to stay in the dorms on his military base out of state, I packed up all our stuff in our apartment and moved it back home. I got a job and an apartment and moved all our furniture into my new place, even our bedroom set which was our anniversary gift to each other. Memories were evil.

     "'s okay," I told him, breaking away from his sweeter than candy kisses for a second.

     Justice shook his head once more. “Nah, Indy, you know I can’t do that.”

       I didn't say anything. Just thought about how I rode around the city in Justice's car with him—the car that his ex-wife once rode in. How I stayed over many nights in Justice's house—the house that him and his ex-wife bought together. But then again, Justice had a brand new bedroom set. He once said that he couldn't bear to look at something so intimate when he and his ex-wife split up so that was why he sold their bedroom set and bought a spanking brand new one.

     "Let me make love to you," Justice whispered in my ear and immediately those words brought a smile to my face. Loved to hear those words. Loved to hear the truth in those words. LOVE.

     My robe was already off of my shoulders and in one swift movement, it was off of me completely. The kissing never stopped as I undid Justice's belt and helped him slide off his pants and finally his boxers. I grabbed hold of his manhood and his breathing deepened.

     "I love you," Justice whispered in my ear and I froze. Felt as though my heart stopped beating. What could I say? Was I ready to tell Justice that I loved him back? Did I love him back? I had so much love for Justice that it hurt but….

     "And because I love you," Justice continued. "I'm going to take you into your bedroom and make love to you."

     Justice picked me up and we continued our candy kisses as he carried me into my bedroom and gently laid me down on my bed... our bed. His and mine. The bed that my other half and I had bought on our anniversary.

     "I love you, Indy," Justice kept whispering to me as he spread my legs and put his head between them. He spelled out his love to me with his tongue. I moaned as I caressed his head. A teardrop fell from my eye as I thought about love. Wondered if I was ready for it again. Wondered if I could stand being hurt again. Was it all worth it?


     When it was all over, Justice began kissing me from my bellybutton all the way up to my lips. I kissed him back and

I thought about how Justice wasn't wearing a condom. How he never wore a condom. How I wasn't even on birth control. What if something happened? What if something went wrong? Dear God....

     "I love you, Indy," Justice said again and finally ,I said, "I love you, too." And I meant it. I meant it from my heart. I was ready to love again. I was ready to be hurt.


     After the night Justice and I confessed our love to one another, things were amazing. We saw each other all the time and did everything together. Everything was peaches and cream until the day Justice told me he was leaving. Leaving for good. Like my husband, he too was in the military and they were sending him overseas.

     "Are you serious?" I asked as Justice and I lay in bed one night, watching Nick at Nite and fast food from McDonalds.

     Justice nodded his head slowly and put his arm around me, pulling me close and planting a candy kiss on the side of my head. " 'Fraid so, babygirl. But it won't be that long. Only for a year."

     "That's an eternity," I mumbled, all of a sudden feeling angry but trying desperately not to show it.

     "What?" Justice asked.

     "Nothing," I replied, wiggling free of Justice's embrace and stretching, even faking a yawn.

     "You okay?" Justice asked me.

      I nodded. "Just tired."

      Justice looked at me funny and looked at his watch, then back at me again. "Indy," he said softly. "It's only ten o'clock."

     I shrugged. "Okay, and I'm tired, so what? I gotta get up early for work in the morning."

     "I thought tomorrow was your day off."

     "Well, you thought wrong, babe. I have to go into work tomorrow so I'm gonna leave. I’ll call you when I get home."

     Justice was still looking at me funny, like he didn't believe me but he didn't say anything either. Just watched me put my sandals back on, grab my purse and leave without saying another word. I never called him when I got home.


     My husband was due back in two months and Justice had a couple weeks. Three and a half to be exact. I was a wreck. Though Justice promised to call and write and keep in touch, I didn't think that he would. It was impossible. He kept reminding me that we were made for each other. How he wished we would've met a long time ago. How he wanted to take things with us to another level. Again, I knew that was impossible and I think that deep down, he knew that it was impossible, too. We met each other at the wrong time most definitely. He was divorced and I was still married. Separated—but still married. Still carried my husband's last name. Still somewhat in love with him. But during my short time spent with Justice, I learned to love him, too. Learned to love everything about him. Wished that I had met him first.

I wanted so bad to have someone make the decision for me. Did I stay in love with my husband because he was so familiar or did I move on? Move on with Justice or just move on with life in general...alone? It wasn't like Justice was asking to marry me or anything. How could he? We had only been together for two months. I. Just. Didn't. Know.


     As our time became less and less, things didn't seem to be the same. Though I asked over and over again and Justice assured me that everything was alright, something just wasn't right. Maybe he didn't love me anymore. Maybe he never really did. That happened sometimes. It sure as hell happened with my husband. Though I tried to make myself believe over and over again that his words were threats, they weren't. They were the truth. I really believed that he still loved me. He told me that he did but he wasn’t in love with me anymore. He really wanted to move on and start a new life that didn't involve me and I had no choice but to go along with it.

     On the last night before Justice was to fly out, we went to our familiar pier at the park. The weather was so humid that I was afraid that my makeup would start running and the curls in my hair would fall. I wore a thin, strapless red dress that kissed my knees and had my hair twisted up with ringlets. Don't know why I was semi- dressed up. I guess I just wanted our last night to be special.

     "You okay, babygirl?" Justice asked me as we stood out on the pier, looking out into the endless night. I was dropping rocks into the water, not saying anything. When I'd dropped my last rock into the water, I turned to Justice and tried my hardest to smile and hold back tears.

     "It's been fun, hasn't it?"

     Justice looked confused. "What are you talking about?"

    " thing that's been going on for the past two's..."

     "Indy, you know how I feel about you."

     I shook my head. "Justice—don't..."

     "Don't what? Indy, what are you talking about?"

     "Don't say things you don't mean."

     "Indy, everything I've ever told you I meant." Justice took both my hands in his and looked me in the eyes while he talked.

I saw his lips moving but I wasn't hearing anything. Kept thinking about how things shouldn't be like this. Dammit, didn't I deserve happiness? Stability?


     A single tear escaped from my eye and Justice brushed it away.

     "Our time together has been pure bliss," I told Justice as more tears followed the first one. "You've made me smile again. Made me laugh again. You let me know it was okay to love someone and it felt so good to have the feeling returned."

     Justice didn't say anything to me as I spoke. Just stared deep into my eyes and took in everything that I said.

     "You've had me had me at hello."

     I smiled at Justice and he smiled back.

     "You know I feel the same, babygirl," he told me, brushing away a loose curl that fell over my eye. "I want us----."

     I reached up on tip toes and put my finger to Justice's lips to quiet him. Quiet him before any lie could be spoken. I knew that he wasn't trying to lie to me but I also knew that there was no truth in his words, even if they did happen to come from the heart.

I guess he understood. He didn't try to say anything. Instead he took my fingers into his mouth and sucked them slowly, looking into my eyes. I felt shivers up and down my spine. Looking around us, I saw that the pier was practically empty. I turned around, my back facing "my man" and bent over a little. Justice knew what time it was. Knew what I wanted. He gently planted those candy kisses on my neck and rubbed my lower back, easing my dress up a little..

     Please don't speak and ruin it, I prayed. Please don't ruin this by telling me you love me.

     I knew my prayers were answered when Justice entered me in silence. I moaned and gripped the railing of the pier and held on like it was my lifeline.

     Justice took his time with me and when we were done, he held onto me tight, like he didn't want to let go. Like he couldn't.

It took me a minute before I turned around to face Justice, this man that I had given my heart to. Looking him in his eyes, I wondered how I could've possibly thought that I was ready to love and hurt again. Right now I was hurting like hell. Hurting because I loved him that much. Though we hadn't spent more than two months together, being with Justice showed me so much. Showed me that starting over again was possible. Loving again was most definitely possible.

     "I love you," Justice told me.

     Candy kiss.

     "I love you, too," I told him.

     Candy kiss.

     No more words were spoken. Didn't want to hear any promises that would be lies. Truth was, Justice would move on and I would be stuck. I would move on, eventually, but I'd also be stuck for a long time. My husband was coming back soon. He would ask me again for that divorce and I'd have no choice but to give it to him. I would still love him for some time. Would still cry a little and want things to work least until that feeling of familiarity faded away.

     And Justice? I would always be grateful for him accepting me for me and showing me that the grass on the other side was actually greener. The air was fresher. The sun shone brighter. He brought me joy and didn't try to take it away. He loved me and I would be forever grateful for those days. And those candy kisses. The memories of those alone would be enough to give me shivers and force me to close my eyes and think back to once upon a time. Once upon a time when I had met a stranger by the name of Justice Tynes. Damn, he had me at hello. I would never forget that.

     It was time for me to be alone now. Even if Justice did try to keep in touch with me, I didn't think I would respond. We'd had our fun. The ride had been a good one but it was time for me to get off. I didn't expect for Justice to try and be committed to someone he had only known for such a short amount of time. It was time for me move on now. Keep it moving. Time to be dependent on no man. Yeah. Indy, Independent.

                                                                                       Melissa Joy Anderson ©Copyright 2020

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