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IT’S COMPLICATED


Book Two

SCORNED



By

Erika Renee Land



SMASHWORDS EDITION


***


PUBLISHED BY:

Erika Renee Land on Smashwords


Scorned

Copyright 2017 by Erika Renee Land



All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in whole or in part in any form, except by newspaper or magazine reviewers, who wish to quote brief passages in connection with a review. It may not be transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.


Erika Renee Land

www.erikaRland.com


This book is a work of fiction. Names and characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


***


Dedicated to the most forgiving person I know. You are a beautiful star that illuminates my life.

Love you, Mom


***


“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

― Gautama Buddha


***


Acknowledgments

Writing this book has been a long journey, and there have been many people who have helped me accomplish publishing this book. While extending an encompassing thank you does not justify the gratitude I have for each of you, to avoid leaving anyone out, I am compelled to write an all-inclusive ‘Thank You’.

Family, friends, colleagues, associates, my publishing partners, and the list goes on, I want to thank you for your encouraging words, reads and re-reads, designs, edits, and so much more. Thank you for believing in me and my dreams. Thank you for providing direction for my ideas and spaces for them to flourish, as fly by and random as they were at times. You all know who you are, so please accept this gracious THANK YOU.

To my mother, Renee Rhodes, there are not enough words. Without your love and guidance, Misconceptions may not have happened. Thank you for letting me know that as long as my decisions have merit, there will be light at the end of the tunnel.

I have love for you all.

E.R.L.

***

Scorned


Introduction

I couldn’t have imagined my first lesbian experience being like this. Currently, I’m in an elevator with a woman that I thought loved me. She has deceived me gravely, but right now, while looking at her, I don’t know what to do. A part of me wants to talk it out, find out what happened because she can’t be this malicious, the other part wants to strangle a bitch.

The first woman I’ve loved is not only engaged to another woman but also is in love with someone else on top of that. She has three lovers that I know of, and I don’t know where I fall on the pyramid.

I give it to her, though. Laila Morriston is a master of deception. I don’t know what was and what wasn’t true in our relationship. Laila made me feel amazing and seemed to be a truthful person. From the moment I met her, I took her to be extremely honest. I didn’t think she was capable of being with multiple people at one time, but I guess that’s where I went wrong. Too often, we tend to underestimate others.

What goes around comes back around, though, and that’s probably why she had to deal with Tasha stalking her ass. And thank goodness for that, because it probably wouldn’t have come out that she is a – a – lying son of a bitch, yeah that’s what she is. She likes to tell half the story, making her a liar.

This is the second time someone has crushed my feelings. However, I won’t be devastated like I was when my ex-husband Xavier didn’t leave me a pot to piss in. Oh no, she will not get the best of me. I’m saying it now, Laila Morriston has scorned Nadia York, but she won’t get away with it. She’s not going to get off scot-free and go live happily ever after…especially since I have given myself to her sexually.


Chapter 1


PREVIOUSLY ON

It’s Complicated: Misconceptions

Laila's Women

April 6th, 2011


Camille

I’m sitting at my desk when Jeremy runs in from the living room and tells me that my friend Laila is on the TV.

“What are you talking about son?”

“I was flipping through the channels and saw her.”

I slam my laptop closed and tell him to turn on the TV in my office. After watching two minutes of commercials, the woman I’ve been in love with for the past six months appears. As she is entering the SWAT truck she turns around to look behind her, and the media catches her face plain as day. A still shot of her anguished face is plastered on the screen. My heart rate picks up and my palms become sweaty. I need to help her.

“Jeremy, get your jacket. We have to go.”

“I was about to watch Animal Planet.”

“Jeremy, now!”

“Fine.”

I drop Jeremy off at his father’s house and make it to Chinatown in about twenty minutes. I illegally park the car on a side street and try to get as close as possible to the Verizon center, but I’m stopped in front of the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro entrance because the crowd is too thick. I start tapping people on the shoulder and saying excuse me repeatedly as I weave through the crowd. I finally reach the yellow caution tape and ask the man standing next to me if he knows anything. He shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders indecisively.

I look toward the row of swat cars and I see Laila standing there, bent slightly forward in the black armor they’ve instructed her to wear. My eyes are drawn to her feet. The rain the past couple of days has softened the ground, causing her high heels to sink into the grass. I’ve always liked her ankles. I imagine the weight of the SWAT gear is throwing her balance off.

Flashes above my head draw my eyes upward. Multiple colors are moving quickly across the Verizon center’s LED projection screen advertising the newest cell phone. I look back to the SWAT truck; Laila’s back is facing me now. I look up at the screen again.

When the commercial is over Laila’s face graces the screen, she’s crying now. Mascara is running down her cheeks, and she is crossing and uncrossing her arms; she always does that when she’s nervous, so no one will notice her hands trembling. Someone points toward the top of the building. Laila’s eyes follow their pointing. Shock overcomes her face. I guess she's noticed that her face is amplified on the screen. She tries to shield herself away from the scrutiny by covering her face with her forearm. She is vulnerable right now, and it’s being broadcast to the world. My eyes abandon the screen and focus on her again.

I watch her rock back and forth like a pendulum. Aloud I murmur, “Laila, honey, what is all this about?”

She turns and looks in my direction as though she heard me whisper like she knows I’m here to rescue her, to protect her by any means necessary. She bends over and removes her four-inch heels. Remembering I have a pair of her running shoes in my trunk, I race to get them.

When I come back, I make it two feet past the yellow tape before an officer stops me. I convince him and two other blue bloods that I’m her assistant. Eventually, they let me through. As I’m walking toward her, there’s a commotion. The police are roughly escorting Tasha from the edge of the building. When I look back down, it’s hard to spot Laila amongst the scrambling crowd. If it weren’t for the woman now standing beside her, I may have missed Laila’s five-foot-two frame. The woman, who is wearing University of Maryland yellow, is holding my lover’s hand. Their fingers are intertwined in a way that lets me know they are more than familiar with each other.

I loudly call Laila’s name, pulling her attention away from the woman. Instinctively, she turns her head in my direction and scans the crowd. I call her name again, and she lets go of the woman’s hand. When our eyes lock, Laila says my name in the shocked way you do when you’re caught off guard. I hold out her running shoes so she can see them. I try to move closer, but the officer continues to block my way. Laila hurriedly walks toward me. When she reaches me, I grab her hand, ask her if she is okay, hand her the shoes and tell her I love her. For a moment, she tries to pull her hand away, but I don’t let go until she says I love you back. She whispers it, barely moving her mouth, but she says it nonetheless. I gather myself and walk away to the back of the crowd.

***

Victoria, a.k.a Tori

“Tori, Tori, listen. Someone is about to jump from the Verizon center with a sign that says only Laila Morriston can save her.”

“Get off my phone, Chris.”

“Tori, I’m dead serious. I’m watching the news. Oh my god. They just showed her picture. Yep, that’s her—short wavy hair, oval face, almond-shaped eyes. That’s Laila, all right.”

“What channel?”

“Four.”

I hang the phone up and try to call Laila. She answers on the second ring and immediately starts talking.

“Honey, I can’t talk right now.”

“I’m coming down there.”

“No, no, no, no, no. You’re in no condition. I’ll be home soon.”

“What’s going on, Laila?”

“I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?”

Tori, please. I don’t have time for questions right now. Don’t come down here.”

She hangs up on me. I immediately call Christina back.

“Chris, come get me?”

“I’m already on my way.”

I turn on all the TVs in the house, each to a different news station, and get dressed while waiting for Christina.

On one of the networks, a man being interviewed says he saw a woman walking back and forth and she keep sitting on the edge of the arena’s roof, and then she pinned a sign to the side of the building that read Only Laila Morriston can save me.

The anchor finishes the segment. “Police authorities have blocked off the area surrounding Chinatown, and have also evacuated businesses in the vicinity. The assailant seems to be focused only on a person named Laila Morriston, who we’ve been told is on the scene. We encourage everyone to stay clear of the area. We will be back shortly with updates on this situation, which will hopefully come to a peaceful conclusion soon.”

Twenty minutes later, Christina rushes into the house. “Girl, what happened?”

“They got Tasha down. The replay should be on soon, they keep replying it.” I respond.

“What’s wrong, Tori?”

I walk her into the living room and rewind the DVR to Laila holding hands with another woman.

Taken aback, Christina says, “Oh, well, that could be her co-worker whose hand she’s holdin’. She is a femme, and Laila doesn’t like feminine women, right?”

Tears begin to fall. I fast-forward a couple of seconds to a woman telling Laila she loves her, and Laila mouthing the words back.

“Who is that?”

“That woman is a stud, Chris. How do you explain that? I… I…” Before Chris can answer my rhetorical question, I start to hyperventilate. Chris scrambles around the kitchen, looking for a bag I can breathe into.

“Calm down, hun. Don’t get too worked up. Breathe for me.”

Through gasps I utter, “Take me to Trey’s house.”

***

Nadia

I smile every time I run past this trash can. My heart remembers how I got over being nervous and spoke to a woman I was attracted to for the first time.

Something I hadn’t felt before engulfed me. It was like, I saw how beautiful she was, and all of my energy shifted toward her. I wanted to see behind her Gucci sunglasses, to hear the elegantly dressed woman’s voice, to experience the fragrance she wore that day. I needed to be near her.

It was eight months ago that I saw Laila sitting on a bench that is no longer here. I ran by her three times before I convinced myself to say hello. On my fourth pass, my pace, which had increased out of anxiousness, was staggered. As I came out of the right turn into the straightaway, I saw that the bench was empty. Disappointment, a feeling I’ve felt too often in my life, overwhelmed me. I stopped mid-stride and kicked a small rock. She was gone—I’d waited too long.

I always seem to make a decision to do something too late. I’m the walking version of a day late and a dollar short.

I started cursing and throwing a small temper tantrum by kicking at the dirt and the pebbles because, once again, my lack of action, being stuck in my head, had cost me, but then I saw her walking toward this trash can.

My mind flustered, I had no idea of what to say or do, so in the most awkward way, I approached her and stuck my hand out, said my name rushed, like a teenager, and two sentences later invited her for coffee. I’d like to say it was a surge of assurance driving me, but it was the fear of losing the interaction I thought I’d already lost.

For two years, I’d been itching to date a woman. My boss, Mrs. Spady, tried to set me up numerous times, but it never worked out. I was still healing from my divorce and emotionally unready. But when I saw her, I put all my reservations away—she was the one.

In the distance, I hear a church bell ring. I look at my watch and take off running. It’s almost lunchtime. I’m having a solo lunch in Dupont Circle at Alero my favorite Mexican restaurant. I love their chicken soup. I sprint my last lap then go to my condo to spruce up and feed Bruce.

Before I can reach my door, I hear Bruce getting excited on the other side. I open the door slowly so it doesn’t hit his nose too hard. This happens at least once a day because he likes to rest his head against the cold metal at the base of the door. He jumps up and places his paws on my shoulders. I rub my hand against his fur and say repeatedly, “There’s my big boy!” My phone vibrates in the middle of our love fest, and I accept the call.

“You’ve reached Nadia.”

It’s my ex-husband. “Your little girl misses you.”

“Don’t start with me today, Xavier.”

“What? It’s the truth.”

“Is she there with you?”

“Not exactly.”

“I know she’s not. You just like fucking with me.” He pisses me off with these calls every day about nothing.

“Now, why would I do that?”

“Well, what other reason do you have to call me every day?”

The messed up thing is I have to answer his calls because it could be about our daughter Olivia. As my luck would have it, the one time I don’t answer, something serious would be going on.

“I was just calling to make sure you’re okay.”

“I’m fine. Anything else?”

“Why are you so rude when I call?”

“Because you always call with nonsense.”

“I call to make sure you’re okay.”

“You can do that through a text.”

Well, I figure that you probably miss the sound of my voice and––”

“Here you go.”

Well, you’ve got to miss something about me.”

I sigh and softly shut him down. “I don’t like who you’ve become.”

Well, you made me this way.”

I get mad and yell. “I didn’t do shit. You’re always trying to blame me for your insecurities.” I hang up the phone before he can respond. I wait a few minutes for him to call back, but he doesn’t, so I shower and head to D.C.

While driving through DuPont Circle, the radio DJ interrupts my song to make a special announcement.

“If your name is Laila Morriston, please get down to H and Seventh Street as soon as possible. Again, if your name is Laila Morriston, please get down to the Verizon center now.”

Wait! Did they just say Laila Morriston?

“We have breaking news, listeners. There is a woman holed up on top of the Verizon center with a sign that reads: Only Laila Morriston can save me. Right now, the D.C. police department says they do not know the woman’s intentions, but they are deploying their Jumper squad just in case. So again, if you are, or if you know Laila Morriston, get her to the Verizon center ASAP. You can’t write true life, people. You can’t write true life.”

I park in the nearest garage and call Laila. After an eternity, she answers.

“Laila, where are you? Have you heard?”

“I can’t talk right now. I have to go.”

“Well, I’m on my way down there, okay?”

“Yeah.”

I get out of my car, run to the main level of the garage, and then to the nearest Metro entrance. I catch the train to Metro Center station, and then run four blocks up F Street to Eighth. The media and spectators are congregating.

I cross under the police tape, and I’m immediately stopped. I’m trying to explain to the officers that I’m Laila’s lover when I see them escorting her out of a SWAT truck. I call her name while jumping up and down; she reaches her hand toward me, and they finally let me pass.

When I reach her, I try to sound light-hearted. “I knew something was wrong with that woman when I met her,” Laila smirks. I grab her hand and try to comfort her. We hear someone from the crowd yell Laila’s name. She looks to the left and then abruptly releases my hand. She looks back at me with an overly sincere expression and mouths “sorry.”

I watch her run over to someone and grab a pair of shoes. I look up at the LED screen. As Laila tries to walk away, the woman grabs her hand and says what looks like the words I love you. Well honestly, I can’t tell from this distance, but that’s sure what it looked like. After a few seconds, the woman lets go of Laila’s hand. When Laila turns to walk away, the woman bends over, wipes her hands across her face, and then squats as if she’s overcome with anguish.

When she returns to me, I ask, “Was that Camille?”

She responds in a whisper, “She brought my shoes.”

“Did she—” I stop myself from asking a question I don’t want the answer to, an answer that may hurt too much. We stare at each other blankly.

The police urge us back to the SWAT truck. Laila keeps a safe distance between us as we walk.

Once inside the tactical truck, I place my hand on top of Laila’s. “It’s over, honey. Everything is okay now.”

She smiles and shakes her head no while trying to hold back tears. She pulls her hand away from me and starts grinding her right thumb into the palm of her left hand. The detective is trying to talk to Laila, but she has zoned out, probably talking things over with herself. She does that a lot.

She mumbles that she has to go while frantically stripping out of the protective gear. Detective Williams tries to calm her, but she interrupts him and insists she must leave. He says he doesn’t have the authority to let her go. They go back and forth for a couple of minutes.

Laila’s frustration hits its peak, she looks at me and the detective, wipes tears from her face, and then bolts to the door.

The detective calls her name and gives chase; I follow behind them. Laila runs straight into the media, and they swarm her like a pack of bees. We push through the cameras and microphones to rescue her from the madness.

A few officers also intervene and help us make our way through the crowd. Once we are clear, Detective Williams comes over and tries to get Laila back in the SWAT truck, but again she says she needs to leave. Laila and Detective Williams come to a compromise—he’ll visit her at home later for a follow-up. He walks us over to two officers leaning against their cruisers. Laila looks at me with tearful eyes, and I say what she doesn’t want to, “We need both of them, so we can go our separate ways.”

As Laila is getting into the back of one of the police cars, I realize that her life is more drama-filled than I first thought. God, I wish I knew the events that led up to today. I start biting my nails. I love that woman, but I think… I think she’s cheating on me. I try to shake the thought, telling myself repeatedly that she’s not like that, but I can’t ignore what my eyes saw. I feel a hand softly grip my shoulder.

“Miss… Miss, it’s time to go now.” I turn and look at the female officer.

I give her half a smile and say okay.

She opens the car door while asking for my destination. I tell her Dupont Circle. While sitting in the back of the cruiser, my mind is stuck on what transpired between Tasha and Laila that would make Tasha climb on top of a fucking building.

Ten minutes later, the officer opens the cruiser door and I disappear into the parking garage. Not able to find my car, I start pushing the alarm button on my keychain. When I don't hear anything, I look around and realize I’m in the wrong garage. I become extremely frustrated and yell fuck you at the top of my lungs. It echoes back at me. Flustered, I sit on the curb so I can pull my shit together. A woman speaking on her cell phone pulls my attention away from the pavement.

As the woman passes, I notice she has on a pantsuit similar in color to the one Laila wore the first time we had lunch.

Eight months ago, when Mrs. Spady and I walked into Expected Architecture and I saw Laila from behind, I knew she was the woman I’d met the week before. Not because I noticed her cropped hair; it was her ass that I remembered. I’d been replaying the sway of her hips in my head all week, so when I saw her squat with her knees together, making her ass look perfectly round in her skirt, I knew it was her.

I wanted to drop a pen in front of her so she would kneel down again to pick it up. I looked over and saw Mrs. Spady shaking her head at me. I quickly straightened my posture and clothing when I realized my head was tilted in admiration. Before I knew what was happening, Mrs. Spady invited Laila to lunch.

Mrs. Spady was laughing at my giddiness on the ride to McCormick & Schmick’s. I was antsy because I was going to ask her on an official date. I kept going over what to say, but it never came to me. While we were eating, I continuously had to remind myself not to stare at her. I couldn’t believe that I had run into her again so soon. It was fate.

When she went to the bathroom, Mrs. Spady told me I should go “check” on her to make sure she was okay. I tried to contest it, but Mrs. Spady insisted, so the only choice I had was to shake the nerves, follow her to the bathroom, and ask her to go on a date with me later that night.

When she agreed, I was ecstatic. We finished lunch and Laila opted to go shopping with us instead of back to work. We ended up spending the rest of the day together.

After that, we started kickin’ it regularly, and then one day I got the nerve up to kiss her. It was the most beautiful feeling I’ve experienced. Her lips were soft like tiramisu, and I felt like I was floating in a sea of bubbles.

I stand up and head toward the correct parking garage, trying hard to shake thoughts of Laila from my head. As I walk past the Chinese restaurant, I see that they are closing for the day. I look at my watch and realize it’s almost 7:30 p.m. A kid on a skateboard rushes by and yells, “Look up lady.” I grunt and decide to go see Mrs. Spady.

***

Laila

After having to go to three stores to find Tori some strawberries, I’m sitting here at the end of my block with my forehead planted against the warm leather of the steering wheel. Okay, Laila, you’ve been parked under this tree long enough. Make a move. Turn left, park in the driveway, open the door, and apologize. It’s not gonna be easy, but you have to do it. You made this bed, now it’s time to lie in it.

I start the car and wait for my neighbor to turn off the street before I take off. I don’t want to be stared at any more than I have to be; I can’t take the judgment. I lift my head and open my eyes when I no longer hear the engine groaning.

I look to my left and Christina, my dentist’s secretary, has stopped her car under a light post. She’s looking in my direction. I look at the clock. It's 8 p.m. She’s taking her seat belt off. God, give me the strength.

I roll my window down a quarter of the way. Christina sticks a card through the window. “I just wanted to give you this,” she says. I smile in acceptance. She taps her hand against the top of the car the way a parent would while saying good luck to a child. Then Christina trots back to her Nissan.

A cool breeze creeps into the car, giving me chills. I flip the plastic wallet-sized card over, give it half a glance, then toss it to the passenger side of the car. It hits the door then falls into that empty space between the seat and the door. Thank you, God, for the strength you are about to bestow upon me.

I drive to the house and open the door. Tori is upstairs, sleeping in the middle of the bed. She has thrown my pillows onto the floor. I go into the bathroom to sulk. A few minutes later, I hear a commotion. I go into the bedroom, and Tori is missing. I hear scraping across the floor, and I run downstairs. Tori has moved one of the recliners into the hallway, blocking me from fully descending the stairs.

Tori sits in the chair. I immediately start groveling. “Tori, I’m sorry. I thought you were asleep… I fucked up. None of this should have happened. You told me not to get close to Tasha, but I didn’t listen, and she’s gone and done this, embarrassing me, and the company, and you…” I look up to see her giving me a death stare. I break into a sob.

“Oh stop it, Laila. You don’t get to stand there and cry. You don’t get to play the victim. You created this mess and don’t even want to own it.”

“But I do. I just said I didn’t listen.”

She waves her pointer finger back and forth and shakes her head at me. “You know damn well what I’m talking about.”

I struggle to straighten my face. “Tori? I…”

“Before you say something fucked up, you better take a moment to get your story straight.” She puts her left elbow on her knee and her fist under her chin. “How long have you been in love with someone else?”

My washcloth, which I’ve been using as a form of security, slips from my fingers.

“Don’t stand there with that stupid look on your face, like you don’t know what I’m talking about. I saw you on the TV.”

“Baby, it’s not what you think.”


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