Unrequited Love

Tamera James is dissatisfied with her life. That's why she becomes involved with Jamal, a man who she saw as "a bit of fun" but never to take any further than a brief romance, behind her partner Tyrese's back. When Jamal confesses he is in love with Tamera, she ends their fling coldly and thinks she can go back to her old life. But Jamal isn't willing to let her go that easily... A short story by Makala Thomas.

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1. Unrequited Love

Unrequited Love

 

Tamera smiled as he entered the hotel suite from the dining area, holding two glasses of champagne.

“For me?”

“Who else?” Jamal replied huskily, and her smile grew.

“I can’t believe we’re doing this. Tyrese is going to go nuts if he ever finds out.”

“What Tyrese don’t know can’t hurt him,” Jamal pointed out, and Tamera nodded.

“I know.”

“Drink your champagne,” he said softly, and she smiled and took a sip.

“It’s lovely.”

“Not as lovely as I’m going to make you feel…”

 

 

 

* * *

 

“Hey baby.”

“Hey,” Tamera said softly, and Tyrese kissed her tenderly.

“Good day at work?”

“It was great. Me and the girls went for a drink together afterwards.”

“I can taste it on your tongue,” Tyrese said seductively as he moved to kiss her again, but Tamera turned her head away. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she lied. “Um. I just need a bath and a nap. I had a long day at the office, I’m tired.”

Tamera’s mobile went off in her bag. Tyrese frowned as she hesitated, then he asked “Are you going to get that, babe?”

“No, not now. I just want that bath.”

Tyrese nodded, Tamera stepping out of her heels.

“Should I get dinner started?”

“I’m not hungry,” Tamera replied as she walked out of the living room, and Tyrese said ok.

 

* * *

 

“What did I tell you about calling me at home?” hissed Tamera as she closed her bedroom door behind her, and Jamal chuckled.

“There’s no fun without a bit of risk involved. Loosen up, Tam.”

Tamera smiled, then she said “You called while Tyrese was practically next to me. Stick to texts, ok? That way I can pass it off as a work email.”

Jamal sighed. “We’ve been going like this for five months now, Tamera. Don’t you want something more?”

“More?” Tamera repeated, curious. “More like what?”

“Like us two being together.”

“We are together.”

“You know what I mean,” said Jamal, heat rising. “I can’t stand the thought of you going home to him and you know that. I want it to be me you come home to.”

“What about Tyrese? I’ve been with him for nearly four years,” Tamera said as she went into her bedroom-bathroom, running the water in the bathtub and shrugging off her dressing gown. “I love him.”

“Don’t say that!!”

“Why?” she snapped. “It’s the truth!”

“Yeah? Well the truth is I love you!”

Tamera froze. “What?”

“You heard me,” breathed Jamal. “I love you. I want to be your man, your life, your everything. The one you come home to after work. The one you spend Christmas with, the one you introduce to you mother!”

Tamera didn’t speak for a minute.

“Tam?” Jamal said worriedly. “Are you there?”

Tamera took a deep breath, then she said “Ok.”

“Ok??”

“Yes,” shrugged Tamera. “Ok.”

“Is that all you have to say?!”

“Well what do you want me to say??”

“Uh, how about you love me too?!”

“We agreed to have a bit of fun,” snapped Tamera. “This was meant to be a no strings attached thing. And now you go attaching duct tape. Why the hell did you have to complicate things??”

“Well I can’t help how I feel,” Jamal snapped back. “So now you’d better choose who you want to be with right now. And if you choose Tyrese, this bit of fun is over.”

“I choose Tyrese,” spat Tamera. “So I guess me and you are done. Bye!”

“Wait! Tamera-”

She hung up before Jamal could say anything else, then she almost immediately received a text- from Jamal.

 

“I won’t let you leave me.”

 

Tamera scowled before she sent a reply.

 

“I’ve already left you, Jamal.”

 

“Yeah? Well you haven’t heard the last of me.”

 

Tamera frowned as she began typing, a sense of dread creeping up on her. Suddenly she felt things were going to go real bad with Jamal.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I mean if I can’t have you, no one will. Not even

your precious Tyrese Jackson.”

 

Almost ten seconds later:

 

“This isn’t the last you’ve heard from me.”

 

Tamera felt a cold chill run down her spine. Not answering Jamal, she turned off her phone.

 

 

* * *

 

Tamera slipped into bed beside Tyrese, snuggling up to him. “Hey.”

“Hey,” Tyrese responded, and she kissed him. Tyrese started to kiss her back, then he felt her body trembling. He broke the kiss, staring at her. “Tam?” She didn’t answer. “Babe, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she lied, and he scowled at her. “What?”

“Don’t lie to me. I know something’s bothering you and it has all night. Now what’s up?”

“I just… I’ve been treating you like crap for the last couple of months. You didn’t deserve that. I just…Ty, I’m really sorry.”

“Hey. Come here.” Tyrese put his arms around her. “I know work can be challenging.”

“Work??”

“Yeah,” Tyrese said. “You said your boss was a jerk and always makes you work those late hours, right?”

“Oh,” said Tamera, remembering when she told that lie five months ago. “I… yeah. Yeah, work. It’s challenging. I’m not sure I can take it. I was happy being a house girlfriend.”

“The hell you was.” Tyrese burst out laughing. “After we was together for like eight months you was complaining about being alone all the time. That’s why you started working, remember? And you love your job. It’s the new boss who’s a jerk.”

Tamera sighed and nodded. “Let’s go to sleep.”

“Not until I get some sugar from you.”

Tamera was worn out from her antics earlier with Jamal.

“Baby I’m tired. Let me rest, ok?”

Tyrese sighed. “You’re always tired these days. Never wanting to make love to me.”

Because I’ve been making love almost every day to someone else, Tamera thought to herself, but she didn’t say it.

Tyrese took the silence as some kind of guilty feeling she was having. Smiling at her, he said “I love you baby.”

“I love you too,” she said softly, and he kissed her again before he turned out the lights.

Tamera laid down in his arms, thinking about Jamal and his threat. Did he mean it? Or was he just angry?

She didn’t know why, but she was starting to grow nervous- and nothing had even happened. She wasn’t used to being threatened, and she didn’t like it.

 

* * *

 

Tamera’s alarm went off for six a.m.

She snapped awake, Tyrese mumbling something before he rolled over, going back to sleep.

Tamera edged out of bed quietly and quietly walked into her bathroom to get ready for work, walking into the bathroom to apply her face mask and then get settled with a book and mug of coffee before she got ready for work.

Once she was downstairs in the kitchen, she sat facing the windows with her book and coffee, smiling as she listened to the birds sing.

Tap.

Tap.

Tamera frowned, glancing at her garden door.

She could make out the line of a figure standing there- they raised their hand and knocked again.

Tamera sipped her coffee and stood nervously as the person growled “Tamera?”

She froze, staring at the door.

“Tamera, I know you’re in there. Come out please. I just want to play.”

“Play?” she whispered, then a hand touched her from behind. “Aaaargh!!”

“Hey! Easy, Tam!” Tyrese grabbed her as she dropped her coffee. “What’s wrong??”

“There’s someone out there,” Tamera said frantically as he held her, shaking like a leaf. “There’s someone out there!”

Tyrese looked at the door, then he strode over the broken mug and pulled open the back door.

“Look, see? There’s nobody out here.”

Tamera joined his side and stared out at the garden, heart pounding.

The garden was clear.

“There was somebody right outside the door- I swear it! They knocked on the door and called my name and-”

“Tam, it was probably just the wind-”

“It was not the wind!” she snapped as she knelt to clean up the mess she made. “I was reading my book and they knocked on the door and called me-”

“Tamera, calm down. You’re shaking!”

“You would be too if someone was at your door before seven in the morning!”

Tyrese chuckled; Tamera glared at him.

“What’s so funny?”

“You, baby. You’re too sexy when you’re het up.”

Tamera sighed. “Can you clean this up for me? I need to get ready for work.”

“Sure, go on up.”

An hour later Tamera was back downstairs in her work clothes, a black suit with a white shirt inside and reasonable heels on her feet.

“Ok babe I’m off to work.” She was still on edge. “If you hear a knock on the door again-”

“Tamera, seriously-” Tyrese started laughing. “You was half asleep-”

“I didn’t imagine it,” Tamera said angrily. “Someone was out there and if I find out it was-”

She stopped, Tyrese looking at her curiously.

“Who?”

“Some kid playing a prank,” she muttered; Tyrese laughed again.

“At this time?” Tamera shrugged and he laughed again. “I’ll see you later, baby. Have a good day at work. You going out with the girls again?”

Tamera said no. “I’m coming straight back to you.”

Tyrese was surprised. “Really?”

“Yes really. Now come and give me a kiss goodbye.”

Tyrese laughed before he gave the love of his life a tender kiss. Sighing, Tamera said “I’ll see you later.”

 

 

 

 

* * *

 

Tamera sat with her girls from work, Mary-Anne and Sarah.

They were in Starbucks, having a quick coffee and a sandwich. Tamera was relaxed, laughing, having fun. She didn’t think anything when a woman came up to her, holding a muffin.

“Excuse me, this is for you.”

“For me?” Tamera repeated curiously, and she said yes.

“The gentleman over there asked me to give it to you.”

Tamera, Mary-Anne and Sarah looked across the floor, but they saw no one.

“There’s no one there.”

The woman glanced behind her, surprised.

“He was there a moment ago! He said it’s for Tamera James?”

“That’s me,” Tamera said, unnerved, and the woman smiled and handed her the muffin.

“There you go. Have a nice day.”

“Wait! What did the man look like?” demanded Tamera, and she shrugged.

“Tall, black jacket with a lion on the back. He said he knows you.”

“Sounds like a freak,” Mary-Anne said, sipping her coffee. “Don’t eat that, Tam. He probably liked the look of you, that’s all. Don’t accept food from strangers-”

“He said he knows her,” Sarah interrupted. “He knew her name. So obviously he’s not a stranger-”

Tamera said nothing, mind spinning as the woman’s voice played in her head.

“Tall, black jacket with a lion on the back…”

“Jamal,” whispered Tamera, and they looked at her.

“Did you say something, Tamera?”

“No,” lied Tamera. “Um. Let’s go back to work. You know that jerk will grill us if we’re even ten seconds late.”

Mary-Anne scowled with Sarah, and they both stood up.

“All right, let’s go.”

Tamera was staring down at the muffin, mind racing. Was it a coincidence a tall man in a black jacket with a lion happened to be where she was with her work mates? Or was it Jamal?

Jamal had a black jacket with a lion on the back. He wore it all the time, Tamera thought frantically. This was no coincidence.

“It was him,” she whispered, so quietly no one heard her.

“What?” said Mary-Anne, but Tamera shook herself and plastered a smile on her face, saying “Let’s go.”

 

* * *

 

Tamera’s work phone went off in her office.

She picked it up quickly, saying “You’re through to Benign Housing. Tamera James speaking.”

“Hey baby.”

“Tyrese,” she said, relieved. “How’s work going, baby?”

“Good. I’m just calling to check on you. Your mobile’s been off all morning.”

“Oh- I forgot to turn it on,” lied Tamera, and Tyrese said ok.

“So are you still coming straight home?”

“Of course,” she said. “Do you want me to bring in dinner?”

“I’ll cook,” Tyrese replied, and she could hear from his tone of voice that he was smiling. “Name any dish you fancy and I’ll make it.”

There was a knock on Tamera’s door and a member of staff at a lower position than her entered holding a gorgeous bouquet of flowers.

“Miss James?”

“Baby I have to go.” Tamera placed her phone on her receiver before she said “Yes?”

“These flowers are for you.”

“Really?” Tamera stared at the flowers, then she smiled. “Are they from a man called Tyrese?”

“No Miss. They’re from a man called Jamal. He left just a moment ago.”

Tamera stared at her, visibly beginning to shake.

“Miss James?” the woman stared at her. “Are you all right?”

“Throw those flowers away,” Tamera said quietly. “And if that man comes back here, ask him to leave immediately- and if he doesn’t, call the police.”

“Yes Miss.”

Humbly, the woman closed Tamera’s office door behind her as she left.

Tamera leant back on her office chair, taking a steady breath.

Jamal was playing with her head and it had her on edge. Just how far was he going to go with all of this? She knew he had something to do with the cake at Starbucks, and she knew she hadn’t imagined someone being at her garden door at the crack of dawn.

Tamera picked up her phone to dial the reception and she ordered a large coffee to be brought to her.

She couldn’t wait to get home, to the safety and love of Tyrese.

 

 

* * *

 

Tamera picked at her food, rolling a cherry tomato around her plate with her fork. Her mind was full of today, and everything that happened.

Tyrese frowned at her. “Tamera? Are you ok?”

“What?” she glanced at him, and he repeated himself. “I’m fine.”

“You’re not eating,” Tyrese said, and she glanced down at her pretty much full plate. “Plus you haven’t said much since you got back from work.”

“Oh. I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I have a lot on my mind.”

“I can tell.” Tyrese smiled at her. “Want to share?”

“It’s nothing, babe. Just work related stress.”

Tyrese frowned again. “If your boss doesn’t stop being hard on you I’m going to have a word with him.”

“Forget it, Ty. You get nice managers sometimes and you get jerk managers a lot of the time. I have a jerk manager,” Tamera said, shrugging. “No big deal.”

Tyrese smiled at her. “Ok. Just tell me if he’s giving you too much trouble.”

“I will baby. I’ll be a good girl and eat my food now.”

Tyrese burst out laughing as Tamera forked some food and popped it in her mouth.

“Good girl.”

 

 

* * *

Tamera shifted closer to Tyrese as they watched a movie together, her arm snaking around his waist as she murmured “I missed you.”

“I haven’t gone anywhere,” Tyrese answered amusedly, and she shifted closer and kissed him. “Mmm. What was that for?”

“For everything.”

 

* * *

 

Tamera’s mobile went off at six in the morning.

Mumbling in her sleep, she rolled over and rejected the call, Tyrese pulling her closer and kissing her forehead.

Tamera’s mobile went off again and she swore before she reached for it.

“Hello…”

“Tam, it’s me.”

Yawning, she said “Me who…”

“Jamal.”

“What the hell do you want?!” Wide awake now and sitting up in bed, she said “I thought I made it perfectly clear that-”

“Tam, just listen to me for a minute!”

“I want nothing to do with you, why is that so hard to understand?!” Tamera almost screamed the words as she stood, Tyrese startled as he said “Who the hell is that??”

“Nobody!”

“If it wasn’t nobody you wouldn’t be-”

“Ty, just be quiet for a minute while I talk to this person-”

“But who are they?”

“Tell him,” Jamal said. “Tell him who I am and end this. Then we can finally be together-”

Tamera tried to regain her cool as she took a deep breath, then she quietly said “Leave me alone and I mean it.”

“I just want it to be how it used to be!” said Jamal angrily. “Why can we go back to how it was?!”

“Things will never be how it was! Now leave me alone!”

Tamera hung up the phone, furious as she stormed around the bedroom, trying to think, but Tyrese started: “What the hell is going on, Tamera?”

“Nothing!”

“Was that a guy on the phone to you?” demanded Tyrese, and Tamera said “It’s nothing, ok? I promise. Go back to sleep, Ty.”

She could tell that he wasn’t going to let it go, and cursed Jamal violently inside her head before she softly said “Please. Forget it.”

Tyrese opened his mouth, then he closed it and nodded.

“Thank you.”

“Let’s go back to bed,” Tyrese said, a little coldly. “It’s not even eight in the morning. Whoever it was obviously didn’t want to wait until a decent time.”

Tamera got back into bed with him, snuggling up to him and closing her eyes, pretending to sleep.

She waited until Tyrese’s arm around her slackened and his breathing slowed, a sign he was fast asleep. Then she cautiously reached for her mobile and deleted all texts from Jamal, all messages from him on Whatsapp, and all calls in her call log. Then she added a passcode lock to her phone as well, just in case of anything.

There.

If Tyrese wanted to know what was going on, he sure as hell wouldn’t get any answers from her mobile.

 

 

* * *

 

It was almost three in the afternoon.

Jamal stared at Tamera’s house from the seat of his car, wondering if he should be bold and ring the bell. He knew Tyrese was out working.

He could just go and talk to his baby, try and sort things out for the hundredth time. He didn’t mean to blurt he loved her. That wasn’t meant to happen. He just panicked, thinking he was going to lose her.

“And now I have,” he muttered, rubbing his chin. “What the hell.”

He dialled Tamera’s mobile on Private Number, knowing she would pick up in case it was a call from work.

“Hello?”

“Tamera.”

 

* * *

 

“Jamal, what the hell is wrong with you?” she hissed, and Jamal said “What are you doing?”

“I’m about to have lunch.”

“Let me take you to lunch instead. We can go back to the way it was, baby.” Tamera could tell he was smiling. “You know I took care of you and gave you pretty much anything.”

“We’re over,” spat Tamera. “Get that into your head and leave me alone.”

She hung up.

 

* * *

 

Jamal swore and pulled away.

He drove for almost an hour, rage building up inside him, but not at Tamera. At the man she was obviously rejecting him for.

Tyrese.

 

 

* * *

 

Jamal headed for the bar, needing a drink, but also in action of his plan.

Tyrese smiled at him, saying “What can I get you?”

“Pina Colada. On the rocks,” Jamal replied, and Tyrese grinned. “Something funny?”

“No man, it’s just that it’s my girl’s favourite drink. She orders it every time she comes to this place or any other franchise we have across the city.”

Jamal knew it was Tamera’s favourite drink.

He smiled, saying “I love the taste of it. I know it’s feminine, but hey.”

“I like it too,” smiled Tyrese. “I always have one when I miss my girl.”

“She’s my girl,” Jamal said in his head, but he smiled back at Tyrese before he said “You two must be close.”

“We are. I love her so much.”

“Does she love you?”

“Of course, man! We’re like husband and wife at home. One day soon I’m going to pop the question.” Tyrese sighed dreamily. “I just need to get her a beautiful ring.”

Jamal smiled coldly as Tyrese served his drink, thanking him and taking a sip before he looked at the restaurant’s menu.

“Can I get some chicken wings as a starter please? I’m pretty hungry now.”

“Sure.” Tyrese smiled at him. “Man, you and my girl have a lot in common.”

Jamal smiled back. “How?”

“She loves having wings as a starter too. And for the main-”

“Yeah, I’ll have honey glazed shrimps with onion rings, and fries instead of potato wedges. No vegetables.”

Tyrese stared at him.

Jamal smiled innocently, sipping his Pina Colada. “Something wrong?”

“You and my girl must be related,” grinned Tyrese. “You just named her favourite main course just the way she likes it. Are you sure you’re not her un-identical twin?”

“I’m sure,” smiled Jamal. “Oh- I’m Jamal, by the way.”

He held out a hand, and Tyrese shook it.

“I’m Tyrese.”

 

 

* * *

 

Tamera sighed as she snuggled down in bed, ready to have her afternoon nap.

Her mobile went off and she scowled and looked at it, then she smiled.

It was Tyrese.

“Hi baby.”

“Babe,” Tyrese said happily. “You ok?”

“I’m fine, baby. Just about to have a nap,” yawned Tamera. “What’s up?”

“I’m just checking on you. I’ll be back by six, ok babe? I love you.”

“Love you too.”

“Oh, and another thing, I met someone who has so much in common with you, you wouldn’t believe it-”

“Mmm. Tell me when you get back, Ty. See you.”

Tamera ended the call and stuffed her phone under her pillow.

 

* * *

 

Jamal finished his meal and returned to the bar to talk to Tyrese again, who smiled at him.

“You want another cocktail?”

“Yep.” Jamal smiled back. “Just one before I leave. But hey, it was really nice meeting you. Maybe I’ll come back and hang with you sometime.”

“You could as long as you don’t make it obvious,” Tyrese replied amusedly. “My boss would cut my head off.”

Before Jamal could reply someone else claimed Tyrese’s attention, ordering a large pint.

When Tyrese finished serving them he came back to Jamal, saying “Take my number. We can hang out somewhere else besides my workplace.”

“You take mine,” Jamal replied, smiling. “That way it’s your call.”

Tyrese smiled back before he pulled out his mobile and typed in Jamal’s number, Jamal standing.

“See you, Tyrese.”

“Bye,” Tyrese responded, and Jamal left the restaurant, still smiling.

If he couldn’t get Tamera’s attention this way, he would get it by becoming pals with her boyfriend.

 

 

* * *

 

Tamera was cooking at the stove when Tyrese let himself in the house.

“Baby are you home?”

“In the kitchen,” she called back, and she smiled when he walked towards her, grinning like he’d just won the lottery. “What’s that look for?”

“I had a good day at work, that’s all. Come here.” Tyrese pulled her towards him and kissed her. “I missed you.”

“I missed you too. At least I don’t have to work on a Friday.” She stuck her tongue out at him, and he smiled.

“I’ll bite your tongue off if you keep teasing me about that.”

“Oh really.”

“Yes really.”

Tamera pulled herself out of his arms and danced away from him, then she goaded “At least I don’t have to work on a Friday.”

Tyrese took chase, Tamera shrieking as she dashed into the living room and then up the stairs, Tyrese saying “You can’t escape, Tam!”

Tamera tried closing the bedroom door but he kicked it open and grabbed her, both of them tumbling through the doorway onto the floor, kissing passionately before Tamera gasped “The cooker’s still on-”

“Let the food burn, I don’t care,” Tyrese replied huskily, and she kissed him again.

 

 

* * *

 

“Tamera.” She mumbled something, rolling over. “Tam, wake up.”

Tamera opened her eyes to smile up at Tyrese. “Hey.”

“Hey. You hungry?” She nodded. “The food burnt but we can order.”

“Chinese,” she said quickly, and he smiled at her. “You know what I want from there.”

“Spring rolls chicken fried rice and more. I know, babe.”

Tamera smiled and snuggled back down under her quilt.

 

 

 

* * *

 

Three weeks later…

 

Tamera had been really under the weather, and Tyrese was worried about her. But she promised she was fine and had even gone to the doctor, and she knew what was wrong. So he let her go to work, promising to call her at lunch.

Tamera said ok before she left, reminding him to take out the trash and sort it into the proper bins.

Tyrese smiled as he dragged the bin into the front yard, separating the general rubbish from the recycled. As he got through the papers, he realised there was a pink envelope there that looked scarcely touched. Some kind of card or something, Tyrese thought as he reached to put it in the Recycle Bin before he realised the card had Tamera’s name on it.

He hesitated, then tore it open, reading fast. He felt his stomach contract in shock, mind spinning as he continued to read Jamal’s words… then a wave of fury washed over him as everything began to make sense in his mind.

Why Tamera wouldn’t sleep with him until recently, or hardly sleep with him anyway. That phone call she got early in the morning and she nearly lost her mind screaming down the phone at the person, but she wouldn’t tell him who it was or what was going on.

Tyrese took a deep breath before he crushed the card quickly and stuffed it in his pocket, then he finished sorting the rubbish and came back inside, thinking.

He wasn’t going to call her and make a scene via the phone. He’d wait for her to come home. He had Jamal’s number, but he’d deal with him later. For now, he needed to think about what to do.

 

 

 

* * *

 

Tamera was going to be sick.

She fumbled with her keys and jammed them into the lock before forcing the door open, running up the stairs and being sick in their bedroom bathroom.

Tyrese was sipping from a glass of water as he waited for her to come back, wondering if she had some kind of bug. He would have told her she needed to drink plenty of fluids, cuddled her, but his head was still hot with anger. He stayed downstairs and continued to drink, waiting for her to come down, but then he heard her step into the shower.

Immediately he thought she must have been with Jamal. She showered after eight most of the time…

Dinner was in the oven, just finished. Tyrese dished the food like he normally did, setting the table and pouring him and Tamera a glass of wine each before he took his seat opposite hers and calling “Dinner’s ready.”

“Ten minutes,” Tamera called back, and he nodded instead of replying.

He went upstairs quietly, into their bedroom, looking around for her phone. Tyrese spotted in on the bed and picked it up, scrolling fast to her message inbox. He gasped when he saw all the texts from Jamal- at least twenty. He read them all disbelievingly, then he dropped the phone back on the bed, holding his head in disbelief.

She really did cheat on him.

Tyrese took a deep breath and went back downstairs as if he knew nothing, sitting at the table and waiting for her.

Tamera entered the kitchen ten minutes later, Tyrese forcing a smile on his face and saying “Hey.”

“Hey,” Tamera said, and he reached for his glass of wine, feeling sick to the stomach as thoughts swirled around his head again.

She’d been seeing Jamal for five months. Jamal left no details out at all as he begged in the card for her to take him back. Now he knew Tamera had no issues with her boss at work, he knew she lied about pretty much everything and was probably still lying.

“Tyrese?” said Tamera uncertainly, and he looked at her. His face was calm, but she could see the anger in his eyes. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he lied, then he thought of something. Forcing gentleness into his voice, he asked “How was work?”

“Fine.”

“Nothing drastic happened?”

“Drastic?” she asked, and he shrugged a shoulder as he remembered Jamal apologising for his actions in the card and texts. “What do you mean, babe?”

“I mean like, has anyone been scaring you in anyway.”

A guilty look flashed across her face for a split second before she said “My boss has been more intimidating lately. He’s staring to scare me.”

Liar, Tyrese thought furiously, but he kept his voice calm as he said “Really.”

“Yep. I’m thinking I might just quit.”

Quit to continue the lie? Tyrese thought amazedly, though he was slightly amused as he asked “Quit and do what afterwards, baby?”

Tamera shrugged as she reached for her wine. “I don’t know. I’ll find a new job.”

She raised the glass to her mouth, then she gasped and put it back down. Tyrese stared at her. That was a first. Tamera loved having an evening glass of wine.

“You don’t want the wine?”

“No, I… I can’t drink any alcohol.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m ill,” Tamera started, then she decided not to pretend. “Ty, look- um… I have something to tell you.”

“What a coincidence, because I have something to tell you too.”

“You do?” said Tamera, surprised. “Ok, you go first.”

“No. Ladies first,” Tyrese replied, and she started to smile, thinking he was playing around, then he coldly said “I mean it. Talk to me.”

“Well… I just… um-”

“Spit it out, Tamera.”

He knew she was going to tell him that it was over, that she’d been seeing Jamal and she was going to be with him- something like that. He mentally prepared himself for some form of those words.

Tamera took a deep breath, then she whispered something inaudible. Tyrese lost his temper, snapping “Speak up, ok? You-”

“I’m pregnant,” Tamera said quietly, and he stared at her. She repeated it in a firmer voice: “I’m pregnant, Ty.”

Tyrese breathed in deeply before he stood, saying nothing for a moment. Tamera watched him worriedly as he paced the kitchen, taking another breath. Then she said “Tyrese.”

He didn’t reply, his back to her.

“Ty, say something.”

Tyrese knew he couldn’t feel happy. Not when he knew what he knew. He turned to look at her, saying “You’re pregnant.”

Tamera nodded.

“And you’re certain about that?”

“Yes,” she said. “I got tested at the doctor and-”

“And it was positive.”

“Yes,” Tamera said again, then she looked at him uncertainly. “Aren’t you happy?”

Tyrese looked right back at her. “How can I be happy when I’m not certain it’s mine?”

“What??”

“You’re going to keep pretending?” Tyrese said disbelievingly, and she said “Pretending about what?”

Tyrese didn’t want to play games or stall things- he wasn’t in the mood. First the card, then the texts- now this. He felt like he was about to explode!

“Is the baby mine or Jamal’s, Tamera?” he demanded, and she gasped in shock.

“You know about Jamal??”

“Yes,” spat Tyrese. “So whose baby is it?”

Tamera looked like she was going to faint. Taking a shaky breath, she asked “What do you know?”

“I know you’ve been messing around with him for around five or six months. I know he’s been hassling you and trying to get your attention,” snapped Tyrese as he glared at her. “I know you don’t have any problems with your boss at work- you’ve been lying to me about overtime so you can go and hook up with Jamal and get busy- where, Tamera? At his place or in a hotel?”

Tamera’s eyes filled over. “Does it matter?”

“Yes! How far gone are you?”

She mumbled something, and he snapped “Speak up!”

“Two months,” she muttered, and Tyrese nearly burst out laughing, he was that livid.

“The baby probably isn’t mine then. Because we haven’t been back on track for that long-”

“Tyrese, please,” she begged, tears falling now. “I chose you, not him- I’ll always choose you-”

“I don’t want to hear it.” Tyrese was ice cold. “Call Jamal and tell him to get over here right now.”

“No!”

“What do you mean no?!”

“I don’t want him hurt,” wept Tamera, and Tyrese stared at her amazedly.

“You care about what happens to him?? Even now?!”

“I-”

“Give me your phone.” He snatched her phone out of her hands and dialled furiously, waiting for the guy to answer. When Jamal answered, he shouted “Get here now!”

“What?? What’s going on?”

“You got Tamera pregnant!!”     

Jamal was silent for a minute, then he said “I’m on my way.”

Click.

“It might not be his baby,” wept Tamera. “Ty, listen to me- please!”

“I’m not listening to a word you have to say,” snapped Tyrese. “We’re going to wait for your precious side man to get here- and you’d better pack as much as you can to take with him because you’re not staying here!!”

They carried on arguing, Tamera pleading with him while Tyrese was adamant he wanted nothing to do with her, then they both froze as the doorbell rang.

“It’s Jamal!” Jamal shouted from outside. “Tamera!”

Tyrese strode up to the door and pulled it open; Jamal pushed past him and ran into the kitchen where Tamera was weeping, hands over her face.

He grabbed her, pulling her into his arms. “Tamera! Are you all right?”

“Why wouldn’t she be?” snapped Tyrese, and Tamera pushed Jamal away as she sobbed “This is all your fault, Jamal- my life is a mess because of you!”

“Not because of me,” Jamal said gently. “Because of him.”

“Who?”

“Tyrese.”

Outraged, Tyrese said “Me! I didn’t do a thing to ruin her life! We had a good thing until you came along, filling her head with crap!”

“This is love!” Jamal snapped back. “I’m taking Tamera home with me and we are going to raise our baby together and live happily ever after, ok?!”

“Go ahead, take her!”

Hurt, Tamera said “You mean that?”

Tyrese looked at her angrily, deep into her eyes, and he thought he saw her love for him there. He knew she was sorry for everything. That’s why she kept Jamal away and tried to move on.

“You want us to be together, baby?”

“Yes,” Tamera said, eyes filling again, and Tyrese said “Then tell him. Make him see that you don’t want him.”

“She’ll always have love for me,” spat Jamal, as Tamera turned to him, taking a shaky breath.

“I’m staying with Tyrese, Jamal.”

“You don’t mean that–”

“I mean it,” she said firmly. “My place, my heart- my life- is with him. I’m not going anywhere with you. I love Tyrese. You need to get that in your head and leave us alone.”

“I can’t do that,” Jamal said quietly, and Tyrese snapped “Why can’t you?”

“Because that baby could be mine,” Jamal said calmly, and immediately Tyrese got mad again, at both of them.

“How could you do this to me, Tamera? Almost four years gone down the drain??”

“It wasn’t meant to go this far,” pleaded Tamera. “It was just a bit of fun- I was bored-”

“Bored of what!”

“Things weren’t going so well and I wanted a change!”

“Things weren’t going well because apparently your boss was a jerk!” spat Tyrese, as Jamal moved to put his arm around Tamera. “You said he was picking on you and making you work late- now I know the truth!”

Tamera pushed Jamal away angrily as she said “Okay, I lied! But I couldn’t just say-”

“That you were fooling around with this fool? Why not? Because you wanted to spare me?” Tyrese asked sarcastically; Tamera said nothing. “Answer me!”

Jamal got angry at that: “Don’t talk to her like that!”

“Or what!”

Jamal pulled Tamera to him again and Tamera pushed him away, crying “Jamal, just go! You’re only making things worse-”

“I’m not leaving without you,” Jamal told her softly, and Tyrese suddenly lost it and dived for him, slamming Jamal to the ground and throwing punches wherever he could on Jamal’s body, shouting “You’re not taking her anywhere! My life is ruined because of you!”

“Stop!” cried Tamera as Jamal hit back, just as furious- Tamera tried separating them, tugging at Tyrese’s arm, but he pushed her away; Tamera lost her balance and fell to the ground, her mobile clattering as she saw Jamal reach into his jacket and pull out a handgun.

Her blood ran cold at the sight of it and she scrambled to her feet and ran for her phone, snatching it up and dialling nine nine nine.

“Police!” she screamed, stricken. “He has a gun!”

Jamal grabbed her and she tried pushing him away as Tyrese unsteadily got to his feet, Jamal saying “Tamera, calm down!”

“You’re not going to kill him!!”

Jamal forgot he was holding his gun as he struggled to hold her to him so she could calm down-

BANG!!

Tamera gasped at the impact the bullet had on her, holding her stomach- before she fell to the ground, blood pouring from her mouth and her stomach as she laid there, unable to move.

“TAMERA!! What the hell did you do?!” yelled Tyrese as he ran to her, kneeling down. Jamal stared at Tamera’s body as she took sharp breaths, Tyrese cradling her and saying “You’ll be alright- you need help-”

The glint of life in Tamera’s eyes faded as he reached for her phone. Startled, he realised the call to nine nine nine was still connected. He hung up and redialled for an ambulance, Jamal whispering “What have I done?”

He backed two steps, gun still in his hand as Tyrese shouted “Ambulance! He shot my girlfriend- she’s unconscious-”

“She’s dead,” whispered Jamal, eyes filling as Tyrese hyperventilated, trying to keep calm as he spoke to the operator. “I need to join her wherever she is.”

Tyrese heard the madness but it didn’t reach his brain until it was too late- Jamal had already risen the gun to his head.

“What are you doing?!”

BANG!!

“No!!” shouted Tyrese as he dropped the phone, leaping to his feet and grabbing the gun from Jamal’s lifeless hand.

The front door crashed open, police running in as Tyrese dropped to his knees, stunned as he reached for Tamera’s body, gun still in his hand.

The police stared at the scene; two dead bodies on the kitchen floor, and a man covered in blood shaking, a gun in his hand.

They heard the commotion from Tamera’s phone call and had come immediately- the scene in front of them was enough.

Tyrese was arrested and taken away, the bodies of Tamera and Jamal covered. Tyrese knew they wouldn’t believe anything he said, no matter how many times he said it. Tears trailed down his face as the realisation of what happened hit him like a thousand knives.

Tamera was gone forever, her and her unborn child. All because of  a deranged man who was obsessed with her, a man who just couldn’t leave her alone.

That is what you call unrequited love…

 

 

 

 

Copyright© 2014 by Makala Thomas. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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