“Are you really going to wear that?” I asked overlooking Troy’s gray tee shirt and navy blue hooded sweatshirt. He wore his blue jeans went un-cuffed overtop his crisp tan Timberland boots.
Troy threw his hands up in the air and then said, “What else am I supposed to wear?”
I looked over at him as he sat on the edge of the bed. Behind him lay the black cocktail dress and sling back heels I brought for what was supposed to be the happiest day of my life.
“I knew this was a bad idea,” I said plopping down in the chair beside the television still wrapped in my towel and wearing shower shoes. “Let’s just go home.”
“Go home?” Troy repeated looking at me as if he was confused. “I thought you wanted to get married.”
“This whole thing is a disaster,” I said placing my head in my hands. “Why did you ask me in the first place Troy if you were going to act like this.”
“I-I-I do want to marry you, let’s just wait a while,” he said stuttered, grabbing me by the arm and pulling me in his arms. “I mean a few months or so from now. Let’s just enjoy our trip.”
“Fine,” I said dryly, removing myself from his embrace. I grabbed the dress from the bed and stuffed it back into my bag without folding it. I decided to throw on a pair of dark blue Gap jeans, a light pink sweater and UGG boots. I unpinned my hair and allowed it to flow down to my shoulders. I carefully applied my makeup and sprayed on some Chanel No. 5, my signature scent.
The sun had set and dusk had taken over the sky by the time we left our room to explore what Sin City had to offer. We caught the hotel’s shuttle bus over to the Strip and got off in front of the Excalibur Hotel.
“Come on, let’s go in here,” Troy said pulling me towards the entrance. His eyes grew wide as a roller coaster swooshed passed us with passengers screaming at the top of their lungs. We entered the hotel and stood in the middle of the gaming floor. Slot machines rung out in harmony as players pulled down on the levers and waited to see what fate had dealt them.
“Oh my God, this place is crazy!” he yelled looking around in amazement.
I forced a smile on my face and the said, “Yeah, it is.”
I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that we traveled halfway across the country and decided at the last minute to put it off, but I was determined to enjoy our trip.
“Are you mad at me?” Troy asked.
“Mad, no.” I said. “Disappointed, yes,” I replied walking over to a concession stand where they were selling huge containers of margaritas called, Dick Sticks. “Let’s get one of these,” I said quickly changing the subject. I pointed at the large tubular drink and ordered a strawberry one. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore; I looked down at the engagement ring and slipped it off and into my jean pocket.
“Okay,” he agreed, looking over the menu of flavors in detail. He ordered a Mango flavored one and we continued on our way.
We laughed and joked as we sipped our drinks and explored each hotel one by one. When we got to the Bellagio hotel, we stopped to watch the water show with a crowd of other spectators. I leaned on the brick railing with my drink in one hand and we stood quietly as water shot up in the air to symphonic melodies.
“Where’s your ring,” Troy said, looking down at my left hand.
“I put it away,” I answered sipping the last of my drink. I didn’t even bother to make eye contact.
“What did you do that for?” he barked, staring at me as if I had just run over his dog.
I didn’t feel the need to answer him so I remained silent. I could feel his intense stare burning the side of my face.
“I thought you said you weren’t mad,” he said pulling me away from the crowd.
“I told you I wasn’t mad Troy,” I said shaking my head. “I don’t see what the big deal is. You didn’t even want a ring and now you’re pissed at me because I took mines off.”
I waited for him to respond so I could really tell him where he could go, but to my surprise, he backed off. He grabbed my hand and squeezed it tightly as we continued down the Strip. I was a little surprised because this was the nicest he’d been to me in quite some time. I took it as his way of apologizing for being such a jerk the night before.
On our way back up the Strip, we stopped at the concession stand for another drink, it was only 9 PM Vegas time, but I was drop dead tired because I had jetlag. As we stood around on the bridge to the Excalibur Hotel, looking around at the lights from every hotel around us, Troy stood behind me guarding me as if I was his property.
He put his forearm around my neck in a playful manner and kissed me on the cheek. Troy then whispered in my ear, “Let’s get married.”
“What did you say?” I asked making sure that I heard him correctly.
He cleared his throat and the said, “Let’s get married.”
I turned around and stared into his eyes; they were somewhat red and puffy. He looked tired and I couldn’t tell if it was him or the alcohol talking so I ignored him once more as I had done earlier in the evening at the Bellagio.
“I know you hear me,” he said, “Let’s get married.”
“I thought you said you wanted to wait,” I said staring out into the street at a crowd of people crossing in front of a sea of illuminated head lights.
“I changed my mind,” he said as if we were talking about him deciding what he wanted to order for breakfast.
“You can’t just change your mind Troy, this is serious.”
“I know all that. I’m for real; I want us to get married—tonight.”
Butterflies filled the pit of my stomach, “So why the change of heart?” I asked anxiously awaiting his response.
“I don’t want to lose you,” he replied in the most sincere tone of voice I’d heard from him in a long time.
“But it’s late at night,” I said still somewhat resisting his change of heart. I still wanted to marry Troy, but part of me wanted him to suffer for his earlier decision.
“So what? Vegas Jay wedding chapels here are open all night.”
“But I’m not dressed,” I said looking down at my blue jeans and chocolate UGG boots. I thought about the cute little cocktail dress I balled up and stuffed in my bag.
“Does it really matter? I thought the whole point of us getting married in Vegas was to do things our way and not have to worry about what other people thought about us.”
“Okay, Okay, Okay, let’s do it!” I squealed hugging him tightly.
I dug into my purse, paid the cab driver and got out in downtown Las Vegas at the Clark County court house. As we walked up the steps to the entrance, several representatives from the area wedding chapels handed us pamphlets and shouted deals on their services as if they were street vendors selling DVDs and CDs. They were like little vultures all attacking us at the same time. One particular chapel happened to be offering a limousine to the chapel and then back to the hotel once we were married for only eighty bucks. I made a mental note to check him out once we got our marriage papers.
Once inside, it was one other couple ahead of us. We approached the window hand in hand and filled out the paperwork. Once finished, we paid the fee for the license and proceeded out the door. We decided to go to the chapel with the free limo ride and off we went the chapel. As we pulled up, I noticed a white fountain out front of a cupid like statue illuminated by blue lights. The floors of the chapel were covered in red carpet and there were small rooms where other ceremonies were already taken place. We decided to get married outside in the garden under a little white gazebo.
“I’ma call my mom,” Troy said walking across the garden with his cell phone in his hand. “Be right back.”
I rolled my eyes as he left me standing alone to wait for the pastor to come. The conversation I overheard him having with his mother earlier was still bothering me. I loved his mother to death; we spent almost every Sunday together, but she was too involved in our business. Troy arrived back at my side just as the pastor come to greet us.
Troy and I turned to face one another and held each other’s hands as we exchanged vows. We said our “I do’s” and the pastor okayed him to kiss the bride. We confessed our love to each other as our lips met. I fumbled around in my pocket and retrieved the ring I’d placed there earlier and slipped it back into its rightful place. I knew that we had several more days left of our little vacation/honeymoon, but I secretly could not wait to get home to start our new life together.
3 Months Later
It was a cold Wednesday during the first week of March 2008 and I couldn’t wait to get off from work. When the clock finally read 3 PM, I took off down the back stairs of my office building and came out of the fire stairwell close to where I parked my car. I hit the button to unlock the doors and slid inside. Placing my bag on the passenger seat, I slipped on my Gucci aviator glasses and turned on the ignition. I eased out of the parking space and started on my way home. I absolutely loved driving my brand new cherry red Infiniti. Troy had brought it for me for Christmas right after we returned from getting married in Vegas. The down payment had put a strain on his bank account, but the car was well needed. I had recently took a position at a company which required me to do a lot of traveling and Troy usually drove the one beat up car that we did have to and from New Jersey to work every day. It was my first ever brand new car and I blushed every time I thought about how lucky I was to have a man like Troy that would go out of his way to insure that I no longer had to take public transportation.
I pulled up at the house and parked across the street. All I could think about was getting dinner cooked and out the way so I could lie down and rest. I opened the door and picked the mail up off the floor of the vestibule before I entered the house as I did everyday when I got off from work. Troy never got home from work before I did unless he left early. I locked the door behind me and sifted through the countless pieces of mail including a few bills, restaurant flyers and a letter from the Domestic Relations Division of Philadelphia addressed to Troy Johnson.
Domestic Relations? I thought to myself dropping the other mail on the coffee table and ripping open the letter. My chest tightened as I read Shanice Miller Vs. Troy Johnson at the top of the page. I sat down on the bottom of the stairwell as I continued scanning the document.
“Order of support?” I said out loud as my eyes continued down the document.
“Shannon and Shane Miller?” I continued talking to myself. I hyperventilated when I looked at children’s birthdates: Oct 19, 2007. That was two months before we got married. This can’t be right I muttered gathering the strength to get off the steps and grab the cordless phone from the book shelf. My legs felt like jelly as I dialed his cell phone number. I waited patiently as the phone rang holding my now heavy body up with the help of the wall trying to catch my breath.
“Hey babe what’s up?” Troy answered cheerfully
“Who-the-hell-is-Shanice-Miller?” I asked through short breaths. I sat back down on the steps trying to contain myself.
The phone line went silent, with only the music from the car radio playing in my ear.
“Hello?” I said still breathing heavily.
“I’m on my way home. We’ll talk when I get there,” his voice crackled through the phone line.
By the time I hung the phone up, my face was drenched in tears and my heart was beating so fast that I thought I was going to die. I clenched the papers in my hands as I wept silently, waiting to find out who this woman was that supposedly had children by my husband for whom I had aborted children for in the past.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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