Chapter 52: In Another Life

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Nick had been avoiding her. Safiya wasn't surprised. She'd avoid her too after what happened. After eleven calls, five texts, and two voice messages she gave up on getting in touch with him from afar. She'd have to muster up some courage and find him in person. As soon as she left her computer science class, she went to Nick's dorm. He didn't answer the door but his roommate did. The sleepy-eyed reeking of weed and French fries cracked the door and informed her that Nick was at work.

Barnes and Noble at the mall; that's where Nick worked. Safiya entered the two-story book-lined sanctuary. A faint lingering of coffee swirl through the air as hushed tones were barely heard over the most current radio hits. Safiya took one last look at the time on her phone before slipping it into the back pocket of her black jeans. She had forty minutes until she had to be home to either pump or let Ameera feast from the source.

She nibbled on her bottom lip wafting her eyes over the unknown faces. She didn't want to ask anyone if they knew where he was because she didn't want to get him in trouble. Some supervisors weren't fond of that. Safiya learned that when Alyssa showed up at her job when Ameera wouldn't stop crying during her first week of life.

Safiya went down eight aisles and even picked up a book she was interested in but knew she couldn't afford until she found him in the travel section. She watched him on his haunches stacking books on the second to last row.

"Italy. One of my top five places to go before I'm thirty." Safiya began with the paperback book under her arm and her hands in the pockets of her blue jean jacket.

The book slipped from Nick's hand then he glanced up at her before snatching the book off the thin-carpeted floor. "What are you doing here?" He slid the book on the shelf with an annoyed sigh.

"I came to talk to you since you forgot how to answer a phone." She smirked but the corner of her mouth fell as he kept his back to her. "I don't even know why you're pissed—"

"You don't know why," He faced her with his bronze cheeks reddened. "You lied to me." His whisper was low and filled with hostility.

"Me?" Safiya's voice went high as she stabbed her finger in his direction. "I didn't lie. You did—telling me your name was Nick Patel."

He hung his head for a moment, "It's my mom's maiden name and I use it so people won't know my dad's a professor." He half-shrugged. "I like to stay under the radar."

"I get it." She offered, combing her hand through her hair, her frilly top rising up showing her golden stomach that was back flat but her stretch marks were still visible.

Nick put the book back on the metal cart, "That's why you broke up with me after the party."

"Yes." She nodded slipping her hand back in her pocket.

He gazed at her as if a light bulb had flicked on in his head, "Lela told you...that night. That's why she pulled you off." His straight eyebrows snapped together, "Did she make you break-up with me."

She hesitated for just a second and he slammed his fist in his other hand.

"She had no right to meddle in my life." Nick fumed. "I don't pick around in hers."

"Stop." Safiya reached for him and the book under her arm slapped on the floor stopping her movement. "She isn't the reason we broke-up. She just made me think." She stole a peek down the aisle as the little kid running around a table giggling. "I can't date my baby's father's son." She shook her head dazed at the relationship conundrum herself.

Nick laughed somberly, "That's a CW show waiting to happen."

"I'd watch it." Her smile didn't rid the hurt in her eyes.

He leaned against the cart, "I have a sister...have you heard."

She gasped audibly, "You don't say."

"Yeah." He nodded. "Her mom's this alluring, spirited woman..." He smirked fondly. "That I was falling in love with."

"Is she?" Safiya uttered before looking down. She drew in a deep breath; pushing back her tears as her heart sunk pass her ribcage. She planted her focus back on his blank face as she hoped he couldn't see the mist in her eyes under the artificial lighting. "I would say I wished we could've met first but..." She swallowed her hurt. "But then I wouldn't have Ameera and that little girl's the love of my life."

Nick sniffed, "I know."

"Friends." Safiya held out her hand.

Nick glared at her hand hanging there for a while then took a hold of it. "Friends." He pulled her against his body and wrapped his arms around her. She froze briefly then gave into the urge and circled her arms around his waist, placing her head against his chest. "But in another life...we'd be more."

"In another life." She squeezed him once more inhaling the same scent his father was fond of on his shirt before pulling away. "See you around, Nick Russell."

"You too..." He stroked his neck watching her walk backwards down the aisle, "Safiya Mendoza." 

Do you think Safiya has closure since her truth is out?

Do you think they really going to be friends or drift apart to be strangers?

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