Three

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It's pretty obvious what Soul is doing. He's wrecking havoc on my life and forcing me to make a decision. I love him for it. I hate him for it.

Instead, I remain calm. I can't have this man interrupt my daily life just because he decided to waltz back in and I'm supposed to drop everything I'm doing to be at his beck and call. I don't know how Soul gets down with other members of his harem, that is if he has one, but I do know he won't be playing that mess with me.

"Well...?" Derrick asks and he stares at me, hoping to get the first taste of some hot tea but I have nothing to spill. What is there to say? I don't know if Soul showing up at my home and him posting a new ad featuring me is a coincidence.

Something also tells me Soul isn't one who does coincidences.

"It's nothing," I finally answer after a longer-than-it-should've-been silence. Those pictures are from two years ago and Soul is just now posting them. He could've said something two years ago but didn't. He held onto them for some reason.

I know what the reason is. It's his way of coming back into my life regardless of my feelings and where I am in my career. A part of me is annoyed by the interruption and a part of me wonders if I'm ready to be photographed on a daily basis by stalking paparazzo?

Reveal how many times I've practiced saying Ariana Ellison and how floored I was by the way it sounded isn't a good look. While I haven't been talking too much about me and Jared, I know I haven't mentioned Soul at all.

Everything has shifted now and I have no idea what to do.

"Your mood changed the moment you saw your pictures," Sherry leans forward to apply makeup on me, but I also know she's trying to read my face for any clues. She's disappointed that I'm not as vocal as my cohosts. "It's not so much that you're quiet now but the energy shifted. There's tension. There's some anger." She pauses for a moment. "There's some love there, dare I say."

I love and hate that man. Honestly, I have no reason to hate Soul yet I feel if I try to keep convincing my mind that I hate him, I would believe it. The problem is that I know I'm full of it and so does my body. My breasts are suddenly heavy and full, and those familiar tingles crawl around my body.

Soul obviously brought something out of me that no one else can and that scares me. It's more than the man making me aroused; he's making me face my fears and I'm not sure if I'm ready for that.

"Soul is a nice guy," I finally answer to bated breath. "I like him." I want to say more but I know it's best to keep quiet. I know Derek and Sherry won't say a word but I also don't know who's eavesdropping.

I damn sure don't want Laura to get wind of this conversation. I will never hear the end of it.

"Are you going to talk about him today on the show? I'm sure someone is going to bring it up." Sherry asks.

"They better bring it up since baby girl ain't sayin' squat!" Derek teases, though we all know he's being completely serious. His non-gay self wants the tea.

"I rather not mention him at all if I have the opportunity," I slowly put my foot down. I don't want to address Soul for I still don't know what we are. We're more than friends. Well, are we friends? He kissed me last night and I welcomed it.

I'm also in a on-and-off relationship with a guy who has the stability of a broken chair.

Jared briefly comes into my mind, though I'm still not sure why he's there other than me being stupid and lonely. He was my first boyfriend, my first everything, really. I'll always feel a connection to him.

Yet, things between us haven't been great. Not that they were truly solid before but there's distance between us now. I know there's another woman in the picture, though I can't prove it. I know he's partially with me for the free shelter.

My cousin, Desiree, doesn't approve as she's the one I'm living with and the reason why we're able to afford the nice apartment. Desiree is a YouTube celebrity and local rapper, whose on the cusp of stardom. She's already been featured on a few other rappers' records and she has a healthy following on social media. She'll be the next big star.

I sat calmly in my chair as Derek and Laura finish their magic on me, and then I go into the waiting wings as we wait for our cue to walk on stage before our live studio audience. I'm calm, but there's a small storm inside of me. I really don't want to be at work, and I would rather confront Soul with what he did or is doing.

I'll have to wait until later. If I confront Soul, it'll tell him I'm still interested. If I keep my mouth shut, he'll get the hint I wasn't impressed and I ignored him. I don't want Soul to think everything is cool between us but I also don't want him to think he could pull a stunt like that and I'll be fine with it.

"Are you ladies, ready?" Laura asked us with a wide smile on her face.

"Ready!" The lone barely teen in our panel, Lily, smiles. She's a twenty something old blonde, skinny woman with an affliction for rose wine and boy bands. She's biracial but has what I like to call the Mariah Carey – she's so white, you're struggling to see the blackness within her.

"Ready!" The older, seasoned black woman, Tesh, replies. She has short, dark hair, and always brings in homemade pastries she's made. She also has her own very successful bake shop.

"Ready!" The half-black, half-Asian girl, Quai, responds. Quai looks younger than her 30 years, but has the attitude of a girl who was raised in the streets of Compton. She's actually from Beverly Hills.

Laura approaches me with a smile on her face. "Are you ready, Ari?"

I'm unnerved at how close Laura is to me. I also know her personal question to me isn't as innocent as she would like it to seem. "I'm ready."

"Good." Laura nods and stands next to me. "I'm going to sit on the panel today with you ladies. Just for a short while, not the entire show."

"Oh?" Lily asks. "For how long?"

"Just to get through the celebrity gossip and hot topics," Laura replies. "I have a feeling today will be interesting to discuss."

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