“Tell Me If You Still Care” Excerpt

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The Rude Boyz refused to quit. Roman and I walked into a hazy cloud of smoke while entering the Brooklyn headquarters to party with Prince that night.

As usual, we were making another appearance at the Warehouse. We had marijuana, alcohol and some e-pills making its way through the apartment.

Roman chose to tag along to witness all the fun instead of hearing me brag about it and, trust, no one minded Roman’s beautiful presence. Again, he was one of the most attractive guys I’ve ever come into contact with.

I kept telling him to go model somewhere for some top agency, but he would just laugh it off. I guess he had very little imagination.

I also needed Roman’s support in case I lost my cool. It was going to be my first time seeing Kevin in almost a year. Prince had been doing a great job of keeping us separated. He knew how hard it could be to get over the guy who was the first to rip open your heart. Still, I couldn’t avoid him forever or avoid his steady boyfriend, Trey.

It turned out that they were busy having regular sex in the same room Kevin and I first messed around in. The memories were taking a bit too long to fade.

Roman and I fixed ourselves a stiff drink, then joined Prince and the rest of the crew in his bedroom, the regular hangout. Of course, Roman and I both noticed a number of fresh faces. There were three to be exact.

They all could have passed for the former R&B super-group B2K minus Raz B. Roman was probably trying to figure out which one of them was single-and-free. They were all his type. They were my type too so I hoped he picked wisely.

I had my eye on the most vocal one. Prince then walked over to whisper in my ear that he was already taken.

“Who’s taken?” I replied. “The sexy brown kid you keep staring at,” he said. “Now, back up boo – you’re not even drunk yet.”

I loved how direct most of my friends could be. We had no time for silly games. Prince briefed me on his latest relationship conquest. He called them conquests because he never knew how long he could stay faithful to just one person.

Even though I had my challenges too, I was, at the end of the day, a monogamist. I believed in love, the true and unconditional kind of love. Prince, however, liked his variety and so did Roman.

They were two of my only bad influences in terms of friends. Every Gemini needs to strike that balance between the good and the bad.

Getting back to the subject at hand, the Omarion look-alike, who apparently belonged to Prince, was killing me with his looks. He was literally the man I would have constructed if God gave me that ability.

His name was Anton. At 5’6” and about 135 lbs, I couldn’t help but to make him my main focus. He returned the favor pretty often. Prince wasn’t worried though and seemed overly confident about the relationship.

They had only known one another for two weeks, but Prince felt a serious connection. That’s how some of the gays do. We fall in and out of love quick and dirty. I didn’t want to test Anton’s loyalty though. I respected my friendships way too much.

Anton’s eyebrows provided the perfect amount of shade for his almond-shaped eyes. His nose and mouth were proportionate to the rest of his pretty face. I was truly exercising restraint and I needed Prince to recognize that. Roman had yet to get drunk so I hoped he also would show some restraint.

I brought him to support my dilemma, not create a whole new one of his own. I’d much, much rather make love than have to get into another fight. I was sure we would all have fun or maybe I shouldn’t have spoken so soon.

Kevin and Trey had walked into the room holding hands. I placed my drink on the windowsill. It could wait. My heart skipped a beat. In that moment, I realized that I really did still miss him then, as quickly as it came, the moment passed.

I picked back up my drink and smiled. The small talk ensued. “Hey Q, haven’t seen you in a while. What’s going on?” asked Trey while Kevin tried his damndest to ignore me. “I’m good, man, just been busy with work and all.

How are things with you and your relationship?” I asked.

We might as well have put all the cards on the table unless there was something I was not aware we should hide. “No complaints. We love each other, isn’t that right baby?”

The question was directed toward his other half who still couldn’t look me straight in the eye. “Yeah, we’re cool,” replied Kevin in one of the most uninterested tones I had ever heard.

I simply nodded in the affirmative then joined Roman on the other side of the room. Out of concern, Roman gave me that “are you okay” look. I ignored it though because I wasn’t sure how to respond.

Nonetheless, the party had to go on. I just really hoped that night didn’t become a bust. I wanted to have a good time. After two hardcore drinks mixed and poured by Roman, I was definitely feeling better.

My inhibitions were beginning to free me. In due time, the Rude Boyz had made our way to the Warehouse in typical fashion.

It was like a rapper’s entourage at an album release party. Instead, there were no rappers or, in fact, no one we recognized as rappers. As soon as we hit the outdoor deck, I felt some random dude pull me by arm to talk to him.

I had no idea who he was, but, for some reason, a lot of Caribbean men think it’s a turn-on for someone like me. They can be so extremely aggressive when there’s alcohol in their systems.

From the outside looking in, I’m slim pickings, which makes sense. My small frame  somehow makes aggressive dudes like him feel as though I must be a bottom and a submissive one at that.

My friends always enjoyed the entertainment of me giving him a disgusted look then pulling away like he had a disease I didn’t want to contract. In my eyes, it’s not funny at all.

Women don’t even like to be treated that way so what makes one man think it’s okay to do it to another man. A bunch of us continued some of the illegal activities from the apartment onto that deck.

Soon, we were all ready to hit the dance floor and scream over and over again above the music – Rude Boyz! It was nothing new.

Around us, there were those guys who loved and wanted to sleep with many of us as well as the guys who despised our audacious nature that came to be simply because we were young, black and attractive.

Someone would inevitably almost end up in a fight until the outsider would back down in fear of our sheer numbers. We fell into the Warehouse at least 20 people deep by the time we re-branded ourselves the Rude Boyz. You didn’t have to like us, but you had better not disrespect us.

That was our attitude.

The night came to an end and, once again, we all made it back to Brooklyn without any altercations. I barely saw Kevin or Trey the whole night. I was proud that they kept their distance.

However, the sight of them hugged up on the living room couch was making me want to vomit my 80-proof vodka all over them. Moving on can be tough to do when there’s no closure.

Roman managed to behave himself that night. No drunk-Roman’s revenge occurred. Besides the three dudes he kissed at the club, he was by my side whenever I needed him to intervene like in that moment.

He grabbed me by the arm and we went to Prince’s bedroom to sleep. It was only Prince and Anton in his king-size bed. My head hit the pillow and I was out cold. Next thing I knew there was someone at the foot of the bed shaking my leg in an attempt to wake me up.

I sat upright and looked directly into Kevin’s eyes. “Can we talk?” he whispered. “About what?” I replied.

“I don’t want to wake anyone else up so can we go out in the hallway?” The clock read 6:33 a.m. The only noise in the apartment came from the radio left on in the living room. It was the WUGH weekend morning show actually.

I followed Kevin into the building’s stairwell. He didn’t say a word until we both sat down on the steps side by side. He said, “Look, I’ve just been thinking a lot lately and especially tonight.

I knew I was going to see you, but – I mean…” I could have driven a train through that gap between his words. Kevin was obviously nervous and wanted to collect all the right thoughts. “…I made a mistake,” he continued.

“Actually, I don’t even know what I’m doing, but I know I miss you Q and I am sorry for what I did.”

“What did you do? Do you really know what you did Kevin?” I asked pushing him further. A simple apology wouldn’t change what happened. “I know exactly what I did and again, I miss you and – I want you back.” “Dude, your boyfriend is right in there,” I said.

“I don’t care about him and he damn sure doesn’t care anything about you if only you could hear some of the crazy shit he’s said about you. But I care about you. I always have. I was a stupid kid when we met. I didn’t know what I wanted back then.”

“So, now you know what you want? What am I supposed to say to that? It’s been almost two years Kevin. Why now?” He explained, “’Cause there’s no one like you. The grass is not greener on the other side – all of that crap Q. I didn’t know back then, but now I do so I’m putting myself out there whether you feel me or not.”

I thought for a moment. I always like to think before I speak. Regrets are what I try to avoid at all costs. No one had really had the kind of impact on me like Kevin had. Secretly, I had always wanted it back, but never expected the opportunity to come.

I told Kevin I needed to think about it. Chances were it wasn’t going to happen though. I couldn’t open up to him again when he was willing to break Trey’s heart just to get what he thought he wanted.

I was in Trey’s position before and hated it when it happened to me. It really sucked not being able to trust someone you cared so much about. Kevin and I snuck back into our sleeping positions hopefully without anyone noticing.

Later that morning, everyone went their separate ways. Trey was visibly confused by the fact that Kevin seemed to have warmed up to me overnight. He hugged me before they went out to grab breakfast. Prince and Roman also gave us a funny look.

After explaining the bind I was in to two of my best friends, each of them said that it would have been a huge mistake. Kevin could not be trusted. Prince also mentioned that he saw Kevin flirting at the club with one of Anton’s friends.

Supposedly, they lived in the same building complex, so my mind had been made up and, of course, I felt no need to even update Kevin. He was still the same person who dumped me on the eve of one of the best days of my life. Trey would have learned his lesson soon enough, but it was really none of my concern.