Harlem Heat

by Legacy Leonard

RaVon cruised his gold 2001 Monte Carlo down 14th Avenue in Harlem. It was a bright summer day in New York, and the crowded street was filled with fruit vendors, hot dog stands, and honking, cursing cab drivers. People moved in a rhythmic throng under the dancing sunshine rays. A group of chic young women sporting fashionable Fendi, Prada, and Phat Farm outfits with their leather tote bags, and expensive cellular phones poised for use cast RaVon admiring sides glance as they passed by. The Japanese one with the long silky hair spiked in wisps atop her head in a short red skirt and matching lace top let her slanting dark eyes linger seductively on him. Her perfect red lips formed into a promising smile, but attractive as she was, RaVon was not interested.

He drove on until he reached the building he had been searching for. It was a small, but exclusive dance studio, Harlem Body Kinetics. Here, he would find Nikki Evette Meyers, the only woman who had ever captured his heart. It had been nearly 5 years since their break up. RaVon's former player days had caught up with him in the form of a red haired daughter, Vontia, by a former flame Catia. Nikki had not been able to deal with the evidence of his past indiscretions, and had left him to pursue her education and dreams of dancing in New York. Only a year before when his friends, Teeko and Jaime, ironically an old girlfriend of his, had married he had met again with Nikki and her fiancé, Michael Lorenz, a popular dance choreographer and the owner of Harlem Body Kinetics. Her unrelenting beauty and even more so at meeting her fiancé had stunned him. He was filled with a stabbing anguish and jealousy afterward. He could never imagine Nikki with another man, especially marrying another one besides him. Their relationship had been so beautiful, and he could not let go of the love that burned in his heart for Nikki after all these years. He had not imagined he saw the hurt in Nikki's eyes when they had chanced upon one another at the wedding. Over the years, Nikki had grown more sophisticated, and had learned to reign in the passion of her emotions. She had smoothed over her shock, and had introduced RaVon to Michael. RaVon had felt the cool reserve she had treated him with before when he had made a trip to New York once in an attempt to get back with her. She had acted happy to see him, but showed no interest in restoring their relationship.

RaVon swallowed the hurt that the memory caused even now. He stepped out the car slowly, sliding his hand over the sleek hood of his car, as he drifted toward the building. "Why the hell am I doing this?" he thought, "I am only setting myself up for another disappointment. She never truly forgave me, but I wish to God she would". If only I could make her see that, there is no other woman on this planet for me besides her. I wish I could make her need me again, love me again, like I need her in my life." RaVon stopped and stared at the building hesitantly. "It's not fair to her," he thought to himself again, "For me to keep trying to interfere in her life. She might be married by now, but then again do I really give a **** about that f*ggot a** n*gga?" RaVon shook his head, and cleared the mean thoughts from his mind. He had never been keen on male dancers, and could not help but wonder about a brother that would parade around in leotards.

He almost laughed at himself, but he was too nervous about seeing Nikki. He breathed deeply, and straightened himself as he strode purposefully toward the building. Pushing open the glass doors of the studio, he approached the receptionist who was chirping on the phone. Her hands flew expressively as she continued to talk and did not realize RaVon was towering over her. RaVon cleared his throat, and her round brown eyes drifted in surprise up to his face. "Oh I'm sorry...hold on just a minute sir!" she said as she spun her chair around and whispered fiercely into the phone, "Girl I'm going to call you back. There is this cutie standing here. Un-huh. Bye."

She twirled back around and gave him a dazzling smile. "Hi, I'm sorry, but I didn't even see you standing there. My name is Cindy, how can I help you?" she said brightly. RaVon turned on his charm and laughed easily. He knew that with his 6'2 athletic build, golden bronze complexion, warm green eyes, and teasing smile that he was irresistible to women. This young woman would give him no trouble at all by the mesmerized look in her melted chocolate colored eyes.

"It's okay, sweetheart, my name is RaVon, and I was wondering if you could tell me if Ms. Meyers in."

"Sure she is. I think she just finished a session. Let me show you the way to her studio." she gushed rising from the desk. Her eyes flashed into his as he gave her body a cursory glance. She was 5'4 in the heels she wore with deep ginger brown skin, big brown eyes, a pert nose, white teeth, and a buxom figure with shapely legs. She was attractive and wanted RaVon to know it too. RaVon chuckled to himself and smiled at her smoothly. "Show the way Ms. Cindy," he said offering her his arm. She beamed, and took his arm as she swayed her hips as they walked together. After turning down a long corridor, they reached a room with highly polished hardwood floors, sparkling mirrors, mahogany bars lined the walls, and studio lights glowed overhead from their long silver wracks on the ceiling. Soft jazz music floated from hidden speakers. RaVon's eyes swept the room until Nikki twirling in the center of the room captured them.

He held his breath as he watched her move gracefully. The flesh tone leotard she wore was almost sheer and shimmered against her creamy complexion. It outlined her firm, high breast, her flat stomach, long dancer's legs, and every graceful curve and line of her slender body. Her light brown hair tumbled over her shoulders as she danced. She was gorgeous. As the music, crescendoed RaVon watched as Nikki became enraptured in the music and flittered like a butterfly around the room. Her perfectly pointed toes danced steps as precise and flawless as a string of pearls across the floor. The music continued to swell and she whirled passionately her long hair fanning out. Slowly the notes decrescendoed until they faded into silence. It was at that moment that Nikki lifted her face and opened her eyes to meet the intense gaze of RaVon. Her eyes widened and she almost gasped. "RaVon?" she said softly. "Nikki." he said simply looking deep into her eyes. His heartbeat raced. She looked so ethereal at this moment with the soft light glowing all around her. She was always so beautiful when she danced.

Cindy looked from Nikki to RaVon curiously. Even she could sense the intensity between them. "Nikki that was absolutely gorgeous" Cindy sang breaking into the heaviness of the moment. Nikki still looking unsettled glanced at Cindy and replied, "Thank you." Cindy smiled brightly and gestured toward RaVon. "I was just bringing Mr. Woods to see you. You never told me you had such a delightful friend!" she laughed raising her eyebrows at Nikki. Nikki only smiled faintly and tried not to look into RaVon's penetrating green eyes yet. Cindy watched RaVon for a moment longer then sighed; "Well if you need anything just give me a call at the front desk, and RaVon it was a pleasure meeting you." Here eyes sparkled as he bowed smoothly before her and said; "The pleasure was all mine." His smile radiated over Cindy and she was thrilled. She giggled breathlessly and exited the room. She could not wait to tell her girlfriend, Tiara, all about RaVon.

RaVon waited until she had left the room before turning his full attention back to Nikki. She had a towel around her neck now with a bottle of Evian water in one hand. "I see," she said casually, "That you still have the same charming effect on women."

RaVon winced, and wondered if her words carried a deeper meaning despite their casual tone. "It does not matter." He said simply. Nikki, now recomposed, lifted her delicate eyebrows slightly and asked; "And why is that?"

RaVon eyes bored straight into hers as he replied, "Because they are not you. No woman could ever come close to the woman that you are, Nikki." He said in a low and sincere voice. "That's is why it does not matter. Nothing much has mattered since you have been gone, especially in my life." He continued trying to restrain the emotion that wanted to crackle in his smooth voice. Nikki's brown eyes darkened. "RaVon don't!" she said sharply. "Don't start that again. Just don't say anything!" RaVon's lower lip trembled, and he bit it. His green eyes shone brightly as he gazed at Nikki. He could see the anger in her eyes, but she was pale and her lips trembled as well. Nikki fought to contain her emotions and after a moment, she demanded; "What do you want? Why did you come here?" RaVon unclasped his hands and moved closer to her. "Because, I needed to see you. I have been thinking about you ever since I saw you at Jaime and Teeko's wedding. Nikki I know you probably don't want to see me or hear anything I have to say...." he began. "You're right!" she snapped, "I don't and I wish to God that you would just let whatever you think you feel for me go! It took me too long to reach this point of happiness without you, and now here you are again!" she cried and tears brimmed in her eyes.

RaVon relented and knelt down beside her. He touched her face and she turned away. He took her chin, and forced her to meet his gaze. He was not going to walk away this time. The pain and the love in his heart for her would not let him. "If you are so happy, then why, baby, why are you crying?" he asked softly as the tears began to spill down her cheeks. His green eyes were dark with a mixture of pain, anguish, and concern. "I am happy, I am!" she screamed yanking away from him again. She rose from the floor and sobbed; "Just leave me the hell alone RaVon! Leave me alone! Haven't you done enough to me? Haven't you?" RaVon flinched at her hurt and agony, but he pressed on. Even if he could not win her heart back, he knew they needed to let this tension between them die. They both had to face up to the truth of the past.

"Nikki, I know I hurt you. Baby, I know I was wrong, but all that **** happened before I new how much I loved you. How much I cared. I didn't know about Tia until Catie told me. I know I was dead wrong for lying to you about my daughter and Catie for so long, but I never wanted to hurt you. If I could take it all back, I would. Baby, you just don't know how much pain burns in my heart ever since we have been apart. I have not loved another woman since you. I don't care how much you hate me, but baby you gotta forgive me and move on. Even if you won't come back to me, you gotta let this go for yourself. You'll never be truly happy if you don't!" He cried passionately as he voice lowered to a husky whisper.

The tears flowed freely down Nikki's face now. She stared into RaVon's face and could see the sincerity and heartache shining in them. She trembled as she slumped back to the floor. "Oh Vonny!" she sobbed as she collapsed into his arms. "I hated you! I hated you so much. It hurt so bad, and I could not understand why. I did not listen. It did not matter to me then, because I was too hurt to hear you, or understand. My heart felt as if it had been shattered into a million pieces. My mind would scream "Why!? Why!?". My agony was so intense that I could not look at you, hear your voice, or even your name. I had to leave to save my sanity." she confessed as she cried harshly on his shoulder. He stroked her hair, and the tears fell from his eyes as he listened. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. With all my heart I beg you, baby, please, please forgive me. I know I hurt you, I hurt with you. Baby, when you walked out my life you took the only love I have ever wanted or needed so badly from a woman. It was like the sunshine just disappeared forever, and I was consumed in the darkness of pain. But, baby, my heart and mind just would not let me forget you. I had to know if I stood one more chance of getting you back. Nikki, I love you" Nikki's chest rose and fell with deeper sobs. He tightened his hold around her, and rocked her gently in his arms. They cried together for a long moment, and then Nikki looked up into his face and spoke in weak voice; "RaVon I never stopped loving you. Not ever. Even when I thought I hated you the love inside would not go away. I tried so hard to forget you through college, dancing, even my fiancé. But Michael isn't you, and all I ever wanted was you. When you came to visit me up here, back in 98 I fought the urge to breakdown crying. I could not let you know how much I still loved you. Vonny, I need you. I love you, I love you!" she cried.

Fresh tears spilled down RaVon's cheeks as he turned her face tenderly up to his. He had been waiting so long to here these words. They went straight to his heart, and filled him with unexplainable joy. He leaned down and tentatively captured her lips with hers. That first kiss was filled with tenderness and uncertainty, as if it were the first time they had ever kissed. But as they continued to kiss each other more deeply, their passion grew fierce and demanding. Nikki threaded her arms around his neck as she rubbed her fingers through his wavy red hair. RaVon grasped her silky brown locks and caressed her breast lightly as he tasted the full sweetness of her mouth. "Oh Nikki, I have been waiting for this moment so long" he breathed deeply as they kissed passionately. "Oh, baby..." she moaned softly as he ran his fingers up and down her spine. "So have I, so have I." she whispered. Their bodies tingled as their kisses continued to deepen. It seemed as if they could not get close enough as they pressed their bodies against one another. Soon RaVon and Nikki were all over each other on the floor kissing, touching, groping, sighing, and moaning. Nikki's body was on fire and she wanted him right now. "Vonny" she whispered "I want you so bad..." His green eyes pierced into hers and he kissed her with enough force to take her breath away. In moments, their clothes lay in a discarded array. His lips and tongue moved all over her body. When he moved down between her thighs Nikki's eyes widened. Her body arched as she felt his tongue delve into the slick heat of her wetness. "Oh Vonny!" she cried and bit her lips. She twisted and moaned until she could not take anymore. He moved his mouth back to her breast, and sucked on her nipples until she was panting. She dragged his body against hers and kissed him deeply. "Please baby..." she begged restlessly. With a passionate surge, he entered her, and her body quaked uncontrollably. Her body rose and fell beneath his gentle thrusts. But then he began to move faster inside of her until he was humping her forcefully. She moaned and cried out in ecstasy, as he sweated and cried her name in her ear.

Their bodies joined in a timeless, sensual groove upon the hardwood-polished floor. "Oh, Nikki, Nikki, Nikki." RaVon gasped as he moved inside of her. Their blood raced, and they moved in an erratic frenzy against one another. "Ohh!" Nikki cried as she began to climax, and RaVon no longer able to control himself came forcefully inside of Nikki. They lay against one another, panting, and wet, and now they cried together as they held one another tightly. Suddenly they were startled by a strangled gasp. Nikki's eyes rose in alarm and dismay as she looked up to see Michael standing in the doorway. RaVon followed Nikki's gaze, but did not release her, or make any movement from her.

The air in the room was thick and heavy with tension. Michael's olive complexion grew mottled with reddish tones showing his rage. His dark eyes glittered with hurt and fury, and he turned sharply on his heels and stormed away.

Nikki looked back at up RaVon still in shock, and he gazed down into her lovely face and kissed her lips. "Baby." he said, "I think you better pack your things tonight, cause lady you are coming home with me." He grinned at her, and she stared at him dumbly. She finally regained her senses, and pushed him away. "No" she said shaking her head, "No, this isn't what...this wasn't supposed to happen...oh no. I didn't mean to..." She began to gather her clothes to her chest, and RaVon looked at her startled. "Baby, what do you mean?" She shook her head again, her light brown hair tumbling around her shoulders. "RaVon, this was not right. I love you, but....Michael...oh God" she groaned as she began to pull on her clothes.

RaVon studied her in disbelief. "What about Michael!?" he barked, the hurt and fear crackling in his voice. She looked at him her brown eyes filling with tears. "Oh, RaVon, why did you have to come back here, and now....I just can't uproot my whole life for you...." He moved toward her pleading, "Baby, I know things are crazy right now, but you know I will take care of you. I love you. You don't have to worry about him, because you love me, remember!" Nikki stared at him, and let her shoulders drop. Her hands were still crossed upon her chest as she replied softy, "I do RaVon....but it's not fair to Michael...what I have done. I was out of control." RaVon's green eyes regarded her piercingly. "What are you saying Nikki?" he asked in a dangerously low voice. She pressed a delicate hand to her forehead and pushed back her tumbling locks. "I don't know. I have to get out of here. I have to talk to him, and then RaVon we'll talk about us...." She drifted off softly.

RaVon sighed dejectedly. "Alright Nikki....but know that I am not leaving this city without you." He said new determination entering his voice as he glared at her meaningfully. Nikki felt a tingle race through her body at the strength in his voice. She was so confused, but she knew there was no way RaVon was going to let her go now. If only Michael had not walked in on them! Leaving would have been easier. She pulled on her clothes slowly. He probably will not even speak to me now she thought to herself. She almost wanted to laugh as she thought wryly, why the hell would he after catching his fiancée getting her grind on in his dance studio with an old flame. RaVon was watching her expressionless beautiful face silently, and he wondered what she was thinking. He prayed to God she would leave with him, that night if they had to. Nikki could feel his intense gaze as she finished dressing. She turned to face him slowly. "RaVon, just give me some time, okay? If you need to reach me leave a message with Cindy, but I have to go now." she said softly averting her eyes. RaVon took a deep breath and sighed. "Alright, I'll leave my number with Cindy when you are ready to reach me. Nikki, I meant everything I said. You can't go back to Michael." He said simply and began to slip on his clothes. Nikki bit her bottom lip and kept her eyes trained on the floor as he dressed, and left out as quietly as he had come in. She released a shaky breath as she turned her eyes pleadingly to the heavens. "Dear God, help me." She whispered as she turned and headed out the studio, perhaps, for the final time.


"How dare you!" Michael roared at Nikki as she sat before him tears sliding down her pale cheeks. "I have done nothing but love, support, and respect you, and then you toss it back in my face by screwing your old boyfriend in my got damned studio! There is nothing, nothing you can say to me right now Nikki!" he continued his eyes aflame. "Michael, I am so sorry...I did not mean to do this to you...it all happened so fast....I am so sorry." she sobbed earnestly.

Michael turned away from her. Tension and anger were evident in the angles and lines of his muscular frame. He could not stand to see or hear her cry. His throat ached from swallowing his own tears, and his eyes burned as he tried to blink them back. If he could have, he would have beaten her, and then took her in his arms and demanded "Why!?", but her knew he could never raise his hand to her. He struggled to compose himself as he turned to address her again. "Do you love him?" he asked hoarsely pushing back a lock of his raven black hair. Nikki froze, and looked up into his handsome face creased with grief and fatigue. She could see the pain in his eyes, and it wrenched at her heart.

"Yes.", she whispered before she could consider her words. A single tear slid down Michael's face, and his voice broke as he replied, "Then you need to go to him. Leave, now, Nikki. I cannot stand to look into your face once more. I love you, but you have to go. I could never accept the fact that you love another man more than me. I deserve better than that, and so do you." "Michael..." she implored as fresh tears welled in her eyes, and she reached out to him, but he shrank from her touch. "No." he said darkly as he turned his back to her, and headed for the door. "There is nothing left to say, Nikki. When I return in the morning, I expect you and your things to be gone. Consider this goodbye." He whispered gently, but firmly. Nikki watched helplessly as he walked out the door, and closed it with a soft thud.

Tears trickled from her cheeks, and she buried her face in the palms of her hands. Only the sounds of her weeping filled the empty silence of the high-rise apartment. After a long moment, she lifted her face, and wiped away the remainder of the dampness on her cheeks with the back of her hand. She sat reflecting on the years she had spent with Michael.

She remembered his laughing, handsome face the first night they had met at the popular China Club on 47th street in Manhattan in the fall of 1998. Nikki and several of her college friends were laughing and having drinks at the bar when an irresistible Latin beat began to pound throughout the upper floor of the club. Nikki, was moving her hips to the beat on the bar stool, and could barely stay still. She dragged one of her friends on to the dance floor and began to shake and step expertly to the music. Michael had moved across the dance floor to join her until they were face-to-face, hand-to-hand, and hip-to-hip. They moved so rhythmically and in-sync to the beat that it felt as if they were one body. She was the most graceful partner he had ever encountered before. Every curve of her graceful figure seemed to fit to the mold of his hands and the angles of his 6'0 ft frame. Nikki had felt the electricity exploding between them on the dance floor as their eyes connected. After the music ended, they stood staring into one another's eyes smiling dreamily. Nikki learned that Michael was one of New York's hottest choreographers, and Michael was delighted to find that Nikki was a classically and modernly trained dancer.

From that night, forward Michael and Nikki became fast friends, and then eventually lovers. Michael had been everything a perfect boyfriend could be: handsome, talented, intelligent, attentive, sensitive, supportive and loving. The years had flown by in such a blur, Nikki thought as her mind resurfaced in the present. Now that time with Michael was gone, and once again, her life was on an uncertain path. Just hours ago she had been engaged to the popular, handsome Latin choreographer, Michael Lorenz, and now she was packing her bags to flee into the arms of her ex-boyfriend RaVon, or was she? Nikki rose slowly from the couch and entered the spacious bedroom her and Michael had shared.

She felt suspended in animation as she began to pull clothes from the closet and drawers, even as the thoughts floated in her mind as to whether she should go directly to RaVon or not. Another part of her mind demanded, "Why not?" There was no place else to go, nothing left to do or say. She had admitted she loved RaVon to Michael without hesitation. Yet, she was afraid inside. She had grown use to the comfort and stability of her life with Michael in New York. Before now, things had been so perfectly simple, and now things were so confusing, out of control, unpredictable.

Nikki felt herself begin to laugh. The sound leaped from her throat without warning. She could not stop herself, as she sat down on the edge of the bed and allowed herself to let this sudden unnatural hysteria carry her away. She laughed until the tears poured down her cheeks. She felt light and free as the laughter gradually subsided. For the past five years, she had not only been running from her feelings, but from her fear of the unknown. Nikki had never been one to live on the wild side. All her life everything she had ever done was planned, and she always played by the book. Falling in love with RaVon all those years ago had been the most frightening, but wonderful experience of her life. RaVon represented everything on the edge, fresh, lively, and liberating. The hurt and bitterness she had harbored obliterated in those moments of ecstasy and release she had experienced in his arms. He was everything she needed and wanted in her life. Yes, she had loved Michael, but she loved RaVon with every breath and living fiber in her being. There were no guarantees with RaVon, but she knew he would make each day count for their love.

Nikki dropped the armful of garments she had withdrawn from the closet, and reached for the telephone on the nightstand. She dialed the number to the dance studio, and waited impatiently as the phone rang. Finally, Cindy's cheery voice greeted her. Nikki breathed a sigh of relief and spoke quickly, "Hi, did anyone leave any messages for me?" Her heart drummed with excitement as she waited impatiently for Cindy to check the computerized message center.

"Here we go. Mr. Woods left his hotel room number and cell phone number for you. He said to call him by 9pm. He has a flight leaving at 9:45 p.m."

Nikki glanced at the clock. The digital numbers read 8:45 pm as she responded, "Oh, thank you so much Cindy!"

"You're welcome.... not to pry, but you and Michael seemed pretty upset when you left out this evening. Is everything okay? Cindy asked with genuine concern.

Nikki drew in a deep breath and replied candidly, "Things are complicated. Michael and I broke up."

Cindy gasped, and asked excitedly, "Would it have anything to do with that handsome, green-eyed wonder that visited you earlier today?"

Nikki laughed in spite of herself self as she answered, "I am afraid so, and not to be rude, but the longer I stay on the phone with you, the slimmer my chances of catching up with him are. I have to go; it's almost 5 minutes to 9!"

Cindy giggled with delight, "Go on girl! I understand. Get your man!"

"Oh my God, the number Cindy, I need the number!"

"Oh gosh, I'm sorry here. The Ellington Hotel (212) 864-7500, Room 120, and his cell number is 587-7365."

"Thanks a million Cindy!"

"No problem, now call that man!"

Nikki depressed the button, and quickly dialed the hotel number.

"Ellington Hotel, how may I help you?" answered the polite voice.

"Please connect me to room 120."

"Please hold for a moment while I connect you."

She bit her nails as she mumbled, "God please let him still be there!" The phone rang and rang, but no one picked up. "****!" she cursed as the phone system transferred her back to the front desk.

"I'm sorry, but the party you are trying to reach does not seem to be available."

"Could you page him please? His name is RaVon Woods", she said urgently.

"Alright ma'am, please hold for a moment."

Nikki cursed again silently as she waited anxiously. Her eyes strayed to the clock. It was 9pm already! She had to go. Which airport would he have gone to? She prayed his cell phone was on, as she depressed the button again, and hurriedly dialed his number.

"Please, baby, pick up the phone, please!" she pled silently as the cellular phone began to ring.

RaVon sighed as he exited the hotel at exactly 9:00 pm. Nikki, still had not called him in his room or on his cell phone. Obviously, she had made her decision. A lump rose in his throat as he waited for the valet to bring his Monte Carlo around. In his pocket, two return plane tickets to Detroit rested. He had been so close to having her back in his life, but now he knew there was no hope. How cruel fate was to tease him with this one moment! RaVon was shortly distracted from his thoughts, by the insistent ringing of his Motorola V60c cell phone. He grappled with the garment bag in his hand as he reached to answer his phone. "Hello?" he answered, and was rewarded by the breathless cry of, "Oh, RaVon, I am so glad I caught you! I thought I had missed you! Oh..." His heart soared as he rushed to cut her off. "Baby, can you be ready in 15 minutes?"

"I don't know...I'm only halfway packed..."

"Don't worry about it. I am coming for you anyway! Take what you need, but you are coming with me tonight!"

"Oh Vonny, I love you!"

"I love you too. Now get packed, cause' I'm coming now!"

RaVon could barely wait for the bellhop to get his luggage into the trunk, before he jumped into the driver's seat and tore out the hotel driveway. He did not care about anything else except, for at last, getting to his women to bring her home finally.


Nikki flew around the apartment throwing shoes, dresses, and other belongings into suitcases and bags. She was amazed that she had managed to scramble the abundance of her things together in such little time. She rested on the edge of the bed for a moment and, rang the front desk for assistance. "Hi, Miguel could you please send someone up to help me take my luggage down." She did not want to keep RaVon waiting, or risk Michael coming home to find her still their.

"Right away Ma'Am.", he said politely in a slightly Cuban accented voice.

"Thank you." She said as she settled the receiver back into its cradle.

She glanced around the apartment as she walked out the bedroom. This had been her home for the last two years, and yet somehow she felt she would not miss it so much. She stared out the floor to ceiling glass windows that overlooked the gleaming structures and lights of the city. She and Michael had agreed the view was breathtaking when they had first purchased the apartment. The sudden insistent buzzing of the doorbell broke into her thoughts and she turned quickly from the window to answer the door.

"Madam, I'm here to help you with your things." said a tall, handsome, brown-skinned young man dressed in neat red jacket with gold accents, and sharply creased black slacks. "Oh, thank you. That was fast." She murmured ushering him into the apartment. "All my baggage is right here by the door." She said waving her hand at the suitcases and travel boxes stacked near the living room door. The young man nodded and proceeded to pick up her things and take them down to the front desk. After a few trips to the apartment all, her belongings were taken down except for a light travel bag she would carry. She stood still for a moment studying the 3-carat, marquee cut diamond engagement ring twinkling on her finger. This was it. The only remaining vestige of what she and Michael had shared. This ring had symbolized their once willingness to commit to and share their lives with one another forever. She sighed sadly. Michael would have made a good husband for any woman, but unfortunately, her heart had long since belonged to another. She truly regretted the pain she had caused him, and inside she would always cherish the love he had given her when she needed it most.

Taking a deep breathe she drew off the ring that had never left her finger in the two years she had been with Michael, and placed it gently next to the apartment keys on the living room lamp stand near the door. For a moment, her eyes grew watery as she took one last survey of the apartment. She turned away pulling on a fashionable black wool cloak. "Goodbye.", she whispered and picked up her travel bag and whisked out of the door closing it with a gentle thud of finality.


RaVon stroked Nikki's tousled brown hair as she lay with her head on his chest dozing lightly. He gently rearranged the blanket the flight attendant had given him around Nikki's shoulders. He knew this had been a physically and emotionally exhausting evening for her. Things had moved so fast from the time he had picked her up at the apartment until catching this flight back to Detroit. It would be several hoursbefore their plane landed, and he wanted her to have a few hours' sleep.

He sighed and leaned back into the deep, plush seat. He was elated that Nikki was coming home with him, but he knew that this was only the beginning. He would have to be very considerate of her sensitive nature, and the awkward transitions that were bound to occur when two people are re-adjusting to one another. For a single moment, he wondered if he should have been so rash in his quest to bring Nikki back to him. She had been right; of course, when she had said he had expected her to uproot her whole life for him. He knew how passionate she was about her career as a dancer. With Michael, her dreams and success were guaranteed. He had the right connections and support for Nikki to go far in her career. No doubt, she was talented and intelligent, but realistically there were not a lot of opportunities for dancers in Detroit. Perhaps, her sudden relocation to Detroit had not been the best idea. RaVon hated the pangs of doubt that were beginning to grip him. The thoughts persisted. Would Nikki resent him if she never continued to pursue her dreams of becoming a famous dancer? He had truly had no intentions of Nikki giving up her goals and dreams for him, but he had not considered these things in his all-consuming efforts to win her back to him.

His forehead creased with worry, and Nikki awoke to find him with a solemn look of contemplation on his face a few minutes later. "Hey babe, what's wrong?" she asked in voice husky with sleep. She blinked her eyes, and looked up at him with concern. He smoothed back her hair and kissed her forehead, and was about to give the perfunctory reply of, "Nothing, boo." Instead, he looked at her hesitantly for a moment and then began to tell her what he had been thinking. Nikki was quiet for a long moment after he finished. She stared into his troubled green eyes, and reached up and traced his cheekbones and lips with her fingers. She loved this man so much, and here he was worrying that he might not have made the best decision in persuading her to come back to Detroit so quickly.

"Baby, I cannot lie. I could not stand the thought of you being with Michael or away from me for another minute. Purely selfish reasons probably brought me back to New York, but Nikki I am love with you. I should have thought about what you needed, but I was so driven to have you in my life again. Beyond what I want, I care about the things that concern you. I've known that you desired to become an accomplished dancer more than anything since we were in high school. I would not expect you to forfeit that dream for me. You were in the best position to accomplish that dream. I don't want you to hate me for removing you from that, love." He said earnestly.

"Oh baby," she murmured, "I can still accomplish that dream. No one said I would never go back to New York. Michael was not the end all to my success. ****, you know I do got some talent." She joked. RaVon allowed a small smile to play around his lips. "I know that baby, but..." he trailed off uncertainly. "But nothing. I went to New York for the wrong and right reasons when I left here 6 years ago RaVon. I wanted to dance, but I also wanted to escape the memory of you. I have to confess all those years I stayed in New York training and dancing my *** off gave me some good reasons not to visit Detroit often. I was so afraid of running into you. I was an emotional basket case baby! It took me all this time to realize that I had been hiding so many fears deep inside, and allowed the one thing I love next to you and God, to become an excuse for me not to deal with what was going on inside. It was the escape mechanism I used to mask my inability to deal with life. Even when I was with Michael, his love and guidance were like a blanket against all the emotional turmoil I had locked inside of me. It never fixed the ****, but it was like a **** band-aid over a wound that never healed." She said honestly. RaVon held his breath, waiting for her to continue.

"I had to get real with myself today RaVon. Seeing you today brought back every emotion, I had repressed. You have the power to unnerve me. The thing about you that always unsettled me from the first time we met was how forward and self assured you are. You just say what you feel, do what you feel, and **** the consequences. If something happened, you just dealt with it. You weren't afraid of ****! That excited and frightened me all at the same time. It was especially scary when we got together and you started making me deal with things I did not want to. Being with you made me have to go deep inside myself to places I had never known and it scared the hell out of me. You know my parents sheltered Dean and I growing up. Everything seemed to be just so perfect, and they did not want us to suffer or want for anything. Mom had a way of patching everything up. She would always smile even when her heart was breaking, and you know when I look in the mirror I swear I've become too much like her. It's okay to be unhappy, angry, or scared, but the point is facing your fears, dealing with the problems, and moving on with your life. I have not done that, and now I realize the mistakes I've made. Instead of running from you when I found out you had a daughter by Catia I should have at least listened to you, and tried to sort out our relationship. I can understand why you were afraid to tell me, and it was unfair of me to leave you the way I did. I was being silly, and all this could have been avoided if I had been woman enough to discuss how I felt with you. I was a girl with the emotions of a woman, and I could not deal with them or you, or anything in life for that matter. So, I ran away, and I really regret that. Sure, I've become a wonderful dancer; I got my degree, had some great experiences in New York, and hell I've even been engaged to one of the most coveted bachelors in NY! But I can't help, but wonder if things would have been different if I had not left you." She ended in a quiet voice.

RaVon filled with a surge of overwhelming emotion as he embraced Nikki. "Nikki, baby, I know it took a lot for you to admit all that, but neither of us can change the past. We just have to build from here and move forward with our lives. I mean I can be honest as well. I did not deal with that situation concerning Catie and Vontia in the best way. I should have just been straight up with you. I love my daughter Nikki, and even if you had stayed with me, reality is that Catie still would have been a part of my life as the mother of my child. Could you have dealt with that?" he asked gently.

Nikki looked into his face for a moment and replied, "I could have tried RaVon. I know you love your daughter, and it would be unfair for me to expect you to deny her or her mother a place in your life. I'm going to have to deal with that anyway, especially if I am going to be a part of your life now. I've never even met Vontia! Don't you think it's about time I did?" she asked with a smile. RaVon's full lips drew back into an irresistible grin. "Well, alright then Miss Lady!" he exclaimed, but switched back to a serious tone as he continued to speak, "I'm proud of you Nikki. You were a beautiful young girl when you left here, but now you are one hell of a woman. Give yourself more credit, baby; you're a strong, Black woman. You just had to find the path to open up your heart, and let yourself have peace. I always loved that about you when we were younger. You were so open, warm, and receptive. You were willing to try new things and take those big steps with me when I wanted or needed you too. Hell, you even managed to rub a bit of your culture and sophistication off on this ole' thug. I kinda dig ballet, theaters, and museums now." He laughed.

Nikki began to giggle. "Oh really? I remember the first time I suggested we go see an art exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts. You looked at me like I was crazy with one hand around a St. Ides while you puffed on a Newport. How far we have both come!" RaVon laughed, "Really, though. I dig the arts. I developed an appreciation while you were away. Chantay started dragging me to her poetry readings and other cultural events around the city. I probably would not have went into the Charles H. Wright African American History Museum if it had not been for her much less the DIA again. I've seen art films at the Main Street Theater in Royal Oak, and earlier this year we went and saw an art exhibit by Jacob Lawrence, the African American painter at the DIA. So I got a little bit of aesthetic appreciation going on."

Nikki gave him a genuine smile of admiration. "Well that is really great. I'm glad you decided to broaden your horizons. Jacob Lawrence is an excellent artist. You've seen Chantay? God, it has been so long since I've seen her. How is she doing?"

"Yeah, I see her quite often. You know that was always my heart. She's doing real good. She has her own home business where she builds websites and things like that. She is also a prepaid legal agent. She rakes in some nice cheddar. To top it off she manages poetry collective, Black Ink, and they are dope. I caught a couple of their performances and they are extremely talented. I'll take you to see them when they do another feature. Oh, and she has a book and a CD due out this year, so baby girl has been working real hard."

"****.", Nikki stated impressed, "Sista got it going on, huh? I'm glad to hear she's doing so well. I've missed her. I meant to write and call more often, but time just escaped me. I would love to see her. By the way, how are her and Dante? I know they were separated the last time I was in Detroit..." she trailed off expectantly.

RaVon's green eyes darkened and he sighed as he said, "Well, they never got back together after the incident with Jaime's brother, Jermaine. You aren't the only one who ran off. Dante stayed gone as long as you did, and just came back to Detroit a few weeks ago. He's still in a lot of pain. Whenever I mention Dante to Chantay, she has the most shattered look in her eyes. It's real hard on them loving each other like they do, but I don't believe they know the words or the way to get back together. They can't even stand to be around each other. My heart goes out to them. They are my best friends, and there is nothing I can do for them. It's an impossible situation."

Nikki shook her head her eyes filled with sympathy. She remembered the overpowering love that Dante and Chantay had once shared. They seemed to have been more enthralled with each other, than Nikki and RaVon had been. It saddened Nikki to know that her two good friends were still in pain with no resolution to the problem.

"That is terrible, but RaVon it's not impossible. I mean look at us. Our situation seemed impossible too, but here we are together again. Who says it can't work out for them?" she said hopefully.

RaVon regarded Nikki seriously for a moment before replying, "It's possible, but they would have to work through years of emotional turmoil and non-communicativeness. The difference with you and I was that we were able to see and talk to each other afterward. Dante and Chantay have been solid in their resolve not to see or talk to one another. It's not because they don't want to, but it's agonizing and neither of them can stand it. I know that **** is painful as hell based on what we went through alone."

Nikki was adamant and fire filled her brown eyes, "Yes, it is, but something or someone has to get them in the position to come face to face..."

RaVon looked at Nikki suspiciously. "Alright now, baby, I just got back with you and you ready to start the love crusade for others already. I think we better focus on what lies ahead for us right now, don't you agree?"

Nikki sighed and gave him a smile of resignation. "Okay, okay. I understand and I do agree. I just feel like nothing is impossible now. Love makes you feel like you can do anything, and being with you baby, feels even better." RaVon smiled and squeezed her hand warmly. "I feel the same way baby, trust me I do."


The wind whipped Nikki's light brown locks in the night air as she wrapped her cloak more tightly and stepped inside the Monte Carlo, as RaVon held the door open for her. The wee hour air was cold and chilly in Detroit. Hundreds of stars shone in the pitch-black heavens as they drove along the nearly empty freeway. The smooth motion of tires over the slick gray pavement was comforting, and made Nikki drowsy. She wanted to stay awake and watch the Detroit sky stretch out before them. This was the first time she had been home in a year, and she was reminded of how much she loved and missed these rare, silent, beautiful morning hours in Detroit. RaVon tuned the radio to 107.5 FM and a rich, alto voice filled the car. Nikki smiled at the familiar tune, and sang. "I'm wishing on a star. No matter where you are...."

It was one of RaVon's favorite songs and he smiled at Nikki as he began to sing the words along with her. The music enraptured them as they sang, and as the last note faded, away Nikki gazed at the star filled sky, and whispered a silent prayer of thanks to God for bringing her back to the man she loved. Lacing her fingers through RaVon's she sank back in the leather seat and closed her eyes with a smile. RaVon glanced over at her tenderly then refocused his attention on the road that led to a future more bright and promising than all the stars in the heavens.

Harlem Heat by Legacy Leonard

© Copyright 2001. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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