Can You Keep A Secret?
by Lawrence Christopher
"You don't get it! You are my woman and I trusted you." I exclaimed.
"But she's my best friend." Chenille defended.
"So what, she comes before me?"
"Like I said, she is my best friend."
"Well then, there you go."
"The engagement is off."
That was how it ended. Now I want you to help me out here. You tell me was I right or wrong. Chenille and I had been engaged for nine months. Prior to that, we were good friends for about two years. Ideally, you couldn't imagine a better start to a relationship. We had been there for each other during some tough times in our lives. It was right after a miscarriage for Chenille when I began a daily vigil by her hospital bedside. For me it was when I lost a close friend to a senseless death, that Chenille was there to console me.
My emotions were running high, something I wasn't used to dealing with. I was confused by the heightened feelings and mistook Chenille's consoling for a signal of wanting to be intimate. Maybe she obliged knowing how vulnerable I was at the time and she didn't want to hurt my feelings anymore than they were. So the night of the funeral, we made love, it was beautiful, and I felt long overdue. Whether it was the lost of a close friend or the intimate bond with an old friend, I can't say which. But that night I cried. From that night forward, I felt closer to Chenille than with any woman I had ever been with. This is why what occurred between us hurt so badly.
Chenille and I were engaged to wed in three months. The plans were in full swing. My small condo became the wedding planning command center. It was the use of my personal computer for creating the 400 people plus guest mailing list to surfing the Internet to order specialty items that made my condo wedding central. Chenille and her best friend and maid of honor Mandy were either together camped out in my den or on the phone.
Mandy and I had a lukewarm relationship. It took a lot of pleading from Chenille and giving on my part for Mandy and I to warm up to the point we achieved. Mandy is very pretentious. On top of that, she carries herself as if she is the Queen of Sheba and Mother Theresa combined. In the beginning, let her tell it, no man was good enough for her. Mandy always made backhanded comments to me such as; "You better not hurt my girl or I will hunt you down like the snake in the grass you are." Then she would give me this fake smile as if her words were in jest. Chenille saw the verbal jabs between Mandy and I as cute.
Like I said, this was how the relationship was between Mandy and I in the beginning. That was before she met Raymond, whom I have renamed Jehovah Joe. I'll explain about the nickname later. After meeting Raymond/Jehovah Joe at a singles night social, sponsored by the church that Mandy and Chenille attend, Mandy became a changed person. Allegedly Raymond was a God-fearing man, sensitive in a manly sort of way and the fact that the man has an engineering job and drives a Lexus helped his qualifications for Mandy's Mr. Right. Raymond Lucas had caught Mandy's eye and now she was blindly in love. Not to playa hate the brother, but let Mandy tell it, he could do no wrong.
It was a month after I started hearing about Raymond, did we actually meet. The four of us decided to meet for dinner at the Shark Bar restaurant after work. Chenille, Mandy and I were the first to arrive. Raymond was running about a half an hour late and Mandy began making excuses for him. "He told me he was finalizing a big project and wanted to make sure everything was right." Mandy offered.
It was exactly one hour past our scheduled time to meet when Raymond stepped to our table. He was just what Mandy had been describing for the past month; nice looking, designer name dressed and a smooth talker. Raymond extended his free hand and we shook. His grip was weak and his hands were soft and smooth, well manicured and tended to. To a woman, these are the kind of hands she would like next her skin when getting a massage I suppose. In Raymond's other hand he had an assortment color of long stem roses, including red, pink, white and yellow.
"I'm sorry I'm late everyone. Mandy, I stopped at the flower shop to get you these roses and I couldn't make up my mind what color to choose. The flower shop attendant told me that each color had a different meaning, like white for friendship and red for love. Then she asked me what is it that you mean to me. It was too difficult to choose just one, when you mean everything to me. So here you are." Raymond hands Mandy the bouquet.
"Oh my gosh. I can't believe how sweet you are. Thank you Raymond." Mandy stands to receive her flowers and her man by wrapping them both in her arms. It didn't come as soon as I expected, but it did come nonetheless. That evening, Chenille asked me if I thought Raymond's gesture was "sweet." I said yes. Then it came, "you've never given me flowers. Did you know the different meanings? You could've given me friendship roses if you don't love me. I would rather you be honest with me than to lie to me with flowers," Chenille managed to get out in one breath. Before I knew it, I was defending myself in an argument that seemed to come from nowhere. The discord between us didn't last long as they rarely do. We were best friends before we were in love and depended on each other for that. If we were to ever fall out of love, the friendship would mend our hearts. So I thought.
The four us began hanging out regularly. We would meet over to one another's place, giving us four different venues. It was when we met at Raymond's condo for the first time, that I dubbed him Jehovah. He has a nice crib, with a disarming mix of masculine furnishing with a touch of woman's influence with the candles and figurines. His bookcase holds titles of T.D. Jakes and Iyanla Vanzant. For background music, Raymond played the Sacred Love Songs CD inspired by the T. D. Jakes' "The Lady, Her Lover and Her Lord" book. During the course of the get-together, Raymond would loosely quote scriptures and speak with the tongue of a man prepared to become a church deacon. The man was impressive in his words and convictions.
Quite naturally he and I would begin to hang out, with our women being best friends. I met the Joe side of Raymond's Jehovah Joe character when he and I went shopping at a mall. It was a hot summer day and the women were out in full force, wearing as little as possible to stay cool and to look appealing to the male eyes. Raymond's or should I say Joe's head was on a swivel in an attempt to spot every scantily clad woman who passed. I'm not saying that I didn't take my share of peeks and peers, but with Raymond, it was different. He was on the hunt.
I could have been just my imagination, until we came across an old female acquaintance of Raymond's. When I say old, I mean former, because this acquaintance was a young hottie and it said so on the halter-top she was wearing. She is pretty and oozing of sexuality. I stepped away to give them a moment of privacy to catch up, which she seemed eager to do. "When are you going to come over and scratch that itch of mine?" she asked in a poor attempt of a whisper.
That's when the Joe character spoke through Raymond with, "You know I don't scratch an itch. I may kiss, lick and rub it for you." The young woman cooed to his response. They exchanged a few more words before she reminded Raymond that he had her number and he confirmed that he did. They said their good-byes and parted. I noticed a heart tattoo on her right shoulder.
"Man, that chick is wild and into some kinky stuff. When we were kickin' it, I didn't think she would ever let me go." Raymond confessed.
"It doesn't seem like she has let go."
"Yeah." Raymond looks back to watch his friend walk away.
I knew that wouldn't be the end of it between them. Little did I know how soon I would be proven right. That afternoon Raymond and I stopped at a sports bar to get something to eat and drink. From there, we would go to his place and have a few more beers. I had not had that much to drink in a while and it caught up with me. I fell asleep on Raymond's couch. I'm wakened by the sound of whacks, followed by whimpers and moans. I follow the sounds to Raymond's bedroom, where the door was ajar.
There I see Raymond naked on his knees behind a naked female who I identified by the tattoo on her right shoulder. Raymond is smacking her on the butt whilst continuing to perform another intimate act. He sees me in the reflection of the mirror above his headboard and he smiles. Then he does the unexpected. Raymond nods for me to join in. I raise my hand and bow out, all the way out by leaving his home. This is where things went wrong between Chenille and I.
The next time Chenille and I are together, we are watching a movie at my place. Now believe me, I had no conscious intent to hate on Raymond. From a male's perspective and mine, what he did and was doing was his business. I was not going to intentionally expose him. My telling Chenille was to prove to her that I could be faithful to her even when presented with the opportunity to do otherwise. Also, I wanted to point out it isn't how you treat someone in front of others that always matters. Lastly, I thought that this would prove a bond between us.
"Can you keep a secret?" I plainly ask.
"Yes." Chenille quickly responds.
"I mean this is between you and I, no matter what it is."
"Honey, you can tell me anything."
So I did. Chenille didn't believe me at first. I'm not sure what she doubted, the Raymond part or that I walked away from an opportunity for a menage a trois. The rest of the evening she had me go over the details. At one point, I thought she might have been a little turned on by the story. That would not be the case at all.
The next day while at work, I received a call from Chenille and it's a three-way with Mandy on another extension. For the next forty-five minutes I'm going back and forth with Chenille about betraying my trust and between Chenille and Mandy as to how I wasn't defending Raymond by not wanting Mandy to know. It was crazy. When I got home, I received a call from Raymond. He lays into me about us being boys, and how boys are supposed to stick together. I begin again, with the explanation that it wasn't about being boys and this wasn't even about him, Raymond. This was about a broken promise of trust between Chenille and I.
Now you tell me, was I right or wrong and ask yourself, can you keep a secret?