Chapter 8: One More Time

"Don't worry about it Mom. I will get the door," called out Malia as she raced down the stairs

"It took you long enough, I was melting out here! The weather is ridiculous these days. Can you believe that it is 97 degrees outside?" Lucy stepped into the house taking her muddy sneakers off. Going to the kitchen, she slumped over the marble table reveling on its coolness.

"We have coke, sprite, orange juice and peach ice tea. What do you want?" Malia opened the cupboard and set a cup in front of Lucy.

"Ice tea is fine. Boy am I exhausted! I had to give Kyle a lift and the stupid gps took us to a location that was 15 miles away from where we were supposed to be. I think it is time that you two start into getting your own car." With a long sigh Lucy took the cup from Malia.

Under her breath, Malia muttered, "Or maybe it is time for you to buy a new gps."

"Malia? How is going Lucy? Sorry to interrupt you girls, but I just wanted to say that your dad called and will not be able to come this evening. He says he has been overloaded with work and will try to come by next week," Malia's mom gave Malia a soft pat on the back and she left the kitchen.

Disappointment washed over Malia's face as she grabbed the jug of iced tea. Slamming the refrigerator door shut, she sighed, "He does this every time. I haven't seen him in over three months and each time there is always a new excuse."

"You should not be mad at him. He is trying really hard and I am sure that with work, things are just a little hectic and –"

"Whatever, it doesn't matter anymore." Malia opened her purse and handed her card over to Lucy. "Just go on without me, I am not in the mood of going anywhere today."

"Are you sure? I did not come over just for the card and discount. I really wanted you to come along to the mall with me. Remember you're my right-handed woman when it comes to fashion." Laughing nervously Lucy played with her fingers as she continued, "I need your advice on which outfit to buy. You know me when it comes to dressing up, it is either a hit or miss for me. I don't want to meet the advisor at the university and give a bad impression." Lucy drained the rest of the iced tea and put the cup in the dishwasher.

"I am sorry Lucy but I am just not in the mood to go out anymore… Just go on without me." Malia voice shook as she quickly turned around with her back to Lucy.

Walking over to Malia, Lucy put her arm over her shoulder and gave her a small hug, "You cannot act like this each time your father cancels on you." Moving the strands of hair away from Malia's face, Lucy said, "Don't worry about this whole going to the mall plan. I can't go wrong with a casual black dress right? Please cheer up a little okay?" Lucy gave Malia's shoulder a light squeeze.

….

Closing the door behind her, Malia jumped onto her bed and grabbed a pillow tightly to her chest. Willing herself not to cry, she eventually acquiesced to her emotions as tears slid down her cheek.

Excuses after excuses were her dad's best friend. After his separation with her mother five months ago, Malia prayed and prayed that they would both make up and forget the events of the past. It was true that her dad chose to spend more time at work than with his own family. It was also true that with each passing day the love between Christopher and Sarah Carter dwindled little by little. Yet, Malia refused to accept the bitter truth that a divorce was pending between the two.

Getting up from her bed, Malia stared at her reflection in the mirror. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying and her dark brown cheeks were lightly streaked with mascara. There is a saying that the eyes are the window to the soul. And all Malia could see was a broken-down girl with issues that she could not solve. Ever since her parent's separation, Malia made sure that she kept her guard up without letting anyone know how she truly felt. In the eyes of everyone else, Malia was Malia. She was a pretty and smart young lady with a lot of promise and a bright future.

Looking back into her reflection, Malia did not like what she saw. Walking over to her bed, Malia turned her light off and wrapped her comforter over her shoulders. Swaying back and forth slightly on her bed, minutes seemed to pass away as she stared at the blank ceiling.

….

Deep within her sleep, Malia felt a hand on her shoulder urging her to wake up.

"What? WHO ARE YOU?" Malia grabbed her alarm clock and through it at the dark figure kneeling at the corner of her bed. Groaning out loud, the figure reached out for the lamp to turn it on.

As light flooded the room, Malia eyes widened in recognition, "Taj? What the hell are you doing here at midnight?" Wiping the sleep from her eyes, Malia looked at the disheveled sheets on her bed and Taj who was sitting at the edge. "How did you get in here? You need to get out before my mom comes in and sees us she will get the wrong idea."

"Sorry for scaring you, it was not my intention. I remembered that there was a spare key under the flower pot, so I let myself in. I called your cellphone all evening and I got no response…I miss you Malia." Looking deeply into her eyes with his own hazel eyes, Taj put his hand on Malia's thigh stroking it lightly.

Snatching Taj's hand away, Malia got up from the bed and started to pace around the room. "Taj, I don't know what your real intentions were when you decided to come here. But let me remind you that we are not together anymore. You just can't come here and expect us to have -."

Taj stood up abruptly and cut Malia off, "I didn't come here for sex. I want us to talk about our relationship. I can't think of us as just friends." Groaning inwardly Malia put her hands to her face. "I want us to try again."

"No, Taj, no! I don't want to get hurt anymore. I am done with all the hurt. I quit. When I said it was over, I meant that it is over." Malia walked to her bedroom door to open it and pointed outside. "I think you should leave Taj."

Taking Malia's hand off the knob, Taj closed the door shut. "I am not leaving until you hear me out, Malia. I still have feelings for you and I don't understand why don't want me back. Is there another guy or… stop ignoring me and answer me Malia!" Taj took Malia's hands into his own and caresses them lightly.

"Maybe there is another guy. Maybe there is not. I still don't get why would that matter? You know what you did and you are well aware of the reason of why broke up. Or did you forget? Please leave right now Taj." Malia took her hands out of Taj's grasp and crossed her arms over her chest.

"I thought we had something the other day when I gave you that ride home. It felt like…it felt like we were together again. I want us to start over again." The anger that was in Taj's voice was replaced the soft and loving tone that never failed to make Malia weak in the knees.

Struggling to catch her breath, Malia looked up into Taj's warm gaze and handsome face. His hands encircled her hips and brought her closer to his body. As he lifter her chin up, Malia surrendered to him as his lips came down upon hers. The kiss went on for a few moments before Malia slowly pushed him away.

"I can't - we can't do this. Don't be mad, Taj, the kiss was nice but I need time to think things over. I need to take care of me now and change a few things." Malia's apology was evident in her eyes as she looked down briefly to open the door again for Taj.

Accepting his defeat, Taj nodded slowly in understanding. "I'll leave now but please promise me that you will consider giving us another chance – I meant give me another chance."

"I cannot promise anything but yes, I will give it a try. Do not try to sneak back here in the middle of the night without telling me first." Malia walked ahead of Taj into the hallway until she reached the main door of her house. Unlocking front the door and holding it ajar, Taj walked out of the house. Turning one last time to Malia, Taj's face was filled with desperation and she found it hard to close the door. Waving slightly at him, Malia slowly closed the door.