Chapter 6 – Jezzy (Ten Years Later – 2022)
If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve sworn this was the ESPY’s instead of New York Fashion Week. Every hot athlete, even those who had just signed contracts, was in the building. All of my clients were there, and so were some of Laya’s. I walked over to stand next to Duncan Leary, a new hockey player I’d just signed.
“Duncan, you look great,” I said, lightly kissing him on the cheek. Marcus was somewhere chatting with his coach.
“So do you. Leslie’s somewhere in here,” he said, looking around for his wife. Duncan was my only white client, but I was ecstatic to have him.
Most people would laugh because they assumed only white people played hockey, but he actually had two black guys on his team.
“How’s the agency going? I referred Lindon Graves to you. He should be giving you a call.”
Smiling, I waved Marcus over. “You know my roster is pretty full, but I’ll talk to him for you.”
Just as Marcus approached, Leslie came waddling over.
“Jezzy, how are you?”
I forced a smile and hugged her lightly. I hated when people who I didn’t know used my nickname. Marcus barely used it and he had permission.
“Leslie, you look great. How you feelin’?”
“Pretty good. Ready to have this baby and I’m only six months. I know one thing. I can’t wait for you to get this man on a Gatorade campaign or something so I can stop working.”
Everyone laughed, except me. “Well, that’ll be up to Gatorade. My clients know I do the best I can.”
Duncan winked at me. I made sure when he signed to me last year, that he had the best attorney he could find. Leslie was the perfect example of someone who couldn’t wait to sink her fangs into a rich athlete. He made her sign a prenup that included a clause where she had no access to any of his endorsements. I wasn’t sure what made him stay with her, but I guess everyone needed love.
“Babe, I want to introduce you to someone,” Marcus said, grabbing my hand.
I was relieved. Two more minutes of Leslie and I knew I’d be bringing my Philly side out. She was one of those wives who had called my office when their husbands first got signed – the ones who thought they could bully you into doing what they wanted you to do. I’d already set her straight once and had no problem doing it again. As Marcus and I walked over to greet whoever it was he wanted me to meet, I took in the room. The charity event New York Fashion Week decided to host was the first of many that catered to children with sickle cell anemia. Everything was purple and black with silver lining. There was a huge ice sculpture and cake in the center of the room, and chairs and tables lined with silver, black and gold were staged in a circle around the cake. It was beyond beautiful and I was happy to see Xea Thomas, an amazing celebrity designer and stylist, hosting the event. I’d had my eye on her for a while. I wanted her to style some of my clients and I wanted to talk to her about an idea I had to launch my own sunglasses line.
“Baby, this is who I wanted you to meet. He’s going to be building our dream home,” Marcus said, bringing my attention to the handsome young gentleman standing in front of me.
“Mitchell, this is my fiancée, Jeziree.”
“Nice to meet you,” he said, extending his hand.
“Wait. I know who you are. Isn’t Xea your wife?”
He smiled and I could see the glow on his face. “She is.”
“Nice to meet you. I saw the photos from her Glamour shoot. You guys look great together.”
“Well, it looks like we’ll all be getting along just fine then,” Marcus said, kissing my cheek as Xea walked over.
“Jeziree,” she said, hugging me tightly. “So good to see you again.”
“It’s good to see you, honey. You look great.”
She patted her bulging tummy. “Three months.”
“Girl, you are slaying. No need to worry,” I winked at her and grabbed her hand lightly as we walked away from the guys.
“You excited about your big day?” she asked, waving at someone from across the room. A few photographers asked us to pose for pictures.
“I am. Still working on a date.”
“You look happy. You’re glowing,” she teased, winking at me.
“Girl, you should talk.”
“Mitch is crazy, but I love him. I can’t believe we’ve been together for almost ten years.”
“Now, that’s true love.”
We continued walking and chatting about everything from fashion to the upcoming Oscars. Suddenly, I stopped. My eyes were stuck on the front door and I could barely breathe. It’d been years since I’d seen him, but who could forget those deep, dark brown eyes. They used to bore holes into my soul. Even with it now tapered and cut close to his head, I could never forget that curly, jet black hair. As he smiled at everyone that greeted him as he walked in my direction, those amazing cheekbones and soft pillow lips made my heart skip several beats. I’d seen him on television playing a few games and I’d even caught some of his post-game interviews, but I hadn’t really seen him in ten years. He walked in with a beautiful woman on his arm. She looked familiar but I couldn’t place it at the moment. Of course, he’d be here, Jezzy. He’s a football player. I was about to turn away when our eyes suddenly locked. I could see his eyes bulge as recognition set in for him. He stared at me for what seemed like minutes before I felt myself breathe again.
“You okay?” Xea asked, lightly touching my arm.
I turned to her and smiled. I knew the day would come and here it was. No point in being childish. We could be cordial.
“Jezzy?” I heard a deep voice behind me say.
When I turned back around, I was staring into those same eyes, only now, they were inches away.
“Trent,” I said, walking toward him.
He hugged me lightly. “Oh my gosh, it’s been what, ten years?”
“Yes. I’m Jeziree,” I said, extending my hand toward the woman on his arm.
“Sorry. Jezzy, this is Kelli, my fiancée. Kelli, Jezzy and I grew up together.”
I smiled at her as she took my hand.
“Nice to meet you. Aren’t you being honored tonight?” she asked.
“Yes, I am.”
“Wow. Congratulations. You don’t see too many women of color in your position. I’m impressed.”
“Thanks, sis. I appreciate that. And Trent, congrats on a great season. You guys were amazing.”
“We lost the season.”
“Stop it, babe. You lost that game. Don’t be so hard on yourself,” Kelli said.
It wasn’t as awkward as I was expecting, but it was still awkward, nonetheless. Just as I was about to speak again, Marcus came over.
“Trent, my man. What’s good?” he said, giving Trent a dap and a manly hug.
Then, he kissed me lightly on the lips. When he pulled away, I could see Trent staring at Marcus like he’d hit me or something. He can’t possibly still love me.
“Marcus, Trent and I grew up together in Philly. Trent, Marcus is my fiancé. And this is Kelli, Trent’s lady.”
“Fiancée,” she corrected.
While Trent and Marcus chatted, I saw Xea give me a weird look. I walked over, thinking something was wrong with her.
“I’m fine. Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yes. Why would you say that?”
“Girl, I know love when I see it. The way you stared at Trent when he came over, and the way he looked at Marcus like he wanted to cold cock him when he kissed you says it all,” she whispered. “Spill.”
I sighed. Xea and I hadn’t really gotten to know each other much, but I got good vibes from her.
“He was my high school sweetheart,” I said. I grabbed a champagne flute from the waitress walking by and took a sip. I’d gotten really thirsty all of a sudden.
“Wow. Did you guys really grow up together?”
“Yep. We were ten when I moved into his neighborhood.”
“Dag. That’s a long time. And from the looks of things, I’d say you guys have some unfinished business.”
“I’m engaged, Xea,” I said, stressing the word engaged.
“You tryna convince me or yourself?”
I looked at her like she’d lost her mind.
“Okay. I’m sorry. I’m pregnant, geez. Humor me. Honestly, it’s none of my business. But honey, you better hope Trent and Marcus never have that talk. And if you want things to be peaceful at home, you may want to just tell him.”
She had a point. Even though Trent hadn’t said anything, I felt it would only be right to tell Marcus the truth. Somehow, I knew that would lead to an argument where I probably wouldn’t have the answers to most of his questions.
Chapter 7 – Trent
If you would’ve told me yesterday morning when I woke up that I would’ve run into Jeziree Audris Watson, my high school sweetheart and the love of my life, during one of the worst times in my life, I would’ve laughed. To be honest, I hadn’t even realized she was being honored. Kelli dragged me to the charity event. I hadn’t read, seen or even cared about one promotional flyer running crazy on social media about the event. One, I was a football player, so the biggest red-carpet event for me was the ESPYs. Anything else was all Kelli’s idea. A part of me was glad I went but leaving without getting her information left me with regrets about the way I’d handled our breakup ten years ago.
Yes, I still considered her the love of my life even though she betrayed me. There was something about her that I could never shake. I couldn’t believe that she still had those fiery, auburn curls and those beautiful curves. Years had only done her justice. Her skin was still brazenly caramel and those eyes – I remember how she could smile with her eyes even without trying. Even with the light birthmark near her right temple, there was nothing that could take away from her beauty. Nothing. As I walked into my home and watching my fiancée cooking, Jezzy was still on my mind. Heavy.
“Hey, baby,” Kelli said. “How was your day?”
I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her close, kissing her neck softly.
“It was good. Yours?”
She smiled. “Tiring. I’m trying to get these projects for work done before you leave for training again. We need a vacation.”
I walked around to wash my hands and try some of the shrimp that was cooking. Snatching one before she could pop my hand, I sighed.
“After the season I had, I need more than a vacation.”
“You were great, babe.”
As much as I wanted to believe her, I knew that part of the reason we hadn’t gone all the way was because I fumbled the ball in the last game before the playoffs. My team never said it was my fault, but it was. I could take it like a man. But after playing in the league for six years with no ring, I was beginning to think about other plans. I was smart enough to understand that I needed to start focusing on other things outside of sports. Kelli hated when I talked like that. In her mind, I could play football until I was in my forties.
“Babe, what do you say we go to Aruba for a week?”
Her face lit up as she jumped on me. I grabbed her with one arm and laughed as she filled my face with kisses.
“I would love that.”
Placing her back down, I walked over to the fridge to grab a water when I saw this month’s Sports Illustrated. If her name hadn’t been printed so big, I would’ve missed it, but there it was in big, bold, white letters. The Age of the Agent: Jeziree Watson Nails the Biggest Athletes. There was a small picture of her by the title. It was rare, very rare, that agents got any play in Sports Illustrated, let alone a black woman, but Jezzy had always been a go-getter.
“Your friend made it in Sports Illustrated. That’s pretty decent. I thought the award was major but when the mailman handed me the magazine, I was floored.”
I picked it up and started flipping to the article. I already decided I was going to send her flowers come Monday, something I hadn’t mentioned to Kelli, but it was just a friendly gesture. I was proud of her. Things we’d talked about as kids were happening for both of us.
“I didn’t know she and Marcus had been together that long.”
Kelli was still talking, but once she said Marcus’ name, I tuned her out. Call me petty, but for some reason, I didn’t like them together, and it had nothing to do with me, because Kelli made me happy. I saw the way Marcus acted when we went to industry events or mandatory NFL events. He definitely didn’t come off as a settle down kind of guy to me. I guess my facial expression showed how I felt because Kelli snapped me out of my thoughts.
“What’s with the long face?”
“Nothing. I just don’t know if Marcus is the right guy for Jezzy, that’s all.”
Right after it left my mouth, I regretted it. I even heard the passion in my voice when I said her name. Even though Kelli heard me call her Jezzy at the event, I’d definitely said it different this time.
“We had nicknames for each other. No big deal.”
“What was hers for you?”
I eyed Kelli closely. Women always did stuff like this – try to catch their dude in some kind of lie.
“My name is Trenton. She called me Trent. Her name is Jeziree. Everyone called her Jezzy. Nothing fancy.”
But the truth was Jezzy had a nickname for me, like most women give their mates – bae, but I would never tell Kelli that. I could tell by the way she was now frowning that she was overthinking the situation.
“And how would you know that Marcus isn’t the right guy for her?”
“I already see where this is going, so before you go there, just stop. All I’m saying is we grew up together and we went to the same church. Marcus doesn’t have a great track record with women. We do play in the same league.”
Her face softened. “I guess you’re right. You would know after knowing her all of your life that Marcus may not be the best fit, but people do change. You haven’t seen Jezzy in what, ten years? She may actually be the one who isn’t right for him.”
For whatever reason, that comment bothered the hell out of me. How would she know?
“And how would you know?”
She turned around sharply. “Seriously? Are we having this conversation right now?”
“You tell me. I actually know Jezzy.”
She sighed and rolled her eyes. “I wasn’t insinuating that I knew anything about Marcus. I’m just saying. Don’t go sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong based off of a seventeen-year-old image you have of your friend.”
She had a point. Jezzy could’ve changed. A lot. She could be more relaxed with her faith and free with her sexuality. But somehow, I didn’t believe that. Even if she had changed some, I knew a guy like Marcus wasn’t right for her, but I dropped it. I wasn’t about to tell Kelli that Jezzy and I used to date. Kelli wasn’t insecure, but I knew if all the details were out, she wouldn’t be comfortable with my relationship with her. I tried my best to please Kelli, but I knew that even if she asked me to, I wasn’t willing to cut Jezzy off.