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The Hook Up Part V (Final)

One year later…

“By the power vested in me, as witnessed by family, friends, and God, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Zion, you may kiss your beautiful bride.”

Zion wasted no time pulling Indya into him and kissing her like he waited his whole life to kiss his wife. In some ways, I guess he did. The wedding ceremony culminated with Zion and Indya descending the stage and being greeted with applause and well wishes.

When Indya told me Zion proposed almost a month after they met, I was floored. But not as floored as I was that she accepted it.

“Don’t you need to get to know him a little more? I mean…what if he’s a serial killer? What about his family? What if they are messy and crazy?” I’d asked her.

But Indya assured me that she knew Zion was the one the second she met him. And he would tell anyone the same thing. Their wedding was proof of that. The entire ceremony was a celebration of love and thankfully I had on waterproof mascara because I cried through most of the ceremony. Their vows to each other, the prayer, the songs, the whole mood was beautiful.

When me and her two cousins that served as her bridesmaids helped her pick out her dress, I loved it on her. But today, with her hair and makeup done, she looked like a princess. The off white ball gown looked amazing on her, but the most amazing thing about her was her smile.

Since meeting Zion, her confidence soared. He supported her, treated her like a Queen, made her laugh, encouraged her and pushed her to do more. Because Zion offered to take care of her financially, Indya finally left her 9-5, enrolled in school and was on her way to becoming a marriage and family therapist. The right person in your life could take you places you never dreamed possible.

At the reception, Zion and Indya’s first dance was to Raheem Devaughn’s "Mo Betta" and the lyrics were so befitting them. As I watched them sway to the music, I teared up a little bit. I was so happy for my friend. Even though my time at the Hook Up was an eye-opener, my friend found the love of her life. I would take my L’s because of how it worked out for her.

This past year has been one of the most freeing yet simultaneously difficult of my life. After six years with Todd and my experience with Nahji, I chilled on dating. And it was hard. I still went out to parties and bars for happy hour, but I never engaged with anyone outside of that. No numbers were exchanged, no sex, nothing. There were times I was lonely and craved companionship and an orgasm from a man, but I was really serious about healing.

At Indya’s insistence, I began seeing a therapist. Initially, I wasn’t convinced I needed therapy, but Sydney was truly a godsend. Most of the time I didn’t even feel like I was in therapy; Sydney talked to me like a friend. A friend with clinical advice that has worked wonders in my life. She helped me to realize I stayed in the relationship with Todd for so long because he was stable. I also realized that I never truly really dealt with my losing my parents. I was so young when they passed away and because Auntie Tess took me in, I thought I was ok. But there were times I missed having parents. I had just turned 30 and I realized there were some life events my parents wouldn’t get to be a part of. My mama wouldn’t be there during my pregnancy and my daddy would never be able to walk me down the aisle. With Sydney’s help, I was beginning to make peace with that.

Sydney and I also talked about Nahji. I agreed with Indya that our timing was just off. But since meeting him, he was the litmus test for other men. I had only known him a few days, but those few days were everything. I just wished I was in a better place to see where things would go. But everything happens for a reason. His IG wasn’t private, so I stalked his page every so often. He only posted pictures related to his business so I really didn't get to see much.

After dinner, the real party began, and I swear I never had so much fun in my life. The DJ was awesome, the drinks were flowing, and my best friend was happy. I was in bliss. I was sitting down watching everyone else do the Bus Stop and wishing I had just a drop of rhythm so I could be out there, too.

“Would you like to dance?”

I heard the voice behind me, and I thought it belonged to Aaron, one of Zion’s groomsmen. He’d been on me since the engagement party and I’ve been turning him down ever since. This weekend, he’s been really trying and for some reason, he just was not catching my hints.

I was prepared to be nice-nasty to him, but the voice didn’t belong to Aaron. It was Nahji.

My heart almost stopped when I saw his smiling face and his hand extended out to me. I had so many questions, but I didn’t ask any of them. Instead, I just took his hand and let him lead me to the dance floor where the DJ slowed it down. Nahji wrapped his arms around me as we swayed to “The Point of it All” by Anthony Hamilton.

For three minutes and fifty seconds, nothing else in this room mattered. We spoke no words and right now, we didn’t need to. This song, this moment and his arms around me was all the conversation I needed.

After the song ended, Nahji lead me outside so we could talk.

“So, how have you been?”

“I’ve been good,” I smiled. “Real good.”

“I see. You’re looking good.”

I blushed at his compliment and returned one of my own. “You don't look so bad yourself. How was Kentucky?”

“It was long and tiring, but worth it. I got a few more jobs lined up because of it. All in Georgia.”

His addendum made me smile. I wasn’t going to assume anything, so I asked him point-blank what he meant.

“This past year was…something. I had been single for a few months before I ventured to the Hook Up. I expected to just hang out, maybe meet someone there that was cool and just get back into the dating scene. I didn’t expect to meet you.”

I nodded my head slowly and he continued. “I liked you. Still do. Even after what happened at that restaurant when you were with ol boy…oh yeah let me apologize for bombarding you like that, I wasn’t thinking clearly.”

I chuckled as I remembered the scene from Odessa’s that day. Todd blew my phone up asking me a million times who Nahji was. I finally had to block him on everything to get some peace. Funny how the man that didn’t want to marry me suddenly became worried about me when he felt he had some competition.

“Anyway…while I was in Kentucky, I thought about you. A lot. I tried dating here and there, met some women but none of them were you. And I know it sounds crazy but those few days with you were some of the best of my life.”

“It doesn’t sound crazy, because I felt the same way. I just wasn’t in a good headspace. My best friend asked me if I was sure I wanted to go and at the time I was. I later realized I may have caused more damage to myself by going.”

Nahji’s eyebrows creased in confusion. “What do you mean?”

We moved to some empty seats outside of the reception area after two women got up. I long ditched my heels, but I was grateful to be able to sit down.

“I mean…I wasn’t ready for you. And no matter who I met or talked to after you, I constantly compared them to you. Because the timing wasn’t right, I felt like I lost my one shot at…something. I’m not quite sure what yet.”

We sat in silence for a few minutes. I wasn’t really sure why he was quiet, but I was just taking in the moment. It had been a year since I’ve seen him, but I’ve thought about him off and on since our time in Florida. It was strange seeing him again, and even more strange that I felt like we were just picking up where we left off. Almost like all this time hadn’t passed.

“So what about now?” Nahji asked breaking our silence. “Is the timing right now?”

I couldn’t help but to smile at his question. But again, I didn’t want to assume. “What do you think? I mean you’re the one with a thriving business that could take you anywhere.”

Nahji stood from his seat and held out his hand. When I placed my hand in his, he pulled me up and into his arms. I barely had time to process what was happening when his lips crashed into mine. His kiss felt like a cold glass of water on a hot summer day. His kiss felt like life, the thing that had been missing for the past year. No scratch that. This is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life.

“Oooooooooo, see Zion! I told you!”