I hopped off the train and made my way down Peachtree Street, waving my hand to hail a cab. Initially I had planned to take an Uber, but squashed that idea at the last moment.
Nothing about my city had changed. Business men and women still hustled about, weaving their way around the brothers trying to get their holler on to some of my beautiful sisters, who didn't seem to know the value of their beauty, or the worth of their virtue based on their skimpy dress code. Vendors still sold knockoffs for a nominal fee.
The yellow cab slowed to a stop and I slid inside.
"Where to, my friend?" Asked the turban attired gentleman whose skin color was similar to my own nutmeg one, but his accent betrayed his nationality as somewhere from the Middle East.
I gave him the address to my mom's crib. That's where I'd be chilling until I could purchase my own house. The cab driver made small talk about weather and traffic as we weaved through downtown Atlanta.
I lay back and shut my eyes when he hopped onto the connector. The flight from LA and subsequent train ride from Hartsfield to 5 Points had wore me out.
My brother had offered to pick me up, but I'd turned him down for the same reason I had rode down to 5 Points instead of shortening my ride. I needed and wanted to see the heart of my city. I really don't know how much time had passed before my friendly driver called out, "Hey, my friend. I charge you twenty dollars extra for napping in the back of my cab."
The chuckle from his mouth and mirth around his eyes let me know he was teasing. Reaching over I grabbed my bag, lifted up slightly to pull my wallet from my pocket, and paid my fare.
"Keep the change," I muttered, popping the door handle open.
I frowned as I stepped from the car. There was another car in the driveway parked behind my mom's and my brother, Rashad's. I hoped they didn't have company. All I wanted was a shower, food, and rest in that order. Not to mention hugging and kissing the greatest woman in my life. My moms was everything to me and Rashad. A strong, black woman, she'd raised us on her own when my father died from cirrhosis of the liver when we were still in elementary school.
I made my way to the house with my bag as the cab driver backed out of the driveway. This would be home again for the next month or so. I'd spent the last five years traveling back and forth between here and LA, but I was home to stay now.
"Axel!" My mom exclaimed as I pushed the door open.
She ran to me and threw her arms around me squeezing tight. I inhaled the fragrant aroma of flowers that clung to her hair, skin, and clothes. Mama loved floral scented perfumes. That reminded me, I had a bottle of her favorite cologne in my bag.
"How's my favorite girl?" I asked, leaning down to kiss her cheek.
"I'm better now that you're back for good."
My brother Rashad pulled his long, lanky frame off the couch. "Dude! Wassup?" He exclaimed, slapping me on the back as we pulled each other into a bear hug.
"Nothing, you call it. You got my stuff situated?"
"Yeah, all of your furniture and stuff arrived yesterday," he confirmed.
"Axel," my mom said in that way she had when she had to give me news I didn't want to hear."
"Axel?" Came a sweet angelic voice I hadn't heard in over a year.
"Blaze!" I shouted, looking over my brother's shoulder at my best friend.
We'd always been close until we weren't. We both had too much to drink one night after a party, and she woke up in my bed the next morning. She had apologized for taking advantage of me. When I laughed because the only thing that had happened was the thing I had been dreaming about, the thing I had been longing to happen for years, she snatched up her clothes and left. I hadn't seen her since. We had snatches of conversation that was stilted and awkward at best, but then it just stopped. She quit answering my calls. That wasn't us. lace white cocktail dress
Now here she stood, all 5'9" of caramel thickness with those same dimples that I had fallen in love with four years ago.
Her body was a bit more luscious and curvy than I remembered. I was confused as to why she was here. For a moment my eyes glanced between her and Rashad, but I knew my brother was better than that. He knew how I felt about her. The whole world did except for her.
"Hi. I...I didn't realize you were going to be here."
"Why are you here?" I asked confused, as I noticed my mama slip down the hall.
"Umm, we need to talk, Axel."
"Aye, I'm outta here," Rashad said, picking up his car keys.
"Wait, what's going on?" I asked, turning to Blaze again.
"Axel, the night we..."
"Son, this is your daughter, Ava. Seems when you and Blaze had your one special night, things got heated in more ways than one," my mom interrupted, kissing a nutmeg colored cherubic cheek.
A sweet, beautiful, little girl pushed a chubby fist into her mouth, chortled, and grinned. My mouth hung open in astonishment. I looked around for hidden cameras. Finding none, I inhaled a few times before dropping onto the couch.
"You gon' hold her?" My mom asked, walking up to me and handing the baby to me. I looked at her and then reached out my arms. She leaned towards me, looked at my mom and Blaze and back to me. The little angel broke out into the widest smile, as I cradled her.
"She's five months, and her name is Ava Marie," Blaze stated.
I looked at the baby picture of me hanging over my mom's fireplace and looked down at the doppelganger sitting in my lap. Those slanted brown eyes and beautiful smile hooked me. I kissed her cheek. Closing my eyes I inhaled the baby powder scent that clung to her hair and skin, and fell in love for the second time in my life.