“That makes me happy. I’m glad the two of you were able to work things out.”
“That’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about.” When she paused, she released a nervous breath. “Because of how she was conceived and born, I didn’t really do the typical things an expecting mother would do. Sabrina wants to do a half-birthday party for Ava next month that will serve as a late baby shower. It’ll also give his family the chance to meet her and get to know me.” Her eyes shifted as she crossed her legs. “I’m sure you don’t want to be her godmother anymore, but I… I was just wondering if… if maybe you’d want to come? If it’ll be too weird, I totally understand. I just wanted to extend the invitation before Sabrina started sending them out. It’s not my intention to make you feel like I didn’t consider you.”
It didn’t surprise me that Sabrina wanted to do this. She’d been waiting for me to give her her first grandbaby. A half-birthday slash late baby shower was a cool idea.
“I appreciate the invitation, but I think that would be a little uncomfortable for me to be there with his family when the baby isn’t mine. However, I do want to do something for you and her. We made a promise to be the godmother of each other’s children. I would like to have a relationship with Ava in the future, but I still need time. When I see her and spend time with her, I don’t want to view her as proof of you sleeping with Nova, if that makes sense. I just want to see her as my baby girl, the way I did when I first came home.”
“Yeah, no, I get it. For sure.” She stood quickly, avoiding my eyes. “Thanks, Chap.” When her voice cracked as she said, “I’m really sorry about this,” I was seconds away from losing my resolve.
Blinking rapidly, I released a shaky breath. Standing, I licked the corner of my mouth and swallowed hard, fighting back tears.
“I don’t want you to be in a state of guilt and apology every time we cross paths. I’m not going to lie and say I see us being best friends again, but I want to get past this, Allegra. It’s done, I reacted, I just want to move forward.”
“You’re right but I can’t help it. I just feel so bad. I’m working on releasing the guilt over what we did, but until then, I’m really sorry, Chap.”
She made a quick exit, and I was glad she did. I was conflicted. Missing my best friend was constantly going to war with needing a certain amount of loyalty from that same friend. A loyalty that wouldn’t allow her to ever do something like that to me. Allegra may not have been a woman I’d want as my best friend anymore, but I had a feeling she would have a smaller role in my life. That was something I’d learned too. Sometimes relationships didn’t need to be severed completely; sometimes the roles just needed to be adjusted—temporarily and permanently. For right now, I needed no contact, but there was a chance that would change.
That way of thinking made it easier for me to sympathize with my mother. We’d worked through a few issues too. I’d learned her marriage with my father was more of an arrangement than a loving, healthy marriage. They were life partners, but not in the way I thought. She had no romantic love or feelings toward him anymore, which explained why she was numb when it came down to his cheating. She was, however, letting him keep other vows he’d taken with God toward her. Vows to provide and protect, to make her life easier. As far as dates, and sex, and love were concerned—that was done for her.
It wasn’t a marriage I believed I could be happy in, but if she was content with it, I would be too. Allowing them to operate in a way that worked best for them positioned me to respect and have a better relationship with them as individuals. That truth allowed me to be able to say, given the circumstances, maybe one day I’d be able to have a glass of wine or cup of coffee with Allegra to talk about life as associates, but she’d never, ever, be my best friend again.
Later That Evening
Jeremiahand I had fixed dinner together. I enjoyed ending my days with him. We were sitting out on his veranda enjoying the sunset. It was a rare occasion that both of us had gotten off before the sun did, and we wanted to take full advantage. As I looked over at him, I tried to prepare myself for his response to what I was about to say. He’d give me his usual spiel about supporting me, but I had a feeling he’d think I was a little crazy too. The whole point of me returning to Rose Valley Hills was to get back what belonged to me, and get revenge, so if he did think I was crazy… I would understand why.
“I’ve been thinking,” was how I started.
“About?” was his response.
He looked over at me with those dark eyes that I loved so much. His grill was out, showcasing his pretty white teeth against his nutmeg-brown skin. I was genuinely obsessed with this man and hoped to give him a son one day who looked just like him.
“I want to leave WCSF. The building, not my company.”
I sat up in my egg chair, fully prepared to spout all that I’d been thinking about for the last couple of weeks.
“When I started WCSF, it was because I wanted to do what I loved, but I also wanted to create a business that would allow my friends to have success as well. I wanted us all to get rich making a difference with something no one else has done.”
“And you did just that.”
“Right, and I think it’s time for me to move on. WCSF is widely successful, and I still want to be a part of it just in a different way. I had a dream and I brought it to fruition. Now it’s time for me to walk into a new season.”
His expression hardened as he asked, “And what does this new season consist of?”
Regardless of what he was thinking and how he felt, Jerry wouldn’t tell me until I put all my cards on the table.
“I have two goals. For me personally, I want to branch out and have my own design company. It’ll be Wilson and Co. Well, Wilson Simpson and Co. I want you to do this with me, but I understand if you don’t want to. It makes more sense for us to remain business partners. You find the clients and properties and I do the staging and interior decorating. Nova will still handle in-house credit repair and loans while Allegra does contracts and takes care of any legal matters, but they’ll do so from the main headquarters of WCSF through our team at Wilson Simpson and Co.”
“And the second goal? Professionally, I assume?”
“Yes. I want to start smaller branches in other states. I’ll work through the south first, starting with Memphis. Each one will do in their cities what we do here, offer a one-stop shop for anyone wanting to buy, sell, design, flip, or rent.”
He looked out into the distance, considering my words. “How would this work for WCSF?”
“Well, I figured instead of putting someone in my place, I could delegate a lead design team so they can share the load and responsibilities. And I’d make Nova and Allegra co-managing partners. And you and I would be co-managing partners for WSC.”