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Unedited Extended Ending. Copyrighted 2019

5 years later 

 

Averi Redd

 

"Kensly, don't do that, baby. I don't want you to hurt yourself." I yelled out to my four and a half year old daughter. We were in the process of packing up the car so that we could head to the airport. It was Grace's birthday weekend and I told her that I would come to Los Angeles and celebrate her twenty fifth with her. Things with us had been rocky since I left so abruptly five years ago, and I knew it was my fault that our relationship was so strained, so I was taking the flight to be with my friend. 

 

"Mommy, is daddy coming with us?" Kensly asked. 

 

"No, baby. It's just going to be me and you this go around. You cool with that?" Kensly looked at me and nodded her head which caused her curly hair to bounce all over her head. 

 

"I like it better when it's us any way." I shook my head as I finished packing our stuff. 

 

After a few more minutes I was finished packing Kensly and I's bag. I looked down at my phone and saw that I had a text from Grace. 

 

You better not bail on me this weekend, Averi, or I'm cutting your ass off for good.

 

I couldn't be made at the text because she would always make plans for us to link up for a weekend and I flake on her. It didn't have anything to do with her, but more so of having to see everyone else. Thinking about laying eyes on Kashington and Khaze after all these years gave me anxiety. The way I left wasn't ideal, and I knew that I could have went about it in a different way, but I couldn't change the past. 

 

I've had so many sessions with my therapist about that one little issue I couldn't seemed to let go. She helped me realize that I cared too much about what others thought about me. I knew that anyone's opinion of me shouldn't have bothered me, but the reality was that they always got to me. I knew the real reason why I left, and that was my truth. I also knew that if everybody I was about to face this weekend really cared about me, then they would try understanding the kind of headspace I was in when I left. 

 

"Babe, can you come take our bags out to the car?" I yelled out to my fiancé. 

 

"Averi, I know you didn't pack a lot of shit?" My fiancé, Tatum, asked when he walked into our master bedroom. 

 

"You always trying to play me. No, I didn't pack a lot of stuff. I packed what I needed and that's all." Tatum looked at me before he looked at our stuff over in the corner. 

 

"So, you telling me Kensly is the one that has four suitcases?" Tatum looked at me with a raised eye. All I could do is drop my head. I had a real problem when it came to fashion. I couldn't just pack one outfit for a day and be fine with it. Nope, I needed options, so I was forced to pack more than what I knew I needed. 

 

"We're taking the jet so it doesn't matter." I walked over to him and wrapped my arms around his neck. He leaned down and kissed my forehead before he kissed my nose and then my lips. 

 

"We're taking the jet it doesn't matter." He mimicked me. "Yo, you have a real ass problem. Please, try to go light on the spending while you're alway." I rolled my eyes playfully because he was always giving me the same talk when I went out of town. 

 

"Tatum, I got this." I smirked at him before I kissed his lips. 

 

"Yeah ok. That two hundred thousand credit card bill says otherwise." I gave him a blank look as he spoke.  "It's all cool, baby. You know as long as I got it, then you and my princess do too. When are y'all coming back?"

 

"Sunday. Kensly has school on Monday. What are you going to be doing while we're gone?" I followed Tatum as he started taking our stuff out to the car. 

 

"Get some time in at the gym and rest up, mostly. The season starts soon, so we're starting practice Monday. You know coach gonna work the shit out of us, so that this season can be better than the last." 

 

"But y'all won the championship though." I said confused.

 

"Yeah, so we need to keep that same energy. You know all the niggas that lost to us last year coming back with a vengeance."

 

"Mm, make sense." I agreed. 

 

Basketball had been my life for the last four years. It was like I couldn't get away from it. I wasn't as deep into it when Kashington and I were dating, but it was still something I took interest in because of him. Now that I was about to marry the star player of the Miami Heats, it was imperative that I knew all that there was of basketball. 

 

"Daddy, mommy said that you weren't coming with us? Is that true?" Kensly wrapped her little arms around Tatum's leg and looked up at him as he spoke. 

 

"Nah, daddy is going to sit this one out. But, can you do something for me?" Tatum looked down at Kensly with so much love in his eyes. My heart always became full when I thought about how he took Kensly in as his own even though she wasn't. I would always love Tatum for that. 

 

"What's that daddy?" She asked smiling. Kensly was a mamas girl at heart, but she was crazy about her daddy as well. Tatum could do no wrong in her eyes. 

 

"Look after your mommy, and make sure don't no busted ass niggas try to get near her." My eyes got bucked at Tatum's words. 

 

"Tatum, why would you tell her that?" I screeched. Tatum looked at me and shrugged his shoulders while he has a smirk on his face. 

 

He knew about my small history with Kashington, and he knew that there was a possibility I would see him. I had assured Tatum that I didn't, by any means want Kashington back. If anything I missed the friendship. Tatum was secure in our relationship, and plus I was rocking the four carat French pave diamond engagement ring that he had just placed on my finger a few months ago. I wanted to be with him and nobody else. 

 

"I got you, daddy." Kensly gave Tatum a high five before she looked at me. 

 

"Go in the house and get your tablet and stuff little girl." Kensly ran off into the house with us behind her. Tatum finished putting our stuff in the car while I did a sweep of our room making sure I wasn't leaving anything. 

 

"You got everything?" Tatum asked as he walked back into the room. 

 

"Yeah, I think so. If not I'll just buy it when it get there." I smirked. Tatum shook his head at me before she spoke. 

 

"Are you sure you don't want me to come with y'all, Averi? I don't want no shit between you and them people, because I'll hop on the jet and air the whole Los Angeles out." I smiled at Tatum's accent. He was from New Orleans and it showed in every way possible. He knew about my battle with depression, anxiety, and emotional abandonment issues. He knew how much of a wreck I was when I first moved to Daytona. He recognized that I was broken and took his time to help build me back up. It was rare that any woman found a man that was all about her and took her child in as his own. 

 

"I'm sure babe. I know you'll come and air the whole city out. We're going to be fine though, so it's no need." I assured him. 

 

"Ok, Averi." He gave me a look letting me know that he meant business. 

 

"So, we are going to see you before you leave for Miami, right?" Right now we were in Daytona, but training took place in Miami, and I knew that he would either leave out Sunday or early Monday morning depending on when practice started. Kensly and I typically flew out to be with him during the weekends, and just came back home on Sunday nights. She had school throughout the week and I had work. I was currently in school for my masters in psychology and working with adolescent clients. I loved my job, and couldn't wait until I had my PhD. 

 

"Yeah, I'll stick around until y'all make it back. Just come back early so that we can spend some time together." 

 

"I will." I promised. 

 

"Mommy, I'm ready." Kensly ran into our room with her tablet and blanket in hand. 

 

"Well, I guess that means it's time for y'all to go." Tatum looked down at Kensly and smiled. 

 

"I guess so." We all started towards the door. When we made it out to the car Tatum helped Kensly into her seat and made sure she was locked in. He gave her a kiss on her forehead and closed her door. He walked over to the driver side and gave me a kiss as well. 

 

"I love you, Averi." He looked me in the eyes and said. 

 

"I love you more, babe." I replied back meaning every word. Tatum was everything I didn't know I needed in a man, and I thanked God everyday for sending him to me. 

 

Kashington Henderson 

 

"You think the little girl is yours?" Devin asked before he downed his drink. We were in his man cave while the women were upstairs getting ready or some shit. 

 

"Honestly, I don't know. I don't think that she would keep a child away from me. Hell, I didn't think she would up and leave the way that she did, but she did, so I don't even know. The little girl is cute, but I don't know honestly." I ran my hands down my face as I let out a deep breath. 

 

It has been five years since I've laid eyes on Averi, and I could say that time did her good. Baby girl body was banging, her skin was clear as water, hair was flourishing and more importantly she seemed to be in good spirits. She seemed to be a new and improved Averi. It's kind of like her moving away did her some good. I hate the way that she left, but over the years I realized why she did it. I've never admitted it to Grace or Devin, but I understood why Averi left how she did. And honestly who were we to judge her on that? Yeah, she had special relationships with each of us, mainly Grace and I, but who were we back then to have been mad at her for leaving? 

 

"Does Heather know about y'all?" 

 

"Yeah, she does. You know how Heather is though, she doesn't let much get to her. Shit, she's the one wearing my last name, has my two kids and getting all this dick at night. She knows she has nothing to worry about." I answered honestly. Yeah I had love for Averi, but that's about it. I would like for us to be friends again, but if that didn't happen I wouldn't be sad about it. Any feelings that I had for Averi left when she did. 

 

"Shit is crazy seeing her after all these years though. I'm just happy that her and Grace made up. I know shit has been rocky with them, but it seem like they're getting back to the old them." I nodded my head agreeing with him. Grace and Averi were thick as thieves, so hopefully they could get back to that in due time. 

 

Devin and I sat and talked some more while we waited on the girls to finish doing whatever it was that they were doing. It was the first night of Grace's birthday weekend and she had some fancy dinner set up. I had our nanny looking after the kids for us. Devin and Grace has a three year old boy, Kolby, and that nigga was a hand full. I knew our nanny had a hard time with our twins, Jaci and Jalah, alone so I knew I had to pay her extra to watch two extra kids. I wasn't sure how Averi child acted, she seemed well mannered and behaved, but that could have been an act. You never knew with kids. Khaze was thirteen now so he pretty much did his own thing. 

 

 Two hours later we were sitting in a private room at Grace's favorite restaurant in LA. Grace didn't have many people she was close to out here, so it was just Averi, Devin, Heather and I. 

 

"How is it living in Florida, Averi?" Devin asked. 

 

"It's good. Really good actually. It's a lot faster than Shreveport, of course. The education system is so much better, and I love that for Kensly. Overall the move was worth it." Averi answered cooly. 

 

"Are you married? I see your ring, which is gorgeous by the way." Heather asked taking a sip of her drink. I glanced at her wondering why she asked if she was married or not. Maybe I'm reading too much into, or maybe not. 

 

"Uh, thank you and no not yet. Early next year I will be though." Averi smiled.

 

"Seems like she keeping that nigga hidden until they do get married. I thought he was coming with you." Grace looked over at Averi waiting on an answer. 

 

"You'll meet him eventually." Averi shrugged. "He asked if I wanted him to come, but I told him no, because I wanted this weekend to be all about us working back towards our happy place. You and Tatum will meet well before the wedding. I promise." Averi assured Grace, who looked like to she more to say, but let it go. 

 

"Tatum Shuns? As in Tatum Shuns the starting basketball player for the Heats?" Devin asked. 

 

"The very one." 

 

"Damn, congrats. That nigga so lowkey, the only time you do see him is on the basketball court." I said. I knew of Tatum, because I was a basketball player as well, but I didn't know him on that level. 

 

"That's how we prefer it." I nodded my head because I understood that. 

 

We all sat around and enjoyed each other's company while enjoying good food as well. After we left from dinner we went to this night club that wasn't too far from the restaurant. I wasn't a big fan clubs, so I knew I wasn't going to be out long. 

 

We had been in the club for about an hour and I was little upset that everyone around me was either drunk, high, or both and I was mad that I couldn't be too. 

 

"I'll be back I'm about to go to the rest room." I whispered in Heather's ear. She turned around and nodded her head before she started dancing again. I was happy that it wasn't a line so the trip to the restroom was a smooth one. When I walked out I was surprised to see Averi standing there looking sexy as hell. 

 

"Wassup, ma, you good?" 

 

"Yeah. I just wanted to talk to you before the weekend got to wild." I looked down at Averi and admired her beauty. She was honestly a natural beauty. 

 

"Ok." I leaned up against the wall and folded my arms and stared at her. "I'm listening." 

 

Averi looked at me for a few seconds before she started to talk. 

 

"I know the way I left was fucked up, and I'm sorry for that. I had more issues going on with me back then and I didn't know how to deal with those issues. I had a lot of pent up anger, resentment, and so many more emotions and I couldn't tell y'all that. I didn't know how to tell y'all that. When I left Shreveport it was literally the best decision I had ever made in my life. I really did love you, I loved you so much, that I left you before I damaged you as well. I was so broken and I didn't realize that until I left. I would have literally broken you and Grace, and y'all didn't deserve that." Averi said wiping a few tears that ran down her cheek. 

 

"Averi, I understand why you left. Devin and Grace might not, but I do. You don't have to explain anything to me, ma. The only question I have is, is she mine?" I stared at Averi trying to read her body language, and got nothing. 

 

"No, she isn't. Her dad was some bum ass dude that I was buying pills and weed from. I had sex with him the same day I left. Part of why I left was because I had done you so bad that I couldn't even face you. I'm so sorry for that as well. You was nothing but good to me and I went and fucked another dude like you didn't matter to me." 

 

"How do you know he's her father?" I asked ignoring everything she had just said. 

 

"My therapist and Tatum talked me into finding him when Kensly was one. I was able to track him down, explain the situation to him, and got a test done. A couple of days later it came back that he was her dad. He ended up giving up his legal rights as her father, so Tatum legally adopted her, so he's her father."

 

"Cool. Well I'm happy that everything worked out for you, Averi. Over the years I've realized that you and I weren't meant to be, and that's ok. We both got our happy ending and I wouldn't have it any other way. Hopefully we all can get back to the point of us being good friends, and if not that cool too. There's nothing wrong with being cordial," I said laying it out to straight. Back then Averi was my weakness, but all that changed when she got on that plane and left. We were both in good places in our life, so everything was how it was supposed to be. 

 

"I'm happy for you as well. I'm sure we can get back to that place, with time. I just needed to get that off my chest before I went into the bathroom." Averi and I stood there staring at each other before she walked off and went into the restroom. I ran my hand down my face and shook off our conversation, even though it wasn't a bad one, and headed back to where my wife was.

 

"Everything good, babe?" Heather asked when I sat down next to her. We were in VIP, so the crew had the whole space to ourselves. 

 

"Better than good." I kissed her before she turned to down a drink and start back dancing. Heather, met me when I was trying to get over Averi, and for that I was thankful. She helped mold me into the man that I was today. I needed her love and I didn't even know it. Heather came in and was the perfect girl to me, an amazing big sister to Khaze, a even better friend to Grace when she needed it. So, it was only right I wifed her up. There wasn't a person on this earth I would mess all that up for, not even Averi. When Averi left she made it even more easier for me to say goodbye to her in the end. 

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