Chapter Fourteen

IMG_8412In a few short hours I will be at my first New York City book reading/signing at La Casa Azul Bookstore in East Harlem. It’s interesting because I’m not really nervous. This is unlike many of the events that I work in my day job with the exception of the fact that people are coming to see me. Perhaps the lack of nerves has to do with the fact that I’ve been preparing what I’m going to read at this event.

It’s fair to say that the book is adult in nature. It’s also fair to say that I’ve really tried my best to control how the book is categorized. If you look at where the book is listed on Amazon it just says fiction but my dear friends at Apple have marked my book as Erotica. I don’t view this book as erotica at all. There are books out there in which the premise is for the characters to get down and get it in and there is nothing wrong with that at all. I would like to think that this is a story that contains sexual themes but it is certainly not porn.

Which is why I had to choose what I read very carefully because I want to show the story outside of the sexual theme. There are several chapters in the book that have no sex at all although there is extreme language in the dialogue. I combed through the novel to find just the right amount of the story I need to share that does not contain spoilers. So, what I want to do is share the excerpt of what I’m going to read for those who will not there. This is a small portion of Chapter Fourteen:

It’s about a four hour drive to New York. I prefer taking Route 17 because traffic is always lighter than using I-81 going toward Pennsylvania. It also gives me a great opportunity for some alone time. I normally set up a playlist on my iPod of random songs that range from Hip-Hop to classical music, but this time to start my drive the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album by Kanye West. Music relaxes me while giving me time to think.

I’m very excited to see Zenia. I think about how this whole thing started. We met six years ago while she was an undergraduate student. She was member of the Latino Students Association and I attended one of their forums called The Origins of Quisqueya. It was a brilliant discussion on the relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. That was the forum where we first met when her boyfriend, at the time, introduced me. It was a brief encounter and from then on, I always seemed to run into her.

We really didn’t start talking until a year later when she was a senior. She became the president of LSA and asked me to be on a panel discussion about Afro Latino Identity. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart so I gladly accepted. Our mutual interest in Latino Heritage Month is what sparked a friendship especially since she had broken up with her boyfriend the summer prior. She would be a frequent visitor to my office, which was not all unusual since I had many students visit me. What Raina had an issue with was how often I communicated with her via text. I can honestly say that in the beginning the relationship was strictly platonic. There was nothing inappropriate being said or done, it was just a generic friendship that was forged upon mutual interests. She would date one or two guys on and off during this time.

It took me by surprise that she applied to be a Graduate Assistant for my office. The office of Student Programs consists of several smaller departments that revolve around the overall development of students outside of the classroom. My area is Diversity Engagement, which deals with the celebratory months, multicultural student organizations and mentoring. The other three areas are Events Management, Greek Life, and Student Activities. Each area is slotted to have one Graduate Assistant and it just so happened that the position that reported to me had been vacated due to graduation.

One of the most important things that I look for in a G.A. is the ability to do the job effectively. I also needed someone who could help with picking up the slack of meeting and advising undergraduate students. The reason why I hired Zenia was because of her experience as a former student leader and her general ability in computer programming and coding. I had a goal in mind that year which was to overhaul our entire website and have a multifunctional database that would match mentors with students. My previous G.A. had already started on the preliminary designs in terms of color scheme and layout but the project became too big for him to handle. The original thought was to hire a third party company or person to complete the design work, but when Zenia came on-board she expressed a desire to do it and apply it to her Masters Program in Computer Engineering.

Zenia graduated in May and because of the website being overhauled, I was able to get special consideration for her to start in July. I felt that we needed a two month head start before classes began in order to make sure we can launch the website by September and the interactive Mentoring component in January. This is when the both of us saw each other just about everyday. Our working relationship was intense and the schedule was ambitious. Raina took notice as to how increasingly busy I was especially over the summer since that time is normally a dead period. She was already convinced that something was going on.

It wasn’t until after the launch of the website that Judy pointed out that Zenia had a crush on me. I admitted to her that I found Zenia to be attractive but I never thought anything would come of it. Then one night we were chatting casually online when we starting talking about our personal lives. We got on to the subject of past loves and sex. I found myself being very curious about her and her exploits. I never understood why she was presently single. Before you know it we were flirting with each other. We began to talk about everything.

The question that came up was: Are you happy in your marriage? As much as I wanted to say yes to this, it made me think about how much of a bad husband I already was. I had a constant problem with flirting with other women. I just couldn’t get used to the fact that the moment I got married I became interesting to other women. I felt like I spent years being ignored by most women and all of sudden I was getting attention that I wasn’t used to. Years later, I would discover that I was looking for something that my marriage wasn’t providing me. But, answering that question, are you happy in your marriage, was something that I couldn’t answer with certainty.

Why was I not happy? Was it because I was too young to get married when I did? Was it that I was just an asshole who loves women so much that I craved that extra attention? Perhaps it was the fact that I miss the attention I used to get from my mother. Maybe I was looking for something more unique and real. The problem with my faux happiness was that it was killing my marriage slowly and Zenia was shooting holes right through everything by just being the bright ray of light I may have been looking for. She had a Global Warming effect on me and I just chose to ignore it.

Our affair seemed to start with an awkward kiss. We were working late one day and she was sitting at my desk typing away. She called me over to show me some values within the mentoring database. I was looking over her shoulder and I could smell her perfume. It was an intoxicating smell that almost made me kiss her neck right then and there. As we talked, we both looked at each other and I went in for the kiss. Zenia was just about to say something as I kissed her and the whole situation seemed awkward.

I pulled away and her eyes were telling me that she was shocked. She gets up and begins to leave. “Where are you going?” I ask. She replies that she just has to go. I sit down on my chair thinking about how much of a fool I am. I can hear Raina’s voice in my head: it’s only a matter of time before your online flirting becomes reality, ten cuidado. I now wanted to fix this. I didn’t want to lose her as a graduate assistant. All of our flirting gave me an indication that perhaps it might be ok, but I couldn’t be so sure.

I went home feeling terribly guilty. Raina and I had a fight that night. I’m not sure who started it, maybe I gave an attitude about something or maybe she didn’t like the fact that when she called my office Zenia picked up the line. At the end of the night I texted her:

I’m sorry. What I did was unacceptable.

She wasn’t online either. Raina went to bed upset and I just stayed in the living room watching Sportscenter. My phone vibrates and it is Zenia.

I’m sorry I walked out. It just caught me off guard. There is something I need to do now and I was unsure about it until now. I will be in your office in the afternoon around 1pm. I already checked your calendar. You have no appointments.

I wanted to text her back, but I just knew that it might not be a good thing. I should’ve known better. Zenia was stressed about school and the viability of the project in general. Now I throw my dumb ass actions into the mix. I was mad at myself because she’s one of the smartest women I know and the fact that I’m 10 years older than her and married made it worse. I wouldn’t be surprised if she quit the next day.

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed that. I have a book giveaway listed here but if you want to purchase Hanging Upside Down you head here and chose the format best for you!

Thanks for the support!

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