Baylei Jefferson was frustrated as she continuously erased the lines to the architectural project, she was working hard to perfect sitting in her corner office at King’s Architect. Baylei was selected for the position when the company first launched. It was a newly started company and it was black owned; which she loved.
Weston King was an entrepreneur who learned everything he knew when he worked for a prestigious white-collar company that took him for granted. Wes as he preferred to be called, took a liking to Baylei two minutes into the interview. Her skills were impeccable and that’s what Wes needed on his team.
Baylei was five foot six with a slim waist and a fat ass. Her light skin was smoother than a baby’s bottom and her cocoa brown eyes were beautiful. The naturally long hair that she possessed on top of her head, flowed to the middle of her back. She turned heads everywhere she went from both men and women but she didn’t give an ounce of attention to anyone. Baylei had a man and she enjoyed the relationship they had for the most part.
“I’m not going to let these lines beat me.” Baylei whispered as she concentrated on getting the structure of the building just right. Her phone vibrated on her desk and she groaned as she glanced at the screen and shook her head.
“What’s going on, Noah? Baylei asked as she tossed her stylus on the desk beside her Mac computer after accepting the call.
“I wanted to make sure you were going to be home on time tonight. We have dinner reservations with my parents tonight.”
Baylei quickly went to the calendar app on her phone to check the date. Mouthing the word ‘fuck’ because she had forgotten all about the plans Noah had made. Baylei glanced at the work sitting before her and groaned lowly because she had less than a week to have the assignment turned in. Bad as she wanted to cancel, Baylei knew she couldn’t.
“Are you still there?” Noah asked irritably.
“Yeah, I’m here and I’ll be there. I have a few loose ends to tie together and I’ll be on my way home to change. I promise, I’ll meet you at the restaurant.”
“Baylei, don’t be late. You know how much this night means to my parents. It’s their anniversary for fuck sakes!”
“I said I will be there. The longer you keep me on the phone, the longer it’s going to take me to get out of here. And for the last time, watch how you talk to me!”
“Make sure you leave your ghetto mentality at the office. I don’t know how many times I have to tell you about all that hood shit, Baylei.” Noah didn’t wait for Baylei to reply, he just hung up on her which pissed her off more than the tone he used prior.
Lying the phone back on the desk, Baylei worked her heart out until about nine o’clock that night. Her eyes were tired from staring at the computer for hours on end after the conversation she’d had with Noah. The vibrations of her phone had been nonstop since she didn’t make an effort to meet Noah and his family for the anniversary dinner. Instead of viewing Noah’s text messages, she went to her social media message box.
ChanceLover: Good evening, Beautiful. You were on my mind and I felt a strong energy to reach out to you. I ran across this quote and thought of you. “Keep your head held high, your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling. Life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”
Baylei smiled as she read the short message. She had been talking to ChanceLover for a few months and he always came through when she needed words of encouragement. His messages were always right on time and I looked forward to them. Baylei replied with a simple thank you and a smiley face emoji then shut down her computer. As she gathered all of her belongings, Baylei stepped out of her office and headed for the elevator.
“Miss Jefferson, you’re here rather late tonight,” Joe her favorite custodian yelled from the other end of the hall as he made his way to her. “You should’ve called me. I don’t want you walking around in that garage by yourself at this time of night.”
“Hey, Joe! I didn’t think to call for your assistance. I’m just trying to get out of here and get home to my bed. Come on and take this ride with me.” Baylei smiled as the doors to the elevator opened.
Joe reminded Baylei of her father and she became comfortable with him from the first day they met. Joe caught Baylei one morning when she didn’t have a smile on her face. He turned the frown to a smile with a few simple words that her father used to tell her all the time. ‘There’s always sunshine at the end of the tunnel. Never allow anyone or anything to disrupt your peace. Long as you’re happy, everything else will fall in place.’ Their relationship blossomed from that day forward. Joe was her at work protector and Baylei welcomed the love he continued to shine on her.
As they exited the elevators into the garage, Baylei hit the unlock button on her key fob. Walking two rows back, Joe opened the driver door of her Jeep Cherokee and ushered her inside. Once she was comfortable in the seat belt, Joe closed the door and Baylei turned the key bringing her truck to life. She lowered the window and smiled at Joe.
“Thanks so much for seeing me to my car. I appreciate you, Joe.”
“Lei Lei, I want you to remember to call me when you’re leaving the office any time after dark. These knuckleheads are getting worse by the day. They are carjacking any and everybody nowadays. I’m too old to get the news if something happens to you.” Joe said sincerely.
“I promise to let you know. You have my word. Now, let me get out of here so I can get home and do it all over again tomorrow. Give me that cheek, Old Man.”
Joe leaned in so Baylei could kiss him on the cheek. “See you tomorrow, Little Lady and drive safely,” he said stepping back as Baylei put the truck in drive and peeled out of the garage.
Five minutes into her commute, Baylei’s phone vibrated in her purse but she didn’t bother reaching for it. She knew exactly who it was and Noah would have to wait until she arrived home to get a response from her. Thoughts of Noah’s attitude change filled her mind as she merged onto I94 south towards her home.
A little over two years prior, Baylei met Noah at Starbucks. She spilled her Caramel Frappuccino over his Tom Ford suit jacket. After apologizing repeatedly and offering to get his suit dry cleaned, Noah requested her phone number as payment instead. From that day, they were inseparable. Everything was going great for the couple until seven months into their courtship, Noah introduced Baylei to his parents.
John and Elizabeth Connery were sweet anytime they spoke with Baylei over the phone. They gushed over their son’s new love interest and the fact she had a prestigious career, ambition, and basically; her own money. But everything went from sugar to shit when Noah and Balylei went to the Connery’s home for dinner. The pleasantries they were so keen to weren’t there as they sat around the dining table and Baylei felt it from the moment she entered the home. From that point, Baylei knew she wasn’t welcomed in Noah’s family.
Baylei voiced her concerns to Noah and he blew them off by saying his parents didn’t have a say about who he wanted in his life. That was far from the truth because Noah subconsciously spewed racial comments toward Baylei on a regular bases then apologized afterward. Baylei was over it all and that was the reason she didn’t bother rushing to the anniversary dinner that night.
Pulling into her driveway, she spotted Noah’s car and Baylei counted to ten to calm herself. She wanted to have a leveled head before entering her home. Baylei and Noah didn’t’ live together but they had access to each other’s homes. As she grabbed her briefcase and purse from the passenger seat, her front door opened with an upset Noah standing in wait for her to ascend the steps.
“I’m glad you’ve finally decided to get your head out of work,” he said with much attitude. Baylei ignored his snide remark as she attempted to walk past to avoid putting on a show for her nosey neighbors. “Baylei you know how important this day was for me!” Noah growled snatching her by the arm.
“No, it was important for your parents!” She said snatching away from him. “I had every intention of coming to the dinner until your choice of words put a halt to that shit. I’m tired of you trying to change me, Noah! Come on, in your parent’s eyes, I’m not good enough for you. As a matter of fact, let’s address the elephant in the building; I’m not white enough!”
“Why do you always use that as an excuse when it comes to my parents? Your race has nothing to do with the way my mom tries to interact with you!”
“Race has everything to do with it and you know it, Noah! Every time I spoke with your parents on the phone, they were so sweet and doting. There was a different vibe when they met me in person. My voice, background, and demeanor were the same; my appearance is what had them lost for words. I got nothing but bad vibes from that day forth. Your mother is very snobbish with me and I swear, I’m over that shit.”
“My parents are not racist!” Noah’s face turned three shades of red that he was damn near purple. “Your black ass is speculating and I don’t appreciate it at all.”
“And there goes the apple falling not too far from the tree. The difference between you and your mother is the fact you don’t give a damn about calling me a black bitch, or saying I need to stop using ghetto words, or leave the hood at home when it comes to being in the presence of your people. That’s a form of racism, Noah!”
“I don’t say any of that!” His voiced echoed off the walls in the foyer.
“Noah, you just said my black ass was speculating,” Baylei laughed in his face. “I’m done with this conversation. I didn’t go to the dinner and I’m quite sure you all had a wonderful time without the awkwardness of having the only black person in the building. Goodnight, Noah. Enjoy sleeping in your own bed tonight. Make sure to set the alarm on your way out.”
Baylei turned to head upstairs to her bedroom, but Noah had plans of his own. He took Baylei’s actions as disrespect the way she dismissed him. Rushing behind her, Noah grabbed her by the back of the shirt and swung her around with force to face him. Without notice he drew his hand back and slapped Baylei hard across her cheek.
Noah had never raised his voice at her let alone his hand. The gesture shocked the hell out Baylei and she coward away from him in fear. “I’m so sorry, baby. I didn’t mean to hit you.” Noah apologized instantly reaching out for her.
“Don’t touch me! Just leave, Noah. I’m done. Talking shit to me is one thing, but putting your hands on me is something I will not tolerate. Take your sorry ass home.”
“Aht Aht, if you don’t leave now, I’ll call the police and have you escorted out!”
Noah opened his mouth but clamp his jaws shut when he saw Baylei fumbling around in her purse. Going to jail was the last thing he needed to do with the career he possessed. Leaving as he was told was the only way to diffuse the situation. Noah knew he crossed the line when he struck Baylei and he regretted his actions soon as it occurred. He felt like crap for hitting her because of something so minor. His mind was racing as he tried to figure out how to correct his wrong.