The air in the room was thick and heavy with tension. Michael’s olive complexion grew mottled with reddish tones showing his rage. His dark eyes glittered with hurt and fury, and he turned sharply on his heels and stormed away. Nikki looked back at up RaVon still in shock, and he gazed down into her lovely face and kissed her lips. “Baby.” he said, “I think you better pack your things tonight, cause lady you are coming home with me.” He grinned at her, and she stared at him dumbly. She finally regained her senses, and pushed him away. “No” she said shaking her head, “No, this isn’t what...this wasn’t supposed to happen...oh no. I didn’t mean to...” She began to gather her clothes to her chest, and RaVon looked at her startled. “Baby, what do you mean?” She shook her head again, her light brown hair tumbling around her shoulders. “RaVon, this was not right. I love you, but....Michael...oh God” she groaned as she began to pull on her clothes. RaVon studied her in disbelief. “What about Michael!?” he barked, the hurt and fear crackling in his voice. She looked at him her brown eyes filling with tears. “Oh, RaVon, why did you have to come back here, and now....I just can’t uproot my whole life for you....” He moved toward her pleading, “Baby, I know things are crazy right now, but you know I will take care of you. I love you. You don’t have to worry about him, because you love me, remember!” Nikki stared at him, and let her shoulders drop. Her hands were still crossed upon her chest as she replied softy, “I do RaVon….but it’s not fair to Michael…what I have done. I was out of control.” RaVon’s green eyes regarded her piercingly. “What are you saying Nikki?” he asked in a dangerously low voice. She pressed a delicate hand to her forehead and pushed back her tumbling locks. “I don’t know. I have to get out of here. I have to talk to him, and then RaVon we’ll talk about us….” She drifted off softly. RaVon sighed dejectedly. “Alright Nikki….but know that I am not leaving this city without you.” He said new determination entering his voice as he glared at her meaningfully. Nikki felt a tingle race through her body at the strength in his voice. She was so confused, but she knew there was no way RaVon was going to let her go now. If only Michael had not walked in on them! Leaving would have been easier. She pulled on her clothes slowly. He probably will not even speak to me now she thought to herself. She almost wanted to laugh as she thought wryly, why the hell would he after catching his fiancée getting her grind on in his dance studio with an old flame. RaVon was watching her expressionless beautiful face silently, and he wondered what she was thinking. He prayed to God she would leave with him, that night if they had to. Nikki could feel his intense gaze as she finished dressing. She turned to face him slowly. “RaVon, just give me some time, okay? If you need to reach me leave a message with Cindy, but I have to go now.” she said softly averting her eyes. RaVon took a deep breath and sighed. “Alright, I’ll leave my number with Cindy when you are ready to reach me. Nikki, I meant everything I said. You can’t go back to Michael.” He said simply and began to slip on his clothes. Nikki bit her bottom lip and kept her eyes trained on the floor as he dressed, and left out as quietly as he had come in. She released a shaky breath as she turned her eyes pleadingly to the heavens. “Dear God, help me.” She whispered as she turned and headed out the studio, perhaps, for the final time. ************************************************* “How dare you!” Michael roared at Nikki as she sat before him tears sliding down her pale cheeks. “I have done nothing but love, support, and respect you, and then you toss it back in my face by screwing your old boyfriend in my got damned studio! There is nothing, nothing you can say to me right now Nikki!” he continued his eyes aflame. “Michael, I am so sorry…I did not mean to do this to you…it all happened so fast….I am so sorry.” she sobbed earnestly. Michael turned away from her. Tension and anger were evident in the angles and lines of his muscular frame. He could not stand to see or hear her cry. His throat ached from swallowing his own tears, and his eyes burned as he tried to blink them back. If he could have, he would have beaten her, and then took her in his arms and demanded “Why!?”, but her knew he could never raise his hand to her. He struggled to compose himself as he turned to address her again. “Do you love him?” he asked hoarsely pushing back a lock of his raven black hair. Nikki froze, and looked up into his handsome face creased with grief and fatigue. She could see the pain in his eyes, and it wrenched at her heart. “Yes.”, she whispered before she could consider her words. A single tear slid down Michael’s face, and his voice broke as he replied, “Then you need to go to him. Leave, now, Nikki. I cannot stand to look into your face once more. I love you, but you have to go. I could never accept the fact that you love another man more than me. I deserve better than that, and so do you.” “Michael…” she implored as fresh tears welled in her eyes, and she reached out to him, but he shrank from her touch. “No.” he said darkly as he turned his back to her, and headed for the door. “There is nothing left to say, Nikki. When I return in the morning, I expect you and your things to be gone. Consider this goodbye.” He whispered gently, but firmly. Nikki watched helplessly as he walked out the door, and closed it with a soft thud. Tears trickled from her cheeks, and she buried her face in the palms of her hands. Only the sounds of her weeping filled the empty silence of the high-rise apartment. After a long moment, she lifted her face, and wiped away the remainder of the dampness on her cheeks with the back of her hand. She sat reflecting on the years she had spent with Michael. She remembered his laughing, handsome face the first night they had met at the popular China Club on 47th street in Manhattan in the fall of 1998. Nikki and several of her college friends were laughing and having drinks at the bar when an irresistible Latin beat began to pound throughout the upper floor of the club. Nikki, was moving her hips to the beat on the bar stool, and could barely stay still. She dragged one of her friends on to the dance floor and began to shake and step expertly to the music. Michael had moved across the dance floor to join her until they were face-to-face, hand-to-hand, and hip-to-hip. They moved so rhythmically and in-sync to the beat that it felt as if they were one body. She was the most graceful partner he had ever encountered before. Every curve of her graceful figure seemed to fit to the mold of his hands and the angles of his 6’0 ft frame. Nikki had felt the electricity exploding between them on the dance floor as their eyes connected. After the music ended, they stood staring into one another’s eyes smiling dreamily. Nikki learned that Michael was one of New York’s hottest choreographers, and Michael was delighted to find that Nikki was a classically and modernly trained dancer. From that night, forward Michael and Nikki became fast friends, and then eventually lovers. Michael had been everything a perfect boyfriend could be: handsome, talented, intelligent, attentive, sensitive, supportive and loving. The years had flown by in such a blur, Nikki thought as her mind resurfaced in the present. Now that time with Michael was gone, and once again, her life was on an uncertain path. Just hours ago she had been engaged to the popular, handsome Latin choreographer, Michael Lorenz, and now she was packing her bags to flee into the arms of her ex-boyfriend RaVon, or was she? Nikki rose slowly from the couch and entered the spacious bedroom her and Michael had shared. She felt suspended in animation as she began to pull clothes from the closet and drawers, even as the thoughts floated in her mind as to whether she should go directly to RaVon or not. Another part of her mind demanded, “Why not?” There was no place else to go, nothing left to do or say. She had admitted she loved RaVon to Michael without hesitation. Yet, she was afraid inside. She had grown use to the comfort and stability of her life with Michael in New York. Before now, things had been so perfectly simple, and now things were so confusing, out of control, unpredictable. Nikki felt herself begin to laugh. The sound leaped from her throat without warning. She could not stop herself, as she sat down on the edge of the bed and allowed herself to let this sudden unnatural hysteria carry her away. She laughed until the tears poured down her cheeks. She felt light and free as the laughter gradually subsided. For the past five years, she had not only been running from her feelings, but from her fear of the unknown. Nikki had never been one to live on the wild side. All her life everything she had ever done was planned, and she always played by the book. Falling in love with RaVon all those years ago had been the most frightening, but wonderful experience of her life. RaVon represented everything on the edge, fresh, lively, and liberating. The hurt and bitterness she had harbored obliterated in those moments of ecstasy and release she had experienced in his arms. He was everything she needed and wanted in her life. Yes, she had loved Michael, but she loved RaVon with every breath and living fiber in her being. There were no guarantees with RaVon, but she knew he would make each day count for their love. Nikki dropped the armful of garments she had withdrawn from the closet, and reached for the telephone on the nightstand. She dialed the number to the dance studio, and waited impatiently as the phone rang. Finally, Cindy’s cheery voice greeted her. Nikki breathed a sigh of relief and spoke quickly, “Hi, did anyone leave any messages for me?” Her heart drummed with excitement as she waited impatiently for Cindy to check the computerized message center. “Here we go. Mr. Woods left his hotel room number and cell phone number for you. He said to call him by 9pm. He has a flight leaving at 9:45 p.m.” Nikki glanced at the clock. The digital numbers read 8:45 pm as she responded, “Oh, thank you so much Cindy!” “You’re welcome…. not to pry, but you and Michael seemed pretty upset when you left out this evening. Is everything okay? Cindy asked with genuine concern. Nikki drew in a deep breath and replied candidly, “Things are complicated. Michael and I broke up.” Cindy gasped, and asked excitedly, “Would it have anything to do with that handsome, green-eyed wonder that visited you earlier today?” Nikki laughed in spite of herself self as she answered, “I am afraid so, and not to be rude, but the longer I stay on the phone with you, the slimmer my chances of catching up with him are. I have to go; it’s almost 5 minutes to 9!” Cindy giggled with delight, “Go on girl! I understand. Get your man!” “Oh my God, the number Cindy, I need the number!” “Oh gosh, I’m sorry here. The Ellington Hotel (212) 864-7500, Room 120, and his cell number is (313) 587-7365.” “Thanks a million Cindy!” “No problem, now call that man!” Nikki depressed the button, and quickly dialed the hotel number. “Ellington Hotel, how may I help you?” answered the polite voice. “Please connect me to room 120.” “Please hold for a moment while I connect you.” She bit her nails as she mumbled, “God please let him still be there!” The phone rang and rang, but no one picked up. “****!” she cursed as the phone system transferred her back to the front desk. “I’m sorry, but the party you are trying to reach does not seem to be available.” “Could you page him please? His name is RaVon Woods”, she said urgently. “Alright ma’am, please hold for a moment.” Nikki cursed again silently as she waited anxiously. Her eyes strayed to the clock. It was 9pm already! She had to go. Which airport would he have gone to? She prayed his cell phone was on, as she depressed the button again, and hurriedly dialed his number. “Please, baby, pick up the phone, please!” she pled silently as the cellular phone began to ring.