It's a Sunday, I think. The smell of medicine intoxicates me. I want to scratch my scabs so bad. My fever is higher than normal. I can't stop shaking. The doctors keep promising medicines to make me better but what I have cannot be cured. They'll give me something to make it better. Something to slow my death and calm me for a few weeks, but the infection always comes back. It's there, living in my body, a constant reminder of my past sins. I want to yell for the doctors to leave me alone and let me die. I don't want to live. I want it all to end. This disease has destroyed my entire future. If I could do everything over again, I would. Sometimes it's just too late to go back. Sometimes your only future is having to pay for your past.
I'd met Cody through a mutual friend of ours. Sandra was my best friend in college and was married to Ray, who had been roommates with Cody in college. It had been Sandra's birthday that weekend and Ray decided to give her a simple but elegant dinner party at their new house. I had just graduated college and started a job teaching 5th grade students at a private school. I was only 25 years old and thinking how blessed I was to have found a decent paying job and had just moved into a nice apartment in downtown Houston. I had everything, but a man in my life.
I hadn't expected to fall in love. I was picky about men. Not so much in looks, but I wanted a man who could make me laugh without being too obnoxious. I wanted a man who liked to wear suits every now and then. I wanted a man who enjoyed blues music and wouldn't mind taking me to the ballet. Was that too much to ask for?
I spotted Cody talking to Ray. He held a glass of red wine in his hand. He was laughing at something Ray said. His smile was simply breathtaking. I didn't believe in love at first sight, but when I saw Cody, I then knew that it was possible. I stared, a little too much. His dark hair was neatly combed back and he wore black Michael Kors pants with a gray Burberry cashmere sweater and black Salvatore Ferragamo loafers. He looked stylish and very sexy.
"He's single you know."
I jumped up and heard my friend Sandra laughing. I turned to face her and playfully slapped her arm. "You scared me!"
"Sorry. I just saw you ogling Cody. I just thought you might be interested in knowing he's single."
"How do you know him?" I asked.
"He used to be Ray's roommate in college. He's an architect you know. They lost touch once Ray went to law school but recently started talking again since Ray found him on the internet."
I looked over at Cody again. His blue eyes wandered the room until they met with mine. I couldn't help but smile at him and was shocked when he smiled back. My heart was racing.
"Introduce me will you?" I asked Sandra.
She grabbed my hand and led me across the room. Cody eyed us as we approached him. Ray stood next to his friend with a wicked smile knowing well that his wife's intentions were.
"Hello boys," Sandra called out teasingly.
"Hey honey," Ray replied.
"Ray, you know my best friend Nikki."
Ray shook my hand. "Yes of course. How are you?"
"I'm fine. How's the world of law Ray?"
He shrugged. "Fighting for criminals, doesn't make me a good guy let me tell you that."
We laughed. I'd almost forgotten that Ray was a defense attorney.
"Oh Nikki, this is Cody. My old college roommate," Ray introduced us.
Cody extended his hand. I shook his hand and felt volts of electricity run up my arm. The man was extremely hot. He was even more handsome up close. "Nice to meet you Nikki." His voice was deep, smooth and sexy.
"Why don't we leave these two to talk while you and I go mingle," Sandra suggested to her husband.
Ray nodded. "Yes, that's a good idea," he winked at me and took off with his wife leaving me alone with Cody.
"So, enjoying the party?" Cody asked taking a sip of his wine.
"Yeah. I love Sandra and Ray's house. It's so beautifully built."
Cody's eyes studied the art that hung no the walls. "Not to mention the guy who built the house must be a genius."
His eyes met mine. I couldn't hold back a smile. "You built it I see."
He nodded. "I did. You like?"
"I love. I had told Sandra how much I'd like a house like this one day."
"I could build one for you. If you want of course. I could talk your boyfriend into-"
"I don't have a boyfriend," I quickly added.
He took another sip of wine in a suave way. "Or I could talk to your fiancé-"
"I'm not engaged," I cut him off.
"You know, maybe your husband might-"
"I'm not married," I laughed.
He laughed along and inched closer to me. "Well, that's good to hear. I needed to find out if you were single. I didn't want to be too forward and ask you. That might make me sound desperate."
"I wouldn't think you'd be desperate. In fact when I saw you from across the room, I thought you were probably married with like ten children. I figured my chance to get to know you were slim to none."
He gasped. "Oh dear. Ten children? I'm only 28 years old. Give me a break!"
We laughed. We continued to talk the entire night. I hadn't had such a great time with a man like that in a long time. I invited him back to my place after the party. We talked some more and listened to Billie Holiday's greatest hits. We drank coffee and ate some cake we brought from the party. We kissed, we touched, we made passionate love. We went out for several months until Cody asked me to marry him. I didn't hesitate to say yes. I was smitten with this man. I loved him like I'd never loved anyone else.
It was two years after we'd been married that everything changed between Cody and I. I recall the day I stood at the doctor's office receiving the good news and the bad news.
The wonderful news was that I was pregnant. Four weeks to be exact. I had Cody's baby growing in me. As ridiculous as it might sound, had a feeling it could be a boy. He'd have Cody's blue eyes and dark hair.
Then I got the devastating news that I was tested HIV positive. I blinked back tears and felt my entire body stop trembling and become numb. How could I be HIV positive? I had only slept with three men my entire life. Lance, in high school who'd been my first. Then there was Mark in college who I had dated for a year. After that it'd been only Cody.
I was confused and requested for the doctor to check my blood again. I didn't want to believe I had been infected. Cody was clean. He'd never shown any signs of being sick. Cody was healthy! I couldn't be sick! I didn't do drugs or hadn't had any blood transfusions. I'd only slept with Cody! My husband!
I left the doctors office in tears. Once I was home I waited for Cody to arrive. He usually arrived after six every night. He walked in that Thursday evening and saw me immediately sitting on the couch in the front room.
"Nikki?" He studied my somber face.
"Have you been cheating on me?" I asked bluntly.
He was taken back. "Excuse me?"
I jumped out of my seat filled with anger and began to cry. "I have HIV!"
Cody frowned. His face was filled with confusion. "What?"
"You heard me!" I yelled. I couldn't hold back the tears.
"How can you have HIV? What the hell is going on?" He raised his voice.
I glared at him. "What's going on is that you've been cheating on me! You gave me AIDS!"
His face darkened. "I don't have AIDS, Nikki! I'm clean. Maybe YOU'VE been cheating. Ever think of that?"
My entire body began to tremble. Trembling from fear and anger. "I've never EVER cheated on you! EVER!"
"Well, I don't have AIDS! So explain to me then how you go it!"
I took a deep breath before speaking. My tears ran down my face. "Have you gotten tested Cody?"
He looked down. He began to make a fist. I knew he was pissed but I also knew I was telling the truth. "No. I don't need to be tested. I'm clean I tell you! I'm fuckin' clean!" He walked away from me. I trailed him into the kitchen and watched him get a beer out of the fridge.
"Well, if you're so sure you don't have AIDS, go take a test tomorrow."
He opened his beer and took a long drink. He turned to look at me. "I don't have to prove anything to you."
My anger began to rise. "Oh? Is that so? Well then how about proving it to your unborn child!"
Cody clenched his jaw. "What the hell are you talking about?"
I paused for a moment. "I'm pregnant. I'm pregnant and I'm HIV positive. How do you like that?"
I turned and walked away from him. I went into our bedroom and sat on the bed and cried some more. It was a few minutes later when I heard Cody walk in. He stood by the door. I wiped my tears and stared at my husband who had instantly become a stranger to me.
"I'll go get tested," he said quietly. "I guarantee you, that I don't have AIDS."
"We'll see about that," I replied curtly. "We'll see."
As we waited for Cody's test results, we slept in separate rooms. I didn't want to talk to him or see him, yet I did still love him. I'd grown used to Cody and his cocky attitude. I missed my husband, the husband I once thought I knew.
.... There is more of this story ...