I have good news! 🙂
An Encore for Love… isn’t done lol. But it’s getting there, meaning I’m close enough to give you guys a little sample of what’s to come! So while we met Amerie & Knox separately in A Rehearsal For Love, let’s see what happens when they see each other for the first time in forever. ❤
(Note: Sample is copyrighted, unedited, and subject to change.)
“Hey God. It’s me. Amerie. And uh… I wanted to tell you that… if you take me now, I’ll totally understand. I mean, I’ve already accomplished a lot in my life, and… the only person that might miss me is Miranda, and maybe Zalayah, and maybe my mom… okay, probably my dad too. But I’d rather be anywhere than here right now. So if you have to go all the way to make that happen, I get it. I mean, there’s music to dance to in heaven, right? Well… if there’s not music, maybe we should just…. zap me out of here. Like those State Farm commercials?”
“Amerie, you have a visitor.”
My assistant’s voice cut me from my prayer that was induced by the exact visitor she was talking about.
I knew he was coming today – had been on my calendar for months – but there was nothing that could’ve prepared me to actually be in a room alone with him. It had been a few years since the last time that happened. And though I remembered the feeling like it was yesterday, not even that much time apart was enough for me to be ready to.., “Send him on in, Draya.”
I stood up from my desk, pacing back and forth until his heavy knocking caused me to leap into the air like I was performing the perfect Assemblé. I smoothed my hands down the front of my dress, hoping I wasn’t leaving any streaks of sweaty nerves, and then I headed to the door with my shoulders high and proud because I was in control; this was my territory. He was just a… visitor.
I pulled the door open, and I… melted.
I fuckin’ melted.
All of my pride, and confidence, and boss bitch vibes were suddenly in a pile at my feet as I looked at Knox who looked way better than I remembered. And I remembered him pretty damn well. From the faint scar right under his left eyebrow, to the curve of his dick, I knew Knox almost as well as I knew myself. But now he looked… different; more mature, more distinguished, more… handsome.
And that was insane.
What was I supposed to do with an even better version of an already perfect specimen?
He’s not perfect, bitch.
And don’t you ever forget that.
“Amerie,” he stated with a little hint of his southern twang that always made my name sound even more unique.
“Knox,” I replied as stiffly as I could.
His eyes were dancing along my skin as he propped himself against the frame of my door. “You gonna keep me out here or am I worthy of office hours? I mean, it only took four months for your assistant to pencil me in.”
Though my schedule had been pretty full over the last couple of months with the wrap-up of Zalayah’s latest promotional tour, I had purposely set the date for this little meeting months away hoping that by now he or I would’ve had something better to do with our time.
But unfortunately, I hadn’t paid good enough attention to my schedule until it was already the week of, so I had no excuses other than…, “I’m a busy woman, Knox.”
“Of course you are, babe. But I waited all four months and actually ironed my clothes to come see you. The least you could do is let me get a chair, maybe a bottle of water, or some of that stale ass candy out the bottom of your purse.”
My God, I wanted to laugh so hard. Only Knox would remember the candy that always got purchased impulsively to only be forgotten about, over and over again. But laughing would’ve created the perception that we were friends, and that was far from the case.
So I crossed my arms over my chest, gnawing at my lip before I told him, “You can have a chair, I’ll have Draya get you a water, and the only candy I have are peppermints in that bowl on my desk.”
He sized me up, in all his still-in-incredible-shape glory, and said, “Amerie, don’t tell a story. I know you have somethin’ in the bottom of your purse. Or has it really been that long?”
I shrugged, looking down at my feet instead of into his eyes. “I guess it’s been that long. A lot has changed since the last time you saw me.” And that was true. For one, I was no longer a dancer lusting after the lead choreographer of the show. For two, we were no longer in some whirlwind romance. And for three…
This isn’t about him, Amerie!
But it was about him the second he licked his lips as his eyes fell onto the cleavage I had accidentally created. “Mmm… you right about that, babe. I certainly don’t remember them lookin’ anything like this. You get a boob job or somethin’?”
Though I had considered it for years to give my body a better balance…, “No, asshole. Not that it’s any of your business if I did or didn’t.”
Instead of being offended, he simply nodded. “Ouch. Guess I earned that one.” You damn right, you did. “But look, I’m not here to start a fight. I came here for business. So can we talk… business?”
I rolled my eyes, turning around to head to my office chair. And even though I could feel Knox’s eyes on my ass with every step I took, I was still able to confidently toss out, “I’m listening, Knox.”
I fell into my chair simultaneously with him shutting my office door. And then he started, “So I don’t know how much Blaise told you, but we most definitely need you in on it.”
“I don’t have time to run a dance studio, Knox. My schedule is filled for like… the next three years; literally.”
Between tours and videos and other random engagements, there was no way I’d have the time nor the interest to run a dance studio. It was way too much work for way too little reward, and it honestly surprised me that Knox was interested. He definitely wasn’t the type to actually work for what he wanted.
“So Blaise must not have told you anything then. We don’t want you to run a dance studio. Hell, I don’t wanna run a dance studio. But we need you to get in on the show to balance out our cast.”
“Show? What the hell are you talking about, Knox?”
“The reality show. With you, me, and Blaise. He really didn’t tell you any of this?”
I smacked my teeth and rolled my eyes as I told him, “I don’t have time to film a damn reality show, Knox.”
“Amerie, you don’t have to do anything other than what you already do. Except… do it all in California. For four weeks.”
It sounded simple enough considering I spent quite a bit of time in California already. But I wasn’t exactly in the business of making things easy for Knox Riley. He didn’t deserve that from me.
“Well I don’t give my face or my services to anyone for free. So one of ya’ll need to get to writing a check.”
He cocked his head to the side, trying to get a read on me. But I only cocked my head right back, raising an eyebrow to let him know I was dead ass serious. It was already plenty that I had even given him an opportunity to show up here in the first place.
He sighed, leaning into my desk as he said, “Amerie… babe… why you bein’ so damn snooty? That ain’t you.”
I instantly saw red as I spit back, “You don’t know who I am cause you’re too busy chasing after the next best… you know what? Need my face for a month? Fine. I’ll be there. Now you can go.”
I expected him to join me in my fury, but instead he just fell back into his seat with a laugh. “Amerie, you are way too fine to be actin’ like this. I understand if you don’t wanna do this for me, have anything to do with me for that matter. But at least do it for Blaise. He’s like a brother to you, right?”
Blaise was more than a brother. He was a confidant; someone I could trust to give me sound advice about everything going on around me. We had practically grown up together in the dance world. And even though he was living a different lifestyle than me these days, I still considered him one of my closest friends.
“Yeah, he’s the only reason I allowed the likes of you to get even an inkling of my time.”
Knox laughed again. “You really think I believe that, woman? Come on now. I’ve aged like wine.”
It made me sick how much that sentiment rang true. Knox had always been fine, long before I even knew him personally. But now, what used to be pretty boy looks were finally transformed into a real, grown man glow up that made his controlled scruff of a beard even more rideable, his full lips even more kissable, his sunkissed skin even more lickable, his…
Get a grip, Amerie!
“Like wine? Oh please. I’d say more like milk.”
Instead of laughing, he just smirked at me, nodding as he replied, “Yo… that was a good one. When’d you get a sense of humor?”
I shrugged before sarcastically tossing out, “Had the plastic surgeon put it in when he was working on my boobs.”
“See… I knew I wasn’t trippin’. Them mothafuckas are plump. ”
I couldn’t even be offended considering I had practically invited his words. So instead I told him, “You can go now.”
But he only settled further into his seat, making himself comfortable as if he was a wanted guest. “I was actually thinkin’ we could… maybe grab some lunch together? It’s been awhile, Ri.”
Ugh, I hated the way the nickname rolled off his tongue. I never even used to let people call me anything other than my full name growing up. But when Knox started referring to me as Ri when we were first getting to know each other, it stuck perfectly.
Now it sounded like nails screeching on a chalkboard.
“I’m not interested, Knox,” I replied confidently.
“Aww come on, babe. I know you don’t still hate me after all this time.”
The softness in his tone, the gentleness in his eyes made me want to forget we ever had a history, just so that I could get to know him all over again. But our past was… complicated. I couldn’t say he had truly broken my heart, I couldn’t say we had some tragic break-up. He technically hadn’t even cheated on me. But what Knox and I had shared years ago certainly wasn’t anything to shove under the rug.
I couldn’t tell him that though.
So instead I replied with a nonchalant, “I’ve never hated you, Knox. Cause if I hated you, that would mean I actually cared about your ass which I never really did.”
He actually looked a little offended by the statement that we both knew was a boldfaced lie. But that didn’t stop him from replying, “Damn. So now you never cared about me?”
“I cared about you as much as you said you cared about me. Which was zero. So no. I didn’t.”
I assumed that’d be the nail in the coffin as far as our conversation was concerned. But as I watched Knox soften even more, I prepared myself for more.
“Well… what if I told you that… I still care about you? That I’ve always cared about you?”
Years ago, that expression would’ve stirred a nasty blur of emotions. But today…, “I’d call bullshit.”
“Ri, don’t be that way.”
“Don’t be what way? I’m only telling the truth.”
“Whose truth? Cause if I remember it correctly, we shared I love yous.”
I couldn’t believe he was actually playing that card, knowing good and well that was far from the case. “Knox, we never said I love you. You said you loved my pussy. I said I loved your dick. That’s not the same thing. And if I remember it correctly, it was all an illusion created to blind me from the fact that you were nothing but a dog.”
He nodded, running a thumb across his lips as he said, “I’ll take that. But that doesn’t mean it was an illusion. What I felt… what we felt… there was nothing fake about that, Amerie.”
I held a hand up to stop him before I could even pretend to get invested. “Save it, Knox. I’m not interested in lunch with you and I’m not interested in revisiting the past even further. So if you don’t have anything else, you can get the hell out of my office.”
He stood up, but instead of doing what I thought he was going to do by leaving my office, he strolled confidently over to me, stopping just short of my chair. I tried to stay calm, but my heart was racing as I inhaled his scent with every calculated breath I took. My desk had served as the perfect barrier between us, giving me just enough space to say what I needed to say without falling under his spell. But now that he was invading my personal space, I was suddenly a lot more aware of his presence.
My outfit of choice – a sleeveless A-line dress that fell right above my knees when I stood, but mid-thigh as I sat down – was used as a weapon against me as Knox ran his fingertips down my bare arm, giving me goosebumps. His thick, southern drawl was back as he said, “Well… what if I do have somethin’ else, Ri?”
I closed my eyes so that I could pull together just enough composure to tell him, “Stop it, Knox.” But he was already too close, running his fingertips back up my arm to the crook of my neck; an area he knew was incredibly sensitive.
“Do you mean that, too? Or are you frontin’ on me all around, Ri?”
I gulped, loudly like I was swallowing way too much water, before I forced out, “I’m not frontin’. I… I never really cared… about you.”
He smirked as he leaned in close enough for me to catch a whiff of peppermint on his breath. “You do know that should be a lot easier to say, right? Like… if you really meant it?”
I diverted my eyes, licking my suddenly dry lips to moisten my new lie. “I do mean it.”
“Sure you do, Ri,” he replied with a smirk as he took a step back.
And I hated myself for actually missing his touch, but somehow managed to transform that personal anger to attitude towards him as I said, “If you don’t have anything else, I’d like to get back to work.”
“And I’d like some honest answers. But we can’t all get what we want, huh?”
“Look, tell Blaise I’ll be in touch about this whole… ordeal,” I said with a dismissive wave of my hand.
But of course, Knox wasn’t exactly the type to take my orders, instead continuing on to say, “Amerie, I flew all this way just to come talk to you. If you don’t wanna be honest about our past, then the least you could do is be honest about our future endeavors. Are you in or not? I mean, the sooner I know, the better. Especially if I’m gonna be lookin’ for a replacement.”
“Oh, so now you actually wait to do that whole “looking for a replacement” thing? That’s new,” I said with sarcastic roll of my eyes.
Knox released a heavy sigh, scrubbing a hand down his face as he calmly said, “Ri, come on now. Let it go.”
“I did let it go. You’re the one that brought it up.”
He only nodded, finally giving me some real space as he walked back to the opposite side of my desk, though his presence still completely dominated the room.
“Fine. That’s my bad, babe. But since it’s obviously still a sensitive subject for you, we won’t talk about it anymore.”
I tossed my head back with a laugh because…, “Sensitive subject for me? You’re the one getting all in your feelings cause I said I didn’t really care about you. Perhaps it’s you that needs to let it go.”
“If only it was that easy.”
He shook his head as he headed straight for the door, stopping just short to answer, “Nothin’. I’ll leave my contact info with your assistant. If you could give me the courtesy of makin’ a decision in forty-eight hours, I’d appreciate it, babe.”
I sat still, completely emotionless until I watched my office door close behind him. And then I damn near disintegrated in my chair, exhausted on every level from that simple conversation. But I suppose that was the reason I had been avoiding it for all this time; avoiding him for all this time.
While my mind despised Knox Riley, my heart and body were still far from convinced.