He could see someone sitting in his seat, facing Alex, Birdie, and Josephine. He recognized the jet-black sheet of hair immediately. Ras saw his wife, frozen in her seat, her head held high.
She briefly caught Ras's eye and then looked back at the woman sitting in his seat. The woman saw the three of them looking behind her so she turned around just as Ras reached the table.
"Ras!" Cleo said, smiling wide. "We were just talking about you. So good to see you. Have a seat."
Cleo gestured to a chair near Birdie.
"Get up," Ras said, through clenched teeth.
"Don't be rude, Ras," Cleo said. "We're all just having a little chat. Join in."
Ras grabbed Cleo's shoulder and pulled her out of her seat.
A few patrons in the restaurant gasped, and one couple quickly exited the restaurant.
"Get out. Or I will hurt you."
Cleo wriggled out of his grasp and then looked down at her dress, a black strapless shift that hit the top of her thigh. She used both hands to smooth out the wrinkles and then picked up her bag off the table and put it on her shoulder.
"I was just in the neighborhood and I wanted to say hi," said Cleo.
Ras looked toward the manager and gestured for him to come over.
"There's no need for all of that, Ras," said Cleo. "I'm leaving." The manager came over and stood next to Ras.
"Is everything okay here?"
"We have an unwanted guest," said Ras. "We need her to be removed."
Cleo laughed loud enough to get the attention of anyone in the restaurant who might have missed Ras grabbing her arm.
''I'm unwanted. Can you imagine that? This guy"-she pointed to Birdie-"He was more than happy to get a blow job from me in the studio last year. Right, Alex?"
The sounds of silverware hitting several plates filled the restaurant. Alex and Birdie looked at each other, but neither said a word or revealed any sort of emotion on their faces.
“And my beloved Ras . . .” Cleo continued. “For years, you came to me whenever I called you. And vice versa. And now I’m unwanted? I never thought I’d see the day.”
Ras sat back down at his seat and took his wife’s hand. Jose- phine’s face was stone.
“I’m going to sit here with my wife and my friends and finish my dessert,” Ras announced.
Cleo remained standing.
“It was good to see all of you,” Cleo said. She looked over at Josephine. “Especially you, Josephine. You look amazing. Moth- erhood truly agrees with you.” Josephine didn’t move.
“I’m sure your little girl is absolutely gorgeous.”
Ras felt his wife squeeze his hand so hard that his knuckles began to crack. He knew she was trying to refrain from standing up and punching Cleo out.
“Do not give her the satisfaction,” Ras whispered to his wife. Josephine nodded but kept her eyes on Cleo.
“Please, Ras,” Cleo said. “I’m very satisfied. Your wife knows exactly what we have. And she knows that it won’t change no matter how far away you go. You can pack up and move to China. It doesn’t change a thing.”
Cleo tossed her hair back and turned to walk away.
“If you ever need me—and I think you might—Alex will know where to find me.”
Cleo walked away, leaving the foursome in stunned silence. As soon as she was out of sight, Josephine stood up quickly and grabbed her shawl from the back of her chair.
“Wait, Josephine!” Ras yelled out as she half-ran toward the back entrance, where their driver was waiting.
“Go to hell, Ras!” Josephine yelled out. “Stay away from me!”
Ras turned around to Alex and Birdie. He pointed a finger inAlex’s direction.
“Why did she say you would know where to find her?”
"I have no idea, Ras," Alex said. "I swear I don't."
Ras's eyes went from Birdie's to Alex's. Then he dashed off to catch up to his wife.
"Josephine! Would you just stop for a second so we can talk about this?!"
Ras's wife continued tossing clothes from her bureau into one of several suitcases opened on her bed.
"You keep talking," Josephine said. "I'm leaving."
Ras grabbed his wife's wrist and pulled her close to him. "Please. Sit down."
Josephine flopped down on the bed and dropped her head into her hands. Ras rubbed her back.
"We are not going to let this woman run us off this island," Ras said.
"We? There is no 'we,' Ras." Josephine spat. "There is me. There is you. And there is her."
"You are my wife," said Ras. "Tell that to Cleo."
"Yes, she does. And guess what? She doesn't care. She will fly to Jamaica, find out where we're having dinner, and torture us just for sport. I'm supposed to stay with you and deal with that? We moved here to get away from her. And she's just taken me back to day one."
"That's exactly what