Rayna comes into my office looking great, per usual. She’s dressed casually in light blue distressed jeans rolled at the ankle, a white T-shirt, pink swing cardigan, and nude Christian Louboutin Coussin Cage ankle boots. And nicely topping off her look is a Hermes Birkin Clemence Lemon handbag. Her hair is long and untamed, back to its usual thick and lengthy volume, and her makeup is minimal. She’s absolutely stunning.
We immediately exchange welcoming hugs and do our small talk. Rayna’s no stranger to my digs. She’s been on my couch for years and it’s great to have her back. We both take a seat and equally smile at one another, feeling that sense of familiarity.
Love: You look amazing as always, Rayna. So, is this how today’s Mom look?
Rayna: I guess. I flew in just last night and when I packed, I threw two days of clothes in my duffle bag, knowing I’d be right back. Nothing fancy.
Are you going to do any visiting while you’re here on the East Coast?
Rayna: Oh, yeah. I have to stop in on my grandparents. I’ll check on them for a few hours after we’re done here and then I’m out tomorrow. Gotta get back to my babies.
Love: How was your Mother’s Day? I know your travel here was right after.
Rayna: It was great. Too short though. I only had a complete family for two days. He flew home Saturday and was in the air again on Monday afternoon. It was a quiet and relaxing weekend; with and without the kids.
So, he’ll be coming to see you next week?
Love: That’s the plan. I know how busy he is, and now that we’re done with L.I.P., I don’t have first right of refusal on his calendar. So, I hope so.
Rayna: Oh, please! You know he’ll make anything happen for you, Love.
Love: I don’t know. I’ve really monopolized his time over the years. I know he feels some degree of freedom since the last release. And now my boss is saying more…a novella! Where do I find the time? Where do we get a break?
Rayna: So, you don’t want to do the follow up? I know he mentioned the possibility a week or so ago.
Love: Not right now I don’t. You know how time consuming it is. I don’t mean to sound all “Hollywood” about it, but I’m really booked.
Rayna: Yeah, I’ve heard. Well, I’m willing to do whatever needs to be done, and I know he’s always open to a sit down with you. It’s almost like…natural now. I’m actually a little jealous; I’ve heard from Jackson.
Love: Really? Have you met Elle yet? What do you think of her?
Rayna: Not yet. I’ve only heard of her through Jax. I’m getting my updates.
Love: Why are you laughing?
Rayna: Because I know how intense your sessions are. I don’t think they were prepared. In all fairness, I didn’t give him any warning when I suggested he speak with you last year.
Love: We’re well on our way, though. We’ve recently run into a bump in the road, but we’re smoothing it out now. I’m making sure of it.
Rayna: Now you’re laughing…
Love: Yeah. It’s all good, though.
Anyway, folks want to catch up with you. Let’s get this thing rolling. We’ll start with my questions and then get into those submitted by others.
How are you adjusting to life as Mrs. A.D. Jacobs?
Rayna: It was an adjustment at first, more because parenthood followed so soon after. When you experience an onrush of change, you don’t think about what was, because you have no time. You just adjust to life and make the best of it. Other than that, I guess it’s no different than any other new bride’s experience. He’s an amazing man. I’m truly fortunate.
Love: What type of father is Azmir?
Rayna: Amazing. He’s a totally different creature with the kids. You know how Azmir takes on different personas depending on who he’s with. Most often, he makes himself one of them. It’s one of the few times where I take a backseat in terms of his attention. I remember how good he was with Erin before the kids, but he’s far more playful and attentive with his own.
Love: Right after the last release, a few L.I.P.’ers asked what was Azmir’s reaction when he first laid eyes on the babies in the hospital. What was that like?
Rayna: Which one? I know you asked that we not speak about the gaps since you guys are discussing the idea of another short story…
Love: Let’s talk about the twins then.
Rayna: I can never contain my smile when I think back to that. I delivered via caesarian, so I was able to relax during the experience and focus on him [Azmir]. Love, Azmir let go of a few tears when the nurses placed Kennedy in his arms. For some reason, she was handed off first. And when he held them both in his big hands, his mouth hung open. He was dazed. No CEO. No thug. He was Daddy. I swear… that man didn’t speak for hours. It’s like he was in a trance. Even when they slept in the hospital and when I made my first attempt at breastfeeding them, Azmir couldn’t speak. The day we were leaving the hospital, while waiting on the last of the discharge paperwork to be processed, he whispered ‘thank you’ so many times in my ear as he hugged me. It was a beautiful moment. Our moment. I didn’t respond, but I understood his sentiment.
Love: Are you about to cry, Rayna?!
Rayna: No! My allergies are acting up…
Love: If you say so. All right…on to the next question…
Azmir shared in Love Redeemed that you’ve insisted on retaining your job. Why is that?
Rayna: Yeah… I couldn’t believe he was still stuck on that.
Will I reach retirement age working? I don’t know. But as for now, I need to work to feel grounded. I now understand the man I married. I don’t shun his net worth. I live with it every day. Nonetheless, I need my own identity. I need my own escape. And if I can be honest, Love…
Love: Please do.
Rayna: After having the twins, I thought long and hard about what my life would be like in the new roles I’d been thrust into. When you do the math, Azmir and I happened fast…and hard! It was a lot to adjust to. As I spent weeks and months nursing newborns, I had to think of the type of mother I was going to be. I considered the legacy I’ll leave for them. And for Kennedy, specifically, I didn’t want her to grow up thinking a man is the sole provider. I mean, Azmir’s ability to provide for our family exceeds most. But who’s to say Kennedy will marry a wealthy man? I want her to know that both partners should work to make a life for the entire family.
How long will I be able to keep up this charade? I don’t know. Azmir’s life is all-consuming, which in turn can overwhelm mine. I enjoy having a piece that is just for me. My job does that. If you don’t understand, when you become a mother, perhaps you will, Love. Anyway…I’m content where I am at this time. When it no longer works, I’ll regroup. I’m fortunate enough to have options.
Love: Has your relationship with your mother, Samantha, improved?
Rayna: Yeah…it has. It took some time, but we’ve found a place—or should I say, I’ve been able to discern her comfort level around me. I think it started when the twins came home from the hospital. She would come over and get busy doing something with or for them. I noticed she didn’t ask; she acted. It could have been sorting laundry, cleaning bottles, burping, changing a diaper, or just providing good energy.
The first few days were awkward for me because I didn’t know what the heck she was doing. I didn’t know how to respond. Then eventually, I didn’t think about a response. I just accepted the help. She was a huge help to the nanny, too. And so it started there. The babies initiated commonality in our conversations. Those conversations transitioned to experiences and we connected that way.
Love: For some reason people are wondering how things turned out with O. I have no idea why, because I never thought of him during our sessions. Have you heard anything about him?
Rayna: Hmmmm… I don’t think about him either. Like…at all.
Love: You’re very much in touch with Akeem. I’m sure he keeps his ear to the streets back at home. Has he mentioned O?
Rayna: Yeah…but Keeme doesn’t ‘press’ his ears to the pavement of them, if you know what I mean. Azmir wouldn’t have that. But…I don’t recall when his name has come up, though I vaguely recall Keeme mentioning him being locked up again for another crime. I really don’t recall much. He’s not someone my mind ventures to unless he’s brought up. I noticed during our times together, Love, you never asked about him.
Love: That’s because he’s immaterial to your adult life. His significance was limited to your childhood as far as I’m concerned.
Rayna: Yeah…I agree. I’m getting a headache just thinking about the last time he’s visited my thoughts.
Love: Okay… Here are questions from L.I.P.’ers. Ready?
Rayna: L.I.P.’ers, Love?
Love: Yeah. That’s what we are.
Why do you find that funny…why are you laughing?
Rayna: This whole thing is weird. Me opening up, almost, my entire life for people to read is crazy! So, when I hear terms like L.I.P.’er, it just reminds me of this project we took on together…so long ago. Wow!
Love: Yeah… Do you have any regrets, Rayna?
Rayna: Other than my sex life being buried in between the pages of a romance novel? Or the decisions I made in life—good or bad—being open to judgment by people I’ll never meet? Naaah!
Love: I’m glad you can find humor in this. And speaking of your sex life, buckle your seatbelt. Here we go…
Stop laughing, Rayna!
Love: Did your mother’s confession of the real reason your father left change your outlook on the whole situation and feelings you held toward your father?
Rayna: Wow! Ummmm… What she shared gave me a new perspective of how marred we were as a family unit. It did remind me that my father was a bit of human. He did have a hard time with my mother. But it didn’t answer why he gave up on all of us. I guess that’s an answer that will never come. I can’t wait on the logic, though. I have to keep moving forward. I have so much to focus on now. I have a partner and children of my own to keep together…and not screw up.
Love: Do you regret waiting so long to attempt to reconnect with family? To what level did your grandfather’s words of you being just like your father affect you?
Rayna: Yes and no. I certainly feel much more supported with my family being in my life now. So, in that respect, I’m content. Yet, when I consider where my head was before Azmir, before me working on me…them being in my life wouldn’t have been appreciated as much as it is now. It’s not just about what having them here would’ve done for me. It’s also about what I had to offer them, which was nothing. I needed to get myself together before attempting a successful relationship with them.
As to my grandfather’s heeding: That scared the crap out of me. It was definitely a wakeup call. Think about it: At the time of that exchange between my grandfather and me, I had isolated myself from family and friends. I had no one to reference my father and his characteristics. I just…hated him and for so long. So, when my grandfather referenced a shared characteristic, it spooked me.
Love: What type of wife/mother would best describe you? How do you feel about being a mother?
Rayna: Wow… I don’t know. Maybe A.D. can answer that. I’m enjoying being a mother. When I’m in the trenches of parenting, I perform and meet needs. It’s the same with being a wife. Azmir can be so many different people in the span of a week. It’s like how First Lady Twanece described Pastor Edmonson in one of our counseling sessions. I’m not sure which book that was—
Love: That would be Love Redeemed…
Rayna: Okay. And I believe Redeemed is the last one, right?
Love: That would be correct.
Rayna: Okay… In Redeemed, when she warned that being married to a “leader” could prove challenging because of the many hats he has to wear—or something of that nature—she was dead on. He can come home withdrawn…beat up from a long flight and hours of meetings before then. He could pop up on the twins and me in the middle of the day and play with them for hours until I break them up for nap time. That man can come home in the middle of the night, in a ruminative disposition, waking me from a deep sleep and not say a word, but beckon my attention.
He can switch it up, but he never goes too far to whereas I don’t recognize him and have an idea of how to reel him back in. That part took some time to master. It took a while to learn how to manage all of him. But you do what you gotta do. It’s not easy, but he’s predictable most times and that helps me care for him.
Love: What characteristics of yourself do you see in your children?
Rayna: Oh, Azmir loves to debate this.
Wait… How can I answer this without going against your rules, Love?
Love: Focus on the twins.
Rayna: Okay… I think they have a combination of both Azmir and my characteristics. But he loves to say the more sassy ones that especially Kennedy exhibits are from me. She’s pretty strong-willed and will challenge you if she doesn’t understand your instruction. She’s like…an activist in the making. Dasu is a loner. He’s a sponge and can learn just about anything. He’s my future scholar. Azmir and I always fight over who Dasu gets his studious abilities from. It’s hilarious. In all, they’re great kids. All of them. (Sorry, Love.)
Love: I’ll ignore that…
Next L.I.P.’er question: In what ways have you developed as a person overall? How does this development play on your relationship with others?
Rayna: I believe I’ve done well with just letting stuff ride. This includes forgiving people. I don’t expend energy on petty things or things I can’t control like I used to.
Love: Yeah, Like Tara reaching out to Azmir…or Amber working in the LBC when you were considering resigning (don’t think I didn’t pick up on that right after you had the twins).
You’re laughing because I’m right. You were going to hang in the towel right after giving birth.
Rayna: Good one! Yeah…well, as far as Tara. Once I realized she had no chance with Azmir, she was irrelevant. I actually felt bad for her. Texting Azmir for support?
I remember the morning we were all at the table, eating breakfast and I caught Azmir grimacing at his phone. So, I asked why. He showed me another text from Tara, asking about real estate. Apparently, she was moving and wanted the best her money could buy considering her daughter. She told Azmir she didn’t have much, but wanted to make the most of what she could spend. I didn’t sense any ulterior motives and realized it was like the third time she’d texted him, that I knew of. I just felt bad for her and decided to reach out. I tried using the kids as a centerpiece for us getting together, but—
Love: Hold that thought. I may use it as material, depending on if I do the short project and which angle I’d take on.
Rayna: Oh…okay. Well, I tried…and that’s because she was no threat to me.
Neither was Amber. Work is work at the end of the day. My life after the wedding and twins was fuller and more significant than I could have ever imagined. So, I immediately thought of her when I was wondering who could replace me.
It’s no biggie because they don’t matter!
Love: And Dawn?
Love: Dawn Taylor?
Rayna: Love, do you really want me to go there?
Remember I speak to Jax. I know you’ve been in the loop of what’s going on with her.
Love: Yeah. I know. We won’t go there. I’m just teasing you. But any regrets about running up in her grill? I still can’t believe you did that.
Rayna: Nope! And yes you can, Love!
Stop laughing! Next…
Love: Okay…a more sobering topic. Ready?
Rayna: Bring it.
Love: Why were you not more upset when you were date raped? It’s like not much was said about that. It’s almost like you brushed it off during that moment. Was hardly any emotions displayed about it.
Rayna: It wasn’t date rape. I didn’t know my offender. I still don’t. I think my reaction was so blasé because I didn’t know how to react to it. It was almost like the assailant was a ghost. Also, I was more concerned about Michelle. Maybe I deflected…I don’t know, but I tried to manage as best as I could to get through it.
Love: I have a follow up question. Do you think you should have received counseling for that back then?
Rayna: It wouldn’t have hurt. In retrospect, I can simply thank God the experience or aftermath wasn’t worse than it was.
Love: Have you adjusted to the fact that you’re wealthy? Did you sign a Prenup?
Rayna: I think I’m adjusted. It’s been in my world for a while now. But I still believe I’m a working class citizen. My pay goes to my kids’ savings. I need to make sure they’re covered. I’m their mother. Azmir provides a wonderful life for us, but they’re ultimately my responsibility.
Love: You’re sounding very rebellious. I can detect an undertone. You mentioned in Love Redeemed, that Azmir said you didn’t want a prenup while you guys were…rekindling on the air mattress in Redondo Beach. Did you not?
Rayna: First…I sound a little rebellious because I still am. Azmir can up and leave at any moment. It will still be my primary responsibility to care for my children. Remember when you told me that one time how your aunt said, “Never make more babies than you can care for alone?” Well, I’ve kept that in mind.
Love: Yeah, but I don’t think a woman in your situation has to adapt that type of mentality, Rayna. You will likely always be a financial obligation to Azmir.
Rayna: Yeah…yeah…yeah, Love. I’m still working on me.
As far as the prenuptial agreement: Chesney pushed for it. I was totally fine with signing one, giving him one hundred percent ownership of what he had the day before we married. But Azmir wouldn’t have any part of it. That day was so ugly; I don’t know why it wasn’t shared in the last book. It wasn’t a big deal to me to sign. It was to A.D.
No, we did not set up a prenuptial agreement. When he mentioned that I didn’t want it that night in Redondo Beach, it was in jest. He still doesn’t like talking about that day we discussed the prenup. It was just a mess. I thought Chesney was going to get fired that day.
Love: Okay. Fair enough.
Are people still shocked by the fact that you capture A.D’s heart? How does the opposite sex treat you when it comes to your man? Do women still try to test or is there an unspoken awareness?
Rayna: I’m not sure what people think about our marriage. I tune everything outside of my home out. The reactions to Azmir when we’re out and about hasn’t changed one bit. Aw, man! Women still do their triple takes. It hasn’t bothered me in a while, but it’s still amusing to watch. It is what it is. But it’s pretty known now that Azmir is married. I’m not a public figure. I leave that to him.
I’m not sure how much of those last two questions you want me to discuss, Love…
Love: I think you can stop there.
Next question: What happened when Azmir went through the backdoor?
Love: Backdoor…third hole. Remember in Love UnCharted when Chef Boyd and staff left for the night and Azmir tells you he wants to explore—
Rayna: Oh! That backdoor! That’s funny! Are we talking sex now?
Love: Sorry…I can’t stop laughing. We L.I.P.’ers aren’t shy when it comes to sex.
Rayna: Well, I think that’s your question to answer, Love. It was you who chose not to include that. What did you say?
Love: That I wasn’t ready to go there yet.
Rayna: Yeah…something about Ezra.
Love: Yes. Ezra’s story involves adventures of that nature and I preferred saving my energy for that.
Rayna: We’ll, there you have it! For the record, L.I.P.’ers, my sex life is thoroughly exposed in those books; clearly, I didn’t mind at all. But to answer that L.I.P.er’s question: As with every other one with Azmir, it was a great experience.
Love: Are you turning red?!
Rayna: Don’t laugh at me, Love!
Love: Wheeeeew! Okay…
Almost done. Here’s the next one…
Why didn’t you require/demand more commitment from Azmir before you moved in with him? You stated several times that you didn’t know what to make of your relationship with Azmir, but you never demanded a title or a definition from him as to where you both stood BEFORE you moved in with him.
Rayna: I did lots of senseless things concerning that man. I was just so drawn to him that I went along without logic. I don’t know how else to put it other than, Azmir had turned my world upside down. He had me out there. I know it may not have seemed like it, but I wasn’t as in control or as tough as perceived when it came to him. I wanted him way before I wanted to admit it to myself. I was taken. So, I went with it until I couldn’t anymore… thanks to Dawn, the night of the Trey Songz concert. That’s when the rosy glasses went flying off. I needed more, even if I didn’t demand it that night we broke up. I did tell him that I didn’t like the roommate title. Stupid…but I was in love with that man and would have done a lot of foolish things just to be underneath him.
Love: Okay…next question.
If one thing from the past could change how you have acted in the present…meaning a change for the better…what would it be?
Only one thing…
Maybe dating O back in high school. If I’d never gotten involved with him, my brother would’ve never been sent to prison for what he did, at least. Also, that little girl wouldn’t have lost her life. That really messed my head up…for years. I’ve always been clear on that.
Love: Last one…
How did you think telling Dawn about how great Azmir lays it down in the bedroom would get her to back off?
You laugh? Is that your response? You just laugh, Mrs. Jacobs?
Rayna: Please! I didn’t think!
Love: Why are you laughing so hard. Wait…Rayna, you have tears in your eyes!
I’ll give you a moment to calm down.
Rayna: Okay… Whew! It’s funny because that was so stupid. But I was so drunk, Love! I could have given her my social security number if I felt it would piss her off.
Love: Well, that’s all, Rayna. Thank you so much for stopping by. I’ll be in touch about that follow up project, girlie…
Rayna: Anytime you need me, Love. You know what to do.