Thursday, May 26, 2016

I Pay My Dues

Time and circumstances sometimes makes people drift apart. A lot of times it's for the best. Better to go separate ways being cool than staying close and turning into enemies eventually. All the same, I remember every single person that had a hand in helping me get closer to where I'm heading. We might not be as cool as we used to be but, I always remember what they did for me. I stand for that...and always will.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Crowned Royalty

Crowned Royalty

Love was her vibe and her mind was the temple where I got down on my knees to worship her thoughts. I used my mouth to pray and she felt the strength of my faith. She opened her thighs and let down the drawbridge to invite me to enter her castle. Once I came inside the deepest parts of her keep, the QUEEN who rejected other men’s proposals and rings crowned me KING. She drank from my cup and sealed our bond with love. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Writer Wednesday featuring Carey Anderson

Good afternoon guys and welcome to another "Writer Wednesday." I do these blog features to introduce you guys to other authors and entrepreneurs that are doing their thing and deserve your love and support. This week, I'm very pleased to introduce you to an author friend from the west coast, Carey Anderson. Take a moment to read about her, check out the sample from her novel and show her some love...because I said so.  Enjoy.

Author Carey Anderson
Carey Anderson was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. At a very young age she learned that she had a natural gift for storytelling. Carey would entertain her family and friends with stories about anything going on in her life or theirs. 
During a time when everyone begins to ask their selves "who am I" this question was answered for Carey. Her teacher, who brought out all things creative within her, read her story aloud to the class. "Mrs. Dyes assigned a homework assignment to write a story about where Butterflies got their colors. I turned in my tale of how Martin Luther Butterfly helped all the world, and most importantly butterflies, receive their much-needed colors to make the world a wonderful place. At first I was so embarrassed, because I thought everyone would laugh at me and make fun of my story. When I realized they were laughing with me at my colorful story I couldn't put my pen down. I’d write short stories, poetry, journal entries, etc." Carey started writing stories as an outlet for the things going on in her life. Once she was in high school she began receiving extra credit from her English teacher for writing stories during her free time after school and on the weekends. Her English teacher suggested that she look into writing children's books, which she still, may do one day. However, writer's block affected Carey for quite a few years. She would attempt to start stories, but she would never finish them. 
During a really turbulent time in Carey's life she began writing what is now known as The Wallace Family Affairs Volume One Tracy's Complications, on her iPhone just as a little doodle. "I was going through some pretty rough things. My only escape from that reality was to look at my situation and imagine it differently. That's why Volume One starts off like it does. I didn't know it was going to be a story when Tracy started telling her story. Through the encouragement of my oldest and dearest friends my escape took me to a whole world of it's own." Carey wanted to share her stories immediately with the world so she decided to go down the path of self-publishing. 
Quickly after finishing Volume I, Carey began Volume II the story of her life. "I put so many of my family members in that story it's ridiculous!" Carey comes from a large family of cousins, and siblings so having such a large family on Amber or Malcolm's side is not strange or unusual for her. "The Latour's and the Wallace's in a lot of ways are like both of my parent's families, with lots of sprinkles of imagination. Neither side is directly represented in one family, but they're all in there." Again using only her iPhone, Carey crafted this master piece losing lots of sleep because Amber or Malcolm would wake her up to tell her more about their story. 
Thus far Carey's stories have been relatable and entertaining. They have been received well by the public and she looks forward to continuing to entertain you. "I get excited whenever someone reads one of my stories. I wanna know what they think about the characters? Are they entertained? Would they like to continue? So on and so forth. Everyone knows when they tell me they're reading I ask them where they are, and what has happened so far. I love interacting with my readers and discussing my characters as if they're real people. One of my biggest debates is the visual reference to what my characters actually look like. I see my character one-way, and my Rough Riders will see them another sometimes. The other debate is, once you've finished Volume Two Part 1 & Part 2, are you #TeamMalcolm or are you #TeamDwayne? I love to see this debate play out amongst my readers. I try to stay as neutral as possible, because I have love and affection for the two of them." Make sure you drop Carey a line and let her know whether you're #TeamMalcolm or #TeamDwayne, she loves to hear her reader's answers to this question. If you haven't done so already, check out Carey's stories on Amazon. You can either search "Wallace Family Affairs" or simply click on one of the links on the right.
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1st Chapter - No Regrets

Chapter 1
"The usual?" I asked him.
He gave me a funny look. "Usual?"
"Yes, it varies depending on your mood but normally you order the pineapple peach smoothie. Sometimes you'll order a strawberry banana smoothie, but that's normally when you're kind of sentimental. I haven't put my finger on what triggers your chocolate peanut butter mood yet."
He didn't smile; he stared at me for a minute like he was taking everything I said in. He looked at the menu, and then he rolled his eyes and looked at me. "I'll take the chocolate peanut butter smoothie." There was no smile or friendliness in his tone. He watched me for a minute then he paid for his smoothie. 
Everybody else is scared of him; Shelly always breaks out in a sweat when she sees him coming. She says he's really scary. He's not so scary to me; actually, I think he's sexy as all get out. He's not like these goofy boys who run around here like kids. He always looks like he's thinking about something. "Someone will call your name when your order is ready." I said
He stood over to the side to let the next person order, but his eyes stayed stuck to me. I blushed cause I didn't know what to do. I wanted to get his attention, but now that I have it what am I supposed to do? 
Shelly volunteered to take the rest of the orders so that I could make the smoothies. I knew she was trying to avoid making his smoothie cause she was that scared of him. So I decided to upgrade his smoothie to the largest size since I was making it. I turned around and I handed him his smoothie with a straw. "Here you go Derrick." I said with a smile. 
"Thank you Chantel." He said then he walked away. 
I was speechless; I didn't know he knew my name. I didn't have a nametag on and I never wore one here. How did he know my name? I looked at Shelly who was now wide eyed and scared. She said something had to be wrong with him. I didn't think so, but now I definitely wanted to know how he knew my name. 
At the end of my shift, Shelly, Cadence, and I wiped all the machines down and closed up our station within the food court of the mall. Like clockwork, my brother Cyrus was there to pick me up. He worked in the shoe store on the other side of the mall. We both had two jobs here. I worked at the Smoothie Stand and Travel and Beyond, a luggage and travel store. Cyrus worked at the shoe store and the movie theater. Like a good big brother, he always watches over me and makes sure I'm taken care of. Most times, it's like we're all we have. Our mother works and works, when she isn't working she's resting. When she isn't resting she's working. Our father is there, but he's so selfish and self-centered we'd be better off without him. I don't know why our mother keeps him around; I guess she loves him even though loving him has gotten her nowhere. Cyrus and I do our best to ignore them and stay out of their way. We practically raise ourselves. Our mother doesn't have time and our father could careless. 
Cadence gives all of us a ride home. Even though Cadence is older than Cyrus by a good four years, her obvious crush on him was ridiculous at times. I didn't say anything though, cause if I needed a favor her open relationship with my brother worked to my advantage. Cyrus liked Cadence enough, but he wasn't really feeling her. He just went a long with it because he's a horny teenager. 
"How does he know your name?" Shelly asked
"I have no idea. Maybe he was checking me out." I said with a smile. 
"Oh come on. A guy like that checking you out? Get real."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Cyrus asked upset for me. 
"Don't get mad Cyrus. You gotta see this guy. Tall, dark, scary, and handsome. He's way out of all of our leagues." Shelly said matter of factly. 
"Speak for yourself! My sister can have anyone she wants!" Cyrus barked. I thanked him with my eyes. 
"Whatever! If you guys wanna live in a fantasy world, where guys like that want girls like us go ahead. But I live in the real world." Shelly said
"Shelly you could never be on my sister's level! Stop trying to tear her down to be as pathetic as you!" He was mad. 
"Ok guys! Lets drop this." Cadence said trying to be the peacekeeper. 
"Tell her to stop putting my sister down. Just because nobody would want her gives her no right to talk about my sister like that." 
"Shelly you are out of line." She said
"Whatever Cadence you're only siding with Cyrus cause you're hoping to get lucky tonight. But you guys know I'm telling the truth." Shelly said
"No one said he was interested in me. He could've been checking me out because I knew his name. I was just saying I don't know how he knew my name is all."
"You don't have to apologize to her cause some guy was checking you out. Forget her!"
"Cyrus..." Cadence whined.
Cyrus rolled his eyes. "I'm just saying!"
"Well tell me how you really feel." Shelly said insulted. "Just because Cadence swings from your nuts doesn't mean you're all that Cyrus!"
"I do not!" Cadence gasped.
"You're just jealous! If I wanted to smash you right now, I could. You've been wanting me since you were in grade school." The car fell silent. Shelly had nothing to say to that not even a denial. Cyrus laughed but we all remained silent. Shelly got out of the car without uttering a word. 
Cadence grabbed Cyrus' hand as she drove us home. When we got to our apartment, I got out of the car and I went inside. Cadence was in heat; so there was no telling when Cyrus was gonna come inside. 
When I came in the door, my mother was in the kitchen heating up leftovers. "Where's your brother?"
"Outside talking to Cadence." I said as I sat on the couch to finish my homework. 
"Your father said you didn't sweep the floor last night when you did the dishes." I didn't respond I kept my eyes on my homework. Cyrus and I did everything in there. All he did was knit-pick over everything we did. He was no help or example of how to do anything other than use somebody. "Make sure you sweep the floor." She said as she walked to her room. 
Two hours later Cyrus came inside as I put my things away. He didn't look at me; he went straight to the kitchen. "If you don't like her why do you have sex with her?" I asked. 
Cyrus shrugged, "just cause." Then he looked in the fridge. "What happened to the shrimp and pasta? There's only a little bit left."
"Ask your mother and father, I saw her in the kitchen when I came home." I said
"I had my mouth ready for that. I can't wait until we're out of here, no longer slaving for them." He said. I put my finger up to shush him. The last thing we needed was for them to hear us. 
I was sitting behind the cash register working on my homework when I heard the bell chime that I had a customer. I put my book down and I stood up to greet my customer. My knees got weak when I saw him. "Hi" I said sounding completely surprised. 
"Hi" he said not smiling or anything. 
"How can I help you?" I asked not knowing what else to say. 
His eyes were scanning the store. "I need something for my father."
"Ok, does he travel a lot? Did you have luggage in mind or something more personal?"
"I was thinking something more personal."
"Is it for a special occasion?" I asked
"No, just because."
"What does he like?" I asked
"He's a lot like me; he likes nice stuff but nothing flashy." He said
I loved the sound of his voice. It was deep, but not startling deep. "How about a wallet, a flask, a money clip, or a brief case?"
"That sounds good, show me all of them." He said
"Is there a price range you want to stay within?" I asked as I led him to the left side of the store. 
"No" he said.
Then Mona walked in the store. She was the owner's daughter and my supervision during my shifts. Normally she stayed on the phone or visited with her friends when they stopped by. Any customers that came in the store I was expected to assist them. She was walking towards the back, but slowed down when she saw Derrick. I was hoping she would keep moving, but I could tell she was curious about him. She walked to the counter and sat on my stool. She leaned on the counter watching us. Her top was loose so all you saw were breast when you looked at her. I showed Derrick our wallets; he picked a genuine leather one that was soft to the touch. He picked a flask and money clip that he wanted engraved with his father's initials. He said he would think about the briefcase some more. I got excited cause that meant he could possibly come back even after he picks up his personalized items. "I'll ring you up." I said motioning for him to follow me to the register. 
When we got to the register, Mona sat up. "I'll ring him up. Go unpack those packages we got in today." She ordered. 
I knew she wanted the opportunity to flirt with him, but also she wanted to take credit for my sale like she did with all my high-ticket purchases. "Can I ring him up, then do the unpacking?" I asked wanting to stand up for myself on this one. 
Mona's face turned evil. "You heard what I said!" She said through clinched teeth. 
I started to walk to the back, I was thinking of how good it was gonna feel keying her car and or busting out one of her taillights like I've done before. "Hold on." Derrick said in my direction. I stopped in my tracks and turned around. "Don't you get commission?" I shook my head yes. 
"Kind of but not exactly. She hasn't been making her sales goals, so she's on her way to being fired anyways. It's not a big deal. I can give you a discount for the inconvenience."
She was so busy talking and removing tags that she didn't see his eyes turn evil. "How much of a discount?"
"I can take thirty percent off." She said still not paying attention. 
"Naw! I'm good!" He started walking towards the exit. 
"Wait! Why?" Then she looked at me. "Did she offer you a bigger discount?"
He walked back to the counter; she finally noticed his evil eyes. "No, I was willing to pay full price. I liked the way she conducted business. You on the other hand are not trust worthy. I wouldn't spend anything in this store, and from now on, you can kiss your regular customers goodbye. Nobody's coming in here any more."
"What? Why? Just because I told her to go unpack some boxes?" She looked like she wanted to cry. 
"I don't like the way you conduct business, you aren't to be trusted."
Then she sighed, "oh whatever little boy! You can't threaten me! A year from now my business will still be alive and thriving. You on the other hand will be outside begging for quarters." She said dismissing him. 
"Chantel!" His voice boomed when he called my name. 
Mona and I both jumped. "Yes?" I said nervously. 
"Get your stuff; you don't work here no more. This place is going out of business. I got a job for you."
"Ooh! Scary! Too bad that job will only be in his lap. Go on if you're stupid." She said dismissing the whole thing. 
I wasn't sure if what Derrick said was true or not, but I didn't have to take her treating me like this. I figured I'd find a job somewhere else in this big ole mall. I started grabbing my stuff. Mona huffed and said I was completely dumb for following him. I'm not gonna lie, I did feel a little stupid. But if I stayed after this, she would only treat me worse. When I had my things, I stopped behind Derrick waiting for him to lead the way. Then Derrick rattled off a phone number. "Robert K right? I'll call him and let him know why his business is failing." Then he started walking. 
"How do you know my father's number?" She yelled.
"Only a fool underestimates a stranger!" He said then he walked out the store, with me on his heels. He slowed down so that I could walk next to him once we were in the mall. "Stuff like that happens all the time doesn't it?"
I shrugged, "yeah but its no big deal. I would've gotten her back later."
"How so?" He pointed his eyes at me. 
"I didn't have an exact plan yet. But I would've figured something out." I said
"Let's go tell your brother where you'll be working on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays."
"You know my brother? How do you know my schedule?" I asked
"I know a lot of things. Come on..." He said leading the way to the theater. Cyrus was emptying the trash at the entrance when we walked up. "Hey D-Rick what's going on?" Cyrus said not realizing I was with him. 
They shook hands, "nothing much. We just wanted to let you know that your sister just quit over there at the travel store, she's gonna work for my father at the Mitigated Staffing Services remote office here in the mall." He said matter of factly. 
"O....k.... I guess I'll see you there in a little bit." Cyrus said to me. 
I had serious butterflies in my stomach as I waved bye to Cyrus and walked away with Derrick. "How do you know my brother?" I asked
"I know a lot of people for a lot of different reasons." He said. I guess that was supposed to be an answer. I decided to accept it for now. He held the glass door open for me when we got to the office space. An older Grandma looking lady was sitting at the receptionist desk. "Ms. Laverne this is Chantel. She's gonna assist you on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays." Derrick said
"Hello baby, how you doing?" She said getting up to give me a hug. 
She seemed like she was a sweet lady. "Hello" I said
"You can sit at this desk." Derrick pulled out the chair. I sat down. "You can put your stuff in the drawers; this will be your desk."
"Thank you." I said feeling somewhat funny about being here. 
"Ms. Laverne can you give her a little orientation and show her what you need her to do. I gotta call Malcolm and tell him she's here."
Then a bigger and blacker man walked in the door, his face was even more serious than Derrick's as if that could be possible. His eyes were stuck on me. "Malcolm we just said your name." Ms. Laverne said
"Did you now?" He said, his voice was a lot deeper than Derrick's.
"Malcolm this is Chantel." Derrick said plainly. 
Malcolm finally looked at someone else. "So what's the story?"
"I went in, she's here." Derrick said
Malcolm looked at me, his face was serious. "So I guess this means you have a plan." Malcolm said walking to the back. Derrick walked with him. 
I exhaled, Ms. Laverne laughed at me. "Oh honey you can relax. If you're here that means you're good people."
"It does? How would they know.? I asked
"Trust! They do their homework. Come on let me show you around." She said
Ms. Laverne showed me around the office. There was a bathroom, offices, a conference room, a small kitchen, and a room she called the mailroom. There was a ton of mail slots on the wall. She said some staff members drop by to pick up their mail. She told me to continue to dress like I was now. Slacks and a blouse. She said on Saturdays I could wear jeans. After talking to me for a while she smiled at me and said I was gonna fit in nicely around there. I smiled because I had no idea what she meant. I felt like I just joined a secret society without knowing I was signing up. 
"How did you end up working for Derrick?" Cyrus asked as we made our way to the bus stop. 
"It all happened so fast, I can't really tell you." I said scratching my head. 
"Be careful, I don't know if I like you working there." Cyrus said thinking about it. "D-Rick is cool and all, but I hear things about him and his family. You remember Pearla?" I nodded, "that's his cousin."
"She's crazy!" I said wide-eyed. 
"I know! But as crazy as she is, she doesnt jump bad with him, but then again remember Tim on my baseball team? That's his cousin too."
Boy, do I remember Tim. I had the biggest crush on him when my brother was playing. Tim was Asian and black and SO FINE! Tim was always respectable, well mannered, and focused on the game. He never knew I existed. His sister Tina was stuck on herself though. A little boy crazy, but you know how gorgeous girls are... It is truly a small world. I wondered how they all interacted. Was Derrick crazy like Pearla, or disciplined like Tim? And why did he notice me when he could've brought anyone in this office? As I was lost in my thoughts, I realized my mind had wandered off and Cyrus was now blank staring at me. I guess he said something when I stopped listening. I smiled a guilty smile at him. I was getting ready to say something when a beautiful old school car pulled up next to us. Both of us looked into the car. "Get in," Derrick said.
Cyrus looked at me like I did something wrong. I shrugged and then walked to the car, it was cold and dark. I knew he didn't want to be out here no more than I did. I got in the backseat. "Thanks man!" Cyrus said. 
"No problem." Derrick said glancing at me. "Why don't you have a car?" That question was for Cyrus. 
"Can't afford one right now. The bus works fine, sometimes we get rides."
Derrick nodded his head. "I hear you. You going to school after graduation?" Derrick was heading towards our apartment even though neither one of us were directing him. 
"Naw! I gotta get a job. I gotta move out as soon as I can. Saving as much money as I can right now. I might loop back around and take some classes later though." Derrick nodded his head like he understood. "You going to school?"
Derrick exhaled, "yeah. I'm going." He said like it was no big deal. 
"Must be nice." Cyrus said
Derrick glanced at Cyrus, "do you wanna go?"
"Yeah! I'd be a fool not to want to go. But school wasn't in my parent's plan for me. I gotta make my own way." Cyrus said sounding defeated like he normally did when it came to our parents. 
"What about her? She always got her nose in a book, she going?" Derrick asked Cyrus like I couldn't speak for myself. 
"We're hoping for a scholarship." Cyrus said 
Derrick pulled in front of our building. "It's no problem to bring you guys home when you don't have a ride." Derrick said
"Alright man, thanks." Cyrus said
When Derrick drove away, we asked each other at the same time how he knew where we lived. Cyrus said he probably got it off my W-4 when I filled it out. I guess he's right. 
Cyrus asked me if Derrick flirted with me, and I told him no. Derrick didn't even really look at me except that time when I told him about his smoothie order. 
Our plan is to move out as soon as Cyrus graduates from high school, he says he's not leaving me to fin for myself while our dysfunctional parents forever ruin me. So I take my usual sixty dollars off the top, and then Cyrus and I put the rest of our money in our savings account to save for a deposit when we move out. We've been working on this plan since we were in middle school. We have over five thousand saved combined. Our parents only do what they have to for us, its like they said lets have two kids, then afterwards they changed their minds. The basic necessities we have, a roof over our heads, and beds to sleep in. ANYTHING else we have to provide for ourselves. And since it is their house, anything we have that they may want they take. So if I cook the groceries I bought using their stove, electricity, or refrigerator it is their right to help their-selves to it. Even if they eat it up, it doesn't matter its their house. Even my clothes the little bit that I have. Since my mom and I are about the same size, she helps herself to what I have and if she ruins it or decides to keep it for herself, I can't say nothing its her house. They have to know we aren't staying here, and I really don't think they care all that much. As long as they don't get any bills behind us, they could careless. 
I love working at Mitigated. I quit my job at the Smoothie Stand once Ms. Laverne said I was doing such a good job and she recommended that Derrick tell his father to give me a raise. I was expecting something like a twenty cent an hour raise or something like that. But they gave me four dollars more an hour, which made my take home more than what I was taking home from both jobs and still only working the days I worked. Cyrus suggested that I quit the Smoothie Stand and stick with the one job so I could have more time to study, work on my projects, and rest. I wanted to argue that we could stack that much more money faster if I kept both jobs. But the idea of going to bed like a normal person was appealing to me. Sometimes I would be up until all hours of the morning finishing school work, only getting a catnap and then rushing to school and then work. So I decided to take Cyrus' advice and my energy level at school has tremendously increased.
Malcolm still hasn't warmed up to me yet although Ms. Laverne says he has. I can't tell, he says "Chantel" when he walks in the door. He nods at me, and then he goes to his office. Sometimes I hear Ms. Laverne back there talking to him, going on and on about whatever, and laughing at her own jokes. The way she comes out of there you would swear he was back there laughing with her too. I don't get it, but its none of my business. Its not like he comes in everyday or anything. Sometimes a couple of weeks go by and then boom, there he is. He goes in his office; sometimes he conducts meetings in the conference room. One time I suggested to Ms. Laverne that we order snacks for his meeting and have them set up before the meeting started. When he went in the conference room he called Ms. Laverne in there, they closed the door. I thought he was mad about the snacks. I was sitting there panicking thinking I overstepped my boundaries, but Ms. Laverne came out and said that Malcolm loved the snacks and he was very thankful for them. I was SO confused I thought he was mad. That night when Derrick came out of the meeting he told me I did a good job too. 
Cyrus keeps asking me if Derrick flirts with me or anything and I keep telling him no. Derrick talks to Ms. Laverne and I, but he doesn't flirt with me. Sometimes I catch him looking at me, but he doesn't do anything. Its more like he's thinking and happens to be looking in my direction, and then I look at him. I've seen his girlfriend, and of course she's beautiful! She seemed nice enough, who am I to judge? Derrick made sure he introduced her to me though. She kind of looked at him funny when he did it. It did seem like I was somewhat important, but I told myself to not put more on it than there actually was. Ms. Laverne smiles at me all the time whenever Derrick comes around. I ignore her hoping she's just assuming I like him and that she can't tell that I actually do like him. I try very hard to keep that to myself. I haven't even expressed that to Cyrus, although I think he knows too. As long as no one tries to confront me on it, its all-good. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Writer Wednesday featuring Phoenix C. Brown

Author Phoenix C. Brown
Good afternoon folks and happy Hump Day. Well, it's time for another "Writer's Wednesday" feature and this week, I have the pleasure of introducing you to an amazingly gifted author, my good friend Phoenix C Brown. If you haven't read her work yet, take my word for it, you definitely SHOULD. I love the heart and soul of her words.

Author bio:
Phoenix C. Brown came onto the scene in 2011 with her debut novel, Beautifully Imperfect. Readers fell in love with the main characters Malik & Rebecca and they begged for a sequel. Never one to disappoint; she released All That Matters in the End in 2012. Her readers have deemed her the "Mary J. Blige" of the book world and that's a badge she wears proudly. Anyone who has struggled to keep a relationship, experienced the joy and pain that love can bring and the renewing of oneself through life lessons... Will enjoy Phoenix's work. Her way of telling a story is so relatable that the reader will often times see themselves or others in the characters she writes about. Her spellbinding way of pulling the reader in will have you feeling like you are eavesdropping on personal conversations and she will have you laughing, crying and cursing with every page. Phoenix lists Eric Jerome Dickey, Carl Weber, Omar Tyree, Terry McMillan and the late E. Lynn Harris as influences on her writing. Her goal is to take you on an emotional ride while still delivering an entertaining, relatable story. When she isn't giving in to the characters in her head she spends her free time with her husband and two kids.

Here's the 1st chapter from her latest release, "Back to Basics." Enjoy...

ChaPter 1

“love in this club”

        Have you ever had a moment where you wished you had the ability to rewind time and go Back to the Future like in the 80’s movie? A moment where you wished you didn’t open your big mouth because it would lead you somewhere you didn’t want to go.  Well that was me and this was my moment. When I mentioned to my cousin, Bianca and my best friend, Sarai that I wanted to get out and meet new people, the last thing I expected was to end up here.
            After a few bottles of wine, they persuaded me to get dressed and come with them to this hole in the wall masquerading as a night club. I enjoyed clubs just not the smoke machine, teeny-bopper types that my friends liked to frequent. I preferred spoken word or jazz clubs because not only did it give me the chance to relax but it also allowed me the opportunity to appreciate the local talent. The nonsense blasting through the speakers had my nerves on edge. I wouldn’t have been out on that dance floor even if I hadn’t volunteered to be the purse watcher. The DJ had everyone looking like they were having some kind of synchronized seizure as he shouted out instructions. I checked my phone to see how much longer I would be subjected to this torture. I had promised them a few hours and the sand in my mental hourglass was almost out.
            “Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk by again?”
            The cologne of the man assaulted my nostrils before he came into view. Whatever it was he was wearing was definitely the knock off version. I tried not to gag from the pungent smell lingering in the air. A group of young women passed by the booth talking loudly and giggling. Their dresses barely covered the cusp of their butts as they tried to balance in heels higher than their morals. I was praying he would notice them and direct his attention their way.
            “I thought that would have at least put a smile on your pretty face.”
            The man standing in front of me was old enough to be a friend of my dad’s. I pulled at my dress trying unsuccessfully to cover my cleavage. The way he was staring at me was making me uncomfortable. I had heard horror stories lately of men attacking women who didn’t give them the time of day. I figured it would be easier to play along with the man than to insult him. I counted to ten and put a smile on my face.
            “Sorry, this really isn’t my scene.”
            “That’s because you’re sitting here looking like a Beyoncé searching for her Jay Z. Why don’t you let me take you out on that dance floor and show ya what I can do?”
            “Thanks, but I promised my friends I’d watch their purses.”  I waved my hand at the pile sitting next to me. “They should be coming back soon.”
            He scanned the dance floor. “I don’t see anyone coming off that floor anytime soon, Sugar. Why don’t you let me keep you company?”
            He could have easily been mistaken for one of the pimps out of the Foxy Brown movies my dad watched religiously every Saturday. His salt and pepper hair was pulled back in a ponytail and he had the audacity to have two gold teeth in his mouth. This was the story of my life. While Bianca and Sarai were grooving with the Denzel Washington’s and Omari Hardwick’s, I was trapped talking to the Morgan Freeman’s of the world. I shut my eyes wishing I could blink myself away like Jeannie from the television show I Dream of Jeannie.
            “I appreciate the offer but…”  The lyrics to Never Gonna Get It by En Vogue popped into my head.
            “Sorry it took me so long.”
            I twisted in my seat to see who the hand on my shoulder belonged to. Whoever it was had impeccable timing since the older man didn’t seem to want to take no for an answer.
            “How ya doing, Sir?” My rescuer asked.
            “I’m great but I’d be even better if you tell me this isn’t your prized possession.” The look in his eyes made me squirm.
            “Sorry to ruin your night but yes, she’s my baby.”
            “You better be careful leaving good-looking young thangs like this by themselves. I almost snatched her from you.” He tipped an imaginary hat at me. “You two enjoy your evening.”    I exhaled a sigh of relief as he walked off in search of his next target.
            “I hope you don’t mind but it looked like you needed to be saved.”
            The gentleman sat down across from me. His accent and the dimple in his right cheek caught my attention. In the back of my mind I was forming the words to say thank you but nothing was coming out of my mouth. I felt dumb but it was probably a good thing that my mouth wasn’t cooperating. The inappropriate thoughts that were running through my mind would have definitely escaped.
            “My bad. Did I mess up your action for the night? I can always call him back over here.” He pretended to wave to the man who had made his way to the middle of the dance floor.
            “No no no.” I touched his arm. “I’m sorry. I appreciate the help.” I extended my hand to him. “I’m Kenya.”
            “Nice to meet you, Kenya. I’m Kevin.” He raised his finger and the waiter stopped at our table. “Can I please have a gin and tonic?” He turned to me. “What are you drinking?”
            “A Long Island Iced Tea.”
            “And another Long Island Iced Tea for the lady.”  He handed the waiter some money and turned his attention back to me. “So Kenya, why are you not out there getting your groove on?”
            “I’ve chosen to be the purse watcher for the evening.”
            I pretended to look at the television above his head but I was really checking him out; the man was a walking billboard for sexy. He had the type of face and body that would stop any woman in her tracks. The flashing lights from the club cast shadows on his chocolate brown skin and I found myself wanting to trace those shadows with my fingertips. I tried to stop staring but he was throwing all kinds of sexy and I wanted to catch every bit of it. I cleared my throat and looked out over the dance floor expecting an infuriated woman to come and claim her man at any second. There was no way this guy was single.
            “Oh so you were serious. I thought that was an excuse to avoid that.” He motioned to the dance floor where the man was dancing by himself off beat. “Would you mind if I keep you company while you wait?”
            “Not at all,” I responded a little too quickly. “You still have a drink coming, right?” I smiled.
            “I sure do.” He leaned forward. “It’s been awhile since I had to do this. Is this the part where we make small talk?”
            “You would know more than I would.  I’m only here for those two.” I pointed to where my two friends were participating in the cupid shuffle.
            “Well, I guess we will have to figure it out together.” He smiled.
            Oh my God, his smile was beautiful.  His teeth were so white that I expected to see a little twinkle appear like in the teeth whitening commercials. I hated to sound like a cliché but the man literally had taken my breath away.
            The waitress brought our beverages and I noticed her slip Kevin a piece of paper. I checked my cellphone and saw it was only midnight. I had another hour or so of this torture. I was used to being invisible in the eyes of others but that was downright rude. 
            “I’ll be right back.” Kevin took the napkin the waitress handed him and headed over to the bar. Two females converged on him immediately. I stared at the women who most would describe as sexy but I thought looked sleazy. The little black dress was no longer in as it had been replaced by dresses with strategic cutouts designed to cover the intimate areas of women. Unfortunately for the one rubbing up against Kevin, her dress was too small and it wasn’t covering her areas at all. I never would understand why women thought they would catch a man dressed that way. I heard so many women complain about not being able to find a good man. I could see why. The bait they were using was attracting the bottom feeders.
            “Do you have a tissue? That dance floor feels like a sauna.”
Sarai settled in the seat next to me and gestured towards the bar. “What’s up with that guy? I saw you two over here looking cozy.” 
            Even drenched in sweat, Sarai was one of the most beautiful women in the club. Her cocoa colored skin was flawless and the best thing about her was her personality was, too. She was a tough person to crack but once you did she was the sweetest person you’d ever meet. Through every good and bad moment of my life she had been right by my side. I appreciated her friendship because of her ability to give it to you straight no chaser. If you asked her opinion you were going to get it. Sarai didn’t believe in sugar coating anything. It was because of that honesty that her and Bianca had a hard time getting along. I had to admit there were a few times I walked away bruised from her honesty but I knew it was always coming from a good place.
            “Answer me, Chick.” She tapped her fingernail on the tabletop.
            “His name is Kevin. He rescued me from that fiasco.” I motioned to the dance floor and stifled a laugh as Bianca got cornered by the oldie trying to be a goodie.
            “And…” Sarai looked over in his direction. “Did you give him your number?
            “No, I didn’t.” I looked down at my glass. “Every person that’s trying to be helpful isn’t looking for a hookup, Sarai.” I glanced at the bar and saw him and the waitress talking. She looked perturbed and so did he.
            “You said you wanted to meet new people.” She shrugged. “He looks like a new person to me. That’s all I’m saying.”
            “I’m pretty sure I’m not his type. I’m trying to play college ball and you’re trying to bump me up to the pros.”
            “Okay, you keep messing around and you’ll be permanently on the bench.” She shook her head. “If he came over to help you out I’m sure he’s interested. I’ll be glad when you stop doing this to yourself.”
            “Doing what to myself? Being honest?”
            “I’m not doing this with you tonight. You need to get out of your own damn way.”
            I hated when Sarai and Bianca tried to give me the self-confidence talk. They would never understand how it felt to be the big girl in the group.  Advice was easy to give but until one of them walked a mile in my shoes, I wasn’t trying to hear it. Neither one of them had experienced the frustration of trying to hang at the mall with your friends but never coming home with anything. They would never understand how annoying it was to order food and feel like everyone was judging what they ate. I had worked hard to drop fifty pounds but in my mind, I still saw that woman who was a size 24, even if my jeans said I was a size 16.
            It would have been easier for me to mentally adjust if I wasn’t still considered a big girl by American standards. There had been many nights where men that looked like Kevin overlooked me for women that looked like the ones sashaying around the club.
            “Why do you guys look so serious?” Bianca slid in next to me, forcing me to scoot further into the booth. “Did you guys see that old guy? He had the nerves to ask me if I was taking applications for a sugar daddy.” She leaned over and rubbed her heel. “Are you two ready to go?”
            “Good evening, ladies.”
            “Well, hello handsome.” Bianca leaned forward showcasing her perky size C breasts. “Would you like to sit down and have a drink with us?”
            Kevin shook his head. “Actually, I was wondering if I could borrow your purse watcher. Are you off duty yet?”
            Bianca looked at Sarai and then at me. The look of surprise that flashed across her face was not lost on me. She was used to being the one getting all of the attention. Generally she was so I understood her confusion. My cousin was every woman’s nightmare and every man’s fantasy; her skin was blemish free, her body shaped like a coke bottle and her hair reached half way down her back with no weave or extensions needed. She was beautiful without makeup and gorgeous with it.
            “The purse watcher is officially off duty.”
            “Do you want to brave the dance floor with me?” He smiled that thousand watt smile.
            “I guess. I sort of owe you from earlier, huh?” I drank the rest of my Long Island Iced Tea and tried to get out on Bianca’s side, but she wasn’t budging. I had to scoot all the way around the booth where Sarai had stood up to let me out.
            I gave Bianca a dirty look and followed Kevin out onto the crowded dance floor. Beyoncé had all the women on the floor screaming “I woke up like this. I woke up like this” while the men gyrated behind them. I loved Beyoncé and I attempted to move along with the crowd but quickly remembered that dancing wasn’t my forte. I was more of a groover than a dancer. A groover was that person you could see dancing in their chair looking cool until they stood up. My upper body never coordinated correctly with my lower. Now, when I was in Zumba class, I was always on beat but this wasn’t Zumba and these heels were not my Nike Shox. As soon as Kevin pulled me into him, I felt self-conscious. I was hoping he couldn’t feel my spanx through my dress and I was praying that I didn’t fall. The heels seemed like a good idea when I was getting dressed but they definitely weren’t dancing shoes. The slippery surface of the floor had me feeling awkward and clumsy.
            “So, what was the deal with you and the waitress?”
            The DJ came over the sound system as John Legend’s song All of Me started to play.  “Here’s one for the lovers in the house. Pull her closer fellas and give her a night to remember.”
            The stubble from his goatee tickled my cheek as he leaned down and whispered in my ear. “I needed to explain to her how rudeness would never get her anywhere in life.” He pulled me closer. “I told her it wasn’t cool to disrespect you like that.”
            “Wow! You’ve just been my superhero all night.” I joked. “But seriously, thank you for being such a gentleman.” 
            I decided to take Sarai’s advice and enjoy the moment. It felt nice to feel his muscles tightening as he held me close to him.
            “Does your heart always beat this fast?” He murmured. “Or are you feeling what I’m feeling?”
            “I don’t know what you’re feeling,” I said so low that I was surprised when he responded.
            “I’m feeling that this dance shouldn’t be the last time I hold you.” He pulled away and looked down at me. “Can I see you again?”
            Any other time I would have allowed my insecurities to take over but this time…this time I wanted to not worry about tomorrow and live in the moment. The music stopped and the lights of the club came flooding on. He stared at me and I stared right back at him.
            “Tomorrow’s not promised.” I smiled. “Let’s see what the rest of the night brings us. The steady flow of liquor had kicked in and gave me liquid courage as my Dad called it.
            He hesitated and I felt my cheeks flush with embarrassment. Was this the moment when the lights come on at the club and you realize that lighting can make anybody look half decent? I bit down on my lip and stood there uncomfortably not sure what to do.
            “Sounds like a plan to me. Let your friends know that I got you for the rest of the night.” Kevin gestured towards the table where Bianca and Sarai were waiting for me. “I’ll meet you out front in ten minutes.” He walked off and I headed over to my girls.
            “It looks like you had a good ending to the night.” Sarai smiled
            “Actually, the night’s not over.” I picked up my purse and coat. “We’re going to hang out a little longer.”
            “What?” Bianca snorted. “Girl, you better stop tripping and take your butt home. Since when do you do booty calls?”
            “I wasn’t aware that there was a rule that said you were the only one allowed to do that.”
            “You’ve obviously had too much to drink. This isn’t like you at all.” Bianca brushed her hair out of her face and smiled down at me like she was talking to a child. “Come on, I’ll drive you home.”
            “Maybe you didn’t hear me. Should I text it to you instead?” I held up my cellphone and pretended to be typing a message.
            “See, that’s what I’m talking about.” Bianca rolled her eyes. “Who does stuff like that?”
            “Bye, Bianca.” I turned my back to her and hugged Sarai. “I’ll call you in the morning.”
            I walked away from the table before I followed through on my urge to curse Bianca out. Her fake concern had nothing to do with me and everything to do with her. Bianca was used to being the center of attention and even if it had been Sarai, she would have still had something to say. I wasn't going to let her make me second guess myself. She was right about one thing: This wasn’t something I normally would do but the opportunity rarely presented itself to me. I was going to take the night for what it was. No expectations.
            I entered the restroom and maneuvered around the other women doing last minute fixes on makeup and hair. The giggles and whispers buzzed around me as women discussed their next stop for the night. Once a mirror freed up, I rushed to it and pulled my lipstick out of my purse. I stared at myself in the mirror. My eyes were slightly glazed and my face was flushed. I smiled at myself and winked. My weight loss had slimmed my face down considerably. The early morning cardio sessions had paid off in the form of revealing my hidden bone structure. I turned to the side and surveyed my figure in the full length mirror. My curves were there but I honed in on the areas that still needed more work. I readjusted my spanx which had started to fall. It was an instant reality check.
            “What are you doing, Kenya?” I shook my head and ran out of the bathroom only to collide into Kevin.
            “Hey, I was looking for you! You ready?”
            “I can't do this, Kevin. Thanks for the invite but I think I drank a little too much. I'm not a booty call type of woman.” I searched the club hoping that Sarai and Bianca hadn't left yet.
            “That's okay! I'm not a booty call type of man.” He put his hand on my shoulder. “I thought we could grab a bite to eat, that’s all. No pressure.”
            “Maybe some other time.” I searched my contacts for Sarai’s number. “I'm going to call my friend and have her come back to get me. I'm sorry for wasting your time.”
            People hustled around us getting last minute phone numbers and making plans to see each other again. He took my phone and began typing. He handed it back to me.
            “I saved my number so you have no excuse to not call me.” His smile was working its magic. “I'm in town for the rest of the weekend.”
            He disappeared into the crowd. I looked down at his number and replayed his words in my head. “I'm in town for the rest of the weekend.” I had nothing to lose. As my grandma used to say, “You only live once.”
            I pushed the send button below his number before I changed my mind. “You haven't left yet, have you?” I could hear horns honking in the background
            “No, I was almost to my car. Does this mean I can stop standing in the middle of the street and come get you?”
            “Yes, I’ll see you in the front.”
            I popped a peppermint in my mouth and walked outside. Even though winter was quickly approaching, I was still surprised by the rain blanketing the parking lot. My phone buzzed and Bianca’s face flashed across the screen. I sent her to voicemail. I was comfortable with my decision and I wasn’t going to let her talk me out of it. A black BMW pulled up in front and Kevin stepped out. He walked over to me and put his jacket over my head.
            “Your chariot awaits.” He led me to the car and opened the passenger door. I slid onto the leather seat and tried to control my shaking legs. For the first time in a long time I felt attractive. I looked out the window as he navigated the city streets. Kevin Nash from 102.3 KJLH was giving his love quote of the night.
            “I love his love quotes,” Kevin said and turned up the radio.
            “Why, because his name is Kevin?” I teased.
            “Ha, you have jokes,” he replied. “I tend to think they are reflective of what’s happening in my life a lot of the time. I actually save them.”
            “Really?” I felt the butterflies in my stomach awaken. “I do that as well but not with his. I copy the quotes from Being Mary Jane and save them in a journal.”
            “Wow, so we’re both weirdoes.” He laughed and pulled into the circular driveway of the Ritz Carlton. He drove up to the valet and cut the engine. “The restaurant here has the best sushi. Is this okay with you? If not, we can go somewhere else.”
            “This is fine.”
            I stepped out of the car and followed him through the massive glass doors into the lobby. The marble floor lit up like the tiles in Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean video.  The glass chandeliers glistened and reflected sparkly shadows onto the other patrons.
            “Kevin, I'm umm, I'm confused.” I pulled my hand from his. “Is this a joke or something?"
            “Why would you think this was a joke? I think you're beautiful and I like beautiful things.” He placed his finger under my chin and lifted my face up. “I don't know what tonight will bring. I do know that I would like to get to know you better. If you’re uncomfortable, I’ll take you home."
            It was only dinner, I had nothing to lose. I took his hand and followed him to the elevator. As soon as we reached the 24th floor, we were met by a waiter that directed us to one of the booths next to the floor to ceiling windows. I slid in and tried to stop my leg from trembling as he slid in next to me. I surveyed my surroundings.
            The red leather booth we had been seated at faced out towards the skyscrapers that Los Angles was known for. The view was breathtaking but not as breathtaking as the man sitting next to me. Kevin carried himself in a way that exuded class. There was no denying he took good care of himself.
            “Would you like me to order for you? Or do you have an idea of what you want?”
            I hadn’t realized I had been staring at Kevin and not the menu in front of me. I was so lost in thought I hadn’t even seen the waiter approach us.
            “Umm sorry.” I stared at the menu ashamed that I had been caught admiring him like a teenager with a crush. “I’m not sure. Why don’t you go ahead and order for me?” I handed my menu to the waiter and sipped the water he had placed in front of me.
            “Have you ever had sushi?” He asked.
            I shook my head. “I tend to like my food cooked, not fresh out of the water.”
            “Are you feeling adventurous or do you want me to play it safe?”
            “I’m out of my comfort zone already so I might as well go all the way in.” I winked at him. “Handle your business, Sir.”
            “We’ll start with the Chinese Chicken Salad and then we will share the Crispy Shrimp and Crab and the Hamachi Crunch Roll.” He handed his menu to the waiter.
            “Trust me, after tonight you will love sushi.” He put his fingers to his lips and kissed them up to the sky. “It gets no better than this place.” He squeezed lemon into his water. “So tell me something about you, Kenya.”
            “I don’t like talking about me,” I said honestly. The only reason I was out tonight was to get my mind off of my problems. I didn’t want to sit here and pour them out to him. “Why don’t you tell me something about you instead?” The candlelight illuminated his face giving him a sexy glow.
            “I don’t think that’s fair but I’ll let you make that up to me later.”
            He leaned back into the booth and put his arms around the back of it. “I grew up in Brazil and moved out here with my dad when I was twelve. I’m a lawyer who defends the scum of the earth known as entertainers.” He chuckled. “Just kidding. I have some great clients. Thankfully, I work more on the transactional side of things instead of the litigation side.” He bit into his lemon. “Other than that, I like long romantic walks along the beach and taking pictures with puppies.”
            His sense of humor was on point. I loved that he was funny. Most men weren’t blessed with personality and good looks. The salad arrived and he doled some out onto my plate and then reached his hand out to me. I took it and he bowed his head and prayed.
            “Thank you heavenly father for blessing us with the opportunity to share a meal. May the food be nourishing to us both.”
            “Dig in.” He tapped my plate with his fork.
            Wow. A fine, funny praying man with money. I glanced around the hotel expecting to see Bianca or Sarai jump out with cameras and yell, “You’ve been punked.” My growling stomach made me do as he suggested and dig into my salad. The crisp wontons melted in my mouth.
            “This is so good.” I took another bite and closed my eyes to savor the flavor. I was going to have to recreate the dressing for the next time the girls and I had our Netflix night at Sarai’s house.
            “See, I know a little something about food.” He moved his water glass over as the waiter set the two plates of sushi down at the table. “So, are you still feeling adventurous?”
            “I think so.”
            Sarai was going to die when told her I actually tried sushi. She had been begging me to go with her for months but it didn’t appeal to me. The plate in front of me actually looked like it was going to be good.
            “Great! I want to play a game.” He pulled a quarter out of his pocket.
            “What kind of game?”
            “I’m going to spin this quarter on the table.” He held it up and flipped it around. “If it lands on heads, you have to tell me one thing about you. If it lands on tails, I have to tell you one thing about me.” He put some sushi onto a plate and handed it to me. “Are you down?"
            I bit into the sushi and it was delicious. He smiled in satisfaction.
            “See, you need to trust me, Kenya.”
            “Okay, I’m down.” I picked the quarter up off the table. “But I get to spin it first.” I spun the quarter and it settled on tails. “Ha.” I pointed at him. “I’m listening.”
            “That’s not fair. I already told you I’m a lawyer and I moved here from Brazil. You owe me two things first to even the playing field.”
            “Fine! I work for my parents at their dental office and I’m an only child.” I took another bite of my sushi and wiped my mouth.
            “See, that wasn’t hard.” He bit into his sushi and spun the quarter. It landed on tails again.
            “Damn, I don’t think I like this game.” He handed me the quarter. “My best friend’s name is Elijah.”
            “Okay, missy spill it,” he said as the quarter dropped on heads. “Except this time, I get to ask you a question to answer.”
            “That’s not the rules,” I protested.
            “My game. My rules.” He picked up the quarter and placed it in his pocket. “What brought you to the club tonight? I mean, no offense, but you didn’t look like you wanted to be there.”
            “I didn’t actually.” The waiter removed the empty plate and refilled our water glasses. “I’m in a transitional period and my friends thought it’d be good for me to get out.”
            “Mind if I ask what kind of transitional period?”  He drank some of his water and wiped his mouth. “Never mind.” He shook his head. “I get it. We all go through it at some point.”
            His smile couldn’t disguise the glimpse of sadness I saw in his eyes. I knew that sadness all too well. I had been running from mine for years. He was inches away from me and in that moment, I wanted to feel his lips on mine. I leaned forward and kissed him. His lips were as soft as they looked. His fingertips moved up and down my arm slowly giving me chill bumps. This was exactly what I needed. One night with no strings attached.
            “Let's go,” I whispered.
            “Are you sure? We aren’t finished with dinner.”
            “Yes. Come on, before I change my mind.”
            He pulled out his wallet and dropped some cash on the table. My mind was screaming to turn around and walk away but there was something about him that wouldn’t let me.
            We stepped into the elevator along with an elderly couple. They were so engrossed in each other that they barely noticed us get on. I found it cute that she would giggle every time he bent down to whisper in her ear. I wanted that one day but for tonight, I needed to fill the desire of having a man’s body next to mine. Kevin and I grinned as we retreated to separate ends of the elevator to make room for other people getting on. The elevator ride was silent except for the smooth jazz coming through the speakers. The elderly woman smiled at me in the reflection from the interior of the elevator. She massaged her companion’s hand as the elevator stopped on their floor.
            “You two be good.” She said before the doors closed.
            When the elevator doors opened again, I followed Kevin down a long hallway and I could feel my nerves building.  He pulled out his room key and held the door open for me to walk inside. I stepped into a spacious living room with a view looking out so far that the stars disappeared into blackness. The lights dimmed and Luther Vandross’s voice came soaring through the air. At least I thought it was Luther’s voice until Kevin came up behind me.
            “Wow. Your voice is beautiful.” I stared at his reflection in the window. “What other talents do you have up your sleeve?”
            “I can show you more than I can tell you.” He kissed my neck and turned me around to face him. “You know you can stop this at any time, right?”
            “I know.” I traced the outline of his face with my finger. “I’m a big girl, Kevin. I know what I want.” I brought his head down to mine and kissed him. I parted his lips with my tongue and melted into him as our tongues intertwined. It was a sweet kiss that quickly turned passionate.
            “Relax.” He murmured against my neck and I felt his hand unzipping my dress. “Enjoy the moment. I want to see all of you.”
            He began humming and then started singing, let me hold you tight if only for one night, let me keep you near to ease away your fears, it would be so nice if only for one night.
            He pulled my dress up over my head and helped me shimmy out of my spanx. I searched Kevin’s face for signs of disgust. There wasn't any. The lust in his eyes turned me on even more. He moved his fingers over my bra and I instantly felt myself get moist. A low moan escaped my lips as he massaged me through my underwear. He gripped my waist pulling me in so close that his belt buckle poked into my stomach. The kisses he started planting on my neck elicited moans that were silenced once his lips met mine. The fact that I hadn’t had sex with anything but my vibrator in over two years had me ready to get it on. I fumbled to unbuckle his pants.
            “No.” He moved my hand. “This is about you.”
            He led me to the couch and removed my heels. His eyes never left mine as he massaged my feet and worked his way up my legs. I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until he whispered.
            “Breathe, Kenya.”
            I laid back on the couch in anticipation of what was to come. I tried to burn into my memory as much of the night that I could. He unbuttoned his shirt and I reached out and rubbed my finger across the scar on his stomach.
            “What is this from?”
            “An accident.” He watched my face as he unbuckled his pants and kicked them off. He laid next to me and I savored the sensations my body was feeling as his tongue explored my breast. I also felt that familiar feeling of nausea. I squeezed my eyes shut praying that it would go away.
            “Kevin.” I groaned in agony. “Kevin.”
            “Yes, baby.”
            “Kevin, get up.” I pushed him off me and ran to the bathroom. I barely made it before the contents of my dinner went pouring into the toilet. He came into the bathroom behind me.
            “Here, drink this.” He poured some of the bottled water into my mouth.
            As soon as I swallowed it I heaved again into the toilet. “I’m so sorry.” I mumbled as he held my hair out of the way. “This is why I shouldn’t drink.” I said in between heaves.
            “It’s okay.” He grabbed a rag from the sink and wet it with cold water. “Hold this to your head. I’ll be right back.”
            I laid down on the cold marble floor with the rag on my head as he had requested. I was beyond embarrassed; I was mortified. I was confident that I wouldn’t be hearing from him again after tonight.