Read Dangerously In Love Online

Authors: Allison Hobbs

Dangerously In Love (9 page)

Chapter 14

he money Reed had spent on Aziza was worth every dime, but after the bomb Dayna dropped on him; he knew he’d have to tighten up on his spending until he could figure out if she seriously wanted a divorce or was just trying to mess with his head.

Aziza had whipped it on him good. She did things with her pussy that no other woman had ever done. Aziza definitely knew what she was doing. Even though he could usually control his orgasms, Aziza let him know that her pussy was in charge.

She’d wait until he had his dick deep inside her and after he’d caught a good groove, the kind of rhythm he could ride on for hours, she’d whisper in his ear: “Slow down, baby, what’s the rush; we got all night.” Then after obligingly stopping his thrust for just a second or two so he could downshift to second gear, Aziza took her big pussy lips and tied them into a knot—a tight knot around his dick—locking him in and making him ejaculate against his will. Yeah, Aziza had a powerful pussy. Expensive, too!

He shook his head mournfully as he reminisced about their night together. He would not be seeing Aziza again anytime soon. With Dayna’s recent unpredictable behavior, he wasn’t sure if she’d cut off the funds he used for recreation. He had to spend his money more wisely. The two hundred dollars Aziza charged was now out of his price range.

He needed an affordable hole to dip his dick into. It was time to mend his relationship with Buttercup. To show his contrition, he decided to pay her sixty bucks instead of the forty he usually paid. He figured sixty bucks was more than enough to kiss and make up.

Reed checked the dashboard clock. Six o’clock. Too early for Buttercup to be out at any of the clubs, but knowing her as he did, he assumed her lazy ass was still lying in bed. He parked his Lexus and dashed to the front steps of her rundown apartment building on Pearl Street. He knew the doorbell didn’t work so he pounded on the front door.

When the door finally opened he found himself staring into the inquisitive and paint-specked face of a sweaty man wearing painter’s garb. True, it was rather warm for May, but the man was perspiring like it was high noon in the middle of August.

“You looking for Darlene?” The question had an accusatory tone.

Reed assumed Darlene was Buttercup’s real name. “Uh, yeah,” Reed admitted uncomfortably. “Does she still live here?” He asked, not knowing whether the man owned the place or was just hired to paint it.

“Nope, not no more; I had to put her out.”

Reed wondered if Buttercup had left a forwarding address.

“She kept crazy hours—played her TV real loud ’til all hours of the night and couldn’t none of my other tenants get no sleep,” the landlord complained. Reed shook his head sympathetically, which encouraged the man to go on.

“She was a terrible tenant and she played too many games with the rent. Always giving me the rent money in dribs and drabs. Every time I came around to collect my money on the first of the month, I had to hear one of her sob stories.” The landlord screwed up his lips in disgust. “Man, I got sick of her mess. She acts like I ain’t got bills to pay, too.” He wiped his brow with the back of a paint-splattered hand. “If I had known how bad she had torn this place up, I would have put her out a long time ago.”

The only thing that kept Reed from hurrying away from the long-winded malcontented landlord was the modicum of hope he held that the man might know Buttercup’s current whereabouts.

“How do you know Darlene? You seem like a decent young fella, not like the drug addicts and winos she brings around here.” He paused and surveyed the meticulously groomed and well-dressed Reed. “By the way, young fella, you wouldn’t happen to be looking for a place, would you? ’Cause I’m not renting to no more riffraff.”

Reed furrowed his brow, pretending to weigh whether or not he was in the market for an apartment. “No, I don’t need a place, but I have a cousin who may be interested.”

“He got a job? ’Cause like I said…no more riffraff.”

“Oh yeah, he’s working. Recently divorced…you know. My man’s trying to rebuild, get his life back together.”

The landlord looked hopeful. “I’m gonna jot my number down. Tell him to call me and leave a message with my wife if I’m not there.”

The landlord searched his pockets and withdrew a crumpled business card. He ran a line through the imprinted telephone number and scribbled in his current number. “Tell your cousin to give me a call. I should have this place ready to show in a couple of days.”

“Okay, I’ll do that. Oh, yeah, you wouldn’t happen to know where Darlene’s staying, would you?”

“Don’t tell me she owes you money, too?” the landlord asked suspiciously.

Figuring it would work to his benefit to portray himself as a victim, Reed nodded solemnly. “Yes, sir, she sure does. She’s related to my wife,” Reed quickly lied. “My wife’s real soft-hearted and tried to help Darlene.” Reed shook his head. “I let my wife talk me into loaning that girl some money; would you believe she said she needed it to pay her rent?”

“Ha! That girl ain’t paid me nothing,” the landlord exploded. “So, if y’all related, then you know her great-grandmother over on Delancy Street.”

“No, she’s just an in-law. She’s related to my wife on her father’s side,” Reed lied quickly. “I don’t know that side of the family too well.”

“Okay, well, I heard she’s living over there with Dottie, her great-grandmother, and that’s a damn shame because all Darlene’s gonna do is spend up the little bit of social security money the poor woman gets. Dottie ain’t right in the head no more. She lives right on the corner of Fifty-Fourth and Delancy—directly across from the barbershop.”

Reed thanked the man and abruptly headed for his car.

“Don’t forget to tell your cousin about the place,” the man shouted as Reed got in his car and took off.

Dottie’s Hair Salon. The faded old-fashioned lettering on the ragged board hanging off the side of the ram-shackle storefront property indicated that Buttercup’s great-grandmother resided in a former hair salon. Reed looked around for a doorbell, finding none; he peered through a smudged triangular window pane, but couldn’t see inside. Impatient, he pounded on the heavy wooden door.

The door slowly creaked open, startling him. A wrinkled, gnarled hand with jagged, yellowed fingernails held the partially open door in place while a pair of opaque-colored, obviously confused eyes appraised him.

Reed cleared his throat. “Is Butter…I mean, is Darlene here?”

“Who?” the voice croaked.

“Darlene?” he repeated. “Do you have a great-granddaughter named Darlene?” Reed spoke in a raised voice. He assumed the old woman was hard of hearing.

“Who’s Darlene?” Matching Reed’s tone, the old woman took her volume up several notches.

With increasing impatience, Reed took a deep breath, but before he had to repeat himself for the third time, he heard Buttercup’s voice and it was music to his ears.

“Did you call me, Grandma?”

“Who you callin’ Grandma?” the old woman demanded, furious. She let go of the door and turned angrily toward the stairs that Buttercup was running down.

Reed gasped. He couldn’t help it. With the door opened a little wider, he was provided a closer look at the old woman and what he saw was beyond ghastly. The old woman was wearing makeup. Hideous, thick pancake makeup—two shades lighter than her chestnut-colored skin. Garish red lipstick was smeared across her cheeks. The same red lipstick was used as a substitute for eye shadow, but she chose a black eye pencil to draw a big round beauty mark just above the edge of her sunken upper lip.

“Why you got the door open, Grandma? You want somebody to come in here and rob us?” Buttercup chastised. She pulled at her great-grandmother’s arm, but the old woman jerked away. “Get off me, girl. Can’t you see I got me some male company?”

Buttercup pulled the door completely open, took a look at Reed, and tried to slam the door in his face, but Reed stopped the door with his foot and used his shoulder to push it open.

“What the fuck you doing here?” she demanded when Reed pushed his way inside. “You stalking me now?” She glared at Reed through narrowed, poisonous eyes.

Looking humble and repentant, Reed said, “Yo, Butter…I came to apologize.” She was wearing baggy pajamas, no make-up, and her hair was pulled back into a short ponytail. Reed knew he had no right to hold her appearance against her, but he couldn’t help wishing she looked more glamorous.

“Apologize! Nigga, you trippin’. I’m not fuckin’ with your sick ass no more.”

“Aw, come on Butter; don’t be like that. How long have you been knowing me? You know that’s not how I get down. I had too much to drink that night. I think somebody slipped something in my drink because I was rammin’. I just lost control, baby. Why don’t you let me make it up to you?” He pulled a roll of bills out of his pocket.” I got something for you. I want to make amends. All right?”

Trying to assess the amount he offered, Buttercup studied the knot he held. “How much?” she finally asked.

“Yeah, how much?” her great-grandmother asked, as she stepped out of the shadows.

Reed drew back reflexively. Buttercup’s great-grandmother was wearing a knee-length dirty cotton robe; dried food covered the front. She had on a pair of those black old folk’s shoes with the Velcro straps. Topping off her macabre appearance, there was a silky black ponytail pinned to the top of the woman’s short, gray knotty afro. If this kooky old woman was Dottie, the former owner of the hair salon, Reed would bet good money that she had fucked up many heads of hair in her day.

“Go sit down, Grandma.”

“I’m not gon’ sit down so you can make all the money.” She let out a snort and rolled her eyes. “I got the same thing she got, mister,” Dottie shouted. “Only mine is mo’ better,” she added boastfully.

“Come on in while I try to get her upstairs,” Buttercup said to Reed. “Come on, Grandma; it’s time for you to get some rest.” Buttercup tried to steer her resistant great-grandmother toward the stairs.

“Have a seat,” Buttercup told Reed as she struggled with her grandmother.

Reed didn’t want to risk offending Buttercup, but there was no way he was sitting down. The place had the musky smell of piss and liniment. The old-fashioned sectional sofa was covered with hard, torn plastic. Reed strongly suspected that Grandma had peed all over everything.

“I’m straight,” he responded, standing erect with his hands clasped in front of him. His eyes did a quick, disgusted sweep. Cobwebs clung to corners near the ceiling; faded wallpaper was peeling off every wall; yellowed and curled newspaper photos of both President Kennedy and Martin Luther King hung crooked on the walls in dusty old frames.

In the kitchen area, he saw a mouse shoot across the floor and after experiencing a quick case of the willies, he abruptly shifted his focus back to his own reflection in his polished and shined shoes.

Buttercup tugged on her great-grandmother’s arm, but the old woman escaped from her grasp. With unusual speed, she raced toward Reed and quickly tore off her robe to show off her goods. Rolls upon rolls of slackened flesh drooped from her body. A flap of flesh hung over big bloomer-sized panties. Her shriveled bare breasts hung like two used teabags.

Reed recoiled. “Damn, Butter. Come get your grandmother.”

“Leave him alone, Grandma. Come on, now. Why you always gotta act up?”

But her grandmother flatly refused to leave Reed alone. Grinning toothlessly, she rotated her pelvis enticingly as she tottered toward Reed.

Staggered by revulsion, Reed took an unsteady step backward. “Yo, Butter. Take your grandmother upstairs.”

“I’m trying,” Buttercup said as she draped her grandmother’s robe across her shoulders. “You shouldn’t have pulled out that money in front of her.”

“Why not?” Feeling repelled, he really didn’t want to know the answer.

“My grandma used to trick.”

“That old lady used to turn tricks?” He asked with an expression of astonishment.

“Uh-huh. A long time ago, before she went legit and opened her hair salon. My grandma used to be real pretty. She stayed wearing fly gear, and always kept her hair laying. She was something! I can show you pictures…”

Reed found that very hard to believe, but declined seeing the photographs.

“But now she got this dementia and something else called sundowners.”

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