Authors: Xyla Turner
That won’t happen. I don’t know you, not sure who you really are, and even if you are the real Z. Hays, I don’t like you. So, no.
: Touché, then come to my book signing near Arundel Mills. I can have my secretary get you a pass. I’d like to meet you.
He is serious. Quickly checking his website for his upcoming events, sure enough, he would be doing a book signing at the Barnes & Nobles in Arundel Mills Mall.
I’m here. I’ll think about it. Not really sure why you want to talk. Think you’ll change my mind and I’ll stop writing bad reviews? It’ll never happen.
LOL. Think about it and let me know. It's next week.
It was time to hire that assistant. Un-checking the alert for me to be notified when he responded was my first course of action. He would get caught up in the fray of everyone else. I also blocked my private messaging feature so no one could contact me that way. There was no need to engage in banter, and surely not face-to-face dialogue with a man like him. This sounded like more trouble than I needed to get into at the time. There was no way in hell I was going to that signing, nor was I talking with him again. I shut my whole laptop down as if that would ensure my internal declaration. Yeah, I could be dramatic, I got that straight from my mother.
One day, my brothers and I had a food fight that turned a household event. Whit, my oldest brother, threw an egg at Kendall, my youngest brother. The egg hit me in the head, so I retaliated and grabbed the carton of eggs. In our defense, we were 11, 12 and 14 years of age, respectively. Well, after Kendall grabbed the mustard and ketchup, Whit used the cream colored pillows on the sofa like a shield from our retaliation of eggs and condiments. When our mom arrived, she slid straight down the wall when she walked in the door, mumbling for God to take her now because she was going to jail. We all laughed at her and told her she was acting a bit dramatic. She laughed at our laughing, then grounded us for a month. No TV, no phone, no outside, no extracurricular activities, no nothing. It wasn’t so funny then, but now we laugh at her dramatically sliding down the wall. So now you know where I get my dramatic flair.
My house cleaning was interrupted by a text from Sheree asking if I was coming out to the reading at
tonight. I asked her who was reading, so she sent me a picture of a woman. She knows I am not good with faces, so I text her back a question mark. Then she explained it was the North lady, so I told her that I would come. I should have known Sheree would not leave it alone when she followed up with, ‘
are you really coming
.’ Shaking my head, I gave her the middle finger emoji.
Eight o’clock rolled around sooner than I anticipated because I spent my Saturday cleaning. Thanks to real_zhays, since I could not spend my Saturday checking my blog. Deciding on a low-cut, loose fitting, short dress that showed my legs and my nice double D’s, I hopped in my Rover and headed to
. That was our spot because they had everything. Old school, new school, jazz, readings, events, etc. Gab and I had a couple of events there for friends and our companies, so the owners always treated us like family.
Winter was definitely here, so technically, I was not dressed for that, but I was dressed to turn some heads, which I intended to do and get some if the night went well. The reading was from a local romance author whom critics acclaimed was top-notch, so I was all for good literature. Since I knew I would be sitting near the front, I semi-tamed my afro, to not completely obstruct people’s view. I really did not care that much about it, it’s called, ‘scoot over.’ My hair is very thick, thanks again to my mother’s genes, I don’t just have a fro, I have a thick and luscious, cottony crown.”
The Em was crowded tonight as I had to park all the way in the back, and it was just 8 PM. My guess was this author was really popular. Gab and Sheree were already there holding a spot for me, so I was good. Once I passed the threshold, soft music caressed my ears as it set the tone for the reading we were about to hear. This is why I loved this place. A guy was beating on the bongos in the corner, the lights were low and the ambiance was set for seduction.
“Welcome, welcome, everybody. Please take your seats, turn off your phones, and get ready to hear a tantalizing, exhilarating, seductive excerpt from Ms. Kalheey North. We will start in three minutes,” John, the host, said and walked to the corner of the stage.
I frantically looked through the crowd to find my friends, when I saw someone wave in my direction. Great, it was Sheree, and her hair had blond streaks today. She could never make up her mind. I took off my coat, gave it to the attendant and quickly went to my seat.
“You made it,” Gab beamed.
“Yeah, hey ladies.” I smiled back.
“Girl, I thought you were going to flake on us like you did last night,” Sheree exclaimed.
Gab elbowed her, but Sheree shrugged like she did not care.
“I see you went for blond today. Penny for your thoughts?” I quipped back at Sheree.
She rolled her eyes and I smiled at Gab. She’d been acting a little funny like she had a problem with me. We would need to talk to her about that because she and I have only been cool for months now. Not sure where she felt like she knew me like that to be talking to me any kind of way. Shit, I did not even take that from Gab, Kendell or Whit.
“Oh, I need to get a drink. Anybody need a refill?”
“I’m good, thanks.” Gab smiled.
A grunt came from Sheree. I wasn’t buying her a drink anyway, she had better grunt. I shook my head and quickly walked to the bar. Signaling for the bartender, I grabbed a ten out of my clutch.
“What can I do you for, Lauren, the beautiful?” the bartender smiled.
“Charlie, Charlie, always a charmer.” I smiled. “Can I have a Cosmo?”
“Sure thing, sugar.”
Charlie walked away, so I turned around to make sure that I would not miss anything. Ms. North was sitting on the stage with a long skin-tight dress, a shawl and long flowing pressed or permed hair. She was a light caramel complexion and very elegant. Her bio said that she was from Southern Maryland. They were adjusting her stand because she was taller than they expected. Someone dropped something close to me, so I turned to find a man looking directly at me. He looked familiar, but I could not place him, so I turned back around to see if my drink was ready.
“Enjoy,” Charlie smiled as he slid the drink in my direction.
“Thanks, will do.”
Ms. North started with a sweet endearing scene, then a sexy scene, to a heartbreaking and then back to sexy. The woman sure knew how to tell a story and the writing didn’t sound bad either. I would definitely read and review her book on my blog. As the evening went on, Sheree loosened up a bit and started talking to me again in a way that I would tolerate. When the reading was over, there was an opportunity to buy a book and have it signed, which we all did including half the patrons that were there. Even the men.
Once that broke down, the music changed and the dance floor opened for those who dared to be first. I had enough drinks to get loose, so I pulled the ladies to the floor and we danced as a group until a short guy came and pulled Sheree into a dance. She willingly accepted because she went for anyone. It was not that Sheree was not cute, she was. Her skin complexion was terra-cotta, a warm brownish-orange, and was probably around a size six. She dressed well as she was a fashion designer who looked like she just stepped off the runway half the time, but the girl could not keep her hair together to save her life. She changed it almost every week, had every color, and it make her look like she wanted to still be a teenager or something. It was weird.
Gab and I dance some more until a cute Spanish guy simply came up to her and started dancing. I quickly turned around as the man looked gorgeous. I knew Gab would not dance with him if she thought I would be alone, but she should know me by now. I will dance by myself until the cows come home. Gab, with her petite frame, looked good tonight. She was about 5’1 and ultra-curvy. It was a problem for her, but the guys loved Gab. The curves were in all the right places. She forever tried to diet, run, and even get the weight loss surgery, which her doctor told her she did not qualify for because her body mass index (BMI) was under 40 and she was not 100 pounds overweight. I swear she wore a size 10, but since she was short, she felt it made her look chubby. Gab was mixed so her hair was naturally curly with a silky texture and not nappy like mine. She was also light with little brown freckles on her cheeks.
As I turned around, I bumped into someone and had to quickly adjust to avoid falling into him. My lips were poised to apologize, but he was staring at me with a slight smirk on his face. It was the same guy from the bar. He had a handsome face that held all types of secrets. He was white, but he had a different vibe about him as if he was more than just a businessman. Although he was in dress jeans, a nice expensive sweater and shoes, it was apparent that he was well-versed in many different fields. He held out his hand towards me and said, “Dance.”
His voice was low, but more importantly, his tone was commanding, as if he weren’t asking me to dance, he was telling me. The music was a medium tempo, so I figured I could dance with him and then move on, so I nodded and took his hand. He drew me to him slowly, as if he were going to make it last, then he rubbed his hand down my arm. That was when the music changed to a slow melody.
Taking a step away from him, he pulled me closer by wrapping his arm around my waist. I looked up to notice that he taller than me, with short black hair and hazel eyes. This white guy was hot as hell, maybe a little too hot for my taste. Not a knock to myself, but I knew my bracket of men extended to probably a low-level white collar worker. That was fine with me because my life was too out of sorts for a high-level white collar who looked like he should be in a magazine advertisement. He did not look a day over thirty, but there was something older about him.
“Slow dance, huh?” I quipped.
One side of his mouth raised, right before he slid his hands up my back, into my hair, to cup my head and lay it against his cheek. Well, goddamn. The man just put his hands in my hair. He knew not to mash it, but he put his fingers in my hair on the first dance. This was either weird or extremely hot. So far, I was leaning towards the latter. We danced like that for a while, then Sheree tapped me on my shoulder. Pulling my head back from white chocolate’s hard chest, I noticed that she was awfully close to us.
“What’s up?” I asked, slightly annoyed.
“I’m about to head out.” She gave my dance partner a slow, seductive look.
He and I were already really close to each other, but somehow after she said that, he pulled me in tighter. I looked at him and saw the longing in his hazel eyes. Well, maybe I would get some head tonight.
“Are you leaving with that guy?” I asked.
“No, he’s a dud.”
His fingers pressed into my sides.
“Okay, so…” I let the word trail.
“Are you coming?” She asked like she was running out of patience.
“Why would I come? I did not come here with you!” I snapped back.
“Well, I didn’t drive?” She pouted.
“Well, why are you asking me, ask Gab, since you came with her.”
“I didn’t want to bother her since she was with the hot guy over there.”
“So, you’ll bother me like I’m not occupied right now?” I shook my head, “Girl, call a cab.”
“What?” she exclaimed.
The woman was not only blocking, but ruining my mood. White chocolate must have sensed it because he squeezed me again, but it was too late because I started to back away from him. He held on until I looked up at him with a face that I am sure said, ‘back the fuck up.’
“What the fuck, Sheree?” I started in on her, “You going to come in here and give me…”
White chocolate cut me off.
“My driver can take you anywhere you need to go,” He said with an even and low tone.
“That’s not necessary, I can…” I started.
“It’s done,” he cut me off with that commanding tone again.
Okay, now wait a minute.
He raised his hand to signal someone, who was right there in a flash. Then he pulled me back towards him with his left hand, pointed to Sheree with his right hand and said, “Take her wherever she wants to go.”
My hands were to this guy’s chest because I was ready to push back when I saw Sheree had googly eyes for him.
“What’s your name, so I know who to thank?” Sheree asked in a flirty voice.
“Zach,” He stated simply.
“Thank you, Zach.” She touched his elbow.
This chick was about to catch it and so was he.
“You are just going to accept a ride from a stranger?” I asked her as I tried to push away from him.
Sheree cut her eyes to me, then let her hand linger on his elbow. Zach, or so he said, quickly pulled from her and wrapped his arm around me, halting my escape. Sheree scowled at him and walked off towards the door. Yeah, she and I had to have a serious conversation because where I’m from you don’t do shit like that.