A Short Story by Bridgette Overton
“Excuse me ma’am, the gentleman across the bar would like to buy you a drink,” said the bartender.
It had been a while since I dined at Houston’s on St. Charles Avenue, and I was thoroughly enjoying my date night out with myself. Traveling solo was a little lonely at times, but it did have its advantages. Wherever I wanted to go I went, and whenever I was ready to go, I did.
Now, what was I going to do about the chocolate brother seated across the bar who was doing a terrible job at getting my attention? It was always funny whenever I dined alone, or stopped somewhere for cocktails. Men would have expressions of curiosity and perplexity on their faces like - Is she alone? Is she waiting for someone? Why is she by herself? I’ve never understood that. When I saw a man who warranted my attention, I did not hesitate to let him know. I mean – don’t get me wrong, for it was always wise to observe a person first, but after enough observation something had to be said.
“No thank you Amelia,” I replied to the bartender, “I will have to decline the gentleman’s offer that has taken him all of,” I paused to look at the time on my cell phone, “30minutes of staring at me to extend.”
Amelia laughed and went over to my observer to inform him of my refusal. This time he looked at me dead on and smiled with a raised eyebrow. Surprisingly, as he held his stare to mine with his grin intact, he proceeded to grab his drink and cell phone and walked over. Now, what was truly comical was all of the turning heads. Other women who were there with their men watched closely as the chocolate stranger strolled by. How uncanny of the ladies to be so bold in their admirations of another while sitting next to their boo’s. But damn. As soon as all of him came into view, I understood why. This man….. This man was fine as hell and he smelled…. Ummmm……. Wonderful.
My inside voice was cracking up with laughter at the ladies who were salivating silently inside of their thoughts. Okay so YES he IS stunning, but I refused his offer of buying me a drink and nowwwwww he wanted to make a move? LoL! It is always funny how rejection sometimes prompts a man to do otherwise.
Once the handsome stranger seated himself next to me, he leaned in towards me with a smirk, “You said…… No?”
I looked up from enjoying my Cajun grilled redfish and Traditional salad, smirked coyly at him in return as I took a long sip of Elouan and replied, “Yes………….. I did.”
Wow… his eyes were black with…. long curly eyelashes.
My response caused a very deep dimple to appear within each flawlessly brown cheek of his beautiful brown face. His grin deepened, as did his gaze upon me. Energy. There was definitely much of it all of a sudden – but……it was energy of the wrong kind.
The bar was crowded with couples swooning over the musical selections that the jazz trio was playing, and some women continued to gaze at my admirer as if they were trying to read his lips. Even the bartender glanced over her shoulder a time or two.
“But King doesn’t do – the word no my dear,” he spoke softly in a seriously baritone voice.
King? I thought to myself. Surely he isn’t serious. LoL!
“Is that so?” I asked, now watching him just as closely as he watched me. There was entirely too much energy present, and the way his eyes followed me wasn’t helping.
King was about 6ft2 and very nicely dressed. Umph – umph – umph! There was nothing more attractive than a brother who took the time and effort to put himself together. This man was wearing some cognac colored Johnston and Murphy wingtips, dark olive green corduroy slacks and a thickly knitted antique white sweater that clung to his chest and shoulders just enough to pronounce his physique. He was very brown – no……. wait…. He was extremely brown, clean cut from head to toe, black curly locks cut low, and a nicely manicured shadow of a beard that embraced a squarely defined jaw line with a mild cleft in his chin. He was….. too perfect - his features, his poise, his swag and the vibe of his energy.
The more my mental assessed him from head to toe, the more I wondered why he sat in silence in such observance of me for so long. The energy he was channeling my way reminded me greatly of another acquaintance of a similar physical nature…. And that – I did not need. Though this man was beautifully made, my thirst of late, longed to be quenched mentally and spiritually more than anything.
“Amelia, I will have another Hennessey on the rocks please, and a Pellegrino with lemon.”
“Sure,” the bartender replied.
King continued to stare at me.
“Ummmmm…. Yes?” I asked as I motioned to Amelia for a to-go container for the rest of my meal.
“Back to this word – No that you responded to me with Ms. -”
“Blue,” I said, “My name is Nicolette Blue, and what is the big deal with my declining your offer?” I asked, checking my phone for the time. Irvin Mayfield had a jazz set at the Royal Sonesta in about an hour and fifteen minutes, and I wanted to make sure I left in enough time to get a good seat.
“I am not used to that,” King grinned smartly, “but I like it.”
“Then I guess there are some things that both of us are not used too,” I replied, searching my handbag for my wallet.
“And just what do you mean by that Ms. Blue?” he asked.
Lol.. the games – the games, they never stop do they? Thus, he addresses me as Ms. again as an inquiry of whether or not I am a Mrs. I should correct his ass anyway and tell him that I AM a Mrs…
“Well,” I explained after another long sip, “You are not used to the word no, and I am not used to strange men staring at me from across the bar for half an hour.”
“And I am not used to my fiancé sitting at bars, picking up strange women either!” a female voice snapped from behind, startling the hell out of both of us.
LoL! “My fiancé? Hahahahhaa…Yesssssss INDEED!
“King, just what in the hell do you think you’re you doing?” the female demanded, “and who is this you’re with now?!”
And who is this he is with now? You have GOT TO BE KDDING ME……. I just looked at the King and his angry whomever she was in total dismay and humor..
“NO Josslyn, what in the hell are YOU doing?” King rebutted firmly, “and who SHE is – is none of your business. For the millionth time – I…. am none of your business.”
For the millionth time?
He turned in his seat to face his accuser as they quietly continued a very heated and too damn public exchange. The sista looked as if she wanted to lose her mind on him right there in Houston’s, and King…. He was… well, he was extremely…….. calm.
Almost everyone at the bar had zoned in on what was going on. Even the musicians were stretching their necks to see what was happening.
Oh my God! Why was I always getting caught up in the middle of some man’s crazy ass madness! I was just sitting here ALONE, minding my damn business and…….. Not again! Not again! Not – a – damn – gin!
I couldn’t flip through my wallet for my credit card fast enough, “Amelia,” I said urgently, “Cash me out please?”
“Right away ma’am!”
“Thank you sweety,” I replied, adjusting my seat so I could escape the King and his disaster.
“Bae, please wait. Don’t leave yet,” he asked of me as he reached for my check from Amelia before I could grab it.
“Bae?” Josslyn and I both said in unison with looks of surprise and raised eyebrows at King. Whereas my expression was of sheer - I most certainly am NOT your Bae, her expression was like - bitch please!
I said to him firmly as my piercing stare exceeded Josslyn’s with a bitch please glare of my own, “King, first of all I just met you, and I don’t even know you and furthermore brotha, I am not your Bae and none of this has anything to do with - -”
“Exactly!” Josslyn exclaimed, putting her finger all the way in my face.
Oh, this bitch has not a CLUE whose face she has her finger in!
Without thinking, I experienced an immediate knee jerk reaction. Maybe it was my Gulf War PTSD instantly swinging into full effect, or maybe it was the blood line from the lineage of women from my heritage who were known for kicking major ass without a moment’s hesitation. Whatever trigger it was that I responded with, Josslyn’s finger was about to become history.
But unfortunately, before I could shorten her finger by at least two digits with the blade that I kept readily available and accessible, King saved her ass. He rose quickly, looking at me with great surprise and amazement, retrieved and closed my blade and deposited it into his pants pocket. He then firmly repositioned his angry woman away from my immediate space, and stood at an angle in front of me.
Though Josslyn was alarmed at what just happened and how quickly and precisely I reacted to her disrespectful finger pointing, her bellows continued, “You’re right! None of this has anything to do with her at all King and we need to talk and dammit I DO MEAN NOW so let’s go!”
The people sitting directly around us had not moved an inch. They were glued to their seats and completely focused on what was happening as if the three of us were on stage. The bartenders had stopped mixing drinks, the musicians had paused, all eyes were on us.
I have GOT to get out of here!
A tall nice looking Latino gentleman wearing a very nicely tailored black suit and a radio ear piece suddenly appeared, “Excuse me Mr. James, I am Galvez with in house security - is….. Everything okay over here sir?”
Mr. James? So his name is….. King James? Well I’ll be damn, this just keeps getting better and better.
Amelia, the bartender averts all of our attention, “Ma’am, are you ready to cash out?”
King turned to me and placed his hand over mine as I handed the bartender my credit card, “Your money is no good when you’re with me.”
When I am with you? But I am not with you King James!
He handed Amelia a c-note to cover both of our bills, and smiled as he instructed her to keep the change. Then he took his seat again at the bar, had a very long drink of Hennessey and answered security, “Yes Galvez, everything is quite fine over here.”
“The hell it is!” Josslyn snapped.
King continued, “I apologize for this terrible disruption,” he said while looking steadily at Josslyn, “This is all just a simple misunderstanding that I am about to resolve right now and – Josslyn was just leaving, so please – escort her to the door.”
“Right away sir,” security replied, stepping aside and motioning for King’s ex to make her exit, “Ma’am?”
“The hell I am – I’m not leaving!” Josslyn’s emotions were beyond elevated now, as her anger was quickly becoming embarrassment, “King we need to talk and we are going to talk.”
I attempted to back my bar stool away from the bar again so I could get the hell out of there, and King turned to me and said one word, “Please?”
I am not sure if it was the way he said please that caused me to hesitate with my escape, or if it was the intense solemnness in his expression that stopped me. Nevertheless, I’d experienced more than my share of being caught up in other people’s craziness in my 37 years. It seemed that no matter how solo I was, or how hard I tried to mind my own space, somehow shit always seemed to just…….. Find me.
“She can go,” Josslyn snapped, staring me up and down.
“No Josslyn,” King replied evenly, as the baritone in his voice deepened with the piercing intensity of his glare, “but you are. This scene you’ve caused is very inappropriate, woman you know better than to try me like this. Now…….. Let’s remember who we are, and who we are not, and while you are reflecting on that, I strongly suggest that you leave.”
Josslyn was a very attractive woman, in fact – she was flawless. But the anger, rejection and emotion that overflowed in her face, drastically took away from her beauty. Why? Why would such a beautiful sista, stoop to the level of causing such a public scene? Something wasn’t right.
She exhaled deeply into a moment of brief pause and began to plead with him, “Okay – okay King, look baby, I am sorry about approaching you like this, but I could not allow how our last conversation ended to just --”
Security interjected, “Ma’am,” as he motioned for her to leave again.
King held up one finger at Galvez as if to ask him for another minute. But why? Why another minute because all three of us should have BEEN gone.
“I’m sorry sweetheart,” King whispered as he leaned in towards Josslyn with the most exasperated countenance, “surely you are not referring to the last conversation that took place between us when…….. I came home a day early from Phoenix 5 months ago and…….…”
“King, please don’t,” Josslyn implored, “Baby don’t, would you please just come with me outside? Just come and take a ride with me so we can discuss things further?”
Wait, was she…. Was she crying now?
King handed Josslyn a bar napkin and continued, “As I was saying…… When I came home a day early from Phoenix 5 months ago and witnessed you…. My friend of 4years – you…. my woman of 2 years and you…. my fiancé of 11 months… butt ass naked…”
“King, baby I – I really do LOVE you and I only want to BE with YOU and I’m sorry I just -- ”
He waved a hand at Josslyn, motioning for her to stop talking as he continued, “When I came home and witnessed you, butt ass naked and on bended knees with… a mouth full….. (pause)….. of my…...(pause)…... step-brother?”
Well damn… no wonder King had remained so calm.
As King proceeded to reflect upon the moment of infidelity that caused the death of his engagement, I thought surely that Josslyn was going to faint. Her honey caramel complexion gradually faded into the palest of grays. She leaned in between he and I for more bar napkins to wipe away her tears of regret and anguish. That’s when I noticed the 3-4 karat golden set pear shaped chocolate diamond blinging on her left hand. Damn…. How classic of him to let her keep the ring. As beautiful as it was, she would be constantly reminded of the terrible mistake she made, and I was willing to bet that was the main reason why he allowed her to keep it.
Josslyn still urged for King to walk with her outside so they could talk, “If you would just let me explain, King. You don’t understand what it was like baby. You were always working and always gone and I was always alone and-- ”
He diverted his attention back to me as he continued speaking to her, “I worked hard so I could give you everything you wanted Josslyn. You had it all – and you threw it away.”
Then he stood and leaned into her closely – so closely that Josslyn’s back was against the wall. His last words to her were completely without feeling, “Stay -- the hell -- away -- from me…..... Do you understand?”
King motioned for security to finally escort Josslyn out of the restaurant.
“Yes,” she answered, “I understand.”
But if she understood so well, than why in the hell was she walking away and looking back at me?
King stepped away from the bar to make a call on his cell. The jazz trio was on a brief inter mission, and now that the King and Josslyn tragedy was over, everyone at the bar resumed their attention to dining and enjoying one another.
“Ma’am, would you like another drink?” asked the bartender.
“Hell – we’ll buy her one,” a couple seated several seats down chimed in, “Girl, THAT was a mess!”
“Indeed it was a MESS, but I’m good,” I said, “Thank you!”
“Are you sure?” Amelia asked.
“No thank you Amelia, it’s time for me to go,” I replied.
“Well dammit, I’m buying you one anyway, because I think you need one after all of that!” Amelia laughed, “So what will it be?”
“Uncle Nearest on the rocks please, thank you!” I said laughing back at her.
“A single or a double?” she asked, laughing harder.
“Girl, make that a double.”
“And give me my blade back please,” I demanded to King as he returned to his seat.
“Oh yes,” he replied, handing it over, “And by all means, please explain to me what a woman of your caliber is doing with such a weapon and – the way you handled it was impressive as hell.”
“I don’t owe you any explanations,” I said as I drank all of my Uncle Nearest at once.
Finally, I am out of here! I needed to get as far away from his ass as possible!
“Bye Amelia! And thank you again!”
I began walking briskly towards the front of the restaurant and pulled my cell phone out to check the time again and damn – Irvin Mayfield’s show was starting in 30 minutes. I still needed to hit the ladies room to floss and freshen up my lip gloss and make it down town.
But wait…. Why was King following me?
He used his 6ft 2in stride to his advantage and stepped right in front of me.
“Nicolette wait, I just want to apologize. I am so sorry about everything that just happened. I really hope you will allow me to make this up to you… and from the looks of it, I have also made you late for something?”
Laughter…. Ha- ha – ha – DAMN – ha! That was the only response I could manage at that very moment.
“Yea, yea, yea, okay Mr. James, apology accepted,” I replied, “And I would say that it was nice meeting you but! It was not!”
“Then take a chance and meet me all over again,” he urged with every ounce of chocolate persistency he could muster as his ass continued following me and blocking my path, “After all, I just found you, and I need some time to continue my discovery. May I?”
“May you what?” I exclaimed in partial disbelief and partial sarcastic laughter. “Look, I have to go. I should have been gone already.”
“Gone where?” he asked as he continued following me to the ladies room.
“What does it matter King?” I asked. “Besides, I have definitely had enough of ….. whomever the hell you are so could you please just --”
He stepped in front of me again, stopping my stride completely. I walked right into him and everything I bumped up against felt…. Now see……. THAT ain’t right!
King grinned widely and asked, “What are your plans for this evening Nikki? I know you have plans because you keep looking at your phone.”
I just stood there looking at him, feeling the effects of the double shot of Uncle Nearest Amelia had given me, gradually soothing all of my nerves that this man and his trouble had rattled. I stood there, wishing…….. wishing that he was not so damn fine and……. wishing that he did not smell so damn good and……wishing that I was not attracted to him at all and…… wishing that he would just go away.
I knew I shouldn’t have but I did. I answered him, “I have plans to attend Irvin Mayfield’s 8pm show at the Royal Sonesta tonight and you are really about to make me late so would you please -- ”
“Late?” he asked, looking at his watch.
“Well, it’s 7:40 now and I usually get there at least 30minutes early so I can get a good seat but YOU have --”
Wait, why was I explaining anything to this man when I should have been walking away, no – no – no – no Nicolette! Run away as fast as you can girl, he is TROUBLE!
Finally, an opportunity for me to get away while he was making another call, “Hey Jonas, what’s up frat, how’ve you been? Oh, I’ve been good brotha, thank you – thank you.”
I made my way into the ladies room and DAMN if King did not follow me!
“King, get out of here! Are you crazy?!” I exclaimed.
He just looked at me shaking his head up and down as if to say yes, and winked at me as he finished his call, “Say Jonas, how’s the seating looking right now for Irvin’s show tonight? Do you have any good spots available that are close to the stage or at least mid-way? Oh great! Reserve two seats for me please Jonas, and we’ll see you shortly, okay frat? Right – riiiiiiight, thanks again man!”
Why does trouble keep following me?
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