Jazzy secretly wants to get back together with her ex-boyfriend, Curtis, so when he calls and reveals that he’s got something important to tell her, she’s got no idea that he’s about to propose—to her first cousin and bitter rival, Mercedes.
The annual family dinner is coming up, and fearing that she will spend the evening seething while Mercedes flaunts her four carat engagement ring in her face, Jazzy asks Reggie, an Adonis she met at the mall, to accompany her. As fate would have it, not only did Reggie and Mercedes used to date; that backstabbing, leopard print wearing cow is still carrying a torch for him! Revenge. It’s never been so sweet.
But falling for Reggie? Holy crap! That wasn’t part of the plan! She’s got enough on her plate as it is; restaurant shootouts, a neurotic boss, a mother who spies on the neighbors, and a sister and best friend with man problems that could land them on Jerry Springer. Who has time to fall in love? So when Curtis comes sniffing around again—this time, with an accusation that sends her blood pressure shooting through the roof—the one good nerve that Jazzy’s got left has just about run its course.
I walked inside the mall and as usual it was jam packed with people walking faster than necessary. Some women were dressed in sweats, carrying hand weights and exercising. There were couples pushing baby strollers, teenage girls who had gone overboard with the blush and eyeliner, and those kiosk people who are always trying to sell something that I’ve either never heard of or certainly don’t need. I’ve learned that the best way to avoid these people is to not make eye contact because, if I do, they pounce on me immediately, asking if I want to buy a pair of shades, or a thumb massager, or whatever other ridiculous items they’re selling at the time. They always tried to find a loophole through whatever excuse I gave them. I’d even had one guy say to me, “Come on! I know you can afford this! Look at your purse!” The purse was a fake Coach bag that Annie had given to me after she bought herself some knockoff Gucci. Some hustler. He couldn’t even tell the difference.
I said, “First of all, this purse is stolen. Second of all, even if it wasn’t, I think my money could be better spent on something else.”
“Something I can actually use.”
He leaned over and whispered, “We have dildos, too.”
I rolled my eyes and walked away. That day, I tried to skedaddle past him without catching eyes but for some reason, he remembered me. He shouted, to my dismay, “Stolen Coach Bag Lady!” I stopped short and did a quick about face. I walked over to him, feeling my face burn as several people looked at me. Some of them even clutched their purses. He was smirking, the bastard, and standing there eating one of those Red Delicious Apples, the name of which has always bothered me. Yes, it’s red, and yes, it’s an apple, but I, the consumer, will decide if it’s delicious, thank you.
He was about six foot two (give or take a couple inches) with a goatee, bald head, and a gorgeous smile. He looked like he knew his way around a basketball court. In another life, I would have been swooning because I have always had a thing for handsome men with skin as smooth and dark as whipped chocolate. But I had been reformed. My sucky dating track record had taught me that if I’m attracted to a guy, that’s a clear indication that I should run to the nearest exit. It took some time, but I had finally learned to ignore that very loud skadush sound that my vagina made when it saw someone it liked. I learned that a skadush does not a good boyfriend make. A good lay, maybe. Long-term relationship, probably not.
He took another bite of that apple and smirked some more. I said, “Do you always harass potential customers who are walking innocently by, minding their business?”
“I have a thing for pretty thieves.”
“First of all, I did not steal this purse. I only told you that so you would leave me alone.”
He gave me the “Chile, please” side eye. “Where’d you get it from, then?”
“My sister, Annie.”
“Right.” He tossed the apple in the trash and picked up one of the purses he was selling at his station. It was brown with white fur at the top. “Now, this is what you need.”
“Oh, really? I need a brown bag that looks like it should have been a cowboy boot?”
“This is hot. Everybody’s wearing this purse.”
“Normally, I’d sell this for fifty, but seein’ as how I like you so much, I’ll let it go for forty-nine ninety-nine.”
“How generous of you.”
“I think I’ll pass.”
“All right, but I’m tellin’ you, you’re missin’ out on a good deal.”
“What’s your name?”
I was going to tell him my real name but decided against it. “Serai.”
“That’s pretty. All right, Serai. Maybe I’ll catch you on your way out.” He smiled. Okay, he was cute. All right. Beyond cute. The man was all kinds of fine. But I kept my composure and turned around nonchalantly, bumping into a large man with tattoos all over his hairy arms. He looked like he did a stint or two in Alcatraz and didn’t seem too unhappy about me being pressed against him.
He wiggled his fat fingers and smiled. “Well, hello.” I would probably have nightmares about those beer bottle opening teeth for years.
Sometimes when I got nervous, I spoke the little bit of French that I remembered from high school. “Je suis désolée,” I said, which means “I’m sorry.”
He licked his lips. “Oooh, you speak Spanish. I like that, girl.” He rubbed his hands together like he couldn’t wait to pour some gravy on me and sop me up with a biscuit. I hopped over a baby crawling on the floor, skedaddled past homegirl with the purple wig, leaped over a stroller, shook my head no at some guy with one tooth who was yelling at me for my number, and hauled ass to Macy’s.
Author bio & links
Quanie Miller grew up in New Iberia, Louisiana. She fell in love with reading at an early age and spent most of her time at the Iberia Parish Library discovering new authors like R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike (she was often found walking back home from the library with a stack of books that went up to her chin). She holds degrees from Louisiana State University and San Jose State University. She has been the recipient of the James Phelan Literary Award, the Louis King Thore Scholarship, the BEA Student Scriptwriting Award, and the Vicki Hudson Emerging Writing Prize. She loves writing humorous stories about strong willed, sassy women who can’t keep themselves out of trouble. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and is currently, as always, working on another novel.
My social media profile links are below.
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