“You did what?!” I shrieked over the table towards Kayla as she shook her cup of ice around. We were at a local wing spot nearby where we focused on the plate of wings, potato wedges and drinks before us. The rain was a steady downpour outside as I leaned back against the chair with a hard laugh.
“I ran,” Kayla said simply, “I blocked every number from them and took off. I ended up staying at one of the trainer’s from the gym’s house for a bit but I’m done. No more. You show up at my boyfriend’s door, and jump him? You know he blocked me on all socials? I am so beyond embarrassed.”
“I used to clown you about sneaking around from your family but now I see why,” I laughed. “Your brothers do not play about you, at all. Do they realize you’re a woman with needs?”
“As long as they’re the ones controlling who meets them, they’re fine,” she retorted with a roll of her eyes, “I just,” sighing as she looked up at the ceiling, “I just want the respect. Same respect they give each other is the same I want for me.”
“Can you believe how complicated men make that?” Jasmine added, messing with the straw in her cup as I reached for another wing, “men make everything worse than what it needs to be yet? We’re the complicated ones.”
I smiled with my own shrug, thankful that I, for one? Didn’t have to be the one at the table with the shitty boyfriend problems. I might have been the only one at the table that was happy with my nigga, for once.
“So now that you found out about all of this...stuff with your mom, now what?” Kayla asked, tossing a fry into her mouth. We both looked at Jasmine who was closest to the rainy window as she shrugged. “Can you move this napkin with your mind now or––”
“Oh please,” Jasmine laughed. “It’s nothing like that. If anything, I’m dragging my mother with me tomorrow to find out the truth. It’s so many questions I have… so many thoughts running through my head. I can barely think straight and with Percy gone…”
“He’ll be back,” I said with a roll of my eyes, “if that wasn’t the most dramatic exit I’ve seen… He’ll be back. That man loves you as much as you love him.”
“He hasn’t said it.”
“And neither have you, but you love him right?” I snapped.
“I didn’t spend years claiming love isn’t real. It’s not hard for me to love anyone.”
“She does have a point,” Kayla pointed out a nod.
The bells above the door chimed as the sound of rain washed into the small dingy wing shop. We watched a group of black men walk in, trailing behind one they seemed to be amping up for something. Just by the smell of them, I could tell they worked in law enforcement or some type of security because that gunpowder, the metal, and bullet fragments along with blood and sweat in the back of a cop car had a particular smell you couldn’t forget. Especially if you’ve been arrested before. Yet, none of them had on a uniform but there was a hint of a gun tucked in the holder against the first man’s waist as he stood at the counter.
“Mmmm,” turning back to face the girls, “fresh meat.”
“Pullease,” Kayla muttered with a roll of her eyes, “nothing edible over there.”
“They look handsome to me,” Jasmine said as she glanced over her shoulder before turning to face Kayla, “you think they’re gay?”
“No,” I snorted with a laugh, “she means they’re not us… They’re just regular degular niggas with a job. Not even my type.”
“When did you become so picky?” I laughed. “Last time you were throwing it at ol boy at Jasmine’s house.”
“A woman deserves standards,” she said with a fake uppity tone, “disguised as preferences. I prefer more animal than man.”
“What do you have against us? You’re so discriminatory against...people, against mankind,” Jasmine accused.
“Let me tell you something,” Kayla said as she leaned in, “nothing against men of that...cloth.”
“Oh my God,” I laughed, loving Kayla’s dry sense of humor.
“It’s just certain things you can’t really enjoy with them… Not saying I’m a sex expert but I want to feel like I’m about to shift...that’s how good the sex has to be for me and it can only happen with a man of my caliber. My last one, we could pull up at an open field and run naked for miles in the dark...We didn’t do it, but we talked about how much fun that would be.”
“Ooo, that would be fun,” I thought, imagining Akil laying in the grass smoking underneath a tree.
“But…” Jasmine added. “Men of your caliber just put you out of your boyfriend’s house–––”
“Ooop!” I laughed as Jasmine flipped her hair off her shoulders with a sly grin, “not one lie was told either!”
I guess I was loud enough to cause their attention to turn towards our table. The three of us turned back to face one another, trying not to laugh as Kayla ducked her head.
“See what I mean? You have one of them staring right at me like I’m a freak of nature,” she muttered, scratching at her head as she turned to face the window. “Are yall ready to go? Only thing that will happen is we start to date, I tell him..hey? By the way? My family and I...we’re more canine than human. I prefer raw meat..I find cooked meat to be disgusting and tasteless. I growl in my sleep and sweat under full moons… oh and did I mention that I can smell the meal you ate almost a week ago in your body? It’s not something I can hide or used to hide and I don’t want to start now because a man of that...caliber just looked at me in a pleasing way. It’s not worth the embarrassment of when he slowly backs away from dating me after being weirded out. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen with my cousins time and time again. Imagine him meeting my family or his family meeting mine. They will eat him alive, literally.”
“You sound more ashamed of what you are...when I told my ex, he knew what was up and didn’t care––”
“Your ex also grew up around it, did he not?”
“I mean...yeah but he still had to put up with me under certain moons…I’ve dated men who found out later on and were fine with it….Granted? White men tend to be more open to new things,” I added with a frown, thinking back to my dating history. I don’t think I ever experienced having to date someone who didn’t know who or what I was and what I represent as an alpha. Even Akil didn’t fully understand but he obviously didn’t count either.
“Yeah, I’m ready to go,” Kayla laughed.
“We just got here,” Jasmine pouted as I looked back to see the tall brown skin man dressed in a nice pair of black slacks and a grey button down shirt. He looked official, like he wasn’t somebody you could play or joke with but he also looked nervous. One of his homeboy’s leaned in to whisper something while nodding towards our table as I smiled. It was obvious his eyes were on Kayla who did everything in her power not to look in their direction. Jasmine probably looked too young for him, and I clearly wasn’t a little too rowdy for his conservative type so Kayla was the only option. She was the only one properly dressed anyway with jeans and a nice top while Jasmine and I looked like we were ready for bed with our socks and slides on.
I turned back to face Kayla with my own smirk as her eyes darted behind me to look in the man’s direction before looking away.
“We need to leave,” she gritted through her teeth as I laughed, “like now.”
“Give it a second, he’s probably getting ready to walk–––”
The deep Rico Suave voice interrupted our conversation as I turned to look up at the butter pecan one with the wet and wavy hair brushed down. He smiled at us with his hand gripping the back of my chair as I looked over his shoulder to see the other two pep talking the main one staring Kayla down.
“Can we help you?” Jasmine asked politely, leaning to the side as we stared back.
“My friend over there peeped your beautiful home girl right here, Ms….” looking at Kayla who immediately shook her head.
“Oh no, I’m not––”
“Kayla. Her name is Kayla…” I added as he smiled with a lick of his lips.
Ooo Jesus...them spanish lips looked like they could put in work on a slow night.
“You got a last name Kayla?” he asked as she continued to ignore him with her own smile.
“Kayla McSingle,” I replied as Jasmine tried not to laugh. The friend was more than amused.
“My friend over there is on the shy side and we’ve been trying to get him back out in the dating game for a minute…”
“How long has it been if you don’t mind me asking?” Jasmine asked as I reached underneath the table to pinch her married ass silent. “What? What did I say?”
I cut her a look to shut the hell up so his focus can remain on Kayla. Jasmine had no idea she could steal a room full of me with one look, but I needed her to sit this one out and let Kayla shine.
“Let’s just say it's been a while,” he laughed coolly. “His name is Keith Young...do you mind if I––”
“Bring him over here so he can speak for himself,” I demanded.
The man smiled as he looked from Kayla to me.
“Is this you speaking for her or…are you asking for yourself?” he asked like he was trying to get smart. Nigga I’ll bop yo ass upside the head.
“This is me asking why a grown man can’t ask my friend out who clearly isn’t interested in you being his mouth piece… Bring Keith Young over here if he’s truly interested or you’re just forcing him to talk to anyone.”
The man stood up as Kayla laughed while Jasmine shook her head and leaned in.
“Oh my God, I know who he is,” she whispered. “He’s the Chief of Police’s son… I know––”
“What are you talking about?” I asked. “Does that mean he got money?”
“Ladies?” another deep voice called out. This time it was full of deep southern black roots embedded in his tone. Nothing foreign about it, “I apologize for my friend. He wasn’t supposed to come over here and bother you all.”
“Apology accepted,” I smiled, eyeing him up and down with ease. He was fine as hell but he looked like he rarely smiled and there was a certain pain in his eyes that seemed to live there. Nice bone structure, body was thick, and he looked older… maybe mid thirties? Clear skin, brown complexion even and brown lips full. No crust or dryness to it whatsoever. He looked good, and his eyes couldn’t help but linger on Kayla just a little longer than what he probably intended. Instead, he nodded and started to walk off as I glared at Kayla.
“Girl if you don’t say something to that man–––”
“What am I supposed to say? I’m not interested––”
“Bitch, get interested!” I hissed, almost shoving the plate of wings towards her.
“Hey uh...Keith? Is it?” Kayla blurted out as she stood up, only to knock her knee hard against the table, causing everything to shift to the side. “Oooow ow, oww,” she winced, leaning over as Jasmine and I had to push everything back. This shit was beyond embarrassing but Keith didn’t laugh or smile, he just stared.
“Are you okay?” he asked as she gripped her knee. She shot Jasmine and I, a hard stare as the two of us giggled behind her back.
“I’m fine… just clumsy,” shaking her head, “and obviously embarrassed.”
“Girl we all are,” I said as Jasmine and I fell over in hushed laughter. Just one of many examples of our differences in age when it came to Kayla. “Look, I didn’t want to say anything or make it a big deal but I just don’t...I’m a lot to handle,” she said as I shook my head. What is she doing?! “I’m a lot to deal with as a woman...and I don’t think men like you are ready to take someone like me on.”
Jasmine and I watched the silent movie in horror as I covered my gaped mouth with my hand. It was like the entire restaurant just kind of paused as the two stared at one another. Only thing you could hear was the frying grease popping from behind the counter. Keith shifted his weight from one foot to the other as he stared at Kayla, brows coming together like he was more confused than anything. No smile, not even a smile to flirt back with the obvious challenge.
“What makes you think a man like me, couldn’t handle a woman like you?” he asked. I dramatically fell back into Jasmine with my legs spreading wide. That was an open invite and challenge if I ever heard one. He may not be one of us but he was clearly fluent in Alpha.
Kayla nervously looked back at us, growing uncomfortable from his dead stare.
“I just meant that…”