This sample is copyrighted, unedited, and subject to my fickle mind making changes prior to publication...
“So I guess we should call it one.”
Celena quickly glanced around the cafe and noticed we were the only ones left in here who weren’t workers.
“Yeah, I guess so,” she said pulling out her phone, “Let me get an Uber.”
“No need for that, I can drive you home.”
“I don’t want you to go out of your way. I’m all the way on the East side.”
“It’s not out of my way. I am on the East side too, seventy-seventh and Warren, to be exact. If you’re feeling a way about accepting a ride from a stranger, Fred and Marni can vouch for me. I’ve known Fred since we were in first grade. Hell, he’s more of a brother to me than...anyway, they can tell you I’m not gonna drive you to a secluded area and use your bones for a bonfire.”
She laughed as I grabbed her phone, tucking it into her pocket and linking our hands together, escorting her out of Perk. She had drifted to the side of the sidewalk closer to traffic so I was purposeful in shifting her to the right; placing myself closest to the street as we walked.
“Is your thing for cars something we need to get checked out, Karim?” Celena asked, a hint of humor in her tone.
“On our way here you maneuvered so you were closest to the street and you just did so now. I know you said cars were your livelihood, but should I also be looking into getting you on My Strange Addiction?”
“I have no idea what that is, but no. My mother always told me to make sure the lady is never in danger of traffic. It’s a protection thing.”
“Well what about now,” she asked, as we approached the crosswalk at a red light, “There’s traffic all around. How are you supposed to protect me?”
I quickly moved from her left side, to stand directly in front of her, arms wrapping around her shoulders. I heard her quick intake of breath as I pulled her flush against me.
“Feel protected now?”
Adams Rd. Walk sign is on the cross.
The robotic voice telling us it was safe to cross saved her from having to respond. I unwrapped my arms from her shoulders, grabbing her hand once again. We continued walking and arrived back at Imbibe where, to our surprise, Cadence was still sitting at the bar. She had been joined by a brotha who looked like a lineman for the Bears. Cadence made eye contact with Celena, darting a glance down to our intertwined hands and blinked a few times in rapid succession. Celena quickly dropped my hand, offering a strained smile.
“I had fun tonight, Karim.”
“Me too, hope we can do this again soon.”
“Yeah...I have your number, so…”
“I can’t get yours?”
“I’ll be in touch,” she said, reaching up to press a quick kiss to my cheek.