This sample is copyrighted, unedited, and subject to my fickle mind making changes prior to publication...
Since I had to go to the store anyway, my mother sent me with a list of items she and my grandmother needed to get through next week. Just a couple few things, Reem, she said, handing me a list of easily thirty or so items that were allegedly desperately needed. I grabbed a cart near the entrance of the store and began my journey through the aisles. When I walked into the aisle with all of the baking supplies, I came upon a familiar face. She stood in the middle of the aisle, intently examining a package of something that looked like flour, but I wasn’t totally sure.
I took a second to just stare at her before she noticed I was there. Still bad as ever, her hair pulled up on top of her head in a haphazard bun, dressed down in yoga pants, some type of pink, funnel neck hoodie, and gym shoes. Those yoga pants were doing her ass all kinda of favors that had me sending up a quick prayer to whomever had a hand in crafting those curves.
“You know it’s mad creepy to just stare at someone,” she said, startling me out of my gawking.
I pushed my cart further down the aisle and sidled up beside her.
“You looked super concentrated on whatever uh…” I looked at the package now dangling from her left hand, on its way to the hand basket in her right, “flour that is. Never knew flour was so intriguing.”
Celena let out a quick giggle, “Hush, I’m trying out a new recipe for a friend and wanted to make sure I got the gluten free flour that I needed.”
“Oh your friend is one of those?”
“One of what?”
“Gluten-free, taste-free crazy people.”
“Do you even know what gluten-free means?”
“Of course I do. It means ain’t no gluten, bih.”
Celena immediately let out a sharp bark of laughter.
“Something is wrong with you.”
“Actually, there is something wrong with me. You wanna hear about it?”
Shifting her weight, Celena reared back on her heels a little and said, “Okay. I’ll bite…what’s up?”
I looked around the aisle before moving in closer, grabbing her by the elbow, leaning in as if I didn’t want anyone else to hear what I was about to say.
“See, I met this fly ass chick, at some crazy speed dating event I got roped into doing because it was at my friend’s bar and they were short on guys. We vibed, I thought she felt it too…hoped she felt it too, but I wasn’t too sure. Before the end of the night I gave her my number…she refused to give her hers…”
At those words Celena bristled.
“But it was cool. I was letting her come around to Big Daddy…”
“Big Daddy?” Celena repeated, one delicate brow lifting in askance.
“I said what I said. Anyway…you gonna let me finish my story or what?”
She motioned with her hands for me to continue.
“So…she played me and my heart was broken. Sat in my place playing Carl Thomas’ ‘Emotional’, feeling it deeply when that brotha sang ‘look at me, I can’t stop crying’…still holding out hope that she’d call. But days turned to weeks and weeks to months…”
“Oh my gosh, it has not been months,” Celena interrupted, laughing.
“Are you telling the story or me? So…imagine my surprise when she showed up in a random grocery store that I wasn’t even supposed to be in today. Must be fate.”
“Or you’re a stalker…”
“Nah, I’dve found your pretty ass way before now if I was a stalker. Trust me,” I said, looking her directly in the eye.
Our gazes fused for a moment before Celena’s eyes lowered as she exhaled slowly. She was quiet for a few moments more, before squaring her shoulders and raising her eyes back to mine.
“Kismet, divine order, something brought us together again. Only this time I’m not letting you get away without giving me your number.”
“And you’re confident that I will?”
“Hopeful that you will, there’s a difference. But be clear, I won’t sweat you, sweetheart. If this…”I motioned between us with my hands to indicate a transference of energy, “is one sided, you gotta gon ahead and let me know now. But let me down gently, baby. I don’t know how much more Carl my neighbors can take.”
Celena giggled, “You are so silly.”
She pulled away from me slightly, retrieved her phone out of the kangaroo pouch of her hoodie and pressed a button. Shortly thereafter, my phone began buzzing in my pocket.
“Aw shit, you already had the number saved? See I knew you’d come around to Big Daddy.”
“Don’t make me regret this, Karim,” she warned, a hint of mischief in her tone, “And for the love of all that’s holy, please stop calling yourself Big Daddy before I block your number right here, right now.
“You’ll never regret getting to know me, sweetheart. Trust me. Didn’t I tell you my mama raised a gentleman?”
“Mmmmmhmmm and the last guy that told me that? The lie detector determined that was a lie.”
“I’m giving you a pass. That was your one and only time to compare me to some other dude. Let’s not let this happen again.”
Celena’s head reared back, as a look of utter disgust spread across her face.
“You know what?” she began, before I cut her off.
“I don’t know, but from that change in your demeanor I can just about guess, so I’ma just say this. Whatever dude did a number on you? I ain’t him and he damn sure ain’t me. I don’t want this to turn ugly before we even get a chance to build, so I’ma bounce…give you some time to breathe, but just know…I’m coming for you. And I’m bout to court the hell out of you so hard that you’ll forget whatever nigga you dared compare to me.”
With those words, I pushed the cart past Celena, grabbed my sweetened condensed milk and kept it moving out of that aisle. As I rounded the corner to the next aisle, I chanced a glance back. Celena still stood in the place I left her, with her agape mouth slowly curving into a smile. Yep, I was definitely going to enjoy getting to know her.