#samplesunday: an awkward double date

You know the deal, this work is in progress so it’s unedited and subject to change.

…whatever you want, basically_” I said..png

My boy Langston and his new girl Nyema were in town for this game tonight. They were supposed to be meeting for dinner at my loft tonight—with one of his girl’s friends. I wasn’t really in the mood for entertaining tonight, but I knew that if I cancelled on them, I would just be sitting around watching all of the coverage of our loss on ESPN and obsessing. I had plenty of time to do that shit, but not as much time to hang out with one of my best friends from childhood since I didn’t get back home that often.

Plus, I’d gotten to meet Nyema’s homegirl briefly before the game and shorty was bad. Couldnta been no more than about five one, five two—brown skinned, thick as hell, hair in long silky waves down to her ass. And that ass…I hadn’t gotten to properly check it out in its entirety, but from the glimpse I’d been given pre-game. Shit, I could definitely use the distraction of a pretty ass woman and catching up with my guy after this shitshow of a game. I showered and made my way to the press room, catching up with Kage as he was walking in as well. We were both pretty shocked to walk into a room that greeted us with an ovation, thunderous applause that we gladly welcomed—voicing our thanks before we both sat at the podium. That was exactly the energy we needed, our hometown press embracing us and the ones there for national coverage were asked questions that were thoughtful, respectful, and more importantly didn’t seek to goad us into any negative reactions. Kage kept them in stitches with his signature quips and I filled in the gaps when questions were asked of me directly, but I didn’t have too much energy for the shit overall and was extra excited when Mark indicated to a reporter to ask the last question of the night.

“Niko, we know that you’re a free agent this summer. Any plans of moving beyond the Trojans and ring chasing next year?” the last reporter, Brian Jacobs, asked.

I took a deep breath before responding. I hated this dude. He always came out of nowhere with some left field shit and tried to play the innocent when someone called him on it.

Before I could get a word out, Kage piped up, “That’s really how you choosing to serve the Lord right now, bruh?”

The entire room, including me, burst out into laughter. Brian’s idiotic attempt at baiting me into giving a stupid soundbite completely forgotten as Kage went on and on about how he needed to be a better person and looking within for whatever made him such a lame ass. I was too damned weak to even think about formulating a reply, thankful for Kage’s humor and quick wit deflecting from what could have been a terrible moment. Mark thanked everyone for their time, dismissed us and we headed out of the room.

“Kage!” I called out.

He was a bit ahead of me and turned around with his signature smirk, “It was nothin’, fam. But uh…I got somewhere I’m tryna be right now, so we’ll have to save this Sister Sister bonding moment you tryna have for another time.”

I just laughed and waved him off, letting him get to whatever was so important. I needed to be getting home anyway to make sure everything was in order for tonight’s festivities. When I invited Langston and his girl down, I definitely thought we’d be getting together under very different circumstances, not a season ending loss. I thought about calling my assistant and having him nix the champagne that was set to be served with dinner but forget it. This season was still one worth celebrating, even if the outcome wasn’t what I’d hoped or expected.

By the time I got home, my assistant Pharris was on his way out of my place.

“Sup Nik,” he greeted as we passed each other in the hall.

“You got it, bruh,” I said in reply, “You sure you don’t wanna stick around?”

Pharris was more than my assistant after working together all of these years. After Langston, I’d probably consider him to be one of my closest friends. He was the nephew of my undergrad coach, a sort of fuck up that Coach was helping guide through life. Luckily, he ended up being the perfect fit as assistant. The flexibility of the job worked well with his temperament and his organizational skills were out of this world. He kept my life running smoothly as hell; a well-oiled machine.

Even though I was cool with Langston inviting his girl’s friend, I didn’t want this shit to seem like an awkward double date. I’d been in one of these setups too many times before and the mess always ended up awkward as hell. Pharris sticking around would kill that vibe, in a good way though.

Pharris shook his head, “Nope, got a hot date tonight, boss man. Ain’t no fifth wheeling and playing interference for you tonight.”

As usual, Pharris saw right through me.

“Besides, I saw ol’ girl earlier, she looks like a perfect distraction, g.”

“She was bad as hell, wasn’t she?” I mused.

“Yessir. Enjoy that,” Pharris laughed, touching his hand to his forehead in a two fingered salute before turning and walking toward the elevator.

I stepped into my condo and it smelled damn amazing in here. I gave no instruction for tonight’s meal, so I headed straight into the kitchen to see what we’d be dining on tonight. The chef grilled some steaks, shrimp, scallops, and lobster tails. To accompany that was grilled asparagus, mushrooms with garlic in a butter sauce, baked sweet potatoes, and a spring mix salad with a raspberry vinaigrette.

Against my better judgement I sat down and turned on the tv while I waited for my guests to arrive. Of course, I ended up on ESPN where they were rehashing the game I’d played in, the commentators examining all of my team’s mistakes and insisting that our first-round win was just a streak of luck. I quickly changed the channel, landing on BET showing Baby Boy once again. I fell into that, trying to get my mind off of the bullshit of the ESPN commentary so I wouldn’t be in a messed up mood when everyone pulled up. I laughed at Jody and Yvette’s antics…and thanked my lucky stars that I’d dodged my own version of a Yvette way back in the day. The concierge called up to let me know that my guests had arrived, and I went to open the door to let them in since he’d already directed them onto the elevator.

When I opened the door, however, there was only one guest there, Nyema’s fine ass homegirl.

“Jayde, right?” I said in greeting.

“That’s me. Nikolas, right?” she parroted back, stepping past me into my place, “Your boy and my girl are running behind. I got a text from Ny while I was in my Lyft. I’m almost certain that when they show up, DJ Nyla will have that freshly fucked glow that she greeted me with earlier at lunch.”

I laughed at her candor, following her deeper into my place where she settled onto the couch.

“I hope you don’t mind me making myself at home, immediately,” she said, her eyes darting around the space, appraising everything she saw, “I tend to do that.”

“You’re good, sweetheart,” I replied.

“This is a nice place. I love this building so much. My friend stays down on the third floor and every time I come over to his place I want to stay forever. Your floor plan looks a bit different than his though. Definitely bigger.”

“What’s your friend’s name? I might know him,” I said.

“You probably don’t. He’s a weird ass reclusive songwriter dude. Doesn’t even make eye contact with strangers…even ones as well-known as you,” Jayde smiled, “But his name is Edward Kane.”

“Can’t nobody sang like Eddie Kang,” I said, without thinking. Her friend’s name was too close to a character in one of my favorite films, The Five Heartbeats.

Jayde erupted into giggles, shaking her head, “The first time he introduced himself to me, I quoted that line and he looked at me like I had two heads.”

“How did he not know that classic? Nights like this, I wish…” I sang, trailing off when she joined in, “that raindrops would fall.”

“You sound good,” I complimented.

“Well I should hope so. Singing for my supper pays the bills,” Jayde quipped, “You got a lil tone on you too, though. I heard you, Nikolas.”

“I can do a lil somethin. So, you’re a singer, huh?”

And songwriter.”

“That’s what’s up. I love music,” I replied, sounding stupid as hell to my own ears.

Before I could say anything else, my phone rang again with the concierge letting me know that the rest of the group was here. A quick exchange of greetings and then we were all sitting around the table as I moved everything from where chef had it waiting onto the table in my dining area.

“Y’all drinkin’?” I asked Langston.

“Hell yes, we are drinking. You are too,” Jayde piped up before he could respond and I laughed, “What you got for us in here mister fancy basketball player man?”

“Water, juice, pop, wine, beer, champagne…whatever you want, basically?” I said.

“Whatever I want, huh?” Jayde queried, biting her lower lip.

“Jay!” Nyema giggled.

“The man said whatever, friend. I’m just asking for clarity,” Jayde replied laughing, turning to grin at Nyema.

I smiled to myself, shaking my head as I headed back into the kitchen to grab red and white wine, along with glasses. This girl was a lot…but I liked that. A lot.