“Find me a gay black feminist,” David said, “preferably a lesbian.”
I blinked at him, standing in the doorway and then taking a few steps into his office. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”
“Sure you do,” he said.
David had two very distinct mannerisms, I’ve come to notice. One, he always had a pen in his hand. Wedged between two fingers and supported by his thumb, until it was pressed down onto the expensive notebook he was working with. Two, generally whenever he wasn’t writing or typing or giving me the strange but narrow task of find a lesbian black feminist who writes, he held his head at the temple with his middle finger, and forefinger, his thumb sporadic between his chin and the air.
I had come to realise this after observing him for weeks. I know who he is, now I’m starting to notice all these other mannerisms about him. It was weird, as if I knew him unlike any other person; especially when I brought up these particularities with Noelle and Leo. They thought I was crazy. Or that I had a crush.
“Am I to understand—”
“Look,” he slid off his glasses, “remember when Patricia Arquette made that totally impassioned speech at the Oscars. Even though it was well-intentioned, mainstream media blew up because she had inadvertently excluded certain groups. I want you to find me an author of that particular excluded group, preferably all wrapped up in one neat bow.”
“Okay…” I trailed off, unable to grasp the idea that my boss was actually saying these things.
“Anna?” David said after an uncomfortable silence.
“This speech was made ages ago so make it quick.” He paused. “Off you go.”
I nodded, swinging my arms. “That’s it? Okay, I’ll just…” I pointed at the door in the same moment he ducked his head down onto his work and forgot me.
I returned to my desk and slouched; Leo walked up. “Hey, what’s cookin’?”
“Good looking? Really?” I smiled.
Red painted his cheeks. “Shut up. Ignore that. What seems to be the problem?”
I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms. “What makes you think I have a problem?”
“Oh please, I can tell, you’re hunching, you’re eyes are drooping, you’re massaging your head.” I narrowed my eyes in wonder, and he cleared his throat, rubbing the back of his neck. “Look, I can tell, alright. I pay attention to women, I have three sisters I can’t help it.”
I groaned and unfolded my arms. “I just feel like David is giving me an impossible task to do, like Meryl Streep from Devil Wears Prada.”
Leo laughed, running a hand through his golden hair. “Okay, first thing’s first, you know what I would do?”
“What?” I listened attentively.
He lifted a brow and grinned. “Drink.”
I have truly made a mess of things. I can come to terms with that. What I still haven’t come to terms with was losing my best friend in the process. But here it goes. Daniel offered his apartment up to me for in the meantime I look for my own place. It might sound strange to some, that I’m living with my boyfriend to move out and then eventually move back in. As if it were all a waste of money and whatnot. And they were right. But it was more than that; my situation would be temporary. I needed a place to stay and I needed it now, and Daniel just happened to be my only salvation. What I’m trying to say is—and this is really humiliating—is that Adam kicked me out. And I came to his apartment one final time, to pick up a few things and drop off my—I mean his—key.
I knocked on the door first and then let myself in. “Adam,” I called out.
I heard a giggle and a bit of rumbling before Adam popped out of his room, half naked. His blonde hair dishevelled, spiking in areas, and his smirk masterfully teasing. He passed me and into the kitchen, pouring a cup of water for himself without a word and barely an acknowledgement beyond a two-second stare.
“Just came to pick up a few things,” I breathed.
Then out came JLa, positively tripping over herself as if she were a ditsy Marilyn Monroe. If only I could tell her Paul would put her act to shame. She smiled at me too, though hers was friendlier, neither were welcoming. I shouldn’t expect anything more, I guess.
Adam turned and smiled at her, opening his arms out to her as she closed in on him. “Are you sure you can’t stay?” he asked. I winced.
JLa laughed, a little too forcefully and obviously loud to be genuine. “I can’t, I have to go, but I’ll happily come back tonight?”
I was gathering my things up in the apartment, just a few toiletries and books, when I came out from inside the lamp stand draw to find both Jla and Adam kissing. Immediately I felt red-hot with exponential anger. I hated that they were flaunting their shit in my face. Adam was never like that; this is just wrong on so many levels.
“Okay,” JLa said when they finally parted. “I’ll see you later.”
Adam walked her to the door and then returned into the kitchen. All traces of enthusiasm eradicated.
“I got everything,” I said after a few additional moments. “Thanks.” I froze just before exiting his apartment and took out his key, separating them from mine, placing it over the kitchen island top. “I appreciate everything.”
I sighed. “I wanted you to know how much it meant to me, what we had.”
Silence. Radio silence. What’s more? He was staring at the wall, cup situated on the counter, his hands spread across.
I bit my lip. “Hey, do you remember when you used to sometimes call me Annie? You knew my name was Anna, everyone knew you knew that, and yet everyone was so confused at you calling me Annie because they didn’t know the story behind it. That it was because the first time we met, you thought my name was Annie, and I let you ride that for a long time without telling you, and we both laughed in the end when I did,” I laughed in reminisce. I couldn’t tell if he was smiling from this sideways angle, but the corner of his mouth seemed to twitch, so I went on. “Well, I’m just…really glad that you and I will always have that. That one little piece between you and me, that no one else will ever know about.” Adam cleared his throat and then hung his head; that was my cue. “Goodbye Adam.”
“You are a gem among thieves,” I said, kissing Daniel.
Daniel laughed. “I’m cooking a scallop entrée with a saffron sauce, rack of lamb, with a parsnip puree and a cranberry sauce with an elegant and tasty Brussel sprout, I know you love Brussels, and for dessert…”
My mouth was drooling. “Mmm what’s for dessert?”
He turned around and kissed me. “That’s a surprise.”
Daniel threw his head back and chuckled. “It’s definitely food. But perhaps after, if we’re not in a sugar-coma by then—” I shoved my hand down his sweatpants and he grunted with surprise “—and I’m definitely turned on, definitely. Hell yes.”
I kissed him on the back of his neck. “I’m going to go take a shower.”
“Le dîner sera fait d’ici là!”
Daniel had been real sweet about the whole situation. He was careful not to exacerbate things for me, as if it was he alone that could put me in a bad mood over this whole Adam thing. He’s been cooking, cleaning, bringing roses home and taking me out; being attentive in all the right ways. All the ways in which I was certain he’d win the ‘boyfriend of the year’ award. He made it a lot easier for me in this awkward transition.
No fretting, though; because I realised at some point, I had to allow these offerings and change to take its course. I couldn’t just let Daniel be extra-extra-EXTRA-amazing forever; trying to make me feel better. It was an obvious solution, the power lies within me to accept the change, and no other. I get that; I got it. It doesn’t make the transition any less painful, but it does make it easier to accept the pain and heal sooner rather than dwelling on the matter and potentially healing later. And Daniel was helping.
“Première entrée,” Daniel said, placing the dish in front of me as I flexed my fingers and awaited eagerly.
“Are you going to be speaking French the entire time?”
He nodded. “Si.”
I burst out laughing and he cracked his chef-based posture and smiled. “You went from Antione to Antonio,” I pulled him in at his shirt, “but I prefer Daniel.” I kissed him on the lips, and for the moment I forgot about all the food he cooked for us. Daniel cupped my neck and flung his tongue into my mouth; only snippets of it. My palm was right under his chin, fingers tapping the side of his jawline.
“God you look beautiful,” he said. “I’m a lucky guy.”
I shook my head. “Yes, you are.”
I giggled like crazy and he lightly whipped me with his towel. He poured us both a glass of wine before sitting down.
“So what’s this business with your boss at work?”
This had become routine. A prominent part of all the ‘making it easier on me’ side of things, he began cooking me a home-cooked meal, intimate and different every night, and asking about my day or days or whatever. He was just genuinely interested with me and I loved that about him. He didn’t hate it when I spilled all my concerns or anything about the job; in fact, he and I have come to a sort of agreement about texting each other. We decided to limit texting to the minimum, just so when we came together at the end of the day, we’d always feel like we missed each other and wanted to tell each other everything. But even when we did text (which was often since neither of us could retain the guideline long enough) it was still special because it felt like he was there, even though he wasn’t there.
I explained to him about what David wanted me to do and what Leo’s remedy was. It was an odd explanation; I mean, if I was talking to any other person, they’d thought I’d have made it all up. But no sirs, no ma’am’s, this shit is real life.
“Where does he come off asking you to do something like that? And the way he said it was so disrespectful.”
I shrugged. “He’s a highly successful editor at a major publishing company.”
“Off you go?” Daniel said, mimicking an uptight posh magnate. “He’s an asshole.”
I nodded. “I guess you’re right.”
“If it ever bothers you, even if it doesn’t, you should say something.”
I smiled. “Oh God, I can’t even imagine how he’d react.”
“Don’t even think about that. Think about you. How you want to be treated, how you want workplace dynamics happening, and all that stuff.”
I licked the plate clean, the saffron sauce warm in my mouth with a tangy aftertaste. “What’s next?”
Daniel flicked his brows up. “The main.”
The lamb was pink, perfectly cooked in a way that was never managed by my rough nature to cooking. The puree was refreshing and tasty and as warm as the roasted Brussel sprouts; yet again he magically erased any potential for the Brussels to be bitter in the middle. It had a nice crunch and a soft outer layer; leafy and tender; texturised in the middle.
I took one bite of the lamb and moaned. “As if men have a bad rap for cooking. You have to cook every day.”
He laughed. “That’s why men have a bad rap, so they don’t have to cook every day.”
I blushed and then took another bite. “Where did you learn to cook like this?”
“Mother.” We both flew back into memories of Jade. “I think she would have made a great chef. She was always so passionate about it but it got lost in all of Richard’s endeavours. Supporting my father meant sacrificing a lot of her dreams. Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it. I mean, I know life isn’t short, but the quality of a person’s life is the most important thing in the world.”
“You know,” I said, pausing. “I love you.”
Daniel chuckled and then pointed at my barely touched food with his fork. “Eat.”
After we finally finished the main, I was buzzing with excitement for the dessert. Up until this very moment, Daniel had kept it a secret, even though I was dying to know. The excitement in his eyes was just as cute to see. Then he placed the unmarked Tupperware on the floor between us, while Norah Jones was playing in the background.
“It’s…” he said, slowly opening the blue lid, “Tiramisu! Now, I know what you’re thinking.”
“My mind is completely blank actually,” I laughed.
He dipped a spoon in and then held his palm under. “I know you don’t really like Tiramisu, but you’ve never had my mother’s secret recipe Tiramisu. The pièce de résistance. One bite. Just one.”
I leaned in and licked the spoon clean off, staring at Daniel as he returned my gaze and watched in anticipation for my reaction. It was so creamy smooth, dusted chocolaty, chunks of biscuits that weren’t too hard nor too soggy, and the liqueur wasn’t overpowering. Everything was perfect; delicate; just right.
“Your mother is…” I couldn’t even finish the sentence.
Daniel smiled proudly. “I know.”
We each took our own spoon and dug in. “Was,” Daniel corrected suddenly, through the silence.
I nodded, nostalgic in memories of Jade once again; sweet and melancholic. “Was.”
“You got a bit on your lips,” I said to Daniel.
Daniel wiped the wrong part of his mouth, as he always does whenever I tell him that he had something on his face. “Did I get it?”
I smiled. “Here let me.” I wiped his soft bottom lip of cream with my thumb.
“Good, thanks. I don’t want to be looking better than you, even though it’s not that hard.” Daniel flicked his head as if he was flicking long hair and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Whatever,” I said. “You think you’re so hot.”
“Oh I know I am,” he said.
“Oh wait, wait,” he stopped short at my serious tone and concentrated face, “I think you’ve got a little more on…” he froze as I lifted my finger, and then I instantly tricked him and smacked Tiramisu onto his nose.
Daniel shook his head as he stared at me. “This is war.”
“No, no, no!” I said, trying to jump off the couch before he got grab me; I failed without a struggle on his end.
We both fell on the hardwood floor, blunt and hurting. “Shit,” Daniel laughed, “are you alright?”
“Yeah, no, no, I think I hurt something.” But I couldn’t stop laughing enough to pretend.
“You’re such a liar.”
“Daniel, wait,” I said, watching him look for the Tiramisu. “Truce! Truce!”
He scooped a handful and then dunk all of it on my face, smearing it all down my neck and chest, while I wiggled underneath him. “We’re even,” he said.
He kissed me and then stood, and just as he was about to get out of my range, I leapt and caught him by his leg, making him plummet back onto the floor. I got a handful of my own Tiramisu, mounting him.
“Anna! Anna!” he chortled. “Stop, ah shi—!”
I dropped the handful onto his face and watched him give in. I lowered closer to him. “Now we’re even.”
He wrapped his arms over my back and locked me in place, close to him. He nibbled on my chin and jawline, down my neck. “Oh you taste nice.”
I giggled, closing my eyes. “Like what?”
“Mmm like…like Tiramisu. How is that possible?”
I nodded. He turned me over and onto my back. “Daniel!” I yelped.
“I must have more!”
***Hi everyone! (Posting this again from my previous post with a few edits) So, a few things: one, I have uploaded another part of my WattPad story for your viewing pleasure, feel free to check it out. I’ve also noticed that I can view those parts on my phone easily, without needing to sign up, so perhaps you guys can too! Two, I’m currently in the middle of writing a Harlequin romance that I’ve entered a little contest-ish for in the hopes of getting published. Now, I wasn’t going to enter unless I got published one way or the other because I didn’t want my story to go to waste so I realised, if my steamy sexy story doesn’t get picked up by Harlequin, that I’m going to self-publish the book! I say this to all of you now because in the book I’ve written in a couple of readers as characters (mum was the first one to be mentioned!), as an ode to you lovely people! I plan on writing more, and simultaneously editing, but I wanted to know if anyone had a problem with that, or if anyone didn’t want to be featured in the book, to tell me now so I can edit you out; or if you badly so want to be featured in the book then, well, tell me now with the descriptions you know I always ask for whenever I feature readers in my posts on this blog, and I’ll try my best! I need this information pretty soon so I’m giving everyone by the scheduled upload of this post to let me know whether or not they want to be featured in my book (so excited!). Thirdly, there are only 2 more followers left before I can upload a BONUS post (even though I uploaded like two before) so be sure to subscribe! Once again, my thanks to all you lovely souls! Follow me on twitter; I just uploaded a picture of Adam! And have you seen the one with Daniel? Be sure to check it out! Keep on keeping! Soul xo***