Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Big Girls Do Cryby Carl Weber, Frank Muller
New York Times best-selling author Carl Weber pens down-and-dirty fiction packed with the highs and lowsof characters struggling with family and tumultuous relationships. In this sequel to Something on the Side, two Rubenesque beauties kiss the Big Apple goodbye and launch a new chapter of the Big Girls Book Club in Richmond, Virginia. But this time, the… See more details below
New York Times best-selling author Carl Weber pens down-and-dirty fiction packed with the highs and lowsof characters struggling with family and tumultuous relationships. In this sequel to Something on the Side, two Rubenesque beauties kiss the Big Apple goodbye and launch a new chapter of the Big Girls Book Club in Richmond, Virginia. But this time, the size-14-and-over ladies' club is welcoming a chunky (and very male) player into its ranks—and plus-size shenanigans are sure to follow.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Big Girls Do Cry
By CARL WEBER
DAFINA BOOKSCopyright © 2010 Carl Weber
All right reserved.
"So, what's this thing Rashad's doing to make all this money? And how can me and Tim get down?" Tammy asked as we walked into the Tobacco Company, one of Richmond's most well-known eateries and watering holes. We'd left my house after our book club meeting, because Tammy was leaving in a few days, and I really wanted some time alone with my best friend. "Girl, you been holding out. I'm supposed to be your best friend. Why I gotta come all the way down here and find out that your man's making all these country-ass Negroes a small fortune? All you had to do was pick up the phone."
I ignored Tammy, letting her continue to ramble as the blond hostess asked us, "How many in your party?" I put up two fingers and watched the young woman pick up two menus and then motion for us to follow her to our table. Tammy, who hadn't stopped speaking since we'd arrived, walked alongside me. At our table, the hostess placed the menus next to our plates and we sat down.
"Juan will be your waiter, and he will be right with you," the hostess told us before she walked away. I picked up my menu and began to peruse the selections, while Tammy was still talking.
"Egypt, you didn't hear a word I said, did you?" Tammy asked.
When I didn't answer, she tapped her spoon on her water glass to get myattention. "Earth to Egypt. Earth to Egypt. Are you there?"
I'd heard most of what she'd said, but my mind just wasn't in the conversation. It was elsewhere. Don't get me wrong; it wasn't as if the subject wasn't interesting. I was very proud of my husband and his work. And let's face it, who better to show off to than Tammy, the woman who had been throwing her and her husband Tim's money in my face for the past ten years? But for me, this wasn't a time to be petty. I had more serious things on my mind that I wanted to discuss, only I didn't know how or where to start. I had a favor I needed to ask Tammy, and it wasn't a small favor by any stretch of the imagination. It was the kind of favor you ask only of your best friend, because it was the kind of favor only a best friend would grant you.
"I'm here, Tammy. I'm sorry. I just have a lot on my mind." I looked up from the menu.
"Well, girl, you need to get your mind right, because we need to talk." She sat back in her chair. "I'm hurt."
Hurt? What the hell did she have to be hurt about? I mean, I knew she was jealous of my house, but damn. I'd watched her eyes flash like a camera as she took in and memorized my décor and the color scheme that ran throughout the rooms. Hell, half the members of the book club were whispering in my ear about how her nose hooked around every nook and cranny of my house during and after the book discussion. Knowing her, she was pissed off about some color scheme I'd picked out that was too similar to one of the rooms in her house. I could see her now: When she got home, she'd be telling everyone in New York that my whole house was biting her style.
Well, she needed to get over it. Imitation is a form of flattery.
On the ride over, I noticed she was furtively checking out my designer pantsuit and my Louis Vuitton purse when she saw the Bloomingdale's bags in my trunk. Shit, I had always had nice things and wore nice clothes when I was in New York, but I'd always gotten them from Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, and Filene's Basement, not Bloomingdale's and Saks like her. She was used to me shopping on a budget, and it was obvious she just couldn't get over how I'd come up in the world. I loved her to death, but we'd always been "frenemies." I knew Tammy had a competitive nature, but I still couldn't understand how she could take my success personally. What the hell did she have to be hurt about? It was just my time to shine.
"Ummm, what exactly are you hurt about?" My eyes were locked on her as I waited for an answer.
"Well, I was talking to that sweetheart of a woman, Loraine, after the meeting, and she told me that she just gave Rashad a six-figure check to invest-and that half the book club has their money invested with him."
Was I missing something? She genuinely looked upset about people being invested in my husband's company. Maybe she wasn't the woman I should ask to do me this favor. "I had no idea you'd be interested. I thought you and Tim were through with the stock market after all the money you lost last year."
She raised her voice. "You didn't tell me he was investing in solar and wind energy. Everybody knows that's where half of Obama's stimulus package money went. Oh, and you damn sure didn't tell me he was doubling everybody's money. Loraine told me he's one of the top money managers in Richmond."
I smiled proudly. I loved it when people said good things about Rashad. He worked so hard to provide for me, and I loved him so much. I honestly don't know what my life would be like without him.
"I told you he was running a hedge fund, didn't I? You do remember that, don't you?"
"Yeah, but you should have told me how much money y'all was making."
Oh, my God. Can you believe the audacity of this woman? Tammy had always been materialistic, but she was acting like I was taking food out of her children's mouths. "Look, Tammy, that's Rashad's thing, not mine, okay? Me and him have a deal. He makes the money; I spend it. Besides, I told you to have Tim call Rashad last year, didn't I?" This was what I hated about her. She never could take responsibility for anything. It was always someone else's fault when things didn't go her way.
There was silence for a while. It looked like I'd put her in her place, but looks can be deceiving. "Okay, well, now we want to invest." She reached in her bag and pulled out her checkbook. I put my hand up to stop her. I had to draw the line somewhere.
"Look, if you want to get into the fund, then talk to Rashad when we get home. I'm sure you and him can work something out. I ain't got time for that. I've got enough problems of my own."
I guess my eyes must have taken on a downcast look, or Tammy realized I wasn't the one to help with her investment needs, because all of a sudden she asked, "Hey, girl, are you feeling okay?"
I forced a bright smile, thinking about all the things I had to be grateful for-all except for that one thing. The one thing I wanted most in the world and would give up all our newfound wealth for.
"Yeah, I'm fine." I tried to sound cheery, but water was welling up in my eyes. Truth is, I was a wreck inside. "Oh, Tammy," I confessed, "I don't know what I'm gonna do. I feel like my world's falling apart." I took my napkin and wiped my eyes as tears fell.
"What? What's the matter?" I didn't answer right away. "It's your sister, isn't it," she said with certainty. "You know, I never thought having her stay at your house was a good idea."
Tammy had always hated the idea of Isis moving down to Richmond and living with me. She'd given me quite a few valid reasons why I shouldn't allow it, but I always thought Tammy's real reason was that she was afraid Isis and I would become closer, and that would somehow affect my friendship with her. What she didn't understand was that, although I was close with my sister, I was much closer to her.
"Nah, Isis has been good. Other than her running up my phone bill calling that no-good fool Tony in New York, me and her are good. Matter of fact, I've seen some of those black and yellow real estate books lying around, so I think she's looking for an apartment."
"Thank God for small favors." She reached across the table and took my hand. "It's not Rashad, is it?"
"What! No," I said quickly in his defense, taking back my hand. "He's done nothing but love me and take care of me. I couldn't ask for a better man."
"So, what is it? What am I missing?" Tammy looked into my eyes. "You've got everything a woman could want: a beautiful house, a nice car, and a handsome husband with a good job who loves you and you love him." She stopped, and whatever scenario she dreamed up in her head in that moment caused a worried look to appear on her face. "Don't you? You do still love him, don't you?"
"Oh, my God, of course I do, Tammy. More than anything in this world." I gave her a genuine smile, and she seemed to relax a bit.
She let out an exaggerated sigh. "I knew that. I just wanted to hear you say it. You two make a beautiful couple, Egypt. When I see you together, it really makes me happy."
For the first time, Tammy really sounded sincere. I didn't hear a hint of jealousy in her tone, and the truth is, she had no reason to be jealous of my marriage or our achievements. I guess you could say we were equally matched as friends for the first time-that is, except for the one thing.
"Egypt, what's going on? What's bothering you?"
Finally, I decided to broach the subject that had been on my mind all night.
"Tammy, we're friends, aren't we?"
She leaned in closer to the table. "Of course we are. You know you're my girl. I'd do anything for you." I was glad to hear that. The only question was, did she mean it?
"Well, I'm glad you said that, because, Tee, I need a favor-no, I don't even know if you'd call this a favor. I need your help with something. And you know I would never ask you for a favor if it wasn't really important to me."
Tammy sat back in her chair with a look of disgust that caught me off guard. "No, Egypt. The answer is no!" she said adamantly.
"What do you mean, no? I haven't even asked you the favor yet."
"You don't have to, because I'm not having a threesome with you and Rashad. Having one with you and Tim was enough to last me a lifetime," she said loud enough for half the restaurant to hear. I felt my high-yellow face become hot, and I'm sure it was bright red. Part of me wanted to walk out of there right then and there. I could feel the other patrons' eyes all over me. I swear I'd never been so embarrassed in my life.
Three years ago, before I was even seeing Rashad, I did have a threesome with Tammy and her husband. The whole thing was crazy. Looking back at it, I can't even believe I agreed to it. I still can't believe Tammy even asked me to agree to it. But she did, and I did. All because she wanted to give her husband the ultimate birthday present, and she didn't trust anyone else with her man. Well, when it came down to it, she didn't trust me either. She swore Tim and I started having an affair after that one crazy night. It couldn't have been further from the truth, but Tammy's jealousy really sent her over the edge for a while. Don't ask me how we still remained friends after that, because it almost ruined our friendship, not to mention her marriage.
"Tammy, you got me all wrong, girl. I wasn't going to ask you to have a threesome. I swear to God." I put my right hand up in the air. "Ugh. Just the thought of Rashad being with another woman turns my stomach."
"You weren't going to ask me that?" I could hear relief in her voice, but she studied my face as if she doubted I was telling the truth.
"No!" I said assuredly. "I don't even know where that came from. I'll never do anything like that again in my life. You know that mess was painful for all of us. Why would I even think about getting into a situation like that again?"
"Damn, I'm sorry. I don't know why I let my mind play tricks on me. But with Rashad's birthday coming up, I just knew that's what you were going to ask me. I-" Suddenly she stopped speaking, and her head went from side to side.
I looked around to see people staring at us like we had on clown costumes. One woman at the table next to us was glaring so hard I had to say something to her. "What are you looking at?"
"Egypt, don't worry about her."
"People need to mind their own damn business." I wasn't normally so rude to strangers. I guess the tension of my situation and the fact that I just had to defend myself from Tammy was really getting to me. Either way, it made the woman finally look the other way.
"Look, stop beating around the bush. You said you need a favor. What is it?"
"Okay, I'm sorry." I turned to her, hesitating for a second before I spoke. I really couldn't believe I was about to tell her my secret, but part of me was happy to share it with her and get it off my chest. "Rashad and I didn't tell anybody, but I had a miscarriage a few months ago."
"Oh, Egypt, I'm so sorry."
"We didn't want to tell anybody I was pregnant until I was three months," I explained. "Then when I lost the baby, I couldn't talk to anyone about it other than Rashad. Until now."
"Oh, Egypt, honey, you should have told me. I would have come down sooner." Her eyes looked like they were tearing, which caused mine to tear again. It was good to know that she really cared. "I would have been here for you."
"I know, but it gets a little worse."
I hesitated again, and Tammy said, "Girl, if you don't tell me what's going on ..."
"I'm sorry. It's just a little hard to talk about." I took a deep breath. "I just got the report back from my doctor-"
"Are you all right?" She reached out and held my hand for support. "Seriously, you okay?"
"I'm fine, Tammy, far as I know-except for one problem. I had an endometrial biopsy...."
"Oh, no, girl, don't tell me nothing bad. Please don't tell me they think you got cancer or something." She closed her eyes as if she was afraid to hear what I was about to say. She was being awfully dramatic about everything, and I hadn't even gotten to the favor yet. But that was Tammy; she never did anything in an understated way. I just hoped all this concern she was showing for me translated to her wanting to grant my wish.
"No, really, I'm fine. I just had it to see if my uterus could support a pregnancy."
"And? What'd they say?"
"It can't. I can't." I felt the tears rising, but I bit my lip and held them back. I was an emotional wreck, but I didn't want to show it in the restaurant again now that the other patrons had finally stopped staring. "Rashad's sperm count is excellent. It's me who can't get pregnant. My womb won't hold a baby."
Tammy leaned back in her chair and folded her arms. "Girl, just relax and it'll happen. These doctors are always saying stuff like that. The next thing you know, you got crumb snatchers running around everywhere."
Damn, so much for my sympathetic friend. I guess she was so relieved that it wasn't cancer that she just brushed my feelings aside. She didn't realize how badly I wanted to have a baby-Rashad's baby.
"No, my doctor says the chances of me sustaining a pregnancy are slim to none. I'm barren, Tammy. I can't have a baby." I buried my face in my hands. "What kind of wife can't give her husband the baby he wants so badly?"
"Girl, you need a second opinion. I know plenty of women whose doctors said they couldn't have babies, and they're pushing strollers right now."
"You don't understand. This is the fourth doctor we've talked to."
That made her pause. All of a sudden, she didn't look so confident. I guess she realized that her words of encouragement were falling on deaf ears. "Damn, what're you going to do?"
It was now or never. I mounted the courage to ask my best friend the ultimate favor. "Actually, the question is, what do we want you to do, Tammy?"
One of her eyebrows went up, and her mouth kind of hung open. I could see by her expression that she had just figured out what my favor was.
"I know this is a lot to ask, Tammy, but will you be the surrogate for our baby?"
Tammy's hand flew to her heart, and she looked even more shocked now that she'd heard the words. "You need to stop playing, 'cause I know you ain't serious."
"I am serious, Tammy. Serious as a heart attack. Will you be our surrogate and have our baby for us?"
"I told you, you need to stop, Egypt. This shit ain't funny. You nearly gave me a heart attack for real." She waved her hand at me, then laughed. "Me having another baby. That shit is funny."
The fact that she could laugh at this situation was starting to piss me off. I folded my arms, locking my eyes on hers like laser beams. "Do I look like I think something is funny? I'm asking you for a favor. I want a baby." She just didn't understand how important this was to me.
Tammy's face softened. "Oh, my God. You're really serious about this, aren't you?"
I nodded, waving a strand of hair out of my eyes. "Yes. Never been more serious about anything in my life. Please, Tammy. You don't know how much this would mean to me and Rashad."
She paused, rubbing her temples as if she suddenly had a throbbing headache. If there was ever a time I wished that I was a mind reader, this was it. I couldn't even imagine what was going through her head or what decision she would make. All I knew was that I wanted-no, needed-her to do this for me, no matter what the cost. What I wanted was a yes, though with the way this conversation was going, I would have settled for a "let me think about it."
Excerpted from Big Girls Do Cry by CARL WEBER Copyright © 2010 by Carl Weber. Excerpted by permission.
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