Read an ExcerptLove Is Blind
By Parry Brown Urban Books
Copyright © 2006Parry Brown
All right reserved.
Chapter One "RaMona's on line one for you, Ms. Ellington." Kamesha's cheerful voice startled Mysti as she sat with her finger perched on the left button of the state-of-the-art roller ball mouse staring at the word personals on Yahoo.com.
"Thank you, Kamesha." Mysti regained her composure. "Mona, my sistah. How are you? And before you ask, yes, I did get your invite to the pool party. You never give up, do you? And what is up with your boojetto friends giving pool parties in the middle of winter?"
"Gurl, why do my friends have to be all that? Besides, winter is not officially here for another week. It is eighty-one degrees outside! This is a party with at least twenty-five eligible, employed, benefited brothas, and you think I'm not going to invite my boojie, workaholic best friend? Besides, once you finally get out you always have a great time. Keith will be there." RaMona finally came up for air.
Mysti ignored the plug for RaMona's choice du jour. "Well, the jury could come back at any time. Be it tonight or next Thursday. I have to be available. But I will take it under advisement."
"I'm not taking no for an answer. This party is on a Sunday afternoon. There is no way you would have to work. You'd betta get out that black two-piece we bought last year on Paradise Island. You know if my thighs didn't fight for position,folks would be calling me KFC."
Mysti could hardly contain her laughter. "KFC?"
"Two piece and a biscuit, gurl!" RaMona laughed at herself.
"You're such a fool. But I will think about the party. I'm just not sure if I want to go to another one." Mysti kicked off her shoes and propped her feet on top of her desk, crossing her long, shapely legs at the ankle. "They make me feel like I'm a prime cut of beef in the Bristol Farms showcase." Mysti sighed. "But I sure could use a good time. I realized walking in from the trial today I've been consumed with this case and the three before that for so long. I don't even have anyone to call to celebrate a victory."
"Oh? So what am I?"
"You're my oldest and dearest friend, but gurl, sometimes I just want to celebrate with someone I can roll over to the next morning and ask what's for breakfast. And I know you're feeling me. So don't even try to guilt me out here."
"Well, whose fault is that? All you do is work. I work harder at getting you a man than I did for my damn self." Mysti could feel RaMona snapping her neck. "If you don't stop taking legal briefs instead of a brotha in Calvin Klein briefs to bed you're going to be fifty and I'll still be looking for a date for you."
"You know we have this conversation way too often." Mysti wanted to get RaMona onto a different subject and out of her Kool-Aid. "Do you know anyone who's ever placed or answered a personal?"
"A personal ad? You mean like love at loser dot com?" RaMona laughed hysterically.
"What makes you say that people who place and answer ads are losers?" Mysti was defensive.
"Because they are. People need to meet in the grocery store, at church, or at a pool party. Speaking of which, are you coming with me or not?"
"Let's say not. And I think I'm going to hang up while I still like you. I'll talk to you later." Mysti broke the connection before RaMona had a chance to object.
Mysti smiled to herself as she thought of how absolutely insane she was for even thinking she should read personal ads in hopes of meeting a Mr. Right or even Mr. Right Now.
Kamesha stuck her head through the small opening in the doorway. "Ms. Ellington, would you like to review your calendar with me before I leave for my dental appointment?"
Kamesha Franklin had been Mysti's assistant since Mysti had become a senior associate more than five years before. The firm had hired Kamesha within two weeks of graduation from the University of California at Los Angeles where she'd majored in football jocks with a minor in theatre arts. However, Kamesha's father was a sports agent to many of the top athletes in the country and was the top-billed client in the entertainment law division of Haynes, Wilson, McCarthy, and Stith. So guess where daddy's little girl started when he wanted his precious princess to have a career in law to fall back on if Hollywood was too blind to see she was the next Halle Berry?
In the infinite wisdom of the some of my best friends are black office manager, Kamesha was placed with the only black associate in the firm, senior or otherwise. On their first day together, Mysti took Kamesha to lunch and explained her goal to make partner in five years. She wanted Kamesha to help her accomplish this and would teach her as much as she could absorb about law and a good work ethic. And if she were a good student, no matter how high Mysti went in this firm or another, Kamesha would be with her until she no longer wanted to be.
Kamesha watched in wide-eyed amazement, and the best administrative assistant, now paralegal, in the firm's four divisions housed in three offices, was born.
"Sure, come on in. I forgot you're having the dreaded dental surgery today. I can't even imagine having four wisdom teeth removed at one time. Before we get to the calendar and case status, may I ask you a personal question?" Mysti leaned forward over the blotter with the kente cloth border toward Kamesha.
"Sure, Ms. E." Kamesha's crystal-clear green eyes lit up like a Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center at the possibility of getting a rare peek into Mysti's personal life.
"Do you know anyone who's placed or answered a personal ad?" As the whispered utterance quietly filled the air, Mysti knew she'd made a mistake.
"Sure, Ms. E! All of my friends have at one time or another. It's the way to date in the new millennium," Kamesha boasted proudly. "I've had at least three boyfriends from one cyber love connection or another."
Mysti sat up straight and adjusted her jacket, clearing her throat. "Okay. Thank you, Kamesha."
"Why do you ask?" Kamesha was disappointed the personal conversation would end so abruptly.
"I was just curious. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have been prying." Mysti averted her eyes.
Kamesha sat on the edge of her seat smiling. "You're thinking of placing an ad, aren't you?"
"Well, if you must know, my mother met my stepfather on Yahoo, and you were at their wedding last year."
Mysti couldn't mask her enthusiasm. "Really?."
"I knew it! You are going to place an ad! Or have you done it already?." Kamesha bounced her four-foot-eleven self up and down like a five-year-old.
"Your mother met Marv on the Internet? You're kidding me?"
"Yep, like six years ago, after her and Daddy broke up. She got into the chat thing, going to offline parties-the whole nine yards. She and Marv had been chatting back and forth and finally met in New Orleans at one of those parties. Love at first sight, and the rest is in the rice tossing."
"What's an offline party?" Mysti was far more interested than she wanted to divulge.
"It's where people who've met in chat rooms get together in person and have a weekend of activities. And it's nothing weird or perverted about it. Just regular folks like you and me. So you should do it, Ms. E. All you do is work. You are foine and a man would be lucky to meet a successful, smart, sexy sistah like you."
Mysti didn't know how to respond but Kamesha had given her a nudge hard enough to at least make her want to read a couple of the ads that had been placed. "Well, we'd better get to work so that you can get to the dentist."
As much as Kamesha wanted to continue she knew the subject was closed-at least for the moment. They spent the next several minutes going through Mysti's calendar for Monday and Tuesday while Kamesha was at home recuperating. Mysti wished her well and told her not to worry at all about work while she was gone. She promised to have it all waiting for her return.
Kamesha dug her three-inch heel into the high-grade industrial blue carpet. She stopped abruptly and turned to face her boss and friend. "Ms E, please don't think I'm overstepping my bounds, but I think you need to get a life outside this office. That's what I told my mom after the divorce, and look at her now. I know you want to be partner, and I want it for you, but not at the sacrifice of all else. Have a great weekend."
Mysti stared transfixed at the ten-foot mahogany door long after it closed. Out of the mouths of babes, was that how the saying went? With nothing substantial on her calendar in light of the pending trial verdict, Mysti sat back and relaxed in the mid-back blue cloth chair. What would it feel like to lean back in her own custom-made blue high-back leather chair as partner? But with no one to share the small or enormous victories with, was it all worth it? Well, yes. Hell, yes! But it sure would be nice to have a good significant date every now and again.
Mysti began fingering the maroon ball on the mouse. The blackened flat monitor gave way to the Yahoo.com screen with the slightest tap. My mom met my stepdad on the Internet rang in her ears as she watched the pointer dance across the screen. She purposely avoided the area with the link to the personals.
"What am I doing?" Mysti spoke to the Annie Lee 8 1/2 Narrow art piece on her desk. "Would you place an ad? Of course you wouldn't! But maybe if I just read a few. What would you think about that?"
As Mysti sat waiting for the woman leaning against the pole rubbing her feet to answer, she accidentally clicked the link to the personals. Suddenly there was a picture of a seemingly loving couple inches from each other's lips. The caption above their heads read Make a Connection. Just below them was another picture under the Success Story heading. A couple clad in wedding regalia smiled and boasted of meeting quality people online. After e-mails, then phone calls, followed by dates, they had strolled down the aisle before God and man to proclaim their cyber-found love.
Mysti's palms began to sweat as her eyes scanned the screen. She could place an ad for free. She could read ads for free. But it cost twenty dollars a month to connect with someone. Well, that did it. There was no way she was paying one dime to meet a serial killer.
As though someone had taken possession of her hands, Mysti found her fingertips touching the keys causing the letters to fill in the blanks on the screen. She clicked the Find Match button. Four hundred and forty-two ads were listed for men between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five who sought women within fifty miles of her front door. The sheer number shocked her. Could there be four hundred forty-two desperate losers in her neighborhood or was Kamesha right?
Narrow Your Search headed a section where she could be more specific about what she sought. Location: hmmm, Los Angeles is a big place. Let's change that to twenty-five miles. Ethnicity: Well he's got to be a brotha. Body type: I'm five foot eleven. Can't have no five-foot man. Age: A few years younger might be interesting, and surely not too many years older-thirty-five to forty-five. Smoker: Yuck! Have kids: Do I care? Let's say no preference.
Mysti felt the muscles in her shoulders relax as she was really getting into making the selections. She stood and removed her black Jones New York custom-tailored jacket, slipped on her Ferragamos and made her way to the kitchen for a cup of tea. She ran into Mike Alexander, her direct competition for the coveted partnership.
"I thought you'd be off celebrating your victory. Word is you've won the case. Congratulations," Mike said.
"Well, you and I both know it's not over until it's over. The longer the jury takes, the less likely we've won. But you know that better than anyone, don't you, Mike?" Mysti couldn't resist taking a dig at her nemesis since the last case he'd lost had cost him a bid for partner. "But I'm working on something a little different this afternoon. Taking some time for Ms. Ellington. Ciao."
Mysti smiled all the way back to her office. Suddenly she felt a little giddy. Kicking her shoes off again she spoke to no one in particular. "Where was I?" Education: Well if I say anything less than a college grad, he will have an issue with me being a successful lawyer. Religion: Christian for sure. Relationship type.
"Wow. How do I answer this one?" Mysti said aloud. "Two hours ago I didn't even know I wanted any type of relationship. I know I don't want just sex. Been there, done that!" Mysti contemplated several minutes, weighing her options. She dismissed Friend and Pen Pal, which only left Committed and Just Dating. What's a sistah to do? She wasn't looking for marriage, but she was looking for stability. If she ordered him a sweater for his birthday she wanted him to be around to receive it. Relationship Type: Committed. Before she could think about it she hit the Find My Match button. There before her were twenty-six choices.
Mysti simply said, "Damn!"
Chapter Two Why on Earth would I want to do this? There is nothing wrong with me. I don't have to go these extremes to get a date. The thoughts crowded Mysti's mind to the point she didn't hear the faint knock at her office door. As the door slowly began to open, Mysti sat up straight and hoped she didn't look as guilty as she felt.
"Come in, Mr. McCarthy." Mysti spoke with mixed emotions as she stood, grabbing her jacket from the back of her chair.
"Please, Ms. Ellington, relax. And how many times do I have to tell you to call me Jerry? Come sit with me on the couch. And I know you don't have on any shoes under that desk. Keep them off." The five-foot-three-inch founding partner of the firm smiled warmly showing his browning teeth, the by-product of many years of cigarette smoking.
"Well, if I'm to call you Jerry, Mr. McCarthy, you surely must call me Mysti. And I think I'll just slip my shoes back on, if that's okay with you." Mysti moved with the grace of a gazelle around her desk to the blue couch that matched her junior executive chair.
Jerome McCarthy patted the cushion for Mysti to take a seat next to him. In her many years with the firm he had never been quite this friendly. The mild-mannered man who sat in her office was soft spoken and left the tirades to the managing partner Alexander Samuel Stith III. His initials described him more than perfectly.
"Ms. Ellington ... I mean Mysti, I wanted to come in and personally congratulate you on the extraordinary job you did with Cruz versus Bullocks Industries. And win or lose, you should be very proud. Your closing summation alone was nothing less than brilliant."
"I know that information flows through the grapevine rather freely, Mister ..."
Excerpted from Love Is Blind by Parry Brown Copyright © 2006 by Parry Brown. Excerpted by permission.
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