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Bullet to the Heart of the Matter
By Veronica Ross-Holley
iUniverseCopyright © 2012 Veronica Ross-Holley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFor the past twelve years, Victor and William met at Frank's Place on Fridays after work. This particular bone chilling Friday was no exception. William always arrived first because after work his next stop was always somewhere where he could chill with his favorite girls. Victor, on the other hand, had "runs" to make. The six-degree temperature outside had no impact on the heat inside of Frank's Place. The Place was always jumping. Couples and singles enjoyed the romantic atmosphere of this spacious, but comfortable lounge and dinner spot. Dance couples held each other close and swayed sensuously to the rhythm. Carroll and Reggie, regular patrons, felt at ease while dancing to the never-ending sultry sounds of every jazz artist that ever lived. The fact that Carroll and Reggie were gay did not cause mass hysteria at Frank's. The patrons respected and genuinely loved them. While Reggie was quiet, Carroll knew how to please a crowd with dance moves that nobody dared to challenge. Anyway, this couple could care less about what others felt. They loved each other and nothing else mattered.
When Victor walked in, a spell seemed to come over the place. He was gorgeous, extra dark, and everything about him was handsome. He glanced over to the usual cluster of tables that were snuggled in a corner and spotted his pal, William. There he was with his nose buried in the face of a better than good-looking ebony female.
"Sweet as all get up and go!" Victor's favorite words to describe lovely Black women. "Whoa, partner! Come up for air," Victor coaxed as his eyes continued to inspect every inch of the curvy young lady who was also eyeing him.
"Ah, damn, Vic!" William blurted. "Your timing is perfect. That's why we've been friends so long. You've always been Johnny on the Wrong Spot! Sit your ass down!"
"Sorry, man!" Victor apologized. "Should I back up and come in again? Say, in about two hours!"
"Just sit your ass down, Man! Don't even try to recover now. The damage is already done. My lovely lady friend and I were just beginning to get acquainted before you so rudely interrupted," William jokingly reprimanded his pal. "Just sit down and try to be quiet for once in your life."
"Hi, my name is Tara," William's date volunteered.
"Wait a minute, beautiful lady! I'll do the introducing. You just sit back and continue looking beautiful! By the way, Vic, this is Miss Tara Frazier. Tara meet Vic, the ugliest man this side of Baltimore."
"Please to meet you, Vic or is it Victor?" Tara softly purred, liking what she was seeing.
"My pleasure, and you, beautiful lady can call me anything you please," Victor responded, trying to raise the hair on William's back, while continuing to flirtatiously eye Tara. Victor was having a hard time understanding what this elegant woman saw in his best friend. "And why is she with William?" he thought to himself. He knew that his friend only dated married women and this exquisite looking lady did not appear to be married. No rings on the finger and no rings around the eyes. Tara was perfect and Victor wanted her badly.
"We were just talking about you," Tara added.
"Oh, really! And what could the two of you have possibly said about me? That maybe I died," Victor responded sarcastically.
"Victor, you are so funny," Tara chuckled.
"No, we didn't think that you had died, but we did wonder what was taking you so long," William added.
"As usual; the shower, the shave and body lotion," Victor responded while trying not to show that he was really, really liking very much what he was seeing in Tara.
"Come on, man! You still using body lotion? As black as you are, ain't no kind of lotion gonna help that body," William joked.
"That's OK! All of us beautiful Black people can't be as rosy and pretty as you are ol' William, with your half-ass white self!" Victor continued.
"OK! You can cut that shit out! Ain't nothing white about me cept my teeth and I'm desperately trying to cover them with gold," William snapped, while smiling at the same time, trying to show every tooth in his mouth, half of which were really gold. Tara and Victor burst into laughter as William did his famous impersonation of Louis Armstrong.
"A white Louis Armstrong," Victor laughed. "Ain't this some shit!"
"Come on, man. Order something to drink. Waiter, give my main man some service," William yelled causing other patrons to stare. "Just turn your behinds around. Ain't nobody talking to y'all," William flippantly responded to their stares.
Most of the patrons there were regulars. They knew each other quite well and the bantering was all a part of the evening fun. As Victor ordered his famous scotch on the rocks with two cherries and a pinch of lemon, he glanced quickly around the lounge to check out the other patrons ... same old, same old.
"Wait a minute! Who in the hell is that?" Victor exclaimed as his eyes rested on a well-developed female dressed in a form-fitted red sequined mini dress. "Somebody pinch the shit out of me!" Victor screeched.
"Calm down, Vic, man! That's Priscilla!" William explained. He knew that Victor liked playing the field, and every now and then, William tried putting the brakes on for Victor.
"Priscilla Who?" Victor asked, ignoring William's disapproving facial gestures.
"You know, man. Priscilla Freeman, Shirley's daughter."
"Man that ain't Shirley's daughter. I ain't seen a back like that since I was in Ms. Power's third grade class! That female has an ass on her." Victor remarked forgetting that a lady was in their presence.
"Watch your mouth, Vic, Man! We have a female amongst us," William reminded his care-free pal.
"Pardon my excitement, Tara. Lost it for a minute. Would the two of you excuuuuuse me for a minute or maybe an hour?" Victor asked as he continued to stare at Priscilla's back.
"Man, sit down," William urged. "Priscilla is young enough to be your daughter!"
"Well, we'll see about that," Victor said while leaving the table to approach Priscilla.
"Vic, man, you're sick!" William added jokingly.
Victor worked his way through rows of tables and patrons to get within kissing distance of Priscilla. Priscilla, who was not Miss Innocent America, frequented places like this ... always on the prowl, looking for Mr. Right, someone to marry and take care of her. Within moments after their informal introduction, Priscilla and Victor strolled across the dining area to the dance floor where Victor swept her off her feet. He always had a way with women. His way!
* * *
Around 4:15 A.M. the next morning, Victor woke up. Realizing that he was not in his own bed, he panicked until his eyes quickly glanced across the king size bed that provided him with fifteen minutes of sheer pleasure during the night, and there laid the back of a woman with the ass that caused him to lose touch with reality.
"Lie back down, handsome," Priscilla urged. "It's Saturday morning. Black men who look as good as you usually rest on Saturday mornings to prepare for Saturday nights."
"Yeah, but ... uh, uh, you see, I, uh, gotta work," Victor stuttered nervously. "I work on Saturdays!"
"But can't you call in just this one time, just for me," Priscilla pleaded. "I know we just met, but please stay." She was sure that Victor was Mr. Right. She could feel it in her bones and all the tender parts of her body. He was kind and very gentle.
"Ah, baby. I can't stay. You see, I just got this damn job and this is my Saturday to work," Victor lied, while wishing at the same time that he could stay. "Just hold tight, baby. I'll see you later today. I promise!" He really wanted to see this fine lady again and again!
So as not to discourage him by being or seeming overbearing, Priscilla quickly helped Victor get dressed. She could not believe that God had made such a man like Victor. He had everything that she wanted in a man. She was especially impressed with the way Victor made love to her. The level of passion was indescribable. No man had ever taken her to such heights. And she had known a lot of men. "He is tall, at least 6'2, jet black and pretty with all parts fitting perfectly," she thought to herself.
Before Victor left, Priscilla made him promise to call her later. He promised that he would. By the following Tuesday evening, Priscilla had given up on ever seeing Victor again. At 6:30 that evening when her phone rang, Priscilla had decided that she wouldn't answer it, and that she never wanted to see another man. Her eyes were swollen and red from crying. She wanted Victor badly, but she felt that it was not to be. On the sixth ring, Priscilla picked up the phone thinking that it might be her mother, who was the only person she knew that would let the phone ring that long.
"Hi, Priscilla. What's up?"
"Who is this?"
"Aw, come on, baby. Don't tell me you forgot me that quickly! This is Victor."
Joy flooded her senses and momentarily paralyzed her vocal chords.
"Cilla, are you there? Come on, baby! Don't be angry. I had to work overtime every night this week. I apologize. I swear to you!"
Priscilla could barely manage a mumble, but she did force out a sigh, just enough noise to let Victor know that she was still there. She could not risk losing this man.
"Come on, baby! Say something!" Victor shouted. "Forget this shit; I'm on my way over there!"
Before Priscilla could respond, the party on the other end had hung up. Rushing to the bathroom, Priscilla hurriedly took a bath, splashed her face with cold water to shrink the swelling, and put on her red stretch pants that hugged every living inch of her lower body. The halter-top did similar justice to her upper torso. Just as Priscilla put her right foot into her red heeled slippers, the doorbell rang. She froze with rapturous joy.
Victor pounded on the door for what seemed like an eternity to Priscilla.
"I know you're in there, baby! This is Victor. I'm sorry. Come on now and open the door! Please, Cilla! I'm not leaving until I see you!"
Slowly enough to not seem like she was too eager to have him back, but fast enough not to cause him to leave, Priscilla braced herself as she moved toward the door to let Victor back into her life. Gaining entrance, he wrapped his lips around her and for two solid minutes he kissed her nonstop! Priscilla, once again, was in her fantasized world. The night belonged to the two of them. Nothing else mattered and few words were exchanged. It was a night that only allowed the necessary rights of passage.
For the next nine weeks, Victor wined and dined Priscilla Friday and Saturday nights. He stayed at her place on Saturday nights, leaving promptly at 4:30 Sunday mornings in time to go home to get dressed for work; so he explained to Priscilla. She understood that Victor had a demanding job. And like he told her, he was trying to get himself established in his own business as well as move ahead at the investment firm where he was employed. He assured her that bigger and better things were in their future. She didn't dare ask Victor to move in with her. Not yet, anyway, because she didn't want to seem pushy.
* * *
It was Friday night, February 18, 1975. Priscilla waited at Frank's place for her man. Victor had promised that he'd be there by 8:00. She arrived at Frank's an hour early so that she could create the atmosphere that had been a part of her world for a little over two months. The champagne was ready and the band had a list of their songs. At least six of Frank's new male patrons stopped at Priscilla's table before Victor arrived to inquire if she needed company. She politely turned each away by informing them that she had a man and neither wanted or needed another.
Carroll, a new friend of Priscilla's and an old friend of Victor's, joined her briefly to find out why her face was glowing so much, as if he didn't know. Everybody who frequented Frank's Place knew that Priscilla had found her man. Carroll hugged her and told her that he was so happy for them and wished them as much love and happiness as he and Reggie shared.
Priscilla laughed and answered, "Ain't that much love in the world! And anyway, where is Reggie? I'm shocked that he isn't following you around right now!"
Carroll chuckled and almost slipped into an instant trance as the mentioning of Reggie's name caused him to flashback to the night before. He and Reggie had exchanged wedding vows just last night before a minister friend of theirs where they promised to always love and cherish each other.
Coming out of the trance, Carroll, smiling from ear to ear, couldn't keep it to himself any longer ... "Guess what, girl?"
"What?" Priscilla asked.
"Reggie and I got married last night!"
"Stop lying, Carroll!"
"I kid you not, girlfriend. Take a look at this!"
Carroll's left ring finger sported the largest wedding diamond that Priscilla had ever seen. Priscilla could not believe what she was seeing or hearing. Reggie and Carroll married!
"But how?" Priscilla asked in a high pitched voice.
"Even though it's not legal here in Baltimore, it does not matter to us. We love each other and that's that!"
Priscilla jumped up and hugged Carroll! "I hear you! I'm so happy for you girlfriend!"
"Well, why are you crying if you are so happy for me?"
"I'm crying because you are such a beautiful person, Carroll. I don't mean beautiful, but you are such a great person and I'm so happy for you."
"You said it right the first time, girlfriend. I got it goin' on, inner and outer beauty!" Carroll boasted with a grin that lit up his entire face.
They burst into laughter. Carroll bid Priscilla a good night and told her that she must have hit a homerun with Victor because the glow on her face was making a broad statement as well. Carroll returned to his table to wait for Reggie and Priscilla waited for Victor.
When Victor spotted Priscilla, it took all his will power to control himself. He had never seen a woman more beautiful than Priscilla. The body, the face and the personality of a perfect Black Princess. He could not believe that another man hadn't staked his claim on this prize. Taking Priscilla by the hand, Victor pulled her close to him and cuddled her head between the palms of his hands. He planted his lips on hers and began kissing her for what seemed like hours while onlookers stared in awe. When the two of them decided to breathe on their own, Victor, in seconds, began kissing Priscilla's face, lips, eyes, nose and ears while she was suspended at least three inches from the floor in Victor's arms.
"Priscilla, I love you so much, girl!" he whispered in her ear.
"Victor, put me down! Everybody is looking at us!" Priscilla whispered, loving every minute of it.
"That's all the better. I want everybody to watch while I publicly show my love for the sweetest woman this side of Heaven. Besides, I don't care about everybody else; you just wrap your arms around my neck just a little tighter!"
"Vic – Tor, please stop!" Priscilla whispered again, but hoping that he didn't.
"OK, OK. I know I'm making an ass out of myself, but I can't help it! I love you!" He put Priscilla's feet back down on the floor, and the two of them sat down at their table to begin the next chapter in their lives.
"Should I bring out the surprise, Priscilla?" Eric, their favorite waiter, asked as he stopped at their table.
"Surprise? What surprise?" Victor asked.
"Just wait! You'll see," Priscilla whispered into his mouth.
Eric came back pushing a silver wine tray. He stopped at their table, uncovered a bottle of chilled champagne for the couple that was mesmerized by each other. One sip and Victor knew that the night would not end and that he had his work cut out for him. He planted his special kiss on Priscilla's lips and they both knew that they would not be able to stay at Frank's another second. If only they were already out of there and alone at a place where no human eyes could witness the lust and passion that was beginning to build.
Excerpted from Bullet to the Heart of the Matter by Veronica Ross-Holley Copyright © 2012 by Veronica Ross-Holley. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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