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Mr. Right Now
By Monica Jackson
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2005 Monica Jackson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneI am black, but comely ... -Song of Songs, 1:5
My life changed the day I walked into the elevator of my apartment building behind a tall, young white man, who held a small box of books. I pushed the button, drew in a sharp breath as I realized dampness was collecting between my legs as they grew weak with sexual arousal. I craned my neck and darted a glance at him. His eyes met mine for a split second, a green glint, then desire hit me like a splash of steamy water. My God, I wanted him.
I bit my lower lip to keep from licking it. I wanted to reach out and touch him so much, I curled my right hand into a fist. What was going on?
I never noticed any man in the elevator before. I never wanted to throw any man up against the wall and grind my body against his.
I never looked at another stranger's face and memorized his features at a glance. His hair was dark brown, a little too long. His face was lean and chiseled, his cheeks covered with stubble. Peaked brows hovered over the greenest eyes I'd ever seen.
Close to his body, he held a box that appeared to be filled with old books. He stared up at the numbers that flickered at the passing floors.
The aura of sex and passion that almost visibly rolled from his body was overwhelming in this smallspace. It took all my self-control not to hit the button that stopped the elevator and beg him to take me.
Instead, I bit my lower lip harder between my teeth. So hard, I wouldn't have been surprised to feel warm blood. He gave me a nervous glance as if he knew exactly the effect he was having. Then he said, "Maybe I should have taken the stairs."
Saliva trickled down my throat with my gasp of shock. I coughed and sputtered. He steadied me with a touch that made my arousal increase.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" I got the words out with difficulty.
He looked guilty. "My name is Jake Kosevo. I recently moved into the building."
"Luby Jones," I mumbled, not able to meet his eyes, because of the thick heat trickling between my legs. "Welcome."
The elevator doors opened. "This is my floor," he said. "Nice to meet you."
He'd started out of the elevator and the box suddenly gave way and books tumbled everywhere. He swore something in a language I didn't recognize.
I tried not to gasp when I saw the titles of the books. There were words like "magic" and "sorcery" in them, one even said "demonology." A shiver of fear went through me.
"Will you hold the elevator button for me while I gather these?" he asked.
I stabbed at the open button with a stiff finger while he scrambled to collect his books. I tried hard not to breathe or look at his rear end. Did I mention that his voice was wonderful, totally masculine, like rough, dark silk?
It obviously had been way too long since I'd been with a man.
"Let me help you carry them to your place." The words tumbled out of my mouth. I almost clapped my hand to my mouth in astonishment. Did I invite myself to the man's apartment? A man for whom I felt I'd barter with the devil for his touch?
"I appreciate it," he said.
I stumbled behind him through his door, awkwardly holding onto an armful of books whose titles scared me half to death. Apparently fear didn't affect my sex drive, because my gaze fastened to his rear like it was glued when he bent over to pile the books on the floor.
"I'll take those," he said, reaching for the books. His closeness flustered me so much I almost dropped them.
I dragged my gaze from his body and looked around his apartment. He had no furniture and what looked like a sleeping bag lay in the middle of the floor.
"Thanks a lot," he said.
"It's okay." I'd never seen a porn movie in my life, but imagined naughty scenarios that ended up with me bare-assed on the floor were flitting through my mind.
Inner alarms rang. "Um, I better get going," I said, edging toward the door. "Nice to meet you. Welcome to the building." Then before I could shame myself, I wheeled and fled.
Back at my apartment, I sank to the sofa without kicking off my shoes the way I usually do. My mouth was dry, and dampness was still sticky between my thighs.
The phone rang.
"Luby, can I borrow your car?" Danni asked. "I need to take Allen to a birthday party in an hour."
"What happened to your car?"
"Marcus took it."
"You're joking. You allowed that rusty Negro to take your car when you know you needed to take your son out tonight?" I asked. What was the matter with that girl? She was addicted to a certain type of man and too much of her brain was wired between her legs. The thought reminded me of Jake.
"I didn't let Marcus take my car, he took it on his own."
An idea lit up in my head. There was no way that guy in the elevator was for me and Danni needed help in the man department in a major way. To be frank, he wasn't what I wanted either. But he'd be perfect for Danni. He definitely had the sex appeal to make her forget about that sorry Marcus.
Danni liked black men and black men only, although she was a petite, pretty blonde with a generous chest and big blue eyes. I know, once you go black, you don't go back, but it was deeper than that. She had issues and apparently sleeping with black men helped.
Most sexually color-conscious white girls like that were subconscious racists wanting only to degrade themselves, but I'd known Danni long enough to see she didn't have a bigoted bone in her body. Once I'd suggested therapy and she went off on me.
But it wasn't that she liked the brothers that bothered me; it was the sort of brother she went for. Danni always ended up with thugs, dangerous thugs.
She'd get her heart beaten down, her apartment ripped off, and niggas hanging around who knew to the minute when her paycheck was coming.
Danni needed help. I had to figure out a way to hook her up with Jake.
"I have a guy I want you to meet," I said.
"Marcus and I-"
"Are a train wreck. C'mon, this guy is fine." Danni had a thing for luscious babes and the babe on the elevator was as luscious as they come.
"Mmmmm, what's his build?"
"Just how you like 'em, tall and built, but lean."
"Is he light or dark-skinned?"
There it was. Danni wasn't asking if he were white or black, she was asking about skin tone. She assumed I'd hook her up with a brother. I knew she'd have a fit once she saw Jake was white, because she had let me know several times that she was a woman of definite tastes.
I took the cowardly way out. "He's light-skinned," I said.
"Okay, when, where and how?" Danni asked with a sigh of resignation.
"I'm not sure yet, but when I am, you'll promise to meet him?"
"Sure," she said, relief in her voice.
"C'mon and get the car keys then."
"Thanks, Luby. You're the best friend ever."
"Yeah, yeah." I didn't want to dwell on how much of my motivation to fix Danni up was because I wanted to have a reason to see Jake again.
I hung up the phone feeling uneasy. I wasn't tripping over that guy, was I? My grandmother didn't raise that kind of fool.
I was restless inside. Dissatisfied. Maybe we're creatures with finite timetables after all, and Grandma was right about mine running out.
I was twenty-six years old and I'd been out of law school for two years. I believed that my job, my friends, the church, Grandma, and the occasional date were enough. Like a lot of other people I knew, I thought Mr. Right was out there, and he'd find me eventually. I'd never felt the keen edge of need for a man before. Maybe it was past time.
I reached out and picked up the newspaper from the couch. I turned the pages, unseeing, while I considered my options.
I went to church every Sunday, was active in the choir and the woman's group, and traveled to fellowship with other churches whenever I had the opportunity.
The good Christian man I'd hoped for never materialized. I wanted a professional, educated man, but most important, I wanted a man with Christian principles. I wanted a man who was a pillar of the church and his community. A strong black man whom I could lean on and trust.
But there were a whole lot of sisters like me, looking for exactly the same brother.
* * *
I needed my yellow silk shirt that Cat had because it went with the navy blue suit I wanted to wear to work tomorrow. Cat never gives anything back.
I knocked on the door, and Cat opened it, putting her finger to her lips so I'd be quiet. Her husband Darryl was asleep on the couch in front of the television with ESPN on. A fine line of saliva ran from his mouth and down his chin.
She motioned me into the kitchen. I'd known both Danni and Cat for the six years we'd all lived in the building. We paid primo rent in one of the high rises near the Plaza, but for me, it was worth it. I thought the area was one of the best things about Kansas City.
Folks often mistook Cat and me for sisters because we're both small, exactly the same height and frame, but Cat was slimmer. She said she wished she had my tits and ass, and sometimes I wished I had her size four.
Cat has slanty hazel eyes that were a legacy from some unknown white folks, along with light golden skin. She'd told me her natural hair was kinky and short, burned off by relaxers, but her weave was a fabulous one, her hair looked straight, long, black, and shiny.
Her full name was Catherine Maria Bronson- Harris, a kindness compared to my Luby Uniquoncie Jones. My mother must have hated me at birth.
Cat opened the refrigerator door and put a cold beer in my hand. "There was this babe in the hallway," she said. "He was so hot, it was fuckin' incredible. My panties are still damp."
"Jake, right?" I said.
"You know him?"
"I met him in the elevator the other day. He's ... quite amazing."
"He was lucky I didn't rape him on the spot," Cat said.
"Me too," I said, staring off into the distance.
Cat choked on her beer. "What did you say?"
I laughed, tickled. Cat thought I was such a Goody Two-Shoes. "I said, me too."
"Damn, girl, what is with that guy?" Cat asked. "I've seen good-looking guys before, but shit."
"I was thinking he'd be perfect for Danni," I said.
Cat's eyes narrowed. "She doesn't like white guys."
"She doesn't like her yearly pelvic exam either, but it's good for her. You know she should be doing better."
"Shouldn't we all?" Cat said, taking a sip of beer.
"You have to admit, Danni's pathetic. A pretty, slim white girl, living the same hell as a hefty sista."
Cat laughed. "Could be poetic justice."
"Nah, we should save her from her own silly self."
"And a fine white boy is going to do it?" Cat asked.
"It's a start," I said.
"How are we going to set them up?"
"I'm not sure."
Cat shook her head. "You're all talk and no action."
Cat got out a skillet, set it on the stove and opened the refrigerator. I settled back on the stool and sipped my beer, enjoying the company. I was in no rush to collect my shirt.
"Fuck!" Cat suddenly yelled.
I flinched. "What's wrong with you?" I asked her.
She glared into the refrigerator. "The hamburger I put in the refrigerator to thaw this morning is gone. Goddamn. Darryl!"
"Darryl!" she yelled again, an octave higher.
"What is it?" His voice was sleepy and irritated, but not nearly as irritated as Cat.
"What did you do with the hamburger in the refrigerator?"
"Uh, I was hungry."
Cat slammed the refrigerator door shut. I stood up, figuring it was time I headed home. She stalked into the living room. I decided to stay in the kitchen until the worst of it blew over.
"You ate a whole pound of hamburger? What the fuck is wrong with you? I was planning on making spaghetti for dinner."
"Cook something else."
"Everything else is frozen. Looks like you're going to be taking me out to eat."
"I'm tired, Cat."
"Doing what? You ain't done shit all day."
Darryl was a firefighter. He worked one day on, where he was at the station for twenty-four hours, and two days off. Cat worked nine to five as a copywriter in a company that put out trade magazines by the dozen. She didn't like her job much.
"Motherfucker, you were home all day, why didn't you get off your lazy ass and clean the house and cook dinner!" Cat screamed.
I guessed now rather than later would be a good time to leave.
"Bitch, please," Darryl said.
Oh no, he didn't say that. I darted toward the door, and closed it behind me before the hell I knew was coming broke out. They didn't even notice me in the heat of their battle. I'd call Cat later and ask her to bring my shirt. The more I looked at Cat and Darryl, the more it looked as if the state of marriage was way overrated.
I trekked down to the laundry room late Friday night. It was a time when I could usually count on it being empty. I could also usually count on my not having a date.
I felt his presence before I saw him. I know that sounds corny, but it was true. Jake crouched on the floor, struggling to open a gigantic box of Tide.
Dammit, I wanted to rip that white boy's pants clean off. What was going on with me?
Chapter TwoDraw me, we will run after thee ... -Song of Songs, 1:4
I loaded my clothes in the dryer and tried to look at him out of the corner of my eye without turning my head. There was a foreign air about him, along with something soulful and melancholy in his light eyes. I could tell he had secrets.
I inhaled and let it out slow. Dang, he was fine. "Hi. Need some help with that big box of detergent?" I asked.
He looked up and smiled at me. I damn near fainted. "Luby," he said. "Good to see you again."
He remembered my name. He stood and my skin started burning along with everything else down there. I thought I was the type to need some direct action to go with visuals before I could get turned on to this extent. But merely being in the same room with this man was setting me on fire.
"I think I've got it," he said as he found the tag that allowed him to rip the box top open. "Do you think liquid is better than powder?" he asked.
"I always use liquid, mainly because it's easier to carry." I twirled my hair with my index finger. My hormones had moved in and taken over my brain completely.
"Choice of detergent must be habit. We always used powder back home, so I grabbed this gigantic box," he said.
"You recently moved here?" I asked.
"Yeah. I came in from out of state."
I retreated to the far end of the small laundry room and started throwing my clothes into a washer. Jake overwhelmed me. He looked cosmopolitan and sophisticated, despite his scruffy dress. He probably moved from New York or somewhere like that. "Where are you from?" I asked.
"Montana. My family has a ranch there."
My eyebrows shot up. Montana? A rural type? Unbelievable. He looked dark, lean, foreign and intense. He was the dead opposite of sunny, cornfed and content Montana ranchers I'd imagined, or even a dark and dangerous cowboy type.
There was something sophisticated and worldweary about him. He had eyes that looked as if they'd seen all. There was sadness about him that gave him a devastating little boy charm. Can I take care of you, baby? I'll make you happy.
I twisted my mind away from my musing and lascivious thoughts and searched for witty repartee. "So what brings you to Kansas City? Your job?" I asked, the witty repartee part of my brain failing miserably.
"I needed a change."
I waited but that was all he was going to say.
He glanced at me and I swallowed hard. Moistening my lips, I summoned my courage to ask him, "I'm having a few friends over for dinner tomorrow. Why don't you drop by and meet some of your neighbors?"
There. I did it.
He smiled like the sun rising between my thighs. "I'd like that," he said.
"Is seven-thirty all right? I'm in apartment 512."
"Well, see you then. I better go." I wheeled and fled as if a pack of demon hounds were behind me, leaving my clothes abandoned in the washer.
I'd get them later. Way later. Maybe tomorrow.
I always went to Grandma's on Saturday morning and took her shopping. She still lived in the same house I grew up in, with white siding and a small yard that we kept filled with flowers in the spring and summer, I loved coming home on Saturdays to my good childhood memories.
But as soon as I walked into the house that morning, Grandma reminded me of a particularly bad memory. "I heard from your mother," she said.
I frowned. "What's the matter?"
"The home says she needs some more underwear and nightgowns. We'll pick some up when we're out and run by to drop them off."
Excerpted from Mr. Right Now by Monica Jackson Copyright © 2005 by Monica Jackson. Excerpted by permission.
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