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Wives Fiancées, and Side-Chicks of Hotlanta
By Shereé Whitfield
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Shereé Whitfield
All rights reserved.
Six months earlier ...
"What in God's green creation have I gotten myself into?"
Sasha stood in the living room of her new apartment located in what looked to be a fairly decent neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia. It wasn't the best. It wasn't the worst. But then again, she had never been to Atlanta a day in her life before this afternoon, so how would she know? She'd have to feel the area out and then determine if it met not only her needs, but her standards, which were by all means anything but below average. Keeping it one hundred, they were actually higher than the normal person's. And Sasha had no qualms nor made apologies about having above average criteria when it came to all things in life. What some people were willing to settle for, she wouldn't think twice to. That didn't mean she felt she was better than everybody else, but try telling that to some of the so-called friends she'd come across.
"Always acting like some white girl."
"Sasha thinks she's better than everybody else."
"She lives one block from the hood, not in one of Trump's towers."
"She thinks her shit don't stank 'cause her nose too far up in the air to smell it."
It was nothing unusual for Sasha to hear these comments made about her — not only from the mean girls back when she was in high school, but now she even heard them from grown women. Sasha shook it off as pure jealousy. She'd always had an attitude that exuded confidence. It wasn't her fault hating-ass hoes mistook it for conceit.
Sasha was poised and well spoken. Every other word out of her mouth was not a cuss word or ghetto slang. She chose college over the club, and chose independence over becoming the baby momma of a dope boy like some people she.
So what if her playlist was smooth jazz instead of rap or R & B songs about screwing and getting butts eaten like groceries. People needed to get over themselves, or better yet, get over the fact that Sasha was living her life how she wanted: a life with no regrets. A life she didn't need to take a vacation from. It would do folks good not to concern themselves at all with her business and start fostering their own game plan for their personal come-up and success the same way she had done. That way they wouldn't be hatin', but participatin'. That way everybody could be celebratin'.
The funny thing was, because Sasha carried herself with such class and grace, hood chicks thought that gave them a pass to try her. Little did they know, Sasha had a tank full of ratchetness that she kept on reserve. She could go toe to toe and tongue to tongue with the best of them, if taken there. Thank God, though, that she'd never had to embarrass herself or her mother by going there. But you best believe she'd pack her bags and take the trip if need be. But again, her momma hadn't raised her like that, to be a messy instigator. But she hadn't raised her to be no punk either.
An only child, Sasha had been spoiled by her mother, who raised her singlehandedly. Not Kardashian spoiled, but what she got, even if it was a little, seemed like a lot, considering she didn't have any siblings to divvy it up with. So it was safe to say that Sasha wasn't really into sharing, which was typical of an only child.
One good thing about not having any brothers or sisters was that Sasha didn't have to worry about hand-me-down clothing from older siblings, or being forced to give away her favorite article to a younger sibling. As much as Sasha was into clothing and fashion — she had been playing dress-up in her mother's closet ever since she could crawl to it — that would have been cruel and unnecessary punishment.
When most teenagers' bedroom walls were covered with the latest star in film and music or the "it" teen idol, Sasha's were always covered with poster boards of outfits she'd cut out from magazines, sometimes mixing a shirt one model might have had on and placing it over a skirt another model was donning. Her eye for coordinating outfits was impeccable and unique.
Sasha's mother took note of her daughter's interest in clothes, and when the latest fashions came out, she couldn't always afford to get them for her child immediately, but she always managed to make a way eventually, as soon as they went on sale. By then other girls at school would have already shown theirs off, so Sasha would put a little extra spin on hers by either removing this or sewing on that ... anything to make it unique. Pretty soon when the kids would see her sporting one of her creations, they'd say, "Wow, another Sasha Original, huh?" At least the ones who didn't mind giving props where props were due.
Some girls who'd had a beef with her since elementary even humbled themselves, asking Sasha to hook up their wardrobe with her skills. This was definitely where Sasha's interest in fashion was piqued. She breathed, drank, and ate fashion, even choosing fashion and design as her major in college. And now here she was in Hotlanta, hell bent on building the empire to reach her ultimate goal of becoming a fashion mogul.
Just six months ago, the day she'd graduated college in Cleveland, Ohio, Sasha had basically opened up a map of the United States, closed her eyes, and pointed. Wherever her finger landed once she opened her eyes was where she'd decided she'd go live. No ifs, ands, or buts. Not even her dear and very persuasive mother could talk her out of the move.
"Are you sure that's where God wants you to go?" her mother had asked her.
Sasha and her mother attended Sasha's grandmother's church on occasion. They didn't have a church they called home that they attended regularly, but that still didn't keep Sasha's mother from always bringing God into things whenever she could.
"At least it's Atlanta," Sasha had said when she'd opened her eyes to find her manicured nail resting smack dead on the city of Atlanta. "And not some place like Alaska or Utah." It didn't matter where Sasha's finger landed, if it wasn't in Cleveland, Ohio, her mother wasn't going to be happy. She wanted her baby girl near her, no matter what God said.
Sasha looked around the apartment in awe. Not in awe of how grand or sophisticated it was, but how totally opposite it looked compared to the pictures she'd seen of it on the Internet. She'd watched enough court TV shows that she should have known better than to pay a deposit on a place she hadn't physically inspected. Folks sued one another for this type of scam all of the time. But this wasn't some vacation spot she could check out of if it wasn't to her satisfaction. This was where she had to live for at least a year, according to the lease she'd signed less than five minutes ago.
Sasha was already using her life's savings to move from Ohio to Atlanta. Spending extra money to take a trip just to come see the place with her own two eyes would have put a major dent into her finances. She needed to hold onto every last dime she had for as long as she could. She had big dreams in moving to Atlanta. Dreams cost time and money. She had neither to waste.
Most people had a five-year plan. Sasha had a one-year plan. Five-year plans were for people who planned on taking a break to sleep. For Sasha, sleep was overrated. She'd sleep at her vacation home in the Hamptons, which was part of her dream. No matter where on the map she decided would be her permanent residence, she'd planned on having a vacation home in the Hamptons. After seeing a reality show where the group of girlfriends vacationed in the Hamptons every summer, Sasha added that to the vision board she kept stored in her head. But for now, it looked like Atlanta was home year 'round.
"I can't believe you're going there without even having a job in line," Sasha's mother had said in an effort to talk her out of going to the city that was being branded the Black Hollywood.
"I've signed up with a temp service. They have my résumé. They assured me they'd have no problem placing me," Sasha said. "I'll start with something temporary until I can find something permanent in my field. I'll be fine, Ma. Everything is going to work out, trust me. I wouldn't be doing it if I wasn't sure."
Looking around at mistake number one, AKA her apartment, Sasha didn't even know if she could trust herself, let alone get her mother to trust her. She made a mental note to exaggerate the beauty and size of the apartment once she called her mother to check in.
"A thousand dollars a month for this little ole piece of place?" Sasha questioned, standing there with her suitcase at her feet, purse swinging from her arm and a cardboard box in her other arm.
She walked over to the tiny kitchen where, if two people wanted to share cooking duties, they'd be all on top of each other trying to maneuver. Perhaps Sasha could overlook that, considering she was one person and didn't plan on having any roommates. It was a one-bedroom apartment and nobody was sleeping on her couch — that is, once she purchased one.
Taking in the smell that permeated the place of the new beige carpet, Sasha walked back through the living room to the first door on the right. It was a half bath, toilet and sink. Nothing really to complain about there. Had she been the one to design it, she would have chosen a sturdier cabinet base for the sink. "Did they find the cheapest cabinet Home Depot stocks?" She opened the cabinet door and then let it slam shut. She looked down and refused to voice her concerns about the cheap floor tile that was bubbling up and had glue capped up around some of the edges.
"I should have kept my black tail in Ohio," Sasha mumbled to herself. She quickly rebuked her own words. That's probably exactly what all the nay-sayers would want her to do, fail. Yeah, people smiled in her face, complimented her on her fashion sense, and some probably genuinely wanted her to do well ... just not better than them. Well, Sasha would do better.
"You'll be back. You're too stuck up for the A," one of Sasha's so-called friends had told her after Sasha shared the news about her pending move to Atlanta. "Besides, you all bougie and you going down there where there ain't nothing but black folks." She shook her head adamantly and shooed her hand. "You'll never make it there. You'll be running back home to be with all your friends, because I don't see you making any new ones down there. You'll never fit in."
Sasha pushed her reserve button two seconds before she reached for ol' girl's cheap red-and-blond weave and pulled her close to her face. She'd wanted her to be able to at least read her lips just in case she didn't hear her clearly when she gave her the read of her life. But instead, she ran on the remaining fumes of dignity she had in her system and simply smiled, batted her eyes, and said sarcastically, "Thank you so much for the vote of confidence." Needless to say, that heifer didn't get an invite to the going away party.
Although her friend's words were meant to discourage Sasha, they had only encouraged her that much more. If only her critics knew that they were the fuel motivating Sasha. Failing in Atlanta and going back to Ohio was not going to happen. It was not an option. She was Sasha Renea Wellington, a woman with a plan to make it in the ATL, so that is exactly what she was going to do, no matter what it took. Once Sasha made her mind up and put the period at the end of the sentence, that was it. Nothing else needed to be said. She could show a person she was about her business better than she could tell them.
Sasha had been saving up every dime she'd earned since graduating high school to make this kind of move. She'd worked as a waitress at every restaurant she could while at the same time attending college. She'd even worked in a bookstore and at a call center. She got a headache every time she thought about how much money she owed in student loans for her four years of higher education. But those were all deferred for now. By the time Sasha would have to start making payments, she planned on being the owner of one of the hottest boutiques in Atlanta. That meant she had one year to achieve such, or get an extension on her deferral.
Closing the bathroom door behind her, Sasha walked into the room right across the hall from the bathroom, which was the only other room left in the apartment. As she looked around the bedroom, all she could do was shake her head. "This isn't any bigger than the bathroom." She allowed her head to fall back. Her spirits were darkening by the second, but trying to stay positive, she lifted her head, thankful that at least she had a private attached bathroom. She walked over to one of two doors in the room and opened it. It was a closet. It could only be considered a walk-in closet if a burglar broke into her apartment and she had to walk in it to hide.
She took a deep breath. Stay positive, Sasha. She opened the other door that led to her private bath. A toilet, a sink, and a shower. Not even a linen closet, but a floor-to-ceiling shelf instead to store her things. It was small. She felt like Snow White invading the seven dwarves' spot. But she could take the small space. Again, it was just her, but what she couldn't take was the fact that there was no bathtub. That had always been Sasha's thing, her way of winding down. A bubble bath and, on rare occasions, a bottle of bubbly. No yoga. No Whoosah. No meditation. She'd tried it all and only one thing put her in a good place after a bad day. "No tub!" This was the deal breaker. "Oh, hell to the no!"
"I can't do this," Sasha told herself. Realizing that can't was not supposed to be a part of her vocabulary, she took her own words back. "You can and you will." She paused. "But how?" she asked herself, trying to hold in her tears. How in the world was she going to make this work? She didn't know, but she knew someone who might. Her one true friend and confidante who had been her biggest cheerleader from day one.
Sasha pulled out her phone and dialed. She placed the phone to her ear while the phone rang. It barely rang once before the person on the other end picked up.
"Didn't I tell you to call me as soon as you got there? What took you so long? You had me scared to death! It wasn't nothing but a, what, nine-hour drive or so? It's been ten hours? You know I'm an ID Channel addict."
"Ma, please just relax," Sasha said, now wondering if calling her mother had been such a good idea after all. She wanted her mother to help calm her down and give her some advice on her current situation. Instead, it looked as though her mother was the one who needed calming down. "Why didn't you just call me if you were that worried?"
"I dialed your number so much I broke a nail," her mother admitted.
"I didn't hear my phone ringing."
"That's because I always hung up once I got to the last number." Her mother exhaled. "You're my baby and you always will be, but you're not that little girl who I always had to guide. You're a grown woman now, Sasha, and with you being halfway across the world now, it's fine time I start treating you like one."
"Ma, I'm not halfway across the world. I'm still right here in the United States of America." Sasha shook her head at her mother's exaggeration.
"You know what I meant," her mother said in a scolding tone. "Anyway, I raised you to be strong and independent. I have to trust my job as a mother and believe that you've got this. You don't need me always telling you what to do. I've taught you well. You can figure things out on your own." Her mother exhaled. "And I sure am glad that you figured out how to get to Atlanta on your own. And that you are safe and sound." Her mother paused and then said in a worried tone, "You are safe and sound, aren't you?"
"Yes, Ma," Sasha said. A smile spread across her lips. Her mother was something else. She always had a way of soothing Sasha, even when she didn't know that was exactly what she was doing.
Sasha's felt that her mother was right; she was on her own now. She couldn't call her mother up every time she had a problem or had a situation. Well, she could, but she didn't want to. It was fine time she started handling everything in her life herself, especially the little things. She'd start with handling the tub situation.
"I am safe and sound," Sasha told her mother. "And that's all I was calling to let you know." Sasha smiled, happy with her decision not to burden her mother with the first thing gone wrong. "I'm going to call you later, once I'm settled and everything."
Excerpted from Wives Fiancées, and Side-Chicks of Hotlanta by Shereé Whitfield. Copyright © 2017 Shereé Whitfield. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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