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Also Known As, Neena
By Taikia Sherise
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Taikia Sherise
All rights reserved.
Before stepping out of her brand new Lexus GS 350, she caught a quick glimpse of her swollen, blood-shot red eyes and disheveled appearance. She wouldn't be caught dead walking into the lobby of her Chicago Loft; especially when behind the front desk stood Troy. Troy was the sexiest dark-toned brother that she had always fantasized about. It was something about him that made her wish she had fulfilled her dreams of being with him.
She reached over-head for her black Lugano Diamond shades, glossed up her lips and got out of the car. Entering the lobby, she raised her hand to give her normal flirtatious wave to Troy only to notice it wasn't him. There was a woman in his place who looked uninterested as to who had come and gone. She hit the elevator button and got on.
When she reached the 18th floor, she could hear the bed calling her name. It had been a very long day at work that turned into a disturbing evening. No other man had ever loved her the way he did. This man was all the man she knew that could provide her truth, great advice and criticism with the utmost respect and love. After fighting pancreatic cancer for two years, Neena Torry had lost her daddy.
In her eyes, her father could do no wrong. Yea, he had flaws, as any other person. But as a child, she saw nothing but great things in him. Everything she had accomplished was because of him and his encouraging words. Sometimes he wouldn't say much but the little things that he did say, made a huge impact on her life. She always wanted to make him proud of her and deep down; she had hoped that she did.
At 20, she got her first apartment and a semi-live in boyfriend her parents knew nothing about. It's funny because every time they would come to visit, Neena would pack up all of Donovan's things and shove them into the overcrowded storage facility in the basement of the building complex. He hated that too. She knew her father may have had an idea of what was going on by the look on his face. He would ask her several times, "Are you sure everything's okay with your living situation. I mean are you comfortable?" She would always give him a nod letting him know that she was good. She thought he was more so worried about her mother finding out and losing her mind but Donovan was a cool guy. He was smart, resourceful, and definitely convenient; not to mention, he paid the bills. He even helped purchase her first car, a 1993 Chevy Beretta. It was deep plum colored and held a ton of memories for her and her girls. Of course more cars came after, but Chevy Betty was her first true love.
Before he died, Neena's father used to tell her that she needed to come around more often but trying to make senior partner at one of Chicago's most prestigious criminal defense law firms took a lot of hard work, time and dedication. She tried to be around her family more but every family has some kind of issue that just keeps you away and her family was full of them.
With her head pounding and mind wondering of what's to come with planning arrangements, and dealing with loud, ignorant family members, she reached over to her nightstand and pulled out two Aleve. Hoping that this would ease the headache, the phone rang. Really, at 3am! Hmpf, this better not be a booty call she thought to herself. She looked at the caller id and it read, Nosaj James. "Well well Mr. James, tonight is not your night. I'll catch you on the rebound." She turned over and prayed that the loss of her father was all a dream.
* * *
The next morning, getting up out of bed was not an option. She had to meet with family at her mom's house to get everything situated. After she showered, she stared out of the cathedral-like window thinking of who she should call and share her hurt with. Of course she knew she had to call her best home girl, Carmen. Carmen loved Neena's father as if he were her own and it would probably hurt her just as much. Carmen and Neena grew up together in the roughest parts of Chicago. They've known each other since they were 6. Shared tears over the years, secrets and great laughs. Carmen was a very successful Pediatrician in Oak Park, IL.. She had always been good with kids, unlike Neena. Although neither of them had any, she was really good at making them feel comfortable and keeping them quiet. She had more patience than Neena, even when they were younger.
She charged up her cell and dialed Carmen's home number. "Damn, no answer. I guess I'll try her cell" she whispered. As soon as she thought to call her back, the phone rang.
"Hey girl, sorry, I was asleep and heard that damn cell phone ringing but I didn't feel like budging. What's up?" she asked in a low toned-husky voice.
"He's gone girl. His long battle is over. My daddy is gone and it hurts. He'll never see me get married or bear a child. Wow, I hope I made him proud." She tried hard not to weep; she had just soothed her headache.
Sniffling on the other end of the phone Carmen says, "I'm so sorry Neena. I know how you felt about your father but he's resting and no longer in pain. He's definitely proud of you girl, you're doing yo thang. Don't worry, all that you will do going forward, he'll be watching from above." Her words of comfort couldn't have come at a better time for Neena. She knew she could depend on her favorite girl to make her feel better and lift her spirits. "If there is anything you need, just let me know." She wanted so bad to be comforted. Even after receiving deepest sympathies from friends and loved ones, there was still and always will be a void and empty feeling. "Well if you can come with me to my mom's that would really help" she said.
Carmen lived at least 35 minutes away from her and it would take her at least an hour to get to Neena's mother's house. "Um, well, ok. Let me get up and put something on and I'll meet you there." She felt a little relieved because she needed her friend by her side. She knew that Carmen had a travel ahead of her if she were to drive to her mom's house. But this was important to her and besides, Carmen was family. They've supported one another through all kinds of problems. Especially, when Carmen 'inherited' the extremely lavish, 3 story home in Burr Ridge, IL. Well at least that's what they joke about on Red Wine & Dark Chocolate Nights.
Carmen had worked hard at accomplishing the things that she had and was not going to let some man screw it all up. Both women had their rough patches with men but Rasheed was her last straw. Carmen had dated Rasheed for years. They were high school sweethearts and college lovers. Rasheed was never the encouraging type. He would always downsize her or make her feel as if he was superior to her. But she loved him. During their last year at Morehouse, she discovered she was pregnant and the type of oh so perfect family that Rasheed pretends to come from, they were forced to have a quick ass wedding. Not even within her full first trimester, she had a miscarriage. It was such a sad time but the two of them surprisingly held strong. They came back to Chicago where Carmen opened her practice in Oak Park and Rasheed worked as an ER doctor with the University of Chicago. Their marriage had grown sour long before the cheating happened. Well, as Rasheed called it, Life Coaching those in need. Yea, funny how all of the "life coaching" was performed on single and attractive, young women. Huh, guess he thought the grass was greener on the other side. The divorce wasn't nasty at all. In fact, Carmen didn't want shit from him, which made him feel even guiltier and look even more pathetic. On their day in court, he had the face of a lost puppy dog. He moved out. She got the house, alimony and found herself again.
Neena grabbed her favorite pair of jeans, her comfy blue sweatshirt, flip flops and her Berkin and quickly headed out the door. Her stomach was growling like crazy but she couldn't eat. Not that she ate big breakfasts anyway. She usually ran off of coffee and bananas and only ate that during late lunch time. Approaching the elevator she can hear the couple next door at it again. She yearned for sexual excitement; hair pulling, dirty talking and ass smacking, just down right sweaty and nasty sex. She reminisced of what was short lived with Nosaj. It was fun until her feelings and emotions got all involved. He was the complete opposite of her. The complete opposite of the kind of man she would even talk to. Maybe that's why she loved him so much. Or maybe it was because he was so blessed between his legs.
Whenever it was time to see him, she would play one of her favorite Lauryn Hill songs, Sweetest Thing, and do at least 5 minutes worth of Kegel exercises to make sure she was ready. "In and contract.... hold it ... hold it ... release and relax" she'd sing along while the songs playing ... The sweetest thing I've ever known was like the kiss on the collarbone ... Soft caress of happiness ... The way you walk, your style of dress I wish I didn't get so weak Oooh, baby, just to hear you speak. There was something about the lyrics in that song that made her love Nosaj even more. She always felt like a sneaky, freaky teenager around him. She loved how aggressive he was with her in bed. At first, it was too much for her to handle but after a while, she was in control; especially on top. Nosaj was special to her. She had even named a couple of her toys after him and would use them whenever she thought of him. Neena could never figure him out because he kept his heart closed. She could tell that he didn't want to let her in but she was being persistent and it got her nowhere. Maybe his love for someone else was so strong that he didn't have room for her. Maybe she was too much for him or not enough she often wondered. After sleeping with him for so long, she thought she wanted more, but he proved her wrong real quick and moved to Atlanta with some girl that he shared a child with. He hurt her real bad and didn't even know or just didn't care. She had always wanted to be happy with her choice of a man. Maybe that was the problem; she was doing all the choosing and chasing.... Makes me argue just to see ... how much you're in love with me.... more valuable than all I own ... like your precious, precious, precious, precious dark skin tone.
* * *
In the lobby, she was approached with a warm, kind smile.
"Good morning Miss Torry" in the deepest baritone.
"Morning Troy" she responded.
"You look pretty dressed down, not going in to work today" he asked.
"Na, I had a really rough night." She wanted to stop and chat, but was exhausted from her brief conversation with Carmen about her plans for her father's home going service. She did however want to know about the woman who had replaced him the night before. Guess she'll be nosy another time.
She thought of calling David but despised him. She thought it would only be fair to let him know that her father had passed away considering the fact that he was close with him and dated his sorry ass for 6 years too long. Just thought he should know. She picked up her cell and looked at his nameless number, hit send and then hit end.
She pulled out of the garage and phoned her mother.
"Hello" a very somber voice on the other end says.
"Hey mom, I'm on my way to the house" as she listened to the muffled voices in the background Neena asked, "Who's there with you?"
"Just your sister and your Aunts" her mother replied.
"Ok, well, I'll be there shortly".
After she ended the conversation, she reminisced about the time she and her friends got caught drinking and the look on her mother's face when she got home. It was a look Neena had never seen before. She looked hell of crazy. Yep, she was scared and knew that she was disappointed in her. It all started when she was a junior in high school and everybody knew that this was the prime year to look forward to being seniors. You never really start participating in school events or going to any of the games unless you were in the band, a school-spirit freak or dating someone on the foot-ball or basketball team. But Junior year was the year. The year of rule breaking havoc, sex, hell of older cute guys and school participation. At the homecoming games, you had to bring you're A-game. You had to be looking sharp from head to toe, rocking the latest trends in fashion, showing off your hair-styles and arriving in your boyfriend's car, if he owned one. That was what it was about.
This was her first time ever drinking and she loved being able to be out late for the games plus her girls were with her. Carmen, Tiffiny, and Dani were Neena's homegirls and if one got into trouble, all got into trouble. That night was homecoming game night. Neena was dressed in black stonewashed I.O.U. jeans with a black see-through top that she hid in her backpack to get out of the house. She had the largest gold bamboo earrings on and paired this ensemble with her sister's favorite OPP Jacket. Carmen was dressed in light-colored Guess jeans with a jean Guess shirt to match and her favorite black and white Adidas. Dani represented the 'Madd Mustangs' to the fullest. She loved being a part of anything affiliated with the home team or school spirit. She was dressed in dark-colored jeans, a nice hunter green Pelle Pelle hoodie and a green & white snap back cap with the schools name and mascot on it. She was all smiles and the weird one of the bunch. Then there was Tiffiny, the mean one of the four is how the guys from high school would remember her. She wore light denim Levis overalls with a plaid shirt underneath and Jodeci boots. She couldn't get her name spray-painted on the side because that was extra money but she still looked fly. Long story short, they mixed a ton of drinks up; light, dark, fruity, whatever. Anything handed to them by upper classmen and was wasted! They ended up at a bowling alley in Lansing, Illinois and had no idea how they got there but surely remembered how they got home. Somehow, Neena's father found out where they were because by this time, its past curfew. He came storming into the bowling alley and someone called out to Neena in the girl's bathroom.
She was holding Dani's hair back while she puked and someone ran into the bathroom and yelled out to her, "Neena, yo daddy is out there looking for you. He's in the lobby!"
At first, she thought it was a joke until she came out and saw the look on her father's face.
"Get yo ass in this car and where are your friends. Round them up and let's go!" he shouted. She quickly sobered up and her father dropped everybody off and didn't say a thing to her all the way home.
The next morning, Neena thought she was going to sleep off the drunkenness. "Neena, get up! If you think you're not going to school today because you wanted to drink and be grown, you got another thing coming". Both Neena and Carmen showed up for class the next day hung over and inattentive.
Not long after graduation, Dani moved away to California with her father and never stayed in touch. Tiffiny moved to Virginia after high school and attended a community college there. It's been said that she's married with a few kids now but never kept in touch.
Neena pulled into her mother's drive way and took a deep breath before going in. She used the spare key and entered into a cold and solemn home. It was quiet. She walked downstairs into the den and saw her Aunt Neonna sitting on one end of the sofa and her sister, Naomi, at the other.
"Where's mom?" she asked. Naomi pointed towards the laundry room. She went in and saw her mother working diligently with laundry.
"Mommy" she said in a child-like voice.
Needra turned around and looked into a face that resembled hers and said, "Oh, hey baby. I didn't even hear you come in."
"I know. It's because you're in here with the washer and dryer going". Needra smiles and touches her daughter's cheek.
Growing up, she was always told that she looked just like her father which wasn't a bad thing. But at that very moment, she felt as if she was looking into a mirrored image of herself. She may have looked like her father, but she was more like her mother. All three of the Torry women had big beautiful, almond shaped eyes, long dark hair and curves like nobody's business. The only difference between Naomi and Neena was that Naomi was 5 years older and had shorter legs and smaller lips. Both had their father's nose and mother's cheeks, dark, smooth and scar-less skin with an eccentric, warm glow. But they were nothing alike. Naomi took on a different approach in life and thought that it owed her everything. Not knowing that whatever you put into life is what you get back. She was a three time divorcee and childless.
Excerpted from Also Known As, Neena by Taikia Sherise. Copyright © 2014 Taikia Sherise. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 & 1/2 Stars! What kind of started off a little slow to me, ended up being a steady paced thrill! The main character Neena, takes you on a journey, examining various relations (minus the ship)in her life. A story of lust, trust, friends and family, has an amazing ending. There were parts in the story where I literally laughed out loud. (Kudos for the humor). As a writer, we tend to be more critical but my 4 stars are really 4 ½. Outside of the minor cosmetic errors …..that would be the only short coming, which every writer goes through. So I would suggest proofreaders and editing in future writings. Great job! Looking forward to your future works and possibly co-penning something in the future! ~Terrence Ellery~ Author of “P.K.’s Betrayal” & “F.A.V.O.R.E.D.”
Such a great read, dying for the next installment