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The Cheating Curve
By PAULA T. RENFROE
DAFINA BOOKSCopyright © 2010 Paula T. Renfroe
All right reserved.
Chapter One"You are not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. You're in Brooklyn."
Langston N. Rogers paced in front of Pretty Inside while she waited for her best friend, Aminah, to arrive. It was Langston's every-other-Sunday-morning ritual. She would read the Sunday Times with her husband in bed. Make sweet love on top of the papers. Run five miles either on her treadmill or through Fort Greene Park. Shower. Then meet Aminah for their biweekly Session (Pretty Inside's special name for a mani-pedi). Afterward they'd brunch together somewhere in Brooklyn or occasionally Manhattan.
While Lang was more than anxious to get their Session started, she was in no rush to get off the phone with her new lover. They'd met at the Starbucks around the corner from her office almost three months before, and she hadn't even mentioned him to Aminah yet. It wasn't like them to keep secrets from each other, but she knew Aminah's sensitivity to infidelity all too well. Hell, her name meant "faithful" in Arabic. But it also meant "trustworthy." So if ever there was anyone Langston could share this indiscretion with, it was her best friend since childhood.
Lang whispered into her cell phone despite the fact that Atlantic Avenue was not bustling withpedestrians. She couldn't help lowering her voice and glancing behind her.
"I can't do that," she said softly, though not too resolutely. Her lover had just asked her to take off her panties and touch herself. "Aminah will be here any minute," she explained. "Plus I'll be sitting for over an hour without any drawers on, leaking and shit. I don't think so."
Dante Lawrence laughed. The image of the always-stylish, color-coordinated-even-down-to-her-undergarments Langston getting up from a chair with a wet spot on her designer mini-skirt tickled him initially. But the more he thought about it, the more the idea of his lover's toes soaking in warm, soapy water, while another woman sat beneath her washing her feet, pretending to glance up to ask if the temperature was okay while mesmerized by the sight of her pretty patron's luscious pearl peaking out from between her coppery brown thighs turned him on.
"I'm glad you find this so amusing," Lang said, a tad perturbed. "I was beginning to take you seriously."
"You should, because I am," Dante said unwaveringly.
"Come again?" Lang asked, pulling the phone away from her ear and looking at her tiny Motorola, a bit perplexed.
"They have a bathroom in your nail salon, right?"
"Go in there and take your panties off," Dante commanded. "Stick your index and middle finger in your mouth." He paused. "Lang? You listenin' to me?"
"Uh-huh" escaped from the back of her throat and passed between her lips in a slow, warm breath. Not the cool, exhaling, puckered-lips kind-the heated type. Like the warm breath you feel when you cup your hands around your mouth to do a fresh-breath check. Lang closed her eyes and leaned back against the building.
"I want you to suck on your fingers like you're sucking on a sticky cherry Blow Pop," he continued. "Then squeeze your nipple really hard with your thumb and your wet fingers."
Lang moaned into the phone with her eyes still closed.
"While you're doin' that, use the fingers on your other hand to rub your clit in a real ... slow ... circular ..."
Just then Aminah Anderson pulled up in her shiny jet-black Range Rover. She stopped her SUV right in front of the parking meter. Aminah immediately pushed the button to lower the passenger's-side window.
"Langston!" she yelled. "Girl, you all right?"
Lang snapped out of her orgasmic trance, whispered to Dante that she had to go, and closed her phone.
Aminah rushed over to Lang, leaving her keys in the ignition, the driver's-side door open, and her fuchsia suede Celine bag on the seat. "You look like you're about to faint or something," she said, putting her arms around Lang's shoulders. "Is it bad news? What's the matter? Sweetie, talk to me."
Lang loved Aminah's nurturing and protective nature. She was a true Cancer to the core, yet at thirty-three she could still be as naive and gullible as an overweight, acne-pocked, out-of-state teenager fresh off the Greyhound with dreams of landing on a billboard above Times Square.
"I'm fine, Minah," she flatly replied. "You, on the other hand, are out of your mind, leaving your keys in the truck, your bag on the seat, and your door open," she said, pointing toward the Range Rover. "You are not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. You're in Brooklyn."
Aminah sighed with genuine relief. "Well, then, why were you holding on to your cell phone like that, falling against the wall with your eyes closed? You looked like you just received the worst news of your life or something. You scared the crap out of me," she said, playfully punching Lang's shoulder.
"Oh, it was nothing," she lied, twirling a single strand of her #33 auburn, Spanish-wavy, weaved-on ringlets. "Sean called to tell me he was going to play ball at Chelsea Piers and wouldn't have time to straighten up like he promised." Lang couldn't tell Aminah the truth-not now anyway. "I was disappointed, that's all. I mean, damn, you know how much I love a spotless house, especially after a relaxing Sunday. Who wants to go home and clean?"
Aminah eyed her best friend suspiciously. They'd known each other since kindergarten, and after twenty-eight years of friendship, if she knew nothing else about Langston Neale Rogers, she knew when that girl was lying. Besides, hair twirling was always the dead giveaway. Aminah decided to play along anyway.
"Sweetie, I know you love your place clean and all, but you looked like you were on the verge of passing out. You're that disappointed?"
Lang hated lying to her best friend and didn't know how much longer she'd be able to do it. She began to tell Aminah the truth but glanced at her watch instead.
"Oh, my God! Minah, grab your keys and bag," she said frantically. "It's two minutes before noon, and you know Erika don't play with her strict-ass 'tough love' lateness policy. I wanted to find a new shade before we soaked."
Aminah put a few quarters in the meter and followed Langston inside, where they were greeted by the fruity smell of mango-scented candles and a huge smile from Richard, the fabulous and friendly receptionist. Rows and rows of scented candles, exotic lotions, and premier hair and skin-care products lined the shelves. Illume. Votivo. Pré de Provence. Archipelago. They passed through the muted gray door that separated the salon area from the beauty boutique out front.
In the nail room Aminah studied every brand of every shade of pink while Langston picked up all the bottles marked with a neon-green NEW sticker. Pink had been Aminah's favorite color since high school. One back-to-school shopping spree to Delancey Street on the lower east side of Manhattan with her father back in the mid eighties started her infatuation that soon blossomed into love and eventually led to her obsession with the color.
On that unseasonably cool late summer day, she'd salivated over racks and racks of cotton-candy-pink leather bombers with fur-trimmed hoods, admired the rose-dyed sheepskins with their matching hats and gloves, and copped her very first pair of high-heeled leather boots in hot pink off of Orchard Street. She was the flyest sophomore girl in Hempstead High School back in '86.
But there was always a science to which hue of the girlish color Aminah decided to wear and when. In her mind, people responded to her color choice accordingly, but in actuality she matched her attitude to the color. When she felt extrafeminine and needed some sensitivity or wanted to be pampered and treated gently-baby pinks. When she anticipated the need to be aggressive and firm, she layered herself in deep pinks with blue and purple undertones, like magenta, sometimes even cranberry or plum. And when she needed to play up her sexuality and use her feminine mystique to get her way, always something electric-usually fuchsia did the trick.
Today, however, there were simply too many shades and not nearly enough time. OPI. Dior. M.A.C. Bernadette Thompson. Argenteeny Pinkini. Vanity. Hawaiian Orchid. Jezebel. She went with the glittery Chanel Cry Baby because, quite frankly, she needed both a pick-me-up and some attention. Lang picked YSL's new bloody Red Desire.
The owner, Erika Kirkland, reminded them to turn off their cell phones before their services began. Lang saw that she'd missed three calls in that short time, one from Sean and two from Dante. Aminah barely even looked at her phone as she gladly shut it off and handed Erika her bag to put away.
While their nails soaked in ceramic bowls with aromatherapy stones, their feet in galvanized tins, Langston wondered how she'd tell Aminah about Dante. Aminah had been faithfully married to her high school sweetheart, Aaron "Famous" Anderson, for eleven years now. They'd married one month after she'd graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and Aminah was loyal to the core. She worked very hard to keep her family happily intact, and in Lang's opinion deserved a medal for it. But then Langston remembered that it was just last week that Aminah had admitted that she was getting tired of staying in a marriage with a husband every woman wanted a piece of-literally and figuratively. She'd cried on the phone for almost an hour after hearing yet another "blind item" gossip piece on The Cindy Hunter Hotness radio show on WBLS.
This hip-hop and R&B producer is screwing around yet again on his wife and the mother of his two children. This time he's banging out hip-hop's hottest video chick. Remember the last time he was rumored to be messing with black Hollywood's newest young thing? Will his wife's dumb ass finally leave him? If history gives us any indication, the answer is no. But then again, who are we to judge? How many of you listeners would give up the fabulous homes, the gorgeous jewels, the designer clothes and shoes, the exotic vacations, a generous allowance, and, let's face it, a fine-ass man? If she leaves him, where is she going, and whom is she going to? There's no guarantee that the next man will be faithful. But when is enough enough? When do you put your integrity and pride before material possessions? Listeners, what do you think? Hit me up at 866-CINDYFAX.
In actuality, anyone and everyone who knew Aminah, especially Lang, knew it was neither her vanity nor the pricey baubles and fancy trips that she was putting before her "integrity and pride." It was quite simply her love for her family-her husband, Fame, included. Langston decided not to tell her best friend about her lover. It seemed a little too insensitive at the moment. Instead she ventured into safer waters.
"So how are my godchildren doing?" Lang asked, as the manicurist massaged her feet with Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme. Alia was ten going on twenty, and Amir was eight going on forty. Both were gorgeous, intelligent, and wise beyond their years.
"Oh, they're doing just fine," Aminah responded, knowing Lang was avoiding something. She started to pry but decided against it. She had her own issues to grapple with.
"Sean and I were thinking about taking them down to our timeshare in Hilton Head when they come stay with us in August," Lang said, enjoying her foot massage.
Langston and her husband took their godchildren away as often as their schedules permitted and babysat them for one weekend every month. Sean had come up with the idea himself almost three years ago when Lang admitted she was too selfish to have children of her own just yet. He thought it was a good way to get her adjusted to the idea and show her how fun and rewarding children could actually be.
Sean was a big kid at heart anyway. He and Amir would play chess and video games till all hours while Alia and Lang hosted mini slumber parties watching DVDs, eating popcorn, and painting each other's nails.
Sean Rogers loved children so much he based his whole profession around having them. He was an English teacher at Boys and Girls High School in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. He thought it was the ideal career for a parent. He'd have the exact same vacation time as his children and pretty much the same working hours. And if ever his work schedule conflicted with his family time, he'd be more than happy to be a stay-at-home dad.
He loved his students at Boys and Girls but knew Lang wouldn't even consider giving up her job as the editor-in-chief of the two-year-old Urban Celebrity Magazine. And he definitely wasn't raising no latchkey kids. He'd been adamant about that. There were enough disenfranchised black children being cultivated by the streets, receiving their values and morals from awful television programs and their social mores from hip-hop and R&B lyrics. So if the sacrifice had to be made, he was more than willing to make it. Lang promised him that before she turned thirty-five she'd give him a baby, and he was holding her to her word.
"Oh, they'll enjoy that," Aminah said, admiring the color on both her feet and hands. "You know they love the beach, and Sean's so good at making sand castles, swimming, and barbecuing. Plus he's great with kids, too. I mean, really, Lang, that husband of yours is great at everything."
Not everything, Lang thought as they carefully moved to the drying stations, which were set up with two chairs, two sets of nail dryers on each side-one on the table, the other on the floor-and a flat-screen monitor mounted on the wall between them.
"You're so lucky to have him," Aminah continued. "He not only adores you but respects you."
All true, Lang thought. Sean was beautiful inside and out. He was Hershey-dark-chocolate brown with skin that reminded her of freshly whipped devil's-food cake batter as it was being slowly poured out of a mixing bowl. And he had the softest pair of full lips surrounded by an incredibly sexy, neatly trimmed goatee, with a set of the brightest naturally white teeth on this-here planet Earth. And he smiled so easily with that gorgeous mouth of his-so generously, so effortlessly.
Not to mention, Sean was physically fit. Lean. Ripped in all the right places-chest, back, arms, and abs-but not at all brolic, like he'd done seven to ten years upstate. While Sean was good in bed, he wasn't great. He liked it a notch above basic. They did it missionary, doggy, and froggy style. Sure he worked his hips and always put his back into it. He knew when to pull her hair, slap her ass, and ask whose pussy it was. He was especially gifted at the art of making sweet love and had successfully mastered the science of spooning and using his tongue. Sean was incredibly generous between the legs and the sheets. He loved to please more than he liked being pleased. "Your pleasure is my pleasure," he loved to say. But he wasn't imaginative or quite freaky enough for Lang.
"And most importantly, he's faithful," Aminah added, wishing she could say the same about her own man.
Was that the most important thing? Lang wondered.
When they were both seated comfortably, Erika asked which season of Sex and the City they'd like to watch while their nails dried.
"Oooo, season six," Aminah responded immediately. "Let's watch the episode where Miranda first meets Blair Underwood. Mmmm, that brother is fine."
Erika laughed as she adjusted the headphones on their ears. "Now, can I get you ladies another lemonade or perhaps some water or ginger tea?"
Excerpted from The Cheating Curve by PAULA T. RENFROE Copyright © 2010 by Paula T. Renfroe. Excerpted by permission.
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