Book Previews

A Ledge


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I would take Joshua in my bedroom with me when I needed to calm down or when I suffocated on thoughts of his father and couldn’t breathe. His skin was smooth to my touch and of course he had that new baby smell that could calm even the shoddiest of nerves. I’d swaddle him tight, rock him in my arms and sit by the open window. I remember the bottom of my sheer curtains would blow against my foot like an extra calming touch, like a spirit was there rubbing my feet, telling me everything would be alright. It was our ritual, well, my ritual. Taking the baby in the room, shutting the door and rocking him until I calmed down, instead of him.

Even when he was still in my womb, I knew he’d be my peace. As soon as I found out I was pregnant nothing made sense until I’d rub my belly, feel him kick and remind me I wasn’t alone, that I never would be again.

And then he betrayed me, but of course he would, he was just a baby. And everyone betrays you eventually.

“What do you mean, betrayed you?”

“That peace that only he could give me, he took it away eventually. I’d put too much pressure on him, I’m sure. Who turns to a new born baby for peace? One day he woke up in the morning and started screaming. He didn’t stop for three days straight. It was as if he was telling me he was quitting his job as peacemaker. I figured I’d do the motherly thing and return the favor for my baby. He’d held my hand, one finger at a time and led me away from the ledge so many times, right there in that room. I would do the same for him. I was his Momma, after all. So I took him in the bedroom, closed the door and rocked him by the window until I gave him the calm I’d depleted from him.

I sat down but that only made things worse. He screamed until I stood. I walked away from the window and paced the floor, sang him a lullaby, told him to hush, not say a word, promised him a diamond ring and a mocking bird. But it didn’t work. He screamed so loud that I worried for his lungs. I can’t even remember where my parents were. It was just Joshua and I in that room for three days of screaming, him out loud, me silently throughout my whole being. I rocked him until I shook him but he wouldn’t stop. In my mind I’d picture tiny snipers in the corners of the room. I’d actually look up and image them with one eye closed, the other looking through the scope of a gun with a laser between my eyes. The thought of them was my only comfort at that point.

On the third day I put Joshua down on the bed and stepped away from him. Maybe he needed space from me. Maybe my sadness rubbed off on him too much. I let the cool breeze flow over his body but it didn’t calm him down.

I moved him up on the bed, closer to the pillows, right between the pillows, actually. I climbed on the bed and hovered over him, my sweet baby boy that betrayed me. My hand picked up a pillow but my eyes stayed on him. I couldn’t bring myself to look at that pillow. I wanted to know what it would be like to change my life. So, I covered his face with the pillow, just a bit. I didn’t press down or anything. I watched his arms and legs move and wondered what it would feel like to see them stop. I watched them for one moment, maybe two, more than anyone should.

Next thing I knew, my mother was behind me, asking me if I’d seen the remote control. I took the pillow off of his face and fluffed it up back in its place then fluffed the other one like that would negate what I’d just did. I looked down and Joshua and saw his little body gasp for air, a sound he’d never made before. But his breathing went back to normal right away. He stopped crying, that’s for sure. My mother looked like she’d seen a ghost but she didn’t say anything. To this day, she’s still never mentioned it. I can’t blame her. I swore to myself I wouldn’t address it if she did and I swore I’d never tell anyone.

“Why are you telling me?”

“I have no idea.”

Catch Me When I Fall: Preview

My laptop would have to absorb my thoughts while I waited for my wife to come home. I threw on some clothes and headed back downstairs to my office. A piano bench sat behind my desk in substitute for a chair. When Jessie was a little girl, she would always sit on my lap, wanting to write stories and poems with me. After a while I figured I would replace my solo seat for something to accommodate the two of us.

Short stories were usually hard for me to write, even harder to finish but I was feeling inspired. My fingers hit the keyboard and began a journey through the world of a young girl falling in love for the first time, her parents forbidding it, her heart demanding it. My protagonist was three pages into her tale when I finally heard the garage door open. Joyce and Jessie’s voices carried through the hallway, their rare but infectious laughter pleasing my ears. My girls were in a good mood tonight. Thank the Lord. I could see them through the glass double doors of my office but they didn’t notice me. They were finishing up ice-cream cones, the reason for their delay, I gathered. Jessie gave her mother a hug, a gesture I hadn’t witnessed in far too long, and headed upstairs. It would be a good night. Joyce turned and headed back towards the kitchen but stopped suddenly as if some outside force tugged at her. She turned quickly away from the direction of the kitchen and headed towards the room where I sat. When she saw me by the light of my computer she smiled her perfect smile. I smiled back.

“What are you doing in here?” she asked, walking towards me.

“Waiting for you.”

She looked over my shoulder, tried to catch up with the dream world I was creating.

“You’re a great writer.”

“I’m a lazy writer.”

 “What do you mean?”

“I don’t write enough, when I do, I never finish.”

“When you do, it’s beautiful. It’s poetry.”

She sat down besides me and took my hand, placed it on top of hers.

“You know I love you?” she asked.

I looked down at my wife as she buried her head perfectly in my chest, in its place, in the place it had rested for years. I stroked her hair like I had done for years.

 “Yes, I know. I love you too.”

I leaned down to kiss her at the same time she tilted her head up to kiss me.

“That was a beautiful party, wasn’t it?” she asked, once our lips parted.

“Definitely.”

“I didn’t know Malik had such a way with words.”

“That’s what love will do to you, I suppose.”

“Do you love me like that?”

“And so much more.”

The corner of my eye caught the corner of her smile.

“Ready for bed?” I asked.

“You have no idea.”

“Come on.”

My arm wrapped around Joyce’s waist and guided her up the stairs. She stepped out of her heels when we reached the top.

“Can you help me with this?” she asked, motioning to the zipper that divided her back.

She must have been anxious to get undressed. We hadn’t even reached our bedroom yet. The index finger and thumb on my right hand firmly gripped that zipper, slid it down her back in willing anticipation. I wanted her.

“Thank you,” she said softly.

My hand snaked its way underneath the open garment and rested on top of her hip. As we moved closer to our bedroom, my hand explored her southern hemisphere. Squeezed her thighs, caressed her behind. I was ready.

With all of my might, I removed my grasp from her skin and stood to the side so she could open the door to our bedroom. So I could see her face when she discovered my romantic surprise. The door swung open and my face lit up as hers fell to the ground. Joyce looked around the room, took in the candles, took in the fruit and cream on the bed. Took it all in and began to cry.

“What’s wrong?”

She didn’t respond. Just threw her arms around me swiftly, the way Simone had done to Malik only a few hours ago.

She let out a hushed, “I love you.”

“I love you too, baby.”

“This is just what I need after being on my feet all day.”

“I bet. I’m sure Simone put you to work.”

“You know it. That woman is my dearest friend but these wedding preparations are exhausting!”

“Come here,” I said.

I took my wife’s hand, locked our bedroom door and then walked her over to the bed. I took her dress off completely, doing my best to ignore the plain, tan bra and larger-than-life matching panties.

“Lie down,” I instructed, moving over the bowl of sexual dessert to make room for her.

She obliged.

Seated beside my wife, I lifted her left foot, silky smooth from the sheer tights she still had on and kneaded the delicate flesh. She moaned. I was sure to be thorough, wanted to relieve her of any pain and any stress. Once I molded both of her feet into complete relaxation, I crawled to the top of the bed, straddled her body and kissed her neck. She was still.

I asked, “Do you want some strawberries?”

“Yes, please.”

I fed her and she smiled. She fed me in return. When I’d had my full, I gently placed the bowl on the floor and approached my wife again. She initiated a kiss this time. Grabbed my head and intertwined her tongue with my own. Kissed me long and hard. We pulled back the plush comforter and scurried underneath the sheets.

I straddled her once again and let my hands enjoy the body she promised would be mine forever. My hands removed the god-awful undergarments as quickly as possible, leaving behind the woman I loved in her purest form. My left hand cupped her right breast as the fingers on my right hand swam in her wetness. She wiggled beneath me but pushed my hand away. I squeezed her thighs, rubbed her stomach and then tried again, moving my hand back to her opening. The rejection came quicker this time. She grabbed my hand and turned to her side. Joyce moved her body back into mine, creating our usual spooning position.

I took a deep breath as her body settled into mine. She raised my hand and rested it on her heart. Its pace slowed steadily, the complete opposite of my own frantic rhythm. We lied there for a moment in silence. For a moment I imagined her turning towards me, climbing on top of my body and forcing me inside of her with no regard for my own desires. I imagined her unable to stop herself, unable to control her raw, carnal urges that arose simply from lying next to me. For a moment I imagined her wanting me.

I moved my hand from her heart and tickled my fingers up and down her spine, blew a cool stream of air on the back of her neck. That was bound to do the trick. Her body began its dance that I was all too familiar with. The gyration lived in her hips but reverberated throughout her body. I kissed the back of her neck then moved to her shoulder. The kisses flowed down her spine, following the invisible trail left by my fingers. My right hand palmed her ass as my kisses turned into nibbles. Her body’s vibrations increased, accelerating to a pace that matched my own unsatisfied hunger.

Grabbing her waist, I ground my girth against her ass. Just one graze against that juicy ass and my mind was gone. My dick rose to power, a complete dictatorship over my entire body. He poked her ass like a neighbor at the back door, desperate for some sugar.

Joyce moaned and turned over quickly. She wrapped her arm around my back and held on to me with a firm grip. She looked up at me and smiled, gave me a peck on the lips and nuzzled her head into my chest, all the while refusing to ease up on that grip. Her wiggle ceased as her body lied stiff next to mine. My moans decreased along with hers and we were covered in silence. I waited and waited for the sexual lioness attack that I knew wasn’t coming.

Her grip released slightly from behind my back. Her body inched away from me, creating a small space between us that, from my side of the bed, looked like miles.

“Joyce,” I stated plainly.

“Yes?” she responded with closed eyes, a slight foolish grin on her face, a weak facade that pretended it didn’t know what was actually going on here.

“Joyce,” I repeated.

She took a hard breath and opened her eyes, eyes that never met my own, just stayed focused on my chest.

“I thought you said you just wanted to do something nice for me,” she whispered.

“I did, but does that mean I can’t make love to my own wife?”

“I’m just so damn tired.”

“Joyce…”

“Michael, could you please just hold me? Please.”

I lied there, silent.

“I love you,” she said. “I just wish I didn’t always have worry about the ulterior motive.”

“Do you hear your…” I took a deep breath, "wanting to make love to my wife isn’t an ulterior motive. It’s wanting to make love to my wife.”

“Please, just hold me. Let me know its okay for you to hold me and love me like this, with me in your arms. Let your tired wife rest without feeling guilty about it or like she owes you something.”

Without another word I pulled her close to me. She turned and melted back into the little spoon. I held her tightly in my arms. Made her feel as safe and comfortable as possible. Pushed my rage deep down into my chest as there was nowhere to displace it, told my wife that I loved her and tried to breathe. 

Catch Me When I Fall: Preview

Keith’s parents were some of the richest motherfuckers I’d ever met. They hosted their only son’s high school graduation party in a ballroom at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown Denver. It looked like a wedding, just filled with a bunch of teenagers and old relatives that couldn’t take the noise. Keith was your typical rich kid so he got anything he asked for. Under his instruction, the ballroom looked and sounded more like a club than anything else. The lights were low, the music was loud, and the girls from my school were all appropriately half-dressed. It was going to be a good night. I could feel it.

“Yo, Darren!” screamed my favorite white boy.

He was dressed in an expensive silver metallic suit with a purple tie. He was all flash, the life of any party, especially his own.

“What up, Man?” I replied as Keith walked up to me, “This is one serious party.”

“You know how I do. If I don’t give you a taste of the finer things in life, who will?” he asked jokingly.

 “Anyway,” I said, dismissing his question with a laugh.

“But yo, I gotta go kiss my grandma then find Sherry so I’ll holla at you later.”

“Alright, Man,” I said as I dapped up my friend before he left. Sherry was Keith’s black girlfriend. Yes, Keith was “that white guy”: had all black friends, a black girlfriend and a voice that deceived you into thinking his pigmentation was much darker than it actually was. But he was cool, was just being who he was. He was my boy. He had the money and the brains of a CFO but more swagger than any white dude I’ve ever known.

I looked around the party for my other boys. Keith, myself, Dante and Mo were the stars of my school’s basketball team. We ran that court with ease. We were more than just teammates; we were best friends. I’d known Dante and Mo since kindergarten. Keith was new to town freshman year so when Dante, Mo and I saw him walk into practice we were skeptical from the get-go. We didn’t trust this 6’5”, fourteen-year-old, Caucasian. We acted like we didn’t think he was good enough but the truth was we were intimidated. We were the stars, even as freshman, and the trio wasn’t looking for a fourth man. But time passed, egos softened and we had to admit he was good. Four years later the four of us were inseparable. We were all headed to different colleges in the fall but that wouldn't matter. We'd be friends for life.  

Mo and Dante were hovering over the punch bowl when I approached them. It must have been spiked.

“What’s up, Bro?” Dante asked me as he handed me a drink. He was dressed to impress as usual, one of those ‘gotta keep my shoe game, my hat game, my unnecessary-glasses-with-different-colored-frames game on point at all times’ kind of dudes. Dante wore all red air force ones, black jeans, a red hoodie, a leather jacket, a Twin Cities fitted, and red-rimmed glasses that he did not need.

“What up, Man?” I responded as I took the drink and sipped. Yep, it was spiked.

“Yo, you see Kayla? She’s been asking about you all night,” Mo informed me as he looked around the large and crowded room. Mo had a simpler style like myself. Keith worked the room looking like a giant CEO of Microsoft. Dante looked like an up-and-coming model/rapper/actor but Mo and I were more down to Earth, I guess. We both were dressed simply in dark blue jeans, Timberland boots and a t-shirt. My t-shirt was black to match the new black Tims I got a couple months ago, thanks to Kayla. I wore a diamond chain, well, close enough to diamond, and two diamond studs in my ears. The earrings were real, also thanks to Kayla. What can I say? I was spoiled. Kayla was always buying me gifts. This was her way to keep me faithful, her sad attempt. It didn’t matter what her friends told her about me, didn’t matter how many girls said they slept with me, or how many “important” dates I forgot, or phone calls I didn’t return, Kayla thought that as long as she kept swiping Daddy’s credit card, my heart and my penis belonged to her and only her.

“No, I haven’t seen her yet,” I told Mo.

“Well, you need to check your girl. She keeps hanging around us waiting on you and we tryna snag our own pussy tonight. Ya feel me?”

“I feel you,” I said with a laugh. I didn’t even have time to walk away from my friends before I felt a pair of tiny, cold hands covering my eyes.

“Guess who?” Kayla asked. Her high-pitched squeal was easy to recognize. I moved her hands away from my face and caught the tail end of Dante rolling his eyes while Mo held back a laugh. Kayla was the most popular girl in school. She was about 5’5”, had long blonde hair and enough booty to make a black girl jealous. She had a perfect face, a tight body, the perfect personality, good grades, was head cheerleader, blah, blah, blah. Every girl hated her and every guy wanted her, but she was mine. We had been a “couple” for about six months now. I’d met her parents and her grandparents. I was a regular at family dinners but what can I say? A brotha had to eat. I had no problem eating her mom’s food and letting her spend her Daddy’s money on my wardrobe but I wouldn’t be caught dead with this girl in my mother’s house.

I turned and faced her.

“Hey, Baby,” I said, kissing her on the lips.

“Where’ve you been? I tried calling you after your party.”

“With Denise,” would have been the wrong thing to say so I settled for, “Just busy, sorry.”

“It’s okay. At least you’re here now,” she said as she wrapped her arms around my neck and hugged me. 

“Mmm, you smell good,” she said. She buried her face in my neck and it felt good. My neck was my spot. Information she knew.

“Gotta smell good for you, Baby, always for you,” I lied.

“Ok, Love Birds,” Mo interrupted, “we’ll see y’all later.”

“Bye guys!” Kayla responded, bubbly as ever, as Mo and Dante walked away. As I gave my boys a head nod, I noticed a girl just beyond Dante’s left shoulder. She had long black hair and wore a tight black dress that looked like sex painted on top of sin. Her face was gorgeous and her body was fine as hell. Our eyes met and she smiled, gave me a wink. I could tell she was just waiting for me to look at her. I wondered how long she was watching. I made a mental note of her gaze but gave her no physical response. I looked back down at Kayla before she followed my wandering eye.

“You want to get out of here?” she asked.

“I just got here.”

The girl in black moved towards Kayla and me. She stopped and started talking to this guy that I think was in my photography class, but I wasn’t sure.

“But, I have a surprise for you,” Kayla whined. I tried to focus on the girl in front of me but, as fine as she was, new pussy always looked better than old pussy. Kayla took my left hand with her right, looked around the room, checking our limited level of privacy and slid my hand down her pants. I felt her silky smooth skin and nothing else, no granny panties, no boy shorts, no nothing.

“I shaved her clean for you, Daddy,” she said, trying to whisper seductively but eventually having to speak up because the music was so loud. She felt damn good. I let my hand linger there, enjoying the fact that we could be spotted at any moment. I curled my middle finger up inside of her, making her moan before I pulled my hand out of her pants and back into my pocket.

“Damn, Baby,” I exhaled, halfway speaking to her, halfway to myself. I was torn. Kayla had skills to say the least. She would do anything I asked her to do in or out of the bedroom. A week ago I told her that I wondered what she would feel like completely shaved and now here she was, as smooth as pure silk. But she was getting too clingy. A girl who would do anything for you eventually is going to want everything from you. I needed her to know that her pussy didn’t control me, that I wasn’t going to do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted like she did for me. Her pussy did make me weak; I just didn’t need her knowing that. Besides, the less affected I acted by her, the more she needed to please me.

“She feels good,” I said casually. I bent down to give her a kiss and the girl in the black dress caught my eye again. The dude from photography class was talking her ear off. She was clearly uninterested as she unapologetically stared at me. I started kissing Kayla but kept my eyes, unlike Kayla’s, open. I stared at the girl in the black dress as I sucked on Kayla’s tongue that was already in the back of my throat. She was standing only about ten feet away from us and I felt like she was the one I was kissing. The girl in the black dress stared at me, stared at me and bit her bottom lip. She was bold. Anyone who had any sense and a good pair of contact lenses could see what she was doing but I guess she didn’t care. The more I kissed Kayla the more she bit her bottom lip, licked her top lip, and slid her fingers up and down the middle of her dress. Holy shit, she was turning me on.

“Ouch!” Kayla screamed. My eyes quickly darted back to the girl in front of me. She was repeatedly touching her lip and drawing back fingers smeared with blood.

“Darren! What the hell? You bit me!” she yelled.

She was getting loud.

Keith, who happened to be walking by, gave me a ‘Please, No Drama’ look. I gave him a head nod, letting him know I wouldn’t disrespect him like that.

“I’m sorry,” I said to Kayla, trying to calm her down.

I didn’t even notice I bit her, didn’t feel my jaw clenching, my teeth closing down on her thin lip. I was way too lost in thought.

The girl in the black dress licked her lips one last time, turned her back to me and started walking out of the club-like ballroom, leaving that guy from my photography class standing alone, still rambling. She reached the exit that led to the hotel’s main lobby, pivoted to give me one last look, then left. My eyes were glued to her body and this time I couldn’t hide it.

Kayla finally stopped touching her lip when she realized I was no longer engaged in our situation, realized my ‘I’m sorry’ was nowhere near sincere, realized I was checking out another girl. Now both Kayla and I were staring towards the exit. With all of my might I tore my gaze away from my next potential conquest and looked down at a girl who was obsessed with me. She had tears in her eyes. She said nothing, just stared deep into my eyes for a moment and then walked away.

I wasn’t fazed.

I got what I wanted without having to try. Kayla knew she was not the apple of my eye, that she could be replaced. That’s how I needed it. No commitments. No strings. She ran over to her friends that engulfed her into a sea of pity, hugging her, stroking her hair, telling her it was okay, telling her I was an asshole, and giving me looks of death.

Once again, I went unfazed.

I turned away from that bullshit and headed for the exit. I hated to leave my boy’s party so soon but opportunities like this didn’t come up all the time. Well, they did, but still, the girl was fine. When I finally made my way through the crowd and out into the lobby I looked around for her but had no luck.

“Damn,” I said.

“Looking for me?” a voice behind me breathed seductively.

I turned and saw her. She looked even better under the bright lights in the lobby. She wasn’t a girl though. She was a woman, clearly older than me but still sexy as hell. Her skin was some kind of caramel, olive tone and I couldn’t figure out her race. She looked foreign and exotic, Persian, or Italian, or Jewish, or, Moroccan, or maybe she was just mixed with black and white. I had no fucking clue but it didn’t matter to me. Fine was fine.

“Why would I be looking for you?”

“Oh please.”

I liked her confidence. It was rare.

“Alright, and if I was looking for you?”

 “You’d be a very smart man, which I think you are.”

“I am.”

“I thought so. Come with me.”

She took my hand and led me to a set of elevators. I didn’t stop her or question her, just followed her. I usually liked to take charge but this game of follow-the-fine-as-fuck-stranger-who-clearly-wants-you was fun and was getting interesting.

Elevator doors opened and we stepped in quickly.

“Sorry if I messed things up with your girlfriend.”

“No you’re not. But, don’t worry; she’s not my girlfriend.”

“Sure she isn’t. So how do you know the graduate?”

“Keith? He’s one of my best friends. We go to school together.”

“So you’re what? Eighteen?”

“Almost nineteen,” I lied. My next birthday was eight months away. I was always the youngest in my class but I wasn’t about to tell her that.

“What about you?”

“What about me?”

“How old are you?”

“Older than you.”

“Okay,” I said with a smile and a laugh.

“So where exactly are you taking me?” I finally asked.

“Here.”

She walked in front of me and pushed a button that brought the elevator to a screeching halt. I held on to a pole that ran across the side of the small, moving box in order not to fall. I looked up and saw that we were somewhere between the fourteenth and fifteenth floors. She turned and looked at me. I felt slightly intimidated but tried my hardest not to let it show.

“So, this is where you’re taking me?”

“Yes.”

“And what exactly do you plan on doing with me here?”

She stepped towards me and put her hands under my t-shirt. Her palms were warm and soft. I let her feel my stomach. Girls loved to rub the pack and I was proud of it. Her hands moved lower and stopped at my belt. The woman in the black dress got down on her knees, unbuckled my belt, pulled down my pants and searched for my dick. Big D was hard as fuck. She massaged him with both hands until he found his way inside her warm, wet mouth.

“Holy shit,” was all I could say.

I moved in and out. She sucked hard on my dick, her lips tightly wrapping around me, refusing to release any suction. Big D moved in deeper. Head just wasn’t head without deep throat. Anything else was useless to me. Luckily, she could take it. I fucked the back of her throat like a porn star and she took it like a professional. I couldn’t believe what was happening but I was no fool. I didn’t question it. I just enjoyed it. She sucked and sucked and sucked. Her lips pulled tighter and tighter as my dick went deeper and deeper. I grabbed her hair for full control and she massaged my balls. I pounded and pounded and pounded, faster, faster, faster. She gagged as my dick took the place of her breath. Music to my ears. Faster, faster, faster. She grabbed my thighs and held on for dear life. A mighty rushing wave was building up inside of me. I took it a little bit slower, wanting this moment to last. I pulled my dick out of her mouth and rubbed it on her face. She liked that. Her tongue searched the sides of her own mouth, desperately seeking my shaft. She left a trail of saliva on her cheeks until her mouth could no longer live without me inside of it. Her tongue swept Big D inside again as her head moved back and forth over my dick. The wave rose once more and was unstoppable. I jerked in the wet, warm, tightness of her mouth and a sea of my juices exploded and rushed down her throat. She swallowed like a woman in the desert, my cum, water sent from God.  She pulled away from me and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. She gave my dick a gentle kiss, stood up and pulled up my boxers and my jeans for me. She buckled the belt she previously freed and neatly pulled my t-shirt back down over my pants. I couldn’t believe any of it.

“Who, the fuck, are you?” I asked in between breaths.

She smiled and laughed a little. She came closer and kissed me on my neck.

“I was in the lobby and saw you when you arrived. You stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t help myself. You are one fine young man. I just had to follow you into that party.

“You weren’t a guest at the party?”

“Nope.”

“Damn. That’s crazy.”

“I guess a little crazy never hurt anyone.”

“Damn sure didn’t hurt me.”

That made her laugh. She pushed another button and the elevator continued on its journey like nothing ever happened. If these walls could talk…

“I should probably get back,” she said.

“Where’re you going?”

“I’m on a date, told him I had to make a quick phone call.”

I laughed hard. She was unbelievable, unforgettable. She laughed with me.

“Well, I hope you enjoy your date,” I said, not really knowing what else to say. The fog of euphoric confusion thickening around my head.

“Trust me, this is the best date I’ve ever been on,” she said as the elevator came to a stop. The small screen above the double doors flashed the letter “L”.

We walked out together, side by side, then faced each other. A man that looked like he was in his forties was leaving the hotel’s restaurant in a hurry. He looked worried. The man paced the lobby, looked over his shoulder, looked at his watch, walked over to the front desk and asked the woman behind the counter something, she shook her head and frowned, then he paced some more. That must have been her date. Her back was to him so she couldn’t see the panic she was causing. I would have warned her but I didn’t want her to leave, didn’t want this dream to vanish.

“So are you going to tell me your name or what?” I asked, stalling.

“Does it matter?”

“Well, I guess that depends.”

“On what?”

“On if I’m ever going to see you again.”

She looked at me and squinted a little.

“Are you sure you’re eighteen?” she asked.

I smiled.

“Nineteen in two months,” I lied again.

“Well, if you’re interested, meet me here next Saturday at eight. Maybe we can make it to a room next time.”

“Are you serious?”

“What can I say, you’re just so damn cute.”

She stroked my cheek and made me feel like I was just a kid. Girls at school told me how much of a man I was, how strong and sexy I was compared to the other guys and here was this woman, who knows how old she was, I’d guess thirty tops, telling me I was cute. It was not what I was used to but I didn’t mind it. I kind of liked it. She was an older woman who clearly knew what she wanted, and clearly wasn’t afraid to go for it. If she wanted to meet me here again, why the fuck would I say no? This was crazy but like she said, a little crazy never hurt anyone.

“Check in under the name Thompson and I’ll meet you in the room around 8:15.”

“You’ll be my Mrs. Thompson for the night?” I asked playfully.

“For the night.”

“Anna! Anna!” the panicked man called out in our direction.

She turned and walked away from me. I watched her perfect body as she worked that black dress.

Goddamn.

She reached her frantic date, took his hand and stroked his arm. I could see her lips moving but couldn’t make out the lie she was telling. I wondered what she was doing with that old man. She was clearly out of his league.

I contemplated whether I should go back to the party or just call it a night. I was dying to tell Keith, Mo, and Dante what just happened to me, even though they wouldn’t believe me, but I didn’t feel like running into Kayla again. My night was just transformed into pure heaven and I didn’t want her whiny ass ruining it for me.

I left the hotel and headed to my mom’s car that she let me use for the night. I drove down the street not really sure where I was going to go. I didn’t want to go home yet. I was too amped up and it was only midnight. I drove out of the city and headed south on I-25 towards home. I didn’t know where to go but I didn’t care either. I would drive in circles thinking about the girl in the black dress, the woman, Anna.