“Damn boo, whatever he said must have been too real, you haven’t even complained about my music. Spill it.” She said.
“I can’t even begin to go into it.” I said with a sigh. “Let me get a cup of coffee in my hands first. How’d the date with James go last night?” I asked trying to put her focus on something other than myself while I tried to get my thoughts together. It worked like a charm. For the next 10 minutes she went on and on about how James is the one for her. That is Amanda’s M.O., she’s always with the love of her life until she isn’t and I guess James wasn’t going to be any different. She got so wrapped up in her story that she didn’t notice the man with the dreadlocks walking across the parking lot and she almost hit him. I looked in the rear-view mirror to see him bending down to pick up whatever he had dropped as he went to get in his car. I was relieved to see that he was okay.
We walked through the double glass doors into what looked like a converted warehouse. Roast was not nearly as impressive on the outside as it was on the inside, as was the case for so many businesses in The Heights. The walls are painted in earth tones complimented by African American artwork, cherry wood café tables and chairs sat under vintage loft pendant lights atop finished concrete floors. Soft 90’s R&B music played in the background and gave the place a very relaxed welcoming vibe, it felt both large and comfortable at the same time. Amanda had heard about the coffee shop from one of the guys she was dating when he had brought her a sandwich from the place a few weeks ago. She hadn’t stopped talking about it since. We had arrived after the lunch crowd and I was thankful the place wasn’t crammed with people. We scanned the menu that was handwritten on a chalkboard wall before placing our order at the counter with a woman’s whose name tag read Jasmine.
We chose a seat next to the window with a view of Downtown Houston as we waited for our number to be called. “Okay, time’s up. Are you going to tell me what happened with Randall or not?” Amanda asked, and for the next 2 hours I went over the entire day from hurricane Lola, down to the meeting with Randall. “Wow,” she said when I finished catching her up on the day’s events. “Gabrielle Easton – Producer, I never thought I’d see the day. How many times have Aaron and Elizabeth called you so far?” Amanda knows my family as well as I do and she knew just like I did that my parents would be blowing my phone up. My father and Randall are golf buddies and I don’t doubt for a second that my father knew about this long before today and he and my mom were bursting with excitement that I’d been offered the position. I take out my cell to see that I had several missed calls from my mom and dad and a group text from them both congratulating me on the promotion I’m not sure I’m going to take.
“She’s cute, don’t you think.” Amanda said breaking my concentration from my phone.
“Who?” I asked, scanning the room trying to figure out who she was referring to.
“Her.” She motioned her head towards Jasmine who I caught turning her head when I noticed her looking at me.
“She keeps looking at you when she walks by I think she likes you.”
“No way, that girl is just doing her job and you need to quit trying to play matchmaker. Speaking of, who is this woman you have me going out with tonight? I swear she better not be another damn club promoter or so help me God Amanda.”
Since my break-up with Kendall a year ago, Amanda has been trying to set me up with every eligible lesbian she could find. I had been successful at turning down her attempts to set me up when she started manufacturing little meet cute’s with me and these women. I finally gave in to her demands, that I allow her to set me up, after the Sheena fiasco.
I had arrived at the Lotus Day Spa earlier than Amanda had that day and decided to start relaxing before she got there. I went inside of our designated changing room and started to undress. Expecting Amanda to walk in at any minute, I didn’t pay much attention when I heard the room door open and close. I had gotten completely naked when I turned around to greet who I thought was going to be my friend. Instead, there stood a grinning 5’2 woman, rubbing her meaty hands together and licking her lips. “Damn, I didn’t know this was how we was getting down today.” She said. “Who are you? Get out!” I screamed, searching for my towel to try and cover up. “Chill ma, Amanda sent me to meet you for our date today, looks like you getting the party started without me.” She replied. Disgusted, I grabbed my shampoo bottle, the closest thing to me, and threw it at her “Get out!” I yelled. Sheena took her time backing out of the room her hands up in surrender as she exited. “I can’t wait to see what that thang taste like later.” She said as she closed the door milliseconds before I launched my gym shoe at her. A few moments later, Amanda appeared giggling.
“What the fuck Amanda? Who the hell was that fucking hobbit you sent in here and why did she think we were meeting for a date?” I screamed at her, fuming that she would do this to me, and with some mannish, unemployed looking, immature ass, random chick at that.
“Calm down,” she said, I could barely understand her because she was laughing so hard. “I didn’t send her in here I swear. I met her while I was out looking for a venue to have Johnathan’s birthday party. Her name is Sheena, she’s a club promoter and she seemed normal when I met her. I told her to wait for you outside the dressing room door and offer you a towel or something to get your attention. She must have seen you through the window though and decided to invite herself in.” She said as she began to undress, barely able to get her shirt over her head because she was laughing so hard.
“The shit ain’t that damn funny” I’d said. “Where the hell do you find these chicks and what have I done to you to make you want to set me up with them?” I’d asked, pulling on my robe in a huff.
“I’m sorry friend, I promise you I didn’t know she was going to do that or act that way but you gotta admit it’s funny.” She’d said. “If you could see the look on your face right now you would be laughing to.”
It was pretty funny, even though I didn’t see it that way then. From that day on Amanda and I had made a deal that I wouldn’t indiscriminately say no to every blind date she orchestrated as long as she promised to never attempt to set up another meet cute.
“Her name is Emory, she’s 35, single, and she’s not a club promoter. I met her while I was having lunch with James about a month ago. I’ve been scoping her out since then and she checks out. That’s all you need to know.” She told me. We spent another few minutes going back and forth over what I should wear tonight before we paid the check.
We stood to leave the café’ when I noticed writing on the back of my receipt. I turned the paper over to find Jasmine’s name and number written on the back. Amanda looked over my shoulder at the paper and then at me with a big grin on her face. “I told you so.” She said. “No one likes a know it all.” I teased as we got into her car. She drove us back to the parking garage at the office so I could pick up my car. We said our goodbyes and I made the 20-minute drive home to get some painting done before it was time for me to start getting ready for my date.
At a quarter to 8 there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find the finest woman I have seen in my life standing in my doorway.
“Good evening. I’m Emory, Gabrielle, I assume?” She asked while extending her hand to shake mine.
“Yes, nice to meet you Emory. Please, come in.” I said as I stepped back to allow her into my home. She walked past me with a confidence that turned me on as I caught a whiff of her cologne, I love a good smelling woman. She had to be at least 5’10 with well-defined muscles visible beneath the hunter green shirt she wore, her butterscotch skin seemed to glow beneath her neatly braided hair, the sides and back freshly tapered.”
“These are for you although I’m afraid they aren’t as beautiful as you are this evening” she said as she handed me a beautiful bouquet of lilies, “Amanda told me they are your favorite.”
“Thank you for the compliment, and the flowers, they’re gorgeous. I’m just going to put these in some water before we head out. Can I get you something to drink?” I asked as I headed to the kitchen leaving Emory standing in my living room.
“No, I’m fine, thank you. This is a beautiful place you have.” She said “Have you lived here long?”
“Uhm, yeah actually, I moved in during my Sophomore year of college. Take a look around, make yourself at home.” I replied from the kitchen as I used the mirror hanging near the laundry room door to check my reflection one last time. I definitely made the right choice to go with my low cut black midi dress with the slit up the right thigh and gold rhinestone strappy open toed pumps. I ran my fingers through my freshly straightened hair and did a final touch up of my nude lipstick before I grabbed my gold clutch from the counter and walked back into the living room to find Emory looking at one of my baby pictures on the wall. “Okay, I’m all set to go if you are.” I said, grabbing my coat and keys.
“That’s a cute picture of you, how old are you there?” She asked as she helped me into my coat. “4, going on 40 if you ask my mom.” I said jokingly. She held the door open for me as we left my house, I caught another smell of her cologne as I turned to lock the door. Lord help me get through this night without climbing on top of this woman.
Emory pulled her Black Lexus up to the valet station outside of Damon’s, an upscale restaurant in Downtown Houston. She got out and handed the keys to the valet before opening my door. I took her hand as I stepped out of the car and a warm sensation traveled down my body. I could feel how strong Emory was in the way she helped me from the car effortlessly. I thought she was going to release my hand once I had my footing and was happy when she didn’t. “Ah, Miss Carter welcome, table for two this evening.” Asked the Maître D before Emory had announced herself. She nodded in response. “Very well,” he replied “your table is ready.”
We were seated at the chef’s table and placed our drink order with our waiter. Once we were alone I asked ” So, what was that all about? Are you a regular here?” Referring to the way everyone we had encountered seemed to know her personally.
She smiled, though not in a pretentious way. “I guess you can say that. I co-own this place with my friend Michael who is also the head chef.”
“Wow, that’s impressive. How did you come to get involved in the restaurant business?”
Before she could respond the waiter reappeared with our drinks. He told us that the chef would be out to meet with us and present us with his menu for the night before he left.
“Well Michael would be the one to get the credit for that. He had a vision that didn’t align with existing restaurants so he decided to create his own. He reached out to me about co-ownership when he heard about the success of some other investments I have. We’ve been a match made in a boardroom ever since.” She answered with a smile that activated the butterflies in my stomach.
“Well the place is beautiful. Thank you for bringing me here tonight.”
Dinner was the best I had ever eaten. We started with crab and lobster stuffed mushroom caps, followed by Steak tartare for dinner during which I found out that Emory is an only child like myself and that she had put herself through college. She shared with me that she’s in venture capitalism and we talked about some of her investments. Over a shared chocolate soufflé for desert we talked about my passion for art and some of the projects I was working on. “You know, your eyes really light up when you talk about painting. Have you studied in the field?” She’d asked. “Not exactly, ” I replied. “I’ve had this passion for creating things since I was a child. I did take a few classes and I minored in art in college but I’ve never had any type of classical training. It hasn’t stopped me from practicing though.” I replied. Conversation continued to flow easily between her and I as she paid the check and we left the restaurant. The valet appeared at the curb with her car just as we exited.
Back inside of her car she reached over to grab my hand before we pulled out onto the freeway. ” Where to now?” I asked. “And please don’t tell me it has anything to do with food. I don’t think I can or want to eat another bite.” I said jokingly. “I want to surprise you if that’s okay.” She said seductively. She held my gaze with a smile before turning her attention back to the road. We’d been driving for 30 minutes when I noticed the smell of salt water creeping into the car. I had been consumed with thoughts of how good Emory’s lips would feel against mine and trying to remain calm as her fingers teased my thigh along the slit of my dress that I hadn’t noticed that we were coming over the bridge entering Galveston island. She made the 10-minute drive from the bridge to the ocean front and parked her car along the seawall.
She opened my car door and before I could stand she bent down and looked up at me. I could feel the warmth of her breath as she leaned in and lifted my leg. Biting my lip, I began to tingle all over as she smiled up at me, her touch like fire against my skin. She carefully unzipped the back of one of my shoes and slipped it gently from my foot. She then gingerly placed it into a flip flop and repeated the process on the other side. She grabbed a blanket from her trunk and a bottle of champagne, then took my hand and helped me from the car leading me down the beach. We walked along the ocean’s edge as the tide crashed gently over our feet and spent the rest of the night talking and drinking champagne. We fell asleep with the crash of waves and the intoxicating scent of the ocean cradling us.
The warmth of the sun and the chirp of birds roused me from my sleep. I stretch my legs and feel warm grains of sand beneath me, there’s a golden-brown arm draped across my body, and a blazer under my head. I feel the rise and fall of Emory’s chest against my back and her breathing softly on my neck, her amazing scent lingering in the air. Memories of the night before came flooding back to me. I lay as still as I could trying not to wake her and end this moment. “Good morning beautiful.” She said. I turned to see her almond eyes looking back at me a smile teasing the corner of her full lips. I run my fingers through my hair, stretch, and subtly check my breath as I replied “Good morning.” “It’s beautiful isn’t it.” She said looking out at the sun just coming up over the horizon while reaching for my hand. It seemed neither of us wanted the moment to end as I lay with my head on her chest, her arms wrapped around me in a comforting embrace. “We should get going.” I said, I don’t really want to leave but I have to meet Amanda at noon and we were at least an hour away from my apartment. “Yeah, I’ve been thinking that too but your body feels so right in my arms I don’t want to let you go.” I blushed, thankful she couldn’t see my face. “Well maybe this doesn’t have to be the last time.” I replied.
The ride back to Houston seemed to go by in a flash. In an hour we were parking in front of my house. Emory opened my car door and walked me up my steps.
“I really enjoyed my time with you last night, I’d love to see you again.” She said.
“I had a great time with you too. Give me a call when you wanna do this again. Next time I get to choose where we go.” I replied.
“It’s been a pleasure Gabrielle.” she said as she wrapped her arm around my body and pulled me close to her. For a moment we stood, our faces millimeters from touching, then she leaned in and kissed me with a hunger and urgency I wasn’t expecting. My body temperature rose the instant I felt her lips against mine, knees weakened when I felt her rock-hard stomach as she pulled me deeper into our kiss. Lightheaded from the passion we exchanged, I stepped back, afraid to let the moment continue or I’d be inviting her inside for coffee.
“Thank you again for last night.” I said trying to play it cool, while every nerve in my body was alert and begging me for another one of her kisses.