by L. L. King
“You know that you’re going to hell, don’t you?” Saamone asked as she sat on Ro’s recliner with her legs draped over the arm. She never moved her eyes away from the TV as she spoke.
“And why is that?” he asked.
“Boy, you know why. A picture of you is probably in the dictionary right beside the word heathen.” She was referring to the fact that Ro had bought a bootleg copy of The Passion of the Christ from a street hustler while he’d been at the hair stylist. She wasn’t a stranger to buying a bootleg movie herself but she still felt that the words bootleg and Christ didn’t belong in the same sentence.
Ro replied, “Well if I go to hell, then we’ll still be able to hang out when you get there. Unless I’m the one that meets you there instead.”
“I’m just an innocent bystander. I can’t be held accountable.” The picture on the screen still had her complete attention.
“You can look somewhere else whenever you feel like it.”
“You’re still going to hell. I’ll pray for you though and ask the devil if you can at least get a church fan for a couple of hours every day.” She paused to read one of the lengthier subtitles. “Anyway, since I’m going to see this same movie later on tonight, me watching a sneak peek doesn’t count. I pay for my movies.”
“Whatshisface pays for your movies. At least that’s what you tell me anyway. You’re probably the one that takes him out.”
“Never that. I’d never take a man out. Unless I’m married. Then we could share the bill.”
“Married people don’t have their own money anyway. They share everything. Especially money.”
“I will. . . . Have my own money, that is. I’d keep a separate bank account just in case I have to make a quick getaway at a moment when he wants to act a fool. You know how you men are.”
“I’ll let that comment slide for the time being. But since we’re on the subject, when are you and whatshisface getting married?”
“Whatshisface has a name, so use it. Anyway, we plan to get married on the same day that you marry Pineapple.”
“His name is too hard to say. You and him have been together much longer than I’ve been with Penelope. Not Pineapple.”
Saamone dismissed Ro’s comment on the tenure of her relationship. She asked, “Since when is Mike a hard name to say? Compared to your friend’s name, it’s almost as easy as your name.”
With no comment to follow hers, they both went back to watching the movie. The movie was of poor quality—an attribute that was to be expected of a bootleg plus punishment for committing some sort of cardinal sin—and the subtitles were hard to read. Fifteen minutes and eleven seconds into the movie, there was a disk error on Ro’s DVD player. No matter how much fiddling that he did with the buttons, he couldn’t get the movie to progress any further.
When he finally gave up and plopped down on his couch in frustration at losing his ten dollars, Saamone let loose the laugh that she’d been holding in. After she’d exhausted herself, she began murdering the song God is Trying to Tell You Something from the move The Color Purple. Ro pretended to ignore her as he stared at the black screen.
After she finished what she considered singing, she said, “That’s what you get, heathen. God don’t like ugly.”
“And you wonder why you have so many problems,” he retorted.”
“Whatever. What else do you have on bootleg?”
Ro got up and retrieved a ten-inch high stack of movies. He handed them to Saamone and went to the bathroom while she flipped through them.
When he came back out, she held up a movie and waved it at him. “Here, put this in,” she said.
“What’s wrong with your legs and fingers? You know how to operate the DVD player,” he said as he took the movie from her. He looked at the case and saw that she’d chosen to watch Kill Bill.
“I’m a guest. I shouldn’t have to do anything.”
“You stopped being a guest a long time ago. Also, guests usually don’t have their own keys.”
“How often do I use that key though?”
“I don’t know,” he said as he put the movie in the tray. As they waited for it to load, he said, “You use it every time that you get mad at Mike and come over here so that you can hide. Which does no good anyway considering the fact that he knows where I live and probably knows my number by heart. . . . Have you ever seen this movie?”
“Yeah, I saw it with Mike. I was mad at him about something though and I refused to pay much attention to it. We started arguing midway through the movie and the ushers made us leave.”
“Why am I not surprised? You two stay into it. I won’t say anything though because I’m biased against him anyway. Should I just skip to the part that you didn’t see?”
“Nah. Just start at the beginning.”
Ro started the movie and picked up a magazine on the way back to the couch. As he sat down, he said, “I’ve seen this twice already. You can go ahead and knock yourself out.” He stretched out on the couch with his feet closest to Sammone’s position and began flipping through the pages.
Occasionally, he would move his magazine a little to the right and sneak a quick look at Saamone. He could tell that she wasn’t focused on the movie because she kept fidgeting and bouncing her right foot. He and she both were both just passing the time until they went out on their respective dates and being the friends that they were, they chose to pass the time with each other.
Ro was going out to eat at an Indian restaurant later with Penelope, who was still at work. Mike, Saamone’s boyfriend was doing the man thing and hanging out with the fellas—or also known as playing video games. When neither Saamone nor Ro were with their other halves, they spent almost all of their time with each other. Mike and Penelope hated their close relationship and as a result, Mike didn’t like Ro and Penelope was a couple of remarks short of hating Saamone. The feeling was mutual between the guys and the girls, so everything evened out. They were cordial enough to get by but the tension would quickly become thick enough to wade through if they were in the presence of each other too long.
Ro could feel Saamone staring at him even as he tried to concentrate on reading one of the magazine articles. He once again moved his magazine to the side and caught her direct gaze. She didn’t even try to hide the fact that she was staring. Knowing his friend well, Ro could tell that something was on her mind. After almost a minute of playing “I Bet You Blink Before I do”, he blinked his burning eyes and asked, “What?”
“What time did you have to leave?”
“At 8:45 or so. I’ll probably pick her up instead of her driving over here. Why?”
“Because . . .” She shifted her body until both of her feet rested on the floor in front of her. She put her elbows on her knees and bent forward. She said, in the sultriest voice that she could manage, “Let’s make love.”
“Now?” Ro asked in surprise. “What time are you meeting up with Mike?”
Saamone sighed and said, “That’s not the answer that I expected.” She paused and leaned back in the chair. “I’m not worried about time, so you shouldn’t be either.”
“Well . . . if we make love now, I’ll spoil my appetite for later.”
“I don’t care about that. It won’t take us long. . . . Maybe fifteen minutes or so.”
“I don’t want to rush.”
“We don’t have to. The outcome is always better when we take our time.” She lifted her left foot so that she could tickle the bottom of his feet. “It seems as you’re concerned about time though. Either you want to or you don’t.”
Ro jerked his feet out of reach and said, “It has been a couple of months, hasn’t it?” Saamone nodded her head slowly as Ro tried to remember the exact time.
Saamone decided to help him out with his memory. “It’s been more than a couple of months. We were at my parent’s house. Remember. Mike decided that the football game was his top priority and went to watch it while he left us alone in the kitchen that day.”
“Oh yeah. I remember. I also remember him getting some later though.”
“He’s my boyfriend. Of course he was going to get some too. Soooo?”
“Okay. I’m game. Follow me.” He got up and walked to the kitchen. Saamone immediately followed, already removing her pink cashmere sweater.
She carefully draped her sweater over the back of his kitchen chair and asked, “Do you need to get anything? The last time that we were about to make love you were missing the most important thing. You know . . . that little thing that begins with the letter C.”
Ro grimaced, reflecting back on his being unprepared the last time and they had to stop what they’d started. “I have everything that we need this time. You ready?”
“Yes. We don’t have long so let’s get it over with.”
“I thought that you didn’t care about time?”
“I don’t. It’s just not often that a person gets to have their dessert before the main course.” She walked over and stood in front of him as he stood beside the counter. “Let’s make love,” she said as she lowered herself to the floor.
“Let’s,” was his customary reply as he reached up to grab the handle of the upper cabinet.
He watched her as she knelt all the way down, catching a rare glimpse of the top of her head. She’d cut off most of her coal black hair until it was within only a few millimeters of her scalp—her rebellion against people saying that women were supposed to be a certain way. The hair formed concentric circles as it rippled outward from the center of her head and faded away.
His impulse was to reach down and touch one of the waves of hair but he abstained. Her hair was one of the first things that he’d noticed upon meeting her. Since then, their hairstyles had flip-flopped and he had his hair in two-inch twists—a style similar to the way that she’d worn her hair almost a year ago.
Ro and Saamone had made love on the first night that they met. It was a secret that no one else knew about. To have to explain the circumstances would take too much time and energy and still leave confusion behind. That night, and every single time afterwards, was special and left them feeling just a little bit closer than they already were.
Ro met her at a soul food restaurant called Ma Jewel’s that was located in one of the less fortunate districts of Norfolk. He was a regular but he’d never been in at the same time that she had and so he’d never seen her before.
He’d just left work late on a Friday night and was trying to get home to relax after a long stressful week. As he passed by the restaurant with the orange neon Ma Jewel’s sign in the window, he was hit by a craving for a piece of the restaurant’s famous Red Velvet cake. He made a U-turn, almost side-swiping a yellow cab that was traveling in the opposite direction and tha had also run the light. He parked on the side of the street opposite the restaurant and was very nearly run over a couple of times as he made his way across the street. It was 9:20 p.m. and the restaurant was notorious for locking its doors at 9:30 so that no other customers would be able to come in.
Just as he made it to the safety of the sidewalk, a young woman came from his right and whisked in the door. Ro didn’t pay any attention to her—except that he noticed that her hair was like his girlfriend’s—since he was focused only on having his craving sated: a craving that had been made twice as intense due to the near death experiences that he’d just had.
As soon as Ro entered the restaurant, he saw that there was one slice of Red Velvet cake left underneath the glass top. It seemed almost like a precious jewel in a museum as his mouth watered with no shame. To add to the appeal, the slice was larger than the typical slices that he’d had. It probably could have been cut in half but then the pieces would have been too small and a tease to regulars like him.
As always, Mrs. Lorraine—as her name tag prominently displayed—was tending the counter. She was the unfounded matron of the restaurant who never seemed to take a day off. She always wore a severe expression that seemed all about business as she took orders and shuffled back and forth behind the counter. She was ringing up a male customer as Ro waited behind the lady that had just made it before him.
The customer moved to the side as Mrs. Lorraine tacked his order to the carousel behind her. Ro aught a glimpse of the arm of the cook as it briefly appeared to snatch the order.
He began searching his coat pockets for some money. Finding only change he took his wallet out and began counting the bills. That’s when he heard Mrs. Lorraine speak to the woman in front of him. “So what’ll it be tonight, sweetie? The usual?”
“Yes ma’am,” the woman replied. “You know it. This looks like it’s my lucky night,” she said as she motioned with her head toward the last piece of cake. Ro missed the gesture since he still looking down at his wallet.
“In more ways than you know,” Mrs. Lorraine said. “That’ll be two-ten.”
Ro looked up when he heard the price. He knew from experience that that was the exact cost of a slice of cake. He hoped—prayed—that the woman was asking for a slice of the double chocolate cake that was sitting beside the Red Velvet cake that he’d come in for.
His prayers went unanswered as Mrs. Lorraine shuffled a step to her left and lifted the top from the Red Velvet cake. She lifted the last slice—Ro could have sworn that he heard her grunt from tge exertion of lifting it—and placed it in a Styrofoam holder as he watched in utter horror.
Without realizing that he was speaking out loud, Ro said, “That was my piece of cake.”
The woman turned around at his comment. She took one look at the pitiful look on Ro’s countenance and burst into giggles. Mrs. Lorraine, a woman whom Ro had never even seen smile, showed someone her gold tooth for the first time in ages when she also looked at his pathetic face.
Ro became embarrassed but retained enough composure to ask, “Is another cake coming out tonight?” He knew that, in all likelihood, that there would be no more cakes that night but he had to ask the question.
Still smiling while the other woman began to giggle even more, Mrs. Lorraine said, “Now sweetie, that’s the last cake tonight and forever more.”
Ro’s mouth dropped to the floor and the young woman abruptly stopped giggling as she turned completely around to face Mrs. Lorraine. Both of them hoped that the woman was playing some sort of cruel joke.
Seeing that the normal expression of severity return to Mrs. Lorraine’s face, they both asked in unison, “Why?”
Mrs. Lorraine sighed and her face sagged; a sad look came into her eyes and made her seem to age dramatically. She said in a voice that matched her eyes, “We don’t get no support from the black folk around here. Nobody wants a good down-home meal anymore. They would rather go to these uppity overpriced franchises and spend dey money. It seems like every month it gets harder and harder to make ends meet. I appreciate y’all’s business but we just can’t sell enough slices of cake to stay in business. Tonight is the last night that we’ll be open.”
Ro, the woman, and the other customer who was waiting on his food just stared with their mouths agape when Mrs. Lorraine completed her soliloquy. The cook rang a bell and she turned around to get the order that had been placed. As she handed the order to her customer, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a five-dollar bill. He placed it on the counter and said a heartfelt, “God bless you.” He nodded to Ro and the woman as he walked out.
Mrs. Lorraine picked up the tip and placed it in her apron. When the door was completely shut after the man walked through, she said, “Cheap bastuhd never left nothin’ befo’.” There was no animosity behind her words though as her eyes followed him until he was out of sight.
When she finally remembered the business at hand, she spoke to Ro. “Sorry young fella, but if you want some of this,” she motioned at the empty cake stand, “you’d better ask her.”
Ro looked at the woman who was guarding her bag as if it was holding a million dollars. He said to both women, “I think that I would get her social security number out of her before I got one bite of her cake. Isn’t that right?”
The young lady smiled and loosened her hold on her bag just a little. She said, “Considering the circumstances, I’ll give you a piece of it. A small piece, that is.”
Mrs. Lorraine laughed out loud, startling both of them. Her laugh bounced off the walls of the small restaurant and brought the cook to the front to see what in the world could have had such an effect on the perpetual scrooge of the establishment. When her laughter subsided, she said to the woman, “Aw come on. Give the po’ chile half of it. He looks so pathetic. Of cose, make him pay fo it.”
Ro smiled sheepishly and looked down at the floor. The woman chuckled and said, “Yeah, you’re right. He’s kind of cute when he looks that pitiful though.”
Mrs. Lorraine added, “He is a handsome fella. Y’all would make a cute couple.” Ro blushed until he was a deeper shade of brown. “Wait a minute,” Mrs. Lorraine said to the both of them.
She turned around and yelled into the kitchen, “Pokey! Come lock da doh!”
Pokey rushed out of the kitchen with more nimbleness than his looks belied and definitely more than he’d shown all day. As he made his way to the door, Mrs. Lorraine leaned over the counter and whispered to them, “Y’all wanna learn how to make love?”
Both Ro and the woman’s mouth dropped open—a common occurrence in the short time that they’d been there—at the question. They imagined that Mrs. Lorraine and Pokey were about to engage in an act that would probably give them nightmares for the rest of their life. Seeing that they were both thoroughly flustered, Mrs. Lorraine’s laughter once again boomed through the restaurant and light gleamed from her gold tooth. She began to fan herself as she spoke. “Y’all chillen is too much fo’ me but y’all have made my day. Even though I could show y’all a thang or two, that’s not the kind of love that I meant. Love is the name of my Red Velvet cake. I’ve always called it dat. Why? Just because. So when I ask y’all if y’all wanted to learn how to make love, I meant makin’ the cake.”
Ro and the woman were ashamed at their initial thoughts and it showed in their faces. Instead of answering out loud, they both nodded to indicate that they would like to know how to make love—also known as a Red Velvet cake.
“Awright now, I’ma give my recipe to y’all but you have to promise not to ever give it to anyone else, unless you pass it down to yo’ own kids.”
Ro and the woman nodded again. Ro thought, She’s getting a little ahead of herself if she’s talking about kids.
Mrs. Lorraine retrieved a menu from underneath the counter, grabbed a pen from the register, and began writing down the recipe. “The key to the flava,” she explained as she wrote, “ is the cocoa powder. Most people don’t even know what it is so they don’t even use it. Believe me though, you can always tell when it’s missing. Especially if you’ve had one of my cakes.”
Ro and the woman watched and listened as they digested her hints and instructions. When Mrs. Lorraine finished and handed it to Ro, it seemed as if she was giving away her firstborn child. After a few seconds of playing a silent game of tug-of-war, she finally loosened her grip enough for Ro to slide it from her fingers.
That sad look had returned to her eyes when she said, “Y’all take care now,” and then turned her back to them. As if on cue, Pokey, who had been watching with muted interest, unlocked the door. Ro and the woman looked at each other and then dug deep as they each placed a ten dollar bill on the counter before they walked out.
When they were outside on the sidewalk, they stood in silent melancholy as they gazed out at the street but not seeing anything. The orange luminance of the sign that was cast on the sidewalk and their backs provided no warmth. A few seconds later, the sign was turned off and left them to the mercy of the streetlighting.
Ro spoke first: “Do you want to run to Kinko’s and get this copied?” He held up the piece of paper and let the light breeze lift the bottom edge.
“Do you know where one is?” she asked.
“Not around here. Do you?”
“Nope.” She thought for a moment and then asked, “Do you have a scanner?”
“Yeah, but I live about ten blocks from here.”
“What does that have to do with you e-mailing it to me?”
Ro paused, flustered. “Oh . . . I guess that I could do that.”
“We just met and you’re already trying to get me to your place,” she teased. “Shame on you.”
“No, no,” Ro babbled. “I didn’t mean it like that. You could have waited outside.”
She seemed to think about his proposition for a moment. “Where did you park?”
“Across the street. What about you?”
“Down there.” She turned to face the direction that she’d come from earlier when she’d walked in ahead of Ro.
Ro looked down the dark sidewalk from whence she came. It seemed as if every other streetlight was out. It wasn’t a very safe walk for anyone, much less a woman. He took it upon himself to be a gentleman and a bodyguard and asked, “Can I walk you to your car.”
“I thought that you’d never ask. Also, how could I resist such a big strong man like you.” She began to walk away and said without looking back, “Come on.”
Ro fell in step behind her. After they’d walked a few yards past the restaurant, he said, “That’s messed up, huh?”
“The restaurant? . . . Yeah, it is but what can you do?”
“That’s true.” He sighed, as did the wind. “But I’m going to miss the cake. Speaking of which, that would be kind of hard to e-mail.” He motioned at the paper bag that she was carrying.
“I could take a picture of it and e-mail it to you.”
“That wouldn’t do me much good. I knew that I should have knocked you down before you could get in when I saw you.”
She chuckled softly at his joke. The breeze seemed to lift the sound and carry it away down the street. “At least you can make your own now. That is, if you know your way around the kitchen.”
“I get by. Living alone, you have to.”
“You had to throw in the fact that you live alone, huh?”
“Not intentionally. I was just making a statement.”
They walked in silence for a few steps. The only sound besides the light flow of street traffic was the scuff of their feet and the rattle of the paper bag that the woman held. She asked, “So are you from Norfolk?”
“No. I’m from Chicago but I went to school at Hampton. I decided to stay here after I graduated.”
“You’re pretty far away from home. What do you do?”
“I’m an architect.”
“That sounds exciting.”
“It’s not nearly how people think it is. We spend most of our time in front of computers drawing straight lines. What about you? What do you do?”
“I’m a senior at Norfolk State. I work at the currency exchange around the corner from here.”
“What’s your major?”
“It was Finance but I switched to Accounting. Here I am right here,” she said and pointed at a black Honda Civic.
“Nice car. I just hope that you have a cake knife in the glove compartment.”
She giggled and said, “If I did have one, would you carry your piece all the way back to your car in your hand?” She leaned against her car and retreated into her thoughts as she chewed the left side of her bottom lip.
Ro took the moment to look at her a little more closely. She was wearing a light leather jacket over a pale yellow blouse. The jacket came to her thighs and didn’t afford him the chance to see how she was built. She also wore a pair of plain black slacks that wouldn’t have given him much of a view anyway. Dark-skinned with three-inch baby dreadlocks that brought out her eyes, she stood at about 5’4”—but that was with the heels that she had on. She wore gold hoops in her ears that came down almost to her shoulders but that was the only jewelry that she had on.
She was attractive by almost any man’s standards. The only reason that he hadn’t noticed her as much before was because of his craving for the cake. She stared at the ground as he soaked as much in as possible. When she looked up, he looked away.
“Can I ask you a couple of questions?” she asked.
“You can ask but I can’t promise that I’ll answer.”
“They’re not too personal.”
“Have you ever been to jail or in a mental institution?”
Taken aback, Ro replied, “That’s kind of personal, don’t you think?”
“Well . . . have you?”
Ro stood on the heels of his feet before he answered. “I would lie and say that I did time in both but I’m curious to know why you ask. So, the answer is no, I’ve never been even close to going to either.”
“I didn’t think so but you never know these days. Woman?”
Ro smiled and said, “No, I’m not a woman.”
She giggled again and said, “You got jokes, I see. Do you have a woman?” she asked, enunciating the word have.
The thought to bend the truth flashed through his mind but instead he chose to live honorably and replied, “Kinda, sorta.”
“What does that mean? Either you do or you don’t.”
“I have a long-distance thing going on. We went to school together but she lives in Atlanta now.”
“So, there isn’t any chance that she or some other woman would just pop up at your door?”
“I just talked to her on my cell and she was going to work out. So unless she’s Superman, I don’t—“
“Woman. Unless she’s Superwoman. Let’s be politically correct.”
“Okay. Unless she’s Superwoman, I don’t expect her to be popping up anytime soon.”
She looked left and then right. A man and a woman were in an embrace at the intersection. “And you live ten blocks from here?” she asked as she watched them impassively.
“Eleven now. We walked a block in the opposite direction.”
She looked at him closely, almost seeming to look inside him. She said, “Well, I really don’t think that a man who almost cried over a piece of cake would be too dangerous. Did you have any plans tonight?”
“Not really. I was probably going to call up a couple of friends and see what they were doing. Nothing concrete though.”
She paused before her next question. Looking him directly in the eyes, she asked, “Do you want to make love?”
Ro was shocked for the umpteenth time that night, thinking that she was asking for the real deal. He wasn’t thinking or else he would have remembered the earlier comment by Mrs. Lorraine. Before he could say, “Of course I want to,” she brought him back to reality.
“Get you mind out of the gutter. Do you want to try the recipe is what I’m asking. We could make it and compare it to the slice we have.”
Ro smiled sheepishly again, feeling as if he were a horny teenage boy all over again. He said, “How can I be sure that you’re not crazy or deranged? Or that your boyfriend is?”
“An indirect question usually gets a person nowhere with me but I will entertain you since you’ve been so open. My so-called boyfriend wants to hang out with his boys tonight. Which most likely means that he will be flirting with every pretty face that he sees. And I, being the understanding girlfriend that I am, will be in the house.” She sighed. “Anyway, if I can trust you, then you can definitely trust me.”
Ro thought for a moment, trying to remember whether or not he’d cleaned up before he left that morning. “Okay,” he said. “But, you have to give me a five minute head start so that I can make sure that my place is decent. I need to get my underwear out of the kitchen sink.”
“That is not a pleasant thought,” she said, wrinkling her nose. “Let me write my number down so that you can call me while we’re in transit,” she said as she reached into her purse to get a pen.
“Let me see the paper,” she said. Ro gave her the paper with the recipe and while she wrote her number, she asked, “Do you need to stop at the store for anything? If you only cook enough to get by then I would think so. Unless you always cook with cocoa powder.”
She gave the paper back to Ro and he scanned the list of ingredients in the dim light. “You’re right. I need almost everything here except eggs, sugar, and milk.”
“Off to the store we shall go then. I guess that it would only be good manners to formally introduce myself before we make love.” The couple that she’d seen hugging was walking by them and within earshot. They began walking a little bit faster to get away from the scene that was taking place. Ro’s new lady friend winked at him and they both chuckled softly.
She extended her hand and said, “I’m Saamone.”
“Is that short for Roshaun or Rohan or something like that?”
“Nope. Its just Ro. It can’t get any shorter than that without being one letter,” he said as he slowly backed away. “I’m going to have to make a U-turn. I’ll pull up beside you and you can follow me.” He spun on his heels and had to restrain himself to keep from running full-speed back to his car.
He called the number that she’d given him as soon as he’d put on his seatbelt. They began talking as if they’d known each other for years as they made their way to the nearest grocery store. They kept talking while they wandered through the aisles. And on the three-minute trip to his humble abode, they talked again.
He allowed her to park in his reserved parking spot and he drove halfway down the block to get the closest visitor’s space. As he was walking past her car to his apartment, she lowered her window and asked, “Are you sure that you don’t need thirty minutes?”
“Now who has jokes? Five minutes, maybe less, is all that I need.”
As usual, his apartment was spotless when he walked in. There were some days when he would just toss his clothes on his couch if he were in a hurry. That day wasn’t one of them and all that he had to do was spray some light air freshener before he called Saamone to tell her to come on up.
He could tell that she was surprised by his tidiness when she walked in. Such order for a man was uncommon—especially a single one—but he’d been raised well. She smiled and said, “I am truly impressed. Very, very impressed.”
Ro made no response as he walked into the kitchen. He began taking the items out of the bags as Saamone walked around his living room. She looked at the few pictures that were on his wall and lingered in front of the picture of his girlfriend. She looked at him and pointed at the picture with raised eyebrows, silently asking if that was who she thought it was.
He nodded his head and she moved to his entertainment center that dwarfed his 20” television. She began scanning the titles of his DVD’s, CD’s, and video games. She picked up the Playstation2 NBA Live case and asked, “You any good?”
“I hardly ever play it,” Ro answered from the kitchen. “Why, have you ever played it?”
“Once or twice.” Ro missed the sneaky smile that she displayed as she put the game back. “Maybe later we can play if you want to.”
“A woman that plays video games. That’s a first.” He paused before he spoke again. “Let’s make a small wager.”
“What will it be?”
“Whoever wins gets the whole piece of cake that you bought tonight.”
“I don’t know. You might be better than you make yourself out to be.” She narrowed her eyes to accentuate her mistrust. “I’m game though.”
Ro smiled and said, “Okay, it’s a bet.”
As Saamone walked toward the kitchen, she said, “Let’s make love.”
The pun wasn’t lost on Ro that time and he replied, “Let’s.”
The cake turned out okay. It wasn’t as moist as Mrs. Lorraine’s but they blamed that on the fact that they had to mix it in a kool-aid pitcher since Ro didn’t own a cake bowl.
Throughout the process, they learned even more about each other. They chattered during the mixing and started chattering at the beginning of the video game. Ro didn’t have much to say after he found himself down by twenty points in the fourth quarter and he also figured out that she’d played more than a couple of times before. She beat him handily and laughed in his face as she strutted around his living room like she’d been there before. Before long, Ro was smiling too and she even gave him a bite—just one—of her piece of cake.
In one night they forged a friendship that was stronger than iron and based on a single shared experience. One day they didn’t even know that the other existed and the next day it felt as if they’d known each other all of their lives.
Neither of their other halves at the time liked their relationship. Ro’s girlfriend threw in the towel first but he barely noticed. Saamone just gave him sincere advice on how to dress, smell, and other little ways to impress the female species. A couple of months after his break-up, he was with someone else.
Saamone broke up with her boyfriend shortly after Ro began dating his new interest. Like she did for him, Ro helped her through the difficult times and revealed secrets about what men liked in women. After all that he said and did, she still ended back with her ex-boyfriend.
Their feelings for each other played a game of shadowboxing as time wore on. Neither one wanted to be the first to open up and perhaps ruin a good thing. So they co-existed: sharing their innermost thoughts and desires about everything except what they felt for each other. They even discussed sex in vivid detail, telling each other what truly turned them on or off and what they needed to be truly satisfied.
What they did was create the perfect mate in the other. Ro dressed and smelled the way that Saamone wished her boyfriend would. He knew what needed to be done for her to reach orgasm. He knew that flowers made her horny and also that her fantasy was to make love on the freeway on the hood of a car while cars zoomed by.
The situation was also reversed for Saamone. Everything that she did, Ro desired. Things she knew were things that he wished he didn’t have to teach to another. They loved each other but had no clue that the feeling was mutual.
Saamone almost slipped as she lowered herself to the floor. She grabbed Ro’s pants leg to support herself.
“Are you trying to rip my clothes off?” he playfully asked as he opened the upper cabinet to get the ingredients for the cake—one of them being the cocoa that he didn’t have the last time.
“You can only wish that I would do such a thing. Do I look like one of these desperate women to you?” She reached into the lower cabinet and got the cake bowl—a Christmas present from her to him.
She stood up and placed the bowl on the counter. She then went to the pantry to get the flour as Ro went to get a carton of eggs out of the refrigerator.
They turned around at the same time in Ro’s small kitchen and bumped into each other. As Ro’s arm cradled the eggs, it sank deep into Saamone’s breasts as they stood face to face and pressed against each other. They looked at each other questioningly with their eyes, asking who would be the first to move. Neither one of them being the type who liked to lose, they played the wait game.
Ro gave in first because of the impending hardening that was happening below. He said, “Excuse me. Could you please move your breasts?”
Saamone pressed against him even closer and replied, “I think that it’s your arm that’s in the way.”
Ro gave a nervous laugh and moved away from Saamone to pretend to arrange the items on the counter. Saamone gave a sly smile and stood next to him, a little closer than she usually did when they’d always made love.
Throughout the mixing of the ingredients, they playfully touched each other more than they usually did. They reached across each other’s bodies to get things that they could have easily just asked for. They nudged and gently pushed each other, giggling and smiling like two new lovebirds.
It didn’t take long to complicate things further after they placed the cake in the oven. Saamone claimed the mixing bowl and held it away from Ro. They always fought over who would get the first taste of the mix, so things were normal in that respect.
Saamone slid the tip of her finger through the cake mix that still lined the bowl until it was thoroughly coated. As Ro watched her watch him back, she placed her finger in her mouth and seductively sucked it until no trace of the mix was left. “Mmmm,” she moaned as she removed her finger. She then asked Ro, “Do you want a taste?”
Trying his best to keep his mind from falling completely into the gutter and not take things to another level, he said, “Don’t mind if I do.”
He reached for the bowl but Saamone slid the bowl away and out of his reach. She again dipped the same finger in the bowl and coated the tip. She held her finger in front of his lips and said, “It tastes better this way.”
It does look better, Ro thought. He started to touch his finger to hers but she grabbed his hand and put it back down at his side. She held her finger close to his lips and he took it into his mouth. He took his time sucking the mix as they both looked into each other’s eyes, trying to figure out where they were heading.
Twenty minutes later, the cake bowl was clean as it lay on the kitchen floor. Cake mix had been placed on fingers, toes, nipples, navels, and anywhere else that was deemed healthy before it had been removed completely by the other’s mouth. The timer of the oven interrupted them. They took the cakes out to cool and then started where they’d left off.
They subconsciously decided to let the flow take them where it wanted to and they eventually floated into Ro’s bedroom. He knew what she wanted and needed to be pleased and she knew the same intimate things about him. They seemed to dance with each other to a silent rhythm as their mind and body swayed together. The chemistry that had always been there, but had been left undiscovered until then, had never been felt with anyone else in their entire lives. They made love to each other like they’d never made love to another—coupling with their minds and souls as well as their bodies to reach peaks that they’d never been close to reaching in the past.
Penelope called at a little after one in the morning. She’d called Ro’s cell phone no less than ten times—leaving messages at least half of those times—during the night to no avail. She finally decided to try his home phone and then realized that she didn’t even know the number because she’d always been able to contact him on his cell: even when he was at home.
Ro’s phone was on the side of the bed that Saamone was lying on when it rang. They’d both slid into a deep, satisying-sex-induced sleep after the third round of their experimenting with each other’s bodies. Saamone groggily answered the phone.
Penelope didn’t have to ask who answered the phone nor was it hard to tell that that person had been asleep. She knew that it probably wasn’t the first time that Saamone had answered Ro’s phone but Penelope had never known that she slept over there. To add injury to insult, Saamone was with Ro when Penelope had been stood up with no phone call, e-mail, or anything. Penelope asked in a nasty tone, “Can I speak to Ro?”
Even half asleep, Saamone knew an upset woman when she heard one. The woman on the other end was far from her friend but considering the circumstances, she decided to ignore Penelope’s tone. She replied, “Hold on. He’s right here.”
Right here at one in the morning was a little bit too close for comfort in Penelope’s eyes. When Ro answered the phone in a voice that was also rough with sleep, all that she could say was, “I don’t believe this shit,” and hang up the phone. Ro turned the phone off and let it drop to the floor. He scooted closer to Saamone and they both dozed off again.
Thirty minutes later the phone rang again disturbing Ro’s hypnogogic state. This time it was Mike. He hadn’t even remembered that he had a date with Saamone until after eleven. He’d been hanging out with his friends, playing cards and drinking. He’d been trying to call her every since he remembered his commitment but she wasn’t answering her cell nor her dorm room phone and he assumed that she was mad at him.
Somehow Penelope tracked him down—which isn’t hard to do in a college town—and filled him in on where Saamone was and why she was at Ro’s house. Always having thought that Penelope was a little over the top, he decided that it was better if he gave Ro a call himself.
Ro’s number was programmed in his phone since Saamone was over there so much. When Ro answered the phone in an irritated but sleepy voice, Mike said, “My bad, dude, for waking you up. I was calling to see if you’ve seen Saamone though.”
“No problem. . . . She’s right here,” Ro replied and then handed the phone to Saamone who had been aroused by the ring of the phone too.
Mike also felt that those two words, right here, didn’t mix well with the situation. Saamone fumbled with the phone, dropping it on the bed. When she finally got it to her ear and said hello, he’d already hung up.
Saamone turned the phone off again and placed it back on its cradle. She asked Ro, “Was that Mike.”
Ro answered in the affirmative and her only reply was an unsurprised, “Oh.”
After that call, neither of them could go back to sleep. They lay on their sides with their backs to each other. Ro watched the light of a candle bounce off the walls as it struggled to remain lit. Saamone watched the red glow of her cell phone’s voicemail indicator repetitively blink as her pants partially obscured it.
Ro turned over and watched the rise and fall of Saamone’ torso as she breathed. He began to trace a line down her back with his right index finger.
Saamone’s body stiffened at Ro’s initial touch and then relaxed. Ro said, “I thought that you were still up. . . . You okay?”
“I’m fine,” she answered as she turned to face him. “You?”
“Never been better.”
They lay facing each other for a few minutes, listening to the sound of their breathing. The candle finally gave up hope and the little light that it had been casting faded slowly away.
Saamone broke the comfort of their silence and the darkness and asked, “Does this change anything?”
Ro thought for a moment before he pulled her closer and began gently running his hand up and down her back. He replied, “This changes a lot.”
“Well . . . are you still my friend?”
“I don’t think so. Are you still mine?”
“No, I don’t think so either,” she replied.
“Good. That’s the answer that I wanted to hear.”
“What about Mike and Pineapple?”
“What about them?”
“We have to tell them something.”
“You’re right. As for me, . . . I think that I’m going to wait until Penelope calls me again. I have a feeling that she knows anyway. If she doesn’t call, then I won’t stress out about it.” He paused and then asked, “What about you? What are you going to tell Mike?”
“I’m going to tell him the truth. That is . . . when he calls I’ll tell him the truth. Which is something that I can wait for too.”
Saamone pressed against him even tighter and kissed him at the hollow of his neck. Once, twice, three times. She felt a lower part of his body begin to grow and harden. “Let’s make love,” she whispered.
“Let’s,” was his reply.