Counter Girls    

   a novel by Felicia C. York  

Lexie's Excerpt

Therapy was quaint and very much a neighborhood watering hole. If your neighbors are The Huxtables. It was small enough not to miss someone you were waiting on, but dimly lit and cozy enough to have a romantic encounter with a sensual stranger. They were both about 15 minutes late when she checked her watch. She told herself that he wasn’t going to show. “Always expect the worst,” she recounted the words of her grandmother, “so you’re pleasantly surprised no matter what.”

 

She ordered a Moscato and eavesdropped on the conversation of a group of young black women that sat next to her. They were three of the most beautiful women in an array of hues and sizes talking about the same thing: men.

 

“Girl, it is hard to find a good man out here. I’ve done everything. I’ve been on every dating site and I feel like men just want a thrill,” the most beautiful of them all said. Lexie was floored. If this goddess couldn’t find and keep a man, what hope did she have?

 

“That’s because you fall in love after a day and a half and give it up after a week of knowing the dude, Lisa,” the heavy-set diva countered.

 

“Lisa, you are so beautiful. You’re smart, successful and driven but you’re almost 30 and you think that the only thing you have to offer is your body and that’s just not true,” the tall mocha woman with long locs said.

 

“Well, sex is important to me. If they can’t please me in bed, I don’t want to be bothered,” Lisa said.

 

“What about the other qualities a man can offer?” another woman asked.

 

“Like what?.” Lisa deadpanned. The girls laughed. Lexie stifled her own chuckle. Lisa wasn't getting it.

 

“What type of man do you want to settle down and have beautiful chocolate babies with?” one of the ladies asked.

 

“Well, he’s gotta be able to make those chocolate babies, right?” Lisa said. Her friends groaned.

 

“All I’m saying is that you’re smart enough to know that what a man offers you below his belt isn’t the only thing he can offer you and the ones that can only show you a good time aren’t the ones with two marbles rolling around in their heads. You’re worth more than what you’re accepting from men,” the heavy-set woman said, trying to get through to her friend.

 

Lexie agreed. She didn’t know Lisa but she could see that she was too gorgeous to be with someone who only had one thing to offer her when there were plenty of real men out there that were the complete package. She was hoping that one of these real men were on their way to see her. She hadn’t expected it to be so deep at the wine bar but she was happy that someone was talking sense into this girl.

 

As if on cue, Adom walked through the door.  He walked directly behind her.

 

“Alexis,” his deep voice was smooth like honey. She turned around and smiled widely. He was exactly like his pictures. Tall and broad with a small waist, his skin was the color of sweet caramel. His eyes like a warm chocolate brownie; soft and rich, she wanted to melt in them. They were slanted almond with thick curled lashes. His cheekbones set high and his lips were full like two pillows beckoning for a kiss. His goatee was neatly trimmed. He was well-put together as if he had stepped off the pages of GQ. Lexie’s smile broadened. 

 

“Adom,” she kissed him on the cheek and they sat down.  He smells good too, she thought, appraising his outfit. He wore a powder blue button down shirt with a brown tweed sports jacket and jeans. His long black dreadlocks were neatly pulled behind his neck. She loved the athletic build of his body and could only imagine what his strong legs looked like in shorts. He claimed to be a runner. She wanted to see the evidence of such. “Aren’t you cold in such a light jacket?” she asked.

 

“Doll, I’m from the UK. This is nothing. Besides, I drove.” She’d forgotten that he was British and didn’t quite expect to hear his thick accent. She took a sip of her drink and to the left of her she could feel the weight of the sista-circle next to her staring a hole into Adom. He seemed unfazed, perusing the menu. “I want a  meal like some rice and beans or some baked chicken. Let’s go. I saw another restaurant on my over here.”

Lexie was relieved. For a moment, she thought she would have to fight off the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for him. “Let’s go,” she said as he paid for her drink leaving a healthy tip. She loved a man that tipped well. He helped her into her coat and opened the door for her. The date was starting off on a great note.

 

Adom was parked right outside. He opened the car door for her waiting for her to be seated inside and closed the door behind her. It had been too long since she’d been treated well by a proper gentleman. She could get used to it. She smiled, texting her best friend, Samantha his license plate number. It was their ritual whenever they went out because you just never knew what people were capable of in the Big Apple.

 

“Let me guess…texting your bestie that this bloke you met up with is a big lug you can’t wait to be rid of?” he smiled his perfect white smile at her.

 

“On the contrary…I’m telling her I met my future ex-boyfriend.” Lexie felt flirty.

 

“I don’t see why any man would ever leave you.” He was charming.

 

“Do you know where you’re going?” Lexie asked amazed that he was already acclimated to the city.

 

“Yes, I saw a place up the road where we can fetch supper,” he said.

 

“Umm….can you say that again a little slower please?” Lexie was embarrassed. She loved his accent, but it was hard to understand everything he was saying.

 

“I’m sorry. I forget not everyone talks the way I do. Up the block, I saw a little restaurant I wanted to pop into.” He spoke slowly more deliberately.

 

“Yes, I’m sorry. I know how you feel. My family is from Jamaica. When I go there to visit, I try not to even speak, because I sound so different from them,” Lexie admitted.

 

“You’re Jamaican?” He began in his faux accent, “What a guan bred’ren?” He smiled his signature killer smile.

 

Lexie laughed. “Close but no cigar.”

 

“I love my Jamaican bred’ren. It’s the only accent I can mimic,” Adom beamed.

 

“Are you sure about that?” Lexie laughed harder.

 

“Oh, the lady has jokes.” They were getting along well. Lexie was so pleased. She was relaxed. They drove on a few more minutes in silence.

 

“Are you sure you know where you’re going?” she asked again looking around, familiar with where she was, but not sure he knew. To her recollection, she didn’t think there were any restaurants in the area.

 

“Don’t be afraid, my lady.” He was confident. “I won’t take you anywhere you won’t enjoy going.”

 

“So it was your intention to take me some place unfamiliar?” she was half-serious with her question.

 

“It’s my intention to take you all the way,” he winked and smiled. She liked their flirty banter. She hoped all the way was to the altar and not the bedroom.

 

“I trust you,” she said the words, unsure if she meant them.

 

They pulled up to a hole in the wall bar about 5 minutes from her house by car.  Lexie had passed it almost every day and had never wondered about what was inside. Before he turned the car off, he turned and said, “Listen, I don’t know what these Brooklyn lads are about but I’m a man.” He had her full attention. “When you’re with me, I open your doors. That means your car doors and the doors wherever we go. We could be in the midst of a huge argument, I’ll be mad, but I’ll open your door. It was how I was raised, ok?” he said urgently.  It was definitely okay with her. She was impressed. He got out and opened her car door, walked on the side of the street closest to the traffic and held open the bar door for her as well. She felt like a princess.

 

She’d done herself a disservice by not peeking inside before. The bar was beautiful. Everything was made of hand carved wood. The lights were dim and it looked like a live band was about to set up. It was empty save for a few patrons, a bartender and a waitress. They sat themselves at a table that had menus already laid out and began to look around. Lexie wasn’t really hungry but she knew it was impolite to let your date eat by himself.

 

“What do you want to eat?” he asked after several minutes.

 

“I’m not too hungry, so I’ll have the appetizer-sized chicken strips.”

 

“Is that all?” he asked.

 

“Yes, that’s it,” Lexie said firmly.

 

“I hope you’re not acting cute because we’re on a date,” he said.

 

“No, I’m not that hungry.” They waited a few more minutes. It seemed as though the waitress was more interested in flirting with the bartender than serving guests. She probably hadn’t noticed they’d seated themselves. She stood facing the bartender with her bottom poked out bent over the bar. Lexie was sure her cleavage was on full display. Her hair was slicked back in a ponytail. She was medium-brown and thin with a small waist and legs that looked long and lean in fishnet stockings under her mini-skirt.

 

“I don’t have time for this,” Adom announced. He walked right up to her. He stood there for a moment, neither of them acknowledging his presence. Lexie shook her head. He tapped the waitress on her shoulder. Lexie watched her body language. It went from annoyed that someone was interrupting them to being intrigued by him to flirty. Lexie laughed. She understood. Adom was gorgeous. She felt lucky to be out with him. She quickly sent Sam a text to let her know where she was.

 

He caught her as he came back,bringing two drinks with him.

 

“What’s this?” she asked, eyeing her drink.

 

“White wine. I thought I saw you drinking it at Therapy,” he said. Lexie was impressed once again. Tall, gorgeous, chivalrous, attentive…Adom was hitting all the checkpoints. “Texting your boyfriend where you are?” he joked.

 

“Nope, just checking in with Sam. Is there no one you need to check in with? Maybe a friend to cancel the emergency phone call he was supposed to make if I turned out to be a big fat man with borrowed photos?” Lexie poked.

 

“Honey, if you were a fat man, I would’ve pretended I was never on YourMatch.” They both laughed heartily.

 

“You haven’t once looked at your phone. What if something important is happening?” Lexie asked.

 

“There’s nothing more important than being here with you right now,” Adom admitted.

 

 Lexie melted. She wasn’t used to being the center of any man’s attention. She understood Frenchie more now. The attention could be addictive. She could see why Frenchie would horde it all for herself. Lexie beamed at him.

 

“Do I look like my pictures?” she asked.

 

“Yes, exactly alike, except I thought you were a darkie,” Adom said taking a sip of his drink.

 

“Darkie?” Lexie asked.

 

“You know, a dark-skinned person,” Adom explained.

 

“Darkie seems like a derogatory term for a dark-skinned person,” Lexie crossed her arms as she spoke and furrowed her brow.

 

“Why would I use a derogatory term to describe you, doll? It’s just a term. Just because you don’t say it in America doesn’t mean anything,” Adom defended.

 

Lexie thought for a moment. He had a point. Their references were so different. She thought of America’s racial history. Hearing “darkie” from an American person, especially an American Caucasian person would be a totally different story. Or perhaps she was just reading too much into it.

“You’re right. I’m sorry. America has an interesting history when it comes to race and terms we have used to describe skin color. I guess I was just being sensitive,” Lexie backpedaled. She wanted to tread lightly, not rocking the boat too much. Things were going well and she wanted a second date.

 

“No need to apologize. Anyways, I love dark women,” Adom answered. Lexie frowned. “But of course,” he added, “you’re beautiful.” Lexie was unsure. She wanted to kick herself for feeling a bit insecure. “What happened to the girl in this picture?” He took out his phone and showed her the infamous Christmas Party 2010 photo. She was about 15 pounds thinner with straight hair and a dress so tight you could see the blood running through her veins.

 

“That girl is here. When the proper occasion arises, you’ll see her,” Lexie said coyly. She wanted to bring out the big guns but she also wanted to save something for later.

 

“Don’t get me wrong, love, you look great tonight but I love to see a woman in a dress or a skirt with heels,” Adom said with a wink. Little by little, it felt as though he had an ice pick and was whittling away at her esteem.

 

The waitress brought out their food. She served Lexie first, hardly making eye contact or acknowledging her presence. With Adom, she made sure to wiggle her cleavage in his face and smile. “Enjoy,” she said touching Adom’s shoulder as she left.

 

“Thank you, miss,” Lexie called after her, a sly smirk across her face.

 

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

 

“You can’t be that blind to how women react to you. You’re beautiful.” Lexie gushed.

 

“No, I don’t see it. The only beautiful one at this table is you.” Lexie blushed. Adom definitely knew the right things to say. “Okay, Devil’s advocate…if I did want to leave with the waitress tonight, what would that mean for us?”

 

Lexie took a sip of her wine. “What do you mean? If you’re out with me, why would you leave with another woman?” she asked.

 

“We aren’t together. I can do what I want,” he said.

 

Lexie was stifling anger. “So, what would you do? Take me home and come back? Do you already know what time she gets off….maybe I should go so you can get on with it.” Lexie hated how she sounded, but Adom needed to know that what he had said was not cool.

 

“I wouldn’t. I just wanted your reaction. Women are more territorial than men,” Adom said.  Lexie didn’t like where this was leading. She certainly didn’t want to get into a discussion about men vs. women and why would he even consider bringing up taking another woman home if he hadn’t considered it before? She shook off the thought. The date was going downhill but she wanted to turn it around. 

 

“Online, it said you have your ph.D. What is it in? What do you do?” she asked changing the subject.

 

“I have my ph.D. in Biochemistry. I came to the US to begin my residency in the ER. I may begin training to be a surgeon. It just depends on how much longer I want to delay actually beginning my career,” Adom said.

 

Lexie hadn’t expected to hear that. He seemed more and more out of her league. “That’s amazing,” she said, taking a bite out of her chicken strips. She wasn’t sure what else to say in response to hearing that her date had a higher degree in math and science while she barely passed Chemistry and Calculus. “This is good,” she added about the food. She felt like a fool complimenting probably fake chicken that was fried from a bag.

 

“Indeed, but I’d much rather be at your place eating some Jamaican stew you cooked. At this point, I’d eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich a woman made for me. Afterward, we could watch a movie or cuddle up on your couch watching the telly.” Adom looked at her dreamily. She, too, liked the picture that he was painting for her. It had been years since she cooked for a man or had invited one to her home for a real date.

 

“That’s sweet, but I couldn’t do that on a first date,” Lexie said. 

 

“Why not? A date is supposed to be you showing who you are and inviting me into your home is showing me who you are and showing me that you’re serious about moving forward with me,”Adom said. Lexie was beginning to feel uneasy.

 

“That’s not true. I just met you yesterday and as a single woman living in NYC, you expect me to invite you into my home. That wouldn’t be wise,” she said.

 

“What do you think I’m going to do? Rape you?” he was incredulous.

 

“Now that I know you a little bit, no. Let’s face it. You’re a big guy. If you wanted to do anything to me without my permission, you could.” Lexie crossed her arms over her chest.

 

“I can’t believe you’re saying this,” he said, looking genuinely hurt. Lexie softened.

 

“Maybe some other time? I make a mean stew,” she asked hoping the answer was ‘yes’. She genuinely liked this guy. It had been a long time since she had liked anyone and she didn’t want to let him slip through her fingers like sand.

 

“If I fit all of your requirements and you fit mine, why do we need to wait?” he deadpanned. Lexie didn’t have an answer. They ate in silence.

After they were done, he looked up and said, “Alright, let’s go.”

 

He opened Lexie’s door for her and got in on the other side looking agitated. Lexie was scared, but she didn’t want to show it. She was afraid that he would never speak to her again.

 

“Where do you live? I’ll take you home.” His tone was serious. Lexie told him the address. They rode in silence save for a few directions that she gave him to get there faster. “When we get there, will I be invited in?” He looked at her,  his eyes like watery saucers.

 

“No, you will not.” She wanted to be clear and direct. He was silent. They drove on. “Will I hear from you again now that you know the outcome of the night?” She tried to keep from showing her apprehension.

 

He laughed. “Are you sure that’s the outcome of the night?” He rubbed her thigh.

 

“I’m positive.” Lexie pushed his hand away.

 

Adom swerved the car violently from the far left lane to the right, cutting off some very angry people along the way. “I think you can walk from here.” He stopped the car and turned off the engine. Lexie was shocked.

 

“I don’t understand,” she said, utterly confused.

 

“Get out of my car.” His voice was calm and even. He didn’t look at her. The full weight of what he had said hit her like he’d taken the back of his hand to her face. Without another word, she opened the door and was left on the side of the road in the cold night.

 

She felt embarrassed and humiliated. She’d never been kicked out of anyone’s car before. She took a moment to gather in her surroundings. Truthfully, she was only about six blocks away from her house. It wasn’t that bad but in her 6 inch heels; those blocks would feel like a journey. She felt stranded. She began walking slowly still not believing what just had happened.

  

Cars honked at her. Men leered and said provocative things as they drove by. She understood. It was late and she was wearing high shoes on the side of a major street late at night. She tried to walk faster without breaking an ankle. The shoes were foolish. Believing someone could be genuine and want to be with her without the notion of sex was foolish. She felt the tears, hot and wet, against her cheek before she knew that they were running down her face, making the wind that whipped her more brutal. At least she was close to home. She thanked God silently for the little blessings along the way. What would she say when they asked about her hot date at work? How could she face them?

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