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Authors: Jacinta Howard

Better Than Okay

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BETTER THAN OKAY

A
Novel by

Jacinta
Howard

 
 
 
 

Better
Than Okay

By Jacinta Howard

Copyright 2014 Jacinta Howard

Edited by Brittany Tripp, This Novel Concept

Cover Design by Justin Howard

 

Thank you for downloading this
ebook
. This book remains the copyrighted property of the
author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial
purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download
their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your
support.

For every woman who’s ever needed a
Journal
of Cathartic BS
, may you find your joy, your peace and your love.

 

Chapter
1

 

“Hey, um, Armand… I’m not really in that big of a hurry.”

Destiny
Michaels was seated in the back of a cab gripping the armrest so tightly her
fingernails were turning white. Armand ignored her and violently whipped the
cab around another car, only to slam on the brakes when the SUV in front of
them stopped suddenly. He laid on his horn and shouted out a slew of what
Destiny could only assume were expletives in his thick French accent. She bit
her lip and tried to calm herself. Thank God she could see her hotel ahead of
her and would be free of Armand and his homicidal driving in a minute.

 
She’d arrived in New
Orleans about an hour earlier. The air was warm and thick when she’d stepped
out of the terminal. She’d inhaled deeply, loving the way the humidity felt on
her skin.

It took her all of ten minutes to fall in love with the city. Even
Armand’s driving couldn’t kill the excitement she felt in her veins, breathing
in the air of the Crescent City. She could practically feel the history,
culture, and fire there—see it written on the faces of everyone she
passed on her way to hail Armand’s cab.

She released her death grip on the seat when the car screeched to
a halt a couple of minutes later. She quickly reached into her bag, paid
Armand, and got the hell out of the car. She looked around and smiled.

It was her first time covering Jazz Fest and her first major
feature for the small, Miami-based music magazine she’d been working at for the
past eighteen months,
UMusic.

She knew when she took the job that
UMusic
was hanging by a thread—print magazines were
essentially dead. Everyone in the office felt it, too. The staff had recently
been downsized, again, and there were now just eight people in the editorial
department. That was including the intern, Lina, who had all but attached
herself to Destiny’s hip. Not that Destiny minded much. She knew it was only
because she was the youngest person on staff by far, and was pretty much
treated like an intern herself.

No one understood why she’d chosen to major in print journalism
when she attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, a school most
famous for its marching band. Her mom, Tori, had subtly tried to point her in
the direction of marketing, like her cousin, Dorian. Chrissy—her mom’s
only sibling and Dorian’s mom—tried to push her toward getting a business
degree so that when she graduated she’d be prepared to take whatever job, in
whatever field she wanted. Dorian, who’d already been at FAMU for two years
before she arrived, simply called her a weirdo.

She knew that, at twenty-three, she was probably one of the last
people on earth who genuinely loved print. She loved being able to flip through
the pages of a magazine without being disturbed by a pop-up ad. She even liked
the way magazines smelled. So she’d ignored everyone. A year and a half after
graduation, she honestly wasn’t totally sure she’d made the right decision. But
she’d die before she ever told anyone that.

She started toward her hotel, inhaling the thick, salty air. She
knew a dorky grin was on her face, but she couldn’t help it. She was staying in
the French Quarter and the area was already bustling with activity. Brightly
clad men and women made their way down the historic streets with huge cups in
their hands, no doubt full of liquor, although it was only eleven AM. An old
man in a suit was standing in the corner playing the trombone, oblivious to the
stagnant early heat.
 

The first show she had to cover wasn’t until five so she had a few
hours to hang out and relax. Her phone buzzed and she paused just outside of
the hotel, digging it out of her bag and answering.

“Jason,” she said smiling, as she watched a couple pass before
her.

“Destiny,” he replied, a smile in his voice. She imagined him
readjusting the rubber band on his long dreadlocks like he frequently did. He
was the image director at
UMusic
and
they’d quickly become friends after she was hired full-time.

“What’s up?” she asked, fiddling with the strap on her bag and
leaning against the handle of her carry-on.

“Just warning you…”

Immediately she felt her stomach twist. Whatever he was about to
say was definitely going to be something she didn’t want to hear.

“Philly was standing over Chuck’s shoulder while he was laying out
the snapshot section and she told him to pull your shots from the other night.”

She rolled her eyes, her heart sinking. Working at
UMusic
wasn’t at all what she’d
imagined. When she’d interned there the summer before graduation, she’d been
blinded to the political nature of choosing content. Now her eyes were open.
Wide open. In a meeting the day before, she’d been told yet again, there
wouldn’t be any room to run her coverage from the other night’s live art
installation and open mic jam.

Philly, the managing editor, was always happy to shoot down any of
Destiny’s ideas. Destiny didn't think there was a single idea or concept she’d
presented that Philly found acceptable in the entire time she’d been working
there. The only way her ideas ever got approved was if Gabe, the
editor-in-chief, stepped in. Thankfully, he often did. Destiny didn’t know what
put her on Philly’s shit list, but she was definitely on it.

“Damn,” she breathed, shifting her weight as she studied the
ground outside of the bustling hotel.

“Sorry,” he said. “Just wanted to give you the heads up before you
came back in town and lost your shit.”

She grinned, despite her agitation. She’d never even come close to
“losing her shit,” and Jason knew it. She avoided confrontation like the
plague. Jason was actually always encouraging her to stand up for herself more,
to fight a little harder for her ideas. But she figured it was best to play her
position. She was lowest on the totem pole at
UMusic
—only a couple of inches or maybe centimeters above
Lina—and she needed her job. She sighed, pushing her sunglasses up on her
head, and hovered outside of the entrance.

“Thanks, Jason.”

“No prob,” he returned, easily. “Just remember, at least you get
to cover Jazz Fest.” His tone was encouraging and she felt herself smiling
again.

“You’re right,” she said.

She’d nearly done a cartwheel in the middle of Gabe’s office when
he’d told her he was sending her this year since he didn’t want to go.

Jason chuckled softly. “See you when you get back, stay safe.”

She hung up and stepped through the hotel doors, immediately
engulfed by the air conditioner’s cool. There were a few people scattered
throughout the lobby, what looked like a small band in a sitting area with
instruments leaning against their chairs, and a few older couples checking in
at the counter
. My mom would love this
,
she thought as she headed to the check-in counter. Tori was a huge jazz fan.
It’s why Destiny knew more about John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Louis
Armstrong at ten than most people learned in a lifetime.

Her phone buzzed in her bag again and she reached in and grabbed
it, standing off to the side so she wouldn’t crowd people who were ready to
check in.

 
“I’m never taking your
advice again…”

She rolled her eyes, shaking her head at the sound of Dorian’s
agitated voice.

“What are you talking about? I give the best advice ever,” she
retorted.

“No, you suck,” he countered pointedly. “The massage you told me
to get Nichelle for her birthday was terrible.”

“What? Why?” she asked, wrinkling her brow. Nichelle was the
latest girl Dorian was dating and for once Destiny really liked her, mostly
because she was capable of holding a conversation that involved more than her
lipstick, shoes, and reality TV. She was hoping she would finally be the one to
cure him of his whoremongering ways.

“She said the dude giving it thought he was Mr. Miyagi and
damn-near dislocated her shoulder.”

She giggled loudly and covered her mouth, looking around the busy
lobby.

 
“So, what’s up, you
having fun yet?” he asked.

“I’ve been here for like two minutes, Dorian,” she replied rolling
her eyes. “But I’ve already gotten a call saying my editor is pulling my
coverage from the show we went to the other night.” She scowled, just thinking
about it. “She hates me, and she’s making my existence miserable.”

“Really, Tweet?” Dorian chided her, using the nickname she’d had
for as long as she could remember. Her mom had given it to her when she was a
baby because she said her voice was so high and squeaky. “You’re in New
Orleans, dude,” Dorian told her unnecessarily. “Stop whining and just ignore
Baltimore or Nashville or whatever the hell her name is.”

“It’s Philly,” she replied still sulking. “I’m never going to be
able to make any kind of editorial decisions as long as she’s around.”

“I told you to stop acting scared all of the time and speak up for
yourself. Closed mouths don’t get fed.”

She rolled her eyes again and sighed. She hated it when he tried to
lecture her. And she especially hated it when he did it by using stupid
clichés.

“Shut up, Dorian.”

“See, if you used half that spunk to talk to Portland, you might
be alright.”

She shook her head and eyed the swelling check-in line.

“Alright, I gotta go. I’ll call you later.”

“Wait, did you hit Brian yet?”

“Um, like I said, I’ve been here for like, two minutes, one and a
half of which have been spent talking to you about Mr. Miyagi and horrible
massages.”

“Call him.”

She could hear ringing in the background and knew he was probably
too busy at work to be on the phone harassing her about making phone calls.

“I will, Dorian! We’re already meeting for lunch.”

She shifted her weight, ready to get off the phone with his bossy
ass.

“Hit him now, I just talked to him and he said he’s waiting on you
to let him know you got there.”

She sighed audibly.

“Okay, Okay, I’m texting him now if you’d let me get off the
phone.”

“Later, dork.”

She heaved another sigh and cleared the screen, scrolling until
she got to Brian’s number. Brian Jace was her oldest, best friend. Really, he
was Dorian’s best friend but Destiny had immediately claimed him as her own
about twenty seconds after she first met him in the fourth grade. Dorian
introduced him and she’d made a corny joke about how his last name, Jace rhymed
with “chase” and he’d actually smiled. She’d immediately told him that he was
her new best friend right then and there.

They’d laughed at her for the rest of the year for that. Even in
the fourth grade she was too old to be making those kinds of declarations. Not
that she cared. He and Dorian were in sixth grade at the time and she used to
tag-along with them wherever they would let her, which was basically nowhere
except Dorian’s house.

They still ended up spending a lot of time together though. Dorian
and his little brother, Aidan, were practically like siblings to her. They even
lived with her a lot of the time, usually after Chrissy broke up with one of
her dumb-ass boyfriends. Destiny’s mom always kept a spare bedroom open for
Chrissy. Brian didn’t stop coming around, even when they were all living
together. He still called both Tori and Chrissy “aunt.”

Brian was the exact opposite of Dorian, which is probably why they
got along so well. Brian was calm, quiet, and collected. Destiny couldn’t
remember him ever losing his cool. Everything he did seemed to be thought out.

She smiled now, excited that she was going to be seeing him after
an entire year. He had a job interview in New Orleans and when she’d found out
they were both going to be in the city at the same time, they’d immediately
made plans to hang out as much as possible. She usually saw him when she’d go
home to Phoenix during the holidays but she’d missed him at Christmas a few
months ago because he and his little sister Alexis had been in California,
visiting their mom.

She grinned as she quickly typed him a message.


Two jumps in a week/I bet
you think that’s pretty clever, don’t you boy?/riding on your motorcycle,
watching all the ground beneath you drop…”
She moved to stand in the
check-in line as she waited on his reply. Her phone vibrated a few seconds
later and she smiled broadly.

“Radiohead, High and Dry… ”
 

It was a game she and Brian had been playing for a while now.
Someone would randomly quote a song lyric and the other had to guess who it
was. He was the only one who was able to keep up with her music knowledge. She
mostly covered hip-hop and R&B at
UMusic
,
but her love for music was expansive. So was Brian’s. She hadn’t been able to
stump him yet. Of course, the game involved a lot of trust, with the advent of
Google and all, but she knew he wasn’t cheating. It just wasn’t his style.

“Indeed, you are correct, sir.
Get on chat.”

BOOK: Better Than Okay
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