Authors: Tracy Brown
Tags: #Fiction, #Anthologies (Multiple Authors), #Urban, #African American
ST. MARTIN’S GRIFFIN
These are works of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in these novellas are either products of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously.
“Flirting with Disaster” copyright © 2009 by Tracy Brown.
“Wild Cherry” copyright © 2009 by K’wan.
“Twice in a Lifetime” copyright © 2009 by Angel Mitchell.
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Brown, Tracy, 1974–
Flirt / Tracy Brown, K'wan, and Angel Mitchell.—1st ed.
1. African Americans—Fiction. I. K'wan. II. Mitchell, Angel. III. Title.
First Edition: December 2009
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
For Ashley, Teona, Jade, Tamara, Savannah, Kenisha, and all the other young ladies I know who are starting to date. Beware of the false motives of others. Watch out for the wolves in sheep’s clothing. And remember that your parents don’t want to ruin your fun or run your lives all the time. It’s just that sometimes we can see things more clearly than you can. You’re all beautiful, intelligent, and talented ladies with the world at your fingertips. Stay focused. I love you, divas!
s she sped down the ramp like a track star, Chloe prayed she hadn’t missed it. On the way to the ferry, she’d felt like the bus driver was going extra slow on purpose. The bus had finally pulled into the St. George terminal at 7:39
, giving her exactly one minute to catch it. Not even—because if the guy whose job it was to close the doors wanted to be an asshole that day, he’d close them faster on purpose. Then all anyone could do in their frustration was curse and stare at him through the glass partition. Chloe hated that guy, and had always wished that one day someone would wait until he opened the doors for the next ferry and then punch him dead in his face.
She ran as fast as she could this morning. If she missed this one, the next boat wouldn’t come for another twenty minutes, and she had no patience to wait around that long. Just as she entered the terminal, she could see the doors slowly closing. She ran faster and slipped between them just in the nick of time. She looked victoriously at the son of a bitch pressing the button.
She boarded the Staten Island Ferry and swore for the thousandth time that she was going to start waking up earlier so that she wouldn’t have to run like a wide receiver anymore. Winded—and annoyed that her morning was off to such a bad start—Chloe plopped down in an empty seat and tried to catch her breath. She put her bag on the floor in front of her and sucked her teeth. As usual, she hadn’t had time to pick up a copy of the New York
, and now there was nothing to read during her ride to Lower Manhattan.
It was Monday morning, and Chloe hated Mondays! She preferred to take her time, sleep late, and get her day started at her own pace. Mondays meant she had to get up on time, catch the bus on time, be at the ferry on time. She had never cared much about being on time for things. It wasn’t that she didn’t respect other people’s schedules. She just wasn’t a morning person. And the earlier she had to be someplace, the more likely it was that she’d be late.
Still struggling to regain her breath, she looked around. She noticed a guy sitting across from her, with a smirk on his face. Wondering what the hell he found so funny, for a brief moment she had an attitude. But then she noticed how handsome he was.
He was honey-hued with a neat mustache and goatee and a low-cut Caesar. He reminded her somewhat of the rapper T.I., with his laid-back style and neat, well-groomed appearance. He looked older than she was, and he was fine. But she still wondered what the hell was so funny.
“Tough morning?” he asked, still smirking.
She looked at him. Suddenly her week wasn’t off to such a bad start after all. She glanced down at his feet—since footwear mattered to her when meeting a guy for the first time. This one wore a pair of crisp black Nikes, blue jeans, and a Coogi polo shirt. Chloe liked what she saw, so she smiled back.
“Yeah,” she said. She shook her head and sighed. “I’m always late for this boat.”
“So you should be used to running by now, then,” he said. “You seem a little out of breath.”
She thought his lips were perfect. He had nice eyes. She noticed that he was using them to size her up as well. He looked her up and down.
“I just hate it when I don’t get the chance to pick up the newspaper before I get on,” she said. “This ride is not the same without my
.” He had no cuts on his face, but he still looked as if he’d lived a lot. Like he’d seen a lot of things. Chloe was intrigued by the sexy stranger, and she absentmindedly toyed with her charm bracelet.
He nodded. “I got the
if you want to read it.” He offered his newspaper to her, but Chloe shook her head, frowning.
“I hate the
,” she said. “But thanks, anyway.”
They looked at each other for a few quiet seconds before
Chloe glanced around to see if anyone had discarded a copy of the
Often passengers left their newspapers on empty seats after they’d finished reading them. Normally, Chloe turned her nose up even at the thought of touching a “used” paper. She’d seen many a passenger pick their nose as if digging for gold, then turn the pages of their newspapers, leaving booger residue behind. The idea of coming into contact with anyone else’s boogers repulsed Chloe to no end.
But sitting across from this cutie, she suddenly needed something to do with her hands. He made her feel a little shy, for some reason. And without something to distract her, she knew that the twenty-five-minute ride to Manhattan would feel like an eternity. There were no discarded copies of her preferred paper, so she resigned herself to enduring an awkward boat ride.
The handsome stranger shrugged and set his newspaper down beside him. He extended his hand to her. “My name is Trey,” he said.
Chloe thought his voice was so sexy. “Chloe,” she said, shaking his hand. “I’ve never seen you on this boat before.” Trey had a face Chloe would have remembered seeing.
He thought she was pretty as well. Chloe was a coffee-complexioned girl with shoulder-length hair and big brown eyes. When she smiled, her deep dimples were clearly visible, and her lips were full and sexy. Her nails were well manicured, and her makeup was light. She was a stunner, and her skintight jeans didn’t hurt either. She had Trey’s undivided attention. He looked at the knapsack at her feet.
“You go to school?” he asked, hoping that she was a college student and not a high schooler.
She nodded. “Yeah. Medgar Evers College.”
He breathed a sigh of relief that she was indeed of age. “What are you taking?”
“Journalism.” She looked at his casual clothes and wondered how old this guy was. “How about you?” she asked.
Trey hesitated for a moment and said, “I’m a student like you.”
“Yeah, right. You look like you’re about twenty-five. You’re still in college?”
He smiled. “First of all, thanks for the compliment, ’cause I’m about to turn twenty-eight. And, yeah, I’m in school. After high school, I made a detour, so it took me a minute to get back on track. Now I go to BMCC.”
Borough of Manhattan Community College, aka BMCC, was located in Downtown Manhattan. Chloe had considered going there when she graduated high school, but opted instead for Medgar Evers, in the heart of Brooklyn. “What’s your major?” she asked, even more intrigued than before.
Trey cleared his throat. “I’m taking up psychology.”
Now it was Chloe who smirked. “Wow. That sounds exciting,” she said sarcastically. “You want to spend your life analyzing a bunch of psychos?”
He shrugged, picked up his newspaper again. “I find it interesting getting inside people’s minds and trying to understand them.” He looked away for a moment, watching a bum nearby rummaging through a garbage can. Then he turned back to
Chloe. “I work for transit, too,” he said. “I’m a track worker, but I work nights. I take my classes in the daytime.”
Chloe was impressed. Trey was pursuing a degree
had a good job. She couldn’t believe her luck! The guys her age weren’t this focused. They were either hustling—which Chloe found ridiculous in this day and age—or working some menial job, trying to make ends meet. This handsome stranger seemed like he was different from the lames she was accustomed to. Chloe herself still lived at home with her mother and younger sister. She didn’t want to work, didn’t want to pay bills. She figured it was easier to live at home while she took her time getting her life in order. She was twenty years old, and she loved having the freedom to come and go as she pleased. But she didn’t want all the responsibilities that went along with adulthood, and for that reason, she still lived in her mother’s house.
“You have any kids?” she asked. A guy this fine—with all that he had going on—must have a crazy baby mama, she assumed.