Read Flirt Online

Authors: Tracy Brown

Tags: #Fiction, #Anthologies (Multiple Authors), #Urban, #African American

Flirt (10 page)

BOOK: Flirt
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rey arrived at the St. George ferry terminal the next morning to find that it had been shut down. Ferry employees were directing commuters to an alternative slip, where smaller boats were ferrying groups of passengers to Lower Manhattan. Trey panicked again, wondering if he’d been spotted dumping Chloe’s body the night before. Nearby, he overheard a woman asking a ferry official what had happened. Trey stood there and listened as the ferry worker explained, “They found a woman’s body this morning.”

“Oh my God!” the woman yelled out as Trey was walking off, blending into the crowd and promising himself that he would
never neglect his therapy again. This time, he had gone too far. Next time, things would be different, he told himself. He hurriedly boarded the next boat bound for Lower Manhattan. He didn’t want to be late to his appointment with Dr. Hollister.

Meanwhile, at Richmond University Medical Center, paramedics rushed a nearly lifeless body into the ER. “She still has a pulse, but it’s weak. Hurry!”


It was eleven o’clock in the morning, and Chloe had never come home. She hadn’t called either, and her phone kept going straight to voice mail. Rachel and Willow were worried, so they started calling all of Chloe’s friends. One by one, each friend told Chloe’s family that they hadn’t seen or heard from her the previous day. It wasn’t long before Rachel realized she had no phone number for Trey, no address, nothing. He had always contacted Chloe on her cell phone, and her friends knew nothing about him either. None of them even knew his last name.

By seven o’clock that night, panic set in, and Rachel called the police. They came by her house and told her Chloe needed to be missing for more than twenty-four hours before they would consider her a missing person.

“But you don’t understand,” Rachel explained. “Chloe would never go a whole day without calling. She left here last night, and she hasn’t called any of us—not us, not her friends—all day. She’s not answering her cell phone. That’s not like her. I’m worried about her.”

The Latino officer felt sorry for Rachel, but his hands were
tied. He couldn’t file a missing persons report for anyone over the age of eighteen until the twenty-four-hour period had passed. But as a father, he could understand Rachel’s anguish. “She probably spent the night with her boyfriend and turned her phone off for privacy.”

Rachel shook her head. “Chloe never turns her phone off. She texts more than she talks.”

The officer sighed. He had a soft spot for mothers whose children had gone astray. “Tell me about her boyfriend. Where does he live?”

“On St. Marks Place,” Willow said.

“Which building?”

Willow shrugged and looked at Rachel. She shrugged, too, and shook her head. “I don’t know?”

“Do you know where he works?”

Rachel nodded. “He’s a track worker for the MTA.”

The officer wrote that down. “And you said his name is Trey. Do you know his last name?”

Both ladies shook their heads.

“What kind of car does he drive?”

Rachel wasn’t sure. She hadn’t noticed that. “It’s a white car,” she said. “That’s all I know.”

The officer looked at Rachel and shook his head. “There’s not much here to go on. There’s probably a million white cars in New York City, ma’am.”

Willow was getting pissed. “I wasn’t investigating him, so I don’t know those things. But I can tell you that I had a strange feeling about my sister’s boyfriend from the beginning. And I
know that if she was alright right now she would be answering her cell phone. She would answer my text messages. She’s not answering any of us, not her friends, not me or my mom and that’s not like her. The last time we saw her, she was leaving with him.” Willow fought back tears. “If he hurt my sister, we should be out there trying to find him.”

The officer rose to leave. “Then we’ll need more information than this, unfortunately. See if you can look around her room for more clues about this guy. You said he’s a black guy, six feet tall, short haircut, slim build. That’s too broad of a description.”

“He has a mustache,” Rachel offered.

The officer shook his head. “Still—” He put his memo pad back in his pocket. “—we’re going to need more than that.”

Frustrated, Rachel walked the officer out, promising to call him if she learned any new information about Chloe’s mystery boyfriend.

When he was gone, Willow began to cry. “I told you he was crazy!” she yelled. “I told you I saw him on the boat and he ignored me. I knew he was too good to be true.”

Rachel hugged her daughter and took a deep breath. “We don’t know that she’s hurt, Willow. Maybe she’s okay. We can’t assume the worst.” She comforted her daughter until Willow stopped crying. Then Rachel began calling the local hospitals and explaining the situation. She asked if anyone fitting Chloe’s description had been admitted and was told that Chloe hadn’t been brought into Staten Island University Hospital. Finally, she called the Richmond University Medical Center and was
told that an unidentified black female had been brought in that morning with no identification and no clothes.

Rachel’s heart galloped in her chest. “What?” she asked in disbelief.

“Ma’am,” the woman on the phone said gently. “This young lady is in grave condition. Her face has been terribly disfigured, and she has nothing on her to identify her. You should get here as soon as you possibly can. I’m sorry.”

Rachel hung up with tears streaming down her face. She and Willow rushed out the door, praying to God for a miracle.


Trey got off the 1 train at South Ferry after his session with Dr. Hollister, feeling worse than ever. He had told the therapist about the past few months he’d spent courting Chloe. He had explained the way she’d flirted with him, enticed him, and teased him until he was eating out of the palm of her hand.

“I didn’t push,” he said. “I didn’t try to rush her into settling down like I’ve done in the past. I just let her take her time. I went at her pace. But she played me. She was cheating on me.”

Dr. Hollister wrote something down then. Trey wondered what it was.

“Did you confront her about the cheating?” Dr. Hollister asked.

Trey shook his head. “Nope. I didn’t. I just ignored it, and I never even mentioned it to her.”

“How did it make you feel, knowing that she was giving herself to another man while she held out on you physically?”

Trey stared at the therapist for a while, unsure of how he should answer her. “It made me feel small.”



Dr. Hollister wrote something down again. “Like a child?”

Trey didn’t answer.

“Tell me what happened yesterday,” the counselor asked.

Trey took a deep breath. In his mind, he could hear Chloe laughing at him. He could see her trying to leave him. He rubbed his hands across his face. “She tried to leave me, tried to break up with me.”


“I hit her. But not too hard.”

“How did she react?” asked the therapist.

A slow, sinister smile spread across Trey’s face. “She hit me back. And she laughed at me again. And then she walked out. She left me.”

The counselor was writing like crazy now. Trey knew he wasn’t telling the whole story, but he wondered if Dr. Hollister could tell.

Finally, she stopped writing and looked up at Trey. “In the past, whenever women have tried to leave you, you’ve lashed out. You’ve hit, kicked, punched, and even bound and gagged women who tried to abandon you. We’ve established that when you are abandoned in relationships, it conjures up memories of your mother abandoning you.”

Trey nodded. That was true.

“What made you allow this one to leave?”

Trey didn’t answer that question either.

He hadn’t known what to say. Instead, he pictured Chloe’s lifeless beaten body lying still on his bedroom floor, and he began to cry. Right there in front of Dr. Hollister, he had cried his eyes out until the psychologist announced that his session was over. Dr. Hollister made Trey to swear that he would come back for another session the next day and asked him to pick up a refill prescription of his Prozac. Trey had agreed, left the doctor’s office, stopped at a pharmacy nearby, and was now headed back to the scene of the crime. He picked up the
Staten Island Advance
as he entered the ferry terminal and was shocked by the headline on the front page.


Unidentified Woman Clings to Life
after Brutal Beating


Trey’s heart skipped a beat, and he froze. Standing there in the terminal, he read the story. Chloe hadn’t died. She was barely alive and in the hospital. They hadn’t identified her. But when they did, she would surely tell what he’d done. Panicked, he looked around the terminal. He wondered if the police were searching for him
right now
. He had been careful to clean up all the bloody evidence in his apartment, but he had watched enough
Forensic Files
to know that one could never get rid of all the blood. There were tons of videotapes of Chloe in his apartment, too—proof he’d followed her relentlessly. And Dr. Hollister knew all about the violent episodes with women in his past. Trey faced the fact that he could never go home again.

He walked to the ATM in the terminal and withdrew enough cash from his account to last him a few days. Then he strolled back out onto the streets of Manhattan and joined the throngs of New Yorkers, fading anonymously into the crowd without looking back.


At the hospital, Chloe lay hooked up to a ventilator, her face wrapped in so many bandages that she looked like a mummy. They’d had to identify Chloe by her jewelry and birthmarks because her face and body were so swollen and disfigured. Willow cried softly at her sister’s bedside as Rachel talked to the doctors.

“She’s going to make it, Ms. Webster. But she will need plastic surgery to fix the damage done to her face. She hadn’t been sexually assaulted,” the physician explained, at which point Rachel breathed a sigh of relief. At least that bastard hadn’t raped Chloe.

“But she did suffer some broken ribs and numerous facial fractures. Her road to recovery will be long, but she seems like a tough young lady. Many people couldn’t have survived a beating that severe, let alone being dumped in the water and left for dead. She’s a fighter. I think she’s going to be fine.”

Rachel was so relieved to hear that, she hugged the doctor. “Thank you,” she said, finally pulling away and letting the tears fall for the first time since she’d arrived at the hospital.

The doctor gently touched Rachel’s shoulder. “The police have some questions to ask you, and I’m sure they’ll also want
to question Chloe when she’s able to talk again. That could take a while, since her facial injuries are extensive. But soon she’ll be able to assist with the investigation, I’m sure.” The doctor walked away, leaving Rachel to talk with the police.

Willow sat at her sister’s bedside, stroking Chloe’s hand. She whispered to Chloe, “It’s gonna be all right. You’ll be all right.”

Chloe wished she could answer. She wished she could move her body enough to communicate with her sister in any way possible. But she was helpless to do anything but lie there and blink. She wanted to tell Willow that she had been right all along. Her knight in shining armor had turned out to be a devil in disguise. Instead, she squeezed her sister’s hand limply and thanked God she was still alive. She had cheated death and would live to tell about it. She couldn’t wait to do just that.





Monique Patterson, I am your biggest fan. You’re the greatest editor around and I will sing your praises until I go hoarse.

To libraries across the country, thank you for all that you do in urban communities to promote literacy. You’re wonderful!

To the readers who faithfully read the books, comment online, and come out to events, a million thank-yous are not enough. You give a girl with a vivid imagination room to grow. Love ya!







Wild Cherry









Dedicated to every sista who woke up one day and realized that they didn’t need someone to tell them that they were beautiful for it to be true.





ina, where the hell is my beer?”

The sound of his voice startled me so bad that I dropped the bottle I was holding, shattering it all over my freshly mopped tiles. Beer splashed on my cabinet doors and all over my new Max Studio Frida sandals. The damn things cost too much for me to be lounging around the house in them, but I wanted to represent for Jackie. I always tried to look good when Jackie’s friends came over. Not because I wanted them ogling me—which they did anyhow, whenever they thought Jackie wasn’t looking—but because I was a reflection of my man and liked to carry myself accordingly. To me, there was nothing worse than
a clean-cut man with a busted female at his side. The snakeskin exterior of the shoes would survive the drenching, but the interior would end up smelling like mildew from the beer soaking in.

“Two hundred dollars down the damn drain.”

“Gina, what the hell was that!” he barked from the other side of the door.

“Nothing, baby,” I lied.

“Then bring yo ass on, a nigga thirsty!”

“Okay, I’m coming. One mess in the living room and one in here,” I muttered to myself. “Relax, Gina,” I said under my breath. The words sounded convincing enough, but I still didn’t believe them.

I pulled open the right side of my stainless steel refrigerator to get Jackie another beer, and to my dismay we were out—at least out of Heinekens. Apparently the one now pooling on my kitchen floor was the last of the Mohicans. Thankfully, I had a Corona stashed in the vegetable bin. I was saving it for myself, but it looked like I’d be paying the house with it. Trying to ignore the beer drying on my feet and soaking into my instep, I sliced a lime for the lip of Jackie’s beer and put my game face on.

BOOK: Flirt
2.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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