I am so excited to announce that my debut novel – Dilemmas Of a Damsel is now available for purchase! This body of work is truly my baby and I still can’t believe it’s here. This book has been in the works for about 3 years. I wanted to write something that was real – I feel that it’s exciting, relevant, and extremely relatable! See below for a free preview! P.S. – If you love this book as much as I do, please leave a review!! Enjoy…xoxo
It’s May 6th, and in less than twenty-four hours, nine to be exact, I will be twenty-nine. Twenty fucking nine! This is it; I officially have one year left in my beloved twenties. Part of me wants to be cheerful and say that time flies when you’re having fun. But the other part is sweating with a slight panic; you know that subtle dread you feel when you think you’ve forgotten something? Let’s see, Bachelor’s Degree (check), MBA (check), paying off the student loans I took out to get those degrees (check), my dope ass apartment (check), amazing friends (check), exciting job (check), and of course my handsome cat Blu.
My phone goes off and I notice that it’s on the other side of my 1400 square foot apartment. I hop out of bed and scramble to grab it before the ringing stops.
I answer breathlessly, “Hello?”
“Hello sunshine!” My younger, chipper sister yells through the phone.
“Hey Aleena,” I say as I settle down onto my couch.
Although we’re five years and almost two hundred miles apart, my sister and I have always been close. Aside from how tight we were, we couldn’t be more different. Where I’ve been known for my lack of tolerance and stern approach like our father, Aleena was more nurturing and understanding much like our mother. She was always the voice of reason and more willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. I always joke with her and say that she’s soft, but she is merely a loving person. And it’s one of my favorite things about her. Nonetheless, Aleena is the yin to my yang.
We fall into our usual chitchat right away. Discussing everything from what we did the night before, to catching up on the latest gossip, and discussing our thoughts on some of our favorite T.V. shows like Insecure and Game of Thrones. Before I know it, almost an hour has passed and we’re still on the phone. I pick up my IPad and mindlessly check my emails. Blair, my best friend, just forwarded me a pass for the art mixer she’s being featured in later tonight. I check the clock again and realize that I would need to start getting ready soon. I was looking forward to having a night on the town and bringing in my birthday with my girlfriends.
Aleena interrupts my train of thought, “Someone is knocking on thirty! So, are you finally ready to find a good man and settle down?”
And just like that, the excitement of my upcoming birthday is shattered by the realization that I still don’t have a man. I can no longer deny the fact that my invisible clock is just ticking away. While Aleena is happy to be a twenty-four-year-old newlywed, I’m the furthest thing from settling down; something she wastes no time reminding me about.
Lord knows that I’m in no mood to discuss my love life right now. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely played the field and I’ve never had a problem attracting a man. I just have yet to find the right one. You know the one with the right amount of charisma, good looks, sex appeal, success, manners, and money? (Just to name a few.) I consider myself a professional at this dating thing. So much so, people in my past life once labeled me as the ultimate female bachelor. Yes, once upon a time I feared the thought of commitment and taking guys too seriously. I was known for my ability to juggle a few men at once and avoiding getting caught up. Simply put, I had no interest in settling down with anyone; I solely wanted to be wined, dined and entertained. Thankfully, that phase in my life has long worn off in the last year or so. However, something I will say is that dating so many people has helped me with one thing: I know exactly what I don’t want. And as soon as I see a red flag I bail, refusing to waste anymore of my precious time. This small fact is exactly why I dumped Brandon only a few nights ago.
Brandon was a great guy. He was good looking, well spoken, and such a sweetheart. The sex was great and we had a lot of fun. He pretty much checked out on almost everything on my “list”. But after a couple months of dating he began showing up to my place unannounced, calling me nonstop, and last week he drunkenly professed his love for me. No-fucking-way, I had to end it right there. I mean, yes I do want that eventually, but he was moving entirely way too fast. Regardless of all of that, I refused to get into the juicy details with Aleena right now.
Instead, I resign to brush it off and say, “Aleena! Please don’t start. Not today.”
“Ok fine. You’re my sister and I only want the best for you,” she replies.
Her disappointment is amusing. I say, “I know and I love you for it. But I would prefer it if we didn’t discuss my love life right now.”
We end our conversation, saying our “I love yous” and hang up. When I put the phone down, I can’t help but to put my head in my hands and rub my temples. I know Aleena meant no harm, and I know she genuinely wants the best for me; hell, I want the best for me. But her persistence was beginning to wear me out. The older I get and the longer I stay single, the more I’m forced to defend the latter. Constantly pressured to answer questions and face judgment for my inability to find a man, settle down, and have children. Truth is; I’m sick and tired of being looked at as a second-class citizen because of my relationship status. Does the fact that I worked my ass off through undergrad and graduate school mean nothing? I’m one of the youngest senior marketing consultants at my firm and I got there with my own blood, sweat and tears. So why is it that my success is suddenly negated because I’m single? I’m a modern woman that’s capable of achieving stability, financial security, and happiness on my own. Why isn’t that celebrated?
It’s not like I’m not trying. Shit, you think I’m putting myself through these torturous love games to not find the one? I love a good fairytale ending just like the next girl, and I still have hope that my prince charming is out there. But I utterly refuse to settle until I find him. What’s wrong with that? I look up and check the clock again, I had to hurry up and get to the mall if I wanted to have something to wear tonight. The last thing I want to do is make myself feel any worse. And there’s nothing like forgetting my woes with a relaxing shower followed by retail therapy. I hop up and head straight for the bathroom.
The hot water from the shower is soothing as it cascades down my skin. I close my eyes and tilt my head back enjoying the sensation. Before I can stop them, the memories of my father leaving us invade my mind. Although he was a complete ass for abandoning us the way he did, part of me also blamed my mother. At my age, my mother was already married with two kids. I mean, yes she took care of her family, putting her dreams and aspirations aside for us, but in the process she completely forgot about her own self. I believe that was one of the worst mistakes she could’ve ever made. Really what’s the point? You forget who you are for a man and then the moment he decides he’s tired of you, you’re left alone to pick up the pieces. Honestly, that’s one of my biggest fears: settling for the wrong guy, losing myself, and ending up right where I started: alone. Even though my parents ended up reconciling after a few years and my father tried tirelessly to make up for his mistakes, I wasn’t too thrilled about it. I would never forget watching my mother be in so much pain over a man; witnessing that still haunts me till this day. But honestly I don’t know who is worse, him for leaving or her for taking him back.
Upon exiting the shower, I reach for a towel and wrap it around my damp body. I walk up to the vanity mirror and wipe away the fog from the steam. Leaning in, I take a deep breath and stare at the person looking back at me. One thing is for sure; the older I get, the more and more I’m beginning to resemble my mother. Dark brown almond shaped eyes, cognac skin, narrow nose, full lips, dark brown hair, and 5’8 petite frame. Please believe me when I say that I love my mother; however, I have absolutely no desire to be like her. Once in my bedroom, I check my phone and see a missed call from Blair. I call her back right away.
“Hey girl,” Blair answers the phone with cheerfulness in her voice.
“Sorry I missed your call, I was in the shower. What’s up?” I reply.
“You’re still coming to the art show tonight right?” She inquires.
“Duh, I’m about to head downtown and get an outfit now. Where are we going afterwards?”
“There’s this new spot Viper that I wanted to check out. It’s supposed to be super nice.”
Blair suddenly asks, “So, are you bringing Brandon?”
“Girl,” I begin as I reenter my bathroom, grab my favorite body lotion and rub it into my skin, “I had to cut that man off,” I reveal.
“Jade! Why? I thought you guys were getting along great! What happened?” Blair asks.
Blair’s disappointment is especially felt, because she, along with her boyfriend Jayson, are the ones responsible for setting Brandon and I up. Frankly, they were sick of me being a third-wheel on their dates and decided to step in. A chance run in with Jayson’s old college buddy turned out to be the perfect opportunity to play cupid.
“He was trying to get too serious,” I answer.
She says, “And what’s wrong with that? I thought that was what you wanted? I love you Jade but you kill me.”
Blair was a free spirit and she wasn’t afraid to be brutally honest with me. Ever since our first day of high school, we’ve been inseparable. Back then, she was the new girl in town with an animated view of the world and I was the timid freshman that was ready for a fresh start. She was my best friend and I appreciated her kind heart; I loved that she always tried to see the good in people. I knew that like my sister Aleena, Blair only wanted the best for me. Nonetheless, Blair’s badgering became exasperating. She just didn’t understand; I want what I want and there’s no in between.
And as if she was reading my mind, Blair lectures, “I swear Jade you’re so damn picky! If you keep this shit up you’re going to end up a lonely old lady living with your crazy ass cat.”
I chuckle and look down at my adorable Pixie-bob cat Blu. He was comfortably seated at the foot of my bed taking a nap.
I retort, “I resent that statement.”
“Well what do you want?” Blair says.
“Nothing that Brandon has to offer.”
Blair doesn’t hide her aggravation, but she decides to throw in the towel on the topic, “Ok whatever you say Jade! I’ll see you tonight and don’t be late!”
We hang up the phone and I dress quickly, eager to enjoy my weekend.
By the time I arrive at the art show, I’m ready to mingle, support my best friend’s means for artistic expression, and have a good time. The area is open with large white walls and wooden mahogany floors. The ceilings are high with tall black pillars and long white pipes stretching across the room. Spectators are aligned among the space, admiring Philly’s own unique artists and their eclectic pieces of work while sipping cocktails and engaging in friendly dialogue. I make my way through the crowd clutching my purse and glass of champagne in search of Blair. After a moment, I spot her and Jayson posing for a picture. Never one to disappoint, Blair looks astounding; her hair is wild and full of life, and her makeup is superb. You can’t help but to be mesmerized by her silky chocolate skin. When she sees me, she instantly runs over and greets me with a warm hug.
“Thank you for coming!”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I say, hugging her back.
By the time we break our embrace, Jayson is standing next to us.
“What’s up Jade,” he nods.
“Jayson,” I coolly reply.
It’s not that I don’t like Blair’s boyfriend, I just don’t like him for her. To be frank, I think he’s a piece of shit. He is the prime example of why I choose to be picky (as Blair says). Although he puts up a good front of being the lovable, caring boyfriend; I can see right through it. Simply put, Jayson is full of crap and a master manipulator who, I’m almost certain, cheats on Blair. The vibes he gives off speaks volumes; it’s something in those beady ass eyes. He looks at me and every other woman he encounters a little too long if you know what I mean. For the life of me I never understood how Blair fails to notice it. Hell! He’s doing it right now, sipping his drink while his eyes are glued to another woman’s ass. I clear my throat and he sees me watching him. Like I said, I love Blair for always seeing the good in people; however, I sometimes feel it gets her into trouble. But just like Blair can’t force me be a kept woman, I can’t force her to wake the hell up and dump her atrocious boyfriend.
I turn to Blair, “So where are your pieces girl?”
Without saying another word, she quickly leads me to her display. Blair is what I call an artistic chameleon. There’s nothing she really can’t do. When we were younger, she excelled as a pianist, in college she took up painting, and every once in a while she dabbles in poetry. She was popular amongst the art community and was often featured in plenty of showcases.
“Isn’t this shit classy?” Blair says.
“Check you out!” I say high-fiving her. I take a moment to look around, “Where’s Kara? I thought you said she was coming?”
Kara was another close friend of ours. After college, I met her at one of my first jobs. We started on the same day and have been close ever since. Naturally, Blair and Kara’s relationship developed and blossomed as well. Kara had an infectious personality; she was silly as hell and a lot of fun. She was often the life of the party, and ready for pretty much anything. The two of us spent many nights running the streets together while Blair was cuddled up at home.
“She text me about an hour ago saying she wasn’t feeling well and that she was going to stay home,” Blair answers.
“That sucks! I’ll be sure to check on her later.”
Blair nods in agreement and we continue to chat. After a few moments and another drink, I suddenly feel someone staring at me. The little hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention as I quickly scan the room. I nervously take a sip of my champagne and then I see him. The chatter in the room quickly dissipates. Our eyes meet and it forces my heart to skip a beat. The attraction is instantly magnetic, so much so it almost causes me to choke on my beverage.
His eyes are so intense that I am too enticed to look away. His skin is dark cocoa that layered over his perfectly sculpted muscles; I could definitely tell that he worked out. He looked to be about 6’3 with a nice medium build; I guess he was a basketball player or a boxer. He has a little rough around the edges look to him, you know that look that most, if not all, women find to be intriguing. His bone structure is immaculate and he has a delectably strong jawbone. Whoever his barber was deserves an award because his Caesar haircut is sharp and complimented by a masterfully tapered beard. All the women in the room couldn’t help but to be enthralled by his presence, myself included. I wondered how the hell I hadn’t noticed him sooner because goodness he was sexy. He smiles revealing his pearly white teeth. I swear he put a spell on me, I was locked into place; the feeling was electrifying. Before I could return the favor, a small tap on my shoulder breaks me out of my trance. I turn around and come face to face with none other than Brandon. Lord this is the last thing I need!
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