All Smiles

Uh oh…

I’m up late again. I hope I can get to sleep at a decent hour.

Since I hadn’t heard from Dell all week (well, we spoke once) and I knew I had a business meeting on Saturday afternoon for some freelance PR work for one of his clients I decided to give him a call around 10pm on Friday night. I didn’t want it to seem like I was missing him or anything so I put on my best business tone in anticipation of leaving a message. But he answered.

“Goodevening this is Ms. Tee, ” I spoke calmly into the phone, enunciating each syllable of my first and last name. “I’m calling to let you know that I had a tentative appointment with your client but I have yet to hear from him so if he calls you wondering what happened to me, please let him know that I was available and eager to meet with him.”

“Yeah?” he said slowly. “What you doing?”

“Um…” All of a sudden I’m nervous. “Well, I just got in from the spa. It was great! I got an hour long massage, a wonderful facial and a delightfil pedicure. I think I’m gonna configure them into my monthly budget.”

He laughed. We talked for a bit more before he told me that he was about to go to bed. “We’ll bump heads tomorrow, Ok?”

“Sure,” I said and hung up.

On Saturday morning I woke up smiling. Hmm…Let’s see. I know! Today I will get up and go look at places to live. As soon as I’m dressed and out the door I get a call from Dell’s client who tells me that he works out of his home office in Decatur.

Decatur? That’s quite a drive, but I sigh and tell him I’ll be over there by 1pm. I only have time to look at one property and the price is right although it’s an older community here in Smyrna. I’m seriously considering it too, but I was hoping in my fantasy that I would get a chance to live in the city. Maybe somewhere Downtown. I’d LOVE to live in Midtown but those prices are wayy too much for my budget.

Once I make my way over to Decatur, I’m very glad I did. The gentlemen that Dell referred me to is running a very successful business and needs help with getting the word out about his company. As he is speaking tons of ideas rush around in my head and I can tell that this dude is serious about making things happen as well as the main thing: PAYING ME to do my magic.

Before I leave he and his wife and I chat a bit about our backgrounds and they ask me how I met Dell. They begin to rave about what a wonderful young man he is. “I’ve honestly never met a young man who is so on top of his game,” the business owner tells me. “Before the geek squad realized that there was money to be made in computer consulting Dell was out there with professional marketing materials on the grind making a name for himself. Because you are recommended by him, well..that speaks highly of you.”

“My mission is to exceed all expectations. Give me a week to draft a proposal of the phases of PR that I would like to implement and we can sit down again and refine your needs versus my costs.”

When I’m done with the 2 hour meeting I give Dell a call and we decide to meet for lunch. “In an hour and a half I have to go pick up my little brother,” he tells me. “I’m babysitting so my Mama and her husband can go to the movies.”

“Oh..well, you do want to have lunch some other time?” I ask carefully.

“No, he can come with us. We can all hang out and do whatever.”

“Sure,” I reply and get directions to his house so that I can pick him up.

When I get there he’s relaxing in a wife beater and some shorts. I sit down and we talk about whatever while he keeps getting business calls.

“Why don’t we order in?” I ask him, interrupting his phone call. “My treat.”

He silently opens a drawer under his coffee table and hands me a folder full of fliers for places that deliver in his area. I choose a wing place and place the order before going over to his window and taking a peek. Dell lives Downtown. He has a great view of the city from his apartment window. I begin to take note of the details in his apartment and I am impressed.

When our food comes we chow down and relax some more. At my suggestion he ordered the movie Failure to Launch and I’m happy that he is enjoying the movie. He’s not sitting next to me on the white leather couch where I am lounging comfortably beneath a huge comforter. He’s sitting in the recliner with his ear piece in his ear taking calls and giving direction to his workers as the need arises.

His phone rings again and he says, “Come on up.”

“Who is that?” I ask.

“That’s my Mama.” he replies nonchalantly.

“I thought we were going to pick your brother up?”

“Nah…she’s dropping him off.”

I jump up quickly and try to compose myself.

He answers the door and in walks this beautiful woman, a beautiful man and the most adorable little 5 year old boy. We all introduce ourselves and my eyes water at the sight of the cutie pie as he hugs his big brother and walks around.

Dell starts a conversation with his stepfather which leaves me standing there with his Mom. Oh shoot.

“Dell has told me a lot about you,” I tell her.

“Oh really, what has he said?” she says and smiles at me. I’m amazed because this woman reminds me of me. She’s exactly my height, my skin tone, my build and she has natural hair too. Hers is a cascade of long blonde dreads just like the ones my Mama wears.

“Well, he told me that you went to Jackson,” I say with a grin, referring to my old highschool back in Miami. “I went to Jackson too.”

“Oh yeah? What year did you graduate?”

“97 and you?”

“I think it was 79.”

“That’s the year I was born,” I say and then raise my eyebrow. This woman doesn’t look a day over 30 which can’t be possible because her son will be 30 next July.

We sit and chat a bit and I tell her about my move up here to Atlanta, my new job and my sons back in Miami.

“It was a tough decision for me to leave them there, but they are well taken care of and I believe it was for the best, until I get things settled here,” I say.

After about an hour of chatting, she and her husband leave to go on their date and Dell orders food for his little bro. While we wait for it to be delivered I watch them play chess and I realize the game is not as complicated as I thought it was. Dell is very patient as he explains everything to me but his little brother isn’t. “Come on! Let’s play!” he whines and I give him a smile.

After he eats we all head out to Walmart to allow his little brother to spend the money his Dad had given him. We march up and down the toy department until he finds two Power Ranger toys that he wants. I’m thinking about my sons as I help to navigate him through the aisles.

The cutie pie and I take a quick potty break as Dell grabs a 12 pack of Corona and we meet back up with him at the register. I also grabbed some feminine products and a few items for my house and I place them on the conveyer belt along with the rest of his purchases.

Call me a goofball, but I expected to pay for my items because..well…no man ever does shit for me so I’m delighted that he doesn’t even think about calling me over to pay. Very nice.

We roll on out back to his apartment and I look in the rearview mirror as I’m driving and I whisper to Dell, “He’s already asleep.” I look at the clock. It’s after 10:30.

“Do you want to spend the rest of the evening with your brother?” I ask him as we pull into his building.

“I’m relazing man,” he responds and looks out the window.

We finally get all of our purchases into the house and his brother asks me to help him open up his toys. My heart melts. Especially when he calls me Auntie.

I miss my boys.

He’s having a grand old time playing with his toys while Dell and I watch Inside Man.

“What time do you usually go to bed?” Dell asks him.

“Um….7:30.”

We both laugh.

“Well, it’s after midnight so I think it’s time for you to go to bed.”

“Ok,” he says and trudges into the bedroom.

“Can I get some hugs and kisses?” I ask Dell.

He laughs, “Go right ahead.”

I follow little man into the bedroom and I give him a big hug and a kiss on his forhead before body slamming into the sheets. “Go to sleep,” I tell him as I turn on the bathroom light and close the door to his room.

Dell is still in the same spot in his recliner, relaxing it out. We watch TV for a while when he asks out of the blue, “What do you want from me?”

Huh? I’m usually the one who asks such blunt questions. He has caught me off guard.

“Why do you ask me that?”

“Cuz I feel like you’re playing games.”

“Games? Me? Naw..I’m the most upfront person you’ll ever meet. I don’t think you’re ready for my honesty.”

“Well tell me why when we first met you told me you just wanted to kick it and have someone to hang out with then by the end of our date you acted like you wanted to have secks then changed your mind?”

Damn. Dude is calling me out.

“Um…” I reply softly and look down at my hands. I sigh and continue, “I am a very affectionate person and it’s been a while since I’ve had affection. I didn’t expect to become so attracted to you and that night I was fighting between my desire to keep it together and my desire to be touched by someone I actually liked. Sorry if it confused you. I try not to be like that.”

“So what do you want?” he asks me.

Damn…

“Look, I’m not interested in being with this guy and that guy. For me, meeting a man that I would consider talking to is a rare occasion. I guess I just want to have one person in my life who will be cool with me and support in my goals and who is going after those same things too.”

“So it sounds like you want a boyfriend,” he says.

I gulp and shiver. “In a sense, yes.”

“Well, I can’t do that,” he tells me and looks me in my eyes. “Not right now. I’m too busy. I know that I don’t call you enough and you get mad about that but I do think about you. I wonder what you are doing but before I can even process that thought, my phone rings and I have to handle business. Could you handle a man who works more than 12 hours a day?”

“I don’t know.”

“I want someone who will be there to take care of me. Take care of my house and whatever I need at the end of a long day.”

“Well,” I say and roll my eyes. “That’s pretty selfish of you, but I guess I want the same thing.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” he tells me.”I want a woman who knows how to take care of home.” He pauses. “And you’ve demonstrated that by taking care of your kids all by yourself and STILL handling finishing school and everything else.”

“Yeah, I guess…” I say and allow my thoughts to trail off as I lean back and snuggle up beneath the blanket.

“Look. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to find the relationship you want. I know you say you need affection and attention but that’s not something that you can have overnight. It takes time to develop. Let’s try being friends first. Let’s see if we continue to like each other. I do want to be in love, have a family and all that but..I’m not the type of dude to just up and call someone his girlfriend. I have to see first. I have to be sure.”

“I can understand that,” I tell him and shake my head.

I’m a little frustrated because i am usually the one who leads in any relationship. Even though I’ve only had friends with benefits relationships in the past few years that is because that is what I asked for and no man has gotten anything from me that I wasn’t willing to give.

He falls asleep in his recliner and I get restless so I decide to put the dishes in the dishwasher. I notice the laundry room door open and I peek in and see a pile of clothes on the floor. I start a load of laundry and proceed to clean up his kitchen.

In the middle of cleaning I stop abruptly and look around. Am I cleaning? I hate to clean. Why am I doing this? Am I becoming one of those women who tries to impress a man with their housekeeping skills so that he will like them more? Naw…not me. I usually go the extra mile NOT to do anything for a man so he won’t expect me to do it all the time.

I just…I miss taking care of someone. I miss doing things for my boys and catering to them.

I look over at him sleeping soundly in front of the television. He works so much. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it if I cleaned up a little. It’ll make him smile. I love making people smile. I love it when he smiles at me.”Go ahead girl,” I tell myself. “There’s nothing wrong with doing this for him. He’s not going to start taking you for granted. If he does, so what? You did it out of the kindness of your heart and that’s on him if he doesn’t appreciate that.”

I’m smiling by this time as I wipe the counters and collect the towels from the guest bathroom. I do another load of laundry and I fold up his t-shirts and tip toe into his room to put them away. I put the towels away too and start another load of laundry before diving back into my comfy coccoon on the couch wearing one of his t-shirts and a pair of his shorts.

When I wake up the next morning I hear little noises next to me. The cutie pie is up and playing with his toys again. Dell is gone from the recliner. “Hey man,” I greet him and jump up to put the clothes in the dryer. I lay right back down and go back to sleep.

“Wow,” Dell’s voice wakes me up. I open my eyes and search for him. He’s standing in the kitchen. “Thanks,” he says and I nod and cover my head with the covers. He makes breakfast for his brother and returns to his spot in the recliner turning on the TV.

I freshen up a bit and return to the living room still a bit groggy. The Cutie Pie asks me to play chess with him. “I don’t really know how to play but I’ll try,” I tell him.

“That’s okay. I’ll teach you,” he says.

Dell’s Mom returns to pick him before I have even had a chance to get dressed. I run into the laundry room to get my clothes out of the dryer and pull on my jeans.

“Goodmorning,” I say as I emerge from the laundry room and she smiles at me.

I’m kinda embarrassed but Dell isn’t. He’s so non chalant about everything.

When they leave I finish putting away the clothes and I pull on my shoes to indicate to Dell that I’m leaving.

“Where’s your shirt?” he asks me when he notices that I’m still wearing his t-shirt.

“It’s in my bag,” I tell him. But I left my underwear in your drawer for next time I sleep over,” I say with a smirk. “Is that alright with you?”

He laughs, “That’s fine with me.”

“Good,” I say and give him a little wave goodbye as I walk out the door.

I’m halfway down the hall when I hear him call my name. I turn around and he’s walking toward me with my Walmart bag. “You forgot this.”

“Oh, and I forgot my other bag too,” I say and re enter his apartment.

When I turn around he’s standing there smiling down at me. “So you’re gonna just leave like that without giving me a hug?”

“Well,” I say and look down at the floor. “You said we should take it slow. Friends right?”

He laughs. “You can give me a hug goodbye.”

We stand in one spot hugging for at least five minutes. This is the most affection this man has ever shown me. From his actions you would never guess that he is even attracted to me. He’s so non chalant about everything.

“I guess I should let you go huh?” I ask him my head still resting on his chest. He laughs and gives me a squeeze around my waist. “Yeah.”

“See you later,” I say and walk out of his apartment grinning from ear to ear.

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