Urban NIghts: Pride Aside
While we wait for the Summer novels to be completed (because I am taking my time and listening only when the characters speak to me, no rush on my end), I have something to soothe your craving. A collection of novelettes are set to be released - randomly - throughout the Summer. It was an idea I had back when I wrote Urban Tales but after three books, I had to move on from Southside. Just like clockwork, those characters came back to me, though. I’m here to tell the stories of the current residents of Southern Heights. I imagined them being the written, hood version of the soaps you used to watch at your aunts or grandmother’s house when you stayed over during school hours or on Sat mornings.
Anyway, about the first. It features Narlei and Saint. There’s not much to tell without ruining the story, so I’ll introduce them to you, instead.
Subject to change
Portions of copyrighted content
Now, for the introduction…
“Excuse me?” Narlei’s nostrils flared, wondering where the audacity had come from.
Seriousness replacing the smile that had spread across the gentlemen’s lips, he repeated, “What time you get off?”
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business, Mr.-”
“Saint. I go by Saint,” he informed her, seeing as though she paused because she had no idea what to call him. “And, prior to me asking, it wasn’t my business. You’re absolutely right. But, the minute I took interest in you, I made it mine. So, you answering the question or what?”
“What can I get for you, today?” Narlei attempted to steer the conversation in another direction.
“An address to pick you up, tonight, for some quiet time, food and much needed relaxation on my end. A number would be idea, too.”
“Sorry, I don’t have a phone,” Narlei chuckled at the brashness of Saint. There wasn’t a trace of humor in his tone, so she was aware that he wasn’t joking.
However, judging by the gleaming jewels, starched fit and designer shoes, she was aware that he was out of her league. There wasn’t a thing she could offer him besides a heart full of pain and a head full of regrets. Nothing more. Not even a cell phone number because she didn’t have one to give.
“The nineties are a thing of the past, love. Everybody got cellphones. I just passed a young nigga on the steps with one. Couldn’t be no more than seven.”
“Well, lucky him. His parents can afford him that luxury. Unfortunately, I can’t. Now, are you ordering or not?”
Narlei’s attitude slowly crept in. She didn’t need another reminder of how complicated shit was for her at the moment. Her everyday struggle and the issues with her physical health did a great job at that as it was.
“My intentions aren’t to upset you, love. Let me get a number four with a pepper and some red Kool-Aid.”
“Will that complete your order?”
“That depends. You hungry? You ate, today?”
There he was, doing it, again. Making her business his. Sighing, Narlei pecked away at the cash register, ringing up his order.
“Have you?” He inquired, leaning closer and lifting Narlei’s chin in order for her to look him in the eyes. The shame she felt after the last comment he’d made was apparent, but he wanted to assure her that it was useless. There was no shame in the struggle. He’d been there.
“I have,” Narlei returned, pulling her face from his hand and bowing her head, again. “Eleven, even.”
“Don’t do that.” Saint respected her honesty, but hated how it destroyed that beautiful smile that he’d saw when she looked up to greet him as he made his way to the counter.
“Eleven, even,” Narlei repeated, in no mood to go back and forth with a stranger about her current misfortunes. He didn’t know her story, so his thoughts didn’t matter. At least, they shouldn’t have, yet, she found herself on the verge of tears as she stood waiting for him to pay his tab.
She watched him reach into his jeans, that probably cost the same as her rent, and pull out a wad of cash. There wasn’t a single ten or twenty on the roll. Narlei noticed it when he unfolded it. As he peeled off a single hundred-dollar bill, she expected him to place the rest in his pocket. Instead, he placed the bill into his pocket and reached over the counter to hand Narlei the remainder.
“Eleven dollars, I said.”
“I’m not hard of hearing. I know what you said. Pay that shit out of that and pocket the rest.”
“I can’t take your money.”
Saint placed the stack on the counter. “Either you’re going to take it or someone else will. Pride ain’t got no business here. Set that shit aside.”