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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.
“Gina, 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 meâwhich they did anyhow, whenever they thought Jackie wasn't lookingâbut 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 outâat 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.
When I stepped through the swinging door and into my living room, my heart sank as I beheld the mess Jackie and his stooges had made of it. The weed and cigarette smoke was so thick that my eyes stung. It would take weeks for me to get the stench out of my furniture. I hadn't taken two steps when I heard the crackle of a chip that had escaped from the bowl, pulverized beneath my soggy heels. I didn't even have to see the Cheez Doodles stains in the soft cream carpet to know that I'd have to have it professionally cleanedÂ â¦ again. Beer bottles and cups were sitting on everything with a flat surface, including my autographed
Best of Patti LaBelle
CD box set. For all the hell I went through to get it signed, there wasn't a court in the land that would convict me if I went postal on those Negroes.
A card table was erected in the middle of my living room, with Jackie and his shiftless-ass friends huddled around it, engaged in a game of poker. If you added all of them together, Jackie's friends weren't worth a bucket of piss. They were loud, disrespectful, and just overall pains in the ass. But as the saying went,
birds of a feather
. In the center of the chaos sat Jackie, my husband and keeper of the last five years.
Jackie, for as much of an ass as he can be, is a prize catch. He had baggage, as most men do these days, but he kept his baby's mother at a distance, and spent time with his daughter. That turned me on about him. My dad was in and out of my life, so I really can't respect a man who isn't doing what he has to for his children. Back in those days, Jackie was working as an associate publicist for a major house during the day and working in the mailroom at another house at night. Considering that he had degrees in law and business management, I thought he was selling himself short. About nine months into our relationship, he made me eat my words. Jackie had taken the contacts he madeâand stoleâwhile working at the two houses and opened up his own literary agency. One by one, he started picking off authors and buttering up editors. By the time the industry even realized what was going on, Jackie had signed three of the top authors in urban fiction and was negotiating book and film deals for a former member of the 1925 New York Rens, whom everyone thought was dead. If you wanted talent, you had to see Jackie, and when you sat with him, you had better have your checkbook.
From the money he made off his clients, Jackie started flipping real estate. He bought a block of burnt-down row houses in Newark and opened up a book-distribution center and an hourly motel. If it had value, Jackie would buy and sell it. My man was making serious moves in the world, and he made sure I was at his side.
When he got his businesses up and popping, he made an honest woman out of me and threw a ring on my finger. Jackie went hard for the wedding. The cute little R & B singer with the funny face even came through to sing my wedding song. A bunch of hating-ass broads from the projects where I'd grown up were there, drinking my liquor and shooting me
. One of them even ended up throwing up all over one of the Porta-Potties we'd rented for the event. They tried to say it was from her drinking on an empty stomach, but I know the bitch was just sick with envy.
Once I jumped the broom, it was a whole different ball game. Jackie was good to me when I was his girl, and better when I became his fiancÃ©e, but when we got married, he made me feel like a queen. I was shopping two to three times a week and getting my hair done twice a week. Me even thinking about getting a job was out of the question: Jackie wasn't having it. He wanted me to rest, dress, and do away with stress, and I was content to do so. He insisted that if I wanted to work, it would have to be at one of his businesses. I did bookkeeping for the distribution and the agency from home, and time to time I'd act as the manager down at the club. Other than that, I didn't do much other than daydream and stay fly.
Don't get me wrongâI've been working since I was twelve years old, without missing a day. Like I mentioned, my dad was in and out of our lives between prison terms, so I had to help my mother hold it down for me and my little brother, Randy. My mother always drilled into me the importance of being independent, and until Jackie, I had lived by it. But I can't front. Being that I had worked for the last fifteen years of my life, nonstop, it kinda felt good to have somebody take care of me for a change.
Jackie was both a blessing and a curse in my life, which is probably true of 99 percent of husbands. He made sure life was good for us, and as his lady, I always stood in his corner, even when I might not have agreed with him. There was something about Jackie's character that made it hard for you to say no to him. He had that effect on most people. My Jackie is quite the characterÂ â¦ and did I mention that he is fine as all hell!
Six feet tall, with chocolate skin and a low-cut Caesar, real throwback Harlem. Jackie was sexy, but in a clean-cut sort of way. He carried himself like a businessman but had plenty of thug in him, especially in the bedroom. Jackie knew how to split me just the right way. Damn, I'm getting moist just thinking about it. When his brown eyes land on me, I feel the hunger stirring low in my kitty, wanting to gobble that thick pole he calls a dick. As soon as he opens his mouth, the moment is ruined.
“You gonna just stand there, or you gonna give me my beer?” he asked, with a joint dangling from his mouth.
Jackie was never much of a smoker, but when his friends came around, he felt the need to step into character. From the way the air smelled, I knew they were blowing piff, not that crunchy shit, but that sticky-ass Broadway. I wasn't much of a smoker either, but I'd take a toke or two off the haze when Jackie brought it home on those rare occasions. There's something about that Barney that made me wanna get busy. Jackie usually bent me over and fucked me like a project bitch on those nights, but when he smoked heavy with his friends, I'd be lucky if he stayed awake long enough for me to suck him off, let alone bust mine.
“Here you go, baby,” I sat the Corona on the table in front of him. I make sure I lean in a little extra when I do this so he can get an eyeful of the 36C's under my silk button-up blouse.
“What the hell is this?” He completely ignores my attempt at seduction, eyeing the beer as if it's something foul.
“Your beer, sweetie,” I say in my sexy way, but it didn't seem to move him.
“Maybe you should've brought him one of them cherry smoothies his ass loves so much instead,” Moe teased.
“Watch thatâyou know how I feel about them smoothies!” Jackie snapped. Lots of people had fetishes for weird things; Jackie's was cherry smoothies. What probably only me and JosÃ© knew was the reasoning for Jackie's loving the fruity drink. Jackie's father was a notorious womanizer, which led to him and Jackie's mother splitting up every six months. The separations never lasted more than a week, but whenever Jackie's father would come back, he would take the family out for smoothies on Coney Island. Cherry smoothies represented a piece of his childhood that Jackie wasn't quite ready to let go of.
“Sorry about that, boo, but it was the last beer in the fridge,” I explained.
“Damn, baby, you know whenever I drink this Mexican shit, I get gassy,” he complained, but still wrapped his lips around the beer.
“That's the last thing we need in here, wit ya rotten ass,” Bilal joked. He was the youngest of their little clique. A reformed knucklehead from the block, Bilal proved to be the only one of Jackie's comrades at the time who had a little sense. Instead of blowing his money frivolously, waiting for Johnny Law's other shoe to drop, he made a little paper and dumped it into a business. Bilal was doing quite well with a dot-com he'd established with a college professor of his.
He was the portrait of a young dude who felt like because he had a little money in the bank, it made his dick bigger. Bilal was brash and had a mouth like gutter trash, but he was definitely eye candy. That afternoon, he wore his shoulder-length dreads twisted into three large braids that snaked over his head and tickled his neck. The blue Calvin Klein shirt he was rocking could've used a once-over with the iron, but he still looked neat. Without me really thinking about it, my eyes wandered the length of his body and stopped at the print of his baggy jeans. Had it been a few years ago, I might've given his ass a little taste, not because he was cute, even though he was, but because there was no greater joy to me than making a so-called player recognize the power of the pussy. But those days were behind me. I was a married woman, and the only dick that my pussy would curve to was Jackie's.
“Fuck you, you fake-ass Rasta. Why don't you take your lil ass back up on the corner with the rest of them niggaz and grab a forty!” Jackie shot back.
“Nigga, don't play ya self, you know I ain't seen a corner in years.” Bilal poked his chest out. “And while you're talking all reckless, you need to be glad she even brought it to ya lazy ass. I don't see a damn thing wrong with your legs.”