I’m working on a little something, an idea that came to me recently and I just had to write it. I actually started something similar last summer but never got past chapter 1… this one I think is nearly halfway done so… cross your fingers. My pub deadline for myself is end of September and I don’t like to let deadlines slip, so… Jesus be some flying fingers!
I get nervous to share new work because… well, because. It’s nerve wracking. I feel like the second I share it, people become aware of it and start asking questions and then I hit a wall and never finish (See Dinner at Sam’s, The Never List, Missing Persons-– all have about 8 chapters of blah and I have no desire to return to them at the moment). This blog doesn’t exist to host snippets of unfinished work. So, I am tempted to hold this until I know I am finished with the book.
So if you don’t see this post until end of August, early September, my butt went numb and I chickened out and held it. But if you see it on August 24th, I got over myself and posted it.
At any rate, here’s a little piece of Beach Thing, a contemporary black romance with a cozy beach theme. Pub Date, Septemberish.
I pulled down the metal shade to obscure the open counter, flipped the OPEN sign to CLOSED on the front of the shop and stepped outside, pulling the door shut behind me. My first full day as owner and proprietor of Tikis & Cream was a success. I had a steady stream of customers, all hot and sweaty from being on the beach and ready for a cool, refreshing drink.
Deep in thought, I keyed both locks and checked the door, then weaved into the stream of foot traffic along the sidewalk. I was going to have to hire some help, sooner rather than later. If every day was like today—
A bump from behind me interrupted my train of thought. I turned to mutter an apology, but the words stuck in my throat. Two men were directly behind me, wide smiles on handsome, smooth milk chocolate faces bearing perfectly trimmed goatees. One had gorgeous amber colored eyes; the other’s were a deep espresso and he seemed… really familiar. Both stepped aside as they passed me, nodding in my direction as they continued their conversation.
“Excuse you,” I called out to two muscle-bound backs. They turned to face me, genuine surprise in both sets of eyes.
“Excuse us??” said the shorter one. “You came out of that door and didn’t even look where you were going. I almost tripped over you. So excuse you, miss.”
“Okay, but you could have said something. You bumped into me, almost knocked me over—”
“Miss,” said the taller one, lifting a hand, I guess to quiet me. “We apologize. We didn’t see you come out of the shop. We almost ran you over. Excuse us. We cool?”
I huffed, folding my arms across my chest. “Fine. We cool or whatever.”
He smiled and pointed two fingers at me. Then I recognized him— Gage Coleman! I was letting my smart mouth run all over Billboard’s number one hip hop artist, Gage Coleman! I had his latest release on heavy rotation in my iTunes and my best friend, Paige was madly in love with him.
My eyes grew wide and I sucked in a loud breath. He placed a finger over his lips and winked, then stuck out his hand. “Gage. This is Wade.”
“Ameenah.” Gage’s grip was strong, his hand soft as I shook it. Wade reluctantly offered his and I shook it, too. Now that I looked at him instead of glaring at him, I recognized him as Gage’s longtime producer.
“We’re looking for beer and good wings. Does that exist out here?”
“A couple of places, yeah. But if you’re looking for something close..” I pointed toward worn out shack at the end of the block with the line out the front door. “Sparky’s down there has really good wings. Lots of flavors. Get extra napkins, though. They’re messy.”
Gage nodded, rubbing his palms together. “Good lookin’ out. You… looks like you’re closed up for the day. Did you want to join us?”
I did want to join them, actually. I really really wanted to hang out with famous, handsome men that had just happened to bump into me, but it had been a long day, I still had things to do, I was tired as hell and my new job had disgraceful hours.
“Thanks for the invite. Maybe next time,” I chirped, walking around them, making myself leave before I did or said something stupid. Again. “Enjoy your wings!”
“I am telling you, it was Gage Coleman. And I recognized his producer, too. Wade something.”
“Wade Marshall?” Paige’s voice rose to an octave I didn’t think she was capable of reaching. “Are they as fine in real life as they are in this spread for MAXIMUM? Talking about Hip Hop’s Dream Team. Mmmmph, Gage is everything I want on my team.”
I chuckled, dropping into one end of the couch with a bowl of ice cream. “I hope a bullet in your ass is something you want. Sheree Coleman don’t play about her man. She will cut a bitch.”
“Don’t I know it. I heard about one girl in a club getting too close, kept hugging him, hanging on him, grinning all in his face and wouldn’t step back. Sheree took right care of that mess.” I heard her tongue clicking and pages turning. “Anyway, how long do you think they’re in town?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen them before and I’ve been here awhile. I’m guessing they just got here. And from the looks of the lights going on and off at the house on the corner, that’s where they’re staying.”
“You mean that big house with the circular driveway and the pool and… everything?”
“Mmmhmmm,” I hummed, licking ice cream off of my spoon. I loved ice cream. It was my nightly treat— just a small bowl. To start with. I wanted to create some kind of signature drink or dish using ice cream. Owning Tikis & Cream was as much about research as it was about fulfilling my dream to own a smoothie bar on the beach.
“How’s everything going? You ready for me to come down there yet?”
“Actually,” I said, almost choking on a too-big bite of chocolate chunk. “I’m going to need some help sooner than I thought. Not saying I can afford for you to quit your new job at that fancy law firm and move down here—”
“They won’t miss me around there.”
“Right. Does anyone else do any work? I’m pretty sure you do everything over there.”
“You’re right. I am dope and they’d be lost without me.” I rolled my eyes, even though she was basically agreeing with me. “So what are you going to do about getting some help?”
“See how long I can go before I fall over from exhaustion. Then probably place an ad in The Bullhorn.” Black Diamond had its own newspaper for residents. If you needed to buy something, wanted to sell something, needed to announce something, it went into The Bullhorn.
“Please don’t work yourself to the bone. At least not before I build up some vacation time and can come down there. Okay?”
“You take the fun out of everything, Paige.” I scraped the bowl with my spoon— my signal that it was time to brush my teeth and crawl into bed. My alarm was set for the ungodly hour of 4:30 and I wasn’t even sure that would be early enough. “I’m turning into a pumpkin. Kiss everybody for me. Talk to you soon.”
I signed off with Paige, dropped my bowl into the dishwasher and turned it on so that it could work while I slept. A glint of light caught my eye as I passed the kitchen window, which overlooked the beach. I reached over to the wall and snapped off the overhead light, then waited for my eyes to adjust to the darkness.
I watched a figure trudge through the sand, just along the edge of the water. The flash was illumination from his cellphone. From the span of his shoulders and his gait— and the fact that he was walking from the direction of the house on the corner— I guessed that it was Wade.
Before I could stop myself, I walked to the kitchen door and stepped out onto the deck, flipping on the porch light and walking to the edge. I leaned onto the railing and waited for him to slip his phone into his pocket and make his way toward my house.
“It’s you,” he said, when he got close enough for me to hear him.
“It is me, that loud mouth girl from earlier.”
He chuckled. “I’m not saying all that. I was checking out the beach. I’m a city guy so I don’t get to see this often.”
“This beach is great. I love the breeze off of the Bay at night.” As if on cue, we both took a glance at the rolling waves, lit by the moon sitting high above. “So I guess we’re neighbors.”
He nodded, glancing in the direction of the large house lit up like Christmas, then back to me. “It’s Gage’s place, but he’s lending it out for the summer.” He paused, then the rest of the sentence rushed out of his mouth, like he was trying to beat me to some kind of finish line. “So listen, I’m sorry about earlier. I was tired and hungry.”
I shrugged. “Me too. I was preoccupied. Should have watched where I was going.”
“Well, anyway. My mama raised me a gentleman. My apologies.” He paused for a beat, then asked, “You run that little smoothie shop there?”
“I do.” I nodded. “Just opened today, actually.”
“Yeah?” I heard the smile in his deep tenor. “No wonder you were preoccupied. That’s good. I like to see people doing for themselves. Congrats.”
“Thanks. So, I need to head to bed but stop by the shop tomorrow. I’ll make you something on the house. If you want.”
“You can’t make money giving drinks away. I’ll happily pay for something.”
I laughed, stepping back from the railing surrounding the wood deck. “I’ll happily take your money. See you tomorrow.”
He turned to head back down the beach toward the house. “For sure. See you tomorrow.”