Missy walked into the meeting with extreme trepidation. She wasn’t sure about the reality show nonsense. Especially after the Double the Rainbow fiasco with her family. But she needed the money.
They were offering her a low six figures for 6 weeks of taping and a two-part reunion special. Not a bad haul. Plus, her bestie, Carmen had creative control and assured her that she wouldn’t let her look crazy on tv. All things considered, Missy figured, she could at least hear their pitch.
For a BET production the meeting was conspicuously white, which was more than a little bit troublesome, but Carmen was at the head of the table so that put Missy a little more at ease.
They went through their ideas for the show. Most of which seemed to be the formula for every other dating show on television.
A dozen men competing for one woman’s affections with the winner riding off into the sunset with her. Cookie cutter love competition. But the producers insisted that there would be a twist that none of the contestants would expect. Not even Missy, the star of the show was privy until it was revealed on the first day of taping.
Pen and contract in hand, Missy was beginning to feel uneasy again. A twist? That didn’t sit right with her at all. But those were the terms. Take them or leave them. And take them she would. She gave Carmen a very knowing, you better not screw me glare before she signed on the dotted line and snatched up the advance check. So it was a done deal. Production was to begin in a couple of weeks.
The next morning Missy woke in a panic. What the fuck have I done!
She dressed hurriedly and headed into DC to her attorney’s office, unannounced. After he perused the contract and explained what she already knew, he laughed, suggested she figure out how to live with the choice she made and advised never to bring him another contract she’d already signed.
Disappointed and somewhat embarrassed, she left Herbert Anderson esquire’s office and headed over to the northeast quadrant of the city. Back to BET Studios.
“Is Carmen in?”
Carmen’s assistant looked up from her personal call. “Yeah, she’s in a meeting but she should be out in a few minutes. You can wait in her office if you want.”
As she sat at the edge of the comfy armchair with a five-dollar latte in one hand and a thirty thousand dollar check in the other, Missy went over and over in her head what she could possibly say to Carmen to get out of the foolishness she’d signed up for.
She wanted out. Not now, but right now. It just wasn’t worth it. Not even for the money.
Carmen walked in all smiles.
“Hey gurrrl. We were just meeting about you. What’s going on?”
The fantastically logical and brilliantly persuasive speech she’d just rehearsed went straight out the window. She threw the check on Carmen’s desk. “I can’t do this.”
Carmen smiled, picked up the check and placed it back in front of her. “Girl bye.” She turned to her computer. Effectively dismissing her friend.
Missy’s expression was serious. She pushed the check back over to Carmen. “I’m serious. I can’t do this. So you can take this check back. Do whatever you have to do. Sue me. I don’t care. But I’m not doing it.”
Carmen sighed and turned back around. She pushed the check back over to Missy. “Girl you better cash this damn check and get your mind right. You know you need this money. “
“Sweetie, you can’t pay me enough money to make a fool of myself. Ruin my reputation and embarrass my family. A second time. No. So go back and tell your boss or whoever you need to tell, I’m not for sale.” She flicked the check back over to Carmen. It landed on the floor.
“Missy I don’t have the time or the patience for your drama this morning. You signed a contract and you accepted payment. It’s a done deal. So I suggest you go have yourself a mimosa or a Xanax or whatever it is you think you need to do to get over your lil nerves.”
“Excuse me?!” Missy gave her friend a death glare. She’d recently shared that her doctor prescribed a low dose of Xanax for her anxiety attacks. But Missy was too nervous to take them. Carmen could be a little insensitive at times, borderline petty, but this was a particularly low blow. She snatched her purse from the desk and stood. “Goodbye Carmen”
“No wait! Ok, look. I’m sorry. Ok? I’m sorry.” She reached over the desk for Missy’s hand. “Come on. Sit back down. Please.”
Missy took her seat, silently and reluctantly.
“Look I don’t wanna fight with you. Seriously. You’re just putting me in a bad spot Missy. I need you to wrap your head around what’s going on here. You can’t just walk away. These guys have already spent tens of thousands of dollars on rentals and leases and pre-production. Things are already in motion.”
“It’s been like twenty-four hours.”
“What can I say. Things move fast around here.” “Carmen please. I’m begging you. I don’t wanna do this. I really don’t. Be a friend.”
“What the hell do you think I’m doing? Why don’t you be a friend!”
“Yes you. Missy I brought the show to the producers. Sold them on it. Negotiated a higher salary for you than anyone’s ever gotten on this network. I fought like hell for the EP spot so that I could have creative control. You think I did all of that for me? And what happens when I go to them now and tell them that my best friend that I fought tooth and nail for is backing out of the deal with two weeks to production? What happens to me? After they sue your beautiful ass into bankruptcy for all the money they’ve spent, which they will do, what happens to me? My career? My reputation? Have you thought about that?”
Missy rolled her eyes and looked away. Truth was she hadn’t thought about it. Not at all. Maybe she was being a little selfish. She could have just said no when Carmen asked her the first time. But the money sounded good.
Backing out now would be disastrous. She knew that. But she just couldn’t live with things as they were. “Ok, now if I do this…”
“When you do this?”
“If I do this, I’m gonna need a few more things, just to get comfortable.”
“A few things like what?”
“Well it ain’t no Xanax.”
In or Out
“We gon get out the car?”
“Rocky I’m tryna think.”
“Well I can probably help you with that.”
“I know.” She sighed, “I don’t know if I wanna fuck wit Imelda.”
“What? Then what we doin here?”
“We need her.”
“Ok then. Let’s just go in there and get this over with. She gon say yes or she gon say no. It’s gon get done either way. But it’ll be easier with her help. Come on. Let’s go.”
Aunt Pat reluctantly let go of the steering wheel and took a deep breath. “Aaight, let’s go.”
Peta greeted them at the front. “Buenos Dias Ms. Patricia.”
“How you doin Peta.”
Peta sneered. “Rocky”
Rocky’s nostril flared. “You better get her Pat. Before I hurt her lil ass.”
“Rocky, leave that girl alone.”
Peta giggled. “Mami’s in the back. Follow me.”
She walked them back to the store room. Imelda was seated at a table having her dinner and reading the paper. She stood when they entered, wiped her mouth and hands with the cloth napkin from her lap. “Ladies. What brings you here. In the middle of the week? Please, have a seat.”
Aunt Pat pulled out a chair. “I need your help with somethin.”
Imelda returned to her seat. And placed her napkin back in her lap. She took a bite of her spicy chorizo and sat silently chewing for a moment. “You hungry?”
“Nah, not really. We just…”
“Nonsense.” She called out. “Peta. Peta!”
Peta stuck her head in “Yes mami.”
“Bring our guests the special, and some Chica.” She looked over at Aunt Pat and Rocky. “Bandeja…it’s fresh…you’ll like it. Now what can I do for you ladies?”
Aunt Pat gave her the run down. The background, the kidnapping, the extortion. The plan. Imelda listened attentively as she sipped the cloudy, pungent alcohol mix. Aunt Pat and Rocky sat wondering the exact same thing. What the fuck was she drinking? But neither inquired.
Imelda took the last swallow of her drink and sat the mason jar on the table. “One hundred thousand.”
Aunt Pat squinted. “What?”
“If you would like my help. If you would like me to dispatch my men. Giovanni is not one that I like. But I do not have problems with him. So. One hundred thousand.”
“Imelda. I don’t have that right now.”
“Don’t worry.” She smiled. “I’m sure we can…work some things out.”
Peta walked in with two healthy plates and a pitcher of whatever it was Imelda was drinking. She poured two glasses about half full before Aunt Pat declined hers.
“No, thank you Peta.”
Imelda chimed in, “Drink up Patricia.”
“No, thank you. I need to have a clear head for tomorrow.”
“Nothing is happening tomorrow.”
Aunt Pat frowned. “What you mean?”
Imelda smiled. “I mean…your plan. It’s not smart. You’re gonna get yourself, Rocky here, and your little grandniece killed. Look…I’ll help you. But I need another day or two, at least, to figure out a plan that actually works.”
In that moment Aunt Pat regretted ever walking into the grubby little restaurant. It was all she could do not to slap the smug look off Imelda’s fat round face and walk the fuck out. But she digressed, and took another deep breath before responding.
“We don’t have another day or two Imelda. Gi gave us a week. That’s four more days. We need to go in when he’s not expecting us and I know for fact that he’s still in DC. We have to do it now. It’s our best shot.”
“Patricia, you came here because you knew you needed help. And you do. If you don’t want my help…”
Rocky chimed in. “Pat. Come on. We need her.”
Aunt Pat glared at Rocky, rose from her seat and extended her hand. “Thank you for the meal and the wine.”
Imelda took her hand and held it for a moment. “Alright. Good luck to you.”
“Thanks. Let’s go Rock.”
Peta leaned against the doorway and grinned. “Adios Rocky.”
Rocky scowled and sucked her teeth at Peta before following Aunt Pat out of the restaurant. When they got to the car Rocky didn’t waste any time voicing her concerns.
“I think you makin a mistake.”
“We need to go back in there and work this out.”
“Rocky. If you scared just say you scared. Cause you can head back to DC and I’ll do this shit on my own.”
“That’s not what I mean Pat, and you know I ain’t never been scared. I’m witchu a hunnid percent. I just don’t think we ready man. A couple more guns ain’t gon hurt.”
“A hit is a fuckin hit…”
“Yeah but this ain’t DC. This ain’t our town man. The shits a lil different don’t you think? We don’t even know where the fuck we at!”
“Look I ain’t got time for this. All this doubtin and back and forth. We know everything we need to know. So either you in or out?”
Rocky sighed. “Hey…”
“IN or OUT Rocky!”
“Aight. I’m in.”
Baby I’m Ready
Her nakedness was unexpected. Her forwardness, intimidating. He reached out and touched a cheek with each hand. Taking a moment to revel in the softness of her skin. Not a dimple or a blemish. Just as he imagined a thousand times, she was perfect.
He slipped his fingers under the elastic at the sides of her panties and pulled them down, slowly to the floor. She stepped out of them and turned to face him. The view was just as wonderful from the front.
Brandy pushed him back onto the sofa and climbed on top. She straddled him, and they kissed, slowly, passionately as she gyrated her hips in a slow grinding motion. She pulled his shirt overhead and gently ran her hands over his muscular chest. Her touch sent a wave of intense pleasure through him. He grew harder, grabbed a handful of her ample bottom and began to move in her rhythm. She took his face in her hands and gave him more of her tongue.
The bulge in his pants was growing more uncomfortable in his tight boxer briefs, but he didn’t want her to stop. She stopped.
“Babe, what’s wrong?”
“How about we take this into your bedroom?”
She stood and walked seductively in front of him, toward the bedroom, beckoning him to follow. He waited, for just a moment. To catch the view from behind. And to adjust the part of him that grew through the opening in his shorts.
There was no way to keep his cool when he walked in the room and saw Brandy sprawled across his bed in all her naked glory. He hurriedly undressed down to his socks and crawled over to her. “You sure you want to do this?”
“I am absolutely sure.”
He climbed over her and leaned down for a kiss. She stopped him. Just before their lips touched.
“I love you too.”
Rocky sat in the car. Outside the Bodega. Pat insisted on going in alone. Her cell phone rang from an unknown number. She didn’t normally answer those calls, but it was good news. Better than anything they could have hoped for. She was almost giddy.
Aunt Pat pulled off her gloves and stuffed them into her pocket as she walked back to the truck, where Rocky was engrossed on a call. She opened the door to the back seat and climbed in. The seats and the floors were covered in plastic. She began removing her blood soaked clothes as Rocky wrapped up her conversation.
“Is she ok? Good take her over to Pat’s house and make sure somebody stays with her til we get there. No, don’t do that. Don’t do nothin. Just take them niggas to the spot. We on our way right now.”
Aunt Pat frowned. “Take who to my house? What’s going on?”
Rocky turned to face her in the back seat. She smiled wide. “You ain’t gon believe dis shit Pat.”
She answered as she pulled a wet wipe from the container and wiped the spattered blood from her face. “Believe what?”
“We got em.”