For the record, I regret nothing.
You can’t expect someone to hold on forever until you get yourself together. A lot of men seem to miss this point. Now me personally, I’ve told Tony several times what I need and expect, so he is not unaware. It’s only natural that I jump on the opportunity to be with someone who gives me not part but all of what I need. Calvin supports me. He understands me. He listens to me. And frankly, he makes my toes curl.
Now I’m not saying that I’ll be leaving Tony. I’m not crazy. Tony is stable, and he thinks the world of our boys. As long as he keeps a check coming in this house, then I’m satisfied. And I do love him. Really. I just don’t desire him like that right now. What happens between us at this point is strictly out of marital obligation, at least until Tony can show me that he wants this marriage as bad as he used to.
I miss the dinners out. I miss the flowers. I miss the ‘I love you’ calls in the middle of the afternoon. When he was just a lawyer making six figures, our relationship was fine. But now that he is actively pursing being a well-known sports and entertainment attorney, he never has time for our boys and never has time for me. Maybe if he was at home more, I’d want him the way I used to. But I can’t want what’s not there. My imagination just ain’t that great.
I’ll cut things off with Calvin when I get bored. Right now, it’s something to do that I like to do. No one has to know but him and me. And when our time is passed, we will go our separate ways.
But for right now, I’m loving it. All of it. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it to?
“I don’t see what’s the problem is.”
“You never see what the problem is,” Urie took a sip of her tea as she curled up under her blanket, “because you don’t see anything wrong with dating multiple men at one time. Lydia, not everyone can just separate their emotions from their heart like you do.”
“You make me sound so heartless.” Lydia laughed as she continued to put on her make-up. “Glad I’m not easily offended.”
“You also don’t easily recognize a bad idea when one pops up but we don’t count that against you either.” Sydney said as she opened the keys to her apartment.
“No one asked you.”
“I asked myself, thanks.”
“Ladies, ladies let’s be civil” Parker laughed as she took some food out of the oven.
“I’m being civil.”
“And so am I,” Lydia added, “but some people don’t know how to let stuff go…”
“Are you serious? Hey, Pot, nice to meet you, My name’s Kettle…”
Urie laughed hard. “Y’all are too much! So, what is everyone doing tonight?”
“Date with David,” Sydney said while standing in front of her closet, “and I don’t have a clue what to wear.”
“Ooo, so we’re still going out with David, huh?”
“Yeah, and it’s crazy because I didn’t see myself liking his type.”
“What do you mean his type?”
“You know, the country club membership rich guy type. I never got into a brotha like that.”
Lydia stopped her beauty regimen for a moment. “That’s the type that you need to be dating! The guys with pockets are the ones you are supposed to aim for.”
“I don’t think like that.”
“And that’s why you drive a busted up Ford.”
“Sydney,” Parker interjected before another debate could begin between the two friends, “if you like the guy, then you like him. Does he respect you?”
“Yeah.” Sydney answered while playing with outfit combinations.
“Does he listen to you and value your opinions?”
“Do you laugh and have a good time with him?”
“Does he give you butterflies?” Sydney paused for a moment, fighting a smile that was trying to surface. After no answer came from her mouth, Parker continued, “I rest my case.”
“Ok, so David is a great guy. But I can tell that he may consider getting serious and it’s only been two months.”
“Just continue hanging out and see where it goes.”
“What’s on deck for you, Lydia?” Parker asked while throwing some rice in the microwave.
“I am headed out.” Lydia answered in a sassy tone while putting the finishing touches on her night look. “Chris and Ced are with Verna so I have the night baby free.”
“Ooo, and where are you and Tony headed?” Urie asked in a girly tone before stuffing another cookie in her mouth and changing the channel.
“I said I am headed out. Me. That’s it.”
“Um, I’m confused.”
“If Tony is not going out with you, then where are you headed?”
I love my girls, I swear I do, but sometimes they can be so nosy and lame. “If you must know, Calvin is taking me to dinner with some of the members of the Dreams Inc. gala committee as a thank you for making the event go off without a hitch.” The girls mumbled and made comments to themselves, which made Lydia angry. “Come on! What do all really think is going on?”
“Trust me,” Sydney responded sharply, “you do not want to know what I think is going on…”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“Remember that comment I made about bad ideas?”
“Sydney, please don’t get me started on you…”
“Ladies, hold on, I have another call.” Urie sighed as she clicked over to the other line.
“Lydia, I gotta back Syd on this one.” Parker cosigned. “Calvin is bad news. That man can and will mess up your marriage if you let him.”
“We are going to a group dinner!” Lydia rolled her eyes as she checked her ensemble in the mirror. “That’s it, the end! Just ‘cuz y’all chicks don’t have anything going on tonight does not mean you have to be jealous of someone who does.”
“I’m going on a date too, Mrs. Brown. But the difference between you and I is that I can do that. Why, you ask? Because I’m single. If I was married, my date would be with my husband and that’s it.”
“Well, until you have one of those, you will not know what I am going through.”
“Um, girls,” Urie returned to the phone blushing, “It’s Bryce. I will talk to you all later…”
“And speaking of sistas dating men who don’t belong to them…”
“Uh uh, that’s different!” Sydney corrected. “We want her away from that Jack-in-the-box. Urie honey, handle your business and I will talk to you later.”
“It’s not like that!” Urie rolled her eyes as she laughed. I’m lying. I know it is. I’m getting worse than Lydia. “I will talk to you all later. Goodnight!”
After Urie disconnected the line, Parker added. “And I have to go too. Mama and Patrice are on their way over here to discuss Tricie’s wedding plans. I will talk to you all later, that is if I am not locked up for killing the bride and the woman who birthed her.”
“Good luck with that.” Sydney laughed.
“I know right. G’nite.” Parker hung up the phone and sat it on the kitchen counter. She quickly took inventory of the meal that she had prepared: collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and smothered chicken with rice and gravy. In the refrigerator was homemade sweet tea. Parker took extra care in making sure that the kitchen and living room in her apartment was in perfect order. The last thing I need tonight is my perfectionist mother and her favorite child to come in here and criticize my place. I can’t wait for this wedding to be over. It’s brought out the worst in what was already crazy. No sooner could Parker finish placing her plates out did her buzzer ring. She walked over to the intercom and said, “Yes?”
“Parker Denise, quit playing! You know who this is!” a sassy voice responded.
And so it begins. Parker hit the buzzer to let them in and finished straightening up. It wasn’t long before two knocks were heard at her door. Slowly, she walked to the door and opened it, only to be greeted by the loud voices of two women pushing their way into Parker’s home. “Please, come in.”
“Girl, it’s cold outside! And you had us standing out there for 5 minutes.” Parker’s mother Diane handed her a pan and then took off her shoes. “Put that cake on the counter, would you, Sweetie? Thanks, Piggy.”
“How many times did you ring the buzzer, Ma?” Parker asked as she sat the cake on the kitchen table. “And please, stop calling me Piggy.”
“Somebody done got all sophisticated with her marketing job that she forgets she’s still our Piggy.” Patrice laughed as she pulled a fork from Parker’s kitchen drawer. “So should we just help ourselves, because the food actually looks edible…”
“Don’t even start with me, Tricie, because you know I can cook…”
“So can I!”
“Mama, who’s the better cook?”
Diane just shook her head as she pulled out the tea from the refrigerator. “Tricie, honey, don’t make me hurt your feelings.” Parker laughed loud and hard as Patrice rolled her eyes. “But you’re very creative when it comes to pastries, I’ll give you that.”
“Better than Parker?” Tricie asked while fixing her plate.
“I don’t really care who’s better than who at doing what whenever. All I know is that we need to get this here wedding started because with all your ideas, Tricie-girl, you are sucking me and your daddy dry!” Diane pulled up a big spoonful of macaroni and cheese and then snuck a taste with her fingers. “Ok, Piggy-girl, I see you took my advice and stopped using so much milk. You have a good consistency.”
“My mac and cheese always has a good consistency, thank you. Now please let’s start this planning because my movie is coming on at 10.”
“Oooo, and do we have company?”
“If you want to call my blanket company, yeah.”
“That’s so sad” Tricie said between bites of chicken. “So very sad. Good chicken by the way.”
“Thanks, and what’s so sad about it?”
“It is Friday night, and you don’t have a date. So you’re gonna watch a movie on cable and pretend that you are happy. That’s sad, and slightly amusing.”
“Tricie, stop. Not everybody has someone to go home to.”
“Um, can we speed this up, please?” Parker asked in between bites of greens. “I have some things that I’d rather be doing.”
“And what is more important than my wedding?!” Patrice took a sip of tea and then reached underneath the table to grab a binder. “Here.”
“What is this?”
“These are your duties as my maid of honor for the wedding and also the duties of all the bridesmaids. They are all listed in their by alphabetical order. I’m gonna need for you to make sure that everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing so that I don’t have to snap on nobody.”
“Um, you have a bunch of grown women as your bridesmaids. Eleven of them at that. They don’t’ need me to tell them anything…”
“Why are you being so difficult?”
“I’m not being difficult; you’re being ridiculous. I want to enjoy myself at your wedding too…”
“How are you gonna do that? Are you gonna rent a man for the evening?”
Parker was fuming. “You know, you ain’t gon look so cute on your wedding day with a busted eye, swollen lip, and the front of your grill missing…”
“Ladies, ladies!” Diane put her fork down long enough to reprimand her two daughters. “Y’all acting like some nappy-headed heathens and I’mma pop you both one if ya’ll don’t cut out all that noise! All that cat-fightin’ gon give me indigestion.” She took a sip of her tea before she continued. “Now Tricie, your bridesmaids are old enough to know what they need to do and when. You don’t need to give Parker a job without the benefit of getting a check.” Diane turned to Parker. “And Piggy, honey, I do not want to see you coming into Tricie’s wedding without a date…” Parker rolled her eyes and got up from the table. Patrice tried to call out to her, but Diane held out her hand to silence her. Diane walked to Parker’s room to find her rearranging things in her closet. “It’s funny to see some things don’t change. Ever since you were little, you’ve been a very organized girl. But whenever you got mad, the first thing you did is start rearranging things that didn’t need rearranging.” Diane laughed, but Parker did not laugh with her. She walked over to her daughter and touched her arm softly, which caused Parker to stop. “Parker, have a seat please.” After both of them sat on the bed, she continued. “You wanna tell Mama what’s wrong?”
“Mama, you know what’s wrong.”
“Is it about me calling you Piggy?”
“Is it about Tricie going a little bridezilla on us this early in the planning?”
“Then it’s about you not having a date, huh?” Parker just rolled her eyes and tried to get up, but Diane stopped her. “Parker, what’s going on with your dating life?”
“I go out, Ma. You all make it sound like I have no desire to meet anybody. But I’m not boy-crazy like Tricie was and I refuse to settle.”
“It’s not about settling, honey, it’s about getting what you can get. I married your father when I was 19 years old, barely out of high school. Your sister is 24, and she’s about to get married. All of your brothers are married. You’ll be 30 in a few years and we haven’t met a prospect since Jeremy, and that was 4 years ago. Parker, baby, I just want you to be happy.”
“So what are you trying to say, that I should take whatever guy can tolerate looking at me for longer than five minutes because I’m almost 30? Mama, I’m a human, not a piece of steak. I don’t have an expiration date…”
“Who told you that lie? Honey, all women have some sort of an expiration date and if they let that date pass, they end up by themselves and bitter. Oh they may be successful career women, but they are lonely. I don’t want you to end up like your Aunt Donita…”
“Mama, I am not gonna end up like Aunt Donita.” Parker got up from her bed and walked to her dresser. “I can’t believe you think I should settle. You didn’t settle, and neither did Tricie. Why should I?”
“Sweetie, I had more options than you. When I was young, I was a skinny thang. Your daddy snatched me up while I still had that cheerleader body from high school. You and Tricie are both some big girls…”
“Mama, you’re a big girl too…”
“But I wasn’t always a big girl. I didn’t gain no weight until after I had you. And then when I had Tricie, that solidified my big girl status. But the difference between you and me is that I had a man when I gained my weight and I made sure he wasn’t going nowhere…”
“This is ridiculous…”
“No, honey, this is life. The fact is that skinny women have way more options than big girls. Your sister is lucky. She happened to catch one of those rich brothas who like girls with meat on their bones, but how often are you gonna find that? I’m just saying be smart, Parker. If you can catch a man who is willing to take you as you are, then what’s wrong with settling for that…”
“It’s wrong because I shouldn’t have to! You always told me and Tricie that we should carry ourselves like royalty because that is what we are. You always told us that we were beautiful, even if we were chunky as you and Aunt Donita liked to call it. You always taught me to have self-esteem and to wait for the right man and now that I am you’re telling me I’m wrong?! So what, were you just lying to me growing up so that I’d feel better about being a big girl? Were you just filling my head up with all that crap just so that I wouldn’t realize that I’d never be desired?”
“No, I was telling you what you needed to hear so that you didn’t grow up depressed and angry.” Diane walked over to Parker and grabbed her hand. “And I was not lying to you. Parker, you were and still are beautiful. You are the spitting image of your tall, cocoa daddy and you know I love me some Preston. You carry yourself very well, you’re educated, and you have made a name for yourself professionally in marketing and as a socialite…”
“Same thing! But honey, all of that means nothing if you have no one to share it with. All I’m saying is don’t raise your expectations so high that no man will ever be able to meet them. Come down to earth a little bit, Piggy, ok?”
Parker turned away. What if she’s right? What if my standards are way too high and I am expecting too much out of men? I mean, I always did want to drop some weight. Could that really help…Wait, what am I thinking? I love me just as I am and if a man can’t dig me, curves and all, then he can forget it. If I wanna lose weight, it will be on my terms, not to bait a man. “I get where you’re going, Mama. I just can’t say that I agree with you.”
“I understand, baby. I’m from a different time and side of the country than you.” Diane kissed her daughter on the cheek and wiped a small tear that started to fall from Parker’s eye. “Ok, look, if it’s any consolation, I respect you. Your prince is out there, Princess Parker. Just don’t get so busy that you miss him.”
“Ok.” She kissed Diane on the forehead. “But on another note, if Tricie doesn’t calm down with all this bridal crap, I’m gonna kill her…”
“Not if I don’t kill that brat first!” Diane laughed loud and hard as she opened the door and watched as Patrice fell in the room. “What I tell you ‘bout getting in other people’s business, Tricie-girl? Now git yourself off the floor and come in here so we can get down to business.”
Diane walked out the room and left the sisters in Parker’s bedroom. Once their mother was no longer standing by the door, Parker asked, “How much of that convo did you hear?”
“All of it.”
“And I guess you agree with Mama, huh?”
“Only on one thing, that I respect you. You’ve never settled your whole life. I am proud to say that I admire a big sis who has a ‘don’t go with what’s in front of your face’ mentality. I tease you because it’s my job as your baby sis, but I admire you.” Patrice gave Parker a hug, which made her sigh deeply and smile. “Now come on out here so I can tell you what else I need you to do…”
“If it’s another one of your lists, Tricie, I swear it right now it ain’t happening.” The two of them laughed as they exited her bedroom.
Why am I so quiet tonight? I swear this is not like me at all. Sydney gazed in awe at the view of Downtown Chicago from their table as she ran her fingers across the patterns on the champagne flute that sat in front of her. “The view up here is gorgeous.” She said quietly.
“Not as beautiful as the view that I am getting from over here.” Sydney looked back at David, who was smiling warmly at her. She fought to keep from biting her bottom lip, but she failed. He laughed as she immediately covered her mouth. “Did you enjoy your meal?”
“Yes, thank you. You know, I’ve always wanted to come up here but never got the chance.”
“Well, since I’m the one that got to share this first with you, I consider myself blessed.” David reached across the table and ran his finger gently down Sydney’s cheek. He smiled as she shyly bit her lip and then looked out the window again. “Can I be honest with you for a second, Sydney.”
“Honesty is better than lying.”
“When I first saw you at Lydia’s birthday party, I knew I had to talk to you. Your personality jumped out at me without you even saying a word…”
“Are you sure it wasn’t my body while I was dancing…”
“Well, that didn’t hurt.” The two of them laughed for a moment before he continued. “In all seriousness, you just had this outgoing and radiant vibe about you. I had to come dance with you, and I was too ticked when I got that phone call that I had to leave…”
Oh that’s why I didn’t remember you! That makes sense. I knew I wouldn’t have forgotten a face that cute…
“…So when I found out that Tony knew you personally, I didn’t want to pass up the chance to see you again.”
“Did you think I’d call?” Sydney teased before taking a sip of her champagne.
“Yes I did.”
David leaned back and laughed loud and hard, which drew the attention of some of the other people in the restaurant. “Well, I mean, you have to have confidence, right? From what I can remember, we definitely had a connection when we danced…”
“I don’t even remember dancing with you…”
“I’m serious, I don’t! When Tony gave me your card, it took me a minute to remember who you were…”
“But you remembered…”
“A little bit, yeah, but that’s not what…”
“But you remembered me,” David said in a warm and sensual tone, “and that drew enough curiosity for you to call me.”
He’s lucky I think being slightly cocky is cute. Sydney thought to herself. Because otherwise, I’d have to tell him about himself. “I like to give people a chance every now and again.”
“Thanks for giving us mere mortals a chance.”
“No problem.” Sydney looked out the window again. This view is just amazing – the night sky, the stars, the lights on the cars as they drive past. It’s moments like these that romance is made out of. I haven’t felt this way since… She stopped her thoughts as turned back to David, who was looking dead at her. “Why are you staring at me?”
“My mom taught me how to appreciate beauty early, so I can’t take my eyes off of it when I see it.” David paused for a moment, took a breath, and then continued. “Look, I’m an excellent business professional but in personal situations I can be awkward as ever so I’ll just come out and say it. I like you, Sydney. A lot. And I want an extended chance to get to know you exclusively, if you’ll give a shot.”
She giggled a little bit. “Are you asking me to go with you?”
“Yeah, but in a more adult way, I guess.”
“Let me take that back. I know. So,” David leaned in toward her and lowered the tone of his voice, “is that a yes or a no?”
Oh heck yeah! Y-E-S! Yessir! “Sure.”
“That’s all I get, huh?”
“What were you expecting?”
“A little more enthusiasm maybe.”
“Ok, how about this,” Sydney shook her head as if she was going into character, “Oh, David, I have waited all my life to have someone as wonderful as you kiss the darkness of the abyss of my meaningless singleness goodbye. Yes, it would be my honor and privilege to unite as a couple and explore what possibilities that God may have in store.”
David took a moment to stare at her, fighting hard to withhold laughter. “How long did it take you to think of that?”
“Top of the head. I’m that good.” Sydney winked at David. “Yes, let’s see where this relationship could possibly go.” Her heart began beating fast as David leaned over the table and kissed her gently on the lips. And if this is any kind of indication on what I have to look forward to, all I have to say is ‘hey now!’ Before Sydney could enjoy the sweetness of her kiss, she saw Lydia walk in arm-in-arm with Calvin. She instantly pulled back from David’s kiss, which startled him. “Um, excuse me, I need to run to the little girls room.”
“Don’t be long.” He lightly touched her arm as she walked past.
Sydney’s smile faded as she passed David and begin to walk in the direction of Lydia and Calvin, who were sitting at the bar waiting for their drinks. Lord, I have a bright future ahead of me. Since I don’t want to spend it in jail, please do not let me kill this woman or this man tonight. Anger rose the closer that she got to them as she heard her laughter and watched her flirtatious mannerisms. When she arrived at where they sat, she tapped Lydia on the shoulder and waited for her to turn around. “Hey Lydia, good to see you.”
“Syd, what are you doing here?” Lydia eyes widened like a deer caught in headlights. She tried to keep her calm, but her heart was racing a mile a minute.
“I’m on a date. I was just on my way to the bathroom. Can I talk to you for a moment please? This won’t take long…”
“I’m with Lydia right now,” Calvin interjected, “so you can wait…”
“I don’t recall asking for your permission for a married woman to handle her own business, so I think it’s a good idea that you stay out of this…”
“Lydia, maybe you should to get your girl in her place…”
Lydia stood up quickly and put her hand on Sydney’s shoulder. “Come on, Syd, I can chat talk briefly.” She turned back to Calvin, nodded, and then grabbed her purse. The two ladies were silent until the arrived to the bathroom. After checking all of the stalls to see if anyone was in there, Lydia screamed, “What is your problem!?”
“My problem?! I’m sorry, you’re a married woman out on a date with someone who is not your husband and I’m the one with the problem? I thought you said you were going out with a group of people. That does not look like a group…”
“We were out with a group, but we decided to get drinks afterward…”
“And you see nothing wrong with that…”
Lydia turned to leave the bathroom. “You know what, this is really none of your business…”
“How long have you been messing with Calvin, Lydia?” Lydia stopped dead in her tracks but did not turn around. Since she did not answer, Sydney asked the question again. “You’re not deaf. It’s pretty quiet in here so I know you heard me.”
Lydia coolly turned around, crossed her arms, and tilted her head to the side. “Why is it so important to you?”
“Because you’re my friend, or are supposed to be rather. I would think you’d at least say something before you made a bad decision that could ruin your entire family’s life.”
“And if I was going to mess up my family’s life, which I’m not by the way, why would I need to tell you anything?”
“So I can stop you!” They got quiet for a moment as a woman entered the bathroom and went into one of the stalls. Sydney moved closer to Lydia so their conversation could remain private. “Lydia, this man is dangerous…”
“Calvin is hardly dangerous.” Lydia laughed as she rolled her eyes. “You are really jumping to conclusions that you can’t confirm or deny…”
“Then confirm or deny it, Lydia. Are you having an affair with Calvin?”
“I don’t see how this is your business. Calvin and I are friends. We met at my birthday party, he gave me the biggest opportunity of my career as a caterer a few months ago, and he has become someone I can confide in…”
“Friends, right.” Sydney mumbled.
“Yes, friends. You act like you don’t have male friends. And I know you have a lot of male friends...”
“First of all, I know the difference between friends and a bed buddy. You can ask any of the guys that I know and they don’t know if I prefer lace or satin. I keep my relationships with men platonic. Don’t get it twisted.” Sydney waited until the lady who had previously entered the washroom completed washing her hands before she continued. “Look, you’re grown. I can barely advise you on what to wear let alone what or who you should do. But I will say this, Calvin is trouble. He’s gonna ruin what you have with Tony if you aren’t careful...”
“You’re right, I am grown. Thank you so much for acknowledging that. I can handle my own mud. Now, if you’d excuse me, I am going to enjoy the company of that man back there who wants to buy me drinks and show his appreciation for me being in his life. I know when to draw the line…”
“Do you now?”
“Yes.” Lydia checked her appearance in the mirror one more time before she started to head out the bathroom door. “Oh, Syd?”
“What?” Sydney responded without looking at her.
“I would appreciate if you kept tonight to yourself. K?” Sydney looked over at Lydia, but the words she wanted to say would not come out. She simply turned back to the mirror. “You go enjoy your date. I fully intend to enjoy mine.” Lydia smirked as she left the bathroom, leaving Sydney alone to think.
About PLUS Inc.
PLUS Inc. is a multi-character drama following the lives of four friends. Taking place in Chicago, IL., the ladies – Parker, Lydia, Urie, and Sydney – face life as they hold each other up through the bonds of friendship.
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