Every time I prepare to go out of the house, I have the same ritual.
After showering, I look at myself in the mirror and tell myself how absolutely gorgeous I am.
From there, I slide on my foundations. Ok, slide is a nice way to put it. It’s more like a hilarious dance of jerking, yanking, and rolling. By the time I get finished, I have a gorgeous curvy shape and sore arms. I then stand in front of my closet for a good five minutes trying to decide what I’m going to put on by narrowing down my choices to if I’m bloated, sexy, or too lazy to iron. Once my outfit is on, my hair in place, and a natural amount of make-up perfected, I go out to face the day.
Now I could be the kind of woman that chooses to wear low-cut tops and tiny skirts but I refuse to. I’m aware of how sensual my curves are. Oh some men may pretend like they don’t think a full-figured woman is beautiful, but they know the power and appeal of our curves. And unlike some women who let sex speak for them, my intellect speaks for me. I’m the whole package.
Ok, maybe I’m feeling myself a little bit too much today. But I think I deserve to. Curves, Curls, and Cake just got some major sponsors to buy permanent add space, which is going to help boost my following and finances. Checks have been coming in right on time from InTheKnow, and despite the fact that I have a witch for a manager, things at the job have been going well. To top it off, I have a date for the Dreams Inc. gala tonight. Some guy that Sydney is setting me up with. I should be nervous about that, but for some reason I’m not. The worst that could happen is that he’s a troll. At least I would’ve had a good laugh.
Man, I love being me sometimes…
“Wow, Parker, you actually look nice today.”
Parker rolled her eyes as Trina, dressed in a short black skirt and a fitted blouse, walked into her office and sat on the edge of her desk. Uninvited entry for a backward compliment. How nice. “Is there something you need, Trina?”
“There are some things for the Anderson campaign that need to be taken care of. I spoke directly to Patricia Norfleet and she wants the presentation completed for Monday’s meeting. This is one of our new accounts and I know you want to make a good impression?”
“Trina, I will do what is needed to assist, but the Anderson account isn’t even mine. Mark was supposed to be handling that.”
“Oh, well, we’ve assigned that to you now. Mark will be working with me on the Porter account…”
“I’ve been the lead on that account for 3 years…”
“Well, we’re going to give it to Mark now…”
“Who is we?”
“Gerald and I feel that Mark would be a better fit for the account. It requires a more aggressive player and Mark has that something extra that you don’t.”
What?! The ability to be a brownnoser?! Parker could feel herself losing control of her anger. That account has been mine since they first came on with the company. All the accolades and awards for that account has been on my blood, sweat, and tears. And now she’s just gonna stroke the ego of her sugar daddy to validate her personal vendetta against me?! I am too done! “Nothing against Mark, because he is excellent at what he does, but everything that account is is because of me. I’m not sure what is going on here, but I will talk to Gerald myself…”
Trina crossed her arms and rose the tone of her voice in an attempt to intimidate Parker. “You don’t have to talk to Gerald. You’re talking to me…”
“And I’d rather not. Excuse me.” Parker locked her computer and began to head toward Gerald’s office with Trina close on her heels. When Parker arrived at his office, she saw him laughing and shaking hands with Mark. So everyone is in on this, huh? Nice. “Excuse me, Gerald, may I have a moment of your time please?”
“Parker, it’s good to see you. Please, have a seat.” Gerald motioned for her to sit next to Mark, who was smiling smugly at Parker.
“I’d rather stand.” Parker nodded at Mark and continued speaking. “Gerald, Trina just informed me that you are giving the Porter account to Mark.”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“Is there a reason for this change?”
“Your work has been valued very highly, Parker. There is no doubt that you have made the account what it is. But our new management wants a fresh and new outlook to ensure that they keep the clients they currently have. Trina feels that Mark will be able to carry this account to the next level…”
Trina feels?! I thought this was a ‘we’ decision?!
“…and I trust her judgment. I’m sure you will do an excellent job with the Anderson account. Building new accounts is your forte.”
“Thank you, but I have reason to believe that this move was personal.” Parker cut a look at Trina, who just shrugged her shoulders. “Trina, you told me that this was a ‘we’ decision.”
“We is a relative term.” Trina replied smugly.
“Parker,” Mark added while leaning back in his chair and crossing his legs, “it’s not that you aren’t good at whatever it is that you do. It’s just that I have some ideas that are, well, better for the account.”
Nobody asked you, you brown-nosing Smurf. Parker ignored Mark’s comment and turned her attention back to Gerald. “Gerald, not undercutting Mark’s capabilities or Trina’s decision-making skills, but this was not a business decision. This was personal. I am surprised that you do not see what is going on here. I will take the account. This was just handled very poorly, in my opinion...”
“This isn’t about your opinion, Parker.” Trina interrupted. “I am giving you a smaller account in order to redeem yourself. I will have Patrice drop off your new assignments of on your desk.” Trina leaned in toward Parker. “And anyway, if this was personal, I would’ve had Gerald just let you go. Thank God you have a job and leave it alone because you do not know who you are messing with.” She stepped away and smiled. “I think we are done here. Questions? Mark? Parker?”
That’s it! I am going to rip out that bogus weave that that old nasty sugar daddy of hers paid for and use it to dangle her outside of the window! I don’t know who I’m messing with? Are you serious?! “No, I don’t have any questions.” Parker nodded to both Gerald and Mark, who were staring at Trina’s cleavage. “Gentlemen, have a great afternoon. I’ll be working from home for the remainder of the day. Tell Patrice to email me what I will need.”
“I would prefer that you work in the office.”
“You said that you wanted the presentation by the Monday meeting, and that you will have. You said nothing about remaining in the office.”
“Let her leave, Trina. She’ll have the work done.” Gerald nodded toward Parker. “Thank you for being such a team player, Miss Peterson.”
Parker didn’t respond. She simply smiled slightly and then turned to exit the room. When she returned to her office, she closed the door and kicked off her heels. After taking a look at the brown box which she kept under her desk, she shook her head and began gathering her things. I’m not a point where I can quit just yet, but Lord knows I am so dog-gone close to giving this place the one-finger salute.
“So did you pull her weave out and dangle her outside the window?”
“Sydney!” Urie said almost a little too loud.
Parker laughed loud and hard. “I thought about it, but no. I stated my peace and left for the day.”
“You’re better than me. I would’ve let her have it.” Sydney took a sip of her champagne and smoothed out her dress. “Seriously, do I look ok in this dress?”
“You look better than ok.” Urie replied. “You look downright amazing! Where did you find that dress?”
“I found it at one of those resale shops. Every now and again you’ll find a gem, if you know how to look.”
“Please teach me how to because I’d love to learn.” Urie touch the soft material on Sydney’s dress. “And you know you know you can pull off red.”
“I was iffy on the red, but I don’t have a lot of red in my closet, so it was time to change the game up a little bit.” Sydney wiggled her hips in a playful manner and then stopped as she saw her date coming toward their table. She took a moment to adjust the flower in her hair and checked her teeth in one of the knives. When the tall gentleman finally approached, Sydney turned around and smiled confidently. “David?”
David set his plate down to grab her hand and kiss it gently. “It’s a pleasure to see you again, Sydney. I was getting a little tired of talking to you over the phone.”
“Why, did my conversation bore you?”
“No,” he said while pulling up a seat next to her, “but in person is always better.”
“Which one of you lovely ladies is Parker?” another gentleman asked.
Before answering, Parker gave the man the once-over. This is supposed to be an after five event and he has on a sports coat, but his looks aren’t too bad. I guess I can fess up to being Parker. “That would be me.” She answered, raising her hand and then extending it for a handshake. “And you are?”
“Eric. Nice to meet you.” He returned her handshake and then sat in the chair next to her.
Parker took one more moment to look her date for the night over. He smells nice. Ok, I can dig it. “So, Eric what should I know about you?”
“Direct. I like it.” He flashed a warm smile that made Parker feel a little girly. “I teach English and Communications at UIC. What about you?”
“I’m a marketing rep for McMyers and Foster.” Parker laughed for a second. “So I guess this isn’t going to be as awkward as we thought, huh?”
Eric licked his lips sensuously. “Guess not.”
“Urie, where’s Jackson?” Sydney asked while looking around the room. “I thought he was supposed to be here tonight?”
He’s supposed to do a lot of things - like call, show up for dates, tell the truth… “He had something come up at the center, so he wasn’t able to make it.” Urie answered in a rehearsed manner.
“You ladies having a good time?” Lydia came over, sporting a stunning dress and high heels. “Were the hors d'oeuvres ok?”
“Girl, why are you freaking out?” Sydney laughed while she took another bite of her calamari. “If there anything that you know you can do well, it is cook.”
“Everything is wonderful so far.” David laughed in a cool manner. “Are you the head chef?”
“Why, of course!” Lydia smiled and tossed her head back.
“Well, if the food is as good as the hors d’oeuvres, then I will need your business card.”
“They are on the tables.” She rubbed gently on David’s arm. “Be sure to get one, ok?”
Sydney quickly rolled her eyes before she was noticed by Lydia or anyone else at the table. Excuse me, David is my date, and I don’t share. You already have one man that is not your husband all over you. Ain’t that enough? “Lydia, I haven’t seen Tony yet. Is he here?”
“No.” Lydia said in a very pointed tone. “He had to go to Dallas with one of his clients. You know Tony; it’s all about business.”
“Don’t sound so upset about that.” David responded. “A lot of women would love to have a husband that works to provide for his family.”
“Amen to that!” Parker raised her glass and took a sip.
Lydia placed her hands on her hips, and tilted her head to the side. “And you are?”
“I’m David. I play ball with your husband, but tonight I’m here to escort Sydney.”
“Umph. Syd, your date is nosy.” She said without looking at either Sydney or David. Lydia turned her focus to Parker. “Anyway, Calvin asked me to thank you for the referral for the band.”
“He couldn’t have come over and said so himself?” Parker replied. “I don’t bite.”
“He’s busy socializing with some of his important guests.” And looking oh so sexy doing it too. She turned to see Calvin shaking hands and greeting guests. “I’m sure he’ll get over here eventually, but he had me thank you in case he doesn’t.”
“Important guests, huh? I guess my little old assignment with InTheKnow is not important. Or maybe it’s because I’m not wearing a form-fitting black dress…”
“And what are you trying to imply?”
“Um, she’s not implying anything, she just outright said it.” Sydney laughed.
“I’m not saying anything, Lydia. Please go mingle and socialize. I’ll speak to Calvin later.” Parker let out a small chuckle and then turned back to her date. “Eric, tell me more about being a college professor.”
Did this chick just turn her back on me? Whatever, I am not in the mood. “I think the band is about to start. You all enjoy your evening.” Lydia walked off infuriated but head held high.
“So we have live entertainment tonight as well? Sounds…” Sydney’s voice trailed off as she saw Bryce and his band take their seats. “Ha! Oh, Urie…”
“What?” Urie turned around and saw Bryce adjusting his chair. The two locked eyes and Urie’s heart began to race. “Oh my God! Who hired him?!”
With a big smile on her face, Parker leaned in to Urie and whispered, “You’re welcome.”
“Parker! I could kill you right now! Why would you invite him?”
“Lydia asked about them after that night at the Blue Sunflower. I gave her their card…”
“You got their card?!”
“I get everyone’s card…”
“How’s everyone doing this evening?” Bryce’s warm voice greeted the crowd, and they returned his greeting with positive cheers. “I’m Bryce Anderson, and we are Tru Soul. I know you all came to have a good time tonight for a good cause so that’s what we’re gonna help you do, alright? Ok, we’re gonna get this started off with a little Earth, Wind, and Fire. How many EWF fans do I have in the house tonight?” Hands, claps, and more positive response came from the crowd. The drummer counted them off and the band began to play ‘You Can’t Hide Love’. People snapped, swayed, and sang the words to the song. A few people even left their plates to come to the center of the dance floor to step.
“Do I sense a pointed message, Urie?” Parker teased as she noticed Urie’s reaction. “Judging by your reaction, I think it’s been delivered…”
“Musicians plan their sets way in advance. The song has a nice groove and I’m sure that Bryce thought it was a good way to open up a set. There was no way he could’ve known that I’d be here. And even if he did know, there is nothing going on to even prompt him choosing a song like that to…”
“Honey,” Syd interrupted, “you’re rambling. And when you ramble, you tell on yourself.”
“I am not rambling, I’m just saying…” Urie was stuck. “Never mind.”
“Umm hmm.” Sydney looked over at David, who was nodding to the music. “Wanna dance?”
David stood and took Sydney by the hand. “Depends, can you keep up?” The two of them laughed as they left the table.
“I guess that means we need show ‘em how it’s done.” Eric extended his hand to Parker. “What do you say?”
“I love showing people up, so come on.” Parker waited until Eric pulled her chair out and walked her to the dance floor. “Enjoy your piano serenade, Miss Glenn.” Parker said over her shoulder.
Urie looked at Bryce and smiled. He plays so passionately, like it comes from his soul. How can you not be drawn to that? Bryce glanced up, caught eyes with Urie again, and mouthed ‘I played this on purpose’. “I know." She said softly. The usual guilt that came with thinking about someone else left her at that moment as she allowed herself to be serenaded and wooed. Who knows when I’ll feel this way again…
“You know I have you to thank for all of this right?”
“I know you do.”
“You know that’s one of the things I like about you, right?”
“That you’re so cocky…”
“I’m not cocky. I’m confident. Cocky people are all talk, but confidence backs it up.” Lydia turned around in her own circle, allowing Calvin to get a good view of how she looked for the evening. “You feel me?”
“Yes. Yes I do.” Calvin pulled Lydia in close as the song changed to ‘Playin’ Your Game’ by Barry White. He stepped with her, drinking in every ounce of flirtatiousness that she was presenting. “Do you know what I love about music?”
“If the right song comes on at the right moment, it can tell all.”
“And should I assume you think something is being said right now?”
Calvin pulled Lydia in close. “It was said a long time ago. Tonight, it is loud and clear.”
Lydia raised her eyebrows. “The only thing that I have ever discussed with you is business…”
“And both of us desire more than that…”
“The both of us, huh? I’m married, Calvin, you know this…”
“And where is your husband? You’re here – looking amazing – and he is in Dallas. I bet it gets hard wishing that you could have the same support that you give him whenever he needs you. You want someone who could rub your back, rub your shoulders, kiss your lips…”
“You are getting out of your body now, Calvin…”
“No, I’m telling you that you can have better. If Tony can’t be here when you need him most, he can’t be mad when someone who clearly wants you more takes his place.” Calvin ran his hands against her bare shoulders. “That is, if you want me to take his place…”
Lydia was breathing heavy. This is going too far, Lydia. You’ve got to stop this... She pulled back from Calvin and stopped dancing. After folding her hands across her chest, she calmly replied. “You have no idea what goes on in my home with my husband. I don’t need anyone to take his place. If I was that unhappy, I’d leave. Period. But I’m not so I’m fine where I am…”
“You just said if you were that unhappy.” Calvin began to move close to her again. “So you are unhappy. So tell me, Lydia,” Calvin leaned in and whispered in her ear, “what do you want me to do for you?”
Lydia looked down at the wedding ring on her hand and thought of Tony for a moment. He’s probably in Dallas somewhere in the VIP section of a club, popping bottles and trying to discuss business over the loud noise of music and groupies. He ain’t thinking about me. If he was, he would be here. “For me,” Lydia pulled back and gave him a slight smile, “or to me?”
“I’ll do whatever you want me to do. Tonight is your night. You give me the direction.”
As Lydia ran her hands down Calvin’s muscular arms, she got a chill. Just this one time, Lydia. Get what you want and be done with him. He doesn’t know where you live or anything personal about you. No emotions. Just one night and head on home. “We can’t leave until after dinner…”
“And the presentations…”
“We can skip dessert. I have the feeling I’m going to get all the sweets I need tonight.” Calvin smiled as he began to spin Lydia around again, admiring every curve on her body. “My place?”
“Of course.” Lydia replied in a sensuous tone. “Wouldn’t have it any other way.”
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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