FROM ‘THE COME UP’:
When she was gone, Jamal exhaled a deep sigh and leaned back in his seat. No one could ever accuse him of lacking self-control where women were concerned, ever again. The good news was, she seemed not to recall much of the evening beyond the fact that she had too much to drink. If she had, she would know that she wasn’t the only person who had skirted dangerously close to losing their head.
After the first couple drinks, Jamal stopped having alcohol altogether. He had to drive himself home, after all. And he had to make sure she got home okay as well. But Makayla kept right on guzzling whatever he ordered. And once she loosened up, she started talking, about school, about her love affair with the entertainment business and even about a girl group she tried to start when she was in middle school, called the Hellcats. And she was hella-cute when she was tipsy, often leaning in close so he could hear her, and flipping a couple of those locs out of her face as she talked, the gesture fluid and sexy. Her scent was one Jamal recognized, called Clean. And that was how she smelled. Clean. If she was a date and not an employee, he would have closed the distance between them, met her halfway and buried his face in the crook of her neck, inhaling her and kissing her there …
What the hell? He was doing it again!
With each successive drink last night, Makayla’s eyes grew brighter and she got chattier, and before he knew it, he was seriously feeling her, like any other woman he might have met during a night out, sneaking peeks down the front of her romper which gapped a little in the front and offered up brief glimpses of cleavage. And it wasn’t just the occasional sightings of the swell of her breasts, either. It was her humor, her intelligence and the way she obviously studied the entertainment business, just like he studied it. Makayla Hughes was definitely a thinking man’s kind of woman. Sexy he could get any day of the week, but sexy and smart … there was no greater aphrodisiac.
The thing that almost did him in entirely was when she started talking about why groups like N-Sync got so hot.
See, she said, leaning in tantalizingly close once again. It’s the transference of feelings white teen girls have for Black teen boys. So you’ve got your Nick Carters and Justin Timberlakes, right? … All blonde and All-American, but they have a little Black boy swagger in ‘em, right? And that, my friend, makes it socially-acceptable for these little white girls to lie in bed and secretly touch themselves to what—let’s face it—is essentially Black music …
Jamal almost spat his drink out, he laughed so hard.
Just listening to her break things down like that—smart as a whip even when she was damn near close to drunk—made his dick hard. Jamal had to excuse himself for a minute and go give himself a pep-talk in the men’s room, reminding himself that she was off-limits for a whole host of reasons, and that he had a perfectly nice thing he was getting started with whatshername who was closer to his age-bracket, very attractive her-damn-self, and probably just as smart as Makayla. He spent almost fifteen minutes mentally talking himself down until it bordered on ill-mannered to have left her alone for so long.
But when he got back to their table, she was nowhere in sight. His head whipping around in near-panic thinking she’d wandered off in her semi-drunken state, Jamal finally spotted her. Leaning over the balcony and looking down at the dance floor, she was being chatted up by a brother in too-tight jeans and a crewneck shirt. And since he had no reason like Jamal did, to restrain himself, he was leaning real close to Makayla and she was yucking it up with him like they were old friends. Jamal watched for a few moments, taking in her smile, her posture and the way she flipped those locs out of her face. A moment’s masculine competitiveness overtook him and he was seconds away from going to get her when she turned and saw him.
When she did, Makayla touched her companion on the arm and indicated that their time together was over, making her way back over to him, still smiling and with a fresh drink in hand.
Do you know who that was? she asked in an incredulous stage-whisper. Victor Cruz from the New York Giants!
Never heard of him, Jamal lied.
Makayla giggled. She was so freaking adorable when she giggled.
Me neither. But I figured he’s a pro-football player so that has to count for something, right?
Nah. Jamal said staring down at her. It doesn’t count for shit.
And that was the moment, right then—him looking down at her, her smiling up at him, both of them standing so close, ostensibly so they could hear each other over the music. Jamal leaned in, she lifted her chin … and sneezed. Right in his face. They both laughed in surprise.
Makayla reached up and with a cool damp hand, wiped both his cheeks, giggling some more.
Oh my god, she said. Did I get you?
Nah, he said. You didn’t get me.
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