Realizing that she has no option but to vacate her luxury apartment after the death of her lover, and that she has very little actual cash, Keisha decides to go to the one place she hoped to have left behind for good: home.
Everything looked the same. Depressingly so. The drab and dreary faux-Turkish carpet in the front room, the tan furniture set from Levitz that her mother had been so proud of she’d never removed the plastic covering, and the wood veneer coffee and side tables. The one thing that was new was the 55-inch flat screen television, which had been a Christmas gift from Keisha last year. She’d had it sent over on Christmas Eve with an apology for not making it home.
Keisha, Avery and a couple of the other girls had taken a trip to St. Maarten. Seven nights on the beach in one of the island’s most exclusive resorts, with no limits on what they could order from boutiques on the property. Most of the girls went away for the holidays because invariably, their boyfriend was spending time with his family. With kids home from university, wives demanding that they get some “quality time” and visiting in-laws, it was almost impossible for them to get away.
So instead they sent their girlfriends away.
Passing up a trip to St. Maarten with the girls for a dreary Christmas in disgusting Brooklyn was not happening, so Keisha sent the television and went to live it up with her friends. While in St. Maarten, she drank, ate the rich island food and had literal sex on the beach with one of the jet-ski instructors, a muscular, lean, dreadlocked brother with a sexy accent. He’d turned her out pretty good, which was a relief since sex with Charlie had become somewhat of a chore and sometimes had all the appeal of a trip to the GYN.
“Daddy!” Keisha hollered as she entered the house. “You home?”
There was no answer, so Keisha collapsed on the sofa, which made a rubbery squeaking noise from the plastic covering. Sighing she dropped her bag at her feet and lay back, spreading her legs before her.
It was a risk, leaving the apartment without having moved all her things, but she wanted to come home and check things out first. Sometimes her father had . . . company. Some chick he had shacking up with him on a semi-permanent basis, usually. They never lasted and even if there was some woman living here, Keisha could probably still stay in her old bedroom. But she needed to make sure first that her father was cool with it. Sometimes it cramped his style to have his grown daughter around, especially when his woman-of-the-month might be pretty close to Keisha’s age herself.
But whether she stayed or not, Keisha decided on her way over that using some guys from the neighborhood to help move her stuff to storage was probably her best bet if she wanted to keep costs down. Calling around after she left Avery’s, she found a few places that could pack and move her things, but they charged by the pound. Keisha had never heard of such a thing, charging people by the pound to move their stuff. She was no math whiz, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out that whatever it cost to move her, would far exceed what she currently had in her cash reserves. It made much more sense to hire a couple of bruisers from around the way to get her belongings over to the storage space—an inexpensive one she’d found in Queens—and pay them maybe one hundred bucks apiece for their time.
Before she left the apartment, she’d looked around and dug through the apartment and found another three hundred and eighty dollars stashed in various purses, coats and drawers. Keisha had never realized until then just how immaterial cash had become to her over the past couple of years. She never needed it—Charlie paid all her bills, took her out for delicious meals, and for when she stayed home, made a charge account at the gourmet grocery and other stores available to her so she could order in.
A car service picked her up for her appointments and dropped her off when she was done, and if she made plans with friends, Charlie often took care of that too. The only thing she was denied was other men. Early on in their relationship, when he’d just moved her into an apartment, before he got the penthouse, Charlie asked if she had a boyfriend.
“You,” Keisha replied right away.
They were in bed, and he was on top of her, his face damp with perspiration, his wet, cold, still condom-sheathed penis resting on her thigh after they’d done it. Charlie had looked at her with his head tilted to one side. His eyes an icy blue, his skin tan from the tanning bed. She raised a hand and ran her fingers through the thinning, graying hair atop his head.
“C’mon, Keisha. You don’t have to play me. I know a pretty, young girl like you must have men all over you all the time.”
“I do. But I’m a one-man woman, Charlie. And you’re my man.”
She didn’t even have to think about it anymore before she could spit out lines like that. It just came naturally to her when dealing with men like Charlie. The funny thing was, they knew you were lying to them, but they still wanted you to do it.