Black History Month Coming to a Close- Unapologetically Black

Unapologetically Black
Unapologetically Black

For the last day of Black History month, I decided to feature my oldest child, Destiny, who is 12 years old and becoming a musical genius on the piano. Last year, she was in the “Black History” talent show and played John Legend’s “All of Me”. Mind you, that song has absolutely NOTHING to do with the theme of the talent show (Black History), but because she played it so beautifully, (and she was one of the best performers and I’m not just saying that because she’s my child. I’ll post the video). This year, Destiny is having a bit of an issue  with the teachers because of her behavior and her school work. I make no excuses for her. I’ve gotten on her about her school work and let her know that her talent won’t get her far without an education. But she auditioned for this year’s talent show and was playing “Hello” by Adele and the kids who were there was LOVING it! They were singing along and it was all love. But then here comes the lady who was holding the auditions (same lady who praised her last year) “Umm Destiny, what does that song have to do with “respect”? So of course, the kids felt like the lady was hating and wanted her to really let Destiny play. Destiny called me and told me what happened and I told her to explain to the lady that “Hello” has a lot to do with respect. If Adele had respected the friendship she had with the guy in the song, if she had respected him as a person and as a man, she would not be begging for him to talk to her on the phone and accept her apology. I told her to tell the lady that the song teaches you to respect, value and cherish your friends and the people you long or you’ll live to regret it. The lady wasn’t trying to hear it and told Des to pick another song. She started learning Man in the Mirror but got sick and didn’t learn it soon enough for the talent show so the lady wouldn’t let her participate. Mind you, from what Destiny said, kids were dancing to Rihanna… (W T F to that but whatever).

Let me give you a little background on Destiny against the adults in the school. She’s far from dumb. Not only is she book smart, but because I am conscious of what’s going on around me as well as being into my culture and my history, I teach her as I learn. So she’s like a mini Malcolm X. Her problem is, she needs to do her school work like she should. But in the beginning of the year, she was giving an assignment by a White teacher telling her to ask any three questions she wanted answers to. Destiny’s questions were:

1) Why is there a white man posing as Jesus in all of the photos when in the bible it says Jesus had skin the color of bronze and hair the texture of lamb’s wool. Sounds like a Black man to me…

2) Where did White people come from because if you look at it historically, no matter where you search in the world and no matter how far back in time you research, Black people show up. If you look at it biblically, Adam was made from the dust of the Earth… I’ve never seen white dust before soooo…

3) Why won’t the Revolution be televised?

Needless to say, she has not been a teacher’s pet of any sort since then LOL. And it didn’t help that when her social science teacher (same white woman) began a black history lesson in class but started in in slavery, Destiny raised her hand and asked: “How come whenever we’re taught about Black History, the lessons always start from slavery? Our history didn’t begin with the Atlantic Slave Trade. We were kings, scientists, inventors, mathematicians, GODS before we were stolen and forced into slavery.” Her teacher fumbled but I could imagine how annoyed she was with Destiny’s comment/question, and told her that the time didn’t allow her to go back that far. (bullshit-cough cough).

So for today, the last day of Black History month as well as the day of the talent show, Destiny wore her “Unapologetically Black” long sleeved tee that I designed. I had one made for me as well. 20160229_072309 And she wore it with righteous pride. And even though she didn’t get to perform in the school’s talent show, she is still on her way to greatness. Right now, I am just getting her to focus in school and take it a little bit more serious. The thing about having a little genius is getting them to understand they still have to put in the work and there is always room for growth and improvement. I don’t want her to get comfortable or settle for being “good enough”. If music and playing the piano is what she loves, then I want her to strive for greatness. Here is a video of her playing “Hello” at home on our piano.

 

Open Mic Night at Triple Play Featuring Yani

tripleplayCan you believe it has been more than 11 years since I’ve performed at an open mic night? And of course when I put the word out that I was invited to recite some original poetry, people started asking me if I was going to do my legendary poem “Why Tyrone Can’t Read?”. Folks really gotta let that poem go. LOL It’s been more the 16 years since I performed that poem for the first time at University City High School.

Poetic Sisters
The Author Yani and Markisha Bunn

I wanted to do something fresh and new, but relevant to what’s going on in the world around us now since I was going to be performing in front of a new audience. I’m not going to lie, it’s been so long since I sat down and wrote a poem, I felt rusty, dusty and completely out of whack. Not to mention the first one I started writing, Dallas (my baby girl) felt the need to delete the damn poem and turn the laptop off. I almost DIED! But I think baby-girl knew best because after she went to sleep, I kicked back on the couch and instead of typing up a poem, I went old skool. I forgot how good it feels to hold a pen in my hand and put my thoughts, my feelings, my soul on a sheet of paper. It’s something much more intimate for me, in handwriting a poem versus typing it up on a laptop. I went NUTS with this poem and the crowd loved me. I was happy to have my sister with me, Markisha (Why Yet) who also performed that night as well. A fellow author from Philadelphia, Chippy Pendleton, also came out to see me perform. But the biggest surprise came when a friend from high school who out side of Facebook and Instagram, I have not seen since 12th grade showed up. Unfortunately she got there about five minutes after I had already performed but it’s the fact that she came all the way from New Jersey to see me do my thing.

Yani and Gaybriel
Yani and Gaybriel

Gaybriel Bracy has no idea how good that made me feel inside. Some people don’t get that for an indie-author, support means a great deal. Support from family and friends mean a great deal! Lack of support or a lot of support can make or break a person’s will to continue to pursue their dream. While I don’t have much support from family and even friends who I thought would have been thrilled that I finally went after my dream of publishing a book, I use that as a means to keep pushing. My theory is: you may not support me now, but soon, very soon, you’re going to wish like hell you did support me! So thank you, Gaybriel for coming out and showing love.

The name of the poem that I recited is: I am a Black Woman, I am GOD! Check it out below and feel free to leave a comment to let me know what you think!

I Am a Black Woman- I am God
You will never catch me with my head bowed in shame
Eyes low, shoulders hunched
Completely off balance and without aim
Instead
I stand Tall with my head held high
Shoulders back, love for self in tact
Catch this twinkle in my eye
And though I walk alone
The strength in my stride
Grows from having my ancestors by my side
Guiding and reminding me that I am a Black woman. I am God
Now Pardon me as I adjust my crown and
Flip my mane
For those who lack understanding this all may seem so strange
But I’m desired and hunted for this melanin coursing through my veins
And these secrets hidden between my thighs could drive the gayest man insane
I don’t reject when I self reflect on
The beauty from which I came
The heat that emits from my soul’s flame is for the fire in my desire to make sure when I’m gone my name remains
And because of that, I won’t stop no matter how hard they try
Knock me down if you will but like the Phoenix
I’ll rise
And all of my truth will over run any of your lies
I am a Black woman, I am God
I gave birth to every nation of races
From Haitian, to Asian, Middle Eastern
And even Caucasian
Though you may not mention it in your fictitious books of literacy
Its really no mystery
That no matter how far back you search
I show up in history
While you may think what I’m saying is odd
But you can’t dispute facts that debunk your lies
The very essence of my being spreads abroad
I am a Black Woman, I am GOD

 

Whitney Houston- RIP to a Legend – August 9, 1963- February 11, 2012

Whitney HoustonI recently did a post about Beyonce and her Formation Tour that is coming to Philly in June, and in that post, I spoke on Whitney Houston. It later dawned on me that the anniversary of her untimely death was a day before I made that post. So I felt a need to pay tribute to her a week after the anniversary of her death. Here’s to you Whitney Houston!

I remember when I was a little girl, my mother had the vinyl record player and she had soooo many records: Teddy Pendegrass, Luther Vandross, Earth Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson’s Thriller Album, Barry White, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, The Delfonics, and of course Whitney Houston (just to name a few LOL). When she worked at Jefferson Hospital, my oldest sister Sharmon looked after me and my other older sister, Markisha, on the weekends. Saturday mornings always started off with me waking up to my brother blasting EPMD or Public Enemy (Get up or get, get, get down, 9-1-1 is a joke in your town) and the smell of Sharmon making pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausages. Saturday mornings in Blumberg projects were EVERYTHING! After we would chow down on her good cooking, and she would clean the dishes, I would gather the few Barbie dolls I had or my Cabbage Patch doll, Cathy, and she would take me and my sister in the living room so she could braid my hair. I can still smell the Sulfur 8 that she would use on my scalp (yuck) when I think back on it. But while she did my hair, she would put on Whitney Houston’s record and we would all be bopping around to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” or “How Will I Know” and one of my favorites, “So Emotional”. Oh you couldn’t tell us we were a little “En Vogue” type group down there. (We actually were bad sounding… honestly LOL). I still remember putting the penny on the record or whatever to stop it from skipping LOL. But Whitney Houston was apart of our Saturday morning routine for a good chunk of my childhood. Even when we stopped using the record player and converted to the legendary “Boom Box”, when “The Bodyguard” came out, “I Will Always Love You” was in heavy rotation in our house. She proved, if anyone ever doubted her vocal skills prior to that, that she was a force to be reckoned with and outside of Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight (all who were before her time) nobody in the 80s and 90s was fucking with Whitney, vocally. Her voice to this day when I watch a live performance of “I Will Always Love You” still brings tears to my eyes.

I won’t use this blog post to dive into her downfall, the allegations of drug use and how she went from being a household name to a household joke because her legacy deserves more than that. She deserves to be honored. There would be no Beyonce or Deborah Coxx or Rihanna had there not been a Whitney Houston. My only wish is that she had gotten herself together, gotten her voice back to where it was and rocked out for the next twenty or so years. Unfortunately, the powers that be had other plans…

So again, here’s to you, Whitney Houston, who I hope is moon-walking with Michael Jackson right now. Thank you for being apart of a memorable childhood and making Saturday mornings so enjoyable in my home during a time when living in the projects could be very hard, depressing and hopeless. You made me want to sing even though I chose to be a writer instead. I thank you for your gift. RIP Whitney Houston…

 

I got my Beyonce Tickets! Formation Tour Coming to Philly June 5th

Okay, so anybody who knows me knows that I am not a die hard Beyonce fan. She has some songs that I like, I loved her “Dangerously In Love” album and I think “I Was Here” is amazing, I can’t wait for Destiny to learn to play it on the piano.  But I am not a “Bey-Hive” fan. I actually wish she would do more singing and step away from trying to appeal to the “hBeyonceood”. But hey, as the saying goes, if it don’t make dollars, then it don’t make sense and I guess it’s making her a WHOLE lot of dollars.

When the Formation video dropped, it was up and down my timeline on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m old skool, so of course I checked the video out to see what the hype was about but I also listened to ALL of the lyrics. The lyrics that too many people were hung up on was the part about her daughter’s hair and her husband’s nose since they are always made fun of. Oh yeah, and the hot-sauce in my bag swag, too. (Thanks Beyonce, you about to have a lot of hood chicks walking around with (knock-off) Gucci bags with a small (and large for the uber ghetto chicks) bottles of hot-sauce in their bags, pulling the shit out in Red Lobster or Chilis) I wanted to know what all was being said. So I searched the lyrics. Not impressed. “If he fucks me right, I might take him to Red Lobster ’cause I slay”. Ummm what does that have to do with the visuals in the video of the Katrina Flood and the Black Lives Matter movement? Nothing exactly. But folks still argued that it was up there with Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and “Heal the World”. Beyonce- Slay(Y’all need to sit y’all asses down on that one!) But I understand what she was trying to do. She was using her platform to bring awareness to the systematic racism that Black people are faced with every day and I applaud her for her efforts. I think it would have been better if her lyrics matched her visual content like Kendrick Lamar and a few others, but that’s just me. Kudos to her for honoring Michael Jackson with her replica costume at the Super Bowl. That was dope…. Moving on!Formation- I Slay

So! Right after her Superbowl performance, it was announced that she was going to be doing a Formation Tour and the proceeds would be donated to the victims of the Flint Water Crisis. Dope Beyonce! I have never been to a Beyonce concert before. I’ve seen Usher, Nikki Minaj, Miguel, Trey Songz, Drake and Neyo, and Chris Brown is on my to see list because that boy can put on a show! I checked her tour dates and low and behold I saw she was coming to Philly on June 5th! That’s the day after my birthday, dude, do you know how hype I was! It’s also two days before Destiny’s birthday and she is somewhat more of a fan than I am. (She made the fatal mistake of saying Beyonce sings better than Whitney Houston about a month before Whitney tragically passed away and I showed her a YouTube video of Whitney singing “I Will Always Love You” live and she quickly shut her damn mouth.  She was also heart broken when Whitney died right after that comment. ) Whitney HoustonSo I said since baby-girl is turning 13 years old, I would get us some tickets and that can be her first concert. (When I was 13, I wanted to see Puff Daddy and the Family in concert. Betty wasn’t “eeen” tryna hear that shit. And the tickets didn’t cost anywhere near as much as Beyonce’s!) I grabbed my debit card and hurried my ass to ticket master when the pre-sale started. I was going to get floor seats, but then I thought of the chicks who would be “uh oh oh, uh uh oh oh oh oh, uh uh oh’ing” all over my damn feet singing to “Single Ladies” and I said “Fuck that” let’s hit this lower level up.” (LOL) I dropped that “Bey-hive” promo code “FORMATION” in and got us two tickets for $600 that may cost a mofo over $1,000 if they don’t catch this pre-sale deal.  I showed Destiny the tickets when she got home and she was TOO HYPE! She couldn’t wait to go tell her friends that she was going to see Beyonce for her 13th birthday in June. Provided she gets her grades in check and watches her manners around the house, she’ll make it. Otherwise, me and a homie will be going and she can cry about it in her pillows LOL.Beyonce Formation

I’m excited! I’m an all work, no play kind of person. My joy comes from being able to provide for my babies so I don’t really get to go out much or do anything for myself. So you know I have to “slay” when I step up in this concert. Shopping for a “lit-fit” should be fun. CTFU. I hope to see some of you guys there. If not, trust that I will have lots of pictures and videos! Later guys! Muah!

Guess Who’s Sitting on the Best Sellers List?

Love's Deadly Masquerade
Love’s Deadly Masquerade

That’s right, folks. Yani has done it again except this time, the book hasn’t even officially been released and it is already sitting in the top 100 on Amazon’s Best Sellers list for Women’s Fiction>>Mystery, Thriller & Suspense>>Detective. I am so proud of myself! I am having a lot of fun marketing and promoting this book, submitting press releases and working to get things where I want them to go with this book. I want to make sure that everything goes great with this book and it generates the attention, respect and readership that I have been working so hard for over these last few years. It was a lot of fun writing this book and so far I am getting a lot of positive feedback from those who heard me on a blogtalkradio interview that I did Saturday February 6th 2016 and listened to the excerpt that I read. Domestic violence isn’t talked about enough and most times when it’s talked about, it’s always when it’s too late and a young lady has already lost her life from being in an abusive relationship. Hopefully through this book I will get the chance to reach young women who feel as though they are trapped in a dangerous situation and help them find the courage to get out of it.

If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy of Love’s Deadly Masquerade yet, click on the link below and get your copy for $0.99. Once it is officially released it will go up to it’s regular price of $5.99, so take advantage of this $5.00 discount!

Pre-order Love’s Deadly Masquerade for $0.99

Check out an excerpt from Love’s Deadly Masquerade below and if you crave more like many of my readers have been this last month since I announced it was coming, there’s another excerpt in the post before this one.

The ceiling fan oscillated from high above, blowing a cool breeze meekly about. While the room’s temperature should have felt like a cool, autumn’s day, to Vanessa it felt hot as hell, like the middle of summer.

“Bitch, you must have lost your fucking mind having a man in my house while I’m not here.” Eric barked from the bathroom as he ran the sink water. “I swear, you never learn. You’d think by now you’d be tired of me going upside your muthafucking head. But you must like it. Yeah, I think you like this shit.” He soaked Vanessa’s wash cloth in the cool water before partially wringing it out. He then checked his appearance in the bathroom mirror before heading back to their bedroom.

The mere sight of him caused Vanessa to back pedal on the floor towards the corner, positive he was coming to deliver more blows that still had her feeling dizzy. Her ribs ached as well as her back from the rapid kidney punches he gave to her after she tried, to no avail, guarding herself against his assault. She was afraid to look up at him, afraid to speak and even more-so, afraid to breathe, worried that he may have fractured her ribs. It wouldn’t have been the first time.

“Why was that nigga in my house, V-Dot? Huh?” Eric asked as he walked over to her slowly.

Vanessa shook her head getting ready to make her plea for him to spare her anymore punches. “Please Eric, I swear. He was just an insurance salesman doing door to door sales,” she whimpered in a hoarse voice.

“So the fuck what!” Eric bellowed. “You should’ve left that nigga outside. But you brought him in my house!”

“It was raining out, I was just…” Vanessa was cut off by Eric’s strong hand going around her neck.

“I don’t give a fuck if the Bloods and the Crypts were having an all-out gun battle out this muthafucka. You think I worked my ass off all these years to get everything I have just for you to bring some bum-ass nigga in here to take my shit?” Eric spoke through clenched teeth while getting all the way in Vanessa’s face.

“Please…” Vanessa managed to squeal, feeling a bit of darkness begin to take over. “Oh my God, this is it. He’s really going to kill me this time.” Vanessa thought to herself. She didn’t bother fighting him back, knowing that would only make things ten times worse. Eric stared at her a moment longer before shoving her into the wall and standing up. Vanessa let out a dry, ragged cough, trying desperately to get in air to breathe. She wanted to scream, but she knew better with that as well. There was no screaming in his house. No way would she ever raise her voice louder than his.

Eric picked up her dampened wash cloth and threw it at her, hitting her in the face with it. “Clean yourself up and clean up this damn room,” he said calmly before casually walking out of their bedroom as though nothing happened.

Vanessa placed the cold rag on her face and began to sob. For the life of her, she couldn’t understand what she had done in her life that was so horrible that karma was dishing out this kind of wrath on her. At twenty-two years old, she had suffered and endured more than most women who were twice her age.

“Why me?” she asked herself before coughing again. She spat in the wash cloth and wasn’t surprised when she saw the red spots of blood.

Vanessa thought back to when she first met Eric two years before while she was in her junior year of college. She was with her best friend Arianna shopping in the King of Prussia Mall when they crossed paths with him inside of Saks Fifth Avenue. Though Vanessa was immediately attracted to him, she was sure that he was going to go for Arianna instead.

Eric appeared alluring to Vanessa, standing over six feet tall and having a medium, muscular build. He had a honey brown complexion almost looking as though the sun has placed golden, glowing kisses on his skin. His deep, chocolate brown eyes almost took her breath away when they initially made eye contact, and the dimples in his smile nearly made her melt inside.

She noticed that he was coming over to her and Arianna and she pretended to be smitten by a faded pair of 7 for all Mankind jeans.

“How are you ladies doing?” Eric asked in a deep, friendly voice filled with sex appeal.

Arianna hadn’t noticed him until he came over to them and gave him the once over before smiling. “We’re good. How are you?” she asked with a seductive grin, ready to shift into a flirtatious mode.

“I’m good also,” Eric replied. He mostly ignored Arianna as he stared intently at Vanessa. “What’s your name, sweetheart?”

“Vanessa,” she said with a blush as she looked away from him.

Eric studied her as he made small conversation with her, immediately seeing that she was younger than him and quite shy. He watched her as she tentatively picked up different pairs of jeans, checked the price and then placed them back on the rack. He could tell she wanted to shop, but her pockets were holding her back.

“You should get those jeans. Not too many ladies have the right look to pull those off, but I think they would be perfect on you.”

“You think so?” Arianna replied with a slight grin as she looked at her friend, not at all pleased that Eric seemed more interested in Vanessa than in her. “She needs to put some meat on her bones with her little boney ass,” she chuckled at her one woman comedy show. Vanessa shook her head and rolled her eyes, slightly blowing off Arianna’s comment as she prepared to put the jeans back on the rack.

“Not at all,” Eric replied. “Petite, slender women make the best models and I can definitely see you ripping the run-way in a pair of these.”

Vanessa blushed. “I wasn’t going to get them anyway. I was just checking them out real quick.”

Eric picked the jeans up that she had just placed back on the rack and looked at the size. “How about I get them for you?” he offered with a charming smile.

Arianna’s eyes bulged knowing that the jeans her best friend was just looking at had to be over $200. Envy boiled inside of her but she clenched her teeth to hold back on another snide remark, not wanting to appear jealous of the offer. Instead she told herself the guy was just bullshitting, expecting Vanessa to turn him down so he could put them back without embarrassing himself.

“Oh no, you don’t have to do that,” Vanessa said quickly.

“Oh, I know I don’t have to. But I want to. How about this?” Eric said quickly. “You letting me take you out to dinner can be your way of saying thank you for buying these jeans for you.”

Arianna was now standing behind Eric and looked at Vanessa wide eyed. She quietly stomped her feet and mouthed dramatically, “Bitch, you better say yes! I swear to God, if you say no, I’ma punch you in the throat. Tell the man yes!”

Vanessa peered at Arianna and then smiled nervously at Eric unsure of what she should say. Eric sensed Arianna’s influence behind him and turned to her. She quickly rubbed her hand across her neck as though she was doing and saying nothing and gave him a friendly smile. When he turned his attention back to Vanessa, Arianna gave her an evil eye and mouthed again, “You better take them damn jeans!”

“You’re really serious?” Vanessa looked at him suspiciously.

“I’m really serious. I want to get to know you better and though this is one of my favorite stores, this isn’t exactly my idea of a first date, you know what I mean?”

Vanessa took a deep breath and thought to herself, “Screw it, how often will something like this happen to me?” “Okay…” she replied hesitantly. She retrieved the jeans from the rack and was about to place them over her arm when Eric stopped her.

“I’ll carry those for you,” he said with another charismatic smile that almost made her heart stop.

“Thank you,” Vanessa said shyly as she smiled as well.

“You’re going to need a shirt to go with that as well as a pair of shoes…”

Before Vanessa knew it, Eric was paying for her a Dolce & Gabbana blouse along with a Chanel hand bag and a pair of Chanel low heel stilettos. Vanessa thought she was in a dream by the way he helped her try the shoe on and didn’t seem the least bit impatient as she made up her mind about what she wanted. Arianna tagged along enviously feeling like the third wheel, not understanding for the life of her what Eric saw in Vanessa that he did not see in her.

Though they were best friends, Arianna always felt a need to compete with Vanessa. They were equally beautiful young ladies who had both grown up in the “Brickyard” section of Germantown. “Cradle to the Grave” is how they always said they would be, meeting when they were in the second grade. They were enemies at first, getting into a small fist fight in the school yard of Kelly’s elementary school over a double-dutch game. They would later become the best of friends after Arianna saw a few girls from Morton Homes trying to jump Vanessa one day and she jumped a fence to intervene. Ever since then, they were thick as thieves and inseparable.

Arianna was a “red-boned” female mixed with Italian and Black. Her great-grandfather was a full blooded Italian who shunned his daughter when she got pregnant by a “Black Mooly”. Practically her entire family disowned her in her Chicago home-town. When she was asked for her hand in marriage, Inga quickly accepted and moved with Barry to Philadelphia. Tragically during the race riots near Girard College in the late 1960’s Barry was killed while Inga was pregnant with Arianna’s mother, Josephine. “Josie” wasn’t exactly mother material. She was more attracted to running the streets and bar hopping than raising Arianna, so Inga took care of her and raised her as though she were her own. And while Arianna was indeed intelligent, she used her strikingly beautiful appearance to get most of what she wanted in life. She stood at 5’8 and had a soft, creamy complexion like a cup of coffee that had been heavily diluted with milk. Her hair was naturally thick and curly, but she kept it bone straight and wore it just past her shoulder blades. She was curvy and slightly bow-legged with dimples and dark seductive eyes. In her mind, any man who was not attracted to her was either dumb as hell, or gay.

Vanessa on the other hand, was shorter than Arianna and petite. She was barely 5’6 but had an athletic body from playing sports all through grade school and even in college. She played badminton, volley ball and ran track. She was the color of a coconut shell with smooth skin and dark shoulder length hair. And though she was twenty years old, Arianna often joked that if she were to put on a school uniform and pull her hair back into a pony-tail, she could pass for a high-school freshman.

Arianna sat on a bench and began playing with her cell phone while pretending not to be jealous of the mini shopping spree Vanessa was getting from Eric. “I hope his card declines,” she thought to herself as an evil grin crept across her face. But when Vanessa and Eric were walking over to her carrying shopping bags while grinning and giggling like the pair had been dating for months, she knew that wasn’t the case.

“So what time can I pick you up tonight?” Eric asked Vanessa as they slowly walked through King of Prussia.

“I guess 8 o’ clock sounds good.”

“Alright, I’ll make dinner reservations for us and I’ll see you at 8pm.” They exchanged phone numbers and then Vanessa texted him her address. “Would you ladies like a ride home?”

“No thanks,” Arianna said quickly. “We have some other stops to make, right Vanna?”

Vanessa cut her eyes at her best friend. She hated when Arianna called her that and Arianna knew it. “Yes, we have a few more stops to make. Call me later when you are on your way.”

Eric smiled and gave her a warm embrace. Vanessa thought she was going to melt when she smelled his Izzy Miyake cologne. Arianna rolled her eyes again and looked at her non-existent watch on her wrist to drive the point home that she had run out of patience.

Eric parted ways with Vanessa and she walked away with Arianna with a bit of a bounce in her step.

“You are such a cocky bitch,” Arianna said with a smirk.

“And you are a hater,” Vanessa smiled.

“I can’t believe he bought all that for you and didn’t know you from Adam. You better watch it, that fucking credit card is probably stolen,” Arianna said.

“Ugh, you are such a hater, shut up!”

“You think I’m joking. What man does that? Just walks up to a strange girl that he doesn’t know shit about and spends over a stack on her in Saks? This ain’t Pretty Woman and you are not Julia Roberts.”

“Hay-ter,” Vanessa said again in a sing song manner.

“Yeah, whatever. Watch he tries to fuck you in the ass tonight,” Arianna said before laughing loudly.

Vanessa burst out laughing with her. “You are a horrible, HORRIBLE person, girl. Just horrible! You wouldn’t be saying that if he had bought this stuff for you.”

“Nah, but you probably would.”

“No I wouldn’t because unlike you, I’m not a hater,” Vanessa replied as she continued to smile.

“Yeah well, you better take your mace with you because ol’ boy definitely finna steal your virginity tonight.” The two of them laughed together as they took the escalator down to the food court. “You’re laughing like I’m joking. But you gon’ learn tonight. You gon’ learn about that long dick,” Arianna mimicked Kevin Hart.

“Alright, alright, alriiiiight!” They both said at the same time before leaning into each other and laughing. They went over to Chick-Fil-A to grab something to eat before heading home.

Later on that night, Vanessa nervously got dressed for her first date with Eric. She obsessed over how she should wear her hair, her accessories; hoop earrings or diamond studs, lip-gloss or lip-stick. Arianna sighed and shook her head before propping herself up on her pillows.

“You need to get a damn grip girl, shit. It’s not that deep!”

“It is that deep. I’m not like you, going out on dates with different guys every other day,” Vanessa replied as she checked herself out in the mirror.

“Well maybe if you did, you wouldn’t be tripping.”

Vanessa turned around. “How do I look?”

Arianna looked her over. “Your outfit is cute but honestly, you look like a kid playing dress up in her big sister’s cool wardrobe. Take that pony-tail out of your hair and put some make-up on.”

“I don’t like make-up,” Vanessa frowned.

“Well, you’re going to like it tonight. You’re rocking a Chanel bag and Chanel shoes. Bitch, if you don’t at least put some eye-liner on and some mascara and make your lips look kissable,” Arianna suggested as she pushed her friend down in the chair.

“He liked me without make-up, though!” Vanessa whined.

“Vanna baby, I love you to death. But trust me when I tell you, he may have been attracted to you in Saks today, but he also dropped over a stack on one outfit to take you out. He wants to show off his lady not his little sister. Now hold still so I don’t poke you in the eye with this pencil.” They both giggled before Arianna started fixing Vanessa’s face. She quickly undid her ponytail and ran her fingers through hair before parting it on the side and re-styling it.

“Hot-damn, girl! Eric is gonna be on that ass tonight!” Arianna grinned as she admired her handy work.

Vanessa smiled as she looked at herself in the mirror. She hadn’t been done up like this since her senior prom.

They heard a knock at the door and Vanessa jumped up. “Oh my God, that’s him. I’m nervous.”

“Girl, have a seat in here while I get the door. You want to wow him when you make your grand entrance,” Arianna said before leaving the room so she could answer their door. The two of them shared an apartment in a duplex near La Salle University where they went to school. It was their way of being adults and not having to stay in their parents’ homes while completing their education. It was more of a benefit for Arianna than Vanessa since it kept her from having to deal with the unbearably strict rules her grandmother set for her in hopes that it would keep her from traveling down the same path as her mother, Josie.

“Hey Eric!” Arianna said with a smile after opening the door for him. She gave him the once over just as she had done at Saks Fifth Avenue earlier and thought to herself that he looked good enough to eat. He was wearing a pair of faded blue jeans with a pair of Prada sneakers, a white Polo shirt and a blazer. He even smelled better than he did earlier.

“How are you…?” he winced not remembering her name.

“Arianna…” she replied with a frown. “I’ma let you slide on that one, home-boy. Just don’t let it happen again,” she joked in a flirty manner. She called for Vanessa to come out of the room for her date.

Eric smiled at her but turned his attention to Vanessa. His smile widened as he gave her the once over. “You look beautiful.”

“Thank you,” Vanessa blushed. He took her by the hand tenderly and kissed her on the cheek making her blush some more.

“What time should I expect you?” Arianna asked.

Vanessa looked at Eric and then looked at Arianna. “Um, I don’t know. Are we just doing dinner tonight?” she asked Eric.

“Whatever you want to do afterwards is fine with me as long as I get to spend as much time with you as the night allows me to.”

Vanessa blushed again. “You don’t have to wait up, I’m a big girl,” she said to Arianna.

“Yeah, uh huh. Okay,” Arianna replied as she walked them to the door. She watched from the window and her mouth damn near hit the floor when she saw Eric open the car door to what she estimated to be a 2012 Infiniti. Vanessa sat inside and he closed her door before jogging around to the other side and getting in. Arianna watched the car until it disappeared down the street.

“He’s probably a drug dealer. Yup, that nigga’s a trap king,” she smirked before closing the blinds and going to pop some popcorn for her mini marathon of Law & Order SVU.

Though Vanessa was nervous, she hit it off very well with Eric during their drive to Chima’s Brazilian Steakhouse for their dinner date. Eric made her feel at ease as they both talked of their child-hoods. While he didn’t look it, Eric was 25 years old and worked as a partner with one of the top Financial Brokerage Firms in the Tri-State area. He had no children, had never been married and for the last five years, he had been more focused on establishing a career and a good life than starting a family and settling down. He told Vanessa that he dated off and on but hadn’t met a young lady he could see himself with for a long time.

Vanessa thought that he was too good to be true. Most of the guys that she knew who were his age had done at least one bid in jail, were barely making above minimum wage at a mediocre job with hardly any aspirations for anything better than the next get rich quick scheme; a party promotor or an “up & coming” rap star from Philly with a mix-tape always coming soon but never arriving. And then there were the DJ’s hustling at hole in the wall bars and clubs or alley-way block parties, guys with multiple children by multiple women who still lived at home with their mothers; back bedroom or basement dwellers who only left home when their chick of the moment let them stay with them. Because of the same scenarios she constantly ran into, she gave up on dating and focused more on school, hoping to enroll into law school after she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in criminology.

Eric was impressed with her aspirations as well as they sat in Chima’s talking some more while waiting for their dinner. At first, Vanessa was afraid to order after she had seen the prices. Not wanting to over step her boundaries, she asked him to recommend a dish stating that she had never been to the restaurant before. Eric ordered the Picanha-top sirloin for Vanessa and a salmon steak for himself with a bottle of Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon- 2010 wine and two salads.

“I’m only twenty,” Vanessa whispered to him after the waiter poured both of them a glass and walked away.

“It’s okay, I won’t tell if you won’t tell,” Eric smiled. “You’ve never had wine before?”

“I’ve never drank, smoked, nothing,” Vanessa said bashfully.

“Well, first things first: sip, don’t gulp. But when you sip it, don’t swallow it right away. Close your eyes and let the flavor dance around your mouth for a moment. Let it play a sweet melody on your tongue almost as though it’s singing to your taste buds,” Eric said softly. He watched her intently. “Now swallow it.”

Vanessa did as he said and then slowly opened her eyes. Looking into his eyes, she felt hot, and aroused. She felt his seduction wash over her body and felt as though she was getting to know him intimately without having him touch her physically.

“Was it good?” he asked her in the same soft voice, snapping her out of her trance.

“Yes,” she replied trying hard not to bite down on her lip and trying even harder not to stare at his.

Eric sat back and smiled as though he read her thoughts and could sense what she was feeling. He took a sip from his glass and then swirled it slightly before sitting it down and looking back at her. “When do you turn 21?” he asked.

“In June. My friends want to throw me a big party, but nah. I’m just not into that.”

“Well, how about I take you to one of my favorite vineyards and we can go wine tasting together. You’ll love it. That’s normally around the time that I grab a few bottles for the winter and the fall anyway, so if things work out for us, we can make it a date.”

Vanessa smiled. She was liking Eric more and more even though she had just met him. “Maybe we can.”

They ate their dinner and desert continuing their conversation, sharing stories, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company as they got to know one another. After Eric paid the bill, he drove them over to Warm Daddy’s where they listened to the live band and had a few more drinks. Eric then noticed that it was almost 1am and decided to bring the evening to a close.

He pulled up in front of her residence and got out of the car so he could open her door. He walked her to the front door and she turned to face him.

“I had a wonderful time tonight. I honestly can’t think of any other time I went out on a date and had this much fun with a guy who genuinely seemed interested in me and was such a gentleman. Thank you,” Vanessa said with a smile.

“You don’t have to thank me, Vanessa. That’s what a man is supposed to do, and if a man isn’t doing those things for you, he isn’t a man.”

Vanessa blushed and looked away from him for a moment. Before she realized it, Eric leaned in and kissed her softly. She hesitated momentarily, but then kissed him back. He pulled away before giving her another peck on the lips and then brushed her hair behind her ear.

“I’ll call you when I get in, okay.”

Vanessa nodded unable to speak, feeling like her breath had been taken away.

Eric waited for her to go inside before getting into his car and driving away.

Vanessa floated to the bedroom that she and Arianna shared and plopped down on her bed grinning from ear to ear. She replayed the night over in her head mainly focusing on their kiss as she continued to smile. She was snapped out of her daydream by Arianna’s groggy voice.

“GTD or naw?” Arianna asked in a husky voice.

“GTD?” Vanessa asked confused.

Arianna clicked the lamp on by her dresser. “Got the drawls, dawg!” She burst out laughing, imitating Tommy from the T.V show “Martin” and Vanessa laughed with her.

“You’re so goofy! No he didn’t get the drawls, girl shut up!” Vanessa went into the bathroom and changed into her night clothes before crawling into bed and dishing the details of her date with Eric.

That night, Vanessa was positive she had found the man she was looking for; charismatic, smart, funny, and ambitious, good looking, kind and gentle. She was positive Eric was the man of her dreams. Little did she know he would turn out to be nothing more than a hellish nightmare from which she could not escape…

Love’s Deadly Masquerade – Coming March 1st 2016 to a book store near you!

Love's Deadly Masquerade