New York Love AffairbyGuadalupeCalderon©
"Come on Loca...if that's even your real name!" Melanie said while pushing the dress into my arms.
"No, that's what you call me. Come on, I'd like to go to a place where I don't get in trouble because of you." I rolled my eyes trying to hand the dress back to her.
"We've never even been in this part of town! They don't know who we are. For all these people know we are some old prick's young tenderonies." This time Melanie positioned me so I was facing the mirror. I couldn't help but laugh. My uncle used the word 'tenderonie' when describing the younger women he started courting since my aunt passed away some time ago.
"Look how good this dress looks on your skin. What people would do to have your body," Melanie stated as she pressed the fabric against my skin.
"I don't need to look like a hooker to be pretty, and what's the point of getting prepped like a turkey, so these rich white people can look at us as if we're some sort of meat?" I felt the fabric in my fingers. The dress was nice.
"Last I checked, the turkey is the best part of the Thanksgiving meal," she shot back, yet still made sure she carefully applied her make-up in the mirror. Sometimes I wished I was bold and adventurous like her. The dress she was wearing fit her petite figure as if it was custom made instead of being out of season fashion handout from when she was working at a department store outlet last year. Her skin gave off a bright gold glow, and her hypnotic emerald eyes and the long chocolate wavy hair that fell down her back could make anyone think she was Miss Latin America. No one ever believed me when I explained that she was my half-sister. The ironic thing was that my father came straight from the motherland, Colombia, while her father was born and raised in Miami, yet my father is un Moreno (so instead of his ancestors being from Spain they were brought to the New World as slaves from Africa), neither of us look one thing short. I'm not the color of café con leche like my mother or even brown skinned like many African-American are. If you want to talk chocolate, I'd most definitely be dark chocolate. The only thing that might give away my heritage is my bronze eyes and lengthy, jet black loose curls.
"Last I checked, the Thanksgiving turkey is fed and treated like gold until that dreadful season comes and they are shown just how much people appreciate their species," I said. I grabbed the dress and walked into the stall with it to get dressed. I guess couldn't resist.
"You do this every time Reina!" Melanie laughed at my submission. "You refuse and really have me believing that you're not gonna' go through with my schemes, and then you throw some intellectual bullshit and give in." She was right. I did always give in to her schemes, but that was because she was all I had left here. The rest of my family was in Miami or Colombia, because the north was far too cold for them, even after I tried to explain to them that surprisingly, New York can get really hot in the summer and at times has the perfect climate. The only other family member that took the risk of 'freezing to death' here in was my grandmother.
Since I was not the most sociable of girls, good friends didn't come around like flies to a blue light. But Melanie-- in high school she was prom queen during her junior year and Homecoming queen in her senior year. In contrast I was just the bookworm, honestly not even that. Don't get me wrong I was in the top five percent of my class, but I was no salutatorian. After realizing I didn't fit into my school environment outside of being the joke in everyone's conversation or that 'weird' kid , I worked really hard to be eligible for a scholarship to NYU.
At the time I was living with my father in Colombia again, so the only way to be able to go to the school without paying out of state or in my current case, international fees was if I lived with my grandmother in Spanish Harlem for a while. Considering I was the odd ball anyway, I thought I might as well be the new kid where I'd somewhat have an excuse. After my grandmother signed me up to a public high school, I found a place for New York in my heart.
In all honesty kids will always be cruel no matter where you go and I still was bullied. One group of girls held me down and cut off my ponytail (I was later told that this was because a boy that one of the girls liked complimented me on my hair), but unlike in Colombia, there were a lot of other kids like me, misfits. I tended to hang out with the kids that only listened to indie rockers and underground artists or if we went over someone's house to watch a movie on a Friday night, the movies tended to be something straight from the Sundance Channel. Two years later I had graduated and am now nineteen, most of my friends had moved to LA in the hope of making it or going to universities that were out of my reach. Considering I didn't have a car and little money, all I had left was to go to work and pay bills and save for school.
I may have always had to work hard to get where I am, yet Melanie and I were always at opposite ends of the spectrum. Her father owned a company that produced a knock-off version of the Cuban cigar and owned a prosperous night club that many celebrities made appearances at back in Miami, so he was wealthy enough to give his cielto linda (beautiful sky) anything she'd ever want, unlike my father who worked multiple jobs (including some that weren't even legal) just to make sure I had what I needed. The only reason Melanie even did any sort of labor in New York was, because her father kicked her out for the time being after catching her in the act of one of her foollproof schemes.
I was never really a party-goer, or at least not to the kind of parties that Mel liked. I liked the classic get-togethers where everyone could sit back and listen to nice music, talk, have heart-to-heart conversations, and maybe even the parties where you can actually just dance, and not Melanie's idea of a party, where anything goes, articles of clothes tended to come off, and a taxi driver almost always had to be called because she was not able to safely drive anymore, yet that was the only type of party she liked.
After I put the dress on, I walked out of the stall and stood next to my sister to see myself in the mirror. "Sometimes it's hard to believe you're four years older than me," I sighed.
"Not with those tetas! ¡Ay Mios! Look at those things. I can't believe you hide them. What are they 32C?!" She gestured towards my chest; the dress I wore did anything but cover them. I blushed
Mel looked from her size 28B breasts and back towards me before we both died laughing.
"Okay, can we go now?" I pleaded.
"Well, I'm not going to force you to straighten your hair, but there's no way this is going to work if you don't let me touch up your face, and PLEASE wear those shoes I got you for your birthday the other year."
I took a deep breath. Boy, this was going to be a long night.
"Would you like to taste some of Master Bridge's collection? It's imported straight from France." The waiter offered me a glass. I nodded my head and accepted his offer without hesitation. The day had been more than simply rough. I thought I'd be happy earlier in the day when I heard the position of president was being filled. There was no doubt I was on the top of the list, but on such days I questioned if I even wanted it. When Phillip Bridges called me into the office to fire ten people, I thought maybe I'd enjoy it, because I love being in control; however, the look on each of their faces when I told them the news was more than enough to make me feel like quitting. I instead went to the party Phillip throws every month, blowing enough cash to send one of those poor victims' children to college for four years for no more reason than because he can.
The moment I lowered the glass from my lips, I noticed two women walking in. Without doubt they didn't fit in at this particular party. It wasn't because they were minorities, because working in the corporate world you tend to notice that such tokens are always needed, but these women wore bright tropical colors when this was a specifically black and white gathering. The room's volume began to lower as everyone's attention shifted from their business conversation to observe the women.
"Dammit Mel! I knew something like this was going to happen," I heard one whisper to the other. I couldn't help but chuckle to myself. These were party crashers.
"Pardon me ladies; may I have your invitations?" A security guard must have caught on too. Both girls responded with a deer-in-headlights look. The shorter one with green eyes began searching through her purse as if such an invitation was there, but even I knew there was none.
"It's okay. They're with me," chimed in Phillip.
There was no hiding the lust on his face. It wasn't just him, but many of the men in the room stared longingly at the pair. The majority of those at the event, with the exception of the help, were above the age of thirty-five. I myself was considered young at the age of thirty-seven. Most of the younger, attractive women were taken by the more possessive jealous men, including Phillip's twenty-eight year old wife. Phillip then approached me, the girls shadowing him.
"John, I'd like you to meet..." Phillip winked at me as if there was a secret between us. I ignored the gesture, because I wanted to appear completely different from Phillip.
"Melanie Lara de la Torre," the small, olive skinned one purred her Spanish accent at us, "and this is Reina Guadalupe," she continued, gesturing beside her.
My eyes went to the other girl. Although her face looked more innocent and pure, her bright eyes held something more, something deep. I stared into them, and they reminded me of a wolf. There was no denying she was beautiful, but her edgy eyes in contrast with her shyness began to catch fire in my groin. Her body was gorgeous too. I noticed how she crossed her arms over her exposed cleavage, and that every passing man made sure he glanced down at her. My eyes lowered as I took in the sight of her waist and hips. Man, she would be perfect to hold on to while riding my-- .
"John!" By the expression on everyone's face I could tell it wasn't the first time he had called my name. "Come on. Melanie was just saying how we should spice the party up with some shots. What do you think?"
"Yeah, " I nodded, but my attention went straight back to Reina. I had never felt such a yearning for a woman, but there was something about her that wasn't like other women.
The night had transpired just as I expected. I was hoping that we would get kicked out when the security guard asked for our invitations, but of course we didn't and every man in the building was pushing each other out of the way to take a shot from Mel's bellybutton while her dress was hiked around her ribs, exposing way more than I'd be comfortable with in public. Although I wasn't as much of a participant as she was, I felt like a sleazy stripper at a bachelor party. I felt even worse when the other women looked at us with pure disgust.
Guys chanted and urged one man on while he took what seemed like the hundredth suck from Melanie's belly. Then she sat up and grabbed him by the tie and pulled his mouth to hers. No one made a sound as the men watched yearningly. That's when I felt the burracho behind me pull me against him. His erection pressed roughly against my behind.
"Hey sexy. How much for a night?" His touch made my stomach churn. What a bastard!
"Let me go!" I demanded.
"Come on baby," his grip got tighter on me as I tried to struggle free. "I just want to have some fun like your friend."
His grasp was too tight for me to break free. I scanned the room hoping Mel would see me, but instead she was focused on a new drinking game that had started up. Just when I was about to scream, I had a new idea. I took the glass of wine that had been offered to me and that I had yet to take a sip from and tossed it towards the guy's face.
He ripped the strap on my dress when snatching his hands away from me, lurching forward and grabbing his face.
"You bitch!!" he shrieked. The dark wine didn't just hit his face but all of his white suit as well. "Walter! Get this fucking bitch out before I do!"
For the second time in the evening all the people in the room had their eyes on me.
"Ma'am, I'm going to have to ask you to leave!" the security guy informed me.
I looked back to Melanie who stared at me in shock.
"What happened?" Melanie stumbled off of the table and pulled down her dress, and then took one glance at the man with the wine dripping from his hair to his jacket. "Damn Ray, what did you do? I think you were supposed to drink that." She laughed to herself, and then turned to the large security guy and said, "If she can't stay then neither can I."
"Okay," the security man responded simply. The men groaned and began to complain.
"It's fine Mel. I'll just catch a cab back. Stay. I really wasn't in the mood to party anyway," I assured her. She reluctantly walked back to the group of men. I made sure I slammed the door when I left.
"Hey, wait up!" One man from the party followed behind me. I stopped walking and looked at him.
"What?" I sighed. These rich guys didn't know when to quit. I may not have mace but this peppermint breath spray will have to do for tonight, I thought as I clutched my purse.
"That was quite the show back there," he joked.
"Well, for all of my effort I'm the only one who got kicked out."
"Considering the man wearing the wine lives in that house, I'm surprised he didn't call the police."
"What? Gosh, I'm so stupid! I don't normally do things like that. That's Melanie not me. What was I thinking?" I slapped my forehead.
The man laughed.
"Here, you may want to put this on." He passed me his blazer. I looked down at the front of my dress which was starting to sag without the support of the strap that was ripped.
"Thanks, but I'm just trying to catch a bus." I handed it back to him.
"Well the only bus around here is a good mile or two away, and at this hour I don't think your plan would work out anyway," he said, draping his coat around my shoulders and leading me to the door of a black Bentley.
"I appreciate what you're doing, but I don't ride in cars with complete strangers."
"I'm John Kent and I do believe you're Reina Guadalupe, so I guess we're acquainted now." He opened the car door which swung up like the wings on a butterfly.
"Well..." I looked into his eyes. Damn! They were sexy, and put Melanie's to shame.
"Is that a Scottish accent I catch?" I tried to be myself this time. He looked insulted by my words.
"I was born in Ireland and please, I would claim to be an American any day before saying I'm Scottish. What about you lassie? That's not your everyday New Yorker accent."
I smiled. Okay, this guy couldn't be a complete axe murderer since he was Irish. Or maybe he could. I didn't know. Something did seem dangerous about him, but in the hot way.
"Okay I'll let you drive me."
"I was born in Miami, but I moved back and forth from there and Colombia," the young woman informed me. Reina never looked at me; instead, she was fixated with the view outside the car window.
"Left or right?" I asked her when we stopped at a red light.
"Right. Do you know your way to Harlem?"
I nodded, although I wasn't sure if she was looking at me or not.
"I live on 110th street."
We continued to drive in silence. Although I wasn't going to say anything to her, Harlem wasn't the most prosperous borough in New York. Personally, I like the Bronx better, and for anyone who lives in New York, many may argue. During my first years here I'd been mugged or jumped on my way to a part-time job where I worked as an errand boy, and after finally ditching the job I made a personal decision to avoid the place. When we reached Harlem there was nothing but winos and druggies on the street. I had been given enough warnings from friends not to stop at stop signs at this hour of the night. If there was a night for me to get car-jacked, tonight would probably be it.
Reina sat up.
"You see that building coming up on the corner?" She pointed down towards the end of the street. "I live there."
I wanted to turn the car around and offer that she to stay the night with me. There was a homeless man sleeping at the foot of the steps outside her building, and the bodega opposite her building was surrounded by men talking loudly. I looked towards my glove box, knowing that I kept a gun inside for protection. This time the protection wouldn't be just for me but for her too. Wait! I barely even know this girl. Why am I thinking in such extremes? I'm just dropping her off.
"Would you like me to walk you to your flat?" I began to think of all the horrible things that could happen to her when I looked back at the group of men, who were taking glances towards my car.
"No. It's okay. I know a lot of those men anyway." She'd followed my glances. "And really, I appreciate the ride."
We stared at each other for a long moment. I inched forward, closer to her. My lips were so close to her that I could feel her breath on them. Damn! I just met her tonight. I tried to play off my attempt by unbuckling her seat belt, and popped the door open. I could feel her eyes burning through me.
"Goodnight," she said, and I felt her lips press against my cheek before she climbed out and rushed up the stairs. She turned back and looked at me before she went inside.
Damn what is this woman doing to me? I wanted to follow her up those steps, but decided against it with the way the men were eyeing my car. I should've gotten her number. Instead, I made sure my doors were closed all the way and locked before I drove off.
"Haha! So you threw a drink on him!" Daphne laughed harder.
"Yeah, those stains will never come out." I tried to hide my smile while filling my coffee mug with cream.
"Nice! That jerk deserved it!" Daphne exclaimed as she grabbed her papers from the copy machine. "Hands down your weekend was wilder than mine."
"No. I'm pretty sure Evil Kenieviel wouldn't even eat your cooking." I grabbed my mug and exited the teacher's lounge.
"Trust me, my husband never lets me forget it. I called and told him I was cooking, but when he comes home his arms are filled with takeout bags." She rolled her eyes at the flashback. "Well, forget my problems. Don't you have Room 219 again?"
Although I got accepted to NYU and received a scholarship, it didn't include housing and books, plus after arriving in New York, I learned Abuela was on the verge of getting evicted, so I got two jobs, one as a substitute teacher in public schools in the area and another working as a waitress. Neither had the ideal pay, but they were enough to get by on.
It wasn't until after substituting that I grew a love/hate relationship with children. Being at a youthful age didn't help either. Many students treated me as their equal, which could turn on me. My first day, no child took me seriously when it came to discipline, and unfortunately I was continually placed to substitute in the local junior high school, where conveniently I made friends with a 7th grade teacher, Daphne Willows, but on the negative side, almost every time I was appointed to be in this school I had to substitute in the worst of the worst classes, Room 219.
Most times when I returned I was informed that their teacher had quit yet again. At first I felt remorse for the kids, but in time I realized that if any teacher spent the whole year with these gremlins they should receive a medal. The children always complained about doing even the slightest amount of work, and they make it their job to get under someone's skin. I was no exception.