Una Nuova Famiglia Ch. 01byMercuryLove31©
Raegan glanced at the clock on the far wall across from her chipped wooden desk. Was it 2:40pm already? The bell would ring in about five minutes and none of the students were done with the exam. That wasn't a good sign. But then she was sure none of the 7th graders in her honors math class had studied, as she'd suggested, all week. They were probably stunned by the difficulty of the test. She smiled. They would be better prepared next time, she was certain of it.
When the bell rang, there was a collective groan from the group as they put their pencils down and began passing their papers forward. She was glad it was Friday. They wouldn't want to see her again for a few days.
"Okay, don't forget to complete chapter six over the weekend! Have a good one!"
They barely glanced at her as they filed out, mumbling "have a good weekend" on their way. It's a good thing she knew they adored her otherwise she might take their behavior personally. When the classroom was empty, she collected her belongings, taking her time as she waited for Reese. He taught a group of 8th graders on the floor above. She glanced at the clock on the wall again, realizing she probably had a moment to run down the hall to the ladies room. Reese wouldn't mind waiting for her.
Minutes later she was standing before the sink, washing her hands. She glanced into the mirror, taking in the dark chocolate of her skin and her bright eyes with pupils so dark they looked black. She had full, round cheeks that dimpled when she smiled. Her ex-lovers swore her dimples were one of her best attributes. Thin, perfectly arched brows, full lips, dark hair that surrounded her face in a cloud of soft, short curls. She sighed as she dried her hands. She normally didn't spend so much time looking at herself in the mirror, but Reese was forcing her to go out tonight to celebrate her ten year anniversary as a middle school teacher. She couldn't believe she had been teaching for ten years. She couldn't believe she was already 33 years old!
She quickly took in the rest of her appearance in the full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. She liked the ankle-length skirt with its swirls of red, brown and cream and her cream colored long sleeved blouse. She looked good in the ensemble and it hid the fact that she needed to lose a little weight. Her breasts were a little too full and her hips a little too curvaceous for her liking.
But none of her lovers had complained. In fact most of them loved snuggling up against her soft, full-figure. Of course that didn't mean she was content with her own body. But then she had complaining about her weight for years. She sighed, she should probably just learn to love herself unconditionally. That was a battle she could win. She smiled at herself, winking at the image in the mirror before opening the door and hurrying back to her classroom.
"Reg, I've told you before not to leave your purse in here! You know these kids are fucking thieves!"
She laughed, sizing up her best friend. Reese Campbell was relatively short for a man, standing only five-feet-seven inches tall. He was slim, smartly dressed in khaki pants, an oversized black shirt and black casual shoes. He was also very attractive, with light brown skin and amber eyes. He was bald, his scalp perfectly shaped, and wore a diamond stud in one ear. What she loved about him was his humor, his intelligence, his generosity, and his sexual orientation. She never had to worry about him hitting on her considering he was gay.
"Stop talking about our kids like that," she chastised jokingly.
"Hey, I waited for them to leave the building before ragging on the little bastards, that's the best I can do! Anyway, you're not backing out tonight, right? I made these fucking reservations a month ago."
"I'm not backing out. What time is the reservation?"
"Six. We can go to a movie first if you want, or we can go shopping."
She smiled, knowing which one he preferred. "That's not enough time for a movie and you know it. Where are we going shopping?"
She sighed when she saw the smile light up his face. Shopping in New York City on a Friday afternoon with Reese was never a good idea.
The restaurant, which had a Caribbean flair, was quite nice. They were seated almost immediately although there was a large group of people waiting. She was glad Reese had thought to make reservations. She noticed brightly colored oil paintings on the walls as they waited to be served. She had agreed to let Reese order for her so she didn't look over the menu. Instead, she was taking in the faces of the other customers. The clientele was racially diverse, young, urban, and a bit bohemian. She continued looking around until she inexplicably felt drawn to the table directly behind her. She turned, taking in the group of five women seated there. Their skin colors included all the shades of a chocolate rainbow, from café au lait to a deep dark brown. Some were quite young, some more mature, and all of them could hold their own in the beauty category.
But it was the face of the woman seated at the center of the group that intrigued Raegan most. She had honey brown skin and thick cornrow braids braided back and hanging well past her broad shoulders. Even seated, Raegan could tell she was tall. Her features were striking, thick brows, long dark lashes, high cheekbones, thin lips. The face was hard yet soft, distinctive…attractive. Raegan was mesmerized by her, lured into the woman's piercing hazel-green eyes. Eyes that were returning her intense gaze. When Reese tapped her shoulder, she realized she'd been staring.
"You know her?"
Raegan turned to him, blinking for just a moment to focus. The woman did seem familiar.
"I, uh, I don't know."
He smiled, "instant hard-on, right? I know the feeling."
"Oh shut up," Raegan laughed. She shook her head, glad to see the waitress was placing an oversized cocktail before her. She hadn't realized Reese ordered it.
"What are we having anyway?" She asked, trying to ignore the intensity of the woman's presence behind her.
"Jerk chicken, rice and peas, plantains and lots of alcohol! You're 33 and alone after teaching little brats for 10 years. You need to get drunk!"
Raegan laughed, shaking her head. She swallowed, refusing to look at that table again. But she could feel those hazel-green eyes on her, could sense the woman's commanding aura. She sipped at her drink and nibbled on the soft, warm coco bread set before them.
"Hmmm, this bread is good."
"I'm saving my appetite for the entrée. That shit costs 25 dollars and I'm not sending any of it back!"
Raegan laughed again and felt herself beginning to relax. Reese was a godsend. They chatted until their salads arrived and then dug into the first course. Reese ordered another drink and finally sampled the delicious bread. Raegan forced herself to concentrate on his chatter as he complained about his students, their new principal, and his current boyfriend. The boyfriend was a sore spot. Reese had recently caught him in bed with a mutual friend. But even with his complaining, she was glad for his company. And she was silently hoping the woman and her companions would soon leave.
She was startled when someone tapped her shoulder. She turned, recognizing one of the younger, lighter-skinned women from the table behind her. She was dressed in skin-tight jeans and a crop-top that revealed a piercing in her navel. She looked up into the woman's dark brown eyes.
"Ms. Miller would like to speak with you."
"Who?" Raegan raised a brow.
"Shane Miller. She's waiting for you outside."
Raegan could feel the breath catch in her throat. Shane Miller? Shanilla Miller. She knew she'd recognized the woman. They had attended middle school together. In fact, at one time they had mingled with the same crowd although Shane had been two grades ahead of her. But that's not the only reason Raegan had recognized her. Shane's face had been plastered on the cover of every New York newspaper at some point during the last few years. Supposedly she was one of the biggest drug lords in the country. She ran what the press called the only female-headed criminal organization to ever exist. The most recent estimate of her wealth suggested she'd done quite well for herself.
She shook her head, Shane Miller. The young lady continued to wait while Reese simply stared at her in shock.
"What does she want?" She asked, stalling for a moment.
"I don't know, if you would just follow me?"
The woman turned and walked toward the restaurant's exit. Raegan hesitated for a moment longer as Reese continued to stare, then she stood.
"Wait a minute Reg, do you know who the fuck that is?"
Raegan nodded, "yea. I went to school with her when we were kids. She probably just wants to say hello."
"Uh, earth to Raegan. Do you know who the fuck that is? And by the way she was looking at you earlier, I doubt she just wants to say hi."
"Just don't pick at my food before I get back."
She followed the woman to the front door, smoothing down her cream colored top and forcing herself to take a deep breath. When they finally stepped from the warmth of the restaurant into the brisk November air, a very tall, broadly built, dark-skinned man dressed in a smoky gray chauffeur's uniform greeted her. He opened the rear door of a silver gray limousine and the woman who had captured her attention in the restaurant stepped from the plush burgundy interior. A thick, brown cigar hung from her lips, the blue-gray smoke dancing a pattern up into the cool autumn air. They stared at one another for a moment until the woman removed the cigar from between her lips.
"I know you?"
Raegan swallowed, nodding. The huskiness of the woman's voice washed over her. Her shoulders were broad, her breasts rather unnoticeable, her waist and hips slim. She wore a navy blue men's sports coat with a white turtleneck, jeans and hiking boots. The thick cornrows on her head hung past her shoulders. She was tall, as Raegan had guessed.
"We went to middle school together. I'm Raegan. Raegan Vincent."
The woman squinted her hazel-green eyes. "Raegan Vincent?" The woman paused and then nodded with recognition, "Reggie, right?"
Raegan could not help but smile. No one called her Reggie anymore. "Yea."
The woman smiled, pulling on the cigar. The rich, heady aroma of the smoke tickled Raegan's nostrils.
"I remember you. You had a crush on a guy named Stuart."
Raegan laughed. She hadn't thought of Stuart in years. "Right. And Vicki told him about it."
The woman chuckled, "I had to stop you from bashing her skull in."
Raegan nodded, smiling as she remembered. She never spoke to Vicki again after that day.
The woman pulled on the cigar again. Silence hung between them until Shane spoke again. "Read about me in the papers?"
Raegan shrugged one shoulder. She suddenly felt as if she had invaded this woman's privacy. "I watch the news from time to time."
"Well, don't believe everything you see."
"I don't," Raegan assured her.
"Shane, we need to go."
A heavyset woman, with short hair and a dark, round face opened the door on the opposite side of the limousine. Shane didn't respond and the woman disappeared into the waiting car again.
"I have an appointment."
Raegan simply nodded.
Shane's lips curved into a bit of a smirk. Then, surprisingly, she took hold of Raegan's hand and brought it to her lips. Raegan could feel a tremor pass through her entire body as Shane's soft lips made contact with the sensitive flesh on the back of her hand. Then she watched as Shane folded herself back into the limousine and the car pulled off.
Reese wanted to know every detail when she returned to the table. She sighed as he asked yet another question,
"So, are you going to see her again?"
"I don't know. I probably read too much into it. I'm not even sure she's into women."
"Yeah, right. Most heterosexual women kiss your hand. In fact, I've read tons of studies about that shit."
Raegan smiled, "shut up Reese. And stop bugging me about it." Raegan insisted, but she knew the best way to change the topic of conversation with Reese was to bring up something he was much more interested in. Namely himself.
"So, what are you going to do about Billy anyway?"
They talked about his love life for the next two hours. And when they were ready to leave, they discovered Shane Miller had already taken care of the check.
Raegan stepped from the shower, briskly drying herself off before donning a thick terry cloth robe. She felt a little lightheaded, but she knew that was the result of the three Piña Coladas she'd consumed. Reese was such a bad influence on her. She hardly ever drank unless she was with him. She shook her head but regretted it immediately as the room swam before her. She sat down on her queen-sized bed for just a moment until the feeling passed. She was glad tomorrow was Saturday. She would be in no condition to teach considering the hangover that would greet her in the morning. But she had a ton of papers to grade. She'd work all day tomorrow and then head over to Reese's to watch a movie. Until he and Billy reconciled their differences, she would probably have to keep him company.
She glanced at the clock. Was it really 1am already? It was no wonder her eyes were burning with the need for sleep. She tossed the robe onto a nearby chair, switched off the lights and climbed between cool Egyptian cotton sheets. She wasn't an extravagant woman, especially considering her salary, but she loved Egyptian cotton sheets. She sighed, giving into fatigue.
When the phone rang, she opened her eyes slowly. Her head was throbbing as she glanced at her bedside clock. Jesus, who would call her at 3 in the morning? She winced as the phone rang for the third time. She deliberated over whether or not to answer it, opting to let the answering machine take the call. When she heard Reese's voice on the machine, she reached for the receiver.
"Billy left me!"
She could hear he was on the verge of hysterics. "Reese, calm down. I thought you wanted him to leave."
"No! I wanted him to keep his fucking pants zipped up!"
"Reese, maybe this is for the best—"
"How can you say that?! I love him Reg!"
Raegan sighed, she knew where this was heading.
"Can you come over please?!"
She closed her eyes, chastising herself. She simply had to find a new best friend. "Reese, it's three in the morning…"
"Please! I'm fucking suicidal here!"
She sighed again, "fine," she snapped, "but you're paying for the cab."
She hung up and sighed again. Shit. She slipped from between her comfortable sheets, pulling on a pair of sweatpants and a tee shirt. She would find a new best friend on Monday, she promised herself as she brushed out her short curls and quickly brushed her teeth. Damn, she hated his theatrics sometimes. She sighed yet again. No use complaining, she had already agreed to go.
Reese was in rare form when she arrived. She could tell he had been drinking heavily and crying. The huge three-bedroom apartment was a mess. Clearly they had fought before Billy left. There was shattered glass and overturned furniture everywhere. Raegan took Reese in her arms and hugged him. Then she sat him down and went to put on some coffee.
"What am I going to do?" He sniffed when she returned to the living room. He was bare-chested, wearing only a pair of purple paisley silk pajama bottoms. His feet were bare and Raegan suddenly worried about the glass.
"Well, first let's get some shoes on your feet."
She went to fetch a pair of slippers for him when the phone rang. She picked it up in the bedroom, knowing Reese wouldn't answer it.
"Reg? I knew that pussy would call you."
"Hey Billy. What happened here? Are you okay?" She didn't like the way Billy treated her friend, but she also knew her friend loved him. So she could be cordial, even if Billy was a cheating bastard.
"Is he still crying? I can't deal with him when he's hysterical."
She could imagine Billy's dark brown face frowning with frustration. She would worry about him and his safety at three in the morning if he wasn't six-foot-five-inches tall and weighed close to 350 pounds. He was built like a football player, thick neck and all.
"Well Billy, I don't mean to but in, but he did find you sucking someone else's dick. I think he has a right to be just a little upset."
"I don't expect you to understand where I'm coming from Reg. I told Reese I had no intention of being faithful when we moved in together."
Raegan was taken aback. Reese had never shared that information with her. "Oh?"
"He's just being melodramatic. The shithead knows I love him. Look, tell him I'll be back in a couple of hours. You don't have to spend the night."
Raegan was somewhat relieved. She knew she wouldn't get any sleep if she stayed with Reese all night. Rolling her eyes to the ceiling, she replaced the receiver. She really had to get a new best friend. She found Reese's slippers and returned to the front room, throwing the slippers at her friend.
"That was Billy you shit. Why didn't you tell me you agreed to an open relationship?"
Reese refused to meet her eyes, suddenly quite focused on slipping his feet into the leather slippers. When he looked up, she recognized the sheepish look in his eyes.
"Goddamnit Reese. Why would you agree to such a thing?"
"I know, I know, but I couldn't get him to move in otherwise. Ugh, I never thought he would actually cheat on me!"
"It's not cheating if you agreed to it Reese!" She yelled in anger.
"Don't fuckin' yell at me! I'm a goddamn emotional wreck here!" He sniffed.
She could see the tears forming again, so instead of yelling she plopped down on the sofa beside him.
"Look, I'm tired, I'm going home. Billy said he'd be back in a couple of hours."
Reese looked at her imploringly, "did he really say that?"
"Yes, but you have to pull yourself together. If you want to have a different type of relationship, tell him that."
Reese nodded, "I know, I know."
They sat in silence for a few minutes and then Raegan hopped to her feet.
"Let's get some of this cleaned up before I leave." She paused, then held out her hand, palm up.
"You owe me 30 for the cab."
Reese frowned, "a cab from your place to mine is only 15."
"Yea, but you're paying for my cab ride home too."
He sighed, looking around the apartment with concern. She raised a brow.
"You have to help me find my wallet first."
Her first two classes were relatively uneventful that Monday. She was waiting, a little anxiously, for the session with her honors class, having graded their exams over the weekend. She finally met with them after lunch, handing back the exams and going over them in detail. The students had not done as poorly as they feared. Of course, since no one had completed the last question, she had been forced to grade on a curve. She warned she would not do that again. After she reviewed the exam, she walked around the room, watching as the students completed assignments in an advanced math workbook. Technically the book was a violation of her contract with the public school system since the book had not been approved by the board. But she knew her principal would not report her. Her methods worked and she paid for the books out of her own pocket, a winning combination.
She smiled as some of the students asked questions. This group was pretty enthusiastic and she wanted to keep them motivated. She realized they were starting at the bottom of the social ladder and had a long climb up considering they attended such a poorly funded public school. Most of them also hailed from impoverished homes. Their lives would be tough. She figured they might have fallen through the cracks if they had a different teacher. She knew she could make a difference in some of their lives. She had done it before. It always brought a smile to her face when she thought about the visits from her previous students. And last year, her first college graduate had paid her a visit. She could not describe the pride she'd felt looking into that student's face.