Sleeping with My Enemy Pt. 01

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Sitting in the pew, Steven was pissed. Forget the fact he had been up till 12:00 last night crunching numbers for a disrespectful client, he was now sitting in a church attending his Aunt’s wedding. If it weren’t for the fact his mother had dragged him here, he would still be in bed. She knew full well that he had made a vow to stay away from churches till the end of his days. Hell…he really didn’t even like his Aunt Vera. He hadn’t been a fan of hers since he was little. She smelled funny, was ALWAYS at church, and…gave birth to his greatest nemesis…Azia.

Steven and Azia had NEVER gotten along. Even as children, they hated each other. She was always the biggest pain in his ass. Whenever he played by himself, she interrupted his fun. When he got a new toy, she found a way to try and destroy it. Her most grievous offense came at a church softball game. Playing in Centerfield, Steven had an unobstructed view of Sharice Green’s beautiful ass standing at 2nd base. It was full, round, firm and plump, stuffed into a pair of tight, spandex “biker shorts.” So beautiful it belonged on the back of a Nubian Goddess. Being so mesmerized by the sight, Steven didn’t hear the crack of the ball fly high into the air; before it came crashing down on his head. This should have been enough embarrassment for anyone. But Azia couldn’t resist pointing out his fully erect penis, pitching a tent in his loose basketball shorts. Steven was beaten to within an inch of his life for jumping up and punching Azia dead in the eye.

Another reason Steven hated the church (aside from the disaster that was his own failed marriage), was the ridiculous concept of CPT (Colored People’s Time). When it came to celebrations, black people in churches often went WAY too far. This time was no exception. Once the procession started down the aisle, the games began. The flower girl just couldn’t throw the petals onto the rug and make a path for the grown-ups. The little girl spun and twirled like a wooden legged ballerina. Depositing most of the petals everywhere EXCEPT the floor. The little boy who was the ring bearer, damn near broke out into a “mashed potato” just walking down the aisle. The groomsmen and bridesmaids all jigged to the beat. Looking like a procession of clowns, all except one. Dressed immaculately, her hair pressed in the back and front, curled at the ends. Her skin, a radiant shade of mocha, her frame a statuesque 5′, 6″ wrapped in a matching scarlet dress with gold accents, standing atop a pair of mid high pumps, walked Azia. She looked lovely. She looked regal…she looked pissed. Reverend Felkirk didn’t let Steven down. The nuptials took so long, because he turned them almost into a sermon. By the end of the speech, Steven’s ribs were sore. His mother repeatedly jabbed his ribs to wake him up. Although she knew full well he had been up late the night before working. But dragging him to a wedding at a church was more important for her social image. Finally, the ceremony ended, with the Reverend telling the well wishers to gather at the Piedmont Inn & Suites for the reception. Another sharp elbow to Steven’s ribs caught him off guard: “You know I need a ride to that, right?” His mother said.

“What a fucking surprise.” Steven said.

Like most black weddings, the reception saw more people show up, than were at the church. Steven’s mood wasn’t just foul…it was downright murderous. The DJ was spinning all the oldies (going back to the early 60’s for God’s sake). But at least the food was on point. The Piedmont had laid a wonderful spread: Fried chicken, greens, cornbread, green beans, corn, Fried fish, Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, and smothered Rice. But due to the good thinking of someone, they catered from “Pops” BBQ, who showed up with enough succulent ribs and biscuits, everyone there was in danger of juicy, cholesterol induced diabetes! The only let down was the “wet” bar. The Bride and groom only authorized their guests to drink red or white wine, wine coolers, and champagne, that was reserved for the toast to the new couple.

After the food had been served and most of the people had eaten their fill, the DJ started to ramp things up a bit. It was then that Wanda (Steven’s mom) spoke up.

“Sweetie, why you so upset? It’s just a wedding. You should be happy your Aunt is getting hitched. That means there’s still hope for you yet. Take a look around at all the lovely young ladies in here.”

“Mom; I am exhausted. You knew I damn well didn’t want to come here. Much less for Aunt Vera. Furthermore, I suggest you get your prescription updated. Most of the women in here are already sitting with other men or are big enough to need a State license plate screwed to their butt! No thanks!”

“Baby…you still stinging from that whole divorce thing? That was 5 years ago sweetie. You got to let that go. And stop harboring such a grudge against your Auntie. She and her child have been through a lot. Speaking of which, Azia is here. You should go talk to her…bury the hatchet.”

“I’d rather bury a hatchet in her skull at a FOP meeting then talk to that nasty woman!”

“STEVEN ALLEN teen porno RHODES!! How dare you!! Boy, you just like yo’ daddy…know how to hold a grudge! What happened between you guys was almost a decade ago!”

“A decade for you is fine! You didn’t get your ass beat, nor were you embarrassed in front of everybody!”

“Yes…and you deserved it. But baby, you have been through a lot and so has she. Much more than you know. Believe it or not, you two are a lot more alike then you might think. I really need you to go make up with your cousin. Sometimes all you have in this world other than God…is family.”

“Maybe she can pray herself more family then.”

The slap to the lips wasn’t hard. It wasn’t meant to be. It was done to gain attention, and attention is exactly what it gained. Steven stood up so fast his chair almost clipped an attendant at the knees. Wanda stood her ground, standing to her full height. But it was no where close to his full 6′,3″, 230 lbs.: she forgot he was no longer a child. But staring up at his imposing figure reminded her quickly. Making her wonder if she might have gone too far.

“Look Ma: I love you. But don’t you EVER do that again! Mother or not, I am a grown ass man and you WILL respect that! Clear?”

“Baby…I’m sorry. I just need you to grow up mentally as well as physically. You can’t go through life holding grudges and carrying your pain on your sleeve. The first way of letting go is learning to forgive. If not for them, for yourself. You’re too good looking a man and too sweet in your heart to forever be alone due to your hurt.”

Pointing to a table in the back corner of the room, Azia sat by herself. Still looking like a caged viper.

“Talk to her Steven…for me. Please?”

Steven wilted down. “Fine. But shortly thereafter, I’m out.”

Sauntering over to the wet bar, Steven ordered a wine cooler and a glass of red. With the DJ beginning to spin a few new and better songs, the throngs of guests began to move toward the dance floor. Navigating through this sea of humanity, Steven stood in front of Azia. Having come closer, he was pleasantly surprised at the growth of his cousin. She had grown into quite an attractive young woman.

“Uh hum.” Steven said clearing his throat. “Hi Azia. It’s nice to see you again.”

Rolling her eyes, Azia responds; “Hi Steven.”

“Uh…yeah. You look nice today. I really like the contrast of that red dress against your skin…ummm…How have you..”

“Look. I appreciate the compliments and everything. But can you get to your point? What do you want Steven?!”

Steven had had enough of women disrespecting him for one day. His irritation boiled over and he let his cousin have it.

“You know what? I don’t need this aggravation! I came over here, brought you a drink and you talk to me like I have done something to you! I haven’t seen you in forever and this is how you talk to me? You know what…fuck it. I came to bury the ax with you and really see how you’re doing. But I see exactly how you’re doing…you’re the same irritating, self-absorbed, spiteful BITCH you were when we were kids. Bye!”

Turning to leave, Azia’s voice stopped him.

“What did you say?” Steven said over the loud music.

“I said I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have talked to you like that. I’m not having a good day. Please sit down.”

Steven looked at his cousin with a side eye, until she used her foot to move the chair next to her so he could sit. Taking the seat, Steven pulled up next to his nemesis. Not sure exactly what to expect.

“Thanks for the drinks Steven. But I really am not in the mood for a drink right now, and I can’t stand red wine. But I guess the first thing I should say is; Hi. And I’m so sorry.”

Steven was stunned. He hadn’t expected this turn around. He wasn’t so sure about what was going on. “Ok…thanks. Now…who are you and what did you do with my cousin?”

Azia chuckled. This was a reaction she had met a few times before. But now she was sort of used to it. “Yeah, I know. It’s shocking. But it’s really me. I guess I can say that I have grown up a lot. I know I put you through a lot when we were little, but I didn’t know any better and had no idea how it affected you. So, I’m sorry.”

Steven looked at his cousin’s face for any sign of deception. He was waiting for a “gotcha,” or “sike,” but none was available. She was telling the absolute truth.

“Oh fuck…not now.”

“What?” Steven asked.

Just then a man in his late 20’s, with a gut that threatened to pop his Jesus piece (and his pants button) clear across the room began to saunter over. Steven had no idea who he was, but something told him that Azia’s attitude took a left turn because of him.

“Oh, isn’t this a BLESSED day that God has made?! How are you today sistah Azia…you’re looking fine as ever. And you sir?? How are we on this glorious day?”

“Hi Ronald…” Azia said with a tone of disdain in her voice.

“Hello Sir.” Steven added.

“My, my, I sho’ do love a good wedding; don’t you Sistah Azia? A perfect union that God has travesti pornp put together. Might I ask who is this Azia?”

“This is my cousin Steven. High Deacon Ronald, this is Steven. Steven this is High Deacon Ronald. He’s a member of the Usher board…among other things.”

Steven shook the fat men’s hand and felt like he needed a handkerchief after. His hand was moist and clammy to the touch.

“It sho’ is nice to meet you Brotha’ Steven. Maybe one day we can see each other again at the Church. You wouldn’t happen to sing would you? We sho’ could use more voices of men for the Lord. Azia, I haven’t seen you around lately either. Have you been alright?”

“Just got a few things going on right now Ronald. Been busy with work and school…that’s all.”

“Oh sure. But we mustn’t forget the Lord in our daily going forwards and coming to’s. But since we’re here…could I ask for this dance? I like this song.”

“Oh…wow.” Said Azia…”I would, but my feet hurt from standing at the alter so long. Can I get a raincheck? Oh wait…there goes Sistah’ Porter walking over there. You know how much she loves to dance in the church.”

Both Steven and Ronald’s heads snapped in the direction that Azia pointed in. They were both taken aback by the absolutely gorgeous, statuesque, Nubian figure that seemed to glide through the room. Pam Porter was well known through the Church and had a body that just grabbed your attention. Especially her ass. No matter what dress she wore, her firm, round, plump ass had men stumbling over themselves to get next to her. Not to mention, her loose morals concerning sex, quiet as was kept.

“Oh…I’ll see you all later.” Ronald said. As quickly as his feet could carry him, Ronald followed after Sister Porter’s voluptuous posterior.

“Fuck…I don’t need this.” Azia exclaimed under her breath.

“Cuz…what’s wrong? We may not be the best of friends, but I can tell when someone is stressed to the breaking point. Care to talk about it?”

Azia held her head in her hand in exasperation, “Ronald has been chasing me all over since I came back home. My mother told him I had a few issues while I was gone, and so he has been after me ever since. Do you know that asshole tried to cop a feel while we were having prayer? Dude’s a straight pervert and he’s using his position in the church as the Pastor’s nephew and heir apparent to get with as many women in the church as he can. I’m not being used by him or any other man. Those days are over.”

Steven didn’t miss that last part. What exactly had she gotten into? What had happened to her? Just as he was about to ask, the music changed tone. The DJ slowed the music down and announced the happy new couple would take their first dance together, inviting all the well-wishers to praise the occasion.

“I can’t…I just…can’t.”

Steven looked back at his cousin. Her skin was becoming flush and her hands were beginning to tremble as she swiped at her bangs.

“Azia…you are obviously not ok. Is there anything I can do to help you?”

Steven’s cousin looked at him through reddening eyes. Then, he saw a light bulb go off.

“Do you have a car…do you still have that Beemer you used to own?”

“Yeah…I drove it here as a matter of fact. Why?”

“If you really want to help me…meet me out front in 10 minutes.”

“What’s going on…?”

“You offered to help me and I’m calling you on it. Are you willing to help me or are you as fake as all the rest of the people in here?”

“10 minutes…don’t be late.” Steven replied.

Azia rubbed his hand and mouthed “Thank You,” before she got up from the table and left. Steven looked at his watch absentmindedly. He was trying to think of an excuse to tell his mother who rode with him, so he could bolt. Coming up with one on the fly, he raised up and walked briskly back to his seat.

“Hey Mom…I just got a text from work. They are having trouble with an account and I gotta get over there to help sort it out. Can you find a ride home?”

“Sure baby…Sister Phillips is here, and she only lives a few streets over from us. I’ll grab a ride home with her.” Kissing his cheek, his mother concluded with; “I’ll get you a plate and take it home for later. You be careful and thank you for celebrating your Aunt’s wedding. I know you’re tired and didn’t want to come. Also…I saw you and Azia getting along better. I’m so proud of you. Be careful getting out there..ok?”

“Yeah Ma.”

With that, Steven turned and left out of the ball room. By the time he got past the door and down the hall, he was in a sprint. If there was one thing Steven believed in among other things…it was to NEVER be on CPT. Exiting the hotel lobby, Steven looked across the lot and saw his baby. It was the one thing he bought for himself during his tumultuous marriage.

Climbing behind the wheel, he started the engine and gave it a quick rev. Looking at his watch, he saw that he had 3 minutes left to meet Azia at the front door. Smoothly, he guided the twelve-year-old machine to the entrance, still sounding as tricky masseur new as the day he bought it. Taking another look at his watch, Steven only hoped that Azia held the same ideology for timeliness that he did. Just as one of the valet attendants prepared to ask him if he needed the car parked, all hell was breaking loose behind him. Azia was racing through the entrance, shoes in had as fast as her bride’s maid dress would allow. Jumping in the passenger seat, she shouted at Steven: “GO! GO! GO! Get us the fuck out of here!!”

Stomping on the gas, the car shot forward just as a small throng of breathless men ran out the entrance of the hotel. Turning right, Steven skidded out of the hotel parking lot and careened toward the interstate. Hopping on the interstate going East, it was only then that Steven tried to address his cousin. Beside him, Azia was too busy doubling over laughing and screaming “YES! YES! YES!”

“Cuz…what the FUCK did you do?!” Steven asked, swerving past a slow-moving semi.

“OH GOD THAT FELT GOOD!! I have waited so LONG to do something like that!!” she screamed.

“Azia…”

“HUH?”

“WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST GET ME INTO?!!”

“Oh…I knew the next part after the First Dance, was the “Toast.” I waited for that occasion to slap my Momma and dump a whole glass of champagne on her new husband.”

“YOU DID WHAT?!!” Steven exclaimed. “You do realize you just made me an accomplice to an assault; RIGHT?!!”

“Oh relax.” Said Azia. “With everything I know…they won’t be saying anything to anybody. They have no choice but to make up some story to cover this up.” Azia leaned the seat back to kick her feet up on Steven’s dashboard, in a show of satisfaction of her actions. In doing so, her dress rode up. Showing Steven, a nice unhindered look at her shapely, toned legs, up to the top of her black, nylon stockings. Seeing her error, Azia quickly replaced her feet in the seat well and smoothed out her dress.

“Either way…you have nothing to worry about. I just need to change clothes and…SHIT!! DAMMIT!! SHIT!”

Balling up her fist, Azia slammed it against the dashboard. “Hey…this is my car!! You want to chill out. What’s wrong with you?!” Steven said.

“I’m sorry Steven. I just got carried away with myself. I was so concerned with what I had

planned, I didn’t think ahead. I stayed at my friend Joy’s house last night. My clothes are at her house and she said she was going out with her fiancée after the wedding. They’re going out of town. I certainly can’t go back to the wedding, and the key she gave me to her place is with my keys in my purse.”

“Let me guess…”

“In her car.”

Steven pulled off the highway, stopping at the nearest gas station. He pinched the middle of his nose and ran his hand over his head to alleviate the pain from the headache that was coming on his cousin had brought out. He should have known she would bring him nothing but trouble. But as his Momma said: “Sometimes all you have in this world…is family.”

“I’m sorry Steven, you can drop me off on my campus and as soon as I can, I’ll get your money back to you.”

“Campus? What Campus?”

“Oh…I didn’t tell you? I attended UNC Moreland for 2 semesters. But…something happened. So, I came back home to this mess.”

“Moreland!!? That’s 2 ½ hours away! That’s almost Oregon territory! You expect me to drop you off almost in OREGON?!! Not a CHANCE!!”

“Well…I have no place to stay and no other clothes. Unless we can go to your crib. Speaking of which…I didn’t see your wife today…didn’t you get married a few years back?”

Steven’s jaw tightened. He hated hearing that topic brought up. Ever. It still stung after all this time. But, he was a different man than before. At least…he thought he was. Looking at his cousin, he saw himself a few years ago. A person caught in a maelstrom of events not necessarily of her own choice. Besides, after her antics at the wedding, his house that he shared with his mother would be the logical choice for them to show up at, not an option. Putting the car back in drive, Steven got back on the road, his voice stern yet assuring.

“Ok cuz…I got you. On one condition.”

“What’s that?”

“You tell me EVERYTHING!! Leave nothing out. If I’m putting my ass on the line, I want to know why. Agreed?”

“Sure.” Azia replied. “I guess I owe you that much.”

Back on the highway, Steven drove back West where they came from. This time however, he took exit 112 South. 20 minutes later, they pulled into the parking lot of Loudes County Mall, walking in through the department store Nordsleaf.

“Ooh cuz…you have style, and a little bit of cheddar.”

“I wish I did. This is just where we coming in at. The store we’re going to is a little further inside.”

The cousins walked through Nordsleaf into the mall proper. Halfway in the middle, was their destination. Franklin’s was a low end, Hip Hop outlet that catered to young millennials that wanted to look like they were Ballin’ on a Budget. Most of their stock consisted of clothing that was being phased out, but was still slightly relevant in the community. Loose fitting pants (for sagging), over sized t-shirts, boots and off brand shoes that had at one time or another shown up on some Hip Hop artists feet or in a video.

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