Please enjoy this excerpt of Carnival Temptress, part of The Revelers Series with Marcia King-Gamble; upcoming March release. Editorial changes may still be made until final release.
“Hey, baby, I’m heading out, now.” Maya nuzzled her man’s cheek with the tip of her nose.
“Okay. Is the coffee machine programmed?”
“Yep. Nine o’clock on the dot.” She slid her hand along Teddy’s back and over his firm ass. She squeezed his butt cheek, sucking air between her teeth, at the sexual rush. “God, I want you so bad.”
“You’re like an addict.”
Maya moaned. “Cause I don’t get to see you often.”
Maya bit back further protest. They’d spent too many hours fighting about their long distance relationship. Well, to be honest, Teddy issued his mandate and she fumed and held a grudge. She’d even tried to withhold the v-jay jay, but once he stripped down to get into bed, not only her mouth drooled its juices.
Teddy grunted his response.
Maya smiled and squeezed his butt once more for good measure. Time to get to work.
No matter what the weather, driving to the metro at seven o’clock in the morning sucked. Daylight savings time made sure the early part of the day would be bright for the slugs heading to work. However, on this January hump day, the sleet beat down on the cars parking at the metro station.
Maya joined the other drivers huddled in their coats, with umbrellas raised, and sloshed their way to the train. The cold temperature had a bite that hung on and seeped into her bones. Her teeth clenched for the entire train ride until she arrived at the fashion boutique where she’d worked for the last twelve years.
From part-time sales girl to senior sales associate and in training as a buyer, Maya loved the world of high-end fashion. The career served as the gateway to the world. Armed with a college degree in general studies, she’d muddled her way through several jobs until she landed the part-time job.
Maya reached for the door, but hesitated. The entire store was already lit. That was her job, getting the store ready for the day. Slowly she opened the door and stepped in. “Hello? Flo, is that you?”
“Oh, hi Maya. Yes, I’m here. Had to do some work.” Her boss moved around the store clearly preoccupied.
“Want me to run and get some coffee?” Maya suddenly felt nervous with Flo’s offbeat manner and unusual appearance.
“Do you want me to work on something?”
Maya stopped. “Something is wrong. What is it?”
“I’m waiting for Bob and Lucy to show up.”
The door chimed announcing their arrival. The couple had recently hooked up and lucked out with the same work hours. They fell into the small store with an exuberance borne of their highly romantic antics. Their giggles and loud exclamations sounded particularly louder than normal and completely out of place with Flo’s unhappy countenance.
“Guys, I need to talk to you.” Flo waited for them to squeeze into her small office. She opened a drawer and pulled out a small number of envelopes.
Cold dread rushed down Maya’s spine. Her stomach protested against the surge of acid. She took the envelope from Flo’s shaking hand.
“We’re fired.” Bob said in a flat tone. Lucy hadn’t bothered to open her envelope. But accepted Bob’s declaration as truth and looked ready to cry.
Maya scanned the formal letter. No encouraging words. No false sense of empathy.
Thank you for your service. Due to unforeseen circumstances, all stores are closing. Your check will be adjusted with a two week credit. Good luck with your future endeavors.
As far as she was concerned, they could have saved the Sincerely, and just wrote in Fuck you, Management.
Now she realized what Flo had been doing: boxing up paperwork, cleaning out files, basically helping the enemy clean up.
Maya put on her coat, slowly buttoned the front. While her body functioned on autopilot, her mind struggled to know what to do next. All she wanted was to go home and slide into bed next to Teddy’s body.
She dialed his cell. No answer. No matter. Her day was screwed. She dialed Asha’s number.
“Who the hell is this?”
“Asha, it’s me.”
“Who? Maya? Do you know what time it is?”
“Yeah. Actually I do. I go to work every morning.”
“I know you didn’t call me to bitch about you working and me not having to.”
“Be quiet, Asha. I’ve been fired.”
“Did you finally cuss out that lazy Lucy?”
“No. I’ve been laid off. The store is closed. All the stores. I’m out of a job.”
Asha swore.“You’ve been with them for twelve years. You should have gotten a nice fat check so you can sit your sweet ass down and relax for a quick second.”
“Two weeks, what?” Asha emitted another curse, as her comprehension unfolded. “You only got paid two-weeks severance? Now that’s some shit. Come on over.”
“I’m heading home. Teddy is there.”
“Okay. You know where I am.”
Maya ended the call and hurried toward the metro station. She’d left without saying goodbye because she was scared that “kiss my ass” might come out of her mouth. Just like that, with the snap of her fingers, her career—the thing that gave her focus and had her put one foot in front of the other—was busted into smithereens.
The train ride didn’t fare much better. Getting onto the train was like a salmon swimming upstream. While she was feeling wretched, the hump day commuters had even meaner demeanors ready to take her out if she didn’t move out of their paths first.
She got off at her station just before the waterworks popped. The tears flowed and wouldn’t stop. Any moment now, she expected the hiccups and slobbering to begin. She sped up to the car so that she could end the public display of her breakdown.
Her foot crunched down on glass where she stood next to her car. The tears dried up, clearing her vision to take in the broken window. Her entire CD collection which she had stupidly left on the passenger seat was gone. Her back-up automatic umbrella was gone. She looked in the container where she threw in loose change—gone.
Good news. They didn’t bother to steal her 10 year old shitty rust bucket on four balding tires.
Maya unlocked the car and drove off. She didn’t want to waste time filling out police reports on the incident, knowing that finding her CDs wouldn’t be on anyone’s priority. She hoped the stupid bastard who broke into her car enjoyed her Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, and ABBA collections.
By the time she pulled into her garage, she was ready to cry again. She could barely get her key into the lock. Her hand shook. She wanted a glass of wine and Teddy’s bear hug and his reassurance that everything would be all right.
“Teddy.” Maya noticed that the coffee had been drained. Good, he was up. He didn’t have flight until later that evening. “Teddy, baby. I’ve had a day that you wouldn’t believe.” She pushed open her bedroom door, figuring that he was still in bed. Her small one-bedroom apartment didn’t have too many rooms for anyone to disappear.
The bed was empty. Sheets rolled back.
Maya peeked in her master bath, then into the bathroom in the hallway. No sign of Teddy. She frowned, looking for a note. Maybe the airline had called him in early to re-route him onto another plane. Nothing like a drunk pilot to screw up everybody’s schedule.
She found the note on the kitchen counter. A coffee ring marked the note where he must have rested his mug. She smiled. He could be such a slob.
Look, we’ve been at this for about a year now. At first I had a blast. We had fun. Good sex and all. But everything has an expiration date and our time is up. I tried to tell you. But you get emotional and you’re not listening. Remember it was our agreement, no strings. Anyway, let’s move on as friends before we hate each other for the wrong reasons.
Here’re to the memories.
While her heart broke into a million pieces, she noticed that the Mac computer he’d bought her was gone. That punk move was enough to dry up the urge to cry. Instead, she allowed the anger to flow. A full supply of fuel kept the rage burning that she’d been dumped not once, but twice today.