There are times when I end a story, but the characters return wanting to catch up with me (and you). Other times, scenes exist that I had to cut from a final manuscript version, but wished there was a way I could get it to the reader. These "shorts" offer a glimpse into a few of these vignettes that will never end up “officially” published except for on my blog. Some are random (I wouldn’t be Tia Kelly if I didn’t toss in a little random) and others will add more depth to something you could have read in the past.
Here’s a scene that would have taken place before my novel Playing for Love. Just to give you a little history for this scene… Paige has recently filed for divorce from Daniel. Meanwhile, Carlos suggests they hang out after a game.
I hope you enjoy.
Paige leaned back in the passenger seat and pressed a button on the remote in her hand.
The pounding reggaeton beat stopped and Trey Songz started describing ways he invented sex.
Cool blasts from the air conditioner felt good against Paige’s exposed skin, which was just about most of her body. She didn’t set out to wear next to nothing, sultry Houston nights called for it. She wished Carlos would have let her bring out his convertible, but he specifically requested the Maserati.
Paige decided to pin up her hair into a messy French knot on top of her head. She wore a halter neck romper and sandals. Carlos suggested they go out after the game, so she drove his car to meet him at the ballpark and wanted her look to appear effortless when it was anything but. Paige reluctantly agreed to go out for the first time since declaring an end to her marriage and didn’t know what onlookers would say about her reemergence into the nightlife. No longer wanting to mope around the condo while waiting out the divorce, she agreed to go. Paige didn’t want to look like the move was a calculated one. She just needed to feel like her old self again.
Carlos was getting antsy, too. He gave up a lot of his free time to spend time with Paige and she knew Carlos was getting tired of babysitting her. With a restraining order in place, her husband was no longer allowed to be anywhere near her. Paige should have felt safe, but the piece of paper issued two months before still didn’t help Paige sleep any better at night.
“Stop touching my shit.”
Paige rolled her eyes at Carlos and started dancing solo in her seat.
“You see Trey Songz cut off his braids? Ever think about cutting yours?”
“Why would I do that?”
Paige shrugged, turning to reach out to touch the unruly curls at the end of Carlos’s ponytail. His hair was soft and Paige loved to sometimes just run her fingers through it. “One of these days you’re going to wake up with cornrows. And beads. Lots of ‘em like Stevie Wonder back in the day.”
Carlos shook his head and grinned. Paige smiled seeing she managed to draw out the slight dimple in his cheek.
He slowly lowered the volume and Paige caught Carlos turning to look at her. “I need to make a stop real quick.”
Paige nodded. She assumed that much as Carlos had been driving away from their intended destination. Fortunately she didn’t have much of an appetite lately so Paige was in no rush to go out for a late dinner before heading to the club.
Carlos turned illegally, running through a red light and down a street that ran into the Galleria. The mall had already closed for the night and Paige doubted Carlos was going because he was in the mood to shop.
“Are you serious?” Paige threw both hands in the air when she realized what was happening. “Where’d you meet her? Foot Locker? The cinnamon bun spot? Come on bro, you need to do better than that.”
Carlos chuckled. “Why not? She was cute. Tossed in an extra pack of socks.”
“You’re pathetic, Los. One of these days you’re going to mess around and find your tires slashed with an invitation to Maury scrawled on a note beneath your windshield.”
Carlos drove toward two figures standing near a curb. “Fuck.”
Paige glanced through the corner of her eye at him. “What’s up?”
“She has company.” Carlos pulled up and shifted into park. “Don’t start your shit tonight, P.”
Paige batted her eyes, but had a difficult time smothering her laughter. “Moi?”
“I mean it. Princess is cool.”
“Princess? Are you kidding me?” Paige sputtered. Her laughter drowned out the next song that described what was about to happen when they got to the club. Except Paige would shove her favorite Louboutin up a man’s ass if he started talking about ‘say aah’ so he could pour liquor down her throat.
Paige turned to look through the tinted window and shook her head when she saw the females. One was shifting uncomfortably in heels that appeared too small for her feet. Yep. She’s one of those that tweets about bottle service, too. Paige made a mental note to make sure she wasn’t captured in any cell phone snapshots that night. “Please tell me that’s her nickname.”
“Don’t know and don’t care.”
Carlos lowered the passenger window and leaned over Paige. Paige glanced at him and realized the level this chick ranked on in Carlos’s mind. If he didn’t even plan to get out to greet her then Princess would be gone like most of Carlos’s bed buddies before the week was out. Carlos probably didn’t even save the woman’s number in his phone.
“What’s up?” Carlos asked. Carlos kept his eyes on Princess, but jutted his chin in the other female’s direction.
Headlights flashed behind them. Carlos shifted to hold his hand out the driver’s side window to signal to the two guys riding in the SUV inches away from his rear bumper. The men’s only task that evening was to make sure Carlos didn’t run into any problems. Paige also knew they were there to watch over her as well. Ever since Carlos found her passed out in his shower after she had been badly beaten by Daniel, Paige’s soon-to-be ex-husband, Carlos worried about her.
Paige hated to admit it, but she felt the same way. There was something about Daniel’s quick departure out of Houston that did not feel final and kept her on alert.
Princess leaned against the door and Paige huffed loudly. Paige hated it when others had her wedged in the middle of a conversation. “You mind if my girl Shanie comes along? She down for anything.”
Paige rolled her eyes on that one, catching Carlos sizing the girl up. Paige hated people that would easily pimp out a friend for pleasure.
Clearing her throat, Paige reached to roll up the window, but Carlos swiped her hand away to stop her.
“Get in.” Carlos unlocked the doors while Paige eyed the sneaker selling duo. Dressed in clothes they obviously just purchased because Paige could still see the creases from when Princess grabbed her top from a store shelf. Paige also found out Shanie wore a size medium thanks to the clear circular sticker on the front of hers.
Shanie reached for the rear door handle, but Princess remained at the front passenger door.
“I’m rolling whi’chu right?” Princess asked with a hand on one hip and the other gesturing toward Paige.
Paige pulled out a mirror and tube of lipstick. While touching up her makeup, she tuned out the silent tantrum. Carlos said nothing confirming Paige’s opinion. This girl is just a flash in the pan.
“Is she getting in the back?”
Paige arched a brow hearing Princess’s request, but otherwise appeared unfazed.
Carlos laughed. “You better take that up with P.”
Paige didn’t bother shifting to even acknowledge Princess. Instead, Paige reached to turn up the volume and looked at Carlos silently daring him to turn it down again.
A minute later, the door slammed shut behind her and Paige closed her eyes to tune out the grumbles and mutters between the two in the back seat.
“Wait! I know you.”
Paige kept her eyes shut wishing she had something to take the edge off. Ever since the memory of Daniel popped into her head moments before, Paige started to feel sick to her stomach.
Shanie tapped her shoulder and Paige’s eyes popped open. “You’re that girl. Paige Scott, right?”
Carlos’s head turned to meet Paige’s gaze as she glanced his way.
You’ve got to be kidding me.
Please don’t start some shit, P. Not tonight.
Paige closed her eyes again. “Yeah.”
“I loved that dress you wore to the Grammy’s last year! Where did you buy it? I’ve been looking for it ever since.”
Paige felt Carlos studying her and opened her eyes once again. She looked at him and he was biting back a smirk.
“Thanks. Don’t remember.” Paige was sincere while trying to recall what it was she wore to the awards show. She didn’t even remember going to the Grammy’s.
Princess added, “This ride is nice. What is it?”
“The car?” Carlos asked. He pressed a button and the music got quieter.
Paige rolled her eyes listening to the girl’s enthusiastic nasal tone and annoyed she had to listen to it instead of the advanced CD that was just sent to her. There was something about Princess that Paige just didn’t like. There was no point in figuring it out when Princess would likely ruin her chance with Carlos before they could even order dinner. Carlos always had an open mind during the interview process, but very picky about the ones he kept around.
Paige checked her make up in the mirror one last time and caught Princess fondling the leather like she never knew what the real stuff felt like.
“It’s not like that rent-to-own faux pleather shit, huh?” Paige muttered.
Princess scowled, turning as if she detected Paige’s quiet taunt. But Paige didn’t care. Princess leaned forward to ask, “Did you say something?”
While stopped at a light, Carlos subtly elbowed Paige when he reached to open the glove compartment.
“Put this in your purse for me,” Carlos said, grabbing an envelope to give Paige.
Paige recognized it knowing Carlos was likely hooking someone up with a pair of tickets to a game. She obliged, slipping it into her clutch.
Carlos moved his upper body back to the driver’s side and glanced into the rearview. “It’s a Maserati Quattroporte.”
Paige sighed and turned up the volume again. “Can you even spell Maserati?”
This time Princess heard her. “What is your problem?”
“Paige.” Carlos’s calm reprimand silenced Paige’s response.
“Ignore me. I’m just PMSing,” Paige replied. She smirked and caught Carlos shaking his head. She knew he saw through her fake apology.
Shanie clinked her glass against Paige’s and Paige didn’t even mind. Princess’s sidekick wasn’t as bad as Paige thought she’d be. It could have been the weed, but Paige actually liked her. Paige also found out they both even took a couple of marketing classes together two years before, but Paige never took the time to socialize with any of her college classmates.
“Wonder where Princess ran off to,” Shanie said, leaning close enough for Paige to hear over the music.
Paige looked around the section of the club where the local celebrities often migrated when the main club made them feel like a public spectacle. The usuals were kicking back drinking and talking to the females that managed to sneak in the back.
Earlier, she bumped into Drake and they caught up for a few minutes. It had been awhile since she’d seen him around Houston. He gave her his number once again, but Paige was not ready to date.
Slim Thug, a rapper on the Houston scene noticed Paige as she scanned the crowd. He nodded then raised his drink at Paige and she smiled. It had been a long time since she hung out without Daniel questioning her every move and it felt good.
“Los is nowhere to be found so my guess is they are somewhere getting busy.”
“At first I was starting to wonder if he’s your man, but you’re married now. Aren’t you?”
Paige tossed back the rest of her drink and pointed. “There they go.”
Carlos was walking toward them with Princess on his heels. She was trying to reach for his hand, but he smoothly tucked it into his pocket. No one else probably noticed, but Paige caught it.
“Want anything?” Carlos asked, gesturing for Princess to take one of the vacant seats.
“We’re fine.” Paige answered.
Carlos nodded and walked away.
Paige reached for the bottle to refill her glass.
“That man is gonna make us some pretty babies,” Princess remarked.
Paige knew Carlos’s date didn’t expect her voice to carry over the sound of the music, but Paige once spent more time in clubs than out of them. Paige learned the art of hearing voices over everything.
Shanie replied, “You just met the man last week.”
“And after tonight I know I will have him in my life a lot longer.”
Shanie sounded more disgusted than impressed. Paige knew she liked the girl.
Paige continued to sip, locking eyes with Princess.
Before Princess could snap at her, Carlos returned. He started to sit down, but Paige stood up. She reached for his hand leading him to the crowded dance floor.
“Dance with me.” Paige rose up on her toes to whisper in his ear on the way.
Carlos took them further into the crowd. He placed his hands on her waist, but barely moved when she swayed. “You need to lighten up, P. Why you riding her?”
Paige shrugged. “How do people dance to this music anyway?”
Paige hated the whole ‘chopped and screwed’ craze that had been a part of Houston since before she moved there.
Carlos reached out and lifted her chin. Squeezing her cheeks when he grabbed her face with his large hand. He frowned and stared into her eyes. “Damn Paige.”
“You need to cut that shit out.”
Paige knew what Carlos was referring to, but didn’t feel like answering to anyone that evening. “I just took a couple of hits. What’s the big deal?”
“Is that all you did?” Carlos asked, turning her face from side to side as if he could detect if she did more than smoke marijuana. She was careful not to spill the contents remaining in the glass she was holding onto. Paige watched him pull back and fold his arms across his chest.
Feeling the reprimand, Paige nodded and gave him the look she knew made him forgive her wrongdoings. Men were such suckers for an innocent face.
Paige then shook off the chastisement and stepped closer into his arms so Carlos could hear her. “After you walked off, your girl started talking about the pretty babies you would make.”
Carlos pulled away again and frowned. “Serious?”
“Yeah, so whatever you did back there you might want to ease up.”
“She said she left something in the car. I just walked her out so she could get it.”
Paige looked at him, disbelieving everything he said.
“You’re the one always talking about how you don’t want any kids, but look at what you’re chasing after.” Paige lifted her glass to her mouth, not caring to be Carlos’s wingman anymore if he was going to continue to play stupid. “I told you about picking up those minimum wage chicks at the mall.”
Paige sighed. “Do whatever you want. It’s your dick and bank account she plans to drain using it to aid her come up. Don’t say I never warned you. In my opinion, I think you picked the wrong one. Her friend has more substance.”
Paige turned to walk back to her seat and found someone was now sitting in it. Princess pretended to ignore Paige, but Shanie whispered to the guy and pointed toward Paige. He stood and Paige sat down to resume what she had been doing most of the night – people watching.
Paige smiled at Shanie regretting she would never get to see her again. It wasn’t worth the risk of engaging with someone who knew Princess if Carlos was going to do what Paige expected to happen.
“Hey ladies. I have to go home to get some sleep.”
Princess and Shanie stood, but Paige reached for the bottle and proceeded to pour.
“Cool. You mind dropping Shanie off on the way to your crib?” Princess asked.
Paige raised the glass to her lips allowing it to mask her amusement.
“This should cover your ride home.”
Paige didn’t have to look up to know Carlos slipped Princess some cash. It was probably enough for a cab driver to loop the entire beltway nonstop until the sun came up and went back down again.
“You leaving me?” Princess asked. From Paige’s view, a hand was on Princess’s hip and she was about to step too close to Carlos.
The men Carlos hired to handle security detail suddenly appeared. Shanie’s eyes bulged and she tapped Princess on the shoulder.
Princess looked at the men and then toward Paige. With finger pointing, Princess scowled. “What about her?”
“Thanks for hanging out. We should do it again another time,” Carlos replied. He reached out for Paige’s hand and Paige stood to walk with him.
Paige paused briefly to lean close to Shanie when she passed her. “Message me on Twitter. I’ll see if I can find that dress and get it to you.”
Shanie smiled and nodded.
“What did that bitch say to you?”
“So why you grinnin’?”
“Damn Princess. I don’t know why I let you talk me into coming out with you anyway. We don’t kick it any other time and now I see why.”
As they reached the rear exit, Paige could no longer hear Princess and Shanie bickering about how the night turned out. The thick humid air they met once outside was actually a welcomed feeling compared to the packed, sweaty bodies bumping into her when she was inside.
A hand on the small of her back led her to the waiting car.
She looked up at Carlos as he held his car door open for her. “For what?”
“Always being on the look out for me.”
Paige smiled and nodded, slipping into the front seat. “That’s what sisters are for.”