So… here’s the scoop.
I totally planned on writing, A Tale of Two Cities: A Valentine’s Day Novella, but… life happened in the form of a gym accident that threw my writing schedule for a loop.
I DO still plan on releasing this project, but it will more than likely only be a part of the Tale of Two Cities Holiday Novella Box Set.
Still, I couldn’t let the day go by without y’all *at least* meeting these characters, so… check out a sample below!
Happy Valentine’s Day ❤
(Note: Sample Unedited & Subject to Change because ish happens…;))
“Girl… I’d drink his bath water like a freshly brewed coffee from Starbucks.”
I sat on my bed, cackling at my roommate Raina as she scrolled through her Instagram feed and I scrolled through mine right next to her. It was practically our Saturday night ritual to eat ourselves into a food coma, drink ourselves silly, and then look at pictures of fine ass men we’d never get to meet in real life. They were the type of guys who showed up on every girl’s radar, as every girl’s “Man Crush Monday”, and on every girl’s list of, “Who I’d Risk It All For”. And while I wasn’t exactly ready to take the ultimate plunge for any internet crush, lurking and creeping was way too much fun to stop any time soon.
“Ooh, look at him, Ray! He’s gorgeous!” I squealed as I clicked on the page of another tall, dark and handsome.
His closed-mouth smirk made him especially sexy, giving a hint of mystery that intrigued me enough to click on his profile. But when Raina leaned in to look with me, her face scrunched. “Ew. He looks a little too gorgeous.”
“Raina!” I shouted, smacking her in the shoulder and taking up for him in his absence when I defended, “Look, he works out. He eats healthy. He has a nice smile. And…”
“He has a boyfriend. Next.”
While they were indeed a cute couple, the fact that a boyfriend existed definitely killed my vibe. So I backed out of his page to continue my search while Raina went back to doing the same.
“Now this right here is worth risking it all for.”
I leaned over Raina’s shoulder and…, “Damn, he is fine. And look at those biceps. I bet he gives the best hugs.”
“The best hugs? Girl, look at those shoulders. You could sit comfortably in the air while he devours you whole. Just hold onto his big ass head like a life preserver,” she said with a laugh.
A laugh I couldn’t help but join in on when I added, “He does have a big ass head.” Then I went back to my own search, scrolling through a bunch of guys I could easily find something wrong with.
Why does he take so many selfies in the car? Must be self-absorbed and/or homeless.
Why is there a different girl in every picture? Must be a manwhore.
Why is he so ripped? Must be on steroids and his dick is dealing with the consequences.
The longer I searched, the more annoyed I got, meaning the more I drank. And that… was not necessarily a bad thing.
“Oh, Brooklynnnn. I think I found your future baby daddyyy,” Raina sang as I cut my eyes to her phone to see who she was talking about.
When I finally got a good glimpse, I quickly agreed, “He could definitely get it. What do his stats look like?”
Her smile seemed optimistic when she answered, “So far, so good. He looks single, he looks responsible, and he looks like a father of one… two… three… four…”
“You’re kidding,” I cut in, though that didn’t exactly cut the list.
“Five… six… wait, those were twins. So six, and seven. Eight…”
“Maybe he’s a teacher? Runs his own daycare?” I tossed out, hoping that would give us the answers we needed.
But Raina quickly shut that down when she replied, “Girl, no. He couldn’t deny these kids if he wanted to. I mean, they all look just like him. Same eyes, same noses. Just a matter of hair or no hair.”
Her little spiel reminded me of an episode of Maury which meant it was definitely time to move on from his page. Still, I couldn’t help acknowledging, “Well… at least we know he makes pretty babies.”
Even though there were a shit ton of them, there was no denying how cute they all were; in an assortment of sizes, shapes, and skin tones while still all managing to look like him. But what I saw as a positive, Raina only scrunched her face at when she replied, “And at least we know from afar instead of getting invested just to get let down. Or worse; pregnant.”
“You can say that again,” I told her, taking a sip of the vodka and… other shit concoction that Raina had put together for us before I continued my scrolling. And after a few minutes with no prospects, I started to grow bored, tempted to hop offline and get back to reality until a new profile caught my eye.
From the selfie alone – hickory brown skin, a perfect white smile, a fresh haircut instead of that mophead bullshit guys my age preferred, and a pair of sexy ass dimples – he was a shoo-in for the top spot on my personal Risk-it-All list. Still, I continued my silent stalking, jumping to his profile to discover the dude was lowkey a celebrity.
“Or not lowkey at all…” I thought, quickly realizing that while I may not have been familiar with him as a professional basketball player, there were thousands of people who were. And they weren’t all just regular fans complimenting him on his game, but women who were deep in his comments with everything from heart-eyed emojis, to eggplant emojis, to… pizza emojis?
What the hell are those for?
Girls were throwing panties and proposals left and right, almost making me want to back out until I heard Raina say, “Brooklyn. Oh my goodness.”
“What? What’s wrong?” I asked, extra panicky thanks to the buzz that had now fully consumed my body.
Raina damn near crawled on my shoulder to respond, “Him. He’s… perfect. Too perfect. Please tell me you found some dirt.”
“Besides the hundreds of girls who feel exactly how we do? Can’t say that I have,” I answered as I kept on scrolling through his pictures, finding them especially normal for someone who lived a life of stardom. I mean, if his team name and number weren’t in his bio, I probably wouldn’t have even known he played ball since his profile was filled with typical guy stuff.
Occasional gym equipment pictures.
Occasional stuck-in-traffic selfies.
Occasional vacation pictures.
Occasional food pictures.
He seemed so… regular. Well, except for the fact that he was way finer than any dude I had ever come across on the street. And Raina enthusiastically agreed with my thoughts when she said, “He’s fine as fuck. Like… multiple fucks. Like, I don’t usually give a fuck, but this chocolatey mothafucka deserves my fucks. I’d gift him my fucks for his birthday. I’d feed him fucks like strawberries dipped in his skin. I…”
“I… kinda wish I could ride his face right now,” I blurted, my tipsy state making me laugh while also turning me horny the longer I stared at his pictures.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one since Raina asked, “Well can we take turns? Cause oh my God, look at those dimples! I mean, he’s almost slide in the DMs worthy.”
My face scrunched as I repeated, “Slide in the DMs worthy? Raina, please. I’m not that damn desperate. I don’t even know this dude.”
Not that I wouldn’t have tried to get to know him if I were to have saw him live and in person. But approaching someone – a celebrity – on social media, via direct message, to say nothing more than, “Hey, you’re cute and I’d consider screwing you if I could even though I can’t,” just felt too ridiculous.
Of course, that didn’t stop Raina from trying to normalize my feelings about the situation when she explained, “Girl, people do it all the time. Hell, Yo Gotti made a whole song about it for a reason. Starts with a DM and ends with a Happily Ever After, or at least a good story to brag about to your future grandchildren the same way my grandma still brags about her one night stand with James Brown in between his second and third wife.”
The glow in her eyes had me wishing there was actually some truth to her words – the happily ever after; not her grandma hooking up with James Brown, God rest his soul. But considering we had already spent most of the night fantasizing about guys we couldn’t have, I knew better than to get my hopes up, quick to reply, “Well I can guarantee his inbox is full of girls who had that same exact thought process, only to get denied or no reply at all.”
With a poke to my shoulder, she insisted, “Those girls aren’t you though, B. And besides, what the worst that could happen?”
“Uh… did you hear what I just said?” I asked, knowing good and well rejection and vodka didn’t mix no matter who the person doing the rejecting was.
But Raina pushed the envelope a little more when she said, “Brooklyn, quit being a scaredy cat and just hit him up. Matter of fact, I double-dog dare you to send him a message.”
“Raina…” I whined, knowing I had never been one to turn down a good dare no matter how damning.
She only upped the ante when she challenged, “You either send him a message or finish off the rest of this liquor. Your choice.”
My first thought was, “I’m already drunk” which meant the rest of the liquor probably wouldn’t have made that much of a difference anyway. But for whatever reason, Raina’s dare enticed me much more, especially when my eyes went back to his Instagram.
It only took a few more scrolls for me to decide to go through with it. And while I really wasn’t expecting anything to come from it, I relied on the courage in my roommate’s words – What’s the worst that could happen? – to press send.
“Yo, all these chicks in your DMs are crazy. Fine as hell. But crazy as fuck.”
I paused my video game, dropping the controller on the couch before I snatched my phone out of my cousin Calvin’s hand so that I could see what he was talking about. It wasn’t unusual for him to be going through my messages since I had put him in charge of keeping up with all my social media accounts so that I wouldn’t miss anything important. But naturally, I was curious to see what had prompted him to point out whatever “crazy” thing he had come across, scrolling through the recent collection of messages that all looked pretty normal to me.
“I usually don’t do this, but…”
“Do you have a girlfriend? And if so, is it me?”
“My God, you are so fine.”
“Is that a cucumber in your basketball shorts, or you just been scrolling through my pics? ;P”
Okay, maybe that one was a little crazy. But everything else looked completely… wait.
“I don’t really know you. And of course, you don’t know me. But I couldn’t scroll by without saying anything. So… here it is.”
For whatever reason, that one had me intrigued as I looked for a follow-up message, only to realize the first one had been sent late last night. But instead of replying right away to probe for more, I clicked over to her profile to see if a response was even worth the trouble.
“Damn, definitely worth it,” I thought based on her little profile picture alone, her hair in a medium-length bob that was just enough to frame her face covered in skin almost as chocolate as mine. And while I couldn’t tell if it was a good filter, good selfie lighting, or just her natural glow, her skin was as radiant as the smile she wore; a smile I couldn’t help but match once I stopped to read her bio that simply said, “Where Brooklyn at?”
Her profile almost seemed professionally curated considering how clean and organized it was as a whole. And once I began to look at the pictures individually, I quickly got lost in the story she was telling without too many words, using intimate close-ups, classic filters, and snippets of R&B lyrics as her captions to create a vibe that had me weeks deep in her Instagram in no time at all.
“Damn, bro. You better slide in her DMs before I do.”
I peeked over my shoulder at Calvin who was way deeper in my phone than I was, more than likely because of the black and white picture I was stuck on of the girl from behind with the caption, “All on Instagram, cake by the pound…”
Whoever she was definitely had some impressive cakes, though I tried to play it off when I told my cousin, “Chill out, man. I’m just peepin’ game. Seeing what she’s about and shit.”
It sounded good, but I knew I was already a lot more invested than I should’ve been. I mean, I didn’t even know the girl, didn’t know her name, didn’t even know where she lived. But I was way too deep into her profile to turn back now, being careful not to “like” any pictures on accident as Calvin replied, “That body tells me everything I need to know. What’s her username so I can follow her too?”
“Man, take yo’ thirsty ass on somewhere,” I told him with a laugh, hitting a quick “Follow” on her page before going back to my inbox to accept her message. And without thinking twice, I replied with a set of emoji eyes that said I was definitely interested in whatever she had to say.
To my surprise, a response came quick – two, in fact – that reeked of a sarcasm I couldn’t help but chuckle at.
“Oh wow. You actually responded. What’d I do to make the cut?”
“I’m Brooklyn, by the way.”
“So it was her first name that sparked her Instagram bio,” I thought, finding it clever while also typing out a response.
“I’m an honest man, so keep that in mind when I tell you it was the ass that got me. But it’s nice to meet you, Brooklyn. You from NYC?”
I was really only teasing since I knew firsthand the whole being named after where you’re from thing wasn’t always the case. But to my surprise, she really did have some ties according to her reply.
“No, but my parents are. I was actually born and raised in Dallas.”
“No shit? I live in Miami now, obviously. But I’m from Houston. You know, the better city of the two. Lol.”
Even if I didn’t get back to my hometown often, I still repped it heavy everywhere I went, wanting to be a good example for the little homies coming up after me. But Brooklyn managed to turn the whole thing into a joke when she responded, “Austin from Houston, and Brooklyn from Dallas. How fucked up are we? ;)”
“Happy to share in the struggle with you, baby. Guess we gotta be friends for real now.”
I wasn’t even sure where that had come from, especially since I rarely ever entertained women hopping in my DMs. But something about Brooklyn was just… interesting, keeping me tuned into the conversation instead of going back to the video game that Calvin had taken over when I wasn’t paying attention.
“If you’re curious to know, the dimples were what got me.”
Naturally, they flared in response to her words as if they were taking a bow, my smile full as hell when I replied, “They’re my secret weapon. Glad to know they still work their magic, even if it’s via the internet.”
“They certainly do. Last night, I told my roommate I wanted to cover them with my inner thighs. But that’s a lot to tell a complete stranger, so I’m gonna chill.”
“Well damn,” I said out loud, garnering Calvin’s attention as he paused the game to ask, “What?” But I quickly shook him off, leaning forward on the couch with my phone in my hand as I tried to decide how I wanted to play this.
Not responding would’ve been the easy thing to do since Brooklyn was starting to feel like the exact kind of trouble I should’ve been avoiding. But on the other hand, I was far too intrigued to turn back now, quickly typing out, “Yo, you’re really just gonna drop a bomb like that and pretend it’s nothin’?”
It was bold as hell, but I didn’t mind her taking it there, appreciating the honesty that seemed to match my own. To be real, the shit was refreshing, especially after dealing with some of the local South Beach women who almost all seemed to be on that fake shit one way or another. But unfortunately, it was my locale that had Brooklyn attempting to dead our conversation according to her last reply.
“You’re in Miami. I’m in Dallas. Which mean it’s definitely nothin’.”
“This was fun though. Have a good day, Mr. Basketball Player Dude. <3”
Somehow, her lowkey curving me still came off as sweet and sarcastic, making me smirk as I sent another response anyway.
“Wow. So your fine ass really just gonna slide in my DMs, get my full attention, then bounce out on me before I even get to respond to your desire to ride my face by tellin’ you I’d definitely let you ride my face?”
I could see when she read the message, and I worried I might’ve said too much when she didn’t respond right away. But no more than a minute had passed when she finally replied.
“Well played. ;)”
Now that it seemed as if I had her attention the same way she had mine, I felt confident enough to really shoot my shot, not holding anything back when I went for the kill.
“So what’s up? You want me to fly you out, or what?”
“Is that what you do? A pretty girl slides in your DMs and you immediately flex by offering her a plane ticket?”
Ironically enough, this was my first time putting a plane ticket on the table. In fact, I had made fun of some of my teammates for doing the shit in the past, especially since there was plenty of local pussy to go around. But it wasn’t even just about the pussy with Brooklyn, her whole energy – even through messages – enough to have me wanting to know more, wanting to experience her in person. And I was sure to keep it trill when I replied, “Nah, I’ve never done this before. But I get a certain vibe from you, Brooklyn. And I want more.”
“Damn, nigga. You still messaging back and forth with ol’ girl?”
I didn’t bother answering Calvin with anything more than a head nod, my eyes completely focused on the screen as I read her response.
“What if I turn out to be a Catfish?”
For whatever reason, that made me bust out laughing until I considered the possibility, scrolling back to her profile as if I could somehow check it’s authenticity. But once I clicked her profile picture to watch the story of videos she had shared from the night before of her and a friend drunk as hell and singing offkey to Beyonce, I realized this was just her being silly again, allowing me to respond, “It’ll be one hell of a lesson learned. But considering the recent videos on your Instagram story, I think I’m good there.”
“What if I forward a screenshot of these DMs to TheShadeRoom?”
Once again I laughed, knowing that was just another reason I usually didn’t entertain women in my DMs. But with Brooklyn, I felt secure enough to challenge, “Screenshots of me offering a fine ass woman the opportunity to ride my face? Honestly, I’d probably gain some new fans.”
“Wow. You’re good.”
“I know. ;)”
With a real grin on my face that matched the one I had sent, I sat back against the couch, watching Calvin get his ass kicked in the game as I waited to see what Brooklyn would come up with next. But I became a little worried when I read, “Okay, one more honest thing.”
Naturally, my mind went to some worst-case scenarios, trying to evaluate which things I would or wouldn’t be willing to tolerate.
She’s a stripper or somethin’… no biggie.
Crazy baby daddy… hell nah.
“Sliding in your DMs was a vodka-induced dare.”
“That’s it?” I asked in my head while typing out, “So you’re sayin’ you wouldn’t have been checkin’ for me otherwise?”
I could pretty much assume that wasn’t the case since our conversation had gotten this far. But I was glad to hear her confirm that in her latest message.
“Nah, you’re fine as hell. I’m just saying our… virtual paths might not have crossed otherwise. Hopping into a stranger’s DMs isn’t exactly my style.”
While it stroked my ego to know I had her doing new shit the same way she had me – even if hers had come off a dare – it was that honesty that really had me feelin’ her when I replied, “Well I’ll be sure to thank Diddy for making Ciroc next time I see him. Now are we gonna link up, or are you chickening out on me? I wanna meet you, for real.”
After I sent the message, I realized how desperate it probably made me sound; shit that definitely wouldn’t go over as smoothly on TheShadeRoom if she really did go through with screenshotting. But I was surprised to see her take a different angle, bringing up my career instead when she asked, “Don’t you have basketball games and stuff to be worried about?”
Being that it was mid-season, I probably should’ve been more worried about basketball than a chick I didn’t even know in my DMs. But it was just my luck that the only real break we got during the season was steadily approaching, allowing me to reply, “All-Star Break is coming up, so I’ll have some rare down time to spend with you.”
Spending the extended weekend with a girl like Brooklyn seemed like a great plan, giving me enough time to get to know her a little better, have a little fun if she was really down, and send her off with pleasant memories for the both of us. But I hadn’t even realized what I was accidentally setting up until I read, “That’s Lovers’ weekend, Mr. Basketball Player Dude. Reserved for real couples. Not fly-outs with rand-os.”
She had a point, the commercialized holiday of flowers and chocolates surely on the radar for most people. But just because the “rules” said one thing didn’t mean we couldn’t do our own, something I expressed when I typed out, “Well nothing says Happy Valentine’s Day to me like having a beautiful woman ride my face. Especially one who looks like she tastes like Hershey Kisses.”
Once again, I knew I was running the risk of doing too much and getting my ass embarrassed if she decided to switch up on me. But I was happy to see Brooklyn on that same witty shit she had been on from the very beginning, correcting me with her reply.
“Godiva. I’m more of a gourmet type of bitch. ;)”
I bust out laughing, catching a side eye from Calvin who was obviously in his feelings about the major L he was now taking in the game. But I wasn’t about to let him ruin my vibe, feeling too good as I typed, “Yo, you’re really cute as hell. Can I get your number?”
It felt a little silly to just now be asking for her number considering how deep our conversation had already gone. But I knew it was best for me to get off of Al Gore’s internet before I really started talking some nasty shit that someone could hack into and put me on blast about; not that I was at all ashamed of my game.
I suppose I just preferred my privacy as much as the next person, which also meant I’d definitely be deleting these messages before I gave Calvin back control of my social media. And I was only reminded to do so when I read, “I mean, you already gave me permission to ride your face. Asking for my number kind of feels like taking a step backward at this point.”
I smirked as another message came in, this time with a phone number that included a very familiar Dallas area code and a kiss emoji. And while I was tempted to hit her up right away, hear her voice, or maybe even see her face on a video call, I decided to play it cool instead, replying with a simple, “I’ll be in touch, baby.”