“I’m going to New York this weekend.” Monica announced, plopping on the countertop to watch Scott shave. It had quickly become her favorite pastime.

“Really?” he drug the razor under his chin.

“Yeah, I want you to come along.”

“Work or pleasure?”


“I’ll pass. I have to work.” He raised, toweled off and left her sitting alone. He’d had his fill of snobs weeks ago but Monica insisted on trotting him from pillar to post at least five times a week. Though completely exhausted and seeing no end to his suffering, he wasn’t giving up the fight. Monica would have to attend some of these functions alone. The gawking women were one thing but the men made the ordeal unbearable. He could no longer stand idly by and loath them in silence. Sooner or later the dam would break sending waves of disdain spilling forth, killing any villagers in its path.

Monica rushed and clung to his bare back. “Do I have to beg?”

Unmoved, he peaked over his shoulder and met her flashing doe-eyes. “Yes, but you’re wasting your breath. I’m not going,” he pulled a tee shirt over his head, kissed Monica and went to fetch a cup of coffee with her close on his heels. “I have registration today and I’m working tomorrow—which leaves Saturday and I’m sure you’re leaving tomorrow night.”

“I’ll book a later flight and we can leave together. Or you can fly in Saturday evening.” Her tone was genuinely sincere. “One gathering and we’ll spend the rest of the time alone, just…us.”

She wasn’t trying to get her way, she was truthful. She wanted him there, but why? Scott wasn’t blind to her ever changing affection for him, but he was weary of its depth. Though she was head and shoulders above Courtney in the emotional department, he was hesitant to express his feelings. This hesitation was the residue, the last traces of a bitter protracted relationship…and he hated it. Monica shouldn’t have to suffer for Courtney’s mistakes.

“You really want me there, don’t you?” Scott asked.


He rubbed his eyes and sighed. “I’ll fly out Saturday evening.”

“We have a very important dinner Saturday night,” she realized she’d been holding her breath and fidgeting with her sleeve, a nervous habit she hadn’t out grown. “Can you be there by eight o’clock? I wouldn’t ask unless it were important. I’ll send a car for you.”

Where were the “three pleases” which normally accompanied her persuasions? “Send a car to pick me up. I’ll be there by six.”

Monica smiled but it wasn’t a victorious smile. It was a thank you. Her past relationships faired no better than Scott's. At least he’d been in love; the most she could produce was a deep ‘like’ for her prior men. Her drive always seemed to get in the way and the one she had felt more than a twinge of ‘like’ for, let her down. She was determined to see this one through. Scott was different, he was dependable, and most importantly, worth the trouble.

“Thanks, I’ll book your flight and reserve your car.” She kissed his cheek and went to dress for work.


“Oh my God. I don’t think I’ve ever disliked someone so much in my entire life.” Scott said in mix of frustration and laughter to the sully admissions counselor. “Lady, I’m applying for the School of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. Tell me, why would I be required to sit for the MAT? You have my Graduate Record Examination Aptitude scores. I have a 3.6 in my area of specialization and two courses in criminal justice theory,” he tried valiantly not to swear. “My application is complete. All I need you to do is…” out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of a tweed jacket. “Dr. Greene.” He called, a dark skinned distinguished older gentleman turned around grinning.

Dr. Emory Greene had been Scott’s statistics professor and longtime mentor. Consequently, he’d also been the motivation behinds Scott’s reemerging interest in the field. Dr. Greene rarely invested time in his alumni but Scott interest him. He assumed the only reason a clever white man with his pick of universities would choose to attend Clark Atlanta or any historically black institution would be to piss his parents off….which Scott had done, fantastically.

Before Scott managed two words, Dr. Greene pulled him into his office and helped him sort out his dilemma, which, as it turns out, wasn’t a dilemma. He simply needed to deposit the application and leave. He and Dr. Greene spent the rest of the afternoon talking over their plates at a local café. Dr. Greene assured Scott that he was a shoe in for a slot; there was no need to worry.

“Are you still dating…” he grappled for a name. “Cory?”

“You mean Courtney. No, we’re not together.”

“Good, I didn’t like her. She thought too highly of herself.”

Scott laughed. “She was vain.”

“She was delusional.”

“You’re right about that.”

Dr. Greene watched Scott’s smile fade. He’d known Scott since his freshman year and he was hiding something. “Tell me about your new lady. I know you have one.”

Scott’s forehead furrowed. “How did you know?”

“Please,” He leaned back and smiled. “You can’t keep anything from me. By the looks of it, she’s keeping you busy. I haven’t seen you in weeks.”

“Monica is…” he thought for a moment. “Monica is Monica. She’s special.”

Special, Dr. Greene contemplated. Scott was in love. “She’s not going to get in the way of your studies, is she?”

Scott shook his head. “No, she’s far too busy to think about me. If anything, I’m the distraction.” He chuckled.

“Bring her by. I’d like to meet her.” Dr. Greene said letting him off the hook with an indifferent yet still admonishing stare.

It was half passed six when Scott remember he’d promised Mr. Fitzpatrick he’d come to dinner. This time, Monica couldn’t be blamed for his ruined evening. It was his fault for not consulting her before accepting. It was Monica’s turn to rush across the city, speed dressing in the back of a Town Car. Spending time with Mr. Fitz, as he preferred to be addressed, wasn’t the problem. Scott enjoyed his stories and company immensely. It turned out they shared a love of history and William Blake. No, it was Mrs. Fitz’s constant surveillance he abhorred.

Dinner was perfunctory: long discussions about area politics and the fundraiser. The conversation deviated only when the topic of vintage trains came up and the women ran for their lives. Monica believed Mr. Fitz saw Scott as the son he never had. His only son, Bradley had been a rake and a drunkard who’d squandered his inheritance nine months after his eighteenth birthday and succumb to serous of the liver before his thirty first. Sad, a man with all the money in the world couldn’t help his own son overcome his demons.

In walked Scott. Who neither asked nor expected anything of him other than a pleasant conversation and real pit bar-b-que.

Monica and Mrs. Fitz’s relationship often left Monica on a mental stupor and extended conversations were only undertaken after a cocktail of Kettle One and prayer. It was obvious she was lonely and had little in common with her hoity-toity contemporaries because she took the keenest interest in every infinitesimal detail of Monica’s day-to-day life. What had been entertaining was now a chore. On average, she’d pop up unannounced in Monica’s office at least twice a week, which affectingly sent everyone including Sharon scrambling makeup kits and mirrors—anything to ensure her visit was pleasurable.

She would enter the office like the Grand Duchess herself and insist Monica have lunch with her. Like housetraining a naughty puppy, Monica swatted her nose until she understood one lunch plus their weekly business meeting was quite enough; dinner and drinks were always welcomed. Social climber or not, Monica had to set ground rules and didn’t need the interruptions. She’d stood up to Mrs. Fitz and lived to tell the tale. In Mrs. Fitz’s eyes, they were best friends.

Now, it was time to find Sharon a husband. After Sharon’s short lived marriage to the biggest jerk of the century, she all ears. Mrs. Fitz was a self avowed matchmaker and Sharon was her latest endeavor. Sharon would have her pick of Atlanta’s (or anywhere else Mrs. Fitz’s bony fingers poked) finest—nothing was too good for her protégé.

“Why do I feel like a doll?” Sharon asked one evening after Mrs. Fitz left.

“Because you are one.” Monica replied rightfully. “A little Black doll.”

As Scott and Monica were leaving the dinner, Mr. Fitz slipped Scott the keys to their NYC townhouse insisting they make themselves at home. He thanked him for his generosity and said goodnight. There was no denying this man; his gestures came from his heart. It wasn’t until he was in the car that he realized the trust Mr. Fitz had in him and Monica. No, he didn’t care for Mrs. Fitz but he’d make it a point not to visibly cringe in her presence any longer.

Later that night, Monica lie on Scott’s chest listening to his rhythmic breathing—wanting to tell him, needing to tell him but she was frightened. For the first time in her life, she was afraid to speak her mind. What if he didn’t reciprocate? What if he let her down? There were a couple of false starts, and then she chickened out. Maybe he felt them because he stirred and asked what was wrong.

“Nothing,” she replied quietly.

“Do you need another blanket? You’re shivering.”

“No.” The last hopes of declaration faded with her voice.


The next day was a wind storm for both of them. Scott went into the station early to call in a favor: he needed to be out of the station no later than 4:00pm make his flight. Case was in the middle of a crossword puzzle and Scott barely received a nod of recognition before being asked to supply a four letter word for poultry.

Meanwhile Monica tied up loose ends for the Fitzpatrick’s event and headed out of the door. “Joy, please be sure Mr. Harrison’s flight is booked and his conformation is sent to him before you leave. He will also need a car and ensure the driver has directions to the hotel and museum,” Monica rattled off to her senior assistant while stuffing her portfolio into her briefcase. While she was addressing Joy, it was understood her junior assistant was to scribble her directives also, lest something fall through the cracks. “I’m not going to have time to drop off his invitation. Have a driver believe it to him doorman,” she swiveled to Sharon who was impatiently holding the door but turned again. “Keep your phone on at all times just in case I need you. KC should be calling—I’ll call her back when I’ve settled in. You know the drill. I expect you at the hotel by tomorrow morning—Lori will be your backup here in Atlanta.”

“Monica, come on. The car is waiting.” Sharon finally shouted and pulled Monica out of the doors.

As soon they were out of sight, their assistants buckled in relief but it was premature; Monica reappeared.

“You have Mr. Harrison’s numbers, right? Cell, home and station?”

“Yes, now go!” Joy, the only one who dared to raise her voice to Monica answered.

“Thanks,” She smiled nervously and scuttled off to the elevator. She hated rushing. It always seemed as though she were forgetting something. In the elevator, she racked her brain trying to think of what she was missing: dress, shoes, invitation, extra battery for her cell, hair and nail appointment. It was all in order but she couldn’t shake the feeling. Just as she was about to hyperventilate her phone rang.

“Hey pretty girl,” cooed Scott. His low baritone voice had the calming effects of a morphine drip: soothing yet addictive. “I left my tux in your closet but don’t worry, I circled back and took it home before I came in.” He could hear Monica breathe a sigh of relief. “Rough day?

“Much better now,” She hustled passed the security guard and crawled into the car. “We’re on our way to the airport.”

“Relax, you’ll be fine. Give me a call before you take off and when you arrive. I’ll try to give you a call tonight before you go to bed but if I don’t, then I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Thanks. I…” say it damn it! “I’ll give you a call from the airport. I…I have to go.”

Scott beamed a hopeful smile. She wasn’t fooling anyone. “Talk to you then.”

As promised, Monica called from the hotel. Sharon was across the hall and their assistants were a stones throw away down the hall. In the mad rush to catch her flight, she’d left Mr. Fitz’s keys with Scott. Fortunately, they still had reservations—not that she planned on staying. Besides the oversized European-style soaking tub and separate walk-in shower, the Premier Club Room was like any other monotone five star she’d visited: homey yet cold. And without Scott it seemed even colder.

She missed him dearly, there lying in bed. He was at the station, unreachable but she called anyway.

Hey, this is Scott. Sorry I missed your call. Leave me a message and I’ll call you back. Thanks.

She must have listened to his recording forty times that night.