It was the second Thursday in November. It was also the day that my daughter, Lauren Hayes, turned seventeen. As soon as I thought she'd woken up, I burst into her bedroom with a card, a glass vase stuffed with pink spray roses, and a tiny rectangular birthday cake punctured with a single burning candle that spelled out the word celebrate. We ate one thick slice of her favorite, German chocolate, and my daughter then informed me that the festivities would continue that night. She'd been invited out for a bite to eat.
Later Lauren was surging through the apartment looking for her slingbacks and fussing with her French twist. And because I like to cool down after putting in my eight hours of workplace labor, I started my weekday ritual. As soon as I get home, I close the blinds and disrobe--my way of enjoying my world in comfort and without distraction. This particular evening I had on some white lace panties and a matching bra.
I was passing through the dining room, which has a mirrored wall. Everything was fine until I noticed my reflection. For most people there's always one body part or another that they don't like, and I'm what some might consider "thick," but even so, I'm proud of my creamy-looking legs and voluptuous thighs.
I was captivated by my appearance, but felt annoyed when I caught my daughter staring.
"Don't you have to get ready, girl?" I asked her from the mirror.
My daughter, five-seven compared to my five-five, inherited her daddy's fair complexion and long skinny legs. Although several people accuse Lauren of tinting her hair, those reddish and blond roots come natural. She has a mole above her lip. And she is blessed with some Beyonce-type eyes: wide, exotic, and sparkly. In spite of Lauren's cockeyed stare and her mouthing off that "Ugh! Nobody wants to see you half-dressed," I was too unnerved to admonish her for her ill manners. She shoved a red T-shirt and some black leggings in my hand, and stormed off to her bedroom. I slipped the T-shirt over my head, but thought it was too warm for the leggings, so I laid them on the brown leather sofa.
Once Lauren disappeared, I stole a look at my surroundings. Under normal circumstances our apartment was low-maintenance and free of excessive clutter. But tonight the place looked jacked. Piles of T-shirts and musty-smelling jeans made a trail from my bedroom to the living room. Dirty plates and crusty silverware littered the kitchen counter, and I wanted to start organizing the magazines that had multiplied all over the front area.
There's a wide column of built-in shelves that take up a wall in my living room. I was crouched in front of it, busy doing my domestic thing, back turned, when I heard this voice rush from behind.
"Well, hellooo, Mrs. Davenport."
I turned my head so sharp I heard a bone pop. A flush of heat penetrated my face from the inside out. I had on the T-shirt, but he could still see my panties, and my legs were uncovered. I didn't know if I should excuse myself, or skip the apologies and shove a huge throw pillow against my lower half. But, paralyzed as I felt, all I could do was stare.
Even though he'd been dating my daughter for quite a few months, it was always hard to catch him for long stretches of time; it seemed he and my daughter were always running in and out of the apartment to be with each other.
But tonight, Aaron Khristian Oliver hovered over me dressed in a wine-colored suit and a multicolored necktie. In some ways his looks reminded me of a tall version of the actor RonReaco Lee. His dark wavy hair, lightly trimmed mustache, and athletic body made it difficult to deny that Aaron Oliver put the "hot" in "hottie." His hands were shoved in his pockets and he tried to play things off, raising his eyes a little, but I knew he noticed my legs.
I turned from Aaron and my mind said, What the--okay, don't say nothing, just leave the room, no, no, his staring feels kinda--but this ain't cool, Lauren's only a few steps away . . . what if she . . . oh God, Jesus God.
Once those thoughts vanished, I felt a teensy bit tensed, but managed to sigh like his standing near was no biggie. I don't like letting any guy intimidate me, even if he does intimidate me. But just when I thought I was the one who controlled my world, I heard Aaron say real low yet audibly, "Mmm, mmm, wow."
At first his flirtation seemed silly. Yeah, right, he's gotta be kidding, I thought. Young fool, he's just messing with me. Ha ha ha, funny, funny funny.
I started to go on about my business, but Aaron wouldn't stop staring. Usually when men stare, I get annoyed and want to look anywhere except at the man whose eyes won't let me go. But with Aaron, this was different. I felt myself blushing, wanting to smile almost. Yet something screamed, He's crossed a line. Perform tongue-fu on him. Tell him his ass is grass and you're the lawn mower. But then another instigating inner voice said, Eat it up, Tracey Lorraine Davenport. It's okay for him to stare.
It felt weird to admit that I liked the way he lifted me. And after what I'd been through on my lunch break that day, hearing a long whistle and assuming it was a man, just to find out it was a bird, this was definitely an upgrade.
I turned and smiled at Aaron as widely and sweetly as possible. His body was so close he could have reached out and caressed my arm. I felt frozen to the floor.
"Mmmm, you look . . . never mind," he said in a low voice. Then he made a what's-the-matter-with-me groan and looked at the ceiling, at the floor, then back at me. I waved my hand at him so he could keep on talking, but without warning, he gave me a hardened stare and backed away.
Can you believe I felt a tiny stab of loneliness, just that quick? From enjoying the highs of feeling like an "it" girl, to being so-last-year, just that fast?
I stood only a couple feet away from him, but it felt like he was on the other side of the earth. He was standing next to the door, mumbling what sounded like "damn," and he was clutching and turning the doorknob.
"Hey," I said, stepping close to Aaron and forcing him to look at me again.
Aaron lifted his head and opened his mouth, but instead of hearing his words, I heard, "Mom, what are you doing?"
Right then I felt like the child and not the mother. I jumped back from the guy far enough to create some innocent distance between us. I covered my thighs with my hands, then grabbed a few magazines and placed them in front of my crotch with an overdue "This is so embarrassing. Aaron, don't you know how to ring a doorbell instead of just walking in here?"
I glanced at Lauren, apologized with my eyes. Her terse expression softened a little, but not enough to make me feel totally at peace.
The entire atmosphere shifted, the tantalizing moment escaping with few promises of a return. I even retrieved the leggings from the couch and scurried to my room and slid my legs inside them. Once my hands stopped shaking, and when I felt calm enough to emerge, I rushed past Aaron and resumed stacking magazines.
Aaron hung around for a little bit longer, until Lauren was ready. She grabbed him by the hand, snatching him through the door and toward the safety of the outside world. Yet before they left, and all the time he was standing there, I never made eye contact with him again. But I'd bet a hundred bucks, even though all three of us were in the same room, that my daughter's boyfriend sneaked another peek at me.
She didn't have to worry, though. I liked his attention, loved how good his stare made me feel, but after thinking about things long and hard, I decided I wasn't going to be a fool. Once I knew they were gone, I said out loud to the mirror with a strong voice, "Aaron is just a kid. And I don't do kids."From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from My Daughter's Boyfriend by Cydney Rax. Copyright © 2004 by Cydney Rax. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.