“I’m sick of making breakfast for my vibrator!”
I screamed into the phone to Noah, who was laughing his ass off in his flat in London.
“Stop laughing, Noah. It’s not funny.”
“I know, I’m sorry, baby. I wish I could help you out, but you know I’ve been off the coochie for some time now.” He snickered.
“Whatever,” I said through a yawn.
“I gotta go, babe. We’ll talk again next week, okay?”
“Love you too,” I said, and hung up the phone. Stretching myself out onto my couch, I began to evaluate my situation.
Maybe the fact that it’s been a long time since I’ve had a real live man in my bed is what has put me in such a funky mood to begin with.
Maybe it’s not just the absence of sex—maybe I’m depressed?
I’ve thought about that. Even ventured so far as to speak to a couple of associates who make it no secret that they pop Xanax as often as Geneva pops M&M’s.
They tell me I don’t have the symptoms of depression. They say, “Maybe you’re just dissatisfied with your life?”
How could I be?
I’m a director at a very successful nonprofit organization. I pull in a six–figure income, I own beautiful apartment overlooking Central Park, and I have a very hefty 401(k). And let’s not forget good health, friends, and family.
I have everything a girl could want—except a man. Well, I sort of have a man—well, a part–time lover really…in Antigua no less.
But I want…I need my very own man.
Up until this moment I haven’t wanted to admit that to myself, but true is true and sometimes the truth is a hard fact to face. I guess I didn’t want to own up to it because I didn’t want to fall into the category of “Only Feels Complete with a Man.”
I think this Strong Black Woman complex hurts a lot of us strong black women. We’re supposed to be these alpha females with power jobs that allow us to buy ourselves our own power toys.
Have you noticed the number of women who own cars now?
And I read that black women own more real estate than black men.
Those women, the strong black ones, proclaim that they don’t need a man for anything, don’t even need their dicks. Those they can buy online in any size, shape, and color.
I should know: I have two dildos and a vibrator shaped like a ladybug.
I may seem like one of those women—the strong black women—my trappings may suggest that I am, but truth be told, I’m not.
I may not be verbalizing that I need a man, but shit, in my heart I’m screaming that I do.
A dildo can’t hold you, embrace you after sex, or take you on romantic walks along moon–kissed beaches. It can’t propose marriage, and, worst of all, it can’t give you children.
So if not wanting any of those things, or not needing any of those things, is what makes a strong black woman, then a strong black woman I’m not.
Over the past year I’ve put my heart into finding that special someone. I did the speed–dating thing and just walked away with a dry mouth and stiff jaws from smiling too much. I even went the online route and actually thought I’d stumbled onto a “possible” when I met Ben.
Benjamin Knight was a tall brown–skinned man with curly sandy–colored hair and hazel eyes. A pharmacist by trade, he had great teeth and a nice physique.
He had twin boys named Clarence and Fabian and an ex–wife named Nadia.
Ben had given Nadia the house in Westchester County and rented a small apartment for himself in Greenwich Village. He’d always wanted to live in the Village, he confided to me on our first date as we sat sipping wine at the Harlem Grill. “I’ve got an artist’s heart,” he’d said, laughing.
I liked his laugh.
“So what are you looking for in a mate?” The question was sudden, totally taking me off guard.
“Well, I um…” I started, not knowing how we’d gotten to that place so quickly. I glanced down at my watch. We were just thirty minutes in. “I guess I want what all women want,” I said, hoping that I would not have to say any more than that.
Ben nodded his head. He understood, or at least I thought he did. I would find out a week later that what he thought all women wanted and what I wanted were two very different things.
After the lovely meal and lively conversation, he drove me home in his brand–new emerald green Jaguar. Walking me to the front door of my building, he placed both of his hands on my shoulders, leaned in, and gave me a polite peck on my forehead. Afterward, he reiterated what a wonderful time he’d had and how he hoped I wouldn’t break his heart by telling him that I already had plans for next Friday night.
We spoke twice during the week. He was funny, insightful, and intelligent. I was beginning to think that I’d finally hit the jackpot. But when he called Thursday evening to confirm the time and place for our second date, the jackpot I thought I’d hit turned into just the two–dollar winnings on a quarter bet.
“Hey, Crystal, I was wondering…maybe we can, uh, skip the dinner,” he said.
“Okay, is there something else you’d like to do instead?” I asked as I stood over my dressing table, unhooking my watch from my wrist.
“Yeah, I figure you can just come over to my place or I can hang out at yours.”
The red flag started to inch up the flagpole, but I ignored it. He was cute, smart, a good and attentive father. His ex–wife didn’t work; she didn’t have to, and besides, he didn’t want her to. It was important, he said, for his children not to have to be raised by nannies and babysitters.
So he’s paying a mortgage, child and spousal support, not counting his expenses—maybe his request to stay in came from a financial aspect?
The excuses swirled around me.
“Um, well—” I began.
“Look, Crystal. We’re both adults, so we know where we’re going to end up, and I—”
“ ‘End up’?”
“Yeah, end up.”
“In bed. I want you, you want me, so why do we have to play these stupid games? Dinner, movies. All of it a waste of money and time. We could be using that time getting to know each other. You know, in the biblical sense.”
I was flabbergasted. “Are you joking?”
That was the end of Ben.
Then there was Sultan.
I know—what kind of name is that?
Well, I thought it was the one his mama gave him. His government name, as they say.
But come to find out, it was the name he gave himself in prison while he was serving a six–to–ten stint. Of course, I didn’t find out that he’d been in prison until our fourth date, when we ended up in my apartment, in my bedroom.
I was wet as hell; I mean, the fucking Niagara was spilling out from between my legs. At that point I hadn’t had sex in about three months and Sultan was tall, dark, gorgeous, and I hadn’t missed, on our first meeting, the imprint his cock left in his Levi’s.
I disrobed first, laid myself across the bed, and watched as he slipped off his white T–shirt and Gap jeans.
I had seen the tattoo on his neck. It said mom. I thought that was sweet. By the time he was down to his boxers, Sultan the man was gone and what stood before me was an art mural with limbs.
There were lizards and Medusa–looking women tattooed all over his chest and down his arms. Written across his back in red, green, and gold was NIGGA 4 LIFE.
Artists’ renditions of AK–47s graced both of his thighs.
“What the fuck!” I shouted as I popped straight up.
“What?” He gave me an amused look and flexed his biceps.
“What are those?” I shrieked, pointing a shaky finger at him.
“Tattoos, baby. Why you trippin’?”
“But so many?”
“Yeah, well, some of the other vics got more than this.”
“I—I don’t understand.”
“What don’t you understand?”
“You were in jail?”
“I told you that, baby,” he said, walking toward me, his dick already hard.
“No, you didn’t.”
“Yes, I did. I told you I did some time upstate.”
“I thought you meant Binghamton, where the flagship store of your company is located.” I shrank back from his touch. I couldn’t fuck a convict.
“Whatever,” he said, and with that dismissed the whole thing. “Now take them goddamn thongs off, girl. I want to eat that ass." He snickered wickedly.
Eat my ass? What kind of sick shit was this?
“What?” I whispered, my heart racing.
“Rimming, girl, you know. Now get them off,” he said, and then wagged the longest tongue I’d ever seen at me.
I was afraid to say no. I mean, maybe he’d done time for rape. No one likes a cock teaser, especially a hardened criminal with an erection.
I closed my eyes and felt his hands on my hips; his thumbs hooked into the waistband of my black net thong and slid it down and off.
“Turn over, babe,” he whispered, his voice guttural now.
Turn over? Oh my God—he was going to do me prison-style!
Once on my stomach, I was stiff as a board—my fingers gripped my pillow and I squeezed my eyes tightly shut, waiting for the moment his big black cock would rip into me, but what I felt instead was his tongue on the nape of my neck. After a moment he dragged it down the length of my spine and then stopped at my lower back, where he began to nibble my skin.
I still wasn’t able to relax.
“Damn, girl,” he muttered breathlessly, “you got some kind of ass.” Then I felt his lips on my left buttock and then my right. He spent more than fifteen minutes kissing and biting my plump behind. I would be a liar if I told you I hadn’t started to enjoy it.
I was just beginning to relax when suddenly he smacked my ass.
My head popped up off the pillow. “What the—?” I cried, turning to look back at him.
“Ah yeah, shiiiit,” he yelped, and slapped my ass again.
“Hey, that hurts,” I protested, trying to flip myself over.
He held me firm. “I’m sorry, babe, forgive me,” he cooed, and began kissing my behind again.
That was more like it.
I was starting to think that the kissing and nibbling was the extent of his lovemaking when he slid his hand down into the crack of my ass.
My body tensed.
His middle finger played around my “exit” hole, never penetrating, just teasing the rim. To my embarrassment I was as wet as a washrag back there. I didn’t even know I could get wet there.
After a while he parted my cheeks and began to blow. I tell you something, I could have come right then and there!
And then, without any warning, his tongue slipped into me—into my hole!
In and out, in and out, in and out . . .
I was squirming like a newborn, squealing like a pig, bracing myself for the orgasm that was rushing from the pit of my gut.
When it hit, my body went stiff and then spastic. I gripped the pillow, lifted my head and bellowed, “Holy fucking shit!” and then collapsed into a stuttering, trembling mess.
Sultan breathed, moved his palms across my ass like it was a crystal ball, and announced proudly, “You have just been rimmed.”
Turns out Sultan hadn’t served time for rape, murder, or drugs. He’d written some bad checks when his mother was sick. But I ended it anyway. Sultan just didn’t seem, well, he just didn’t seem safe.
Next up was Henderson. I’d seen him on the subway in the morning. He always offered me a kind smile and a warm greeting. He looked like an accountant or a bookworm, with his neat haircut, dark suit, and horn–rimmed glasses. Turns out he was both.
We went out on six dates before he even kissed me on the cheek.
He wasn’t boring. Well, he was a little boring.
But it seemed as if we wanted the same things. Marriage, children, and a home with a white picket fence.
On our twelfth date, while we were having dinner at Red Bamboo, he presented me with a certificate of “authenticity”—well, what it really was was a clean bill of health. He’d taken an HIV test a few days earlier.
“Oh,” I said, fingering the thin paper, more than a little stunned.
“Crystal Atkins,” Henderson began in a quivering voice as he dropped down on one knee.
My breath caught in my throat and I thought: Oh God, he’s going to propose!
“Would you allow me to make love to you?”
I breathed a sigh of relief and then laughed. “Yes, yes, Henderson, I will.”
“Good, good,” he said, rising to his feet and straightening the sharp seam in his slacks, and then, almost as an afterthought, he said, “Have you had an HIV test?”
Once again I was caught off guard. “Y–yes,” I murmured. And I had, two years earlier.
“Um, no,” I said, feeling embarrassed.
“Well, I think you should, just to be safe.”
And I did.
We made love at his place, on his double bed with the fake brass headboard.
He fucked like a rabbit. Rapidly.
He’d bang into me about thirty times, stop, take a breath, and then bang into me thirty more times. It went on like that for at least 150 thrusts before he let off a long whistle, shivered, collapsed, and muttered, “Damn.”
Which would be the closest he’d ever come to swearing.
Did I mention that his dick was about as long and as thick as my index finger?
Afterward, I’d lie there staring up at the ceiling, wondering if I could spend the rest of my life with a rabbit fucker. It would be hard at first, but I’d keep my dildos—that would help. Maybe next time, I thought, we would make love at my house and I’d introduce him to my twin dildos, Jack and Johnny. Maybe next time I’d show him how making love is supposed to be done.
“What's that, Crystal?” Henderson mumbled sleepily.
“Nothing, baby. Just gas.”
Three months in, I knew I couldn't take it anymore. The rabbit fucking, the conservative suit, the fake brass headboard--all of it.
I was going to break it off.
We were at Nobu, beautiful people buzzing all around us. Denzel Washington had been on his way out just as we walked in. I swear to God, I almost turned around and followed that man to his waiting sedan, but Henderson had a death grip on my hand.
I was picking at my sushi while Henderson methodically cut off pieces of his miso salmon and arranged it in an orderly fashion on his plate before he began to eat.
He only ate from left to right, and his meal was ruined if the food on his plate touched.
I watched him, hating him with every forkful of food he put in his mouth and resisting the urge to stab him in the eye with my chopsticks.
"So, Crystal, I was thinking."
He was always thinking.
"That maybe we should get married."
My eyes stretched wide. Had he lost his goddamn mind?
"I know, I know, it's sudden," he said, putting down his fork and picking up his napkin. He looked very pleased with himself, very smug. "But I've put a great deal of thought into this. I've done the numbers, and you and me, we add up."
You fuck like a rabbit! I wanted to scream.
"So what do you say?" Beaming, he reached into the breast pocket of his jacket and pulled out a small black velvet box.
I didn't want to see it, because if it was large and sparkly I might be dazzled enough to say yes.
Smiling, he slid it across the table. "I do hope you'll say yes."
Excerpted from Heat by Geneva Holliday. Copyright © 2007 by Geneva Holliday. Excerpted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.