Remembering Your Heart-Chapter 1

New story, very sweet, kind of short but I like to keep you all coming back for more. I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 1

“Go, go, go, do it Anderson, do it!” she heard her commander, Captain Lou Willard, shouting from beneath her, she’d turn and give him her famous, go to hell look but she was too tired. She was having a hard time today climbing these steps all this equipment on her back, full gear, an air tank, a mask, they did this once a month to stay in shape at her station. Station House 6, her home away from home. Mona Anderson has been a firefighter for 9 years and they had been wonderful. She’d taken the test for firefighter on whim when she lost her job working for the Multnomah Prosecuting Attorney’s office as a legal secretary. She’d always been in good shape and at 5’10” she was certainly tall for a woman, she was what they called in the old days ‘a big-shouldered broad’ she’d played softball and basketball while in high school and college. You could accuse of her being a girl but never a very prissy one.

Her father had been tall 6’7” to be exact and her mother had been short 5’2” so she came somewhere in between. But they were both gone now killed in a fire that had been set by some maniac in their little soul food restaurant. Now, she was the only thing left of them. She’d gone to live with her Aunt Julie, her mother’s sister and her Uncle James Stanley, they had three kids of their own and at first Mona felt like a burden but they loved her and cherished her and her cousins had come to be like sisters and a brother to her. The Sylvester household had been a good one to be raised in. But her parents had left her here and sometimes she was lonely and missed them they left their 11 year old baby her to go on without them.

Mona was a woman now, long dark sable hair that reached her mid-back that she usually wore up in ponytail or a braid because of her job and long strong legs, a lean muscular supple body, a pretty face with bright brown eyes, skin the color of cooper with reddish undertones. She was sometimes the talk of the Portland Fire Department, this attractive black woman, who could have walked anyone’s catwalk in the fashion houses of New York working this rough, dirty, and dangerous man’s job of being a firefighter. She wasn’t the only female firefighter in the city but she was the only black one and the only woman at her station house in the Northwest District of Portland by Nob Hill. It was nice neighborhood very friendly. She’d been with station house 6 going on her 4th year. She liked most of the guys she worked with, not all of them but most accepted her as just another firefighter and not some anomaly that shouldn’t have been there.

“Make it, make it. You can do it Anderson get your ass in gear and get up there.” Capt. Willard shouted from below.

Mona was huffing and puffing, one more flight and you’re done she thought. She didn’t need any ribbing from her co-workers for clunking out at the last minute. She gathered all her resolve and ran those last few steps. She collapsed at the top and raised her face mask to get some air and took off the breathing apparatus, she was breathing hard, ‘Okay, I gotta hit the gym more, I’m slipping,’ she thought to herself.

“Come on down, Anderson” she heard Willard shout at her.

She climbed down the steps with all her equipment on but had taken off her helmet completely so her wet hair sat matted to her head. When she reached the bottom step, she noticed the rest of her firefighting brothers looking at her, some giving her the thumbs up like Riley, Markum, Diaz, Bates, and Wakowski. Others just smiling at her and one in particular scowling, her sworn enemy Powell, she hated him and he hated her. She just looked at him and rolled her eyes, ‘jerk’ she thought.

Capt. Willard hit her on the back hard, she almost choked. He was heavy-handed sometimes but a great captain and really good boss. She felt lucky she got the transfer here to Station House 6 because no monkey business went on in here. “You did good Anderson. Eh, it took you little bit to get up there but you did it before the 10 minute limit, so you’re still good. But let’s see if you get that time down a bit, okay?”

“Yes sir.” Mona immediately answered back. She wasn’t about to let any of these guys get an upper hand on her.

“Okay, Kimura let’s go. You’re up next,” Willard bellowed and the hulking Asian appeared from the back ready for action.

Mona went to sit on a bench close by and drink some water. All the running up steps with a couple of pounds of equipment on her back had her a tad dehydrated. She’d taken off her jacket and breathing apparatus and set them along with her helmet down besides her. Now all she had on were suspendered pants, boots, and gray t-shirt it was truly stained with sweat. Riley came over and set down besides her.

“You did great Mona,” he told her in that truly positive air he always had about himself.

“Thanks Chuck, I appreciate that. But at the top I was having a hard time, I was really pushing myself to get all the up there.”

“Well, it certainly didn’t look like it to me. You were really keeping a steady pace, that’s the secret to doing this well, keeping a steady pace. You get that, hotheads like Powell don’t,” he said to her in a lower tone, he wasn’t fond of Powell either but he didn’t have to be, Chuck was a sergeant and outranked Powell. Chuck was truly nice guy and Mona and he had become good friends when she showed up at Station House 6. Chuck was about 6 ft tall with a head full of gray hair that he kept cut short, he was married and truly devoted to his wife of 22 years, Donna and had two kids in high school, he was awesome guy and was always fair in his dealing even with Powell.

Jeremy Powell, he was roundly disliked at the station house but she thought he just stayed so he could get on everyone’s nerves. He thought he was god’s gift to everyone but especially women, he was male chauvinist pig, with capital p. He was 29 year old hot head that barely wanted to follow procedure and just made some stuff up as he went along. He’d been with the fire department 5 years next to her 9, but he was headed for short future with the department. She was always surprised he was still a firefighter he’d almost gotten someone killed when he worked at station 18 and was blamed more than once by the family members of an elderly gentlemen who’d died in a fire he was on call at. He’d been sued for sexual harassment twice and was a bit of a racist and a complete know-it-all. He was truly a piece of work.

She turned and looked at Riley’s profile, he was really handsome man but he was older now but she could see where in his younger days he was probably a real hottie.

She turned back to watch Kimura coming down the steps and the guys giving him high fives as he passed.

“Yea, I know Chuck. I try to keep my pace steady but I really was pushing it at the top,” she chuckled more to herself than him.

“Alright, this drill is over. It’s dinner time,” she heard Willard shout to everyone. A host of cheers went up all around including from herself. That drill had taken a lot out of her and she was hungry.

“Yea, Cap what’s on for tonight” she heard Harrison shout, he was big African American guy with a body like a linebacker and smooth sienna skin.

“It’s Italian, guys. Riley, Torino, Anderson it’s your turn to get the grub,” Captain Willard ordered. “Riley you got a station house credit card?”

Sgt Riley nodded yes. They didn’t keep a lot of food in the kitchen in the station different groups of guys liked different things. So dinner time meant they had to go out and get all the fixings for tonight’s meal and if it was Italian that meant they were going to Serrano’s Italian deli and she’d get a chance to see him again. Mona got a little excited at the prospect.

Serrano’s Italian deli was busy as usual, it always was on Saturday nights. You’d think more people would be headed out to a party or club but it looked like most of Alphabet City was staying in for the night. The station house loved this deli and Mona came her even on her times away from the station house, which would start tomorrow, she’d been on duty for 7 days straight and she was about to get 4 days off and she needed it. There were a couple long days due to fires and other various emergencies in her quadrant. She knew what they were making a pot of spaghetti with meat sauce and they would be taking back a pan of Mr. Serrano’s famous lasagna, it was good enough to make you slap your mama.

“Bon journo,” they heard Mr. Serrano greet them as they came in the store.

“Hey, Mr. Serrano,” they shouted back at him.

Mr. Serrano came up to Mona and gave her a little hug. He was a ridiculous flirt for a man so old he had to be in 80’s. “Hello bellisima, how you doing my beautiful Mona,” he told in that still present Italian accent. He was smiling the smile of man who was a charmer in his day.

“I’m great Mr. Serrano, how are you?”

“I’m doing as well as an old man can do. My arthritis is giving me grief and my gout is acting up but my heart, ahh the heart is still strong,” and he beat his hand against his chest to demonstrate.

Mona just chuckled to herself and smiled, he was so cute, “You know everyone at the station is excited about your lasagna tonight,” she told him rubbing her hands together. All the guys were dying to get there mouths around a fork with that lasagna on it. Mr. Serrano said it was his mother’s secret recipe, they didn’t know what the secret was but whatever it was they’d kill to get it.

“Ah, the lasagna let me call that boy of mine from the back and he can bring it.” He went shuffling towards the back of the store. “Lucas, bring the lasagna out marked for the firehouse,” he shouted.

All of sudden there was rush of women towards the front deli counter where all the fresh meats and cheeses were stored. ‘Well, that’s why it’s so crowded in here all these desperate hoochies came to see him’ she thought to herself. But she couldn’t lie she was not going to be sad at all to see that handsome face.

It was few seconds more but then he opened the swinging door and came out to a rush of sighs and heavy breathing. He was gorgeous, almost too pretty to be a man, but he still had a masculine look. Mona couldn’t tear her eyes away and Torino was asking her something about salad dressing for a salad he was making.

“What Torino?” she turned to him finally trying not to look annoyed that he’d taken her eyes away from the most breathtaking sight she’d seen in awhile.

“Raspberry Vinegrette or this balsamic Italian, which do you the guys would like best?” he asked looking serious.

Mona had no idea, so she told him to get both. She turned to look at Mr. Serrano’s grown son coming towards her.

Torino leaned in close to her ear and whispered, “He is some kind of hot, isn’t he?” She turned to give a sly smile to Torino, everyone in the station house knew Vince Torino was gay, it was no big deal but he did say some outlandish things sometimes.

She turned as he walked slowly toward her, his gait sure and strong, he was brimming with bravado underneath that shy smile and Mona liked it.

“Your lasagna is at the front counter, Mona. So when you guys are ready to check out and it will be waiting for you.” He smiled deeply for her, she loved to see him smile it was like a toothpaste ad, straight white teeth and a dimple in his left cheek. “How are you doing, Mona?” he asked with deep sultry voice, Mona had to pull her legs tight together to make sure she wasn’t quivering at his tone.

“I’m doing fine, Luke,” she heard herself say in what could only be called the voice of a 12 year old girl.

He smiled again at her, “that’s good, I’m glad to hear it. I gotta get back and help these other customers,” he put his hand on her arm she felt nothing but heat from his touch, “I’ll talk to you later.” He walked back towards to counter to the throngs of women standing there hanging on his every move. Some of them were throwing evil glares but she didn’t care, ‘bitches’ she thought.

She went back to continue helping picking up items for the dinner tonight but out of the corner of her eye she kept watching him, she’d had a little flirting thing going with him since he’d gotten here about 6 months ago. The story was that he was 43 years old to her 38 years and once upon a time he’d been a stock broker on Wall Street, he was divorced with an adult son and had given up his high powered job and life to come back to Portland to help his dad out in his deli. She knew Mr. Serrano had seven kids and that Lucas was the only boy and the youngest. He was a damn good looking son she knew that, 6’5” all muscle with a broad chest and powerful arms, long muscular legs, and a behind that just put her in physical pain to look at it because it was so perfect. He had short slightly curly black hair and an angular face with a nice square jaw and beautiful nose, a pair of lips just full enough to suck on and the most intensely light blue eyes. It was a heady combination those eyes would have almost made him seem sinister if they weren’t laughing all the time. He was so friendly but surprisingly seemed kind of shy and reserved. She couldn’t imagine a man that beautiful being alone for long but for some reason he wasn’t dating anyone. Mr. Serrano had told her that, he seemed to think they’d make a good couple. Couple of what, she wasn’t sure of, her with this gorgeous uber hottie what a laughing stock that would be. But she did like to look at him, even if he’d never be hers it was nice just to look and dream.

“Hey, Mona,” she felt an hand on her shoulder and turned to see Riley standing next to her with a basket full of goodies. “You ready to get out of here? Did we get the lasagna?” he asked.

“Yea, I’m ready. The lasagna is up that the counter, Mr. Serrano’s son put it up there.”

He looked at her hands, “well, what did you get?”

She lifted her hands that had a couple of loaves of bread in them and tub of garlic butter, “What are you talking about I got the bread.” She looked at Riley with her brows knitted together.

He laughed and shook his head, “All this stuff me and Torino are carrying and you got bread. I see somebody has got your attention,” he looked up to where Luke was standing trying to help some customers.

“He does not,” Mona tried to ease the lie out, but she didn’t even sound convincing to herself. It was true he had her attention and he had it on lock right about now.

“Come on, Mona let’s get outta here. The guys are probably starving. Hey, Torino you ready? Let’s go,” he shouted towards Torino who came running up there way. She really liked Torino he was probie, a probationary firefighter, but he was sharp and tough, very professional and hilariously funny. They began to make there way to the front counter to check out.

hhhhh

Luke watched as she and her co-workers made their way up to the counter. He handed the order he was preparing for Mrs. Constantine over to Joey to finish up. He wanted to be sure that he was there at the register to help them get checked out. She was so pretty, just exquisite as a woman. He couldn’t remember the date he first met her but he could remember what she was wearing, she had on a pair of blue jeans that looked almost painted on they clung so tight to her delectable curves, a fitted black t-shirt that had a deep scoop neck so her bosom peeked just out of the top enticing his eyes, a pair of cowboy boots with myriad of colors and a brown worn leather jacket, it was a simple but sexy outfit. His pop had introduced them and then they started their little game of flirting. He didn’t know until later that week she was firefighter when she came in with some co-workers getting some items for a meal. She even looked good in what he assumed was their standard uniform under the fireman’s equipment, it was just a navy blue t-shirt with the fire department’s insignia on it and navy blue heavy cotton trouser and a pair of steel toed work boots and she made that look better than any woman he’d ever seen walking the streets of New York in Jimmy Choo stilettos and the latest designer outfit from the runway. Looking at her reminded him why he loved black women. They were all curves with just enough of everything hanging in all the right places. He was staring at her about to lick his lips, when he felt his pop’s eyes on the back of his head.

“Lucas, don’t be so forward. Your mama would turn over in her grave, ché vergogna” and he smacked him on the back of his head.

“Ow, pop don’t do that I’m not a kid anymore,” he said as he turned and frowned at his father. He knew his father believed in men being gentlemen and he was gentlemen. He still knew fine when he saw it though and she was fine.

He’d dated a few black women in his life but when he got married he ended up marrying a WASP from East Hampton, he’d met while attending NYU she was studying to be a psychologist and at first he thought all her analyzing of him was cute, after a couple of years it started to get on his nerves so now they had been divorced for 10 years and he had a beautiful 21 year old son, Brady to show for it. He hadn’t really had a significant relationship since he’d stopped dating Tasha back in New York over 2 years ago. He was finding that he was fast becoming enamored with Ms. Mona Anderson. She was sweet, funny, smart, mature, and sexy as hell all the qualities he was looking for in a woman.

“Okay we’re ready to get out of here Mr. Serrano,” Riley said as he piled the fixings for tonight’s station house dinner on the counter.

“Looks like you found all you’ll need,” Mr. Serrano said perusing their items, “you need some fresh parmigiano-reggiano ?” he asked.

;

“Yea, we’ll need that too. I’d get strung up if I forgot the cheese,” Riley made a look of dread on his face.

Torino and Mona started to laugh at him.

Luke was putting their items in bags and packing the lasagna in a box. “You guys been busy over there at the firehouse?”

Mona answered first since it seemed as if he was speaking directly to her since he was staring at her, “No, not really. Not many big calls, a small fire the other day but no one was hurt just someone’s bathroom was ruined. It’s been relatively quiet, couple of emergencies here and there nothing major, nothing we couldn’t handle. We’ve been counting our blessing on that one.”

“You can say that again,” Torino chimed in, “but you’re lucky Mona you’re off the next four days. Hopefully we don’t see any big action while you’re out, you’re one of best firefighters in the house.” He turned to smile at him and Mona smiled back at the compliment.

“Oh, you’re off the next four days?” Luke’s ears and spirits perked up when he heard that, maybe this would be the opportunity he’d been waiting for.

She turned back to grin at him, “yea I’m off and boy I’m I glad about it. It’s been seven days on straight and I need the break.”

“What you planning on doing?” Luke asked.

“Probably sleeping, knowing Mona,” Riley answered for her.

She laughed at him and stuck her tongue out, it was really cute gesture to Luke but also an oddly sexy one. He could imagine that tongue working his body over.

She looked at him and noticed his eyes had glazed over with she could only describe as need, “nothing much, just hanging out at my house. I got get some projects done, going to visit my Aunt maybe over in Astoria and just kind of play it by ear.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” he said smiling.

She noticed he looked like he wanted to say something so she just took the reins for him and asked, “you got something you want to ask me Luke.”

He got a little embarrassed he really didn’t want to ask her out in front of her co-workers and especially not his pop.

“Yea, I wanted to know if maybe you wanted to go to dinner with me on one of your nights off.”

Riley did the catcall whistle.

She stared at him evilly, “shut up, Chuck” she smarted to him. He just smiled innocently. “Sure I’d love to go out with you. You have some night you prefer?”

“How about Tuesday night, is that too soon will you be rested up by then.”

Mona thought he could have asked for the next night and she would have been more than rested up. “No, Tuesday is fine. Let me give you my phone number and we can work out all the details,” she took a piece of paper from a pad on the counter and wrote her number down. She doing cartwheels on the inside, this super sexy hunk had asked her out and she was in her totally unsexy work clothes. ‘Woo hoo,’ she thought.

“Good I’ll call you. That’ll be $148.45,” he told them.

Riley pulled out the card and paid but Luke barely noticed him doing so, he was busy staring at Mona’s eyes, he couldn’t get enough of those pecan hued wonders and he’d have the opportunity to stare at them all night on Tuesday.

Torino picked up the box with lasagna pans in it and she and Riley each took some bags.

“I’ll be calling you,” he shouted to her as she left the store.

“I’ll be expecting it,” she turned to say as they went out the door back to fire truck. The ladies at the counter were shooting daggers with their eyes at her now. ‘Too bad, bitches I saw him first’ she thought to herself as she sauntered out of the deli market confidently.

hhhhh

Mona heard something in her house, she opened her eyes slowly she’d finally gotten off at 7:00 am that morning and came home to shower and crash. But she was thinking now, ‘what was that noise’ she bolted out of bed and almost fell down she was unsteady on her feet she was still partially sleep, she noticed the clock said 3:23 pm. ‘What the hell’ she thought, she heard it was coming from the front of the house, her bedroom was all the back but she had some excellent hearing, it came in handy as a firefighter. She picked up her softball bat from besides her bed, she played for her station house team since she’d played in high school and college. She decided not to sneak up on whoever it was in her house in the middle of the day, ‘what dumb ass robber would rob you at 3:30 in the afternoon’ especially with her truck parked in the driveway. Mona took off bounding down the hall.

“Alright, whoever you are I’m about to kick your ass,” she shouted in her loud voice which was really loud.

She came around the corner and saw her cousin, Georgina and her niece Amber standing in the kitchen looking at her like she had two heads. Mona stopped in her tracks in her den area and lowered her bat sagging a bit.

“What the heck are you doing screaming and running in here with a bat, Mo? What you gonna do, play baseball?” Georgina said with a look of wonderment on her dark chocolate face.

Amber started to double over with laughter, “Aunt Mo, we’re just in here with some pastries and coffee for you. Mama said you’d like that, because you were getting a few days off.”

“Dang Georgie, you scared me to death. I almost had to flash on ya’ll. Oh my goodness,” Mona said with her hand over her heart breathing deeply. She’d been a little frightened and her heart was beating a mile a minute.

Georgina started to laugh a little, “I told I was coming by today, did you forget?”

“Well, no I remembered but I was sleep and you know I’m sensitive to any kind of noise, so when I heard you guys in here, I just went on alert. Okay, I’ve calmed down. What have you two been up to?”

Amber answered first excited holding out her hands to show Mona her new manicure, “Manicure and pedicures, we’ve just got out of the spa.”

Mona leaned over the breakfast counter to look at Amber’s nails, they were cute, some funky blue color with designs on them. As she looked, she also caught a whiff of fresh baked scones, “Mmm” she said, “those smell good, give me one Amber and get that clotted cream out of my refrigerator.”

Amber retrieved a hot scone for Mona from the box and placed it on a napkin to hand it to her. Mona bit into it and her eyes closed, she loved scones but she needed that cream and this would be a heavenly pastry. She took the clotted cream that Amber passed to her and and generously applied it to the scone. Amber followed suit soon after.

“Are you going to have one, Georgie?” Mona asked.

“No, I’m still trying to lose some weight.”

Mona’s cousin Georgina, Georgie as the family called her had always been in a battle with her weight since she’s been in junior high. She was always on some kind of diet, Mona never knew why, she didn’t think there was anything wrong with Georgie, she was as healthy as a horse but she’d fooled by the media into thinking thinner was more beautiful. Mona used to say something but she’d given up trying to encourage her cousin to accept herself and celebrate her beauty. Mona always tried to remember what her mom told her as a child, ‘Mona, you have to remember you have a heart and it’s there to care for and take care of people you love.’ She always had those words in her in her spirit, that’s what she tried to give to her extended family especially Georgie her Aunt was sometimes tough on Georgie expecting a lot of her as the oldest child and it took a small toll on Georgie’s self-esteem and spirit. Luckily she hadn’t passed that on to Amber, who was vibrant and boisterous and beautiful and full of life. She was 19 years old about to begin her sophomore year at University of Oregon in Eugene, Mona’s alma mater. Mona was a proud duck.

“You look fine Georgie,” Mona commented off hand and shrugged her shoulders, “Well how is my favorite sister cousin and niece been doing?”

Amber started off full blast, “I’m doing awesome Aunt Mo, the internship at Nike is going fabulous and I’m learning all this new stuff. I’m meeting lots of people and networking. It’s so fun to work there, super cool and you get Nike tennis shoes,” she lifted her leg to show Mona her new tennis, they were cool.

“I like them Amber, they look awesome,” Mona smiled big at her beautiful niece, “I am so glad you are liking the internship at Nike. That is such a wonderful opportunity for your future as an engineer.”

Amber had started college as an engineering major, a step up from Mona who had graduated with a degree in social work and that she actually used in many cases as a firefighter. Mona’s cousin Georgie was an assistant principal as a middle school in Portland. Georgie’s younger brother James Stanley Jr. and Mona’s only male cousin was a big whig in the Portland Parks Department, he was married with three children. Mona’s youngest cousin, Pauletta had just been married a few years and had her first baby, a little girl she and her husband Norris had named Serenade. She was now six months old and cute as could be. Mona had been engaged once long ago in her mid twenties but when her fiancée started a nasty drug habit, Mona decided to let the idea of him and marriage go. She was always a little jealous of her cousins with their happy families, wonderful partners and fulfilled lives. She sometimes felt that the death of her parents had stalled her in reaching those kinds of goals but maybe she could have a chance with Luke. Luke, she took a moment to ponder his exquisite male beauty again, that was man was some kind of hot and she had a date with him on Tuesday, ‘oh lord I look like I just came out of a fire station’ she thought looking down at her rumpled appearance. For everyday it was fine, t-shirt, undone nails and hair but for Luke this would never do.

“Why you looking at yourself like that?” Georgie asked as she sipped a glass of apple juice.

“Yea, Aunt Mo you’re looking like you just caught a horror movie,” Amber told her with questioning in her voice.

“Oh my goodness, you two. I have a date on Tuesday,” Mona confessed she wasn’t one for beating around the bush or keeping secrets from her family that would only be revealed in the in end.

Georgie gasped aloud and said with a shout, “Date? With whom may I ask?”

“Ooohhh, Aunt Mo yea with who? Is he hot? Well knowing your taste he’s real hot.”

Mona came around the breakfast bar into the kitchen to put away her dishes and throw her trash in the can. She was looking a bit smug and confident, her usual Mona sarcastic flair, “yes, he’s hot Amber. He’s smoking to tell the truth.”

Amber started in a fit of laughter. Georgie just stood with her heavy hips against the counter, shaking her head and tsking at Mona for being so forward. She’d tried all her life to make Mona into a proper lady but it never worked, all her effort had gone to waste.

“Mona, who is this man? What’s his name and please don’t tell me he’s white.”

Georgie had never appreciated Mona’s penchant for dating white men, she seemed to always have something to say or comment to make to Mona about taking pride in her heritage by dating a strong brother. Mona never paid that speech any attention, she’d always had her own mind and had always made it up to suit her. She could appreciate Georgie’s sentiment but Mona figured there were enough good looking men in the world why just limit yourself to one race, how boring. Mona had even helped Amber explore her racial options, of course they’d done this under the radar and without Georgie knowing. Although Mona was an adult and capable of making and standing behind her own decisions, Amber was still a child and somewhat influenced and afraid of her mother’s backlash if she did something that went against her wishes.

“No, Georgie he’s not white,” Mona said confidently. Georgie breathed a sigh of relief. “He’s Italian,” Mona corrected.

“Italian. That’s still white, at least to me.” Georgie said.

Amber was over by the sink dying laughing, she loved her Aunt Mona’s smart mouth it so frustrated her Mama. She loved watching Mo and hearing her talk to her mama, she said things she wished she could say to her mom but with her Mom paying her tuition she kept her mouth shut. She’d already defied her by going to University of Oregon like her Aunt Mo rather than Howard University. She really wanted to break away from her mama more but she knew that would come at a cost, she loved her mom but sometimes she could be overbearing.

“Well, Aunt Mo since he’s Italian how is that different,” Amber asked.

“I don’t know Amber, it may not be different at all in your mom’s eyes but in mine he has a distinctive manner and ethnicity that shows in him. He’s also got a very distinctive look and it’s a good one,” Mona answered smiling.

“Oh Mona, stop enough of exposing my child to this kind of thing. If you want to date your ‘Italian’ man I can’t stop you but you will not be exposing Amber to that, she’s a strong black woman who needs a strong black man.”

“Yea, yea Georgie whatever. Anyway, I got a date and I look like hell as far as the eye can see.”

“You do look like hell, Mo,” Georgie agreed.

Amber looked her up and down and shook her head in agreement also.

“Well just don’t look at me, help me please,” Mona said making her ‘duh’ face at Georgina and Amber.

“Okay, we’ll help you Aunt Mo. Go get some clothes on and we’ll take you shopping and you need your nails and toes done.” Amber said looking at her like curiously, “Dang, Aunt Mo you cannot have let her yourself go like this. He actually asked you out?”

“Yes, he asked me out with your smart behind. I’ll be back, I’ll get dressed and you guys can work your magic. I know you got some Georgie, you’re the sharpest dresser I know,” she said towards her immaculently dressed cousin.

Georgie just smiled and made a circle with her outfit. Mona and Amber laughed at her. Mona knew her cousin was a beauty, it was such a shame that Georgie didn’t realize it. Mona ran towards her bedroom.

“Mona do you have underwear on with that nightshirt?” she heard Georgie ask loudly from behind her.

Mona stopped in her tracks, before she reached the hall door and raised her Oregon Ducks football nightshirt to her waist and turned her bottom up to expose her butt clad in a pair of forest green boy shorts with a golden ‘O’ for Oregon on her behind.

“Oh my god, Mona that is so crass,” Georgie screeched. Amber was on the kitchen counter laughing like a hyena.

Mona just turned her head and said, “Well, you’re the one that asked me if I had drawers on,” and walked towards her bedroom to shower and get dressed laughing at the horrified look on her cousin’s face. ©

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