Anna decides to take Juan up on his offer, but she insists on being the one to invite him to a coffee. They decide to drive in Anna’s car so that Juan is able to assure her that the car is as good as new.
“I know this beautiful little place that my boss owns,” she says,”It is like a Mediterranean/middle eastern coffee shop and restaurant very quiet.”
Juan looks over at her face, it is very different from when he first saw her, stressed and worried about her car .. and her work. Today she looks relieved, almost happy. He smiles, he realizes that he is happy to see her happy. Strange enough Anna is a very good driver and for some one who has been in the country for just a year, she seems to know all the roads very well. “She must get around,” thinks Juan to himself. Little did he know that she literally does get around.
They arrive at the coffee shop which strangely enough is not too far from where Juan lives. He decides that after their coffee he will take a walk back home, just to clear his head.
The coffee shop is very cosy, with plants hanging from the ceiling and beautiful Middle Eastern paintings hanging on the wall. They sit down at a table inside and Juan begins to look around and admire the paintings and the atmosphere, it is awfully quiet but that is soon interrupted when a middle aged man with piercing blue eyes and a big nose quickly walks by them shouting orders in what appears to be Persian to some one behind him.
He almost walks past when he realizes that Anna and Juan are seated.
“My apologies, welcome, welcome, we are just re opening after doing some minor renovations in our kitchen earlier”, he says to Juan. He looks over at Anna and the friendly expression on his face changes.
Over at Sapphire Tower on 34th and 5th Caroline is finally able to convince Nicola that she needs to go run some errands , items that she urgently needed to buy and send off to her mother in London. She assured her that she would only be about 2 hours at the most. She picks up her hand bag and is about to walk out of her room when she remembers to take Randy’s mobile with her. She toys with the idea of looking into his phone and checking the messages but finally decides against it.
“So what will you be doing while I am out ?”, she asks Nicola before she heads out the apartment. “Well I’ve decided to go out to the book store nearby and purchase that book everyone is talking about, 50 shades of Grey, I might even start reading it at that lovely café at the corner of the street from the book shop” answers Nicola, quite content with her plan.
“Well call me if you need anything”, says Caroline before she hurries out , just in case Nicola decides to give her a whole list of things to do while she is out.
Once outside she begins to walk a bit before hailing a cab,she quickly dials randy on the number he called her from earlier and he answers.
“Hey babe , where are you? You out?”, his sexy voice comes out of the telephone and she cant help but smile as his face comes to mind.
“yes I am, I am about to catch a cab, where shall I meet you? ”she answers excitedly.
“You know the park next to that school where I play basketball on week ends?”
“Yes, ill meet you there in 10 mins,” Caroline is about to agree and hang up when he asks her “ whats Nicola up to without you?”
“Well she said she is goin to the book store at the street corner from our building?”
“Is that the only place she is going? Is she going alone?”
“Will she be long?”
Caroline is taken aback at this sudden interest in what Nicola’s schedule is like this evening and she asks in annoyance, “why do you want to know all this?”
Sensing the tension that his fleet of questions has caused, he quickly redeems himself, by telling her that he was just asking because he wanted how much time he had to spend with her.
“You know I love spending time with you babe,” he smoothly says to her.
Almost at once, all the annoyance that Caroline felt by being bombarded about Nicola’s evening plans melt away as smoothly as the voice of this handsome man talking to her on the phone. She blushes and goes on to tell Randy all of Nicola’s plans for the evening, word by word. “So how much time does that give us, you think?” she finally asks.
“It’s more than enough time babe…..more than enough!”
He looks over at Tyrone and gives him the thumbs up.
Celia is at the bodega at the corner of the street to where their building stands. After her awkward perverse moment earlier she quickly closed the windows and drew together the curtains in her bedroom. She sat on her bed for a few minutes while her heart beat violently in her chest. Unsure whether it was beating this way because of the adrenaline rush of being caught in such a position or the hormonal rush the sight in front of her sent to her mind, prompting it to draw up even more images, this time including herself in the imaginative glimpses.
She decides to put the thoughts away by making herself busy with housework. She rushes out into the living room to find that there isn’t much to do. The laundry is done and the house is clean. Sonya. She thinks of her daughter who has been busy taking extra care of the household ever since her mother had been discharged from the hospital. Although it saddens her that she has burdened her beloved daughter, it also makes her proud to know that she has been able to raise such a kind, caring and responsible daughter.
Since she can’t find anything to do inside the house, she decides to go out and do the grocery shopping for the coming week. At the store, she is placing a tray of eggs into her basket before she turns around to walk over to the meat and fish section. She browses over the array of fish on display at the glass counter, as she looks at each fish she quickly begins to imagine in her head what delicious dish she could make using it. She finally decides on Salmon and Herring, fresh and juicy fried sautéed Herring for dinner tonight while she will save the salmon for lunch tomorrow, to make her famous Salmon tostada salad. Happy with her decision she proceeds to ask the attendant to process her order.
As she steps up, the man behind the counter, a young man with more piercings than the meat and fish hanging in the fridge at home tells her that his shift is up and his colleague should be in within the next 5 minutes to take over. She smiles uneasily as she nods to him that she has understood. As she waits she turns around to look around the store to see if there is anything else she needs to pick up, when she turns back the next attendant is smiling at her with the pearliest teeth she has ever seen. It might have been this smile or the fact that the owner of the smile was none other than the object of her earlier perverse indulgence, but Celia began to feel a certain weakness in her knees but this was nowhere as strong as the feeling of her cheeks burning up with shame.
“I see you are a fan of dee Salmon,” he says while he starts to prepare the fish for Celia. Unable to say a word, she nods slowly. His voice is heavy with a Caribbean accent, maybe he is not Jamaican, thinks Celia to herself.” Is dis all just for you?”, he asks as he is almost done. For the first time in her life Celia wished she was single, but she gathered up the courage to put aside the naughty thoughts that probed her to say that she is single and answered that it is for her and her family.
“”You and your family? Does dat mean mudda fudda brudda and sista or husband and children?” he continues to ask , a mischievous gleam in his eyes. Once again Celia begins to feel a little flushed in the cheeks, “ my husband and children, they will be home soon from work and school , so I better get going”, she tries to rush him. But he does not budge nor does he seem to pick up on her hint.
“ How old are your kids den ”, he continues to ask as if oblivious to her hint.
Maybe it was because she spent most of her time all alone at home or maybe it was because the man standing before her was very handsome and she craved this type of attention but Celia continued to answer his questions.
“You are a mudda to two teenagers and two young ladies in their twenties !” he exclaims. “I can not believe it! You are so young, so beautiful- dat cannot be true” he says.
Celia continues to smile, he was so funny, so charming, she could stand in front of this fish stand all day listening to him talk.
Alas a customer in line behind her starts to express his annoyance with having to wait so long. Jeremiah, as Celia, comes to know as the name of the Jamaican Fish guy, shouts something at the customer, it sounded like English but he said it too fast for her to really catch exactly what it was.
“”Me na gun giva ya da fish , when me ready fa it!!!”
Celia giggles and Jeremiah smiles at her, “ God bless dis beautiful face, me know you is da girl from de apartment next door dis morning” he winks at her.
This time Celia can not wait to see if her cheeks will explode from turning so red, so she quickly grabs the parcel from off the counter and proceeds to the cashier, after she has paid for her fish, she walks out the door but not before turning around one last time to see Jemeriah raise a knife in his hand and wave good bye.
She quickly walks over to the building and up to the apartment; once inside she places the fish on the kitchen counter and finally feels her heart rate go down. She is about to start on preparing lunch when she hears a knock at the door.
Thinking it is one of the kids early from school, she opens the door without looking.
“You fagat your herring pretty lady”
At a certain Law firm in Manhattan, Maria is sitting at her desk, closely watching her best friend Ashley. Ashley is going on and on about her so called date the previous evening, playing with her brand new necklace which she is already wearing around her neck.
“Don’t you think it’s weird that these men would just give you such expensive gifts for no reason?” she asks Ashley.
“Oh C’mon Maria, why do you always have to be like that? So uptight!” she snaps at her friend.
“I am not being uptight Ash, it’s just that I find it a bit strange” she answers giving her best friend the most non-judgemental look she can conjure up, despite the way she is really feeling inside.
“Well, truth be told, I did find it a bit strange when Heidi told me about it” she pauses for a second remembering the face she made when Heidi first told her about it. “But now that I have gone and experienced it for myself, I realize these are just rich lonely old men, who would love to be in the company of young beautiful women who make them feel alive.” She holds out both her hands and points them up and outwards as if she is feeling life moving through her body.
The girls look at each other and both burst out in to laughter, “Do you hear yourself? Do you realize how crazy you sound right now to me?” Maria manages to say through the tears that have formed in her eyes.
“I know, I know,” giggles Ashley ,”But believe it or not, that is what I have seen so far, crazy as it sounds.” “So they didn’t not try anything with their wrinkly old hands or such?”, asks Maria.
“Well let me put it this way, they didn’t do anything a guy …OR ” she points her palm in a pause gesture at her friend, “girl in her mid-twenties wouldn’t do if they were half past drunk on a date with a pair of attractive people,” answers Ashley.
“Speaking of attractive people”, says Maria, she turns her computer screen to show Ashley the trail of emails that she has been exchanging with Dylan. “Whoa girl, he seems to really be in to you,” says Ashley as her eyes grow bigger with excitement as she reads some of the flirtatious things that Dylan has written to Maria.
“Have you guys gone out yet?” she asks as her friend turns the screen back to its original position. “Well that’s the thing, he’s been asking to take me out but I keep turning him down.” “Why babes?” says Ashley with a look that is a mixture of concern and sheer surprise.
“And I know that you will think im crazy for saying this,” Maria pauses hesitantly before adding, “He seems very nice, ridiculously good looking, smart, sexy and sweet ”. “Let’s not forget rich” says Ashley , “so what’s the problem ,girl ?”, she says a little too loud and some of the other colleagues in the cubicles nearby take notice, one of the girl peers at Ashley from under her glasses while a guy sitting opposite to the peering girl shoots Ashley an annoyed glance. Ashley rolls her eyes at both of them and leans in closer to whisper to her friend. “I still don’t understand why you don’t want to give it a go”.
Maria looks ate her friend, a sudden sadness overcoming her face and says ,” I know that you think I am happy and so excited to be here, living this life, here in Midtown Manhattan, wearing fancy suits and shoes to a fancy building to do a fancy job…..but the truth of the matter is, deep down, I still feel like that poor Puerto Rican girl whose dad works as a mechanic and a concierge, whose mother walked dogs and worked in a factory – illegally mind you.” She pauses to look down at the pencil in her hand and sighs before she adds, “I am afraid if it doesn’t work out with Dylan, it just won’t be a failed relationship…I’m scared my self-esteem will get hurt.”
Ashley looks at her friend, fully aware of how her friend felt, for many times, Ashley herself has felt the same way about her identity being mixed, she didn’t fit very well in either side of her family and living in Brooklyn, it was even harder to mix in with the black girls who gave her a hard time, because they thought she considered herself better than them by being half white.
Both girls are momentarily lost in their thoughts, when Maria’s email alert shows up on her screen signifying the receipt of a new email, the butterflies in her stomach begin to flutter once again continuing the new routine they have learnt to do ever since Dylan entered Maria’s life.
Meanwhile Ashley receives an email of her own.
“What are your plans for this evening?”
It’s from Heidi and Ashley already knows exactly what her question means.
As both girls contemplate a reply to their senders, unbeknownst to her, one of them is actually contemplating a night that will change her life.