F is for Friendzoned

Originally posted April 7, 2015

Alex had told Jessica that Bruce was a jokester. Jessica needed someone to make her smile. Whitmore had her so tense—too stiff to laugh for fear that he would accuse her of laughing at him. Bruce would remind her that relationships were about having fun, enjoying each other’s company, not acting as parole officers. She shouldn’t return from a date with a headache, but with cracked ribs from laughing so hard.

“Ah, there’s a smile! I was starting to think something was wrong with me.”

“I come from the bathroom, and you’re stealing my fries.” She swatted his hand from her plate.

“Actually, I thought you pulled the whole, ‘ditch your date through the bathroom window,’ trick on me.” Bruce winked and snatched a fry from her plate, playfully tossing it into his mouth.

Jessica covered her fries and coughed on them.

“Aw man, I haven’t seen that one since middle school!” Bruce said.

Jessica tried to hold back her laugh. She made a sound, the combination of a hiccup and a burp, and immediately covered her mouth in embarrassment.

“Hey,” Bruce said, reaching across the table and pulling down her hands, “don’t do that. Your smile is so beautiful. You should show it off.”

Bruce’s hands were surprisingly soft, as if he had dipped them into melted Shea butter. “Show me that smile.” He brought both of Jessica’s hands to his lips and kissed them.

Jessica could feel her cheeks turning red. Bruce smile broadly, revealing a small gap between his two front teeth. He stood to his feet, pushing back his chair and leaning over the table. Suddenly, Jessica felt her brain vibrating against her skull as thoughts returned to Whitmore and his worrisome phone calls. He would’ve notice by now that she had turned off her phone. Would he simply give up, or would he try to track her down? Whitmore often took desperate measures when he couldn’t locate his women. Layla had done that to him—the ex who made him insecure, paranoid, jealous. Jessica snatched her hands away, drew her head back to avoid Bruce’s advancing kiss, and blurted, “I have a boyfriend!”

Bruce froze. “Oh.” He lowered himself back into his chair. “I’m sorry. Alex . . . she said you were single.” He avoided eye contact with her. He pulled a twenty and a ten from his wallet and held the bills in the air to catch the waiter’s attention. “Keep the change, I don’t need a receipt,” he said to the waiter who quickly stuffed the money into his apron pocket.

Following Bruce’s lead, Jessica gathered her purse from the floor and stood to leave. Another failed blind date. She wanted to cry. Bruce was so refreshing. Could she convince herself that she had chosen right to stand by Whitmore?

“So, do you love him?” Bruce slid his chair under the table.

“I don’t know . . . I guess?”

Bruce smiled and rubbed his chin. “You can’t be with someone you guess you love.” He patted his front pocket to make sure his wallet was there. “You want to string the guy along until you figure it out?”

“Believe me, he’s the one with the noose around my neck.”

“Ah, he’s that type.” Bruce nodded his head. “The bitter boyfriend who’s been friendzoned too many times.”

“What makes you think that?”

“Had a friend like that, once. Always complained about how no girl wanted to give him a chance. The minute he got a girlfriend, he pushed her right to me.”

“You stole your friend’s girl?”

“Hasn’t spoken to me since.” Bruce shook his head. “So, what’s your guy’s problem?”

Jessica shrugged her shoulders. “Well, I guess you can say he’ll drive a woman to cheat.”

“Obviously. You wouldn’t be here if he didn’t.”

“He’s always talking about how his ex slept with three men.”

“Constantly reminding you of the girl who broke his heart to get you to prove that you love him more? Yep. Classic friendzone syndrome. My radio show is all about this. The Girlfriend Whisperer. Alex didn’t tell you?”

“She said you were funny.”

“Ah, just funny.”

Jessica hunched her shoulders and giggled behind her hand, then remembering what Bruce had said, straightened up and put her hands at her side. “So what about you?” she asked. “I pretty much just put you in the friendzone. Are you bitter about it?”

“I have a feeling I won’t stay there long,” Bruce said with a smirk. He touched her chin and ran his thumb along her bottom lip. “Alex has my number. Call me,” he said before walking away.


E is for Emergency Contraception

This scene actually won’t appear in the new and improved Love Poetry Novella. After writing my outline, I realized it was too much, and as I’ve said before, I want to make Whitmore a little likable. This scene will make you hate him. But it does introduce some ideas that I want use in other parts of the story. You’ll see how soon enough. This post was originally published April 6, 2015 for the A to Z Challenge

Jessica awoke to Whitmore’s erection pressed against her. She tried to scoot to the edge of the bed, but his arms were wrapped tightly around her waist. Whitmore nudged his knee between her legs, opening them. He dipped his hips underneath her, lifting his knee to spread her leg in the air. Then he pushed his hips upward, making Jessica winced at him suddenly being inside of her.

“What are you doing?” Jessica asked, clearing phlegm from her throat. She reached behind her for his hips and tried to push him back, but he lifted her thighs and flipped her onto her stomach, positioning himself on top of her.

“Stop it!” Jessica’s voice sounded muffled against the pillow.

Whitmore didn’t listen. He kissed her down her spine, digging his nose between her shoulder blades as he continued until he let out a loud moan and collapsed onto the bed next to her. Jessica didn’t move.

Whitmore lifted himself on his elbows. He brushed Jessica’s hair behind her ear and took her by the chin. “Look at me.” He leaned down and kissed her lips. “Wasn’t that nice?”

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” She scurried out of the bed and snatched up the sheets to wrap herself.

Whitmore’s jaw dropped. “I wanted to do something different. Last time, you said I was too soft.”

“So you freaking rape me!” Jessica squealed.

“No! No!” Whitmore sat up, and grabbing the corner of the sheets, he tried to pull her back down to the bed.

Jessica yanked the covers away. “Don’t touch me!”

Whitmore stood to his feet, and Jessica backed into the dresser, knocking the mirror against the wall. “I would never hurt you, Jessica,” Whitmore said. He raised his hands in surrender.

“So when a woman says, ‘Stop it,’ what does that mean to you? Go harder?”

“I didn’t hear you.” Whitmore dropped to his knees. He took her hand and kissed up her wrist and back down. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to make our relationship more exciting. I feel like you’ve been pulling away from me. I can’t lose you, Jessica. Please don’t leave me. I just wanted to surprise you. I remember how you said you liked it rough. That I’m too focused on making love to you, that it gets boring sometimes. You said to let my animal out. That’s all I was doing. I wanted to show you that I had an animal side.” He wiped his tears into her palm and continued kissing her hand, apologizing repeatedly and begging her not to leave.

“Get up.” Jessica said. “Don’t turn this around on me.” Whitmore often tried to present himself as innocent. His only goal was to please her, he defended, he couldn’t help that her requests were ambiguous and, as a result, misinterpreted.

Jessica had complained about his lovemaking months ago. He always did the same thing—humped her until his back hunched into a tortoise shell, then lowered his face between her thighs and finished her off with his tongue. She had gotten bored with it. She had wanted him to try new positions. He was always so gentle, focused on appeasing her and making sure she felt his compassion in his movements. She was sick of making love. She was sick of the endless romance. She just wanted to have fun.

Waking up to her boyfriend taking advantage of her, however, was not fun.

“Just go,” Jessica said, refusing to meet his gaze.

“What does this mean?”

“It means get out. I need some space.”

Whitmore bent over to retrieve his clothes from the floor. “Does this mean we’re over?”

Jessica didn’t answer.

“Can I call you later?”

“I’ll call you.”

“No you won’t.” Whitmore stepped into his jeans and slipped his t-shirt over his head. “You can go days without calling me. I don’t understand how you can be in a relationship with me and not talk to me for days. If you love someone, you talk to them every day.”

“Not when I’m pissed at you!”

“I guess this is a bad time to say that I might have come . . . inside you.” He waited for Jessica to respond. “Last night . . . and this morning.”

Without thinking, Jessica slapped him. He didn’t react, but she thought she saw a smirk creep across his lips. She slapped him again. “Get out!” she said.

Whitmore lowered his head, and like a dog with its tail between its legs, he waddled to the door. “Please don’t be mad at me.”

Jessica ignored him. She stomped to the bathroom and slammed the door behind her, making sure to lock it. She opened the medicine cabinet and picked up the Plan B One-Step box.

“That boyfriend of yours is sneaky,” Alex had said when she’d convinced Jessica to buy it one day while they were in the drug store. “Don’t let him do the same thing to you that he did to his ex.”

Jessica thought Alex was just overreacting to a story she’d told her about Whitmore’s previous relationship. She tried to defend his actions. “People don’t think clearly when their heart is broken,” she’d said.

Now, as she tore into the package and skimmed through the directions, she was relieved that she’d listened to her friend, and had bought an emergency back-up plan.



D is for Drunk

These girls sure know how to throw ’em back don’t they? Only a non-drinker of wine would write a scene this obnoxious. Obviously it’s coming out. But have a laugh with me as you read another “Love Poetry” flashback scene, originally posted April 4, 2015 for the A to Z Challenge.

“I have a bottle of Chardonnay in front of me, and I’m trying to figure out why it’s not empty,” Alex, Jessica’s roommate from college, said into the phone.

“Girl, it’s not even eleven,” Jessica said laughing.

“I don’t care. It’s five o’clock somewhere. Get over here!”


Ten minutes later, Jessica was at the front door of Alex’s pool house apartment she rented from her grandfather, holding up two wine glasses.

“I’ve already started,” Alex said with a smirk.

“You’re such an alcoholic.”

Alex flicked her brownish blond corkscrew-curly bangs from her face and motioned for Jessica to come inside. Jessica was often jealous of Alex’s hair. She’d tried everything to achieve those perfect curls that came naturally to Alex. She succeeded once. Beginner’s luck, more than likely, because with each attempt after that, she ended up with a frizzy mop on top of her head. Alex, on the other hand, hated her hair, blaming it and her biracial background for those awkward conversations she had with complete strangers that often started with the question, “So what are you?”

The living room was surprisingly clean. Usually Alex had clothes tossed over the couch, the coffee table, the television set. Sometimes, Jessica couldn’t even see the carpet for all the panties, club dresses, and stiletto heels, thrown about. Today, the place was spotless. The dust on the teal window curtains had been vacuumed, the wood coffee table polished, even the the Merlot stain on the couch had been blotted away, although, Alex might have just flipped the cushion over.

Alex stood behind the kitchen counter and poured Chardonnay into the two glasses.

Jessica noticed that the wine left in the bottle came to just above the label. “You already drank half.”

“Yep,” Alex said, making a popping sound with her lips.

Jessica sat on the stool at the counter, and Alex slid the wine glass down to her. “I feel like I’m at a bar.”

“For sure.” Alex took a sip from her own glass.

“So what’s the occasion?” Jessica asked.

“Pop’s kicking me out.” Alex took giant gulp.

“Really? I thought he liked you living here. He could use you as a taxi whenever he wanted to go somewhere.”

“Well, he got pissed when I dumped the last guy I was dating.”


“Yeah. I think he only liked him because he was white. Pop can be kinda racist sometimes.” Alex refilled her glass, and Jessica pushed hers forward for Alex to top it off.

“He’s old,” Jessica said over her tipped glass. “So why’d you break up with Rick? He seemed nice.”

“You have terrible taste in men,” Alex snapped.

Jessica choked while drinking and coughed to clear her throat, returning the glass to the counter and wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. “OK, you’re drunk,” she said in a raspy voice.

“No, I’m being serious. You have terrible taste in men if you think Rick was a nice guy. He’s just like that Whitmore of yours.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Needy, controlling, possessive. Did you have to ask him permission to come here?”

Jessica opened her mouth to respond but was interrupted by the muffled sound of Magic’s “Rude” coming from her purse on the stool next to her. She retrieved her phone from the front pocket to see Whitmore’s lips twitching to the lyrics, “Marry that girl. Marry her anyway. Marry that girl. No matter what you say. Marry that girl. And we’ll be a family,” playing repeatedly. When had he changed my ringtone? Jessica thought.

“Speak of the damn devil!” Alex leaned over the counter and snatched the phone from Jessica. “Whitmore . . . This is Alex . . . Alexandria, idiot. Who else? . . . What do you want?. . . She’s with me . . . No you may not . . . We’re having a girls’ day . . . Is she not allowed to spend the day with her girl? . . . Don’t you have friends? . . . Bye, Whitmore . . . Goodbye, Whitmore!” She hung up the phone and slammed it onto the counter.

“That was rude,” Jessica said.

“No, what’s rude is him accusing you of cheating whenever you’re not with him.”

“Did he say that?”

“Yeah, talking ’bout, ‘Who the fuck is Alex?’ with that fake-ass, deep voice like he’s trying to intimidate someone. I hate you’re boyfriend, Jess. I hardly ever see you anymore.” She wiped tears from her face as she poured more Chardonnay into her wine glass.

“Maybe that’s enough—” Jessica started.

“Don’t you ever get tired?” Alex asked, swallowing hard.

Jessica snatched up her glass and slurped what was left. Alex held up the the bottle, the liquid now below the label, and Jessica let her fill the glass all the way to the rim. They toasted to the ceiling and proceeded to empty their glasses.

“I need to be drunk to talk about Whitmore and his . . . everything,” Jessica said.

“Hell, I got some Tequila.” Alex pointed to the cabinets behind her.

“This is so irresponsible,” Jessica said.

“College was only five years ago. I think we’re allowed.” Alex untwisted the lid to the 1800 Coconut Tequila and poured it. “I don’t know what I did with my shot glasses.”

“A wine glass works just fine.” Jessica brought the glass to her lips and threw her head back. “What?” she asked when she noticed Alex staring.

“I want to set you up with someone. Bruce. He works with me at the radio station. He’s dope.”

Jessica drummed her fingers on the counter. She didn’t think Alex had ever liked Whitmore. She was always throwing better options Jessica’s way—oftentimes, while Whitmore was present. However, this time, Jessica put some thought into Alex’s proposition.

It might have been the alcohol. It might have been the impromptu marriage proposal playing on her phone’s speakers. Jessica didn’t waste any time searching for a reasonable explanation. She only said yes.


C is for Condom

This scene, originally posted April 3, 2015 for the A to Z Challenge, may or may not change as I continue in my writing process for Camp NaNoWriMo. I want to make Whitmore sound a little less rapey, yet still oppressive and demanding over Jessica. We’ll see how it works out.

“It’s our anniversary,” Whitmore said, standing behind Jessica as she unlocked the door to her apartment and walked inside. They had just returned from dinner at The Melting Pot, a popular fondue restaurant downtown. Dinner was almost $100. Thirty per entree, and thirty for the appetizer. Jessica wasn’t sure what exactly they were paying for. All the kitchen did was dice meats and fruits and mix up different broths and cheeses for them to dip and cook their own food in at their table. When Jessica had returned from the restroom, she’d found a red rose on her seat.

“It’s our anniversary,” Whitmore said.

Jessica hesitated to sit down. She was afraid a ring was next. She knew Whitmore was starting to get impatient. Two years was too long. When they first started dating, he had expressed his desire to get married and have children. He was obsessed with it. Two months into their relationship, he was already asking her to move in with him, and thinking of baby names. Their daughter would be Whitney, named after him.

Jessica had asked him to give her three years. However, Whitmore saw that as enough time for her to realize she didn’t need him like he needed her. So he pushed her. Told her that she would never find another man to love her as much as he did, and if he’d “accidentally” gotten her pregnant, she would have to marry him. Three years or not.

“Do you want to come in?” Jessica  asked flatly.

“I mean, it is our anniversary. What do couples do on their anniversary?” He stepped inside and kissed her, biting her bottom lip and sucking it hard. He took her hand and led her to her bedroom.

Jessica wasn’t in the mood for sex. In fact, she wanted him to go home, but denying him what he believed was central to every relationship on their anniversary of all nights would mean that she didn’t love him, that she never cared for him, that she had been stringing him along for the last two years. Hadn’t she?

Her plan was to come to dinner and end the relationship; the significance of that night never crossed her mind. Now he was in her room undressing her, kissing her stomach and between her thighs, promising to be with her and love her always, as if it were their wedding night.

Jessica opened the drawer to the nightstand next to her bed and pulled out a condom.

“What’s this?” Whitmore asked, snatching it from her hand.

“I forgot to take my pill this morning. We need some kind of protection.”

Whitmore sat up on his knees. Jessica thought he was about to put it on, but he tossed it to the floor and continued on his conquest.

“You don’t want me to touch you?” He said as he kissed her, as he climbed on top of her, as he pressed between her legs. “You don’t want to feel me inside you?”

“I don’t want to get pregnant, Whitmore!” she said, pushed against his chest. “You drank a lot of wine tonight. You might not be as careful.”

“It’s our anniversary. We should make this night special. We always use condoms. Tonight I want to touch you. Tonight I want to make you mine.” He pinned both of her hands over her head and lay on top of her. As he pushed himself inside, he whispered, “This will bring us closer together.”

“But I don’t—”

“Shhh. If it happens, it happens.”

Jessica cringed as Whitmore thrust hard and deep.



B is for Buzzzzz…

Originally posted April 2, 2015 for the A to Z Challenge. This scene is where “Love Poetry” opens. Here, Jessica and Bruce meet for the first time on a date that keeps getting interrupted by something . . . or someone . . .

Jessica wanted to give Bruce her undivided attention, but she could hear it. The buzzing. That incessant buzzing. It vibrated inside of her skull in the way that a fly with all the space in the world would hover over one’s ear, buzzing.

She was having lunch on the patio at the popular, gourmet burger restaurant,  Newk’s. Bruce sat across from her, eating a cheese burger with lettuce, tomato, pancetta, mayonnaise, and a quail egg. Jessica, on the other hand, had ordered a chicken wrap, which lay on her plate untouched, getting cold. She watched the other patrons at the surrounding tables bite into different variations of the classic hamburger and could only guess that a Southwestern chicken wrap was ordered once or twice a day.

Jessica dipped a steak fry into a glob of ketchup and took a small bite. She dropped the fry onto her plate and looked down at her purse on the floor next to her feet where, inside the front pocket, her cellphone continued to vibrate as it had been doing for the past ten minutes. She didn’t need to remove the phone from the pocket to know who was calling. She could  already picture Whitmore’s face displayed on the screen. When she had taken that photo of him at the botanical gardens in Uptown, she laughed at how silly his crooked smile and uneven eyebrows made him look. He was self-conscious of his flaws, but Jessica had simply kissed his lips and massaged his eyebrows, saying, “I love a man who can make me laugh.” Two years later, and she can’t remember the last time the corners of her lips curled upward into a wide grin at his corny jokes and his involuntarily awkward facial expressions.

Bruce looked up from his plate and smiled. Mayonnaise clung to the corner of his mouth. Jessica kept quiet about it. She liked how it made him appear as a little boy, and she didn’t want him to wipe it away, erase the youth, and remind her that she was on a date with another man. She couldn’t deny that Bruce was attractive, and when her buzzing phone wasn’t distracting her, she struggled to resist the urge to reach over the table and play in his soft, brown hair. She was curious about how he made it swoop over his forehead. Did it swoop naturally, or did he use a mousse to achieve the style? So adorable, she thought. She needed that. Something adorable to remind her that life could be carefree, without demands, restrictions.

“You must not be hungry. Or your mind is somewhere else.” Bruce licked the mayo from the corner of his mouth.

“I’m sorry, I—” The fly was flapping its tiny wings next to her eardrum again. She quickly scooped her vibrating purse up off the floor. “I have to go to the little girls’ room. I’ll be right back.”


A is for Attached

A prequel of Whitmore’s last relationship before he met Jessica. Originally posted for the A to Z Challenge April 1, 2015.

It was New Year’s Eve, and Whitmore was sitting up in a cold hotel bed with a bottle of flat champagne next to him, calling his girlfriend Layla for the fifteenth straight time.

The ball had already dropped, lights and confetti exploding around the illuminated numbers, 2014. All of the televised parties and concerts had gone off the air an hour ago. He was watching MTV count down the best music videos of 2013. He cupped his crotch, and hoped the half-naked women dancing across the television screen would ease the tension in his groin.

His pants were half way down when he heard a knock on the door. It was Layla.

“Where the hell have you been?”

Layla brushed by him and sat on the bed. She had a slight limp in her gait. She took her phone from her purse and began to scroll through the missed calls. “If I don’t answer after the first time, or the second time, or the third, or the goddamn twenty-third, why do you continue calling!”

Whitmore slammed the door. “We had plans, Layla. We were going to spend New Year’s together here.”

“At some shoddy hotel, drinking cheap-ass wine.” She flicked the bottle onto the floor. It rolled underneath the bed.

“Champagne,” Whitmore corrected.

“Whatever.” Layla stood and ran her fingers through her hair. “It’s freaking New Year’s, Whitmore. I don’t wanna stay cooped up inside. I want to go out. Party. Take some shots. Bring in the new year with my friends.”

Whitmore cocked his head to the side. “So you don’t want to spend time with me? You don’t love me?”

“Why do you always go from one extreme to the next, Whitmore? You can come with, or you can hang with your friends.” There was a sarcastic tone in her voice. She curled her lip and snickered. They both knew his only friend was his girlfriend, much to the vexation of Layla. “I mean, I just feel like you always wanna keep me to yourself. I do have a life.”

Whitmore scratched the stubble on his chin and folded his arms across his chest. “So why is your shirt inside out? Why are your pants unbuttoned? Why is your belt only through two loops? Why do you smell like Old Spice?” he asked circling, inspecting her.

“What are you getting at?”

“Who you been with?”

Layla picked up her purse and walked to the door. “If I’m gonna get interrogated, I’m leaving.”

She was gone before he could protest. He found himself alone on the bed once again watching raunchy music videos and contemplating masturbation. He shuffled out of his pants and boxers.

He was losing Layla. He could feel her slowly pulling away. He saw how she’d flirted with the waiter on their last date. Just the night before, he’d found pictures of men naked from the waist down in her phone. She’d been texting someone named Roc for the past month. She had one foot out the door, and he needed to act quickly to ensure that she would stay with him forever.

The idea came to him as he spilled onto the white bed sheets and fell limp. No more pulling out while they made love. He would get her pregnant.