None of Your Business
I haven’t seen my mother — Eloise Laurent — in months. She and the man she’s been dating for the past few years have been galavanting the globe since they met and she rarely stops by the states for a visit. But when she does, she always visits me here in California. She and my father divorced when I was young and I’ve always been much closer to her than I am to him while it’s the opposite with my brother.
“So, who is this woman you’ve been seeing who has you in such great moods these days, Sebastien?” she asks. “You’re normally rather aloof, but ever since you first mentioned that you ‘met someone,’ you seem to have more energy when we talk.”
Her words echo exactly what I heard from Derrick all those months ago when I first told him about Naomi. She and I have been together for six months now. “Welllll,” I begin. “We’ve been trying to keep this close hold, so keep in mind that we’re not going public yet... Her name is Naomi — Naomi Monroe. She’s the woman who did my big interview with NotionX nearly a year ago.”
“Sebastien!” my mother exclaims with wide eyes. “You’re seeing her?! She looks young! Isn’t she around Nicky’s age? Oh god! Don’t they work together?! Are you trying to be like your father seeing these young—”
“Mother, please!” I reach out to place my hands on her shoulders to calm her. “It’s not like that in the slightest. I did not pursue Naomi because of her age. The moment I saw her, I was attracted to her and then we spent time together after that and we just clicked. Our interests are similar and our energies match. When we’re together, it feels so right. She’s kind and caring and passionate and understanding and open-minded. The woman’s hobby is helping people, mother. She has this app she’s been building for years that connects people with resources that will make it easier for them to volunteer or donate to underserved groups... I could go on forever.”
“Wow,” she scoffs, shaking her head with an amused smirk.
“It’s just... I don’t think I’ve seen you this excited since you were graduating college and told me about your intentions to become a venture capitalist. You really like her, don’t you?”
“Without a doubt... Hell, it feels like it goes further than that. I can’t wait for you to meet her. You’ll in town for my 40th, right?”
“Oh god!” she groans and covers her face with her hands. “Don’t remind me how old I’m getting, Sebastien... And yes, I will be here for your 40th and Dave will be with me. Are you planning to invite your father?”
“Nope,” I shrug. “There’s no reason to do that. I’m planning to have something small with you and Dave, Derrick and Tasha, and Naomi and myself. I might invite a couple more friends who know how to keep things private, but I’m not looking to do anything extravagant.”
“Fair enough,” she sighs. “Well, I look forward to meeting Ms. Naomi Monroe in the flesh!”
“I’m sure you’ll love her.”
Sebastien and I have been together for around six months now and it’s honestly been great. The distance is incredibly frustrating and some days are harder than others, but he visits at least once a month and usually spends a few days to a week here. However, we’ve been doing less and less in public as he’s become more recognizable.
I’d lost hope in the existence of good men — or at least men who would be good to someone who looks like me. Even after reaching the point that I no longer saw myself as inherently ugly years ago, men have almost never passed up the chance to remind me and women who look like me that we are undesirable because of our size alone. But Sebastien is different. He’s shown me that not all men are trash, and I lucked out and met a good one.
Two more weeks until he’s here for his monthly visit and this one is especially nerve wrecking because I’m planning to introduce him to my parents. Luckily, my mom and dad aren’t super controlling and aren’t the type to get overly involved in my love life. I’ve told them that I’m seeing someone without revealing his name or age other than saying he’s a ‘little bit older.’ I do worry about how they might react to the age difference, but my plan this week is to come clean about those facts so they at least have an additional week to process before meeting Sebastien. On the bright side, I’ve talked to my mom about how well he treats me and she seems to love him already.
“This hoe always gotta be fashionably late. Bougie ass...” Gianni gripes as she sips her mimosa while we wait for our friend Eva Thompson to arrive for brunch. She’s a close friend of Gianni and I’s and the three of us roomed together our final two years of college — something she didn’t have to do considering she’s very well off. Her parents own a luxury goods holding company called Thompson Luxe Group and she and her sister are heiresses to the business.
We haven’t seen her in over year. After finishing college, she ‘moved’ back to New York where her family is based, though she actually spends most of her time traveling just because she can and we try to catch her when she has a layover in Atlanta or when she wants to take us on vacation with her.
“There she is,” I chime when she enters the restaurant. She almost floats when she walks in wearing her Louboutin sandal pumps and a sundress. Eva removes her sunglasses and holds her head high as she scans the restaurant until her eyes land on us.
“Hey, Mimi and Gigi!” she beams as she approaches our table. “How are y’all doing? It’s been a minute!”
“Hey, Eva!” Gianni says as she hugs her. “I was just telling Mimi how your bougie ass always gotta be fashionably late.”
“Whatever.” Eva flips her hair mockingly before coming up to hug me too. “Mimi! I know you’ve been up to great things. That interview you did with Sebastien Laurent was awesome and so were the follow ups. I also saw on the website that you were leading the San Francisco expansion. Talk about Black Girl Magic. I love it!”
Her energy is contagious and a wide smile comes to my face. “Yeah, it’s been a busy several months for me.”
“And what about your app? The charity network thing? Did it ever take off?”
“Eh, I have it up and running here in Atlanta and when I was in California, I tried to expand, but it’s hard since I don’t live there. Plus, picking up investors has actually been really difficult. No one wants to invest in an app that doesn’t really turn profits.”
“My parents will,” she says plainly. “Now that they’ve retired as the heads of the company and my sister Alexis has taken over, they’re getting into the whole ‘angel investor’ thing and I’m sure they’ll back your app.”
“I don’t know... I really want to go through the process of pitching investors and winning them over naturally.”
As soon as the words escape me, both Eva and Gianni look at me like I’m crazy.
“Girl,” Eva places her hand on my arm. “I’m telling you this because I love you: No one ever pulls investors ‘naturally’ no matter how impeccable their work might be. On top of that, Black women receive less than one percent of venture capital funding. So, you have every right to utilize your network and whichever contacts you have. That’s how pretty much everyone who receives funding ends up getting it anyway.”
“I’ve been telling her that!” Gianni interrupts. “And she has some very solid, very wealthy contacts who I’m sure would invest in her app without a second thought.”
“Oh, really?” Eva questions with a raised brow before she snaps her fingers like an idea just hit her. “You did all those interviews with Sebastien Laurent and his whole thing is being ethical and what not, right? I’m sure he’d invest in your app. Did you try talking to him about it?”
“Well... I’ve spoke to him about it, but it would’ve been unprofessional of me to ask him about investing...”
Gianni snorts and takes a big gulp of her mimosa and Eva looks at her curiously before returning her gaze to me.
“I just didn’t want him to think I was scheming or something, you know?”
“Fair enough,” Eva shrugs. “But I still think you should’ve went for it. I could tell in the interview footage that the man seemed to like you and I’m sure he’d be willing to support your app. You should try to follow up.”
“Yeah... Maybe I will.”
“So, anything else new?”
“Damn, bitch. Are you going to ask about me too?” Gianni taunts and rolls her eyes.
Eva snapped head to look over at Gianni. “I was getting to you too, damn! I know you’re working on your MBA and still stripping. Has Drake wrote a song about you yet?”
“Shut up! And yeah, I’m going to be done with my MBA in the spring, actually. Y’all got any job openings?”
“I can make one happen,” Eva replies with a smirk. “Our office here in Atlanta is small, but we could use someone on our business development team.”
“See, Mimi! It’s all about your network. Speaking of networks...” Gianni continues and I know from the look on her face exactly what she’s about to bring up. “You wanna tell Eva about your new man?”
“Oh shit! You got a man? Now I know he must be good because your ass definitely gave up on dating — against my advice — before we even finished college. Tell me about him! I want to hear everything.”
I look around the restaurant and don’t want to risk anyone hearing. While Sebastien isn’t a huge celebrity, he’s definitely got more name recognition these days and he just had an interview with the New York Times that came out this week and it’s getting decent buzz.
“Well, like you said, he’s a good guy... Actually, even better than that, he’s a great guy. He’s older than me, but it doesn’t feel like it with the way we vibe so well. Our conversations could probably go on for days if we didn’t get tired or have other obligations and I’ve never spent so much time with someone without them getting on my nerves. Honestly, the relationship almost feels too good to be true. The only downside is the distance. He’s out in California.”
“Older than you... California...” Eva studies my face before her eyes go wide. “Oh shit! Are you dating Sebas—”
“Hush!” I hold my hands in front of her face to stop her from saying his name so loud.
“I knew it!” she exclaims. “There was way too much chemistry going on between you two for there to not be anything going on. Oh, I love it! It makes sense. He’s a would-be billionaire who gives all his money to charity and you’re super into community service. And I bet the dick is exquisite. The man is fine and rich, but he’s not an asshole? Yeah, he definitely be blowing your back out.”
Gianni bursts out laughing and I cover my face with embarrassment.
“Oh my god, Eva,” I groan. “I think I have a mouth sometimes, but you have no filter at all.”
“Why would I have a filter when I’m with my favorite people?” she says with a wink. “Anyway, let’s get into this brunch.”
After speaking with my mother about Naomi, it was even more of a reminder of how much I miss her and I swear with each day, it gets harder and harder to do this long distance thing. I pull out my phone and swipe through some pictures of us together from our hikes and the last dinner we had together.
Although I’m nervous about meeting Naomi’s parents in a couple weeks, I cannot wait to see her, hold her, feel her... touch her... taste her. If all goes well with her family, I am going to ask Naomi about moving in together. NotionX has offices out here, so she’ll be able to continue to working and we can just fly out once a month to visit her family for a long weekend or if she wants to say longer, she’ll just work from the Atlanta office.
My fond memories of our times together as I look through our pictures on my phone are interrupted by Joseph.
“Is that Naomi from NotionX?” he asks with a gasp and I jump. I didn’t realize he’d entered the office from behind me. I’d been meaning to rearrange my furniture since we moved into this new space.
“So you are dating her!”
I exhale deeply and turn to look at Joseph. There is no use in hiding it now, but my employees all have NDAs, so it’s not like he can tell the world about it. Besides, Naomi and I are becoming more and more serious and it’s only a matter time until we go public anyway.
“It’s none of your business, but yes I am dating Naomi. Now, what is it you want? Is everything scheduled for the founders coming in today with their pitches?”
“Yeah, it’s all set up...” Joseph looks at me with his brows tensed. “I know you keep saying it’s none of my business, but... Why are you dating her? I don’t understand the appeal.”
“Joseph,” I say, the agitation clear in my voice. “Why the hell are you always so concerned with whom I may or may not be dating? And why the hell are you so against even the idea of me seeing Naomi? It has absolutely nothing to do with you.”
He twists his mouth and approaches my desk, leaning over it toward me. “I’m just saying, a man with your status, money, and looks could have anyone. Other guys would kill for that. And you being with some fat nobody from Georgia just seems like you’re settling for way less. You could do much, much be—”
Before I can catch myself, my fist collides with Joseph’s face and he’s on the floor, looking up at me like I’m insane.
“You’re fired,” I snarl before I begin shouting. “Now, get the fuck out of here and don’t come back!”
Joseph puts his hand on his face, still staring up at me in disbelief. “Mr. Laurent, are you seriously—”
“I said get the fuck out! If I have to repeat myself, you will be physically removed from this building. And don’t bother packing your shit, I’ll have it sent to you.”
The rage I am sure is clear in my face finally seems to register for Joseph and he scrambles to his feet before scurrying out of the office.
Even with his departure, the anger hasn’t escaped me. People like him are why Naomi is afraid of going public about us being together. I will never understand why Joseph and people like him always feel the need to intervene in business that isn’t theirs for the shallowest of reasons.
What’s worse is that normally when I’m upset, I can confide in Naomi and soon feel better, but I absolutely can’t bring something like this up with her — it’d only end up making her feel bad and would add to the hesitation she feels about going public.
These two weeks can’t end soon enough.
A/N: Thank you for reading!!