Chapter 1: A LITTLE CHOKE
“Goddamn, I just wanna know what it’ll take for a bad bitch to get some free drinks around here!”
Nichole immediately breaks out laughing at her best friend, simultaneously shaking her head in embarrassment. She mouths a quick apology to the confused looking bartender before grabbing Bonnie by the arm, pulling her in close to whisper, “Girl, why are you on level ten right now? I need you to bring that ass down to a cool three, fast. We are out in public remember?”
Bonnie rolls her eyes and tugs her arm back. “I’m sorry Nic, but I just can’t with these prices! I came out here to have fun, shake a lil’ ass, and maybe even pick up a body or two to bring home... I did not, however, come all the way out here to pay $20 for a single hurricane! And it’s not even the largest size? Boy, bye.”
“I swear you’re something else. I don’t know why you’re sitting up here making a scene like you can’t afford it when you literally own a whole hair salon and a nail shop,” Nichole says. “Ol’ cheap Mr. Krab’s headass.”
Bonnie laughs, shoving Nichole playfully. “Yeah, I’m cheap, so what about it! I’m just sayin’ why buy your own drink when you can come out here and smile and bat your eyelashes at some gullible fuckboy and get at least three or five drinks out of him? Run through his pockets, not yours.” Bonnie taps at her temple with her index finger, mimicking that one popular meme. “Work smarter, not harder, honey.”
Laughing again, Nichole finishes her drink before responding. “I see now that I should have brought Alicia out with me instead.”
“Oh, shut up! I love our girl Alicia just as much as you do, but let’s be real here... the librarian isn’t as lit as me.”
“I beg to differ. Get a few drinks in her and she’ll show out real quick. You completely forget that she’s a Virgo let alone a librarian,” Nichole says. “You remember how she turnt all the way up at Malcolm’s Christmas party last year?”
“Hell yeah I remember because the bitch ended up vomiting all over the backseat of my car on the drive home,” Bonnie mutters, a part of her still a bit irritated from the clean up that she had to do that night. “I guess she’s a bad bitch too when she wants to be. Still not as bad as me, though.”
When I’m In Love by Junglepussy comes on in the club, on cue, everyone gets hype. Bonnie finally finds a reason to leave the bar (and avoid purchasing any of the expensive ass drinks). Partying sober is nothing to her. She grabs her gold clutch from off the bar and then takes Nichole’s hand, dragging her onto the dancefloor. They join in singing with the crowd, laughing at the lyrics and dancing like they don’t have a care in the world.
It isn’t often that Nichole comes to wild out with her friends like this. She rarely takes off her work hat these days. She and Bonnie (more so Bonnie) often tease their other friend, Alicia, about her being the “tamest” one in their clique when in reality, Nichole isn’t too far behind Alicia.
For the last three years, ever since the official opening of her bakery, The Sweet Spot, Nichole has been working her ass off nearly nonstop. And in many ways, it’s paid off. She’s won countless awards for her addictive goodies, has built a positive reputation for her brand and herself as a baker, and she’s absolutely loved in her city by the people.
Nichole’s family and friends would call her a workaholic. On the other hand, Nichole herself would say that she’s just trying to stay relevant and one step ahead of the competition. Hustling is in her DNA. She doesn’t like to take breaks and never slacks off because she knows that nothing in this world is guaranteed.
You can only rest at the top for so long before someone tries to sneak up behind you to stab you in the back and take your spot. Nichole would rather that not happen, so she stays on guard at all times, tries to anyway, when it comes to business... and pleasure.
“Okay, who is this DJ because his taste in music is phenomenal and someone needs to give them a pat on the back. This is baby makin’ music right here!” Bonnie yells at no one in particular after a seductive slow jam starts playing - 40 Shades of Choke by Ari Lennox.
At the start of the song, Bonnie and Nichole dance together, minding their own business and just vibing to the beat. By the end of the first verse, they’re dancing with other people.
Bonnie, without shame and completely feeling herself, grinds provocatively against someone who’d win the first runner up in a Chadwick Boseman lookalike contest. Nichole, dancing a few bodies away from her, also sways seductively to the smooth melodic beat against a dangerously handsome man who occasionally whispers sweet nothings in her ear in Spanish. She doesn’t fully understand what he’s saying, just a few words here and there, but Nichole has a feeling that it’s mostly NSFW... just like the song that’s playing.
~ see, I just want your hands around my throat
ooh ~ just a little choke ~
Nichole stifles back a moan, just barely, as the man behind her gently grasps her neck in sync with the risqué song lyrics, his other hand gripping her by the waist as they continue dancing. Nichole smiles and relaxes, allowing herself to enjoy the moment and the feel of the man behind her. His cologne smells divine and with his body pressed tightly up against hers, it has Nichole wanting to join the path that Bonnie is on in not leaving the club unless someone is coming with her.
It’s been a while since Nichole has let loose and indulged like this with the opposite sex. It’s moments like this for when she realizes that she really does work too hard sometimes, and that sometimes it’s okay to step back and just do her. Live a little.
Before the opening of her bakery, Nichole had just ended a disastrous two-year relationship with someone that she, at one point, had thought she’d spend the rest of her life with. Since then, she’s been on a healing journey and has only ever casually dated, not quite ready to take another shot at settling down and getting serious with someone.
The man behind her, however, through his dancing and words alone, has Nichole questioning herself about what she wants... and right now, that’d be for her to take him home with her and fuck around with him until the sun came up. She doesn’t make a habit out of having one-night stands, but for the sexy Spanish speaking stranger who has just as much rhythm as she does, she’ll be happy to make an exception for him.
“Cuál es tu nombre?” the man asks after spinning Nichole around to face him once the song ends. “Your name, gorgeous. You can’t leave without at least telling me your name.”
Finally face to face again, the lights in the club getting a little brighter as an upbeat song starts playing, Nichole gets a better look at her dance partner and she thoroughly likes what she sees: dark hair, short boxed beard, a dazzling smile with pearly white teeth, pretty deep brown eyes, honey skin tone and muscles for days (that she’s lucky enough to make out thanks to his fitted shirt). Even in her heels, the man is still a couple of inches taller than her; she has to look up when making eye contact with him.
The man raises a brow at her and continues smiling, patiently waiting on her answer. He knows good and well that she’s checking him out right now, and it takes everything in Nichole, unbeknownst to the man, to not cup his handsome face and pull him in for a deep kiss that his luscious lips are practically begging for. The desire that she feels to take him down right now is so strong that it scares her a little.
“Buy me a drink first and maybe then I’ll tell you my name,” Nichole shouts over the music, grabbing the man’s hand and pulling him towards the bar while leaving Bonnie behind on the dancefloor to continue making out with her guy.
And so it seems as if one of them will end up getting free drinks tonight after all.