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Chapter 6

Scarlett's POV

When the life around you gets heavy, new life brings a sense of peace. Call me crazy but I’ve never been more excited for a baby’s arrival. Who am I?

To be celebrating my best friend’s baby shower today is a blessing I’ve been waiting for. Toren’s eagerly assisted his mom in helping prepare for this event, only one more reason why I’m absolutely obsessed with him.

He’s so kind. Too kind at times. So much so I feel like he isn’t real. Like what we have can’t be really because it’s truly too good to be true. What are his flaws? Is it really true what they say about love? That love is blind? Am I missing something? I’ve never known this type of love in all of my life, and yet, I feel like I’ve known it forever. What a strange thing love is.

Times have been hard, but just like this new baby, I feel like change is upon us.

I volunteered to come help Mrs. Hollingsworth, or Debbie as she begged me to call her, get the space decorated ahead of time.

The place she rented out for the day was a beautiful event venue at an renovated building on the Upper Eastside that had glass windows with twinkling lights covering the terrace outside. The old cream bricks of the building held a warmth that was captured with her soft white rose centerpiece decor.

Everything was bright white and cream colored with a touch of eucalyptus strung throughout for a little pop of greenery. It was surprisingly refreshing and crisp, and perfect for a baby shower of an unknown gender. From an artist’s perspective, she’d mastered it. She was a phenomenal event planner without even knowing it.

The cake that Toren has so graciously picked up from the bakery was sitting out on the table, surrounded by cupcakes. A gift table was nearby and honestly, I was only left looking for the minister to marry someone. This was a way fancier baby shower than the ones I was used to seeing. Where was the shitty diaper game?

We’d had everything set and were just patiently waiting for the guests to arrive.

Adrien showed up in a navy Balmain button-embellished knit mini dress with a shortened brown wig that screamed old white lady. His attempt at being the new Jackie Kennedy at this event was more than evident. He waltzed his way past couples settling in to eye me up in my biscuit colored, ruffled, silk wrap midi dress.

“If I wasn’t so set on finding myself a politician to bang, I’d be all over you, girl. You look like a cinnamon roll just thirstin’ for cream!”

My face contorts at his description of me. “Why are you so...you?”

“Trust me, you wouldn’t want me to be anyone else.” he commented with a confident attitude paired with a flirtatious smirk.

Sadly, it’s true. With his sarcastic, witty, blunt ways, I’d never change him. He’s the stereotypical gay man you always hear about, yet he’s somehow more authentic than anyone I know. He’s my boo.

“So where’s Big Momma?”

“Adrien, I told you, do not call her that!” I scold.

Apparently he walked in on Maggie wearing some big old lady nightgown when he was bringing her a care package filled with chocolates and snacks the other day. Now he won’t stop referring to her as Madea.

“Chile, please, if I walk in on you in a damn moomoo, you can bet yo ass getting called Big Momma, too.” he retorts.

“Nothing fits her anymore, you ass!”

“What’s going on over here, kids?” Toren interrupts our little squabble.

“I was just explaining ever so kindly to Miss Moe here that if you wear some raggedy ass bag over yourself, you ‘gon get called out on it. Baby or no baby, yo ass gettin’ grilled.” he smiles smugly.

“Toren! It’s so good to see you out of the office for a change.” A man interrupts behind us.

Toren and the man with brown, wavy hair, who’s wearing a fantastic navy blue three piece suit, begin exchanging words. He looks like the Kennedy to Adrien’s failed Jackie. They continue talking for a minute as Adrien raises his brow with a sly grin creeping over his conniving face, clearly thinking the same.

Oh hell, here we go.

“And are these your friends?” The man asks, pointing to us behind Toren.

“Yes, this is Scarlett, my fia- uh...friend.” He stutters making me cock my head to the side at him with a strange look. “And this is Adrien.”

My friend!?

Oh. Fuck. No.

“Nice to meet you, I’m Jonathan, Jonathan Ward.”

“Hello.” I shake his hand politely, raging internally.

“Wait, Congressman Ward?” Adrien asks immediately.

“Well, hopefully so. I’m up for election soon.” he smiles a dazzling smile at him.

Adrien turns to me and bats his lashes, then turns confidently back to Jonathan.

“One man can make a difference and every man should try.” Adrien states, using what sounds like an accent from the 60s.

I scrunch my nose in disgust.

“Ah, yes...Jackie O, my favorite.” Jonathan smiles and Adrien twirls the bottom of his short, styled wig between his noodle fingers.

“Come, tell me about government.” Adrien slips his arm through the crook of Jonathan’s arm and pulls him away.

I circle round and face Toren with my arms crossed, sporting a scowl. He’s smiling humorously, watching Adrien saunter off with the almost Congressman, until his eye catches mine and his face drops immediately.

“Wh-what’s that look for?” he stutters, insanely nervous at the sight of his pissed off ‘friend’.

"Friend?”

His nervousness drops and he sighs to the ceiling.

“I’m your friend now!?”

“It’s not what I meant, baby, I stumbled over my words.” he says with sorrowful eyes.

“I thought we were being honest with each other? Why did you say that?” I ask in a more calmed voice.

“I- I...”

“Toren, seriously?”

“I can’t say...why, I don’t know, it was an accident.”

“An accident?”

His face looks panicked and I’ve never been more confused. What is he holding back?

Just as I’m about to freak the fuck out over accidentally being called my boyfriends new friend, Maggie and Ronan make their arrival.

“Oh my God! This place looks phenomenal you guys!” She speaks with a cracked voice, already on the verge of tears.

She’s the one that looks phenomenal. She’s wearing a stunning olive green, off-the-shoulder dress, one that hugs her massive baby bump, showcasing it to perfection, then flowing out gorgeously at the bottom. Her hair looked thicker than ever and the light waves she had it in made her red color pop. She was stunning. A goddess in green.

I give her a tight squeeze, then we exchange conversation with a few giggles as the brothers do their thing.

Adrien must’ve broken away from the congressmen because he saunters his stick legs over to us.

“Jesus, woman those titays! You look like a cow ready to calf!” Adrien adds making Maggie frown. “No I mean that’s a great thing! That means it’s almost over!”

She frowns again.

“This is going to hurt so bad.” She closes her eyes making a pained expression.

“No, they have drugs. Just ask for drugs.” I comment, trying to make her feel better, while not knowing what I’m talking about at all.

“You alright babe?” Ronan comes back over, wrapping an arm around her immediately.

His attentiveness is the cutest thing right now. Adrien and I share a quick warming smile at it. “If only I could get knocked up, I’d love me some attentive daddy.”

I smack him playfully. “Everything will be fine. Plus, you’ll have the dream team there with you. We’ll do it together.”

“Shit, ain’t nothin’ I can do but watch that lil nugget come outta that deep fryer.” Adrien comments under his breath.

Playful smack number two.

I grab for Maggie’s hand as she wipes a loose tear with her other hand. She nods and smiles, trying to keep her emotions in check, which I’m sure is next to impossible at the moment. Hormones.

“Would you like to take a seat, babe?” Ronan asks.

“Yeah, my feet are like balloons.”

He guides her over to a decorated chair as she takes a seat, talking with Debbie at the table, as Adrien wanders off to network.

I turn my vision back over to Toren who’s talking to some woman by the gift table. She’s stunning, like most people that the Hollingsworth clan knows are. Her jet black hair is parted down the middle, slicked straight and resting just below her shoulders. She has a cream, v-neck dress that hugs her high hips, showcasing her tanned, fit legs. Looking at them from afar, I’d guess they were in a damn magazine ad.

She laughs at something he says, then places her perfectly manicured hand on his upper arm.

Yep. Time for me to interrupt.

“Or the time they made him eat the syrup pube sandwich!” Toren laughs as she throws her head back in laughter.

My eyes narrow at his comment as I walk up to them. Toren finally notices my arrival.

“Oh! Scarlett, come here.” he smiles giddily, pulling me into his side, “You have to meet Rachel.”

I shake her hand politely, noting her hand that is softer than a baby’s ass.

“Hello Scarlett.” She smiles, her eyes a gorgeous shade of aqua.

“Rachel and I went to college together. Her brother was in my fraternity.” Toren explains.

“The brother who would never believe you actually had a date to this! Rodney would just die, especially because you’re gorgeous and smart from what I’ve heard.” she winks at me.

I want to hate her for saying ‘date’, like we aren’t involved in a serious relationship, but she speaks the truth. So, fuck it.

“Rodney can suck it. I’m sure he’s still seeing oh what’s her boring name...”

“Amy!?” Rachel shrieks, “Oh my God, no! She was the worst!”

They continue their little conversation, filled with inside jokes and laughs, making me feel like a total outsider. Debbie begins hitting her glass with a knife gaining the attention in the room to announce everyone to take their seats.

Toren walks along with me, getting pulled in every direction by everyone as it seems. Uncles, distant relatives, old family friends...everyone is here.

He talks animatedly to everyone, leaving me standing beside him silent or in the background. I’m not a networker, I’m not even really a people person for that matter, but when the show begins, Toren falls into his role as the Hollingsworth son, here to make that name for his family.

He does it all, and yet he holds my hand, never letting go, almost sensing my displeasure for these events. We finally get seated next to each other at our round table, awaiting the other members to join us.Assigned seating at a baby shower. I shake my head a little at the thought. Where’s the toilet paper belly game?

Toren leans close to me, his hand running over my leg, squeezing my thigh under the table then slowly trailing his fingers higher, making me bite my lip.

“You look so fucking sexy.” he whispers in a rough voice into my ear, knowing people are all around us. “Meet me in the bathroom in ten.”

It’s a demand rather than a question, and the way my pulse begins rising just at the words, I know he’s serious.

“You can not be-”

“Just follow my lead.” he interrupts with a cocky grin.We do have a history of sneaking away during public events to engage in various sexual activities.

I grin back with my eyes narrowed at his mischievous plan.

After most people have worked their way to their seats at various tables throughout, the room is settling down and at the attention of Debbie. I notice our table is a bit empty. We’re missing two people by the look of the name cards left.

It’s me, Rachel, Toren, one of Toren’s family friends, and two other people that are supposed to be seated along with us. Checking the cards at Toren’s request, I turn back to him after reading the names to myself. Rolling my eyes and groaning internally, I show him the cards.

Adrien. Congressman Ward.

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