CHAPTER EIGHT: PROTECTIVE DRAG QUEENS GALORE
SALIM’S POINT OF VIEW
The next morning, Dominic, Floriana, and I made our way to the main location of the Frazier’s family bakery that has stood the test of time, including the hate campaign of the scapegoat known as Bernice Frazier. “I still can’t believe that there are still haters that want many of the finest yet hidden people of diversity out of the picture,” Dominic said as the three of us rode in the limousine that paraded through the streets of Compton. “First Bernice and the Reece women terrorizing Jarvis and many others and now your fiancée and being attacked by that celebrity snob. Ugh, just the sight of her alone makes me want to vomit.”
“Well, I’m having him and his roommate move in with me later on today,” I said as we headed down Mealer Street, where many people were on their way to work or doing errands to prepare for the back-to-school rush. “Miss Allman insisted that she moved in as well to make sure that Isaiah and I wait until we’re married to finally have me into his world.”
“You should,” Floriana piped up, looking down at her tablet. “You’re a bit of a horn dog that hasn’t formally announced that you’re finally settling down. And I still have my reservations about all of this.”
The limo finally pulls up to the curb of Firenze Bakery, where the day was in full swing as the newly-restored bakery and café was filled to the brim with morning-rush customers of all kinds, from single moms (and dads) taking their kids out for a quick meal before school-shopping to office workers needing a cup of joe before heading in for the grind to the all-night crawlers wanting to get a bit of breakfast and lunch so they can sleep during the day before going back to work for the night and even a few customers wanting to have a dine-in experience.
The three of us went inside, taken aback on how Taffy Ganache had her construction-worker contacts fully renovate and update the place with high-ceilings, a playful-yet-contemporary design, and new appliances and electronics. I immediately inhaled in the scents of honey, chocolate, and cinnamon as we took our seats in a corner booth not far from the front area reserved for pickups and carry-out orders. “I am so craving for some of Mama Mauretta’s cinnamon-bun croissants alongside a Western omelet and sausage,” I announced as we all took menus from the side. “Man, I do wish that Armand and Jarvis would return soon.”
They’re still honeymooning in Tahiti, last time I checked,” Floriana piped up. “They had themselves a ball in Moorea and Bora-Bora and they still have Fiji, Tonga, and the Samoa Islands left before another ten-night stay in Hawaii. And as for me, I’m thinking about getting the famous berry fudge tartlets that the boy made famous for during Pride Week.”
“I’ll just have a cup of coffee,” Dominic said listlessly.
“Not around here, you won’t,” I heard the familiar motherly voice of Mama Mauretta as she and her husband Hezekiah Frazier came to our table with Natalie Frazier (carrying trays of food) following suit. “You need to add in some meat on those bones of yours, Telfair! And what’s this I hear about an assault over at Mariah’s?”
Oh, boy. I’m assuming that she doesn’t know about what happened last night with Isaiah. “Mama Mauretta, Isaiah was brutally attacked by racist reality star Caylee Amerson,” I explained, which made the older woman frown at the name. “She was rejected by Vibe Streetwear after saying some nasty stuff about Isaiah and at the House of Suez before he and his team arrived for the brunch. She had a few of her goons try to beat him up before planning to shoot him herself.”
“Oh, yeah,” Father Hezekiah grumped. “Thank God that Daniel was there to arrest her and her paparazzi team. Is the boy-“
“Just a few bruises on the ribs and a mild concussion, but he’s being released today,” Floriana replied softly. “And he and Miss Allman are moving in with Salim later this afternoon.”
“Good,” Natalie said. “That way she can train the boy right there to hold on out before the wedding night. I smell the lust from here, even with the food beside me.” She pointed a long finer at me before making the “I’m onto you” gesture.
I held up my hands in a mock surrender. “I’m being mindful of Miss Allman’s protective measures,” I noted as a waiter came over to pour us some coffee. “But right now, I’m just wanting some breakfast. And I’ll be having the cinnamon-bun croissants with a Western omelet and sausage links.”
“I’ll also have the omelet, but with egg whites and I’ll have the berry tartlets as well as turnkey sausage,” Floriana noted.
Dominic sighed. “And it looks like I’ll be having the black-forest muffins alongside a veggie omelet and hash browns,” he said, “and some turkey sausage.”
“Coming right up,” Natalie said as she sat down the plates of food to an adjoining table. “And Floriana, I’m having a ladies-and-queens-only luncheon later on, so no junk food for lunch.”
“Duly noted,” my trusty secretary said just as three drag queens in matching red Dior business pantsuits sauntered to our table, the statuesque blonde in the middle immediately recognizing my face at once. “Looks like we got company, guys. Can we help you three?”
The svelte Black-American queen wearing a wide-brimmed hat stepped forward. “I believe that you know our friend Isaiah Van Blackwell,” she said in a New York accent. “Name’s Lady X and the other Black queen on the right is Marias Amity.”
“Charmed,” said her companion, sporting a shaved head as she took off her glasses.
“And I’m Nebraska Lightning, the leader of the gang known as the Red Rose Girls. And yes, we’ve been hearing a lot about you, Mr. Saint Croix. I just want to hear from you personally on your intentions with our classmate back in college and how you plan to treat him right as a submissive.”
My eyes widened. Damn, straight to the point, aren’t they? I took a deep breath and jumped right in. “Well, as much as there are rumors about me being a playboy and being too much of a sadist, I’m not really like that at all,” I explained before taking a sip of my coffee and ignoring the chuckling from Dominic and Floriana. “Like Armand was before meeting Jarvis, I’d been playing the field and simply enjoying one-night stands. No abuse or anything, just the right balance of sadomasochism. And lately before meeting Isaiah, I’ve been avoiding all of that because I’m tired of the sugar-babies searching for a daddy or the “emo-boys” or the socially inept.”
“So what makes Isaiah so different?” Marias wanted to know.
“Well, he has this aura of determination and discipline,” I replied. “I assume you all knew about how the blind kid was labeled as a future basket-weaver or mosaic-maker or even a panhandling homeless fool being taken advantage of by everyone before being killed by someone reckless. With me, I can have him safe and on the path to being the best damned designer that he wants to be.”
Nebraska nodded, taking off her sunglasses. Marc Jacobs. “And you do know that we drag queens here take good care of anyone that we fancy,” she said. “Aria and her girls have Jarvis and the ladies at Mariah’s and the three of us have Isaiah. And alone, we can be vicious when our ward is threatened. But together? We’re ruthless. We can ruin anyone’s lives with our contacts and friends in high places. You know how Saigon Tiara is connected to the Agnello mafia and her intel team? I have connections to the Valblasky and Rudenev mafia families in Russia. Marias has her connections to the McCarran, MacIntyre, and McGillivray clans in Ireland. And Lady X has the Nakamura, Satori, Nguyen, and Jiang clans in Asia. And you can bet that Evita has her connections to the Morales, Bermudez, Menendez, and Rolon families in Latin America. Plus, there are many others that are on our side. Break our boy’s heart and you’ll end up missing, that is if we don’t hang your balls on the wall.”
I gulped loudly as Dominic cupped himself. “Noted,” I said. “So, how did you figure me out?”
“He described you with he knows using his other senses,” Lady X said before letting the waiter take her order of a Denver omelet with the black forest muffins; Marias’ order of the berry yogurt parfait, and Nebraska’s orders of the potato-and-bacon frittata and the cinnamon-bun croissant. “He said that you had caramel-cinnamon colored skin with a masculine build yet a slender lower-body. You have short, wavy, black hair with a faint mustache.”
“He sensed all that when you made out with him at the office,” Nebraska said. “He sad that you’re voice is like a blend of molten-gold and smooth-as-silk cane syrup. And if all else fails, he said- and I quote him, ‘he wears Tom Ford Noir.’ Is he good or what?”
“Damn,” Floriana said as our food arrived and dug in. “I bet that-“
“He described you as well, Miss Pereira,” Lady X said. “Amazonian height and slender-petite build with cocoa-brown skin and flawless hair that’s done in curls. You also wear White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor, which suits you well, but he said that recommends you try Jadore by Dior. More elegant for you.”
“Amazing,” my trusty secretary said, blown away on how my fiancée knew what perfume we all wore just by his nose. “I knew that he had a keen sense of smell, but I never expected him to remember that.”
“Trust me, the moment he said that I wore Miss Dior when we all met him was when I knew he was special,” Nebraska said as the waitress arrived with their food. “He’s one of a kind, I tell you that. So don’t break his hear like Ryan Callaway did.”
“What’s the story with that, anyway?” Dominic wanted to know.
A shadow crossed Nebraska’s made-up face as she frowned. “That’s for him to tell you, but the scars that made a mark on the boy’s mind still lingers,” she replied. “Now, you all eat up and then pick him up. And have him call me as soon as possible.”
“And remember,” Lady X warned, “you break his heart like Ryan did and you’ll end up in a casket or in our connection’s hands. Got that?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said.
Armand laughed heartily over the phone after piling back into the limo with my three friends (and extra to-go plates of food for lunch) following suit. He had just called to check in on me and our business and I immediately told him everything and my intentions on my beloved, including the warnings I got from the drag queens. “Oh, wow,” he snorted between laughs. “Only you can earn the glares and threats of drag queens. Man, and I thought I was deeply threatened by Jarvis’ gaggle of girls and his friends.”
I snorted, motioning for the driver to take me to the office as I sat back. “Believe me, I know,” I muttered. “Seems like my baby boy has the right kind of friends to keep me playing chase for his heart. Even one of his barbers- also a drag queen- gave me a few strong words along with some of the others at Mariah’s where he works as a waiter.”
“But not after the day after tomorrow, right?” I heard my brother ask.
“Yep,” I replied. “Wednesday is his last day as a waiter and he begins his new job at Reverb and at the House of Suez. But the main thing right now is about his ex-boyfriend, a Mr. Ryan Callaway-“
“You mean the son of oil tycoon Jason Callaway and former beauty queen Irene Madison Altman-Callaway?! I heard Jarvis pipe up from the background. “My friend Clarissa MacNeil is his distant cousin, and she really cut ties with that family a few years ago.”
“Wait, Jarvis, you think that she knows about the breakup?” I inquired.
“I can have you meet her for lunch later on today,” he said. “She’s still pissed off at her dad for having me arranged to be killed and being ultra-homophobic, so she’ll be next on the list to warn you as well. Not only that, she knows your fiancée as well.”
My eyebrows raised. “How?”
I heard the boy take a deep breath. “She’s also his roommate’s cousin on her mother’s side,” he replied. “Boy, this Van Blackwell kid really have a lot of connections on his end. What a small world we live in.”
“And with that, we’d better go,” Armand said over the phone. “Jarvis and I are about to have lunch by the beach before going on a glass-bottom boat ride. See you when we get back.”
“Got it,” I replied. And we disconnected.
“What’s next?” Floriana piped up as she pulled her tablet out from her bag.
“Call La Venizia and have them reserve a table for two,” I replied, my business/designer persona on full display. “And have Clarissa MacNeil call me immediately and let her know that I’m inviting her for lunch. It’s time to get to know my baby boy a bit more better…and figure out why my boy was mentally scarred by the douche who broke his heart.