CHAPTER FOURTEEN: THE MORNING GLOWS AND THE AFTERNOON BLACKOUTS
ISAIAH’S POINT OF VIEW
“Well, good morning, Glory Boy. You certainly look and feel like you had one momentous night.”
I stifled a yawn as I came out of the bathroom wearing a black bathrobe after a leisurely shower and was greeted by the teasing voice of Natasha Allman as she stood in the middle of the bedroom. “And good morning to you too,” I murmured, making my way out of Salim’s bedroom and a beeline for mine so I can get dressed. “And where’s Salim?”
“Went to the fitness room, from what he told me,” my friend replied. “Anyway, hurry up and get dressed in the outfit I picked out for you that’s on the bed. You do have your first day at the House of Suez, after all, and I get to be your assistant! This is so much fun!”
I smiled lightly as I headed into my bedroom. “I’ll bet,” I replied. “Give me ten minutes and I’ll be down.”
Ten minutes later, I had dressed, brushed my teeth, and moisturized before heading down to the personal-sized kitchen where Natasha and Jocelyn- alongside Zoe and Floriana (all of them dressed properly and checked for fashion flaws by me)- were waiting for me as I was greeted by the strong smells of coffee and pastries. “How was everything last night?” I asked Floriana and Dr. DuSable as Jocelyn handed me a steaming cup of decaf coffee.
“We had fun, considering the fact that we heard you and Salim really going at it last night,” I heard Floriana tease me as she nibbled on a croissant. “So, how was he?”
I spat out the coffee, shocked to hear how Salim’s assistant was so blunt. “Wh-what?!” I spluttered, coughing and taking a few deep breaths. “Pereira, you know that you can’t ask me that while I’m eating.”
“Point,” Jocelyn said as she handed me a napkin to wipe my face, “though I kind of guess that Salim really rocked your world and made you feel brand new.”
“Screw all of that,” Dr. DuSable said. “I bet that not even Armand and Jarvis were like that for their first time together. And I know for a fact that Armand and Salim are really good in bed. How else did I find the inspiration for ‘Night in Marrakesh with the Sultan’s Slave Boy’ and get a lot of hits?”
“Dr. DuSable?!” I exclaimed, feeling a bit mortified at what she said. “But yeah, Salim really had me going and glowing from all aspects. I thought it was something that I usually read in those chick-lit novels I read in high school. But the way that he did it?! Boy, some of those positions we did were practically banned in some states and many countries.”
The women hooted at that comment, clinking their coffee mugs at that.
“All the same, he really made me feel special,” I continued on. “And Salim told me that he loved me. I did too. And for once, I didn’t feel rejected.”
“Aw, so sweet,” Natasha said as she handed me a strawberry Danish pastry. “I can tell that you two really cared for each other and that you both are really destined for happiness. But remember, if he pulls a Ryan I won’t hesitate to kill him.”
“Ditto,” Jocelyn said. “Ryan was really a douche for breaking your heart like that and he missed out on a great relationship. So I won’t hold back and hesitate to look for a new job if Salim double-crosses you.”
“I’ll have my crossbow set on standby after the queens deal with him,” Dr. DuSable piped up.
“And you know that I got my contacts in Nigeria and Angola on speed dial ready to join us,” Floriana assented.
“Ladies, there’s no need to worry” I heard my fiancé and lover assure them as he came into the room, my nose greeting his masculine scents of cinnamon and mint-scented body wash. “Like I told myself, Isaiah is mine and I am his. I dare not break his heart. And if I do, he can be the first to shoot me.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” I said.
“I’ll hold myself to it,” he assured me. “Now, I believe that the car is ready to take you and Natasha to your new office at Suez and you’ll be meeting with Catalina Perez the wedding planner and Cassie the family’s personal shopper over lunch. I’ll see you later.”
“What are your plans?” I asked him.
And I felt his smile light up the room. “That’s for me to know and for you to find out,” he purred in my ear, giving my butt a light squeeze. “I’ll see you all at Firenze’s for a light dinner.”
“So, I think that the vermillion for the two-piece bikini set doesn’t really pair well with the brown sarong,” I replied, circling the model who was wearing the said outfit with her hair in a ponytail. “Make the suit something alongside the earth-tone palette, maybe a mint-green or a sandy blue or change the color of the sarong to something to complement the red- say, a canary yellow.”
“What about the summer gown over here?” I heard an older man’s voice that I recognized as Mitchell, one of the tailors, as he led me to the next model. “Armand said that the floral print with the deep brown really adds a bit of flair.”
“Change the brown to something lighter, like sand blonde or maybe even an aquamarine shade,” I replied. “But keep the floral print. The lilies are a nice touch. And for the fashion show, have the model wear her hair in curls and add a tiger lily in her hair.”
“Duly noted,” one of the young designers named Candi Marks replied, writing down my notes. “And Mr. Saint Croix said to have him meet in the formalwear area to talk about some of the gowns from the Midnight Phoenix line. He has a few ideas to discuss with you. But you have lunch in ten with Perez and Cassie.”
“Thanks,” Natasha replied as she led me out of the workroom and we headed for the main hall. “The day’s been quite busy so far, Izzy boy.”
“I’ll say,” I replied. “And everyone’s been talking on how I was skilled on my abilities. They even want me to help them with their own wardrobes.”
That was true. Since starting my first full day here at the House of Suez, everyone was blown away on how I used my other four senses to magically fix fashion flaws and even create new designs from my own sketches. Even a few celebrities made appearances and I instantly had access to private parties, fashion shows, and even lunch and dinner dates. One movie studio mogul asked me if I could help him out with an upcoming movie he was presenting as fashion advisor alongside Tom Ford and Reem Acra, at which I accepted.
Clearly, I was the rising go-to star around in the fashion world.
“Ah, Senor Van Blackwell?” I heard a colorful Colombian female voice say as Natasha and I arrived at the bustling lobby and headed for the door. “Salim said that you’d meet Cassie and myself for lunch. Name’s Catalina Perez and I’ll be helping you plan for the wedding.”
I nodded. “Nice to meet you, Miss Perez,” I said, shaking her well-kept manicured hand. “You have very soft hands. And your Loubotin perfume complements your pastel business wear well.”
“And he told me that you have one powerful nose,” she said, laughing at the comment. “Come, the limo is outside. Ready?”
“We are if you are,” Natasha said as we headed out into the slightly-humid air of LA and made our way inside the stretch limo that was at the curb.
“So, Isaiah, you and Salim plan to marry this coming October. And I’m betting that you both want a City-Season theme?” the wedding planner said as we sat at a corner booth of Mama Rosa’s Diner, where the air was filled with the sounds of Sade and the smells of dairy in the air. “I’m thinking of ‘New England in Autumn’ or ‘London in Winter.’”
“Not really,” I said. “If anything, I’m mainly a May baby, so I like ‘Paris or Rome in Spring.’ But I do like the idea for London since my late mother was born near Christmastime.”
“I heard that you lost your mom when you were born and that your father died before that. I didn’t know,” I heard Cassie, the blonde personal shopper who’s as sunny as her summer sun dress that contradicted her Max Mara perfume, pipe up as she took a sip of her wine. “Must be hard growing up without both parents.”
I nodded, keeping my eyes downcast. “Yeah, it’s been rough,” I conceded. “But when I need some advice or when I feel a bit into the pity-party phase, I’d envision my mother and she’d tell me to snap out of it and find a way to get through it. And sometimes, she’d made some helpful comments when I get overwhelmed. The one thing that comes to mind about her was her way of making sure that I’d let no one make me into a cripple. She knew that I would grow up into my own man and that she’d never let me forget it. And it helped me become the man that I am today.”
“Well, if she were here, I bet that she’d agree with me on the London in Winter theme,” Natasha said as the waiter came over to take our orders (I settled on the penne Bolognese and the three-cheese ravioli in Alfredo sauce while Natasha wanted the chicken parmesan and the lasagna. Catalina and Cassie settled for the shrimp diablo salad and the baked ziti special. All of us wanted the chocolate cheesecake) before continuing. “And you did say that your old social worker told you that your mother hoped that you’d visit Europe one day like she did when her father took her to Britain.
“That’s true,” I heard my mother say as she sat in her sewing room, mending an old dress. “I hope that you’d get to enjoy visiting the Westminster Abbey in London or learning the flamenco in Seville or even teaching the master chefs in Rome how to make those biscuits. Give the theme a go…”
I took a deep breath, knowing that my mother was right on the money. “Okay then,” I said. “London in Autumn it is. And I want to have the Frazier family make the cake and have Miss Laura work the reception.”
“Say no more,” I heard the manager piped up. “I know a few people in Bel-Air who can work the floral arrangements. I can give them a call if you-“
“Hey, everyone,” I heard the harried voice of Marcia Hamilton as she joined our booth. “Have any of you guys heard from Clarissa lately? She and I were supposed to plan our final trip to Wine Country before beginning the college rush next week but she never called me back. And her mom said that her car was in her driveway but she wasn’t home.”
Oh, boy. “When was the last time you heard from her?” I asked her.
She hummed for a moment. “I talked to her last night as she was on the way to your place, like she told me. I guess she changed her mind since she never arrived there.”
This was bad. Very bad. “Okay, Marcia. You need to call Chief Frazier and let him know what’s going on,” I heard Natasha inform her. “Then, you call either Saigon or Evita and let them know what’s up. If I know better, I think Caylee is on the move.”
Everyone gasped. “You don’t think-“ Miss Laura said in a worried tone.
I nodded. “She’s on the warpath right now and she’s gathering up her main victims: Clarissa, then Ryan, then Jocelyn, and finally Tasha and me.”
“I’ll call Shadie and Marcus and let them know,” Miss Laura informed me.
“Who’s Caylee?” Catalina asked me. “Wait, is she the-“
“If you’re wondering if that’s the same Caylee Amerson who attacked me after being ditched by both Vibe and the House of Suez before sending a bomb to my old workplace called Mariah’s and then being ditched by my former asshole of an ex-boyfriend Ryan Callaway, then yes,” I replied. “And now, she wants all who have earned her wrath dead and buried.”
Suddenly, there was a blackout, making everyone scream and cry out in fear. And then, I felt a tranquilizer dart hit me as a familiar female voice hiss in my ear. “You’re coming with me, you blind freak. And that Allman bitch too! You all will pay and I will be the real bitch of LA!”
Caylee Amerson, the Wicked Bitch of the West, has finally caught me.