I walk briskly back to the table I was waiting with the customer’s order. Placing their food on the table with a practiced smile, I walk away to the next table with my note pad and pen out.
“Welcome to Papa Peli’s, my name is Kalani, and I’ll be your waitress today. What can I get for you?”
When the person looked up at me with a damn near smug grin, I sighed and looked up to the heavens. Of coarse he would be here. It was like the word no wasn’t in the man’s vocabulary. “So your name’s Kalani?”
“What are you doing here?” I said giving him a glare. He chuckled leaning back in his seat, raking his eyes up and down my body like the dog I’m sure he is.
He licks his lips, “Damn, can’t a nigga eat?”
“Not when you know where I work,” I shot back. Deandre just sends me a smirk, not at all frazzled by my mean attitude.
Saturday when Tatiana and I should have had a relaxing, girl’s day out, that turned into an awkward family reunion. I later found out that Deandre was Tatiana’s cousin. She said they were really close once upon a time, but when he moved from LA to Atlanta, she didn’t hear back from him. Only hearing that he was in jail for some murder and that little snoop made me want to leave his presence even more.
Not that I had anything against jail birds, it was just knowing that he probably did something like that had me all iffy. So when I saw them releasing their tense air, getting along and laughing, I made up an excuse that I was tired and wanted to sleep off the rest of the day, I took my things and made a hasty exit, hoping to never see the chocolate, handsome devil again.
Obviously I didn’t get my wish.
I sighed, “Okay Deandre, what can I get you?”
“How bout’ a yes for me to take you out to lunch?” I give him a look, “No thanks.”
He sighs, and that playful aura that he seems to always be around him, is replaced by a serious one. “Its just lunch, ma. You making it out like I’m gonna kill you or something.” It wasn’t like I didn’t find Deandre attractive because he was damn fine, I just didn’t want him to get the wrong impression when my heart already belonged to someone else. Someone who was my past that I can’t seem to let go even if I wanted to.
I know he likes me, it was a proven when he was showing up at my work and going out of his way just to get my attention. It was sweet and although deep down we could never be anything but friends, a little lunch outing wouldn’t hurt. I can’t remember the last time I ever felt like I was wanted by a man. To be the centre of attention for once had me feeling all fuzzy inside and maybe that was the reason I said yes.
Deandre’s dimpled smile makes an appearance and I find myself staring at his beautiful smile. He notices and shoots me a smug grin licking his lips. I couldn’t help the laugh that left my lips at his corny act. “I’ll be waiting right here till you get yo break.”
My brows furrow, “Your going to wait?” He nods, taking his phone out typing on it a few times before handing it to me. “Put your number in, ma.” I bite my lip contemplating if I should, but then the thought of Alonzo being with Georgia right now had me putting me number in.
I hand him back his phone and tell him that I had other tables to attend to and scurry off to do my job. Was this a bad idea? I mean entertaining a guy when you know within yourself that you feel absolutely nothing doesn’t always end well. I shake my head not wanting to think about that. I had other things to worry about.
“What is he doing here and what were you two talking about?” I’m immediately bombarded with questions by Tati when I make it around the back with the customer’s orders. I shrugged and turn to face her, seeing her hands on her hips with a serious look on her face.
“We’re going out for lunch.”
She raises an eyebrow looking at me from head to toe, “And you said yes?” I nodded and waited for the lecture I’m sure was going to come, but she surprised me with a smile. “You know he likes you, right?”
I bite my lip, “Yeah, I know.” She laughs before pushing me playfully to the side, “Ouuu, Lani’s got a crush.” I roll my eyes but can’t help but laugh along with her. Tatiana just had one of those laughs that was contagious and made you want to laugh even if shit wasn’t funny.
She sobers up giving me a serious look, “But really, do you like him?” I give her a fuck-you-mean look. “No I don’t and you should know that.”
She shakes her head, “Okay, well, don’t entertain his ass. Just tell him straight up that shit ain’t happing.” I give her a smile and nod. Of coarse that was what I was going to do, only if he was making any moves. I didn’t want to shoot the guy down on something if he wasn’t feeling it. That would be embarrassing as hell.
“Tables 2,5 and 7, orders ready!”
Tati and I quickly got back in motion, running off like headless chickens to get the customers orders. I look up to the large clock on the wall seeing that it was just a little after eleven. Soon time to get things over with...
“Where you wanna eat?” I gave a one shoulder shrug, taking in the nice all black interior of his black, Mercedes G-wagon. “It doesn’t matter, as long as there is food.” He chuckles and starts the car driving out of Papa Peli’s parking lot.
I watch his profile as he drives. He stares intently on the road with one hand on the wheel and the other tugging on his little beard. I love seeing deep, low cut waves on a dark man and he was rocking them just fine. I take in his grey hoodie and black jeans that made him have this comfortable look about him, but you could see that he really didn’t care about what he had on. His profile screamed I don’t-give-a-fuck, but his personality was anything but. Well, that was what he showed to me anyway.
“Are you living here now?” I said to break the ice. He makes a turn then pulls up at the stop light and turns to look at me and I find myself blushing. “Yeah, moved out here two years ago.”
We just sit there looking at each other until an impatient horn sounded making us break eye contact. I think that staring at each other is now our little thing. We laugh and he drives off before we could hear anything more about our mothers.
“Why though?” He squints his eyes at the road and I found it to be the cutest look ever. “I wanted a change of scenery you know? Atlanta wasn’t doing me any good.” The change of tone in his voice let me know that it was a sensitive topic so I dropped it and remained quiet for the rest of the ride.
Ten minutes later, we pull up to this nice, little, shack like restaurant that would easily go unnoticed. He parks and hops out, jogging around to my side to open the door for me. “Thank you.” He nods and leads us inside.
The place is a small and in need of paint, but the warm welcome we received from our entrance made up for the less than appealing interior. We’re led to a booth and given menus with a complimentary muffin. The minute the waitress was out of hear shot I decided to quench my burning curiosity, “How did you know about this place?”
Deandre looks up from his menu and looks around the place like he was seeing it for the first time. “I don’t know, I just found it one day.” I was a bit confused at his explanation but didn’t push it. “They might not be the best looking restaurant, but their food is damn good.” I smiled and continued to look through the menu for what I wanted.
“Did you grow up here?”
And that’s how our conversation really started. We talked about our past schools, our family and our jobs. Well his job since he already knew mine. His dad and mom died when he was young from multiple gun shots and he moved in with Tatiana’s family after. He got caught up with the crowd with drugs, guns and gangs and he got caught and did five years in prison for it. I could feel the my shoulders lift a little when he said that.
He didn’t go to prison because he killed anyone, he was just in the wrong crowd and paid the consequences for it. After he got out, he finished school and decided to get his life back together and he did. He worked hard and eventually got to open up his own barber shop that he now owns in Houston.
Hearing him talk about all those things that he went through made me respect him, and the guilt of judging him before I even got to know him ate away at me. Not everything is as it seemed and I lost sight of that. The minute I saw him and heard that he was in prison I started coming up with assumptions that were unnecessary.
“How old are you?” He licks his lips giving me a look I couldn’t understand. “I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.” I roll my eyes, but I found myself smiling anyway. I was more relaxed around him now than I was before.
He nods, giving me a smirk, “I’m twenty-seven.” We talk for a little while longer before I looked at the time and saw that I had to get back to work. He pays for the food, much to my dismay and drives me back to work. I’ll admit, I really did have a nice time with him. He was more than I was expecting he was going to be.
When he pulls up back at Papa Peli’s he jogs around the car to open my door again and I had to laugh at his goofiness. “You know you didn’t have to do that right?” He grins hitting me with the dimples, “I couldn’t let you go like that, ma.”
I shake my head and take his hand to help me out the car. “Thank you for lunch. I enjoyed it.” He smirks and leans in. I stand there frozen while my heart beat accelerates and the only thing that seems to be going through my head is if he was going to kiss me...
I was pleasantly surprised when he gave me a light kiss on the cheek. “I enjoyed it too. I’ll text you later, babygirl.” I watch him in a daze as he walks around back to the driver’s side and pull off.
I turn around and walk off towards the restaurant with an uncontrollable grin on my face, but stopped dead in my tracks when I saw a pair of alluring, sapphire blue eyes staring furiously back at me.