Now our girl had not gone a day without thinking of the man in the pho restaurant. She’d even gone back there a couple of times hoping to run into him, but he’d been a no-show for weeks now. She had to admit she was a little disappointed, but she remained confident that they’d run into one another again when the time was right.
She was enjoying her time alone anyway and using her free time to get ahead at work and build a business on the side. 2018 had been a particularly rough year for her financially and she was committed to doing everything she could to turn things around for herself. She’d enlisted the support of the closest friends, working to create products and packaging and was steadily expanding her network of business contacts.
Her sister had designed a special money oil for her which she called LUXOR, after their favorite black-glass pyramid on the Las Vegas strip. It was the place where they’d once won $1000 on the roulette table.
Everyday she mixed LUXOR and MAGNETISM and rubbed the oils all over her body and it had been working like a charm. She had received a promotion at work, had paid off her smallest credit card, and had finally started the business she’d been thinking of starting for years.
She was selling hand-crafted soaps, body creams, jewelry, and candles. Business was going well. She had her items for sale on consignment at various metaphysical gift shops and boutiques around town and would be participating in an upcoming street fair for First Friday in the arts’ district.
When the day came, she set up her emerald green tent in her rented booth area and spread white linen cloth over her tables. She displayed her new line of herb-packed candles and soaps on small wooden stands, placed her crystal and copper jewelry under glass cases, and set out body cream samples with Popsicle sticks in them.
It was a typical hot, spring day in Las Vegas so she offered bottles of chilled water to everyone who came by her table. She was placing a wrapped candle into a brown paper gift bag along with a business card, seeing a client off when he approached.
She could feel his presence before she heard his voice. “Well, what do we have here?” He asked beaming a bright smile at her.
Caught slightly off guard she smiled, managing to respond, “Heyyyyy, you!”
“Hey yourself!” He shot back.
“Fancy meeting you here,” she blushed.
“You’re the fancy one. Look at all these wares,” he admired, nodding. “Did you make these products?”
“I did.” She said with a smile looking him directly in the eye, like before.
“So you’re not only incredibly beautiful, but you’re creative and enterprising too? Impressive.”
She lowered her eyes. “Thank you,” she said softly.
“These candles are interesting,” he noted aloud picking up a pink candle filled with rose petals, damiana and ground rose quartz.
“Yes, well, these candles are special. They’ve been created to support you in drawing what you want to you.”
“Is that right?” He looked back at her now, “I think they’re already working.”
She bit her lip involuntarily not knowing how to respond.
“I’ll take one of these for sure. How about these body butters, any of them for men?” He wanted to know. He had his wallet in hand now.
“Uh, yes! I carry the KING scent for men. The unscented one is also popular with men.” She responded, noting mentally that she had to look up to him. He was taller than she’d realized in the restaurant.
“Ah yes…well, I’ll take both,” he said without testing either option, handing her his credit card.
“You didn’t want to smell either product, before purchasing?” She double-checked as she opened the Square app in her phone preparing to process his payment.
“Nope,” he flashed his smiled and set one of the shopping bags he was carrying on the table for her to add his new purchases to. “But, I do have a question. Is there anything special I need to do with this candle to,” he paused, “draw in what I desire?”
She swiped his card and met his eyes again as she handed it to him. “Yes, before you light it, set your intention. I like to write a little note to God stating exactly what I desire. I place the note beneath the candle glass and then I imagine the desire fulfilled. But you have to really sense it, you know—until you can feel it. Then light the wick and let it burn until it goes out by itself.” She explained with ease, but couldn’t help but wonder if she sounded weird to him or not.
“Done,” he said simply placing his wallet in his back pocket and watching her wrap his purchases and add them to his bag. “Say, you some kind of bruja or something?” He said in a playful tone.
“Is that a problem?” She responded, a tad defensive.
“A problem? Nah. It’s a preference.” He laughed now, grabbing his bags. “Well, see you soon, Ms. Bruja.” She wanted to prolong the conversation, but he was already turning to walk away and other customers were approaching. “I’ll see you again,” he said mocking the way she’d ended their last meeting.
She waved, turning to serve her next clients.
The day ran smoothly and she had managed to sell all of her items. She finished the event by handing her cards out to passersby and other vendors and making a few business connections. She was folding tables and linen cloths when he approached again. He wasn’t carrying his bags anymore. She knew from his credit card that his name was Derek. “Hey Ms. Bruja. I was hoping I’d catch you. I thought you might need some help getting your things together. Would you mind if I lent you a hand?”
She was taken aback by his consideration and generosity, again. “Wow. That would be great actually. How kind of you! Thank you, Derek.”
He smiled, “Hey now. It’s only fair that I know your name. It might throw people off if I’m calling you Ms. Bruja when I take you out next weekend.”
She laughed at how smoothly he’d proposed a date. “I’m Kemet.”
He paused then and took a little step back. “As in Ancient Egypt Kemet?”
She flashed a bright smile and nodded, “You got it.”
“Your parents give you that name?” He asked, wanting to know if she’s been raised dope or if she’s grown into it.
“My daddy did.” She responded proudly.
“Pops did all right with that one.” He looked around at the tables and things. “Let see, I’ll grab the tables and cooler, you can lead the way to your car.”
She complied easily, grabbing some of the lighter items and leading him to her old Mercedes sedan. “So, do you have a shop?” He asked.
“Yes. An online shop,” she stated looking up to him, “and I sell on consignment out of boutiques around town.”
“Good, good! You have your own website or are you selling through social media?” He was interested.
“I have my own website, but I am very active on Instagram, Facebook, and SnapChat. I advertise on IG and most of my clients order from my website. I spend a lot of time at the post office these days and I’m grateful.” She answered transparently.
“How long have you owned your business?”
“Couple of months.”
“Seeing a return yet?”
“Yes, small, but steadily growing. I’ve mostly been reinvesting into products and expanding my online presence. I also work for the furniture market.”
“Over on South Grand Central Parkway?”
“You know it?”
“Sure do! We shop there sometimes when we need to stage a property.”
“You work in real estate?”
“I invest in real estate.”
“Ah! Very cool.”
He laughed, “How about you, you own any property?” He asked looking at her squarely.
They arrived at her car and she popped her trunk. “No, but I hope to become a homeowner in the next 24 months. My mom actually gave my sisters and me a home in Upstate New York, but I don’t make it back there too often, and I’m not interested in spending winters there.”
“Oh yeah? Your family’s from New York?” His curiosity compelling him to change the topic.
“Mine too,” he shared, “the Bronx.”
She smiled, “That’s a different New York. I’m from the country.”
He laughed, “Yeah upstate is definitely the country, but so beautiful.”
They made their way back to the booth and gathered the last of her things. It was easier taking things apart, especially since he’d come back to help.
“Hey, I really appreciate you taking the time to come and help me close up shop.”
“No problem Kemet. It’s my pleasure really.”
She tossed her cell phone on the seat and turned back to him, wanting the conversation to last. “Kemet, I meant what I said earlier about wanting to take you out next weekend. I know you’re a busy woman with work and operating your business. When would be a good time for you?”
She smiled at the way he didn’t leave room for rejection. Good thing she wasn’t dating anyone. “I’ll be selling at Soul Sessions on Sunday. But I have Saturday open if that works for you.”
“That works perfectly,” he stated retrieving his cell phone from his pocket. “I’ll call to confirm.”
“702-555-1042.” He was such a leader, so easy to follow. She wondered what his birthday was. “When’s your birthday?” She asked. She couldn’t help herself, being the brujita she was.
He laughed, “April 23, witch.” He smiled down at her and locked her name into his phone. “I’m a Taurus. Scorpio moon. At least that’s what I’ve been told.” He laughed some more. “But listen, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of time to get my birth time, year and all that.
He held the door open for her as she slid into her car. She looked up at him, biting her lip thinking how beautiful his soft black curly hair looked against his adobe colored skin. “I look forward to hearing from you.” She cranked up the car and drove away. He watched her drive off. She watched him in the rear view.
“So goddamn fine!” She said aloud to herself.
“Hey Siri, call sis!” She said aloud.
“Calling Sis,” her iphone responded dutifully.
“Hey Girl,” Sis’ voice came through the speaker sounding soft and clear like a bell.
“Sissssss,” she wound up.
“Tell me!” Sis responded in normal fashion, knowing her friend had something juicy to share with her.
“Remember that man from the restaurant I told you about? I just saw him at the fair, he bought some products, helped me breakdown my booth and he asked me out girl!!”
She could hear her friend giggling like a teenager through the phone, “ Yassssssssssssss.”
They shared a laugh together now. They were so silly, always cutting up together. “You want me to send you some of my new LOVE SPELL oil?” Sis asked.
“Uh, YEAH! I’ll send payment right now. What does this oil do?”
“Girl, this one is brewed for romance, love and amazing sex,” I put a little damiana, some catnip, a little somethin, somethin!”
“Oh, girl, in that case, send me one of them little 7 ounce bottles. I’ll cash app you now.” They shared another laugh because they both knew she was serious.
“When’s your date, honey?” Sis inquired sweetly.
“Next Saturday! But I don’t have the details yet, so I don’t know what I’m going to be wearing. But girl he’s a Taurus so I’m definitely buying something new.”
“Yeah girl. That sounds like it’s going to be an upscale situation.” Sis stated knowingly.
“Yeah, you know how Taurus are. They love to go all out. They’re so lavish and thoughtful.”
“Yes and Taurus men are masculine as fuck. A little stubborn though.”
“That’s fine with me,” she responded to Sis. I like a man who knows how to make up his mind.”
“I heard that. Well love, I’ll drop your oil in the mail first thing Monday morning with the other orders so you receive it in time for your date.
Her work week had been slammed, but she and Derek had been texting since the night of the Farmer’s Market. He was so sweet and thoughtful, never forgetting to send her “good morning” texts and even sending her the occasional picture of a property he was viewing and taking time to ask her how her day was going. She loved a man who could communicate. When her oil arrived in the mail on Thursday she tore through the packaging excited to smell this new oil from her Sis. It was sweet and spicy. She shook the bottle gently, praying over it as she always did and poured a dime-sized drop into her hand and rubbed them together. The scent calmed and excited her simultaneously. Her friend was talented that was for sure. She snapped a quick photo of the oil and sent a quick message raving about the scent and thanking her friend for getting her right for her upcoming date.
Friday was slow at the office and she spent most of the evening at the mall looking for a new outfit. She finally settled on something dark yellow, almost gold, and sexy from Macy’s. It was cut just above the knee, lose and flow-y but clinging to her body in all the right places. She figured this would be a nice option for their date at the Paris hotel. They were having dinner at the restaurant on the Eiffel Tower and she was excited. She’d always wanted to go there and now she finally would. He arrived just as she was rubbing LOVE SPELL on the backs of her knees. He knocked gently on the door, which was a new experience for her. People still do that? She had fully expected him to call, shoot a text, or maybe even honk the horn. She could get used to this new treatment from a man.
She opened the door, grabbing her bag, happy that she could meet his consideration with consideration of her own, by not forcing him to wait for her. She was ready rocking 3-inch heels, a simple gold ring, diamond studs, and an elegant up-do. She carried a small, vintage clutch made out of gold which held her ID, keys, credit card, cell phone, and the brick dust red lipstick she was wearing.
His smile lit up his face when he saw her. She rewarded him with a hug. “Mmmm. You smell wonderful…like cinnamon and brujita,” he licked his lips. She laughed.
“Thank you for coming to pick me up,” she said locking her door behind her. He opened her car door and she wondered to herself if this was just an act or if this was how he always was.
He paused a moment to fasten his seat belt and for her to secure her belt as well. Then he turned the music up a touch. “Sweet Lady” by Tyrese was playing. She loved this song. She watched him playfully lip syncing the song and giggled.
“You look beautiful, Ms. Bruja. You know that?” He said glancing at her.
She’d taken in his simple Black slacks, crisp white shirt and polished Black hard-bottom shoes. All quality, probably designer. “And you look handsome, sir.”
Now “What’s It Gonna Be” by Busta Rhymes featuring Janet Jackson was playing. She wondered if this was a playlist he used on all the ladies.
The date was better than she’d thought it would be. They’d shared a delicious meal, a bottle of wine, and wound up dancing all night at Drai’s. He delivered her to her front door and kissed her passionately, but had not even attempted to step into her house or imply that he wanted to come in. Instead he’d accepted her invitation to join her at Soul Sessions, the open mic event where she’d be selling her merchandise, the next evening. He did show up. He was gracious and kind. Enjoying the show, giving her space, flirting with her and keeping his eye on her all night. He helped her break her things down again.
After that night, they enjoyed a few more dates on the weekend. And then a date in the middle of the week. Then, they’d gone up to Mount Charleston for a day trip to hike and enjoy dinner at the inn and a clear view of the gleaming full moon and stars at night. They made out like teenagers.
He was consistent. He communicated, asked questions, confirmed plans, followed-through and always took the time to hold doors for her. He was a perfect gentleman. And when he kissed her he was passionate, but never attempting anything.
A couple of month passed before he asked if she’d be open to dating exclusively. When she agreed, she noticed the look of pride on his face. After that he became increasingly interested in her business and even shared information with her about small grants that were available to women of color who owned small businesses. She’d been able to get a grant matching the $5000 she’d saved herself. To celebrate, he invited her to his home in Summerlin and offered to prepare a special meal to celebrate her success. She was hype, because after nearly four months of dating she hadn’t been to his place. He came to pick her up, promising to bring her home whenever she was ready.
On Friday, Derek arrived at her home on time, as usual, dressed in casual blue jeans, his standard pressed white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. His hard bottom shoes gave him a business-casual vibe. She’d opted for a blood red spring dress. He always complimented her clothes. He was truly a Taurus.
He navigated the roads easily as Smokey Robinson sang “Cruising.” Arriving at his home was a bit of a shock to our girl. He lived in a mini mansion in some gated neighborhood in Summerlin. She had to work to contain her surprise and curiosity. Pulling in he parked at the top of the driveway. He caught her surprised look and smiled, “I’ve been living in this house for about a year now, but I might sell it. It’s just be right now.” Despite being huge, the home was warm, but it was obvious that it belonged to a man alone. She loved all the pictures of family in frames right by the door. She knew from their many conversations that family was important to him.
He poured her a glass of champagne and played more music. Old jams by The Temptations, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Anita Baker, Sade, Ben E. King, Etta James, Al Green and Aretha Franklin (Peace & Blessings be upon you, Queen). They enjoyed a surprisingly delicious meal and ended up cuddled on the sofa, drinking more champagne and laughing about something silly. He rubbed her feet and kissed her like he always did. He was such a great kisser. He rubbed his nose on her neck and inhaled. “Your scent drives me wild,” he whispered in her ear sending chills down her spine. “You remember that candle I bought from you? Do you know I actually did what you said? I wrote a note to God and everything and I asked him to bring you to me if it was His will.”
His vulnerability entranced her. Grabbing her thigh he easily pulled her legs apart and over him until she was straddling him. A little tipsy from all the champagne they kissed until her red sun dress was being slipped over her head, causing her long braids to slip out of their bun and fall over her shoulders. “Simply Beautiful,” played in the background.