“Hello, Professor,” Aurelia forced out, fighting down jealousy that Jordin was in the car with him instead of her. The same Jordin that didn’t even bother to look Aurelia’s way. She was too busy fixing her makeup in a mirrored compact.
“Why are you at a bus stop?” Baron asked, continuing to peer at her through the lowered passenger side window. His left arm was out of the driver’s side window, motioning for the cars behind him to go around now that the light had changed to green.
“I’m waiting on a bus,” Aurelia quipped, unable to keep the trace of bitterness out of her voice.
One of Jordin’s brows rose. She gave Aurelia her full attention now.
“I know the purpose of a bus stop, Aurelia. I was just wondering if you were here because you had car trouble tonight,” Baron said in an even tone.
Aurelia took a deep breath, blew it out, and quickly apologized. “Sorry about my bad attitude, Professor. Just because I’m having a horrible night is no excuse to take my frustrations out on you. To address your previous inquiry, yes, I am having car trouble tonight. The worst kind of all. My car was stolen from the amphitheater’s parking lot.”
Baron’s eyes bucked. “Your car was stolen?!”
“Yep.” Aurelia nodded as her eyes glossed over with emotion. Blinking rapidly, she immediately averted her gaze to her purse, unable to keep looking at him.
Baron looked so handsome tonight, so prosperous, so with another woman. Whereas Aurelia was down and out yet again. When were things going to truly turn around for her?
At the sight of her tears, Baron quickly and skillfully glided his car out of traffic and into the parking lot of the gas station that sat directly behind the bus stop. “I’ll be right back,” he told his date before swiftly exiting the vehicle.
“But I thought you had a headache—,” Jordin protested, only to have the rest of her words cut off with the slam of his door.
“Now tell me everything that happened,” Baron requested of Aurelia once he was beside her on the heavily advertised bench.
“There’s really nothing to tell. While I was busy listening to a little jazz tonight, someone was busy stealing my car,” Aurelia replied.
“Did you inform the amphitheater’s security?”
“Yes, but dey didn’t give a flying…” She paused, took a deep breath, and curtailed her angry tongue before she lapsed into too thick of an accent or started cussing all over again. “They could care less about my troubles. In fact, they laughed when I told them the make and model of my car. Sight unseen, they condemned my ‘68 VW Beetle to the junk pile, having no idea how much work I put into it. How I rebuilt that engine with my own two hands, using every trick my daddy taught me. How long and hard I saved to redo the upholstery, get a quality paint job, and some decent tires.” Tears sprung to her eyes again as her emotions steeped once more. “De city policeman twas no betta. All he cared ‘bout was gettin’ me into his bed.”
Baron immediately pulled her into his arms and just held her as she cried. “It’s going to be all right, baby,” he soothed gently, stroking her back just as soothingly. “You don’t have to take the bus home tonight. I’ll drive you. I’ll make everything all right, baby. I promise.”
Baby? Aurelia echoed silently as her ears picked up that repeated endearment and gave it to her heart to hold dear. It had been said with such fervor. Such sincerity. It was like he’d meant it from his heart.
* * *
Back in the car, Jordin frowned at the hugging couple on the bench. Her frown deepened when she learned that they would be taking Aurelia home tonight instead of the bus.
“I’m not going anywhere near that neighborhood. Can’t she catch a cab or something?” Jordin protested within seconds of learning where Aurelia lived.
“Cabs don’t like going to my neighborhood either,” Aurelia replied matter-of-factly. “Professor, if you could just drop me off at the next bus stop, I’ll take it from there.” Had she known Jordin was going to act this way, she never would have gotten in the back seat of Baron’s car, must less allowed him to merge back into traffic with her inside.
“No!” Baron said almost vehemently from the driver’s seat. “I’m taking you all the way home and that’s that,” he told Aurelia, looking at her in the rearview mirror. He turned to Jordin and added, “After I take my date home first, of course, since she’s a little skittish about certain areas of town.”
“I…” Jordin began.
“It’s settled,” Baron interrupted with finality, facing forward again.
I guess he told you, Aurelia mused, smiling to herself in the back seat.
Unfortunately, Jordin saw that smile through the mirrored compact she still had in her hands. As a result, she turned around and gave Aurelia a menacing look.
Aurelia gave her a ‘If you mess with me, I’ll take your man’ look in return that would have made old school Salt n’ Pepa proud.
© 2009 by Mi’Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier
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Salt n’ Pepa I’ll Take Your Man: