When they left the diner, it was going on 10:30pm. They would have stayed later, but they both had work tomorrow. Unfortunately for Inaya, her car wouldn’t start. Her battery had died. Attempts to revive it with a boost from Chandler’s battery were unsuccessful.
“Wait a minute,” Inaya said, looking more closely at the label on her battery. “This isn’t my battery at all. Not even if we were in the Twilight Zone, which means my mother switched my battery with hers the last time I let her borrow my car.”
“She did what?” Chandler looked incredulous. “I mean, would she really do that?”
“She absolutely would do that and did. Anybody that knows me knows that I don’t buy off-brand anything. After having to live on off-brand everything growing up, I promised myself that I would only buy top-of-the-line things when I was able to afford them. That includes top-of-the-line batteries for my car.” She pointed to the current battery and added, “And that is not a top-of-the-line battery.”
“No, it is not,” Chandler replied, running his hand across the cheap label. This particular brand was sold at flea markets and low-end shops. “I’m pretty frugal, but even I wouldn’t put that battery in my car.”
“But my mother would,” Inaya said, pulling out her cell phone. She quickly dialed Uzuri’s number as she walked several feet away for a bit more privacy. To keep from being distracted by how gorgeous Chandler looked, she turned her back to him and walked a few more feet away while she waited for her call to be answered.
“I hope you’re calling to tell me that I can borrow that fifty dollars I asked you for last night,” Uzuri said as soon as she came on the line.
Inaya’s frown deepened. “The answer is still no about that loan. I’m calling to find out why you switched out my car battery.”
“Because I needed a new one, that’s why,” Uzuri replied defensively. “I can’t be traveling the highways and byways with a weak battery. You don’t want your mother to be stranded on the side of the road, do you? Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
“Of course I don’t want you stranded anywhere. But clearly you don’t care that I am. As it stands now I have to find another way home tonight because of your inconsideration,” Inaya said, trying to remain respectful and calm.
“Well, had you given me the money to buy a new battery, I wouldn’t have had to steal yours,” Uzuri replied.
“Mama, I put enough money in your account every month for stuff like this. It’s not my fault that you don’t spend wisely.”
“I spend my money the way I want. And what are you doing out so late on a weeknight anyway?” Uzuri replied, switching the subject off her as usual when she knew she was wrong. “Inaya Seabrook, are you out on a date?” She squealed with delight. “Who’s your sponsor? I hope he’s a big Mandingo looking dude. What kind of groceries did he buy you tonight?”
Inaya just shook her head and sighed. Sponsor was her mother’s term for any man that spent money on a woman without expecting a monetary return. Groceries represented the meal he paid for on the date.
“You hear me talking to you, girl. I want details. Details!” Uzuri demanded.
“Bye, Mama,” Inaya concluded, ready to end this futile conversation. She did so with a simple click of a button. If only she could solve all problems that way.
“What kind of mother steals from her child? What kind of mother doesn’t even offer to come pick her child up when she’s having car trouble that Mommie Dearest caused? The kind of mother that I have, that’s what. And she wonders why I stopped giving her extra money throughout the month,” Inaya muttered to herself, returning the phone to her purse.
“Let’s go,” Chandler said, draping a comforting arm about her shoulder.
Inaya stiffened at that unexpected physical contact. She immediately relaxed seconds later when she realized who it was. So caught up in her mother’s drama, she forgot all about him.
“Yes, I’m ready to go home.” Inaya nodded, feeling too defeated to even look at his face as she turned around. “Let me just tell the diner owner that I’ll be back to get my car sometime tomorrow morning.”
“Oh, I’m not taking you home. At least not right now.”
Inaya stiffened again. Her gaze snapped to his. “You’re not?”
“No, I’m taking you to Walmart to get a new battery. They may not have the kind that you’re used to, but what they do have is much better than the one you got now. Plus it’s the only place that’s still open at this hour,” Chandler explained.
She nodded and smiled as she relaxed in his embrace again. “Thanks.”
“You’re most welcome.” He smiled. “I can’t have you stranded or without the use of your vehicle. Not as long as I have something to say about it. By the way, I’ve already talked to the owner of the diner. He’s cool with your car staying here for as long as needed.”
Inaya’s breath hitched at his thoughtful words, at the determined look in his eyes. It warmed her heart to know that he really cared about what happened to her and was willing to go the extra mile to help her resolve her issues.
“It’s good to see that The Big E is just as helpful in person as he is on the radio,” Inaya said as they walked to his jeep. Her car had already been locked and made secure by him – Mr. Thoughtful himself.
“I honestly don’t know any other way to be,” Chandler said sincerely. “The Edenfields may not be my blood, but they sure poured a love for helping others into my blood.”
I really like this man, Inaya thought, hugging him tighter.
© 2014 by Suprina Frazier