Meet Toni and Ahmad, one-time lovers who are getting their second chance at love.
Toni flicked her gaze from her phone to the man standing above her with every intention of telling him the same thing she’d told the others. As soon as she looked up, her heart seized on a beat and her breath formed a lump in her throat. Toni not only stared at who was possibly the finest man she’d ever seen in her life, but also one she hadn’t seen in eleven years.
A vision of the last time he’d talked to her flashed across her mind and was just what she needed to close her gaping mouth and firm her back. She stared back at him, waiting for…for what exactly? For him to mention what had happened between them? For him to apologize?
He smiled down at her, flashing bright white teeth. “I’m sorry to disturb you, miss. But I saw you sitting all alone back here and thought you could use some company.”
She didn’t know if she should be mad or glad. He didn’t seem to recognize her. On one hand, she didn’t have to relive the embarrassment but on the other, he’d dismissed their last encounter, while she’d held onto it for all these years.
“I-I’m…um. I don’t need company.” Did she just stutter? She wanted to slap a hand across her forehead. She gripped her cell phone tightly to stop herself from doing just that and making a bigger fool of herself.
When she’d been a freshman in college and he’d been the sexy and worldly junior, she’d had the same reaction—stumbling, bumbling idiot. Get it together, Toni. She wasn’t a green little girl anymore.
“Well, if you don’t want me to sit with you, can I have this dance?”
If she were any other woman at the party, she would’ve gladly jumped up and taken him up on his offer. But while everyone knew Ahmad as an African-American motivational speaker who’d sprung onto the scene five years before, attracting more followers to his ‘black community self-help’ doctrine, Toni knew him as a promiscuous, rowdy fraternity boy. While Toni admired his topic, the man behind the words often left a bad taste in her mouth. Every time she saw him on television talking about his main agenda, the state of the African American community and the need to revitalize and energize the younger generation, she couldn’t help but remember how he’d treated her. “Why?”
He took a quick glance around. “You’re the only person not on the dance floor or mingling.”
She smiled up at him like she’d done to the other men. Everyone else in the room could worship at his feet. They thought he was so great, so perfect. “No, thank you. I’m watching the drinks and purses,” she said, but what she really wanted to tell him was to go to hell.
The emotion on his face quickly went from enamored to confused. “All I’m asking for is one dance.”
She’d once given him a dance and she’d let that go to her head and let him sweet talk her into his twin-sized bed. Well, there hadn’t really been that much sweet talking involved, it hadn’t been needed. She would’ve gone with him even if he’d recited the alphabet. “I’m not much of a dancer.” The lie quickly fell from her mouth.
“Sooo.” He motioned his hand through the air. “You’re at a singles mingle—dance party, I might add—and you can’t dance?”
As she shook her head, her hair bounced around her face. “No, I can’t. Not a lick.”
“So, that’s your excuse for turning down everyone who asked you to dance?”
She peered straight into his eyes. “Yes.” It was a good thing that she’d long gotten over wanting to poke his eyes out with a rusty fork because he was in arm’s reach and there was a fork, albeit not rusty, on her table.
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