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Heavy Love

By:Amarie Avant

Chapter 1

Angelique Curtis, Los Angeles, Ca

THE WIND BLOWS through my brown tresses. It's just about that time to  hit up my oldest friend's kitchen, so she can work out these kinks. Why  do I always drive my Mazda coupe with the top down the day before I put  my hair into a ponytail or force my homegirl, Niecy for a "family"  discount when I can't afford to pay full price. Must be the principle,  right?

The 30-minute drive from my condo in Long Beach to my boyfriend,  Carlton's townhome in Los Angeles has just about doubled. Traffic on the  405 has us moving at snail's pace. I could zip by Niecy's house right  now. My family used to stay right off Alondra Avenue. Niecy's house was  less than a hop, skip and jump away. Only good times growing up in  Compton.

Then my father had this addiction. At the age of twelve, I came to the  conclusion that he loved gambling more than he loved my mother, two  younger brothers, and me, of course. The racetracks are where we lost  the home that his grandparents left to us – Scot Free. It wasn't a new  house, it was an old home and it had character. To this day, driving  down my old street makes my tear ducts burn just seeing the only home I  knew before moving to the projects in the North side of Long Beach,  during middle school. So, I thought my father stole the house up under  us for his addiction? Who was I kidding, when you're in the hood, and  nobody loves you, then any given Sunday, someone was trying to steal  from our tiny apartment. I was always a sturdy girl, moving from Compton  added on more pounds, because I didn't even have Niecy for the peer  pressure. I guess it was a blessing and a curse.

There was no comradery like back on my childhood street. But, with my  good grades, my mother snuck me into the best schools Long Beach had to  offer, even if I had to get on the bus before the sun set fire to my  mocha skin. Not desiring to be alone with my thoughts, I turn up the  satellite radio. Adele croons into the stereo, making me sigh deeply.

"Lord, I need a love like that," I mumble, listening intently to the words.

Inching my foot off the brake and then back on, I continue to travel  through traffic. I'm going to cry myself to sleep tonight if Carlton is  not home. Driving in traffic irks me, besides, this is the middle of  rush hour. Boyfriend or not, I'm dropping by unannounced. But that's  just the psychologist trait. "Crazy know crazy" ain't just a phrase for  these mean streets. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I don't practice  what I preach. My relationship theories clash with eras upon eras of  evolution: a person's desire to go with what they know. I've invested a  little over four years into Carlton, in us. We met right before my 21st  birthday; in fact I'll be 25 next week. Forget about that small caveat  of falling in love, if this were solely an investment, I'd be making out  like a bandit. Not to mention, he has an advanced degree, is from a  two-parent household, and he  … can …  be funny.

As a banker, Carlton spends most of our time together with a Bluetooth  glued to his ear. The other? He can be found calculating our  entertainment expenses so that I have enough cash to pay for my half.  When we first started dating, I was appalled at how he asked me for half  of the bill at The Stinking Rose in Beverly Hills. He'd gotten the  porterhouse. He's a big guy. But I love a big guy. He didn't even offer  one of his garlic shrimp that he'd ordered as an appetizer. I'd ordered  the vegetarian Alfredo, on a diet. You'd think I ordered half of his  food too, with the bill at such an expensive place. But no, Carlton had  explained that the last woman he dated used him for his money and left  him with credit card debt. I'm utilizing a behaviorist approach to teach  him that this fear is unwarranted. Of course, there are gold diggers in  the world, he just needs to disassociate every female from this  mindset. Regardless of his faults, the sex is good.

The music fades. Before I can press the next station, one of my favorite chef's names is mentioned.

"They said Chef De León just stormed off the stage like that!" The  female personality sounds like she snaps her fingers for emphasis.

"All I know is, Chef Franco de León better bring his sexy ass back,"  says one of the funniest radio personalities around. "My granny records  all his shows. He's got every mama around the nation talking about how  they can't cook without him."

"Who you telling," the female giggles. "The old adage ‘Mom's home  cooking' went out the window the moment de León came on the scene. These  days every mama is looking to him for the goods." She jokes with so  much sexual innuendo that it seeps through the stereo. I almost pout,  I'm not proud of it, but I've masturbated to Franco's sweet and savory  show a few times.         



Almost an hour later, I pull over to a key code at the gated community  where Carlton lives. After punching in the code, I drive through a lot  with miniature Victorian style homes that are all strung together. I  park in the visitor area which is a good walk to Carlton's condo. I  decide to leave the brown bags of groceries I'd bought and planned on  cooking him for dinner. Since we mainly see each other on the weekend, I  want to know how things are with me popping in.

My leather boots are begging to come off and my tummy trimming jeans are  too, as I walk down the passageway. My breaths come short as I make it  down the palm tree studded walkway and ring the doorbell.

My boyfriend opens the door, in a slate gray suit that fits well against  his bulky frame. A fresh haircut, and neatly trimmed goatee make his  soft face appear more masculine. I'm a cool five-eight, yet heels make  me eye-to-eye with my man's six feet.

"What're you doing here, Angelique?"

My arched eyebrows crinkle, and I lack an intelligible response for just  popping in. Big girl and all, I got a few looks in the grocery store  this afternoon. These puppies are real and every man loves to look. The  day we met, Carlton was talking jibberish. Melody and I had just walked  out of one of the hottest nightclubs in Hollywood. She was pretending to  be one of her husband's floozies, since he sings every once in a while.  I was dressed to kill. My ass, my tits, heck, every time my hips  strutted to the east and to the west, I was slaying them, and Carlton  had a crew of stiff suits with him, heading in. He seemed too boring,  too numbers wise, and he barely got my digits.

I'm tempted to allow my breasts to spill over from my v-shaped lilac  with lime-green dot blouse I just got at Nordstrom's. Dark wash jeans  and cute flowing blouses are the staple for us women with extra love to  give. No, I don't dress slutty, as I've said, these puppies don't have  to be dangling or playing peek-a-boo for a man to glance. There are  enough curves in my ample shape to satisfy without dressing half-naked. I  love my baby doll face, having been complimented on it since I was a  child, though I can't get past my chubby cheeks. But Carlton never looks  down at my chest.

"Hi, honey, I came to cook you dinner." I give an energetic smile.  Hopeful that my presence, all of me in the flesh, means something – as I  stand at the door. While men would break their necks to get at me, this  type of response is what I've come to expect from my man.

"Okay, where's dinner?" He stops talking to me for a second to speak  into his Bluetooth. His dark brown eyes are still on me, which always  makes my skin crawl, especially since he always looks irritated as he  speaks. Then Carlton's tone changes, as he advises me with, "I haven't  been grocery shopping – "

"Don't worry, Carlton." I almost snap that there will be no need to  calculate how much of tonight's dinner I need to pay for, since I've  already bought the essentials for dinner. "All the food is in my trunk."

"Okay, great." He reaches over, kisses my cheek. Before I can fully  inhale the body-tingling designer cologne, Carlton turns back around and  continues to talk about his client's financial portfolio.


An hour later, Carlton sits on the stool at the island typing on his Mac laptop.

"Hey, are you finished talking on the phone?" I ask, knowing that Scully  is a very particular client. Rich tightwad who will spend hours  watching his millions increase and decrease by half a penny. He calls  Carlton every other day to ensure his assets are maximized.

Carlton waves a hand to imply that it is evident he is off the phone. He  continues to type away. The mumble barely reaches me as he says, "I'm  working. The food smells delicious, honey."

I continue to chop and grumble under my breath. I've done a lot of prep  work with the eggplant lasagna. With more contentment than I feel, I  try, "It would be really nice if we were to cook together."

"Not an option, Jelly," he tosses out that darn nickname my best friend,  Melody, gave me. Carlton calls me by the title I love to hate. Mel was  the first friend I met in Long Beach. She's the West Coast version of a  southern debutant. Her family is the personification of Black Business  America. Her father Gerald Bradford, is owner of one of the founding  black law firms in California, Bradford and Bradford, which her  grandfather founded.