Sunday, December 31, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Three weeks later, I was sitting at my desk when Debbie, one of our senior event planners, knocked and entered my office.
“Mandy, you’re not going to believe this, but the McFarrell wedding is off!”
I almost dropped my coffee mug. “Off! What the heck happened?” I exclaimed, my heart racing.
She shrugged. “No idea. I just got a call from the groom. He’s a friend of yours, isn’t he?”
“Yes, he was,” I said distractedly. We went over the Carmichael-McFarrell account, examining what implications the cancelled wedding would have for our company’s finances.
Later that evening, I was preparing to decorate my Christmas tree when the doorbell rang. When I peered through the front window I was surprised to see Steven on my doorstep. His handsome face looked weary, and his jeans and t-shirt were crumpled.
“Hi Mandy, can I come in?” he asked.
I stepped aside wordlessly and led the way into the sitting room, where he settled his tall frame on my sofa. I tidied up the boxes of garland and lights I had spread out on the coffee table and sat on a nearby mahogany rocker.
“So,” he began, “I guess you’ve heard the wedding’s off.”
I nodded, tugging distractedly at the belt of my Victoria’s Secret robe. “I’m so sorry, Steven. Despite what I said before I still know how hard this must be for you."
He smiled slightly and rubbed his goatee. "At least you didn't say I told you so."
"I would never say that. Friends aren't happy when their friends are hurting," I assured him.
He smiled bitterly. “I don't deserve your friendship. After the way I've treated you, turned my back on you to pursue my own ambitions, you still consider me a friend?"
I snorted. "Well, there were some days I wasn't feeling the love, but yeah, I still care about you. We go way back, Steven."
He stared at me intently. "I thought long and hard about our last conversation and I realise what a fool I've been. I've always cared about you, Mandy. I still do. More than just a friend."
"Is that why the wedding was called off?" I asked breathlessly. Although my heart leaped in joy at his revelation, I didn't relish the idea of being the cause of his broken engagement.
He grimaced. "Partially. I was about to tell Veronica I couldn't go through with the wedding when I found out she was having an affair with her stylist.”
I gasped in disbelief. “Frederik? But isn’t he gay?”
“Apparently not,” he replied dryly.
We stared at each other for a few seconds before bursting into laugher.
“I’m sorry for laughing,” I wheezed, “but the thought of Veronica and that little man is just too hilarious!”
Steven wiped his eyes. “I know. All the time I thought the brother was gay, he was only metrosexual.”
That renewed our laughter and when we recovered, I fixed us both some much needed glasses of Malibu and orange juice.
Steven raised his glass. “To new beginnings, without trust fund babies or sexually confused stylists!”
He placed his glass on a side table and turned to me. My heart skipped a beat as he leaned over and took my hands in his.
“Mandy, I’m sorry for being too blind to see what a great relationship we could have had. I’ve been given a second chance and I don’t want to miss it.”
He ran his fingers through my dreadlocks and stroked my cheek. “Keep talking,” I whispered, heat coursing through me at his touch.
He laughed. “You’re not going to make this easy for me are you?”
I shook my head and grinned back. “Nah, you’re going to have to work hard from now on, brother man.”
He chuckled. “Fine by me.”
He drew me on to his lap and his arms encircled my waist. I moaned softly as his lips pressed against mine insistently, coaxing my tongue to meet his in an erotic dance. His hands deftly untied my robe to reveal the sheer blue camisole underneath.
“I love you, Mandy,” he whispered hoarsely as he freed my breasts and started to caress them gently. “I always have. Forgive me for taking so long to act on it.”
I began to unbutton his shirt, kissing a trail from his neck and down his tight abs to his belt buckle. “I love you too, Steven. Now, are you sure you don’t mind ruining our friendship?” I teased and paused before unbuckling his belt.
In response, he scooped me up in his arms and enquired where my bedroom was located. As he laid me back on the cool, fresh sheets he grinned and replied. “I have enough friends. I’ll take my chances.”
I laughed and pulled his body to mine, and he proved that his feelings for me were far from platonic.
...and that's all folks! The Christmas rush is heating up so I'll be unable to post regularly until after the 26th, so I want ot wish you all a Merry Christmas! Be safe!
Monday, December 18, 2006
“Steven, can I ask you a personal question?”
He leaned over to take another slice of pizza and signaled for me to go on. I took a sip of Coca Cola and propped my chin on my hand.
“Why are you marrying this woman? Sure, she’s rich and beautiful but you were never into the superficial. What do you see in her?”
His jaw clenched but he calmly finished his pizza slice and wiped his lips.
“Can I ask you a question first? What did you see in Damian?”
That threw me for a loop. “That’s different. Damian was a childhood friend and we had a lot in common. Veronica McFarrell is in a different league, a trust fund baby. Sure, you have lots of money now, but her lifestyle is still alien to yours. Her dogs eat off china plates, for heaven’s sake!”
“I see you’ve given this a lot of thought. So you think she’s too good for me?” he asked gruffly.
“No. I think you’re too good for her,” I responded bluntly, looking him directly in the face. “And it hurts that after rejecting me all these years you would marry someone who is so obviously wrong for you.”
We finished the rest of our meal in awkward silence. When the last slice was eaten, Steven slapped a $50 note on the table and followed me out of the pizza parlour. I settled into the comfortable seats of his Mercedes Kompressor and rubbed my eyes wearily. I knew I had gone too far this time.
“It was a mistake to work on this account. First thing tomorrow, I’m going to assign another event planner.”
Steven gripped the steering wheel tightly and nodded grimly. “That may be best.”
We pulled into my driveway 20 minutes later, and I thanked him for dinner. Before I could exit the vehicle he laid a hand on my shoulder. I sighed deeply and turned to him.
“For the record, Mandy, I didn’t reject you. I wanted you that day on the boat, but it would have been wrong to make love to you when I knew I wasn’t going to be around for long. You deserved better than that. Then Damian was telling me how happy you two were and I thought you had moved on. That day on Campus, I was shocked when I realised you still had feelings for me, but you were wearing the man’s ring! What was I supposed to think?”
“But what about that night after your sister’s wedding? You knew that Damian was out of the picture!” I retorted angrily.
He grimaced. “And you were drunk and upset because Damian turned up with some girl. It was bad enough that I took advantage of your pain and ended up doing what I was trying to avoid all along. I thought it was best to leave you alone to sort out your feelings.”
I shook my head, incredulous. “You always thought you knew what was best for me without even bothering to consult me! You never knew why Damian dumped me, did you? It was because I was still hung up on you. If you had bothered to stay in contact I could have told you that.”
I exhaled. “And now it’s too late. You’re engaged to Ms. Moneybags and I know that witch is going to make you miserable.”
He held up a hand. “Let me worry about Veronica. I just said all that because I wanted you to know I did, I do, care for you. If I could live my life over I would do so many things differently, but….”
I stopped him. “Don’t say it….I know.” I leaned over and kissed him softly on the lips. “Have a good life, Steven.”
He traced my lips with his fingers before sighing heavily and nodding. He watched as I entered the apartment and then drove off. I closed the door firmly, determined to end that chapter of my life once and for all.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Lucine and Angela sat in stunned silence as I related the day’s events over dinner at Bubba’s Sports Bar.
“So, are you going to be able to do this? My God, I always wanted you two to get together but not like this!” Angela gasped, twisting a handful of her long, straight hair. She had recently decided to give up her natural twists, much to my chagrin.
I shrugged. “What can I do but manage? It’s the professional thing to do.”
Lucine broke in. “But what does your heart tell you?”
I laughed bitterly at my friend, forever the romantic. “Please, in Steven’s mind I’ll always be just a friend. Besides, the man is engaged to the richest girl in Barbados. I can’t compete with that, even if I felt he wanted me.”
“You’re forgetting what happened between you two the last time you were together. Wasn’t that proof of something more than friendship?” Lucine pressed.
I turned red at the memory. “You mean when I discovered Damian had cheated on me and Steven consoled me? Girl, please, that was a sympathy shag.”
A year after our meeting on Campus, Steven returned to the island for his sister’s wedding. By that time, he was well on his way to being one of Bill Gates’ millionaires but he had remained the same down-to-earth person we all knew.
Having abandoned all hope for a relationship with Steven, I had accepted Damian’s proposal and we were planning to marry later that same year. However, I still could not bring myself to make love with my fiancé and it proved a sore point between us. So much so that he found another bedmate, who he brought to the wedding. Although I didn’t love Damian, his rejection was still a blow, and after drowning my sorrows in too many piña coladas at the wedding reception I was driven home by Steven, sobbing and tipsy.
He carried me straight to bathroom where I promptly emptied the contents of my stomach. He then assisted me in unzipping my wedding attire before leaving me to get a shower.
“Here, drink this.” Steven approached with a cup of coffee as I emerged from the bathroom 15 minutes later. I tightened the belt of my robe and nodded my thanks.
Removing his jacket and loosening his tie, he sank down on the sofa next to me with a sigh.
“Feeling better?” He asked concernedly as I sipped the bitter brew.
I smiled weakly, tears pricking my eyes once more. “I don’t know why I’m taking this so hard. It’s not like I didn’t see this coming, anyway. I guess I never expected Damian to humiliate me so publicly.”
Steven pulled me close, smoothing my fledgling locks and dropping soft kisses on my face. “It’ll be okay, Mandy,” he murmured reassuringly into my hair."I promise you, Damian's going to pay for this."
I don’t remember at which point we fell asleep, but I awoke to find myself lying on Steven’s broad chest. I smiled at the peaceful look on his face and gently stroked his cheek. He opened his eyes and gave me a sleepy grin.
“I’d better get out of here and let you get your rest,” he said as he ruffled my hair. “Angela should be here soon, right?”
I toyed with a button on his shirt, unwilling to break contact with his warm, hard body.
“Actually, she’s staying over at our grandparents for the weekend,” I replied hesitantly. “So, I’ll be home alone.”
He continued to twirl a lock of my hair around his finger, his handsome face unreadable. I turned my head and kissed his palm lightly.
“Mandy…,” he began huskily, but I pressed a finger against his lips.
“Stay with me, Steven,” I pleaded softly. “And before you ask, I’ve never been more sober in my life.”
I half-expected him to push me away and get up off the sofa. Instead I was pleasantly surprised when his hands rose to cup my behind and his lips captured mine in a passionate kiss.
The next hour was a blur of eager hands and hungry mouths as I got to finally express the love I felt for him. Afterwards Steven was mortified, thinking he had taken advantage of my vulnerability, but I assured him once more that I was sober and fully aware of what I was doing. He left the island two days later, calling me briefly to say goodbye from the airport before he boarded his flight. Apart from postcards at Christmas and on my birthday, I never saw him again until he turned up at my office, engaged to another woman.
“No, no, no! I want Vera Wang, not some David’s Bridal knock off! Do you know who I am?” Veronica yelled into her cell phone as we walked through the verdant grounds of the plantation house where her wedding would take place in a few months.
I rolled my eyes and turned to point out to the decorator the proposed sites for seating and catering. In the three months I had been planning Steven’s wedding, I was becoming more and more puzzled over his choice of bride. Veronica was spoiled, arrogant and snobbish, everything Steven definitely was not. As far as I knew he wasn’t marrying her for money; he had an extremely lucrative career with Microsoft and was paying for all the wedding expenses. So far I had managed to prevent Veronica from bankrupting him with her lavish plans.
I turned as Veronica tapped me on the shoulder. “Mandy, I have to view some gowns with my stylist Frederik. Stevie will come and fill in for me, okay?”
She dashed off before I could reply. Steven had been back and forth between his job in New York and the wedding planning in Barbados, so I had only been seeing him sporadically since our first meeting.
Half an hour later I heard Steven calling my name and I saw him strolling through the gardens towards me. I grudgingly admitted to myself that I was glad to see him.
“Hey, how’s it going? Veronica’s not driving you nuts is she?” he grinned, his brown eyes twinkling.
I rolled my eyes and pushed my sunglasses up on to my head. “I’m sorry, is that a rhetorical question?”
I filled him in on our plans for the venue. He nodded, satisfied with the decisions made so far.
“I’ve been meaning to tell you,” he began as we moved to the interior of the house, “your locs look fantastic. The colour really brings out your brown eyes.”
I smiled and began to thank him, but my words trailed off when he reached over and ran his fingers through my hair. I stared at him breathlessly as he stroked a few strands before dropping his hand. He gave me a slight smile, then stepped back to let me enter the house.
I tried to concentrate on the interior decorating plans but my mind was in turmoil. What was that all about?
We wrapped up the meeting 15 minutes later, and I hastily said my goodbyes. I was halfway to my car when I heard Steven calling my name.
“What’re you doing this evening? Veronica just called to say she has to fly to New York with Frederik. Do you want to hang out?”
I hesitated. “Um, I suppose, once Veronica doesn’t mind.”
He shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. Pick you up at 7?”
I gave him directions to my apartment and headed off to my next appointment.
Pt. 5 next week!
South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson in critical condition
Last week, Rihanna was part of a group of music celebrities who performed at a special concert in Oslo, Norway to celebrate the award of the Nobel Peace Prize. Rihanna also participated in a press conference, along with Lionel Richie and a slew of other music greats. Our Rihanna is keeping good company these days!
“Wait, Damian, get off me, I’m not ready for this!” I protested as I struggled to push his body off mine.
Damian Proverbs halted his frantic kissing of my breasts and swore under his breath. He sat up, rubbing his flushed face with his hands. I rebuttoned my blouse hurriedly and ran a hand through my short twists.
Damian’s hazel eyes flashed angrily and his handsome face twisted into a nasty sneer. “I bet if I was Steven you wouldn’t have stopped me!”
I gasped, infuriated. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean! I know that the only reason you’re dating me is because you can’t be with your first choice. I may not be as smart as he is but don’t play me for a fool!”
“You’re just upset because I didn’t give you what you wanted,” I retorted angrily, repressing an urge to slap him across the face.
“So what? We must be the only 21 year olds in Barbados not having sex. You’re supposed to be my woman, is that too much to ask?”
I sucked my teeth and grabbed my shoes. “Screw you, Damian, I’m leaving!”
Halfway across Brighton Road to my grandparents’ house my anger cooled. As much as I hated to admit it, Damian was right. If he was Steven there was no way I would have halted our lovemaking. Problem was, Steven didn’t want me. He had made that clear before he left to study at NYU three years before and his scarce phone calls and emails hammered that point home. He communicated regularly with Damian, and seemed happy to hear that the two of us were dating.
I sighed as I strolled towards home. It wasn’t that Damian was a bad guy. Heck, he treated me well, looked out for me and my sister Angela, and brother man was straight up gorgeous! The envious looks on the faces of other girls were priceless. But he wasn’t Steven.
And on top of everything, Damian was pressuring me to accept his marriage proposal. So far I had put him off, but despite my protests he had given me a ring “to try it out”. I gazed at the tiny diamond solitaire on my left hand and shook my head. Lord, I thought, this is what happens when you try to get over one man by getting under another.
A week later, I was studying for my final year exams in the library at the Cave Hill campus when I looked up to see Steven standing over my shoulder. He rested a finger on my lips, silencing my surprised gasp, and pointed towards the SILENCE IN LIBRARY sign posted on the wall. I hastily closed my books and got up from the table. I saw some female students openly admiring Steven and I couldn’t blame them. He had grown taller and more muscular over the years and his body was shown to the best advantage in a blue FUBU shirt and blue jeans.
“What’re you doing here, are you back for good, how did you know where I was?” I shrieked excitedly, throwing my arms around him once we were outside the library. He returned the embrace warmly, laughing.
“Well, one, I came to see you, duh. Two, no I’m not back for good. Three, Angela told me,” he said. I hooked his arm through mine and steered him towards the Student’s Guild.
On the way he told me that his studies in Computer Programming were completed, and he had already landed a job at Microsoft. I was thrilled for him, even though it meant that he would be away even longer.
After we had ordered lunch and found seats on the Guild’s terrace overlooking the picturesque Bridgetown Port, I became serious. “I shouldn’t even be speaking to you right now. Why didn’t you stay in touch more? I kept hearing about you through Damian. Does he know you’re here?”
He smiled ruefully. “No, I’m surprising everyone, even my family. I’m only here for a few days.”
He leaned over and grasped my hand. “Mandy, trust me. If we had started a relationship neither of us would be where we are right now. We would be so wrapped up in each other we couldn’t see straight. You’re getting your degree soon, and I have this great opportunity. I want to do so many things with my life, and I know you do too.”
I rolled my eyes. “Forever the smart ass. What about love is all we need?”
He chuckled deeply. “Yeah, that’s all nice and romantic, for a minute or two. Until I couldn’t provide for you and the children.”
My eyebrows shot up and I grinned broadly. “Oh, the children, huh? So you had plans for a whole cricket team, then?”
“Haha, you got jokes I see.”
His laughter stopped abruptly when he saw the ring on my finger. He touched it solemnly and sat back in his chair. “So, it’s true then.”
I blushed and lay my hand in my lap. “Would it matter to you if it was?” I asked quietly.
Steven stared at me intently, his brown eyes unreadable. “You’re one of my best friends, of course it matters. If Damian hurts you in any way, he’ll have to answer to me.”
Disappointed, I nodded my head stiffly and sipped on my Coke. Damian could never hurt me as much as you have, Steven Carmichael.
Half an hour later, I walked Steven to his rental car and said my goodbyes. He hugged me tightly, then kissed me gently on the forehead.
“Be happy, Mandy, that’s all I want for you.”
“Yeah, I know you do. Problem is, I want you to love me too.”
I broke his embrace and walked away hurriedly, before he could see the tears streaming down my face.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
“Mandy, we’ve got a problem!”
I looked up as my business partner Susan Ashby walked into my office, waving a pink folder. As usual, she was impeccably dressed: pale green Donna Karan pantsuit, pearl accessories and tan Balenciaga sling backs. Older and wiser beyond her 35 years, Susan often made me forget that only seven years separated our ages. Not that I was a giddy-headed, impetuous youth either. Running one of the top event planning companies on the island didn’t leave much room for rashness. Susan and I had met while we were undergoing training and we decided to team up to realise our dream of running our own event business.
Susan continued. “Debbie is home sick with the flu and she has a couple coming in at 10 for their first consultation. Trust me, we don’t want to lose this one, it’s going to be the society wedding of the year! Can you fit it into your schedule?”
I flipped through my diary, trying to see if I could reorganise my morning to accommodate the additional appointment. I knew that Susan had to spend the entire morning at the reception site of the nervous bride of a local Parliamentarian, and that left two junior event planners who were still getting their feet wet.
“It’s going to be tight but I think I can do it and still make it to Turtle Beach to meet the decorator for the Holloway wedding.”
She sighed in relief and handed over the folder. “Have fun. I hear the groom’s a serious hottie but the bride’s a code red,” she grinned mischievously and waved before heading out the door.
I groaned and flipped open the file. At Ashby-Harris Events we jokingly coded our brides based on the stress level they were likely to cause. A code red meant I was in for a long morning.
My eyes widened when I read the information gathered on the couple I would be meeting in an hour. Oh yeah, I thought, it was going to be a very long morning.
An hour later, my secretary Liz buzzed to let me know that my clients had arrived. I asked her to show them into the conference room and I rose from my desk, smoothing my white Nicole Farhi pantsuit nervously. I checked my reflection in my compact and smoothed my shoulder-length, honey-coloured dreadlocks into place.
The conference room door was still ajar and I stood in the doorway, checking out the altar-bound couple. The groom was standing at the window, arms folded across his broad chest, gazing down at the busy City street four stories below. His bride, slim and attractive in a silk designer skirt suit, was seated at the conference table, engaged in a heated discussion on her cell phone.
I took a deep breath and walked in, closing the door behind me. “Good morning, I’m Amanda Harris. Welcome to AshbyHarris Events.”
Steven Carmichael turned sharply when he heard my voice. “Mandy? I didn’t know you worked here!”
He hesitated, then came over and shook my hand. I tried to ignore the thrill that ran through me when we touched. “I actually co-own the company. How’ve you been?”
“Pretty well, can’t complain. You look well,” he smiled softly. I nodded my thanks and repaid the compliment. I hadn’t set eyes on him in three years and the years had been very kind. His expensive dark suit complemented his muscular body nicely, and his closely shaved head and neatly trimmed moustache and goatee accentuated his dark-brown skin. If possible, he was getting more handsome with age.
He signaled to his bride-to-be, who was still deep in conversation. She held up a finger and launched into another tirade. I didn’t envy the person on the other end of the line.
“Look, Steven, if this is going to be too awkward let me know and I’ll re-schedule you with another planner,” I began.
“Well, if you can deal with it so can I. You tell me,” he replied frankly, placing his hands in his pockets.
I frowned and pondered on the situation. His bride, Veronica McFarrell, was the daughter of one of the richest men on the island and planning her wedding would be a financial and PR coup. But could I honestly help her to marry the man I once loved?
The decision was taken out of my hands by his fiancée, who finished her call and approached us. “I told Stevie that we must have the Ashby-Harris Events that planned Eleanor Wilthshire’s wedding. Only the best for a McFarrell, right darling?”
I suppressed a snicker. I guess I knew which surname she was planning to use after marriage.
“Veronica, Mandy is an old friend of mine from Brighton. We were neighbours for many years,” Steven smiled, placing his arms around her shoulders.
I tried to ignore the casual intimacy between the two and extended my hand, which she shook limply. I ushered them over to the large oak table to get down to the business of planning their wedding.
“Are you married yourself, Mandy? You don’t mind if I call you Mandy, right?” Veronica began as soon as she was seated.
“No, I’ve never been married, Ms. McFarrell. I’ve never been that lucky,” I responded coolly, and Steven raised an eyebrow.
“She was engaged once, Veronica, to another friend of ours,” he returned, smiling thinly.
“Some friend,” I muttered under my breath, then turned my attention to planning the McFarrell-Carmichael wedding.
FRIENDS ARE FOREVER PT. 1
The telephone must have rung five times before it broke my concentration. Sighing in annoyance, I stopped typing on my laptop and reached over to pick up the receiver. My best friend Lucine Sobers was waiting impatiently on the other end of the line.
“Mandy, you will never believe who’s getting married in December!” she began breathlessly. “Steven Carmichael!”
I almost dropped the phone. “You’re joking! To whom?”
“Some local high society girl. He met her while he was working in New York.”
I leaned back in my chair and gripped the phone tightly. “Well, that’s good news. I wish them both the best of luck.”
Lucine snorted. “Please girl, who’re you trying to fool? This is me you’re talking to. I know how you feel about that man!”
I sighed. “What do you want me to do, Lou? It’s obvious he’s made his choice. What should I do, break up the wedding because he and I have a history? Actually, that says it right there. History, over and done with.”
Lucine sucked her teeth. “I doubt you two will ever be history, no matter what you say.”
She disconnected and I sat with the receiver in hand for a few seconds before replacing it. Steven’s getting married. Lord, I’ve lost him for good.
“Romey! I win again!” Steven Carmichael hooted triumphantly and four pairs of hands tossed down their cards in frustration.
“You’re a big thief, that’s what,” Damian Proverbs grumbled dejectedly and proceeded to shuffle the cards again.
I stretched my stiff back and gazed around at my companions, who were all seated on a blanket on the golden sands of Brandons Beach. My 13 year-old sister Angela was to my left, bobbing her head along to Edwin’s Crop Over hit Obadele on her portable radio. To my right was Lucine Sobers, my best friend since primary school. The daughter of our neighbourhood shopkeeper, Lucine was able to get a day off from her shop duties to spend the day with us at the beach.
Damian sat next to Lucine. Already at the age of 18 his face gave an indication of the attractive man he would grow up to become. His light-brown, fine boned features and hazel eyes were said to be a legacy from a Cuban grandfather. It was no secret in our group that Damian had a crush on me. I often felt it was because I was one of the few females immune to his charms.
Between Damian and Angela sat Steven, the object of my teenage affections. Dark-brown and attractive, Steven possessed a ready smile and a quick wit. Kind and generous, Steven had the ability to cheer up anyone around him. His only failing in my eyes was that he remained clueless to my feelings. We had been friends for most of our lives; his parents lived next door to my grandparents and we were the same age. My sister and I had been sent to live with my grandparents when our parents migrated to England to find employment. Over the years, my feelings for Steven had transformed from preteen indifference to outright infatuation.
“You all continue playing, I’m going for a swim. You coming, Mandy?” Steven enquired and I nodded, pulling on my swim cap.
“Have fun, we’ll be here,” Lucine grinned mischievously, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Damian frown. I ignored him and raced across the sand after Steven, who was already plunging into the ocean.
“Cheater! You had a head start!” I yelled and he grinned and waited for me to catch up. We swam out about 100 yards from the shore and hauled ourselves up into a blue and yellow Moses boat anchored in the bay.
“Whew, that was good,” Steven laughed. “You’re getting stronger every time.”
“You’re a good teacher,” I replied, punching him playfully on the arm. His skin felt warm, and I watched as droplets of seawater trickled down his wide, muscular chest and well-defined abs to disappear below his swim trunks. I swallowed hard and folded my arms across my bikini top to hide my body’s sudden reaction to touching him.
“What’s up, you cold?” Steven asked concernedly. Before I could respond, he wrapped his arm around my shoulders, pulling me closer to his warm body.
My breath caught in my throat and I grew tense. Sensing a shift, he turned to me, his face just a few inches from mine. Gathering my courage, I pulled his face to mine and kissed him softly on the lips.
Startled, Steven pulled away. “Wait, Mandy what’re you doing?”
“What does it look like?” I whispered and leaned in to kiss him again.
He placed his hands on my shoulders. “Look, Mandy, you’re one of my best friends. I don’t want to mess with our friendship by making it into something more!”
I flushed angrily and shook off his hands. “So you’re saying you don’t find me attractive?”
He rubbed his neatly shaved head in frustration. “Hell yeah, I do, I’m an 18 year old guy, I’m not made of stone.”
He continued as I started to protest. “But girlfriends come and go, friends are forever. Besides, I’m leaving for New York next month and I’ll be gone for three years. What’s the point of starting something now?”
I grudgingly agreed with his logic. He was always too smart for his own good. “I guess you have a point,” I grumbled.
Steven hugged me tightly and kissed the top of my head. “Don’t be mad at me Mandy, you know I’m right. When my studies are over, who knows? Besides, I don’t think you’ll be hard up for company the way Damian is always rushing you,” he chuckled.
I sucked my teeth and pulled away from his embrace. “If I wanted Damian I wouldn’t be here with you right now.”
I dove off the boat and swam towards the shore, leaving Steven to stare pensively after me.
Part 2 later today!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
While I don't usually blog about the Hollywood scene, I must mention that one of my favourite television characters has passed on. Peter Boyle, who played the cranky, gluttonous father Frank Barone on "Everybody Loves Raymond", died on Tuesday evening after a long battle with heart disease and multiple myeloma, a bone-marrow cancer.
He leaves to mourn a wife and two daughters.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Well, I guess it's safe to say that Kenny Anthony won't be having the merriest of Christmases. Is anyone else as surprised by the result of the St. Lucian elections as I am? Congrats to Sir John Compton, who's one brave man to attempt to lead a country at the age of 83. And to Kenny Anthony, better luck next time. As for poor Vaughan Lewis, he can't catch a break. He switched alliances and now his party is in Opposition. Clyde Mascoll, please take note.
Monday, December 11, 2006
DICK STOUTE (second from left), president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, addressing a recent Press conference while members of the chamber's commerce committee, (from left) Andy Armstrong, Randall Banfield and Ian Alleyne, look on.
I had a good laugh yesterday, and I owe it to the president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce, Dick Stoute.
According to Mr. Stoute, Whites no longer have economic control of Barbados. They have been replaced by "a successful black entrepreneurial class and a powerful Government".
"It is quite clear that white people do not control anything....Whites are leaders in some high profile positions, but when you look at the whole economy and the level of entrepreneurialship and the number of new businesses that have started up mainly by black people, you see that the situation is changing," he said.
Mr. Stoute added that by dint of Whites making up less than ten percent of the population, it was impossible for them to own all the land, houses, vehicles and cellphones on the island. He further called on Government to release any figures it had compiled on the ownership of these items and the extent of black corporate investment in order "to let people know who owned what in the country".
Well, where should I begin? Maybe by asking a few questions and stating a few opinions.
1. Blacks have outnumbered Whites in Barbados since the days of slavery, yet this small fraction of the population owned the plantations while Blacks were landless and disenfranchised. (The first settlers of Rock Hall, St. Thomas received their right to vote when they were each willed an acre of land; they later lost that right when they subdivided the land for their families.) Since when was the population size of a race in Barbados an indicator of ownership or control?
2. Sure Black Barbadians own land, houses, vehicles and cellphones. But, unless they can afford to pay cash, most of these items really belong to a bank or a financial institution which is charging an exorbitant interest rate. When Mr. Stoute sees a well-dressed Black man or woman cruising down ABC Highway in his/her SUV and chatting on his/her Motorola Razor, he might not realise this picture of wealth comes at a hefty cost. A $5,000 credit limit is not the same as having $5,000 in the bank.
3. What constitutes wealth? Houses and land are assets, cars and cellphones are not. Sure lots of Blacks are driving cars and owning cell phones, because getting credit or loans to buy these items isn't too difficult. It seems more difficult to get a mortgage, and even if you do, land and house prices are getting out of the reach of the average Barbadian.
4. How many Black business start-ups actually go the distance? For every Branckers, Exclusive Lighting and C & I Hardware there are many Black-owned businesses that either fail or are pushed out of the market. Ask the reconditioned car dealers.
5. What qualifies as entrepreneurialship? Selling vegetables outside the Fairchild Street Bus Terminal?
6. I cannot argue that our standard of living has improved. Yet to paint such a fantastic picture of the economic status of Blacks in Barbados is grossly misleading. My family and I are comfortable, but we're not blind to the misfortunes of others. I can take Mr. Stoute on a tour to see families living in abandoned houses without electricity and water and living off the kindness of neighbours. Poverty here is more widespread than we'd like to think.
7. Is Government really powerful? In the past 12 years I've worked for two different administrations; I'm yet to see Government flexing its muscles on the private sector.
Sigh. I'm going to stop ranting now. Suffice it to say, I'll believe Dick Stoute when Black Barbadians own the mortgage, cell phone and real estate companies and the car dealerships.
Photo: Daily Nation
Friday, December 08, 2006
Rihanna is having a great year. On the heels of winning four Billboard Awards, she has also be named the new face of Cover Girl cosmetics. Now this is the type of news what we want to see from Rihanna, not more pictures of those 'barely-there' dresses she's been sporting recently.
The cast of Dream Girls (l-r) Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx and Beyonce. Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose are featured on the fold-out section.
And speaking of covers, history was made this week when Vanity Fair magazine revealed its January 2007 cover. It features not one, not two, but three African-Americans on the front cover. Five if you count the other two African-Americans on the fold-out section!
Why is this a big deal you ask? Well, mainstream U.S. magazines have been notorious for ignoring that segment of the population for years. Have you ever flipped through a Vogue or Cosmopolitan magazine and seen more than one token Black model, if you found one at all? Vanity Fair has not featured a solo Black person on its cover since the late 1990's, and Beyonce is the first African-American woman to appear since Tina Turner in 1993. Apparently issues featuring Blacks on the covers don't sell too well, or so the editors say. The sad thing is, you want to bet we're the ones who buy most of the products featured in the same magazines?
Well, one victory at a time I guess...Have a great weekend, all!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I received an email recently about the death of the first minority female command sergeant in the history of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Lt. Emily Perez. Perez, a platoon leader, was patrolling southern Iraq near Najaf on Sept. 12 when a roadside bomb exploded under her Humvee. The second lieutenant was buried on September 22 at the academy, the first female graduate of West Point to die in Iraq.
The email was captioned "Bet you won't see this on CNN". And it's sad, but true. Click on the link below to read the fascinating story of the fallen service woman, laid to rest at the age of 23.
West Point Mourns
Photo courtesy the Washington Post
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Caribbean Airlines hasn't even been launched officially and I'm already wondering if its management has lost its darn mind.
According to yesterday's Daily Nation, when Caribbean Airlines begins operating on January 1, it will be eliminating, at least in the initial stages,direct services between Grantley Adams International Airport and Miami, New York and Toronto on the North American continent.
The paper reports that "a simple flight from Barbados to Miami, which now takes just over three hours, after January 1 could include an overnight stop in Trinidad after leaving Barbados at 7 p.m. and a midday arrival in North America the next day".
Now I don't know about you, but if I'm faced with a scenario where I can leave Bim early and be kicking back in Westland Mall in Miami by 1 pm that same day, or going to Trinidad first and getting to Miami the next day, which one do you think I'm going to choose?
Are they serious? This is the 21st century, people! It's bad enough we have to fly North to get back to South America and fly to Europe to get to Africa. Now we have to go South to go North. And pay for an overnight stay to boot!
This must be the best news Air Jamaica and the other carriers have had in a long time....
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Rihanna has copped another top award. Last night at the Billboard Music Awards, she beat out Mary J. Blige and Beyonce to win the Best Female Artist of the Year Award! Rihanna also won in the categories of Female Hot 100 Artist and Pop 100 Artist. She also unveiled a new hairstyle too. Congrats girl child. She looks lovely for that award environment, but as a Bajan watching all I keep thinking is she's going to catch her death of cold if she keeps exposing herself like this...
Photos courtesy of www.justjared.com
Monday, December 04, 2006
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks during the ground breaking ceremony for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, Monday, Nov. 13, 2006. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
Is it possible that in my lifetime a Black man might be the president of the United States of America? While Democratic Senator for Illinois and the only Black man in the Senate, Barack Obama, is still playing his cards close to his chest where running in the 2008 Presidential elections is concerned, there is a strong possibility that he might run.
If he does, and if he wins, I suspect that the world will never be the same again. Good luck to him, and I pray that he will be protected against all those negative forces that would do anything to halt his aspirations.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Photos courtesy of The Nation Newspaper
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
As we prepare to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Independence of this fair land tomorrow, I wish you all a fun-filled holiday. Reflect on our proud past and pray that as we mature as a nation, we focus on ways to perpetuate the moral fortitude and strong work ethic on which our forefathers built this nation.
Blue, yellow and black, put it up!
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Caption: Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg (left) in discussion with civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton
Martin Luther King Jr. must be turning in his grave over what's been happening recently in the US. First, Kramer from 'Seinfeld' spews the 'n' word repeatedly during his comedy act in retaliation against (coincidentally black) hecklers. Then an unarmed Black man in Queens is killed by Police on the morning of his wedding. Two other men were injured in that incident, which saw the Police firing 50 shots at the men's car outside a nightclub. Dubbing the incident as "unacceptable", Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg however felt that the incident was not racially motivated because two of the Police officers were black, two white and one Black and Hispanic. Is he serious? Just because it's not a clear cut case of Whites on one side and Blacks on another doesn't mean race was not a consideration.
I'm waiting anxiously to see what will come of all this because past cases between the NYPD and civilians haven't always ended well at all. Anybody remember Amadou Diallo?
When is change gonna come, like Sam Cook sang about in the 70's? Are we doomed to forever be society's whipping boys, the downtrodden and dispossessed? I don't know about you all, but I'm tired of others acting the fool towards my people because of our excess of melanin. Enough is enough.
Photo courtesy of New York Times.
For several years now, almost every national event has been turned into a bashment party, filled with guest artistes wining and gyrating on stage. Of course I'm not denying the local entertainers their share of the spotlight; to give Government it's due it has done a lot to raise the profile of culture in the last 12 years, especially the Calypso art form.
However, we have to admit that we can't seem to celebrate an occasion anymore without turning it into a "bram" as the old folks used to say. As if we feel the only way to attract persons to an event is through loud speakers and a titillating beat. Before long we'll be wukking and jukking after the Independence Day parade.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I feel for female musicians in this day and age. In the hey day of Motown the female singers were relatively classy...relying on their voices to attract an audience and sell records. Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin and Nancy Wilson come to mind. Now, it's all about using the physical to sell records. I fear for our Rihanna, because if these pictures are anything to go by she's falling into the same trap. Save yourself, girl! And put some darn clothes on!
I spent Sunday morning in a muddy field, rain clouds threatening to burst overhead, millipedes attempting to climb up my pants leg, all in the name of some Formula One action on the Ronald Mapp Highway.
My husband and I had meticulously planned our route to avoid the expected crush of people and traffic at Warrens. We decided to cut through Jackson, skirt Millennium Heights and walk down to the junction at Automotive Art. From there we would be in a prime position to see Marc Gene and the Ferrari scream past.
All went according to plan, and a blessed man moved his SUV just in time for us to park a few streets away from the action. By 9:10 we were in position and anticipation was building among the fans. And then, around 9:35, we saw the marshals of the event pull a fence across the Highway just outside Automotive Art! This meant we were now at the end of the track and would only be seeing the driver as he slowed to turn into Automotive Art's parking lot! By that time, thousands of people had gathered and moving didn't seem like a feasible option. We had an up-close view of the car, but didn't experience the sheer speed like the crowds in the middle of the route. Ah well, a good morning was still had by all...even though we had to scamper away from a disoriented centipede which was probably wondering why so many people were in a field in St. Thomas on a Sunday morning.
Photo courtesy of The Nation ('cause in my rush I forgot my camera)
Friday, November 24, 2006
I can't wait to see the Formula One Ferrari car in action this Sunday. My little Barbados is getting very metropolitan...they don't ship these speed demons just anywhere! Of course there's a lot of discussion about the Ronald Mapp Highway from Warrens to Redman's Village being closed off. I just hope the driver has enough road....The action will be from 10 am to 12 noon. See you there!
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
History shows that after slavery was abolished in Barbados, the relationship between master and slave didn't change overnight or that radically for many years. Since then, we have developed a kind of uneasy "truce" for the sake of the development of our country. The Whites control the business and we control the Parliament. But the matter of race continues to raise its head, because we've never dealt with it in any holistic way. As our middle class grows more affluent and more (I have to say it!) Black Barbadians are driving BMWs and going on spa weekends, we have fooled ourselves into thinking that racism no longer exists in our fair land. Its classism not racism, many people say. It wasn't that long ago that Black people like me couldn't walk through Strathclyde and Belleville unless we worked there, and I don't think they were excluding us because we were poor! It takes situations like what occurred last week with that youngster to remind us that in the eyes of many non-Black persons, we are still second class citizens.
Now, we don't know the full story yet of what occurred in Highgate Gardens, but the racial slurs and the brutality perpetrated against that schoolboy should serve as a wake up call to the Black middle class in this country. Many Barbadian Blacks may live in posh neighbourhoods, shop at certain supermarkets and spend money and much effort to validate their worth through material possessions, but there are some persons who still see them all as "black n****rs" who deserve an "*ss kicking".
What can we do about it? Well, for starters, we have to give our children a sense of value and a value system that is not based on brandname gear or the lastest Xbox game. We have to tell them where they came from, show them where their grands or great-grands might have dug cane holes in the country. Let them know that even though their parents are in a position now to provide well for them, others struggled hard in years past to help them reach that point. Maybe then we can begin to confront the issue of race in this country as proud, strong Black people, instead of shying away from our "shameful" past as slaves. It's our history, it doesn't have to be our future.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Although elections are not constitutionally due until 2008, the increase in the number of political meetings being held is a sure sign of the advent of silly season. Just recently it was announced that fuel prices were decreasing and that several housing projects were in the works. Coincidence? Who knows? All I can say is that we're in for a lot more announcents to be made at public meetings.
I'll be off for a few days but feel free to post your thoughts on the "silly season".
Friday, September 29, 2006
Rihanna has changed quite a bit since she made it big on the international music scene. She has slimmed down noticeably and gotten a few pales lighter, though I'm sure that's due to her absence from the blistering Barbados sun. Just don't let them turn you into a "white chick" girl....or a younger version of Beyonce.
Have you ever driven past the exquisite wrought-iron gates of the villas in St. James and wondered what poshness was hidden behind those walls? Well, wonder no more. Check out the website www.islandhideaways.com. Just don't turn green with envy.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
First it was long, pre-dawn queues, then an appointment system. Now, Barbadians applying for US visas can only do so online. I remember reading that this new policy had started in Jamaica and wondered how it had been received by the populace there. I imagine quite a few "rahtids" and "blouse and skirts" had polluted the Jamaican airwaves.
Here in Bim it's early days yet. Some may argue that the new system will alienate certain persons (black persons)and show the gap between the information rich and the information poor. I know my people; there isn't a computer in the world that could come between them and their annual shopping trips to New York and Miami! I'm sure it will still be quite a culture shock for those persons who are not computer or internet-savvy. There's a suggestion that internet cafes could be used to assist those persons without personal computers, and I suggest they throw in some free lessons too! I could only imagine my mother trying to apply for a visa online....I don't think the computer would survive. Ah well, if the US says it must be done, so be it. The piper calls the tune, after all.
I've only watched three episodes but I feel extremely sorry for the contestants. I hope the winner's getting a good prize after all this drama. Between the insulting and largely contradictory comments from the judges and the demands to stay thin I don't know how these girls aren't shoving each other off the catwalk.
One young lady broke into tears because she was told to "take off her hair weave and bury it". And to add insult to injury, she was the only contestant asked by the silly host how she felt about the judges' comments! The poor girl was blubbering!
Ironically, two of the girls voted off last night were awarded with dinners at Lucky Horseshoe. Well, I guess they can eat now....
Monday, September 25, 2006
The lengths to which people go to make money. In recent weeks one of the daily newspapers has been running an ad for a new energy drink. It's name? Liquid Spanish Fly. What's next? Cocaine? Oh yeah, that already exists too, though thankfully it's not sold here. Yet.
Photo courtesy of http://taurinerules.blogspot.com
Saturday, September 23, 2006
First off let me say thanks to all those persons who offered encouragement and advice on the blog. I know some of you are shy about commenting but there's no need to be. Form a new username (like my good friend Etrici who totally fooled me:)) if you wish to remain anonymous.
Now, on with the show.....I always wanted to say that:)
Sir Charles Williams recently suggested that tolls be imposed on certain roads on the island. This, he suggested, would result in "higher-quality, longer-lasting roads".
Well, right off COW admitted what the rest of us were thinking all along; many of our roads are poorly constructed and not meant to last longer than a snowcone in hell. I'm convinced I'll be pulled over any day now by the police on suspicion of drunken driving at the rate I'm swerving all over the roads to avoid potholes! At any rate, the Minister responsible isn't entertaining any such "foolish proposals" from COW. Because, say what you like about politicians, for the most part they are not into professional suicide. Well, apart from Sir Lloyd E. Sandiford and Clyde Mascoll anyway.Then again, things seemed to have worked out for the better for those two.
CADRES is at it again with another poll, and it seems like the ruling BLP stands a good chance at making it a four-peat. I won't get too caught up in repeating the stats here because in my opinion - no disrepect to CADRES and Peter Wickham - it's the human element and not the statistics that will determine the outcome. And the human element is largely unpredictable. If we had a dollar for every politician who was lulled into a false sense of security by a poll only to get booted out we could all probably end poverty in Barbados. Good luck to all the incumbent MPs and the newcomers to the political fray...it's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it!
Photo courtesy of Anubis photos
Friday, September 22, 2006
Hi folks, this is my brave attempt at entering the world of blogging. As the name Cheese-on-bread implies, haha, I'm a Bajan and this site will hopefully be a place for Bajans all over the world to meet and catch up on what's happening in our fair land. Politics, entertainment, social issues are welcome, just keep it clean and non-defamatory. Non-Bajans, don't worry, you're more than welcome here too:)
This is my first time at blogging so if I mistakenly delete the site or something crazy like that, bear with me.
Can't wait to hear from you. Later peoples!