When I started hearing sirens around nine
o’clock, I looked out of my window and shouted to some passersby, “What’s going
“There’s a fire over at the Inman
I could have won the 100-yard dash with
how fast I sprinted to Richard’s place. There were so many campus and city
police along with the fire department around. The place was a complete zoo with
the fire fighters putting out the fire and some of the students looking and
pointing at the gutted hole where Richard’s apartment once was.
Looking around, I saw Richard sitting
in the ambulance with an oxygen mask over his face and his hair and clothes covered
in black soot. I ran to him, and he looked up at me as I gave him a big hug.
“What the hell happened?” I asked as
he took the mask off his face.
“I turned up the heat on the chicken
with the liquor in it. Some of it splattered onto the kitchen counter and some
boxes that I had near it caught fire. It was awful, Marley, and I tried to put
it out but it kept getting bigger and bigger and then Emily started screaming.
I swear I have never seen anything like it before in my life.”
He continued to hug me even more, and
all I could do was shake my head and try not to laugh.
“And after all that mess, I was
shocked that they didn’t make your parents pay for all that damn damage you
did.” I snickered as I looked over the breads.
“Shut up, Marley.”
I smiled even more as I pointed out a
warm loaf of French bread and the baker put it in paper and handed it to
“I think we have everything here, No
we don’t we forgot about dessert. What would you like to get?”
“Hummingbird Cake, oh you have got to
try this cake, it is unbelievable.” I said as I dragged him to where the cakes
were and we got half of my new ultimate weakness.
When we got home, I could hear the
phone ringing. “Hello?”
“Hey baby, I see you made it home
alright,” said the soothing voice of my momma.
“Yeah, I made it in just fine,
Richard brought me home. We just came back from getting something to eat for
Richard mouthed, “Who are you talking to?”
“It’s momma,” I whispered.
He smiled and shouted, “Hi, momma!” I
couldn’t stop laughing and neither could my mom.
“I swear that boy kills me, calling
me momma like that. You tell him momma says hello. Why haven’t you snatched him
up yet?” she asked for what was now an unprecedented two hundred and forty five
“Momma, don’t start that now. I’ll
tell Richard you said hello but I am fine. Tell pops and grandma I said hello,
ok?” She chuckled and all I could do was smile. She knew I was avoiding
answering that question for the two hundred and forty fifth time.
“Bye baby. Call me later when you’ve
“Bye, momma and I promise I will”
I hung up the phone, and Richard was
still putting the food on the platter for us to munch on. “Momma said ‘hello’
by the way” I started munching on an olive, and he opened his mouth for me to
throw one into it.
He went across the room toward the
hallway, and with such accuracy, I threw the olive and was shocked that it went
“Goal!” we both shouted as he paraded
around the room as if he scored the winning goal in soccer. I couldn’t stop
laughing as I brought the platter to the coffee table, and he brought the
ginger ale and two glasses. We didn’t just eat our food; we ended up throwing
it into each other’s mouths.
“Ouch, dang, that hit me in the eye,”
he whined, holding his eye for a second as I moved closer to see if I really
“Let me see, hold still!” I said as
he blinked his eye a little, then I saw that beautiful orb looking back at me.
Even though it was a little red, it
still looked beautiful, none the less.
“You’ll be ok, you’re a tough guy.” I
smiled as he wiped his eye and looked back at me.
He kept looking at me and, for some
reason that I don’t know, I started feeling really uncomfortable.
“What?” I finally asked him as I
started drinking some ginger ale.
Shaking his head as if he was trying to wake himself from a
dream, he started laughing and said, “Nothing.”
Wow, was that an awkward moment or
When Richard came back with the cake
after dinner, I asked him, “Tell me what happened that night I passed out, I
mean the fight and all?”
Rolling his eyes, he started
chuckling before he told me, so I figured it had to be funny as hell.
“When you fell, I got scared as hell
and everyone in the bar started crowding around us. Andrew started screaming, call
911!’ repeatedly while Todd and me tried to get you up on some tables that some
folks put together. I had never seen you look that way in my life and so clammy
too. Todd was looking nervous, and I knew that something was up from the way he
was looking at you. So, I asked him what he did to you. He told me I was tripping
hard, and Laura, she said the same thing even though I could tell she was kind
of concerned about you.”
Oh my God, the bitch was concerned
about me, someone call the fucking law!
“I went to get your cup, and I saw a
pill at the bottom of it. I asked him what the hell it was and all he could do
was smile and say, ‘how the hell did I know she was going to pass out like
that?’ That’s when my fist met his face, and he ended up on the floor. All I
could remember was punching his face in with my fist over and over again.
Andrew kept trying to get me back, Laura kept screaming, and when the cops and
ambulance came, they pulled me off him and arrested him. And from what I heard,
Marie told me that he ended up losing his job.”
I was shocked, not by what that guy did
to me that night, but how Richard stood up to that guy for me. I didn’t know
that he did all of that for me and this was part of the reason why I loved him
Agnes called to tell me that the book
signing for my new book would be at Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks later.
“Wow, that’s pretty soon, isn’t it?”
I told her while doing my nails.
“Marley, you don’t know how it’s flying
off the book shelves. It is simply amazing and the stores can’t keep them on
the shelves. But let me ask, sweetheart, how have you been doing?”
I sighed softly, and I couldn’t get
anything by Agnes, she was like my second mom, always looking out for me no
matter what. “I’ve been going through another thing with Richard, he’s with
this new girl now, and it seems like he is really in love with her. I don’t
know why I torture myself with all of this Agnes.”
“Why don’t you just tell him? You’ve
known him for years and you’ve never told him that you really love him.”
“I will eventually, Agnes, I just have
to get enough courage to do so. Besides, you’re like the third person to tell
me to just tell him how I feel. So when is the first book signing?”
“It’s tonight at 6:30, I will have a
car come and pick you up around 5:45, is that ok?”
After I got off the phone with Agnes,
I went looking for an outfit for tonight. It was hard because half of what I
had, I hadn’t wore in years. This would take a miracle of some sorts to figure
this out. I stopped looking after I heard the buzzer go off at the door.
“Yeah, who is it?” I shouted.
“It’s me, Richard!”
I hit the button then unlocked the
door as I went back to my closet.
“Hello, Marley, where are you?” he
said, walking in.
“I’m back in my room, I have a book
signing tonight, and I’m trying to find something to wear.” I walked out with
two outfits that I knew would look good on me. I laid them on the couch in
front of us and stepped back to look at them. “What do you think?”
He looked at them both, took one and
put it up against me, then got the other and did the same. “I like this one; I’ve
always liked you in this outfit.”
“There is going to be a car coming to
pick me up at 5:45, do you want to go?”
“Would I look fine like this? I was
coming over to see if you wanted to go to a movie or something?”
“It’s just a book signing, that’s
all. It will probably last for an hour or so then we can grab something or
He smiled and sat down while I went
to start my shower.
After about an hour and a half, I
heard Richard say, “It’s getting close to time, are you ready yet?”
I came out of the bedroom, running my
fingers through my hair as I went to get my shoes. When I put them on, I turned
to look at him and asked, “So, how do I look?”
He smiled and took my hand, twirling
me around slowly, “Breathtaking, absolutely breathtaking.” He smiled then held
me close to him and we found ourselves dancing.
“I was wondering what you were going
to be doing tomorrow, I wanted to take some pictures of you. I haven’t taken
any of you in a long time.”
We swayed to our own song, whatever
it was really didn’t matter. I was just happy to have him holding me like this
but that all ended when we heard a buzz at my door.
“Yes?” I asked.
“I’m here to pick you up, Ms.
Rockford,” said the driver. I opened the door and we made our way down.
Barnes and Noble seemed completely packed
with people when we got there. When I got out of the car, everyone was shouting
and clapping as I walked inside. I never thought I had this many fans out
there, even Richard was impressed. “Go on, Mar, I’ll be over here behind you.
Tonight is your night to shine.” He smiled, tapping me on the end of my nose as
I walked over to Agnes who immediately gave me a hug.
“Ladies, I would like to introduce to
you a brilliant author whose writings seem to stir so much raw emotion and depth.
I am also happy to say that not only is she a wonderful writer but a wonderful
friend of mine. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Ms. Marley Rockford!” She
smiled as the group of women clapped and shouted in thunderous applause.
That night, I must have signed over
300 books and taken more than that in pictures. “I have read every single one
of your books, Ms. Rockford, and I’ve enjoyed them immensely. Can I ask you how
you come up with such realistic characters?” one lady asked when it came time
for the question and answer part.
“I try and put part of what I want to
read in a story myself. I put characters that are a part of my daily life.
Whenever I write, it is something that I wish would happen to me as well as
things that I know the reader would enjoy wanting to have in their lives.” I
smiled as I pointed towards another woman who was raising her hand.
“Some of my friends were wondering,
who is the really hot looking guy you came here with tonight?” She giggled as
some of the other women swooned and whistled, while looking Richard’s way.
I looked over and started to laugh
when I saw how red he had gotten so quickly.
“Oh, this is my best friend, Richard
Collins. He came by my place tonight, wanting to take me to the movies, but I brought
him here instead.”
“Can I ask Mr. Collins what he thinks
about your writings?” asked another lady.
Richard walked up to the microphone
and said, “I am very proud of Marley and all of her writing accomplishments.” He
looked back at me with a wink as the crowd of women applauded.
how is your hand?” Richard asked while we were in the car going back to my
just say I won’t be signing any books anytime soon.” I laughed as he softly
grabbed my hand and began massaging it.
I laid my head against his shoulder
as he rubbed my knuckles. “You have had a long and busy evening, young lady.
Why don’t we go to the park for a walk?” he asked.
We walked through the little park
that was near my apartment. It wasn’t big like Central Park, but it was way
more private. The iron gas lamps that lit the walkway throughout the park were
on and it felt so romantic. We sat on a nearby bench, sharing an Italian ice we
bought from a sidewalk vendor.
“Remember when we first came to this
park when I moved to my apartment, we had an Italian ice but we sat at another
He nodded as he spooned some of the
“Remember when we were moving your
stuff in and found that big dead sewer rat in the kitchen cabinet?”
“Oh my God, that was so gross. I
nearly screamed my head off when I saw that damn thing staring back at me with
his little legs up in the air.”
We had a good laugh that evening. I
didn’t want it to end. Why can't I just tell him how I feel?
“Well thank you for the ice and for
coming to my book signing tonight,” I told him as we made it to my front stoop.