Before Forever (Sharing Space #6)

BOOK: Before Forever (Sharing Space #6)
10.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Before Forever

Sharing Space – Book Six


By Nina Perez


2014 Nina Perez

All rights reserved.

Table of Contents


Chapter One
It’s the Little Things


Chapter Two
New Opportunities


Chapter Three
Letting Go


Chapter Four
The Big Time


Chapter Five
Moving Out, Moving On


Chapter Six
Mother Knows Less


Chapter Seven


Chapter Eight
Barbie Busted


Chapter Nine
Dumb Shit Phase


Chapter Ten
Before Forever


Chapter Eleven
Ever After






Chapter One
It’s the Little Things


“I never want to get out of this bed.”


“Same, but we have to. You’re already late. Your mother has called twice. And I told Crystal I’d definitely be there today.”


“Woman, sto
p with all the logic and sense and let me look at you.”


Patrick rolled on top of me. The bed sheets tangled around our bodies were still warm and damp from our lovemaking. He brushed my hair away from my face with his hand and then tucked it behind my ear.


“How do you look so beautiful first thing in the morning?”


“One, it isn’t first thing in the morning. Two, I’m sure I look a hot ass mess.”


“You’ve got a hot ass, but look a mess? Never.” He reached down and cupped my right breast, slowly rubbing the nipple between his thumb and finger.


“Patrick, this is why you’re late. Stop it.”


“Your protest would be more convincing if you didn’t close your eyes and moan right after.”


He kissed me and pressed his body hard against mine. We were both going to be late.




Two hours later I was three train stops away from my uncle’s restaurant and Patrick was headed to his parent’s house. I had nothing to do with that. Patrick decided all on his own to spend as much time as he could with his parents because his mother was still struggling. Understandably, having her children around seemed to help. Even though I felt for her and her concerns about how our relationship would be received, I wasn’t willing to break up with Patrick to ease them.


I tried not to think about that as I walked the few blocks from the train station to the restaurant. I hadn’t seen my family since Christmas, and it was now February. Crystal wouldn’t tell me what was so important over the phone, just that she and Uncle Troy wanted to speak with me in person. The restaurant was about half full when I entered.
Home Sweet Home
offered a weekend special brunch and, even though it was Saturday, they saw more business on Sundays when the after-church crowd hit. Crystal and Uncle Troy were seated at a booth near the kitchen. I made my way over and slid into the booth across from them.


We exchanged pleasantries, but I was dying to get down to business. My curiosity had me bouncing out the booth. Uncle Troy took a deep breath before speaking.


“I’m finally retiring,” he said. I thought I sensed a bit of uncertainty.


“He’s sure. This isn’t a joke and I didn’t put him up to it.” Crystal placed a hand on his arm and he patted it then nodded.


“No, it’s not a joke. Yes, I’m sure, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say you didn’t put me up to it.” Uncle Troy chuckled and Crystal rolled her eyes. “In all seriousness, Chloe, it’s what I want. I want to be here for as long as I can to see my granddaughter grow up, and that means taking it easy. Besides, now that
back, I gotta make sure I’m here to keep an eye on him as well.”


Crystal shook her head but didn’t argue. We accepted that she and Jermaine were a couple again, but we didn’t have to like it.


“Well, I can’t say that I’m surprised,” I said. I wasn’t convinced that Crystal could get him to agree to retirement quickly, but I knew she’d eventually do it. At the end of the day, she had her daddy wrapped around her little finger. “I take it you’re going to run the restaurant?”


Crystal nodded. “I am, but we’ll be making a few changes and that’s why we wanted you here today.” She looked over my shoulder towards the front of the restaurant and smiled. She raised a hand to signal someone over. I turned to see who it was and watched as a tall black man wearing a black coat over dark grey suit approached. Uncle Troy stood to shake his hand.


“Michael, thanks for coming. You know Crystal. This is my niece, Chloe. Chloe, this is Michael Dixon.”


We shook his hands and I scooted over so that Michael could sit in the booth next to me. “Nice to meet you.”


“Likewise,” he said, parting his full lips into a smile. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”


“Michael goes to our church. He’s also in public relations—mainly for restaurants and nightclubs in the city. He’s agreed to help us.” Crystal said.


“Help you do what?” I asked.


Uncle Troy folded his hands in front of him. “I’ve always run this place the way I wanted and I’m proud of it, but in order to keep up with the times, we could stand to make some improvements. Besides, this is going to be Crystal’s place now and I want it to reflect that.”


Crystal quickly chimed in. “However, the heart and soul of what makes this place special will remain. We were thinking of a few menu changes, some cosmetic work, maybe have some live music on the weekends.”


“Cosmetic work? Won’t that be expensive?”


Uncle Troy nodded. “It will be, but I’ve planned for that. I’ve been saving my whole life. I’m willing to reinvest a fraction of it in this place. Hell, it’s how I made the money to begin with.”


“And I’m donating my services,” Michael said.


I almost forgot he was there. I turned to study him as Crystal started talking about updating the ovens and freezer. He looked to be about my age, fit, with hair cut close to his head. He was very handsome and, as he started to talk about his ideas for helping the restaurant gain more visibility, it was clear he knew his business.


“Your uncle tells me you’re a marketing manager at Braxton & Lloyd. Great firm.”


“Yes, my primary focus is social media, helping brands find their online voice.”


“We were thinking you could work with Michael and help us incorporate some of the changes,” Crystal said. I could tell by the look in her eyes she really wanted me to say yes.


“Of course I’ll help.” My mind was already filling up with ideas.


Uncle Troy smiled. “Perfect. I’ll go get us some drinks and send Layla over to take your order; get some brain food into my Dream Team.”




A few days later, Patrick and I were at our neighborhood market getting groceries for the week.


“You get the deli stuff and I’ll get produce?” Patrick asked.


I nodded and left him with our cart to take my place in line behind a woman at the deli counter a few feet away. After a few moments I heard a female voice say, “Excuse me. Aren’t you on
Shining Moments


I smiled and glanced over my shoulder. Patrick was placing tomatoes in a produce bag and nodding at a small elderly white woman. I was getting used to this, probably more than Patrick was. Every other time we went out he was recognized for being on television. I turned back around and listened to the rest of the conversation.


“Yes, ma’am, I am.”


“I thought so! I love you on it. Well, isn’t this something?” 


She went on to ask him questions about the show and upcoming storylines that he couldn’t answer. To her credit she took it all in stride, and was more than happy to have Patrick autograph a receipt she dug out of her purse.


“You know,” she said, “I have a granddaughter around your age. She’s beautiful, if I do say so myself. She loves
Shining Moments
, too. I would love for you two to meet.”


I smiled and shook my head.
Can’t blame the lady for trying.


“I’m sure she’s lovely, but I have a girlfriend. She’s right over there.”


I turned as they approached, a smile on my face and all prepared to offer up a playful apology for already snagging the man. The elderly lady walked right up to the white woman in front of me and said, “You’re a lucky woman.”


The woman in the deli line had been texting on her phone and oblivious to the whole conversation. She gave the older woman a confused smile. “I’m sorry?”


Patrick stood at my side and put his arm around my waist. “Actually, this is my girlfriend.”


His new fan looked from me to the other woman and then pursed her lips. “I see.” She turned and walked away, back to her cart. She looked at us once more, shook her head, and then disappeared down the bread aisle.


“What the hell?” Patrick said. “I’m sorry about that.”


I blinked back tears. It was easier for that woman to assume a middle-aged white woman was Patrick’s girlfriend over a black woman his age. “Don’t apologize. She’s ignorant.”


I’m sure I did a good job brushing it off, appearing as if it didn’t bother me. But in the back of mind I could hear Patrick’s mother’s voice.


I don’t care that you’re black, but other people will.

Chapter Two
New Opportunities


Leave it to Cat to demand I come to her office right away
, then leave me waiting in the lobby for twenty minutes. I’d spent the entire day on set and wanted nothing more than to go home, take a hot shower, and relax. I checked my watch and decided I’d give her five more minutes and then she’d have to call me with the important news. Exactly four minutes later, Cat peeked her head out of her office door and gestured for me to enter.


“Sorry. Was wrapping up an important call.”


That was all the apology I was going to get so I took a seat and said, “Okay. What’s the emergency?”


Cat sat behind her desk and smiled mischievously. “I didn’t say it was an emergency. Emergencies are bad news. Patrick, this is great news. The best.”


I threw my hands up. “Are you going to make me guess?”


“You’re going to Los Angeles.”


“I am?”


“Yes, you are. You’ve been asked to read for a part in an HBO mini-series!” Cat clapped her hands together.


I blinked in shock. “They asked for me to read? Who?” This was a big deal. Being asked to read for a part meant that there was already some idea you were right for the job. That meant someone important had been paying attention to your work.


“One of the producers, Tim Minor, called me this afternoon. He assured me that if you got the part, it wouldn’t interfere with the show. They’re shooting this spring and then again in the summer. Ask me who’s the director.”


“Who’s the director?”


“George Clooney.” The self-satisfied smile on Cat’s face would have made you believe she was not only responsible for George Clooney’s success, but his very existence as well. I didn’t bother to ask if she was joking. She wouldn’t kid about something so amazing.


“You fly out in two days. You’ll meet with Tim and George. You’ll read the part and it will be yours.”




“I wish you could come with me.”


It was the night before I was due to fly out to Los Angeles and I was speaking to Chloe from my old room in my parent’s house.


“I know, but I have to work and they’re only flying you out on such short notice. Wow. I still can’t believe this is happening.” Chloe giggled.


“Right? An HBO mini-series. That’s just… insane.”


“And you get to meet George Clooney!”


I laughed. “Yeah. There’s that.”


“Babe, this is big time. This is like Golden Globes level. You know that, right?”


“I’m not trying to think that far ahead. I finally memorized my lines in the scene they sent over.”


“I know you don’t want to get your hopes up, but I have a really good feeling about this, Patrick. Like you said, they asked for you. They already have an idea that you’re right for the part. You just have to prove them right. And you will.”


“Mmmm. I really wish you were coming with me.”


“It’s just two days.”


“Yeah. Okay. I’m gonna get downstairs and have dinner with my folks. A car is coming to take me to the airport early.”


“Call me when you land?”


“No. I’m calling you when I wake up. I love you.”


“Love you, too.”


Over dinner, my mother tried to be positive about my trip, but her anxiety over my leaving made it nearly impossible. We’d all become used to it. Since Charlotte’s death she found it hard to find happiness in anything.


“Four months is a long time,” she said, twisting her dinner napkin in her hands.


“That’s if I even get the part, Ma. And there’s a small break in there as well.” I took a sip from my water glass and looked to my dad for support.


“It’ll be good for his career, honey. And I’m sure he’ll make it up to you with a nice long stay when filming is done.”


That, unfortunately, was the level of support I’d come to expect from my dad, but I couldn’t be too angry with him. We all coddled my mother, even through our own grief. She was never left in the house alone and we’d all taken turns sleeping over, much to the annoyance of my brothers’ wives. What else could we do? How do you not give a woman who’d lost her youngest daughter everything she needs to feel better?




The secrecy surrounding the audition and the entire project was epic; I didn’t even know the real title of the mini-series. Instead, it was referred to by a codename:
All I knew about the role was the guy was in a band trying to make it. I read for the producer Tim, an older, balding man in a very expensive suit, and George Clooney, who, despite his megastar status, was the most laid back person in the room. A production assistant played the part of the other person in the scene. We read through it twice before I was told I could go back to the posh hotel suite they’d reserved for me. After two hours, I got a call from Tim’s assistant that he wanted to see me in his office. I was in my seat for approximately four seconds before he got to the point.


“Patrick, I’m not gonna waste your time.”


I blew out a breath, disappointed. He continued.


“We think you’re the right guy for the role. George wanted to be here to tell you himself, but he had to catch a flight to Italy. You’re stuck with me.”


“That’s… that’s… okay. I mean, thank you! This is unreal.” I smiled like a fool.


“We’d normally contact your representation first, but we flew you out here and it just seemed like the right thing to do.”


“Cat will not be happy that she didn’t get to tell me herself, but she’ll get over it. Maybe.”


The next twenty-four hours were a blur of information. The mini-series, titled
Backstage Pass,
followed the rise and fall of a rock band through three decades. My character, the bass player, has one of the more significant arcs in the movie, struggling with an alcohol addiction that worsens as the band’s popularity rises. They were still casting a lot of the major roles, but I was assured we’d be ready to roll in April. While Cat handled the contracts I flew home, still not quite sure everything was real.





A month later I was wrapping up a major storyline on
Shining Moments
and had still managed to memorize most of my lines for
Backstage Pass.
I learned that Jay Robeson, my
producer, was a good friend of Tim Minor’s. I assumed it was that connection which got me the invitation to read for the part. I made sure to thank him for allowing me flexibility to work on the movie.


while trying to memorize additional lines made for long days and even longer nights. Still, I made sure to be on my game when Cat called to tell me she and Tim wanted to meet for dinner. He was only in New York for a short time so I had to make myself available in the one small window he had open. That’s how I found myself sitting in an Upper West Side members-only supper club after spending twelve hours on set.


“How are you liking the script? Any problems?” Tim asked.


It was only our second meeting, but it was clear Tim was a get-down-to-business kind of guy. Made sense, considering his time and attention were always in demand.


“No. No problems at all. It’s a lot deeper than I expected, but I’m up for the challenge,” I said.


Cat had already warned me that confidence, even if you didn’t always feel it, went a long way in this business. She nodded her approval and took a sip from her water glass before speaking. “We’re going to set you up with a trainer who’ll work with you for the next few weeks leading up to the first block of shooting.”


“A trainer?”


“Not that kind of trainer. I know you have that covered. Someone to help you learn how to play a bass or, at the very least, look like you know how to play one.”


I felt like such an idiot. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I’d be acting like a musician without a lick of musical knowledge. I nodded appreciatively.


“We also have some casting news. Ian Somerhalder has signed on to play Brett,” Tim said.


“Wow. That’s great.” I meant it. Ian was a popular actor with two major television shows under his belt:
and The
Vampire Diaries.
It made sense he’d be cast in the lead role. The entire band was supposed to be made up of guys with boy-band good looks and it plays a part in them not being taken seriously when they first start out. From Brett’s description in the script, Ian would be perfect.


Over dinner we talked more about scheduling and accommodations while filming in Los Angeles. The studio would be putting all of the talent in an expensive hotel close to the set. I couldn’t believe my life had gone from sharing a dressing room to having my own fancy suite for four months while I worked on a movie for a major cable network. I still resisted the urge to pinch myself. After we’d eaten Tim ordered a round of drinks for all of us without asking if anyone wanted it or not.


Tim leaned back in his chair and said, “There’s one last thing we need to talk to you about, Patrick. Your girlfriend.”


BOOK: Before Forever (Sharing Space #6)
10.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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