Authors: Zuri Day
D’Andra noticed a young boy of about eight or nine clinging to Night. She’d never wondered whether or not he had children but now the question niggled her mind. Was that his child? The boy looked a lot like Night and many men his age had children. D’Andra had never even considered “baby mama drama” when it came to Night’s life. But then she had to remind herself that Night’s life was none of her business.
Just walking dirt.
“Hey, let’s take a walk along the beach,” Night said, coming up and spraying water on her.
“Night! My hair!”
“Your hair is fine,” he said laughing. “C’mon, let’s get some exercise.”
“I don’t like walking in the sand. It’s dirty…and wet.”
“Newsflash D’Andra. You’re at the ocean; sand and water are a part of the deal. Besides, walking in sand is good for you.”
“I’m serious. You ever heard of reflexology?”
“Well, walking in the sand provides a natural reflexology; the sand forms itself to your feet and the granules massage your pressure points with each step. So you’re not only burning calories but you’re releasing toxins. C’mon, let’s walk.”
“I have to watch the kids.”
Night turned to his group. “Kimani, come here.”
Sixteen years of walking testosterone loped over. “What up, Night?”
“You’re in charge of the group for the next fifteen minutes. Can you handle that?”
D’Andra could have sworn she saw hair grow on the boy’s chest; he was that proud. “Sure I can.”
“Those kids too,” Night said, pointing to D’Andra’s three.
“We’re just gonna stroll up the beach a ways.”
Night turned to D’Andra. “Let’s go.”
“Did you know you can be pretty bossy sometimes?”
“I’ve been told that a time or two; but that’s primarily an asset in my business.”
The two chatted comfortably as they walked along the shoreline. At certain points, Night directed D’Andra to do lunges, holding the pose for as long as possible before changing legs. At other times, they did squats.
“Is that boy your son, the one in the cutoff jeans?”
“Why do you ask?”
“He looks like you.”
Night smiled. “I’ve heard that before. No, he’s not but I wish he were. He’s my second cousin, Aunt Jewel’s grandson.”
“So you want kids, huh?”
D’Andra didn’t trust herself to say anything more so she remained silent a moment before changing the subject.
“I want to thank you again for taking the time to work with me, Night. I think it’s really helping.”
“I think so too; you’ve lost weight.”
“You think so? I haven’t weighed myself again, like you told me.”
Night flashed a satisfied smile, then returned to his ever-present role of trainer.
“Be more concerned with how you feel than what you weigh,” Night instructed. “Your body will let you know when it’s the right size. It’s too easy to get caught up on a number when different body types weigh differently. Women of color have denser bodies so on most of those charts they come off as overweight, when that may not be true at all.”
“You told me this Night; you don’t remember?”
“Yes, and I’m telling you again. It’s cool to weigh yourself every now and then, as long as you don’t let the number dictate how you feel about yourself. I want to make sure you get that.”
She quelled the urge to salute. “I’ve got it.”
They walked more, sometimes talking, sometimes enjoying companionable silence. There were a million questions D’Andra wanted to ask but didn’t. She was afraid that the more she got to know him the harder it would be to keep up the wall. So they kept the conversation limited to health and fitness.
“I made a big decision yesterday,” she said after a pause.
Night’s question was in his expression.
“I decided to go back to school, take some classes at El Camino.”
“Excellent. What field?”
D’Andra told Night about the statistics she’d read on the Internet, the unhealthy habits that led to her own health crisis and her plans to help educate the community.
“That’s exactly my plan with the classes I’m structuring—teaching people to eat to live instead of living to eat.”
“I think you’ll get a great deal of interest and hopefully participation. More and more information is available on the importance of diet and exercise, and the older you get, the more important it becomes.”
“How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Getting ready to hit the big 3-0,” D’Andra answered readily. She wasn’t one of those women who felt uncomfortable with her age. To her, it was just a number.
“What about you?”
“I would have guessed younger than that.”
Night stroked his chin. “Yeah, it’s the baby face.”
“Hum, no doubt. I’m sure you’ve gotten more than your share of attention with that face.” D’Andra said this matter-of-factly, without sarcasm.
Night cut his eyes at D’Andra to see if she was teasing. She wasn’t. “You’d be surprised,” is all he said in response.
A piercing scream cut off further conversation. It came from where they were headed and the group of kids who’d been left in Kimani’s charge. Night sprinted ahead as D’Andra ran as fast as she could in the gripping sand. When she reached the circle, Night was kneeling over a squalling Tonia. The first thing D’Andra noticed was Tonia’s lack of tears.
“Stop crying, Tonia. Where does it hurt?” Used to handling health crisis, D’Andra’s demeanor was cool, calm and collected.
Tonia’s answer was another wail.
“Tell her Tonia!” Antoine urged, not wanting his twin’s pain to spoil his fun. “If you want to stay you must obey!”
That remark brought a smirk from Night, a snicker from some of the kids, a scowl from D’Andra and yet another howl from Tonia.
“Move back, kids,” D’Andra ordered. Either Tonia had worked up a little water or something was really wrong with her. D’Andra moved the tiny hand that was clutching the equally tiny foot and immediately noticed the red welt forming on her niece’s heel.
“Carry her over here for me, Night,” D’Andra said commandingly as she pointed to her beach umbrella. “She’s been bitten.”
Night followed D’Andra’s orders without comment, even as he hushed Tonia’s howls with a whispered edict that only the little girl heard: screaming makes the bite hurt more; humming softly helps it feel better. The entire circle moved as one to D’Andra’s belongings. Night laid Tonia on the blanket while D’Andra retrieved her first-aid kit.
“Looks like a jellyfish bite,” she said matter-of-factly as she alternately used sand and a scruffy towel to remove the prickly tentacles remaining in Tonia’s foot. She examined it closer once the area had been sanitized. Fully in nurse mode she diagnosed the situation. “Doesn’t look too venomous though; there’s no swelling and limited redness.”
Once done she activated a small bag of dry ice and instructed Tonia to hold it on her foot. Lastly she pulled out a vial of clear liquid and using a cotton swab, dabbed it on the inflamed area.
“Does that feel better?” she asked her.
Tonia nodded slowly, and continued humming.
“Why are you humming?”
When Tonia’s answer was simply to hum a little louder, D’Andra shook her head and looked at Night, who shrugged his shoulders.
D’Andra shook her head, perplexed. “Well…at least she stopped screaming.”
Excitement over, the rest of the group ventured back to the ocean’s edge. Soon Tonia joined them, playing as if nothing had ever happened.
“Here, give me that.” Without waiting for an answer, Night took the bottle of sunblock from D’Andra’s hand and as methodically as she’d applied the ointment to Tonia’s heel, began to rub the cool cream on to D’Andra’s legs.
“I can do that, Night,” D’Andra eked out around the breath caught in her throat. His nimble fingers on her ankles and calves were causing all kinds of feelings and thoughts to shoot through her body and mind.
“I know you can; but I get the feeling you’re the type that takes care of everybody else. You came here fully prepared, first-aid kit and all. It’s time someone took care of you.”
D’Andra felt herself relax in spite of herself. Night gently kneaded her muscles as he rubbed in the lotion. She could get used to this, but no, she couldn’t. It felt too good.
She drew her legs away from him. “Really, Night, I can do it.” She reached for the lotion, but Night had other plans.
“What is it; my sensual massage turning you on from the toes up?”
He’d hit the nail on the head and D’Andra didn’t know whether to be frightful or flattered. There was no way someone like Night would understand how someone like Charles could make a woman distrustful of all men. She was sure that the man kneeling at her feet was used to being the heartbreaker, not the heartbroken.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m washing your feet so I can give you a foot massage.”
“Didn’t you hear what I just said?”
“And didn’t you hear me? I’m taking care of you for a minute. You know how bossy I am. Shut up and take it, woman!”
He took one of the bottles of water and, pouring it over D’Andra’s feet, washed off the sand. Then he sat down and placed her foot in his lap. Placing a small dab of the sunblock in his hand, he began to gently yet firmly massage D’Andra’s feet. As he pressed and kneaded certain parts of her foot, he explained what organs were affected by each location.
“This area,” he said softly, as he massaged the fleshy area beneath her toes, “corresponds with your lungs. So this,” he pressed, kneaded, and massaged in a circular fashion, “helps the air flow through the lungs better.”
He kneaded the outer part of her right foot. “This area corresponds to the liver and this”—he switched to the left foot and massaged the middle of her foot with his thumb—“works on your kidneys.”
“Hum,” D’Andra said, feeling blissfully indulged. Night’s foot massage was affecting her whole body, including one particularly sensitive area probably not represented on her foot but getting wetter by the minute.
Night gave rapt attention to each area of her feet. He loved the feel of D’Andra’s skin, its softness and suppleness. As he massaged each toe, and in turn stimulated the places each one represented: head, eye, pituitary gland, etc., he thought about other areas of D’Andra’s body he’d like to massage, and decided he would love to touch her all over. He shifted before his suddenly hard member made its presence known to D’Andra’s foot. Placing his palms against them, he kneaded her heels, the last part of her foot to get attention.
The action sent a shiver up D’Andra’s butt; so much so that she giggled.
“Ooh, Night,” she whispered. “What part does the heel go with?”
Night smiled, knowing what had just happened because he’d done it on purpose. He squeezed a couple more times, knowing this action was taking the place of his massaging the real thing.
“Night?” D’Andra prompted again to mask her growing ardor.
Night took his hand away and calmly wiped it on a towel. “Your ass,” he said in a professional, matter-of-fact tone, similar to the one D’Andra had used when tending Tonia’s foot.
D’Andra’s hazel eyes flew open to meet deep, chocolate brown ones.
“Uh-huh, you heard me, and you felt it.” He licked his lips unconsciously and D’Andra thought she’d have an orgasm. She jumped up from the beach chair.
“It’s time to get the kids.”
Night turned and watched the topic of their conversation bounce seductively with D’Andra’s stride. His shaft twitched its agreement to his approving stare. He took another swallow of water, trying to cool down. “Uh-huh,” he said again.
D’Andra finally stopped lying to herself. She had developed feelings for Night. He made her feel so good at the beach, so special, so cared for, that she didn’t get too upset upon once again seeing a pile of dishes when she returned home. According to Mary, Cassandra’s intended good deed had been usurped by an unexpected visit from Anthony, her pro baseball player boyfriend. Trying to wrap him around her finger certainly topped being a woman of her word, D’Andra had deduced as she stacked dishes with hardened syrup and pancake remains into soapy water. And Mary? Mary hadn’t cleaned house ever since she birthed two maids to do it for her.
D’Andra’s sleep was fitful Sunday evening and later that Monday, as she ran errands before reporting to work, her thoughts were still of Night. She was torn in her emotions regarding him, afraid both of what would happen when the workouts were over and he left her life, and what might happen if he stayed. One thing she couldn’t deny, his workouts worked. She’d finally remembered to step on the scale this morning and to her surprise and delight she had indeed lost ten pounds.
Another night of hell at Heavenly Haven,
D’Andra thought as she eyed the stack of new admissions. The workplace was still in turmoil and the staff was stretched thin. One nurse had been replaced but two more had left.
“Miss Daisy’s in rare form tonight,” Elaine said as she came around to the nurse’s station. “Don’t say you weren’t forewarned.”
D’Andra laughed at Elaine’s use of her nickname for Frieda.
“I think I can handle her,” she answered. “I’ll just threaten her by saying I’ll stop Bryan from coming by. You know she’s got a thing for the PT.”
“Who doesn’t? He could give Brad Pitt competition and that’s not an easy thing. He’s hot.”
“Yes, way. Can’t you tell?”
“No, and you can’t either.”
“Well, maybe not. But his nails are manicured and his hair looks better than mine. Plus he’s always talking about his best friend, Wade.”
“So what? Oprah’s always talking about her best friend, Gayle, and she’s not gay.”
D’Andra fixed Elaine with a look. “She has Stedman; who does boyfriend have?”
“He can have me if he likes kids. Max will just have to get over it.”
“Girl, please; Max knows he doesn’t have a thing to worry about. They’ll be prying wood from under your fingernails after he dies; that’s how hard you’ll be holding on to his casket before they pull you away!”
“That’s morbid. You have no sense.”
“You neither; that’s why we get along.”
D’Andra hesitated, wondering if she should admit to Elaine what she’d only today admitted to herself. But she had to talk to someone and her current options were limited.
She continued to key information into the computer as she strived for a casual tone. “I ran into Night this weekend—twice.”
Elaine was immediately all ears. “Do tell!”
“Well, Saturday night I saw him at the gym. Then I took the kids to the beach yesterday and he was there with his cousin and some other kids.”
“Interesting,” Elaine said, implying several messages in the singular response.
“Why do you say it like that?”
“How many beaches are there in the LA area and what are the chances you’d be at the same one, at the same time, if fate wasn’t working her magic.”
“Oh please, it was just coincidence.”
“Whatever it was, I think you should go for it. You know you like him. How long are you going to let a jerk named Charles ruin your happiness? You deserve a good man, D’Andra, and you know that’s what you want. It wouldn’t hurt to let your guard down a little bit, see if there’s any fire where that smoke is.”
“Easy for you to say; it didn’t happen to you.”
“I know, kiddo,” Elaine said, releasing an understanding sigh. “But what did you tell me Night said to you the other day? No pain, no gain? That advice may apply to your heart as well as your hips. He sounds like a keeper, girl. You’d best get to keepin’ before somebody else finds him and leaves you weepin’.”
“If that’s your attempt at poetry, don’t quit your day job, Elaine.”
“And don’t you try and change the subject. If he is indeed unattached as you believe, he won’t stay that way for long. If you want something to happen, you just may need to be the one who gets the ball rolling.”
“I could care less if he’s seeing someone.”
“Yeah, try that lie on Miss Daisy, not someone who knows you as well as I do.”
With that, Elaine sashayed into the chart room while D’Andra walked down the hall to begin her rounds.
As soon as she turned the corner, she found Elaine had been right.
“Grace!” Mrs. Miller yelled in her shrill, high-pitched voice. “Grace, come here!”
“Right away, Miss Daisy,” D’Andra responded.
, she thought. If only for a moment, here was someone to get her mind off Night.