I would like to thank Allah for all my blessings.
Thank you so much to my family: my boys, Hamid and Ahsan ; my mom, Robin; my sisters Daaiyah, Nadirah, and Najah Goldstein; my dad Auzzie and stepmom Pulcheria Poole; my grandmothers Dolores Dandridge and Mary-Ellen Hickson; my aunts Bertha, and Elaine Dandridge, Edith White, and Cynthia Cargill; my uncles Teddy and Aaron Dandridge, Herbie Kidd Jr, Steven, Julius, Eric and Leon Poole; my cousins, Keva, Iesha, Tiffany and Aaron Dandridge, Leno, and Lamar Quattlebaum, Khalif Mears, and Al-Baseer Holly; all the kids of my first and second cousins; the Pooles, Wertzs, Dandridges, Wilsons, Gibsons, Riddicks, and Goldsteins. I love you all and thank you for being in my corner and telling people wherever you are to go buy that book because that's my niece's, daughter's, cousin's, etc.
And thank you to Karen and Camille Miller for always being supportive.
To everyone at Kensington Publishing thank you for giving me this opportunity. Special thanks to my editor, Karen Thomas, Nicole Bruce, and Jessica McLean.
Thank you to my readers for your e-mails, IM's and inspiration. Also for your encouragement and, most important, your support. I have readers that were in high school when I started writing that are now in college. I want to say thank you to everyone who has picked up, read, told someone about
Yo Yo Love, Got A Man,
. Nieces and daughters keep telling your mothers and aunties about me.
Tamika Wilson-Mosley and Nichole Adkinson thank you for taking it to the streets with me, getting the word out.
Thanks to Magna Diaz of Frankford High School, Sha-shana Crichton, Helena Gibson, Deidra Potter, Robert Saunders, Maryam Abdus-Shahid, Darryl Fitzgerald, Kia Morgan, Miana White, Shawna Grundy, Katrina Elliott, Dena Riddick, Gina Delior, Nikki Turner, Carla Lewis, Tamika Floyd, Shana Higgs, Meosha Coleman, Lerhonda Upshur, and Tamika Harper.
To the book clubs, thanks for supporting me: Mrs. Zina McDowell-Heath of FBI Elite, Thembi Maiden, Vera Leath of Circle of Sisters, Tamara Brown and Laverne Dent of Black Voices, Jenette Carter of Tranquil Moments, Monique Ford Circle of Sisters and For DaSistas .
Thanks to African World Distributors, A & B Book Distributors, The Black Library of Boston, Karibu, and Waldenbooks.
I hope I didn't forget anybody, but if I did I'm sorry, and I thank you.
Shonda Nicole Robinson
have been with my man for about a year and some change. He was seeing someone when I first met him. Actually, he was living with her and engaged, with a baby on the way. But I deaded all of that. I had to; I fell in love with him. Malik was going to be mine, one way or another. He was so damn sexy, polished, built, and a delicious shade of brown. We met at my old job at a law firm. He still works there as a paralegal. I was a temporary receptionist. I got fired for punching a bitch in the face who was minding my business. Not like that. But I had to handle my business. Malik still works there as a paralegal.
We snuck around for a few months, going to hotels, having lunch together, and taking days off from work. But then we broke up. He started feeling bad about leaving her while she was pregnant, and temporarily got back with her and proposed to her. I thought I could live without him, but I realized I couldn't. Then I heard that he was about to get married. So, I marched right up into his wedding to his son's mom and was, like, “Hold up one motherfucking moment.” That's not what I said, exactly, but to make a long story short, I said, “Malik, you don't love her; you love me.” And it didn't take a lot of convincing, 'cause instead of staying there and marrying her, he left the church. He fell in love with me and I fell for him, hard.
After I left the church, I went to the gas station and Malik's baby mom sister attacked me with her bridesmaid dress on. She snuck me. It was cool, though. I guess she was mad. But that didn't make Malik come back to the wedding. He was at my house that next morning, saying, “Baby, you stopped me from making the worst mistake of my life.” And if he would have married Kim, I still wouldn't have left him alone. I probably would have settled for being his mistress. He wasn't really trying to marry her, anyway.
It's been all good ever since. We moved in together a few months after his wedding. Now we have a house that we are renting in Wynnfield. My daughter has her own room, then we have our bedroom, and my back bedroom is the junk room. We keep boxes that I haven't unpacked and the ironing board in there. I'm thinking about making that a gym or office for Malik. I don't know. I have a little Chrysler Cirrus and we are doing okay. Malik already has an Associate's degree and is going back to school to get his Bachelor's in Criminal Justice. Then after that he is going to law school. I'm going to be married to a lawyer. Imagine that! One day I might even go back to school. I need a career change. I like my job as a car salesperson, but it is so hard, working on commission. If I don't sell a car, I don't get paid. It is as simple as that. They have this thing called “the draw” that means you get paid six hundred every two weeks, when you don't sell a car. Then when you sell a car, they take their six hundred dollars back; it is just like borrowing money.
I was at the dealership.
I spend more time here than I do at home,
I thought. My luck has not been that good lately with selling cars, but things should begin to pick up very soon. People are getting their 1040s in the mail, and soon they will have income tax return checks. People are just now recovering from Christmas. Trying to sell a car in the winter is like selling vinegar juice to a thirsty person on a hot summer dayâvery hard. Malik been holding down the bills, then my daughter's father take care of her. I don't have to buy her anything, and I still get money every week from my child-support check. So I'm cool, I just have to make enough money to get my hair done, shop, and put gas in my car.
It was so slow I looked out into the crowded parking lot. There were about a hundred cars that were just sitting there ready to be driven home. There was big print chalk writing that read No Money Down on some of them, and the others had balloons and fiesta-colored adornments flickering in the wind. Nobody had pulled in the lot the entire hour I sat at the window. I was next up. We took turns and rotated on customers on slow days. But nobody was coming through those doors. So I went to my cubicle and called back old leads. Leads were people who were supposed to buy a car, but something happened with their credit, they didn't have down payment money, or a cosigner. Basically, deals that fell through. I managed to schedule one appointment. The woman would be in on Friday. I went back to the big window, watching closely to see if anybody entered the parking lot. The first car that rode up was going to the parts department. The second car was coming straight towards me. I put on my navy wool coat and met the man at the door. An older Hispanic man red from the cold walked up to me. His brown hair covered half of his bald head. He smiled at me.
“Hi, I'm Shonda. What car did you want to see?” I asked as I reached for his hand. He dug around in his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. It was a printout off the Internet of a car website. He handed me the paper. I looked down at it and said, “So you are interested in a Focus.”
“Yes, I want the same one with all those options. Same color, price, and all.”
“Okay, let me see if we have any in stock.” I went to look in our computer system. I told the man to have a seat but instead he followed me. Then he said, “You seem nice, so let me tell you. Shonda, I don't want to play any games. Tell your boss that I've walked out of three other dealerships. If he doesn't give me what I want, I'll walk out of here, too.”
“Okay,” I said as I continued to type in his selection, knowing this man was going to be a pain in my ass. He explained he wanted a four-cylinder car to get him back and forth to work. He was putting too many miles on his SUV.
I took him out to the lot and found the car he wanted. He said that he didn't want to even look inside the car or test-drive it. He wanted for me to just write the deal up. I began writing the deal, asking him necessary questions like his name, social security number, and employer. I already knew he was definitely going to buy the car. I was happy I had a deal, but I wasn't going to make any money on it because he wanted the car for five hundred dollars over invoice. We made fifteen percent on new cars. That meant I was going to make seventy-five dollars.
I finished writing the deal up and took all the paperwork to my manager, Joe. He was a drunk. I think he put liquor in his coffee. He looked over at the customer through the bottom of his thick glasses. He then yelled at me, “Did you give him this number?”
“Where did he get it from?” he asked.
“He's been to a few other dealerships. He told me to tell you don't play any games. Give him the car for this price or he is walking.”
“Did you take him on a test-drive?” he asked, looking down at me.
“He didn't want to test-drive,” I said, exhausted.
“Give me a minute,” he said as he sipped his dark, alcohol-tainted coffee. I went back and had a seat. Joe pulled his pants up that were falling off his butt. Then he walked over to us and said,
“SeÃ±or estoy contento que usted aquÃ deberÃ¡ negociar con nosotros hoy.”
Como no Espanola
,” the man said.
“Okay, brother,” Joe said as he patted his back. “Let's sit down.” I looked over at Joe clown-ass. I hoped he hadn't lost the deal for me. Trying to speak Spanish and assuming that a Hispanic person should know Spanish.
“We would like to make a deal with you today, but if we sell this car at this price, we wouldn't be making any money,” Joe said as he wrote a slightly higher number on the sales sheet.
“Have a good evening,” the man said. He got up and added, “I told her to tell you I wasn't playing. I want that car under these conditions or no deal.”
“Hold up one minuteâlet's see what we can do,” Joe said as he walked back to his desk, pressed some numbers in his calculator and said, “Okay, okay, Misterâyou are a good negotiator. What the hell, Robinson, write the deal.” He couldn't let him leave; we needed the deal. We were short eleven cars for the month.
I wrote up all the paperwork and took them to Lester, the lead salesperson they promoted to finance even though he didn't have that much experience. Lester pulled me to the side and said, “We are not making any money on this car. We got to sell him on a warranty so we can make some money on the back end.” I hated selling warranties to people. People that buy warranties financed five hundred dollars for five years and nothing that you needed was covered like the transmission or engine. I sold him the car, that was my job. Selling warranties, that was his job. I walked back out to the showroom, aggravated.
“Would you like some coffee?” I asked Mr. Rivera.
I grabbed the coffee, stirrers, a pack of the pink one, a blue one, and one sugar. He could decide for himself which one he wanted.
“Oh, Mr. Rivera, I just wanted to tell you that you should get a warranty on the car. It would only increase your payment by eight dollars a month, but you would be covered for everything.”
“Well, the car is practically new, right?”
“So, I shouldn't have any problems. Right?” he said, looking at me suspiciously.
“Well, why would I need a warranty?” he asked.
“It's just good to have. You know, peace of mind,” I said, thinking on my feet.
“I meant to ask you, Shonda. Did this car have one owner?”
“Yeah, just one owner,” I lied. His eyebrow raised and he said, “Any problems?”
“No problems. I can do a CarFax for you.”
“You sure? I don't want to have to replace the transmission or anything.”
“No, not at all. It had one previous owner.” I neglected to tell him the previous owner was a rental car agency and that the car had been run up and down the highway by different drivers for two years. I turned my head and saw Lester coming toward me. I was saved as he introduced himself to Mr. Rivera and they walked into Lester's office.
He bought the car and I was done for today and off to pick up my daughter, Brianna, from her father's house. I pulled up and tooted my horn.
“Brian, I'm outside,”
“Bree will be out.” Bree came running to the car with her pink Bratz doll book bag. I gave her a quick hug and we were on our way home.
“Mom, guess what?” Bree announced.
“Daddy said we are going on vacation,” she shouted excitedly.
“Really, where are y'all going?” I asked.
“Daddy said me, him, and Andrea are going to Disney World.”
Is that right?
I thought. I don't know why, but I got instantly jealous. He was not taking my child to Disney World. Especially not with his wife. I was going to take her. She needs her first Disney World trip to be with her mother. I already started pricing it. Me and Malik were going to take his son and her. He wanted to take Kim's other son, Kevin, too, but she said no. If she didn't, I would have said no. I didn't want that little boy to go, anyway. It is one thing being nice and loving Malik's son, but I'm not playing stepmommy to a little boy that ain't even Malik's. But that was another story. I had to deal with Brian. I dialed his phone.
“Brian, um, when y'all supposed to be going to Disney World?” I asked.
“I bought tickets and we are going over Brianna's spring break,” he said.
“Well, let me tell you something. You did not ask me. So Brianna can't go.”
“What do you mean, she can't go? She is my daughterâI bought the tickets.”
“Like I said, she can't go because you didn't ask me. And I want her first Disney World experience to be with me.”
“Shonda, you are ridiculous!”
“Whatever, get a refund.” I hung up on him. Me and Brian have been broken up for over two years, and I still hate him. Brian thinks he is doing so much better than me, but he ain't, and his wife is ugly. Big, tall, yellow bitch. She looks like Big Bird. I can't wait for Malik to propose to me. Then we are going to get a big town house with a driveway. The only reason I let Brianna go over as much as she does is because I be needing a break and be working. I rather her be with her dad than with a babysitter. Otherwise, he would not have my child so much.
I walked into my house and it was a mess. Brianna's Barbie dolls were scattered around the room. I had started decorating the living room, but haven't had the time or money to finish. I walked into the kitchen. I had a sunflower scheme going on. On the stove there was smelly broccoli in a pot that I had cooked three days ago. I rinsed it out, poured bleach into it, and washed it. The smell still lingered a little.
It is hard trying to clean, cook, and work. I took a look in our freezer: there was steak, a whole chicken, and frozen hot dogs. I continued to stare like something else was going to appear. It was too late to thaw out a steak, and I didn't want a hot dog. I took one more glimpse in the freezer, then I decided I wasn't cooking anything. I cleaned the kitchen and then snatched the Tri-Town delivery menu off of the refrigerator. I worked all day, too. But I was the one who had to find the energy to cook for everybody.
I thought. I was going to order me chicken fingers and Malik a cheese steak. I picked up the phone and Brianna was on there, talking. I listened for a moment to see what she was talking about. Her and her friend were talking about what they were going to wear to school the next day. I had to cut their convo short.
“Who you talking to?” I asked.
“My friend Leah.”
“Tell Leah good-bye and come here.”
Brianna told her friend she'd see her at school. She ran down the steps and shouted from the living room, “Yes, Mom?”