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The Great Pretender (A Valentine Story)

I'm just a man ... standing in front of the world ... asking them to love my writing.

the-great-pretender-a-valentine-story

Rory had the nerve to send her younger sister over to box up her left behind knick-knacks. Without calling first even. She just sent her over all willy-nilly ... Her hot, younger sister, Shadonna.

Shadonna apologized for her sister's shady behavior; dating someone behind my back and then choosing him. But I told her that I didn't blame her. And I thanked her for being so considerate of my feelings.

As she packed up Rory's things, a sense of relief flooded my body. Because truth be told, it wasn't as if I asked Rory to leave her things over to my apartment. But as soon as we'd made love for the first time, a great percentage of her personal property suddenly appeared. Combs and brushes and toothbrushes and magazines and clothing and shoes and purses ... Crap everywhere. At the same time, I couldn't help imagining that Shadonna had her belongings strewn about my apartment ... Real talk. So in the spirit of newfound singleness, I shot my shot.

"Are you hungry?" I asked.

"Um ..."

"I have some spaghetti and sausages and peppers ... I'd love to have the company. Unless you have a better offer."

She looked as though she was struggling with herself. So I took one step beyond.

"Well ...," she stammered.

"If you're not comfortable, we could go to the mall to get something in public ..."

I suggested this because I thought that she was nervous about being alone with me in a intimate capacity. And I guess this was the ticket, because next thing I knew, we were at the mall and I was taking her hand as we crossed from the parking lot to the sidewalk when a car seemed to speed up a bit.

Without asking, I chose The Cheesecake Factory and I fed her good; letting her order whatever she wanted. And for a thin sister, she ate like a quarterback. Nachos for an appetizer, a nice sized salad, a fried shrimp platter and a slice of key lime cheesecake for dessert.

the-great-pretender-a-valentine-story
the-great-pretender-a-valentine-story

We talked.

I gave her compliments.

After dinner we went strolling around the mall. She didn't know that we were strolling. My whole demeanor was that I was searching for something, going into one, two, three, four different stores. And I asked her if she minded first. And she didn't. And I asked her if she needed anything from any of the stores. But she said no.

Then we passed the jewelry store. And I slowly and carefully began to browse the cases for the perfect specimen. In particular, I looked at rings.

"Are you looking for something for Rory? To get her back?"

I ignored her. How stupid did that sound? Especially since I probably would have thought of something like that if Shadonna wasn't with me.

Instead I asked the clerk to pull out four different rings. Then I asked Shadonna to try each one on. Then I asked her, if she was going to pick out one for herself, which one would she chose. And after a little hemming and hawing, she did.

"Ok, we'll take this one," I said to the clerk before Shadonna could slide the ring off of her finger.

"Um, Randolph ... Wh-What are you doing?" she asked as I held her hand to prevent her from taking it off.

"What does it look like I'm doing? I'm buying you the ring you like."

I used my left hand to reach back to get my wallet out of my pocket, place it on the counter and slide out my credit card.

"But ... But I thought you were buying that for ..."

"And why would I do that? She's your people, so I don't mean any harm ... But why would I buy a ring for someone who would dump me the day before Valentine's Day for someone with more money? That would make me a idiot. And my mama didn't birth no idiot. I'd like to think so anyway. Do you think I'm an idiot?"

"No, but ..."

The clerk handed me my receipt and I guided Shadonna out of the store. "Look, truth is, I'm having way more fun with you in the last couple of hours, than I've had with her in the last couple of months. And it's my own fault. I saw you first and I should have been with you all along," I lied. "But I let her distract me ... And, well, I'm sorry for that. I wasted all of this time dealing with her, when I should have been with you."

I looked at Shadonna and could see that her head was swimming, trying to process what I'd just told her.

While it was true that I'd seen a picture of Shadonna after I started dating Rory, I'd definitely met Rory first. But that wasn't important right now. All that was important was that I had a date for Valentine's Day and quite possibly a brand new girlfriend who truly fit my personality.

© 2022 LaZeric Freeman

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