Take my hand interracial.., p.1
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       Take My Hand (Interracial Erotic Romance), p.1


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Take My Hand (Interracial Erotic Romance)


  Take My Hand

  By Sophia Banks

  © 2014 By Sophia Banks

  Kindle Edition

  Gracie peered through the curtains behind the stage. She’d been practicing for this recital for months now and felt about as prepared as she could be.

  There was just one problem. Tamika, her baby sister, was nowhere to be found in the crowd. Gracie could see her cousin, Lamar, sitting at a table up front by himself. Tamika and their mutual friend, Heather, however, were nowhere to be seen. Lamar frowned and shrugged his shoulders.

  Gracie was worried about Tamika but did her best to remain composed and stepped onto the stage to a round of light applause. The sound of the crowd cleared her head and she smiled.

  “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight I will be performing a poem I wrote called, The Fantasy.”

  The room fell silent and fifty or so pairs of eyes fell on Gracie’s illuminated face.

  A bead of sweat formed on Gracie’s brow and she took a deep breath. She blocked out all her worries about Tamika, closed her eyes and let her years of practice take over.

  *

  Gracie exhaled the last stanza and the room remained silent.

  When she opened her eyes and looked out over the darkness, Gracie knew she had them, if only for the briefest of moments. Every eye in the house was on her curvy frame and she stood there silently and waited for the applause that she knew was coming. A lot of poets would worry about the silence, afraid that they had lost the crowd at some point, but Gracie knew better. The crowd was just waiting for permission to applaud.

  So she dropped into a deep bow and let the crowd shower her with their appreciation. One clap. Then two. Soon, a crescendo of applause filled the room. Years of writing and reciting in front of the bathroom mirror had finally begun to pay off. All the sacrifices she’d made, the missed social engagements, the missed meals, and the lack of time to find a lover.

  Everything, it was all for this moment. That was what this was all about. This is what Gracie lived for.

  She gave one final wave to the crowd and ducked off stage. Instead of rushing back to the dressing room, however, she stood in the darkness and waited for the applause to recede. Although the room held less than fifty people, to her it sounded like the collected adulation of thousands.

  Gracie’s cousin Lamar appeared from nowhere and wrapped her in his arms. “Amazing, Gracie, simply amazing.”

  She hugged him back and when their gaze met she could see something was wrong. “What is it Lamar? Where did Tamika go?”

  Lamar lowered his eyes and shrugged. “She started wigging out before you stepped on stage and Heather had to take her out front for some fresh air.” He glanced at his watch and frowned. "That was close to half an hour ago."

  ***

  Gracie gathered her belongings, headed for the exit and thought back on how much progress her baby sister had made in the past six months. For the first time since she was a teenager, Tamika had finally gotten clean and sober. Of course the worry about her relapsing was always a concern, but the family began to feel like she had turned a corner. Lately, however, Tamika had begun to hang out with a few people from her past and Lamar and Gracie had worried this day would soon follow.

  Gracie grabbed Lamar by the arm and stopped him short of the exit. “So, what are we going to do about her? If she’s ripping and running again, I don’t think it’s wise for you to let her stay at your house.”

  Lamar sighed. “We can’t just throw her on the street, Gracie. She’ll go running back to the scumbags we just saved her from.”

  “Tried to save her from,” Gracie corrected. “We both know Tamika’s the only one who can save herself, Lamar.”

  Lamar crossed his arms across his chest. “We don’t even know if she’s relapsed yet. Maybe she’s just having a panic attack or something?”

  “Lamar, you know damn well she’s been heading towards this for weeks now. Ever since she started hanging out with that old crowd of hers. We can’t just keep pretending Tamika is some victim of circumstance; she makes the decisions that lead her down these paths. Sooner or later we are going to have to show her some tough love.”

  Lamar slunk his shoulders and shook his head. "I don't know what to say Gracie. She's your sister so whatever you think is best."

  Gracie smiled. Lamar was a good man, and she felt blessed to have him in and Tamika's lives. They were fortunate to have him looking out for them thier whole lives. Problem with a boy who won’t take no for an answer? Call Lamar. Some bully a few grades ahead of you stole your lunch money? Call Lamar. Your sister is turning into a crack head? Call Lamar. He acted as something as a surrogate big brother and sometimes father, despite only being five years Gracie's senior.

  Unfortunately, even Lamar had a limit as to what problems he could solve and Gracie worried he had reached it. The two cousins loved Tamika deeply, but as time went by it became more and more evident that they couldn’t actually stop her from using drugs.

  Gracie’s baby sister was going to have to do that herself.

  *

  Lamar ended up taking Tamika home. She was high as a kite, just as Gracie had expected, but she didn’t let her sister know she was aware of her condition. As much as Gracie wanted to scold her for the decisions she was making, she knew it would only deepen the depression Tamika was in and eventually make the situation worse. So instead Gracie just told her that she loved her, tucked her into Lamar's car and said she would call her in the morning.

  Gracie checked her watch and noticed she only had ten minutes to the start of her shift at Parker's, a trendy steakhouse located in the even trendier Omni Hotel. She grimaced and waved a hand in the air to wave down one of the seemingly endless supply of yellow cabs in the city. The first one that passed was occupied but the second pulled to the side of the curb and she jumped into the back seat.

  "The Omni Hotel, Please. And there's an extra $10 if you can get me there in ten minutes."

  The driver, a middle aged man with Arabic features offered a gap-toothed smile. "Only ten dollars for a miracle?"

  Gracie exhaled and checked her watch. Eight minutes. "Just do your best, okay? I'm running late and my boss is a prick."

  The driver nodded and gunned the eased the taxi into traffic. Gracie was about to implore him to speed it up when he floored it and beat a red light she was certain they would be stuck at. The sudden acceleration pinned her to the back seat and she gripped the handle on the door. The driver looked in the rear view mirror and flashed his David Letterman grin once again. "Put on your seatbelt, pretty lady."

  Gracie grinned and did as she was instructed. While she knew showing up on time was next to impossible, perhaps she could sneak in before Leo noticed she was late. She was already lucky enough that Leo let her come in late on a Friday night. To show up late, on top of that, would at the very least piss Leo off enough to not grant her any more schedule leeway, and if she couldn’t get the time off for my recitals, then she would have to find a new job.

  The cab pulled to a quick stop in front of the hotel and Gracie checked her watch. Five minutes past eight, not too shabby.

  The driver craned his neck. "I did best I could. I hope the prick does not give you too hard a time. You pretty lady."

  Gracie smiled and dug in her purse. She gave the driver the fare and the ten-dollar tip. He earned it, even if she was still late.

  "Thank you young lady. I hope you have good night."

  Gracie nodded. "You too. Thanks for getting me here so fast."

  The driver nodded and Gracie exited the cab. She rushed inside and bolted for her locker. With any luck, Leo would be none the wi
ser.

  Instead, when she turned the corner to the break room Leo was standing at her locker waiting.

  “Why are you late?” His breath smelled minty, as usual. It was as if he overcompensated for his receding hairline by taking his scent very seriously. Between the breath mints and the cologne he wore, Gracie wondered how any of the plants in the restaurant stayed alive.

  “I’m sorry Leo, but I had a recital. It won’t happen again.”

  “You’re right it won’t happen again.” Leo crossed his arms and puckered his lips. “You come to me and ask me if it’s ok to come in late for your Friday night shift and I say, yea sure, anything for you Gracie. And then you have the audacity to show up late for that shift. Listen Gracie; there is a line of girls outside that door who want the job you have. It’s becoming obvious to me you don’t care about this job, so this is your last warning. If you’re late again, I’m going to have to let you go. And another thing, from now on no more toggling of your shift; you work the same hours as everybody else, got it?”

  “Leo, no! You know I only ask for that time off for my poetry recitals. Please, don’t put me in this position.”

  Leo dropped his gaze to her cleavage and then back to her eyes. “What position would that be?”

  “One where I have to choose between my job and my dream.”

  Leo sighed. “I’m sorry kid, but I’m running a business here not a make a wish foundation. From now on you follow the same rules as everybody else.” He patted Gracie on the back and headed towards his office.

  Gracie leaned against the wall and took a deep breath. Great, now I have to choose between a good job that pays the bills and a dream that seems to be forever out of my reach.

  Her night had gone from amazing to dreadful, in less than an hour.

  *

  Gracie hit the dining room floor and noticed Sulina, her co-worker, waving her down. She looked pissed. “Gracie, where have you been? I had to stay and cover for you and now I’m gonna be late getting home. I hope the sitter doesn’t freak!”

  “I’m so sorry, Sulina. I had some issues with my sister tonight and then traffic was bad. Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?”

  Sulina sighed, smiled and placed a hand on Gracie’s shoulder. “No, it’s not a huge deal and I’m sorry for snapping. I just have my own stuff going on right now. Anyway, have a good shift girl and I’m sorry your having problems with Tamika, again.” She gave Gracie a quick hug and headed towards the locker room.

  Gracie scanned her section and noticed she hadn’t been sat yet. Leo must have been worried she would be late and told the hostess not to seat her. She was glad. It would give her a few minutes to think about what she was now going to do now that Leo had told her she couldn’t have extra time off. Which meant she would either have to find a new job or stop performing at recitals. Gracie hoped in her heart she would never give up on her dream of being a poet, but also knew she had bills to pay and the job at the restaurant was doing a damn good job of paying them. She could either choose the comfort and stability of her current situation or go back to riding people’s couches while she worked on her poetry all day. Neither option was particularly appealing to her but one would become a reality soon enough.

  She decided to put off making a decision right them and instead tried to mentally prepare myself for the night ahead. The last thing she wanted was to have a tough night at work on top of everything else that’s going on, so she took a few deep breathes and walked up to tell Jenny, the hostess, that she was ready to be sat.

  Jenny looked up from the seating chart and smiled. “Gracie! How did the recital go tonight?”

  Gracie shrugged. “It went great, but then Leo told me I couldn’t have extra time off of work anymore. So now I have to either find a new job or give up on recitals.”

  Jenny frowned and gave her a hug. A short, pretty Vietnamese girl, she was one of Gracie’s favorite co-workers. They’d both started at the restaurant around the same time and over the last year or so had become friends. “I’m sorry, Gracie. Get all that stuff out of your head and just focus on having a good night, ok? I’ll tell you what; I’ll send any hot guys over to your section. That should cheer you up!”

  Gracie shook her head. “Girl, you’re crazy. Anyway, I’m ready to make some money, so send over the next party, ok? Even if it’s not a hot guy. Something tells me I’m gonna need all the money I can get.”

  “Okay, I will. Hang in there, Gracie. Only six more hours to go.” Jenny flashed a thumbs up and Gracie walked back to her section.

  Jenny was right, of course, Gracie only had the next six hours of her shift to worry about. Of course, while Jenny wanted to send her “hot guys” all Gracie was hoping for were easy customers and big tips. Jenny could save the guys for herself.

  There was a good reason Gracie was still a virgin at 22; she’d just never had the time to develop a relationship with a man. It wasn’t that she was saving herself for marriage or anything extreme like that. Gracie just wanted to meet a decent man and get to know him before welcoming him into her bed. She couldn’t picture herself getting involved with someone before knowing how he thought and how he behaved in society. And who had time for that sort of background work when you were trying to chase your dream, work a full time job and keep your sister off cocaine?

  Not Gracie.

  So instead of wishing for a hot man to walk through the door, she prayed for a rich generous one who had an eye for curvy black women. Tips, an easy shift and six calm hours. That’s all she wanted on this Friday night.

  Gracie checked her watch and began counting the minutes.

  *

  It neared midnight and so far the night had gone smoothly. A large party came in at about nine and Jenny sat them in Gracie’s section. It was a birthday celebration and the wine flowed nonstop for close to three hours. By the time the check was tallied up the total bill came in at $2300 and the table left her a whopping seven hundred dollar tip, which was by far the largest Gracie had ever received. It seemed things were starting to look a little better again. All she had to do was make it another two hours and then she could relax and collect her thoughts. Just one hundred and twenty stress-free minutes.

  Jenny sat a young Asian couple sat in her section and Gracie walked over to take their drink order. They both ordered a glass of Merlot and as she waited at the bar for the drinks Jenny walked over to her wearing a huge grin on her face.

  “You won’t believe whom I just sat in your section,” she said.

  “Who?”

  “Guess!”

  Gracie shook her head. “I dunno, Drake?”

  Jenny beamed. “Even better, Tyler Scott!” She grabbed Gracie’s hand and squeezed. "I can never get over how damn sexy he is."

  Tyler Scott, the owner of the Omni Hotel, had eaten at the restaurant before of course, but it had been months since the last time. Gracie personally had yet to wait on the man. “Calm down, Jenny.” She placed her hands on the smaller woman’s narrow shoulders. Gracie was as nervous as Jenny was excited. This was not the stress-free end of the shift she was looking for. “How big is his party? Does he look like he’s in a good mood?”

  “He’s alone and he looks like he usually does, hot as hell!”

  Gracie sighed and peered onto the dining floor. Sure enough, Tyler Scott was sitting in a booth by himself, waiting for his waitress. So much for a stress-free night…“Thanks for the heads up, Jenny.”

  Jenny jumped and clasped her hands against her chest. “I’m so jealous right now. Make sure to pay attention to how he behaves. I want a full report when he leaves, ok?”

  “Will you knock it off?” Gracie shooed Jenny off and brought the Asian couple their drinks. They decided they needed a few minutes to decide on their meal order so she went to Mr. Scott’s table and introduced her self. “Hello Mr. Scott, my name is Gracie and I will be taking care of you tonight. Can I start you off with something to drink?”

  Mr. Scott moved his gaze
from Gracie’s smiling face to her cleavage and then down to her hips. The look on his face was one of approval and for the second time that night Gracie felt as if she’d won over an audience. “Yes, I’ll have a cranberry and vodka, thank you. Are you new here? I don’t recall seeing you in the past.”

  Gracie winced. She’d been working at the restaurant for over a year and had even said hello to Mr. Scott on several occasions. “No, I’ve been here for over a year.”

  Mr. Scott nodded and smiled. “I don’t know how I missed you.”

  Gracie blushed. “I’ll be right back with your drink order.” She hustled to the service bar and waved down Manny, the bartender. “I need a cranberry and vodka on the rush. It’s for Tyler Scott.”

  Manny smirked. “Ok, I’ll use my special cranberry juice and my secret vodka. We don’t want Mr. Scott to feel like a normal customer, now do we?”

  A surge of annoyance pulsed in Gracie’s body. Manny was breaking her balls and she wasn’t in the mood for it. “Listen Manny, I’m having a crazy night and just want to go home and take a hot bath. Can you please just make the drink and not give me such a hard time? You’re not the one who has to go out there and deal with the man.”

  Manny threw his palms up. “Okay, relax Gracie. I’m just teasing you a bit. No need to bite my head off. He’s apparently a good tipper, if that makes you feel any better.”

  It didn’t. “Thanks, Manny.” Gracie watched Manny make the cranberry and vodka. She peeked onto the floor to check her section and watched as Mr. Scott read the menu. She had to admit he looked adorable as he sat there in his dress shirt, V-neck sweater and dark designer jeans. He had the sort of effortless swagger that men worked hard to replicate and Gracie could easily see why women lost their shit in front of him. She probably would have also, if she didn't have more important things to worry about.

  Manny placed the drink on her tray. “Here ya go, Gracie. I added a little extra vodka for ya, maybe it will help with your tip.”

 
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