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  • Writer's picturethejsingraham

Salt & Pepper (excerpt - IV)

In a direct follow-up to excerpt III, we get a continued glimpse into the kind of man Boom is. He's one endearing and honorable motherfuc---, well see for yourself.

 

If you have not read excerpt III, DO NOT PROCEED.

 

Once I was able to shake free of the malaise of betrayal thanks to counseling, I tried to knock a hole in every single attractive woman moving. Was that shit healthy? Probably not. That’s why I didn’t tell my therapist about it. Was it what I felt I needed at the time? Honestly, I don’t know, but it felt right in the moment.


Those first couple of months, whew!


To be fair, I was always upfront about what I was looking for. Absolutely nothing serious. If you wanted good dick, I was guaranteeing that with zero strings attached and no crazy thrown in as a guaranteed bonus. I think more than a few got off on that last part. Feeling like they could be the ones to change my tune. 


Inflated egos know no gender.


But that hardcore ripping, running, and fucking shit got tired after a while. Plus, at my big age, it was reckless as hell. Even in my younger days, I was never that guy. Yeah, I had a little fun when I was fresh out of school, but I always wanted what my parents had. Their kind of love almost made me understand why my mom changed as drastically as she did after pop passed. Almost.


Though I still wasn’t really feeling dating with the idea of truly getting to know anyone, I slowed down how I was moving. Pivoting to more casual arrangements provided opportunities to see a little bit of the city. Gave me options for when I was bored or didn’t want to hang out with Jon Jon. Big fella was cool, but he knew entirely too many people. 


“Chris,” a woman called from behind me. “You got a sec?”


Glancing over my shoulder, I saw it was Caitlyn Rogers, the engineering project manager I reported to. Before relocating, I used my connects back home to find a gig where I could use my civil engineering degree. Sure, it would be a massive pay cut regardless, but I didn’t need the income. I had stock options and plenty of money left from Corliss buying me out of my half of the business. 


All I wanted was something new. Make an honest living and keep my mind busy while using as little as possible of those other ends. Caitlyn was on the hiring team that handled my second interview. As the only Black woman on the panel, she was aware of the work I had done back home and fought like hell to have me placed on her team upon their hiring me. Though brought on as a structural engineer, she used me as a resource. Picking my brain regularly for advice on navigating her peers. 


“What’s going on Ms. Rogers?” I asked looking up from the old blueprints.


“What did I tell you about the formalities, Chris? Call me Caitlyn or Cait.”


Leaning over the large architectural map, I pointed to a spot in the far corner. Her eye followed my finger, causing her to bend over, drawing closer to me.


“And what did I tell you about those formalities?” I whispered. “There are two other Black people on this floor, only one of which is an engineer. There’s one Egyptian, five white women, and the rest men. All older than you. What you know is important, but not as important as who. Sprinkle in a little controlled perception and…”


She blinked for a long time, nodded, and whispered, “...you can persuade almost anyone to see things your way.”


Standing, she said in a more relaxed and veiled tone, “I see. Good catch. If you have a minute, walk with me.”


We strolled through the open planning area of our floor until it fed into the corridors where the offices were, nodding and speaking to members of the team who weren't fixated on screens or hardcopy data on their desks.


Once we reached her office, she stepped in briefly to grab her leather portfolio before we continued toward the elevator bay. Good girl, I thought. I had been at Wilson & Williams a little over a week before I figured out why Caitlyn's completion numbers were lagging.


She was smart as hell. One of the most competent and well-prepared leads I had ever worked with. She was just too new school in her thinking. Too, “Why do I have to play the game? Why can’t I just lead the team and not be questioned.”


Because you are a Black woman leading a team in a white male-dominated industry in Texas. The fuck? I’m a fan sis, and I get what you’re saying, but, the fuck?


“Thanks for the reminder,” she said as we stepped on the elevator.


“No problem. Now what did you want to talk to me about? That pending project downtown?”


When I asked her this, she looked down at nothing and kept her gaze focused there.


“Caitlyn. Is everything alright? Did something happen?”


Her sudden change in body language gave me pause. To this point, I never knew her to be bashful or to want for confidence. Now, she looked like a nervous child made to come up to the board and perform a problem in front of the class.


“Chris, can I ask you a personal question?”


“Uh, okay. Shoot.”


“If this is too personal, please let me know,” she started before cutting herself off. “Are you in a relationship right now?”


Yeah, so, I did not see that one coming.


“No, I am not currently in a relationship. Why do you ask?”


“Cool. I mean, good. That’s good. So, I have a younger sister who recently moved here from California. She’s been striking out with the guys here so far, and I told her I might know someone…” she trailed off.


I turned to Caitlyn, an attractive woman in her own right. She was tall and slim, at least six feet without heels, with big puppy dog eyes and a button nose. Her small, pouty mouth and full cheeks created a sexy but cute face on a runway model body. 


Thanks to the graduation dates on the degrees in her office, I guessed she was mid-to-upper thirties. Outside of not wanting to mess with the relative of a coworker, this younger sister was just that. Younger.


Hard pass. I’m already fucking with one of them. 


“Caitlyn, I’m flattered that you would even consider me, but I don’t think you want to introduce me to your younger sister. Depending on how old she is, I’m probably old enough to be her uncle.”


Her eyes grew to the size of silver dollars before she laughed off my response.


“What? No, you can’t be any older than thirty-five or thirty-six. And I’m only giving you that much because of your resume,” she said. 


The look on her face held a genuine curiosity now.


“Thirty-five or thirty-six, huh? I’ll receive that,” I grinned, stepping off the elevator.


“Wait. You can’t just leave me hanging like that,” she said.


Her heels tapped out a pronounced, distinct rhythm in the cavernous layout of the lobby as she picked up her pace to catch up with me.

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