"Three's Company" (excerpt-II)
Enter Parys Darby Young, one of the current actively employed black actresses in Hollywood who flies into DC, for a workshop at her alma mater. Imagine her luck when she hops in the Uber of a certain resolve testing roommate.
"Good morning Mrs. Young."
"Please don't do that, Mrs. Young is my mother. Parys is fine," I replied.
"Yes ma'am, sorry. We are just so excited to have everyone's favorite fly ass auntie at our workshop."
Awww, I remember being filled full of that boundless energy and optimism back in the day. But it is entirely too early in the morning for this much volume. No matter how many times I have done it, cross country red eyes kick my ass and this one was is no different.
"I've actually had this date circled on my calendar for two months. It's been far too long since I've been back to the Valley."
Leaving baggage claim, I thought back to just how long it had been since I visited my alma mater, Russell University. Probably not since homecoming five or six years ago now that I think about it.
"Well we are happy to be the reason you are fixing that Ms. You--...um, Parys."
"Same here, miss?"
"Phoenix. That is a beautiful name," I replied. "I don't have my itinerary in front of me, but we are due to start at 10 tomorrow morning right?"
"Yes ma'am. Now Ms. Parys, are you sure we can't send a car for you?"
If there is one thing I refuse to do, it's charge the greatest HBCU in the country a dime. Now that other RU a couple hours down south, eh...but not my RU.
"No Phoenix that is quite alright, thank you though. I have an Uber just two minutes away. I'll see you all in the morning. Be ready for me!"
The gust of wind that greeted me on the other side of those massive automatic glass doors, brought a tear to my eye I hadn't experienced in a while. Fuck me, these east coast winters still suck!
The line of cars mixed with cabs on the curb, seemed to stretch for half a mile. Why the hell are all these people traveling this early in the morning? The screen on my phone said that my ride was here. A gold Maxima, that I could not see because of the growing collection of travelers around me.
Pulling around the line. Gonna double park, parallel to the Visit St. Martin sign.
Shout out to you sister, because it's cold as hell out here. After looking at the message from my driver Cassandra, I looked up, found the sign and cut through the crowd about thirty feet from where I had been standing. No less than ten seconds later I heard the double tap of a car horn, followed by the trunk raising on a gold sedan.
The woman that met me at the curb wore a big broad smile and kind, happy eyes that narrowed as her golden brown cheeks lifted. Dressed in black riding boots, black leggings, and a gray fleece under a waist length black L.L. Bean hooded jacket, she was cute.
Actually, cute did her zero justice. Though it was just a quick glimpse, my Uber driver was bad in a completely understated way. Her body from what I could see was tight. She was toned but not muscular, and her legs were quite honestly perfect.
"Guilty as charged," I said back. "Oh and I can take care of my bag," I added with a smile.
"Suit yourself. I'm gonna slide back inside where it feels real good. You are more than welcome to join me."
If I wasn't mistaken I could have sworn she gave me a quick once over before opening the back door and walking around to the driver's side.
"So, Darby," she started as she left the airport and turned on to the 14th Street Bridge headed into DC, "first time in this part of the world?"
Our eyes met in the rearview mirror. The smirk on her face, a tad unnerving.
"Uh no. So full transparency, my name isn't Darby," I offered somewhat embarrassingly.
"I know that Parys,” she drew out, “but that's not what I asked."
A moment passed before we both started laughing at the exchange. Using an alias, even if it was just my middle name was just something you did in Hollywood, unless you were a glutton for praise and harassment. The next time I looked in the rearview, she was already looking back at me while we sat in rush hour traffic.
"How did you know it was me?"
I pulled the fur lined hood off of my head and took my oversized, no it isn't me I promise you, sunglasses off.
She paused before answering. Just as her lips parted, the car started to roll forward, she changed lanes and accelerated. Jumping back in her previous lane, she spoke over her shoulder.
"May I be blunt?"
Cassandra's question admittedly caught me off guard, because, well, it just did. Up until this point she had been a fairly well-reserved driver. None of the crazy questions, specific asks or overly familiar conversations that were pretty standard in these types of situations. She had been a prototypical black DC area resident, which was one thing I missed about this area. It takes a lot for natives to be awestruck of anyone.
"Uh, sure," I said, bracing myself.
“You are body goals for one and you don’t look like the rest of Hollywood, especially with your shades off. I could pick Parys Darby Young’s body out if you were wearing a parka.”
She went on for a few minutes telling me how much she loved my big natural hair and all the different styles I wear it in. Mentioned something about following me on Instagram and loving my posts where I’m laughing or being silly. I wanted to interject when she said I had a big goofy smile, but she followed it by saying she admired how fearless I was in letting that side of me show at any time so I kept my mouth shut.
Being doted over by this woman for some reason was different, refreshing. It felt...genuine. Her tone was late 90s, early 2000s, neo soul smooth. Combine the sound with the easy, matter of fact delivery and I had the oddest desire to put my head in her lap and have her read to me. And the way her eyes fixate on mines in the rearview mirror.
And why am I staring now at this woman’s right thigh from the backseat?
This nonverbal interaction definitely had me feeling some kind of way and for the life of me I could not figure out why.
“That slow motion infinity pool post you shared last summer was amazing. I think my boyfriend and I looked at that post everyday for a solid week. Definitely body goals,” she broke into my random thoughts.
Cassandra cleared her throat snapping me out of whatever weirdly confusing place my mind was trying to go. Aside from my roommate insisting on trying to turn me out freshman year, I hadn’t done more than kiss a woman in the past ten years. And that was for one of my earlier co-starring roles, that was ripped to shreds on social media for being laughable in believability.
I liked dick, flat out.
I knew, worked with and came across women that were beautiful, attractive, even sexy, but nothing about them drew me in like the scent, strength and essence of a man. So how do you explain what the fuck was happening right now?
We rode on in silence, with a playlist of fresh voices laying the soundtrack to the trip. I was due to stay at the condo of a former classmate that had two other places in Philadelphia and Houston.
After confirming my arrival with the person at the front desk, I looked over the Actor’s Studio like workshop setup for tomorrow and Friday at Russell. I grew up on the James Lipton show of the same name and worked with a few other alums to create a similar experience at RU. Imagine my surprise when they asked me to be the first guest speaker.
Looking out of the window at buildings passing by, I had entirely no idea where the hell I was. A couple people that I came in contact with from the area had told me DC looked absolutely nothing like it used to, but this was ridiculous. If it were not for the street signs, you could have told me we were somewhere in Chicago and I would have believed you.
Cassandra’s phone rang suddenly but she silenced it before it could ring a second time. I was in the process of waving her apology off when it rang again and a 305 number appeared on a display next to the headshot of one of the most gorgeous men I had ever seen. Whoever Maxwell was, that man was nothing short of a god if you liked sharp features, deep olive skin and sickeningly sexy smirks. His curly hair had an angular part that screamed asshole, but fine was got damn fine, in my book.
“You can take that if you want, I don’t mind?” I said from the backseat. Partially because I didn’t, but also because I was curious of the voice that went with that very sittable face.
“No, that’s what we aren’t going to do.”
“I mean at this point, you kinda have to. It could be an emergency.”
“Darby, I can all but guarantee you it isn’t,” she pressed the button on the screen. “Good morning sunshine.”
The voice that filled the inside of the car, almost didn’t seem real. Maxwell’s voice wasn’t deep, but he spoke with a confident, slightly energetic pace that trailed off at the end of his words. He definitely had a bit of asshole in him, I can hear it, but in a cute way. And there was the faintest hint of an accent that kept playing peek-a-boo through the speakers.
This man stepped right off of an interracial romance book cover.
And just like Cassandra said, he didn’t want anything. In fact from their brief conversation, it turned out they lived together and he hadn’t been home in a couple days. He asked her if she wanted a puppy, she said no and then he told her he’d be home tonight or tomorrow. Then the call ended.
She hung up like she didn’t have a single care in the world.
More importantly, she hung up and acted like my ass wasn’t in the backseat filled with all of the questions. I mean every single last one of them.
“So what are you in town for?”
“DC. What brings you to town?”
I filled her in on my being in town through Sunday and the workshop at RU. We bantered back and forth about it and a few other surface level topics, laughing like old friends. Cassandra was the perfect rideshare driver. Not intrusive or unnecessarily chatty, but the energy she gave off made you want to talk to her.
The convo flowed so easily that I did something I absolutely would never do normally. I talked to her about my latest script.
“I normally am not the rom-com type, but this sounds promising. What’s the problem? You sound like there’s a yeah but, sitting on the tip of your tongue,” she said.
“Yeah so my character has a crush on her best girl friend, whose…”
“In a situationship with a guy, right, right.”
Cassandra finished my thought as she rounded a corner and pulled to the curb across from the place I would be calling home for the next few days.
“Well there’s a scene that finds the three of them in the bed together and...things happen.”
Why do I feel like a little kid talking about this right now?
“Wait, are you telling me that Parys Darby Young is going to be in a threesome? Oh that settles it. First day tickets, I am in.”
She laughed at her own comment, but cut it short when she looked in the rearview and saw that I had turned to look out the window.
“I’m sorry Darby, I didn’t mean…”
“Oh stop, you’re fine,” I smiled. “If I really want this role and I do, I’ll have to figure it out. That’s what I’ll be doing in my downtime while I’m here anyway. I’m the studio’s first choice and they want an answer on if I’m in, by Monday.”
“Aw babes it’ll work out.”
She had turned around in her seat and was facing me now with her hand on my thigh.
“It’s all vibe and energy, just like anything else right? Just relax and have fun with it. There’s no time for overthinking when unadulterated satisfaction is the endgame. Right?”
Her voice which already sounded like masqueraded slow jams with a bpm made for closed eyes and side to side head bobs, mellowed further. Just like anything else right? At some point my eyes closed and an uncomfortable warmth started between my thighs and slowly pulsated throughout my body. In the far reaches of my mind, something was screaming at me, what the hell are you doing?
But this, this feels oddly okay. Scratch that. It felt better than okay.
Cassandra’s phone rang again snapping me out of whatever, that, was. I could feel the flush in my skin and was thankful that the phone pulled her gaze off me. I had no clue who or what this woman was, but I knew I needed to get out of this car ASAP.