So while we wait for JUMA and all of her beautiful magic to land on folks’ eReaders, how about a little more Jackson and Amal and Andrew and whatever the hell they’re up to now…
CHAPTER EIGHT – ANDREW
You didn’t wake up one morning and tell yourself, you know what, today is the day I’m going to pull some really foul shit out of my ass and fall for another man’s woman. You didn’t walk down the street, listening to your music, thinking of ways to violate the silent promises made between two lovers. You didn’t stroll into a bookstore to buy the required reading for your last year of law school, expecting to bump into the most stunning woman you had ever seen in your life. And you sure as hell didn’t expect that woman to have a mouth and mind damn near as dangerous as her body.
It didn’t happen. Ever. Until it happened to me. And then everything that was moving so fast, light speed towards becoming the most brilliant attorney in a family tradition of attorneys, came to a screeching halt with three simple words: Amal Warrier Naipaul.
I don’t think I’ll ever remember what hit me first, her smile or her growl of a voice or her ass that demanded all of my attention and honestly, I don’t think it mattered. Because once she entered my line of vision, everything ceased to exist but her.
When she walked out of that book store without ever looking at me or telling me her name, I knew I would follow her and do whatever I had to do to get her name and number. Because even though I knew she had someone else — women like her always had someone else, it was an inevitability of being so fucking exquisite — I didn’t care, I didn’t think about them, they were inconsequential to my game plan. So when she forgot her syllabus, I snatched it off the counter and followed her up Broadway, finally catching her on the corner of 116th street to return it, even though I hated that motherfucker Professor David Andersen — smug bastard — because I knew this was my chance. Now or never. Speak or forever be haunted by that stunning creature.
The funny thing is when she told me her name, her voice inched slightly higher and the pulse at her throat raced and I realized the slim chance existed that whatever I wanted from her, she wanted something from me as well. And yeah, I had that effect on women more often than not, but mostly because they knew my last name and the expanse of my family’s wealth, not because they were interested in me, as a person, separate from all of that money and prestige and upper east side bourgeoisie.
It was different with Amal Warrier Naipaul.
How could it not be different with a woman who insisted on giving me her full birth name when introducing herself? Who did that? No one but Amal Warrier Naipaul.
She didn’t know me, she had no idea about my wealth, and she definitely did not know the numerous and storied branches of my family tree. There was no flicker of dollar signs when our eyes locked, no sadness mingled with pity when she recalled my mom’s death, no twitch of irritation when she tallied all of the women who shared my bed. There was none of that because she didn’t know me at all.
I had a clean slate with her, a blank page upon which to write a new story, and I had every intention of making sure that story ended how I envisioned: happily fucking ever after.
That was until I learned three other words: Jackson Rashard Davis.
And my happily ever after seemed a dim possibility.
“Did you contact Dr. Davis for dad’s fundraiser?” my older brother, Dax, partner at Maynard Brothers, whiskey connouisseur, serial betrother, asked all those weeks ago.
“No, I did not,” I growled in response, my nose deep in an argument for my final moot court competition, “one, because I don’t know the man and two, because I don’t know the man.”
“You’re a Maynard for god’s sake,” Dax replied as he paced the room, “maybe here and there, instead of using the name to collect more pussy than is humanly possible to consume, titillate, and fuck, you could use the name for some good in this world.”
“Said the man who’s been married five times,” I laughed and closed my notebook.
Dax tossed a stack of papers my way and grumbled about something or other, annoyed I brought up the wives, annoyed I was right about the wives.
“Not what. Who? Jackson Rashard Davis,” Dax replied, “son of Dr. Davis. Sadly, he does not skateboard, mostly because he is older than thirteen and has some goddamned sense, but I’ve heard he’s nasty on the squash court and an outright killer at lacrosse. Perhaps the younger Davis is more up your alley.”
“Fuck you, man,” I laughed as I flipped through the photos, “shit, this guy’s perfection. His clothes, his smile, his fucking wingspan. I don’t want to be in the same room with him.”
Dax peeked over my shoulder and grimaced, “I’ve done it and trust me, these shots don’t come close to the magnetism that guy gives off. It’s sick. He’s smart, funny, charming, down-to-earth, and real. Ten times the man his father is, yet he dotes on the old man’s every last word.”
I listened to my brother go on about Jackson as I continued flipping through the photos until I came to one and froze.
The woman from the bookstore. With the dirty mouth and body made for all kinds of sin. And that voice that made me hard just thinking about how it curled around everything, all low and sexy.
Amal Warrier Naipaul to be exact. Every perfect, brown, beautiful inch of her, wrapped around Jackson, her head tossed back, both of them laughing. They were stunning and breath-taking and for two seconds, I found it impossible to move.
“Ahhh,” Dax caught a glimpse of the shot in my hand, “Ms. Naipaul. Amal Warrier Naipaul, of the Doctors for Hope Naipauls. Scion of her family, a writer instead of a surgeon, and Jackson’s one flaw.”
“This woman is no one’s flaw,” I shot Dax a look and he grinned.
“Oh yeah, she’s perfection, don’t get me wrong. She’s stunning, smart, and talented, with a body that makes everyone stop and take notice. Added to all of that is the fact that although she comes from money, she’s not good at this world, the charming, the buttering-up, the air kisses and fake friendships, all which makes her quite endearing,” Dax explained, “but Dr. Davis fucking hates her. And he makes it known he hates her. And let me tell you, it’s awkward to be around when the old man gets going, but I have to hand it to Jackson. For being the son who always yes-sirred his father, he’s stood his ground with that girl. He will not give her up.”
I knew I could find her if I wanted, mostly because as Dax so rightfully attested, I was a Maynard, meaning I could get someone to look under every rock necessary until I knew every last detail about her. And trust me, there were many nights I lay in bed next to some woman I met here or there or anywhere, listening to the quiet sounds of her sleep, all the while wondering about the woman in the bookstore and whether or not she was fucking David Andersen. Which I knew she was not, nor that she wanted to, but if I relegated her to that one moment, that one conversation about that motherfucker David Andersen, then I knew I wouldn’t fall into the abyss of wondering about her everything. This way I kept her contained, boxed in so to speak, and she didn’t overtake my entire life.
Because she couldn’t.
As much as I wanted my life to be all about learning every last detail of Amal Warrier Naipaul, I knew that could not happen, would not happen.
Because Amal Warrier Naipaul already had Jackson Rashard Davis. And because I was not the type to interfere with great love.
So instead I won Moot Court, edited my last law review article, graduated number three in my class, and aced the bar exam. All things expected, but done with an intense fervor in hopes of wiping out any thought of the woman with kissable brown skin, a voice full of sex, and lips meant for all kinds of bad acts.
And for the most part, it worked. I kept myself ridiculously busy, wrapped in other people and things, time sucks and fucks, mostly meaningless but distracting nonetheless. I started working at the family firm and teaching a class at the law school once a week, I bought a new apartment, I spent six weeks in Africa, I met a woman named Reese, I settled into adulthood.
I never once considered touching Amal Warrier Naipaul, I didn’t fantasize about her, I damn sure didn’t jerk off to her. As much as I could, I forgot her.
“Andrew, take one for the goddamned team,” my eldest brother, Theo, argued across the dinner table.
Since I could recall, my family had eaten dinner every Sunday together at 7 on the dot. Our mom began the tradition when she noticed our dad getting sucked into his home office too often on the weekends and us boys running wild with various sports and adventures and no one ever having the time to spend ten minutes in each other’s presence.
She announced it the night before Thanksgiving the year I turned ten in that way only Kate Maynard could do, steely-eyed and serious-toned with a hint of laughter underlying it all.
“Boys,” she began, “that means you, too, Brax,” which made us hoot and holler and point at our dad until she shot us a look that shut us up in seconds flat, “beginning this Sunday, we will come together as a family every week to have dinner at 7, no excuses tolerated.”
My dad and brothers began to grumble and grouse, one having a date, another needing to prepare for a meeting, another needing to study for an exam, but mom wasn’t hearing it. She let them go on for a bit, buttering her bread and passing me some green beans with a wink, then tapped her plate with her knife and demanded quiet.
“I said no excuses and I mean no excuses,” she picked up her fork and continued, “you will all be here, you will all be on time and that is final.”
And so it began because quite frankly, when Kate Maynard decreed anything, the world listened.
When she died four years later, succumbing to the aggressive ovarian cancer that stole her from us in under ten months, my aunt stepped in and made sure we never missed a Sunday dinner until my dad was ready to make the tradition his own. It made us all feel closer to mom in those immediate months following her death and probably saved us as a family, forcing us together during a time of such extreme duress. More than one of those dinners turned into full-blown emotional breakdowns, but the four of us broke down together, sobbed and raged in each other’s presence, then calmed and moved forward as a unit. Without being there in the flesh, rather like some guardian angel watching over her boys, mom saved us all.
It was so very Kate Maynard.
“Fuck the team, Theo,” I cut my steak, swigged some whiskey, and groused, “I’ve got plans and even if I didn’t, it’s your turn.”
We attended so many galas and functions and charity events, that we put ourselves on a schedule, each taking turns spending the evening with dad and one of his million and one pet projects.
“I realize it’s my turn,” Theo pushed his glasses up his nose and pointed at me with his knife, “I just need a favor. And fuck your plans.”
“Theo, that’s no way to speak about Andrew’s conquest for the evening,” dad caught my eye and joked.
“Come on, dad. Not you, too,” I set down my knife and fork and poured another drink.
“Just stating facts, Andrew,” dad laughed, “and the fact is you have more women in one month than the three of us will know in one lifetime. I get exhausted watching you.”
My brothers laughed and even I couldn’t help but smirk. It was rare dad commented on our personal lives, feeling it was mom’s domain and out of respect for her memory, he hardly ever trespassed the invisible line created in the sand with her death. Did we miss some sage advice over the years, could it have helped Dax avoid his trail of bad marriages or Theo his broken heart at the hands of a beautiful French woman? Possibly. Would it have made a difference with me and my used and abused mattresses? Definitely not, but that didn’t mean I didn’t appreciate the moments dad wandered into the advice-giving arena.
“But since you apparently have the stamina of sixty men, then you most definitely can handle your date and my fundraising event. We’ll go together,” he pointed his knife at me and winked, “I’ll see you tomorrow at 6:45 sharp.”
Theo smirked while I leaned back in my chair, sipped my drink, and silently cursed my brother.
“And cover the tattoos, Andrew. It’s a respectable function, I expect you in your tux.”
Which explained how months after crossing her path in the Columbia book store, I came to be in the same room as Amal Warrier Naipaul.