Cornbread & Caviar

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Book: Read Cornbread & Caviar for Free Online
Authors: Empress Lablaque
with him."
Brightening my tone, I ask, "Was he here tonight? Did I see him?"
"Yeah." Coco wavers. "He came in and out. Mostly to check on things."
"Oh." I pull off the tight leather boots and place them across my forearm.
With the back of her hand, Coco tenderly strokes the side of my face. "Come on, it's time to go."
Chapter Eight
    The next day, my conscience gives me a big whipping. Now, Tory is quiet. He fights for a decent breath, and his solitude tells me his breathing treatments are not working. Fearfully, I count down the days to T. J.'s retribution.
    Unfortunately, T. J. has followed me home. To prove he means business, I'm positive he sticks his gun out the window of his car. Nevertheless, he wants the money more than he wants Mama or me dead. At least for now.
    When I go back to work, my body language tells Lenisha all is not well. For the life of me, I can't muster a smile or be courteous to my customers. Casey has already warned me twice about my dead bird behavior, but I just can't help it. He pulls me to the storage room, and this time, he isn't trying to feel me up. Grabbing me by the arm, he slings me into the cramped room.
    "Listen, you. You've been dragging 'round this place for days. I don't know what's wrong wit you, but you betta git it together. Now, you got another customer, and you'd betta act happy to see 'im. You understand."
    I look into Casey's bloodshot eyes and nod. His large hands tighten around my arm. No doubt, he will leave a bruise.
In warning, I cast my eyes toward my arm.
Immediately, he breaks his grip.
"I understand." I hang my head. "I'll try."
However, Casey's threatening pep talk reaps little rewards. Again, I walk out with my menu in hand. Shortly afterward, I break my smile and slip back into my stupor.
A Caucasian male, wearing a dark, pinned-striped suit, is sitting in my area. He looks to be about twenty-eight or twenty-nine. I give him a menu and cock my head to one side. "My name is Randi. Here or to go?"
Rimless glasses covered eyes so light they appear ice blue in color. Stylish blond hair is gelled, closely cropped on the sides, and slightly spiked on the top. From his expensive suit to his expensive shoes, he reeks with class. A ring, having a single ruby, adorns his right hand. Fingers that look as if they've never held a spoon reach for the grimy menu.
Pointing toward my worn nametag, he speaks politely. "Randi. What a unique name."
Immediately, I zero in on his Jean-Claude Van Damme lips. I can almost swear I hear a wash-out accent of some sort; however, I may be mistaken. I smile and nod. There’s something vaguely familiar about him, but I can’t quite figure it out.
"I'll be eating here, Randi. Can you suggest something good?" He opens the menu. "I've never been here before," he explains, looking over the menu items.
"Are you sure about that?” I frown. "I could swear I’ve seen you someplace.”
"No,” he shakes his head. "I guess I just have one of those faces.”
"Well, everything on the menu is good," I reply wryly.
"What would you prefer?" he asks, his eyes now searching the back of the menu.
"Honestly," I say, shifting my weight lazily to the other foot. "I'd prefer to eat someplace else."
On the heels of my statement, the man busts into laughter, his timbre rich and deep. "I'll just have the dinner special, with a large coke."
With pencil in hand, I write his order. "So, that'll be one filthy colon with a large burp."
"Right!" He chuckles, shaking his head with amusement.
So, the customer is laughing, but I'm not. Inside, I feel as sick as my son.
Before my customer's order comes up, Natasha, my high school adversary, pushes open the heavy glass door. There is no way I'm going to let her see me like this. Though, I have to admit, she does look fantastic. Her curly weave is thick. Cascades of curls fall at her waist. Admiring her prosperous appearance, I notice her lashes are long enough to clean dust from the ceiling fan.
As if on a mission, she sits down

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