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Maryann Reid obtained her masters of fine arts degree from the University of Miami, has written for Glamour magazine, and her novella, Single Black Female, appeared on USAToday.com. Mrs. Big is her fourth book. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
You got what? asked Vernice, as she and Loletta sunbathed on the sunny, cerulean shores of the French Riviera.
A Brazilian! I wanted to give myself a birthday treat. Loletta wiggled her behind further down the white leather beach chair, away from the direct sunlight piercing her eyes. She had left her Chanel sunglasses at the hotel.
Girl, who in their right mind would put hot wax on their pussy?
It don’t hurt any more than a toothache. Loletta smiled as she stared ahead at the foamy waters. She slipped her hand down her gold Chanel bikini bottom. And it feels like silk. Ooh, I can’t stop touching myself.
Hmmph, you are crazy. Molesting your own body. Vernice smiled and shook her head. They laughed at Loletta blatantly fondling herself as they basked in the sun. On second thought, we’re in France. You fit right in.
Loletta and Vernice laughed it up some more, stopping only to sip cool, luscious piña coladas with a dash of champagne.
Loletta turned to her mother, who was lying beside her on a beach chair. Loletta and her mom were almost identical. Ms. Eve Landelton had a honey-toasted, smooth complexion, and at fifty-two she was still slim and petite as in her early modeling days. She still posed for catalogs and occasionally walked runways. But since she officially retired two years earlier, she had been hanging on to Loletta like her right hip.
Mom, Loletta called out. She couldn’t tell if she was sleeping or awake. Mom?
There was no answer, verifying that her mom was out for the count, most likely due to their serious partying. This was their fifth day at Cannes, and every night Vernice, Loletta, and her mom found a party. With some smooth talking and the connections they made at their deluxe hotel, they managed to get into all the hot parties, especially those for the black Hollywood glitterati.
Three French boys ran by so quickly that sand flew into Ms. Landelton’s face.
Oh, Jesus! Ms. Landelton shouted as she wiped the sand off her white Gucci bathing suit.
Loletta and Vernice shouted some expletives as the French boys ran into the smashing blue waves. The sunny beach was so crowded that everyone was nearly shoulder-to-shoulder. All the women needed was a few hours to perfect their golden tans before they left in the morning for New York.
Wow, why bother wearing Gucci when it ends up looking shitty? Ms. Landelton said as she reached for her bottle of water. Now I have to get in that cesspool to clean off.
Or you can wash off at the showers over there, Vernice suggested as she pointed to the long walk at the entrance.
I’m not standing around showering so these French perverts can get off, she said, standing up and straightening out her bathing suit. I might as well look fabulous doing breaststrokes. I’ll be back, ladies.
Bye, Loletta said, watching her mother walk away. Her mother looked bad, she thought, as she closed her eyes. She prayed she’d have it going on like that twenty years from now.
Loletta, wake up, Vernice said, shaking her arm. Ain’t that Carter Blake from the Eagles standing over there with the photographers?
Loletta immediately pulled off her shades and zoned in. Oh, yes, my dear. My black prince. I heard he is going to be at Le Chateau tonight.
Girl, you didn’t tell me. How do you know? Vernice whined, her chest reddened from too much sun. Vernice was very light-skinned and burned easily; however, she insisted on getting as brown as possible.
How do I know everything! Loletta said, throwing back her head in laughter. I played it off like I’m some reporter with Vibe who was assigned the story last minute when the real writer bailed out. I wrote a fake letter, and I’m in.
You and Mommy too. But ya can’t be on my ass all night because I got to work. Not only do I get entry, but I get a one-on-one interview. And the last interview I read about Carter said he is very much available and the ink is still wet on his twenty-million-dollar contract.
But what will you do when he finds out you ain’t no writer? Loletta gave Vernice a mischievous look and grinned. I’ll be whatever he wants me to be.
This was all routine for Loletta. When she was sixteen, she snuck backstage at an LL Cool J concert by saying she was one of the girls who won a free backstage pass from a local radio show. That night she lost her virginity to one of his managers. A few years later, she managed to sneak into the singing group Jodeci’s trailer with Vernice, after paying the driver 150 dollars. That was nothing for Loletta because after two days on the road with Jodeci, she left with nearly three thousand in cash. All she had to do was be whatever they wanted. She split the money with Vernice. After she graduated college, Loletta stopped bothering with rappers and R & B singers. Their money came quick—and left quick. But then Loletta heard about Myra, her mother’s longtime friend, who met and married the top black coach in the NFL within a year of meeting him at a party in Milan. It was then that Loletta, accompanied by her divorced mother, decided to take her lifelong quest for the black and paid to another level. With Vernice, they began taking expensive European trips in hope of snagging Loletta’s version of black royalty—a professional athlete.
Le Chateau was just steps away from Loletta’s hotel. Loletta had it all planned, including ditching her mom and Vernice early. They would be fine at the party, she thought. There were enough ballplayers to go around. In fact, she liked roaming around on her own, convening with her mom and Vernice later to trade notes. The one thing men hated was women who traveled in packs. Tonight she would be a lone wolf.
Champagne flowed like the conversations. Loletta noticed that she, her mom, and Vernice were almost the only sisters in the place. The bar, the steps, and the dance floor were dominated by white or multiracial-looking women trying to outdo each other by dress, dance, or the handsome brother they snagged. The few white men in the place seemed to be satisfied with the leftovers, but Loletta was not going out like that.
Do you see how desperate these women look? Vernice asked, wrapping her red chiffon shawl over her neck. She pulled down the bustier to her dress to show more cleavage.
Yeah, just like us, Loletta snapped as they stood by the door. She scanned the room to make sure no one else was rocking her cheetah-print bodysuit and black boots getup. She thought it was a little bold, maybe a little 1980s, but nothing made her feel sexier than animal print. And no one else wore anything close.
I’m a sophisticated woman with class, Ms. Landelton said, her chin up. I’m only here for the food, honey.
Very classy thing to say, Mommy. Loletta rolled her eyes as they walked down the steps to the party. But she had to admit, her mother did look classy in a short black cocktail dress with the back cut so low it showed the dainty curve of her behind. But we know why we are all here.
That’s right, Vernice chimed in, long bangs nearly hiding her thick-lidded eyes that looked half asleep. We are here to give these men direction, purpose in life, help them invest that ten or twenty mill. We’re sort of like financial planners.
I’m an investor, baby, Loletta said, and I see a nice piece of property right over there. She nodded in Carter Blake’s direction.
And he’s alone, Ms. Landelton said, turning around. I wonder if he has a father around here somewhere.
He’s always alone, even when I see those party photos of him in a magazine. He rides for self, Vernice said, picking a baked clam from an hors d’oeuvres tray.
I like a little challenge. All I need to do is strike up a conversation about golf. I hear he is obsessed with it. I did my research.
That’s a lonely man’s game. It figures, Vernice said, with cynicism. I got my eye on Calvin Winnerby. Give me some time, give me some time. A throng of white women were surrounding him, each dancing to her own beat.
What you got in common with him? Did you do your research? Loletta asked as she took a glass of champagne from a waiter and passed it to her mother.
I read he can eat chicken wings all day, everyday. Now you know I can finger-lick my way to high heaven with a bucket of KFC all to myself. We don’t have to talk chicken; we can eat chicken. Vernice shrugged.
Loletta had enough with the talk; she was ready to let the games begin. Brushing her long weaved hair off her shoulders, she said, I have some business to take care of, ladies. You both do, too?
Ooh, baby! Ms. Landelton blurted out as she flung her newest wig, the blond one, to the side. This is my groove. Ms. Landelton rolled her hips from side to side, as did several older-looking folks who seemed to get into it with her.
Mommy, we leave tomorrow. You better handle yours, Loletta said, directing her mom’s attention to an older, distinguished Hispanic gentleman blowing kisses at her.
Ha, honey, who do you think taught you what you know? I had that the moment I stepped down those stairs, Ms. Landelton said, dancing into the crowd around her.
Vernice, let’s hook up here by two a.m., but if you don’t see me, I’ll check you both later, Loletta said, taking out her vanity mirror and applying more gold lipstick. I ain’t leaving this town without putting twenty percent down on my investment.
Ha, ha! Girl, make that two of us. This sexy ass is pulling up on Calvin any minute. Bye, bitch. Vernice laughed as she sauntered away to the other side of the room, where Calvin and his boys were.
Loletta had to admit that Vernice was smooth with hers. She was thick in all the right places; depending on how she did her makeup, she could look Hi...