Chapter 4: MayHem At The Mall
“Meet me at Towne Square for lunch. There are some great sales, and I don’t want to miss them, but I haven’t seen you in so long. We can do some shopping together. I’m bringing the kids. You bring yours.” Dana laughed.
“I’ll see if I can get Trent to get dressed.” Mae laughed back.
“Well, tell that giant teenager of yours to get going!”
“Yeah, but I don’t know that we’re in the mood for Show Me’s.”
“It’ll be quick. It’s a little early for lunch, so it won’t be crowded or anything.”
“Okay. We’ll see you there in a while.”
“Mwuah! Love ya!”
They hung up, and Mae shuffled into the living room. “Lunch and shopping with Dana and the girls, let’s go.”
Trent wiggled his toes high up on his recliner. “Do I have to?”
“Dana was right.”
“Dana? About what?”
“That you’re a great, big teenager.”
Trenton jumped up from his chair and chased Mae into the bedroom.. “You got that right! And you know what they say about teenage boys!” He tackled her to the bed, and they wrestled and laughed.
“Come on, it’ll be a good time. We haven’t seen Aisha and Alaya for a while, either.” Mae put on her puppy dog eyes and batted her lashes.
“Aw, don’t do that.” Trent grinned. “I can’t say no when you do that. Okay, let’s go.” He got up and changed from his comfy shorts and t-shirt into jeans and a sweat shirt that said ,’roadkill on the grill’. “There. Let’s go hug our girls.”
Traffic was light, and they rode to the mall in good time. Parking was a different story, though, and Trent circled the same four lanes several times, waiting for a good spot.
“We could’ve walked in, had lunch and shopped four stores by now,” Mae said.
“It’s my day off. I deserve to park close to the door.”
“There’s one!” Mae pointed.
Trent pressed on the accelerator a bit and hurried around to the next lane and pulled into a spot just before a teenager in a beater tried to grab it.
“Ha. Beat him,” Trent said, and put the shift in park, pulled out the keys and got out. He patted his tummy and said, “Hungry man. Let’s go.”
Mae rolled her eyes.
“Well, I can’t really say hungry teenager.”
Mae sidled up to him and they walked hand in hand into the mall. They had barely taken two steps in when they heard a voice call out to them, and two other voices squeal.
“Mae, Trent, over here!”
“Uncle Trent! Aunt Mae!”
The passersby stole glances to see who answered the call. Aisha and Alaya ran up to them and locked them in tight hugs. The glued-together group waddled to where Dana stood, smiling.
“Come here, you!”
Trent walked like a robot, arms out in front of him toward Dana.
“Not you, but okay,” she laughed and gave him a light hug. She let Trent go, and the girls swarmed him.
“I meant you!” She did a sort of stuttered, excited shuffle to Mae, and threw her arms around her.
They parted, and Dana said, “What do you think?” She did a little twirl and showed off her new outfit. Her mini skirt had a pleated section that flew up when she twirled.
“Nice. Been here long?”
The group joined together and walked into the restaurant. They were seated quickly. Aisha and Alaya were busy talking over each other, telling Trent about their week at school while Dana and Mae caught up with each other.
“I’m going with the chicken Philly,” said Trent.
The girls sat on either side of him. Aisha ordered a grilled cheese and a dinner salad, and Alaya ordered a cheeseburger.
“Y’all ready?” Their waitress smiled, beaming at the group around the table.
Mae gave a gentle kick to Trent’s shin. “Behave,” she said.
“Yup, we’re ready!”
The group ordered, and chatted while waiting for their meals.
“So then, Jamie, she said…. Dana, what are you looking at?” Mae followed Dana’s eyes to a set of broad shoulders and a trim waist sitting at the bar.
“Sorry, what?” Dana said without looking away from the eye candy on the bar stool.
“Do you know him?” Mae asked.
“No, but I don’t think I’d mind getting to know him,” Dana said and raised her eyebrows.
“You…” Mae said with a little laugh.
“Can’t blame a girl for window shopping. He’s as fine as Ghirardelli Chocolate. I, uh, have to go to the ladies room. No need to come with me, though,” Dana rose and winked at Mae. “I can take care of this on my own.”
Mae shook her head and watched Dana walk away.
As Dana passed the bar, she made eye contact with the man. He had a draft beer glass in his hand, and had just pursed his lips on the rim to take a sip when he saw her. Dana paused ever so slightly, did a little twirl and walked to the ladies’ room with her miniskirt swaying with her stride.
When she came out, the man waved her over. “Hey, good-lookin’. Can I buy you a drink or something?”
“Oh, I’ve already ordered, but thanks. I’m Dana.” She held out her hand.
“Jerome.” He took her hand in his. “You here by yourself?”
She shook her head. “We’re on a family shopping spree.” She nodded in the direction of her table.
“Ah. Well, how about you give me your number, and we’ll see about getting you here sometime by yourself. Or somewhere else. You like to dance?”
“Oh, yeah. Here.” Dana pulled out her phone.
“Jerome Elias Watson!” A harsh voice pierced through the restaurant, right into Jerome’s eardrum.
“Sasha?” He winced and pulled away. Dana turned to see a rather large, very angry woman stomping their way. Her fury shone through the dark skin of her cheeks like the glow of embers at dusk. Jerome’s face reddened, and he turned to the bar and picked up his glass. “Shit.”
“Missy, you can just keep going.” She pointed a finger in Dana’s face.
“Oh no, you don’t. You need to talk to this sorry excuse for a man, not me. He came on to me.” She turned to Jerome. “Tell her.”
“You can’t talk about my man that way!” The woman took a step closer to Dana.
Unintimidated, Dana stepped inward, too. “He’s the one picking up women right under your nose. How would I know he had an old lady?”
Jerome swung around on his barstool and stepped between the two women. In any other situation, he would have been safe, but even a six-foot-two bundle of muscles is no match for women who are riled up.
“Old lady? Go look in the mirror!” Sasha reached an arm around Jerome to slap at Dana.
Jerome swung his arm out to block Sasha, but when her hand hit his arm, he bounced back and smacked Dana’s shoulder.
By that time, Trenton was walking calmly toward them with a stern look on his face. “Hey, be careful with my sister. Let’s just be cool, okay?” he said.
Alaya yelled from the table, “Yeah, leave my mom alone!”
Mae put a hand on the table.
“She’s okay. Uncle Trent is there, and we’re going to just stay here and not make it worse, okay?” Mae saw the girls as they nodded but watched closely, ready to defend their mom, and she felt kind of proud, the way the family stuck together.
Jerome’s temper flared. “Keep out of this, kid!”
Trenton put a hand on Jerome’s arm and led him and Sasha away from Dana. “That kid, as you called her, can run you down and put you on the floor before you can say ‘outside linebacker’. Just cool this off. Okay?”
Sasha folder her arms and huffed heavily. She shot a dirty look toward Dana, but then looked up at Jerome. “Yeah, what the hell? Get your ass home, motherfucker.”
He dropped a bill on the bar and left with his head low, and his woman behind him scolding him the whole way.
Dana held her head high and sat down at the table and watched the leave with daggers in her eyes.
“Should have stuck to window shopping,” Mae said, trying to inject some humor into the situation.
“I just wanted to try, not buy,” Dana said.
She and Mae laughed at the same time.
“Hey, look at it this way. You didn’t end up as ‘the other woman’. I think that Sasha would have drawn blood.”
“Yeah, but dammit. I just can’t get a break.”
The waitress arrived with their food, and they dug in.
“Uncle Trent, will you take us to Scoops & Smoothies for dessert?” Aisha asked.
“You gonna have room?” he teased.
“Let’s all go. Then we’re going to look at shoes,” Dana said, and raised a glass. “To family.”
They all raised their glasses and said, “To Family!”