Tisha is on the look out for the man of her life. Drew will do anything to help her find him. But when they run into two best friends and a super sexy rogue, there’s a slight change in plans.
Two not-so-sweet, headstrong cousins, three not-so-innocent men. With all the lies surrounding them, will Pinocchio’s nose ever stop growing?
There’s something about a small, pointy nose that makes you want to kiss it. Dwight Harrison was not a nose person, but the young woman sitting across from him on the bus had one of those cute kissable noses, and for the past fifteen minutes, he hadn’t been able to tear his eyes away from her. It wasn’t every day you happened to see a small, pretty black woman with such a thin aristocratic nose. And somehow it looked perfect on her face.
She had on large dark glasses that rested on top of it and tiny headphones that disappeared into her ears, and she seemed to be almost dancing in her seat. Her hair was pulled tightly into a bun on top of her head with a pink band which matched her pink mini-skirt and sneakers.
He looked out the window at the thinning shrubbery. They would soon be in town. His reflection looked back at him, a bit blurry, from the lightly tinted glass. He wasn’t bad-looking, he knew, but today handsome would be a more fitting description. His white dress shirt was tucked into long black trousers and his short dark hair was brushed back, exposing a strong, manly forehead over dark, naturally shaped eyebrows, piercing dark eyes, a small button nose and a small round mouth. If he added a smile to that, he knew he’d look smashing. Maybe it would be a bad idea to let such an opportunity go to waste.
He looked over at the young woman again, still absorbed in her music. He should ask her out or at least try to make conversation that would end with her phone number in his pocket.
He held on to the overhead bars and made his way toward her. As he took the last step —he was now close enough to touch her—she looked up.
The bus suddenly slammed to a stop, and Dwight jerked forward, his hand slipping from the metal bar. He tried to balance his six-foot-plus body, but gravity wasn’t to be denied, and he landed hard on the floor. He hadn’t realized that in his panic, his hands had landed on her chest.
Alarmed, she looked down, taking in the hands grasping her perky right breast, the rest of him lying on the floor at her feet. The other passengers were staring at them, and he heard a few giggles coming from the children aboard.
“I’m—I’m so sorry!” He let go of her as if her flesh had burned his fingers, and he shot upright. Something like annoyance flashed behind her sunglasses, but she smiled tightly at him.
“It’s okay. Just be careful of where you fall next time.”
He nodded dumbly, and just then the bus pulled away from the curb, almost sending him reeling onto the girl again.
Luckily, he grabbed the railing in time and avoided looking down at her. This hadn’t been his idea of “talking” to her. Now she thought he was a klutz, a complete loser. He couldn’t blame her. He thought he was a klutz and a loser. At least they would have agreed on one thing if their conversation had gone beyond his imagination.
The bus to take her home from downtown Castries had been canceled, and the next bus was in two hours’ time. Tisha felt hungry, dirty, sweaty and shitty as she strolled about town, looking for nothing in particular, trying to kill time. She had her small overnight bag, which hadn’t seemed so heavy last night, slung over her shoulder.
It was a good thing it was Saturday and she was not working today. She was tired enough as it was, and being cranky all day was not part of her job description. After last night, she was through with sleeping over at guys’ homes and especially lying to her parents about her whereabouts. Only her cousin/best friend, Drew, knew where she’d really slept—at a twenty-year-old’s house. No, that wasn’t correct. She’d slept in a twenty-year-old’s room at a center for disadvantaged young professionals, which had segregated dorms.
First of all, Tisha had just turned twenty-five two months ago. She should have known that that had been a bad idea from the start. But then again, at twenty-five, she should have known a lot of other things, too, like not wearing sneakers with skirts.
She also shouldn’t have had to lie to her parents about her whereabouts, but she was a single child and they were kind of old-school.
Tisha had had her ups and downs with men ever since her seventeenth birthday, when her mother announced that she was allowed to date boys. But in the past six years of her life, men had done all in their power to disappoint her. From cheating to changing sex to abandoning her when she got pregnant, she’d thought she’d seen it all. Her love life had been hell recently. But she was sure that there was a good man out there that God had created just for her, and she was determined to find him even on a small island like St. Lucia.
She and her parents had lived in Milwaukee for eight years before deciding it was time to return home to give their only daughter a normal, happy Caribbean life. She’d never groaned about leaving the states or her old friends. The prospect of living in the sun like in the bright, sunny movies she’d seen on television had been too exciting. And it had been perfect.
She’d met the rest of her family, all except two aunts living in Europe, and she and her cousins hit it off at once. Drew had been her favorite from the start, and it was no surprise that they became best friends.
The children at school, though, hadn’t been very friendly at first. She had been the one with the weird accent whom they looked at in awe whenever they thought she wasn’t looking. They’d nicknamed her “Pinocchio” because of her thin, pointy nose that her father told her was lovely and aristocratic. But she knew he was only saying that because when her nose had grown and grown, he’d asked her mother for a paternity test, which confirmed she was his daughter and for which her mother had never completely forgiven him. He was guilt-ridden and forever praised her aristocratic nose that she hated so much.
Even at a young age, she couldn’t really blame her father for doubting that she was his child. She didn’t look anything like him except for her dark brown complexion. She had her mother’s high forehead, chiseled cheekbones, slim form, full lips and steady chin. But the gray eyes and the pointy nose, no one could explain.
She didn’t really care about all that. What she hated was always being pointed out in a crowd or being told by a stranger that she had a lovely nose or, by crude boys she’d turned down, a beak. And so her nose had tormented her all her life, even though she knew that if she looked closely it was in proportion with the rest of her face and that it just stood out.
If she had to admit that, she’d also have to admit that with a shorter cut, some hair texturizer and occasional makeup, she’d look like Eva from America’s Next Top Model, with more nose. But she didn’t want to be Eva, she just wanted to be left alone with her beak.
She looked over at Drew, expecting to see a hint of approval or something encouraging, but her cousin looked horrified.
“You must be kidding me, Tish. You can’t withdraw from the dating market. You, Miss Romance, going through all that crap to find ‘the one’? If you do, you’ll have gone out on all those horrible dates for nothing. And besides everybody says that after the storm comes the sunshine. If you can have all those horrible dates one after the other, then when the wheel turns around, you’ll have only good dates one after the other.”
“Oh please! That’s not how things work. I’m cursed with bad dates just like that girl in Rachel Gibson’s book I borrowed you. Didn’t you read it? ‘Not Another Bad Date’? Didn’t you see the resemblance between us?”
“Ummmm…. No,” Drew scoffed. “She’s white, you’re not. She lives in Texas, you don’t. She’s full of cash, you’re definitely not. She’s got her own house – you’re still living with your parents.
“It’s not that bad. I could afford a place of my own if I felt the need to,” Tisha said a little defensively. Drew only looked at her with a small telltale smile on her face – the one Tisha absolutely despised. Her cousin was her best friend but sometimes she could really be annoying – like now.
Drew’s face suddenly lighted up.
“But I have great news – better news than you going off the market.” Tisha sat back down skeptically. She would have loved to escape this ‘great news’ into her bedroom, but she knew Drew would follow her there.
“According to a dating magazine I was reading recently, you could change your bad dating life into a more positive one with only a few words,” Drew continued, the bright smile not leaving her face, even though Tisha was barely paying her any attention. “You want to know how?” No answer from Tisha.
“Well, I’ll tell you,” Drew said, answering her own question. “It’s all about karma and positivity. Come I’ll show you. Anything is worth a try with the kind of luck you have.” She grabbed on to Tisha’s arms, pulling her off the couch and unwillingly into the center of the living room.
“Hold your arms straight above your head, close your eyes and repeat after me,” she instructed.
“Drew, I don’t think so.”
“Come on Tish, this’ll only a take a second and I memorized the whole chant just for you.”
“The things I let you drag me into. Okay, go ahead,” she said, sighing and doing as Drew asked.
“Concentrate on what life you want for yourself, with what partner, including what you want him to be like, look like... Are you seeing it?” Drew sounded like a trance master. Tisha gave a small nod in response. “Okay, now repeat these words, still keeping the picture in your head.” Tisha nodded again, visualizing the perfect marriage, perfect husband, perfect enchilada. “Rickety rackity racka rick, change my bad dates into good ones. Make them what I wish them to be. Make me appealing to those that appeal to me. Ricket Racket!”
Tisha repeated what she thought of as nonsense, three times as Drew asked her to, then opened her eyes and burst a gut laughing, her first laugh for the day. But this time Drew was serious.
“Drew, where do you get this nonsense from?” She collapsed onto the couch again and Drew came to sit on the armrest.
“This ain’t no nonsense girl. According to a test they did on fifty women who claimed to have bad dates all their lives, it worked for forty-five of them. So who knows, it might work for you.” She gave Tisha a small smile before getting up, slowly straightening out her tall frame.
Despite her earlier annoyance, and disbelief in Drew’s theory, Tisha smiled back warmly at her. She knew Drew only had her best interest at heart.
“I think you deserve a nice date for once cuz.”
“And what’s about you Ms. Drew? Don’t you deserve one too? When was the last time you went on a date?” It seemed a laugh boiled up from the pit of Drew’s stomach before coming up in her usual guffaw.
“Girl I don’t have time for that, and you know I don’t believe in all that ‘love forever’ theory. A good date would only be wasted on me. Now kiss kiss, I got go to. I’ll see you later tonight. And if anything else pops up, you know, your usual juicy dating dilemma gossip, you know at what number I’m at.”
She blew Tisha a kiss before running out the door. Tisha picked up her overnight bag and went into her room. She didn’t even bother to undress before lying down flat on her back, opening and closing her legs as if she was making a snow angel. She stared up at her sky blue ceiling like the rest of the room. The serenity of it calming her, washing over her like a gentle blue wave.
It reminded her of where she was in the world and what a blessing it was for her to be able to live this life after eight years in a bleak, boring Milwaukee. After all these years in St. Lucia, she was still marveled by the wonders of the place. The forever bright colors and true dazzling sunshine. Maybe life wasn’t as bad as she made it sound after all.
She thought a little back to last night, a small frown forming on her face. If only she could be as positive as Drew about finding ‘the one’. But her life seemed to be going in one direction and one direction only – away from that ‘one’.