“Let’s grab a cab or the bus—whichever you prefer?” Amad said as soon as they got outside the station; although DeKalb Avenue was the best stop to get off at, Junior’s was still a 40 or so minute walk; and he really didn’t feel like walking that far.
“Oh, ah, the bus is cool,” Chevon answered and the two walked to the bus stop. Chevon had a chance to look at Amad: his height, his shoulders, and, of course, his, ah, well, everything! She’s been with her fair share of men, but Amad Bishop, just isn’t the guy next door; he’s not a regular man—what was she doing here with him?
Chevon had to snap herself back to her senses because she had to; she had to keep her wits about her. She has no issues with self-esteem nor did she not have belief in herself, but she just knew, no matter how smart or beautiful she is, her curves, at times, can be too much for some men; and she believed that Amad was some men.
She didn’t know Amad beyond the screens of ESPN or pages of the New Yorker magazine, but she assumed he was shallow; she, naturally, has seen the women he’s been with and although she knew she’d be a great addition to anyone’s life, what she didn’t know was what that woman would look like on the arm of Amad Bishop.
For those first few bus stops, or so, they were both quiet, both were in deep thoughts about the other; wanting to know more about another, their likes and dislikes, but above anything else, their desire was increasing greatly to see each other outside of their protective coverings.
Amad was more nervous than Chevon about their unveiling only because he had been watching her before he asked to sit next to her. From the time he got on the train at 14th Street, Chevon had his attention; the delicate way she turned the pages of the novel to how she giggled at her phone.
He wanted to hear her voice.
Amad had to know who she was, he admitted to himself, but little did he know that she’d turn out to be more than her cute little giggle.
“So, are you normally this quiet or are you as nervous as I am?”
“Me nervous, you’re kidding, right,” Amad said glancing at Chevon. “Of course, I’m nervous…any human being would or should be, this kind of thing doesn’t happen to me.” They both giggled and sat down once seats became available at the front of the B38 bus. “Chevon…” he said her name, but she didn’t move; she seemed frozen at the sound of her name spilling from his lips. “I wanted to tell you something,” he started to say, but she didn’t move—she inwardly cringed because she knew he was about to tell her something she didn’t want to hear, and she beat herself up for thinking that Amad Bishop could be her next big romance. But Chevon did not respond to Amad, her eyes were fixed to floor of the bus.
“I know you’re used to being photographed and all, but I think it’s best to prepare you that if this goes anywhere, it’ll be non-stop lights, camera, action.”
“Goes anywhere,” she said tickled that he thought the same thing she did after a few minutes of meeting her that they’d be going somewhere. Her inward cringe was replaced with glee. “Amad, you don’t know me…”
“Yet,” he quickly added.
“Ok, yet, what if you don’t like me…”
“I’m an excellent judge of character, and I think you’re a solid person.”
“Ok, after a few moments,” was all she said, thankfully the bus pulls next to the Long Island University Pharmacy which is the stop across the street from Juniors. This gave Chevon a moment to collect her thoughts, to bring her mind back into focus because if she let it go too far, she’d become Mrs. Amad Bishop.
Amad stood and went to the doors as the bus rolled to a stop, but Chevon was hesitant, not that she didn’t want to go with him, but she was stuck on what could really be happening after a chance meeting.
Is it true what they say about love at first sight? Is the whole notion of is it too good to be true, true? Amad Bishop, attorney to the athletes, first in his class at Howard School of Law, ex pro basketball player, and an award-winning humanitarian waiting for Chevon to have dinner with her at Juniors.
“Ms. Matthews,” Amad said and went back to where they were sitting. “I won’t bite you; I’m harmless, please let me buy you dinner and if I’m nothing but a gentleman, you can go and act as though you never knew me—deal?” He finished saying and held his hand out for her to take.
She took his hand, and thought the least she could do is have dinner with him because one, she is hungry, and two, because she was curious and really wanted to see him up close and personal.
Entering Junior’s was always fun, the nostalgia and the ambiance always made Chevon think about the old pharmacy on Foster Ave that had an ice cream counter; her grandfather would take her there to get milkshakes once a week.
Chevon smiled at the memory walking through the door that Amad held for her; his eyes appeared to be smiling, but all this did was make Chevon feel even more nervous. She had to sit with him, eat, and not throw up at the fact that she was with Amad Bishop.
She wanted to text her sister, Cherelle, but what was she going to say? Her sister was much more outgoing than Chevon is, she would not have hesitated one bit when Amad said he was going to dinner at Juniors—Cherelle would have invited herself just for the cheesecake alone.
“Good evening, welcome to Juniors! Would you like a table or booth?” The hostess asked as they approached her.
“Booth, please,” Chevon said and Amad liked her decisiveness—she had zero hesitation with her choice, he thought, but wondered would she be this decisive as they got to know each other. Was she decisive about choosing to be with him at this moment or was she just going along with the plan because Juniors was involved?
Amad kicked himself for comparing himself to a restaurant, but he still wondered what she was thinking about. He knew that she was someone he could be with well before he asked to sit next to her—he was truly that good at judging people, that’s probably why he’s so successful in business.
The hostess nodded and led the way to a booth snuggled in a back corner of the restaurant—the booth was quaint, cozy, and very couple like; the hostess did her job well, but with the pandemic, there was a need for everyone to be socially distanced—this booth was the best choice, but the air of romance didn’t disappoint.
Both Amad and Chevon nodded a thank you to the hostess and began taking off their coverings—everything except their masks that is.
“So, Chevon, how long have you modeled?” Amad asked breaking the silence.
“About five years, it was a dare from my sister.”
“Oh, you like to be dared?”
She laughed and said, “Only by my sister, she has the best ways of getting me out of my comfort zone.”
“I can understand that…and I’m certain this dinner with a perfect stranger is definitely outside of your comfort zone?”
“Very, but I love here, and I am hungry,” Chevon answered and looked at the menu. Amad was a bit distressed because he wanted her to say something more about being with him.
“And what did you do before you modeled,” Amad asked as he glanced between Chevon and the menu. He was being cool Chevon thought, too cool, that made her desire for him grow, but why and how she wasn’t sure she could define it.
“I was VP of Marketing for Simon and Schuster…”
“Yup, and I was thriving, but then as a model I got to travel aboard, design my life, my time, and, honestly, I make way more money so I can do more charity work,” she said and Amad smiled beneath his navy mask.
“Hello, welcome to Juniors; I’m Noelle, what can I get you to drink?”
“A fruit punch, not too much ice, please,” Amad said first.
“A ginger ale, no ice, thank you.”
“Oh, ah, sure—mozzarella sticks, sounds good, what do you think Amad?”
“Sounds great,” he nodded and answered.
Noelle said, “great choice, I’ll be right back.”
“So, Ms. Matthews, I’d love to hear the tale of how you became a model?”
“Oh, it’s nothing sexy—nothing like Naomi Campbell walking on the streets of London and boom—an international sensation,” she said and shrugged her shoulders. “But, seriously, IMG was having an open call; my sister use to model when I was in high school, she used to take me when she could, but I never thought I had the right look to follow in her footsteps. One day, she saw an ad for it and she entered my pictures. They called me, I went, did a photo shoot, and the rest is history.”
“You say that like it’s common for people to just start modeling, that’s a tough industry to break through,” Chevon just looked at Amad liking the way he thought about things.
Chevon then says, “It is difficult, but whose industry is harder to break into mine or yours?” Amad only nodded, he had no way, not yet, to convince her that her industry was harder to break the glass ceiling as a woman of color.
“So, ah, can you do me a favor?” Chevon cocks her head slightly towards him wondering what he wanted. “Can you take off your mask, please?” Chevon smirks beneath her mask, but without any reservations, she takes it off. Amad blinks uncontrollably and then says, “It’s you…”
“All 38 years of my life…” Chevon says sarcastically and throws her million-dollar smile at him.
“No, no, I mean I’ve seen you on the cover of magazines. My favorite was the cover of Vogue Italia a few July’s ago, you were barely wearing anything,” Amad said and sat back in his seat and licked his lips, but Chevon didn’t get the privilege of seeing that—his mask hid his smile and his salivating mouth.
“Here we are,” Noelle says, putting their drinks and mozzarella sticks on the table. “Have we decided on dinner?”
“Oh, right, food,” Chevon said, as she looks at Amad, who has become speechless; her mind drifted thinking about Amad knowing who she is. “So, I’ll have the, ah, Southern Fried Boneless Chicken Breast, and a garden salad, with honey mustard dressing, please.”
Amad brought himself back to reality, and told Noelle what he wanted for dinner, and after he asked for the Roast Half Chicken and Caesar salad he said, “I read the article after I stared at your pictures for a while.”
“You stared at my pics…did you now,” Chevon said and watched Amad take off his mask; it was her turn to blink uncontrollably. “And tell me what did you learn, Mr. Bishop?”
“Well, first off, I didn’t remember that your last name was Matthews, on the train, I should’ve caught that and figured out it was you—but I learned that you lost your parents when you were fifteen, and you went to live with your grandparents, but just you because your sister was at Syracuse,” he says and Chevon just nods. “You graduated as a junior in high school before you went to NYU as an English Lit major, but it didn’t say anything about your previous job.”
“You remembered all that…”
“I remembered all that…”
“Yes, you are,” Amad said, leaned forward on the table, and reached for Chevon’s hands to hold them.