January 12, 2002
"Come on, Trina," Tre called from the pool table, "You're up."
"You need to let me go now," Trina laughed, trying to extricate herself from Ed's arms.
"I guess," he said, kissing her, and then releasing her. "Go on."
"Girl, you comin' or am I gonna stand here all night?" Tre teased.
"I'm comin', keep your damn pants on!" Trina laughed, walking over and taking the pool stick from his hand.
Ed watched her with an amused smile. He'd been nervous about introducing her to the guys, but she'd fallen right in with them.
Carl laughed, sitting on the empty stool next to him. "You need to get a room."
"What?" he laughed, looking at his friend.
"You're all over the girl," Carl continued, teasing.
"I am not," Ed rolled his eyes.
"I can understand why," he allowed, then smiled at his friend.
Carl nodded. "Yeah. You break up with her, I want her number."
"Your girl's gonna kick your ass for even thinkin' it," Ed laughed.
"Ah, she's out with her sister," he dismissed. "She ain't here."
"What I don't get," Marvin began, sitting on the stool to Ed's left. "Is why you're datin' a white girl?"
"Why not?" Ed asked.
"Yeah, Marvin, what's your problem? Trina's cool, it don't matter that she's white."
Marvin looked at Carl. "Your girl ain't white."
"Candace is mixed," Carl sniffed, "Her mama's white. So what's your problem?"
"I'm just thinkin' about Eddie's family, that's all," Marvin shrugged.
"You forget my brother-in-law is white."
"But nuthin'," Carl concluded, "Man, pull your head out your ass and get over it. Eddie's girl is white. Ain't nuthin' you gonna say or do gonna change it."
"Whatever," Marvin shrugged, "I'm gonna go get another drink."
As Marvin walked off, Ed opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted when Trina walked back over.
"I suck at pool," she decided, feeling as if she interrupted something.
"It's okay," Carl dismissed, "Nobody beats Tre and Eddie."
"What can I say?" Ed grinned, standing up and walking to the pool table.
"Okay, what'd I miss?" she quietly began, looking up at Carl.
"Marvin's being a fool," Carl dismissed.
"He doesn't like me," she nodded.
"It ain't that…"
"Sure it is," she said, no malice in her tone. "But what I don't know is if he doesn't like me because of my personality or my skin color."
Carl laughed, "I see what Eddie likes about you. You don't sugar coat anything, do you?"
"In my job, I can't," she returned, sipping her beer. "I'm sorry if I pissed Marvin off. I didn't mean…"
Carl cut her off, "Trina, you didn't do anything. Marvin's funny like that, that's all." He gave her a broad smile. "Besides, I like you and if Eddie wouldn't pull out his nine on him, Tre'd be putting the moves on you."
Trina laughed, deciding she really liked Ed's oldest friend. "Yeah, well, I like you guys too. And I'm sorry to tell Tre, but I'm happy with the man I've got."
"Good answer," Carl agreed, watching as Ed ran the rack. "Shit…look at him go. That's another hundred I'm out."
"Glad he's on my team," Trina agreed, watching as Tre slapped money into Ed's outstretched hand.
"Pay up," Ed said, walking over to Carl.
"Shit," Carl sighed, handing him money. "One of these days I'm gonna beat your ass."
"Keep dreaming," Ed winked, handing out half of the cash to Trina.
"Your half of the winnings, Partner."
"I didn't do anything except make a fool of myself," she protested. "You won all the money."
"That woman ain't natural," Tre said, stepping up behind Ed. "Shit, she's turning down money?"
"I'm sure he'll spend it on me anyway," she said, an evil smile forming on her lips.
"Wanna play again?" Tre asked.
"I'm out," Trina dismissed, "You guys play."
"I'm good," Ed said, sipping his drink.
"This place is getting' old," Marvin decided, "What do you say we bounce?"
"And go where?" Tre asked, curiously.
"Mackey's," he shrugged.
"Man, I don't wanna go there," Tre dismissed. "Besides, it ain't the kinda place to take a girl."
"Why?" Trina asked. She tried to keep her tone casual. "What kind of place is it?"
"It's a jive ass bar up in Harlem," Carl said, glaring at Marvin.
"Let's go," Trina simply said, looking at Marvin. "I can hold my own."
"No, Man, I ain't takin' her to Mackey's," Ed concluded, setting down his drink. "You wanna go, Marvin. You go."
"Fine," Marvin shrugged, finishing his drink. He looked at Tre and Carl. "I will. You guys comin'?"
"Not me," Carl firmly said. "I'm gonna go try to meet up with Candace."
"Tre?" Marvin looked at him. "You comin' or you gonna let me go alone?"
"After last time you went up there? I'll go with you, but I'm gonna kick your ass the whole way there," he tiredly said.
Marvin set his empty glass on the bar. "I'm out." With that, he walked off.
"I'm gonna kick his…" Ed hissed, but Tre cut him off.
"Let him go, Eddie," Tre quietly said, then, with a smile. "Trina, can I get some sugar before I leave?"
Trina smiled at Tre, "You sure can." As they hugged, she quietly said, "Thanks, Tre."
"Don't worry about it, Baby Girl," he winked, "I'll set Marvin straight." He released her. "Hit me up in the morning, Bro's." With that, he left.
"Fuckin' Marvin," Ed spat.
"Eddie," Carl firmly said. "Let it be. You know Marvin has his head up his ass over shit like this." Carl turned to Trina, "White people ain't the only racists, Doc. I'm sorry about that."
"It's okay, Carl, you didn't do it," she returned.
"Why don't you take him home?" Carl nodded at Ed. "Next time, you and me will play partners and whoop their asses."
"Yeah, right," she laughed, as Carl hugged her. "Thanks, Carl."
"We still on for wings at Suzy T's tomorrow night? I know Candace is looking forward to it," he said.
"Sounds good to me. Ed? We still on?"
"Yeah," Ed nodded, finishing his drink.
"Eddie?" Carl said, holding out his hand.
"Thanks, Carl," Ed returned, shaking his hand. "I'll see ya tomorrow."
"You got it. Good night!"
Carl walked off, leaving them alone.
"You ready?" Ed asked, holding out his hand.
Trina nodded as she took her hand, "Let's go."
Apartment of Trina Cesarone
January 13, 2002
"So," Trina said, walking in to the living room. "You gonna talk to me or you gonna sit and sulk all night?"
Ed looked up from the television to find her standing there in a blue silk robe that skimmed her curves. She'd brushed out her dark hair and it hung full and soft to her shoulders. She looked damn good standing there. So good that he nearly forgot how pissed he was at Marvin. Nearly.
"I'm sorry, T," he said, standing and walking to her.
"No, I'm sorry," she quietly said. "I didn't mean to cause problems with your friend."
"Marvin ain't no friend," he sniffed.
"So, I'm guessing it was the white thing, huh?"
"Yeah, he's about as racist as they come. I'm not surprised it pissed him off."
"Carl and Tre didn't seem to be bothered," she offered.
"They loved you," he smiled at her.
"They're great guys," she replied, then paused, clearly in thought.
"You okay?" Ed asked, playing with a lock of her hair.
"I'm good," she nodded. "What about you?"
"I'm still pissed at Marvin," he admitted, then, with a smile, "But I'm good."
She grew serious again. "I don't want to come between you and your…"
"Stop," he said, putting great care into his words. "If he can't deal, that's his problem. You think he's gonna be the only person to have a problem with this?"
"No, I guess not," she agreed.
"This is the way it's gonna be, Trina," he went on. "If you can't handle it…"
"I can handle it," she returned.
"You sure about that?" was his dubious reply.
Something about his tone hit Trina the wrong way. "I'll admit that Marvin's reaction took me aback a bit, but I wasn't going to let him scare me off. I was ready to go to that bar he suggested tonight and didn't give a shit about where it was or who was there."
"You don't wanna be at Mackey's. Hell, I don't wanna be at Mackey's," he dryly said.
"You're missing the point. No matter what kind of place it was, I would've gone, because I was going to be with you. Does that sound like someone who can't handle it?"
He opened his mouth to speak, but she kept talking, clearly on a roll. "Maybe you're the one who can't handle it. Maybe you're the one who…"
He pulled her closed and kissed her hard and full. Surprised by the kiss, she hesitated a moment before responding with a kiss of her own. Pulling back slightly, he spoke. "I can handle it."
"You sure about that?" she challenged, her eyes locking onto his.
"Yeah, see, I kinda figured out something important," he said.
"What'd you figure out?"
"That I've fallen in love with you," he said, watching her eyes for a response.
She smiled, "You have?"
He nodded, giving her a hopeful smile.
"That's a good thing," she mused.
"Yeah, cuz I've fallen in love with you, too." She returned the smile. "Kinda scary huh? After two months, we already know this?"
"Doc, I knew it the first night," he admitted.
"That was lust."
He shook his head, "I know the difference. And yeah, there was some lust goin' on, too."
"I know there was on this side," she laughed. "So, when did you know it? That weekend, I mean?"
"Saturday morning," he began, tugging at the belt of her robe. "When I woke up and you were layin' there, still sleeping."
She winced, "Looking like hell, I'm sure."
He shook his head, "Nah, you were all curled up next to me with this smile on your face." He pulled the robe open to find her naked beneath it and smiled. "I never saw that smile before."
"You saw me smile before then" she dismissed, as he slipped his arms beneath the robe and around her waist.
"Not that smile," he corrected. "It was this satisfied little thing…" he kissed her softly. "And I knew I put it there."
"Pretty sure of yourself, huh?"
"Tell me I didn't."
"You did," she admitted. "So, you liked my sleeping satisfied smile?"
"Among other things, yeah."
"And that's when you knew you'd fallen in love with me?"
"Pretty much, yeah."
"Wanna know when I figured it out?"
"The next Saturday morning," she began, helping him pull off his sweater. "When I was giving Ruby breakfast and you woke up and came out into the kitchen. You sat down at the table with her and the two of you acted like you'd been doing it forever. The whole thing just clicked right there. It just felt so right."
He kissed her deeply. "It still does."
Trina pulled back and studied him for a moment.
"Say it…" she softly said. "Say the words."
He knew what she meant and without a moment's hesitation, he said, "I love you, Boo."