“I’m glad he doesn’t,” I retorted, executing a quick lane change to avoid a yahoo who didn’t seem to know you’re supposed to signal, look, then change lanes in that order. I was using my Bluetooth so I didn’t feel guilty about talking while driving. I just wished other idiots would catch a clue and do the same. Most people were horrible drivers when they had both hands on the wheel. Divide their attention by making them hold onto a phone with one hand, and it was a disaster waiting to happen. “I was thinking of wearing jeans and a t-shirt.” I wasn’t, of course, but I wanted to tweak Ned for having so little faith in me. Just because he was a fashionista didn’t mean that I was some slouch when it came to dressing myself. I knew what colors and lines looked good on me, and I wasn’t afraid to flaunt what I had.
“You wouldn’t! You couldn’t! He’ll take one look at you and run,” Ned moaned, proving once again that he was the drama queen in our relationship.
“Shouldn’t he like me for who I am?” I asked innocently, wanting to see how far I could push Ned.
“Only after he gets to know you,” Ned shrieked, causing me to flinch. Luckily, I wasn’t in the middle of a tricky maneuver, or I’d be in trouble. “Until then, you have to put your best foot forward.”
“Relax,” I said mildly, approaching my apartment building. As usual, I had to look for a place to park as both sides of the street were filled with cars. “I clean up good when I want, and I definitely want.”
“Call me when you get home.” It was an order, not a request, and I decided I better fulfill it this time. I clicked off the phone as I swung into a spot right in front of my apartment. Talk about your karma. God must be looking out for me.
“That was a joke,” I said out loud, not wanting another visit from the Almighty. “In fact, can you not show up tonight at all?” I didn’t think He would as He rarely showed Himself in front of others, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.
“No problem!” A voice boomed as I unlocked my door. “I wouldn’t want to impede things with Ted.” I ignored Him as I hopped out of my car, fairly confident He wouldn’t talk to me out in the open with the chance of someone coming along. No such luck. “I think you should wear a skirt,” God continued as I walked into my apartment and checked my mail. He didn’t manifest, however, so I was pretty certain I was the only one who could hear His voice. “I gave you a nice pair of legs, and it wouldn’t hurt you to show them once in a while.”
“TMI,” I muttered under my breath. A passing woman gave me a strange glance but looked away when she saw I had caught her. I didn’t need to know what God thought of my legs or any other part of my anatomy, thank you very much. I flipped through my mail, saw it was mostly junk, then went up to my apartment. God was silent, so I assumed He had gone. I couldn’t feel Him all the time these days which really put me on edge. He was easier to take when I knew for sure He was around.
“I’m still here,” God said, materializing as soon as I entered my apartment. In copper this time, which made Him look like a giant penny. “Now, remember, you have a tendency to get overly talkative when you meet someone you really like. Give Ted a chance to talk about himself before filling him in on your life story. Guys like a bit of mystery in their women, so don’t give everything away at once.”
“What, You’re my relationship coach now?” I asked sharply, tossing my purse on the living room couch. “Do You mind? I want to take a shower before I go out tonight.”
“Good idea,” God said, disappearing in an instance. “You go, girl,” I heard from above. The distinct strains of Eminem filled my living room for an instant before falling silent. “Sorry about that.”
“Shit.” I exhaled and went into the bathroom. I had plenty of time before meeting Ted at Village Wok, but I wanted to wash my hair which would eat up a good chunk of time itself. I started the water and disrobed as I waited for it to heat up. The minute the water was tolerable, I slipped into the shower and luxuriated in the feeling of the water streaming down my face. There were few things better than a hot shower after a tiresome day at work, and I planned on staying in the shower until the hot water ran out.
“I can arrange it so it doesn’t run out at all.” Lucifer, of course, and he was crammed into the shower with me. He had shed his wings for the occasion, which made him look like a mortal man, albeit an insanely gorgeous one.
“Get out of here,” I hissed, covering up my breasts as best I could. Ludicrous, I knew, but I was feeling incredibly vulnerable at the moment. Plus, I didn’t want to think about Lucifer or God or any of that shit tonight. I just wanted to go on a date like an ordinary woman without a care in the world other than if Ted liked me or not. “I do not want to talk to you tonight.” There was no flirtation in my voice this time as I was fucking pissed off. Even the sight of Lucifer naked did nothing for me. Well, that wasn’t exactly true, but the feeling wasn’t as strong as it normally was.
“Margaret Marilyn, I need to know what He wants. The time is running short and—” Lucifer stopped. He cocked his head to one side as he looked at me. I dropped a hand to cover my crotch, but that wasn’t what he was looking at—not exactly. “Put your hands down,” he said, his voice thick with lust. I shook my head, and my wet hair flew all around. “Put them down now.” His eyes turned a light shade of red which indicated that he was getting angry. Or, no, did it mean he was in heat? As he stared at me, his wings appeared out of nowhere and unfurled as best they could. “Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a human woman? Too long.”
“Morningstar, I do not want you,” I said, continuing to shield my body as best I could. I didn’t expect my words to stop him, but they did. He looked at me hard before growing his wings again.
“You will change your mind, Margaret Marilyn. When you do, I will be waiting.” He grabbed me in a tight embrace with his wings covering both of us, kissing me hard on the lips. Despite myself, despite everything I knew about him, I felt my resolve weaken. The longer he kissed me, the more I wanted to fuck him. Somewhere in the dim recesses of my overheated mind, sanity remained. With that last bit of intelligence, I pushed Lucifer away. He was startled by the vehemence, but he didn’t do anything in retaliation. “You’ll change your mind,” he repeated before taking off into his portal. I had to find a way to seal that damn thing so he couldn’t come back to haunt me.
A minute later, it hit me that I had turned down the devil and lived to tell the tale. Not only did I live, I escaped unscathed. Curious. The Morningstar could have forced me to have sex with him without even breaking a sweat. What made him decide not to? Perhaps he wasn’t allowed. That would be ironic. I shook my head and lathered my hair. I would have to think more about the situation when I didn’t have a date. Tonight, however, I was going to keep my word and not think another thought about God, Lucifer, Heaven, Hell, or the baby inside of me. For one night, I was going to be the Margaret I had been before I became the chosen one.
As soon as I got out of the shower, my landline rang. As my mother was one of the few people who used that phone instead of my cell, I let the machine get it. I’d called her last night only to listen to her rant and rave about my lack of respect. Then, she had to browbeat me for breaking Ned’s heart, no matter how many times I’d told her we hadn’t been engaged. She had a one-track mind, and she wasn’t about to let a little thing like facts get in the way of her concocted reality.
When it was time to get ready, I chose a simple black mini-skirt which fell well-above the knee. It was snug without being tight, and it showed my legs and ass off to their best advantage. I added a red cropped top which showed off a bit of belly—with the belly button ring I always wore. I grabbed my black leather jacket more for effect than for warmth. I did my face minimally, but with dramatic Diva lipstick by MAC—a colored girl’s best friend. I pulled my hair into a high baby pony and festooned it with a red velvet scrunchie. I added large gold hoops in my ears and gold bangles on my arms. I was going for high-class trash, and I think I succeeded. I pulled on knee-high black boots with three-inch platform heels. I looked hot, if I had to say so myself.
“Here goes nothing,” I muttered, parking in front of Village Wok at nine o’clock. The show started at eleven-thirty, so we would have plenty of time for dinner. I pulled down my visor to take a peek in the mirror. There was no need for damage control, however, so I reluctantly got out of the car. I hadn’t been on a date since catching my ex with his teenage whore. Understandably, I was a bit nervous about going through something similar. Ned had assured me that Ted wasn’t that kind of guy, but who really knew? I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, however, at least for one date.
“Margaret, you look great,” Ted said, giving me the once-over. He did it in a classy way, however, so I didn’t feel slimy.
“You kick ass yourself,” I replied, checking him out as well. He was wearing black jeans which were molded to his ass—nice ass, too, with a black t-shirt and a black leather jacket as well. He looked like a Hong Kong film star, and we made quite the nice couple. He offered me his arm as we walked into the restaurant. The other people in the joint were openly checking us out, and I felt smug that we were garnering so much attention.
“Looks like we’re the stars for the evening,” Ted murmured into my ear as a giggling waitress seated us. “Too bad we can’t wear sunglasses.”
“We could if we wanted to be assholes,” I replied, sitting down in the chair Ted was holding out for me. The girls in the booth next to ours were glancing at me enviously, wondering what I had that they didn’t. Ten years of experience and a couple inches of boob by the looks of it.
Ted and I ordered enough food to feed an army. I was the product of a mother who insisted on serving four times as much food as it was humanly possible to eat. My mother’s feeling would get hurt if one of us girls didn’t eat everything she set on our plates, so it was a constant struggle to not blimp out. I had lost ten pounds after moving out the house without even trying, bringing me down to my current weight. My mother had moaned and groaned, of course, but I ignored her best I could. I liked my new figure, and I wasn’t going to gain weight just to please her. She eventually got over it as long as I ate like in the old days once a month or so. I acquiesced so as to keep the family peace. I didn’t know Ted’s excuse, but I chalked it down to him being Taiwanese as well. It’s in our genes.
Ted and I found out we had much in common, starting with an irreverent streak. I got in trouble many times as a little girl for questioning what others saw as fit and proper. I once told the youth pastor I thought God had a sadistic streak, for which the pastor refused to talk to me for the rest of that Sunday. It was fine by me as I found church to be a bore. My mother, however, raised holy hell when the youth pastor informed her of my misbehavior. My punishment? Reading the Bible for two hours every night for a week. At the end of the week, I had to write an essay on the grace of God. This was for my mother, and she made me write the essay three times because she wasn’t satisfied with my sincerity the first two times. The third time, I sucked it up and wrote the most plaintive, convincing essay I possibly could. The minute she told me my punishment was over, I burned that sucker.
Ted told me how he had once asked the pastor why God didn’t put a stop to the evil in the world. Ted was nine and a serious thinker already. The pastor tried to fob him off by mouthing platitudes such as, ‘We wouldn’t have freewill if God intervened with everything.’ Ted wasn’t convinced, however, and he wouldn’t stop pestering the pastor. Finally, the pastor uttered the biggest cliché of them all, ‘God works in mysterious ways,’ to which Ted replied, ‘That’s such a load of bullshit.” His mother washed his mouth out with soap and grounded him for two weeks. He didn’t change his mind after the incident, but he learned to be more careful in voicing his opinions. He hadn’t felt comfortable in the Taiwanese church since. The funny thing was that we probably had gone to the Taiwanese church at the same time when we were little, but neither of us remembered the other. Chances are we wouldn’t have interacted much given our age difference, but it’s odd that I couldn’t place him at all. The pastor must have hated answering questions from the two of us.
“How are you doing? Do you need anything else?” The giggling waitress who appeared all of twenty-one directed her question to Ted, who favored her with a polite smile.
“I’d like more tea and some almond cookies,” I said sharply. I had a low tolerance for girly-girls, and this one with her overly-made up face and size-four body was definitely one of those. I remained silent as she walked away.
“I don’t understand why women act that way,” Ted said, shaking his head. I looked at him inquiringly, and he expanded on the thought. “Giggling, flirting, talking in a little-girl voice. It’s not attractive to real men, not in the slightest. In fact, it makes me nauseous. I mean, I want to be with a woman, not a girl. Is that so difficult to understand?”
“Women like that can’t help it,” I shrugged, not bothering to conceal my disdain. “They’re raised to think that’s the way a real woman acts, and they tend to date men who agree. Plus, the ones like our waitress are cute enough to get away with it. It’s like the boyish-looking guy who gets women to do things for him because he’s so damned charming. He won’t change until it quits working for him.” Inside, I was pleased that Ted felt the same way I did about those stereotypical Asian women who acted like geisha girls with pep.
“Here you go. I give you free ice cream, too.” The waitress set the dish of red bean ice cream in front of Ted who thanked her. “If there is anything else you need.” She held her tray to her nonexistent chest, looking hopefully at Ted.
“I’ll take the check when you have a minute,” Ted said pleasantly.
“Coming right up!” The waitress bounced away, putting a little sway in her hips as she walked. I shook my head again, eating a cookie as I did.
“You should put the poor girl out of her misery and take her phone number,” I said, brushing crumbs off my lap. I loved almond cookies, but I couldn’t eat them without spraying crumbs everywhere.
“Then I would actually have to call her,” Ted said, spooning up a bite of ice cream. “No, thank you, she’s not my type at all.” That heartened me enough to shove another cookie in my mouth, this time without dropping a single crumb.
“I think I ate too much,” I said as we walked outside. He lit up a cigarette for me without even asking before lighting one for himself. “Let’s go for a quick walk. It’ll help with digestion.” It was only ten-thirty, so we still had plenty of time. I didn’t want to be late, however, as the first movie was one of my favorites—Wing Chung—which starred Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen—two of my favorite Chinese actors.
Ted tucked my arm through his without even asking. It was a homey gesture which felt natural to me. Our bodies complemented each others nicely, which boded well for other activities. Ted didn’t feel the need to stride as so many guys did, so I didn’t end up running my feet off. However, he didn’t dawdle, either, which I appreciated. He seemed to know without asking just how I liked to walk. He was racking up points left and right without even trying. I didn’t dare wonder what he’d be like in bed, but the thought fleetingly crossed my mind. I hadn’t brought any condoms because I didn’t like to have sex on the first date unless it was the only date.
“We better go.” Ted glanced at his watch, and I followed suit. To my surprise, it was eleven. We’d been walking for half an hour in silence, and I hadn’t even noticed. “Why don’t we take one car? Do you want to drive or shall I?” The fact that he even bothered to ask made him a cut above countless other guys who would have just assumed they were driving. However, I preferred to let someone else drive, so we hopped into his silver Lexus and were off.
“I love this movie,” I said as we waited in line for tickets. Several guys were eyeing me, even guys with dates. It was nice to be desired, but I thought it slimy to check out other women while you were with someone. “Michelle Yeoh kicks some serious ass.”
“I haven’t seen this one yet,” Ted admitted a bit sheepishly. I mock-punched him in the arm to express my dismay. He laughed and grabbed my hand, tucking it into the crook of his arm. I could get used to being treated like a princess.
As soon as we got our tickets, we headed into the theater to find seats. The auditorium was only half-full, maybe because the advertising hadn’t been as good as usual. It could also be because the movie wasn’t the typical gore-fest that most boys liked to watch. We found great seats in the second deck where I liked to be. I hated being too close to the screen, and the further the better. I asked Ted to hold my seat while I went to the bathroom. I had to fight my way in as there were several young lovelies hogging the mirrors. They were examining themselves for microscopic flaws which were not visible to the naked eye. When I finally made it to an open stall, I heard an interesting conversation going on outside.
“Did you see who Teddy Lai was with? Some tramp who looked like she should be trolling Hennepin Avenue!”
“Wait until we tell Lucinda. She is going to freak.”
“Well, she deserves it, cheating on him like that. If I were engaged to Teddy Lai, you can bet I’d treat him right.”
“Lucinda is not going to be happy. Did I tell you she still calls him at least twice a week since they broke up? It’s pathetic, really.”
“Her own damn fault. She should have kept her legs and mouth shut.”
I peeked out of my stall, spotting two diminutive Taiwanese women carefully reapplying their lipstick. One was not even five-feet tall, and I doubted she weighed over ninety pounds. She was wearing a dress that uncovered more than it revealed, but she made up for that by caking on the makeup. She had on so much eye-shadow, rouge, lipstick and powder, I couldn’t tell what her face really looked like. As she talked, I identified her as the first voice. She had some nerve saying I looked like a hooker when she, herself, looked as if she’d give a blowjob for a single rock of crack.
The second woman was slightly classier with her silk slacks and fitted but not tight silk shirt. Her hair was dyed that ungainly shade of red that Asians seemed to find attractive. I didn’t think it was the best shade to complement our coloring, but who was I to say? She was taller—around five-five with curves instead of planes. She was the more attractive of the two, but it was clear that she was the follower instead of the leader. She kept glancing at her companion to gauge the other’s reaction, and I wanted to tell her to stop acting like a whipped dog. I knew, however, that pecking order was firmly established in most relationships, and a word to the wise would be wasted.
“Well, this is what I think we should do.” The first woman closed her tiny purse with a snap. I idly wondered how she fit everything she needed to spackle her face in that small space, but it didn’t really interest me. “We hunt Teddy down during intermission and get the 4-1-1 on the ho he’s with. I think I could take him away from her, don’t you?”
“Oh, yes, Tamara,” the second girl eagerly agreed. “You’re much more attractive than she is.” I wanted to tell them that I had loads more personality, however, and I gave good head. I decided not to tip my hand, though, so I waited for them to leave before exiting my stall. Far from being outraged or worried by what I’d heard, I was amused. Nice to know that the guy I was with was so desirable. I washed my hands and left the restroom, much bolstered by what those two girls had said.
“What took you so long?” Ted asked when I returned. “I was worried you’d fallen into the toilet.”
I told him the about my encounter with the snobby kind, causing him to groan loudly. Tamara was Lucinda’s ‘best friend’ who was always cadging things off Lucinda. One year at a Chinese New Year’s party, Tamara had tried to seduce Ted in the men’s bathroom. She’d been drunk and thought it a brilliant idea to follow him into the bathroom. Luckily for him, he hadn’t unzipped yet or he’d be caught with his pants down—literally. Ted thanked me for the warning and anxiously assured me that things were done between him and Lucinda—she just hadn’t gotten the message yet. I wasn’t sweating it because if he preferred his ex to me, well, then he wasn’t the man I thought he was. In that case, it was better to know sooner rather than later.