Haze wiggled her toes in the sand and stretched her arms above her head. Her eyes locked in on the summer sky, watching the sun creep from behind the clouds. “Good morning Mama,” she whispered.
A cool breeze brushed against her skin, making her smile and reminding her that she wasn't alone. It had been three years since her mother died from cancer, but to Haze it felt like yesterday. The pain was still fresh, and her heart was still empty.
Taking another moment to enjoy the calming sounds around her, Haze smiled. She couldn't think of a more beautiful place to spend her days. Hawaii had memories, and they were good ones. Placing two fingers against her lips, she took a deep breath and blew a kiss into the sky. “I love you,” she said softly, and then jogged towards the back porch of the house that once belonged to her mother. As soon as she made it inside, she grabbed her wireless headphones and pushed them into her ears. Her eyes traveled the screen of her cell, searching for just the right song to get her energy flowing for the day. She needed something that could make her feel good. Smiling, she tapped on her favorite playlist, turned the music up as loud as her ears could stand and strolled into her kitchen.
Swaying her hips from one side to the other, she grabbed a wooden cutting board from the cabinet, placed it on the countertop and cut up a few pieces of watermelon. Stuck in her own little world, she didn’t notice her best friend, Avery, come through the back door.
“Are you deaf?”
Startled, Haze yanked the earbuds from her ears. “How long have you been standing there?”
“Long enough to see you gliding your ass across the room like a little sex kitten.”
Haze laughed. “Sorry, I was trying to clear my mind and relax a bit before we head out for our run.”
Avery and Haze had a routine. Every morning, they jogged along the beach for forty-five minutes, played catch up, and then headed off to work for the day. Haze worked at a little ice cream parlor not too far from the beach and Avery owned a swimsuit shop in the area.
“What you listening to?” Avery asked, snatching her phone from the countertop. It didn’t take long for her to notice Dominic’s album cover pop up on Haze’s screen. Dropping the cell back down she said, “Do you ever get tired of listening to this nonsense?”
“Dominic’s music isn’t nonsense. It makes me feel young and sexy.”
“First of all, you’re twenty-five, so stop talking like you’re some old ass woman trying to get your groove back. Second, I don’t see how you can truly enjoy his music. All he sings about is how many different ways he can drive his dick into women while having them scream his name in the process.” Avery slid into the tall chair near the kitchen island. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s nice looking. I mean, if you like that dark chocolate, muscle-bound type. But damn, there's more to life than fucking.”
Haze shrugged, leaning back against the sink. “I don’t see anything wrong with it.”
“Of course you don’t, which is pretty sad and says a lot about who you are as a person.”
“Damn! It’s like that?”
“Look, I'm just being honest. Dominic is shallow as hell, and his music proves it.”
“I bet you haven’t even listened to his latest album.”
“I don’t need to. I’ve heard enough to know that it’s the same bumping and grinding bullshit that he puts out every couple of years.”
“Don'twhatever me. You know I'm right. And to add to my already strong case, the majority of the women in his videos are fake ass foreign women.” Lifting her finger, “Oh, and let's not forget about the women that he's been involved with.”
“Look, I don’t care how much you like his music, you need to face the fact that your boy has an issue with black women.”
Blowing out a heavy breath, Haze pushed her fingertips into her temples. “Oh my God, please shut up.” She didn’t want to hear it. It was the same shit, different day.
“Why? I'm spitting facts right now. As black women, we deserve to be respected by our black men. We should get the same opportunities as these other women. We're sexy and beautiful too.”
Confused, Haze asked, “If you feel like all Dominic talks about is sex, why would you even want us in the videos?”
She stopped, gave Haze a long glare, and then waved her off. “You’re missing the whole point.”
“You didn’t make one.” Haze laughed. “You talked bad about Dominic, basically saying that his music is degrading towards women, but you’re pissed off that we’re not the main focus in his videos. Makes no sense to me.” Haze shrugged. “I will say this though…whether we’re present in his videos or not, as black women, we should be proud of who we are and what we look like. We shouldn’t need anyone else to validate our natural beauty.”
Completely ignoring her point, Avery said, “Well, I’m proud of my beautiful dark skin and any man that has the luxury of having all of this should be grateful.”
“Could you be any more conceited?”
“I'm not conceited. I'm just keeping it real.”
Without a doubt, Avery was a big ball of realness. The shit drove everyone crazy, including Haze. Thin in stature and big frizzy hair, Avery walked around with all of the confidence in the world.
Haze grabbed a piece of watermelon and tossed it into her mouth. “Well, I think you're extremely conceited, and your crazy ass theory about Dominic is ridiculous.”
“What’s so ridiculous about it? You think because the two of you are friends, you know him inside and out?”
“As a matter of fact, yeah, I do.”
“Okay. Well, would you like to tell me what happened to him last night?”
Haze frowned. “What are you talking about?”
“You haven’t heard?”
“Apparently not. What’s going on?”
Avery smirked and then dipped her fingers into the bowl of watermelon. “Rumor has it, Dominic collapsed backstage after his show. An ambulance showed up and everything.”
“What?” Haze’s chest tightened, a million thoughts rushing through her mind. She snatched her cell from the counter. “Did they say why he collapsed?”
“Nothing has been released yet. Are you calling him?”
“Good.” Avery stuck her hand into her sports bra and whipped out a tiny notepad, waiting for Haze’s next move.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“What do you think? Trying to get the scoop.”
“This isn’t the time for you to be getting a story for your damn show, Avery. Something could be seriously wrong with Dominic.”
Rolling her eyes, she lowered her notepad. “Oh, please. I'm pretty sure he's not dead. If that were the case, we would know that already.”
Haze couldn’t believe her response.
Choosing to ignore her, she paced the floor, waiting for Dominic to pick up the line. Eventually, it went to voicemail.
“What’s wrong? Is it really bad? Did he die?” Avery stuffed her mouth with another chunk of watermelon.
“He didn’t answer.”
“Oh. Wow! Maybe he is dead.”
“Stop saying that!”
Avery shrugged. “Sorry.”
Haze’s phone vibrated in her hand. It was a text from Dominic’s mother.
Tonya: Hey Haze. Dominic’s resting right now.
If he’s resting, that means he’s okay, she thought to herself.
Before she could type out a response, another message came through.
Tonya: I guess you've heard the latest. Just in case you're wondering, Dominic is fine.
Haze sighed in relief.
Haze: Thank you so much for telling me that. I was definitely worried.
Tonya: No problem. I’ll have him call you when he wakes up.
Noticing her pleased expression, Avery said, “So, I guess lover boy is okay?”
“Yes. Thank God.”
“I don’t know. His mom didn’t say.”
“You didn’t ask?”
“No. If Dominic wants me to know, he'll tell me when he calls me back.”
Sifting through what was left of the watermelon, Avery whined, “I’m trying to get the inside story.”
“First of all…” Haze said, snatching the bowl away from her. “This is my watermelon. If you’re that damn hungry, take your ass back to your house and make your own. Second, I’m not feeding you information so you can come up with a million an one ways to talk shit about him on your little show.”
“Don’t call my show little. You know how much I hate that.”
Haze wasn’t trying to talk down about her show, but it was hard to take the thirty-minute video clips of her talking trash about celebrities seriously. Of course, through Avery’s eyes, she was just giving her opinion on what was already out there.
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Yes you did, but it’s cool. A lot of people tune in and like what I have to say. It’s not my problem if certain people don’t.”
Not willing to go back and forth, Haze said, “You know what? I’m done. Let’s go.” She reached under the couch and grabbed her sneakers. “You really get on my damn nerves sometimes, you know that?”
Avery shrugged. “I don’t care. I bet you’ll never get rid of me.”
Haze took a deep breath, and then let out a loud sigh. “Yeah, you’re right.”