by Deatri King-Bey
Meet Joy, a thirty-three-year-old, sexually-frustrated virgin who has fallen for a man she met online—a man she knows will alleviate her frustration and a whole lot more.
The conversations Sean and Joy share would make a phone-sex operator blush. When Joy decides to move close to Sean, he knows he should stay away, but can’t.
Edward has waited his entire life for a woman worthy of him. Intelligent, young, sexually naïve Joy is ready for him to mold. He understands her apprehension of dating a man a tad bit older than her, but her misgivings are nothing to conquer compared to what he’s had to overcome in the past to get what he wants.
Ten years ago, Sherry’s man killed her pimp and took her in as his lover because he loves her. Now some virgin slut comes along and tries to steal her man—Hell no!
“I’m a lost cause, Granny.”
The overstuffed armchair cushioned Bertha’s frail body as she turned from watching two teens tossing a football in the neighbor’s yard across the street to face her favorite grandchild. Playing favorites was a definite no-no, but Bertha couldn’t help herself where Joy was concerned.
Slouched on the sofa, Joy ran her fingers over her face and drew out a long sigh.
“Being a tad bit melodramatic today, aren’t we?” Bertha said slowly, keeping the chuckle in her voice at bay.
“I’m a thirty-three-year-old, sexually-frustrated virgin whose only confidant is her ninety-six-year-old granny. Can you get anymore lost?”
“Melodramatic and sarcastic.” Bertha giggled. “What a combination. Your future husband best watch out.”
“Where did it all go wrong?” Joy drawled, then pushed off the couch and crossed over to Bertha. “I’m serious. Originally, I was waiting until I fell madly in love, and now… now I’m an oddball—a scared, horny oddball at that.”
“Fear is needed to make you more cautious. Just don’t let the fear paralyze you. And there’s nothing wrong with being a virgin.”
“I’m not saying there is something wrong with being a virgin, but at my age it makes me, yet again, an oddball.”
“You’ve never been an oddball.”
Joy sucked air through her teeth. “And you said it with such a straight face. Come on, Granny. Unlike my sisters and brothers who were planned pregnancies, I was an oops—menopause child.”
Bertha pursed her lips. “You weren’t an oops. Your mother was the head of the maternity department; she knows how the birds and the bees work before, during and after menopause.”
“Then why are my siblings twenty some odd years older than me? My parents didn’t even want to raise me.”
Bertha knew the reason. Emily had missed much of her other children’s lives and had suddenly wanted a chance to be a “real mother” before she couldn’t have children. Within a year of having Joy, Emily couldn’t “just be mommy” and returned to work part- time. By the time Joy was three, Emily was back to her old workaholic self. “Your parents wanted you. They love you.” This wasn’t the first time Joy had said something along these lines of late, which troubled Bertha.
“You know how kids are,” Joy rambled and toyed with the floral-print curtain. “They tease each other over the silliest things, and I had ‘Gramps and Gram’ for parents, which set me apart and I was raised by my grandparents.”
Though Bertha would never admit it aloud, Joy was always the oddball, which Bertha liked. “We’re so much alike.” When Bertha was Joy’s age, she had long, dark, curly hair, a slender yet curvy body and big brown expressive eyes, but their similarities went well beyond looks.
“Yeah, Mom thinks we’re both crazy.” She faced Bertha. “By the way, Mom and Dad are back from their cruise. We’ve been summoned to dinner, tonight. Mom’s been calling you all day.”
“Whoever invented caller ID needs a raise.”
“She knew you weren’t taking her calls, so I’ve been charged with bringing you, but since I’m not going, I thought I should at least tell you about it. You want me to order a car for you?”
“Your mother will pitch a fit when you don’t show.”
“Won’t be the first or last time.” She winked a mischievous brown eye. “You going?”
“Of course not. How many times have I told her to stop expecting me to show up when she asks the day of the event? Anyway, I have a date.”
“Awww man…” Joy slowly lowered and shook her head. “My granny dates more than I do. Shoot me. Shoot me now.”
“Not that type of date.” Bertha playfully tapped her arthritic hand on Joy’s side. “My date is with that computer.” She motioned at the end table beside the chair. “Those folks who invented the Internet also deserve a raise. Do you like Orbitz, Travelocity or Expedia best?”
“Oh no.” Hands on her hips, Joy faced her grandmother. “You’re about to get me into trouble again, aren’t you?”
“Of course not. I want to leave in two…” She took in Joy’s jeans and oversized, denim, button-up shirt. Why her sweet little thing of a granddaughter chose to hide behind such unflattering, baggy clothing was beyond her. And she could use a haircut, too. Bertha noticed women nowadays wore shorter, snazzy styles. With the natural curl of her hair, she’d look good with one of those geometric cuts like Halle Berry often wore. “Make that three days. We need to go shopping.”
“And just where do you think we’re going and for how long?”
Bertha paid a lot for her pearly white dentures and showcased just about every tooth in the set with the smile she flashed Joy. “Where have I always wanted to go?”
“California. But I still have six weeks of school left, and did your doctor clear this trip? You’ve never flown before, and you haven’t been feeling well.”
Bertha harrumphed and sunk into the corner of the oversized chair with her arms crossed over her chest. “He’s conspiring with your parents to keep me prisoner. The only cure for growing old is death, and I plan to see the sunset on the Pacific before I die.”
Brow raised, Joy asked, “Now who’s being melodramatic? And they aren’t trying to keep you prisoner.” She settled in the chair next to her granny.
“Then why did they take my car?”
Shoulders hunched, Joy said, “I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with your driving seven miles an hour. You have a chauffeur at your disposal twenty-four/seven. Let’s make a compromise.” She sat forward, dug into her back pocket and pulled out a letter. “Check this out. I was accepted into that writer’s summer retreat I told you about.”
Eyes wide, Bertha drew her hands to her mouth. “Oh Lordy be! I’m so proud of you. I can’t believe you’re actually going to do it.”
“Yes, ma’am, I certainly am, and since it’s in Los Angeles, I thought I’d take my favorite person in the whole world with me—that is if her doctor clears it.”
Excitement welled up in Bertha. For years she’d prayed Joy would chase her dream of becoming an author. “They have doctors in Los Angeles. I’m going, but if this program is half as intensive as you’ve told me about, we won’t get to spend much time together. So now we’re taking two trips to California. Mine will be for fun.”
“Granny, I’m a fourth grade teacher. I can’t afford to take us twice.”
“I’m paying for the fun trip.”
“Thanks, but I can’t allow you to spend so much money on me.”
“You have always been entirely too difficult,” Bertha grumbled.
“From what I hear, you’re four times as bad as me.” She cuddled up next to her granny. “Save your money for my trip to you. I’ve found this great senior center that does all kinds of neat trips and things. You can hang out there while I attend the workshops. And if you don’t want to go out, you can watch T.V., read, surf the Internet, nap. The center has it all. I can only give you a hundred bucks a week for pocket change, but that’s enough for at least two field trips a week.”
Bertha blinked rapidly to keep from tearing up. Of all her adult children to great-great grandchildren, Joy was the least secure financially, but always went out of her way to make her granny’s dreams come true—no matter what the cost emotionally or financially.
“I can afford this, Joy. Indulge an old woman. Come with me. I know you don’t want to hear this, but the children will be fine with a substitute teacher. You’ll only be gone a week, maybe two.”
“Why the rush?” Joy asked, concern clear in her voice.
“I’ve been waiting my whole life. Why should I have to wait any longer? Tonight I’m booking our flight to California. I’m going with or without you.”
Mouth and eyes opened wide, Joy gasped. “That’s not fair. You know I’d never let you go alone.”
“I certainly do. And you know I’ll leave without you. Now how long before we can leave.”
“You are so wrong for this,” Joy mumbled. “This is blackmail, extortion or something.”
“It most certainly is. And I’m paying for everything. Now how long?”
Joy stared at Bertha a long while, but Bertha didn’t crack. This was too important. Time was too short.
“I guess three days will be enough time. But I can only be gone a week.”
“Excellent! And don’t tell your parents we’re escaping Alcatraz. They’ll try to stop us.”
“You’re preaching to the choir.” She gently placed her hand on her grandmother’s hand. “You think you’re dying, don’t you?” she asked softly, slowly. “That’s why you’re in such a hurry to get to California.”
Joy’s eyes had darkened to sorrowful black pools. The poor child couldn’t hide her emotions if she wanted to. Her eyes would tell on her every time. Bertha sandwiched Joy’s hand between her own. “This is our last summer together, baby. I’ve had a good life, but I’m tired. This old body I’m stuck in is giving out on me and won’t last much longer.”
Tears trickled down Joy’s cheeks. “I don’t want to lose you. I don’t want to be alone.”
Bertha wiped the moisture from her own face. “I’ll always be with you. If not in body, in spirit. You remember that.” After a long while, she forced a smile to her face. “Now let’s stop all of the doom and gloom. Grab that laptop for me.” She motioned to the end table on Joy’s side of the armchair. “I’ve been busy all week.”
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