include_once("common_lab_header.php");
Excerpt for Wait, You Did What by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

This page may contain adult content. If you are under age 18, or you arrived by accident, please do not read further.

Prologue



“This is not happening. This is not happening. This is seriously not fucking happening!” I don’t know why my brain kept thinking that repeating that mantra over and over, and over and again in my head, that it’d somehow be true. I mean, if there were a genie behind the mirror listening to my one person conversation then maybe. But, since I have worst luck than Mufasa from the Lion King, fat chance on that happening.

What was happening on the other side of that bathroom door however, I just plain wasn’t ready to deal with. To tell the honest to goodness truth I don’t think I’d even be telling the truth if I said I would EVER be ready to deal with it.

Because once I open this door I’ll be opening up a can of worms. No, that’s not quite right, try snakes, nah, more like anacondas.

So, looking in the hateful mirror (that was not being helpful in any type of way whatsoever) one last time, I pulled up my proverbial big girl panties. Closing the robe provided by the hotel as tightly as I could—since I refused to pick up the dress that lay discarded in a heap in the next room—I grabbed the knob and pulled it open to see the person that I was hoping against all hope was still fast asleep, getting ready to knock on the door.





Chapter 1



Maybe we should hit rewind and start this whole thing from the beginning. No, I don’t mean from the very beginning like, from the cradle, either.

I mean from when my idiotic sometimes I’m more than sure is brain dead older brother decided to have a destination wedding instead a normal one at home. Ever since his supposedly free app went viral and became a billionaire he felt the need to show off just how much money he had.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s still the same old Max: quirky nerd with a huge heart on the inside, handsome goof with a ton of money on the outside. And I couldn’t truly harbor any type of jealousy towards him, because thanks to him not only was I able to successfully launch my writing career, but also open my own printing press and publishing company that was now even giving MacMillan a run for its money. It was a win win: we both got to do the things we loved to do and get paid big bucks. We had it made. The two kids from Detroit who usually never won at any damn thing had truly come up in the world. And yes, we still stayed in Detroit, not some suburb like Canton or Farmington Hills.

Which is why I was shocked to shit when he told me he had someone for me to meet. Of course I agreed; not only had he struck my curiosity, but who was I to turn down free drinks? Max always picked up the tab since before he made it big; I used to be the one picking up his. So, even though we both have no longer have any money worries, that was just his way of saying thank you.

We met up at The Bullfrog, a karaoke joint we used to go to, one that had an actual real live band to sing with. Him being the punctual one that was always the first to every party, me being the one who couldn’t arrive on time for anything (I was even born two weeks late according to our mom) he was already there.

The fact that he was there already isn’t what surprised me. The chick he was on the stage singing with and making googly eyes at was. And there was no mistaking her as being some random girl he met at the bar either, not with the way their eyes kept locking on to one another. It was so sickeningly sweet it was nauseating, but it was the happiest I’d seen him in a long time.

The place wasn’t packed, just a fair sized crowd, which is what we liked most about it. Looking past the actual bar to the sitting area I saw Max’s best friends Donny and Chase waving me over. As I walked towards them I went over a mental checklist in my head of what I needed to do the next day, so that I knew when I would have to cut myself off.

“Be glad you’re just now getting here, they’ve been up there twice already,” Donny told me in his usual casually arrogant tone as I sat down with a feigned look of horror on his face.

Under his breath I vaguely heard Chase mutter, “Like you could do any better,” before turning to me saying, “Hey, Justine, you been okay?” Just as I was getting ready to wave the waitress over he stopped me saying, “Already ordered your Long Island, light ice extra lemon, when I saw you walking in.”

“My hero,” was my response to that as I sighed and truly relaxed in my seat. I caught him blushing just a tad out the corner of my eye. He’d had a crush on me since high school, though he always did his best to hide his blush. The poor thing was so light he was almost white, so fat chance on that. “Been okay, just another long day at the office. But I still love every minute of it.”

“Drinks on you tonight?” came from Donny. I swear I don’t know why Max was friends with him. I know Chase felt the same way. The two of them, Chase and Donny, were only friends by default thanks to Max. I’m sure Donny didn’t even notice, with as into himself as he was.

The two of them were complete opposites in every sense. Donny was the type of guy that exuded conceited arrogance in his wake, completely unwarranted. I mean, dude was cute, but not drop dead gorgeous. It’s like some chick gave him a compliment that blew up his head and it still hadn’t deflated from it. Wish I could find her so I could give hers a swift kick. Standing at about five feet eleven, he was the shortest of their little trio, milk chocolate skin, dark brown judgmental eyes behind a pair of outdated glasses, a predatory-looking mustache, and slim without any true muscles. He reminded me of a young Samuel L. Jackson. They’d known each other from grade school and been inseparable ever since. I never understood it, and stopped trying a long, long time ago.

Then there was Chase. In high school, which is where they met and turned their dynamic duo into a trio, he was the dumpy, slightly overweight kid with an extreme case of acne who hadn’t learned quite yet what to do with his height. After following behind Max to the gym however, that weight had turned into muscle and he was well-adjusted to his height. If anyone should have been arrogant it was him, but he was just the opposite. Chase was light skinned with dark brown curly hair, with friendly hazel eyes with tiny green flecks and a set of full, plush lips that you could tell were soft just by looking at them, strong jawline with a slight cleft. He never seemed to notice women flirting with him. He was always clean shaven whenever I saw him, so I sometimes wondered what he would look like with a mustache and a goatee. One would almost think him a pretty boy if not for that hard, muscular six foot five frame. It’s not even like he tried showing his muscles off or anything, but you’d have to be blind not to notice them. He was still the quiet, shy type. Which in my opinion just made him all the more attractive. Not that I would ever tell him that. That would make things all too awkward. Plus, my track record with men left much to be desired.

Once they finally bellowed the last chord and only one or two people out of the deadpan crowd started clapping, the three of us stood and joined in with gusto, whistling, and shouting for the two of them. Well, honestly, it was mostly for Max. “So who is this chick?” I asked them when we sat down, as Max and Mystery Girl stepped off the stage. “What do you know about her?”

“Not a damn thing,” Donny answered me, “except that her name is Chelsea. When they weren’t on the stage they were busy studying the books to decide on which one to sing, and in what order. They even sang a few practice bars.” He shuddered before slouching down lower in his chair and taking a swig from his beer bottle.

When the duo made it to the table I stood up to give Max a hug, only to be bulldozed into the gigantic chest of a bouncing, slightly freckle-faced redhead, Chelsea. I think she said hi or something, but I was too distracted with my face being smashed by boobs that were even bigger than mine. Not something that happened too often. Made me wish I had kept on my heels from work instead of slipping on my combat boots.

When I was finally released from her almost lethal embrace I gave her a once-over and was almost blinded by the florescent pink dress she was wearing. It was so bright I just about wanted to take out my contacts to tone it down for my poor eyeballs.

Before I had a chance to recover Max grabbed me into his huge beefcake arms. “Hey, Sis.”

“So, who’s the Amazon?” I whispered in his ear.

“Ha. Ha,” was his only reply before releasing me from my second bear hug of the night. Meaning the answer was probably going to be one that I didn’t like.

I sat back down and grabbed my drink. The waitress must have brought it over while I was busy being crushed. I took a couple long sips and looked at the two of them still standing and holding hands. “Y’all gonna sit down anytime soon?” I said on a slight laugh.

When I saw Max take in a deep breath, I downed another long sip. “Well, first, I have an announcement to make. We’re getting married.”

When Chelsea squealed, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do more: throw up or scream.



Chapter 2



After Donny and Chase managed to pick their mouths up off of the floor, and I quelled my need to scream at the top of my lungs, we all ordered another round of drinks and went to sit at one of the outside tables. They needed a breath of fresh air and I desperately needed a nicotine stick.

Max was filling us in on how the two of them had met. Apparently at the last Michigan Comic Con, which by the way had only been six months ago, and it was love and not lust at first sight. She had gone as Starfire and he had shown up as Nightwing. “I was walking around checking out which of the room parties were worth my time going to, and she was doing the same thing when we literally bumped into each other in the hallway, and our eyes just sort of locked on to each other’s.”

“It was like, just surreal, you know?” Chelsea picked up where Max left off, “It’s hard to put into words. But, you guys know how cons go. What happens there stays there? But after we went to a couple of the parties and had like a drink or two, we decided to just go outside and talk, which we did for more than five hours.”

Yeah, I did know. Usually you went there with every intention of getting laid that night. Not everybody, there was tons of fun to be had during the day. But the after parties were more like a meet and greet. I mean, you even had labels at the bottom of your nametag for goodness’ sake; m for monogamy, p for poly, s for single, so on and so forth. Max and I used to go to them together, during the day we’d attend the events and such, then at night we’d break off and do our own thing.

Lately, I hadn’t really had the time to, but I did plan on going with him to the Steam Con this year. Looks like that was more than likely off of the table now.

“We’ve been pretty much inseparable ever since then.” Max continued, “She’s even been going with me to Board Game nights since you punks haven’t been wanting to go lately anyway.”

“I was off on book tours, punk.” I threw some popcorn at him as I said it. “I am glad the two of you found each other, but marriage so soon?”

“Why not?”

“I could think of more than a couple reasons. No offense, Chelsea.”

“None taken; my friends reacted even worse since I was alone when I told them.” She responded on a laugh.

She began to blush and laugh even louder at Max’s, “They did?”

“Much worse.” At his defeated look she laughed that much more. Maybe she wasn’t so bad after all. At least that’s what I thought until she tacked on, “Especially when I told them we were doing it in a couple weeks.”

“Weeks?” For the first time ever Donny, Chase, and I were in complete agreement as we blurted that out.

“What the fuck, dude, you knock her ass up or some shit?” This of course came from Donny.

“Donny, that was just plain rude.” Even though we were all probably thinking it, he could have asked way better than that. When Max just sat there in silence with that look on his face, the one he always wore when he got caught doing something bad when we were younger, I couldn’t help but to add my two cents. “Wait, did you?” The two of them blushed and slightly nodded their heads; it was my turn to blurt something out before letting it go through any type of filter first. “So what’s the plan? Have the wedding, then have the baby shower at the reception?”

“Justine!”

“What?” I fired back, then slumped down in my seat hoping the waitress would hurry her ass up with those drinks.

Before Donny or I could put a foot back into either of our mouths again, it was Chase that asked the question that we all should have been asking in the first place—the only question that truly mattered, or that really deserved an answer. “Are you happy, bro?”

Max’s response was, without any hesitation, an emphatic, “Yes.”

“Then I’m happy for you,” Chase said as he stood to give him a half hug from across the table. Adding, “We all are,” as he sat back down.

“I blame my initial response on the alcohol.” That was the best answer I could come up with. I couldn’t help the smirk that came with it. “For real though, if you’re happy, then I’m happy. Plus, I can’t wait to hear how Mom and Pops reacted to the news, so spill it.”

“About that…”

“You haven’t told them yet?” I couldn’t help but laugh at that, “Oh wow, you chicken shit, what are you waiting for, the birth announcements to be printed up?”

“No, smart ass, I was waiting for you to be there with me when I did.”

That wiped any smirk that remained from my mouth. Fuck my life.

Chapter 3



The following day we met up at Mom and Pop’s house. Not like we had much time to waste; any longer would just put us that much closer to the big day. And since it turned out said day wasn’t even happening in Michigan, we really were on a time crunch, and everyone had a task list.

Little Miss Freckles was actually from some small town in Pennsylvania, and her favorite place to go to growing up was the chocolate capital of the world, Hershey, Pennsylvania. So, bring on the location destination marriage, all expenses paid by my brother, of course. I would almost say she was just a gold digger, but, she was already pregnant, so that could have been her meal ticket right there. All expenses paid until the kid turned eighteen, with no worries of signing a dotted line. So, things just kept pointing in the direction that maybe she did love him after all. There was also no faking chemistry you could feel coming off the two of them in waves. And the way she looked at him, not even the greatest of method actresses could pull that look of love and adoration off had it not been real.

I don’t know what it was about coming back home that turned us back into two friggin’ ten year olds. What? Don’t give me that look. Yes, we had money, and yes, our parents still stayed in the house we grew up in in Detroit. All of Detroit isn’t as bad as people like to think it is. The house we grew up in, which was already paid off, was a six bedroom four bathroom brick home (that only needed minor repairs and new plumbing, which we happily paid for) where the police responded as though it were a suburb. We even offered to move my parents to the other side of seven mile to Palmer Woods, but they refused, saying they didn’t need that big of a house without us around. But, they did tell us they would be more than happy with an in-ground pool in the backyard, and the patio redone with a Jacuzzi. Which we happily obliged.

We had both pulled up at the exact same time and were fussing about who was going to be the one to open the door. It wasn’t until we heard Pops clearing his throat that we realized the door was already open with him standing right in it and Mom shouting from somewhere inside, “Get y’all asses in here! Out there putting on a show for the damn neighbors! Grow up!” After a, “Sorry, Mom,” and “Hi, Pops,” we walked in with our heads hanging down as if we were getting ready for a whooping.

What we got instead was Mom walking to the doorway to stand beside Pops, saying, “Well, don’t just stand there.” Then they grabbed us both into a big ass hug. As far as parents went, they were a couple of the best. We got lucky in that department. But they were both still insane in mostly every other department.

They were the true definition of an odd couple. Pops was a six foot three inch tall bear of a white man with white hair cut to the quick, with a small beard and mustache that made his handsome face look menacing, when in truth he was one of the nicest men you’d ever meet. Mom was just a touch over five feet, a fierce, robust black woman with more than a touch of Native American. She had long dark brown hair and the face of an angel, though she could be mean as a damn grizzly if you got on her wrong side. She was also more than a touch racist: she doesn’t count Pops as white. Yes, I know how idiotic that sounds. But since he grew up in the heart of Detroit and played pro basketball for a while until an accident took out his knee, Mom said that made him black enough for her. Did I mention they were a touch insane?

“Well, don’t just stand there like some statues. Your mom made some brunch and has it all set up nice in the dining room,” Pops said as he ushered us in, “And she wouldn’t let me touch a damned thing ’til y’all got here and I’m half starved.”

“You got enough meat on those bones to afford to miss a meal or two,” Was Mom’s snappy reply to that comment.

“Estelle, you wound me with your words. Now, I’m going to need some extra affection from you or I’ll start believing you just don’t love me like you used to.”

“I’ll give you some extra affection alright, a whack upside the back of your head if you touch that food before we say grace.”

Rolling my eyes at that, I sat down. I couldn’t help but smile at how much the two of them loved one another, as we bowed our heads to say grace. They almost gave me hope that I could find that type of love too. Almost.

Mom cleared her throat before saying, “There’s some grown up juice mixed in with the orange juice, since I’m more than sure we gonna need it. Nothing ever bodes well when Max calls and says he wants to discuss something with us.”

“Ma, come on, maybe I just wanted to spend some time with my family.”

“Boy, do I look like I was born yesterday to you? If so, them damn contacts ain’t worth a damned dime that you paid for ‘em, and you need to go get a refund.”

I just about choked on my juice listening to the two of them go back and forth. I don’t think Pops even heard a mumbling word over his own chewing. I barely recall seeing the man even fix his plate, but when I looked over at him he was already halfway done and eyeballing seconds.

I had a coughing fit so bad Pops was about to get up and beat me on the back until I choked out an, “I’m okay,” when I heard Max telling Mom, “Maybe I wanna just discuss going on a family vacation. We haven’t done that in a while now.” I downed another glass of ‘grown up juice’ to help soothe my throat, and get ready for the big reveal.


Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-9 show above.)