Chapter 40, Aisha and Tony Rolls Out the Red Carpet Pt.2

A Better Pair of Shoes, a novel
Chapter 40-b

Aisha and Tony Rolls Out the Red Carpet 

It had been months since any of us had walked through the double doors at Catalina’s.  This time six of us were expected to be there, rather than our usual four.  Camie was in tow with her sister Erilyn, and her newest girlfriend and hairdresser Nohle.   I thought about Kayla’s craft, and hoped for Nohle’s sake that Camie’s hair was on point.  I was surprised to see that our usual valet guy had been moved up to some sort of management position, and was working on the inside of the restaurant.  It was quite a cool thought however.  When I made it around to where our table was, Kayla and Ketly were already seated, and snacking on bread.  I quickly moved in on Ketly, who stood happily to greet me.  It was astonishing to see her glow.  She was not the woman I’d seen just a few weeks prior.  Then again, nor was I.  A huge storm had anchored its head over our circle, but I was happy to see that we’d cut its legs off.   I circled back to greet Kayla, and she stood to her feet.  She even took a slight step back to look at me.  I knew what she was referring to.  As I said, there had been a storm.  Just as I was set to take my seat, Camie came bursting through the columns that complimented the two short walls that provided privacy for our party.  She’d always been large and in charge, but now she shining.  She didn’t look to be just content, but she looked radiant and happy.  I did make reference of her new cut and all the movement it had.  Everyone was now on their feet, and hugs and kisses were everywhere.  I was taken aback by Erilyn, and how well put together she was.  It was not the same Erilyn I’d met.  Either Camie had gotten her hands on her, or she had a lot more style than she’d led on.  It was the subtle choices that she made that gave her away, more so than the more apparent ones.  Camie introduced everyone to Nohle, who had nothing but a huge smile, lots of warmth, and a radiance of her own.  She was tall and slender with a bit of a pear shape.  I didn’t know her nationality, but there was an obvious mixture of things.  Camie was dressed simply in a Maxi dress, but I knew it was only to create a definite contrast in our minds.  Not that we needed one, after the first drive Kayla and I took to Tampa.  Still, I couldn’t wait to see what she had settled on for the party.  Camie and Ketly double hi-fived each other, and shared a few extra moments in their embrace.  It was cute, and it was clear that the two had become closer as well.  Kayla and I had paid for a series of dishes to be delivered to the table, and shortly thereafter, they began to come.  Kayla, Camie, Ketly, and I sat side-by-side and Nohle and Erilyn bookended us. 

            “So, you ladies ready for tonight?”  Kayla was more present than I’d seen her in quite some time, and in the time we’d spent planning, she never seemed to wander off. 
            “I am for sure.”  Ketly didn’t need a moment a think.
            “Definitely.”  Camie’s answer came slower.
            “Jennifer, you know you’re ready.”  Nohle didn’t hold back any of her enthusiasm.
            “I’m sorry, should we be calling you Jennifer?”  I took the liberty of asking the question I knew we were all asking.
            “I was going to make an official announcement, but yeah.  It’s more fitting right now.”  Camie acted as if she was dragging a dead body from a closet.  Perhaps she’d forgotten we’d had that moment already months ago.
            “That’s Cool.  Can I call you Jen?”  Kayla asked either to take the edge off the issue, or to separate herself from Nohle.
            “Of course, you could call me anything.”  Camie clarified.  

The rest of the time, we ate, discussed tentative wedding dates and colors, and a possible summer trip.  When Ketly’s alarm went off, which she had set to keep us on track, we quickly pulled ourselves away.  I still had a few things to do before I was set to meet back up with Kayla, Ketly, and Camie at the salon.  Camie had threaded the needle of integration carefully, and was sure to have Kayla do her reset.  I knew it wasn’t about me, but Tony and I were hosting the event after all, and apparently we all knew some pretty influential people.  I’d taken Camie’s referral and hired a top notch planner, so I wasn’t completely overwhelmed with all the details.  Sax was officially shut down to the public, and Tony had agreed to let the planner transform the space for the event.  Neither one of us were being allowed to see the finished space before the event.  We were scheduled to show up just a little before the rest of the guests, at seven-thirty.  Kayla had promised to have Ketly and me out of the salon by six, but I was hoping she could work her magic even sooner. 

When I finally made it home, Tony was already there.  I hadn’t seen him since early that morning when he’d left to meet Wood and the other guys to play ball.  It had become the thing to do between Tony, Jeff, and Wood whenever Jeff was in town.  Tony and Wood had been cool ever since Kayla had proven to Wood that her feelings for Tony were all behind her, by asking Tony to walk her down the aisle.  I needed the assurance too, and so I also agreed. 

Tony was already half-dressed, and was completely out of my way like I’d hoped.
“So, how’d it go?”  I talked and moved around pulling things from the closet and laying them on the bed.
“Good.  Derek’s a good dude.  And Nate’s a real man’s man, you know.”  He said as he flickered through the channels on the TV.  I wasn’t surprised.  From the way Jennifer had spoken about Derek, I’d expected he’d fit well.

When we arrived at Sax, there were a few cars already parked, but not much.  There were still a few service vehicles hanging around, which meant everything was not complete.  When we got to the door, I could see a mix of Tony’s staff and the planner’s team running around.  I wasn’t sure what for.  The place was stunning.  The lighting was spectacular, and there were two distinct spotlights beaming at the floor in two separate areas of the dance floor.  Kayla and I had decided it would be a black and white affair with a flare of red.  All the women were asked to dress in black, and the men were to wear red ties.  Ketly and Jennifer were to be dressed in red.  The tables were covered in black with red and white plaid napkins and red and white towering centerpieces.  There were two distinct cake stations on both sides of the room that showcased the two couple’s unique preferences.  All the wait staff were also dressed in red and white.  Tony had insisted on ordering his usual Sax’s pins in red and each guest was to be given one at the door.   The band was already playing, and they too were dressed in red and white.  We spoke briefly to the planner for an update, and then stole the spotlight for a few moments.  I’d forgotten how much Tony liked to dance, but he reminded me.  I’d worn a black mid-length, iridescent, long-sleeved, v-neck dress with a flare and three large pleats that played well with all the lighting.  By the time the song ended, some of the guests had begun to arrive, and Tony and I pulled back our emotions to greet them.

Wood and Kayla were in the next drove of people to arrive.  Kayla had on a black skater style dress with toe out heeled booties.  She’d simply balled her locks into a high bun, and left a third hanging down in the back.  We quickly approached the two, and both Kayla and I acknowledged our selections with a slight tilt of the head.  By eight-fifteen the room was more than half full, and there were more introductions than I’d anticipated.  Ketly and Jennifer and their Beaus were to arrive at nine, and not a moment later did the planner signal Tony and me to quiet the room.  Jeff and Ketly were the first to enter, and the room went wild.  Moments later there was another large uproar.  The two couples were stunning.  Without Kayla and my knowledge both Jeff and Derek had coordinated, and abandoned their jackets.  They’d opted for red suspenders and black hats.  Ketly was more than anyone of us could bear.  We’d never seen her so compelling.  Her dress was a simple satin knee-length halter, which she paired with red platform heels with red rhinestones.  Jennifer wore a fitted- one sleeve gown in a relaxed fabric with a mermaid tail.  Her choice was somewhat understated, but her confidence was well-stated.   

Ketly and Jeff had soaked up most of the eyes in the room all night, yet they didn’t appear to remember the room much.  I think they’d danced to almost every song, and Jeff’s mouth never seemed to leave Ketly’s ears.  I’d known through Tony that Jeff had been in town more frequently in recent weeks, but never did I see their engagement coming.  I hadn’t known much about Jeff, but after Ketly had insisted I read his latest book, I’d become quite a fan.  Perhaps that was why they were so compelling. 

Derek and Jennifer were having a ball.  They danced around in circles, and continued to switch off between the people they were acquainted with on the dance floor.  Their connection felt light and free.  They were also fun to watch.  By the time eleven-thirty came around, everyone looked faint.  Tony and I were happy to know that we’d be leaving the planner and both their staff to take care of the cleanup.  We quickly made our good-byes and left the couples behind. 

On the way home there was an unexpected “You looked stunning tonight.”  It energized me, and suddenly I didn’t feel so faint.  When we made it to the top of the stairs, we had both already come out of our shoes.  Tony and I had felt the success of the night, and thought we’d continue on the path.  As we coursed the path, there came a point when I knew that we were done practicing.  There was no doubt in my mind that I would be a mother.  

A Better Pair of Shoes, a novel © Grace Call Communications, LLC Copyright ©2010, 2016, 2017 by Natisha Renee Williams All Rights Reserved