On a breezy Friday evening, just after 8 p.m., the streets in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn bustled with energy.
The pavement was filled to the brim with passing pedestrians blissfully conversing and excited for the weekend.
Honking horns courtesy of impatient drivers cued the soundtracks to their conversations, while bright inviting lights glowed through the windows of restaurants and bars that lined the city’s blocks.
The three O’Shea sisters – Maliya, Mikayla, and Malika – dined at local Caribbean restaurant, The Green Palm. A small green palm tree near the restaurant’s entrance swayed with the wind blowing through the open doors.
The overhead lights were dimmed low while the DJ spun old school reggae on his turntable located at the back of the restaurant.
They were seated at a wooden table with a green tablecloth draped on top. A slender glass vase with a single rose sat at the center of the table. Over jerk salmon, sweet plantain, and coconut rice, the sisters discussed their week.
An hour later, interest in talking fizzles out and they’ve started to turn their focus elsewhere. Maliya is busy checking to see if she has any missed phone calls, Malika is glancing down at her Cartier black and gold timepiece for the fifth time in the last 15-minutes, and Mikayla is focused on eating, spooning some of her coconut rice into her mouth.
This was a routine for the sisters to meet up every Friday night. A way for them to bond and stay in the loop of the changes they experienced throughout the week. Their lives were busy but normal nonetheless. Maliya was a middle school teacher, Mikayla a marketing coordinator for a small PR agency, and Malika a freelance nail technician. Had it not been for their Friday dinners, they’d only see each other during forced Sunday brunches at their mother’s home.
“Y’all got somewhere else to be or something?” Mikayla queried. Her mouth full with the rice she’d just spooned into it, but her words still audible enough for her sisters to understand.
Maliya glanced up from her phone and over at Mikayla. “Today is Omari and my 3-year anniversary so…”
“So you can’t hang with your little sisters for a bit before laying up under your man for the night? Don’t worry the dick will still be there when you meet up with him later.”
“Ew, was that necessary?”
Malika giggled at her two older sisters’ exchange.
Maliya’s the first born of the sisters and celebrated her 29th birthday two months prior. Ironically, she looks younger than Mikayla and Malika and could pass for 21 with her slanted baby doll eyes, waist-length tight curls, and her petite physique. Always breaking up their arguments, Maliya’s considered to be the mother hen of the sisters due to her mediating skills and laidback personality.
Mikayla’s the middle sister, a year younger than Maliya, and is known as the outspoken firecracker with a short fuse. Baring a strong resemblance to Maliya, the two sisters looked like their late father, most people would mistake them for twins if Mikayla wore her natural curls and smiled more.
Malika is the baby, two years younger than Mikayla. She got her light skin tone from their father and share’s her amber-colored eyes, high cheekbones, and full lips with their mother. Her sisters find her to be very secretive and believe she has a gift for knowing what to do and say to get under everyone’s skin.
“You’ve been so brash tonight,” Maliya added, her lip turned up at Mikayla before focusing her attention back down on her phone.
“How about you? What are you doing after this?” Mikayla questioned Malika.
Malika’s eyes shifted away from her sisters to peer down at her wristwatch to check the time again. Dinner took longer than she expected and she hoped that she wouldn’t be late to where she was going after their meet-up ended.
Malika bit the inside of her cheek when she raised her head, still trying to manufacture a response. Her first instinct was to lie. Telling them where she was going once dinner ended could ruin her plan for the night and for her future as her sisters would try to talk her out of doing what she’d already decided was necessary.
“Hello?” Mikayla snapped her fingers in Malika’s direction to get her attention.
“I…um,” Malika stammered before clearing her throat, “I’m spending the night at the Braxton Hotel.” She uttered that sentence quick, hoping it would go over their heads. Her usual Mariah Carey-esque raspy voice sounded softer than usual.
Maliya and Mikayla briefly turned their heads to each other then both turned back to stare at Malika.
“Isn’t that the hotel your ex Rico is getting married in tomorrow?” Maliya inquired.
Malika stared back at them at first before shrugging her petite shoulders. She leaned forward to grasp her glass of spiked mango juice, took a sip and then answered, “is it?” in a coy manner.
Mikayla kissed her teeth and pushed her plate slightly to her left to prop her elbow up on the table. She shifted her weight forward so that she could face Malika completely. Peering at Malika, Mikayla forced her sister to look at her by maintaining eye contact until Malika’s eyes met with hers. “Don’t play dumb with us Lika. You know damn well that’s the hotel. You’re the one who told us about their wedding tomorrow. Why are you even going over there?”
“I need a little me time and wanted to make it a spa night. I figured I’ll…”
“Bullshit,” Mikayla retorted.
“Hold on Mikayla, give her an opportunity to finish explaining.” Maliya jumped in.
Mikayla scoffed, throwing her hands in the air. She leaned back in her chair, crossing one arm over the other. “Here we go. Maliya to the rescue, yet again.”
Mikayla believed Maliya naively took up for Malika every time, even when Malika was wrong. Maliya still saw Malika as the baby of the three and sometimes handled her with kiddie gloves when it wasn’t necessary. “It’s clear she’s lying,” Mikayla added, “and it’s even clearer what she’s trying to do.”
Maliya sighed, a gust of air leaving her nose. She moved her eyes off Mikayla and onto Malika. “Why are you going to The Braxton Hotel tonight of all nights?”
Malika folded her lips into her mouth. She tapped a rhythm on their table with her stiletto-shaped nail and replied, “I don’t want to say.”
Mikayla sucked her teeth. “You’re going over there for Rico aren’t you? Just say it.”
Malika stayed quiet.
Maliya reacted by turning her lips down into a frown. “Malika, please say you’re not going over there for that man. Why would you do that to yourself?”
Malika pointed a finger in their direction, the lacquer of her pink and gold designed nails catching the glint of light overhead. “This is not up for discussion. And what I do when I’m not with the two of you is none of your business. I told y’all I’m going there for the spa. Rico getting married tomorrow in the same hotel is just a coincidence.”
“Yeah okay. So you’re really going over there to make yourself look stupid over him, huh? For Rico?” Mikayla shook her head. “And what do you plan to do? Ruin their wedding? I mean, they deserve at least that after what they did to you. But, then what? You want him back after? I know you don’t want him back! What the hell you want with a superficial lying asshole who deserves to have his tongue ripped out of his mouth and shoved up his…”
“Mikayla!” Maliya said through closed teeth. She swatted her sister on the shoulder with the back of her hand. “What is your problem tonight?”
“Probably Phil. What else is new?” Malika mumbled taking another sip of her mango juice.
Mikayla glared at Malika and Malika returned the same mean stare. And when Mikayla rolled her eyes, Malika did the same.
Maliya shook her head and said, “Both of you need to stop.” She placed her right elbow on top of the table, leaning her cheek against her open palm. “What are you up to, Malika?”
Malika sat back with her glass of mango juice in one hand. Swallowing the last of her drink, a sly grin stretched across her lips that she tried to hide behind the rim of the glass.
Mikayla said, “Look here little girl. Please don’t do anything crazy that will have us down at the precinct needing to bail your ass out of jail. I just paid rent, light and cable, and don’t have any coins to give.”
Maliya snickered. She reached for the single red rose that leaned off the side of the vase on their table. “I can’t with you two tonight.” She bent the stem until it came apart from the flower and tucked the rose behind her right ear. She pushed her clutch beneath her arm and said, “I have to go. I was supposed to be at Omari’s an hour ago. I’ll call y’all in the morning. Love you.”
“Love you more,” Mikayla and Malika said in sync, their voices magnified as their sister got up from her seat and left.
Mikayla spooned the last of her rice into her mouth then looked up at Malika from the side of her eye. “The Braxton Hotel, huh?”
“I should go too,” Malika said avoiding the question while pushing her chair back to stand.
“Great. Stick me with the bill.”
“You were the only one eating anyway,” Malika said with a smirk. She walked over to where her sister sat and leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek, leaving behind a burgundy colored lip print on her sister’s peanut butter brown skin.
Mikayla and Malika may have argued with each other more often than they did with Maliya but they were undercover besties since they were closer in age. Ironically, the constant bickering made their sister bond stronger especially now in their late 20s.
“Aye,” Mikayla called to Malika before she walked away. “I wouldn’t say this in front of Maliya because you know how she can be. Whatever you got planned, you better make sure you come out on top, flawless, and winning. You’re an O’Shea and that’s all we know how to do, win. I’m sure what you’re about to do, however crazy it is, Rico and that bitch Nalani had it coming.”
A wicked grin spread across Malika’s lips, bigger than the grin from earlier, and her amber eyes twinkled. “See now, that’s what I’m talking about! This is the sister I know and love,” Malika said blowing Mikayla a kiss and turning to walk toward the exit.
END OF CHAPTER PREVIEW
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