(Click book or title to order online)
Author Tracy Grant
Mass Market Paperback
October 6, 1999
Troy said as he chewed. Mrs. Davis,
this is incredible.
Gracias, Angels mother replied. Youve never had arroz con pollo, huh?
I have, but not like this. Angel beamed at the complement. After much insistence from Troy, she had agreed to let him come home with her. Her mother, who was Puerto Rican, had invited him to stay for dinner.
Cmon, ma, everyones had chicken and rice before.
Sure, Angel. You know everything, hm?
No, ma. Not everything. Troy, lets go in the living room.
They had taken the train and the bus for two hours to get there. Because Angel was always so well-dressed, Troy hadnt been prepared for the modest apartment where Angels family lived. The complex reminded Troy of his old block in Harlem, except the buildings were smaller and more widespread; there was grass, trees and fresh air. Angels two younger sisters stayed there along with her mother. Her father, who was black, was out.
Dont forget to thank your mother for the food, Troy told her.
I wont. She was glad to have someone else to cook for. There was a 12-inch TV on in the living room, providing the only light. He could hear Angels mother and sisters washing dishes in the kitchen, speaking Spanish. Angel moved closer to Troy on the couch.
So. Troy prayed his nervousness wouldnt show.
Not everything you expected, is it?
What? Your house is cool.
Maybe, but its small. Maria and Lindsay are getting big. They want their own rooms and clothes.
Wheres your dad?
Hes at work. Hes always working. He does maintenance during the day, cleans office buildings at night.
Hmm. Well that explains how he keeps you looking good, he observed, touching her gold earrings.
No, dear, thats all me.
Yeah, right. I know where you work, you know.
Yes, but I worked at Nordstroms all through high school. My friends still give me discounts.
I see, Troy replied. He thought she might be lying, but she looked so good that he couldnt disapprove. Well your family must be very proud of you.
I dont know why.
Come on. Youre doing just fine, taking care of your own. Besides, you got into Georgetown, didnt you?
Yeah, but staying in. Thats the problem.
Its nothing you cant handle.
Angel smiled. Troy was getting used to seeing that smile. You say the sweetest things, Troy.
Thats not hard to do when youre around. Angel, do you, do you have a
Troy held his breath.
Im flattered, but I dont think you should worry about that now.
Angel, what does that mean?
Nothing. Only that I need a little time.
Troy turned away. He had not been prepared for such a letdown. Angel took his hand.
Look at it this way. If anything, youre here with me. You think I let anyone in here? Hm? She took his hand.
No. No, I guess not.
Thats right. Now youve got to get back to campus. I know youve got studying to do.
Yeah, and so do you.
I know. Come on, Ill walk you to the bus stop.
Troy said goodbye to Angels family and let Angel lead him back to the bus stop. It was dark, but little children were everywhere, riding bikes and playing with toys on dusty lots. He wanted to continue the conversation, but a bus appeared as soon as they arrived at the stop.
Call me when you get back, okay? Angel asked.
What, on your cell phone?
Dont be a smart ass.
Bye, sweetie. He reached for a kiss, but Angel touched his lips with her index finger. The bus driver gave a loud honk.
Honey, the bus is waiting.
Reluctantly, Troy got on the bus back to Washington D.C. Goddamn Metro, he thought. He bet if he had come to her house in a car, she would have kissed him. He tried to study his Accounting on the way back, but he could only think of the past few hours. Angel had opened herself up to him, to some extent, but he still didnt know where he stood. What was all that dont worry stuff? Troy knew bullshit when he heard it. Whoever the other guy was probably the real source of all those clothes and the mobile phone. She probably just worked to keep her parents happy. Still, just as she said, he had been in her home, and he couldnt offer such high-priced gifts. He hoped his love would suffice. He thought of consulting Randy and Ill Will for some perspective, but he was too embarrassed. Besides, they probably thought Angel was just another girl.
A couple of days later Troy stood in the lobby of the library, waiting on his new tutor. When Wendell approached him, Troy thought he was just saying hello.
I'm just chillin, waiting on my Accounting tutor.
I know. You ready?
To get started.
Youre my tutor?
Mmm-hm. Accounting major.
Troy was accustomed to seeing Wendell clowning around with his frat brothers, but never in any academic setting. He was surprised to find that Wendell was disciplined. They dived straight into the material and the senior did his best to salvage what was left of Troys time in the class. It became clear to Troy that he may not have studied hard enough in general during the past months. Now he had to give more effort to Accounting just to keep up, let alone do well. As for Euro Civ, he had no excuse, but hell, that class was too boring. If only all of his classes were like Novel/Short Story. This course presented no problems because it required little besides reading and speaking up in class. Troy considered his contributions to class discussions sincere and thoughtful. Professor Leyritz tended to agree with him most of the time, so Troy concluded he must be a skilled talker. That skill couldnt transfer to other courses, but given a chance, it just might transfer to Angel.
Troy longed for the comfort of his room, but he knew he was doing the right thing. What the hell, he thought. Except for Randy and Ill Will, the academic success of other students never concerned Troy. Ill Will was doing badly in German, but he was determined to improve. Randy had maybe one C in Microeconomics, but he said that for his class, that was good. All three of them had put the constant party-hopping on hold.
Huh? Oh, whats up, Wendell?
Look, I'm not getting paid that much to do this. The only reason I took the job is because youre my boy. Now this is serious, its almost time for finals. You fuck around and you wont even pass. You cant afford to be sitting up here daydreaming.
My fault, my fault.
Salright. Let's go over this again, and pay attention this time.