I giggled a nervous laugh, mostly because I wanted Hakeem’s number. Sasha and I had the classic frenemy relationship. I noticed she’d jab me in conversation when it was absolutely unnecessary and I’d never really do anything to nip that in the bud. I’d laugh it off, or say something like, “Dang Sasha, for real?” or “It’s like that?” but nothing more.
“Alright, gang’s all here?” Asia asked, looking around at her growing crowd of after partiers. “Uber’s here. I can fit six in the XL I called. Everyone else, you’ll have to get your own. Let’s be out!”
Hakeem and I piled into the middle seats of the van. He looked over at me and smiled, “This is going to be fun.”
“Here’s hoping,” I said, trying to talk over the drunk chatter behind us.
Asia turned around from the passenger seat. “And who are you? You worked with us before?” She turned her attention to me.
“I’m Hakeem. I don’t think I’ve worked with you before. I’m here with Danielle,” Hakeem smiled.
“Oh Danielle, you brought yourself a little date to the gala. I see you sis!” Asia laughed.
“Somebody gotta carry all them bags!” I laughed.
“Oh, that’s why I’m here?” Hakeem chimed in.
We got to the bar in Brooklyn and all piled in, basically taking over most of the back of the bar. Hakeem tucked my bags under a booth seat and put his jacket over everything and mine on top of his.
“I can keep my eyes on all your baggage,” Hakeem laughed.
“Haha, very funny,” I nudged him.
“First round’s on me Dani!” Asia said, hugging her arms around me and Hakeem. “Even you stranger!” She laughed.
Asia stepped off to order drinks. “Well, I’ve got round two,” Hakeem said.
Asia called me over to the bar. “Danielle, for real, who is this kid? He’s hella cute.”
“Right?” I said as I looked over at Hakeem and waved at him. “He came to the gala because his friend had an extra ticket. His friend ended up flaking, but he still came.”
“Works out for you!” Asia laughed.
“Well, I was supposed to be getting his number for my homegirl,” I offered.
“Was she at the gala?” Asia asked.
“Yeah, she was there…”
Asia cut me off before I could finish my sentence, “So why isn’t she here? She sent him here with you for you to get his number for her? Make it make sense D.”
I laughed. “Well, she didn’t want to come, but she asked me to snag his number for her. I have every intention of doing that.”
“You don’t,” Asia laughed. “And that’s OK sis. When a woman finds a man, she keepeth him, or whatever the Bible says. Cheers!”
We both laughed and clinked glasses. I brought Hakeem over his drink.
“Cheers to new friends,” Hakeem said as he clinked my glass.
“Cheers to that.” I sipped my cocktail.
As promised, Hakeem blessed me with round two and continued purchasing every other round after that. I think we made it into double digits. We danced, drank, laughed, chatted, danced, and drank some more. It was as if the DJ wanted to see us grind on each other like we were auditioning for Love Jones and the crowd that we sauntered in with started thinning out. Before we knew it, Hakeem and I were shutting down the bar.
“Looks like we finally have to call it a night,” Hakeem said, with his hands rested on my hips.
“Looks like,” I said, still swaying to the music, even as the volume lowered.
“I know of one more spot we can drag your bags to.” Hakeem laughed at his joke about my bags he’d been carrying around since we met.
Hakeem called us an Uber to some after-hours joint and even though both of us were completely toasted, he kept his manners and didn’t even get handsy in the car.
“You don’t like affection?” I purred into Hakeem’s neck.
He scooted back just enough to be noticeable, even in my drunkenness. “No, I do. We just met. I take things super slow.”
“I can handle that,” I lied.
“And I’m sure I can handle you,” Hakeem flirted back.
“Uh uh! You ain’t playing fair!” I giggled.
We got to the after-hours spot and spent more time bumping and grinding on the dancefloor until I swore the sun came up. Mr. Take It Slow was definitely going a little faster than expected while we were on the dancefloor.
“So can I see you again?” Hakeem asked while we waited outside in the crisp air of the wee hours of the morning for my Uber.
“You most certainly can Hakeem, but…”
The Uber pulled up and Hakeem put my bags in the car and helped me in. “I was supposed to get your number for my friend,” I slurred.
“I’d rather you keep it for yourself,” Hakeem said and put his number in my phone. “Text me now, so I can have yours.”
“Yes, before you drive off,” Hakeem said and I messaged him. He checked his phone. “Got you. See you soon.” Hakeem tapped the top of the car twice.
My phone lit up with a text notification from Hakeem. “You showed me such a great night. I can’t wait to show you one!” My heart fluttered and then sank when I thought about my girl Sasha. “Shoot, I’m keeping this one for myself,” I said to myself.
See what happens with Hakeem in next week’s column.
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