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Her car smelled like the joint she was currently smoking, Purple Haze. It killed her that she had finally given into her co-workers demands to set her up. She hadn’t dated in a while and hadn’t caught any fish even when she tried. She wasn’t ugly by a mile but her full lips couldn’t help but fit perfectly around her foot. For the life of Carmen she couldn’t keep her thoughts to herself especially when it was a guy she thought was unattractive, in behavior or conversation. There were plenty of sexy men who felt their looks traveled further than their ugly viewpoints on black people especially when they realized she was Afro-Latina like Amara la Negra and not Rosie Perez. Many of her friends who’d set her up on dates would lead with that hoping it would sell well when all it did was set her up for an awkward date. Hopefully this one landed better because she was slightly high.
Parking in the lot of the sushi place, she pulled her large spray bottle of vanilla and blueberries to douse herself. The smell of Purple Haze would only be on her breath but he shouldn’t be that close to smell it anyway. Still she popped a mint and looked down at her gold Kate spade watch. It was a quarter to 7. Time to go.
Looking down at her stomach in her dress she sucked in her diaphragm until she could comfortably breathe. Her dress, one of her more classier date night outfits, was close to her body banded and wrapped like she was a mummy except in the light shade of teal. She could barely separate her thighs from each other without making a sticky noise; she was a bundle of nerves of already. Her silver heels felt melted into the concrete lot as she walked to in a cloud of haze. She finally felt the knots in her stomach release gas and burped loudly as she entered the restaurant.
At the door, the host greeted her warmly.
“What can I do you for?” She smiled
“I’m on a blind date waiting for my date” she slightly whispered hoping no one behind her caught on.
“Oh yeah. That guy is already here. Good for you girl” she winked.
That was a good sign, she thought.
Walking through the restaurant they turn to the open sushi display where they fillet the fish.
Finally. She sees him and he’s not what she was expecting at all.
“Here you go Miss. you two take your time and let me know when you’re ready” she passed him the menus as she placed down my glass for water.
“Hey. I’m Marcel. Nice to meet you” he reached out a large hand.
“ I’m Carmen” she smiled back, trying not to stare.
“You’re a friend of…” she waited to see if she was on the right date
“Bryan? You’re on the right blind date” he smiled at his menu.
She giggled with relief but that made her even more confused. Bryan knew her taste.
“I’m sorry not to be rude. Are you Dominican?” She genuinely needed to know.
“ I am. Afro-Latino” Marcel says scooping up his accent on the way, “why?”
Carmen chuckles to herself, “ it’s nothing.”
Marcel shifts in his seat leaning forward towards her, “obviously it’s something? Are you also Dominican or Afro Latina or something?” his smile widens and his brown eyes shine. He genuinely looks interested. Too bad Carmen couldn’t keep her mouth shut.
“No, we’ll actually yes I am Dominican but I don’t usually date Dominicans. I mean Latinos in general which is why this is so…weird” she blurted out playing with her chopsticks before looking up.
Marcel’s face had fallen. His mouth now crumbled into a wrinkled line erasing the smile. “That is weird. Some call it internalized racism?” He took a sip of water.
Carmen’s eyes widen realizing some Dominicans actually understood racism as it was popular joke they did not. She hadn’t realized she believed the joke, saying it out loud sounded foolish.
“No-maybe colorism” she continued on knowing she should probably shut the fuck up. Only, she was curious to see how much this “woke” light skin Dominican knew about colorism.
“Colorism? I’m almost the same shade as you” he brushed his hand against mind to see the contrast but Carmen could only focus on his smell, syrupy and smoky, as he leaned in. Marcel’s scent invaded her lungs and made her hold her breath as she waited for him to pull back. Except he didn’t. He left her there to burn as he caressed her arm with his forearm.
“Are y’all ready to order?” the older waitress asked. Instinctually, Carmen withdrew her arm in embarrassment and touched where his skin melted hers.
As he ordered, she noticed smaller details about his face. He had a strong striking jaw and cafe con leche complexion that no one in her immediate family carried. His lips although full were somehow slightly thin at the same time. She noticed the cut above his right eyebrow that framed it as if was the Mona Lisa of eyebrows. Those thick brows shaded warm honey combs that stared right back at her daringly. She looked back at the menu.
“Umm just two salmon rolls please” she handed over the menu back to the waitress.
“Am I ugly?” His eyebrows perked
“No, why would you say that?” She frowned.
“Cause you were looking so hard. Is it hard to believe I’m Dominican?” he threw down his napkin almost in frustration.
“Not at all. You are literally screaming it at me. Also you have an accent sorry to break it to you” Carmen replied lightheartedly even though Marcel hardly looked amused.
“So I’m cute but I’m Dominican that’s your problema, no” he questioned biting the wrinkled bottom lip.
“I didn’t say you were cute” Carmen lied. His last statement was too close to revealing her card.
“You’re funny. I like this date” he pointed at her as the sushi rolls came in on a large platter.
“You really like sushi, huh?” she tried to ignore his comment and return to normal date conversations.
“Slightly. I also had a feeling you’d order less but still might be hungry” he dropped a roll in his mouth.
“So presumptuous. I ordered enough for me to take to go” Carmen revealed.
“You’re leaving? That date hasn’t even started really? The Dominican thing is that bad ?” he shook his head in disappointment.
“ Its nothing personal. I just don’t date Dominicans” Carmen said as she looked for the waitress behind him.
“I’ll pay for the whole thing on my way out I promise. I’m sorry for wasting your time” she pulled out her wallet looking everywhere but him.
Marcel was perplexed, “why? Give me 1 good reason”
She turned back to him, “Did Bryan tell you I was Afro Latina before this?”
“No. He just said he knew someone who he thought would be special for me” his eyes softened, making her almost forget her point.
“I’ve dated a few Latino men before and they’re all colorist or sexist or… internalized racists” she left off abusive. He didn’t need to know that part of her.
“So a few represent the majority, got it” he dipped another roll in soy sauce.
“No. I just have had bad experiences. You know like if you’ve had bad sushi, it’s hard to try it again”
“So sit down and try it again. I promise it’ll be a great experience” Marcel said firmly and stood up revealing his full build.
He appeared even taller when standing. Closer to 6 ft than she liked he stood a wall of muscle from his neck down which didn’t surprise her. She knew many Dominican men worked out vigorously at Planet Fitness which is why she stopped going. His cream colored shirt highlighted the red hues that dotted his skin tone. Wearing burnt orange-brown pants and green Yeezys.
“That’s not fair” she said out loud biting her bottom lip at her mistake.
Marcel smirked. “Tampoco estas jugando limpia.” You are not playing fair either.
“You don’t have to translate for me. I understand. I just don’t speak it or have an accent” she apologized.
“No worries, mi amor. Our time together will be memorable no matter what sounds come out our mouths” his eyes focused on her full lips as he pulled out her chair for her to sit.
“You mean languages” biting the full bottom lip she felt her chest rising faster from his attention.
“What did I say?” He smirked at her knowingly.
“Please take a few of my rolls. You look hungry. You’re biting your lip.” He licked his lips as his eyes quickly roamed over the soft lumps of flesh exposed in the teal sleeveless scoop neck dress.
She took a sip of water and recrossed her legs under the table again. For the first time, Carmen was stunned into silence. He must have found stopping her amusing because he flashed a devilish smile. It was too unsettling for Carmen who prided herself on being put together. He was unraveling her.
Marcel knew why Bryan had set him up with Carmen the minute she came into view. She was beyond beautiful and up front so he knew she wouldn’t play games. Her shapely body had him itching to touch any part of her to quell the heat spreading in his pants. Her honesty was not only refreshing but hilarious and sexy. It made him want to kiss the smirk off her swollen red bottom lip. She has been gnawing on it all night making him eat more sushi than he liked. Trying to keep his mouth busy instead of putting it on hers.
Not liking Dominicans made him chuckle. It didn’t bother him because it was a lie she told herself cause some lame hurt her. He wasn’t a lame though. Marcel knew he was a different type of man. One that wasn’t easily intimidated by Carmen’s curt comments. Marcel enjoyed the debate, the fire she lit with her tongue. It enticed him.
Hilariously, she reminded him of a Sour Patch commercial. First she had been put off by his heritage but now she was showing her sweeter softer side that made his mouth water. Sitting across the table from her was suddenly too far. He wanted to know if the blueberry candy smell came from her skin, her hair or her lip gloss. Marcel needed an excuse to find out.
“Let’s go dancing. Do you dance?” he picked at his food watching her slowly eat her salmon roll.
“I do. What kind of dancing?” She swiped some soy sauce off her bottom lip.
Staring at her mouth, Marcel decided he would do any activity that would place her plush body against his in private or public. Marcel knew Carmen was a different kind of woman that required more than one night to truly savor. He wasn’t used to a woman who could feed his physical and mental appetite. Marcel needed more time to enjoy his new favorite meal.
“Anything. I know a spot. Let’s go” he pulled out six twenties way more than the cost of the food.
“I said I was going to get this since I ruined the date” Carmen interrupted his cash counting.
“Of course not. You didn’t ruin it. You made it interesting. Let’s go” he grabbed the leather jacket he was wearing as he stood towering over their table.
“Umm my shoes aren’t really made for long term dancing so don’t make it an EDM club cause I like these heels” she pushed in her chair and wiggled down her short dress. Marcel was trying to be the gentleman but Carmen was making it harder for him to resist his lust.
“I’m coming” she hustled out the restaurant following Marcel back to her car.
“We’ll take your car. I’m not worried about how I’m getting home” he commanded.
“I’ll drive but we’ll take my car because… I want to” Carmen said slowly stopping her speech, realizing she was arguing about nothing.
He enjoyed shutting her up. Stooping her.
It brought him joy to see her confused about her attraction to him and his aura. He didn’t understand why she was fighting it but it didn’t matter. Marcel knew it wouldn’t be soon before Carmen was wrapped around him and under him.
“You’ll love La Virgen” he leaned back in the passenger chair “it’s a great mix of hip hop, dancehall and dembow” he couldn’t wait to see the real Carmen show out on the dance floor.
“What the hell is dembow? I might need a few drinks to do that dance” a sweet bubble of joy popped from her lips and it made Marcel feel relief. Although she had presented as an volcanic level eruption of hurt, he was finally starting to see the softer side that Bryan warned him would make Marcel a romantic man. He wanted to make her laugh again, he wasn’t sure she did it often enough. Marcel wanted to know why the wall that she put up at dinner even existed. It probably kept a bridge between her and men who just wanted her for the night. He wasn’t just looking for a night though. Carmen’s biting attitude just made him want to bite back. He knew he was already infected with a deep attraction to her that went beyond her dangerous curves. All Marcel had to do now was spread the virus to her and take the remedy that befell her sweet lips.
“We’re here. Get out” Carmen spoke loudly shaking him out of his fantasy.
La Virgen was a club owned by his Uncle, Isidor, who was a black sheep in his Dominican Catholic family. The club came from money he won after a NYC MTA bus ran over his foot. It would be easy to get Carmen in but hopefully he’d be the only family member on the dance floor.
Dawning the painting of the Virgin Mary on the door, La Virgen was a place the Virgin Mary would have prayed for. Entering Marcel grabbed Carmen by the waist as they entered the club skipping the line and fist bumping the bouncer, Hector, before hearing the loud reggaeton bouncing off the walls. Brick walls covered the room making it feel hotter than he knew it was. His Uncle claimed it would make people buy drinks trying to cool themselves only to burn on the dance floor from the heat and alcohol.
Marcel looked at all the men eyeing Carmen. She was a virgin to this place and to his touch. Her skin glowed differently under the colorful fluorescent lights and made his mouth water. She had know idea how beautiful she was to him. Her insecurities came across strong at dinner but they were too superficial to top her charming beauty.
“I’ll get you a drink. Talk to no one” Marcel whispered in her ear smelling the perfume that graced her skin. She smelled like sweet honeysuckle and blueberry flavored candy, he was tempted to suck on the spot underneath her ear but licked the skin instead to test her, to mark her in front of all that watched her closely.
She jumped to grab his hand frozen by his mouth near her neck. He wanted to keep her melting all night until he had a proper place to lick her all up.
Marcel knew he had no right to go there but he couldn’t fathom leaving Carmen alone for his Tio’s tiegeres or hoodlums to make their move on her. He needed her to also know what type of man he was in front of other leering men. Marcel wished someone would try to talk to her while he was getting them drinks. He’d never felt so possessive but he had worked hard to get this beauty to stay with him all night so he wasn’t going to lose Carmen to a pigheaded idiot.
“That’s yours” the bartender, Javiel asked.
“She will be.” Marcel grabbed the two rum and cokes feeling his stomach tighten with anticipation of what the night might bring.
The fast-paced energy in the club already enflamed his blood as the reggaeton song transformed into a popular hip hop song. The black and brown bodies of the club only seemed to grind faster and closer together on the dance floor.
“Here you go. Did anyone mess with you? ” Marcel looked around Carmen to see her sitting in the corner with three women by her. Her Afro smaller than before haloed around her face and perspiration beaded on the skin that he had licked. Instantly he wanted another taste.
“Now, do you own this place or something?” Carmen questioned taking a sip of her drink. She must have questions about how they entered so easily.
“My Tio Isi does. Family business” Marcel explained “ I own a barbershop. Other family business”.
Carmen’s coughing and almost choking expression worries Marcel until he hears her laughter.
“You really are a plantano” she laughs harder at the concept.
“What? Cause I own a barbershop” Marcel said jokingly, he knew the stereotype fit but he’s a business man.
Tears in her eyes, she’s almost doubled over with laughter but all Marcel felt was a tightening in his chest at the sound . Marcel ignored the weird swish in stomach and placed blame on the rum mixing with the sushi. Although the feeling was strange it was not uncomfortable and it warmed him differently than the liquor. Marcel wanted to hear more sounds of joy fall from her lips. He had to make sure this went beyond a simple date. He ensured her a good time and he promised to do that to the best of his abilities, using all his abilities.
“Do you want to dance?” He pulled her closer wanting to feel her warming against him in a dance.
“I don’t know how to dance to this song.” Carmen refused more easily than he liked. He thought he’d been wearing her down with the charm.
“Do you have two left feet? Are you a black girl who can’t dance?” Marcel teased hoping she knew how to whined her hips on and off the dance floor.
“I can dance. I just can’t dance to this” Carmen sipped more of her rum and coke looking around the club. Marcel sensed she didn’t want to embarrass herself.
“Baile conmigo. They’ll play bachata soon” he whispered in her ear.
Moving his hips slightly to the merengue beat, he grabbed her glass and put it down.
“I know you know how to move that ass” he whispered again, placing a kiss on her neck.
Carmen gasped at his comment as he pulled her on the dance floor. She could act unaffected all she wanted but Marcel knew that her body was responding to more than just the heat of the club; it was responding to his touch. He couldn’t wait to feel her soft skin as they grinder against each other, spreading the heat she had sparked in him from the moment the date started. Marcel knew he needed to cool down, but it was too late. He liked the way it burned between them too much to leave her alone. She’d have to let him set her on fire again and soon, preferably before the night was over.