Crushed Velvet & Cashmere 2 Sneak Peek: Chapter One
© K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com, 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com with appropriate and specific directions to the original content.
The organ in my chest quaked and then stopped beating altogether. “W–what did you say?” I stuttered, eyes pinned on Yara. I stood there praying she didn’t repeat the words fiancée and getting married this weekend in the same sentence again.
“I said; this is Cena McQueen and her fiancé, Kasim Barnes. These two are tying the knot next weekend,” she announced for the second time.
Goddammit, she did it. My cheeks burned as I tore my eyes to the floor and then pinged them around the restaurant. A couple was sitting across from each other, eating so silently they should’ve come alone. Another group of three friends were cackling and clinking their martini glasses together as if they didn’t have a care in the world. Amid my unraveling, my heart started to beat again. My ears began hearing correctly, and I regained almost all feeling in my legs.
“N–nice to meet you,” I pushed out before forcing my starved lungs to draw fresh air. I wanted to avoid speaking out of fear that my voice would crack and crumble, but I was glad at least something came out.
“Nice to meet you too,” his fiancée greeted me.
The diamond on her finger glistened with even the slightest movement, and I instantly felt sick. Sweat clung to my spine. I knew Kas was staring a hole into the side of my face, but I couldn't look at him. Not again. Not in the moment. Because if I did, I would’ve surely died.
“I’m sorry, but I have to go. I–I, um, left my phone in the car,” I stammered before spinning on my heels.
I knew my excuse wasn’t airtight, but I didn’t care. I sailed through the door with my heart racing a million miles a minute. Kas's voice boomed behind me as I trekked down the sidewalk. “Jrue, wait!”
“No! Leave me alone! Leave me the fuck alone!” I hissed back, still pacing toward my car.
“Jrue, please just let me explain everything!”
I slammed my body into my car and hurriedly started the engine. His palms collided with my window before I jerked away from the curb and sped off like a bat out of hell.
Yara met me back at the apartment thirty minutes later, still unable to pick up her jaw. By that point, I was sitting on the couch surrounded by a mountain of wet, balled-up tissues, unable to hold in my heartbreak any longer.
“Oh my God, Jrue! Are you okay? What the fuck was that back at the restaurant?” “I think you’re gonna want to sit down.”
Yara’s brown eyes grew wide before she swatted a pile of tissues off the couch and took a seat. “Oh, wait. Wait a goddamn minute, bitch. Was that–?”
“WorkBae? Yup,” I confirmed.
“Get the fuckouttahere,” she mumbled, hand clasped over her lips. “And not once did he mention being engaged or having a girl? None of that?”
“No. Nothing! Not ever! But didn’t I tell you I felt like he was hiding something from me? See, I knew it in my gut the entire fucking time!”
“Ask the universe, and you shall receive, whether you’re ready for it or not,” she said while picking at a loose thread on the corner of the throw pillow clutched to her chest.
I watched her for a few seconds. She looked uncomfortable even though she was holding onto something soft and comfortable. “What did you need to tell me?” I quizzed.
Her dark, arched brows snapped together. “What?”
“Earlier, before all this shit happened, you told me there was something you needed to tell me. What was it?”
“Oh. That? That’s nothing. It can wait.”
“Are you sure?”
She bobbed her head up and down. “Yes. Positive.”
“What happened after I left the restaurant?”
“Well, it was awkward. He excused himself and ran after you. I mean, you were there one minute and gone the next. I didn’t know you could move that fast,” Yara stated, trying to crack a small joke.
“Yeah, well. I had to get the hell out of there. I was mortified.”
“And this entire time, he gave off not one clue? You were just at his place, right? No traces of another woman there?”
“What did you want me to do, go snooping through his dresser drawers and underneath his bathroom sink? I wasn’t on that type of time with him, Ya-Ya. Anytime we were together, it was always about us. Me and him. And now I find out my best friend is planning his fucking wedding.”
The word wedding fell off my tongue, triggering another round of fresh tissues and tears. My eyes were already bloodshot and puffed up like marshmallows, yet I still avoided eye contact with her. He humiliated me in front of my best friend and his wife-to-be, who I was sure looked at me as nothing but a side chick.
Yara leaned in to rub my back. “I swear to big man above I had no clue that WorkBae was her fiancée, Jrue. If I did, I would’ve put you up on game!”
My chin trembled as I swiped the cotton soft tissue against my nose. “I know. I know you would’ve. I just can’t fuckin’ believe him. Like, you really can’t trust anybody out here.”
“I mean, I know niggas are scandalous, but wow. He’s nothing but a crash mission waiting to happen, girl. I’m surprised you didn’t blow up on him.”
“You and me both, but I was too stuck to move. I’m surprised I got out the words I did. My throat was so tight it felt like somebody was choking the hell out of me.”
“I mean, I’m glad you didn’t go off. She’s still my client, and that’s still my job, you know? But you would’ve been well within your right if you did.”
I shot my eyes toward her. “So, you’re still going to go through with it–doing the wedding? I mean, I know I can’t ask you not to.”
“Now that I know what I know, I swear if there were a way out of it, I would take it. I can’t imagine how much this sucks for you right now. What happened on your end when he chased after you? Have you heard from him since?”
I shook my head. “Not since I blocked him. He’d been calling my phone nonstop since I left him screaming at my taillights.”
Yara chuckled. “You had the man screaming in public, Jrue? What did he say?”
“He wasn’t screaming, I guess. I don’t know. He said something about wanting to explain, but I was done. I wanted to get the hell out of there. That’s all that was on my mind,” I said, wiping my cheeks every few seconds.
Just hours ago, I was dickmatized and seeing stars. And then suddenly, that all had been reduced to shit. Now, my new safe space would be old episodes of The Golden Girls and Living Single, a pack or two of Oreos, and a few boxes of tissues.
“What’s the last thing he said to you?” she questioned. “Like, did you hear a piece of an explanation?”
“Why does it sound like you are going so hard for WorkBae right now?” I quizzed.
“I’m not. I’m just trying to get the whole story, girl.”
I sighed before looking down at my phone to reread our last text exchange before I blocked his lying ass.
Kas: I’m sorry I got caught up. Are you still at my spot? We need to talk.
Me: No. Meeting a friend for lunch. Can we meet up later?
“He said he wanted to talk. Well, that we needed to talk.”
“You think he was gonna tell you today? Fine fuckin’ time.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Doesn’t fuckin’ matter now anyway.”
My forehead creased. “What do you mean why not? You were there, Yara. You had a front-row seat to the most embarrassing moment of my life,” I griped while tossing my hands in the air.
“I know all of that, and by no means am I excusing what he did, but I’m just saying, you’re not the least curious about the backstory? I mean, I’ve been meeting with this woman for months, and not once has he dropped by. She barely brings him up.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
“No. No. I’m just sayin’. If it were me, I would want to know. I’m not sayin’ I’d forgive the nigga, but knowin’, I don’t know, I think knowin’ would bring me some peace or at least a bit of closure.”
My sunken shoulders lightly rose and fell. “Yeah, well, I don’t know about all that. I don’t know anything anymore. It’s like, I can’t stop these fuckin’ dumb-ass flashbacks of us in my head. I–I don’t know, Yara. I thought–I thought he was the–”
“Nope,” she cut me off, “don’t say it. Don’t give him that much power. You’re already heartbroken enough.”
I dipped my chin. “You’re right. Fuck him and his expensive ass wedding.”
Yara shot both of her middle fingers in the air. “Super-duper fuck him.”
I woke up on the couch hours later to a banging on our front door. It was loud. It was crass. It was desperate. I knew it was him. Yara’s wide eyes shot to mine as she came barreling down the hall from her bedroom. “You don’t think that’s him do you?”
“Jrue?” Kas called out from the other side of the thick door. “Can we please talk?”
“Get rid of him,” I ordered her while wiping my eyes. “I don’t want to see his ass.”
“Okay, okay. You go in the back. I’ll let you know when he’s gone,” she assured me.
I skated down the narrow hallway to my room, cracking the door halfway. Just because I didn’t want to see him didn’t mean I didn’t want to hear their conversation. I paced back and forth, trying to decide if I was going to eavesdrop by the door or sit back against the bed. My feet stopped at the edge of the door, ears straining to listen, when I heard the front door creak open.
“Is she here?” he asked.
“She doesn’t want to see you. Go home to your fiancée,” Yara responded.
“Can I please talk to her? I just need a minute to explain.”
The second I heard his voice, what was left of my heart crashed and burned. I leaped off the bed to close the door before pressing my back against it. Breathe, Jrue. Just breathe, I told myself while drawing deep breaths and exhaling through my nose. Warm tears slipped down my cheeks as I crept toward my bed. After turning on the TV, Yara knocked a few minutes later.
“Is he gone?” I inquired, raising a questioning brow.
She nodded. “Yup. He’s gone.”
I pulled a fresh tissue from the box on my nightstand and dabbed it against my puffy eyes before laying back down and turning the TV volume down. “Good. Thank you.”
“But he did leave something for you.”
“Whatever it is, just throw it away. I don’t want it.”
“Are you sure? I mean, sure, you’re mad now, but you won’t be forever,” she said, waving a black box in her hand.
“I said, throw it away.”
“Don’t you wanna know what it is first?”
“I don’t care, Ya-Ya. Just throw the shit in the fuckin’ trash can, damn!” I snapped.
She pushed out a frustrated sigh. “Well,” she paused, “do you mind if I see what it is first?”
“Do whatever you want. I don’t care. Just close my door behind you.” I turned my attention back to the TV. The minute she gasped, I snapped my eyes back to her. “What?”
“Nothing. It’s nothing.”
“What is it?”
“I think you should see for yourself.”
“Why can’t you just tell me?”
She snapped the box closed. “You know what, I’ll just leave it here, and you can see what it is for yourself or toss it in the trash if that’s what you really wanna do.”
Yara placed Kas’s gift at the foot of my bed before leaving and closing my bedroom door behind her. A few minutes after she left, I sat up and swiped up the black velvet jewelry box. My eyes rolled skyward, with my mind fully expecting to see a tennis bracelet or whatever expensive, I’m sorry, jewelry he decided to purchase. I cracked open the box to see a black USB drive with a small note attached that said Play me.
I released a stifled breath. My mind swam with thoughts on what could be on the drive before I closed the box and placed it at my bedside. I was curious, but not enough to play it. I fell back against the pillows and pulled the covers over my head. Kas had managed to drive me up a wall, around the corner, and back again. Whenever I closed my eyes, his face was there. Whenever I opened them, I thought about the box. One thing was for sure. A snake, no matter how alluring, intriguing, or exotic, is still a snake. And Kasim Barnes couldn’t be trusted.
Stay tuned for book two dropping on 2/22!