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A Merry Little Christmas(12)

By:Melanie Schuster

"Are you listening to me?" Aneesah asked sharply. "This wouldn't be a good time to fall asleep, I assure you."

Donnie sat upright immediately. "I'm listening, Aneesah, I'm listening!  But I think you're overreacting a little … " His words were cut off by  Aneesah's prompt response.

"I'm not overreacting, you're underreacting! Who in the world makes a  checklist and then tries to pick out a mate on that basis? Where in the  world did you get that nutty idea?" she railed at him.

Donnie, gamely trying to gain points, actually had an answer for her.  "British royalty," he said triumphantly. "They do it all the time."

Unfortunately, his words seemed to push yet another button in Aneesah.  "Oh, great! This is your model for a happy marriage, an all but defunct  political system that has nothing whatsoever to do with how you live  your daily life? Or maybe you think you're some kind of king, is that  it?"

His face blazing with heat, Donnie was tom between trying to argue more  and trying not to laugh. Aneesah was really worked up now, and she was  really beautiful when she was angry.

"Donnie, love is something that catches you unaware, it's not something  you just go out and pick up when it's convenient for you. Marriage is  hard work. It's tough being around the same person day after day in good  times and bad. It's hard enough when you love that person to death. But  when you just up and decide someone is a good candidate for matrimony  and it's time you were hitched, you're committing romantic suicide.

"For a marriage to work, you need to have passion, excitement, desire  and romance. Someone needs to be able to take your breath away with a  kiss, to surprise you with love every day. And you can't sit there and  say that the person has to be this tall, this wide, have this degree or  that many IQ points. Real love doesn't work that way." Aneesah paused  for a moment and put her hand on her hip. "You dodo, I thought you had  more sense than this. My whole Christmas was ruined because I thought  I'd really hurt you. And when I think of how much you spent on that  stupid ring... ooh! Come walk me to the door. I'm about to leave in a  rage because now I'm mad at you, Adonis."

Donnie watch her big, shapely bottom move as she whirled around to leave  the room and decided that having two feet in his mouth was plenty; he  probably needed to shut up right about now. He got up from the table and  hastened to get Aneesah's coat.

"How long are you planning to stay mad at me?" he asked politely.

Aneesah looked at his handsome, unshaved face, his rumpled jeans and  cruddy sweatshirt, and made the sound sistahs the world over make when  disgusted. "Mmm-hmm! At least the rest of today and maybe part of  tomorrow, that's for sure. I may allow you to take me to dinner later in  the week to make up for it. But you have to swear that you're going to  think about what I said," she said as she slipped into her coat. "Don't  just sit around watching football today-really think about what I said.  Love is too precious and marriage is too important to play around with."                       


Donnie hugged her tightly and promised her. "Aneesah, you're right, and I  was wrong. Although I still believe in my heart that you'd make a  beautiful wife for me or any man, I promise that when I get married it  will be to the right person for the right reasons. I swear," he said  solemnly, ending the hug and holding up a hand like a scout reciting his  pledge.

"The words are nice, but that's the wrong hand," Aneesah said wearily.

Chapter Five

No one was happier than Donnie to have the holidays over and the normal  work year start in earnest. He'd had quite enough of parties, rich food  and endless gatherings, and was ready to go back to work and get back in  his right mind. Even though he was back on a normal kilter as far as  his feelings about marriage and Aneesah's refusal of his proposal, there  were some strange things afoot in his world. He knew that whatever  remained of his mental turmoil would be erased once he plunged back into  work. The strange things all centered on the woman he called Evilene,  but he was sure it was leftover holiday angst.

There was the New Year's Day incident, for example. After his heartfelt  chat with Aneesah, he really did think about what she'd said to him, and  after a long shower and a much-needed shave, he'd hauled himself over  to Alan's house for the traditional open house. He was ready to relax  and kick back with the rest of the family, and was even anticipating  seeing Angelique again while the memory of that spectacular kiss was  still fresh in his mind. He'd have been less than human if he hadn't  admitted to a certain amount of curiosity about how they would react  upon seeing each other. Within minutes of his entrance he had a very  different perspective on the situation: there was Angelique and there  was that A.J. with his arm around her.

Oh, so it's like that, is it? Okay, cool, if that's how you are,  Evilene. Donnie let this and other savage thoughts disrupt his enjoyment  of what usually was a relaxing day with his family. He'd given a lot of  thought to how he would act when he saw her again, but it hadn't once  occurred to him that Angelique would bring a date to the open house.  He'd always suspected that this A.J. had a more-than-brotherly interest  in Angelique and now he was sure of it. A.J. was hanging on to her like  she was his personal property, and she was acting like she enjoyed the  treatment, smiling up at the man for all she was worth. Donnie hadn't  really noticed those deep dimples before, but now it was all he could  see. Her long, thick eyelashes, her pretty, juicy lips turned up in a  constant smile and her amazing dimples begging for the tip of his tongue  to sample their sweetness-the entire package drove him crazy.

Donnie was so twisted at the sight of Angelique and A.J. that he ignored  her presence completely for the short time they were there. He had just  gotten Faye, his sister-in-law, to fix him a plate of fried turkey,  black-eyed peas, greens, com-bread and yams when he looked up and the  objects of his disdain had vanished, not to be seen again the rest of  the day. With considerable effort he concentrated on watching football  with his brothers and playing with his nieces and nephews. He made it a  point, however, not to attend the open house Paris and Angelique were  hosting the next day. He wouldn't have admitted it to a living soul but  he was really angry with Angelique. She had no right to kiss him like  that if she was involved with some other man. And to bring that man into  his family's home, well, that was just too much. The less he saw of the  sneaky little wench, the better.

His desire to see less of Angelique was complicated by the fact that she  had a studio in the Cochran building. Cochran Communications, under  Donnie's leadership, had moved from its original home on Jefferson  Avenue to a new location in downtown Detroit that was closer to the  heart of the city. Detroit was enjoying a resurgence of vitality and  energy and Cochran Communications was right in the middle of it all. The  new building was one that had been renovated by Adam and Alicia and  preserved the elegant architecture of the auto-baron age combined with a  sleek modem interior. Located near the Greektown Casinos, the new Ford  Field indoor arena where the Detroit Lions played football and the  beautiful Comerica Park, home to the Detroit Tigers, the Cochran  building was home not only to Cochran Communications, but several other  businesses. Angelique had leased office space there and it hadn't fazed  Donnie one way or another, but that was before the kiss. Now it was  pretty much a moot point since Donnie was in and out of the office so  much that he'd never see her. At least that was the plan until his first  day back at work.

There on his desk was a huge, obnoxious SpongeBob SquarePants gift bag.  Donnie hung up his coat while eying the bag with suspicion. His  secretary thought Angelique was sweet and would have delivered the  package to his office without hesitation. He approached the parcel  warily, and found a more conventional bag with a gift tag that indicated  it was from Benita. He smiled and reached for the inside bag eagerly  and then remembered why it was necessary for him to get the gift in this  way. He was supposed to get the package at Angelique's open house and  he hadn't gone. And now he had the package and no need to encounter that  evil little woman again for a good long time. Life just couldn't get  any better.                       



Angelique was so busy after the end of the holidays she barely had time  to remember there was an Adonis Cochran in the world, which was just  fine with her. At that moment she was in her studio in the Cochran  building, matting the photographs she would bring to her presentation at  the African-American museum. The bright winter sun streamed through the  windows and her precise, careful movements occupied all her attention,  keeping her thoughts at bay. To think about him meant that she  remembered that kiss and that was something she really didn't want to  do.