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A Merry Little Christmas(5)

By:Melanie Schuster

They chatted for a while and made plans for dinner and salsa dancing  later in the week, and then both women walked A. J. to the door. After  he left, Paris turned around and leaned on the heavy oak door. Heaving a  deep, theatrical sigh, she closed her eyes and moaned.

"Dang, dang, dang that man is fine! I mean he is phoine/" She gave the  word the "sistah girl" pronunciation. "Girl, are you sure you two are  just friends? Don't you want to just tear his clothes off and have your  way with him?" When she realized her cousin wasn't hanging around for  the inquisition, she followed her into the kitchen. Finding Angelique in  the process of getting out cleaning materials for the microscopic  amount of dust that had accumulated while they were away, she repeated  the question, this time demanding an answer.

Angelique laughed the way she always did when Paris brought up the  subject. "Paris, AJ. is my friend. He's like a brother to me and, no, we  don't secretly have the hots for each other. I used to have a crush on  him a long time ago, but he's been so good to me, and taught me so much,  that the crush just went its own way. I do love him, I love him a lot,  but I'm not in love with him," she said honestly. "He really is  good-looking, I'll grant you that But believe it or not, as handsome as  he is on the outside, the inside is ten times as beautiful." She looked  pensive for a moment, and then issued a soft sigh of her own. "Besides,  he thinks he's too old for me. Just because he's forty, he thinks I'm  too young!"

Paris's matchmaking instincts, never far from the surface, surged to the  fore. "So it's an age thing," she mused, twirling a strand of her thick  hair around her finger. "Well, all we have to do is show him that age  is nothing but a number and you'll be on your way."

Angelique held up her hand and pointed a spray bottle of Windex at her  dearly loved cousin. "Paris, don't even think about it," she said  evenly. "A.J. is my best friend and nothing else. I don't want to change  that; we're both very happy with our relationship the way it is, thank  you very much. And if you're so geeked up about matching folks up, why  don't you do something about your own crush?" The pink flush on Paris's  cheeks let Angelique know she'd made her point. With a mischievous  smile, Angelique sauntered off to dust and polish the living room  furniture.

Once the heat in her face had subsided, Paris followed her into the  living room. She sat down in one of the armchairs and curled up her  legs. "Um, what do you mean, my ‘crush'? What makes you think I have a  crush on someone?" she asked in what she hoped was a nonchalant manner.

"Paris, please. Does the name Titus Argonne ring any bells with you? You  and I both know you have a thing for the man, not that I blame you. But  do you do anything about it, like try to talk to him? No, you jump and  run like a scared rabbit every time you see him, don't you?"                       


This time the flush surged up Paris's neck like a wildfire and she  turned as bright as one of the pillows. It was true: she was mightily  attracted to Titus Argonne, a friend of Angelique's brother Martin.  She'd met him on several occasions and for some reason her ability to  speak deserted her whenever he was around.

"Okay, okay, you win. You're right, I have no right getting all up in  your business when I can't handle my own," she admitted. "I have no idea  why I get so tongue-tied around that man, but so help me, I turn into a  stammering nitwit every time he's in the room."

Angelique gave a final buffing to the coffee table and replaced the  decorative object that adorned it. "Well, we're just going to have to  work on that, aren't we? You'd like him even more if you ever talked to  him. He's very smart, he has a good personality and he's a good  conversationalist He's not boring at all and he's not a lech, either.  You'd probably make a nice couple," she finished.

Paris brightened considerably when Angelique finished speaking. "Well,  now, that sounds pretty promising, actually. I think I'll put him on my  list of New Year's resolutions," she said thoughtfully. Paris had an  ingrained habit of making a list of resolutions each January. "In fact  let's both resolve that we're going to have real boyfriends in the New  Year. Tall, handsome and rich, if possible. Let's put our order in now,  there's only a few more days left in this year."

Angelique gathered up the cleaning supplies and headed for the dining  room to divest it of dust. "You make all the resolutions you want  sweetie, but leave me out of it A boyfriend is the last thing I need or  want in this life. No, thank you. But if you fix us something to eat  I'll unpack for you. No resolution needed. How's that?"

Paris was so taken aback by her cousin's emphatic rejection of a man in  her life, she simply nodded. Slowly rising to her feet she made a silent  vow to find out why Angelique was so opposed to being part of a couple.  Everybody needs somebody, cuz, and that includes you.


The last person Donnie expected or hoped to see was inexplicably  standing at his brother's door. Donnie was nursing his still-hurt  feelings over Aneesah's rejection at his brother Adam's loft when the  chimes that substituted for a doorbell rang. Telling Adam that he would  get the door, Donnie crossed the vast open area that served as a living  room and looked out the peephole of the huge double door. Aww, dang,  what's she doing here? was Donnie's first thought. He opened the door a  crack and said in a high-pitched voice, "My daddy said go away, I can't  have any company."

Angelique burst out laughing and replied, "Well, it's a good thing I'm  not here to see you, isn't it? Open the door, Adonis, I'm in a hurry."

By now Jordan and Pippen, Donnie's Golden Retrievers, who accompanied  him almost everywhere, had detected Angelique's presence and were  barking frantically for her to gain access. Sighing in defeat, he  finally opened the door.

Angelique ignored him and turned all her attention to the two pretty  dogs leaping around her in joy. It galled Donnie to no end that his  dogs, his pets and companions, found this irritating woman irresistible.  It made him think back to the first time they had encountered her. Back  when she'd first moved to Detroit, she was staying in the garage  apartment behind Andrew and Renee's house while she secured a more  permanent place for herself and Paris. The apartment was known as the  Outhouse and served as a guest cottage from time to time. It was a rainy  evening in late spring and Donnie had left the dogs on the back porch  of the house as their feet were good and muddy from running through  every puddle they could find. Renee had no sooner reminded him that  their feet needed to be cleaned when a loud shriek sounded from the  back.

He had dashed into the kitchen and pulled open the back door to find  Angelique with big muddy footprints all over her chic raincoat. Her chic  parchment-colored raincoat, which showed off the mud really well. He  braced himself for the screaming and epithets that were sure to follow,  and was totally stunned by what was taking place. Instead of pitching a  side-door fit, Angelique was kneeling down and giggling like a little  girl as Jordan and Pippen gave her wet sloppy kisses and generally  showed her the kind of affection they normally gave only their master.  And the love affair continued to this day; as usual, the two dogs were  all over her with yelps of happiness. He took a moment to give her a  good once-over while she was ignoring him.                       


. Despite not being his type at all, she was darned cute. No, not cute,  beautiful, in the fresh, natural way of Halle Berry. Her hair was a lot  longer than it used to be; it came nearly to her shoulders in a  blunt-cut style. Her bangs, which made a lot of women look silly, looked  adorable on her pretty face. She was too short, only about five-seven,  and way too skinny; she was as slender as a ballerina But still, there  was something sexy and appealing about her, even though he didn't like  her one bit She was wearing a classic navy pea coat, impeccably pressed  jeans and a red turtleneck sweater and managed to look like she had just  strolled off a runway. Even after the dogs had jumped and slobbered all  over her, she didn't have a speck of their golden hair anywhere. For  some reason, this small observation contributed to his irritation and it  came out in his question to her.

"What are you doing here?" he asked without a hint of warmth. Before he  could register his quick shame at being so abrupt she responded.

"Hello, Adonis. Happy holidays to you, too. I'm delivering something to  Adam from Benita, if that's all right with you," she said evenly.