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Monday, December 27, 2010

REJUVENATE: My First Flash Fiction

By Claudia Moss
Copyright 2010
119 words

Idalia basked in Charlotte Amalie sun, gazing at the suited woman leaving the condo on the end, where the iguanas grouped. On a table behind her, a fat folder waited. There was much to do before evening fell island soft.

“If I painted, I’d paint this place inside shuttered windows.” A couple shifted, the delicate one smiling at Idalia. Sushi dotted the beach bar counter. “Windows are my forte!” came before her partner frowned. “Your gallery opens next week.”

A month later, a tourist photographed an iguana savoring a banana inside a Ferragamo shoe. Talk speculated. Maybe the artist had a husband. Maybe they’d met a duppie. Stateside, a new widow moaned and passed Idalia a thick, damp envelope.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Enamored Beneath my Locs...

I am enamored.

I am enamored at the thought of her name.

I am enamored at the sound of her voice, at any text she might send.

I am enamored under the scrutiny of her stare.

I am so enamored.

I am enamored when I study her visage, clearly lost in the shape of her lips.

I am enamored in the way I stride, my eyes whispering the lingo of the sway in my hips.

I am enamored at the softness of her touch.

I am enamored and I don't particularly care who knows as much.

I am enamored beneath my locs.

I am enamored at my fingertips' urge to record her dimensions.

I am enamored and she has no conception of my perplexity.

I am simply wetly enamored and I don't know how to proceed but I know The Way is Present.

I am enamored and watching her eclipses these ruminations.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Strawberries, Stilettos & Steam: A Book Review

I meet her on a popular website. We chat, about writing, our current projects and where we've been thus far on the journey of our lives. Affable and enthusiastic, she is a sponge, absorbing everything I offer from my academia background, hers in the corporate arena. Our friendship blossoms over the course of weeks that quickly become months, and one day she gives voice to her long-held dream of pursuing a writing career, one I see manifest seemingly effortlessly.

Who is this astounding woman? Imani True.

Ms. True has always nurtured a secret love for writing. But 2007 proved a turning point when she wrote her first erotic story, and later teamed up with erotic poet Dreama Skye one year later. Together, the sexy duo collaborated on their love child, STRAWBERRIES, STILETTOS AND STEAM:EROTIC TALES.

A Native New Yorker, she lives and works in Las Vegas, where she works on several novels, collaborates with Dreama Skye on a sophomore story collection and pens two screenplays with her son. Her story "Just a Fuck" can be read in the Delphine Publications anthology BETWEEN THE SHEETS.

Who is her sexy partner-in-crime? Writing erotic poetry since 1998, Dreama Skye knows fate and destiny collided when she met Imani True. Dreama, born in the bluegrass state of Kentucky, is presently immersed in writing a book of erotic poetry, her first novel and another collaboration with Imani. Her story "The Closer" appears in BETWEEN THE SHEETS, also.

Before one enters the fiery smorgasbord of stories, one is arrested by the sensuality of the book's cover. It's beautiful, the spilling bottle of, possibly, strawberry wine, a bowl of delectable strawberries and those sexy pumps. And just when one figures it can't be any more alluring, the title whispers of STRAWBERRIES STILETTOS & STEAM in appetizing fonts! Yes, it's fit to be gift-wrapped for Valentine's Day, birthdays, Christmas, and New Year's, and passed to a lover you want closer than most.

Inside the ravishing collection, the reader encounters lovers in a wide and interesting cadre of scenes and situations, all drawn to one another by the magnetism of attraction. Bianca and Basil meet at a highway roadblock, where she gets rerouted on her way to join her boyfriend, Jason, for dinner. Considering her map, she knows she's to go left, yet gorgeous road worker Basil insists that she follow the road signs. He winks and she wonders. His sex appeal is not lost on Bianca, who instantly craves his full, juicy lips and observes how his jeans fit. At the end of the detour, surprisingly, Basil awaits her and they enjoy mad sex.

In "All Through the House," Lorena and Carlos christen her new home. Then Alix, the real estate agent returns, and a steamy threesome gets under way as "Birthday Sex" plays in the background.

With short-shorts included in this collection, you devour savory snippets as well as full-course meals of longer pieces. Now the style of each story varies like evident talent in a designer's high fashion collection. Some leave you naked across the computer screen, another exposed on an erotic website, desirous on the IM and wicked on left-open webcams. There is something for every inclination, for every taste. If the flavor of brawn turns you on, Imani and Dreama serve sizable, get-it-done portions. If lesbian kisses sweetly dismiss the outside world, they put you on notice for tantalizing temptresses weaving silky webs of Sapphic intrigue. And you already know a few threesomes exist under the sheets.

Sasha and Rayne's paths cross on Erotic City's website. Their exchange leads to stilettos and steam once they slip into one another's head, the encounter claiming the others softer places.

In the judge's chambers, Alisha is surprised by a sexy mysterious man in black, who discovers she looks very different without her robe. Bailiff gone for the day, Alisha soon learns pleasure can reside in the tongue!

Mmmmmm. From cover to cover, STRAWBERRIES delivers on the sizzle! If you want to be turned on and turned out, get your copy and set aside an enchanting evening with your sweetheart or treat yourself. Read it aloud or quietly savor the words. Disappointment doesn't live in the book's pages. You're guaranteed to want more and more of the strawberry wine and the burst of fresh fruit in your mouth and the sensation of steam on your skin.

Let's eavesdrop...

"The striking woman began removing her clothes in the garage. First, she removed her shoes, then her blouse, and finally, her skirt. By the time she entered the living room, a trail of clothing marked her path through the house.

Nika Winters had decided to make her way upstairs, and into a warm bath. When she rounded the corner at the second-floor landing, she heard a familiar voice.

"Stop right there."

Strong hands came up to her face and loosely tied a blindfold around her eyes. Those same hands nudged her from behind to enter the master suite of the lavish property that she and her husband called home.

"Right this way, baby."

Jackson Winters was like that. He always had surprises for his wife of fifteen years. Nika loved that about him."

To experience the delight Jackson planned for Nika, you've got to read the story, so get up, get out and find the book. It will send you into overdrive.

And to think Imani True and Dreama Skye are already at work on erotic collection Number Two. KUDOS, Ladies!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Las Mujeres Intrigantes de Mi Casita

***Me encantan pinturas hermosas de mujeres***

***Para bailar es vivir y celebrar la vida***

***Marilyn es un tesoro nacional***

***Se filtra la música de Jazz en mi alma y me hace volar en el interior***

***Adoro a ambos lados de la cámara***

Friday, October 22, 2010

Status Musings

It's been nearly a month now, and still I can hardly believe it. My beloved friend, Miss New York by way of Venezuela, and other darling sistafriends have been aware of their STATUS for as far back as I can remember, while I hopscotched through the garden without a clue as to mine. So...

I'm finally a conscientious, card-carrying member of the population, who has taken the plunge to surface with a Negative HIV Status. All praises to the Divine...not to say I was or am promiscuous; I'm not. Celibate is more like it. But the fact is HIV can hide in the body for many years, while you're dancing through life totally unaware of its presence. Got a tiny yellow slip of card stock memorializing my test date as of 8/27/2010. The results manifested at 11:55 AM. Yes, indeed, I even have a test number. I'm legitimate right down to my test giver's initials.

And goodness was M.M. hilarious! If you're going to subject yourself to the pressure of knowing test results with the power to leave you trembling in your seat, praying you can go on after obtaining a life-or-death diagnosis, certainly you deserve a present, articulate, intelligent and worldly HIV Prevention Team Member like M.M. I belly-laughed from the time I entered the Saint Joseph's Mercy Care Services, Inc. partitioned conference room where the test was administered, off a narrow carpeted hall, to the time I rose to depart, a Cheshire Cat grin plastered across my face. M.M.'s fellow employees worked quietly, stoically, in cubicle-like offices across the hall. One commented that we'd been laughing and having entirely too much fun for the nature of our test, when M.M. closed the conference door and walked me to the front, glassed-in lobby.

The brotha's comic timing was flawless, like his coffee-bean complexion and genuine smile. I cracked up at his diatribe on irresponsible lovers who should be thoroughly examined before the exchange of body fluids. He joked me about how beaus and ladies come a dime a dozen, using the Marta Transit system to make his point, saying they come every fifteen minutes, so be willing to toss them back into the fray and wait for the next one if they don't work out. I practically toppled out of my chair, howling.

I'd fully expected to suffer a needle prick but was charmed to find myself swabbing my mouth to gather the culture needed to secure the 30-minute test results. Yes, I'm returning in November to continue laughing and get the follow-up results to make perfectly certain my slate is clean. Call me Fearless.

And one day perhaps you can call yourself the same, if you haven't taken the cannonball plunge. You owe it to yourself and your significant other(s) and loved ones who'd love to see you around in great health for as long as possible.

Paz, amor y bendiciones a todos~~~
La Diosa de Oro

Friday, October 15, 2010

Calling All Writers...Where Women Gather

MARKET: When Women Gather
When Women Gather
Editor: Claudia Moss
Deadline: January 11, 2011
Payment: $50/story and 1 copy of the book upon publication

At some point in life, women have stood in the presence of other women and known authentic power and healing energy and the beauty of the erotic, and as a result of this experience, have been transformed, in some way, into a greater vision of self. The forthcoming anthology, When Women Gather, will depict what this phenomenon feels like, tastes like and looks like, through a range of unique short stories, essays, personal accounts and narrative poetry.
I am seeking well-written, literary submissions from women young and old, from every corner of the globe, from the published and unpublished. Submissions can be erotic, sensual, romantic, political, spiritual or humorous and fictional or nonfiction. Embrace your imagination. Ponder writing about refugee women and girls banning together in a strange land, a street of women who come together to rid the neighborhood of a crack house, women who pray together in drumming or humming circles to excise the world of negative energy, women who embrace the erotic in the taboo of loving one another, women who must survive in a country where they do not speak the language, refuge women who watch family members extradited back to poverty-stricken or war-torn countries, women who camp under the stars in North Georgia mountains at women’s festivals or women who meet in a nursing home to honor a matriarch. I’m flexible but not taboo friendly, so please no incest, underage characters, or bestiality.
Stories should be unpublished, between 1,500 and 4,000 words, and submitted as a Word attachment. Two (2) submissions are allowed per writer. Please include a cover letter with a paragraph bio and full contact info (mailing address, phone number, and real name/pseudonym) when you send your submissions. All submissions that fail to adhere to these directives will be deleted unread.
Payment will be $50/story and 1 copy of the book upon publication. Contributors retain the rights to their stories. The editor has the final approval over the manuscript.
Send your submissions as a Word document to
If you have any questions about When Women Gather, please query
Deadline: January 11, 2011
Manuscripts will be accepted on a rolling basis, so writers are encouraged to submit early. Email:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Reading Discussion Questions for my new, up-coming novel, IF YOU LOVE ME, COME


Claudia Moss

This guide is a compilation of suggested questions intended to enhance your group’s discussion and enjoyment of Claudia Moss’ If You Love Me, Come

Discussion Questions

1. Explain 2 possible interpretations for the title, If You Love Me, Come.

2. Is “Free” really free?

3. How are the other characters victims to their own mental bondage?

4. Does love play different parts in the story?

5. Was each character brought low to rise to higher levels of consciousness?

6. Do Free and J.T. have the makings of a “forever love” after their separation?

7. What is your concept of a “forever love”?

8. Which character(s) was in love with the concept of being in love?

9. Is it appropriate to surrender one’s all to love in your honest estimation? Do you surrender all in your romantic relationships?

10. How was each major character flawed?

11. Was Pinky a responsible mother? What did you admire about her? What did you least admire about her?

12. Who was ultimately responsible for Short Dog’s death?

13. Is Javan capable of raising a female child alone or with a mate?

14. Why do you think Pinky chose the men who fathered her children?

15. Was Pinky’s father a good parent?

16. Do you think Pastoria’s teary altar scene was sincere?

17. Did you question Sharmayne’s true sexuality? Or did you think she was hurt and acting out against being with another man?

18. Was her “coming out” similar to one that you know of?

19. Was Free’s response genuine to Sharmayne’s “coming out”?

20. What did you think about the frame structure of the novel?

21. Was Miz Too-Sweet’s voice easy to read? Believable?

22. Whose voice did you enjoy the most? The least?

23. Describe the credibility of the first book club meeting. Was it believable?

24. What are your opinions of the novels discussed?

25. Did you like Free and J.T. as a couple? Sharmayne and Nzinga? Pastoria and Booker? Pastoria and Earl? Rhonda and Trevor? Pinky and the Artist?

26. Were the two separate worlds in the novel bridgeable?

27. What did you think of Sherrie Ann?

28. How was Miz Too-Sweet’s special gift used in the novel?

29. When did you first realize you had a Reading Jones?

30. What do you think the future holds for Sharmayne and Nzinga? Will their love withstand the test of time and an ex-husband?

31. What could Victor Naylor have done to save his marriage?

32. Can love survive a difference in social class? What has been your experience?

33. What are your thoughts on the outreach program Free and her group brought to Techwood residents?

34. Have you ever lived in the projects or knew someone who did? Was the portrayal accurate?

35. Do you know the history behind Nzinga’s name? Did it suit her?

36. What did you think of Miz Too-Sweet’s treasure trove of stories?

37. Did Rhonda finally find her niche in the biography-writing component of her Techwood workshop?

38. Was the ending of the story satisfying?

39. Would you read another book by the author?

40. Select a quote from one of the characters and discuss it in conjunction with the novel’s theme of trusting the power of love.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Kiss Speaks It Own Language...

Yes, it's yet true. I'm enamored with The Kiss. Perhaps instead of me courting the subject, it has mysteriously chosen me.

My darling nephews recently discovered themselves before my camera's lens engaged in the art of kissing with their precious Significant Other. Mister Calvin is the elder, the gentleman in the red shirt. His Lady Love was daintily arrayed in white, from her pretty, white, summer, off-the-shoulder dress to her attention-grabbing, white, buckled heels. My sister Glenda, at whose house we were passing a delightful Sunday, dubbed her The Princess and my nephew The Frog. She's a hoot, that sister of mine! The moment it was out of her mouth, everyone who had viewed the Disney classic howled with laughter. They did (as my Grandma Moss would've said) "put one in the mind of" Visiting Royalty and her darlin' Froggy Prince, minus the green in Ellenwood!

Calvin was the first invited to smooch his Princess, and of course he began playfully, irking the Princess to distraction and the display of pouty lips while waiting for him to get serious. O but when he did, their kiss ignited volcanic temperatures hotter than the early September afternoon!

Calvin's Baby Brother, Acy, is another movie altogether. He's dressed in the black shirt that matches the black scarf on his braids. Much more conservative, his kiss blossomed on his Precious Poo's forehead (or did Aunt Glenda instruct them to illustrate the Forehead Kiss?). From the language of Acy's kiss, my camera reflected sacred, private and precious. They had known one another as friends for many years before they became kissing close, and it shows in her softened demeanor, emotionally pouting lips, her gentle embrace about his back and his stalwart stance and those malleable lips against her forehead. Tis true, a kiss speaks its own language.

Yet the most precious of the precious of kisses was delivered by my great-niece, Zarin, whose chubby little hands latched onto her Cousin Nazir's 17-month-old shoulders and greeted him with a baby kiss at Nazir's new sister's baby shower. Uh huh! Her little kiss said, "Hello, Cousin! I love you, and I haven't seen you since we traveled to Montgomery together in my Grandma's truck! Whatcha up to?"

Es cierto! Even babies kiss. And why shouldn't they? We adults kiss their little rounded cheeks whenever we are blessed to have a baby in our Presence. My sister frequently reminds me to kiss the soles of a baby's foot, so I don't bump their little jaws with my lipstick! Sure, she's right, but babies are just so entirely, incredibly cute!

Don't forget to spice up your life with a tender or dainty or precious or fiery kiss today! I hear it makes life sweeter! BESOS!!!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Elle M'embrassa....

She kissed me
And the softness of her
My cares away.
Suspended in silence,
I heard my heart say
"Elle m'embrassa."

The sensation closed my eyes
Animated my feet
Delivered me inside
A melody
Of an island song
She sang so sweetly.
"Elle a chanté pour moi seul."

Promise of romance danced
on the wind
palpable like the undisputed scent
of fall
on September's breath.
Her touch
my hollowness,
my hesitation to love again.
She was CPR to my Soul.
"Alors je l'ai embrassée en arrière."

Her heat steeped my skin,
rendered me weak.
Sheen glossed,
I bowed to passion
Strands of our locs
entwined against
the others'
cheek, desire painted in
scarlet petals round about our feet. Please.
Repeat repeat repeat
Her kiss
sent a jetsam of memories
coursing wherever old love flows.
"Son baiser me perce l'âme."

August 29, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010



You say with certainty
I'm your Soul's
That every time I come around
The ground
Your heart quakes
Contracts and aches
To communicate

Wouldn't I know
If that were so?

Why would you recognize me
While I experience
Zilch connection
Battery uncharged
A puzzle piece dislodged?

And how do you propose to remedy
Your perplexity?

You've reigned in my curiosity
As I've never once been here

It's a mystery, Sweetie.
And I'm not a bore
But are you saying if
I open this door
Meet you half way
Your kiss
Will light the passage
No need to
To a cache of lifetimes
When we were lovers and best friends
How in our last incarnation
I had to make you
Love me
And now you must
Make me
Love you

Where does this end?

No, I'm not afraid.
I simply have no recollection
Of agreeing to this ruse
With your imagination
On the loose.

If I could only muster
A spark in this lackluster
Heart of mine,
I could start to wrap my brain
Strangers falling in love through

Have you lost your mind?

Sweetheart, don't play with me.
I'm not THE ONE.
No, I don't run
So, hell, come on! This might even be fun.

Moistened lips
Soft press
Senses lisp
Something trembles
An abrupt pause
Tasting nectar
Like the first day of

How could this be?
For a second,
I wonder,

Caressing the small of my back
Savoring my mouth
With mini smooches then delicate gulps
Thick honey
Oozing my chin
Til my knees go slack and I

I waiver, too unhinged to dismiss
Yet you persistently kiss
Tongue rekindling
Lubricating my joints and cell memory.
Wading into me
The waters of my Soul churning
I-I-I know somewhere in this burning

And you are

August 21, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Poem: "Space for Lease"

"Space for Lease"

Hung a sign on the lush lawn
Of my smile
Its sole intent to invite
You in---
In the event you bustled
By the sparkles in my windows' eyes
Mistaking them for
Evening streetlamps
As Day disrobed for Night
Outside my doors.

I'm no longer under
As a high rise
Lofty and cold
Talk about old...

An Open House,
Every part of me
Awoke and aware
With no inclination
To close off conceal or spare
These rooms
Day's surprises.

Ven aca, por favor.
You're not only welcome,
Mi Amor,
You were requested
From the Cosmos
To relish the double occupancy of our Souls.

I've scrutinized you
Sidestepped you
Since my foundation was
Just recently opened to
Your desire to slip, slide and skate
All of my square feet and slick hardwood,
Me to the balcony floor
Where summer's breezes and I tease
Just to listen to your breath hitch and wheeze
Both of us pleased
To be.

No fine print
Designed to make you vent
the Terms of Conditions that went
Simply meant to demean
Once our contract is spent
Nothing lasts forever
Least of all rent
To be exact
This space is yours,
A lease with the option to own
A space you can call home
That is
If you accept Love's loan.

El 18 de agosto, 2010

Kissing Kathy

In the midst of a bustling kitchen, with stories and laughter floating on the picnic-scented kitchen air, she gazed into her eyes while her soft lips drifted down to meet the back of a protective hand clutched tightly in her own. Even as I watched as inconspicuously as I could, I knew, at that moment, the indoors' picnic dissipated and Kissing Kathy may as well have been painted and framed for a private showing.

O the beauty of lovers in love...

August 16, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Love and The Kiss in its Many Manifestations...

One day, as a fiction writer, I shall stretch and cast my word-ravenous net and capture voices that are unlike any I've ever culled. These voices will tell the story of what it is to love from a totally different of men discovering what it is to love and be loved while facing the joys and triumphs of loving their families. Yes, I know there are any number of very capable gay writers who have already done so and who are currently doing so, but my novel will be one that only this particular author can tell.

I met this handsome, loving, good-natured couple at my beloved friend's church, which holds services in the Rich Auditorium in the Woodruff Arts Center. They enthusiastically consented to being photographed and the adoration and love they felt for one another wooed my heart and my camera's eye. Though seemingly as opposite as night from day, they were delicately, beautifully one...

The beauty of Rumi's poetry flutters a veil of lace guaranteed to keep lovers perrenially save in the sacred place of the soul.

"The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere,
They're in each other all along."

"Music Master"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Beyonce - Still In Love (Kissing You)

Beyonce puts to music what it is to love kissing a beloved....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kissing Revisited....

It's an intriguing I'm back to redress it, determine what keeps it on my mind. I know there won't be enough time to mine its gold before my fingers recede from this keyboard and my body seeks my pink sheets, but at least I'll have given it the best of me for now.

Attended a beloved friend's memorial and the kitchen was filled with friends and family. Food lined the counter. Everything from my raw kale salad to my sistafriend Jaslyn's delicious bean pie and veggies and a tasty assortment of chips and dips. There were sips of wine. And there were couples amongst the singles.

A twosome caught my eye. They were precious, one possessing a lovely smile, the other a rakish grin. Delightful. I took them in, as inconspicuously as I could, but I ambushed myself when I whipped out my camera and flat asked them if they would kiss for me. (AN IDEA TO REVISIT LATER!)

They wavered. Momentarily. As if to make certain they understood my request. I assured them they had. Then what happened next was akin to watching the treat through a video camera's lens. In slow motion, like a stream purling towards the ocean, they flowed together, one moving yet waiting, the other coming, already close-eyed, both merging as though for the first time, pooling into one skin. I was transformed, observing almost outside of time, the kitchen and the merriment drifting away, nothing left but the observer and The Kiss.

I felt their chemistry behind my camera's lens. Heated romance tempered on the fire of familiarity. Did she actually soften, receive her lover through the fabric of her dress? They shared the same breath,a communal heartbeat. Had they been a movie I'd have wed repeat. They kissed so long I got rooted in the moment, wondering: Would I know The Kiss this lifetime?

Not just a brushing of lips, theirs was a meeting of souls:a moving of the earth, fire in limbs, a toppling out of time, an undeniably, undisputed stupefaction.

Once, a treasured friend said a kiss is a gateway to fireworks, and, without it, you nurse a wet match. Just yesterday one of my sisters confided a kiss detonated just so, minus you knowing it'll have a Richter-scale effect, is worth running out to meet a nebulous tomorrow.

On her B-Day DVD, Beyonce sings about loving kissing her husband. The emotion in her voice invites me to be with her words and her seductive video image on a beach practically masturbating in the shadowy water. Exquisite. If I knew how to post the video here, I would. But since I don't, and my contacts are sticking to the balls of my irises, I am about to shut down for the morning. And maybe I shall work on posting it later!

Here are three POEMS that gently scrap the mixing bowl of my kiss-sweetened thoughts! Enjoy and please feel free to comment. To share this journey makes all the difference in the world!


We kiss
Before we ever meet
Our ravenous glances incomplete
Awaiting baptism
In the other’s virtual caress.
Your sweet, honey-dew lips
Cataclysmic explosions along my Southern shore.
There’ll be ‘No turnin’ back’ no more.
Thrills rumble my insides;
Blinding me
Consigning me
Unhinging me
Soaking me,
While you visually tongue me. O, the way you divine me
Turn me out of myself
My G spot shouting.
Dangerous glints stud our eyes
Starting an instant ache, a delirious dancing
Melting my defenses, leveling my walls, liquefying my knees---
All I thought I knew of desire deceived.

You taste
Me with a steamy, mocha gaze
Licking me right there and there.
A mango flicking explores my skin conjuring sensations deep within.
Dazed, I am still, shell shocked~
A stranger, you erotically push your way into my day~
Causing my pencil heels to reel
Our kisses raining cinnamon showers
Sweetening my inner rivers
Your audacity
Leaving me to hunt wave-tossed, fragments of myself.

We merge
Past invisible signs of No Return,
Mmmmmm Yeaaaaaaah
You taste like I knew you would
A mouthful of butterscotch sunshine
A shot of moonshine
Aged wine
So electrically divine….

© Claudia Moss 2/1/2010


The Kissing Booth

Behind this makeshift stand
Pout on sensual command:
Soft kisses
Tongue kisses
French kisses
Hot kisses
Wet kisses
Forehead kisses
Belly kisses
Clit kisses
You can have it just right at The Kissing Booth every night…
Licked kisses
Dismissive kisses
Slow kisses
Drive-by kisses
Empty kisses
Nasty kisses
Femme kisses
Fuck-you kisses
Only for you, we’ve got prevailing sales at The Kissing Booth…

Dom kisses
Fragile kisses
Nipple kisses
Masculine kisses
I-hate-you kisses
Stay-away kisses
Come-closer kisses
Let’s-play kisses
Interracial kisses
We’ve got whatever kisses your taste buds can fathom at The Kissing Booth…
Gimme-som’ kisses
Not–on--your--life kisses
Not—in—this—lifetime kisses
Earlobe kisses
Pricey kisses
You-know-you-want-it kisses
She-can-get-it-forever kisses
Maybe-next-lifetime kisses
One-night-stand kisses
Sweeter-than-sex kisses
I-love-you kisses
If we missed it, we back-order your kisses and lay-them-away fresh here in The Kissing Booth…

© Claudia Moss 2/1/2010


My Kissin’ Experiment
You willin’ to be my experiment?
Gotta silence a vent
Inside this predicament
‘Cause she said my lips weren’t intended
To lick and be licked like peppermint.
No, don’t defend it.
It’s your entitlement
To end it
Before our lips begin this commencement.
Goin’ to kiss you ‘til you can’t stand it
Make you pray a new commandment
With kisses so soft I’ll dent
Your contentment
Of how she used to demand it
O, forget about containment
My kisses trickle, slither, slurp, slide with abandonment
From the back of your thighs to the hollow in your belly button up to your judgment
I’ll blow a breeze so bewitching---you’ll breach your sense of devilment.
Do you get it?
Or are you yet rife with the prophetic?
Uum Muuuaah! Besos, mi mujer! I’m harmless; you’re pathetic.
There’s nothing you can do yet
So I’ma finish gulping you and gorge on the gold at the end of your rainbow. Got it?
© TheSiren 2/1/2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

July Gems...Getting Ready for THE COVER...

Next week is the middle of July, and I'm standing in the middle of the month marveling at how fabulously fast time passes. This month, my mind and calendar are set on finishing the final edits of my second novel manuscript, IF YOU LOVE ME, COME! Yes, that's right! I said it, and I mean it, even after 10+ years.

One thing us writers must learn to do is let the baby go...release it into the world knowing that you've done your absolute best and believing that it will return to you heaped with blessings!

As I was editing the work today, for the umpteenth time, I fell in love with the story all over again. The characters yet moved me, the writing still engaging and charismatic. But if my knee-baby sis, Glenda, Miz Know-It-All, had her way, she'd be screaming at the top of her lungs, "You should have let that book go years ago! Learn as you go! I'd be working on my 15th book by now, like E. Lynn Harris, had he been here!" She has a point, I know!

Maybe it's the former teacher in me. I want my literary baby to be the absolute BEST that she can be, before I swirl her out debutante-fashion to bookshelves around the country.

I've decided to go with Country Press. A fellow writer friend suggested them, I did the research, and they won out! My excitement could fuel a roundtrip sojourn to Venus about now. It seems all my life I've been waiting for this ONE moment, not that I haven't published before. This time, everything is different! I'm grown now. Like Shug Avery in the church, exclaiming, "I'se married now, Daddy!"

The paradise of a picture at the top of the blog is from my foray into Lake Allatoona this summer. It reminds me of where I stand, of my vantage point. I can see only the next 100 feet, yet I am confident the Divine paves a road before me, miraculously, and my destination will be wondrously ventured. I intend to be photographed by the Lovely Lady Photographer Toni Hughes sometime SOON! And identical to Oprah, I intend to be on the cover of all my books---from the Wanda B. collections to the novel. Holaaaaa?

Yep! You got it! Es verdad! I'll be posting the pictures that make the cut here and on Facebook to determine what you feel about which ones should be used.

Prayerfully those July Gems should be ready for posting before July 31, as I am on a mission!

Stay tuned! I'll be posting a teaser of a short story in parts, to keep you near and beckon more readers. And whatever you do, please remember, your comments are greatly appreciated, so leave what you will, AMADOS!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Slice of IF YOU LOVE ME, COME...

Come and sit a while. Let me serve you a slice of a fictional treat that is a chapter of my novel manuscript IF YOU LOVE ME, COME....

After partaking of this repast, if your curiosity lasts, I will spread a feast before thee....

If You Love Me, Come

Sample Chapter


Disquietude and dread befriended him. Took up with him for weeks now, like old friends.

Victor Naylor opened his front door to a resounding silence. He didn’t have to shout her name and walk through the bellowing rooms to know she wasn’t there, but he did both anyway. Action steadied him. He entered the kitchen. She’d scoured it of everything, even smells. “Shar-maaayne!” The inside of the refrigerator was a telltale sign, much like the unanswered calls when he’d phoned home from Colorado and North Carolina. He walked inside the pantry and found a can of whole stewed tomatoes and a half-empty box of macaroni among the olive oil, crackers and oatmeal.

When he tired of the mocking house echoing her name, Victor washed his hands and boiled and drained the pasta and then, in a small sauce pan, sliced the stewed tomatoes over the unappetizing concoction.

Was it possible she was gone?

He ate, his head churning with thought. Leaving the dirty dishes on the table, he sought refuge in the living room, where he sat in his favorite chair and imagined what he’d say when she walked through the front door. From shopping with Free…most likely. He picked up the phone to call Freddie but changed his mind. Freddie might say the unacceptable.

Exhausted from bouncing on the lumpy seats of his tractor trailer, he climbed the stairs with wooden legs, gripping the banister to heave his weight to the next stair. He undressed slowly. The bedroom whined and he knew why, though he needn’t have opened her drawers and stared at the gaping space in the closet where her clothes had been. No shoes neatly arranged on the other side of the door. No make-up tiered on the vanity. Not even the latest books she was reading on her side of the bed.

“Shar--maaayne! Sharmayne? SHAR…MAYNE!”

A cold shower revived his faith and he sprawled across the bed in fresh boxers and a white T-shirt he’d found in his underwear drawer. With bleary eyes, he bore holes in the vaulted ceiling, bewilderment closing in on him like a lizard with addiction in her veins and infection between her legs, stalking a truck stop for peace in a stranger’s arms. His body cried out for a few measly hours of real slumber, but his mind mocked louder than the mocking house, louder even than roaring silence.

He still couldn’t believe it. His woman had snapped, had allowed those freaking spirits to uproot shit in her touched brain. An unnatural heifer. She and that…that…damn dyke were probably laying up lapping and feeling on one another and bumping and grinding and doing whatever else made up their unnatural bullshit love.

When Victor couldn’t take anymore of the ceiling, the white stucco flashing subliminal images of women having sex, he flipped onto his stomach and pressed his forehead on his crossed arms and gritted his teeth to keep from crying.

How the hell had loneliness climbed down out of his truck’s cab and walked its ass into his house like he wasn’t Victor Naylor? Behind closed lids, he strained to remember who he was. Amused, his mind took pleasure in the knowing and reminded him what others thought of who he was, too.

On a run in April, a fellow Georgia trucker stopped at his table. Over a dinner of liver, side salad, rice and gravy, and rolls, they shot the breeze at a North Carolina stop. Victor did most of the talking, guffawing at his own jokes, while he shoveled food into his mouth, and kept the Mexican waitresses tickled at the play in his eyes and the dollars tipping from his wallet to their palms after he’d palmed them enough to understand, “No mas” and “Muchas gracias” and “Le gusta?”

The trucker’s mustache fluttered over thin, gravy-stained lips. “Victor, man, you talk a lotta shit about that woman of yours. She cain’t be as bad as you raggin’.”

A penetrating blue gaze dribbled over Victor, unafraid of the result of his unsolicited advice. “Ever have a decent word to say about the old lady? Ain’t half careful, man, your lady be done packed and left you with a big-ass gapin’ hole smack dab in the middle of yo’ heart, and you, my friend, ain’t gonna have the ready resources to repair it. Keep talkin’ that yang, Homeboy.” How he pronounced ‘homeboy’ ridiculed Victor’s ears for hours afterwards, male laughter at an eavesdropping table curdling his hunger.

Now, bile in Victor’s stomach spawned the notion that although he rarely had anything pleasant to say about Sharmayne, surprisingly, he did love her and found her physically appealing. He vowed to fill the house with purple hydrangeas and lilacs and find her, wherever she was, and invite her home.

The Friday after he’d been home for one week, disquietude and dread caught up with him in the form of a tall, officially pressed sheriff, who served him with papers that brought tears to the back of his throat before they stood in his eyes and overflowed his heart with shards of a woman he never imagined he’d miss in a thousand years.


Passion lived in Nzinga’s fortress, Sharmayne’s spirits knew.

Lying on her back, arms splayed in sleep’s helter-skelter repose, Sharmayne awoke gradually, mind and body yawning, like the morning, every inch of her instantly desiring a replay of last night’s love-making. She luxuriated in the beauty of her magically changed life, and in the way it, like her body, had come into a wondrous wakefulness. Her toes snaked the width of the cozy bed, already knowing as they slithered, the object of their hunger was up and about. Skiing into the warm indentation left by Nzinga’s body in the waterbed, her toes ached to caress Nzinga’s ankles and feet, one of their favorite pastimes.

Slender arms settled for cradling a starched pillowcase, sweetly redolent with the vanilla scent of Nzinga’s body and hair. Sharmayne lay under baby-powdered sheets, listening to another Monday morning symphony of her lover’s presence.

A flush of water, a cascading waterfall, segued into the padding of feet to the vanity, where a pelt, pelt, pelting simulated the music of morning rain.

After the pelting, a whining cabinet creaked and an electric whir followed a soft sucking of teeth, and then gurgled liquid wafted to her ears. Spurts of rain masked footfalls into the walk-in closet. Then, almost imperceptibly, there was the quick click of metal on metal and a soft slap of leather against skin.

Unless Sharmayne muffed her ears, Nzinga couldn’t camouflage her coming.

Would she ever get enough?

“Good morning, sweetheart.” Nzinga grabbed a handful of sheet and yanked it from its tucked-in neatness at the foot of the waterbed and slid her hand underneath the

cotton, aiming for Sharmayne’s ankles. The tiny woman squealed in delight, flailing her arms and straightening then drawing up her legs and skating them out of Nzinga’s grasp, their foreplay making her ‘it’ in a heated game of tag.

“I heard you coming. No fair!”

Nzinga marveled at her raven’s heightened nature, at how perfectly she fit into her muscled embrace. “You hear everything?”

Sharmayne giggled, sheets above her head. “Uh huh, but I’m not sure what you did in the closet.”

“Got a shower gift from me to you. And a promise, you’ll never be the same.”

“Life-altering, huh? Might have to think about that one.”

“Abandon thinking. The objective is to feel. And feel deeply.”

With heavy rains still falling, the squirming bundle fell limp, listening, as Nzinga crawled the sheets and squatted over a humped back, cocooning it, and when she did so, a thickness between the cleft of Sharmayne’s ass made both women shudder. Nzinga lowered the sheets and breathed in the macadamia-perfumed locs. She stroked the frozen shoulders, a purple and beige strap-on, custom-made, fitting perfectly on her washboard waist. Nzinga tapped it against the guitar-shaped curves of her woman’s body. Dark and delightful. The phallic saluted, its cool, bulging head startling Sharmayne.

“Not frightened, are we?” Nzinga kissed the back of Sharmayne’s hands. When Sharmayne shook her head no, thick locs sweeping her shoulders, Nzinga cupped the small chin, and turning it sideways, gently kissed the mouth, sucking her bottom lip. She caressed the neck, the hair, the shoulders, before savoring the sensual delight of a handful of beautiful breasts. The nipples chocolate raisins, Nzinga tasted and nibbled them, until they melted on her tongue.

Sharmayne sighed. Her lashes black butterflies, like the bevy swarming about her heart, making her flesh glow with a sweet heat washing over her entire body, from the curls of her nape to the back of her thighs, every inch of her alive with throngs of quivering for Nzinga’s kiss, for the way she was drawing every drop of flavor out of her, her pussy weeping to have Nzinga finger it, kiss it, and now fuck her with a dick bigger and more colorful than any she’d ever seen…

Nzinga’s fingers massaged her spine, soothing her. Though her heart was beyond soothing. It throbbed with a frenzy that doused the jet skin in a spicy sweat. Everything about the woman made Sharmayne feel so good. Flat on her back now, Nzinga above Sharmayne, their breath in the other’s lungs, the women embraced.


“Not before you fully experience my gift.”

With kisses slipping down Sharmayne’s spine, her pussy purred prettily, and she gave herself over to being carried to wherever prisoners of love were taken at dawn.

Nzinga stepped into the tub and, maneuvering just enough to permit the cold stream to shock her body first, gradually eased Sharmayne under the deluge, the water beading clear crystals down her back. Sharmayne whimpered and went baby-soft against smooth, strong flanks, their bellies kissing, shapely midnight calves encircling firm golden hips. Soapy hands lathered Sharmayne’s body. Nzinga, gently penning her against the shower’s cold tile, moaned and stroked Sharmayne’s waist, back, and thighs. She wiggled in excitement, the cold and the heat commingling, taking her to the mountaintop to be baptized in Nzinga’s kisses.

Skin soggy, Sharmayne struggled to maintain a grip on Nzinga’s towering slickness. She tittered, slipping and sliding, thighs eventually tiring. To keep her from falling, Nzinga anchored Sharmayne’s weight with her hipbone, the upward motion sending shivers of liquid heat to her hidden pearl. Exhilaration surged between them. Moans kissed Nzinga’s shoulders, teeth nipping the skin over rippling muscles. Desire and wetness melded their flesh, leaving pellets of water powerless to squelch a smoldering racing towards a second coming.

Sharmayne gasped. Nzinga was lifting her up and down, slowly, playfully, and she reveled in the sanctity of her ass in Nzinga’s palms. She kissed her lover’s neck and lips as she felt a saluting stiffness kiss her own body. “Hold on, baby. Tighten your arms around my neck.” Nzinga’s murmuring against her ear made her shiver, and she clamped down on the Amazon, the shower’s tile aghast at her back. Sharmayne let out a soft shriek and leapt for joy. Nzinga was sliding a purple and beige wand into the pink folds of her flower. A tongue flickered over her nipples. A finger thrummed her clit.

And Nzinga’s gift filled her, and she rode it, and Nzinga rocked her, and she cried. It was true.

She belonged to Nzinga, and Nzinga to her.

Nzinga bouncing and fucking her to a variation of rhythms, their energy mounted, sending them into exquisite titillations, one filled, the other filling, until they imploded, together, in a spell of lights and colors and heat and emotion.

“You okay? Didn’t hurt you, did I?”

“Only if you can make it hurt more…I’d like that.”

Nzinga laughed. “I can handle that.”

Sharmayne lay prone in a puddle of moisture. It was shameless, but she wanted this woman, Nzinga Edwards, to love her however she wanted, as long as she loved her passionately. Understanding, Nzinga planted a kiss, like an African planting a holder’s post, on the curvature of Sharmayne’s lower back. Then she plucked the CD’s remote from rumpled sheets, where it often hid, like Sharmayne and a book, and, pointing the remote towards a glassed, ivy-adorned, mahogany case, pressed a button and released her personal brand of fuck-me melodies, the first the crooning lushness of Me’ Shell Ndege’Ocello’s aphrodisiac, “Stay.”

Then Nzinga began to play her again, a maestro, this time laying Sharmayne on her belly, unaware she was, of how thoroughly she decamped all memory of Sharmayne ever lying under Victor Naylor, the memory, something that gnawed at her, sometimes, whenever they were in the company of men. But her insecurity dissolved, always, in the love in Sharmayne’s eyes. The woman couldn’t imagine a world outside of Nzinga’

kisses, kisses potent enough to have her, as she was now, climbing their waterbed, a sumptuous morning glory vine creeping toward the sun.

Who do you love?” Nzinga murmured into the side of Sharmayne’s neck. Who loves you?” Her breasts sighed against Sharmayne’s back, her pubic hairs tickling the gentle rise of the tiny ebony buttocks. She reached for a plush white towel on a chair and dabbed it along the soft darkness of her lover’s body. Their fingers laced spontaneously, and Sharmayne basked in Nzinga’s aura. A magnet, she pushed upward, slowly, arching her back, signaling Nzinga to rock with her against the cool sheets. The ceiling fan whirred rhythmically. A fine mist of sweat formed on Sharmayne’s upper lip and, as the music they made sizzled, her face against the sheets, rivulets of moisture glazing their skin, causing suction kisses and, remembering the shower, their tempo sliding from light to momentum, she fastened her perspiring arms about amber forearms, her backbone hot against Nzinga’s bosom, and the smack of Nzinga’s dick easing into the tight tunnel of her ass became a never-ending symphony.

Nzinga’s body commanded her, and Sharmayne couldn’t think straight to entertain the question lodged in her locs. She prayed Nzinga wouldn’t stop fucking her, but when Nzinga plunged the phallic into her soft ass, smashing a crescendo that mashed her dazed pearl into the mattress, her body’s seeping honey sweetened the grateful sheets and she lost the power of speech again.

“Who do you love?” Nzinga trilled, low, no threat to Ndege’Ocello’s soulful “Who Is He and What Is He to You?”

Sharmayne heard her and felt her and submitted. To a point.

She allowed Nzinga to play her skillfully. Teeth clamped, she suppressed what Nzinga longed to hear and went with the drumming in her ears a while longer. Complete submission would come, inevitably, as it always did; but for now, she bit her bottom lip, prolonging sweet release for them both.

Nzinga had it like that. So she rotated slowly, until she faced her and rained a flurry of moist, tantalizing kisses on her face and neck, breaking Nzinga’s meditative pose above her. Slowly, methodically, Sharmayne pushed herself into Nzinga, their rhythm a slowed bongo that picked itself up and up, past Sharmayne’s elevated legs, and empty cat, then pounded faster, then beat harder, working itself into a steady, frenzied backdoor thrashing. In no time, Nzinga had her dangling over the edge of the world, right where she wanted her to be.

By the time Nzinga rescued her, breathing hard, and trembling, Ndege’Ocello had graciously stepped aside for the rock-n-roll sass of Melissa Ethridge, whose plea “Don’t You Need?” suffused Nzinga’s insatiable need to taste Sharmayne’s nectar.

“Who do you love?” Nzinga took a rare pearl between her lips. She massaged slender thighs before tossing them over her shoulders. Her tongue lashed a chocolaty clit, lips sucking greedily, mouth consuming sugary lips. Her fingers, thermometers, gauged Sharmayne’s internal fire.

Sharmayne couldn’t control it. She clawed the sheets. At Nzinga’s back. At her hair. At the soft valley between her thighs and hips. Until a scream roiled up from her. Head back, throat exposed, Sharmayne wafted towards a tongue that refused to take silence for any answer and, tensing with satisfaction, knew again the masterful musician Nzinga to be, her sonorous melodies coming from Sharmayne’s pores and pussy.

“Who do you love?”

Sharmayne couldn’t deny her. Forever.

“You!” she screamed. “Oh my god, you! I love you, Nzinga!”

Lips parted, like her thighs, both screaming their pleasure, the small body writhed in flames of liquid fire.

“I love you, too, baby girl.” The Amazon cradled her, their heartbeats one.

Neither woman cared a single iota about the unbridled passion slipping under the raised windows of Nzinga’s fortress in their North Highland neighborhood.


On the inaugural Saturday of the National Black Arts Festival, the sky was periwinkle blue. It shimmered with an invisible heat that reflected off the asphalt in the Greenbriar Mall’s parking lot and volleyed it up the bare legs of crowds of Festival-goers. Pinky and Sherrie Ann weaved their way through bands of folks heading towards the mall’s entrance.

“Honey chile, you betta drag your behind on.” Sherrie Ann had to admonish a tarrying Pinky, who strolled leisurely, hips swinging seductive in blue-jean shorts. A white crop top inches below her bust, glittering white flip-flops on her feet, without jewelry or make-up, Pinky was at home in her sensuality. Her A-symmetrical haircut had grown out, and the curly bob that replaced it now threatened to bouffant into something resembling the unconquered territory on Sherrie Ann’s straw-colored head.

“It’s hot as hell out here!”

Pinky snubbed her, stuck a finger into her mouth as if to vomit. “What’s the rush? There’s so much to see at these events, I love them.”

“C’mon, woman, before I have to cuss---some of your cousins stepping on my damn feet like they crazy and no apology to speak of.”

They cruised up the right-hand side of the mall corridor and jockeyed through a knot of kente-clad sisters engaged in a reunion and stopped to admire a display of hand-crafted, hand-painted, resin dolls. Arrayed in elaborate traditional costumes, with braids and soft wiry halos as hairstyles, the dolls were as natural as miniature girls and women.

“Bet Clemmy would love one of these little ladies.” Pinky examined a placard claiming the dolls as Sandra Blake originals. “I should put it on my credit card.” She peeked at another, searching for a price tag. “Girl, it’s a hundred and twenty-five dollars!”

Sherrie Ann frowned and gave her a look of disbelief. “Now, I know you didn’t come way over here thinking these folks traveled further to permit you to rob them slap-happy blind. They done sweated over this stuff, and can’t hand it to you, for peanuts.”

“I know…but…”

“Honey, unless Clemmy came out and said, ‘Mama, I want a Blake doll,’ I say you ought to encourage Homegirl to check in with that stuff-shirt daddy of hers and let him shell out his greenbacks for this doll.” All the while Sherrie Ann spoke, she guided Pinky backward into the milling crowd.

“Would you buy one, seeing how much you collect all kinda sculpture?”

“Yeah, if one could sing and dance and feed my fish and jump up and scratch my big butt when it itched. Uh huh. I’d buy one.”

Pinky laughed, cut her a Girl, shut the hell up look.

“Okay! I’d buy one if I really wanted it; they are nice dolls, but don’t make a decision just yet; you might see something else that catches your eye.” Stopping a few feet ahead, she peered left then right, before pivoting right and plowing towards a dazzling exhibit of African-American sculptures, the first in a long line of exhibits running the length of the mall’s main thoroughfare.

Pinky stared at her girlfriend’s departing back and shook her head; the woman’s living room was buried beneath wood cravings and masks and figurines. But she couldn’t worry herself with that nonsense, not with the delicious aroma of yogurt, candy, and chocolate-covered raisins assailing her nose. Though the last thing she needed was extra weight in all the wrong places. So she checked herself.

Then she meandered down another section of the mall, pausing now and again to finger multicolored ceramics, photography, more clothing, books and jewelry. When she’d purchased a set of seven-dollar copper bracelets for herself, a storybook for Mookey, and an unusual bangle, wide and silver, for Clemmy, she drifted back into a throng of shoppers and, stopping before a partially unoccupied bench, plopped down and crossed her legs and people-watched.

She marveled at the beauty and diversity in the predominantly Black faces and stared at the hairstyles---afros, cornrows, serious weaves, Senegalese plaits, dookey braids, straight wraps, pressed do’s, twisted locs, natural and permed, and wrapped kufi-crowned heads. Did the brothers always rival the sisters in clothing and headdress, many decked in loose-fitting, cool-looking African chic? After twenty minutes, she got up and looked around for Sherrie Ann.

Tucking her possessions under one arm and surveying more displays, she resolved to catch up with her talking girlfriend a little later. Right now, something was telling her to peep at one final exhibition.

Paintings, mounted in ornate frames, metal and wood, hung from a draped contraption behind a black, velvet-cloaked counter. A tall, good-looking, dark-skinned brother stood behind the counter, talking with a short stocky woman in a flowing dress. He was handing her a large bag Pinky knew whatever was inside she couldn’t afford, so she wended past a clump of teenagers with British accents scrutinizing a painting of a wearied black man leaning against a wall. She cocked her head in contemplation. What had drawn the kids’ spellbound attention? Wouldn’t have been Taylor staring at that picture, but maybe Clemmy. What looked like a nude sister painted in effulgent pastels, bringing to mind watercolors she’d purchased for Mookey, jumped out at her. She grinned and shook her head. That would be the painting her Taylor would deem tight.

Continuing to browse the exhibition unaccosted, Pinky floated from painting to painting, which seemed to oppose one another, watercolors now, brilliant with varied hues, and then charcoals, muted with subtlety, and always of familiar Black faces. Scenes. And emotions. One painting, no, a series of paintings, beckoned her, summoning her to communion with them, the intimacy of their women, common African-American women, some young, some older, alive with the pain and joy of living in their features and bodies and personalities. She studied the sequence of eight paintings, positioned in a thoughtful combination.

Astonished at the familiarity of the exchange between the images and her, she was transfixed, remembering, instantly understanding something of what could’ve reached out and held the teens rooted in their footsteps before a simple painting.

The women whispered.

Of secrets from her childhood. Of loneliness. Of longing and the compulsion to be wanted. Brown and black and hazel gazes stared back at her from breathing, still faces; faces that soundlessly chuckled at her tomboy appearance when she accompanied her daddy looking any kinda way; faces that bided her scoot back on a sofa and thumb a magazine while Earl Taylor’s speechlessness screamed under modest moans; faces that glowed over plates of beans and cornbread and salt pork and invited her not to nurse the food but eat it; faces that censured her whines and apprehensions when fast afternoons faded into slow evenings and tumbled into slower nights; faces that favored the wintry beauty of Grandma Taylor and Miz Too-Sweet; and most poignantly, faces that connoted specters of a face that might’ve resembled her own.

“They tend to wrench you right up out of yourself, don’t they?” a disembodied voice intoned behind her, startling her. “One woman told me yesterday they’re the very semblance of her mother and aunts---until it’s uncanny.”

Still under the womanly spell of the paintings, Pinky nodded slowly without turning to recognize the speaker. “Yeah, like they’re casting spells. The more I look, the more I see things I didn’t notice a second ago. And the strange thing about all of them is I know them, I really know them, but then again I don’t.”

The voice hummed and she went on. “These women was all I knew as mothers when I was coming up. By the same token, I didn’t have a mother, I mean, not one there every day, you know, cooking breakfast, fixing lunch, kissing your booboos, going to PTA, fussing you out, sticking up for you, and tucking you in at night.” She crossed her arms and outlined her lips with one forefinger. Lost in the pictures, she swallowed rising waves of bitterness and blinked back corrosive tears.

“Hey, it’s all right.” An unexpected hand on her shoulder soothed her. “I have happier paintings that might lighten your mood. Sorry my ladies conjured such melancholy memories.” The phantom of the exhibit, his voice crisp and up North, pointed a well-formed arm to frames of dark children carousing on a corner block.

The admission turned her head. “Your ladies? You painted these?”

“Afraid so, but I hope that doesn’t mean you’ll be flying away now?”

Why would she?

It was the tall brother she’d seen chit-chatting with the short woman when she first approached the exhibit. He smiled, his face suspended above hers. He was disturbingly handsome, the kind of fine Sherrie Ann would say, deserved some pussy on looks alone. She couldn’t arrest her gaze, couldn’t thwart her body from wanting to flutter into his arms, her heart abruptly evincing any number of reasons why he wouldn’t be a flawless fit in her embrace.

“Hi,” he said, still smiling and appreciating what he saw and reading the undisputed language in her eyes. “I’m Grant Johnson, the guilty visiting artist whose work has profoundly wrecked your morning.”

They shook hands and he imprinted her features on his painter’s retina, where he’d keep them, until he sifted through the images of beauty there and brought them out of safekeeping for memorializing on canvas. “So nice to have affected you, Miss---?” he hesitated, leaving the unfinished question dripping on the air between them, a balm. Fragrant and inexorable. Like her presence.

Taylor.” She offered her prettiest smile and her hand. “My family and friends call me Pinky.” Invisible, the balm oozed along the surface of her skin, its aroma intoxicating. “Nice to meet you, too, Grant Johnson, the man with two last names.”

“As in General Grant, sometimes, too.”

“Ain’t never met no real-live painter.” The admittance plummeted through the balmy sweetness between them and reverberated a timbre a brother like this one wouldn’t want to get used to; the flatness of her tone and the childishness of what she’d said upsetting her, making her wish she could magically ingest the words.

“That’s perfect. Never met a real-live princess.”

They laughed. And he walked her around his kingdom narrating back story for his work. And she reigned in the sun of his easy talk and possessive nearness. And they exchanged explosive glances. And the episode of their love played out in their heads like a movie.

Then Pinky bumped into time. It was already past 1:45 p.m. on Grant’s gold Timex. She remembered she’d promised Miz Too-Sweet she wouldn’t be late getting back so that she’d be there when that Free chick brought her and Mookey and Mr. Will back from a Festival event at her bookstore. She thanked Grant for his time.

“The blessing was mine,” he said. “Thank you for being…here.”

She turned to go, and then hugged him. “See you.”

“Hope so.” His words were more prayer than parting.

I AM a novelist, short story writer, blogger, and poet. Please look for my book on a shelf near you SOON! All praise to the Divine!