This scene didn’t have a home in my latest, Taste for Love, but I thought I’d share it here. Shelly Gauthier is a seventeen year old girl on the eve of her senior year in high school… and she bumps into the guy that will later help change the course of her future – Trent Scott.
Shelly reached for the bottle of lotion and squirted into her hands enough to lather both of her legs. While maneuvering so her cocoa butter oiled legs did not touch the comforter to leave a stain, Shelly tried to apply more lotion to her feet.
During the slight acrobatic feat, Shelly glanced at her freshly painted toenails and wished she didn’t have to wear sandals tonight.
Shelly loved her feet. They were smooth and soft, rare for a dancer. She’d seen some that were quite frightening – blistered and toes that pointed in more directions than they should.
Of course she could wear something other than her gladiator sandals, but sneakers were not an option and neither were the one-inch heels her father preferred for Shelly to wear when dress shoes were appropriate.
“Humph.” Shelly muttered, trying not to let her father’s impossible rules put a damper on her night. Sometimes she wished she weren’t the only child. A sibling or two would probably balance out her father’s overbearing approach to parenting.
Mama claimed it was because he and Uncle Jimmy were once the boys her father warned her about. Firsthand knowledge of what misguided hormones and puberty could lead to… and according to Shelly’s mother, her father and Uncle Jimmy had serious game back in the day.
Unfortunately Daddy and Uncle Jimmy’s memories weren’t forgotten once they got older and from time to time it wasn’t just them cramping her life. Uncle Jimmy’s sons also managed to frighten boys away whenever Kenneth, Drew and Jeremy were in town visiting.
Shelly loved hanging out with her cousins, as it made so many girls envious of her when they saw the handsome trio around her, but Shelly loathe it at the same time. It was bad enough the guys were constantly telling Shelly what she could and could not wear or how much make up was too much to have on. But what she really didn’t care for were her cousins’ intimidating eye glares. They cost Shelly quite a few crushes, more than Shelly wanted to even think about.
Fortunately they weren’t around and later that evening, neither would her warden of a father be. Shelly smiled thinking about her dad. Even with his overbearing ways, Shelly loved him so. Although Julian Gauthier left her questioning if she’d ever be able to go on a real date before high school graduation in the spring.
Shelly looked toward the back of her closet for the shoebox she kept hidden in an old duffel bag. Pulling out a pair of shoes, Shelly smiled while keeping an eye on her closed bedroom door and shoved them inside the backpack she was going to take with her.
Tossing the bath towel she had wrapped around her aside, Shelly shimmied into her jeans. She checked out her reflection in the low riding pair that fit her like second skin.
Shelly turned to look at herself, seeing the curves she just started to develop the past year jump out in the mirror. With a big toothy grin, a smile finally free from braces, Shelly stared at her behind and felt like she could rival Beyoncé any given day.
Not that she wanted to. After all, Shelly loved, as in capital L-O-V-E-D Destiny’s Child. And it wasn’t just Beyoncé that Shelly admired, she loved all of them especially Kelly. Shelly’s radio in the corner was playing a burned CD with a compilation of all her favorite songs and right now “Dilemma” was blaring. That was the song that piqued Shelly’s interest in Kelly as a solo artist, but “Stole” confirmed Shelly would forever be a Kelly Rowland fan. Kelly validated everything Shelly thought about as a teenage girl, helping Shelly realize she was not alone.
Shelly reached for her shirt and slipped it over her head. The Old Navy American flag logo would have been cute if she were attending a Fourth of July cookout, but not for a concert. Her friends Brianna and Monique suggested they wear them after scouring the mall for something to wear. Shelly didn’t want to agree, but the five-dollar price tag was a steal. Nique agreed to have her cousin, the one that designed their dance team uniforms, customize the shirts. Grabbing one of each color, in red, white and blue, the girls decided to pair it with white shorts.
That was until Brianna called the night before to say she was on her cycle and there was no way she was going to wear white shorts with all the cuties checking out festival goers. And boy was the city crawling with fine brothers. There was always something about the Essence Music Festival that made the Quarter the place to be in July.
Thanks to her big cousin Kenny, Shelly didn’t have to check out the fun from the outside. Kenny surprised her with tickets to see Destiny’s Child and even hooked her up with backstage passes. A week ago, Aunt Lori called Shelly’s mom to tell them the Wilkersons booked a limo, too.
Just thinking about it made Shelly smile, even as she slipped her feet into the straps of her sandals.
Shelly turned to see her mother walking into her bedroom.
“You look so pretty, Petite.”
Her mother gave her a similar one in return, except Shelly detected sadness in her mother’s eyes.
“What is it?” Shelly asked. There were whispers and quiet conversations that Shelly sometimes overheard, but once her presence became known the adults would change the subject. It upset Shelly that her parents still treated her like a child.
Eyes full of pity and regret would look at her forcing Shelly to question her parents every time she observed the behavior, just like she wanted to ask her mother tonight. It was futile to pry into what her mother insisted on hiding, but Shelly did it anyway. Although Shelly knew what the answer would be. Shelly’s mother and father always replied, telling her everything was fine even if Shelly could detect something was wrong.
“What are you sneaking in that bag of yours tonight?” her mother asked.
Shelly grinned. “Mascara.”
There was no need to bring up the shirt she planned to change into or the high heels Shelly was going to slip into once out of her parents’ view.
Her mother smiled with her eyes. “Not too much. Your lashes are already long and pretty as is.”
They kissed and hugged before Shelly’s father knocked on the door.
“There’s a big black limousine outside and the chauffeur said he is here for you. Don’t scorch the city too much tonight with your little friends,” her father teased.
“Thanks,” Shelly replied, reaching for her bag. “Night Mama and Daddy.”
“Don’t forget you still have a curfew, even if you are riding around like a superstar tonight,” her father tossed out after they hugged.
Shelly stopped in her doorway and turned to look back at her parents. They were holding each other, with her mother leaning into her father’s chest.
“Love you,” Shelly whispered and blew them a kiss.
“Check out the five, six, seven, eights.”
Shelly overheard the woman next to Trent Scott remark with a laugh. Shelly knew she was talking about her and her friends as they danced with each song, but Shelly did not care. It wasn’t Shelly’s fault the woman was jealous of her.
In perfect sync, Shelly danced right along with Briana and Nique performing the same routine for ‘Lose My Breath’ that got the dance team to regionals. Except Shelly put a little more back into it, just because she knew Trent was watching. Growing up Shelly hated the way she filled out her jeans, but now it was her proudest asset. And it was getting Trent’s attention because she caught him watching her more than once.
“He is all up in your grill, girl!” Nique leaned in and whispered to Shelly.
Shelly casually looked over her shoulder at Trent standing with a couple of guys that were just as tall as him. She played off the gesture by gathering her hair and pulling it into a temporary makeshift ponytail with her hand. Fanning the back of her neck, Shelly regretted not pinning up her long sandy brown hair. Now that the summer rays had lightened it, thanks to the lemon juice she sprayed on it daily, she wanted to show it off.
Briana on the other hand was not as thrilled about Trent’s interest in Shelly. “How old is he? Can’t he tell you’re barely even seventeen? That’s just nasty.”
“Don’t you know who he is?” Shelly pulled her friends close to make sure she could not be overheard. “He’s Warren Scott’s son.”
“The Warren Scott? The basketball player?” her friends questioned in unison.
“Yep. I met him in Houston during the Super Bowl last year,” Shelly explained. “He’s so cute.”
“And old,” Briana added.
“She’s not trying to sleep with him. Nothing wrong with a little flirting,” Nique remarked. Looking back at Shelly, Nique questioned, “Or are you trying to hook up with him?”
Shelly giggled. “Of course not.”
They knew Shelly never wanted to be one of those girls. The kind her mother would gossip about with her friends after they found themselves “in trouble.” Shelly knew the best way to not end up in trouble and keep her name off the tip of anyone’s tongue was to keep her legs closed and virginity in tact.
“You look familiar.”
Shelly jumped when Trent tapped her on the shoulder. “Oh, hey.”
Trent flashed a smile. Shelly wasn’t the only one turning dreamy eyed in his direction. Briana and Nique stared at the spitting image of Warren Scott, except Trent was a much younger version.
Trent Scott made news with his career as a baseball player, choosing to blaze his own trail. At six-seven, he could have played basketball like his father, but Trent told sports commentators he wanted to be his own man. That dream was short lived. Although the Liberty drafted him, the team later traded Trent to acquire Kenneth.
“Her cousin is Kenny Wilkerson,” Nique blurted out. “He plays baseball for Philadelphia.”
Trent’s eyes narrowed for a fraction of a second, but then he flashed that smile again. He turned his attention back to Shelly. “Why do I feel like I know you?”
“I met you before during the Super Bowl game.”
Trent nodded and considered her words. “Really?”
He shrugged casually. “Going to the after party?”
“We’re not old—” Nique started, but Shelly elbowed her friend to cut her off.
“Not sure. You?”
“Yeah. Maybe I’ll see you there?”
“Rochelle,” Nique muttered. “We need to go. The limo driver told us he would be waiting for us as soon as the concert was over.”
“Damn Nique. Chill,” Briana muttered.
“She’s right.” Shelly sighed and looked at both her friends. “We need to get going. You know how crazy these things get afterwards. It was good seeing you again.”
Trent nodded, pulling his lower lip through his teeth slowly. “Good seeing you again. Be safe getting home.”
Shelly felt her cheeks warm. “Thanks. You too.”
She watched him turn away, leading the people standing with him toward the backstage entrance.
Briana and Nique were bickering, but Shelly didn’t care. Tuning them out, Shelly smiled.
What a night.
Thanks to Kenny, she got to meet Destiny’s Child and then Trent Scott noticed her.
It was the best night of her life.