Swirl Love is Not Forbidden(8)

By: Tamara Black



“We were…” She stopped. “I mean we are, but…” Her voice trailed off.

“Just forget I said anything.”

“I can’t do that.” She began shaping the dough in her hands again. “I have a cousin who is addicted to gambling.”

“Probably not as bad as my mother,” I said.

“She might be. It’s gotten her into all sorts of trouble.”

“What’s their name?” I asked.

“Oh…Um…”

Someone knocked at the back door on the other side of the room before she said anything.

“I’ll get it,” I said, tossing the dough in my hand to the tray so it could proof and rise.

At the back door, I opened it without checking as I figured it was the rest of the lunch crew. Instead of the delivery drivers or other employees, I saw Bullet towering in front of me. I slammed the door shut, but it caught on his snakeskin boot.

“Let me in,” he said.

Fuck, I thought, stepping back.

“Who’s that?” Tanesha asked. “Should I call the police?”

Bullet turned his attention to her, lifting his hand ax in the air.

“Whoa,” I said, stepping in front of him. “Calm down, Bullet. She’s not calling the police. Right?”

“Um, yeah…” she said.

“Where’s my money for the drop last night?” Bullet asked.

“It’s at my apartment. My car broke down and I need to take it to the bank unless you want it all in quarters.”

He tilted his head while staring at me menacingly.

“The idiots paid in quarters. I’ll have your money later tonight. You need to get the fuck out of here before the other employees arrive. Don’t ruin this, you fucking imbecile.”

I stepped forward, right in his face, staring him down.

“Leave,” I said, pointing to the back door. “Now.”

After looking over at Tanesha then back to me, he howled with laughter. I watched as he slowly turned and walked out of the back of the shop. As soon as the door closed, I ran up and locked it.

“That’s why you don’t just open the back door,” I joked after turning around.

Tanesha had a pissed look on her face. I hadn’t known her long, but I could tell it wasn’t her usual chipper self.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Are you kidding me? What kind of trouble are you in, Tony?”

“It’s my problem. I’ll take care of it.”

“That scary guy showed up here, where I work. It’s my problem now too. Should I be worried about my children at home? Does he know who I am?”

“No, no, no,” I said, reaching out and putting my hand on her arm.

I left it there for more than ten seconds. She didn’t brush it away.

“You’re fine,” I said, looking into her eyes. “I told you about this before he showed up. He’s never come here before, but I missed a payment last night because of my car.”

With her lips pressed together and her jaw pushed out, she fumed at me without saying a word.

“I’m trying to be honest with you because I like you,” I said. “Let’s just get to work. We can talk about it later after the lunch rush, okay?”

She nodded. “Fine.”

As we went back to work, finishing the dough and starting to shred the cheese, I thought about how I would get out from under my mother’s debt once and for all. It was the only way I could move forward with my own life.

If I wanted someone like Tanesha in my life, I had to clean up my act and stay on the straight and narrow. Maybe they’ll let me pay smaller amounts over a longer period of time, I thought as we worked side by side to prepare for the lunch crowd.





FIVE





Tanesha





Two weeks after I started working at Pizza Pizza, Tony trusted me enough to open the store on my own. We had been talking at work while he trained me. The situation with the crazy guy named Bullet seemed to be under control. While I didn’t agree with his choice to sell drugs, I understood he only wanted to help his mother with her gambling debts. My ex-husband Kendrick and other people tried to tell me I had a problem with gambling, but they were all crazy.

I unlocked the door to the shop and walked in, making sure to lock it behind me. As I got to work setting up the shop for lunch, I realized I was going to miss working with Tony in the mornings. He had to work at night to deliver his weed and run the store, so he had no reason to keep working in the mornings with me after I got trained. That was why I was considering asking him over to my apartment to watch a movie and hang out.

After filling the Hobart mixer with all the ingredients, I turned it on and watched the dough slowly form. I kneaded thoughts of Tony in my mind at the same time. He had a sexy body and a cute smile, but with two children, I couldn’t just think about looks anymore. Destiny and Michael deserved a good father figure in their life. They still spent every other week with Kendrick, their father, but I didn’t want to parade a whole bunch of men through the house when they were with me.

The buzzer for the timer went off. I turned off the machine and opened the lid. Grabbing the huge dough ball, I lifted it and set it on the metal prep-table. I got even further lost in thought as I cut and rolled pieces for medium sized pizzas. A smile spread over my face as I remembered the first time Tony had taught me how to roll the dough tightly. I’m going to do it, I decided. He has tonight off, so I’ll have to call him.

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