Looks Aren’t Everything by Cortney Joseph

Smiling as her husband wrapped his arm around her waist, carefully pulling her closer as he introduced her to his coworkers for the first time, Miki reveled in the welcomed closeness she’d desired so much lately. “Timothy, Allen; I’d love for you both to meet my beautiful wife, Miki. Darling, these are the gentleman I’m always losing my money to on the golf course.”

Joining in on the stuffy laughs that ensued after his corny joke, Miki smiled in her husband’s direction before shaking the hands of his coworkers. “Such a pleasure to meet you both. Rodney is always going on and on about your intense games.”

“Well, Ms. Miki, if he had any sense, he’d finally take Allen and I up on those lessons we offered him.” Rodney rolled his eyes, playfully nudging Timothy. “I’m just saying Rod; you’re not getting any better.”

Allen nodded in agreement. “And I’m certain this beauty is tired of you losing your money on a weekly basis.”

Miki smiled politely, lowering her head a little as Rodney chuckled. “It’s only been a few bad games lately. You know what usually happens when I’m on my A game though.”

Timothy looked in Allen’s direction before speaking up. “Yeah, you lose about ten dollars less per hole, but you still lose. Anyway, Miki, will you be joining us on the upcoming company vacation? It’s usually just the men, but every once in a while the main man decides to splurge just enough for us to invite spouses. All costs covered.”

Looking up as she spoke, Miki politely declined. “Um, unfortunately, no. I’ve been fortunate enough to have Rodney support me in my own professional endeavors and my company is just beginning to take off. Business is booming and I don’t really have anyone I trust enough to leave for longer than a day, two at most.”

Allen nodded. “Quite understandable. What do you do, if I may ask?”

Rodney quickly answered, beaming with pride and a bit of emotion that he rarely showed anyone. “Those brownies I’m always bringing to the office…” Allen and Timothy nodded, their mouths instantly watering at the thought. “My baby baked those. She owns a very quaint bakery over on the north side of town. She doesn’t consider it to be gourmet, but it is, and all of her creations are well worth the price.”

“You’re kidding?”

Rodney shook his head. “Darling Miki, that’s her establishment, and she does everything from pastries to multi-tier wedding cakes, eclairs, truffles, and more. She’s excellent.”

Timothy nodded his head in approval as he folded his arms across his chest. “Well I’ll be damned. I have my wife pick up an order from your place weekly. Ma’am, this man’s words do not do your talents any type of justice.”

She smiled, thanking them all as she hugged Rodney. “Your words are very kind, and appreciated; but I must say that had it not been for Rodney boosting my ego a little, I may have never even done more than cooking at home.”

“I’m so glad he did. I’ve already been talking people’s heads off about your bakery, but now I’m going to make sure they hightail it across town to check you out. You deserve all the success you’re receiving now and so much more.”

“Aww, thank you so much.” Pulling away from Rodney, sensing that his ‘closeness limit’ was drawing near, Miki pushed her hair over her shoulder. “I’m going to give you guys a chance to talk amongst yourselves. Babe, I’m going to step outside for a few moments.”

“Are you okay?”

She nodded. “Yes, just want to get a bit of fresh air. I’ll be back shortly.”

Rodney nodded, kissing her cheek. “Alright. And be careful as you walk around; Tim’s too cheap to have his floors fixed properly.”

Timothy laughed. “Well, if I beat you three more times, I’ll have enough of your money to cover the repairs.”

Miki shook her head, turning and walking away as the men talked among themselves. As she headed towards the door that led to the back area of Timothy’s estate; she took notice of the eyes that followed her. Though she had never been as shapely as she’d like to be; Miki knew that she wasn’t an unattractive woman either. A beautiful skin tone that had earned her the nickname Honey in her late teens, a naturally toned and slim figure, and long legs that she often accentuated with a pair of heels. Tonight, she chose a classic black dress; a staple in every woman’s closet, choosing to compliment her husband’s look rather than upstaging him as most of the other wives had done.

Though she hated to feel that none of the other wives liked her, she knew that they didn’t. The reason why was always lost to her, however. Miki had never been anything other than polite and kind; never spoke negatively or gossiped with or about them to others. Perhaps it was because she’d chosen not to be the typical housewife, and their husband’s often passed their sentiments of admiration off as disdain towards their personal choices. Maybe it was because they’d assumed she wanted their men. Maybe it was because they simply were the type of women her mother had always told her about. Rich, stuck-up, unsatisfied, and bitter; looking to take their personal problems out on someone else without having to fear a beat down. Whatever the situation was, she knew to keep her thoughts and feelings to herself; for Rodney’s sake.

The last thing she wanted to do was slip into her old ways; no filter, ready to fight, totally unafraid to embarrass herself for the sake of standing up for herself. She knew that she could not cost her husband his job or high rank within their little social surroundings.

Reaching the door, after feeling as if their hateful eyes would literally burn a hole in her back, Miki walked out onto the back patio quickly; exhaling deeply before she leaned against a railing.

She smiled, watching as a few older couples stood out, dancing across the lawn. Tears of Joy by Karyn White played over Timothy’s speaker system. Each couple shared smiles and knowing looks, sharing sweet kisses as they held one another closely. It was inspiring to see, at least for Miki, to see older individuals who still looked at one another as if they’d just fallen in love for the very first time. It was what she wanted for herself and Rodney.

She’d only hoped they’d be blessed enough to see twenty years, thirty, forty, fifty and more. Out of habit, she sang along lowly, watching… imagining that it were her and Rodney out there putting on a public display for other hopeful couples to see. “Happiness is what I feel whenever I have you near. Anytime I shed a tear, I’m crying tears of joy.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

Looking to her left, Miki nodded before refocusing. “Very. Growing up, I didn’t see a lot of proof that love could last. That black love could last.”

The young lady who’d taken a stand next to Miki nodded her head in agreement. “Same. Parent’s offered no type of visual to this type of happiness and joy within a relationship. Like, you know there have been ups and downs, but they still come out strong.”

“It’s amazing. I always wonder how older folks made it work. Some things, they just seem too tough to get through. At least, in today’s times.”

The young lady nodded again. “That’s because us young folks don’t want to stay and fight for our love. At least, that’s what my grandparents say.” She pointed towards a couple standing square in the center of the lawn. “That’s them; been married for over sixty years, and are still going as if they’ve just began dating. It’s so cute to watch them.”

Miki smiled, feeling an even greater amount of admiration after hearing how long the beautiful couple had been together. “Amazing, and congratulations to them.”

“Thank you. I’m just glad they agreed to come along tonight. They don’t particularly care for my boss, but they love to have a good time.” Miki chuckled. “Sorry for intruding on your peaceful moment.”

Finally clearing her throat, turning away from the older couples, Miki waved off the young lady’s comment. “It’s no problem at all. I’m quite sure my husband will be glad that I’ve spoken to someone. These events for his company, I never feel as if I fit in.”

“Girl, I’m there with you. If I wasn’t Allen’s secretary, I surely wouldn’t bother coming through. They’re always celebrating something, big or small. Excuses to drink and clown one another publically, if you ask me. How come you aren’t in there with The Wives.”

Miki cringed a little, shrugging her shoulders. “Not my crowd, and they don’t like me very much.”

The young lady chuckled. “Oh, well don’t feel bad about it. They don’t like anybody that looks better than them. Whoever your husband is, I’d say he got the prettiest of you all.”

“Ha, you’re very kind. Sorry, I’m Miki Dawson.”

The young lady smiled, extending her hand before Miki politely shook it. “Gabrielle Tucker, and it’s very nice to meet you. Ever get dragged to another one of these parties, just seek me out if you want someone to talk to for the majority of the night. I’m usually hiding outside or in a corner somewhere.”

“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.” Checking her watch, Miki sighed. “I better get going, I’ve got work in the morning, but thank you so much for the conversation. And again, congrats to your grandparents. Wishing them many more.”

“Thank you, and have a good evening.”

After heading inside, Miki quickly found Rodney and announced that she was going to leave. “Do you want me to come with you?”

“No, go ahead and enjoy yourself. You’ve worked so much these past few weeks, you deserve to relax and have a little fun. No late night golf though.”

“Haha. I’m not that crazy, Baby. I forgot my glasses and Tim will cheat if he knew I can’t see a damn thing at night.” He kissed her cheek, quickly excusing himself from his circle of friends. “I’m going to walk my wife to her car.” They all nodded, wishing Miki a good night as she said goodbye and began to follow Rodney towards the front door.

Making it outside moments later, at the far end of the driveway where she’d parked, Rodney stopped Miki just before she could walk to the passenger side. “So, you’re going straight home?”

Looking into his eyes, she nodded. “Yes Rodney, where else would I go? I have five cakes I need done before eight a.m., and a huge order of cupcakes for a bridal party. Trust and believe, I’m going to shower and knock out.”

“You’re certain?”

Miki sighed, not really surprised that this side of him would come out once it was just the two of them. His jealousy was cute, to an extent, but it was a bit unnecessary since she was pretty much a homebody. “Yes Rodney.”

He nodded, rubbing her shoulder for a moment before he finally let her walk to the driver side and get in the car. As she buckled up, started the ignition, and began to drive away; he watched, standing with his hands in his pockets.

Turning up her radio to shake the sudden annoyance she felt, Miki nodded her head as Sylvia Robinson’s Pillow Talk began to play on one of her favorite quiet storm stations. She hoped that traffic would be light at this time of the night. All she wanted was a nice hot shower, a cup of tea, and her bed.

She knew that while he’d played nice in front of his friends, there would be an argument to follow once he returned home. If not tonight, most definitely at some point the next day when they saw one another again. Though she should have been, by now, Miki had yet to get used to the way Rodney flipped his mood switch on and off. One moment, caring and compassionate, the next second he could be cold and distant with no explanation. And that coldness could last for days… weeks, no matter what she did, said, or tried to make things better between them.

This evening had taken her by surprise. He never spoke of her business, aside from grunting or saying you do what you want anyway, nor had he ever talked up her company or her skills. Not to family, friends… anyone. Then again, he was always one to put on for the sake of looking good in front of those he felt could help advance his career. In this case, though they’d been friends for years, Timothy and Allen had a coveted position that Rodney felt he deserved; a stake in their law firm that he felt highly entitled to.

Miki sighed, scratching behind her ear for a second as she stopped and sat at a red light. “God, please tell or show me what I need to do to get Rodney and I back on track. If I’ve got to wait until this partnership thing passes, so be it, but please allow me to be prepared to fight to help him get back to the man I fell in love with. I miss my husband.”

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Published by mypenwritesnice

Creative Soul. Artist. Perfectionist. Virgo.

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