This is the next to last excerpt from Born To Be Wild before release at the end of May. In this unedited excerpt we meet Reese's best buddy, Spence.
“Does that mean you’ll be free to have dinner with me when I come back through to pick up the book?”
Her brown eyes widened for a fraction of a second, and she dabbed her full, bow-shaped lips with a napkin before she answered. “What day are you coming back?”
“Sunday afternoon. Is there a nice spot in town where you’d like to go, or would you rather go to Dothan?”
I usually had Sunday dinner with my family, but I wasn’t about to pass up such an enticing offer. “We have a nice restaurant here called the River City Grill. It’s a few doors down from my store. The food is excellent and the atmosphere is nice.”
“How’s three o’clock? If I leave Panama City Beach around noon, I should be pulling in around then.”
My groin tightened at the way her gaze took me in from across the table, but then she said,
“This is first Sunday, and we have communion, so I’ll be a bit late getting out of church, but I’ll be home by one-forty-five at the latest.”
“Do you go to church every Sunday?”
“Uh huh. You don’t?” Her question didn’t sound judgmental, just curious.
“Haven’t been in a while.” The confession made me uncomfortable, which I didn’t understand.
“How long is a while? Weeks, months or years?”
“Years.” My confession made me feel inadequate. Funny, but it never bothered me before.
“Too bad. It always helps me deal with whatever I have to face during the week. You know, like when you jump a weak battery.”
“Interesting analogy. I guess I’ve gotten used to working on Sundays. I don’t build, demolish, paint, or dig up anything, but I reserve the day for paperwork.”
“Hey, you can’t work all the time. It’s not good for your mental state.”
“You’re probably right. My mind is constantly on the current project, and each one is time sensitive.”
She tilted her head. “What do you mean?”
“When I buy a house, it’s important to get the house on the market as soon as possible. I’m losing money with every week that passes. The longer it takes, the more daily interest is mounting up on a property. The longest I hold onto a house is ninety days. If it hasn’t sold by then, I know there’s a problem.”
Tangela clasped her hands under her chin and leaned forward as though she was sincerely interested. “Like what?”
“The listing price could be too high or something has happened in the neighborhood to turn potential buyers off.
“How long does it usually take you to sell?”
“Two or three weeks.”
“Seriously? Isn’t three weeks unusual?”
“Not when you buy a property in a good neighborhood and renovate it to be one of the best in the area. People are willing to pay for quality.”
“So you don’t actually do the work yourself then?”
“Some of it, but the majority is done by the construction and landscaping companies I subcontract.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, how did you learn to flip houses? I know Tarek and Christina were realtors before they got into the house flipping business.”
She was really interested. “It’s a long, boring answer.”
“Are you in a hurry?”
“Not at all. Okay. I got my degree from Texas A&M in construction management, and initially I went to work for a big commercial construction firm for a couple of years. It didn’t take long for me to realize I didn’t want to be the guy in a dress shirt and tie walking around the job site with a clipboard. Actual involvement in the project is what I need.”
“You need to get your hands dirty,” she said with a smile.
“Right, and my degree covered planning, cost estimating, scheduling, supervision, building systems, scheduling, cost estimating, construction management, and business/labor relations.”
“So you knew you had what you needed to run your own company.”
The admiration in those pretty brown eyes as I spoke gave me a sense of pride I hadn’t felt in a long time. Many Atlanta women weren’t impressed. To them what I do for a living sounds like nothing but manual labor. Very unromantic. I wasn’t a lawyer or a doctor or a pro baller. I nodded and finished my salad.
“Amazing. I wish I could see some of your flips. I love the idea of taking an ugly place and turning it into something special. Exactly what I did with my store. The owner wanted to get it off his hands and was selling it as is. A man from my church owns a small remodeling business and did the work for a reasonable price. Besides putting in a new bathroom, most of it was cosmetic anyway.”
“Your man didn’t help you?” Why I had to know more about this dude she’d been seeing for two years without getting the commitment she seemed to want was beyond me.
“We weren’t seeing each other at the time.”
“What does he do for a living?”
“He owns a boat rental company at the lake, the only black-owned one in the area.”
“You sound proud of him.”
Her expression and careless shrug offered more insight than her words. “It’s just a statement of fact. There are only about a dozen black-owned businesses in town, and-”
The ringing of my phone interrupted her. The opening notes of Jidenna’s Classic Man let me know it was Spence. “Excuse me. I need to get this.”
“The rest of them want to move on,” he said when I answered. “I’m coming to where you are. How do I get there?”
“Come up to 431, go through the light and make your first left. It’s called Karly’s Kafe.”
“I’ll be there in five minutes.” He clicked off the call.
“Sorry. My buddy’s coming here to meet me. The rest of the guys want to go ahead.”
“How many of you are riding together?”
“About thirty-five, which is most of our club. We’re staying at one of those resorts in PCB.”
Tangela chuckled as though she remembered something.
“Just thinking. When I was young, we would never have gone to Panama City Beach. It used to be known as the Redneck Riviera. They didn’t want us there, and we didn’t want to be there, but things have changed in the past twenty years.”
“I heard that, and they might be changing back, if this new president has his way.”
She frowned and shook her head. “Let’s not ruin a nice lunch with such a depressing subject.”
“I have the taste for something sweet. Do you want dessert?”
“No, thanks. I usually don’t eat sweets with lunch.”
“You sure? The cakes in the case up front look really good.” I rose and got ready to cross the room so I could peruse the dessert case, but the roar of a bike engine drew my attention out the front window. “That’s Spence.”
“Over here, man,” I called out a few moments later when he entered the front door. He strode over to where Tangela and I were sitting, and the eyes of all of the women in the café, including Tangela’s, widened. He and I had similar builds thanks to the work we did. Spence stood a good three inches over my six feet. His dark-skinned well-tatted upper body always drew attention, and he wasn’t shy about showing it off. Today all he had on were a pair of denim painter’s pants with no shirt beneath and one strap unhooked. When we were on the road, he threw a leather jacket on top.
“Spence, this is Tangela Holloway. She owns the bookstore here in Eufaula. This is Spencer Daniels.”
"Pleased to meet you, Tangela."
“Same here. Reese tells me you’re a member of the same motorcycle club.”
“We are.” He pulled out a chair and joined us at the table.
“I was about to have some dessert. You want something, man?”
Spence shook his head. “Go ahead.”
I proceeded to the refrigerated case, concentrated on the ten different kinds of six-layer cakes and ignored Bree’s and Karly’s expressions until Bree came close and whispered, “Is he a friend of yours?”
She uttered a sound that should’ve come from me as I perused the sweets. “Is he married?”
“No. Do you want to meet him?”
“I certainly do.” Her hand went to her striking head of hair, and she gave it a confident pat.
“Can you give me a slice of the strawberry shortcake and our checks first?” I asked with a grin.
“Coming right up.”
COMING TO KINDLE, NOOK AND PAPERBACK LATE SPRING 2017