Excerpt: No Normal For Us
The first time I saw her, I stopped in my tracks. Skin so dark I was captivated, so supple that I wanted to lick it—not in an ooh, I’m a cannibal kind of way—but just to see if it would be soft in some areas, muscled in others, and altogether all woman. Her hair was shaved so closely to her head, it looked more suited to a man. But on her, it looked perfect. It enhanced her long neck and made her collarbone even more prominent—another part of her body I wanted to run my tongue across just to get a taste.
She stalked like a woman on a mission, like a predator after its prey. Her eyes were shielded by the black shades on her face, her ears deaf to the noise around her as she heard only the music playing on her phone. A black leather jacket was swung across her arm; a Chanel purse was slung over the other shoulder. Her worn jean shorts rode higher as she walked, showing muscular legs that were fitting to the strong body of its owner. She looked badass, like a model or an assassin. I had no idea that she was both.
That Tuesday, my morning started like every other day. I woke up to the chirping cries of the birds that had turned the ledge outside my window into a nest. It was cute on a clear night, or at noon when I could see the baby birds peeping out of their homes into mine, but not so cute when it was six a.m. and I was just trying to get some fucking sleep.
I swung my legs over the bed and into the cute bunny slippers my sister had gotten me as a prank when I turned twenty-one. It’d been three years and I still loved them to bits. I stubbed my toe as I left my room; the sharp, agonizing pain was my body telling me there was no protection between it and the sharp angle of my door. The slippers were in rough shape from overuse. Unfortunately for the slippers and my toes, I was not remotely interested in getting a new pair. On my feet they would stay, every morning, until they literally fell apart.
“Morning, Mum,” I replied as I settled my tush on the makeshift dining chair that my mum always placed in the kitchen whenever she started to cook. An act that turned into a habit as she grew older and realized that she liked being able to take some breaks and read a book whilst cooking. How did that fare for the meals she made? Well, sometimes there was no breakfast at the table. Some days there was a feast.
I took in a deep breath and inhaled the yummy goodness of pancakes, eggs on toast, baked beans, and coffee. Looked like it was going to be a feast morning.
“Raquel. Morning, Hon,” Dad said as he wandered into the room and dropped a kiss on my head like he’d always done since I was five, then twirled my mum around to lay a smooch on her mouth, like he’d done since they got married. Extremely cheesy, but there was a part of me that wished for that for myself.
Mum of course chuckled and swatted him away, a big grin wide across her face. If she were fair, she would have blushed. But her skin didn’t blush or freckle. It remained as dark as it had ever been, a sharp contrast to the fairness that was Dad’s skin. Her hair, a beehive of tight kinks that had many a time swallowed a bobby pin or hair clip—which only turned up after several days—was also nothing like Dad’s wavy hair. But when you looked at them together, you didn’t see black and white. You saw two halves that made a complete whole. Two people who over a couple of decades had merged into one.
“Need a ride?” Dad asked as packed his breakfast.
“Nope. Have to head to the library to do some research. Then I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon writing at the cafe,” I said.
“Assassins or the mob?”
“The mob. Professor Manning wants us to do a critique on the turf war in the sixties and explain the role it played in forging the present ties of the Blanchard family.”
“Interesting,” Mum interrupted as she passed me my breakfast. “Want me to call Grandpa and ask him if he’s available to chat?”
“Nah. Skimmed through some of the library books yesterday. They actually have some pretty accurate retelling of quite a lot of events,” I replied as I dug in. Hmmm. Absolutely delicious. I gave Mum a thumbs up for the food, which she smiled at. “If I run into a brick wall, I’ll be sure to call him,” I added.
“You do just that,” Dad said. He brushed another kiss across Mum’s cheek and dropped one on my head again.
“Seriously, Dad. You do know that I’m not a child anymore, right?”
“Impossible. Who told you that?” he asked with mock outrage, dropping the pack of food on the table to dramatically place both hands on his chest.