Love Reincarnate: A Short Story
As soon as I stepped in the place, excitement thundered through my veins. This was it. I was finally getting my chance. And I wasn’t about to let anything or anyone get in my way this time.
I spread my trembling lips into a grin and approached the table where a young woman sat with a clipboard in her hand. She was looking down as her pen flew across the page, so I had time to check out her fly. Sis was rocking a long Ankara-print skirt with red accents and a white tank top, along with wooden bangles that danced along her wrists as she wrote. Glancing down at the simple beige maxi dress I’d donned a little over an hour ago, I wondered if I should have come harder. But the e-mail I’d received had been explicit: casual attire, no bright colors, no jeans.
“Hey,” I said, inching toward the table. “I’m here for the…well, I received an e-mail the other day saying th—”
“You’re an extra?” she asked, peering up at me.
“Great,” she said, flipping several pages down on the clipboard and sliding it over to me.
“Sign here. And let me grab this other document for you.”
I reached for one of the pens scattered about the table and asked, “What’s the other document?”
She waved her hand, “Oh, it’s just, like, giving us permission to use your image in the film and any promotional materials associated with it.”
I paused, pen in hand. I hadn’t thought about having to sign any legal documents. My eyes skittered over the sign-in sheet, taking in the names of several other people who’d presumably all signed the same things. But my eyes stopped wandering once they landed on one name in particular: Jerrod Scott. My eyebrows bunched. I didn’t know a Jerrod—did I? Why was I feeling like I should remember him?
Sighing, I shook the distracting thoughts from my head and renewed my focus on the task at hand. I wasn’t leaving here without having done what I came to do. They could put anything in front of me they wanted, because my ass was done waiting for an opportunity like this one.
Once I’d signed everything, the young woman informed me that they were still waiting for a few of the actors to arrive. “Feel free to grab a slice of pizza and a drink, and we’ll call you when we’re ready for you,” she said. As she finished talking, she gestured toward a table surrounded by a throng of what I presumed to be actors. Or perhaps they were members of the crew or assistants of some kind. Whoever they were, they were not playing any games with the snack table. Slices of pizza were flying through the air as I approached the table. But I took my time, surveying the place for the first time.
It was no surprise to me that the filming location was a place I’d never been to or heard of before. I hadn’t been out much in the past couple of years. The light shining in from the open windows brought an airiness to the otherwise foreboding darkness of the brown leather and cherry wood furnishings, and the artwork that lined the walls gave the bar a streak of color.
All of that faded to the background, however, when I saw him. With dreadlocks cascading past his shoulders, dark pecan skin, and the most luscious pair of lips I’d ever seen, he was a vision—one that I could hardly take my eyes off of. As if he felt the fire of my stare, he turned suddenly, from the table, and locked eyes with me. It seemed that everything stopped for a brief moment—and then his lips curved into a slow smile.
I pushed my shoulders back and gave a small smile in his direction before I scooted toward the back of the line. Although four people separated me from him, I never lost my target. I snuck glances his way as he piled a plate high with salad and ignored the pizza slices altogether. I did the same and grabbed a soda before searching around for a spot where I could sit and nosh on my leaves.
As soon as I spotted the perfect seat, next to a window and perfect for people watching, an announcement was made. It was go time. All of the extras were lined up quickly and instructed on the scene and our roles in it. We were asked to pair up and take our seats around the many tables that filled the bar. Almost immediately, everyone coupled up, and I was left standing all alone—except for him.
Our gazes connected again and a ripple ran through me. He extended his hand and asked, “Would you be my pretend-lunch-date?”
“Yeah,” I responded. Heat rose to my cheeks as I placed my hand in his. He smiled and began to steer us to a table in the back corner of the restaurant, but I saw nothing along the way. I was too preoccupied with consuming him. The man moved like water—from the gentle sway of his locs to the roll of the muscles in his arm and shoulder as he pulled out my chair. The way he moved was hypnotic as hell, and my ass was mesmerized.
As soon as I sat down, a young woman breezed over to our table and greeted us. She reminded us that we needed to keep the chatter down between takes. But during the filming, it was our job to appear to be a fun-loving couple, having an amazing time in the background while the main female character struggled through a disastrous date at another table. She asked if we were good, and we both said yes. Then, she left us alone—but for the room full of strangers surrounding us.
“So,” he began, his deep voice rumbling in his chest, “come here a lot?”
I laughed. When I looked up and saw his gaze trained steadily on me, I hastily added, “Never been here before.”
“I haven’t either.” Picking up the menu, he continued, “I don’t think they have a lot of stuff on the menu that I can eat.”
The plate of salad he’d balanced in his hand popped into my mind. “You’re a vegetarian?”
“Vegan,” he responded.
I leaned forward in my seat. “I’m trying to do that, too! I mean, I say ‘trying’ because I keep having these cravings and honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to make it.”
He stared at me intensely and asked, “What have you been craving?”
I became lost in the honey swirl in his brown eyes as I searched for an answer to his question. I couldn’t grab hold of anything. If he’d asked me my name, at that point, I couldn’t have told him anything but call me whatever you like and I’ll answer.
“Quiet on the set!” someone shouted.
I ducked my head and pretended to study the menu before me as the crowd around us settled into silence. A moment later, the director shouted, “Action!”
My eyes slid over to the table where the main female character was seated with a bearded man. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t hear their lines very well. Considering the title of the film, I couldn’t help but wonder what was being said.
Suddenly, I felt a warm caress along my hand. I looked down to see my pretend date’s hand enfolding mine. Our fingers slid against each other, tangling like limbs suspended in an erotic dance, finally settling interlinked. He brushed his thumb across my skin and murmured, “You’re beautiful. I hope you don’t mind me saying so—because it’s true.”
“Um, thank you…I think.”
“Why would you have to think about that?” he asked in a rich baritone voice that made my nipples pebble beneath the fabric of my dress. It was a good thing I didn’t have lines, because my thoughts were becoming muddled again. What did he just ask me?
“What?” I asked.
A smile swept across his lips and he said, “Don’t worry about it. Now, about these cravings…what do you feel like you need that you can’t have?”
I cleared my throat. “Oh, I just…I just have a thing for Mexican food. I don’t know how I’m gonna give it up.”
“Who says you have to?”
Before I could form a response, the director yelled “cut.” While the lead actors reset for another take, I said, “I don’t even know your name.”
“My bad,” he said smiling. “It’s Jerrod.”
I nodded. “I’m Makayla.”
“I like that.”
“I like that you like it.”
The words came tumbling out of my mouth before I could stop them and my eyes widened. Jerrod tipped his head back and laughed, a rich sound filling the space. When he looked back at me, the mirth dissipated from his face and his eyebrows wrinkled in concern.
“What’s wrong?” he demanded, reaching out across the table for my hand again.
Slowly, I reached across the table to place my palm against his, and I replied, “I’m just not used to this—any of this.”
“Tell me about it,” he coaxed me. And I did.
I told him all about Derrick, the man with whom I’d thought I would spend the rest of my life. My dream of acting seemed a small thing to give up for a lifetime of comfort and love. He was sixteen years older than me and well-established in his career as a college professor. He hadn’t wanted any woman of his to work—and when he’d first said that to me, with my hands red and scalded by hot dishwater and my feet aching in Payless shoes, I’d thought that shit sounded fine to me. Waitressing at that old diner wasn’t going to get me anywhere anyway—but maybe being with him could. So I allowed him to sit with me on my breaks, give me a ride so I wouldn’t have to wait in the dark for a bus, and come inside for a cup of coffee as a thank-you. He’d been a complete and total gentleman, and I couldn’t imagine that anything or anyone greater than that was out there for me.
“So, what happened?” Jerrod pressed.
My lips pressed into a tight line, I responded, “We decided to part ways.”
“Oh. So, now you’re getting back to pursuing your dream?”
“More like just getting started pursuing it. If I’m honest with myself, I never really tried that hard to make my dream a reality before Derrick came along. But, that all changes now—today,” I finished, squaring my shoulders.
“I’m happy to hear that,” he responded, still caressing my skin with the pad of his thumb. By now, he’d aroused a sensitivity. Even the slightest touch caused my nerves to stir into a frenzy.
“Enough about me. What about you?” I questioned him.
“What about me? What do you want to know?”
“Well, first of all—what made you sign up to be an extra for this film? I know you ain’t here for the free pizza.”
He laughed again, and I squirmed in my seat. He just had no business being that fine. Damn!
“Nah, definitely not here for the food. I just didn’t have anything to do today—off day from work and all that. So, when I saw this, I jumped on it.”
“What do you think about the concept?” I asked.
Just then, the director yelled “cut,” and the actors reset. When filming began again, Jerrod reached out again for my hand and said, “Love Reincarnate.”
“Yeah,” I responded. “Weird title, right?”
“Not really. If you believe that energy is never destroyed and that beings vibrate at certain frequencies, it’s not that much of a stretch to think that love could be rekindled between the same beings from one lifetime to another.”
“You really believe that?”
His gaze drifted down to our clasped hands and he remained silent for a moment. Then, he looked straight into my eyes and said, “I believe that a love could be so powerful that you can’t fit it all into one lifetime.”
The rest of the afternoon passed by in a blur. Before I knew it, I was walking off the set, hand-in-hand with Jerrod. Then I was reclined in the passenger seat of his ride as we cruised down the highway. He told me he had just what I needed to take care of my pesky cravings, and although my brain said, “wtf,” my lips said y-e-s.
We pulled up at a restaurant in no time and he maneuvered the car to a drive-thru window. My reticence must have been apparent, because he turned to me and said, “Trust me.” Then, he proceeded to order: two vegan quesadillas, with a side of chips and salsa, and two to-go margaritas. After he paid and grabbed the food, he wheeled the car over to a free spot and parked but left the music on. “Slow Down” by H.E.R. pulsed through the speakers and the glow from the lamp post streamed down on us as we greedily dug into our bags.
“What did I tell you?” he bragged, grinning as I devoured the quesadilla.
“Mmm, so good,” I mumbled before moving on to the chips. I dipped a still-warm chip into the cup overflowing with salsa and brought it to my lips. Unfortunately, not all of the salsa made its way home safely.
“Girl, you eating like you ain’t had food in days. It ain’t going nowhere,” he said, laughing.
“It’s just so good!” I exclaimed. “I didn’t know vegan food could be this good!”
As I swiped my fingers across the corners of my lips in an attempt to collect errant drops of salsa, Jerrod asked, “Well, why are you trying to do it then—why go vegan?”
“Because it’s time for me to start exploring all of the things I wanted to do but never did because there was always some reason not to. Fuck reasons. You know? Who needs them?” I spouted, as fire rolled through my chest.
He stared at me heatedly. “So, you’re going to do whatever you want to do now?”
“What do you want?”
Sliding the food from my lap down to the floor, I never took my eyes off of him. His orbs seemed to pull me in as I reached for his shirt and balled a fistful of fabric in my hand. I pulled him toward me and crushed my lips against his, and I could have sworn we’d been there before. He re-discovered me with every dip and swirl of his tongue, and I awoke to a dream that had never truly been gone.