New York Cool

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What's Up For Today?

New York Cool - Ask Miss Wendy

New York Cool - About Town

 

Solange's Song:
Sequel to The Big Apple
Posse Trilogy
First Chapter


Written by Wendy R. Williams

Illustrations Sophie Escabasse

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Solange's Song
Sequel to The Big Apple Posse Trilogy

Written by Wendy R. Williams
Illustrated by Sophie Escabesse

 

Young Adult Romance
Copyright @ 2012 by Wendy R. Williams

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce or transmit this book or any part thereof by any means whatsoever, without written permission of the author, except where permitted by law.

Address story inquiries to:
Wendy R. Williams Oval Concierge
17A First Avenue
New York, New York 10009
bigappleposse@newyorkcool.com

Address illustration inquiries to:
essoclaffi@gmail.com
esofii.com/

Dedicated to Megan, Justin and Chloe


Chapter I

"Take your bows," Solange blew kisses to the room full of six-year-old dancers.

The class bowed, then swarmed Solange, some hugging her and others a bit shyer, staying back hoping Solange would notice them.

Solange hugged as many as she could, "You're the best class ever. Now get your stuff and sashay your tutus on home."

Everyone, including Solange, grabbed their gear and rushed out to the hall as the next class entered. This was Solange's last class of the day, so she stayed in the hallway until the last mom or nanny arrived.

After everyone left, Solange walked over to the wall of windows that looked down on New York City's upper Broadway. The street below was bathed orange by the setting sun. She loved this studio- -a glass box high above the street; during the day it was filled with amazing light. She had not planned on dancing with this company when she moved to the City. Her plan had always been to attend Juilliard, but she missed her audition when she had to flee New Orleans in the middle of the night. Thugs chasing her across the country sure can mess up college plans.

It was now Wednesday, October 31. The terrorists who tried to blow up New York City a year ago had been tried, well, some of them had been tried, and Solange was doing her best to return to a normal life. She may not be in her first year at Juilliard, but she was living in New York City, taking classes at City College, teaching and dancing with a dance company and singing when she could. And the Juilliard admission's committee had notified her that she could audition in March. Not the life she wanted, but a good second choice.

It was chilly for late October in New York City. Solange opened her backpack, pulled out a gray hooded sweater and put it on under her black down vest so she would be warm enough for the walk from the studio which was in the Fifties to Auntie Tina's at 103rd and Broadway. Solange could have just jumped on the bus or the subway, but walking home was a way to really see New York City, an opportunity she rarely had with her busy schedule. She had moved in with Auntie Tina after she left the care of the federal marshals who guarded them during the trial. Well not completely "in with Auntie Tina." Solange was living next door in what was supposed to be her cousin Vanessa's apartment, an apartment Vanessa vacated five years ago when she took a vacation to Jamaica and met a man in the music business in Kingston. Vanessa was always meeting men in the music business. Auntie Tina had also been forced to flee and hide from the terrorists who would do anything to keep them from testifying, so she and some of their other friends had stayed with Vanessa in Jamaica until just before the trial. But now the trial was over and everyone was back home, trying to get on with their lives.

Solange rode down the elevator with the last of her students, descended the steps to the sidewalk and had just turned to head Uptown when she collided with someone, stumbled and almost fell onto the sidewalk.

The man grabbed her before she fell and said, "You okay?"

Solange looked up and gasped. The man she had almost body slammed was about her age and he looked vaguely familiar. He was tall, blond and gorgeous, dressed in jeans and a sharp black leather jacket. "Yes. You okay?"

"Sure. You're a dancer?" He was looking at the dance studio behind her.

"Yeah. Just another clumsy dancer," replied Solange.

"Clumsy?" asked the guy.

"Most dancers are super clumsy. We're trained to walk with our chin up so we never know what's happening with our feet," replied Solange. She stopped to look at him. "Don't I know you?"

"I don't know. Do you?" replied the young man.

"You look familiar," replied Solange. "Are you a student?

"City College," replied the guy.

"Me too. Freshman English. You sit in back," said Solange.

"Nine o'clock," replied the man.

Solange high-fived him. "Solange Montplasir."

"David Berenger."

"So David, what are you doing down here?" asked Solange. City College was about ninety blocks north of where they were standing.

"Running errands. Hey, let me buy you a cup of coffee. There's a Starbucks up the street," said David.

Solange looked him over. He was really cute, just about her age and built. The built sealed the deal.

"Sure," she replied.

Solange and David walked up Broadway to Starbucks. Inside, David insisted on paying for her cappuccino even though Solange protested that they were both students and she should pay her way.
"I'll pay. You find the table," said David.

There actually was an empty table, a rare find in a New York City Starbucks.

David brought their coffee to the table. "I hear an accent. Where are you from? " asked David.

"New Orleans," replied Solange.

"City College does not have many out-of-town students. Almost everyone's from the City," replied David.

"My aunt has lived in New York City most of her life even though she's originally from New Orleans like I am. Auntie Tina has a friend in the admissions office at City College and she helped me enroll at the last minute. I really wanted to go to Juilliard, but that did not work out this year," replied Solange.

"Tough audition?" asked David.

"Try no audition," replied Solange.

" Were you sick?"asked David.

"No, just, uh, busy. But what's your story? There are not that many preppy white boys like you at City College," replied Solange.

"So, I'm a preppy white boy?" asked David.

"Well, yes. Sorry, I did not mean to..." replied Solange.

David smiled. "Guilty. I'm from Westchester and was supposed to go to Princeton, but my dad has some financial problems. One of my uncles teaches at City College so I asked him to help me enroll late, just like you did. I'm living with him in the City. Not a bad plan though. There is a really pretty girl in my freshman English class," replied David.

Solange smiled and said, "You too."

"I'm a pretty girl?" asked David.

"No, but you own a mirror, right?" replied Solange.
Solange looked at her watch. "Yikes! Gotta go. I told my cousin I would cook dinner tonight. He's a thirteen-year-old-boy and if I don't get there quickly, he'll go to McDonalds and I don't want him to poison himself," replied Solange.

"Poison?" asked David.

"I only eat organic food and I am trying to make sure Thibodeaux does the same," replied Solange.

"Thibodeaux? Your cousin's name is Thibodeaux?" asked David.

"Yep, that's his name. Thibodeaux Botrain. He is originally from New Orleans too." replied Solange as she fastened her vest and grabbed her backpack.

"Where's Auntie Tina's?" asked David.

" One Hundred and Third and Broadway," replied Solange.

"I've got a car. Let me drive you home," replied David.

"You have a car in the City?" replied Solange.

"It was my sixteenth birthday present. Before my dad had his financial problems," replied David.

"Okay," replied Solange.

Solange and David left Starbucks and walked two blocks to David's car, a white Range Rover.

"Wow, this was your sixteenth birthday present?" asked Solange.

"You like it?' asked David.

"A lot," replied Solange.

David opened the door on the driver's side and said, "Climb in on this side. I don't want you run over by a cyclist."

"Sure." Solange climbed across the driver's seat to sit shotgun. She could tell David was looking at her butt as she clambered across the seats, but she pretended not to notice. It was so nice to be with a hot-but-nice-guy. David was the first man she had looked at since she had broken up with Michael.

"Let me throw your backpack in the back," David took Solange's backpack from her and walked to the rear of the Range Rover to stow the backpack.
"You could just toss it in the back seat," Solange started to say but then stopped herself. What difference did it make where he put her backpack? He was a really nice guy and she was having a normal day for a change. And like Thibodeaux was always telling her, she did not have to be in charge of the world anymore.

David pulled away from the curb and turned left to drive on the West Side Highway. Solange loved to ride on the West Side Highway and look across the Hudson River to New Jersey. It was getting dark and she could see the lights of the buildings across the water.

"So, do you work?," asked Solange.

"I do some tutoring. Manhattan parents are willing to pay quite a bit for someone to help their kids with their homework. Before that, I did some security work," replied David.

"You a security guard?" asked Solange. "One of my friends, my ex actually, works security for a Hip Hop label. He's really an intern. His brother owns the label. "

"Nope, just grunt paper work," replied David.

"Pretty good reason to go to college," replied Solange.

"What about you?" asked David.

" I get paid a bit to teach at the dance school," replied Solange. "Kids, I teach kids."

"You like it?" asked David.

"Love it. I love to dance and I love kids," replied Solange. "I practically raised my cousin Thibodeaux from the time has was born until he was six."

"Doesn't this Thibodeaux guy have parents?" asked David.

"Sure. But his dad was a musician, Cajun, not that that had anything to do with anything. But his dad was not very responsible. He walked outside during the worse part of the Katrina hurricane and a tree fell on him. That was pretty awful, but it was hard not to laugh. He never thought he had to play by any rules and whack- -here comes the tree," said Solange.

"What about his mom?" asked David.

"My cousin Marie. Let's just say she and Thibodeaux's dad had a lot in common. Auntie Tina says I had to do all of Marie's growing up because she sure was not going to get around to doing it herself," replied Solange.
"So you and Thibodeaux moved to New York City together?" asked David.

"Nope. After Katrina, Auntie Tina came to visit and check on us. She saw I was watching Thibodeaux while my Mom worked at the hospital. My mom's a nurse. Auntie Tina said she did not want me to give up my life to be a mother at twelve. I told her it was okay, I loved Thibodeaux and I had been taking care of him since I was about six and hearing that really made her mad. So she enrolled and paid for me to attend a Catholic girl's school and for dance lessons. Then she packed up Thibodeaux and took him back to New York City with her and enrolled him a private school in the Bronx. So that's our story," replied Solange.

"I want to meet this Thibodeaux," said David.

Solange looked at him for a minute. "Sure, why not?"

David turned off the West Side Highway at 96th Street and drove to Broadway and turned north.

"When you get to 102nd, turn right, go to Amsterdam, turn left and then turn right on 103rd,' said Solange. "The apartment house is in the middle of the block."

David followed Solange's instructions and drove to the middle of 103rd and parked the car just down from the building.

"What?" asked Solange.

"What, what?" asked David.

Solange was looking at two kids who were sitting on the front steps of her building. They were bundled up against the cold, but she could tell it was Amanda and Peter, the two kids from Greenwich Connecticut who had been trapped in the City when the bombs went off and had become witnesses when they overheard the terrorists talking while they were hiding in a Grand Central Station bar. Michael, Solange's ex, had driven Amanda and Peter to New Orleans, where Solange became their protector until she became a fugitive herself and they all had to flee to Los Angeles. It was complicated.

Solange jumped out of the car and ran to the kids sitting on her stoop. "Hey, what are you doing here? Why didn't you buzz yourself in?"

Amanda jumped up and hugged Solange. "Thibodeaux's not answering his phone or the door buzzer. I had to come. I couldn't take it anymore. I can't stand my Mother and I hate that man she is with."

"What? What happened?" asked Solange trying to hide the panic in her voice.

"My mom has this boyfriend, Mac. He stays with us every weekend and they boss me around and are driving me crazy," said Amanda.

"He's just bossing you around, right?" asked Solange.

"Yes, I just said that and I hate it! I hate it! " replied Amanda.

"Okay, good," replied Solange.

"Good? Why is that good?" asked Amanda.

"Oh, never mind. I just wanted to know why you did not like him, that's all," replied Solange.

Peter was standing next to Amanda. He looked worried. Solange put her arm around him and pulled him to her side.

"Mac's not so bad," said Peter in a low voice. "He's a retired Naval Captain. Mom met him when she was hiding in Boston. He was a friend of some of her college friends that still live in Cambridge. He teaches game theory at MIT."

"Well, I'm glad you like him," said Solange.

"Who's that? " asked Amanda, looking at David who was walking toward them carrying Solange's backpack.

"Amanda and Peter, this is David Berenger. He goes to school with me. David, meet Amanda and Peter, friends of mine from Greenwich, Connecticut," replied Solange.

"So what are you two doing in New York City on a school night?" asked David.

"That is what I am about to find out. Sorry, but you need to go. It looks like I've got my hands full tonight," said Solange.

David put Solange's backpack on the steps, pulled out his cell phone, handed it to Solange and said,

"Here, give me your digits."

Solange keyed in her phone number and name and handed the phone back to David, then quickly typing his name in her phone, she handed it him and said, "You too."

David tapped his info and turned to leave. "Hey, it was nice meeting you and you too, Amanda and Peter."

Amanda just looked at him but Peter replied, "It was nice to meet you too."

Solange started to walk up the apartment building stoop, followed by Amanda and Peter. She called back, "Hey, I'm glad I met you. See you in school."

"I'll call you," replied David.
Solange smiled at David, then led Amanda and Peter into the building. They took the elevator to the fourth floor. When Amanda and Peter started to walk to Auntie Tina's door, Solange stopped them,
"Here, down the hall. I'm not living with Auntie Tina and Thibodeaux. I have my own place."

"You do?" asked Amanda.
"It's Vanessa's old place, but she is never coming back to New York City. She married her music man and they just had another baby," said Solange.

"We were in Vanessa's apartment when we stayed with Auntie Tina after the terrorist attack. We went through the hidden door in the closet," said Amanda.

"Well, the hidden door is still there. Thibodeaux comes through it every night," replied Solange. "Let's go inside and I'll call Thibodeaux and tell him to come over. Auntie Tina is out tonight and I'm cooking dinner. It's going to be spaghetti and I have enough for all of us. "

"I have money. Peter and I can buy food," said Amanda.

"You don't need to do that. I've got plenty," replied Solange as they walked into the apartment.

"Wow, the pink is gone," said Amanda.

"I took care of that before I moved in. Thibodeaux helped me paint everything white," said Solange.
That was not all Solange did. Most of Vanessa's possessions seemed to have vanished.

"What did you do with her stuff?" asked Amanda.

"Storage and Good Will," replied Solange. "Everything was old and moldy and pink so my mom gave me the money she was going to spend for my dorm this year and told me to go to Ikea and get what I wanted."

It was an old apartment, but with the walls painted white, the wood floors exposed and the pink curtains gone and replaced with white blinds, the simple furniture worked. The decoration was very basic--framed poster art plus the always present gris-gris. Solange was still honoring her traditions; there were little altars and Voodou dolls all over the living room.

"There are three bedrooms in this apartment and I bought new beds for all of them. I have cousins by the dozens and I never know when I'll have company," said Solange. "Here is what we're going to do. You call your mother and tell her where you are and that you are going to spend the night. Then I will take you back home tomorrow after I get out of class."

"You don't have a car," replied Amanda.

"We can take the train," replied Solange.

"What about Michael? Can't we call him and ask us to take us home tonight?" asked Peter. "I don't want to miss school tomorrow."

"I don't want to go back home. I don't ever want to go back home," replied Amanda.

Peter looked at Amanda and Solange and said very carefully, "Well, maybe Michael can just take me back home."

"Michael and I aren't together anymore," said Solange. "But we're still friends and I'm sure he would take you home, but I would rather take you home myself. Or maybe we could ask your mom or dad to pick you up."

"If you do that, they will want me to go back home, too, and I won't do it," said Amanda. "And why aren't you still seeing Michael?"

"Maybe he doesn't like birds," said Peter.

"Peter!" replied Amanda.

"Well, birds are better than the chickens," replied Peter.

"Funny. " Solange rolled her eyes.

"Is that guy David your new boyfriend?" Amanda changed the subject.

"No, I just met him, " Solange laughed.

"He's pretty cute for someone you just met. Is he going to be your new boyfriend?" asked Amanda.

"Maybe so. But now we have to call your mom and tell her where you are."

"You do it. I don't want to talk to her," replied Amanda.

"Okay! You dial; I'll talk," said Solange.

Amanda pulled out her cell phone, auto-dialed home and handed the phone to Solange. "She's going to be mad because she called several times and I let it go to voice mail."

Solange looked at Amanda, "Amanda, you should answer the phone when your mom calls."
Amanda said nothing, so Solange gave up. "She'll feel a lot better when she knows where you are."

Solange spoke into Amanda's phone. "No, it's Solange. Amanda and Peter are at my place. No, I didn't know they were coming. They were here when I got home tonight."

Solange listened to Melanie for a minute and then said, "Why don't they stay here tonight? I don't teach tomorrow and I get out of class around noon. We can catch a two o'clock train to Greenwich. "

"I'm not going. If you don't let me stay here, I will call my grandfather and ask him to come get me."

Solange spoke into the phone again. "Maybe you had better come here. Are you still in the City?"

"She does not work in the City anymore. She took a job in Stamford, Connecticut, after she moved back from Boston," said Peter.

"I don't want to see her or Mac," said Amanda.

Solange looked at Amanda and said, "Stop that right now."

Amanda looked surprised, but she quit complaining.

Solange spoke again into the phone. "Okay, what time can you be here? Okay, okay. See you then. I'll ask Auntie Tina to be here when you arrive."

Solange handed the phone back to Amanda. "Your mom will be here tomorrow at 4 p.m. We'll talk then. But now, we need to eat. Amanda, get that bag of salad out of the refrigerator and Peter, wrap that loaf of bread in aluminum foil and put it in the oven at 300 degrees, I'll start the spaghetti, " replied Solange as she picked up and dialed her phone.

"Who are you calling? "asked Amanda.

"Thibodeaux, he should be here by now." Solange spoke into the phone, "Hey, I'm home and we've got company, so get your butt over here."

"I really want to see..." said Peter.

"He's coming. He was playing games on his XBox. He never knows what time it is when he's gaming," said Solange.

There was a rustling sound from the front bedroom and Thibodeaux walked into the kitchen from the hall.

"Hey guys! What are you doing here?" Thibodeaux quickly hi-fived Peter and then hugged Amanda swinging her around. Amanda was still taller but Thibodeaux was filling out and he lifted her with ease.

Thibodeaux stopped and looked at Amanda's face, "Hey, hey! What's the matter?"
Solange interrupted, "Amanda had a fight with her mother and they are going to spend the night tonight."

"Great," replied Thibodeaux.

"Great?" asked Solange.

"Did you have a fight with your mother too?" Thibodeaux asked Peter.

"No, just Amanda. I mean Amanda was the one who was upset..." Peter's voice trailed off as he saw the look on Amanda's face.

"Hey, we can talk about this later on. Right now, everyone will feel a lot better after we have some dinner, so let's start cooking," replied Solange.

Amanda, Peter and Thibodeaux quickly pitched in and made dinner. They had all been well trained by Solange while they were in hiding. Everyone knew their bit and quickly prepared spaghetti made from organic wheat pasta and heated up the whole wheat loaf of sourdough bread. And they all knew better than to complain about Solange's choice of food. It wasn't worth the time they would spend.

After dinner, Amanda grabbed her phone and walked into the bathroom and said, "I am going to call my grandfather and tell him what happened."|

Solange looked at Amanda as she said the words "what happened."

When Amanda returned to the kitchen, everyone finished cleaning up and then Solange showed Peter and Amanda the two extra bedrooms. Both were sparsely furnished with twin beds and a dresser.

"Sorry, the only TV is in the living room," said Solange. "But we have WiFi."

"That's okay. May I use your computer?" Amanda asked.

Solange looked at Amanda. It was obvious Amanda was about to cry. "Sure. Hey, look at me. You're the bravest kid I know. It's going to be okay."

Peter stood by the doorway. "Solange's right. It'll be okay, Amanda. You'll see. It'll be okay."

After Amanda took Solange's computer and went inside and closed her door and Peter was in his room, Thibodeaux turned to Solange and said, "It's really bad, isn't it? I've never seen her like this. She was always so strong. "

"Yea, but she's not even fourteen yet. She can't be a grown up all the time," replied Solange.


 

 

 



 

 




 


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