Lana Sable sat in the gathering room at the Sable Inn, with her book club. Lana was the oldest of three sisters who ran the Inn along with their father, Lloyd. While her sisters were off handling their duties in marketing and meals, she was taking a break from her job as Director of Hospitality.
This month’s book club selection was by an unapologetically black author who portrayed black men as god/kings and black women as goddesses and queens, which suited this group just fine, since they were all unapologetically, proud black women.
“I love how she portrays black men,” Tiffany said holding her Kindle.
Lana agreed. “Yeah, I do too, but where the hell are they?”
Debra nodded. “Girl, yes…I’m looking for a god/king to come find me.”
Nadia laughed. “I’m out in the daytime with a flashlight looking for him.”
“She makes it seem so easy in her books,” Lana said shaking her head. “Like this incredible guy is just going to land on your doorstep.”
Tiffany shook her head. “No, I don’t agree with that Lana. The men she writes about are all ready for love and commitment. I think she’s trying to say that we have to stop trying to make a man ready and wait for the ones who are.”
“These brothers play too many damn games,” Nadia said sitting back in her seat.
“Say it girl,” Debra agreed. “They want you to be their Instagram model, their momma and some of them want you to be their bank too!”
Lana shook her head. “You’re definitely messing with the wrong brothers.”
Nadia gave Lana a look. “Now if I could have your daddy…”
“Don’t even play like that.” Lana warned.
Debra laughed. “I don’t know Lana, Mr. Lloyd Sable is a fine man. They don’t make them like that anymore.”
Even Tiffany smiled in agreement as Lana frowned. “My Daddy is taken, so back off, little wannabe Sugar Babies,” Lana warned.
“Let’s get back to the book,” Debra said turning her attention back to her screen.
“Before we do that,” Tiffany said looking at Lana. “I have to tell Lana, that her hair is slaying today.”
Lana smiled and patted her curls. “Thank you, you know how hard it is to get that perfect twistout.
Debra nodded. “It is looking good, all shiny and healthy.”
“Lorna found a new product that works miracles,” Lana told them.
Nadia smirked. “It probably cost a week’s salary.”
Lana laughed. “Close, but it’s all natural and organic. You know Lorna.”
“Give me some of hers before I leave,” Debra whispered.
Lana laughed. “I’ll buy you a bottle.”
“Then you have to buy everybody a bottle,” Tiffany told her.
“Fine, but I better see some silky twist outs at our next meeting,” Lana agreed.
Debra patted her wig. “Girl, I be trying. It starts out as a twistout and then it’s a wig day.”
They all laughed as Nadia came over to touch Lana’s hair. “It’s so soft.”
“Don’t you know you’re not supposed to touch a black woman’s hair?” Lana asked.
“That’s for other cultures,” Nadia told her.
Lana smiled. “Can we get back to the book?”
Gathering their devices, they began a lively discussion on the various levels and clues within the story, each giving their interpretation of the meanings.
Lana explained her version. “So the heroine is not against love, but not necessarily on a quest to find it either. She’s busy doing her thing and living her truth. I think that’s an important message.”
Tiffany agreed. “The author makes the point that we should know who we are before we start trying to be with another person.”
Debra raised a hand. “Girl yes, I had to find myself and love me.”
Lana nodded. “Accepting ourselves is the hardest part. Once we realize that we don’t have to be anybody’s standard, you see life in a different way.”
Nadia looked at Lana. “Explain that.”
“Well, I don’t have to hope that a man likes my natural hair, or understands my work ethic. I don’t have to make myself into a cookie cutter prototype of every other woman. My ass doesn’t have to be big enough to sit a cup on and my B cups are more than enough. I love my brown skin, my big hair, my dark eyes and my long legs. So if you want Lana Sable, you’d better love them too,” she answered.
Debra smiled. “So what do you want your god/king to be like?”
Lana shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t have an exact vision of a man. I’d like him to be smart, because I need conversation. He doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist, but at least be informed and ‘woke’ about something.”
“Say it,” Tiffany urged her on.
“He has to have some swagger, some urban tendencies.”
“Urban tendencies?” Nadia asked. “What is that?”
Lana shook her head. “Some hood Nadia, some street.”
“Well say that.”
“Not thugged out completely, but able to handle things when necessary,” Lana explained.
Debra grinned. “Like throw you down on the bed and put it on you?”
“Yes, that too…” Lana agreed.
Tiffany smiled slowly. “Oh yes, that too. I also love the way this author writes how the men love their women. They always complement each other.”
“She has a way of bringing out the best in each character and still showing their flaws,” Debra explained.
“I love a strong heroine,” Lana supplied. “I like when the women take charge.”
Nadia shook her head. “I like when the man dominates. There is nothing like a strong brother just handling business.”
“Strong brothers can handle strong sisters too,” Tiffany challenged.
Debra gave her a look. “Some of them.”
Lana smiled. “I like a brother that can do both, be strong when he has to be but can show his feelings, when he needs to. They are human, you know?”
Nadia frowned. “I don’t want my man crying on my shoulder.”
Tiffany turned to her. “So who’s shoulder do you want him to cry on?”
“All the heroes in her books show both sides of the man, because no one is one dimensional,” Lana argued.
Nadia shrugged. “I was raised that a man is not supposed to cry.”
Debra fanned a hand. “And that’s why we got all these pent up thugs right now.”
“I’m not saying that I want him to walk around in tears all day, but damn Nadia, can’t a brother have emotions?” Lana asked.
“Take your emotional ass somewhere and sit down until you get yourself together,” Nadia answered.
Lana smiled. “That’s why you’re single.”
Nadia looked around the room. “Uh, y’all are too…”
“Uh, excuse me…”
All four women turned at the sound of the deep baritone. The man in the doorway could be described as nothing less than intellectually gorgeous. From his shiny shoes to his perfectly tied bowtie, he was a sight to behold.
Standing at around 6’2”, his brown skin glowed against the collar of his white dress shirt underneath the tailored dark suit. Heavy dark eyebrows covered equally dark eyes and light beard and goatee covered his jaw and chin. Full lips sat under wide nostrils and those dark eyes looked tired. He held a leather briefcase in his hand and looked like a very weary traveler at this point.
“You are excused…” Nadia said with a smile as Lana got to her feet.
She walked over and looked up at him. “I’m Lana Sable. Welcome to the Sable Inn, how may I help you?”
“I probably should have called, but I was already passing by,” he explained. “I wondered if you had any rooms available.”
“For how long?” Lana asked.
She lifted a brow. “A month?”
He nodded. “At least.”
“Let me check my book,” she said walking around him to the front desk.
He followed and stood silently waiting while she typed on the computer.
“I apologize for interrupting,” he said quietly.
Lana looked up and smiled at him. “Please, no apologies. I wasn’t expecting anyone.”
She went back to her task as he looked around. “This is a nice place.”
“Thank you,” Lana replied. “My father built it up to what it is now.”
He waited until she looked up again. “You’re in luck, we do have a room available for the next month. I’ll just need your ID and a credit card.”
He nodded as he sat his briefcase on the floor. Extracting his wallet, he handed her the items she’d requested.
Lana glanced at his license and lifted her eyes to his. “You’re from D.C.?”
He smiled. “That’s where my license is registered, but I travel all over.”
She noted his age, height and weight before running his credit card. When everything had gone through, she handed the cards back to him.
“What do you do, may I ask?” Lana inquired.
“I manage political campaigns,” he answered.
Lana nodded in surprise. “Wow, I’ve met a lot of people, but no one who has done that.”
He smiled again. “And probably not many brothers.”
“Right,” she agreed and processed a room key for him. “Here’s your key Mr. Wells. You’re in the Blue Room. I can show you there, if you like.”
“Thank you,” he said picking up his briefcase.
He followed Lana up the stairs to a room on the end. When he stepped inside, he could tell why it was called the Blue Room.
He turned to her. “Are all your rooms different colors?”
She nodded. “It was my sister’s idea. I hope you like it.”
“It’s nice, I think I’ll be fine.”
“Well if you need anything, I’m the one to call. Again my name is…”
“Lana…” he finished. “Lana Sable.”
Lana smiled. “Yes, that is my name, Mr. Wells.”
“Derek,” he offered.
She nodded. “Enjoy your stay…Derek.”
Lana turned and walked out of the room back down to her crew. When she entered the room, they all stared at her, waiting for the 411.
Lana took a seat facing the door, so she could see if he came back downstairs as her girls huddled around.
“Ok, Derek Wells… 30 years old…6’2’, 220 pounds…eye color, black…D.C. license…although, he said he travels all over as a Political Campaign Manager,” she whispered.
“Damn…” Nadia said pursing her lips. “He’s fine too.”
Tiffany nudged Lana. “I think your god/king has arrived.”
Lana looked confused. “What?”
“Yeah, what?” Nadia agreed. “Who says he’s Lana’s?”
“Right?” Debra agreed.
Lana put her hand up. “First of all, he’s a guest at the Inn, not a game show prize. None of us, including me, will be bothering him while he’s here,” she announced.
Nadia frowned. “You’re just trying to keep him for your sisters.”
“That would be dumb,” Debra told her.
“I’m not playing, this is my business. We don’t try to get with the customers,” Lana warned. “That’s poor management.”
“I don’t work here,” Nadia pointed out.
“Then go home,” Lana told her.
All the women looked up as Derek came back down the stairs. Seeing their expressions, he walked over to the doorway.
“I don’t mean to interrupt again, I was just going out to my car to get my suitcases,” he explained.
“Please, make yourself at home,” Lana told him.
He looked at all the women. “Hello ladies, I’m Derek.”
They each introduced themselves one by one and he nodded. “Well, don’t let me keep you. I’m just going to get my bag and retire to my room.”
“It was nice to meet you Derek,” Nadia said silkily and he smiled.
He turned and walked away and they all watched until he was outside. Upstairs, he’d removed his suit jacket and tie, so they got a nice view of his ass.
“Oh my Lord!” Debra said putting a hand on her chest. “Did you see that?”
“I’m going to make all of you leave,” Lana told them.
“Book me in the room next to his,” Nadia told her.
Lana frowned and looked at her watch. “I think our meeting is about done.”
Tiffany laughed and began gathering her things. “Lana’s right and I have class.”
“You need some help around here?” Debra asked Lana.
Folding her arms, Lana looked at her. “Since when are you volunteering?”
Derek came back inside with two suitcases. “Since all that right there…”
“Get out,” Lana told her with a smile.
He nodded at them before heading up the stairs and out of sight.
“See if he wants to be tucked in,” Nadia told her.
Tiffany shook her head. “Do you two even read the books? If he’s ready for you, you don’t have to do all that. He’ll come because he can’t help it.”
Lana smiled. “Exactly, Tiff. Thank you.”
“I don’t mind going to get it,” Nadia said and Debra gave her a high five.
“Well you won’t be getting it here, so have a good day.” Lana told them and showed them all to the door.
When she came back inside, Derek was standing on the stairs waiting.
“Did you need something?” Lana asked.
He smiled sheepishly. “Sorry again, but I wondered if there was somewhere I could get something to eat.”
“We do serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’s a menu next to your bed and if you call down and tell me what you’d like, I’ll have the kitchen whip it up for you.”
“I thought you only served breakfast,”
Lana smiled. “No, we’re a full service inn.”
“Thank you Lana, I’ll try not to bother you anymore.”
“I assure you, you’re no bother at all.”
He smiled and went back up the stairs to his room while Lana moved to the front desk to wait for his order. She thought about her book club girls and smiled. Those chicks were something else. They were probably already looking forward to their next meeting, just so they could have a reason to get back to the Inn.
Lana was serious about her customer service. Plenty of good-looking men had passed through these doors and all of them had been served with professionalism. Derek Wells would not be an exception. The man had come here to rest and relax and Lana was going to make sure that he got exactly what he paid for.
The phone rang and she answered. “Hi Derek,”
“I know what I want,” his deep voice came through the phone.
“Okay, what I can get you?” Lana asked.
Derek placed his order and Lana jotted it down quickly. Ending the call, she headed to the kitchen and gave the order to the cook, who looked at it.
“Who do we have here?” the older woman asked.
“A new guest. He didn’t have a reservation, but we had room.” Lana explained.
“What does he look like?”
Lana shook her head. “Mrs. Langston, are you turning into a cougar?”
“Not for me girlie…for you.” The woman swatted Lana’s bottom with a towel. “What are you talking about, some cougar.”
Lana laughed. “He’s very handsome and that is all.”
“You know, you girls need to get some men. All these single pretty women around here.” Mrs. Langston said while preparing Derek’s meal.
“We’ve got our Daddy,” Lana told her.
Mrs. Langston lifted a brow. “But for how long?”
Lana shrugged. “Until he convinces Lavender to marry him, I guess.”
“Those two been courting forever. They’re going to be needing Social Security by the time they tie the knot.”
Lana smiled. “They’re in love and they don’t have to rush.”
“And what are you waiting for?”
“Someone who’s ready for me and all that I am,” Lana told her.
Mrs. Langston nodded. “I can’t argue with that. You’re a smart girl.”
“And you do a good job running this place,” she complimented.
Lana looked around. “I need to be doing more. We need to grow. We shouldn’t have rooms available for a month without a reservation.”
“He’s staying a month?” Mrs. Langston questioned.
The older woman smiled. “A lot of things can happen in a month. I met and married my Harry in a month.”
Lana gave her a soft look. “I can see why you married Mr. Langston in a month. He’s amazing.”
Mrs. Langton’s husband Harry was in charge of the maintenance at the Sable Inn and stayed on top of everything that involved keeping the building in tip-top shape in addition to being the nicest man in the entire world, next to her Daddy.
“Yes, he is and you need to find your own amazing man,” Mrs. Langston preached as she finished preparing the meal.
“I’m twenty-eight, I’ve got plenty of time to find Mr. Amazing because that’s what he’ll have to be. My Daddy has set the bar pretty high for these brothers out here,” Lana said with a smile.
“Lloyd Sable is a wonderful man,” she agreed. “And there’s a wonderful man out there for you.”
Lana smile and waited for Mrs. Langston to put the finishing touches on the meal before transferring it to a tray, complete with a wildflower inside of a glass vase.
“Here you go, sweetie.” She told Lana.
“I’ll take this right up to him,” Lana said grabbing the tray. “I think he’s hungry.”
Mrs. Langston began to clean up. “Where’s he from?”
“His license says D.C.”
“That’s quite a way from Grayling, Michigan.”
Lana shrugged. “He looked like he needed a rest, so I don’t know what his whole story is.”
“That’s a good way to get to know him,” Mrs. Langston prompted.
“I never said that I wanted to get to know him,” Lana said, heading toward the door.
She climbed the stairs and headed to the Blue Room. When she got there, she cradled the tray and knocked softly on the door. When it opened, she stared at a partially exposed, muscled brown chest inside of a slightly unbuttoned white shirt, before lifting her eyes to his.
“Hi…here’s your order,” she said quietly.
Derek quickly grabbed the tray from her hands. “Wow, that was fast and I wasn’t expecting you to bring it up here.” He walked across the room and sat the tray on the small table.
Lana noted that he’d removed his shoes and it appeared that he had been on the bed working on his computer. His suitcases were on the floor near the closet and his jacket was tossed across a chair.
Derek made his way back over to her with his wallet in his hand. He extracted a bill and held it out to her. “Thank you for everything.”
Lana smiled and shook her head. “That’s not necessary. Your gratuity will be included in your bill.”
He nodded and put the money away. “That’s good to know.”
“Is there anything else I can do for you?” Lana asked.
Derek paused. “If you’re not busy later, could you give me a rundown of the Inn?”
“Sure, how did you find us?” she inquired.
“A while ago, I worked on the Mayoral campaign down in Detroit for Mayor Williams. He told me about this place and I was driving down to check on him, when I saw the sign and decided to stop in,” he explained.
She nodded. “So you’ll be going to Detroit when you leave here?”
“I’d planned to stay down there during this trip, but I think I’ll prefer the serenity here.”
“So you’re here to relax?”
Derek sighed. “Yes, I’m not sure of how much you’re into politics, but we’re in a bad situation right now in Washington.”
“I agree, this entire Presidential election has taken its toll on a lot of people and ended quite a few friendships and relationships,” Lana commented.
“And brought out the worst, that has been lying underneath the surface,” Derek added.
Lana heard the passion in his voice and smiled. “Well, I’ll let you enjoy your meal.”
“Thank you,” he said staring down at her. “You’ve been a godsend today.”
“I’m just doing my job.” She told him. “You can leave the tray outside the door.”
Derek watched as she turned and walked down the hall and couldn’t help but admire her from the back because it was just as amazing as the front. He closed the door slowly and moved to the table where the delicious looking food sat.
Taking a seat, he glanced out of the window at the beautiful surroundings. Thinking of Lana Sable, he smiled. When she’d walked over to introduce herself he’d smelled coconut oil, cocoa butter, and lavender, the perfect black woman combination, in his mind.
Her soft, full twistout framed one of the most beautiful, natural faces, he’d ever seen. When she spoke, her voice was strong and even. It resonated with a power that housed an abundance of melanated femininity.
Hearing his stomach growl, Derek picked up his utensil and began his meal. He’d been driving for hours non-stop on his way to his destination. When he’d seen the sign for the Sable Inn, his gut had told him this was where he needed to be and Derek always followed his instinct.
He smiled again as he thought about the four women he’d overheard talking upon his arrival. Their conversation had intrigued him and he’d kept his presence hidden for a few minutes before interrupting them. Lana Sable’s description of the brother she was looking for caught his attention the most, because he’d singled her out of the group at first sight.
That beautiful, silky hair had made him want to run his hands through it. Although, he knew not to try that…he was well aware of how black women felt about their hair and the disrespect they were subject to by other cultures in the admiration of their tresses.
Chewing slowly, Derek savored both the meal and the silence. As he’d mentioned to Lana, D.C. was in an uproar right now with scandals and divided politics. He’d needed a break from it all to regain his footing. Derek had turned off his phone and hadn’t ventured onto social media for the last few hours. He knew when he stepped back into that world, it would be non-stop.
For now, he wanted to shut everything out and just feel human again. Lana Sable had made him realize that he needed to remember that he was a man with emotions. When he finished eating, Derek dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, then grabbed the tray to take it back downstairs to her.
Reaching the desk, he looked around for Lana but she was nowhere in sight. A minute later, another beautiful woman turned the corner and smiled at him.
“You must be Mr. Wells,” she greeted. “I’m Lena Sable. Welcome to the Sable Inn.”
Derek smiled at her greeting, just like her sister’s. “Yes, I’m Derek and you must be Lana’s sister?”
“One of them.”
“How many is it?” he asked.
“There are three of us.”
He nodded. “Now I know to be on guard for all this beauty.”
Lena smiled. “Let me take that tray for you. You could’ve left it outside your door.”
“I know,” he handed her the tray. “But Lana agreed to give me the layout of this place, so I decided just to bring it with me.”
He looked around for the woman in question. “Is she still here?” he asked.
Lena looked him over. “Is this a private tour?” she inquired.
Derek shook his head. “No, nothing like that.”
“But you’d prefer Lana to provide it?” Lena asked, lifting a brow.
He nodded slowly. “Yes, I think I would.”
Lena lifted the tray with a smile. “Her office is down the hall. Third door on the left.” With a secretive wink, she walked away and Derek headed in the direction she’d indicated. Finding, what he assumed to be the right place, he knocked softly.
Lana opened the door then smiled. “Hi, are you looking for me?”
Derek scratched his head as he stared down into her lovely face. “Yes, I think I am.”