“Hello, Nita,” Paul said. She and Angie were fellow graduates of the University of North Carolina Wilmington. This was their second meeting. They met last year at the dinner party of a fellow graduate who married a wealthy businessman. He was there with Angie who wasn’t at all pleased to see Nita and the feeling was mutual. Still, that didn’t stop Nita from going over to them.
“Hello,” she said to Angie who was clearly annoyed by her intrusion.
“Hello,” Angie muttered, her expression hostile.
Nita’s eyes shifted to Paul. “Well, aren’t you going to introduce me to your date?”
Angie’s mouth tightened. “This is my boyfriend, Paul. Paul, this is Nita.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Paul,” Nita said, holding out her hand and smiling up at him.
Paul grasped her hand and smiled in return. “Likewise,” he replied. It was funny, he had just met Nita and already he liked her. While Angie stood there, quietly seething, he and Nita chatted. She was so easy to talk to. They spent a while talking about different things until the hostess came and spirited Nita away.
“There’re some people I’d like you to meet,” she told her. “Excuse us,” she said to Paul and Angie.
As soon as they were gone, Angie turned to Paul and said, “I want to go home.”
“I–I’m not feeling well.”
He reached out and pressed his hand against her forehead. “You don’t seem to have a temperature and you look fine to me. No, let’s stay for a while longer. The night is still young. Let’s go and mingle with the other guests.” He started to walk away and she had no choice but to follow him. They talked to different people, actually, he did most of the talking while Angie just stood there like a petulant child. Then, it was time to have dinner and they all filed into the massive dining-room.
After dinner, he and Nita were talking to each other again until Angie joined them. “Paul, can we go now, please? I’m really not feeling well.”
“All right,” he said. “Goodnight, Nita. It was really nice meeting you.”
She smiled. “It was nice meeting you too. Goodnight.”
Holding onto Paul’s arm possessively, Angie looked at Nita and muttered, “Goodnight.”
“You spent most of the night talking to her,” she accused him as soon as they were alone. “You were supposed to be there with me.”
“I was just being sociable,” he replied.
“Sociable?” she retorted. “Would you have been so sociable if she was there with a date?”
“Yes, I would have been.”
“I doubt that,” she muttered under her breath.
“What do you have against Nita?”
“I just don’t like her, that’s all.”
“Why not? Is it because she’s black?”
“Of course not! I have nothing against black people. Some of my friends are black.”
“If it isn’t her race then what is it?”
“I live in a nice, big house in an upscale neighborhood and was raised by two parents instead of a single mother in a poor neighborhood riddled with crime because her deadbeat Dad ran out on them. And I didn’t have to depend on the university’s charity like her because my parents paid for my education. And my mother doesn’t smell of grease.”
Paul’s fingers tightened on the steering wheel as anger stirred inside him. “It isn’t a crime to live in poverty, to raise a child on your own or to get a scholarship. Angela, how could you be so damned heartless!”
That shut her up for the rest of the drive. If she hadn’t told him the following day that she was pregnant, he would have ended his relationship with her on account of Nita. He found himself thinking about Nita a lot and wishing that he could help her in some way.
And here he was in her neighborhood. He had found out the address from her friend at whose party he met her. Her friend had told her that Nita’s mother had to quit her job at The Egg Nest and was on disability because of heart disease. Nita had someone taking care of her during the week and she took care of her on the weekends. It was becoming difficult for Nita because with her salary, she couldn’t afford to get a bigger apartment so that her mother could move in with her and she could take care of her full-time. It just so happened that Paul was in need of an entry-level Purchasing Manager and he believed that Nita would be the perfect candidate.
“Hello, Paul,” she replied, folding her arms. “What brings you into my old neighborhood?”
“I wanted to see you.”
“Does Angie know that you’re here?” She and Angie never got along. Angie rubbed her the wrong way. To her, she was a spoiled rich girl who looked down her nose at people who didn’t enjoy the same privileges as she did. People couldn’t help being poor or struggling to make ends meet like her mother who had to raise her without a father because he had abandoned them for another woman.
“Angela doesn’t have any say in what I do.”
“She’s your wife, isn’t she?”
“Ex-wife. Our marriage was annulled a couple of weeks ago.”
Nita stared at him in surprise. “Annulled? Why not divorced?”
He explained to her about the fake pregnancy. “Our marriage was a fraud because I was deceived into marrying her and that’s why I was able to get it annulled.”
Nita shook her head. “Wow. That’s really low,” she remarked. “I never did like that girl. She thought she was better than everybody else who wasn’t rich and white like her.”
“I didn’t come here to talk about Angela,” Paul informed her. “As I said, I came to see you. I have a job offer for you.”
“I already have a job.”
“I know but this an entry-level Purchasing Manager job and the salary is $91,650.”
Her eyes widened. “$91,650?” she exclaimed. “Wow. I don’t even make that much in two years.”
“So, are you interested?”
“Will I be working with you?”
“Not directly but you’ll be working at my company.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“I have a job opening and I think that you would be the best candidate for it.”
“So, are you interested?”
“Yes. When do I start?”
“In two weeks.”
“All right.” She held out her hand. “Thanks, Paul. I really appreciate this.”
He shook her hand. “You’re welcome, Nita.”
“Would you like to come inside for a bit?”
“Not today,” he said. “Perhaps another time?”
“Sure.” She smiled. “I guess I’ll see you in two weeks.” She was looking forward to that.
He smiled. “Yes, I’ll see you then.” He was looking forward to it. “Goodbye, Nita.”
He released her hand and walked away.
Nita went back into the house. “Mama, I’ve got some good news.”