About the Book
“Hello.” Latesha said, her heart pounding. She knew from the beginning that it was him, the white man with the gorgeous eyes and disarming smile. And she would be talking to this white man, this strange and exotic creature, right in front of her father. “Forevermore Matchmaking Service,” she noted in a professional tone.
“Hello,” said the male voice she instantly recognized.
“Hello,” answered Latesha, her voice cracking. She was not quite sure of what procedure to follow, even though she supposedly had been in business for years. She sat on the little bench her grandfather had made after the Great War. “How can I help you?”
“I’d like to try your service,” the man said awkwardly. “Is this a good time?”
“Yes, I just came on shift and our whole staff is here to serve you.” She glanced at her father, who was picking his teeth, and Oprah as she lounged on the back of the couch.
“I’ve been neglecting my social life,” Peter admitted.
“May I have your name, please?”
“Hello,” he answered, still nervous. “It’s Latesha, isn’t it?”
“Yes, Latesha.” She could clearly see his face in her mind. “Could you tell me how you found out about the Forevermore Matchmaking Service?”
“I saw a poster at the university. It was near the Student Union Building.”
“Are you a student?”
“I’m an electrician.”
“I see.” Latesha looked into her father’s eyes, took a deep breath, and then made her pitch. “Well, sir, for a flat fee of one hundred dollars, we will match you with a potential soul mate.”
Mr. Thomas smirked.
“Latesha ignored him. “That’s if you’re ready for a life-altering experience.”
“I’d settle for pleasant company,” Peter said with a chuckle. He paused for several seconds. “I’ve never called a professional matchmaker before.”
“No worry, Peter. You’re in good hands.” She leaned back and felt remarkable at ease all of a sudden. “However, our company is in the process of a major renovation, so for the next little while, I’ll be using my home address. Is that all right?”
“Have you got a pen and paper?” Latesha asked in a businesslike voice.
“Yes. Go ahead.”
“Send a check or money order for one hundred dollars to Latesha Thomas at 14 Beechwood Road.” She gave him the rest of her information. “The day I get your payment, I’ll call you back.”
“What happens in the meantime?”
Latesha suddenly noticed her father scowling and preparing to speak. “Can you hold, Peter?”
Latesha covered the receiver and lifted her eyebrows as she looked at her father.
“Why did you use our address?” he asked with great alarm.
She waved him off. “Dad, don’t worry about it. It’s one phone call. We’ll never hear from this guy again.”
Mr. Thomas sighed with exasperation and shook his head.
Latesha stood up and carried the phone to her room, speaking into it as she closed the door. “Hi, Peter, are you still there?”
For some unknown reason, she liked it when he said her name. “Right now,” Latesha explained, clearing her throat, “I’ll develop your profile in our supercomputer. We’ll look at thousands of possible matches, then narrow them down. From there a specially trained relationship expert will pick out a perfect date for you. Still interested?”
“Interested and impressed.”
Latesha sat on her bed, put her back against the headboard, and stretched out her legs. “Give me a description of yourself and your interests.”
“I just turned twenty-six,” he said. “I’m healthy and have a steady job.” He paused. “I don’t know what else to say.”
Latesha’s mind went blank for a moment. “Do you have any pets?” she asked, glancing at Oprah, now sitting on her windowsill.
“A goldfish called Dr. Phil.”
Peter laughed, too. “The way I see it, Dr. Phil is known for giving great advice. Since my goldfish has yet to steer me wrong, I decided to name him Dr. Phil, even though I’m not sure if he’s actually a Phil or a Phyllis.”
“I have a cat named Oprah,” Latesha told him.
“Really?” he asked with surprise. “That’s funny.”
“I’ve had her for five years.”
“Dr. Phil has only been working for me these past two months.”
“I hope you pay him well.”
“All the food he can eat.”
Latesha resisted, but she could not help being charmed by the white man. “So, you’re an electrician?”
“What is your educational background, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I got my electrical papers last year,” he explained, “and I worked in construction ever summer since I was sixteen. I learned carpentry, plumbing, dry walling.”
“Now I’m impressed,” Latesha said. “A jack-of-all-trades.”
“And a master of none,” he joked.
She laughed. “Any other education?”
“I have a university degree.”
“Really?” she asked with great interest. “What was your major?”
“Wow,” Latesha said in great surprise. “I’m studying English, too.”
“What year are you in?”
“My sixth. I hope to earn my teaching degree this year.”
“Congratulations,” he responded with genuine enthusiasm.
“What about you?” she asked. “How far did you get?”
“I took my Masters,” he told her.
“A Masters degree in English and you’re working as an electrician?”
“I may try teaching somewhere in the future, but I always wanted to work in a trade. When I build my house, I hope to do almost everything by myself.”
Latesha nibbled on her pen. “You’re an interesting person,” she said.”
“Thank you,” Peter replied. “What a nice thing to say.” He paused. “Maybe we could get together sometime and talk about Shakespeare.”
There was an awkward silence.
“We have thousands of clients who are black, Asian and Latino,” Latesha continued in a reserved way. “Are you interested in anybody, or only women of a certain race?”
“I never thought about it before,” Peter said, “but it makes no difference to me.”
“Are you sure?”
“Have you ever dated anyone but a white woman?” she asked, keenly interested in his reply without admitting it to herself.
“I’ve only dated white women,” Peter admitted.
“I see,” she replied shortly.
“But that hasn’t been by design,” Peter clarified. “Not at all.”