Midnight Dreams(5)

By: Kayla Perrin

Opening her eyes, Jade saw Gerald’s concerned face.

Gerald was a fellow server, and one of the best things about

working here. “Oh, Gerald. Thank God you’re here. I need

you to take a table for me.”

“That bad?”

She nodded. “It’s Mister Touchy-Feely Milton Madden.”

“Uh-oh. And I guess his hands went a-touchin’ and a-

feelin’ today.”

“I don’t know where that man learned his manners,” Jade

said, marveling at Milton’s nerve. “I have to wonder if he

has a mother.”

“Well, don’t you worry, hon. I’ll take the table.”

“Thanks, Gerald. I served him a cup of coffee, but I didn’t

ring it in yet.”

“No problem,” Gerald said with a wave of his hand.

Winking, he added, “This should be fun.”

Chuckling, he left the kitchen and went to the dining room.

Jade smiled. Gerald would see to it that Milton got a taste of


his own medicine—though Milton certainly wouldn’t like it.

Gerald was gay.

Relieved to have gotten over that hurdle, Jade grabbed a

large tray, filled it with the hot plates of food for her cus-

tomers, and returned to the dining room floor. The Red

Piano was full this evening, and the collective sound of

voices and music was so loud it was hard to think. Two days

after Christmas, and New York City went on without

missing a beat. Outside, people crowded the streets as if it

weren’t the holiday season. Manhattan truly was the city

that never slept.

No doubt, some tourists had already arrived for the world’s

biggest party—New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Funny, Jade

thought, that most New Yorkers she knew had never even

been to the grand event—herself included. While she’d been

born and bred in Louisiana, she’d been in Manhattan for

twelve years and considered herself a New Yorker through and

through. She’d even been able to lose her Southern accent.

She brought six plates of chicken teriyaki and rice to a table

with six women, wondering as she said “Enjoy your meals”

why they’d all ordered the same thing. People were definitely

interesting; though Jade had already known that. Working in

a restaurant confirmed that fact every day. And it was amazing

the things she witnessed, like engagements, heated family ar-

guments, two people who were so obviously having a secret

affair that they may as well have had a neon sign above their

heads that said CHEATERS.

When Jade turned from the party of six, she saw the hostess

seating yet another couple in her section. She groaned. It was

only a little after 7 p.m., and she was already so exhausted she

didn’t know how she’d make it through the rest of the evening.

Having taken a few days off and visited her family in New

Kayla Perrin


Orleans, it was harder than she’d expected to get back into the

groove of working at this restaurant.

Especially when she was aware that in four days, it would

be a new year. A new millennium. And she was far short of

reaching her New Year’s goal.

Fourteen months ago, the year 2000 had seemed like a

realistic goal to reopen her salon. She’d been down but not

out when she’d lost her successful business, and was con-

vinced that a year or so’s hard work would earn her enough

money to lease a new shop. She’d even dreamed of christen-

ing her salon with a New Year’s celebration, then open for

business two days later. Yeah, Jade had had a lot of dreams,

but the truth was, she was approaching the New Year with

barely enough money to survive, let alone enough to start

another business.

On days like this, she hated her ex-husband. She’d been

raised a Christian and believed in forgiveness, but every time

she thought about Nelson’s betrayal, forgiveness was just too

hard to manage. She’d trusted Nelson Crumm, had believed

in him, and he’d failed her. He’d more than failed her. He’d

taken away the life she’d worked so hard for. Once she had

been the successful owner of Dreamstyles, a hair salon in

midtown Manhattan for women of color. Her salon had

catered to several different types, from students to artists to

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