Mended Heart

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

When Mercedes was taken from her parents with no reason, she thought her life was over, until she was rescused by a woman. The pieces of her life was picked up with pieces still missing. Falling for her identical celebrity crush look-a-like, she found the missing pieces of her life. A story of betrayal, heart break, love, and mending.

mended hearts
“Once we make a deal, the rules of that deal cannot be changed or renegotiated.” Mercedes repeated the words from the movie. 
“You are sick, you know that? Sick!” Her best friend Amber said as she got up from the couch to get another beer from the refrigerator. 
“Don’t be jealous Amber.” Laughed Mercedes.
“I am not jealous of a man you will never in your life meet, nor be with.” Amber said.
“You never know.” Mercedes said as she sulked back into her couch watching Jason Statham on her 64 inch TV. It was no secret Mercedes had a huge crush on the English actor, Jason Statham. 
“You can explain to me a million times and I will never see what you see in that man.”
“Not again. Just look at him.” Mercedes paused the movie and walked over to the TV. “His perfectly shaped head.” Amber laughed. “His beautiful eyes, those thin lips, that fuzz on his face. His shoulders, those abs, those thighs in those tight suits.” Mercedes licked her lips and bit her bottom lip.
“Do you need some time alone?" Amber stood up from the couch.
“Maybe.” She grinned.
“He aint bad looking, but he aint no Shemar Moore. Now that is a man whose thighs can crack walnuts.” Amber fanned her smooth chocolate face.
“Is not. He is not Shemar Moore. And you are right, Jason is way better than Shemar. And why would you want a man to crack walnuts with his thighs?” Questioned Mercedes.
“For the hell of it. And plus, this man looks like his breath outta stank.” Amber pointed and took a drink of her beer.
“For your information he looks as if his breath is rinsed in the freshest of waters and smell of fresh picked mints. You know what, get out. Your disrespecting my man.” Mercedes turned to the TV screen and hugged it. 
“You better be lucky I have to go.” Amber drank her last drop of beer and grabbed her purse.
“You just leaving cause you ran out of beer.” 
“What’s up with that? You usually keep it stocked with beer for me. Am I not your bestie anymore?” Amber made a sad face.
“I am your bestie, that’s why I want you to quit drinking.” Mercedes walked with Amber to the front door.
“Just because you don’t drink does not mean you can take me down with you.” Amber put her hands on her hips.
“Yes it does. I see you tomorrow, love you.” Mercedes pushed Amber out the door before locking it behind her. She smiled and walked back into the living room and sat down. It was almost nine o’clock that Wednesday evening. Tomorrow was Terrible Thursday. That meant a number of brides to be will call to make an appointment for Friday and they will have a store full of ‘angry I want to be first cause I am the bride’ women. Mercedes was a consultant at a small little shop in Atlanta, Georgia. Wedding Bliss was bridal store for women’s bridal apparels. It was not a big store, but it held name brand dresses such as Carolina Herrera, Vera Wang, and Peter Langer just to name a few. The shop was off of Peachtree, next to the Peace Fountain, and a Gourmet restaurant.
“Why put a wedding shop near a restaurant? Are not brides suppose to lose weight not gain?” Mercedes once asked the owner of the shop, Dorothy Gillian. 
“Let’s face it darling. Brides are indecisive. They stress. And with stress comes desires. Food, is number one on most lists of stress habits. You eat, you feel better, you think better. Feel guilty about it later when you can’t get a refund.” Dorothy laughed her smoker’s cough laugh. Then wheezed afterwards.
Dorothy has been in the bridal profession for many years. She began to help her grandmother in the early 50’s as a child. They would sew up dresses and suits for gentlemen. Then she began to make her own clothes. But no one loved her hobo look. She always knew how to dress others though. She is a very sweet, and kind, but outspoken person. If your hips are too wide, you will find out by Dorothy. Everyone loved her. She was never married, or had any children of her own. She speaks often about the daughters she wish she had. She always had said if she had a daughter, Mercedes would be it. Mercedes loved weddings ever since she was a little kid. She would tie toilet paper around her Barbie doll and make a veil. She would make Ken look spectacular out of toilet paper and black tape. Mercedes never wanted to get married herself. She grew up watching her father beat her mother. She thought all husbands did that to their wives, so she never wanted it for herself. 
Growing up in an roach and rat infested apartment building, her mother kept it clean and neat at all times. There were less roaches and no rats in their single room apartment, than the others. Mercedes loved her mother and father. He spoiled her. He would disappear all day, but came home with something new, whether it was a new shirt, or shoes, or doll. Every gift she got, her mother got a beating. She never understood what the beatings were for, but she hated to see her mother cry. Or hear he scream. 
One evening as she was playing with a new doll, she heard a bang against the bedroom wall. Mercedes slept in the  dining room across the living room in her small bed. 
“Are you crazy woman?” Tyrone yelled.
“Leave me alone Tyrone. Just let us leave!” Her mother yelled back.
“Where the hell you think your going Sam?” 
“Just let us go. Go be with your other woman and let me and my child go!” Her mother, Sam, yelled back. The bedroom door opened and a suitcase was thrown out. “Mercedes! Run!” Her mother yelled, before being snatched back into the bedroom. The front door banged as someone knocked hard, and constantly on it. Mercedes was told to never open the door if they were not around. Technically someone was there. She answered it. The old lady across the hall came bursting inside. She pushed Mercedes outside in the hallway to a younger girl, around 13, or 14. The girl took Mercedes by her hand and walked her inside the next apartment. It smelled of mothballs and peppermint Mercedes remembered. She sat and watched cartoons. Another ten minutes went by, her mind was at ease. There was no noise but the cartoons. Then she heard a bang. A different bang. Not the kind on the wall when her father pushed her mother against it. It was louder, and it echoed. Then the young girl ran out of the apartment, and another bang was heard. Screams, and then silence. Mercedes walked to the hallway. She looked at her apartment and the door was open. Everything moved in slow motion. She saw people running towards it, then she was being walked away by an older man. She wanted her mother or father, but neither came for her. Outside she saw lights flash, people running. She heard nothing. She looked up and saw more people crying. She saw the old woman from across the hall come outside. She looked as if she could not walk. She looked weak. Her hands had blood on them. She fell to her knees. Crying, and praying. The next thing came out was someone under a white sheet on a stretcher. Mercedes stood up and walked closer to it. She started to run. When she got to it, she removed the cover from the face of the body.
DING. DING. DING. DING. The alarm clock went off waking Mercedes from the reoccurring nightmare. She had sweat all over her face and neck. Her night gown clung to her wet body. She got up and caught her breath. She realized she was still holding it. She took her black and purple pillow cases and sheets of the bed and took them to the washer machine and started the dark load of clothes. Taking her purple pajama pants and shirt off too and putting them in the load.  She walked naked back to her bathroom and got into the shower. Even in all her sweat, she felt like a hot bath. Mercedes let the water run down her face and her long black hair. She had her work clothes laid out and ironed the night before. “Always have your underwear and your clothes pressed and ready to go Mercedes.” Her mother always told her. “A lady never goes anywhere without clean underwear.” Mother said nothing about going to bed commando. It felt good to let a breeze hit your under area a time or two. But she never left home without it. She put on her too common white cotton panties, black slacks, and black shirt with the Wedding Bliss logo on it. She took pride in wearing these clothes. She loved her job. She loved making someone’s day, or dream come true.
The shop opened at eight and calls came in as early as five in the morning to anxious customers. They recently hired an over night operator. The number of calls they got after hours was tremendous. They had to hire someone to take the calls that came through after hours. Mercedes got into her purple Dodge Avenger, she worked hard to get that car, and she took good care of it. She drove to downtown Atlanta, meeting the traffic on her way. Everyone got out around this time in the morning. Mercedes always opened up shop to get most things ready for the girls. She would make it there around six thirty or seven. The women, and few men that work there, arrived at eight o'clock, or eight fifteen, depending on their clients for the day. Mercedes loved everyone there and they loved her. Even though a few could not stand each other, she was the mediator of them all. If she could not handle an argument, Dorothy would end it. 
Mercedes pulled up at work and saw Dorothy already there. She was sitting across the street by the Peace Fountain on a bench. Mercedes got out her car and ran over to her. Before Mercedes could say anything, Dorothy spoke.
"The sunrise here is so beautiful." Dorothy looked up in the sky. Car passed by, horns honked, engines roared. 
"This is a very beautiful place to watch a sunrise." Mercedes sat down next to her. The sky was full of oranges, purples, and pinks. It was the most breathtaking view. The fountain trickled water, and it made Mercedes feel she was back in her bed. Then another car honked their horn, and a motorcycle passed by. It was not so peaceful then.
"You are so young Mercedes. Do not take life for granted." Dorothy looked over to Mercedes. "Look at you." Dorothy took Mercedes face in her hands. "You are so young, yet, you have so much on your heart. I can tell in your eyes, you have sorrow. You shut out the world and live in your fantasy. But darling, let me tell you that fantasy is not real. One day you will wake up and realize that your face is baggy, your titties are saggy, your ass is droopy and your cooch is cobweb city." Dorothy took her last puff of her cigarette. She threw it down on the ground and stepped on it. "Come on darling. Let's go sell a fantasy." Dorothy took Mercedes arm and tangled with hers. They walked to the shop and it begin their day. 
At eight o'clock on the dot, Timothy, a consultant turned over the 'Welcome' sign. He walked back to the back and put champagne on ice. Mercedes walked in.
"Oh sweetheart. I can not thank you enough for what you did for me." Timothy sat down the champagne glass he was shining and hugged Mercedes.
"You enjoyed yourself?" Mercedes hugged him back.
"He was a dream! Flowers, opens doors, very polite. And girl.." He took a dramatic hand to the forehead as if to faint. "The man can dance." He fell to the floor. Mercedes laughed.
"I am so happy you enjoyed him. He really liked you from that time we all got drinks. He would not leave my home girl Amber alone about you. So I just had to." She smiled and picked up a glass to help shine it. Timothy got up off the floor and dusted himself off. 
"I am seeing him again this weekend." He also took a glass and shined.
"That is great to hear." They stood in silence for another few minutes shining glasses. "What about Johnny?" She asked.
"What about him?" Timothy sat down his glass and put his hands on his hips. 
"You guys just really broke up." 
"A month ago. Am I suppose to sit around and watch him flirt with every hoochie around here? Knowing he undercover gay and was in my bed for a year. Girl, bye." He threw the towel down and threw his head back and walked out the room. Mercedes laughed. She knew he was not really mad, Timothy was just very dramatic. Which made his company fun to be around. 
The door bell rang on the door and Melanie answered and greeted three brides with their families inside. The Wedding Bliss store was known for it's beautiful decor. It was an elegant look of ivory and gold. Some brides changed their color schemes based on the store's decor. A fountain of two angels in the middle of the store made for conversation piece. The huge pictures of different types of flowers in black and white gave for a comforting view. The store welcoming anyone and everyone inside. But it was not a door to open and walk in like most stores. The Wedding Bliss store had a door bell that you rang, just as you were to visit someone's home. You are greeted as someone answers the door. You are offered drinks of any kind, and fruit or chocolates. Most brides go straight for the fruit but before they leave they are scoffing down much chocolates. 
Bride number one name was Wendy. Wendy was marrying her boyfriend, Will, of two years, an officer in the army. He will be returning from Iraq in a month, and they will get married. Her colors are green and beige. More of a army color, but she did not want camo in her wedding. She wanted something that was tight around the stomach area and legs and puffed out at the bottom around the knees. She wanted it too puffy, Mercedes thought. This is where her job got fun. She convinced women to try on something they would never have thought about, and make them fall in love with it. She succeeded 99% of the time. But some brides are dead set on, and on few occasions she got calls from those brides wishing they had picked the dress she originally suggested. Bride number one came with her mother, sister, best friend and aunt. Mercedes met with them and introduced them to their personal consultant, Francis. Francis was mean and firm, but she was point on with her dresses. Mercedes noticed that Wendy’s shoulders and hips were pretty much in line.
“May I suggest a ‘Empire’ look.” Mercedes said after hearing Wendy’s ideas. “ Only after you decide your first looks.”
“What is the empire look? Wendy asked. Mercedes asked Wendy to stand in front of the mirror, she then stood behind her and created the illusion.
“This look is a high waist bodice that hugs in the right place. The long skirt would give her height and holds the hips. It had a bit of a flare at the bottom, but not too much.” Mercedes explained.
“That is so neat. I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you so much, Mercedes. 
“My pleasure. This is Ms. Francis and she will be your personal consultant today. I hope you find everything you need.” Mercedes hugged the bride and exchanged a few words to Francis before seeing the next bride.
Bride number two was an African American woman name Lecretia. Lecretia was marrying Lamont, a police officer. Lecretia, herself, was an dispatcher and that is where the two met four years ago. They fell in love instantly. So much in common, music, sports, movies, and food. She mentioned a dozen times that he was her soul mate. Mercedes loved to hear stories about how people met and fell in love, it was part of her fantasy world she never wanted to leave from. She was happy in her single bubble, no drama. Lecretia wanted to try on a form fitted dress. A mermaid type. Mercedes thought this would not do her justice because of her over sized hips. Nothing at all wrong with that, just that Mercedes knew what would look good, and what would not. Mercedes introduced them to their consultant, Timothy. 
“Can I threw you a suggestion?” Mercedes asked Lecretia.
“If it is going to get her out of this mermaid type dress, please.” Lecretia’s mother said. Lecretia came with her mother, mother in law, sister in law, and two best friends. They all agreed that the mermaid dress, was a big no-no.
“I’m thinking more of an A-line type.” Mercedes asked Lecretia to stand in front of the mirror. “This kind of gown shows off that flat stomach, and the skirt falls from the body giving your figure strength.”
“Oh I think I like that. My colors are blue and white. Do you have any blue bridesmaids dresses?” Lecretia asked.
“We have everything.” Mercedes smile. “This is your personal consultant Timothy and he will be helping you complete your looks today. I hope you find everything you are looking for.”
“Thank you so very much.” Lecretia grabbed Mercedes and tears began to stroll down her face. 
“If you guys need anything do not hesitate to ask.” Mercedes walked out and down the hall towards another bride. She heard arguing coming from one of the unoccupied rooms. As she got closer she noticed it was Georgia and Naomi. These two hated each other and no one understood why. They were all in each other’s face and words were spat out at each other. Mercedes ran inside the room and shut the door. She got in between the two and scolded the three women who sat and watched instead of separating them. 
“What is wrong with you?”
“This has nothing to do with you Mercedes.” Georgia said. Georgia is a firecracker. Every little spark sets her off. Naomi is known for her attitude. Neither of them had many clients because of their attitudes. Dorothy talked about firing them many of times. Mercedes saved their jobs numerous of times. Mercedes loved everyone there, and they loved and respected her. She was the baby of the bunch, just 27 years old, but she was more mature than everyone put together. 
“I am not talking to you Georgia. I’m talking to you three.” Mercedes pointed at Pink, Jordan, and Donna. The three women laughed.
“Come on Mercedes. You know you want to see these two fight and get it over with.” Pink stood up and said.
“Not here.” Admitted Mercedes. “I do wish you two would get this over with, not with fighting. Especially here. If Dorothy caught you two, you would have been fired. I already fight hard to keep your two jobs.” Mercedes pointed at Georgia and Naomi.
“Sorry, Mercedes.” They two women said. Mercedes stopped Naomi.
“You have a client.” Mercedes said to Naomi.
“I do?” She turned to Mercedes.
“Dorothy set you up today, Georgia for later on. This is a make or break situation. I am trying to help you guys, but your hurting me.” Mercedes said.
“Thank you Mercedes.” Naomi hugged her and they entered in the next room with the expecting bride. 
Bride number three was a spoiled brat, and Mercedes could tell the second she stepped in the room. The petite girl stood on her cell phone texting away. She came with her mother, mother in law, father, and five friends. They giggled and laughed as the bride, who name is Rachel, talked about how wonderful her fiancé is, and how extremely rich he is. Rachel had the hourglass figure, paid for, Mercedes thought. Mercedes herself had a natural hourglass figure. Her boobs and hips were bigger than she would like. Her thighs were thick, but she was not over weight, or under weight. Just right she always said. 
“All your suggestions were wonderful Rachel.” Mercedes said. “Your personal consultant actually suggested a mermaid type dress. She may have a great idea.” Mercedes said.
“You think so? I only trust you. I heard you are the best at these things.” Rachel text away as she spoke.
“I trust my girls. So you are in good hands.” Mercedes chatted quickly with the family before leaving and hear Rachel tell Naomi, money is no option. Great for Naomi, but not good for her attitude. 
Mercedes walked into the luncheon room. There were snacks of all kinds, drinks of all kinds for their guests and themselves. On Friday’s the Wedding Bliss catered breakfast from 8-11 am for guests, because the restaurant next door only opened for lunch and dinner. 
Mercedes took a seat on an empty couch and drank a hot cup of coffee. She leaned her head back and wished she could forget about her reoccurring dream. She heard someone enter the room and she looked up. It was Dorothy. She looked more pale than  usual. Something about her was off.
“You cant protect them forever Mercedes.” Dorothy said as she sat down next to Mercedes.
“I can try.” She sipped from her coffee cup.
“You are so much more mature than any of these people here. Including me.” She smiled.
“I would not say that.” Mercedes looked over to Dorothy. “You don’t look well Dorothy.” Mercedes put her back hand to Dorothy forehead.
“I’m fine darling. Stop treating me like a child.” Dorothy laughed and slapped her hand away.
“I might need to. You refuse to go to the doctors. Have you even seen one the many years we have known each other?” Mercedes questioned.
“You should have been my daughter.” Dorothy said. Mercedes noticed Dorothy said this a lot but she never asked why. Mercedes just thought it was something single, child less women said. She got up from the couch and sat her coffee cup in the sink.
“Four more brides are set to come in a few. I’m going to go get things ready. Run DMC’s daughter has a friend getting married. They be in later on to try on dresses. Do we need security?”
“Hell no. I aint spending money on security for a daughter of a celebrity. Now if Mariah Carey wants to marry that billionaire, I’ll spend big bucks on security then.” Dorothy laughed and lay down on the couch. 
“Get you some rest. If I need you, I’ll come get you.” Mercedes lowered the lights and walked out. She walked past the room with Rachel and Naomi.
"Dad! This is what I want!" Rachel was heard yelling. 
"Sweetheart, I know, but.." Her father started.
"But nothing. I guess you don't love me. I guess I should have ran off with Matt and never come back because he treats me like a princess." Rachel babbled on.
"How much for the other dress Ms. Naomi?" The deep souther accent man said.
"Ohhhh daddy! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I will always be your princess." Rachel jumped with glee.
Mercedes walked past the room with Lecretia. 
"I love this one. Oh, he is going to just cry when he sees me. You guys know exactly what you are doing." Lecretia said to Timothy.
She walked past Wendy as soon as Francis walked out the door.
"Impossible! Just impossible!" Francis said. "I need a cigarette." She walked past Mercedes. Mercedes knocked on the door and came inside. She found Wendy crying in her mother's arms.
"Is everything ok here?" Mercedes asked nicely.
"That woman should be ashamed." Wendy's mother blurt out.
"She said I was shaped like a boy. Who says that to a bride who is trying on dresses?"
"She is very sensitive about her body." Her mother said.
"I assure you, she did not mean any intentions on harming you. If you do not mind, can I say something?" Mercedes spoke.
"Please." Wendy's mother in law said.'
"Come here please Wendy." Wendy stood up and walked over to her. "You are not shaped like a little boy, those were the wrong analogies. And I do apologize. Look in the mirror." Mercedes stood behind her. "What do you see?"
"A woman who is ashamed of her own body." Wendy said with tears.
"Do you know how many women my size would like to have this?" Mercedes said.
"Your hips are to die for. Your butt, and breasts too. You have the ideal body." Wendy said.
"That can not fit into most clothes. Can you do me a favor? I want you to try something on for me." Mercedes stepped out and returned shortly with a beautiful, white Empire dress. The designer was Helen McGual. A new designer making a name for herself. The dress had a waist around it with beautiful jewels that sparkled and shine. The border of the dress had the same jewels around the hem. Mercedes saw Wendy's eyes light up. She hurried and took the dress to try on. A few moments later, Wendy returned and her family cried at the first sight of the dress. Wendy turned and looked into the mirror. 
"We can replace these jewels with green, just for your preference." Mercedes said. This brought a smile to Wendy's lips. "You can open your eyes now Wendy." Mercedes instructed. She did so. And for a instant, she was frozen. No expression, no words. Then the tears flood her eyes. She grabbed Mercedes and hugged her as she cried on her shoulder. 
"You are an angel. You are an angel sent from above." Wendy wiped her face. "I can never thank you enough for everything." Wendy smiled. Her family and friend got up and they all shared a group hug. Times like this, Mercedes was blessed to have this job. She left Wendy and the family to discuss some things and decide who was paying what. The dress was cheaper than she thought, and that was a blessing in itself.
The doorbell rang and Melanie answered. In walked a tall, slender man. His hair was short and white. Pure, snow white. His eyes were ice blue. A cold kind of blue. 
"Hello, welcome to Wedding Bliss. May I you." Melanie stuttered out. She was a bit nervous. This man, at first scared her.
"I am looking for Mercedes Jones. Is she here?" He had a Russian accent. He looked, gangster like. This freaked Melanie out even more. 
"I can not give out that information. Do you have an appointment?" Melanie asked.
"No. But it is substantial that I speak with her." He stood there, without blinking. This only made Melanie more on edge. Before Melanie could ask him to leave, Mercedes stepped into the main entrance and they both looked up at her. She walked up to them. 
"Hello." Mercedes said. Melanie stretched her eyes to Mercedes. She looked freaked out. Mercedes took her attention towards the man. 
"My name is Daniel. Are you Mercedes?" He said. 
"Yes I am. You must be Daniel Buckalove." Mercedes reached out her hand for a handshake.
"Yes I am." He smiled. His smile was scarier. He shook Mercedes hand back. Excitingly.
"Melanie, this is Daniel. He is here for a fitting. He is getting married to David. His lovely boyfriend of ten years." Mercedes said to Melanie, and Melanie breathed out a loud sigh. Unprofessional, but they let it slide. 
Mercedes walked Daniel into an empty dressing room. Daniel had brood shoulders, and a hairy body she noticed once he removed his jacket. It was his dream to get married, but wearing a dress was not one. His boyfriend and him agreed to wear a dress of some sorts. His choice was a long sheath look. Mercedes did not like the idea of this, so she politely told him a different alternative. 
"I have a friend I want you to go see." She took out a pen and paper and wrote down an address. "He will help you with the right size, and a wonderful look. I will call to inform him you are on your way, and please, just consider what he has to say. Try it on, look at yourself, and take in your feelings about it." She smile and handed him the piece of paper. He smiled and hugged her. He felt really relieved about the whole situation. She understood the look on his face.
It was noon time when the shop was buzzing with people. Most left crying because they found their perfect dress. Some left indecisive. But one left angry, thanks to Francis again. 
"She said it did not matter what I wore because my face is a conversation piece." She stormed out the store. Mercedes chased her down and apologized. The woman had no hard feelings towards the store itself, and only to Francis. She promised to return when there was an available consultant other than Francis. 
"She won't make it til the end of the month." Dorothy said as Mercedes entered in her office. Mercedes sat down and exhaled deeply. "Go to lunch." Dorothy said to Mercedes.
"I'm not hungry. I am going bare foot the rest of the day though." Mercedes took off her shoes and sighed with relief. "What are you typing away for over there?"
"You are nosey aren't you?" Dorothy kept typing.
"Sound important."
"Very." Dorothy closed her laptop after a few more clicks and stood up. "Come on darling, you and I need to eat." She stood next to Mercedes. Mercedes stood up and walked arm in arm with Dorothy. It was common everywhere they went to walk like this. As if Dorothy were Mercedes' grandmother that needed help to walk. The two walked next door to the restaurant, it was full but there was always a table for them. It was thanks for sending them so much business. They sat down and Mercedes ordered a peach iced tea and fruit salad. Dorothy ordered a steak, medium rare with potatoes and salad.
"You going to tell me what that email was about?" Mercedes took a bite of her salad once it came. The whipped cream was sweet and fresh, made the salad just perfect.
"No. Eat child." They ate and talked about business. Dorothy had a bad cough coming on. Mercedes kept  a mental mind to buy her some cough syrup. Allergies were bad during the spring time. And the rain just brought more pollen. The shop closed at 12:30pm until 1:30pm for lunch. All brides to be had to leave and return afterwards. The table was full of the consultants. Pink, Melanie, Georgia, Francis, Jordan, Donna, Timothy, and Bernard. Bernard is the computer tech guy. He takes care of the website and orders. He had a crush on Donna for awhile but once Donna was with her ex, he stopped flirting. Even though Bernard stop chasing after Donna, it has not stopped him from bending over backwards for her. He would do anything for Donna. He often baby sits for Donna on short notice when she has to go to her second job. They all ordered cocktails. Dorothy would not let them drink any alcohol on the job, only one drink at lunch, and after work their on their own. They laughed and talked. This was also a time Mercedes enjoyed, time with her co-workers. They all got along with Mercedes, probably because she was under Dorothy's wings. 
Mercedes met Dorothy when she was twelve years old roaming the streets. Mercedes sat on a lonely bridge and tried to push herself over the edge but couldn't.
"That is a long way to go." A voice came from behind her. She sat there swinging her legs.
"It doesn't matter. The end is what I'll be expecting." Mercedes looked back down. A white woman, brown hair came next to her. She leaned over the rails and looked down with her.
"Such strong words for a young gal. What's your name?" The woman asked.
"Mercedes. Mercedes Jones."
"My name is Dorothy. Dorothy Gillian."
"Nice to have met you ma'am." 
"Why you talking as if this is the last you will see of me?"
"I reckon it is. I don't wanna go from where I came Mrs. Gillian."
"It is Ms. Gillian. I am not married. And it is, 'do not want.'" Dorothy said.
"Excuse me?" 
"You said, you don’t wanna go from where you came. The proper way to have said that sentence was that you do not want to go from where you came.”
“I apologize.” Mercedes lowered her head.
“You apologize a lot. Why?”
“I’m…I mean, I am just sorry for life.”
“You are way too young to be thinking like that.”
“I reckon so, but I been through a lot.”
“No such a thing. Are you hungry?” Dorothy asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Let me see…Have you eaten today?”
“No. No ma’am. Not in a few days. My appetite just isn’t there.”
“Is not. And I bet some sausage, eggs, and pancakes will change that.” Dorothy saw Mercedes swing her legs a little harder as she sat on the edge of the rail.
“Sorry. Is not. I won’t, I mean, I will not be hungry here for long. Please leave me alone. You probably have children to go home to and take care of. I just want to die. I don’t want to be here anymore. No one loves me. No one cares. I am better off laying on that ground down there in many pieces. Let the rain wash away the blood and the animals eat me apart.”
“What is your favorite thing to do?” Dorothy held back her tears. She could not let the young girl hear her break down.
“I don’t know.”
“If you could walk off this bridge and go to town, what would you want to do first?”
“I would eat.” Mercedes smiled.
“Well, I know that. But what do you enjoy doing at home?”
“Other than crying, I like to dress up dolls.” Her face brightened up. “I like to take clothes and dress them for a Ball, or wedding, or Prom. Something nice.”
“I love doing that too.” Dorothy said. Mercedes started to get restless. 
“Ok.” That was all Mercedes said.
“I actually own a store doing that.”
“Good luck with that.”
“Do you-“ 
“Please, leave. I have to go.”
“Where to?”
“Some place where I don’t have to be alone.” Mercedes pushed herself off the rail. But she did not go over. Dorothy grabbed the back of her shirt when she asked Mercedes if she was hungry. Dorothy hung on to her shirt without Mercedes even knowing. 
“Come work for me.” Dorothy pulled the girl to her.
“I have no where to go.” Mercedes cried. “This was about to be my last resort.”
“Now you have a home.” Dorothy pulled Mercedes in for a hug. She was hesitant, but Dorothy sat on the curb of the bridge with Mercedes until she cried herself out. “Can we please go eat?” Dorothy asked.
“Please.” Mercedes chuckled. They got up and walked to the car that was parked on the side of the bridge. Dorothy took Mercedes to a diner and she ate as if she has never tasted food before. They talked, but not about family, or life, but about fashion. This was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. Dorothy took Mercedes in her home and she been apart of her every day life for the past 15 years. Dorothy made sure Mercedes graduated from school and college. Mercedes worked every day in the shop, until Dorothy opened her own store. Their dreams were coming true, together.
“Mercedes! Earth to Mercedes!” Timothy sang at the table.
“What?” She snapped out of her day dream.  Everyone else at the table laughed.
“Girl time to go back and work for Cruella.” He downed his last drink.
“And the Bridezillas.” Georgia said. They all laughed and went back next door. The store got busy around two o’clock and they all were relieved that the day was over and tomorrow was Friday. Dorothy decided to close Saturdays and Sundays to use for tailoring days. Dorothy never stopped working. 
It was almost eight o'clock when the last bride left. Mercedes helped her pick her dream dress, and she left crying and happy. Mercedes loved to make them cry tears of joy.
"Time to go." Dorothy called from behind Mercedes.
"What are you having for dinner?" Mercedes asked.
"I got my dinner. Go home darling. I am fine." Dorothy walked up to Mercedes and hugged her. "I see you tomorrow morning. We got a busy day." There were five weddings Saturday and five brides that needed to have their final fittings, tailors, steamed and pressed. Friday's were their most busiest days. The other reason why Dorothy gave them the weekend off. 
"Be careful. I see you in the morning." Mercedes walked Dorothy to the car. She got in and rolled down her window.
"You be careful." Dorothy lit a cigarette and blew out a puff of smoke.
"I need you to stop smoking too." Mercedes said as she walked away from the car. She heard Dorothy laugh, and a strangled cough afterwards. It sent chills through her to hear Dorothy cough so rough.
Mercedes made it home to her apartment around eight thirty. She stopped by to pick up loaf of bread and pressed ham. She did not feel like cooking, so it was a sandwich kind of evening for her. And ice cream. She took a shower, made her a sandwich and some chips and sat on her comfy couch to watch tv. Her phone rang with an unknown number. She was hesitant to answer calls that she did not know. Today, she did not care.
"Hello." She answered with a mouth full of sandwich.
"..." The voice on the other side of the phone just breathe.
"Bye pervert." Mercedes hung up the phone. She continued eating without even thinking twice about it. She did not finish eating her sandwich but she ate a whole bowl of chocolate almond ice cream and oreo cookies. She did not plan to exercise this off. Why? She thought. She laughed. She cried. Then she slept.
The next morning Mercedes turned on her stereo system she got as a house warming gift from Dorothy. She rarely played it because she had respect for her fellow neighbors. But they did not mind the music. She played Bootsy Collins as she showered and got ready for work. Today she had five important brides because tomorrow were their wedding day at different locations, at different times. Each one invited her, but she told them she had to work to make other brides day happy as well.They always understood. In reality, Mercedes did not like attending weddings. Her best friend Amber got married and she went, she was Maid of Honor. She never wanted to get married herself, she just enjoyed making others happy, not seeing them. 
Mercedes got dressed, turned off her music and left the apartment. On her way to the garage to her car, the elderly couple who lives downstairs were walking by with their small dog.
"Good morning Mercedes." They said to her.
"Good morning Mr. and Mrs. Lyon. How are you this morning?" Mercedes stopped to ask. She always made time for children, and elderly.
"Not so good." Mrs. Lyon said.
"Oh?" Mercedes asked.
"Yes, you see. Boogie here has a problem with the diarrhea today." Mr. Lyon said. Mercedes looked down at the shivering dog. 
"Got into the bag of prunes again." Mrs. Lyon said.
"Oh, I hate to hear that. If you need any help, I get off at eight." Mercedes offered. Mercedes often went by to help the old couple. They have four children, two daughters and two sons, and neither of them will check on their mother and father. Mercedes made sure they had food in the house, and many occasions she would clean up for them. They live a hoarder life. They were threatened by the owner of the building to clean up or move out. SO Mercedes and Amber took it upon themselves to help them.
"Oh, do not worry your little head. We are fine. Be careful today." Mr. Lyon said. They all smiled at each other and went their separate ways. Mercedes got into her car and turned her music on. She was the only person at six o'clock in the morning with music blaring through the streets of Atlanta. 
Mercedes pulled up to see Dorothy sitting on the bench of the fountain again. This has happened for the past week now. As if she was in deep thought about something. Dorothy never kept anything away from Mercedes. She did not understand why she was being so secretive all of a sudden. She walked up to Dorothy and sat down. 
"I always wondered how the sky changed like it does. Look at those colors. It magical." Dorothy said, and took a puff of her cigarette.
"It is a work of God." Mercedes said.
"Yeah, I know I should be believing that. After I lost the love of my life, I stopped believing in all that." 
"Nothing that tragic could make me stop believing in God." Mercedes said to Dorothy.
"When you lose a love, I hope you never do, but we all are going to die, you will see."
"After all those years, why not find someone else?"
"No one compared to him." Dorothy looked at Mercedes.
"You haven't even gave anyone else the chance."
"You are so young. Come on. Let's get this stuff in order before every one shows up." They walk across the street to open the door and a letter was stuck in between the door. 
"To my Mercedes." Dorothy grabbed the letter and  folded it under her arm. They pulled out the five dresses to tailor and press before the brides arrive. The door opened at eight fifteen and every one walked inside. Timothy, the loudest of them all, had to make his dramatic entrance.
"Good morning bitches. Thank God it is Friday." He sang and twirled.
"You know you aint even right, Tim." Pink said.
"What I do?" He stopped and put his hands on his hips.
"You can not use a curse word, and God in the same sentence." Mercedes laughed.
"In the same phrase." Said Georgia.
"Out the same mouth." Dorothy walked into the main entrance. Put your things down and meet me in my office." She walked off.
"Um, excuse me Ms. Dorothy. You want us all to fit in that little space. There are some big asses in here. And mine being the biggest." He twisted his hips toward her office.
"Get your big asses in here." Dorothy yelled back. They all laughed.
"You heard her. HBIC has spoken." They all crowded into the small office and Dorothy began to speak but the door bell rang.
"Melanie, please answer that and have them patiently wait, then return so you can hear too." Dorothy said, and Melanie obeyed.
"I can't breath." Jordan said.
"I know it's hot in here." Georgia said.
"Then shut your mouth." Francis said.
"Shut your legs." Georgia spat back. They group laughed.
"Buuurn." Timothy egged on.
"Where is Naomi?" Dorothy asked.
"Don't know. Don't care." Georgia said. "I'm here for my money only.
"Your attitude is causing you to have less. Check your issues at the door Ms. Valentine." Dorothy told Georgia.
"Yes ma'am." Georgia replied.
"Buurn." Francis said.
"Not as funny. But you tried." Pink said.
"Donna, are you with us today?" Dorothy asked.
"Yes, sorry. I didn't get any sleep. My three year old has a cold, and my six year old twisted his ankle. Being a single mother sucks." Donna put her head back down on Dorothy's desk. Mercedes pat her on the back. Melanie turned and told us that two brides had arrived and they were waiting in their room. The door bell rang again and she stepped out to answer. Dorothy sighed. She returned shortly letting them know that the gourmet restaurant would be there at nine, instead of eight today to cater breakfast.
"Before we get interrupted again, I better say what I need to say." Dorothy started. Everyone turned their attention to her. "We will have business as usual next week. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I will have the shop closed on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday next week. On those off days, I need each of you to tell me why you want your job." Dorothy scolded the group with a look. Everyone looked around scared that they were getting fired. Dorothy smiled, then she laughed. "You all are a scary bunch, aren't you?" Everyone sighed with relief.
"You too old to be playing games woman." Timothy said with his hand over his heart.
"I have to go out of town. Well, out of state. While I  am gone, class." Dorothy joked. "Mercedes will be over the shop and watch out for all of you. She will be taking names, and whoever is on that list will be punished severely." She stood up and said.
"Mercedes, remember I gave you a piece of bubble gum a week ago? We still friends right?" Georgia joked. They all laughed.
"Thursday and Friday I need the company of Mercedes and...." Dorothy said. Everyone raised their hands and shouting, "Pick me!" Dorothy pointed at Timothy. "Only because where we are going needs a fashion view." She said and Timothy giggled with delight. He stood up on an empty chair and spoke.
"I would like to take this time to thank the little people. You are the reason why I shine. It it weren't for you, then I would be less fabulous than I am now. I need you bitches to help me grow. Thank you and thank God." He took a bow.
"You going to hell." Pink got up from her seat and walked out the office.
"It won't be next weekend though." Timothy stuck out his tongue and Pink gave him the middle finger. They all laughed and exit the office to begin their day.
"You not going to tell me what's going on?" Mercedes said.
"No. Not right now darling. Go make five little brides happy today." Dorothy smiled at Mercedes. She listened and walked out the office. Once Mercedes was out of view, Dorothy opened her laptop and wrote the email.
"Dear Mr. Goodwin,
Our trip is on. I love the layout, the structure, and the location is perfect. I can not thank you enough for everything. The estimated time of completion is perfect for me, as my time is very valuable. I have mentioned before that I adore your work. I will arrive Monday morning, and we may meet that afternoon at cafe per your choice. I will have two members accompanying me Thursday. I can not wait to see you again. Thank you.
Sincerely, Dorothy."
Dorothy sent the email and walked out of her office.
The rest of the day went by in a blur to everyone. The brides had so many last minute changes. Amber came in around two o'clock while all the brides were in their to give advice on hair styles. Amber Jenkins is a hair stylist in the Atlanta area. Famous for her beautiful styles, in half the time. Every one who was someone came to Amber. She would come on Fridays to the Wedding Bliss to help brides suggest the right hair do for their dress and their bridal party. They would set appointments up for her if they wanted to chose her style for their wedding day. Three brides already booked her. So Mercedes shopping plans for tomorrow was canceled. She just wanted to lay in bed and eat ice cream and watch Jason Statham marathon all day anyways.
It was finally eight o'clock when the last bride cried herself out of the building with overwhelming joy. Mercedes, Dorothy, and Amber were the only three left in the shop. Dorothy turned off all the lights and they walked outside. The cool night air was a pleasant feel from the summer's heat of the day. They sat down on the bench in front of the fountain and listened to the water flow. Mercedes almost fell asleep until a car full of loud teenagers came speeding down the street with their loud music. Mercedes enjoyed her rap music at times, but she was s wore out she could have passed on that noise now.
"I need your help as well Amber." Dorothy said as she lit a cigarette.
"Excuse me?" Amber picked her head up.
"Dorothy is leaving for some place she will not tell of us right now. A secret mission. Me, and Timothy are going Thursday." Mercedes said with her eyes closed, and head leaned back over the back of the bench.
"I am in then." Amber perked up. "You know what that means, Mercedes." 
"What?" Mercedes asked as she turned her head and looked at Amber.
"Shopping!" Amber squealed with joy. They both squealed together.
"Oh, my head can not take it." Dorothy stood up from the bench.
"Come with us Dorothy. You can miss your cats for a few hours." Amber laughed.
"I work with a bunch of nagging hens all day. My calm, drama free cats are the peace I get in my life. So no thank you, I will pass." Dorothy laughed. 
"Be careful." Mercedes stood up and hugged Dorothy.
"I know, I know. I am not a child darling." Dorothy hugged Mercedes back. "See you soon Amber."
"See you." Amber waved at her.
"Put that out Dorothy." Mercedes yelled towards Dorothy. Dorothy turned and frowned at Mercedes and put her cigarette out. 
"She going to lit another in the car." Amber said. At that time Dorothy started her car, and rolled down her windows. The white cloud of puff came from her window and Dorothy was heard laughing.
"Hey!" She yelled towards Mercedes. "I put that one out. You did not say anything about this one." They all laughed and Dorothy sped off.
"So, what are your plans?" Amber asked Mercedes.
"Shower. Bed. Ice cream. You?"
"The same, just a little different." 
"How so?" Mercedes asked. They both walking to their cars that were parked next to each other.
"Shower. Club. Man. Ice cream on him in my bed." Amber said fanning her face.
"You need help." Mercedes laughed and got into her car. She started it and Amber knocked on her window. She rolled it down.
"I can not help it I love sex. You need to lose your virginity, sweet pea." Amber laughed. Mercedes turned her music up on blast and put her car in reverse. She looked in the rearview mirror at her best friend laughing. She laughed too. 
On her way home she stopped by the store for another pint of chocolate almond ice cream. Her favorite. She saw a frozen extra supreme pepperoni pizza and bought it too. In line a man about her age stood in front of her. He turned around and saw Mercedes.
"Good evening ma." The man said. She looked up from her cell phone and smiled at him.
"Evening." She said. She turned her attention back on her phone. Bernard text her to tell her that Donna was coming over so the children could see him for a moment. He adored her children. He often mentions to Mercedes how he wished he had children of his own. He was happy to the children and Donna. Mercedes felt hurt inside because she knew that was a way for Bernard to watch the kids while Donna sneak off to work. She acted as if she was happy for him and wished him a good night.
"You look familiar." He said to Mercedes. She put her cell phone back in her pocket. 
"Oh?" She asked. She studied him for the first time. He was not bad looking. Tall, dark, clean shaven. Nice clothes. Pretty white teeth. Gorgeous smile. His eyes were the color of chocolate kisses. But when he spoke, he looked goofy, and dumb. As most men did with her.
"It's a porn star called Carmel Delight." He looked at her smiling as if she were to say, 'Busted. It's me.' Mercedes kindly smiled up at him.
"Sorry, my porn star name is Curves." She placed her three items on the belt to be checked next. That's when she looked and saw a bottle of KY Jelly and Trojan condoms he so hard tried to hide behind some orange juice. She laughed to herself.
"Damn baby I see why." He licked his lips and looked her over. If he was not such an asshole, that licking the lips thing could have gotten her phone number. 'Eww.' She thought to herself.
"Actually, its because of the curve I just threw you. Hope you enjoy your evening." Mercedes pulled out a 20 dollar bill and gave it to the cashier as her items came up to $11.27. The man stood there with his sack not saying a word. A mean look crossed his face. Mercedes took out her phone as the man left the store and dialed Dorothy. She was taught to never let someone see you alone in a dark parking lot. Mercedes stepped outside and walked towards her car. As Dorothy answered the man from the store came from around his own car.
"Oh you are here!" Mercedes said into the phone. She pretended to look around. "I see you. You see me waving? Great." She made it to her car and unlocked it.
"DO you need the cops?" Dorothy asked into the phone.
"No. Don't bother. I'm coming your way." Mercedes got into her and backed out. The man from the store got into his own car and sped off the opposite way.
"Is he gone?" Dorothy asked.
"Yes. I bought you some banana split ice cream. On my way." Mercedes hung up the phone. She rolled all her windows down and played her music loud. She felt care free, and young in the buzzing city. She laughed thinking about her store incident. The wind blew through her hair as the night life passed her by.
"Curves?" Dorothy laughed. "I love that one. I need to use it some day." She took another bite of her ice cream.
"Even the cashier laughed. That really pissed him off." Mercedes said from the other room.
"Stop doing that Mercedes." Dorothy said.
"You should have told me it was this bad Dorothy." Mercedes finishing mopping the kitchen floor. Mercedes stepped into DOrothy's two bedroom house and the smell made her lose her appetite. Dorothy often visited Mercedes but rarely let her come visit. Mercedes see why. Dorothy has five cats that took over the kitchen. The other rooms were neat and clean but the living room and kitchen were a mess. Mercedes did not hesitate. She began to clean and in less than a hour the house smelled of Pine sol and bleach. Fresh and clean. Mercedes closed the cats up in their room and sat on the couch. 
"I hate bothering you with my stuff. This was my mess and I was going to get to it." Dorothy put down her ice cream.
"I beat you to it. Mercedes laughed. She looked around on Dorothy walls. Dorothy was so proud of Mercedes she kept every picture ever taken of Mercedes and framed them. 
"You better get home. It's getting late." Dorothy said.
"I am home." Mercedes got up from the couch and went into Dorothy bedroom. She returned with an night gown three times her size and got into the shower. Dorothy fell asleep the time Mercedes returned. She put a blanket over Dorothy and kissed her forehead. She took her own ice cream out of the freezer and jumped into Dorothy's bed and turned on the TV. 'This is my weekend. What fun!' She said to herself. She fell asleep after her last bite of ice cream.
Saturday morning came and Mercedes was sore after a week of work. She saw that Dorothy had already got up and left for the day. Saturday mornings were her antique shopping time. Afterwards she came home and sew and watch TV. Mercedes often wish she could find Dorothy a man, but she knew that would be a waste. Dorothy was perfectly happy alone. It was true to some people, being single was less drama.
Mercedes walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. Her stomach still feeling the after effects of chocolate almond ice cream. She passed on breakfast. Walking into the living room Dorothy's cats sat staring at her. 
"Good morning Rose, Pearl, Ruby, and Jinx." She looked around. "Where is Ty?" She looked on the dining room table and saw the black cat staring at her. "Hi, Ty. Still don't like me, huh?" Dorothy's cats were sweet and cuddle friendly, except for the alpha male of the bunch Ty. For some reason he reminded her of some one. Mercedes just could not think of who. She shrugged her shoulders and walked to the bathroom. Her old clothes from yesterday lay on a basket, clean and folded. And a fresh new pair of jeans and a simple white, sleeveless t-shirt lay on top. She loved spending the night. Dorothy spoiled her.
She left a note for Dorothy.
"Dorothy, thank you for the clean clothes. You spoil me as usual. I fed the cats, including Mr. Grump. I swear, I have no idea why you love that mean old cat. I'm leaving, so I see you tomorrow. Or call you later. Love you. Mercedes."
She tuck the note under Dorothy's remote control because she knew it was the first thing she went to once she made it home. Mercedes drove home to check on the old couple downstairs. When she knocked on the door, no  one answered. That was uncommon. They never left their house, only to walk the dog, but that was once every morning and once every night. It was almost noon. She dialed their number, and no one answered. They could be sleep, she thought. She went upstairs to her apartment and opened the door. The cold air hit her face and she felt comfortable from the summer heat outside. Her phone rang. Sh

Submitted: September 03, 2015

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