Khadijah glared at Alonzo. No doubt he was going off script, but it seemed that “Ms. Good Pussy” didn’t have a choice. Instead of bickering, she turned her pouty, artificial lips to me as Alonzo continued to take the lead.
“Let me try this again. We, as in Blakside Entertainment, would like to join forces with M.O. Designs”
“So in other words, you want ownership of my company?”
“Not ownership, partnership. Fifty percent to be exact”
I sat all the way back in my chair trying to interpret what was happening. How was this joker from my past trying to come back in my life and own me again? I knew a partnership wasn’t going to be enough. At some point, he was going to buy me out. Hell, the man had “Every One Has a Price” tatted on his neck!
As I turned upright and started to speak, my Caucasian associate pulled me close and whispered,
“Before you say no, understand that you don’t have enough money to make it to the end of the quarter”
While Murph started to calculate the numbers, I looked at my former lover and his new golden cow. From the way that she obeyed his commands, it was obvious who had the power. For the three years that I knew him in school, Alonzo was skillful at controlling folks from behind the scenes. Back then, he was part of a four man rap group. Now while he wasn’t out front spitting lyrics, he was behind the turntables, producing, and managing. So when the group finally got signed, he controlled all the money! His hands were in everything, and from the look on Khadijah’s face, nothing much had changed.
I scratched my brow before acknowledging Mr. Griffin.
“So was that the pitch? Let’s join forces? I dunno know about that, Mr. A-One”
Alonzo flashed a smile my way before reaching into his leather satchel and retrieving several items. He passed out the written presentation while the visual suddenly popped up on the screen.
“Look, I’m not gonna bore you with a lot of talk. What I want you to do is picture yourself making six times the money you are making right now. Imagine yourself with all the materials and labor necessary to make your vision a reality. With all the best fabrics and staff at your fingertips, your business could rival Fenty within two years”
Murph was tapping my leg under the table as I could see dollar signs dancing in his eyes. I still wasn’t buying.
“Ehhhh, this all sounds good but . . .”
“But what Ms. Owens?”
“Why partner with me? It’s clear that you have the money to start all this on your own. My small business is struggling to stay afloat. So, why us?”
“You have to admit, this all sounds suspect. Your artist . . .”
Khadijah grabbed ‘Lonzo’s hand to prove her point that he belonged to her. I wanted to laugh at her childish behavior because obviously she didn’t know the history between her husband and I. So instead of checking her stupidity, I cleared my throat and continued on.
“My apologies Khadijah. But as I was saying, I’m sure you all have been approached by the best designers in the business. So again, why me?”
“Ms. Owens, the market is flooded with all these fly by night clothing lines. Everyone thinks they can be the next Rihanna just because they got a thousand likes for an outfit they had on”
“That still doesn’t answer my question”
“Simply put, your business has the infrastructure to operate on a major scale. Your name alone can garner you access wherever you want. All you need is the capital to make it happen”
“So why not do it yourself?”
“Continual marketing, acquiring buildings, buying machines, training staff? While we want to expand the brand, my wife and I don’t have the time nor the foresight to make it happen. You do! We’ve seen your work at the Grammys! We think that you could be the next big thing! Right babe?”
Khadijah gave a half hearted nod.
“Ms. Owens, I believe in partnerships more now than ever. Believe me, we are stronger together as a people”
“Listen, I’m all for Black unity, but how can you possibly guarantee these numbers in the second quarter? Where is all this money coming from?”
“TikTok and a well to do benefactor”
“As of last night, Khadijah was sitting at 10.5 million followers. When I tell you that her fans are dedicated as hell? They love to see what baby girl is doing and what she decides to put on! Imagine if she was wearing M.O. Design? Better yet, let me show you”
Alonzo jumped into his presentation, describing how he had learned to manipulate the internet. I have to admit, I didn’t understand all the tekkie jargon. But what I did understand was that I needed to have the necessary funds to compete. There were two companies that had a lock on the fashion world, charging whatever they wanted. If ‘Lonzo could flip the game in my favor, his partnership would be worth the risk.
“Tell you what. Khadijah, you’re doing your media run soon right?”
“Yeah. Breakfast Club, then Drink Champs, then Wild N’ Out”
“Alright. Let’s team up on some apparel for the run. If the numbers hit like you project, I’ll take you on as partners. If not, we’ll split the profits and keep it moving. Is that cool?”
“I already promised . . .”
Alonzo quickly shook his head at Khadijah who had somehow spoken out of turn. He quickly returned his attention to me.
“It’s a deal. Send me your clothing ideas tomorrow”
“Yes. Khadijah’s stylist has to approve and we’re on a tight schedule”
“Okay, tomorrow it is. I’ll get started”
The conglomerate stood up to say their goodbyes although Mrs. Griffin was still perturbed. She flashed a fake smile and gave me a half assed hand shake before she left.
“I look forward to working with you, Khadijah”
Instead of a reply, the golden cow gave another fake smile and started toward the door. Alonzo caught up to her and whispered something in her ear. Whatever it was, I could see a tear roll down her face before she left the room.
“Ms. Owens, do you mind if I speak to you for a moment, alone?”
Murph gathered his things and made his way out the door. Once the coast was clear, Alonzo walked over and wrapped his strong arms around me.
“Peaches, it’s been too long!”
Damn! This man smelt and felt so good! But we were still in the boardroom. The see through, glass boardroom.
“Ummm, Mr. Griffin, I think this is a little inappropriate”
“Ohhhh, you trying to be professional with me?”
“Yes, I take my business seriously”
“So do I”
Indeed he did. I could feel my headlights starting to emerge. I sat down and concentrated on the presentation he gave in the conference room.
“You really gonna try to ignore me while I’m standing here? Do you believe that it was just a coincidence that I came along on the venture with my client?”
“Well she made it very clear that she wasn’t just your client”
“She can be an infant at times I know, but for the most part she’s obedient”
“Obedient? Ohhhhh, okay”
“Say what you will, but we have no issues. She gets the career that she wants. I get the life that I want. Everyone wins”
“So why did you come to my place of business?”
“I’ve been searching for you since I got back to the states”
“Searching for me?”
“And why is that? You sick or something?”
“No Peaches, I want you back in my life again”
Written by the Wednesday Gentleman