"Lasting love has to be built on mutual regard and respect. It is about seeing the other person. I am very interested in relationships and, when I watch couples, sometimes I can sense a blindness has set in. They have stopped seeing each other. It is not easy to see another person."
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie




RaShaun Patterson unlocked the door to the home he and his girlfriend, Yvonne Raymond, shared. He set his briefcase down by the door before looking through the days’ mail he’d brought in from the mailbox. After seeing nothing that needed his immediate attention, he threw the stack down on the table in the hallway and immediately started unloosening his tie.


“Vonnie. Babe, I’m home,” he called out as he walked further into the house. “Von…”


When she didn’t answer, he assumed she hadn’t made it home yet, which surprised him. RaShaun knew she remembered they had plans. He’d reminded her when they spoke earlier on the phone.


He looked down at his watch. “Come on, Von, you know we have reservations in a couple of hours. It’s already gonna take you that amount of time to get ready.”


Grabbing the phone, he called her cell but the call went straight to voicemail. RaShaun left her a quick message, and then went to the bedroom to get out of his work clothes. He unbuttoned his shirt and threw it on the bed. His pants quickly followed. He’d just pulled out a pair of basketball shorts and t-shirt from his drawer when he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. Turning to face his reflection, RaShaun lifted his arms and flexed his muscles.


“Not bad,” he observed with a slow nod. “‘Bought time.”


RaShaun had always been active but admitted he’d slacked off. For the past few months, though, he had been hitting the weights hard. He would be thirty-five next year and was determined to reach that age looking even better than he had at twenty-five, and if he said so himself, he’d succeeded. Yvonne seemed to think so, too, constantly running her hands over his chest and arms and making admiring comments about his newly muscled physique.


RaShaun smiled as he thought about his girlfriend. Today made two years that they’d been together. Although they loved each other and were committed to their relationship, RaShaun would be the first to admit it hadn’t been easy at times–especially lately.


His smile slipped a bit as he thought about the rough patch they’d been going through. RaShaun took most of the blame. He knew he hadn’t been as attentive as he should’ve been due to his ambitious career goals, but he was determined to change that, starting tonight.


His job as an executive at one of the top banks in Arizona was a demanding one. He’d moved back home to Phoenix four years ago after he’d been offered the senior management position that came with a hefty salary. After working his ass off, he now had his eye on that Vice-President spot which would be opening as soon as their current VP retired in a few months.


As the only black man in the running for the job, he’d worked twice as hard to stand out, show and prove that he was the most qualified. From what he’d heard, he had it in the bag, but nothing was a sure thing. He wouldn’t slow down until after it was official and his name was on the door of that big office on the top floor.


While changing into more comfortable clothes, RaShaun’s thoughts once again returned to tonight. He and Yvonne had made plans to enjoy an evening of dinner and dancing, and had reserved a room at a very expensive hotel in the city. He had already requested flowers, candles, and champagne along with chocolate covered strawberries to be waiting on them when they got there. Yeah, they needed this, and RaShaun couldn’t wait. He knew for a fact that Yvonne was just as anxious and excited.


Whistling quietly, he had just turned to leave the bedroom when he spotted a handwritten note taped to the television. He recognized the paper as Yvonne’s stationery.


Changing directions, he walked over to the television with a frown and read the words written in big, black letters: PLAY ME.


An arrow pointed to the DVD player he refused to get rid of in an era of streaming movies. Frowning slightly and curious as hell, RaShaun picked up the remote control and turned the television on. After pushing the play button, he backed up and sat down on the bed.


When the picture came on the screen, he saw Yvonne standing there, apparently making sure the camcorder was positioned at the angle she wanted it. She hit a button to zoom in so that he had a nice view of the bed, then straightened up and walked back a few steps.


“Damn,” RaShaun mumbled under his breath when he saw what she was wearing.


His eyes ran over the short, black silk robe that barely reached the tops of her thighs. His lust filled gaze lingered on the black fishnet stockings and high heeled, black stilettos before bringing his attention back to her face and the way she'd styled her shoulder length hair to frame her attractive features.


Yvonne rarely wore very much makeup, was gorgeous without it, but he couldn’t help but notice how her expertly made up face emphasized her large grey eyes and high cheekbones. He liked it. It gave her a look that was both mysterious and sexy.


“Hi, baby.”


Yvonne’s honey smooth voice floated into the room, sultry and seductive. She smiled into the camera, showing the deep dimples that RaShaun thought were so cute.


“By now, I guess you noticed I’m not home. I wanted to inform you there’s been a slight change in plans. After you finish watching this video, I’ll let you know what’s next on the agenda. But for now…”


She slowly untied the robe and let it slowly slide down her shoulders and drop to the floor in a pool of black satin. “I have a little surprise for you. A teaser, of sorts.”


“Dayum, woman,” RaShaun said out loud.


His eyes devoured the black lacy bra that barely covered the enticing mounds of her breasts. The tiny lace and satin panties left just enough to the imagination to get him hot and bothered. He paused in his eager perusal of her body to stare at the naughty garters that came down to snap onto the top of the silky fishnet stockings.


“Damn, my baby fine as hell. Definitely tearin’ that up all night tonight…” he mumbled to himself in the empty bedroom. 


Yvonne turned her back to the camcorder to give him a different view. She peered over her shoulder mischievously. “So. You like, baby?”


“I fuckin’ love,” RaShaun whispered in response.


His hot eyes remained riveted to Yvonne as she walked to the foot of the bed and crawled in. He bit back a groan as he watched her lush apple bottom swing tantalizingly from side to side until she got in the middle of the bed.


Yvonne turned around to face him again. “Now. Close your eyes.”


RaShaun kept them glued to the screen.


Vonne reached over to the nightstand, then hesitated and looked back at the camcorder. “Shaun…I mean it,” she said scolded with a mock frown. “Close your eyes.”


RaShaun groaned and obediently closed his eyes. His woman knew him too well.


After a second, he heard her say, “Okay. You can open them now.”


 Like a kid at his party eagerly waiting on the presents, RaShaun opened his eyes to see what she had in store for him. Once he did, he wasn't disappointed. Lying back with her head propped up on a couple of pillows Yvonne stared back at him with a knowing expression. His eyes widened when he saw the cute little pink toy she held in her hand.


They had used sex toys before, but they hadn’t used one like that. He looked closer and recognized it as one she’d pointed out to him online one night. He had been intending to order it as a surprise, but kept forgetting. Apparently, she’d gotten tired of waiting.


“Okay, baby, pay attention. Class is now in session.”


“You got my attention, that’s for damn sure,” he muttered under his breath, rubbing his goatee. “Please continue.”


Yvonne gave him a saucy wink as she hit the button to turn the toy on. It wasn’t very big, sort of a miniature version of the one they’d looked at online. The head was only two or three inches long and was curved at the tip. As it began to quietly vibrate, RaShaun could see little beads of what looked like pearls rotating within the shaft of the toy.


“Now what do you think I’m getting ready to do with this little thing, hmmm?” she asked RaShaun as she teasingly moved her bent legs from side to side.


“I don’t know, but please show me,” RaShaun said in an urgent voice as he moved to the edge of the bed.


“Okay. I’ll show you.”


RaShaun raised an eyebrow when she responded.


Yvonne moved the vibrator to her breast and circled it around her nipple. With her eyes closed, her lips parted slightly when her nipple puckered and hardened. She hit the button to speed up the vibration and moaned softly.


“I wish you here now, baby,” she panted. “I need you, Shaun.”


RaShaun lay back on the bed. Propping himself up with one arm, he made himself comfortable, then let his hand wander down the waistband of his sweats.


“But…later,” Yvonne said, abruptly turning the toy off and sitting up.


RaShaun’s hand froze. No. No. Nooo. He actually groaned out loud when she lowered the vibrator down on the bed beside her. “Dammit.”


Yvonne looked at him from the television screen through eyes heavy with desire. “Tonight, I’m going to fulfill all of your desires and fantasies. I left a set of instructions for you on the nightstand. All you have to do is show up.”


She swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood up before slowly walking to the camcorder. “I love you, RaShaun. See you in a couple of hours.”








RaShaun had just pulled on his slacks and was buttoning his shirt when his phone rang. He blew impatiently when he looked at the caller ID and saw it was his best friend, Quincy.


“Yeah, Q. What’s up, man?”


“Nothin’ much, Rah, just calling to check on you, makin’ sure you’re ready for your big night.”


RaShaun’s impatience turned to nervousness. He pulled the small, square jewelry box from this pocket and opened it with hands that trembled. The ice pink princess cut diamond engagement ring glimmered and sparkled from where it lay in its dark blue velvet, cushioned bed.


“As ready as I’ll ever be, I guess,” he answered quietly. With more confidence, he added, “Yeah. I’m ready. I love Yvonne, and I know I want to spend the rest of my life with her.”


“You couldn’t have picked a better woman, Rah. Now just relax and enjoy your evening. By the time I talk to you tomorrow, you’ll be one step closer to becoming a member of a unique brotherhood called marriage,” he laughed.


RaShaun laughed with him when he heard his sarcastic tone. The two men talked for a minute more before hanging up. RaShaun finished getting dressed and turned off the lights and locked the door, trying to ignore the nervous twinge that twisted in his gut. The next time he and Yvonne came back to the house they shared, it would be as an engaged couple.


He thought about that for a minute and then smiled. Hurrying to his car, he whistled under his breath, eager to see his woman, who he would soon be calling his fiancée…then his wife.







Half an hour later, RaShaun grabbed the dozen red roses he’d stopped to pick up for Yvonne then took his claim ticket from the valet. Patting his pocket for the twentieth time, he felt the ring resting against his thigh, burning through the fabric and scorching his skin like a piece of hot coal.


He walked through the lobby of the newly constructed hotel where they would be staying. The ultra modern décor, grandiose chandeliers and modern furniture boasted luxury at its best.  The five-star restaurant he spied in the distance was one of the best around, and had already been in many well known magazines as one of the restaurants to dine in for an extraordinary cuisine experience.


Making his way to the bank of clear Plexiglas elevators, RaShaun casually looked around as he waited for his to descend. When his eye passed over one of the other elevators, he frowned and did a double take. One of the passengers on the elevator looked familiar. He took a step back to try and get a better look, but his elevator opened before he could get a clear view. Shrugging, he instantly put it out of his mind and stepped inside.


All thoughts turned to Yvonne and their evening ahead. The two of them had an explosive sex life and loved to experiment. No matter what they may have been going through in their relationship, that was one thing that hadn’t been affected. He couldn’t wait to see what she had in store for them tonight.


The elevator stopped at his floor and opened, interrupting his inner musing. He stepped into the hallway and headed to their room. Yvonne’s note had informed him that they would first have an early dinner before continuing with their evening.


Then it would be time to satisfy all of their other more basic appetites…









Brandon Valentine averted his face when he saw RaShaun looking his way. Luckily, RaShaun’s elevator came mere seconds before Brandon’s got to the lobby, but just to be sure, he casually glanced to his left, making sure RaShaun was safely on his way up to the room where Yvonne was waiting. Seeing that the coast was clear, he headed to the bar of the hotel’s restaurant.


“What can I get for ya'?” the bartender asked when he walked in.


“Whatever’s on tap is fine,” Brandon replied taking a seat on one of the stools.


While he waited for his beer, he thought about the conversation he’d just had with Yvonne. Not that he would exactly call it a conversation. Yvonne had been shocked to see him when she opened the hotel room door. She’d, of course, been expecting RaShaun. When Brandon had refused to tell her how he’d known she would be there, she had been livid.


The corner of Brandon’s mouth curved upwards. She really needed to choose her friends more carefully…


His smile disappeared just as quickly when his thoughts turned to RaShaun. Patterson didn’t know him, but Brandon knew who he was. More than once, Brandon had stood mere feet away from him, watching and observing a few times when he’d been with Yvonne. Once or twice when he’d been alone or in a restaurant at a business meeting while Brandon sat a few tables over. They had even locked eyes a couple of times. That’s probably why RaShaun had paused when he’d caught a glimpse of him a few minutes ago.


Brandon took a long swig of the beer that the bartender had placed in front of him and thought about the night he’d first met Yvonne. It was no coincidence that he’d ‘just happened’ to meet her at that nightclub a couple of months back.


Once they started talking, he worked it in the conversation that he was in the market to buy a house since he’d just moved back. One of her girlfriend’s had chimed in that Yvonne was a real estate agent when she’d seemed reluctant to confess that bit of info. Brandon had pretended not to see the glare Yvonne had sent the woman, and by the time he walked away from their table, he’d convinced her to help him before she even realized she’d agreed to it.


While looking for a house, their relationship had been friendly, but professional, nothing more than a realtor helping a customer. Brandon had made sure not to get out of line, and eventually Yvonne had let her guard down. Several weeks in, as luck would have it, she’d found the perfect house for him. After seeing it, Brandon had agreed and suggested they go out for a celebratory drink.


The alcohol had lowered her defenses and before long Yvonne confided to Bandon that she and her boyfriend were going through a rough patch. Yvonne took great pains to convince Brandon that she loved RaShaun, but Brandon had detected the loneliness in her voice. That’s when he knew he had her. Lonely women were his specialty.


Once they’d gotten outside to her car, Brandon had made his move and kissed her. Yvonne had offered a token resistance, but it hadn’t been long before she’d returned the kiss just as eagerly. She didn’t come to her senses until Brandon had tried to inch his hand up her skirt. Looking distraught at what she’d allowed to happen, Yvonne had pushed him away and quickly jumped in her car and driven off.


That had been the last time he’d seen her before tonight. Another agent had handled the closing on the house and Yvonne had blocked his number from the cell phone she used for business. Luckily for him, she had envious females passing themselves off as caring friends who’d given him the number to her personal cell.


Hesitating for a moment, Brandon took his phone out and sent her a quick text. Afterwards, he absently stared at the screen, lost in his thoughts, until he when he heard a loud whisper coming from just behind him.


“Girl, he is so foine. That makes no kind of sense!"


Brandon didn’t turn to look at the two women standing a few feet away. He didn’t have to. He’d noticed them slowly inching over to him for a while now…


“Yes, Lawd. He sure as hell is,” the other one answered. “I wonder if he’s here alone.”


“I don’t know, but what I wouldn’t give to sample some of that sweet caramel…”


 “Shhhh. Girl, he’s going to hear you!”


The corner of Brandon’s mouth tugged upwards because he knew that’s exactly what they intended to happen. He still didn’t turn around, though. Instead, he finished the last of his beer then stood up to leave. He’d only taken two steps when the women all but bumrushed him and blocked his way before he could leave.


“Excuse me. We couldn’t help but notice you from across the room. You’re very handsome. Has anyone ever told you that you look like that actor, Shemar Moore?”


“Just younger,” the other one chimed in enthusiastically.


Brandon eyed them with amusement, his gaze slanting from one woman to the other. Both were professional looking beauties who didn’t seem to have a problem saying what was on their mind.


 “Actually, yeah,” he answered. “I can’t see it, but I’ve heard that more times than I can count.”


The petite, slightly more aggressive sista licked her lips seductively and stepped closer. “You weren’t leaving, were you?”


“Yeah, I just stopped in to have a drink.”


“Well, since you’re here by yourself maybe you could stay and have one drink with us.”


Brandon hesitated, then slowly shook his head. “I appreciate the offer, but–”


“Oh, come on, one drink won’t hurt,” the other one added. “I’m Patrice, by the way, and this is my friend Jocelyn.”


Brandon shook the hands they offered during the introduction. “Nice to meet you lovely ladies. My name is Brandon.”


“Brannndonnnn,” Jocelyn repeated in a slow purr. Sidling up even closer, she tilted her head and blinked her lashes. “Please. Just one itty bitty drink. It’ll be on us.”


Brandon glanced around the bar. Again, his first instinct was to decline their offer, but hell, he didn’t have nothing better to do. “Why not? But I’m buyin’.” He raised his arm to the bartender. “Let my man here know what you want to drink then tell me why two lovely ladies like yourselves are here all alone on a Friday night.”


They preened like flowers being watered on a sweltering, hot day under the attention Brandon gave them. He politely engaged in the conversation and answered their probing questions easily enough, but part of his thoughts remained on Yvonne and what his next move would be. He could tell from the kiss they exchanged that she had feelings for him, even if she didn’t want to admit it yet.


He could wait. He had nothing but time.






RaShaun stopped in front of the room and unlocked it with his key. When he opened the door, his smile grew. Very nice.


The lights were set on dim while soft music played in the background. Countless scented candles had been lit and burned all over the room, and a small cozy table was set for two. A serving cart sat parked next to it with several silver domes covering their food along with an ice bucket of champagne.


Still looking around, RaShaun closed the door behind him and walked to the middle of the room. He was just getting ready to call out for Yvonne when he heard her behind him.


“Hi handsome,” she greeted him softly.


 RaShaun quickly turned around, momentarily speechless when he saw her walk out of the bedroom wearing a sexy little black dress that fit her body like a glove. She had on the same black stilettos from the video. His eyes followed the silk stockings until they disappeared under the hem of her dress. His mind raced as he wondered whether or not she was wearing those sexy garters as well.


“Von, you look…damn, woman!” He exclaimed, finally finding his voice.


RaShaun slowly walked towards her, and after giving her the roses, leaned down to kiss her soft, glossy lips. Her smoldering eyes still had that slight hint of mystery lingering in them, and that turned him on even more.


“Did you enjoy your surprise?” she asked him slyly, referencing the video she’d made for him.


“Hell yes.” He pulled her closer as she held the roses to the side and slid her other arm around his neck. “Very sexy.”


This time the kiss he gave her had a bit more urgency to it. Yvonne eagerly opened her mouth, allowing his tongue to slide inside to caress and tenderly cradle hers.


“I want you, baby,” RaShaun whispered against her lips. “Come on. We can eat later.”


He tried to pull her to the bedroom, and for the briefest of moments, Yvonne followed his lead, but stopping suddenly with breath heaving from arousal, she pulled back.


“No, wait.” She looked at him with dreamy eyes that told him she wanted him just as much. “Not yet.”


“Yesss,” he hissed, kissing her neck while urging her backwards. “Now.”


But Yvonne laughingly stepped out of his reach. Looking down at the roses in appreciation, she closed her eyes and leaned down to sniff their sweet fragrance. Giving him an adoring smile, she took his hand and led him towards the dining table.


“Come on. Give me a chance to feed one appetite at a time,” she teased as she set the roses down.


“Fine,” RaShaun said grudgingly. “It does smell good.”


Grabbing the bottle of champagne he popped the cork, quickly pouring the sparkling bubbly into the champagne flutes and handing Yvonne a glass. Picking his up, they raised the glasses for a toast.


“To us, now and forever,” RaShaun said.


“To us,” Yvonne repeated softly.


They smiled at each other and took sips of the champagne. RaShaun glanced over the table. “Everything really does look nice, sweetie.”


“Thank you. Now, sit.” She gently pushed him down in the chair. Placing her glass on the table, she uncovered their plates.


Yvonne laughed when RaShaun’s stomach growled in anticipation as all of his favorite dishes were revealed. “So much for me having your undivided attention, huh?”


He looked at her and grinned as she sat down. After fixing their plates, they started eating and telling each other about their day. Before long, RaShaun had her laughing uncontrollably at a silly story about one of his co-workers as he refilled their glasses.


“RaShaun, stop!” she giggled, covering her mouth with her hand. “He did not say that!”


“Swear to God, he did Von,” RaShaun chuckled. “It was all I could do not to bust out laughing. You should’ve seen Johnson’s face. He was so mad his face turned purple.”


Yvonne leaned back in her chair and dabbed at her eyes with her napkin. Smiling, she picked up her glass and sipped her champagne. While watching him finish the last of his food, RaShaun noticed that her eyes suddenly took on a faraway look.


“Hey, am I boring you?” he teased, reaching for her hand across the table.


Yvonne shook her head and brought her attention back to him. Standing, she walked over to him and stood between his legs when he pushed his chair back. Hugging his neck, she bent down kissed his waiting lips.


She lifted her head and stared him deep in the eyes as she ran her hand gently over the side of his face “I love you, Shaun.”


“I love you, too, Yvonne. I’ve never felt this way about anyone. You know that, don’t you?”


RaShaun swallowed nervously, wondering if this was the right moment to propose, but then she distracted him by sitting on his lap and claiming his lips in another kiss. His hand moved along the silky length of her thigh to travel under her dress.


“Wait.” Yvonne grabbed his hand and held it in place. “Let me change into something more comfortable first.”


“You look just fine to me,” he whispered in a low, husky voice. “You don’t need to put on anything at all. Actually, just the opposite–you need to take some things off.”


Yvonne stood up and took quick steps back out of reach of his grasping hands. “Oh, no. I looked around until I found the perfect little sexy outfit and I’m at least going to wear it for a few minutes. Besides…we’re going to be having a guest soon, and I want to make sure I look good enough to keep the majority of your attention on me.”


“You do that already, baby.” Then his eyes narrowed a little as the first part of her sentence sank in. “And what do you mean ‘a guest’?”


“You’ll see,” Yvonne sang out teasingly, heading in the direction of the bedroom. “She’ll be here in a few minutes.”


RaShaun’s eyebrows rose. “She?” he repeated.


“She.” Yvonne answered softly before closing the door with a smile.







RaShaun got comfortable on the sofa, letting his imagination take over while he waited for Yvonne. He went through a list of possibilities of the things she had planned for them. His mind had just jumped to scenario number two, when he heard her cell phone buzz. He looked around and saw it on the end table by the couch. He had put his on mute so that they wouldn’t be disturbed, so he picked hers up to do the same.


“Definitely don’t want you spoiling the mood,” he said of the phone.


Before he turned it off, though, a message popped up on the screen. RaShaun read it without thinking, and when he did, a deep frown formed on his face.


“What tha’ hell…”


Behind him, Yvonne opened the door and posed in the doorway of the bedroom.


“Okay, baby. You can turn around now,” she purred in a sexy voice. When RaShaun continued to sit there as if he hadn’t heard her, she repeated herself.  “Shaun, you can…”


The words drifted off before she could finish her sentence when she saw the furious expression on his face when he stood up and glared at her.


“RaShaun? Baby, what’s wrong?”


“‘What’s wrong’, Yvonne? You tell me. And while you’re at it, tell me who in the hell is Brandon?”


Yvonne leaned weakly against the doorframe, her eyes locked on her cell phone clenched in his hand. “What?”


 “You heard me. I wanna know why some other man is texting shit like this to you on your phone?”








RaShaun asked the question quietly, but Yvonne knew him well. The quieter his tone, the deeper his anger ran. Her breathing quickened, coming in deep, rapid breaths. Her heart felt as if it were ready to jump out of her chest. This was her worst nightmare come true.


“I…. he…” She cleared her throat and straightened away from the door.


RaShaun tilted his head, his eyes never letting her out of their intense grasp. She knew he was quickly losing the battle to control his temper.


Yvonne took a couple of steps his way. “RaShaun…baby, it’s not what you think.”


“Okay. Then stop stalling and answer my question,” he answered in that same quiet tone.


“I know how this is going to sound, but he’s a client. I was helping him find a house.”


RaShaun’s expression didn’t change, but his voice turned cold and sharp. He held up the phone. “A client…”


The words rushed out of Yvonne’s mouth as if they were running a race with the finish line in sight. “Yes. Someone I met a couple of months ago. We exchanged a few words, and it came up in the conversation that I’m a real estate agent. He mentioned that he had just moved back into town, and was looking to buy a home, and asked if I could help him.”


 “That doesn’t explain this message.” The skepticism in his voice was clear. “I wanna know what the hell is going on, Yvonne.”


 “Nothing. Nothing is going on…” Her voice trailed off when she heard how weak her voice sounded. She had never been good at lying.


“He’s just a client,” she said again. “That’s all. I found a house for him fairly quickly and I haven’t seen him since.”


RaShaun raised an angry eyebrow. “And that’s all there is to it. Nothing else is going on. Nothing else I should know.”


The moment hung between them. Yvonne held her breath. She knew what she said next would determine how things played out from there. “No. Nothing.”


He stared at her for a moment before quietly asking, “Why are you lying to me?”


Yvonne felt lightheaded. He knew. “I…I’m not.”


“This message doesn’t sound like ‘nothing’. Here let me read it to you,” he said matter of factly.


“No!” Yvonne’s eyes widened as she held her breath. She didn’t know what the message said, but it couldn’t be good. Her heart sank when she listened to RaShaun read the damning words in a stiff, frigid voice.


“Hey. It’s me. Just wanted you to know I’m thinkin’ ‘bout you. I know youre with your man right now, but hit me back if you get a chance. Miss you, sweetness.”


RaShaun’s accusing eyes met hers. “So. You wanna tell me again that it’s nothing?”









RaShaun’s blood boiled dangerously high as he read the message out loud. Anyone looking at him would think he was unaffected, but he was angrier than he could ever remember being in a long, long time.


He kept his eyes trained on Yvonne and took note of the different range of emotions that morphed over her face. Fear, shame…guilt.




“RaShaun, I told it’s not what you think…”


RaShaun interrupted her, his voice rising in anger. “You keep saying that, Yvonne, but you not telling me nothin’. What you are doing is standing there lying to my face, then I read something like this from a motherfucka who sounds like he’s your lover or something…” He paused as a thought hit him and left him chilled to the bone. His eyes narrowed in angry accusation. “Is he?”


“RaShaun, no! Baby, it’s…complicated.”


“Well you need to ‘uncomplicate’ it now, Yvonne! Who is this? You met him where?”


Yvonne swallowed several times to get past a lump lodged thickly in her throat. “R-Remember when I went out to the club a couple of months ago with Kiki and Nicole? It was the weekend Nicole was in town visiting, so we all hung out that night.”


At the mention of the one friend in particular, RaShaun let out a sound of disgust and shook his head.


KiKi. He should’ve known.


He couldn’t stand Yvonne’s loud mouthed, messy friend and she knew it. No matter how much he told Yvonne that woman didn’t mean her any good, she didn’t wanna listen. Matter of fact, it made her dig her heels in deeper and while coming to KiKi’s defense. Her favorite argument was that she was not going to one of those women that put her friends down just because her man didn’t like them.


 He lifted his eyes to Yvonne. “So you met him that night?”


 “Yes. He struck up a conversation with us and mentioned he had moved back to town.”


“So, what, you jumped and offered your services?” he sneered.


“He asked, but I told him no, and that I could recommend another agent. But…”


When she grew quiet, he asked, “But what, Yvonne?”


 “Sometime during the evening, Kiki said she gave him my business card.”


RaShaun turned away and took a few steps, nodding his head. There it was. He knew that manipulative bitch was in all of this some kind of way.


With his back still to her, RaShaun swallowed hard to push down his anger. It didn’t help. It was still there, threatening to smother him alive. 


He waited several moments before prompting her to continue through teeth that were clenched tight. “Okay. Kiki gave him your business card. And…?”


“I agreed to help him find a house. After a couple of weeks, I came across one that I thought he’d like, but I couldn’t get the key to show it until late evening. When he saw it, he wanted it right away. Afterwards, he asked me out for a drink to celebrate. It was all very innocent…at…first.”


RaShaun slowly turned to face her. The more she talked, the harder his face became, especially when she tacked on those last two telling words at the end of the confession. “What do you mean it was all very innocent at first? What are trying to say? You got feelings for this guy, Yvonne?”


She forced herself to meet his unwavering gaze. “I want to be honest with you, Shaun…”


“Please do,” he snapped sarcastically.

 Yvonne twisted her hands together, but didn’t look away from him. “Do I have feelings for him?” she whispered. “I wouldn’t say that, but I was…attracted to him.”


RaShaun looked up at the ceiling and exhaled the breath he’d been holding as he waited for her answer. “I cannot believe this fucking shit,” he said softly to himself, shaking his head. The gaze RaShaun directed back to her burned her to her soul. “I’m gonna ask you this one more time. Did you have sex with him, Yvonne?”


“No!” Yvonne walked over to RaShaun and grabbed his hand, gasping as he snatched it away. “I swear I didn’t sleep with him.”


Something in her voice made RaShaun’s eyes narrow suspiciously. “But something happened…”


Yvonne lowered her eyes. Her silence said it all.


“Did you kiss him?”




“Answer me!” His thunderous roar resounded around the room. He was tired of bullshitting around. He’d been made a fool of long enough. “Did…you…kiss…him…”


 Yvonne covered her mouth with her hand. Having no other choice, she reluctantly nodded. “Yes.”









RaShaun’s chest heaved with each breath he took. The muscles in his jaw coiled tight as he stared her in the eye. “You let him touch you?”


“No! I haven’t seen him since that kiss. I don’t know how he got my personal cell phone number or how he found out…” Yvonne abruptly cut off the rest of her sentence as if realizing she was revealing something she’d intended to keep quiet.


RaShaun’s eyes glowed bright with anger. “How he found out what?”


Yvonne looked around the room, but knowing there was no way to avoid telling him, brought her eyes back to him and whispered, “He stopped by the hotel room.”


His brows bunched together in a furious scowl. “When?”


“A few minutes before you got here.” Then she added in a rush, “But I honestly don’t know how he found out because I haven't talked to him in weeks.”


Releasing a hiss of disbelief, RaShaun forced himself to walk away from Yvonne. He didn’t even want to look at her. Everything that came out of her mouth was either a lie or more evidence of her deceit. After she’d kept so much from him there was no way he could believe anything she said now.


He paced back and forth, feeling himself entering a level of anger he rarely reached. Blood rushed to his head, leaving him dizzy, seeing red. He’d never been so angry in his life. Never felt so betrayed. His outlet for the explosion building up in him at the thought of her with another man came to a head. With a loud roar of outrage, he stalked over to the table where they’d just finished eating dinner and swept everything to the floor in one violent swipe.


Yvonne screamed and jumped back. “RaShaun! It…It didn’t mean anything!”


“It didn’t mean anything?” he shouted, hurling her words back at her with the speed of a discharged bullet. “Do you know what you’ve done? What you’ve done to us? You destroyed everything over some bullshit that ‘didn’t mean anything’!”


“We…we can get through this.” But Yvonne’s voice lacked conviction as if she wasn’t sure what to think.


“We can get…” RaShaun parroted before his expression grew incredulous. Was she fucking serious? He shook his head. “Nah. Nah, baby, I doubt that very seriously.”




“What’s his last name?”




“What…is…his… last name!” he yelled because his patience was now nil to none. “What’s his name, where does he work!”


“Okay, okay! His last n-name is Valentine. Brandon Valentine, but I don’t know where he works.” It was clear from RaShaun’s expression that he didn’t believe her. “I swear I don’t know, RaShaun. He paid for the house in cash.”


RaShaun’s brows lifted in momentary surprise. He glanced back at Yvonne’s phone and memorized the number Brandon had sent the text from. Then, snatching his jacket from off a nearby chair, he tossed her phone on the couch and headed for the door with long, angry steps.


“RaShaun, don’t leave,” Yvonne cried. “Wait! Please!”


RaShaun paused with his hand on the doorknob. After a few seconds, he turned to look back at her. “Do you know how many times I could’ve cheated on you? Huh? I get hit on by women almost every fucking day. But I never had the desire to even look at anyone else, let alone touch them. You were it for me.”


Yvonne’s face collapsed when he used the past tense, all but signifying that they were over.


RaShaun looked at her with anger, hurt and disappointment. He thought about the engagement ring in his pocket that he’d planned to surprise her with tonight when he asked her to marry him. He let out a hard laugh. Guess the surprise was on him.


“Happy Anniversary, Vonne,” he said sarcastically.


Slinging the door open, he came up short when he saw a pretty sista poised and ready to knock on the door. She looked at him in surprise, her eyes slowly sweeping over him from head to toe. From the gleam in her eyes it was clear she liked what she saw very much.


“Hi. You must be RaShaun,” she said in a soft, seductive voice. “I’m Peaches. Your girlfriend invited me over to help you two…celebrate.”


RaShaun’s eyes swept over her in distaste. “Nah. There’s no celebration here tonight, but hey, go on in.” RaShaun brushed past her to get to the hallway and threw parting words of loathing over his shoulder. “I’m sure you two can find ways to entertain yourselves.”


“RaShaun!” Yvonne ran to the door, impatiently pushing the woman out of the way, but RaShaun had just stepped onto the elevator. “RaShaun!”


Yvonne stood there for a moment after the elevator doors closed, then slowly walked back into the room. The woman looked at her in confusion before her expression changed to one of lust once she took in Yvonne wearing the revealing sexy lingerie.


“Honey, I don’t know what’s going on, but your man’s right. I’m sure we can have a good time together.” She walked up to Yvonne. “Believe me. Once you been with Peaches, you’ll be saying ‘RaShaun who’?”


Yvonne looked at her with a frown. She had almost forgotten the woman was there. “Get out.”


“Come on, baby, don’t be like that.”


“Get…out!” Yvonne screamed as she held the door open.


The woman rolled her eyes at Yvonne. “Your loss, honey,” she said, sucking her teeth. “But I still need to get paid, whether we party or not.”


Eyes squinting in anger, Yvonne hurried to the couch and grabbed her wallet out of her purse. She pulled out a wad of bills. Without bothering to count how much was there, she went back to the woman and shoved the money in her hand. Holding the door open, she pointed for her to get the hell out of the room. The moment she was gone, Yvonne slammed the door behind her and ran to the bedroom to change clothes.


She had to hurry and find Shaun because ‘Peaches’ was right about one thing. If she didn’t fix things with RaShaun?


It would definitely be her loss.








RaShaun unlocked the front door to his house and let himself in. After closing the door and setting the alarm, he paused in the foyer, his mind a thousand miles away from the spot where he was standing.


He was still trying to process how things had spun out of control so fast. Two hours ago, he had been on top of the world, in love with the woman of his dreams and ready to ask her to marry him. Now…


RaShaun exhaled and took slow steps into his house. Tossing his keys on the small table by the door, he went to the kitchen and opened the dark wood cabinet over the sink. Grabbing a fifth of Crown Royal and a glass with one hand he went to the living room. After unbuttoning his shirt, he sat down on the couch and poured a healthy splash of alcohol in his glass.


Downing it in one swallow, he grimaced when the alcohol burned a trail from his throat to his stomach. Welcoming the jolt it gave him, he filled the glass to the top this time before leaning his head back on the couch.


Staring up at the ceiling, he went over the conversation he’d just had with Yvonne. If anyone had told him his woman would step out on him, cheat on him, and lie right to his face, he would’ve been ready to defend her to his last dying breath. That was the strength of his belief in her. In them.


RaShaun took a big gulp of his drink. So much for truth, trust, and honesty. Apparently it was highly overrated because he had no doubt Yvonne would not have told him shit about this Brandon dude if he hadn’t seen that fuckin’ text message.


Upending the glass to finish the Crown in his glass, he grabbed the bottle for a refill. He knew he’d have one hell of a blinding headache in the morning, but he didn’t care. Tonight alcohol would be his coping mechanism. Even if he had to finish every single drop he had in his house, RaShaun was determined to numb the pain he felt and dull the ache pounding away at his chest. Tomorrow would take care of itself.








Yvonne drove up to her house and sighed with relief when she saw RaShaun’s car in the driveway. Turning the ignition off, she quickly jumped out and slammed the door behind her before hurrying to the front door of her house. Whatever she had to do to make things right with RaShaun, she’d do it. She just prayed he’d give her another chance.


 RaShaun was a good, kind, and decent man. There weren’t many around like him. She knew that. No matter what she may have been going through when she met Brandon, she had to get past it and focus on Shaun. She didn’t want to lose him.


Nervously fumbling to insert the key into the lock, Yvonne let herself in the house and closed the door behind her. Walking quickly to the living room, she came to a sudden stop when she saw RaShaun leaning back with his head resting on the cushions of the couch. His eyes were closed, but she could tell by the way his body tensed that he was aware she was in the room.


“RaShaun.” She called his name softly. When he didn’t respond, she called out to him again. “Baby…”


He sat suddenly up and reached for the bottle of alcohol on the table in front of him. Purposely ignoring her, he poured more liquor in his glass. After swallowing it all at once, he finally turned his head to level a death stare at her.


Yvonne almost took a step back to take shelter from the fire smoldering in his eyes, but she willed her feet to move towards him and stand by the couch.


“Shaun, we need to talk.”


“Nope. I think we’ve said just about all we need to say.” His voice was low and raspy. The degree to which he slurred his words gave Yvonne an idea of just how much he’d had to drink.


“RaShaun, I didn’t cheat on you. I would never, ever allow things to go that far. You have to believe me.”


When he shot up from the couch and glared at her, Yvonne couldn’t stop herself from taking an involuntary step back this time.


His eyes ripped slowly down her body as if he couldn’t stand the sight of her. “Let’s be clear about something. Just because you hadn’t gotten around to fucking him doesn’t mean you didn’t cheat.”


Yvonne couldn’t meet his eyes because she knew what he said was true.


“Let me ask you something,” he sneered. “What is situation was reversed and I’d been seeing another woman. Let’s just say, oh, I don’t know. Terri.”


Yvonne flinched. Before she could stop herself, her eyes rolled with a hard snap. He knew that was the one person who would get a surefire reaction out of her.  RaShaun and Terri had dated all through high school, and even though they’d broken up after RaShaun’s second year at Penn Sate, they were still on friendly terms.


RaShaun and Yvonne had run into to Terri one night at dinner. The moment RaShaun introduced them, it was clear that Terri didn’t like her. It was also clear from the way the other woman looked at RaShaun and clung to his arm that she wanted him back. RaShaun assured Yvonne that it would never happen, but still. Yvonne couldn’t stand her and RaShaun knew it.


“You’re saying if Terri sent me provocative messages or if I made out with her, but stopped just short of having sex, you’d be okay with that? Because according to you, that wouldn’t really be cheating, right?”


Yvonne wisely bit her tongue to stop from saying anything. That would only make things worse. They both knew he had made his point.


Deciding to switch tactics, she walked over to him and placed a hand on his chest, ignoring the way he looked down at it with a frown, then back up at her.


“I love you so much, Shaun. Can…Can we please just get through tonight, then work everything else out tomorrow?” Yvonne stepped closer to him. “Please?”


When he didn’t push her away, she slid her hands around his waist and stood on tiptoe, lightly brushing her lips against his. RaShaun closed his eyes as she kissed him softly again and again, outlining his lips with her tongue, ready to show him exactly how much he meant to her.







Why did he have to want her so damn much? Even now...


RaShaun felt his lips automatically open to her tongue. He bent his head a bit to allow her to kiss him more completely. God knows he shouldn’t want her now, but he did. Yvonne was in his blood. She was vital to him like the air he breathed, and right now, in that moment, she was so fucking necessary.


Unable to help himself, his moan started deep in the back of his throat when she pressed her body close to his. She pushed his unbuttoned shirt off his shoulders and down his arms to let it drop to the floor. This time it was her turn to moan in pleasure as her hands glided over his chest.


“Your body…” she whispered against his lips. “So…perfect.”


RaShaun watched her through heavy-lidded eyes. Her soft lips rained barely there kisses from one width of his wide chest to the other. Her hands moved over the muscles in his ripped abs while her tongue licked his nipples in a way she knew drove him insane.  


“Mmmm….” RaShaun brought his hand up to tangle in her hair before roughly pulling her head back far enough to grind his mouth down on hers. 


Yvonne allowed him to have his way. Her hand reached down to cover the massive erection nearly bursting the seam of his zipper, squeezing and rubbing the outline of it with one hand while unbuckling his belt and unsnapping his pants with the other. When she eagerly slipped her hand down the front of his underwear and started stroking the monster she’d awaken, he came to his senses and realized what he was allowing to happen.  



“I want you, Shaun," she murmured against his lips. “Please don’t tell me no.”

RaShaun grabbed her wrist to halt her movements. “ I can’t do this, Yvonne.”


“Why not? I know you want me, too. I can feel how much.” She tried to push him down on the couch. “Just relax and let me love you, show you how much I–“”


“‘Let you love me?’” he repeated harshly, abruptly slinging her hand away from him. “I thought that was what I’d been doing for the last two years. We both see where that got me, doesn’t it?”


RaShaun gave her a scathing glare before turning his back to fix his pants. After he finished buckling his belt, he reached up to massage the back of his neck with a trembling hand. He tried to shut out the picture of her with another man, kissing him the way she’d just kissed him, touching him, letting him touch her. But it was no use. The images seemed determined to play out in his mind up close and in living color.  


“I can’t do this,” he muttered to himself, slowly shaking his head. “Not right now.”




“Yvonne, I...we need some time .”


“No! We can get through this,” Yvonne pleaded in a thin, shaky voice. “You can’t tell me you don’t love me, Shaun.”


“It’s not about whether I love you or not,” he replied in a gravely voice, turning to face her. “I don’t know if this is even worth salvaging. I don’t even know if I want to.”


“RaShaun–” Yvonne stared at him in disbelief as everything finally started to sink in.


“I'm not gonna lie. Yvonne, I love you, but I'll be damned if I stay in a relationship where I have to constantly wonder whether or not my woman is thinking about me or some other man. You're either in this thing one hundred percent or not at all, and right now it looks like it’s the latter.”  


Yvonne stood listening to him with her head bowed and her arms wrapped around her trembling body. RaShaun held his breath and waited for her to speak. Deep down inside, underneath all the anger and pain and distrust, he wanted her to convince him that she didn’t want to be away from him, and that this …flirtation…had all been a big mistake. RaShaun waited for her to say that she knew what she wanted, waited for her to show him she was willing to fight for it, but when she slowly, almost reluctantly lifted forlorn eyes upwards to meet his, he had his answer. 


“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I never meant to hurt you. You have to know that.”


RaShaun’s lips tightened. “I guess this is it, then.”


 “I love you, RaShaun, I do, but...I think you're right. It would be best for us to be apart…for now.” She held his gaze as tears ran down her face.


 His heart beating fast and hard, he nodded. “Okay. I, uh, I guess tomorrow we can talk about how we’re gonna do this.”


“No. This is your house. I’ll move out. I can stay with Tara until…until we decide what we’re going to do about…about us.”


His stomach muscles tightly knotted, RaShaun watched Yvonne turn and leave the room to go to their bedroom–or what used to be their bedroom. He sat down heavily on the couch and dropped his head in his hands. RaShaun didn’t want to admit it, but this had rocked him to his very core. He was a man who liked his life neat and in order. It was now tilted on its axis and spinning helplessly out of control. 


He didn’t know how long he sat on the couch, how long his thoughts tortured and taunted him, but by the time his blurry eyes finally closed the sun had begun to peek through the darkness outside, signifying the start of RaShaun’s first day as a single man.








“Yvonne, I cannot believe you’re going through with this. Are you crazy?”


Yvonne walked past her cousin, who was also her best friend. She gripped the handle of one of her suitcases and continued to the spare bedroom where she’d be staying until she had time to clear her head.


Tara was right on her heels. “Girl, what is wrong with you?”


“Tara, please. This is what RaShaun wants. What we agreed on. We need time apart right now.”


“Bitch, please. You can use that tired ass line with somebody else, but don’t try it with me. I know exactly why you need time away from your man…and his name is Brandon!”


Yvonne rolled her eyes. “I knew that’s what you were going to think. I promise you, this is not because of Brandon.”


“Yeah, right.”


Yvonne sat down on the bed and looked at her cousin. “I’m serious, T. I mean, yes, I admit the attention he gave me was flattering, but even before I met him I was beginning to wonder if being with RaShaun is what I really wanted.”


Tara lowered herself to the floor in front of Yvonne. “You cannot be serious. You and RaShaun have been together for two years. You have…or rather, had one of the best relationships I’ve ever witnessed. The man is damn near perfect. He’s gorgeous, intelligent, sexy, and fine as hell. On top of that, he’s crazy about you. What else could you possibly want?”




“No, cousin, take it from me. There aren’t many men out there like him.”


“I know that, Tara.”


“If you know, then take your ass back home and beg his forgiveness before it’s too late.”


“I just don’t think I’m ready to settle down yet. And again, it has nothing to do with Brandon. RaShaun was right about this. I just think I need to take some time for myself and live my life before I move on to ‘happily ever after’, and I know that’s where RaShaun is heading.” She paused then whispered to her cousin. “He bought me a ring, T.”


“Shut up!” Tara gasped. She covered her mouth with her hand before exclaiming in excitement, “He proposed to you?”


“No. But I was putting some of his clothes away a couple of weeks ago, and I saw it, right there in the drawer. To be honest, it freaked me out a little bit. I mean, I love RaShaun, I do. But I don’t know if I’m ready to get married.”


Tara scowled and held a hand up to stop her. “Wait a good got damn minute. Let me see if I understand what you’re saying here. Your stupid ass starts messing around with Brandon’s no good carcass–”


“I did not mess around with him.” Yvonne pushed the words out through gritted teeth.


Tara leaned forward and glared darkly at her cousin. “You kissed him didn’t you?”


Yvonne hesitated. “Yes. Once, but–”


“I don’t care how many times you kissed him, it’s still cheating. And all because your wonderful boyfriend bought you an engagement ring? Von! Listen to yourself! You’re not making any sense!” Tara closed her eyes and shook her fists to the sky. “Girl, if I didn’t know you were only twenty-eight years old like me, I’d swear you were going through a mid-life crisis. I always said Aunt Jean and Uncle Rob sheltered you too much!”


“Tara, they did not!”


“Hmph!” The short sound of rebuttal was the extent of Tara’s answer, but it got her point across.


“I don’t know how else to explain it.” Frustrated, Yvonne tried to put her feelings into words. “Sometimes I look at you and our friends, footloose and fancy free, coming and going as you please, taking trips, seeing whoever you want to see. I’m beginning to think I’m missing out. I’d rather find out now than marry RaShaun and discover I made a mistake years down the road.”


Her cousin sat looking at her and shaking her head in defeat. “Okay, Von. I just hope you know what you’re doing. Let me just say this, and it’ll be the last thing I say on the subject. I know it’s a cliché, but the grass is not always greener on the other side, chica. Yeah, it may look like everyone you know is ballin’ and wildin’ out and shit. But at the end of the night, we’re coming home to cold, lonely beds. Hooking up with these losers out there gets old quick. I sincerely hope by the time you come to your senses, it’s not too late.”


She stood up to leave so that Yvonne could have some time alone, but before she walked out the door, she turned back to say one more thing.


“And I hope you’re not taking it for granted that RaShaun will be waiting on you to ‘sow your wild oats’. Bitches have had their eyes on RaShaun for a long time, even when you two were together. Once they find out he’s single, well…I doubt if he stays that way for long.”








The next Saturday morning after his and Yvonne’s break-up, RaShaun found himself with his best friend, Quincy, shooting hoops at the park. RaShaun hadn’t been in the mood, but Quincy had insisted he get out, telling him he didn’t need to stay closed up in his house thinking about his problems with Yvonne.


RaShaun understood and appreciated the effort, but the problem he had with that was Quincy was a top grade shit talker whenever they played ball, and today was no exception. RaShaun’s fuse was short, a ticking time bomb. Quite honestly, he wasn’t in the mood for Q.’s mouth. For that reason, when it came time to check the ball for game point, he threw it at Quincy harder than necessary on purpose.


“Oomph!” Q. shot RaShaun a dirty look, and threw the ball back to him. “Damn, Rah, you don’t have to try and knock me out with the ball, alright?”


“For once, can we just play without you mouthin’ off after every shot you make?”


“Oh, because I’m winning, it’s mouthin’ off. Ain’t my fault you playin’ like shit today, bruh. Took you two losses to finally play some decent ball.”


RaShaun stared at him for a moment. Suddenly, he faked to the left then swerved right, rushing past Quincy to the goal. RaShaun intentionally knocked him down flat on the concrete before making the shot. After the ball swished through the nets, he stood over Quincy and said with straight up insincerity, “My bad, bruh. Game.”


Stepping over him, RaShaun left Quincy on the ground trying to catch his breath, and went over to the bench where he’d left his gym bag.


Q. finally pulled himself up and limped over to sit down beside RaShaun. “Now that was fucked up, Rah. I was just jokin’, man.”


“Well, now you see how funny I thought that shit was,” RaShaun muttered, sitting back and looking at the activities going on around them.


“You know, I ought to have you arrested for assaulting an officer of the law.” Quincy pulled out a bottle of Gatorade and drank thirstily.


“Just because you’re a detective, doesn’t mean I won’t whip your ass just like I did when we were kids.”


They were both silent for a few minutes before Quincy addressed the subject they’d both been avoiding. “You talked to Yvonne since she left?”


RaShaun hesitated before shaking his head. She was staying with her cousin, Tara, but other than calling RaShaun to let him know where she was, he hadn’t heard from her again.


“What about the dude she was messin’ with. You found him yet, because if you haven’t, just give me his name and I can put it in the system and find out his info…”


This time, RaShaun shook his head emphatically. “Nah. Don’t worry ‘bout it. For the first few days, I was tempted to track him down and beat his ass, but this ain’t his fault. He was just doin’ what motherfucka’s do. I blame Yvonne. When he came at her sideways like that, she should’ve shut him down from the get go and put him in his place. Since she didn’t, I’ll be damned if I make myself look like even more of a fool by runnin’ up on this guy wanting to fight him.”


Bringing the sports drink to his mouth, RaShaun made an effort to push the anger away that he felt creeping up on him. He had been in a bad mood the whole week. He’d had to apologize to his secretary three times for snapping her head off about something that he had screwed up on. By the middle of the week, his co-workers were giving him a wide berth. The slightest thing they said set him off, no matter what it was.


Leaning forward, he put his elbows on his knees and wiped his face with his towel. He was so tired, but he couldn’t sleep at night. He’d lain awake for the last five nights staring at the ceiling in the dark trying to pinpoint exactly where things had gone wrong between him and Yvonne. Had he done something? Could this be his fault in some way?


 Yeah, he’d been preoccupied with his job, but he thought Yvonne understood how important his career was to him. After he got this promotion, he’d planned on slowing down some, but until then he needed to bust his ass to make it happen.


RaShaun sighed and shook his head. He’d be lying if he said he didn’t miss Yvonne, but he’d be alright. Everything would work out the way it was supposed to, and if that meant this separation was a permanent one, then so be it.


He glanced at his friend and stood up. “Look, I think I’mma head out. Got some things I brought home from work that I need to catch up on.”


“You sure you don’t wanna come by the house? Gina told me to tell you she’s making your favorite, quesadillas, homemade guacamole, and tamale dip. We can eat. Drink some beers. Watch the game…”


RaShaun thought about it then shook his head. “Nah. I don’t think so. Tell Gina I appreciate it, though. Maybe next time.”


“I understand. Alright, let’s jet. I done whipped your ass enough for one day,” Q. said with a grin while gathering his things.


RaShaun threw his bag over his shoulder as they began to walk across the park to their cars. “Man, you delusional. If memory serves me correctly, we played three games, I won three games. Whipped my ass,” he muttered. “In your fuckin’ dreams.”


They continued to throw parting shots back and forth like they’d been doing for years. RaShaun knew it was Q.’s way of getting his mind off his problems, and he was grateful. Seemed like it had been forever since he’d found something to laugh about.


They were a few feet from his car when RaShaun heard someone call his name. He turned around expecting to see someone he knew. Although the man standing a short distance away from him looked familiar he knew they’d never met.


“Yeah. Can I help you?”


“You’re RaShaun, right? RaShaun Patterson.”


RaShaun’s face grew stiff. “Who’s askin’”


“Oh, that’s right. You don’t know who I am, do you?” The other man bit back a shit eating grin and looked at his boys, who were standing behind him with their arms folded glaring at RaShaun.


“I’m Brandon. Brandon Valentine.”








RaShaun’s face turned ice cold. He came a standstill and stared at Brandon, trying to control the urge to rip his head off his shoulders.


Quincy stopped and looked at RaShaun with a questioning expression on his face. “Rah? Wassup, bruh?”


Brandon’s eyes ran over RaShaun, grinning as if RaShaun was the butt of a private joke. “Yeah. Wassup?”


RaShaun threw his bag to the ground. True enough, he hadn’t planned on going out of his way to find this bastard but he wasn’t going to walk away now that he was standing right in front of him intentionally provoking RaShaun in order to get a reaction.


“Wassup? Wassup?” he repeated. “Oh, I’m ‘bout to show you ‘wassup’ in just a minute.”


He took angry steps towards Brandon, but Q. rushed over and held him back a second before RaShaun was close enough to grab Brandon’s throat.


“RaShaun! Hol’ up, man! What’s wrong!” Quincy did his best to hold on to RaShaun, but it was fast becoming a losing battle.


RaShaun was raging mad. “Motherfucka, who the hell you think you talkin’ to, huh? Huh?”


He struggled with everything in him to get past Quincy. This mothafucka wanted to play with him? Cool. They would play. Nothing’ and no one was going to stop him from beating Brandon’s ass…including his boys who were standing behind him mean muggin’ RaShaun as if they were going to fight Brandon’s battle for him.


“What’s up, bitch!” RaShaun dug his feet in the ground, furiously trying to move forward and push past Q. “You hidin’ behind yo’ boys? You ain’t man enough to take this ass whoopin’ you got comin’!”


“I’on know nothin’ about no ass whoopin’, my brotha, but I do know I was man enough to take your woman. Yeah, that’s right. I know Yvonne left you, and guess what? She mine now.” Rubbing his hands together, Brandon looked back and laughed along with his friends.


Q. turned around to stare at Brandon in disbelief. Then it dawned on him who Brandon was. He looked back at RaShaun. “Oh, this him?”


“Yeah!” RaShaun practically had smoke coming out of his ears. “Q. let me go, man!”


Quincy took in Brandon’s conceited grin and the way he was deliberately taunting RaShaun. He dropped his hands to his side. “Kick his ass.”


The smile fell from Brandon’s face with the quickness of a lightning bolt. Seeing the murderous gleam in RaShaun’s eye, Brandon took a step back, but it was too late. RaShaun ran forward and tackled him to the ground.


“Ya’ll stay ya’ asses back!” Quincy yelled to Brandon’s friends. “Ya’ boy man enough to talk shit, he man enough to fight his own fuckin’ battles.”


The two guys looked at Q. then turned to watch the fight. A crowd quickly gathered around them. Several people took out their phones to record the fight and cheer them on.


RaShaun sat on top of Brandon and commenced to whippin’ his ass. Brandon tried to protect his face while still trying to block the body punches RaShaun threw. Finally, struggling mightily, he used all his strength to push RaShaun off him. He scrambled to his feet, but RaShaun was on him again, knocking him back on his ass. Brandon tried to crawl away, but RaShaun fell on him and push his face in the grass, trying his best to smother his ass in the dirt.


One of Brandon’s friends moved as if to help him, but Q. reached down in his bag and pulled out his badge. He held it up to them and slowly shook his head from side to side until they backed down.


“Now talk, shit, bitch!” RaShaun said through clenched teeth. “Say somethin’. I’m listenin’, pretty boy!”


“Yo, somebody done called five-o!” Somebody in the crowd shouted.


Quincy ran over and pulled RaShaun off of Brandon. RaShaun managed to land a kick to Brandon’s ribs before Q. hauled him to his feet.


“Ai’ght, man, ai’ght!” Quincy grunted. “Enough!”


Breathing hard, RaShaun pushed Quincy off of him. He paced back and forth while staring down at Brandon like an enraged bull. Brandon lay curled up clutching his side and moaning in pain.


“Oh, I ain’t gave you nothing to cry about yet,” RaShaun taunted, taking a couple of steps forward, as if contemplating whether or not to kick Brandon’s ass some more.


“Git yo’ ass over here!” Q. hissed, jumping in front of RaShaun and shoving him back when he spotted the police officers hurrying their way. “I know these guys. Let me do the talking. I mean it, Rah.”


Turning to the cops, Quincy nodded to each of them in greeting. “Officer Thomas, Officer Smith.”


The cops strolled over to Quincy with wary expressions. They observed Brandon grimacing and limping towards them, then took in RaShaun’s disheveled appearance and torn shirt. They both turned to Quincy and gave him a questioning look.


“Detective Donovan. Everything okay?” The female officer asked. “We got a call about a fight here in the park.”


“I…I want that man arrested for assault,” Brandon shouted, pointing at RaShaun. The cops kept their gazes trained on Quincy, who had transformed himself to his official persona.

“Case of self defense,” Quincy responded. “I was here with my buddy shooting a few hoops when this joker and his friends came over starting trouble. We tried to walk away, but Mr. Wise Ass here….” He gestured towards Brandon with his thumb. “Became confrontational, and well…as you can see…” He hunched his shoulders, silently telling them Brandon came out on the short end of the stick.


The cops looked at RaShaun. “Do you wanna press charges, sir?”


Brandon frowned in outrage. “What? Why in the hell are you asking him if he wants to press charges? He assaulted me!”


“Sir, we’re going to have to ask you to calm down.”


“Fuck calming down! I want his ass arrested! Now!”


The policemen stared at each other then looked at Quincy, who gave a quick shake of his head. They turned back to Brandon. “Sir, in cases like this, it looks like there’s an assault on both sides. If one of you is arrested, you both are arrested.”


“What?” Brandon screamed again.


“Now, do you still want to press charges, or can we consider this an unfortunate misunderstanding?”


At a loss for words, Brandon stared at the officers with his mouth open. After several moments he turned and pointed to RaShaun. “This ain’t over. Just so you know.”


Giving them all a look of pure fury, he turned to leave, but after only a half dozen steps, he stopped and looked back at RaShaun. The cocky expression he’d worn when he first saw RaShaun was back.


“And by the way. I was gonna keep your woman until I got tired of her then send her back home. But now I think I’ll keep her indefinitely, just for the hell of it.”


Growling like a wild animal intent on tearing his rival to bloody pieces, RaShaun started towards him with teeth bared, but one of the two cops stepped in front of him and placed a firm hand on his chest to stop him. Looking thoroughly satisfied with himself, Brandon walked off with his cocky grin firmly in place. They both knew, when all was said and done, he had gotten the last laugh.








RaShaun finally made it home several hours later. He and Quincy had gone to a local bar when they’d left the park to allow RaShaun to cool down. Several of their friends had come in a little while afterwards and between them and the glasses of beer that Q. continuously kept coming, RaShaun was in a much better mood by the time Q. drove him home.


Ready to pass out, he walked a bit unsteadily to his bedroom. Hopefully, he wouldn’t have any trouble sleeping tonight for a change, and for that he was grateful. After using the bathroom to let out all of the beer he’d consumed, RaShaun turned the shower on and pulled his clothes off. He then stood under the beating water and closed his eyes, letting the rest of the tension seep out of his body.


His friends had tried to get him to go out with them later once they’d found out he and Yvonne had broken up, but he took a rain check. Tonight all he wanted was to crawl into his bed and hopefully not wake up until the morning.


Finishing his shower, he stepped out and wrapped a towel around his waist after he dried off. Passing by the mirror on his way out the bathroom, RaShaun paused and took a step back to look at his reflection.


“You gotta get it together, man. She’s not the only woman in the world. Man the fuck up and stop moping around like a li’l bitch.” He stared at his reflection for a few more minutes to make sure the words sunk in before going to the bedroom.


Glancing at his nice, comfortable bed in anticipation, RaShaun pulled the towel off and dropped it on the floor. He had just thrown the pillows on the floor, visualizing sinking down into his memory foam mattress that molded perfectly to the contours of his body, when he heard his doorbell ring.


“Dammit! Who the hell…”


He started to ignore it and get in bed anyway, but reluctantly grabbed a pair of jeans he'd thrown across a chair and put them on. 


“Who is it?” he yelled, stalking towards the front door when they rang the doorbell again.


“RaShaun?” A female voice called his name from the other side of the door. “I’d like to talk to you for a minute if I could.”


RaShaun frowned, trying to place the voice. It sounded familiar, but in his slightly inebriated state, he couldn’t put a face to the voice. Still wearing a curious frown, he unlocked the door and swung it open. Seeing who was standing there, he drew in a deep, chest expanding breath before slowly letting it out. Leaning against the doorjamb and folding his arms, his lip curled in distaste.


What in the hell was she doing at his house?


 The woman in front of him, however, never noticed his chilly reception. She was too busy eye fucking him for anything else to register, and it wasn’t difficult to figure out what direction her salacious thoughts had travelled.


As soon as her name pushed past his lips, the sound of it literally left a sour taste in his mouth that made him sick to his stomach.








© 2017 S.K. Hardy



All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means without the written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.


People say you don’t know what you’ve
got until it’s gone. The truth is, you knew what you had.
You just never thought you’d lose it.
~Author Unknown



RaShaun stood at the door staring at Kiki. “What are you doing here?”

“Damn, RaShaun. Didn’t know you were hiding this body underneath your clothes.” Kiki laughed, trying to pass off her observation as a harmless joke but her eyes were running over his bare chest as if she wanted to lick every inch of his skin  with her tongue.

RaShaun sighed impatiently. “I asked you a question. What are you doing here?”

Kiki gave RaShaun a flirtatious smile. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

RaShaun straightened up from his lean on the doorjamb and grabbed the doorknob. “Nah, I don’t think so. I was just getting ready to go to bed, so...”

“Well, don’t let me stop you.” The offer to join him was silently offered when her eyes skimmed over his body again. 


RaShaun snorted softly and shook his head. She was being mighty bold; bolder than usual, that is. Kiki had made no secret of the fact that she wanted him, but she'd always flirted with him  when Yvonne wasn't around. She was definitely emboldened now that she knew RaShaun and Yvonne had broken up.

“It's about this situation with you and Yvonne. It'll just take a minute, RaShaun. I promise.” She squeezed inside, making sure to brush her breast against his arm as she squeezed inside. “Unless you have other ideas...”

RaShaun watched her over his shoulder, wondering what she was up to. He was also curious to find out what Yvonne had to do with it, so shrugging, he closed the door. He didn’t have anything better to do so he’d humor her for a moment or two. 

Entering his living room, he saw her pick up a picture of him and Yvonne. RaShaun took notice of the jealousy on her face as she studied the picture. He’d tried to tell Yvonne that Kiki wasn’t her friend. She was a woman who wanted what Yvonne had, and now that she thought it was up for grabs, she was making her move.

When Kiki realized RaShaun was staring at her, she quickly put the picture down. “I'm surprised you still have photos up of you and Yvonne.”

RaShaun folded his arms. “Why wouldn't I? There’s no rush to take them down, is there?”

“Well, you know…you two have broken up now, so I just assumed it would be upsetting to look at them day in and day out.”

The comment was said innocently enough, but RaShaun wasn’t fooled. There wasn’t a damn thing innocent about Kiki. ”You said you wanted to talk about Yvonne? What about her?"

Kiki did a slow strut up to RaShaun. “Before we get to her, I just want to check on you. You know, make sure you’re okay and everything.”

RaShaun laugh held little amusement. He should've known. "Sure you do. Look, I don't have time to –”

But before he could get her straight once and for all,  his phone rang. Stifling a curse, he gave her a long cold stare and grabbed his cell off the end table to take the call.




While RaShaun was on the phone, Kiki took the opportunity to scrutinize him unobserved. For what had to be millionth time, she thought about how sexy he was. A paid, educated black man who handled his business inside the boardroom and, from what Yvonne said, inside the bedroom, was attractive as hell. 

Kiki licked her lips salaciously, thinking about all the things she would do to him given half the chance. RaShaun was just the type of man she’d give her right arm to get with. He easily fit into any world, and that was an attribute that women found irresistible. Tailored suits, silk ties, and Italian shoes were made to adorn his fine ass body.

However, when he was on his own time, if the mood struck him, he could throw on a pair of jeans, wife beater, and Timbs and blend in with his boys effortlessly, personifying a hellified swagger that made women turn around and unabashedly stare when he passed by, whether Yvonne was with him or not. Kiki had witnessed it herself. Many times.

For some reason, that fool, Brandon, had thought RaShaun was soft. Kiki snorted softly. He didn’t have a clue that side of RaShaun existed until he brought it out of him.

He shoulda asked somebody before he stepped to him like that in the park today, Kiki mused silently, her mouth turning up in a smirky grin. It wouldve saved him a lot of embarrassment, that was for sure.

Yeah, she’d heard about the fight. Almost everybody had. Too bad she hadn’t been there to witness it firsthand, but one of her girls had called her as it was all goin’ down. Brandon had mistakenly thought a clean cut, professional brotha like RaShaun was weak, but from the video her girlfriend had sent her, he’d found out that wasn’t the case after Shaun beat that ass. Made Kiki want him even more. Yvonne, fa’ sho’, wasn’t freaky enough for somebody like Rah.

She frowned as she thought about Yvonne. She was a fool to have even thought about leaving this man. Rah was 6 foot 3 inches of sexy caramel eye candy. Those light brown bedroom eyes of his alone got her wet and excited and ready to rock his mufuckin’ world. If only he’d give her a chance…

Kiki had wanted RaShaun from the moment she first laid eyes on him. She had been sitting at a table one night in a jazz club along with Yvonne and a few other friends. When RaShaun came over, Kiki had flirted with him outrageously, but he’d only had eyes for Yvonne’s boring ass. From that day forward, she’d schemed to come between them, and now that it had finally happened she was making her move.

Watching him talking on the phone, her eyes dropped to his lips and watched them move. She had fantasized about Rah more times than she could count, wondering what it would feel like to kiss him, to have him sucking her breasts, licking her...

“So, you wanted to make sure I was okay?” RaShaun hung up the phone and turned back to Kiki to resume their conversation. “That is what you said, isn’t it?”


RaShaun wanted to make Kiki aware that he wasn’t a fool and knew exactly what she was up to. He tilted his head to the side and said in a deceptively calm voice, “Yvonne is the one who’s your friend. I would think you’d be with her right now…making sure she's ok.”

Kiki walked over to him and ran a suggestive finger down his bare
chest until she got to his muscled stomach. “Von is fine. After all, she’s the one who left you for Brandon. You're the injured party here. Not her.”

Kiki looked RaShaun in the eye as her finger stopped at the top of his jeans. “I'm your friend, too, boo. Let me help you through this. I know it can’t be easy for you,” she whispered. Her gaze dropped to the front of his pants. “In fact, I’m sure it’s very…hard.”

She brought her eyes back to RaShaun’s and went to boldly unsnap his jeans, but RaShaun’s hand reached out and grabbed her wrist.

“Then you’d be mistaken. I think it's time for you to go,” he said, his voice harsh and clipped.

“Aw, come on, RaShaun. You don’t really want me to leave now, do you?” She stepped closer so that her breasts meshed against his chest. “Come on, boo. Let Kiki make you feel good. I promise you won’t regret it.”

RaShaun dropped her wrist and took a step back. He looked Kiki up and down, distaste radiating from him like heat from a furnace. Kiki had fucked damn near everybody he knew. Sometimes he thought that was why he appealed to her so much. She’d tried to get with him on numerous occasions, but he always blew her off. Even if he hadn’t been with Yvonne, Kiki couldn’t have paid hi to sleep with her.

At first he’d tried to tell Yvonne that Kiki wasn't her friend and that she needed to leave her alone, but Yvonne would always say RaShaun was trying to control her, likening him to her father who she says tried to do the same with her mother. Eventually he just left it alone. It wasn’t worth arguing over.

Shaking his head, he turned and walked out of the room and headed to the front door. Kiki reluctantly followed behind him. Her attitude was now that of a woman scorned. Before leaving she flounced around to look at RaShaun.

“I don't know why you’re being so noble. Yvonne’s been fucking Brandon for months.”

RaShaun froze. “What? What did you say?”

“You heard me. Everybody knew but you. Why do you think she never complained all those nights you worked late?”

RaShaun felt like he’d been punched in the gut. For a moment, the hurt he felt showed showed on his face before he could hide it, but he quickly gained control enough to give Kiki a threatening glare.

“Get the fuck out of my house. I won’t tell you again.”

Kiki’s expression showed her satisfaction as she walked out. It was clear her revelation had hit its target.

RaShaun slammed the door behind her then leaned against it, arms outstretched, palms pressing against the wood, and head down. He took several deep breaths to try and stop the room from spinning.

Was it true? Had Yvonne been sleeping with Brandon all this time? It would explain why that bastard had acted so smug earlier today when he walked up to RaShaun. Fuck!

Growling from anger as well as hurt, RaShaun reared back and punched the door. Pain instantly ran through his hand and his arm, but it was a welcomed pain. It took the focus off of what that bitch had just told him and helped to erase the images of Yvonne and Valentine in bed together.

Bitterness invaded his body like a poisonous chemical as he thought about what a fool he’d been all this time. But this is where it ended. He was through letting this breakup with Yvonne turn him into a man he didn’t recognize.

Cradling his injured hand against his chest, he went to the bathroom and pulled out a bandage. Wrapping his hand, he thought about the phone call he’d received a few minutes ago. According to his boys, a friend of theirs was throwing his girlfriend a surprise birthday party at one of the clubs downtown. RaShaun had told them he’d pass on going, but now he changed his mind. It was time he started acting like the single man he was.


“I just don’t see why Kiki has to go with us. This surprise party is for Mika and you know as well as I do that Mika can’t stand her ass anymore than I can.”

Tara was pissed off because Kiki had invited herself along with them to go to the club where a mutual friend of theirs was having a surprise birthday party. Tara didn’t like Kiki and the feeling was mutual. Yvonne tried to keep them apart as much as she could, but it was hard to do since they all hung around the same people.

“Tara, come on. She’s not that bad.” Yvonne looked at her cousin through the mirror as she finished applying her makeup. As always, she found herself having to be the referee for the two of them just to keep the peace. “And anyway, what was I supposed to do, say no, you can’t meet up with us? She was going anyway.”

“Whatever. All I know is that the fake bitch bet not say shit to me. I mean it, Von. I’m not for her crap tonight. I don’t know how you can stomach being around her. I don’t trust her as far as I could throw her.”

“I know she rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but beneath all the bullshit she puts out sometimes, she’s actually a sweet person.”

“Sweet as a fucking rattlesnake. I just hope you don’t get bitten, because I’m sure that bitch carries some deadly venom. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Ignoring her cousin, Yvonne went back to her room and slipped on her heels. Tara followed behind her and thankfully changed the subject.

“Speaking of snakes, it was messed up the way Brandon provoked RaShaun in the park today. I’m glad Shaun kicked his ass,” Tara snickered. She had a friend on the police force who’d told her all the details. Tara, in turn, had told Yvonne. She couldn’t stop laughing, but Yvonne hadn’t found it funny.

“Look. I don’t want to talk about or think about RaShaun or Brandon tonight. I plan on going out, having a good time, and forgetting my problems if that’s okay with you.”

“Fine. For the record, I still think you’re making a mistake by–”


“Okay, okay,” Tara mumbled, walking out of the room. It was Von’s life. However she chose to fuck it up was up to her.


RaShaun bypassed the line of people waiting to get into the club and went straight to the front door. He shook hands and bumped shoulders with the bouncers guarding the entrance before they waived him in.

Less than enthusiastic, he looked around the inside of the club, noting how crowded it was. RaShaun hadn’t been out in a while, at least a coupe of months. Now he was reminded why. Too many damn people. They were packed in wall to wall, and that said a lot because the club was huge.

He stopped to exchange a few words with people he knew while trying to make his way to the bar. RaShaun couldn’t help but notice that the women were being extra touchy and flirty, which let him know word had gotten around about him and Yvonne breaking up. At first, he'd been a little uncomfortable with th; he had been out of the game a long time and the women were bolder than he remembered, but after a while he loosened up and started flirting back. It was just like riding a bike.

Once he made it to the bar and told the bartender what he wanted to drink, he turned around to look out over the throng of people dancing, laughing, and socializing. As much as he hated to admit it, he didn’t miss this scene at all, but he was determined to try and have a good time.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw someone waving at him to get his attention. RaShaun craned his neck to get a better look and saw that it was Quincy and his wife, Gina. They had a table on the second level and were waving him over. RaShaun nodded to let them know he’d be over in a second.

As he waited on his drink, he politely turned down more than a few offers to dance, taking a rain check for later. After paying and leaving a tip, he took a healthy sip of the Crown and coke before turning go to Q.’s table.

He’d only taken a few steps when he heard a sexy voice  teasingly call out, “Oh, so I don’t get one of those, Rah?”

RaShaun fixed a polite expression on his face before he turned around, ready to disentangle himself away from yet another conversation with a determined female, but when he saw who it was, a huge grin crossed his face.

“Terri! What’s up, lady?” His eyes swept quickly over his ex-girlfriend before he leaned down and gave her a one-armed hug. “What are you doing out here?”

“No, baby, the question is, what are you doing out here?” she smiled, gazing up into his eyes. “Scratch that. I heard about you and Yvonne. Sorry about that.”

RaShaun laughed when he saw her smile that betrayed the sincerity of her words. “Yeah, I can see you’re just torn up over it.” She joined in with his laughter. “Seriously, though, it’s been a little over a week since we broke up and it’s like the whole damn town knows. Bad news travels fast doesn’t it?”

Terri raised an eyebrow. “Who says its bad news? For her, maybe. For you, it opens up a whole new set of possibilities.”

Terri said the words lightly but she held his gaze to make sure he knew she meant every word. RaShaun stared at her for a moment, reading her message loud and clear. Terri never tried to hide the fact that she regretted the two of them breaking up.

“Would you like something to drink?” he asked her.

“Thank you. I’d love a drink. Do you still remember what I like?” she flirted.

RaShaun’s eyes slid over her body nice and slow. “Oh, I definitely remember what you like. No doubt.”

Their eyes held for a few moments before he moved back to the bar to order her drink. RaShaun smiled. Yep. Just like riding a bike.


Yvonne, Tara, and Kiki scanned the scene inside the club, commenting that it was more crowded than usual. People screamed their name out as they inched their way through the crowd. Their whole little crew was in the house and they were already feeling good and ready to party.

“Where ya’ll sittin’?” Kiki asked them.

They pointed upstairs. “We have four tables pushed together.”

“We’re going to get something to drink first,” Yvonne said to Tara as she and Kiki started off towards the bar. “Be right back.”

Tara nodded before continuing the conversation she was having with a group of girls. Once Yvonne was gone, one of their friends leaned in and asked Tara, “Where’s Yvonne going?”

“She and Kiki…” Tara rolled her eyes. “Are going to get something to drink. They’ll be right back. Why? What’s up?”

“She does know that RaShaun is here, right?”

“Wait, what?” Tara screamed. “RaShaun’s here?”

“Yeah,” her friend nodded. “He’s over at the bar talking to Terri. You know that bitch isn’t going to waste any time. She’s acting like she’s RaShaun’s shadow or something, making sure none of these hoes have a chance to get close to him. And believe me, they’ve all been trying.”

Tara looked over towards the bar, but didn’t see RaShaun or Yvonne. Suddenly she squinted. Wait. Was that…Brandon?

Tara gasped. Oh shit! It was! Tara’s stomach grew queasy. She looked around in desperation. She knew she’d seen a glimpse of Quincy when she first walked in. She had to find him quick because if Yvonne, RaShaun, and Brandon ended up in the same space with each other there was no doubt that all hell would break loose.


“Girl, it is so damn crowded in here.” Kiki complained, fanning her hand against her face to try and cool off from the body heat around them. Suddenly, she spun around as yet another hand “accidentally” rubbed on her ass. “I swear to God, if another got damn hand touches my booty, it’s going down up in here!”

“Well damn, Ki, you’re showing half your ass in those shorts,” Yvonne laughed.

“Yeah. I guess I wouldn’t be able to resist touching it either if I was a man,” Kiki said with her usual arrogance.

Yvonne shook her head as they made it to the bar and waited in line to order their drinks. She half listened as Kiki had something negative to say about almost every female they saw. She was in the middle of dogging some poor sista out when she suddenly went completely silent. Gasping, her mouth flew open as she patted Yvonne on the shoulder and pointed at something in a continuous jab.

“What?” Yvonne asked, turning to see what Kiki was staring at so hard. “What’s wrong?”

“Girrrlll,” Kiki sang out. “Look. It’s your ex.”

But Yvonne had already spotted RaShaun. “Oh my God,” she whispered, her heartbeat speeding up at the sight of him. “I’m surprised he’s here.”

“Girl, and he looks good.” When Yvonne cut her eyes at Kiki, Kiki shrieked in a high-pitched voice, “Well, he does!”

Yvonne directed her attention back to RaShaun. She stood on tiptoe to get a good look. Kiki was right, he did look good, but then again, he always looked good. In fact, he was so sexy he took her breath away.

Yvonne had been so busy trying to put him out of her mind and convince herself that the choice she’d made had been the right one that she hadn’t realized how much she’d missed him.

“Shaun…” She didn’t realize she’d whispered his name out loud.

“And do you see who he’s talking to?”

Yvonne blinked. She’d been so busy staring at RaShaun that she didn’t notice anything else. Finally, Kiki’s question registered and she saw that Shaun was staring down at a female and laughing at something she was saying. It wasn’t until the woman turned her head that Yvonne realized who it was.

“Terri! I should’ve known she would be up in his face the first chance she got!”

At that exact moment RaShaun looked up and locked eyes with Yvonne. She smiled tentatively and gave him a little wave, but frowned when he only responded with a short nod before going right back to smiling at Terri. Yvonne’s mouth fell open at the snub.

“Damn,” Kiki said, rubbing it in Yvonne’s face. “That’s all he got for you?”

Yvonne ignored her and turned around after she realized she was still staring. It was for the best, she tried to convince herself. They both needed to move on. Still, she snuck another glance over her shoulder at him.

Yvonne felt like a spear had pierced through her heart. She guessed she now knew how he’d felt when he found out about Brandon. He was probably only talking to Terri to get back at her. The thought should’ve made her feel better, but it didn’t.

Her eyes narrowed dangerously when she saw the heffa reach up as if she was rubbing something off of RaShaun’s lip. When he opened his lips and playfully bit her finger, Yvonne had had enough. Before she could think about what she was doing, she took off walking towards RaShaun and his ex-girlfriend.

“That’s right, girl, handle your business.” Kiki egged her on as she followed on her heels.

Yvonne weaved her way in and out of the crowd, pushing people who were slow about moving. “Excuse me…can I get by, please? Sorry…excuse me…”

She heard someone call her a bitch, as well as a few other choice words, but the insults hardly registered in her haste to get to RaShaun. At that moment, his eyes met hers over Terri’s head as he watched her bulldozing her way through a swarm of people headed his way.


Terri noticed RaShaun’s attention wasn’t on her any longer and turned around to see what he was looking at. Her face broke out into a series of thin lipped frowns when she saw it was Yvonne. She hurriedly turned back to RaShaun.

“Hey, didn’t you say you were on your way to Q.’s table?” Terri grabbed his hand and tried to pull him away. “Rah, we should go. She looks like she’s ready to make a scene.”

“Hold up a minute, Terri.”

Terri frowned but held on tightly to his hand. RaShaun kept his eyes locked with Yvonne’s until she finally stood in front of him. Terri blew impatiently as Yvonne’s gaze greedily ran over every inch of his face. She looked as if she wanted to reach up and hug RaShaun, but saw that it wouldn’t be a wise thing to do.

“Hi, Shaun,” she greeted him softly.


They all heard the coldness in his voice. Terri saw Yvonne’s eyes go to hers and RaShaun’s clasped hands. She lifted her chin defiantly when Yvonne looked at her before directing her attention back to RaShaun.

“How…how have you been?”

“Fine. You?”

“Fine. I…um, RaShaun, do you think we can talk? Just for a minute.”

“I think we’ve said all we needed to say to one another. It’s probably best if we leave things the way they are.”

Yvonne blinked in surprise. “RaShaun, please,” she whispered.

“Honey, don’t beg. It’s so embarrassing,” Terri said sweetly as her eyes mocked Yvonne.

Yvonne’s eyes narrowed to thin, grey slits. “Bitch, was I talking to you?”


“You need to mind your damn business, Terri,” Yvonne snapped.

Terri rolled her neck around on her shoulders. “Rah, is my business. He always has been.”

Yvonne took a step towards Terri, ready to slap the taste out of her mouth, but RaShaun stepped in front of her as if to protect her from Yvonne.

Terri leaned around RaShaun and shouted, “And you need to watch who you call bitch! You’re the one over here making a fool of yourself. You cheated on RaShaun, so now, you have who you wanted, and so do I. The way I see it, everybody should be happy.”

“You have no idea you’re talking about! If you think he doesn’t still love me, you’re crazy. We’ve only been apart for a week.”

“I don’t see him making a move towards a reconciliation. In fact just the opposite, but your desperate ass apparently can’t read the writing on the wall. Let me help you with that. You need to play your position. Just in case you don’t know what that might be, it’s not with RaShaun, it’s with that motherfucka standing behind you,” Terri sneered, pointing a finger. “You wanted him, you got him.”

It was only then that Yvonne noticed RaShaun’s expression had changed to one of total and complete fury as he glowered at someone standing behind her. A sinking feeling settled in the bottom of her stomach. Spinning around, she came face to face with…Brandon.

“What…what are you–mmph!”

Before she knew what was happening, Brandon framed her face with his hands and brought his mouth down to hers in a hard kiss. The entire time, he kept his eyes locked with RaShaun’s. Yvonne tried to push him back, but he refused to budge.

At that exact moment, Q. appeared beside them with Tara trailing closely behind. Brandon finally lifted his lips from Yvonne’s. Slowly wiping the lipstick from his mouth, he sent a smug smirk towards RaShaun.

“You do remember, what I told you, don’t you, son? She’s mine, now. The sooner you start to accept that, the better off we’ll all be.”

Yvonne shoved Brandon in the chest. “Stop it! Are you crazy? I am not your–”

“Know what, I really don't care.” The quietness of RaShaun’s words cut in on Yvonne’s tirade. He shrugged indifferently. “You can have her.”

Yvonne gasped, instantly forgetting about Brandon and Terri and everyone else. “RaShaun.”

The hurt she felt was reflected in the way she whispered his name, but he never even looked at her. His attention was directed solely on Brandon.

Yvonne glanced around self-consciously, suddenly realizing they were the objects of intense interest from the crowd of people who had gathered around to watch the fireworks.

“RaShaun…please don't do this.” Yvonne  knew she was damn near begging, but she didn’t care. She didn’t know what she’d been thinking, but seeing him with another woman put things in perspective for her…quick. She wanted him back.


RaShaun hardened the corner of his heart that reacted to hearing Yvonne’s pain. Hell, she had caused him nothing but pain. It was about time she felt some in return.

He looked down at Terri who was still grasping his hand in a near death grip. “You wanna get out of here?”

“Yes. Let’s go.” Terri looked at Yvonne with gloating and glee before following RaShaun as he led her through the crowd and out the door.

Tara walked over to Yvonne and put her arm around her. She knew more than anyone how much Yvonne loved RaShaun. She had just been confused and let herself get sucked into a situation with Brandon when she was at her most vulnerable. Speaking of which…

Tara glared at Brandon and shook her middle finger at him. Son of a bitch. RaShaun should’ve beaten his ass again. She was just about to tell him just that when something else caught her eye.

Kiki. The bitch wasn’t even trying to pretend to be comforting Yvonne. As a matter of fact, the slight smile on her face could only be described as…enjoyment. She was loving every moment of Yvonne’s humiliation.

Tara’s eyes narrowed angrily. She didn’t have time to analyze it now, but she would definitely get to the bottom of whatever it was that sneaky hoe was up to. For now, her focus was making sure her cousin was okay.

She turned back to Yvonne. “Sweetie, are you okay?”

“Tara, take me home. I just want to get out of here,” Yvonne sniffed. “Please.”


RaShaun held Terri’s hand as he manipulated them through the crowd of people. He was well aware that they were the center of attention, which pissed him off even more. He hated gossip and hated eyes on him because of some bullshit.

Terri, however, loved it. She held her head high, enjoying the attention as she held RaShaun’s hand tightly and followed behind him.

At least now these scandalous bitches will know that RaShaun is mine, she thought to herself with satisfaction.

She knew he still had feelings for Yvonne whether he wanted to admit it or not. But he had loved her at one time too. She was determined to make him love her again.


Once they got to RaShaun’s car, he clicked the remote to open the doors. He still hadn’t said a word since they’d left the club. After he opened the door for Terri, he went around to the driver’s side and got in. Leaning his head back against the seat for a moment, he closed his eyes.

Terri studied him closely. She knew he was thinking about that bitch, and that definitely was not going to do.

“Are you ok, Rah?” she asked softly.

He opened his eyes and turned his head to look at her. “Yeah, I’m good. I’m sorry about that, Terri. I didn’t mean to drag you into this mess.”

“Believe me, you have nothing to apologize for. I can’t believe how Yvonne acted tonight, as if she was the one who had the right to be upset. It’s nobody’s fault but her own that was out there acting like a little slut who–”

“Terri!” RaShaun’s voice ripped through the confines of the car as he glared at her. “That’s enough.”

Seeing Terri flinch, RaShaun made a conscious effort to lower his voice. He hadn’t meant to yell at her but no matter what he and Yvonne had gone through, he wasn’t going to sit there and let Terri call her out of her name.

“Look, can we just not talk about it?” He looked at her letting her know that he’d had just about enough of everything for one night.

Terri had known him for a long time and knew he wasn’t about the drama. She immediately did an about face. “You’re right, RaShaun. I’m sorry.” She leaned closer to him. “Besides, I’m sure we can think of something better to do than talk about your ex-girlfriend.” She put a finger under his chin and brought his lips the short distance it took to meet hers.

RaShaun closed his eyes and returned the kiss, but he couldn’t help but compare Terri to Yvonne. Once he did, Terri came up seriously lacking. Frustrated, he curled his fingers in her hair and deepened the kiss, letting his tongue play seductively with hers. Terri wrapped her arms around his neck and whimpered her pleasure.

RaShaun drew back and looked at her. “Your place?” he asked gruffly. When Terri nodded eagerly, RaShaun hesitated. “Terri, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I’m not ready to jump into a new relationship right now. Whatever happens between us tonight will only be two friends enjoying themselves together.”

“Shhhhh…” Terri placed a finger over his lips, quieting the rest of the words. “You don’t have to say anything, Rah. I know you can’t make me any promises, and I’m okay with that. Just let me give you what you need, if only for tonight.”

RaShaun looked at her for a few moments then placed another quick kiss on her lips before turning to start the car and drive off in the direction that would take them to her apartment.

Terri sat back in her seat and rested her hand on RaShaun’s thigh. Right now, he might not feel the same way about her that she felt about him, but she was determined to change that. She loved RaShaun. That had never changed.

Leaning over across the middle console, she gently brought her teeth down on his ear before nibbling her way to his neck. She smiled as he leaned his head slightly to the side and moaned under his breath. If she remembered correctly, his neck was one of the erogenous zones on his body that never failed to excite him. She slid a hand down between his legs. Yeah. That was definitely still his spot.

“Hurry,” she whispered in his ear. She laughed softly when he glanced at her before pressing down on the gas.

Whether you know it or not, RaShaun Patterson, she thought as she continued her gentle assault on his senses. You. Are. Mine.


The ride back to Tara’s apartment was made in silence. Yvonne stared at the window as she replayed the scene that had just happened over and over again in her head. She couldn’t blame RaShaun for being upset with her, but she hadn’t expected such indifference from him either.

Yvonne closed her eyes. She couldn’t stop thinking about the way he had looked at Terri …the same way he used to look at her. Images of RaShaun making love to Terri right about now tortured her until they drove up and parked in the Tara’s assigned parking space.

After they let themselves into the apartment, Yvonne sat down on the couch and dropped her face in her hands. “I screwed up, didn’t I? With RaShaun, I mean.”

“Sweetie, don’t. It’s not going to help anything for you to blame yourself,” Tara said soothingly.

“Thanks. I appreciate you not saying I told you so.” Yvonne shook her head. She wasn’t going to lose RaShaun. She couldn’t. He had a right to his anger, but there was one thing Yvonne knew beyond a shadow of a doubt: she was not going to lose him.

After she convinced Tara to go back to the club and enjoy herself, Yvonne forced herself to go and change out of the dress into a pair of jean shorts and pink tank top. Restless, she turned the television on and flipped from channel to channel before turning it back off. Before she could stop it, her mind went to RaShaun and Terri and wondering what they were doing.

Determined to think about something else, she redirected her thoughts to the day she accidentally came across the engagement ring in RaShaun’s drawer. What she’d told Tara had been the truth; it had scared her when she saw that ring and everything it represented. Yvonne didn’t put much stock in the institution of marriage. Her parent’s marriage had been absolutely horrible, and her brother and sister had followed right in their footsteps, both divorcing within years of saying their vows. Yvonne refused to become another statistic and join the ranks of bitter divorcees like her family members.

Brandon had come along right when she was feeling vulnerable and unsure about her relationship. Instead of talking to RaShaun about her misgivings, she’d turned to Brandon and poured all her fears and misgivings out to him. Then she’d let him kiss her, and for one brief moment, contemplated doing more. Thank God she’d come to her senses before that happened.

Yvonne covered her face with her hands. She had to see RaShaun. She had to let him know how much she regretted hurting him, how much she still loved him.

Running back to her room, she slipped her feet in her sandals and grabbed her purse. She was prepared to do and say whatever she had to in order to fix this divide between them that she was responsible for. And she would do it tonight.


RaShaun pulled up in front of Terri’s house, then turned in his seat to look at her. She’d always been a beautiful woman and that hadn’t changed. Fair skinned with hazel eyes, she kept her tawny colored hair styled in a chic, short cut, emphasizing her sharp cheekbones and full lips.

A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth as he suddenly remembered how, years ago, one of his friends had once described her as a walking wet dream.

“What are you smiling at?” she asked.

“Nothing. Just thinking how beautiful you are.” He reached out a hand and pushed a strand of hair away from her face. “Terri, you sure about this? You can change your mind now if–”

She leaned over and covered his mouth with hers to quiet his words before pulling back to look him in the eye. “I’m a big girl, Rah. I can handle this.” She kissed him again. “Now will you please take me in the house and fuck me?”

RaShaun laughed softly and got out of the car. After going around to open her door, they walked hand in hand into her house once she unlocked the door.

Terri set the alarm behind them. Seeing RaShaun leaning against the wall watching her, she shrugged. “Would you like something to drink?” she asked.

RaShaun shook his head slowly and continued to stare at her.

“Are you sure? I have beer, or wine, or Crown…not that I’m trying to get you drunk or anything,” she laughed nervously.

Again RaShaun shook his head.

“Oh, uh, okay. Well…I guess…” Her words trailed to a stop when RaShaun straightened up from the wall and started unbuttoning his shirt and slowly walking towards her in slow, measured steps.

“I don’t want anything to drink but you. I don’t want anything to eat but you,” he said, stopping in front of her. “So tell me: Are you gonna feed me?”

Terri looked up at him with her mouth agape. Then, as if released from a daze, she stood on tiptoe and kissed him as desperately as if he were the oxygen she needed to breath.

RaShaun wrapped his arms around her and walked her back against the wall. He pulled her arms from around his neck and held them up over her head, pinning them against the wall as he continued to ravage her lips before travelling to her neck.

“RaShaunnn….” Terri sighed in reverence.


She mumbled incoherently, as if she’d forgotten how to speak the English language. Managing to slip her hands free, she reached behind her to unzip her dress. Pushing it down past her shoulders and waist, she let it drop to the floor in a flimsy pool of material at her feet.

RaShaun groaned when he saw she wasn’t wearing a bra. “Where’s your bedroom?”

Smiling, she grabbed his hand and led her down the hallway. Once they got to her bedroom, she tore RaShaun’s unbuttoned shirt from his body before attacking his belt and zipper. When RaShaun chuckled at her haste, Terri looked up at him and grinned.

“Shut up,” she said, pushing him down on the bed. After she finished undressing him, her eyes widened at the size of his erection. She had thought about him like this so many nights. Her memories didn’t do him justice.

RaShaun’s raised himself up on his elbows and gestured down to his dick. “You just gonna stand there or have you forgotten what to do with this?”

Terri needed no further prompting. Falling to her knees, she started worshipping the part of his anatomy that she found so utterly fascinating. She gagged in her haste to damn near swallow him whole.

“Fuck….” RaShaun whispered in a voice full of lust and desire. Pulling her up, he lay back on the bed with her on top. Suddenly, he let out a soft curse when he realized he didn’t have any condoms.

“It’s okay, Rah. I’m clean,” Terri said breathlessly, correctly guessing what he was thinking.
“Are you on the–”

“Yes.” Seeing the hesitation in his eyes, Terri placed her hands flat on his chest and lowered herself down the thick length of his shaft before he could utter a protest.

“Shit,” breathed out in a hoarse voice, watching her slim, agile body move on top of him. Grabbing her hips, the last of his resolve melted away as need and desire took over and carried them well into night.

The next morning, RaShaun woke up early. Glancing at the other side of the bed, he saw that Terri who was still sound asleep from the workout he’d given her. Moving quietly so as not to awaken her, he put his clothes on and reached for his shoes.

Now that he had satisfied his body’s yearning, pricks of guilt started to deflate the memories of the previous night. This wasn’t what he’d intended to happen when he’d left the club with Terri last night. He knew how she felt about him, and no matter how much she said she could handle a friend’s with benefits relationship, he couldn’t do that to her. He respected her too much to use her like that.

Finding a pen and a slip of paper on the nightstand, he scrawled out a quick note telling her he’d call her later and left it on his pillow. Remembering the code she’d used to set the alarm, he easily disarmed the alarm system and let himself out.

Once he got in the car, he backed out of the driveway and headed towards his house. Before long, thoughts of Yvonne invaded his mind, but as soon as they did, he turned the radio up loudly to drown them out. He didn’t want to think about Yvonne. Not anymore. However, by the time he pulled up to his house, the effort to erase her out of his head turned out to be a complete waste. Her car was parked in his driveway.

“What the hell?” RaShaun turned off the ignition and sat in disbelief for a few moments. Frowning, he got out, glancing again at her car again as he unlocked his front door.

Quickly walking inside, he looked around. When he got to his living room, he stopped in his tracks. Yvonne was lying on his couch fast asleep and covered with a blanket. Sighing heavily, he slowly went over to the couch. The longer he stared down at her the faster his heart pounded in his chest. No matter how much he tried, RaShaun couldn’t deny how much he still loved her.

But not everyone who loved each other was meant to be together. He didn’t know why she was there and he didn’t want to know. But she had to go. He leaned down to shake her shoulder.

“Yvonne.” He shook her again when she pulled away from his hand. “Yvonne, wake up.”

A moment later, she slowly opened her eyes and looked around slightly disoriented before blinking up at him.



Yvonne blinked several times and yawned. Where was she? She looked around the room. Why was she back at RaShaun’s house on his couch?
Then she remembered. She’d come over to wait on him last night but he hadn’t come home. Pain hit her so quick it left her slightly dizzy as the realization sank in of where he’d been, what he’d been doing, and who he’d been doing it with.

She had been so ready to convince him to give their relationship another chance. To give them another chance. But now it looked as if she was too late.

Her eyes ran over him slowly, taking in the rumbled shirt and the faint shadow of his beard. She instinctively knew he’d slept with Terri. She tried to stop the tears from welling up in her eyes, but they fell and rolled down her cheek before she could stop them.

Seeing them, RaShaun let out a string of curses. He was not going to let her make him feel guilty, dammit. “What are you doing here?”

“I came over to talk to you,” she said in a small voice.

“Yvonne, I don’t know how else I can say this. There’s nothing left for us to talk about.”


“No. I mean it. I want you to go. Now. And leave my key on your way out.”

Yvonne felt her heart break in two… He sounded so cold. So...uncaring. He'd never treated or talked to her this way before. Never. Or at least not before he found out about Brandon…

RaShaun continued to stare at her for several more moments before cutting his eyes away. Sighing in resignation, he walked to the chair opposite the couch she was lying on and he threw himself down in it. Sitting back, he leaned his elbow on the arm of the chair and he brought his hand up to his chin to study her with guarded eyes.

“Yvonne, what do you want? What do you expect to accomplish by being here?”

Mortified, she lowered her eyes at the annoyance she heard in his tone.
She had to handle this carefully or else she’d push him away even further and the best way to do that was to be open and honest with him.

“I want you back. I want us back.”

“There is no more ‘us’.”

“After everything we’ve meant to each other, I make one mistake, and that’s it? The relationship is over? Dead?“

RaShaun’s laugh was bitter and sarcastic. “One mistake,” he repeated softly.

“Give me a chance to make things right. I tried to tell you last night that–”

“And I told you last night we didn't have anything left to say. And yet, here you are.”

RaShaun never raised his voice, but Yvonne could hear the finality of his words. He remained unmoved for several long moments before finally expelling a breath that told her that his patience had come to an end.

“Fine, Yvonne. If you feel like we need to have one last, final ‘talk’ to bring closure to this relationship, then so be it. Right here, right now, we’re going to bring everything out in the open. Go on and say whatever else you need to say, because the next time you come into this house, it’ll be to pack up the rest of your belongings.” He ignored the wounded look that came over her face and continued in the same calm, even tone.

“First, going back to the night when I first found out you’d messed around with Valentine…” He paused and stared her dead in the eye.

Yvonne lifted her chin determined not to look away. She knew any sign of guilt would be perceived as a sign of weakness and willingness for deceit. She was determined to acknowledge her mistakes and deal with the consequences.

“You lied, told me half-truths over and over again until you finally backed yourself in a corner. You remember that Yvonne?”

“I was scared, RaShaun. Can’t you try to understand that?”

“So you lie to me? You know how I feel about honesty in a relationship. I can handle anything as long as you’re being truthful with me.”

Yvonne shook her head. “RaShaun…”

“I can’t be with someone I don’t trust. And I don’t trust you. It’s as simple as that.”

“And I suppose you can trust Terri?” Yvonne said snidely, jealously eating her to her core.

“This is not about Terri!” RaShaun said the words slowly and precisely. “And if we really go deeper, it’s not even about Valentine. This is about us. You and me.”

He stood up and shoved his hands in his pockets as he glared down at her, clearly becoming more agitated with each passing second.

“You and I were the two people in this relationship. No one else. Do you understand that? Nothing and no one should’ve been able to come between us, but you allowed that to happen.”

RaShaun continued in a husky voice, his eyes showing her how much she’d hurt him. “You and me, Von…I thought our bond was unbreakable Iron tight.”

He cleared his throat and looked away, visibly breathing deeply to gain control of himself. Tears were rolling down Yvonne’s face. His voice softened as he looked at her.

“I don’t want to hurt you, but its over. You need to accept that.”

As he walked away, he called out over his shoulder, “Please leave my key and lock the door behind you.”

After he was gone, Yvonne didn’t move. She couldn’t, not for a few minutes. Finally, she wiped her face with the blanket she’d used to cover up with and stood up. Taking a deep breath, she followed him to the bedroom with a determined look on her face. As difficult as it was, she couldn’t give up. Not yet.

When she opened the bedroom door, Shaun turned around and let out a low groan. “Yvonne….”

“No. You had your say; I’m going to have mine. That is what you said, isn’t it? That we’re going to say what we feel we need to before we close the door once and for all? Well, now it’s my turn. All the cards out on the table.”

RaShaun glared at her, his face showing his indifference. Finally, he gestured for her to proceed and folded his arms.

“I know it sounds stupid, but I mistakenly thought that I was missing out on some great adventure in life, that there was something else out there that I should be experiencing before I finally decided to settle down. I didn’t realize that everything I ever wanted, everything I ever needed was right in front of me. I should’ve come to you and talked to you, the way we talked about everything. I was wrong. And I’m asking you forgive me.”


When she finished, RaShaun looked at her with his lip curled up and began unbuttoning his shirt. He was past irritated and his tolerance for this conversation was gone. He’d had it with her ‘woe is me I was an innocent victim’ attitude. He was getting ready to put an end to this shit now.

“So you still contend you didn’t fuck him.” RaShaun looked down at his shirt as he finished unbuttoning it.

“No! I swear to God I didn’t!”

RaShaun nodded and looked at her intently, eyes narrowed. “He seemed pretty familiar with you last night when he grabbed you and kissed you.” He made the observation as casually as if they were discussing the weather.

“I don’t know what that was all about. RaShaun, I admitted to you that months ago I…we shared a…kiss...and...” Yvonne’s voice trailed off as she eyed him warily.

“You kissed…and…what?” he still spoke in a casual, quiet voice, but his eyes shot fire.

Yvonne remained silent, almost as if she dared not say anything else until she knew where he was going with his questions.

“All of a sudden you don’t have anything else to say?” He nodded again as if in sympathetic understanding, then pulled his shirt off and balled it up before throwing it on the bed. “Tell me, were you thinking about him when you used that cute little toy in the video you made?”

Yvonne gaped at him in shock. “No! Of course not!”

RaShaun shook his head. “I don’t believe you.” Walking up to her, he came to a stop mere inches away. Anger all but emanated from the pores of his body. Yvonne must have felt it because she moved to take a step back but he grabbed both her shoulders and held her in place.

“Listen to me. I’ve had my say. You’ve had yours. That’s it, right? Is there anything else you feel you need to add?”

Looking defeated and as if she wanted to be anywhere but in his presence, she shook her head.

“Good. Then this should be the end of it. Goodbye, Yvonne.”

RaShaun dropped his hands and went to his dresser to get a pair of clean underwear and sweats to put on after he took a shower. Suddenly, he heard Yvonne let out a horrified gasp. Dropping his head back, RaShaun stared at the ceiling before looking at Yvonne’s reflection in the mirror in front of him.

What he saw caught him off guard. She looked almost sick. One hand covered her mouth and the other her stomach. RaShaun frowned when he noticed she wasn’t looking at him. She was fixated on his back.

Frowning, he turned so that he turned his back to the mirror to see what had caused her reaction. His eyes immediately went to it. Fresh scratch marks from a woman’s fingernails.

Terri’s nails.

Sighing, he met Yvonne’s gaze with expressionless eyes. He didn’t owe her any explanations. “For the last time, I think its time for you to leave.”


Yvonne felt as if she were going to throw up. When RaShaun had craned his neck around to get a better view of the scratches on his back, she’d noticed the dark marks on his neck, as if someone had passionately sucked on his skin and left bruises. Her jealousy brought out an anger she couldn’t control.

Rushing over to him with hands curled up into fists, she started hitting him wherever she could reach. “You bastard! I hate you!” she screamed. “Do you hear me? I hate you!”

“Got dammit, stop it, Yvonne! Stop it!” RaShaun grabbed both of her wrists in his large hand and turned her around.

She continued to struggle but he wrapped his arms around her body, holding her so she couldn’t move. “Let me go!”

“What the hell is wrong with you!”

Yvonne finally stopped moving, but only because she out of breath. “Get your hands off of me,” she told him coldly.

“Not until I know you’ve calmed down! Damn! Are you crazy?”

“I’m calm! Just let me go! Now, RaShaun!”

“Fine!” He slowly moved his arms away from her, his body tense and ready in case she tried to attack him again. “You’ve been hanging around that ghetto ass Kiki for too damn long. She’s starting to rub off on you, and not in a good way.”

“At least my friends are there for me. They know that I’m human and that I make mistakes. They understand that no one is perfect. Oh, except for you, right?” Yvonne said sarcastically.

“I never said I was perfect. Far from it.”

“Whatever. Well, you have what you want. I’m finished. I won’t be bothering you again.”

Yvonne turned around and headed to the door. She meant every word. She was finished. He and his precious Terri could rot in hell for all she cared.

“You know what, that was always one of our problems right there. Kiki.” He said just before she stepped out of the room. “You always kept her in our business too much.”

“What are you talking about?” Yvonne spun around, glaring and still full of anger. "Why is it you feel I can't think for myself?"

“I never said you couldn’t think for yourself, but sometimes, you’re too naive for your own good. I never understood why you couldn’t see Kiki for the manipulative little bitch that she is. No, listen. Just answer me this,” he said when she opened her mouth to deliver what undoubtedly was a scalding reply. “After you supposedly turned down Valentine’s request to help him find a house, don’t you think it’s strange that Kiki would go behind your back and then give him your business card?”

“RaShaun, you know how she is. She thought she was being funny.”

“No, she was being messy. But let me tell you something else that you might find ‘funny’. She came over here last night? Did you know that?” RaShaun put his hands in his pocket and leaned his head to the side as he studied her.

Yvonne frowned. “What? Who came over here last night?”

“Kiki. You know, the one you defend at the drop of a hat, the one who’s ‘there for you no matter what’…”

“Wait…wait a minute.” Yvonne slowly walked back into the room. “Back up. Kiki was here? Why?”

RaShaun looked at her and scratched his head. To be such an intelligent woman, Yvonne could really have her head in the clouds sometimes when it came to certain things…or people.

“She was here to make sure I was alright since you’d left me to be with Brandon. I think those were her words. She wanted to… comfort me.”

Yvonne’s entire body trembled with anger. That…bitch!

“When I turned down her offer, with a few other choice words, she got pissed off. That’s when she spilled your little secret.”

Yvonne’s eyes narrowed. “What little secret?”

“About you and your boyfriend. She told me that you and he had been sleeping together for months.”

“She…she said what?” Yvonne whispered.

“Apparently everybody knew but me. I guess I was the joke around town all this time, huh?” Anger burned bright in his dark brown eyes.

She covered her mouth with her hands. As she listened to RaShaun, bits and pieces of conversations with Kiki began to flash through her mind. Kiki would always try to put down Yvonne’s relationship with him. She’d make fun of them preferring to stay home and watch movies or visit friends rather than go out clubbing, telling Yvonne that her life was passing her by, and that RaShaun just wanted to control her, the same way her father used to control her mother.

Of course now, it all made sense. The entire time, Kiki had been scheming to break up Yvonne’s relationship because she wanted RaShaun for herself.

RaShaun watched as everything he’d been telling her finally seemed to click. “Yvonne, I lost count of the number of times she hit on me.”

“She did what?” Yvonne screamed. “Why didn’t you tell, me RaShaun!”

“Why didn’t I tell you? Would you have believed me?? All we did was argue about that little slut. I wasn’t going to let her have that kind of power in our relationship, so I just stopped trying to talk to you about her and handled the situation myself.”

Yvonne looked away in shame as she remembered the number of times they’d fought about Kiki and RaShaun’s dislike of her. She looked back at RaShaun with eyes full of regret.

“I’m not, nor was I ever involved with Brandon like that. I swear to you.” When the look on his face screamed that he obviously didn’t believe her, Yvonne felt herself begin to panic. “Shaun, think about it. I’ve lost you. I’ve destroyed our relationship. I have no reason to lie to you. Don’t you think the minute I found out that you and…” Yvonne closed her eyes and swallowed. There was no way she could bring herself to say Terri’s name out loud. “That you had slept with her I would be only too willing to throw the fact that I’d slept with Brandon in your face?”

RaShaun remained silent, but she saw a flicker of doubt enter his eyes.

“You had just turned Kiki down, and knowing you, I’m sure you weren’t nice about it,” she smiled sadly. “She wanted to get back at you, so she said the only thing she knew would accomplish that. It doesn’t make what I did any less deplorable. I just hope that one day, you’re able to forgive me.”

She walked back towards him and reached up to kiss him on the cheek. “Goodbye, Shaun. Take care of yourself, okay?”

Hurrying out of his house, Yvonne jumped in her car and pulled out of the driveway. She drove for a few minutes before pulling over to the side of the street to wipe the wetness from her eyes. Gradually, the anger pushed aside her sadness as she thought about everything she’d just learned from RaShaun. How could she have been so stupid??

Yvonne gripped the steering wheel so tight her palms ached. Finally, she reached for her cell phone with hands that trembled and hit speed dial.

Kiki answered after the first ring. “Von? Girl, where you been? I been tryin’ to call you all night. I must have left a hundred messages.”

“I went to see RaShaun.” Yvonne was surprised how calm her voice sounded.

“R-R-RaShaun?” Kiki stuttered. “Why? What happened?” she asked nervously.

Yvonne pursed her lips to keep herself from cursing this bitch out. She intentionally made her voice tremble. “Ki…I…he was so horrible to me.”

“Girl, nooo. I told you he was no good for you. You saw how he dogged you out and chose Terri. Yvonne, you need to just leave his no good ass alone once and for all.”

Yvonne clearly heard the relief–and glee– in Kiki’s voice. “I know. You’re right, Ki. Do you think you can meet me at Tara’s? I need to talk, and you’re the only one who understands.”

“Sure, girlfriend, sure! Gimme fifteen minutes. I’ll be right there. Don’t worry, Von. I gotcha back, girl.”

After Yvonne disconnected the call, she threw the phone back in her purse and sat back. 


 "That's right, you little bitch. Come on. I'll be waiting."


Easing back into traffic, Yvonne picked up speed so that she'd get to her cousin's apartment before Kiki. There were some things she needed to take care of first, and then...


She planned on kicking Kiki's ass. 

© 2017 S.K. Hardy

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means without the written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.


Sometimes the most important
lessons are the ones we end up
learning the hard way.





Yvonne glanced at her watch. She would be back to Tara’s apartment in about ten minutes. Reaching for her phone, she called her cousin and brought her up to speed on what she had just found out. The more she talked the angrier she became. Her fingers squeezed the steering wheel in a tight grip that burned her palm as she thought about Kiki’s nasty ass trying to get RaShaun to sleep with her.

I’m gonna kick that bitch’s ass, I’m gonna kick that bitch’s ass! She repeated the phrase over and over again like her own personal spiritual mantra.

“I told you she wasn’t any good, Von, I told you!” Tara yelled into the phone. She was just as pissed off as Yvonne, but she felt vindicated, too.

“I know, Tara, I know. I should’ve listened to you. You never trusted Kiki.”

“Hell, nah! Ne-ver! I knew that grimy heffa was up to something. I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was.”

“That’s okay, she’s getting ready to get hers. I promise you that. Listen up.”

Tara did just that, screaming into the phone with glee when she heard Yvonne’s plan. “Girl, yes! This is gonna be good.”

“We don’t have much time, so–”

“I’m on it. See you when you get here.”


As soon as she pulled into the parking lot, Yvonne hopped out of the car and ran to Tara’s apartment. Kiki would be there any minute so she needed to hurry.

Opening the front door, she rushed inside and saw Tara sitting on the couch talking on the phone. As Yvonne passed her, she gave Tara a questioning look, silently asking if she’d been able to take care of what Yvonne had asked her to do. Tara pointed to the phone and gave her a thumbs up. Yvonne nodded and quickly went to her room.

Impatiently kicking her sandals off, Yvonne went to her closet and pulled out a pair of running shoes. After she’d slipped them on and laced them up, she jogged to the bathroom to pull her hair back in a tight bun, and took off her hoop earrings. She didn't want there to be anything that Kiki could get ahold of and pull.

Yvonne stared at her reflection in the mirror, hearing RaShaun’s voice again telling her all the things that Kiki had done, the lies she had told, and how she’d come on to him. She was so angry her hands trembled, but hearing the doorbell chime, she settled her face into a calm expression. A moment later she heard Kiki calling her from the living room.


“Be right there.” Yvonne turned the light out and hurried out of the room.

Walking into the living room, she saw Kiki sitting on the couch with her arms folded rolling her eyes at Tara. Tara stood by the door with her hands on her hips staring Kiki down. She glanced up briefly when Yvonne walked in, then went back to glaring fiercely at Kiki. Her foot tapped on the hardwood floor with restless energy.

Clearly irritated, Kiki looked at Yvonne. “Damn, heffa. What took you so long? You know your cousin don’t believe in being civil to people.” She looked at Tara again and rolled her eyes.

“Sorry, girl, I was in the bathroom.” Yvonne sat down on the couch. Folding one leg under the other, she turned her body towards Kiki. She rested her right arm along the back of the couch and just stared at the woman she had let make a fool of her for so long.

Yeah, it was clear now that Ms. Kiki had apparently had her own agenda all this time–to fuck Yvonne’s man. If Shaun had been a no good, scandalous dog he probably would've taken her up on her offer, but that wasn't the type of man he was, thank God.

Interrupting her thoughts, Kiki leaned towards Yvonne, eager to get to the meat and bones of the visit. “So girl, what happened? You said you went to RaShaun’s last night? Was Terri there? Did you catch them in the act?"

Yvonne lowered her eyes so Kiki wouldn’t see the white hot anger that was surely reflected in their depths. All she could think was that Kiki must really be a fool because bringing up the other bitch who was after RaShaun only served to add fuel to the fire. 




“No. She wasn’t there.”

“Oh, she wasn’t?” Kiki had the nerve to look disappointed but she quickly changed her expression to reflect one of fake concern. “I’m surprised, though. You saw the way RaShaun was looking at her. He was practically protecting her from you last night–almost like she was his woman.”

Kiki twisted the knife in deeper to Yvonne’s wound and looked at her undereyed, waiting on a reaction. Yvonne’s nails dug in her palm, struggling not to give her one.

Kiki appeared frustrated. The conversation obviously wasn’t going the way she planned. “So what happened? You said you went there last night. You just now leaving?” Suddenly she frowned. “Did you sleep with him?” The question was more like a demand.

“No, I didn’t sleep with him. I let myself into his house to wait for him. Apparently, I fell asleep on the couch. He didn’t wake me up until this morning.” Yvonne sidestepped any reference to RaShaun spending the night with Terri. She wasn’t going to give Kiki that satisfaction.

“Well, what happened!” Kiki asked impatiently.

“Well, we actually got along pretty well, believe it or not.” Yvonne noticed how Kiki’s mouth turned down in displeasure.

“What? Yvonne, what is wrong with you. That man practically dogged you out last night in front of everybody we know! And then to top it off, he walks out of the club with his ex-girlfriend as if he can’t wait to get her somewhere and fuck her got damn brains out.”

Yvonne’s breathing sped up, because she knew that’s exactly what had happened. Unaware that she was writing a check her ass would have to cash in just a minute, Kiki continued.

“What about Brandon? I thought you and he were gonna start kickin’ it now that you not tied down. Why are you still running after RaShaun? It’s obvious he’s moved on. Geez, girl, don’t you have any pride?”

Kiki curled her lip up at Yvonne as if she were a pathetic, weak, excuse of a woman. Yvonne realized in that moment, that’s exactly what Kiki thought of her. Wow.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Tara walk over to the window and look down at the parking lot. She glanced her way and saw Tara nod and grab her cell phone. Dialing a number, she went to her bedroom and closed the door. That was Yvonne’s cue.

“Kiki? You really don’t know a fucking thing about me.” Yvonne said quietly. When Kiki bucked her eyes at her, Yvonne stared right back.

“Wait, hol’ up, Yvonne. Don’t get all snappy with me just because you found out that motherfucka is a dog and not the perfect man you thought he was.”

“The only dog I see right now is you. And we all know the correct term for a female dog...don’t we, bitch?”

Kiki’s jaw dropped. She sat up straight on the couch and looked at Yvonne as if she’d lost her mind. “Wayment. Who you callin’ a bitch, bitch??” Kiki’s head twisted on her neck. Her eyes had gotten so big they looked like they were ready to pop out of her head.

Yvonne stood up and stared down at her. “Oh, no, baby girl. Why you getting offended? Claim the name and be proud. Wait, let me help you by breaking it down for you.”

“A female dog walks around with her tail up in the air, showing everything she’s got and thinking she got that good good.” She looked at Kiki up and down as if making a comparison. Nodding, she made a gesture in the air with her finger.


“But see, what they don’t realize is that a male dog will screw anything, especially if he knows she’s hot in the ass and in heat. And when she’s in heat, a bitch will get with any stray dog she sees.” Again she looked Kiki up and down and made the gesture in the air.


“And lets not forget, when they getting screwed, they don’t care where they are, who knows, or who sees as long as they gettin’ the dick, so you guessed it: Check.”

Kiki jumped up off the couch, staring at Yvonne more in shock than anger. But Yvonne wasn’t quite finished.

“And last, but not least, when every male dog from miles around has gotten some of that tired, worn out, stinky ass, he leaves her and goes back home like the good boy he is, leaving the bitch looking like the tramp she is.” Yvonne took a step towards Kiki and stared her dead in the eyes without flinching.




Screeching, high-pitched laughter cut through the tension in the living room as Tara walked back in clapping her hands. “Damn, cousin!”

Yvonne’s attention never strayed from Kiki. Tara laughed so hard she could barely catch her breath. She hadn’t seen this side of Vonnie in a long time, probably since they were kids. Kiki had met her long after she’d calmed her little ass down, but she was being introduced to a whole ‘nother side of Yvonne than the woman she thought she knew and Tara loved it!

“Yasss, yasss, yasss, you still got it, girl! That was good!” Walking past them to the front door, Tara paused and leaned back to look at Kiki. Snickering, she sang out, “You ‘bout to get you ass kicked….biyatch! Bwahahaha!”

She could be heard laughing outside even after she'd left the apartment and closed the door behind her.

Suddenly Kiki nodded as if she’d had an epiphany. “Ohhhh. Now I get it. Your stupid ass done let your cousin blow your head up and convince you that you bad, but you better take note; she ain’t here to save you! I don’t know who the fuck you think you are, or what the hell has gotten into you, but let me tell you this…argh…!!”

Before she could finish her sentence, she had the unpleasant experience of having the taste slapped out of her mouth by Yvonne. Kiki fell, sprawled back on the couch, holding her face.

Yvonne pointed her finger at Kiki. “I don’t need nofuckin'body to help me kick your ass. Believe me. I got this.”

Kiki frowned, her face an ugly scowl as she moved to stand up, but Yvonne jumped on top of her and commenced to whippin’ her ass good and proper.

Kiki turned her head, bringing her hands up to ward of the blows Yvonne rained down on her. “Are you crazy?! Get off of me, Yvonne!!”

But Yvonne was in that zone where the only thing that registered was the agenda she had to pay Kiki back. Although the other woman was taller and weighed more than her, Yvonne’s frame of mind was the bigger the bitch, the harder she was gonna fall.

Straddling Kiki, she grabbed a handful of her hair to try and turn her around. Yvonne separated her words with sharp, hard whacks.

“You…don’t…know…who the…fuck…you messin’… with…Ki…Ki…”

Screaming, Kiki blindly started windmilling her hands without looking to at least try to make contact. “Yvonne, what’s wrong with you! Yvonnnnne!”

Finally, Kiki shoved with all her might and managed to dump Yvonne on the floor. Hopping up, she crouched low with her arms outstretched, dividing her wide eyes between Yvonne then the door. When she lunged toward her escape, Yvonne jumped up and grabbed her shirt. She heard the thin material rip in two as she swung Kiki to the floor.

Standing over her and breathing hard, Yvonne pointed a finger of warning at her. “I advise you to keep your ass right where you are.”

Kiki opened her mouth, then thought better of it and lay there glaring up at Yvonne, but Von didn’t care how she looked at her, she just better not get her ass up.

“You are pathetic!” she told her. “You go to RaShaun’s house and lie on me? Or better yet, let me just stop at the part where you go to RaShaun’s house! What makes you think he would want your nasty ass? He’s never liked you and you know it! If he had his way, your name would’ve never even been uttered in our house, and I wish to God I’d listened to him!”

“I saw him first, but nooo. You had to use your ‘Little Miss Pollyanna’ routine that you always act like around men and for some reason they fall for it. You had men lined up to date you! Why couldn’t you just leave RaShaun for me!!”

Yvonne looked at her as if she were truly delusional. “Kiki! RaShaun didn’t want you! He never wanted you! What part of that don’t you understand?? You need to come out of your dream world and back to reality! Why would you lie to him and tell him I’ve been sleeping with Brandon?”

Kiki laughed. “Because I was never your friend, that’ s why! I can’t stand you! Little Ms. Perfect with the perfect job, perfect body, perfect man, perfect house! Well, guess what, things aren’t so perfect now, are they, Yvonne?”

The room grew silent as Yvonne and Kiki glared at each other. Seeing Kiki’s expression of satisfaction, Yvonne let out a shrill scream and went after her again.



RaShaun pulled into the parking lot of Tara’s apartment complex and found a parking space. Turning off the ignition, he sat back in his seat continuing to argue back and forth with himself. Why was he even there? He didn’t know what he was doing here or what he expected to accomplish. But he needed to talk to Yvonne again. As hard as he tried, the measure of peace he’d hoped to find after she walked out of his house a couple of hours ago continued to evade him. He had to talk to her.

He was just getting ready to get out of his car when his phone rang. Seeing Terri’s name on the caller ID brought his second problem to the forefront. He’d talked to her once and told her he’d call her later on that day, but she had continued to blow his phone up and leave messages until his voice mail was full. 


He should’ve just followed his first mind last night and taken her home and left her there…alone. But after seeing Brandon kissing Yvonne, the only thing he’d wanted to do was erase the image and replace it with something else. At the time, sleeping with Terri had been it. He’d been determined to drive Yvonne from his thoughts, and it had worked for a couple of hours, but when he woke up the next morning, he’d found himself back at square one: thinking about Yvonne.

Sighing in resignation, he got out of the car. He was a few feet from the apartment complex when he looked ahead and recognized Tara. She was standing around three other women who didn’t seem too happy. At that moment, Tara happened to turn her head. She did a double take when she saw him. To say she was surprised to see him was an understatement.


“Hey, Tara.” He nodded to the other women then turned back to Tara. “Is Yvonne here? I need to talk to her.”

He frowned when he heard the words ’bitch’ and ’slut’ come from the mumblings of the three women standing there. Were they talking about Yvonne? RaShaun looked at Tara for an explanation.

“Uhhhh, I...she…Umm…” Tara couldn’t seem to get her words out.

Curious as hell now as to what was going RaShaun raised an eyebrow and waited.

“RaShaun, she’s a little…busy right now.”

RaShaun’s frown deepened abruptly. He should’ve known. “Let me guess. Brandon’s here.”

Shaking his head, he turned around and angrily started back to his car, but Tara rushed forward and tugged at his arm to stop him.

“RaShaun, wait! Hell no, Brandon’s lame ass isn’t here.”

“Look, you don’t have to cover for her, just forget I came by.” RaShaun tried to step around Tara, but she refused to let him pass.

“You don’t understand. She’s…Kiki’s up there with her,” she spit out quickly.

Now RaShaun was really puzzled. “What is Kiki doing here? When Yvonne left my house an hour ago, she was damn near ready to kill Kiki.”

“Well, lets hope she don’t.” One of the women Tara had been whispering with glanced up at the apartment as the others murmured their agreement. “We waitin’ to get our turn to kick that bitch’s ass, too.”

RaShaun was even more puzzled. What did they mean by, too?

He looked at Tara, determined now to get some answers. “What’s goin’ on, T.?” When her eyes slid away from him to avoid the question she saw on his face, RaShaun ducked his head to catch her eye. “Tara?

“Alright, alright! Yvonne is beatin’ that ass, that’s what’s goin’ on!”

One of the women yelled, “And after finding out she slept with our husbands and that one’s boyfriend, we here to finish whatever your friend leaves behind!”

RaShaun’s lips parted as his eyes went from the women back to Tara. Now he was beginning to understand what was going on. “Oh, shit…”

RaShaun took off running, taking the stairs up to Tara’s apartment two at a time. Swinging around the railing, he got to the door and burst in without knocking, and what he saw in the middle of the living room momentarily left him frozen in shock. Yvonne had Kiki in a headlock and was doing her best to twist Kiki’s neck off.

“Yvonne! Von, let her go!”

But Yvonne was too busy tussling and tumbling on the floor with Kiki for anything else to register. RaShaun ran over to them and reached down to try to unwrap Yvonne’s arms from around Kiki’s neck.

Damn, she’s strong, he thought when it took more effort than he’d imagined it would.

“Yvonne!” Exerting a little bit more pressure he finally managed to pry her arms away. Reaching down, he scooped her up and held her from behind so that her back rested against his chest.

Yvonne struggled like a wild woman. “Let me go, RaShaun! Let me go!”

“Von, stop it! What the fuck is wrong with you!” He looked at Kiki, who was struggling to get up. Her shirt was ripped, showing her black lace bra, and her hair was shooting in all directions over her head.

“You crazy ass bitch!” Kiki yelled, pointing to Yvonne. “You tried to kill me!”

“Oh, your ass bold now that RaShaun is holding me back, aren’t you! Got dammit RaShaun, let me go! I just need a few more minutes!” Yvonne tried to wiggle out of his arms, but he kept them firmly wrapped around her.

Looking at Kiki, he said, “You need to get out of here. Now.”

“I’m not scared of her!” Kiki bluffed.

RaShaun’s expression told her she was crazy not to be. “Do you want me to let her go?” he asked.

When he looked like he was going to do just that, Kiki jumped. She limped to the door as fast as she could with one shoe off and one shoe on, looking back to make sure RaShaun still had a hold of Yvonne.

“I think you better go down the back way. There’s some pretty unhappy women waiting downstairs for you. Something about you sleeping with their men. Imagine that,” he added sarcastically.

Yvonne whipped her head around to glare at RaShaun. Now she was furious at him. 


“Why did you tell her!” she screamed.

RaShaun face showed his bewilderment. He was still trying to reconcile the woman in front of him with the woman he'd known for the last few years. He had never seen this side of Yvonne before, had no idea it even existed inside the sweet, soft spoken women he’d been living with. He didn’t even know who she was…

And he’d never been more turned on in his life.

Furious, Yvonne watched Kiki open the door and cautiously look to her left, then to her right. After seeing that the coast was clear, she half ran, half hobbled towards the back exit of the building. Once she was gone, Yvonne turned accusing eyes towards RaShaun, who still held her by the waist.

“Why would you tell her those women were waiting on her! She deserves a lot more than what she got in here for everything she’s done.”

She tried to wiggle away, intent on letting the other women know that Kiki had taken her sneaky ass out the back way. RaShaun swallowed a hoarse moan as Yvonne leaned forward, squirming and twisting her soft ass against his crotch, trying to free herself. She was so angry that his erection didn’t even register.

When he momentarily loosened his grip, Yvonne took off for the door. RaShaun didn’t expect her to be that quick. Cursing under his breath, he grabbed her, picked her up, and threw her over his shoulder. Yvonne screamed when she found herself upside down, staring at his back while he held her in place by keeping an arm locked over the back of her thighs.

“RaShaun!! Put me down! Put me down! I mean it, RaShaun!!”

He didn’t respond as he turned around and started walking towards her bedroom. When they went by the window, Yvonne lifted her head as far as she could and saw Kiki jumping into a cab across the street. 


Apparently, the other women who had been waiting for her spotted her as well, but the cab pulled off with Kiki in the back seat before they could get to her. Yvonne caught sight of Kiki hanging out the window giving them the finger and licking her tongue out as she passed by. The sight enraged Yvonne even more.

“Ewwww!! That bitch! Got dammit, RaShaun!” She balled her fists up and started pummeling him in the small of his back and kicking her feet.

Cursing because she almost tumbled off his shoulder, RaShaun quickly steadied her with his other hand before giving her a couple of stinging slaps on the ass.

“OHHH! You….You….hit me!” Yvonne sputtered.

“Yep. And if you don’t stay still I’ll hit you again.”

She considered elbowing him in the back, but knew those smacks had been warning. Her asscheeks were already burning. Deciding she'd better take heed and do as he said, she hung over his shoulder in sulking silence.

When RaShaun got to her room, he dumped her on the bed before going to close the door and lean back against it with his arms folded. Just as he’d anticipated, Yvonne had jumped up and tried to get to the door before him to leave.

“You need to calm your little ass down right now,” RaShaun said quietly.

“I will as soon as I finish what I started, so could you please–”

“It’s finished,” he interrupted in the same quiet voice. Pushing away from the door, he walked up to her and stared down at her. “What in the hell did you think you were doing?”

Yvonne took a step back so that she could look him fully in the face. “What did I think I was doing?!” She still had much attitude and it was conveyed in her voice. “I was handling my business with Kiki's lying two faced ass if that’s okay with you. Anyway, what are you doing here?”

RaShaun ignored the question because he didn’t have an answer. Instead, he went on the offense. “Since when do you pull some ‘girlz in the hood’ shit, Yvonne? You and your cousin calling up ‘Pookie and ‘em’ to come and jump Kiki…”

She opened her mouth ready to go off, but he continued before she could say anything.

“And before you say it, I don’t give a fuck about Kiki’s ass. She deserved everything you gave her, but all of this could’ve been avoided a long time ago if–”

“You know what RaShaun, I really don’t need this shit from you. Not now and not today.”

RaShaun’s eyes held hers before he lowered them and ran over her body. Her full breasts heaved up and down from the adrenalin rush that was still running through her body, and her nipples pushed defiantly through the little tank top in order to make their presence known. 


Only one thought popped into his head: Damn, she’s hot.

The shrill ring of his cell phone interrupted the highly charged silence in the room. He ignored it as he stepped back and wiped his hand over his mouth. Come on Rah, get ahold of yourself. Now is not the time to be letting your mind wander to places it's trying to go.

But when she abruptly turned around and started pacing back and forth, his eyes fell to her round derriere that filled out the little blue jean shorts to perfection. His hands itched to just…

“RaShaun! RaShaun! Did you hear what I just said?” Yvonne was standing in front of him with her hand on her hip glaring at him.

He blinked rapidly. “No. What?”

She let out an impatient snort. “You never did answer me. What are you doing here? I thought you would’ve bid me good riddance once I left this morning.”

Seeing no way to get out of answering he shrugged. “Does it matter?”

“Does it…? You know what? Forget it.” Yvonne rolled her eyes as she moved to walk past him to leave. “I don’t need this from you right now. If you came by to make me feel even worse than I already do and reiterate how I broke your trust and shattered our bond, etc., etc., etc., then you can just save it.”

RaShaun frowned darkly at her flip tone, but Yvonne either didn't notice or didn't care. She reached around him and opened the door but only managed to crack it open before he slapped his hand on it and slammed it shut. She turned around to stare questioningly at him.

“That wasn’t a rhetorical question. I wanna know. Does it matter to you that I'm here?”


Yvonne suddenly felt warm and a little panicky. At the same time, her insides jangled with excitement. He needed to move. He was standing entirely too close.

Swallowing nervously, she tried to sidestep around him, but he put his other hand on the door, effectively, trapping her against the door. His cell phone rang again, and as before, he ignored it and continued gazing down at her.

“What are you doing?” Yvonne whispered. A spark of alarm rippled down her spine. “RaShaun–”

“I asked you a question…” His eyes dropped to her lips. “Which you haven’t answered yet.”

Yvonne wished he would move, give her some space. She slipped her hand up under her ponytail and rubbed the back of her neck. Why is it so hot in here?

Seeing that RaShaun was still waiting on her to respond she opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out. She cleared her throat and tried again.

“Maybe.” The word sounded like a high-pitched squeak, but at least she’d managed to reply.

But RaShaun’s eyes were now focused on her breasts. Yvonne's nipples grew achingly hard under his attention. She wanted to fold her arms over her chest when the corner of his mouth curved up, telling her that he'd noticed her body's reaction, but she managed to curb the urge to do so. A wave of relief, so strong it left her weak, passed over her when he brought his gaze back to her face.


Yvonne closed her eyes. She couldn’t concentrate if she looked at him. “Yes…no…I don't know, maybe!”

“Open your eyes, Von.”

Yvonne hesitated. She didn’t want to open her eyes because she knew if she did it would be over, but unable to stop herself she did as he requested. She watched, as if hypnotized, when he slowly lowered his head down. Without her even realizing it, Yvonne lifted her lips, eager to meet him more than halfway.

RaShaun stopped, his mouth an inch away, his warm breath mingling with hers, but before he could bend the rest of the way to kiss her, his cell phone rang yet again.

Yvonne’s eyes opened as if in a daze. When he pulled his head back and snapped his cell phone off his belt with an impatient hiss, she felt like screaming. Why was he answering it now of all times?

She saw him grimace when he glanced at the number displayed on the caller ID. Without commenting, he sent the call to voice mail.

Yvonne looked up from his phone and stared at him suspiciously. “Who keeps trying to call you? Terri?”

RaShaun snapped his phone back in the case on his belt. When he didn't answer her, Yvonne’s body stiffened. She boomeranged his words back at him with a crisp snap.

“That wasn’t a rhetorical question. Now I want an answer. Was... that… Terri?”

RaShaun studied her for several long moments then said, “Yes. It was.” He paused then straightened up and moved a couple of steps back. “Look, there’s something I need to go and take care of. Do you think we can finish this conversation later?”

Yvonne’s eyes narrowed in disbelief. “You're leaving?”

“Yes, but–”

“And I assume that something you have to take care of is Terri…” Her eyes never left his. Even though her heart felt as if it had been pierced with a sharp knife, her shoulder rose in a nonchalant shrug. “Fine. Go.”

When she averted her face, RaShaun placed a finger under her chin to turn her back to him. “It’s not what you think. She and I…we need to get some things straight. As soon as I do, I’d like us to go some place where we can talk…that is, if it's what you want.”

Yvonne looked at him with wide, anxious eyes. She wanted to tell him not to leave. She wanted to tell him stay and never see Terri again, but she refused to appear needy and desperate.

“I said fine. Just go.”


RaShaun dropped his fingers from Yvonne's chin. He wanted to say more because he knew what she was thinking, but when he heard his phone buzz again, his jaw clenched in irritation. This couldn’t wait. When he came back, he and Yvonne would sit down and discuss everything, but right now…

Stepping around her, he opened the door and waited for her to go out first. They walked in silence to the living room. RaShaun hesitated, but knowing there was nothing he could say to make things any better, he headed to the front door. He opened it to leave, but before he could, he heard Yvonne call his name.

Turning, he looked at her with raised eyebrows. The two of them stared at each other for several long moments. RaShaun read the wordless question burning in her eyes that she didn’t want to ask out loud.

“I’ll be back,” he said softly. “Couple of hours, tops. I promise.”

He kept his eyes on her until she nodded. After he closed the door behind him, his mind strayed to the possibilities ahead for them. He had no idea how things would work out between he and Yvonne, but he had to admit he wanted to find out.

RaShaun was so engrossed in his thoughts that he didn’t notice someone had come up the stairs until he heard becoming a familiar voice that set his teeth on edge.

“Well, well, well. If it isn’t the pitiful ex.”

RaShaun’s body tensed. Looking up, he saw Brandon staring at him with his usual mocking expression. RaShaun immediately fixed his expression to one of unconcerned indifference, but behind his cool demeanor, he fought the urge to wrap his hands around the Brandon’s neck and slowly squeeze until he took his last breath.

RaShaun had disliked people before. There were some he couldn’t stand to even be around but tolerated. But this dude….the hostility he felt towards him was almost scary.

His hand curled up in a fist. Every time he saw Valentine, it was a struggle to keep control and not lose it because if he ever allowed that to happen and if no one was around to pull him off Brandon’s ass–he would seriously hurt him and probably end up in jail.


Brandon saw the fist RaShaun balled up at his side. A look of satisfaction came over his face. It was so easy to rile his anger. The guy was so fuckin' uptight.

It was no wonder Yvonne was so unhappy. To be honest, he thought he would’ve worn her down by now. After all, taking advantage of unhappy women's emotions was his specialty. All he had to do was convey just the right amount of sympathy and understanding of their problems until they seamlessly gravitated from being their man’s devoted significant other to a woman curious and ready to pursue the feelings she had developed for him. Yvonne was more resistant than most, but he had not doubt she’d soften up and come around.

Deciding to twist the knife further into RaShaun’s chest, he gave him a taunting grin. “Man, what is it going to take for you to get the message that she don’t want you?”

“It's you who’s not getting the message. We can either do this the easy way or the hard way. Your choice, but we’ll start with easy first. Stay away from Yvonne.” RaShaun spread his hands wide. “See? Simple. Think you can understand that?”

“Nah, son. She wants me now. Matter of fact, before you left with that bony bitch hangin’ all over you last night, I told you that Yvonne was mine. Remember?”

The door to Tara’s apartment suddenly swung open. Frowning, Yvonne stepped out, her eyes going lingering on RaShaun before landing on Brandon.

“What are you doing here?” she asked him.

“Hey, baby. I knew how upset you were last night so–”

“Brandon, stop.” Yvonne raised a hand to halt his words. “I’m not going to stand here and let you intentionally misconstrue things in front of Shaun. I made it crystal clear, before Tara brought me home alone, that I didn’t want to see you or talk to you again, didn’t I?”

“She sure did.” Tara walked up behind them, giving Brandon a dirty look as she passed by him to go and stand by Yvonne. “I was right there when she told your lyin’ bitch ass.” 

Brandon scowled at Tara, his handsome face contorting into an expression of intense dislike. He looked as if he wanted to say something thought better of it when Tara folded her arms defiantly and jutted her hip out. It was obvious she was ready to go word for word with him to defend her cousin.

However, Yvonne touched her arm lightly to stop her and sent RaShaun a pleading look that told him she wanted to handle this. RaShaun’s lips tightened, but he leaned a shoulder against the wall and kept his eyes on Brandon. His stance was seemingly casual and laid back, but his body was poised and ready to go at the slightest provocation.

“Yvonne, come on now. I haven’t forgotten what you told me about how unhappy you were with him,” Brandon said. “You’re just confused and–”

“I am not confused,” Yvonne snapped. “Don’t act like you know me because you don’t.”

Brandon’s eyes turned ugly and insulting. “You weren’t saying that the night my tongue was so far down your throat that …mmph… Mmmph…Grmphhhh!”

Before he could finish the sentence, RaShaun had swung him back against the wall and shoved his forearm against Brandon’s throat. Eyes bucked wide, Brandon started clawing desperately at RaShaun’s arm, his face turning a sickening shade of deep red as RaShaun calmly and methodically blocked his passage of air...and it looked like he had no intention on stopping. 




RaShaun brought his face, devoid of expression, close to Brandon’s. “Did you know it only takes fifteen seconds or so for a person to go unconscious from lack of oxygen?” He pressed his arm tighter against Brandon’s larynx. “I heard it takes four to five minutes for somebody to strangle to death. Let’s see if that’s true."

Panicking, Brandon’s survival instinct kicked in. Gargling and wheezing for air, his body twisted desperately to try and dislodge RaShaun’s arm with little success.

“Oh my God! RaShaun!” Yvonne screamed, trying to pull his arm back. “RaShaun, he can’t breathe! Let him go!”

RaShaun never even flinched. At first, Tara had been standing there with a grin on her face, but when it became clear that RaShaun wasn’t fucking around she ran over and tried to help Yvonne pull him off Brandon, but it was like pulling and pushing against a brick wall.

“Shit, Rah, you're killing him!” she yelled. “He ain’t worth it! Rah!"

Brandon’s hands trembled then went slack. His eyelashes fluttered and his eyes started to roll up into the back of his head. RaShaun let out a deep, raw growl before removing his arm and stepping back. Brandon dropped to the floor like a rag doll. Seconds later he sputtered and coughed and gasped for air.

RaShaun stared down at him, his hands twitching with the urge to finish the job. But Tara was right Valentine wasn’t worth losing his freedom over.

Squatting down, he peered closely at Brandon, slowly dragging his finger back and forth along his lips, squinting as if studying a new specimen. When he spoke his voice was in complete contrast to the uncontrolled rage he’d displayed only moments ago.

“I told you we could either do this the easy way or the hard way. You should’ve taken the first option. It would’ve been less painful, but I think I finally got my point across. Don’t you?”

Bringing his hands up to rub his bruised throat, Brandon stared at him with a visible wariness in his eyes. He looked as if he didn’t know what to say. Even Yvonne looked at RaShaun as if trying to figure out whether or not he would snap again if Brandon actually answered the question.

RaShaun leaned forward with murder burning in his eyes. Brandon flinched and tried to crawfish back but the wall behind him prevented any avenue of escape.

“For the last time, don’t call her. Don’t come by. Don’t let her name pass your lips after today. Now do we understand each other?” When Brandon just continued to look at him, RaShaun grew still and his gaze sharpened. “Nod if you understand.”

Brandon hesitated for a split second before moving his head up and down.

“Good.” RaShaun said. He stood up and stared down at Brandon. “Now leave.”


Yvonne stood beside RaShaun as she watched Brandon’s car speed out of the parking lot. She folded her arms around her body to try and stop herself from trembling. Looking up, she found RaShaun staring at her through unfathomable eyes.

“You could’ve killed him,” she whispered.

“I wasn’t gonna kill him,” RaShaun answered quietly. “But I bet he’ll think twice before he comes near you again.”

Yvonne was silent, not knowing what to say at this point.

“You alright?” he asked in that same quiet, controlled voice.

Yvonne nodded and peered up at RaShaun apprehensively. “Are we?” She watched him closely, afraid that the confrontation with Brandon had created a setback for the tentative truce they’d called.

They held each other’s eyes, then RaShaun nodded. Yvonne released a breath she didn’t realize she was holding. “Okay. I’ll…I’ll see you when you get back.”



RaShaun pulled up in front of Terri’s place and killed the ignition. After the confrontation with Valentine, he wasn’t looking forward to having another one with Terri, but he didn’t believe in putting things off. It was simpler to deal with shit and get it out the way so that there were no misunderstandings or confusion on anyone’s part.

He had called Terri and told her that he was on his way. RaShaun could tell from her end of the conversation that she had not taken heed to what he’d told her about last night just being a casual thing between friends. If anything, just the opposite. She was acting like they were already in a relationship. As soon as she’d picked up the phone, she’d begun to subtly question him about where he’d been and why he hadn’t been in touch with her.

“I called several times, but you didn’t answer.” She paused as if waiting on an explanation.

RaShaun had raised an eyebrow. If she was waiting for him to explain himself to her, she’d have a long wait. Keeping an even tone, he’d ignored the comment and asked, “Did you need something when you called?”

“Well…no. Not really. Just wondering what you were doing, and if you’d like to get together later on tonight.”

Terri had tried to keep her voice light and casual, but RaShaun heard the hopefulness in her voice. Again, he kicked himself for sleeping with her last night. He’d known Terri had feelings for him, and no matter what she’d told him, her emotions were most definitely involved. They had known each other for a long time and he didn’t want to hurt her, but it was best he put an end to this right now.

RaShaun reluctantly opened his car door and got out. He had only taken a few steps towards her townhouse when she opened the front door and stared at him with a welcoming smile.

“Hi,” she greeted him softly, moving aside to let him come inside.

“Hey. How are you?”

“I’m fine, especially now that you’re here.” Closing the door, she immediately threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tight. “I missed you.”

RaShaun rested his hands lightly on her waist. When she lifted her head and tried to kiss him, he turned so that the kiss landed on his cheek. Terri’s smile slowly disappeared as she searched his eyes. “Rah? What’s wrong? What’s going on?”

RaShaun reached up and gently pulled her arms from around his neck. “Terri, we need to talk.”

He grabbed her hand and led her over to the couch. Once they were sitting down, RaShaun put his elbows on his knees and turned to her.

“What’s wrong?” she whispered again, but he could tell from the look in her eye that she already knew what he was going to say.

RaShaun came directly to the point. “Last night was a mistake. We shouldn’t have slept together.”

“Don’t say that.” Terri scooted close to him and put her hand on his thigh. “I…we’re friends…and friends are there for one another, aren’t they? That’s what last night was about. I know that, but you have to admit that it was good between us, Rah. Better than I remembered. You can’t deny that, can you?”

RaShaun caught her fingers and moved them off of his leg when her hand started inching up his inner thigh. “I never wanted to hurt you, Terri, but what happened last night won’t happen again. I made it clear before we even got to that point that Yvonne and I just broke up and I wasn’t ready to jump into a relationship.”

He ignored the scowl that appeared on her face at the mention of Yvonne’s name.

“I’ll be honest with you , I don’t know what’s going to happen between her and me. Maybe things will work out, maybe they won’t, but it was never my intention to give you false hope that you and I would be together.”

Terri’s face went through a series of emotions as she listened to RaShaun talk. “You can’t be serious,” she hissed. “Are you saying that you’re actually considering going back to her after what she did? You saw the way that guy she was messing around with kissed her last night. She probably went home with him. That doesn’t bother you?”

RaShaun sat motionless for a moment. The tense silence between them stretched out until he stood up. He had said what he’d come to say. Now it was time for him to leave, but before he could, Terri grabbed his arm and clung to it tightly.

“Okay, okay. I’m sorry.” She reached up to touch his face, but RaShaun grabbed her hand and pulled it away. “Just don’t go.”

“Terri, don’t…”

“Baby, please. It was good between us last night. I know you felt it, too. Are you trying to tell me that she makes you feel better than I made you feel?” Terri slipped her arms around his waist and raised her face towards his. “RaShaun, I love you. I’ve always loved you, you know that. You’re everything to me.”

“And that’s one of the reasons we didn’t work Terri.” RaShaun pulled her arms from around his waist and held her in place when she tried to launch herself at him again. “I never wanted to be somebody’s everything. You damn near smothered me until you eventually pushed me away.”

“Rah! That’s not true!”

“It is. Things didn’t work for a reason back then and it’s not going to work out now.” RaShaun hesitated, then spoke the words he knew would get through to her. “I love Yvonne, Terri. I’m goin’ to try to work it out with her.”

Tears rolled down Terri’s face. The entire time RaShaun was speaking she shook her head wildly from side to side in denial.

“No, no, no! You love me! Deep down inside you know you do. You just have to give us a chance, baby. Give yourself time, and you’ll realize that I’ve always been the woman for you.”

RaShaun abruptly let go of her arms and strode to the door. Jesus. “Goodbye Terri.”

“RaShaun! RaShaun!!”

RaShaun opened the door and walked towards his car, ignoring her outraged cries and screams.

“RaShaun, stop! RaShaun! Ra-SHAUN!” Terri’s voice was hoarse from her screams.

He started the ignition and backed out of the parking space. Glancing at her one last time, he saw that Terri had ran outside and fallen to her knees as she continued to scream his name. However, now she sounded more furious than hurt.

The sight gave him flashbacks to the years they’d spent together as a couple. Anything would set her off. She’d pitch a fit if he wasn’t spending every spare free moment with her, telling him he preferred his friends over her, constantly accusing him of cheating on her. It got to be too much. If she didn’t get her way with sweet talking words, she’d revert to tears. If that didn’t work, she’d curse and scream and try to fight him. It didn’t matter where they were or who was around. The more he tried to calm her down, the louder she got. Finally he had just learned to walk away when she had one of her tantrums. And that’s exactly what he was going to do today.

RaShaun stepped on the accelerator and drove off. He put all thoughts of Terri’s crazy ass out of his mind and thought about Yvonne. He meant what he had told Terri. He loved Yvonne. He wasn’t going to rush things, but…if she was willing he would commit to giving their relationship another try and see where things went from there.


RaShaun had barely rang the doorbell before Yvonne threw the door open. She looked at him with relief clearly showing on her face. She knew he said he was coming back, but a million thoughts had run through her mind. What if he saw Terri and changed his mind. What if the confrontation with Brandon made him not even want to be bothered? What if, what if, what if.

“Can I come in?” RaShaun interrupted her reverie, giving her an amused smile when she continued to just stand in the doorway staring at him.

“Oh! Uh, yeah. Come in.” Yvonne stepped back.

RaShaun came in and closed the door. “Where’s Tara?” he asked, looking around.

“She said she had some things to take care of at the Youth Center. She loves her work but I’m sure that was just an excuse to give us a little privacy.”

RaShaun just nodded. “I appreciate that.”

“Would you like to sit down?” She led the way further into the apartment and sat down on the couch. RaShaun followed, but instead of sitting beside her on the couch, he chose the chair opposite of her which, for some reason, made Yvonne even more nervous.

“How did things go?"

RaShaun shrugged. “They went.”


"Is it...over? Between the two of you, I mean."


"There was never anything between us. There hasn't been for a long time. Last night..." His voice trailed off before he finished the sentence. He didn't really want to get into it right now and apparently neither did Yvonne. 
Silence fell heavy in the room before they both started speaking at the same time. 




She smiled and gestures for him to go first.

RaShaun stared at Yvonne intensely for a few moments. "Are you sure you want to be with me?"

"Shaun, you have to know how much I love you."

"That's not what I asked you. You said you loved me before, but that didn't stop you from turning to someone else." Seeing Yvonne’s body stiffen, RaShaun sat forward and leaned towards her. “I'm not trying to harp on the same thing over and over again. I understand you made a mistake. Like I told you before, mistakes are something we can get past as long as we’re honest and open with one another. But, how do I know it won't happen again? How do I know you won't begin to have feelings of discontent or dissatisfaction with me or this relationship and go to someone else who promises something different?”

“You’ve always been it for me, Shaun. Everything I thought I was missing or needed, I had it with you already. I just..." She paused, as if deciding on whether or not to say something.

RaShaun saw her hesitation. “If you have something you want to tell me, now is the time to do it.“ His eyes hardened a bit. “Complete honesty, Yvonne. I don’t want half-truths, or you holding anything back, because if I find out later there was something else you didn’t tell me, then there’ll be no going back for us.”

Yvonne took a deep breath. “Alright. A couple of months ago I was putting your clothes in the drawer and I saw the engagement ring you bought for me.”

His brows lifted in surprise at the fact that she knew about the ring. “And…”

“And…to be honest, I freaked out. I know it’s crazy, but…it scared me. I wasn’t sure I was ready for marriage. You know how horrible my childhood was, being raised by two people who only existed in the same house, but were miserable together. I never wanted that for myself. I felt things were already perfect the way they were. In my mind, marriage would ruin everything.”

“And instead of coming to me with those fears, you decided to tell all this to another man?”

“I know it was a mistake. RaShaun, we haven’t been apart very long, but to me it feels like a lifetime. I want us back the way we used to be. No Brandon, no Terri, just us” she whispered.

RaShaun stood up abruptly. Walking to the window, he stared outside as if digesting what she’d said, then turned back to look at her.

“Its funny that you only started to feel that way when you thought I was turning to someone else.” RaShaun’s voice sounded slightly cynical. “Why does it feel like you only want me back because you don’t want Terri to have me?”


Sometimes the best thing you can do is
not think, not wonder, not imagine not obsess.
Just breathe, and have faith
that everything will work out for
the best…
 ~ Author Unknown


Yvonne walked up to RaShaun and looked him in the eye. "I can understand why you would think I want back because of what happened with you and ...Terri." No matter how difficult it was, she forced herself to say the other woman's name. "But this has nothing to do with...her... and nothing to do with Brandon. RaShaun, I’m not naïve enough to think we can just pick up where we left off like nothing’s happened, but I think we’re worth it to at least try. Don’t you?”

RaShaun hesitated before reaching out to run his hand along the side of her face, his fingertips barely touching her skin. 

“That’s why I came over here this morning. It’s why I came back after I got things straight with Terri.” Seeing her flinch at the mention of Terri's name he took a tentative step closer when she suddenly moved away from his touch. “Yvonne–”

“You asked if me wanting us back together had anything to do with her. It doesn’t, but…”

“But what?”

“I need to know she’s out of your life, Shaun. For good this time. I think I understand how…how it happened. And why.”

“It wasn’t something I planned, Von. Seeing you last night with Valentine…I thought–”

“I know what you thought but I wasn’t there with him. I was coming over to you to see if we could talk about us. You witnessed first hand me telling Brandon that I wanted nothing to do with him, and I meant that. Can you say the same about Terri?”

“She won’t be a problem. I promise you that.” He hesitated, then added. “Last night…with her…it shouldn’t have ever happened. I was jealous, hurt, and angry and I wanted to make you feel those same things.”

“And...that's the only reason? Like you said, now is the time for complete honesty between us. If you still have feelings for her–”

“Of course I don’t. She knows how I feel about you. I made that clear when I went over there.” He slid his hand around the back of her neck, drawing her closer. “It was a mistake, and I regret even letting myself be provoked and controlled by the urge to hurt you like that. I’m sorry.”


Yvonne blinked and cleared her throat, determined not to cry, no matter how the conversation went between them.

“Then you’re sure this is what you want? Are you sure that one day you won’t suddenly decide you’ve changed your mind or…”

RaShaun’s gaze intensified. “My commitment to this relationship was never in question. I’ve always known what I wanted.”

Her lashes fluttered then quickly dropped. She guessed she had walked right into that one. 


Now there was just one more thing. She’d done some thinking once he’d left to go see Terri. If they truly decided they were going to make this happen she felt there was one more issue they needed to agree on first.

“Okay. I’d like to try, but…I don’t think we should share a bed. Not yet.”

RaShaun’s frown came quick. “Uh…why?”

“We’ve been through a major upheaval in our relationship, Shaun. The only way to see if what we have is real is to make sure sex doesn’t confuse the issues we have to work on.”

His eyes dropped to her mouth. “Yeah. Sex was definitely never one of our problems.” Clearing his throat he continued in a hoarse voice. “But, uh, yeah. I guess I understand what you mean. We need to see if we can figure out what got us to this point and fix it before we move on.”

“Okay.” Yvonne brought her hands up to rest lightly on his waist. “Then…we agree? No sex until our other issues have been resolved?”

He frowned, apparently still not completely sold on the idea. “And how will we know we’re ready?”

Yvonne smiled. “I think we’ll know, but for now, will you please, please kiss me before I lose my mind?”

RaShaun lifted a darkly curved brow. “Are you sure that won’t cloud the issue?”


The smile he tried to keep in check found it’s way out. He lowered his head until their lips finally met. They both moaned at the sweet contact. It hadn’t been that long, but it seemed like forever since they had kissed one another.

Yvonne stood on tiptoe to deepen the kiss, slowly darting her tongue in and out of his mouth. She let out a soft whimper, wrapping her arms around his neck when he returned the kiss with a hunger that was just as urgent as hers, tempting, tasting, and taking what he’d missed.

She moved closer, rubbing her body restlessly against his. A soft cry escaped from her throat when RaShaun pulled her flush against the lower part of his body so that his hardness nestled perfectly into her softness.

“Von….” he whispered. “You feel that?" 

“Yes, but–”

“No buts,” he cut in, angling his mouth back to her lips. “You want this just as much as I do, need it just as much, don’t you?” he whispered.

Before she realized it, Yvonne felt the couch touch the back of her legs. She hadn’t even been conscious of moving. 


“RaShaun, no.” She disengaged their lips and placed her hands on his chest to hold him back. “I mean it. No.”

His eyes, dark and cloudy with passion, met hers. Realizing she was not going to change her mind, he sighed and rested his forehead against hers. They both closed their eyes and took in big gulps of air.

After several moments, RaShaun’s arms loosened from around her waist. He moved back, but only a little, as if he couldn’t quite bring himself to break contact.

“I guess we can’t let ourselves get carried away like this if the plan is to focus on strengthening our relationship before we decide to make love, right?”

“Uh huh,” Yvonne nodded, kissing the corner of his mouth. “Right.”

RaShaun closed his eyes again and took a deep breath before opening them. “Do you want to get your things together now or do you need some time? I can come back later.”

Yvonne gave him him a threatening look. “If you think you’re leaving without me, you have another think coming, Mr. Patterson.”

They stared at each other before breaking out into laughter that helped to lift some of the tension. Gesturing for her to lead the way, he followed her to her room to help her pack.


A couple of hours later they were back at his house. RaShaun reclined back on the bed in their bedroom and watched Yvonne put some of her things away. Neither said a word, but the silence was a comfortable one.

Finally, Yvonne glanced around, rubbing her hands. “Well, I think that’s everything. Are you sure you don’t want me to take the guest bedroom?”

“No. All of your…girly things are in here, so it makes sense for you to sleep in here.” He didn’t tell her that, although he’d tried, he hadn’t slept in their bed since she’d left.

“Okay, if you’re sure. I already called Tara and told her I’d be back to get the last little bit that I had at her place later.”

RaShaun smiled. “That cousin of yours. I could hear her screaming through the phone while you talked to her.”

Yvonne sat beside him on the bed and grinned. “Yeah. I don’t know if she was happy because you and I are trying to work things out or because she has her space back.”

“Probably a little bit of both,” RaShaun said. They laughed because there was probably more than a little truth to his statement.

The two of them sat looking at each other as the laughter died down. They suddenly became aware that they were in the bedroom…sitting on the bed… alone...

Yvonne looked away with an effort. She was going to go by the rules of their arrangement if it killed her. Especially since it had been her idea.

She hopped up and said in a cheerful, overly bright voice, “So…what are we going to do for the rest of the evening? Are you hungry?” She got her answer when his hot eyes ran over her body.

“For food.” she clarified, folding her arms over her aching breasts. Damn him, he wasn’t helping.

Clearly making an effort to do his part, RaShaun made a suggestion. “I bought a couple of steaks yesterday. How about we put them on the grill and fix a salad, if that’s okay with you. I’m kind of burnt out on takeout.”

“Perfect.” Yvonne sighed with relief as they moved to a safe subject. “That sounds really good.”

Standing, RaShaun took her hand as they walked to the kitchen. The conversation turned to general topics as they made easy conversation, instinctively falling into an easy routine without even thinking about it. After RaShaun seasoned the steaks, he went to the patio to prepare the grill. Yvonne popped a couple of potatoes in the microwave and made a quick bowl of salad that she placed in the refrigerator until they were ready to eat.

Grabbing a couple of beers, she joined RaShaun on the patio and gave him one before opening her bottle. “It’s a nice night out.”

“Yeah, it is. For a change,” he added, taking a long swallow of his beer before settling down in the chair beside her. “At least it’s not unbearably hot tonight.”

They continued talking about work, his family, and a little gossip. Before long the food was ready. They decided to sit outside and eat, so Yvonne brought out plates, utensils, and a couple of candles to set the table while RaShaun went back inside and grabbed a bottle of wine and some glasses. Once everything was served, they proceeded to have an enjoyable meal and a stimulating debate about the latest health care proposal that was trying to get passed, as well as other world events in the news until they finished eating.

“That was delicious.” Leaning back in her chair, Yvonne sighed and took a small sip of her wine. “I’m stuffed.”

RaShaun refilled his glass and gestured if she wanted more as well. She held her glass out to him and smiled her thanks.

“I’ve missed this,” she said quietly.

“Yeah. I have too.” They sat for a while enjoying the silence. “Now that I think about it, we haven’t just slowed down and enjoyed each other like this for a long time. This was nice.”

“Yes. Our lives are so busy, though, we hardly ever had the time. I guess we need to make an effort to make time.”

RaShaun smiled his agreement. The rest of the evening passed pleasantly, and when Yvonne yawned for about the fifth time, he stood up and starting stacking the dishes to take inside. She scooted her chair back to help, but he shook his head to stop her.

“I got it, babe. Sit down and relax.” Their eyes met as they realized the familiar endearment slipped out as easily as if he’d said it yesterday. RaShaun wordlessly picked up the dishes and went to the kitchen.

Yvonne brought the empty bottle of wine they’d finished inside and threw it in the trashcan. “Wanna watch a movie?”

RaShaun folded his arms and leaned back against he counter. “Why? You’re only going to fall asleep halfway through it like you always do,” he teased. “You were just yawning outside.”

“Well, I’m woke now,” she sniffed, tossing her chin playfully.

“Okay.” RaShaun’s tone noticeably conveyed his doubt. “I’ll pop some popcorn if you wanna go and find something to watch. And none of that sappy stuff, please,” he grimaced.

“Sure. One chick flick coming up,” she grinned, heading off to the family room.

RaShaun groaned playfully. Once the popcorn was finished, he poured it in a large bowl and went to join Yvonne on the couch. As he’d predicted, the movie had barely started before she started yawning again. It didn’t take long for her head to find its way onto his shoulder, and halfway through the movie, she was asleep.

Shaking his head, RaShaun gently lifted his arm and put them around her. Yvonne snuggled closer to him and slid her arms around his waist as she settled back into a peaceful sleep. RaShaun knew he probably should get her up so that she could go to bed. They both had to work in the morning, but he was enjoying having her beside him on the couch. Deciding he’d wait until the movie was over, he covered them with an afghan lying on the arm of the sofa and laid his head back.

That was the last thing he remembered before he woke up to soft kisses being placed along the column of his neck. With his eyes still closed, he moaned softly and leaned his head to the side.

Yvonne’s teeth replaced her lips, biting his neck. Damn. She knew he loved that shit. Whispering her name, he brought his hand to the back of her head and clutched his fingers in her hair when she reached a particularly sensitive spot.


Her mouth moved up and bit his earlobe before licking and sucking it softly into her mouth. The sensation stimulated the blood that flowed directly to his dick. He tried to stifle the moans that fought to escape his throat, but after a while, he gave up all pretense of staying cool and turned his head to meet her soft lips.

Their mouths fused together in a slow, deep kiss. Murmuring incoherently, RaShaun pushed her down on the couch and covered her restless body. His fingers went to her breast, kneading and tweaking her nipple until it was hard and firm to his touch.

“RaShaun…” She moaned his name as he lowered his lips to her neck. “Oh, God, yes. Shaunnn…”

He slowly unbuttoned her blouse and pushed her bra up without unsnapping the clasp. His mouth latched on to her full, pouting breast while his tongue licked greedily over the nipple. He moved over to the other breast then pushed the plump mounds together, feeding from them as if they were dispensing sweet honey.

When his hand went to her shorts, Yvonne grabbed his hand. “Shaun, m-maybe we should stop.”

“In a minute.” He pulled his hand free and quickly unsnapped and unzipped her shorts. She tried to grab his hand again, but he playfully swiped her out of the way. “You started this, remember?”

“I know, but we said…” Yvonne bit down hard on her lip when his fingers brushed over the damp crotch of her panties. “W-We said we weren’t going to–”

“We’re not,” he whispered. “I just want to touch you. Just for a second.”

His fingers crawled under the thin waistband of her panties and went directly to the folds of flesh that covered her core. They both moaned as his fingers dipped inside her soaking wet opening. 


RaShaun cursed under his breath as her inner muscles grasped his fingers in a tight grip. He slowly moved them in and then out of her at a steady movement until her hips circled in time to his rhythm. Yvonne groaned loudly as he added his thumb and caressed her swollen clit. Moments later, she screamed in pleasure as her pussy clenched and released repeatedly in a long, hard orgasm.

RaShaun kept up the gentle assault until her tense body relaxed and collapsed on the cushions of the couch. He slowly withdrew his fingers, smiling when she all but purred in satisfaction. He made a move to sit up, but her hand reached down to cup his erection through his jeans. For the briefest of moments, he pushed himself into her palm, but he knew if he didn’t stop now…

Capturing her hand in his, he brought it to his lips and kissed it. Looking deeply into her eyes, he shook his head. “No. Goodnight.”

Yvonne blinked in surprise and confusion. “But…”

“'Night, baby.” When she didn’t move he sat up and gently reached behind her. Scooting her bottom to the edge of the couch, he pushed her the rest of the way up. “I need you to go to your room…now.”

RaShaun’s voice was raspy with the ravenous hunger he felt for her. She had two seconds before he said to hell with their agreement and dove between her legs with the hard, steel pipe his sex had now become.

Comprehension dawned on Yvonne’s face. She quickly turned and headed towards her room, but just before she disappeared from his sight, she hesitated.

“Go,” he growled.

Hearing the warning in his voice, she took off in a flash, walking at a hurried pace This time she didn’t stop until she left the room.

RaShaun grabbed his hard, bulging shaft and glared down at it. Don’t you remember the fucking talk I had with you before dinner? Now look at you.

Apparently, his treacherous dick wasn’t listening because it twitched as the scent of Yvonne’s arousal lingered in the room.

Cursing a blue streak, he stood up. After making sure the doors were locked and the alarm was on, RaShaun hesitated and looked in the direction of his and Yvonne’s bedroom. It was situated on the opposite side of the house away from the other bedrooms. 


As tempting as it was to do otherwise...he forced himself to turn around and walk, and didn’t stop until he got to the bedroom.

He went directly to the bathroom and turned the shower on, not even bothering with hot water. Stripping out of his clothes, he stepped into the shower stall and yelled out loud as the cold water splattered over his body.

He stared down at his erection, willing it to go down. “ComeonComeonComeon…”

When it stubbornly refused, he did something he hadn’t done in years. Stroking his thick, burgeoning meat, he jerked himself off to a much needed release. He groaned loudly as cum shot in the air several times and flowed down the drain.

Leaning back against the wall of the shower, he closed his eyes as he caught his breath. He tried to think about anything except for what had happened on the couch, but hell. It was going to be a long, fucking night.


The next morning, RaShaun stood in the kitchen sipping a cup of coffee and reading the paper he’d spread out in front of him on the island. He looked at his watch and shook his head. 


Some things never changed. Yvonne should’ve been walking out of the door right about now.

He was just getting ready to go and knock on the bedroom door when he heard the rapid tapping of her heels against the hardwood floor. Seconds later, she rounded the corner and came into the kitchen.

“Good morning.” She uttered the greeting in a breathless rush.

“Morning. I was just about to come and get you.”

“I know. I couldn’t decide which outfit I wanted to wear. I changed clothes twice.”

RaShaun tried to be subtle as his eyes took in how well the designer suit she settled on fit her compact body to perfection. He never tired of looking at Yvonne’s curves. They dipped and swelled and peaked in all the places they should.

As his eyes lingered on her skirt, a tiny frown marred his forehead. He hadn’t seen this outfit before. Must be new. However, the material seemed to be just a bit too snug and short for the office in his opinion. With the frown still in place, he took another sip of his coffee and turned to watch her pour herself a cup.


Yvonne felt RaShaun’s eyes on her but avoided looking at him. Last night was still fresh on her mind, and she didn’t know whether or not he would be upset with her for initiating the whole thing.

“Actually, I’m not late,” she said, commenting on his statement. “I have an appointment to meet a client later this morning, so I’m good,” she chattered on nervously.

Swinging around, she placed her coffee cup and a brown, leather briefcase on the counter beside the newspaper. Rummaging through the briefcase, she said in a casual voice, “Before I forget, I want to apologize for last night. I was out of line.”

RaShaun raised his eyebrows. He had been about to broach that same subject himself. “Yeah, uh, that’s what I want to talk to you about. I think–”

“For future reference, I’ll make sure to be more aware of my actions. I don’t want you to think I don’t respect our agreement.”

“Oh. Well. Okay.” RaShaun frowned. That wasn't how he's planned for the conversation to go but he guessed that was settled.

Still somewhat distracted, he reached for his coffee at the same time Yvonne leaned over to pick up a pen off the floor that had fallen out of the briefcase. Her skirt rode up enticingly high over the backs of her brown smooth thighs. RaShaun’s eyes zeroed in on the amount of bare, exposed skin. The skirt had also pulled taut over her round ass. The position instantly gave him images of her bent over the table while he fucked her from behind.

With her body holding his rapt attention, he accidentally knocked his cup over, spilling coffee on the counter, his newspaper, and the front of his pants.

“Shit!” He jumped back, but it was too late. Stains had already set in on his gray slacks.

“Shaun!” Yvonne gasped in dismay. “Look what you’ve done.”

She quickly walked over to the sink and wet a dishtowel. Hurrying back to him, she dabbed at the front of his pants.

RaShaun inhaled sharply when her hands came in contact with the erection that had sprung up when she bent over. There was no way hadn’t felt it. When she gasped and quickly dropped her hands, he knew for sure that she had.

Angry with himself for his lack of control, he snatched the towel out of her hand. “I got it! Dammit!”

Yvonne frowned. “Why are you yelling at me?”

“Because its your fault, that’s why! And I have a meeting in forty-five minutes which I guess I’ll be late for now,” he snapped.

Yvonne opened her mouth to shoot back a blistering reply, but apparently thought better of it. Throwing her hands up, she turned to get her briefcase.

“And don’t you think that skirt is too short and tight to wear to the office?” RaShaun glared at her before throwing the towel down and stalking out of the kitchen without waiting for a reply. All he knew was that she better not be bending her ass over at her job.

Yvonne looked down at her skirt with a puzzled expression. It was the same length she always wore. What in the hell was with him?


Wanting to make sure the evening ended a lot better than the morning had began, Yvonne stopped by the store after work to pick up ingredients to fix RaShaun’s favorite meal. She hurried to change out of her clothes before going to the kitchen. She still wasn’t sure why he had been in such a funky mood that morning, but she knew the best way to that man’s heart was definitely through his stomach.

Well, that’s the best second way, she grinned to herself.

Humming softly under her breath, she set about getting started. It didn’t take long before everything was just about ready. Deciding to take a quick bath before RaShaun got home, Yvonne made sure the burners were off then hurried to the bathroom. She poured a liberal amount of bubble bath under the running water and stripped off her clothes. As she slipped into the tub, she sank down and leaned back in relief. It had been a long, taxing day.

“This feels sooo good,” she whispered to herself.

The soothing bath must have put her to sleep because the next thing she knew, her eyes were slowly opening, and when they did she saw RaShaun leaning against the door staring at her. She automatically gave him a sleepy smile, which he returned.

“You look nice and relaxed.”

“I guess I am. I didn’t mean to fall asleep,” she laughed.

RaShaun walked in further and reached for a large bath towel. Unfolding it, he held it out in front of him for her.


Yvonne hesitated, then stood up. She swallowed hard when his eyes slid over her slippery body, pausing at the spot between her legs. She stepped towards him and held her arms up so that he could wrap the towel around her body and tuck the end of it between her breasts. His fingers lingered for a moment before he slowly pulled them out. Their eyes held for several, long seconds before he turned and left the bathroom without a word.

Yvonne tried to get her breathing under control. She honestly didn’t know how much more of this she could take. She fanned herself with her hand to try and cool off. After patting her skin dry, she went to her bedroom and put on the short sundress she had laid across the bed.

Once she got downstairs, she looked around for RaShaun. When she didn’t see him, she figured he was in his room changing clothes. Going to the kitchen, she finished up the rest of the meal before pouring a glass of wine and going to sit in the living room to wait on him.

Several minutes later, she heard him go to the kitchen and open the refrigerator. Then he joined her on the couch with a beer. She noticed that his hair appeared to be slightly damp.

“Did you take a shower?”

He grunted an answer, which she assumed meant yes. Yvonne decided to remain quiet and leave him to his thoughts since it was obvious something was on his mind.

When he finally spoke, he abruptly asked her about her parents. Yvonne hesitated before answering. She had only briefly touched on the subject a few times because it wasn’t something she liked to think about. RaShaun usually let the subject drop, but this time, he kept prodding her until she went into more detail. She described how miserable she and her siblings had been throughout out their childhood because of the constant tension between her mother and father. She found out later that they only stayed together because of their kids, but everyone would’ve been so much happier if they had split long before they did.

RaShaun listened closely as she haltingly revealed things she’d never told anyone else. Not even Tara. He gave her a different viewpoint on a lot of concerns, and surprisingly made her see the situation in a different light. They continued the discussion over dinner until the mood eventually lightened. This time, after cleaning up the kitchen together, they made it a point to use restraint and control while they said their goodnights.

During the next couple of weeks, Yvonne found herself becoming more comfortable opening up to RaShaun about feelings that she thought he would’ve found to be insignificant. His parents had what seemed to be the perfect marriage. She just never thought he would understand the some of the things she’d been through.

“Have I ever made you think I wasn’t interested in anything you had to say or anything that’s happened in your past, Von?”

“Well, no, but–”

“No buts. If it’s important to you, it’s important to me.”

Yvonne sat quietly, but the emotion his words evoked left her rethinking a lot of things she may have taken the wrong way.

“Babe, look at me.” He waited until she lifted watery eyes in his direction. “So many times I practically begged you to talk to me when it seemed like there were things on your mind, but you always shut down on me.”

He was right. That was something she couldn’t deny. Yvonne knew she wasn’t the best communicator, especially when it came to expressing her feelings or asking for help. Instead of opening up, she withdrew inside herself, and as RaShaun said, shut everything and everyone else out…including him.

“Von, I need you to trust me to be there for you. It doesn’t matter how busy I might seem, you come first with me. Always. Between the two of us, I promise we’ll work it out.” He ducked his head to capture her eyes with his. “Okay?”

“It’s just hard to open up. I…I don’t know why.” She pressed her lips together to stop them from trembling. The smile she tried to give him dissolved until it turned upside down.

RaShaun’s eyes softened. Standing, he pulled her up from the couch and folded her into his arms. 


Yvonne held on to him tightly. They had taken steps to put them on the right path. Now they just had to continue and not detour. Then, maybe...just maybe..they would make it.


As each day passed, Yvonne found herself falling in love with RaShaun all over again. Sometimes, she’d catch him just staring at her, and the look on his face would make her virtually melt inside. The only thing that could make it any better would be to consummate their commitment.

Although, she was glad they had abstained from sex this last month, it was driving her crazy. Needing to vent her frustrations, she talked to Tara about it one Friday evening over the phone after she’d gotten out of the tub. As usual, Tara didn’t bite her tongue.

“Girl, I don’t know what you were thinking by adding that stipulation. Now that Rah has agreed with you, your ass is stuck. Intimacy only makes the relationship stronger. If you feel its time to take the next step, then go for it.”

“Don’t you think I’ve tried? I’ve practically thrown myself at the man more than once, but he’s really taking this thing to heart. Just yesterday, he told me that it’s really been good for us to actually just focus on making our relationship better.” Yvonne sighed in frustration and walked over to the window. “We’ve come so far and made so much progress that I…I don’t…um...I don’t want…to…”

Her sentence gradually tapered off as her jaw hit the floor. Staring hard out of the window, she forgot all about Tara on the phone.

Ohhh my…

She watched as RaShaun stopped in the driveway apparently coming back from his evening jog. He had on a pair of running shorts that not only lovingly hugged his perfect ass and muscled thighs, but also emphasized the bulge in front of the shorts. He had pulled off the wife beater he’d worn and was wiping his face with it, leaving his upper body bare. 



He looked so good that Yvonne almost wanted to lick the sweat dripping from his gorgeous body. She hadn’t seen him without a shirt in a while, and her mouth salivated at the sight. The setting was so perfect, it was almost as if he had been plucked out of one of those men’s fitness magazines and placed in front of her for her viewing pleasure.

“Sweet Jesus,” she whispered when he stretched his arms over his head. His defined, cut abs were the sexiest thing she’d ever seen. She wanted him so bad she ached.

And she was going to have him. Tonight.

“Von? Hello? Hello?”

“Huh? Oh. Yeah, I’m here, T.”

“What’s wrong?”

“N-nothing,” she answered, clearly distracted. For once, everything was just right. “Tara, I gotta go, I’ll call you back.”

Seeing that RaShaun was now coming up the walkway, she quickly hung up without waiting on Tara to respond. 


Yvonne ran to the mirror and yanked the scrunchie from her ponytail and ruffled her hair with her fingers. She heard RaShaun come in moments later and call out her name.

“I’m in here, baby.”

He smiled when he saw her and turned in her direction. She met him halfway and immediately slid her arms around his waist. RaShaun tried to step back, but she held him tight.

“Babe, I’m sweaty,” he protested.

“I don’t care.”

“You don’t care that I’m dripping with wet, salty, sweat? What are you, in love or something?” he teased.

“Something like that.”

“Ahhh, okay. Only something like that, huh? Keep on, you gonna make me spank that ass trying to be cute.”

“Please do.” She slid her hands to his ass and squeezed it as she lifted her mouth up to his in invitation. If he didn’t catch the hints she was blatantly throwing out, then they really did have problems.

Yvonne moved her hand around to the front of his crotch and stroked the noticeable bulge filling out the front. She smiled when he groaned and lowered his head to kiss her.

But then he moved back and pulled her arms from around his waist. “I’m going to take a shower, okay? A couple of the guys are coming over to watch the game. They should be here in about an hour.”

Yvonne frowned. “You…wait, what?”

“The game. This is the big night,” RaShaun answered. “Do me a favor. Can you run to the store and pick up some snacks? Chips and dip is fine. Oh, and a couple cases of beer.” Giving her a sharp smack on the ass, he headed to his room. “Thanks, babe.”

Yvonne stood in the same spot he left her too shock to move. Surely, he wasn’t serious. She couldn’t have been clearer as to what she wanted if she’d come right out and said the words, fuck me.

What the hell?


Hearing the bedroom door close behind RaShaun, Yvonne stomped her foot and called him everything except a child of God.

“I need dips and chips and beer. If you don’t mind…” she mumbled under her breath.

Trudging over to the chair, she snatched up her purse, then kicked the chair for good measure. She was so upset she could cry. Did she need to come right out and tell him that she wanted him to make love to her? She at least wanted him to think it was his idea.

But nooo. He preferred to watch the game with his friends rather than be with her.

Blinking to hold back tears of frustration, she slammed out of the door and jumped in her car. The store wasn’t very far from their house so she made it in less than ten minutes. Once inside, she grabbed a buggy and went down the snack aisle. Without bothering to look at the chips she picked up, she threw random bags in her buggy. The same went for the dip. She started to be really nasty and pick up the off brand beer, but at the last minute, she got a case of the one she knew he wanted. 


After paying for everything, she brought the bags to the car, then got in and started the ignition. Minutes later, she pulled into their driveway and blew her horn several times, but when RaShaun didn’t come outside, she threw her head back screamed.

“Not only do I have to get the damn stuff, I have to bring it all in too? He acts like he’s lost his mind.” Getting out and gathering the bags, She continued fussing under her breath as she balanced the groceries while opening the front door.

Closing it with her foot, she screamed out his name from the top of her lungs. “Shaun!!”

“Just a minute, baby.”

Just the sound of his voice made her roll her eyes. Struggling to the kitchen with the bags, she half threw them on the kitchen table and put the beer in the fridge. Huffing afterwards, she folded her arms and allowed herself a good pout. She supposed she could finish that novel she had started several weeks ago. Yippee!

“Von, can you come here a minute, please. I can’t find my lucky t-shirt.”

Yvonne’s eyes narrowed. “You have got to be kidding me.”

Ready to let him have it, she stomped to the bedroom with every muscle in her face knotted up. However, outrage gave way to disbelief when she heard music coming from inside his room.

“Oh. Oh really. So he's just chillin’ and relaxin’ before the boys come over, huh? You want me to help you find your lucky t-shirt, Shaun? I’ll help you ‘find’ it, alright. Just wait.”

Still mumbling under her breath about what she planned to do to that t-shirt once she got her hands on it, Yvonne practically threw the door open, standing with her legs apart and fists balled up ready for war.

“RaShaun, just how am I supposed to know where your got da…”

Thankfully, the rest of the damning words never passed her lips. Yvonne came to a sudden halt. Slowly bringing her hands up to cover her mouth, she looked around at array of flowers he’d placed around the room. Their sweet fragrance mingled gently with the scented flickering candles.

RaShaun had turned the bedroom into a soft, romantic oasis. The effect was soft and romantic, and now that her anger had dissipated, it finally sunk in that the music she heard was her favorite artists’ latest album playing softly in the background.

“RaShaun, what is this? What…why...OhmyGod…” she whispered.

Stepping further into the room, she noticed that he’d spread yellow and red rose petals over the floor and the bed. Champagne nestled deep in ice, chilling in the ice bucket on a table. She turned stunned eyes to look at her man, who stood by the bed with his hands in his pockets staring at her with eyes full of love and desire.

He had changed clothes, but instead of the sweats and sneakers she had expected to see him in, he had on a pair of black dress pants and a silk baby blue button-up shirt with the sleeves turned back to his forearms.

Eyes twinkling in amusement, he walked over to her slowly and slipped his arms around her waist. “Surprised?”


RaShaun couldn’t stop the grin that spread across his face. He could only imagine how angry she had been when he asked her to go to the store.

He knew she’d been trying to give him hints that she wanted them to make love, but that had already been taken care of. He had set everything up before he went on his run, and locked the door, just in case she decided to come into the room for something.

“How did you...Oh my God!” she exclaimed again. “When did you do this?”

“I can’t tell you all of my secrets now, can I?”

The tears rolled down her face like a trickle of water from a faucet. She walked into his arms and pulled his head down, giving him a long, but chaste kiss of appreciation before looking around again with a shocked expression.

“I can’t believe you did this. I just can’t. You have no idea how angry I was,” she laughed, sniffing and drying her face with her hand.

“Ohhh, I think I have some idea,” he grinned.

It had taken everything in him not to give in and start laughing at her expression when he told her he planned on watching the game. He wasn’t that crazy, though. He’d seen what she’d done to Kiki. RaShaun didn’t want to take a chance that she’d go off like that on him.

Yvonne started patting her hair and looking down at the shorts and shirt she had on. “I have to go change and do my hair and…”

But RaShaun placed a finger over her lips to quiet her words. “You’re perfect. There’s not one single strand of hair that you need to fix.” He looked slowly over her body. “And as far as the clothes…” He shook his head. “Don’t need ‘em.”

As if in a daze, Yvonne dutifully followed behind him as he took her hand and led her over to the table so that he could open the champagne. They both laughed when the top came off with a loud pop. RaShaun poured a glass for Yvonne and gave it to her then poured his own. She followed his lead when he held his glass up in a toast.

“Before I say anything, I want you to know that I love you, Von. It’s as simple as that. I love you with every single bone in my body. For a while, it looked like we wouldn’t make it.” He paused, almost at a loss that they had gotten as close as they had to being over forever. “Somehow, we got lost, got out of alignment but…we worked and fought hard to strengthen our relationship, and I think…no, I know we’re stronger and better than we’ve ever been. It can only get better from here. I love you, baby.”

“Every time I think I’m finished crying you make me start all over again,” she sniffed. Slightly embarrassed at the waterworks she couldn’t seem to turn off. Biting her lip, she wiped her eyes and made an effort to compose herself. “Okay, my turn. You’re right. We’re in a good place, Shaun. Better than ever. We’re better than ever. How lucky am I to have a man who’s sweet, loving, and so very, very kind. You worked so hard to make sure that I knew I could trust you with my fears. Trust our love. Trust us, and I’m so grateful. RaShaun Patterson, you’re my lover, my friend…my man,” she smiled. “I love you and I’m so happy to be able to have this second chance to show you just how much.”

RaShaun had been staring at her the entire time she made her little speech, listening intently, not wanting to miss one single word. Swallowing hard, he leaned down to press his lips softly against hers before they touched their glasses together.

“To us…”

“To us…”

They held each other’s eyes as they took a sip of the champagne. After another sip, he placed his glass down, then reached over to take hers and set it down as well. Framing her face with his hands, he kissed her sweetly. Tenderly. Lovingly. As the kiss deepened, RaShaun’s hands found their way around his waist and pulled her closer.

“I love you so much, Vonnie,” he whispered against her lips.

“I love you, too, RaShaun.” She stepped back from his arms which were reluctant to let her go. Holding his eyes with hers, she pulled her shirt over her head, then slowly pushed her shorts down and stepped out of them.

“This does means what I think it means…doesn’t it?” she asked teasingly.

“Damn right it does,” he whispered as his eyes blazed a searing hot trail from her breasts that were barely contained it the lacy material of her bra to the tiny thong that was little more than a string and a triangle of some kind of lacy material.

God, she was beautiful, RaShaun thought. And so fucking sexy. His breath quickened when she walked up to him and started unbuttoning his shirt.

When she got to the last button, she carefully opened the shirt, as if revealing a piece of pricey art. Slowly peeling the shirt off his wide shoulders she pulled it down his arms and let it drop to the floor.

“Your body is gorgeous, Shaun. So virile. So strong.” She peered up at him with an expression that made him feel like he could jump over buildings in a single bound. “You are so damn fine, baby.”

Yvonne leaned forward and placed slow, wet kisses over the hard wall of his chest, reveling in the fact that she could touch him so freely now. Her hands roamed lightly over his shoulders and arms, gently squeezing the bunching muscles she encountered along the way. Small sounds of appreciation escaped from her throat as continued her exploration. Her lips eagerly found their way to the hard slab of his ripped stomach.

“Von,” he moaned, tangling his fingers in her hair and watching her every move.

When she started unbuckling his belt, he stopped her and brought her head up, ravishing her full, soft mouth. Scooping her up in his arms he laid her in the middle of the bed amid the satiny red and yellow rose petals.

Yvonne closed her eyes but opened them just as quickly to watch him remove the rest of his clothes. Her hunger for him evident, she took in every inch of skin that became visible. The hair roughened skin. The contoured hardness of bone and sinewy muscle. His narrow hips and tight ass. RaShaun was all male. There was no doubt about that.

Her arms reached out for him as he joined her in bed. She closed her eyes as his fingers trailed from her breast to her stomach. “I missed you, Shaun.”

“I missed you, too, baby.”

RaShaun watched her face as his fingers teased her by circling around her navel and then down further until he reached the top of her feminine mound. Yvonne tensed, waiting in anticipation but when he slid his fingers back up to her stomach without touching her where she needed it most, her eyelids fluttered open to stare at him. Without breaking the connection, she placed her hand over his and boldly guided it down inside the tiny scrap of lace.

RaShaun let out a low hiss when his fingers came in contact with her creamy center. He could’ve been deaf, mute, and blind but he still would’ve known her scent, her shape, her texture anywhere.

Yvonne’s back arched off the bed when he pushed his middle finger inside of her, then another. RaShaun pulled them free and brought them to his lips to suck her juices from his fingertips. It wasn’t nearly enough.

Kissing his way down her stomach, he slid her thong off along the way and tossed in on the floor. Spreading her knees apart, RaShaun admired the moist treasure he’d uncovered. When Yvonne raised her hips, he eagerly accepted the invitation. Slipping his hand under her ass, he brought her pussy to his mouth, savoring her distinctive flavor, making up for lost time.

“You taste so good, baby,” he whispered, tracing his tongue over her clit, which was the key to unlocking her womanly secrets.

RaShaun feasted on her sweet flesh like it was the appetizer before the meal, hitting spots that made her tremble and beg him for release. It didn’t take long to bring her to a climax; it never did. He knew every corner of her pussy and knew exactly how and where to touch her to make her lose control.

“That’s right, feed me, baby. I’m thirsty as fuck.”


Yvonne held his head close to her trembling center as she convulsed into a chain of spasms that left her dizzy. The climax was blinding and explosive, carrying her to an abyss of pure ecstasy that left her weak, but thoroughly satisfied.

RaShaun ate his fill, wanting more but needing to be inside her; that need won, hands down. Giving her pussy one final kiss, he hovered over her, poised and ready to enter her wet warmth.

“Look at me,” he whispered.

Whimpering, Yvonne’s eyelids fluttered open, but closed them again as if they were weighted down and too heavy to lift.

RaShaun slid his rigid shaft between her sensitive cleft. “Baby, look at me. Please.”

Breathing heavily, she did as he asked. A thick groan rolled from his chest when he saw what he’d been looking for in the smoky grey depths of her eyes. RaShaun slid his thick length into her heated core, an inch at a time, patiently working himself deeper inside the snug fit of her tight depths. With his palms resting on the bed on either side of her head, he pressed deeper into her sweetness, completely sheathing his dick.

“Damn, you feel good," he muttered.  "Never letting this go, baby."

His thrusts accelerated at a pace that was quicker than he’d plan, but fuck. It had been too long since he’d been with her. He hadn’t been able to think about anything else other than this moment.

Thank God Yvonne was with him every step, meeting him stroke for frenzied stroke. RaShaun rode her with an intensity he couldn’t contain, grinding his pelvis against her clit and hitting every corner of her silky walls.

“Shit! Von…baby…” His arms trembled with the effort it took to try and keep control. “Awww, baby…I wanna go slow and make this last, but–”

“I don’t want it slow. I want it deep...and hard…and…!” She threw her head back, lips parted in a silent scream as he her what she requested. “Ooohhh…ohhh yesss!”

Feeling Yvonne’s pussy collapse around his dick in orgasmic surrender, RaShaun let out a loud roar as he let loose and fucked her relentlessly. Her nails sank deep into the skin on his back, but the slight twinge of pain felt so damn good.

"This how you want it, baby?" Circling his hips from side to side, RaShaun decelerated the pace, dicking her down nice and slow. “Talk to me, Von. Let me know I'm fucking you right.”

“Yesssss…! Just…just like that…”

Growling quietly like a predator on the prowl, he slid his hand to the back of her thigh and hiked her left leg over his right shoulder, impaling his swollen shaft to the hilt. RaShaun’s eyes never left her. He wanted to see every single expression that crossed her face.

“That's it. Take this dick, baby,” he encouraged her as she slapped her pussy up to meet his hard thrusts. “Yeah. That’s it right there. Handle that shit. Show me you like it. How much you want it.”

“You fucking me so good, baby. You just don’t know,” Yvonne panted, thrashing her head from side to side. “Mmmm…I’m there, Shaun. Oh, baby, I’m c-cumming…I’m …Shit!” she screeched.

RaShaun groaned loudly as her delicate softness turned into a hungry feline, tearing into him, briefly knocking his senses off balance. Everyone knew the lioness was better at the hunt than the lion, and in that moment, RaShaun wondered who was the prey and who was the predator.

He mumbled her name in reverence as her warm, rich cream baptized his dick. It had him feeling like a heathen having his sins washed away at the alter. Pure heaven. 


Closing his eyes, he moved faster. Fucked her deeper. The headboard knocked loudly against the wall, rhythmically mimicking their movements. Seconds later his body tensed as he pushed into her one last time. Erupting like an explosive volcano, he tumbled over the edge with her and joined her in ecstasy.

“Von!! Fuck! Oh…fuck!” he growled. Lightning bolts of fulfillment sent him rocketing over the crest. RaShaun continuously pumped his seed deep inside her womb until he was left spent and weak.

His trembling arms giving out, he collapsed on top of her, unable to move for several long seconds. Finally, using the last bit of his strength, he rolled off of her and pulled her in his arms so that her head rested on his heaving chest.

“Damn,” he managed to get out in between deep breaths.

“Damn…is right,” Yvonne replied, just as breathless. She brought her leg over his muscled leg, slowly rubbing it up and down between his inner thighs.

RaShaun kissed the top of her head. Neither said a word as they lay content and fulfilled. As they drifted off into a light nap, he kept his arms firmly wrapped around her body.

About fifteen minutes later, a series of sharp sounds jerked him out of his sleep. RaShaun lifted his head and squinted in concentration as he listened. Then he heard it again. Someone was ringing the doorbell. Still frowning, he carefully eased his body from beneath Yvonne’s.

“Who the hell is that?” he whispered to himself. Grabbing his pants off the floor, he quickly pulled them on and hurried to the front door.

Without asking who it was, he threw the door open with an expression that definitely said whoever it was wasn’t welcome. Seeing the person standing in front of him, his face changed from irritation to thunderous fury.

The last time he’d seen her had not been pretty. There was no reason at all for her to be standing on his doorstep ringing his doorbell…especially at this time of the night.

“What in the hell are you doing here?”


Terri smirked in amusement but her covetous eyes roamed over his bare chest with barely concealed hunger.

“Hello, Rah. Is this how you greet all of your visitors?”

“The uninvited ones, yes.” RaShaun leaned a hand up against the doorframe while he held the door open with the other and sighed with impatience. "Terri, again, what are you doing here?” 

Her face twisted up in annoyance. “You don’t have to be so damned rude.”

“We said everything we had to say to each other the last time I saw you.”

Terri’s look transformed itself into one of smug satisfaction. “Oh, I don’t think so.”

RaShaun’s lips tightened as he struggled to hold his temper. He and Yvonne had just taken an important step in their relationship. The last thing he needed was for her to wake up and find Terri’s ass acting the fool. He stepped closer to her and looked her directly in the eye.

“This is the last time I’m going to tell you. Stay away from me, stay away from my woman, and make this the last time you come by my house.”

Terri burst out with an incredulous laugh. “Your woman? Oh yeah, that’s right. I heard that you had taken her lyin’ ass back.” Terri shook her head and gave him a look of mock pity. “Really, Rah. I expected more from you. There was a time when you would not have put up with being made a fool of. My, my, my. You’ve changed, baby.”

RaShaun opened his mouth to curse her the fuck out but caught himself. He refused to let her take him there. She wasn’t worth it. Shaking his head, he closed the door shut, but right before he did, she managed to wedge a large manila envelope half in and half out the door.

RaShaun stared at the end of the envelope as if it were poisonous. Having just about reached the end of his rope with her, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Yanking the door open, he bent down to pick the envelope up from where it had fluttered to the floor.

“What is this?” he asked quietly.

“Open it and see.” Terri had a look of anticipation on her face. “I promise I’ll leave as soon as you do,” she added quickly.

RaShaun’s jaw clenched and unclenched continuously, conveying his extreme irritation. His eyes held hers as he opened the flap and pulled out the typewritten letter. He sent her another hard look before giving a cursory examination to the paper.

“What is it?” he asked again.

“Read it.”

He glanced behind him, making sure Yvonne hadn’t woke up. Scanning the heading of the letter, he absently noted it was addressed to Terri. Blowing hard through his nose, he began to read it quickly under his breath, eager to get her the hell away from his house.

‘Dear Ms. Johnson:

We are writing to inform you of the results of the pregnancy test that was administered to you on…’

RaShaun stopped as soon as he read the first sentence. He glanced up at Terri then lowered his eyes. He silently went back to reading the short letter until he got to the meat and bones of the correspondence.

‘The pregnancy results are positive. The test show you to be approximately four weeks…pregnant…’

RaShaun continued to stare down at the paper. The words swam in front of him were an absolute blur. He finally looked up at her. “Why are you giving this to me.”

But he knew. He didn’t need to wait on her to answer. Somewhere in the far corners of his mind…he knew.


Terri could tell he had made the connection. She smiled. Rah was anything but stupid.

Except when it came to that bitch, Yvonne, she thought snidely.

“I think you know what this means, RaShaun.” Terri twisted from side to side as her eyes held his captive. A small smile played around the corner of her mouth.

“No. Why don’t you enlighten me?” RaShaun’s eyes narrowed. His voice was low and controlled as he waited on her to confirm his suspicions.

Terri looked at him innocently. “Okay. I’m pregnant.”

RaShaun’s demeanor was still calm, as if nothing she had said so far had affected him, but she knew it had. How could it not?

He folded his arms and gave her a blank stare. “You’re telling me this…why.”

“Alright. Let me rephrase that. We’re pregnant, Rah. We’re going to have a baby.”

“You’re saying that I’m the father of your baby…” His entire attitude was one of skepticism and mistrust. “You expect me to believe that. Just take your word for it.”

“Of course not, silly. I know you better than that. Give me some credit. I already knew you would demand proof, although you’ll have to wait a little while. I’ve checked with my doctor. Paternity can safely and accurately be established as soon as the second trimester."

RaShaun quirked an eyebrow. “Which would be…”

“Mmmm…two and a half, three months from now. They’ll withdraw a small amount of amniotic fluid and perform the test.” She leaned her head to the side, her eyes never wavering from his. “It’s as simple as that, baby.”


RaShaun turned his back to her and closed his eyes. He had known Terri since high school. For her to volunteer to be tested in order to establish his paternity of her child, she had to be positive that he would be proven the father.


He suddenly turned around and shot her an accusatory look. “I thought you said you were on the pill.”

Terri shrugged and seemed to consider his statement. “Nooooo. I didn’t. If you think back, I never did confirm or deny it.”

RaShaun’s hand that held the letter curled into a fist and crumbled the paper. His chest rose and fell in deep heaves as his anger reached a high pitch.

Terri glanced down at his tightly clenched fist and then back at him. “You don’t intimidate me, Rah. I don’t care how mad you get. You would die before you ever struck a woman.”

“I’m thinking about making an exception,” he said his teeth, but they both knew it was a lie.

Terri’s unconcerned laughter proved it. “So. Where do we go from here? I have a prenatal checkup next week. Would you like to come?”

He looked at her as if she were a mental case–which he was beginning to think she was.

“Have you lost your fuckin’ mind?” he yelled, forgetting about waking Yvonne. “What in the hell is wrong with you?”

Terri grinned, loving the fact that she’d finally gotten a reaction out of him. That made him even angrier. 

“You bitch! You tricked me!”

RaShaun walked back and forth a couple of times, fury pouring out of every fiber of his being. He turned around and punched the wall, caving a hole in it.

Terri jumped. Eyes widening and suddenly fearful, she took a step back. “I didn’t do this by myself, you know,” she said once she was a safe distance away. “You could’ve just as easily used a condom”

“I trusted you, you no good, sneaky little–”

“RaShaun? Who are you yelling at?”

RaShaun’s heart dropped when he heard Yvonne’s voice behind him. Jaw clenched, he turned around and saw her standing several feet away wearing his shirt with a look of concern on her face. From where she was positioned, she hadn’t seen Terri yet.

RaShaun glanced over his shoulder at the other woman with a look of warning in his eyes before turning back to Yvonne. He walked towards her, his limbs stiff and his features tense.

“Baby, I…” He cupped her face in his hands and then leaned his forehead against hers. How the hell was he going to tell her this?

“RaShaun?” Yvonne whispered, fear in her voice. “You…you’re scaring me. What’s wrong?”

She looked around him to see who he had been arguing with. When she saw Terri standing there with a look of superiority displayed on her face, her entire body grew rigid. Yvonne pulled away from him and took a step back. She reluctantly moved her eyes away from Terri and back to RaShaun.

“What…what is she doing here?” Yvonne’s voice was low and accusing.


Terri gave Yvonne a fake smile. “Hey, girl. How are you?”

RaShaun slowly turned around and glared at her. His hands twitched as his eyes went to her neck. Maybe there was a way he could hide her body if…

“RaShaun. RaShaun!” Yvonne reached up and turned his face away from Terri towards her. She sent Terri a quick, but intense glare, before focusing on RaShaun. “Talk to me.”

But Terri cut in before he could speak. “Well, I guess my mission here has been accomplished for the night. I'll even let you do the honors,” she sang out cheerfully, smiling at RaShaun. Then she added under her breath so that only she and RaShaun heard the last word: "Daddy.”

Although she giggled with glee, Terri quickly turned on her heels and left. She wasn’t crazy. She knew she was pushing her luck.

Yvonne raised an eyebrow as she watched her walk away. RaShaun slammed the door as hard as he could before locking it. Eyes closed, he turned around and leaned back against the door, softly beating his head against it. What was he going to do. What the fuck was he going to do. 

“For the last time, will you please, please tell me what’s going on? What did she say to you that got you so angry?” When he remained silent, Yvonne’s voice rose sharply. “I want an answer, and I want it now, RaShaun! What were you fighting about?”

RaShaun opened his eyes and looked at his baby. He heard the fear in her voice and knew she was more scared now than she was angry. He pushed away from the door and slowly walked over to her. Wrapping his arms around her body, he hugged her tightly to him. Yvonne’s arms trustingly encircled him around the waist.

“Baby, you’re scaring me,” she said, voice trembling.

RaShaun sighed heavily, then leaned back and looked in her eyes. He cleared his throat. “I have to tell you something.”

He reached down and took her hand and tried to lead her over to sit down, but she held back.

“No! Whatever it is, tell me right now, or I swear to God I’ll get in my car and drive over to that bitch’s house and find out from her. I have a feeling she’ll be only too glad to tell me.”

RaShaun tilted his head and stared up at the ceiling. He took several deep breaths. “She, uh…she came over to tell me….”

He turned away and took a few steps. Putting his hands on his hips he stared down at the floor for a moment before facing her and spitting it out.

“Von, she’s pregnant.”

© 2017 S.K. Hardy

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means without the written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.


The 3 C's of Life:
Choices, Chances, Changes
You must make a Choice
to take a Chance
or your life will never
~ Author Unknown



Von…she’s pregnant.

Yvonne looked at him in confusion. “Terri’s…pregnant? Okay. And? Why is she telling you?”

RaShaun stared at her, unable to bring himself to utter the words that would destroy her and destroy the fragile start they’d made, but Yvonne quickly figured it out. Understanding dawned on her face like the sun greeting a new day.

“Wait a minute. Don’t tell me. That grimy witch is saying you’re the father?”

RaShaun nodded. “Yeah.”

“No wonder you’re so ticked off. You should’ve let me kick her lying, scheming ass. She must really be desperate.”


“I cant believe her! If she is pregnant, she probably doesn’t even know who the father is.”


“I hope you made her feel like the idiot she is. How in the hell could she be pregnant by you? I mean, yes, I know you... slept with her…” Yvonne managed to get the words out without choking. “But you used protection. She must have forgotten about that.”


She looked at him quizzically. When he just stared at her, Yvonne frowned. “RaShaun?”

But instead of answering her unspoken question, he took slow steps that brought him closer to her.

Yvonne retreated and held her hands out to stop him from coming any further as a thought entered her head. “You did use protection…didn’t you?”


“Didn’t you?” she repeated. “Tell me you used a condom, RaShaun!”

“Baby, I’m so sorry.”

“Oh my God.” Suddenly feeling sick to her stomach, Yvonne covered her mouth before continuing in a horrified whisper. “Oh my God! RaShaun, please tell me you used a condom.”

RaShaun opened his mouth to speak, but ended up just shaking his head. There was really nothing he could say.

His admission hit Yvonne like a nuclear bomb. She felt like the breath had been knocked out of her, leaving her weak, dazed, and faint. This time, she couldn’t hold the nausea back. Covering her mouth, she ran into the bathroom, praying she could make it in time. She did, but only barely. Standing over the commode, she placed one hand on the wall and held on as the contents of her stomach came churning up.

Wetting a towel, Shaun stood behind her, holding her up until she finally pushed him away and leaned on the vanity for support. Snatching the towel out of his hand, she kept her eyes closed and wiped her face. She didn’t even want to look at him right now. Turning around, she walked out the bathroom.


“How do you know its yours?” She whirled around, glaring at him. “Are you even sure she’s pregnant?”

“She had a letter from her doctor with the results of a pregnancy test. She…she’s going to call the doctor Monday and let me speak to her to confirm it. We’ll be able to do a paternity test in a couple of months.”

“A couple of months! Oh my God, this cannot be happening,” she said to herself.

RaShaun continued, speaking as if he had to force himself to tell her the rest. “Yvonne, I know her. She wouldn’t volunteer to take a test like that unless she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the baby was mine.”

Yvonne literally doubled over in pain as he said those words. She grabbed her stomach as gut-wrenching sobs tore out of her mouth. Over and over again, she kept hearing the deliberately taunting words in her ear: RaShaun is having a baby with Terri. RaShaun is having a baby with Terri.

“Baby, please don’t.” RaShaun tried to put his arms around her, but she spun away from him as if he had a contagious disease.

“Don’t touch me!” she screamed. “Don’t you dare touch me!”


Yelling like an animal in pain, she ran up to him and slapped him as hard as she could, then slapped him again. When she went for a third time, he ducked his head out of the way, which only goaded her into beating her fists against his chest in pure fury. 

Trapping her arms to her side, RaShaun  grabbed her. Hugging her tightly against his body, he let her kick and scream until she stopped struggling and collapsed in his arms from sheer exhaustion. They sank to the floor, RaShaun rocking her until her sobs quieted and her trembling ceased.

After a while, Yvonne stirred in his arms and pulled away. She stood up without looking at him and walked away to her bedroom, closing the door firmly behind her, telling him without words not to follow.


Unlocking the door to her townhouse, Terri burst inside and slammed it behind her as hard as she could and she let out a loud, shrill scream.

“Ughhhhh!! I hate her, I hate her, I HATE HER!” she yelled, slinging her purse across the room.

Picturing Yvonne, hair slightly ruffled, walking barefoot into the foyer wearing nothing but RaShaun’s shirt made her throw her head back and scream again. She just didn’t understand what he saw in that disloyal, cheating…skank!

She would’ve had to be blind not to know see that Yvonne and Rah had just finished screwing their brains out. Yvonne had worn that sleepy, but satisfied, just been thoroughly fucked expression. Terri could practically smell him on her.

Picking up a nearby crystal vase, she threw it across the room so that it smashed against the opposite wall. The act made her feel better, so she picked up another one and did it again. Breathing hard, she stared at the pieces of broken crystal scattered on the dark floor. Too bad the wall wasn't Yvonne.

Closing her eyes, she slowly inhaled and exhaled several times. She had to calm down. Getting upset wasn’t good for the baby. She had to remember, nothing else matter but that right now. Terri placed a hand on her still flat stomach. If anything happened to the child she was carrying, she could kiss any chance of being with Rah goodbye.

“Calm down, Terri. Just calm down,” she told herself in a soothing voice. “Everything is working out, just as planned.”

Once she felt the pressure in her temple start to subside and the tension in her body wan, she allowed herself to review the scene that had just taken place at RaShaun’s house. He’d been shocked, and yes angry, but she knew Rah. Once everything sank in and he got used to the idea of being a father, he would come around. Family was too important to him. He would definitely be a hands on dad…which meant the two of them would be spending a lot of time together. She just had to be patient, not push like she did the last time they saw one another. She had the advantage. The rest would take care of itself.

But just in case it didn’t…

Terri glanced down at her watch. What was taking so long? She’d made the phone call on the way home, almost as soon as she’d left Rah’s house. Terri let out an irritated sigh. Why were the people in her life letting her down? Did she have to do everything? She was just getting ready to call again when her doorbell rang.

“Well, it’s about time,” she huffed hurrying to the door and sweeping it open. Seeing Brandon Valentine standing on her doorstep only served to heighten her ire.

“I expected to you to be here waiting on me when I drove up. What took you so long?”

Brandon stared at her for several long moments before pushing past her without a word and stepping into her home. “What’s so important that you had to see me in person and couldn’t tell me over the phone?”

“Where have you been? I left ten messages.”

“I’m here now, alright? What do you want, Terri?”

“What do I want? I want you to do your job, Brandon."

He stopped and stared at her as a slow fire blazed in his eyes. “My job?”

“Yes, your job! When we first met, I was honest with you. I told you that Rah was my first love and I wanted him back. You promised me you could seduce that little bitch and keep her away from him! Here it is, months later, and you haven’t done it!”

Brandon continued to glare at her for several moments before his eyes slid away. “It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. You made it seem like Yvonne was some airhead who would jump on the first dick that swung her way.”

“Well, she practically did, didn’t she?"


"Jesus, Terri, you're so fuckin' dramatic."


"I'm telling the truth. All you had to do was keep on her but–”

“Look, don’t you think I tried. Yeah, she slipped up a little at first, but bottom line, she wasn’t interested. She’s in love with that asshole of a boyfriend that you’re so infatuated with.”

As if mentioning RaShaun stirred up unpleasant memories, Brandon brought a hand up to massage his neck. Even though the bruises had faded and he could finally turn his head without wincing, he still remembered the feeling well. “I thought you said he was some nerdy banker? You didn’t tell me he was also one crazy son of a bitch.”

“I never said he was nerdy and it’s your own fault for underestimating him. You weren’t supposed to antagonize him to the point that he tried to kill you. Twice,” Terri added with an evil twist of her lips.

Brandon sneered. “You know what? Screw you. I’m outta here.”

He started towards the door, but Terri jumped in front of him to stop him. “Brandon, wait. I need your help.”

“Nah, you’re on your own, babygirl. I ain’t got time for this mess. I never should’ve let you talk me into it to begin with.”

“But things should be easier now. I have leverage.”

Brandon eyed her suspiciously. “What kind of leverage?”

Terri placed her hand on her stomach. “The kind that’s going to guarantee me at least the next eighteen years in RaShaun’s life.”

Brandon took a step back. His eyes fell to her stomach. “You’re pregnant?”

“Yes. Now do you see why it should be easier for you to get Yvonne to–”

“How far along?”

Terri blinked. “What?” she asked impatiently.

“How far along are you? How many months?”

“Not far. Only about a month, but–”

“A month as in around the first time we slept together, Terri?”

Her mouth snapped shut. “It’s not yours.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I know who I’m pregnant by, Brandon, that’s how,” Terri snapped. “You and I used protection. RaShaun and I didn’t.”

“The condom broke,” he said fiercely through his teeth. “Don’t tell me you don’t remember that.”

“And you pulled out the second it did,” Terri countered. “This baby is not yours.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I do know. You know what, never mind, Brandon. Just go. I'll just handle things myself.” Terri whirled around and started pacing in agitation. “I don’t need this from you right now.”


“Go! Get out! Now!” she screamed, glaring coldly at him.

It was obvious Brandon was reluctant to leave, but muttering under his breath he stalked to the door and yanked it open. However, before he walked out, he turned to her and fired one more parting shot.

“I don’t think you’re as sure of who the father of this baby is as you want me to believe.”

“Please,” Terri scoffed. “Of course I'm sure. It's not as if you have the qualities to be any child’s father.”

“Oh yeah? Well tell ya’ what.” He pointed to her stomach. “If that baby turns out to be mine I don’t give a damn what qualities you think I got or don’t got. I plan on being a part of its life. Just so you know.”

The condescending smirk slipped from Terri’s face at the surprising hint of steel in his voice that she’d never heard before. They locked eyes for several more moments before he slammed out the door. 


Once he was gone, Terri felt her stress level escalate again. She suddenly realized that she needed to add one more problem to her ever growing shitlist.  And his name was Brandon Valentine.


RaShaun slowly got up and went to sit on the couch. Picturing the devastation on Yvonne’s face, he rested his elbows on his knees and dropped his head in his hands. He’d screwed up. Royally. She had every right to hate him for what he’d done. Hell, he hated himself. They’d worked through so much already. How could he expect Yvonne to forgive him for this?

He got his answer ten minutes later when he heard her coming from their bedroom. He stood up, noting that she’d put on clothes and had her purse on her shoulder.


She kept walking without acknowledging he’d spoken.

“Yvonne.” He took long steps and moved in front of her, blocking her way just before she got to the door. “Babe, we need to talk about this.”

Yvonne looked up at him through squinted eyes. “Talk about this? What else is there to say? You fucked that bitch raw, and now she’s pregnant with your ‘break baby’. That just about covers everything, don’t you think?”

RaShaun winced at her bluntness.

“Please move out of my way.” When he just stood there, she screamed, “Move!”

The seconds ticked by as RaShaun stared at her before reluctantly moving to the side. She was halfway to the door when he said, “So everything we’ve been through, everything we’ve overcome to get to this point, means nothing? Those words you told me earlier, about trusting in our love, trusting in us…those were just empty sentiments? What happened to fighting for us, Yvonne? The same way I put everything aside and made up my mind to fight for us you can't do it again one last time?”

Yvonne’s hand had just touched the doorknob, but hearing his questions that he belatedly realized sounded more like  accusations, she swung around and walked back to him with her face clouded in anger.

“Don’t. You. Dare! Don’t you dare compare what I did to this!”

“That’s not what I was–”

“You implied it! Yes, I made a mistake, but my mistake is not going to follow us for the rest of our lives!”

RaShaun finally snapped. His anger at himself and the situation was swiftly directed toward her. “What do you want me to do, Yvonne? Huh? Tell me what the fuck you want me to do!”

Yvonne folded her arms and looked away, but RaShaun wouldn’t let her blow off his question.

“No! Answer me! If this is my…my child…do you want me to just ignore it?”

The hurt she felt at him referencing the child as his showed in her eyes. She turned to leave, but he grabbed her arm and turned her back around to face him.

“No, tell me. I wanna know. If this child turns out to be mine, should I just send a check every month and forget he or she even exists? Be a father on paper only?” His eyes pleaded for at least an ounce of understanding. “You know the type of man I am, baby. You know that ain’t me.”

Yvonne jerked her arm away. “You want me to tell you what to do? Do you really, RaShaun? Fine! I’ll tell you! Tell her to get rid of it! That’s what you fucking do!”

Yvonne gasped as soon as the words shot out of. Looking shocked at what she’d said, she covered her mouth and stared at RaShaun.

The silence that came over the room was deafening. RaShaun stepped back and looked at her as if he didn’t recognize the person standing before him.

“You really mean that?” he asked quietly.

She shook her head. “No. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it,” she whispered. Yvonne dropped her purse and covered her face with her hands and began to cry. “Of course I didn’t mean it.”

RaShaun hesitated then pulled her to him. He kissed her hair, and brought his lips to her eyes to kiss the tears away. He kissed her cheeks and moved to her lips, gently soothing her hurt.

“I’m so sorry for this, baby,” he told her. “I love you so much. I’m not letting you go. I can’t. I promise everything will be okay. I’ll make this right. I promise you.”

Yvonne nodded as silent tears continued to run down her face. When RaShaun scooped her up, she wrapped her arms around his neck, burying her face in his chest while he carried her back to the bedroom and removed all their clothes. Once they were in bed and covered with the sheets, he pulled her to him and just held her in his arms. Whispering to her in a soft voice, he reassured her of his love, asking her not to leave him, begging her to stay, and again promising he’d take care of everything.

Finally she fell into an exhausted sleep, her head nestled trustingly on his shoulder. RaShaun lay staring at the ceiling, wishing the last few hours had been a night he’d soon awake from. However, the ache he felt in his chest told him that it was very much a reality– and things would get much worse before they got better.


Early the next morning, RaShaun sat in the chair watching Yvonne sleep. He had on a pair of jeans and a shirt that he’d left unbuttoned. He hadn’t slept at all. His thoughts wouldn’t let him. They’d kept him up all night, taunting him, telling him he’d ruined any chance that he had of building a life with Yvonne.

Trust was important. It was the glue that held everything together, allowed the two people in the relationship to feel safe and secure and emotionally vulnerable because they knew no matter what, the other person would be there to see them through difficult times. But now…

His attention was suddenly caught by Yvonne stirring in bed slowly coming out of the deep sleep she’d been in. She turned her head and smiled at him when she spotted him in the chair. RaShaun knew the exact moment she remembered everything from last night because her grey eyes became overcast. Sad. Haunted.


However, the next instant a firm resolve seemed to settle over her face. She she took a deep breath, and smiled at him again, albeit tentatively.

RaShaun returned her smile…and waited.

“Hi,” she said softly.

“Hi,” he replied just as softly.

She lifted her hand to move the hair out of her eye, then froze. Gasping, she held her left hand out in front of her and saw the ring she’d come across in his drawer that day. She glanced at RaShaun and then back to the ring.

Shaun continued to sit quietly…and wait.

Yvonne pushed herself up to a sitting position. She held her hand up, admiring the ring’s beauty and watching it sparkle. Finally looking in his direction, she answered his unspoken question.



That next day was Sunday. RaShaun and Yvonne decided to have a lazy, relaxing morning in bed. RaShaun fixed brunch and brought it to Yvonne with a single red rose in the vase. They fed each other, talked about things they needed to do this week, intentionally avoiding the elephant in the room named Terri.

They had talked about it in length yesterday, each discussing their feelings about the situation. Yvonne had gone through a vast range of emotions since Friday night when Terri had come to their home and told RaShaun about the pregnancy. One moment she felt strong enough to face anything that came their way. The next, she found herself angry with RaShaun for being so irresponsible.

RaShaun understood her anger as well as her fears. If he actually was the father, Terri would try to make their life a living hell. RaShaun promised himself and Yvonne that he wouldn’t let that happened. His main concern right now was protecting Yvonne from all of this as much as he could.

He knew Terri felt she had the upper hand; he could tell by her smug attitude last night. If the test proved him to be the baby’s father, the two of them would get things straight from the very beginning. RaShaun planned to contact his lawyer immediately to begin laying the groundwork for joint custody.

He looked at Yvonne’s plate and saw that she’d eaten just about all of her food. “Finished?”

“Mmhm. Thank you, it was delicious.”

After leaning over to giver her a quick kiss, RaShaun took their tray to the kitchen, leaving the glasses of mimosa that neither had finished yet. When he came back, he climbed in bed beside Yvonne and lay with his hands folded behind his head watching her admire her ring. He smiled when she turned her hand this way and that way so that the diamonds twinkled beneath the light.

“Did I tell you how much I love my ring?”

RaShaun’s mouth twitched. She had barely taken her eyes off of it since he’d slipped it on her finger. “You may have mentioned it a time or two.”

Yvonne caught on to his amusement and playfully punched him in the shoulder. “You’re trying to be funny, aren’t you?”

Laughing, they lay in bed, enjoying the silence and just enjoying each other. Suddenly Yvonne leaned up and her elbow and stared down at RaShaun with a mystifying smile on her face. RaShaun raised his eyebrows and waited for her to tell him what was on her mind, but she just continued to gaze at him in silence.

“Okay, I’ll bite. What?”

Yvonne bit her lip, still smiling. RaShaun laughed. She was so damned cute. “What are you up to?”

“Well. I was thinking…”

“Okay. You were thinking…” RaShaun gestured his hand for her to get on with it.

“I was thinking…lets get married.” She looked at him with eyes that shined with excitement.

“I thought that’s what we were going to do. That’s usually what happens when a woman is wearing an engagement ring,” he teased.

Yvonne shook her head. “No, I mean lets get married now.”

RaShaun frowned, puzzled by where the conversation was headed. “What do you mean ‘now’?”

“Now! Next week! I don’t want to wait, Shaun. I’m ready to be your wife now.” She crawled on top of him and stretched out, looking into his eyes.

RaShaun still wore the same expression. “Don’t you want a big wedding, your friends to be there?”

Yvonne shook her head before he even finished. “All I need is you. I don’t need a big ceremony and everything that goes along with it.”

He lay there staring at her, excited at the prospect of just doing it. That’s what he would’ve chosen anyway, but he didn’t want to deprive her a large wedding. He thought every woman wanted a big wedding. Then his excitement ebbed away, and the smile fell from his face.

Seeing this, hers did too. “Shaun, what’s wrong? Tell me.”

RaShaun hesitated. “Are you sure you don’t want to wait for the results of the paternity test? I don’t want you to rush into this, and then regret it if …you know.”

Yvonne’s eyes softened as she leaned down to kiss him on the lips. “You know what, things could be worse than a child coming into the world that’s part of you. I love you, Shaun. As long as we stand together and draw strength from each other, everything will be okay.”

RaShaun brought a hand up and softly caressed her face. “Are you sure?”

Yvonne nodded, grinning down at him.

He exhaled in relief and brought his lips up to hers, telling her without words how much he loved her. Lowering his head back to the pillow, he gazed up into her eyes.

“Make the arrangements.”


Monday morning, RaShaun was in his office on the phone with Terri and her physician, a Dr. Jenny Wong. He had left instructions with his secretary that he was not to be disturbed.

Terri’s doctor confirmed that yes, she was indeed pregnant. Terri had already told her they would need a paternity test as soon as it became safe to do so. The doctor went over the procedure with RaShaun and what would be involved to prove paternity.

“How accurate is this test?” RaShaun asked Dr. Wong.

“Extremely. 99.9%,” the doctor answered crisply.

RaShaun nodded in satisfaction. “Good. No offense, but I’d like the test to be done at an independent clinic. I’m not saying that you would do anything unethical. However, Terri…that’s a different story.”

Dr. Wong grew quiet, not quite knowing how to respond.

Terri gasped in indignation. “Whatever, RaShaun. Believe me, I have nothing to hide. And I expect an apology when the tests reveal you’re the father of this baby.”

“That’ll be a cold day in hell. Dr. Wong, if there’s nothing else…”

“Uh…no. That’s, er, that’s all,” Dr. Wong stuttered.

“Fine. I appreciate your professionalism. Have a good day.” RaShaun was ready to hang up, but Terri stopped him.

“Wait! We need to talk, Rah.”

“We don’t have a damn thing to talk about until its time to take the test. Until then, do not, and I repeat, do not call me. Do you understand?”

He slammed the phone down without waiting for a response. He refused to be a puppet that jumped every time she pulled a string. It was time that she realized that, starting now.


A week later, RaShaun opened the door of the honeymoon suite and carried his bride over the threshold. Yvonne had laughed from happiness when he’d carried her through the lobby of the hotel, much to the delight everyone there. They walked towards the elevators amidst a smattering of congratulatory applause for the attractive newlyweds.

Wearing a white strapless, knee length silk dress, Yvonne’s face wore an expression of pride and adoration. RaShaun was the epitome of the dashing groom in his dark gray tailored suit, snow white dress shirt, and engraved cuff links she’d bought him as a wedding present. They had gone to city hall and gotten married in a simple, but emotional ceremony attended by a handful of their friends, Tara, her maid of honor, and Quincy, Shaun’s best man.

Once they had been pronounced man and wife, Yvonne had tried not to cry too much so she wouldn’t ruin her make up. RaShaun’s huge smile had dominated his face. He’d whisked Yvonne up and swung her around before planting a hot, steamy kiss on her out that had the elderly justice of the peace blushing and clearing his throat.

RaShaun and Yvonne kissed and laughed all the way from the elevator until he carried her over the threshold, kicking the door closed with his foot.

Yvonne looked around the suite. “Oh, baby, this is sooo beautiful.”

RaShaun set her down and watched her look around the suite, taking in the expensive champagne and fruit and cheese tray that had been brought up right before their arrival.

He pulled his tie off and threw it on the chair. “Yes. Very beautiful.” Staring at his wife, he said her name just for the hell of it. “Mrs. Patterson. I like that.”

“I love it. And I love you, Mr. Patterson.” They stared at each other, the love between them almost tangible.

RaShaun started unbuttoning his shirt and slowly walking towards her. “So. We’re legal now. I guess that means I can tear that ass whenever the mood hits me, right?” He pulled his shirt off and threw it behind him.

Yvonne’s eyes moved to his chest, loving the way he looked. This man, her husband. So very sexy.

“You do that anyway, don’t you?” She smoothed her hands over his smooth chest to move up around his neck.

RaShaun pulled her close and just stared down at her. His look was so intense that Yvonne leaned back to get to look at him with a small frown.

“Baby, what’s wrong?” she asked.

RaShaun shook his head from side to side as his thumb traced her lower lip. “Not a damn thing. Just the opposite. My life has never felt more right than it does at this moment. Know that I cherish you above everything, Yvonne Patterson. Don’t ever forget that.”

Picking her up in his arms, he walked towards the bed, and by the time the night was over…she knew this to be true without a doubt.


The next couple of weeks passed by in a blur of newlywed bliss. They couldn’t walk by one another without touching or kissing or exchanging goofy smiles. Even though they’d lived together for a couple of years, there was something about being husband and wife that changed the dynamics of their relationship.

One evening, Tara and Yvonne were at the health club, and had just finished an intense workout class. They both swore the instructor had to be a drill sergeant in her former life, but her class stayed packed full because the lady got results. Wiping the sweat from her face, Yvonne glared at her once class was over.

The instructor gave them a perky wave as she got ready for her next class. “See you next week, ladies.”

Yvonne waited until her back was turned, then gave her the finger.

Tara fell out laughing as they walked out. “Girl, you are hilarious. Leave that woman alone.

“I swear she gets some type of demonic pleasure from working us until we almost pass out. She’s not satisfied until she hears grunts of pain throughout the room,” Yvonne grumbled.

“You know what they say, no pain–”

“Tara, I really don’t want to hear that bullshit right now.”

“Excuse me, Ms….I’m sorry…Mrs. Bitch. It’s not anyone’s fault but your own that you’ve been on a ‘RaShaun Dick Diet’ since you two got married a month ago. I tried to get your ass to come to the gym, but nooo….you couldn’t tear yourself away from your huuusssband.” Tara drew the word out teasingly. At the mention of RaShaun’s name, Tara saw the usual starry-eyed expression come over Yvonne’s face.

Tara rolled her eyes.

“Ugh! There you go again. That’s what I’m talking about. Damn, ya’ll must fuck more than rabbits. It’s a wonder you two….” Tara suddenly stopped talking and came to an abrupt stop. Yvonne, however, was still firmly encased in her dream world and kept walking.

“Yvonne,” Tara whispered loudly.

“Speaking of my husband, I wonder what he’s doing right now,” Yvonne mused, smiling at the word ‘husband’.

“Yvonne!” Tara called louder.

This time Yvonne turned around with a frown. “What, T?”

Tara nodded her head slightly to Yvonne’s right. Her frown deepening even more, Yvonne turned around to see what had Tara so agitated. And as soon as she spotted them she knew. Terri and…. Kiki?

Well, isn’t this cute? Yvonne thought. Apparently, these two have gotten to be thick as thieves.

Kiki used to talk as much shit about Terri as Yvonne, but of course that didn’t mean anything considering what Yvonne now knew about Kiki’s true character. Both Kiki and Terri were both walking with a couple of other women who all seemed to be fawning over Terri, who wore one of those sports tops that left your stomach bare. Yvonne gasped when her eyes dropped to Terri’s little pooch of a belly. Terri happened to spot her at that moment, looking thoroughly satisfied at Yvonne’s devastated reaction to the beginning signs of Terri’s pregnancy. She touched Kiki’s arm and gestured towards Yvonne and Tara.

Tara leaned towards Yvonne. “Take a deep breath, cous. Don’t give these bitches the satisfaction.”

Hearing her words, Yvonne did just that, and exhaled slowly. She tilted her chin slightly and looked them dead in the eye. She’d be damn if she ducked and hid just to avoid them.

“Well, well. Look who’s here,” Terri said, rubbing her stomach.

“Breathe…” Tara whispered through the corner of her mouth.

Kiki looked Yvonne up and down, obviously feeling bold in front of everyone. Yvonne narrowed her eyes, wanting her to say something. She would gladly give her another beat down right here in front of everybody. Kiki, however, decided to fight with words.

“Yvonne, don’t you think Terri looks cute pregnant?” She rubbed Terri’s stomach. “She’s going to be such a terrific Mom to RaShaun’s baby.”

Yvonne flinched but forced a smile to her lips. “And RaShaun will be a great father…that is if he’s really the father. That's still to be determined.”

She gave Terri a smile designed to irritate the hell out of her. Yvonne had already made peace with the fact that more than likely he was, but she couldn’t resist fucking with this bitch.

Terri took the bait. Glaring, she walked closer to Yvonne. “Oh, he’s the father. There’s no doubt about it. I’m in RaShaun’s life forever now, whether you like it or not. So you may as well get used to it. After all, I’ll always be the mother of his first born child.”.

“And you may as well get used to me,” Yvonne fired back. She held up her left hand, blinding Terri with the diamonds flashing from her ring and smiled. “Because I’ll be right there by his side helping him to raise his child…who’ll be my stepchild, I may add.”

Terri’s face flushed with hate as she looked at Yvonne’s wedding rings.

“Von, lets go,” Tara grabbed her arm. A crowd was beginning to gather.

But Yvonne ignored Tara. She wasn’t finished. She was going to teach Terri’s ass not to come for her with foolishness like this again. She put a finger to her chin and looked up thoughtfully.

“I haven’t decided what I want him or her to call me. Vonnie… MommyVon …or just plain old Mom.” When she looked back at Terri her face was a canvas of pure innocence. “What do you think?”

Terri was absolutely livid. “You fucking bitch!” she screamed. “If you think for one minute you’ll ever lay a hand on my child you’re more stupid than you look!”

Yvonne just stood there smiling at her with unconcern, which made Terri even madder.

“Oh, you think this is funny? You’re lucky I’m pregnant, or I would kick your ass, something I should’ve done a long time ago!”

Yvonne shrugged. “Don’t worry, I’ll wait on you. And if in, what, seven months, you’re still under the illusion that you can kick my ass…come see me.”

Yvonne laughed as she finally allowed Tara to drag her off. She could still here Tara screaming as they turned the corner.


Yvonne got home about an hour later. Tara had spent at least thirty minutes in the car calming Yvonne and then comforting her as she broke down in tears. It had been easy the last month because she and RaShaun had purposely not mentioned Terri’s name, but seeing her just now, her pregnancy beginning to show… Yvonne thought she would go crazy.

Finally calm enough to leave, Yvonne promised she’d call Tara tomorrow. She walked in and threw her bag on the floor by the chair and looked around for RaShaun. When she found him in the kitchen, he was leaning against the counter drinking a beer. It looked like he had had just gotten out of the shower. She walked over and placed her arms around his waist, lifting her face up to his for a kiss. He leaned down stiffly and gave her a quick peck.

Yvonne frowned. “Hi.”


She took a step back at his cold tone. “What’s wrong? Did you have a bad day?” She was trying to be sympathetic, but her day hadn’t been the best after seeing Terri.

RaShaun stared at her without saying anything. He took another sip of beer before speaking in a low voice. “Oh, my day was fine. Not bad at all. That is until about an hour ago.”

“What happened an…” She took another step back and folded her arms. “Wait. Please don’t tell me that bitch called you.”


Yvonne continued to peer up at him for a moment before finally catching on that he was highly ticked off…but not at Terri. “Hold up. Are you mad? At me??” She slapped her hand against her chest. “Is that what this little attitude of yours is all about?”

RaShaun sat the empty bottle down then pushed away from the counter without answering her.

“RaShaun? RaShaun!”

He went to the refrigerator and got another beer before turning to look at her. “You want to know if I’m mad? I wouldn’t say mad. Slightly perturbed?” He brought the beer up to his lips and took a long swallow. “Yes.”

“At me, though?”

“Yvonne, why didn’t you just ignore her? Believe me, I know she started the shit. I know that without hearing a word out of your mouth, but just ignore her stupid ass. If you see her, go the other way.”

“And just why should I do that! I haven’t done anything wrong.” She emphasized the word ‘I’. RaShaun’s eyes narrowed when he caught her meaning, but Yvonne could care less. She had just managed to calm down from the confrontation with that bitch, and know she had to come home and listen to this shit?

“And anyway, why the hell is she calling you? She started it. Her ass thought it would be cute and funny trying to make me look like a fool.”

“For the last time, ignore her bullshit. Why let her get to you like that and cause a scene?” RaShaun’s voice rose.

“She made the fucking scene! But once I shut her ass down, she decides to come whining to you?”

RaShaun took a visible deep breath. The conversation was getting out of hand. Yvonne knew they both needed to calm down, but his next words added fuel to the fire.

“Whether we like it or not, she’s pregnant. They were ready to take her to the hospital to have her and the baby checked out because her blood pressure shot up. You up there arguing with her over petty crap as if you’re in high school or …” RaShaun stopped, apparently hearing how the words sounded. “Wait. I didn’t mean that the way it–”

“You son of a bitch! I cannot believe you’re standing there halfway trying to defend her! I was minding my own business when she and Kiki–”

“Kiki…” RaShaun looked at her as is he hadn’t heard her correctly.

“Yes, Kiki. They were at the gym together. When they saw me, they made it a point to come over and block my path just to talk shit. Her pressure wasn’t up when she was rubbing her stomach in front of me, telling me how you and she were going to raise your child together, and how she was always going to be a part of your life now…” Yvonne’s voice caught on a little hiccup.

RaShaun sighed and walked over to her with his hand out. “Von…Baby…”

“No! Don’t you ‘Baby’ me now. As long as you live, don’t you ever, ever, defend that evil witch to me. I don’t even know how you have the nerve to fix your mouth to try and tell me how I should act around her.” Yvonne’s words were coming out with the sharpness of a samurai sword. “Since you’re the voice of wisdom, you should’ve spoken it to yourself that night and used a fucking condom instead of letting your dick think for you!”

RaShaun bit his tongue to stop from replying. She knew exactly what to say to piss him off, but he also knew he was wrong the way he had come at her about Terri.

“Yvonne, I’m sorry. You’re right. I apologize.”

“You can take your apology and shove it deep up your ass!” She reached over and grabbed the empty beer bottle he’d sat down and threw it as hard as she could at him before she angrily stalked out of the room.

“Dammit!!” He ducked just in time so that the bottle shattered against the wall behind him. A second slower and he would’ve probably been on the way to the hospital. Blowing under his breath, he ran a hand down the back of his head and looked at the shards of glass on the floor.

“Okay, Rah,” he whispered to himself. “I think the honeymoon is over.”


After sweeping up the last of the glass and dumping it in the trashcan, RaShaun went to the bedroom to find Yvonne. Hopefully, she had calmed down a little bit so that they could talk. He took the majority of the blame, and rightly so. He had reassured her over and over again that he wouldn’t let Terri come between them, but he’d done just that tonight.

When RaShaun walked into the bedroom, he bit back a sigh when he saw her. Yeah. She was still pissed. They usually slept in the nude. Tonight she had on a cotton nightgown. A long cotton nightgown. Buttoned up to the top of her neck. He walked over to her side of the bed and sat down. She wouldn’t even look at him.

“Von, I’m sorry. I was wrong, and I apologize.”


“Baby, please talk to me.”


“Will you forgive me? ”

Still nothing. At a loss, RaShaun grabbled for something to say to get through to her. When he thought of it, he knew it was wrong, but hell, he was desperate.

“We promised never to go to bed angry at one another. Remember?”

Yvonne sighed and finally looked at him. RaShaun steeled himself against the anger he saw reflected in the grey depths of her eyes, but he also saw something else. Hurt.

“You also promised that you wouldn’t let her come between us. So if you’re not keeping your promise, I don’t see why I have to keep mine.” She flipped over to her other side and presented her back to him.

“I’ll get her straight tomorrow. It won’t happen again.”

Her only answer was a disbelieving snort.

After a few minutes, RaShaun reluctantly got up. He pulled his shirt over his head and was taking his pants off when her next sentence made him pause.

“And you can sleep in the other bedroom, too.”

RaShaun raised an eyebrow at her back. He blew out a short laugh. Yeah, right. He took off the rest of his clothes and turned the lamp off before climbing in the bed naked.

Yvonne flipped back to her other side so that she wouldn’t be facing him.

“Yvonne. Baby, come on.”

He scooted closer to her so that he could spoon his body against hers. Her body was stiff as a board. He leaned down and started kissing her neck. His hand slid around and cupped her breast. When she jerked away a little, he lifted his head and stared down at her in the darkness, but he could tell she had her eyes tightly closed.

RaShaun slid his hand down to her waist, then over the rising slope of her hip to reach the hem of her gown. He leaned down and softly bit her ear as he pulled the gown up and slipped his hand between her legs.

Yvonne caught his hand. “Don’t.”

He lifted his head again. Frowning, he pulled his hand away from hers to put it back between her legs. Again she pushed him away.

“So you’re going to deny me, Yvonne? Is that what this is?”

She turned her head to look at him. “Just what makes you think I’m in the mood to have sex with you?”

“You’re not?” he asked softly, kissing her shoulder. “You’re always in the mood.”

“Well, I’m not tonight.”

“Ah, okay. So, if you’re not in the mood, I guess there’s nothing I can do to change your mind, huh? Not even a little bit? Hmm? Not even a little taste?”

Yvonne sat up and gave him an incredulous look. “Is that all you can think about right now? Fine. If it’s so important to you to fuck me tonight, hurry up and get it over with.” She flopped back on the bed, pulled her gown up to her waist. Opening her legs, she blew out a hard breath, as agreeing to sex was making a big sacrifice.

RaShaun’s eyes narrowed. Little hussy had the smartest mouth he’d ever come across in a woman. “I’m not going to make love to you if it’s not what you want. I know another way I can apologize though, if you wont accept the verbal kind.”

He saw her body tense when he slid down between her legs and pulled her panties down. Holding her thighs apart, he got busy with the job of apologizing to her with his tongue. His mouth told her how sorry he was. His lips talked to her lips, and they had a conversation that only they understood. Finally, hers quivered in acceptance and opened up to allow his tongue to enter and apologize properly as her pleasure began to flow. Even if Yvonne wouldn’t speak to him, her body did. She tried to keep her moans inside, but by the time her first orgasm hit, she was screaming his name, begging him not to stop.

After giving her one more body shattering release, he gave her a final lick and got up. His dick jerked in protest when RaShaun went back to his side of the bed instead of sliding that part of his anatomy deep inside her, but he was determined to stop there. Even though he wanted her so bad that he ached, he didn’t want Yvonne to feel like he’d taken advantage.

RaShaun lay on his back and tried to go to sleep but was uncomfortable as hell. He’d just about made up his mind to take a cold shower when Yvonne sat up and pulled the gown over her head. She hopped on top of him and straddled his hips without saying a word and slid down the hard, steel length of his dick. They both moaned out loud in relief.

Yvonne rode him fast and hard. Toes curling up, RaShaun placed his hands on her hips and let her do her thing; she didn’t need any help from him. Before long, she was the one who had him chanting her name and telling her not to stop moments before he exploded in an orgasm that seemed to go on forever. Yvonne didn’t stop until she’d milked every drop out of his dick.

When she fell down on his chest in a heaving puddle, he managed to breathe out, “So does this mean you forgive me?”

With an effort, she managed to push herself up. Staring at him, she replied breathlessly, “Depends.”

He quirked an eyebrow upwards. “On…”

“On how long you can last tonight.”

RaShaun grinned. Rolling her over on her back, he rose to the challenge and started getting busy.


The next month passed by more quickly than either of them would’ve expected. Although neither mentioned it, they were well aware that the date was growing near when they would find out once and for all about the baby. RaShaun had made an appointment at a private clinic that his lawyer said came highly recommended. Two more days and they would know for sure one way or the other if he was the father of Terri’s baby.

Surprisingly, Terri had been laying low. RaShaun had only spoken to her a couple of times regarding the clinic and to find out what was a good day for her to go. She was agreeable to whatever he said and didn’t cause any problems. This should’ve made him happy, but RaShaun knew it was the quiet before Terri’s storm.

Finally the day came. RaShaun walked into the clinic and saw Terri sitting in the waiting room. His steps faltered when he saw how big her stomach had gotten. She wasn’t huge, by any means, but her pregnancy was noticeable. She would be around three months along.

They spoke civilly then sat in silence until her name was called. RaShaun went in with her and shook hands with the doctor. He listened as the doctor again explained the procedure pretty much the same way Dr. Wong had explained it. The fetal cells would be collected from the amniotic fluid. Any fears of damage to the fetus were put to rest.

An ultrasound was done first. RaShaun hadn’t been prepared for that, and didn’t know what to expect. He watched the screen closely, not knowing what he was looking at until the doctor patiently pointed out the fetus, showing them the tiny developing head, legs, and arms. This was the first time RaShaun had seen anything like that, and he was in awe of the little life growing inside of Terri. For a moment, all differences were put aside as they smiled at each other and pointed at the screen.

The amniocentesis procedure did not take long. RaShaun’s blood was drawn. Due to the connections his lawyer had, they would have the results the next day, and would be delivered directly to RaShaun.

RaShaun walked Terri to her car, neither of them saying anything. After he’d opened her door for her, she started the car, but before she pulled off she looked up at him.

“I assume you’ll be in touch with me as soon as you get the results that you’re the father…”

RaShaun stared at her, then turned around and walked off without acknowledging she’d spoken.


RaShaun and Yvonne had both taken the next day off from work, and waited anxiously at home to get the results. For the most part, they didn’t speak much. A little bit before 2:00 p.m., the doorbell rang. They looked at each other. RaShaun leaned down and squeezed her hand before he went to open the door. Yvonne sat wringing her hands nervously. When he came back, he wordlessly held the large envelope up for her to see.

“You ready?” he asked, sitting down beside her.

Yvonne nodded. She was ready to get the unknown out of the way so at least they could be sure of what they were facing. She took deep breaths to prepare herself.

RaShaun did the same. Opening the envelope, he took out the folded sheet of paper with the clinics letterhead and held it in front of them. Skipping all the way to the bottom, he read the results out loud:

‘Based on testing results obtained from the analysis of DNA information listed above, there is a 99.998% probability that RaShaun Patterson is the father.’

RaShaun continued to stare at the words that confirmed he was the baby’s father. Although he’d known there was a strong possibility it could be so, now that it was confirmed, he didn’t know what to think or how to feel. He looked over at Yvonne.

He had expected her to get upset, cry, scream…something, but she just sat quietly beside him. He put the letter down on the couch and held out his hand to her, palm side up. Without hesitation, she placed her hand in his.

“You okay?” he asked her softly.

“Believe it or not, yes,” she nodded. “I’m just glad to know for sure, one way are the other.”

RaShaun nodded his agreement, still trying to wrap his brain around the news. He was going to be a father. He sat back on the couch and pulled Yvonne to his chest and just held her. They sat that way for a while in silence, both of them absorbing the news of what this meant and how much their lives were about to change.

After a while, RaShaun’s cell phone rang, breaking the contemplative silence that had fallen in the room. Yvonne lifted up so that he could get it out of his pocket, and when he saw the name displayed on the caller ID, he grew still. A sense of dread flooded his chest. Terri.

RaShaun cursed under his breath. “And so it begins…”

© 2017 S.K. Hardy

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means without the written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.


If we can just let go and trust that
things will work out the way
they’re supposed to, without trying to
control the outcome, then
we can begin to enjoy the moments
more fully. The joy of the freedom it
brings becomes more pleasurable
than the experience itself.
~ Goldie Hawn



RaShaun’s hand tightened on his cell phone. Before they’d taken the paternity test, he remembered that he hadn’t trusted Terri’s calmness regarding this whole situation. He thought it was her calm before the storm. He’d been wrong–it was her calm before the typhoon. The results had barely been delivered an hour ago and she was already blowing up his phone.

Glancing at Yvonne, who sat on the couch beside him, he stood and brought the phone to his ear. “Yeah.”

“So you got the results.”

“I did.”


“And…it would seem that we’re going to need to get together and go over some things regarding our…baby.”

“I agree. I’m free now.”

“I’m not coming over now, Terri.” There was no way he was leaving Yvonne alone right after they’d found out the news.

“Why not? Rah, we need to talk as soon as possible.”

“I said not now. We’ll talk, but it won’t be today.”

“Oh. I see. What’s wrong, your wife isn’t taking the news well?”


“No, RaShaun. You are going to be a father. That means your child comes first. Before everyone. That’s what your priority should be now, not sitting at home consoling your wife.”

“I don’t need you to tell me how to prioritize my life,” RaShaun replied with quiet control. He refused to let himself rise to the bait Terri dangled in front of him. He and Yvonne had promised themselves they were going to do their best to keep things civil with Terri, but it was painfully obvious she wasn’t having it.

“Apparently I do have to tell you. You and I both know the reason you won’t come over is because of that selfish, heartless, bitch of a woman you married and–”

“That’s enough!” RaShaun’s voice was cold and hard. “Terri, let’s get something straight. I plan on being there for this baby, but don’t think I’m going to jump when you say jump and ask how high. That’s not how things are going to play out here so you may as well cease with that shit now. The sooner you come to terms with that, the better off everyone will be.”

When silence dominated the line, he continued after a significant pause. “Now, I’ll call you soon so that we can get together and work some things out, but until then, don’t call my phone every other hour making demands because its not going to work.”

“Fine.” Terri’s voice had a definite bite.

RaShaun could tell that she was fuming inside, but she wisely held her tongue and left her answer at that. From experience, Terri knew RaShaun, and knew the more she pushed the harder he’d dig his heels in.

“And another thing,” he snapped. “Let this be the last time you call my wife out of her name. I don’t want to have to tell you that again.” The threat in his voice was easily heard. “We understand each other?”


“Good. I’ll be in touch.” RaShaun hung up the phone. He was so frustrated and aggravated with that woman. For what had to be the ten millionth time, he asked himself how he could’ve been so damned stupid to sleep with her again. His lapse in judgment now guaranteed that he’d be dealing with Terri and her devious, conniving ways for at least the next eighteen years.

“Fuck!” he yelled.

Yvonne got up and slid her hands around his waist and rested her head on his back. “Baby, we can’t let her get to us. That’s exactly what she’s trying to do, you know that.”

“Yvonne, of course I know!” he snapped, then just as quickly regretted taking his anger out on her. Turning around, he pulled her into his arms and hugged her tight. “I’m sorry, sweetheart, forgive me. I didn’t mean to yell at you.”

“I know.”

“I don’t know what I’d do without you.” His arms tightened as if the very thought made him want to keep her close.

“You wont have to find out. No matter how she tries to manipulate us, we’re not going to let her control our lives this way.”

RaShaun nodded in agreement, but he heard the note of doubt that slowly crept into her voice. It made him wonder if she was trying to convince him–or herself.


Two days later, RaShaun went to Terri’s house so that they could sit down and talk. Her next appointment was coming up in a couple of weeks, and she wanted RaShaun to go with her. RaShaun was going to suggest that anyway. He had questions he preferred to ask the doctor himself, and wanted to make sure the baby was healthy.

“I was thinking if it’s a boy I want to name him RaShaun Patterson II,” Terri mused.

RaShaun felt a twinge of pain in his heart, but didn’t show a reaction to Terri. He and Yvonne had talked many times about one day having children, and she said she wanted to name their son after him.

“What do you think?” she prodded when RaShaun remained silent.

RaShaun shrugged. “Isn’t it a little bit too early to be thinking of names? Besides, I thought you had one of those books with baby names or something, don’t you?”

Terri stared at him, sensing he didn’t want the baby named after him. “I don’t need it, at least not if it’s a boy. I think I’ve decided. That’s what I’ll name him.”

Ignoring the comment, RaShaun stood up to leave. “I’ll need you to get those insurance forms back to me as soon as you can so that I can turn them into HR.”

“Are you leaving now? If you wait, I can fill them out now.”

“No, apparently you didn’t notice how many pages are in the folder. You don’t have to do them all now anyway,” RaShaun answered, walking to the door.

“But, Rah, this is important. It won’t take long. Besides, I might have questions. You did say you didn’t want me calling your phone every few minutes, didn’t you?”

RaShaun paused and turned around to look at her. “Stop it,” he said quietly.

Terri blinked. “What…what are you talking about?”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about. You think I don’t know that you’re trying to find a way to keep me here? Didn’t you hear anything I told you the other night? I’m not doing this with you.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she snorted.

Battling to keep his temper, RaShaun tried once more to reason with her. “Terri, we’ve known each other a long time, since we were kids. We’re gonna have a child together. I don’t want us to be fighting and bickering every other day. It’s not good for you and it’s not good for the baby. I definitely don’t want to have to put up with your scheming and plotting to try to be with me. I’m married to Yvonne. Happily.”

“So you say,” Terri snorted under her breath.

“I love my wife, and she’s going to be apart of this baby’s life. Nothing–and no one–is going to come between us. I hope eventually, we’ll all be able to get along for the sake of our baby. Yvonne’s willing to try, and I hope you will too.”


Terri went to the window to watched RaShaun leave. She didn’t turn away until his car was no longer visible.

“You must be joking, Rah. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I smile in that bitch’s face and make nice. She can rot in hell for all I care. I didn’t work this hard and come this close to just give up without a fight.” She rubbed her hand over her stomach. “I have something that you want, Rah, and she knows it. That’s why she’s trying to keep you away from us. But we will be together. You’ll see. Just the three of us.”


Before long, Yvonne and RaShaun’s life managed to settle back into some sense of normalcy for them. The weekend coming up, Quincy and his wife had invited them and a few other couples over for dinner one, something they were both looking forward to. It was nice to get out and laugh for a change.

Yvonne was finally beginning to feel as if things would be okay. After she and RaShaun discussed turning one of the guest bedrooms in to a nursery, she’d even gone out and bought a few things for the baby. Warming to the idea, they’d picked out a crib, a bassinette and a changing table. RaShaun had left the colors and decorating of the room up to Yvonne. She surprised herself at how much she was enjoying it.

She glanced at RaShaun now, laughing and talking with Quincy and a bunch of his other friends. He must have felt her gaze because he turned his head and winked. Feeling warm and tingly and head over heals in love, she threw a kiss back at him then turned around to continue the conversation with the other women.

RaShaun watched her for a moment more, turning to Quincy when he nudged his shoulder. “What?”

“Man, look at you. I never thought I’d see the day. You act more like an old married man than I do, and I’ve been married five years.”

RaShaun shrugged. “You know I told you I was going to marry Yvonne the first night I met her.”

“Yeah, you did. I thought you were crazy at first, but the more time I spent around you two the more I knew how much you loved one another. Hell, the way both of ya’ like to fight other people, you could damn near be a tag team boxing team,” Quincy snickered, obviously thinking about RaShaun kicking Brandon’s ass, and Von stomping Kiki’s.

RaShaun shook his head but eventually joined in with a laugh. “Nah, man that’s all behind us. I’m determined to keep the future as drama free– or drama free as I can keep it.”

RaShaun grimaced as he thought about Terri. She’d gone to the hospital in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago, then called him sobbing that she was having cramps. Praying the baby was okay, RaShaun had jumped out of bed and raced to the hospital. Once he’d gotten to her room, he hadn’t known what to expect. The doctor examined her and said everything seemed to be okay, but suggested she see her obstetrician first thing in the morning. RaShaun had gone with her; thankfully, everything turned out fine.

Quincy seemed to be reading his mind. “So how’s everything with Terri and the baby?”

“It’s good. Her due date is around Christmas.” RaShaun was unaware of how much his face lit up when he talked about the baby.

“Rah, just be careful, man. You know I’m not Terri’s biggest fan, but I don’t trust her. I just have a bad feeling about this.” Although Quincy, RaShaun, and Terri had all grown up together, Quincy had never liked Terri and had tried to warn RaShaun many times about how deceitful she was.

“Q., come on. I’m the last person you have to warn about trusting–” RaShaun paused when his phone rang. He frowned, not recognizing the number.


“May I speak to RaShaun Patterson?”


“This is Regional South Hospital. I’m calling to inform you that Terri Johnson has been brought into the emergency room. She’s had slight spotting and severe cramps, although she seems to have stabilized.”

“I’m on my way.”

“What is it?” Quincy asked in concern.

“It’s Terri. She’s in the emergency room again,” he said before rushing over to Yvonne. Heart racing, RaShaun quickly told his wife that he had to go and the reason why. “Q. said he’ll take you home. I’ll call you as soon as I can, okay?”

Giving her a quick peck on the lips, he rushed out without waiting for a reply.

Yvonne watched him leave with a frown. Terri calling RaShaun because of complications and having him rush out was becoming a routine. She wouldn’t put anything past Terri, but surely she wouldn’t stoop so far as to fake problems with the baby. But then again…it was Terri. Yvonne had a feeling that, once again, the other woman was manipulating things to turn out just the way she wanted it. And RaShaun, out of fear and concern for his child…was falling for it.


Once again, RaShaun rushed to the hospital, and once again the doctor could find nothing wrong with Terri. The young, African American doctor was the same one who had been on duty a couple of weeks ago when Terri had come to the emergency room complaining of a pain in her stomach. He scratched his head as he finished examining her.

“I can’t find anything wrong, Ms. Johnson. In fact, you and the baby seem to be in excellent health, and I don’t see any evidence of spotting. You did say that’s what–”

Terri cut him off abruptly. “Yes! Are you saying I’m lying?”

RaShaun frowned at her, taking notice of her defensive tone. He had been quiet the whole time, watching and studying her. The moment he walked into the room, she had sat up and smiled at him. Her eyes hadn’t left him until the doctor began telling them his findings.

“How long have you been a doctor anyway,” she sneered, continuing to berate the physician. “You look far too young to have had any significant experience.”

The doctor’s features turned stiff and cold. He straightened defensively in the face of her attack. “I assure you I’m extremely qualified, ma’am.” He paused and glanced at RaShaun and then back at Terri. “I can’t diagnose something that’s not there.”

“What? So you are saying I’m lying. I want the doctor in charge right now! I don’t know who you think you are but–”

“Terri.” RaShaun spoke her name quietly, but Terri instantly stopped talking and looked at him. Then as if remembering she wasn’t supposed to be feeling well, she lay back and closed her eyes.

“Dr….” RaShaun paused to read the nametag on the doctor’s coat. “Reynolds. If you’re finished examining Terri, I’d like to have a word with you outside.”

Terri’s eyes popped open. She quickly sat up in bed. “Why do you need to speak with him outside? Why can’t you speak with him in here?”

With his back to Terri, RaShaun closed his eyes and asked the powers that be for strength before turning around and walking over to her. He gave her a look that caused her to slowly laid back down on the bed. RaShaun used the same quiet tone he’d gotten in the habit of using with her to try and stop from yelling at the top of his lungs from frustration.

“I’m speaking with him outside because I don’t want to upset you…although you seem to be just fine now.” His face conveyed the growing skepticism he was feeling about her frequent emergency room trips. “Is that okay with you?”

Terri bit her lip nervously and gave him a quick nod. RaShaun and Dr. Reynolds stepped outside and walked a few paces away from the room.

“How can I help you, Mr. Patterson?” Dr. Reynolds asked

“I just want to be sure that you’re saying you don’t find anything wrong with Terri or the baby? We saw her doctor after the last time we were here, and she said the same thing, that everything was progressing satisfactory.”

Dr. Reynolds hesitated. “Can I be frank?”

RaShaun folded his arms. He appreciated the brotha’s direct attitude. “Please.”

“If I may ask, are you and Ms. Johnson together?”

“No, we’re not. In fact, I just got married a couple of months ago and to say she hasn’t taken it well is an understatement.”

Dr. Reynolds nodded, his expression showing his immediate understanding of the situation. “Mr. Patterson, I’m going to be blunt. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her. She seems like she kept herself in excellent shape before her pregnancy, and her health is excellent as well. Those factors have contributed to her having an easy pregnancy so far.”

“So, there’s nothing wrong with her.” It wasn’t a question.

“Not physically, at least.”

A look of understanding passed between RaShaun and the doctor. RaShaun held his hand out and shook Dr. Reynolds hands.

“Thanks, man. I appreciate it.”

“No problem, bruh. Good luck.” His look told RaShaun he was going to need it.


It was almost one o’clock in the morning by the time RaShaun got Terri home. She had taken a cab to the hospital, claiming she had been hurting too bad to drive. RaShaun finally realized all of it was designed for her to be able to spend as much time with him as she could.

RaShaun was angrier with himself than he was at her. Terri was just doing Terri. She wasn’t perpetrating anyone other than who she was. He was livid with himself for allowing his fear of the baby’s health to blind him to what she’d been doing.

Terri tried to make casual conversation on the way back, but after his grunts, one word answers, and then just out and out silence to her questions, she sat back and kept to herself until they pulled up to her home. After he walked her to the door and waited until she was safely inside, he turned to leave.


He stopped and turned around to stare inquiringly at her. He didn’t trust himself to open his mouth to answer her. He was that close from going off on her.

“You barely said two words on the way here.” The attitude was thick and heavy in her voice. “Look, I’m sorry if me and your child are such an inconvenience to you. I just thought you’d want to know when there was some type of problem. Next time, I just won’t bother you.”

RaShaun noticed the conniving gleam in her eye. He knew at that point he was supposed to reassure her that she needed to call him no matter what.

Instead, all he said was, “Get some rest, Terri.”

Turning to leave, he left her standing in the doorway staring at him with her mouth open.


By the time RaShaun got home, it was close to 2:00 in the morning. A lamp was on in the corner in the living room, and in the dim light, he saw Yvonne curled up on her side asleep on the couch.

RaShaun sat on the coffee table in front of the couch and just stared at her. She had been so strong throughout all of this these last couple of months, not just for herself, but for him as well. Many times he would’ve lost his mind if she had not been there to calm him down and give him some perspective.

Even when Terri would get on one of her rampages and call almost every other hour, she never once let her emotions get the best of her although RaShaun knew she was tempted many times. He also knew she was doing it more so for him to try and keep his stress level down. Just last week, he had been on his way over to Terri’s house to curse her ass out for yet another stunt she’d pulled, which he was sure wouldn’t have ended well. Thankfully Yvonne had been his voice of reason and talked him down.

She stirred and turned over on her back. Throwing one arm up over her head, she kicked a leg from under the cover as she sank further into the couch to get more comfortable. RaShaun smiled. He told her all the time she slept bad as hell, but she denied it to the end.

His eyes roamed down her body, clad only in t-shirt and panties. RaShaun loved her body, thick enough in all the places a man loved to grab. Her ass. Her thighs. Her plump breasts. He looked at her exposed thigh again, wanting to feel her legs wrapped around his waist. Without thinking about it, he stood up and pulled his clothes off.

Her left leg was bent at the knee and rested against the back of the couch. His eyes went from her knees to the juncture where her thigh connected her femininity. He reached a finger down and softly traced the thin, elastic leg of her panties, before slipping his finger underneath.

Yvonne moved her hips against the light pressure of his finger as he touched the smooth lips of her sex. His finger paused when she moaned. He didn’t want her to wake up. Not yet.

Pulling her panties to the side, he guided his dick to her opening and slowly but steadily pushed himself inside of her, closing his eyes as her soft and pliable warm flesh enveloped his hard, rigid length.

Yvonne screamed in pleasure and opened her eyes. She started to speak but RaShaun kept up a steady rhythm of deep strokes without giving her a chance to fully wake up. He stared into her eyes. The ecstasy he saw reflected there urged him to go faster. Harder. Deeper. Her hips rose to meet his as she threw her leg over the back of the couch. The leverage allowed her to move faster and slam upwards, feeding him her pussy and giving as good as she got.

“Damn,” he said under his breath, eyes closed and in awe of how good it always was with her. “Fuck!”

“Started something you can’t keep up with, baby?” Her voice goaded breathlessly.

He opened his eyes and looked down at her after hearing the challenge in her voice. “You know I ain’t never had a problem keeping pace.”

“So you say.” She ruined it with a quick gasp of pleasure, but didn’t let that stop her. “Is this all you got? Show me who this belongs to, Patterson. Think you can do that?”

RaShaun’s eyes narrowed. She was really feeling herself tonight. And with the mood he was in, she was getting ready to get exactly what she asked for. He pulled her legs up and around his waist. Her eyes widened as he stood up with them still joined together. Fucking her from a standing position, RaShaun bounced and slid her up and down the long span of his thick dick.

“RaaShauunnnn…” Yvonne screamed. “Ooooo babyyy!”

“That’s right, Von. That’s who this pussy belongs to,” he replied. “Am I keeping up now, baby? Answer Daddy.”


“Is that a yes?”

“Yesssss. Baby, YES!”

“Yeahhh,” he stretched the word out in a deep growl. “That’s what I wanna hear.”

He walked her over to the wall, his hands on her ass, sliding her up and down his greased pole. His male ego needed to make a point, and he wasn’t going to stop until he was sure there wouldn’t be any more misunderstanding. And then he might not even stop then.

Resting her back against the wall, he gave her a long, slow screw, grinding her clit against the steel pipe of his dick. Slow. Up. Deep. Down. In and to the left. Out, then back to the right.

He kept at it until he felt a stream of fluid rolling down his thigh as Yvonne's cream flowed plentiful amid the two orgasms he gave her. Only then did he allow himself to cum just as hard, while her sweet, wet, cunt gripped him tight.

Afterwards, Yvonne barely had the strength to wrap her arms around him and hold on as he carried her into the bedroom. He chuckled as tremors continued to quake throughout her body.

“Guess you’ll be careful of what you ask for next time, won’t you?” he teased softly

“Shut up.” Her words barely came out above a whisper.

RaShaun laughed and gently laid his exhausted wife in the bed. She slept like a newborn baby the rest of the night.


The weeks and months passed by seemingly at lightning speed. Towards the end of one workday, Yvonne and her co-workers talked about how crazy it was that Thanksgiving was right around the corner.

“My God, before you know it, Christmas will be here, and then New Years. It seems as if this year just started,” Susie, one of Yvonne’s co-workers, complained.

“Tell me about it,” Yvonne agreed. “But I love the holidays, especially New Years. I agree, though. Makes you wonder where the time went.”

“Funny,” a familiar voice behind her responded. “I was just asking myself the same thing.”

Yvonne froze. She swung around and looked into the dark, watchful eyes of Brandon Valentine, just as handsome as ever, standing several feet away.

Yvonne strove to keep her tone even. “What are you doing here?”

“I was in the neighborhood, so…”

When a charming grin accompanied his answer, the other women in the office literally swooned. Blushing and whispering to one another, they all but undressed Brandon with their eyes, but Yvonne remained silent, her expression telling him she was still waiting for an explanation.

The smile inched off of Brandon’s mouth in the face of her stoic expression. “Do you think I could talk to you in private?”

Yvonne hesitated. She was well aware of the curious audience they had in her nosy co-workers as their heads swiveled from her to Brandon.

“I…there’s really nothing for us to talk about,” she said as casual as possible.

“Five minutes. That’s all I ask.” When he saw the unyielding gleam in her eyes, he added, “Please.”

Yvonne glanced again at her co-workers, before she reluctantly nodded and led him to her office. She frowned as he made himself comfortable in the leather chair in front of her desk. Instead of sitting down herself, she folded her arms and stood waiting for him to tell her what he wanted to talk about. Her stance told him they wouldn’t be long.

“How’ve you been, Von?”

“Brandon, what do you want?”

“Damn. Not very welcoming, are you?”

“Look, if you’re here trying to start trouble….”

“Wait, wait…” Brandon stood and held his hands up in front of him. “I ain’t here to upset you or nothin’ like that. I just wanted to check on you. See how you doin’.”

“I’m great. Wonderful. Never better.” Yvonne pasted an overly bright smile on her face. “If I were any more satisfied with my life and my husband, I wouldn’t be able to stand it. Marriage agrees with me,” she told him pointedly.

“And does the imminent arrival of your husband’s lovechild also agree with you?”

Yvonne glared at him, her hand itching to slap the taunting smirk off his face. Instead, she turned on her heel with the intention of going to the door. “Get out.”

Brandon quickly stepped in front of her. “Hold, up, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.” Jaw jumping, he looked at her desk and picked up a picture of RaShaun and Yvonne on their wedding day. “I really do hope you’re happy. Don’t let anybody come between you… no matter how hard they try to make that happen.”

“Like you tried to do?” Yvonne snatched the picture out of his hands. “I’ve given you your five minutes. I want you out of my office now.”

“I'm goin’. I, ah, I’m actually leavin’ town for a while, but before I go…I just wanted to come by and tell you that I’m sorry for–”

But before he could finish, the door to Yvonne’s office opened. Both Brandon and Yvonne turned around to see who it was at the same time. Yvonne’s heart dropped when she saw RaShaun standing in the doorway glowering at them. His eyes went from Yvonne, to Brandon, then back to Yvonne. He closed the door…softly.

“Am I interrupting something?” His voice had that undertone that told Yvonne a volcano was brewing just beneath the surface.

“No. No! Of course not,” she answered quickly. Stepping around Brandon, she hurried to RaShaun’s side, but RaShaun’s eyes remained targeted on Brandon. “Uh, what are you doing here, honey?”

RaShaun slowly turned his head to look at her with pure disbelief at her question. “What?”

Yvette swallowed the lump that had settled in her throat. “Brandon was just leaving.”

RaShaun turned his attention back to Brandon. “What I wanna know is why the fuck is Brandon even here?”

Brandon sent RaShaun a look designed to intentionally provoke. RaShaun’s frown grew fierce. He took a step towards Brandon, but Yvonne quickly moved in front of him and grabbed him around the waist.

“H-He just showed up. I was just telling him to leave when you walked in.”

Brandon didn’t move. It was obvious that he enjoyed the fact that his mere presence seemed to get under RaShaun’s skin.

RaShaun loosened his tie. “You have ten seconds to get out of my sight.”

“RaShaun, look, like I told Yvonne, I didn’t come to start trouble, I–”

“I don’t give a fuck why you’re here!” RaShaun roared. Setting Yvonne to the side, he barged forward and crammed his face in front of Brandon’s. “What part about staying away from my wife don’t you understand?”

Brandon shoved RaShaun in the chest. “Get off me, man. I done told you–”

“Mothafucka…” RaShaun shoved Brandon with enough force to send him flying into Yvonne’s desk. “Done lost your got damn mind.”

Yvonne screamed when her laptop and papers she had stacked on her desk went flying to the floor. “Stop it! Stop it!”

But Brandon rushed towards RaShaun, tackling him around the waist and ramming him back into the wall behind him. By that time, a couple of men from the office apparently heard the commotion in Yvonne’s office and ran in to pull RaShaun and Brandon apart.

RaShaun pushed them off of him. Walking backwards a few paces, he nodded and pointed at Brandon with murder in his eyes. “You’re dead. You’re dead, you hear me?”

“Shaun, calm down, man!” one of the men said. He shouted to the other two guys holding Brandon. “Hurry up and get him out of here!”

Yvonne held on to RaShaun’s arm, but he jerked it away and shot her a venomous look.

“RaShaun, it’s not what you think!” Yvonne pleaded in a voice that trembled with emotion. She looked around at her horrified co-workers who had gathered in the doorway to gawk at the action. “Could…Could you all please excuse us?”

They slowly walked out whispering amongst themselves about what they had just witnessed. RaShaun walked over and slammed the door closed. He glared at Yvonne, his jaw clenching furiously from anger.

“What the fuck was he doing here?”

“Will you please calm down!”

“I’ll calm down when you answer my question!”

“He had only been here a few minutes, Shaun. I don’t know what he wanted. I can’t believe you made a scene like that! At my job RaShaun?”

“Believe me, Yvonne, me making a scene at your office is the last thing that’s on my mind right now. For the last time, what was Valentine doing here?”


RaShaun looked at Yvonne, pacing and trying to cool his temper. Truth be told, yeah, he trusted Yvonne, but Valentine? Not as far as he could throw him. The fact that he kept finding reasons to show up around Yvonne made his blood boil all over again.

“Yvonne, I swear to God, that lil motherfucka is not gonna stop until I kill his ass! I’m tellin’ you!”

By now Yvonne, was beginning to get just as angry. “We need to go home and discuss this. I think we’ve given everyone around here enough to gossip about for a lifetime if you don’t mind!”

RaShaun opened his mouth to tell her he didn’t give a damn when his cell phone rang. The ring tone told him it was Quincy. He finally realized it had been ringing nonstop almost for the last fifteen minutes, but he hadn’t paid it any attention. As Yvonne stalked to her desk to get her purse, RaShaun answered the phone.

“Q., I’m gonna have to call you back, its not a good time–”

“RaShaun, wait! I’ve been callin’ you for the last twenty minutes and–”

“Quincy, man, I’m gonna have to call you back–”

“RaShaun, shut up for a minute! There’s been an accident!” The words rushed out of Quincy’s mouth.

RaShaun stopped pacing as the urgency in Quincy’s voice finally penetrated his brain. “What kind of an accident?”

“Shaun, I don’t know how else to tell you this. It’s Terri. She’s been in a car accident. Man, she…she’s dead!”

RaShaun felt the room spinning until it left his dizzy and unbalanced. He took deep breaths. Surely he’d misunderstood. “Quincy…what? What did you say?!”

Forgetting her anger, Yvonne rushed to his side. “RaShaun what is it? What’s wrong?”

RaShaun blindly reached for her hand and squeezed it hard as he listened to Quincy.

“There was a five car pile up on the interstate. I was passing by when I saw the accident and went to help. That’s when I recognized her car. They rushed her to the hospital, but…I’m sorry, RaShaun.”

“My…my baby?” he asked in a hoarse voice. He could barely form the words. “What about my baby?”

Quincy hesitated. “You need to get to the hospital as quick as you can, Shaun.”


RaShaun and Yvonne hurried out of the elevator at the hospital, looking around for Quincy. RaShaun had driven like a bat out of hell and made it to the hospital in less than half the time it would have normally taken. According to the information he’d gotten from Quincy, Terri was in surgery now as the doctors performed an emergency C-section to try and save the baby‘s life.

“Quincy!” RaShaun took off running as soon as he saw his friend speaking to a doctor.

“RaShaun! Doctor, this is the baby’s father, RaShaun Patterson.”

“Doctor, how’s my baby? Is he okay? Did he make it?”

“You have a daughter, but I’m going to be honest with you, Mr. Patterson. She’s two months premature, and very tiny, a little over two and a half pounds. Of course being born so early, her organs have not fully developed. She’s being put on a respirator to help her breathe, and she’s susceptible to infection. We transferred her to the neonatal intensive care unit a few minutes ago.”

RaShaun squeezed Yvonne’s hand as he asked. “What are her chances?”

“We’ve made a lot of progress with premature babies, and our hospital has one of the best NIC units in the country. The mother died right before they brought her into the hospital. Thankfully, the EMT’s kept the oxygen flow going or severe brain damage would’ve been a factor. The next few weeks are crucial; it’s going to be touch and go. Only time will tell.”

“Doctor, can RaShaun see her?” Yvonne asked.

“It’ll be a while. The NICU is on the tenth floor if you want to go there to wait, although I have to caution you, I can’t promise how long that’ll be.”

“It doesn’t matter. We’ll wait as long as we have to,” RaShaun responded.


About three hours later, the nurse finally came to get RaShaun, explaining that he could only stay for a few minutes. RaShaun kissed Yvonne, and quickly followed the nurse to get scrubbed and prepped with a gown and mask.

Minutes later, he was looking down at his baby girl. His heart swelled with a love more powerful than any he’d ever known. He bent down so that he was eye level and able to see her better through the glass incubator. She was so tiny she could practically fit in the palm of his hand.

“Hi, baby girl. It’s your Daddy,” he whispered with tears in his eyes. “Hi, honey.” Her little body jerked and twitched before she became still again.

RaShaun’s gaze went over the incubator. So many tubes. The nurse had given him a quick rundown on what to expect, but he was still a little overwhelmed. There would be round the clock care with nurses and doctors monitoring vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and pulse rate.

His heart ached for his daughter. She was so little and defenseless and had a huge fight ahead of her in order to survive. He wanted to hold her in his arms so bad, at least touch her. Closing his eyes to pray, RaShaun asked God to stay with her and watch over her and help her grow strong and healthy. He stared down at her again, wishing she could open her eyes and see her Daddy by her side, and know that no matter what, he would always take care of her.

“Please God”, he whispered. “Just let my baby survive. Please.”

Suddenly, machines started beeping and going off beside her bed. Nurses rushed over. Something was wrong.

“Sir, you’re going to have to leave now.”

“What’s wrong? What’s happening?”

“Sir, please. I have to ask you to leave. Now, please.”

A doctor came rushing into the room. RaShaun stepped back and walked to the door, trying to watch them as long as he could. He heard the nurses updating the doctor. The doctor looked frantically at the machines as he began working on the baby.

“Her heart rate’s dropping! Come on! Come on! We’re losing her! Dammit, she’s not breathing. If we don’t get her stabilized now…”

A solemn silence fell over the team of caregivers. The nurse that had brought RaShaun to the emergency room glanced at him, her eyes expressing her sympathy before she quickly looked away.

RaShaun slowly walked out and stood outside the door, leaning weakly against the wall. He pulled the mask down and covered his face, his shoulders trembling with sobs of sorrow.

Yvonne raced over. “Shaun, what’s wrong!”

RaShaun could only shake his head as he looked at her through the tears that streamed down his face.

“Oh, RaShaun. Baby. Is she…”

Shaun put his head down and closed his eyes. Tears rolled down Yvonne’s face as well when she saw the hopelessness on his face. She pulled him into her arms and held him tightly as he cried for the baby girl he’d only had a chance to meet for a few brief moments.


One week later…

RaShaun and Yvonne stood at the gravesite and watched as the casket was lowered into the ground. RaShaun’s parents had flown in for the funeral. His father put his arm around his mother as her shoulders shook with soft cries. RaShaun could feel his throat burning with the tears he swallowed and not allowed himself to shed.

Dark shades covered his eyes as he stepped forward. Drawing one of the delicate pale, pink roses from the floral arrangement that stood beside the grave, he brought it up to his lips and kissed it, then gently threw it down on top of the casket. Closing his eyes, he said one final goodbye then went back to stand beside Yvonne. She reached for his hand. RaShaun clutched it as if it were his life preserver in stormy waters. And that’s exactly what she’d been.

She had taken control and made all of the arrangements, including choosing an outfit for her to wear and picking out the casket, which was the palest of pinks. RaShaun had been in no shape to even attempt to oversee such a task.

A tear began making its way from beneath the glasses and down his cheek as dirt was thrown down on top of the casket. He turned to leave, not wanting to watch anymore. He held his arm out to let his parents go first as they made their way back to the car. He was stopped every few feet by people who had attended the service.

Feeling yet another tap on his arm, he turned around and saw Quincy and his wife, Gina. He reached down to hug and kiss Gina on the cheek, then turned to the man who he couldn’t have been closer to if he were his own brother. They hugged each other tightly in understanding, not having to say a word. Yvonne hugged Gina and then reached up to hug Quincy. They along with countless other people were coming back to RaShaun and Yvonne’s house for the repass.

RaShaun stood by the limousine used to bring the family to the service as his father helped his mother inside. Then he glanced back at the gravesite.

“Are you okay?” Yvonne asked him softly.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Yvonne moved to get in the car, but he reached for her hand to keep her there. “I don’t know what I would’ve done without you. I love you so much.”

Yvonne touched his face softly and smiled before getting in the car. RaShaun looked up at the sky. The day had been overcast and rainy, but the sun seemed to be fighting its way through the gray storm clouds. Sort of like life. No matter how dark and gloomy things seemed, eventually light would shine through and cast a warm glow throughout to chase the dark shadows away.

A small smile touched RaShaun’s lips as he continued to look up to the sky. Something told him that heaven would never be the same. Turning towards the car, he joined his family and drove away.


One year later…

RaShaun unlocked his front door and walked into his house, glad to finally be home. It was Friday, and he had only worked half a day, and even that was only because he had some meetings this morning that couldn’t be postponed. Otherwise, he would’ve taken the entire day off. It was his and Yvonne’s second year wedding anniversary. He had a big surprise planned for her the entire week, and couldn’t wait to begin celebrating…just the two of them.

Hell, I might just take off the week after, too. Being a Vice President does have its perks, he thought to himself with a huge smile on his face.

RaShaun had been on the fast track with the company almost from the moment he started. His hard work and diligence had paid off when he’d been offered the promotion six months ago.

“And just what is that self satisfied smile on your face for…. or do I have to even ask, Mr. Vice President.” Yvonne came out of the kitchen smiling as she saw him. She knew he was still on a high from being named the youngest Vice President ever at his company, and she was so very proud of him.

“That’s right. And don’t you forget it,” he grinned as he walked towards her and pulled her in his arms for a kiss. “In fact. The next time you’re at the height of an orgasm, I want you to scream ‘I love you Mr. VicePresident. You da man’ at the top of your lungs.”

Yvonne burst out laughing. He was so damn silly. “I’ll try to remember that.”

“Are you about ready to leave? Our plane takes off in about three hours. And you know it’s going to take you every one of those hours to get ready,” he teased as they walked to the back bedroom with their arms around each other.

“Whatever.” She smiled when he patted her bottom as they stepped into the room.

“You know I’m telling the truth. You–”

“DaDaDaDa! DaDaDaDa!!”

His face lit up when he turned towards the crib with his arms outstretched. The baby was standing up holding onto the railing, her chubby legs wobbling up and down with excitement. Her wide, watery grin showed all six teeth as she held her arms up, ready for RaShaun to pick her up.

“Hi Daddy’s Princess! How’s my girl?”

He reached down and picked her up out of the crib. She squealed with excitement and happiness from being in her daddy’s arms. Her little body wiggled as she threw her arms around his neck.

“Did you miss your Daddy? Huh, baby girl?”

Her head bobbed up and down.

RaShaun rained kissed over his daughter’s face. She laughed, her full cheeks showing the same deep dimples that her Daddy had in his. His smile was big and full of love as he looked at her.

“You did? You missed me? ‘Cause Daddy missed you. Yes I did,” he cooed.

Faith LaTerrica Patterson leaned back and patted her Daddy’s cheeks with her plump little hands. Opening her mouth wide, she leaned forward and gave RaShaun a big kiss full of baby drool, which RaShaun claimed was the bestest kiss he’d ever gotten. That earned him another one, even more wet and slobbery than the last. RaShaun and Yvonne laughed.

Faith turned to look at Yvonne, as if finally realizing she was in the room too. Seeing that she was once more the center of her parent’s attention as usual, she clapped her hands together and continued to milk it for all it was worth. She pointed her little baby fingers at Yvonne and grinned again.

“MAMAMAMAMAMA!” she chanted

“That’s right, that’s your Mama. Give Mama a kiss.”

Faith leaned over, mouth wide open, and blessed Yvonne with one of her kisses, leaving her wet mark all over Yvonne’s mouth as well. Her beautiful little face, so much like Terri’s, gleamed with love as she looked from her Mommy to her Daddy.

It had been touch and go for a moment with her after she was first born. They’d had many close calls, but Faith had fought hard to live. Against all odds, she had survived and thrived. After she’d gained four more pounds and was deemed no longer an at risk baby from the amazed staff at the hospital, RaShaun and Yvonne had been allowed to take her home. She had continued to gain weight and flourished very quickly. By God’s miracle, she’d had no side affects from being born prematurely, and was a healthy, well adjusted baby who became more active every day.

With Terri having no close family, RaShaun and Yvonne had taken on the responsibility of planning her funeral. Yvonne had taken care of the details. With the shock of Terri’s death, and unsure if his daughter would even make it, he had been in no frame of mind to do so.

After that first night when they had to work to gently resuscitate Faith, the doctor had given her only a slim chance for survival. A couple of nights later, RaShaun had fallen into a fitful sleep and had the strangest dream. He’d been in the room with his baby. She was in the incubator hooked up to the machines while shadows quietly stood in the background, as if waiting on her to join them.

Suddenly, Terri had appeared, transparent and surrounded by a subtle glow of light. A serene smile had crossed her lips as she looked down at her baby girl. Terri reached down to pick her up. The tubes that had been connected to Faith’s body had dropped away as Terri held her baby in her arms. The funniest thing is that Faith looked healthy and full of life in the dream, kicking her fat little legs and cooing and smiling up at Terri as if she knew her.

Terri had looked towards RaShaun and smiled. Her face had been clear and untroubled. He had never seen her look so at peace. Leaning down, she’d kissed baby Faith and then gently put her back in the incubator. Giving RaShaun a final look, she had slowly disappeared.

RaShaun had sat up straight in the bed, looking around as if she was in the room with him. Body drenched in sweat, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up. His heart beat double time in his chest. The dream had felt so real. And although his head told him there was no way Terri could’ve physically been there, he did she was there in spirit, looking out for her daughter. He’d never told anyone about the dream, not even Yvonne, but from that day forward, RaShaun inexplicably known that his baby would be okay.

He glanced at Yvonne now, his eyes filled with love. “Sweetheart, where’s Mom and Pop?”

“They went to the store to pick up a few things. They’ll be right back.”

RaShaun’s parents had come to town to keep Faith for the week while RaShaun and Yvonne left for their anniversary trip. Neither one of them knew how they’d make it without Faith for the next seven days.

Yvonne looked at Faith. The love she felt in her heart overflowed for her daughter–and that’s exactly what Faith was. Her daughter. When she got older, they would tell her about Terri, and how much she loved her. Although she’d had many faults, Yvonne chose to believe that Terri loved her baby, and would have eventually put the child’s needs above her own. That’s what a mother did.

Yvonne placed her hand over her stomach and smiled. She planned to tell RaShaun the news tonight. He was going to be a father again. She looked up at him with a small smile.

Feeling her gaze, he turned his head and returned the smile before leaning down and tenderly kissing her. “I love you, Mrs. Patterson.”

“And I love you, Mr. Patterson.” They grinned at each other before their daughter reclaimed their attention.

Yvonne knew RaShaun thought he had planned a big surprise for her, and she was sure she would enjoy it. But her anniversary surprise for him would be the biggest and best of all, for both of them. 




(Stay tuned for a sneak peek at the next episode as this dramatic web serial continues...)

© 2017 S.K. Hardy

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means without the written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.


We don't meet people
by accident. They are
meant to cross our paths

for a reason.

~ Author Unknown



Early Saturday morning, Tara unlocked the doors of Haven House, where she was the Director of the facility. Haven House was a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the emotional and behavioral health of the communities. Special emphasis was placed on the needs of orphans and kids whose families were homeless and lived in shelters. Community involvement was one of the key factors that helped to make the center the success it was, and as the Director, Tara was very proud to be a part of that.

Walking into the building, she smothered a yawn that threatened to break through as she locked the door behind her and trudged to her office She’d decided to come in early to try and make a dent in the mountain of paperwork that had been accumulating for weeks, but she wasn't gonna front. She was tired as hell.

Without delay, she sat down at her desk and dove in. She knew if she procrastinated and waited, it would never get done. Progress was steady, and Tara began to see the stack decreasing, at least a little bit. About an hour later, her secretary, Ava, came in and called out a greeting before going to their small break room to start a pot of coffee brewing. After it was finished, she set a large mug of coffee in front of Tara, who glanced up and smiled her thanks while she kept working.

After almost two hours, Tara decided to take a break. She glanced at her calendar and remembered she had a 10:00 appointment to meet with someone interested in offering his services. Any and all help was eagerly accepted; they could use as much as they could get. No one was turned away.

After taking a few minutes to stretch and get the kinks out, Tara turned back to her desk to resume her work until Ava tapped softly on Tara’s door.

Without looking up, Tara answered. “Yes, Ava?”

“Tara, you’re 10:00 appointment is here.”

“Ok. Give me about ten minutes, then show him in.”

Tara had just signed her name at the bottom of the form she was finishing up when she noticed that Ava was still standing in the doorway with a look of barely contained excitement on her face. A slight frown marred Tara’s brow. She lifted the corner of her mouth and smiled at her secretary. She could tell from Ava’s demeanor that she was just dying to tell her something.

“Okay. What is it?” she asked.

With a look of relief on her face, Ava took a few hurried steps inside the office and stood in front of Tara’s desk. “Girrrlll, he…is… gorgeous!” she whispered loudly.

Tara arched an eyebrow, amused at Ava's excitement. She sat back and twisted from side to side in her chair. “I assume you’re talking about my 10:00? Alright, now. You’d better watch yourself. I don’t think Jerome would appreciate his wife lusting after some strange man.”

“Girl, please. I’m married, not dead.” Ava waved her hand at Tara as if to say, stop playin’.

Tara grinned in amusement. Ava was a sassy, middle-aged diva who never hesitated to speak her mind. She and her husband, Jerome, had been married over twenty-five years. She loved Jerome’s dirty drawers and he felt the same way about her.

“Yeah, but if you caught Jerome looking at some pretty, young thang, you’d be ready to kick his and her ass, though.”

“You damn right! Not that I’m worried about him and any other woman, especially some li’l fast ass PYT. All these young women want to do nowadays is take them self-hees, or self-shees or…”

“Selfies?” Tara provided, trying to hold back a smile.

“Whatever you call ‘em. They don’t know nothin’ about pleasin’ a man like Jerome. Not the way I puts it on that man every night.”

“Ava!” Tara covered her mouth to keep the giggle inside. Lord, she loved this woman.

“Anyway….” Ava shook her head. “As I was saying. This man is absolutely deeeevine! Sorta favors that actor who used to be on the soap operas but now stars on my favorite crime show. T, he…is…fine!” Ava practically swooned on her feet. “With that body of his he looks like he could–”

“Wait,” Tara broke in. She looked thoughtfully towards the door thoughtfully, “He looks like which actor?”

But Ava couldn’t finish gushing about his physical attributes long enough to answer Tara. “And those dark eyes of his. Like two cups of chocolate cocoa. Hot chocolate cocoa. I felt like creamin’ in my–”

“Ava!” Now it was Tara’s turn to whisper loudly. She looked towards the closed door, hoping she hadn’t been overheard. “Okay. I get the picture. He’s a sexy, good looking man. Now can you please show him to my office in about ten minutes?”

“Fine.” Obviously miffed because Tara didn’t share her enthusiasm for the visitor, Ava turned to leave. However, just before she closed the door behind her, she peeked her head back in and added in a mischievous voice, “But wait until you see him.” When Tara scowled, she quickly closed the door.

Tara laughed to herself then gathered the papers on her desk together and put them in a neat stack. She got up and went to the filing cabinet and began filing the folders back in the right slots. Everything was scanned and entered into the computer, but she still liked to keep a hard copy just in case. When Ava knocked on the door, Tara glanced around and called out for her to come in. She bent down to put the file in the last drawer.

“Be right with you,” she called out.

“Hmph. Please. Take your time,” a deep voice responded.

The familiar voice that answered definitely wasn’t Ava. Tara froze. It can’t be…

Forgetting she had still the top drawer pulled out, she straightened quickly and whacked the back of her head.

“Dammit!” she said softly as she stood up and rubbed the throbbing pain in her skull. With her back still towards her visitor, she closed her eyes and said a silent prayer that the man standing behind her wasn’t who she thought it was. Tara slowly turned around...then wished she hadn't. 


The expression on Brandon Valentine’s face told Tara that he was just as shocked to see her as she was to see him.

“You?" He pointed to her with his mouth open before his eyes glazed over to reflect his unmistakable dislike. “What are you doin’ here?”

Tara’s eyes held the same look. “No, the question is, what in the hell are you doing here?”

“I’m here to meet with the Director of the organization. Who are you? Her secretary?”

Tara’s eyes narrowed. She forced herself to remain calm. “No. I’m the Director. Didn’t Brenda tell you my name when she made this appointment?” Brenda was the Assistant Director of Haven House.

“No. She just told me her supervisor would be in on Saturday, and that it would be okay to stop in around 10:00. Believe me, if I had known it was you…”

“Well, now you know.” Tara’s neck twisted around on her shoulders. “I’m not sure what kind of game you call yourself playing this time, acting like you’re interested volunteering here, but you can just turn around and leave.”

“Oh, believe me, I’m gettin’ ready to just that!” Brandon snapped.

“Fine!” Tara returned.

“Fine!” Brandon parroted.

“Don’t let the door hit ya’ on the way out!” Tara was determined to have the last word.

Letting out a grunt of disgust, Brandon stalked to the door, but just as he reached to open it, Brenda walked in, almost stumbling into him. The smile that lit up on her face brightened up the room.

“Brandon! Hey, you made it! I was hoping to be here when you came.” She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and threw her arms around his neck before turning to Tara. “T., I know I told you someone interested in volunteering a couple of days a week was coming by, but I was intending on touching bases with you before now. It’s been so crazy around here that I haven’t had time. I did want you to at least get a chance to meet with him, though.”

When Brenda turned back to Brandon, he glanced at Tara over Brenda’s head. Tara folded her arms and stared back at him with an air of disdain, as if he wasn’t worthy to be in the same space as her. His eyes went back to Brenda to try and make an effort to listen to what she was saying.

Tara rolled her eyes and turned back to the filing cabinet. Shaking her head, she muttered out loud. “Now I see why he wanted to ‘offer his services.’”



Brandon frowned. He had heard what she’d just said. When Tara first turned around, he’d been speechless. Phoenix was a big city. He really hadn’t expected to run into anyone once he got back…especially not her. And the moment she’d opened her smartass mouth, he’d been done. There were other centers he could volunteer at that would appreciate the help.

However, the second she mumbled under her breath insinuating that he had ulterior motives for offering his time, he changed his mind. His reasons for wanting to spend time at the center to help the kids there were personal. Being around to irritate Tara would be an added bonus. He brought his attention back to Brenda when he heard her mention his name.

“Tara, now that you’ve had a chance to get acquainted with Brandon a little bit, don’t you think his personality would be a welcome addition to the program?” Brenda looked at Tara with an air of expectation.

Brandon saw Tara hold in a sigh before her lips tightened in a movement that he guessed was supposed to be a smile. “Brenda, actually we were talking before you came in and Brandon has decided–”

“That I would love to participate in the program and help any way I can.” Brandon cut her off before she could finish her sentence. “Right Tara?”

Tara’s look of surprise quickly turned to anger. He saw the knowledge in her eyes that she’d figured out he was trying to tick her off. 

When she finally answered, her voice was full of fake saccharine for Brenda’s sake. “But…I thought we had agreed this wouldn’t work.”

Brandon’s tone imitated hers. “I’ve changed my mind.”


Tara’s palm itched with the desire to slap that stupid smirk off his face. At work, she at least wanted to keep some semblance of professionalism, but he was pushing her to the limit.

She continued through tightly clenched teeth. “Um…Brandon, that’s not what you said a few minutes ago. Maybe you need to take some time to think about it. ”

Brandon squinted and looked up as if pretending to think about her suggestion. “Uhhh…nah. I’m sure.”

Confused and not sure what she was missing, Brenda looked from one of them to the other. “Is…is there a problem, guys?”

Tara and Brandon were too busy engaging one another in a staring contest to pay any attention to her.

“Brandon?” Brenda called his name tentatively.

Brandon reluctantly dragged his eyes from Tara’s and looked at her. “No. There’s no problem. Is there Tara?”

Tara unknowingly clenched her fists at the challenge she heard in his tone. He knew as well as she did that she couldn’t very well turn down help that was offered in good faith without going into detail as to why. Tara gave Brenda a stiff smile, then nodded once to let her know that everything was fine.

Slipping her arm through Brandon’s, Brenda’s face cleared up and she smiled at both of them. “Good. Bran, why don’t I show you around? I’m so excited that you finally decided to take me up on my offer.”

Observing them closely, Tara raised an eyebrow at the familiarity between the two of them. It was obvious they were…close.

Brenda grinned at Tara. “Ever since he came back to town, I’ve been after him  to at least come by and take a look around. I think he would be a perfect fit to help a lot of the children around here.”

That’s a matter of opinion, Tara thought to herself.

She looked at Brenda with curiosity. “So, Brenda, you and…Bran…seem like you’ve known each other for a while?”

Brenda giggled. Tara had to stop herself form rolling her eyes again. Brenda was one of those perpetually perky and cheerful people, and sometimes it got on Tara’s nerves. However, she was also the most efficient Assistant Director Tara could ask for, and their personalities complimented each other well.

Still smiling in amusement, Brenda answered, “Oh, I guess I didn’t tell you. Me and Brandon–”

“Have known each other all our lives,” Brandon quickly broke in and finished her sentence.

Brenda glanced at him with a puzzled look on her face that she quickly masked. “Right. Uh, why don’t we get started? Tara, I’ll talk to you later?”

Giving her a wave, Brenda led the way out with Brandon following her. However, just before he closed the door behind him, he turned around and smirked at Tara. She sneered and gave him both her middle fingers in return. Chuckling softly, Brandon slipped his shades on and closed the door.

Tara stood in her office steaming hot. What in the hell was he up to? None of them had heard from him in almost a year, and then he just shows up out of the blue to volunteer at a community center? He knew damn good and well he had no interest in hanging around Haven House in his spare time. She couldn’t wait to talk to Yvonne. She was not going to believe this shit.


The rest of the day passed fairly quiet, but still, Tara remained on edge waiting for Brandon to come back at any moment and gloat. Several hours later, he still hadn’t popped up. Unable to stand it, she left her office and casually walked through the center under the pretense of checking on the activities.

It didn’t take long to spot Brandon across the room playing table tennis with one of the younger boys, Jonathon, who always tended to keep to himself. Tara slowed down and moved out of his line of vision as she watched him in surprise.

Jonathon was ten years old and had been in foster care since he was three. He had been mentally and emotionally abused for years before he was finally removed from an unfit home. He acted and carried himself well above his age because of what he’d experienced there.

Having been in and out of five foster homes so far, Jon never stayed in one for long because he was very hard to control. He constantly acted out in school, which meant the foster parents had to run back and forth to speak to the teachers or the principal. It all stemmed from the things he’d gone through in the past, but the foster parents had little desire or patience to take the time needed to work with him. Many decided the check they received wasn’t worth putting up with such a troublemaker.

Jonathon had been in this current orphanage for almost a year now, and he was even worse than he’d been before. He barely communicated with anyone and saw a counselor several times a week. He had been coming to the center for a little over six months and gave off vibes that told anyone around that he didn’t want any company.

Although Tara interacted with all of the kids, there was something that tugged at her heartstrings whenever she saw Jonathon. She made it a point to spend extra time with him when the orphanage brought him and the other kids by. She’d sometimes get a shy smile out of him and a couple of words, but that was it. Now seeing him laughing and high-fiving Brandon after a particularly good shot made her pause. He seemed like a totally different child.

Hmph. Who would’ve thought that pretty motherfucka actually cared about anyone else other than himself, Tara thought.

As if sensing her nearby, looked up and caught her staring. The smile he’d been directing towards Jonathon died from his face once he spotted her.

A memory that had never been spoken about passed between them. Without being aware of it, Tara licked her bottom lip, almost as if remembering a particularly satisfying taste. Brandon’s eyes dropped to her mouth. She could feel the heat of his gaze from where he stood…

“Tara. Tara…”

She dragged her eyes away from Brandon’s as Ava’s voice penetrated through the fog of awareness that suddenly surrounded her like an invisible shield.

“Yes?” She turned, answering breathlessly.

Ava’s face wore a knowing. “Mmmhmmm. I see you’ve noticed how fine he is too, haven’t you?”

Tara cleared her throat and made an effort to sound unaffected. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Now is there something you needed?”

Tara looked her directly in the eye until Ava shrugged and told her that the package she’d been waiting on had been delivered. They started back towards Tara’s office, but before they rounded the corner, Tara couldn’t help herself. She turned around and stole another look at Brandon. Her breath caught in her throat, almost choking her, when she saw him still standing in the same spot, his eyes glued to her butt.

Asshole! Tara hurriedly followed behind Ava, but damn if she didn’t curse her treacherous body’s reaction to him every step of the way.


“But why don’t you want me to tell her, Brandon?”

The two of them were walking to Brenda’s car after the center closed. Brandon had known she wasn’t going to let it go when he’d stopped her from answering Tara’s question earlier about their relationship.

“I just don’t, Brenda. Besides, it’s none of her snooty assed business. You tell her that, and then she’ll know more about me than I care for her to know.”

Brenda’s eyes narrowed as she watched him closely. “Something’s going on and I want to know what it is.”

Brandon avoided her knowing look and slipped his sunshades on. “I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about. You forget, I know you better than I know myself. Are you going to tell me how you two are acquainted? I can tell there’s something going on between you.”

Brandon snorted. “Girl, please. I wouldn’t touch her stuck up ass if she was the last person on earth. All she knows how to do is look down her nose like she’s better than everybody else as if her shit don’t stank.”

“You’re avoiding my question. I know what I sensed. Underneath all of that so called animosity, there’s a fire between you two that’s scorching, almost ready to explode. For some reason you’re both fighting it. Why?”

Brandon remained quiet as his thoughts turned to Tara’s cousin, Yvonne. He hadn’t seen her in over a year. Brenda knew about Yvonne, but she didn’t know Tara was Yvonne’s cousin. And he didn’t feel like going into it right now.

“Mmph Mmmm.” Brenda cleared her throat to get his attention once they reached her car. “I know you’re lost in thoughts of you know who, but do I need to open the door myself, or do you think you can do it sometime today?”

Brandon turned back to Brenda with a sheepish look on his face, which he tried to quickly cover up. She saw too damned much.

“You know what? You always were a smartass. You forget I’m the oldest.”

“So? Only by four minutes…but who’s counting?”

The twins grinned at each other as they had the same argument they’d had almost from the moment they were able to talk. Although Brandon was a few minutes older, Brenda had always been the bossy one, but God help anyone who messed with her brother, and vice versa. They were all they had from the moment they took their first breath. They would die for one another.

Leaning down, Brandon hugged his sister and kissed the top of her head. “We’ll talk later, sis. Okay? I promise. Just remember what I said. I’m sure Tara will find out we’re related soon enough.”

“Alright, big brother. And I’m going to hold you to that promise. We will definitely talk…soon.”

Brandon stood in the parking lot watching her drive off. After her car was out of sight her turned and looked back at the center with a thoughtful expression. Maybe he and Tara should at least try to get along. Giving whatever he could to these kids meant a lot to him. Quickly making a decision, he decided he would be the bigger person here and extend an olive branch.

Taking a deep breath, Brandon went back in the building and made his down the hall to Tara’s office. He saw that Ava’s computer had been shut off so she must have left for the day. He raised his hand to knock on Tara’s door, which was half-opened, but he heard her talking and assumed she was on the phone. Deciding to wait until she was finished, he sat down in a chair by Ava’s desk and took out his cell phone to pass the time.

At first he wasn’t really paying to what Tara was saying, but then he heard his name. Frowning, he cocked his head to the side and listened to her conversation more closely.

“Vonnie, yes! That Brandon! Can you believe that motherfucka actually calls himself volunteering here?”

There was a pause as she listened to something Yvonne was saying on the other end.

“Of course I know he’s up to something. He always has an ulterior motive for anything he does. I have a feeling I know exactly what it is in this case, and she’s 5’4“, about 130 lbs. and has long, dark curly hair.” Another pause then, “MmmHmmm. Exactly! He’s trying to get on Brenda’s good side to get some ass.”

Brandon leaned back in the chair and folded his arms. He slowly shook his head from side to side. He didn’t know whether to be pissed off or amused that she was gossiping about him to her cousin.

“Yeah. I most definitely will keep an eye on that motherfucka.”

Brandon lifted a smooth, dark eyebrow. Oh really…

“Hell nah, I don’t trust his ass. He ain’t nothin’ but a low down, triflin’, flea bitten dawg!”

Brandon had heard enough. Lil stuck up, bougie ass wench. He stood up and walked to the door. Slowly pushing it open, he quietly stepped inside the office, his rubber-soled sneakers giving him the cover of silence. Tara was standing with her back to the door as she continued her conversation with Yvonne. Brandon stopped in front of her desk and folded his arms.

Tara, none the wiser, kept talking shit. “Ain’t that the truth. I don’t know where he’s been all this time. If RaShaun even has a clue that he’s anywhere around, he’ll be over here quick to kick his ass…again!”

There was a pause before Tara fell out laughing at something Yvonne said. Hearing RaShaun’s name, and knowing that Tara was laughing at him made Brandon bristle with anger.

It was bad enough she felt the need to call Yvonne about him showin’ up at Haven House, but then to know they were laughing about RaShaun supposedly kicking his ass? Patterson just got lucky. Each time they had a confrontation, he took him by surprise and got the upper hand. Brandon was still fuming from that last episode when RaShaun had choked him until he almost passed out. They’d meet again, though, and the next time he’d be ready for him.

But as for Tara…

“Hmph Hmmm.” He cleared his throat loudly. “If you’re finished talkin’ shit…you and me need to clear the air about some thangs.”


Tara stopped speaking mid-sentence. Her body stiffened, became as rigid as a board. She didn’t have to turn around to know who was standing behind her. That motherfucka! Dammit!

“Uh, Von, let me call you back,” she whispered urgently in the phone. She didn’t wait for a reply, just hit the button to disconnect the call and replaced the phone on its base.

Taking her time, she gathered some papers and stacked them neatly on her desk before she turned and raised her eyes to focus on a point over Brandon’s shoulder.

“Yes, can I help you?” she asked in a professional voice.

Brandon looked at her with eyes narrowed. “Wait, did you just ask if you could help me? Okay, yeah. You can help me. You can tell me why you in here talkin’ smack. Is that how you treat everybody that comes in to donate their time to this center?”

“Don’t act like you don’t know how I feel about you,” Tara bluffed. But inside, she cringed. She thought he had left already. When he continued to just stare at her, she raised an eyebrow and defiantly returned his stare with a  smirk of her own. “Was there anything else?”


Brandon hadn’t been this angry in a long time. After everything that happened with the Yvonne situation, he had tried to put childish situations like this behind him. It’d been a minute since anyone had seen him because he’d been working on bettering himself for his own piece of mind and reevaluating the choices he’d made in life.

Since Terri died, he’d done a lot of soul searching. Life was too short to go around doing dirt. As he’d found out, karma was a bitch. He knew it was no excuse, but he’d never had a responsible male figure in his life to show him how he was supposed to treat women, how to take responsibility for the mistakes he made in life and learn from them. That was one reason why he wanted to volunteer, to be able to make a difference in at least one kid’s life, no matter how small it might be.

But it seemed like Tara was getting it twisted. Just because he’d tried to lay low and bury that part of himself that was a straight up dog didn’t mean he couldn’t resurrect it if he needed to. She wanted to play fuckin’ games? Bet.

His lips curling up in a sexy smile Brandon walked around the desk until he was only a couple of inches away from her. He saw the frown that crossed her forehead. He knew she wanted to step back, but was too stubborn to give him the satisfaction.


Tara took a deep breath and forced herself to stare Brandon directly into his eyes…eyes that were dark…and sexy…and hypnotizing.

So this is what they mean by bedroom eyes, she mused to herself.

The next instant, she found herself blinking rapidly to break visual contact. What in the hell was wrong with her? She hated Brandon Valentine.

You can’t stand him. Remember?? She silently berated herself. Get him out of here. Now!

Tara’s nostrils flared as she caught of whiff of his Eternity cologne. Oh, but damn. Did he have to smell so good?

She closed her eyes. Shit! Focus, Tara. Focus.

Finally feeling as if she'd gotten control over her senses, she opened her eyes and cleared her throat. “Brandon, if there’s nothing else, I really have some work that I need to finish up.”

“Like what, calling Yvonne back so that you can finish trashing me?”

Tara snorted. “Oh, please. Don’t act like you’re so innocent. You know exactly why I said the things I said. Believe me, pot’na, you’ve earned every diss we gave you honestly.”

Brandon’s jaw clenched. Staring unblinkingly at her, he took a step closer. If Tara breathed too deeply, her nipples would touch his chest. He was just that close in her personal space.

“So you don’t think people can change,” he asked quietly.

Her doubtful expression gave him his answer.

“You up in here yakkin’, got so much to say to Yvonne. Let me ask you something. Have you told her…everything?”

Tara’s eyes got big. Her mouth opened and closed and she bent her neck back to look up at him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, I think you do.”

Brandon looked down at her breasts and saw the hard beads of her nipples prominently making themselves present and accounted for. He licked his lips as if remembering how they’d felt against his tongue.

“Stop it, ” she whispered in a hoarse voice.

“Stop what.” he answered just as softly. His eyes moved to her lips. He moved his head a couple of inches towards her. “I just asked you a simple question. Did you tell Yvonne about that night.”

“I was drunk!” she screeched.

Brandon slowly moved his head from side to side. “Couple of glasses of wine? You weren’t that drunk.”

Tara’s breathing quickened. The next step Brandon took put his body in contact with hers. She tried to move, but felt the back of her thighs touch the desk behind her. She looked to the left as a means of escape, but saw her oversized leather chair beside her, blocking her way.

“Will you move?” The desperate, raspy plea tore from her throat.

“Apologize first.”

“I will not!”

Suddenly, Tara gasped. He…He was aroused! She could feel his hardness through the front of his jeans pressing against her thigh. Then he shifted slightly so that he was aligned perfectly to her center.

“No?” he asked softly.

“Okay, I apologize!” Tara said quickly.

“For…” Brandon prompted, lightly resting his hands on her waist.
“F-F-For talking about you to Yvonne,” she stuttered. Tara pushed at his chest with both hands, but she felt like an ant trying to move a rock. “I want you to leave, Brandon!”

“I think I deserve a kiss with that half assed apology.”

Tara’s mouth hung open in shock as she leaned her head back to stare him fully in the eye. He just reminded her why she couldn’t stand his ass. He was so damned arrogant! She readied herself to blister his ass by give him a few choice words, but before she could, he lowered his mouth the last few inches it took to capture her lips with his.

“Hmkk!!” Tara’s eyes almost popped out her head when she felt his tongue invade her mouth and spar with hers. She tried to pull her head back, but he brought his hand to her nape, holding her steady and deepening the kiss.


Brandon didn’t think; he just went on instinct. His tongue swept gently around the inside of her mouth. Damn, she tasted good. He let out a low moan when her tongue hesitantly met his before curling itself around his tongue and caressing it over and over.

Brandon’s moan turned into a deep, chest-rumbling growl. His hands went back to her waist and lifted her up to sit her on the desk. He pulled her butt to the edge so that he fit snugly between her thighs.

“Shit…” Brandon muttered. He could feel her heat warming him through his jeans. His lips moved to her neck. So sweet.

Tara bit her lip to try to keep her groans inside, but the effort only ended up making them come out as high pitched whimpers. She wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled him even closer as she tilted her head to the side to give him greater access to her neck.

“Tara. Damn…” Brandon whispered.


Tara threw her head back, enjoying he way her body responded to his. She hadn’t felt this good since…the last time he’d made her feel good…

Vaguely, they heard the phone ring, but they both ignored it. Brandon dropped to his knees and lifted her shirt up. He slowly licked her smooth, soft skin in long lapping swipes like a big, lazy cat licking its paw. Tara stretched her arms behind her, palms flat on the desk, and leaned back. The phone rang again.

Tara stared down at Brandon, giving him her rapt attention. His eyes held hers captive as he inched both hands up her stomach then under her bra to grasp a bare rounded breast in each hand. He gently squeezed their fullness, the same way one would squeeze a mango to test its firmness. When his thumbs lightly brushed her nipples, Tara cried out in pleasure.

Somewhere, from in the distance, Tara heard her pleasant voice on the answering machine, telling the caller to please leave a message and she’d return the call as soon as possible. Keeping one hand full of a soft, firm breast, Brandon moved the other down to the front of her jeans. Tara held her breath as he unsnapped them and reached for the zipper. Two beeps sounded on the answering machine, then the caller left a message. A deep, male voice filled the room.

‘Hey, Tara, it’s Doug. Don’t tell me you’re still at work. Tara, please tell me you haven’t forgotten about my annual company banquet tonight. You promised you’d be ready. I guess I’ll try your cell again. Bye babe.’

Both of them went completely still as Doug’s voice penetrated the web of desire that spun around them. Tara immediately sat up and ran a hand through her short curly hair.

What was she doing?

Seeing that the moment was gone, Brandon stood up and took a couple of steps back. Tara’s eyes immediately fell to the large bulge in his pants before she quickly looked away.

She pulled her bra down over her breasts then tugged her t-shirt down. Hopping off the desk and keeping her back to Brandon, she snapped her jeans with hands that trembled.

“You okay?” he asked quietly.

“Yes.” Her voice was barely audible. “He…um...He’s not my boyfriend.”

“I didn’t ask.”

“I know. Not that it matters, I… just didn’t want you to think that I’d let…that happen if…” Tara was so embarrassed she couldn’t even look at him. “I really think you should leave now.”

She felt Brandon staring intensely at her for a long moment. Walking to the door, he turned around once more before he left.

“This is the second time I've stopped before we could finish what we started. It’ll be the last. Next time, we will finish this.” It wasn’t just a statement; it was a promise.

Tara whirled around as his arrogant words sank in. “And just what makes you think there will be a next time?”

“You think there won’t be?” Brandon looked her body up and down. Her nipples hardened again by the time his eyes crawled back up to her breasts. Seeing her reaction to him, he laughed softly then left the room.

Tara gritted her teeth in frustration. He was such a vain, conceited ass! Just…ughhhh!

After she composed herself, she went to the front entrance to the center and locked the door. She covered her swollen mouth with a trembling hand as she walked back to her office. Plopping down in the chair, she folded her arms on the desk then lowered her head.

“Tara, what is the matter with you?” she moaned. “I can’t believe you let that happen…again.”

What was it about the man that made her almost forget her own name? As she sat there beating herself up, her mind drifted back to the incident that happened over a year ago: the night Yvonne had gone to RaShaun’s house after seeing him with Terri and fell asleep on his couch…

Tara had gotten home from around 1:00 a.m. After all the mess that had gone down between Brandon and Yvonne, and RaShaun and Terri, she’d only gone back to the club looking for Kiki’s trifling ass. That wench had enjoyed basking in Yvonne’s humiliation and Tara wanted to let her know that it hadn’t gone unnoticed, but lucky for Kiki, she’d already left.

After getting home, Tara had pulled off her clothes and put on a t-shirt. Her adrenalin was still pumping and her mind racing as she worried about her cousin. To calm her nerves, she’d dimmed the lights, put some soft music on, and grabbed a bottle of wine. Around 2:00 a.m., she’d started yawning and fighting to keep her eyes open, so had finally decided go to bed. She’d left a lamp on just in case Yvonne decided to come back that night. Almost as soon as she’d made it to her bedroom, the doorbell rang.

Slightly tipsy, Tara had grabbed her robe and retraced her steps through the living room. Standing on tiptoe once she got to the door to look out the peephole, she smacked her lips hard when she saw that it was Brandon.

“What in the hell does this motherfucka want?” she grumbled. Ready to battle, she threw the door open and glared at him with her fist on her hip.

Brandon rolled his eyes upwards when he saw her. “Where’s Yvonne?”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but she’s not here.” Then just for the hell of it, she smiled and added, “She’s at RaShaun’s house.”

Brandon inhaled deeply before blowing the breath out. “I don’t wanna argue with you. Tara. I just need to see Yvonne.”

Tara’s eyes narrowed. This motherfucka! “And I told you she wasn’t here. Look, I ain’t gotta lie to you. Anyway don’t you think you’ve caused enough problems between them? Yvonne and RaShaun love each other. Just leave them alone.”

Tara closed the door with the intention of slamming the door in his face, but he caught it and pushed it back open. After stepping inside, he closed the door.

Tara’s mouth opened in outrage. Oh no he didn’t!

“You must have lost your ever-lovin’ mind, Brandon! Get out of my apartment before I call the police! And believe me, after that little episode in the park, they’ll be more than happy to haul your ass off!”

“I’ll leave as soon as I talk to Yvonne.”

Brandon looked around then walked towards the back of the small apartment to the bedrooms. Tara was right on his heels, cursing him out the entire time. He paid her about as much mind as he would an annoying little gnat. When he turned to go in Tara’s room, she ran around him and blocked his way.

“Oh, no you don’t. You are not going in my room. I’ve told you Yvonne wasn’t here, you’ve barged your way in, which is called unlawful entry if you weren’t aware, and you’ve checked her room! For the last time, get the hell out, or I’m calling Quincy now!”


Brandon stared at Tara for a few moments. He’d just come back tomorrow because he really wasn’t in the mood for her bullshit tonight. Once he got to the front door, he opened it and then glanced over his shoulder at Tara.

In spite of hers and Yvonne’s differences, he could see the resemblance between them. Where Yvonne’s features were soft and delicate, Tara’s were more mysterious and exotic. She was slightly lighter than Yvonne with eyes that tilted up at the corner. They were about the same height, around 5’4”, but Tara wore her hair in naturally large floppy curls that she kept short, while Yvonne wore hers long.

They both were fine as hell, but Tara’s ass…as much as she got on his nerves even he had to admit she had the most perfect ass he’d ever seen on a woman. It was just made to be squeezed and primed for a man to hit it from behind. His boys had seen her a couple of times and had gone ape shit over her.

“Hellooo…” Tara sneered when he continued to stand in the doorway. She snatched the cordless phone off the end table. “Are you gonna leave or do I have to call the cops?”

Brandon blinked. He finally realized he’d been staring. He had just taken a step out the door to leave when he heard her mutter under her breath loud enough for him to hear.

“I swear Yvonne must’ve lost her mind jeopardizing her relationship with RaShaun for this idiot.”

Brandon froze. What did she call him? He took a step back inside the apartment and closed the door. Turning slightly, he lifted his head and looked at Tara from the corner of his eye.

Biting his lip he just stared for a moment before saying in a low voice, “What the fuck did you just say?”

Tara laughed. “Am I supposed to be scared now? Boy, please.” She swished past him and opened the door. “I won’t tell you again. Get out.”

Brandon didn’t move. If her intention had been to piss him off, she’d succeeded. She’d also just bitten off far more than she was prepared to chew. His eyes trailed down her body, lingering on her full breasts, snatched waist, and phat ass. He could tell the only thing she had on underneath the robe was that little wife beater t-shirt and panties.

“In a minute. First, I think maybe I need to show you what made Yvonne jeopardize what she had at home. How ‘bout that?”

Catching her by surprise, Brandon pushed the door she held open closed then grabbed a handful of her dark, luscious curls. Bringing his lips down to hers, the kiss he gave her was deliberately rough and savage. He widened his mouth, swallowing her furious screams. The kiss went on and on. Tara struggled to push away from him, but Brandon held her tight. He wasn’t trying to be gentle, nor was he trying to seduce her. He just wanted to wipe that self-satisfied smirk off her face.

After a few moments he lifted his head and stared down at her. Tears of anger welled up in her eyes. He finally allowed her to wiggle free, which she did and promptly nailed him with a hard right hook to his chin with a small, closed fist. He slowly raised his hand to his throbbing face, cautiously working his jaw open and closed several times.

After giving her a glare that could melt the North Pole, Brandon forced himself to turn and leave. If he didn’t put some distance between himself and Tara, there would be a serious problem.

“You bastard!” Tara screamed behind him. “Son of a bitch!”

“Yeah, I’ve been called worse,” he taunted, opening the door. However, just as he took a step to leave he felt an object slam hard into the back of his head.

“Mothafuck!” he yelled, hunching his shoulders and grabbing the back of his throbbing head.

He looked down at the floor and saw the cordless phone Tara had been holding lying innocently on the floor. Growling, he slowly turned around with a hundred frowns marring his handsome face.

His anger registered immediately. Tara’s expression turned from smug satisfaction to oh shit!

“You…you deserved it!” she said quickly in an effort to preempt any retaliation on his part. Her eyes got big when he slammed the door and started walking towards her. “Brandon, I mean it! I could’ve called the police but I didn’t.”

He continued coming for her. He’d only been in her apartment for less than ten minutes and he’d been cold cocked in the face and had a phone pitched to his head. Visions of payback blocked out anything she had to say.

Tara took a couple of steps back, then turned to make a mad dash to her room. She had just made it and was slamming the door shut when he stuck his foot in the way preventing it from closing. Brandon forced it open and held her eyes as he continued stalking her like a menacing predator.

Tara held her hands out in front of her. “Brandon, st-stop! Think about what you’re doing! If-If you leave now, we’ll just forget this ever happened. I promise I wont call the police.”

“Call the police for what? Oh, you think I’m ‘bout to take it?” he laughed. “Baby girl, I ain’t never had to take pussy in my life. Trust.”

His eyes ran over her again. “Besides. Why would I need to take it when you’ll be begging for me to give it to you in just a few minutes anyway?”

Of course, Brandon had no intention of even going that far, but he planned on fucking with her just the same. That intention changed when he heard her next words.

Tara forgot her uneasiness and brazenly looked him in the eye. “Beg? You? Boy, puhleeze!”

Brandon was right up on her now. “Oh, really? Guess we’ll see, then.”

He took another step, which caused her to move back and tumble down on the bed. She didn’t even notice her robe had come loose and was now gaping open, but Brandon did. Seeing her body scantily clothed in the little shirt and bikini panties made whatever anger he felt effectively disappear. In its place was an emotion he never thought he’d associate with Tara: desire.

“Damn,” he whispered under his breath. His eyes remained riveted on her heaving breasts beneath the thin material.

When Tara tried to sit up, he quickly joined her on the bed. He effortlessly brushed her clawing hands aside and covered her body with his. His mouth searched and found hers, resuming the kiss he hadn’t wanted to end a few minutes ago. However, this time instead of punishing her, his lips were gentle and coaxing. He tasted her again and again until his tongue persuaded hers to participate. She did so with a surrendering moan, as if she couldn’t hold back any longer.

Brandon separated her thighs with his knee and settled between them. His dick was hard and thick in his pants. He pressed it against the soft, yielding mound at the juncture thighs. Tara spread her legs even wider, her hips rolling up to meet his. Brandon pushed the robe from her shoulders. The thin t-shirt followed.

Tara moaned uncontrollably when his mouth and tongue found her nipples. They puckered up and pouted for attention, which he was only more than happy to give.

Brandon moved his hands down between her legs and found her panties damp from her arousal. His fingers caressed the outline of her swollen lips, making her whimper with need. He could read a woman’s response blindfolded and knew she needed more. His fingers slid the wispy material to the side and finally came in contact, skin to skin, with her hot, wet cunt. They moaned at the same time.

Tara’s moisture coated Brandon’s fingers. He slid his middle finger up her tight tunnel, fucking her nice and slow. Unable to help himself, he withdrew it amid Tara’s whining protests, and brought it to his mouth. Tara watched him suck her essence off his fingers as if licking the final remnants of sweet ice cream out of a bowl.

Her eyes half closed and full of desire, she reached up and pulled his lips back to hers and licked her taste from his tongue. Still kissing each other with a wild recklessness, Brandon placed a hand on either side of her head, circling his hardness over her throbbing clit, dry fucking her to an inevitable climax. He lifted his head, wanting to watch her cum. Damn. Her fuck me face was sexy as hell. His eyes lowered, watching her breasts sway and bounce every time he moved against her.

“Does it feel good, Tara, or do you want me to stop?” he whispered.

On the verge of exploding Tara shook her head uncontrollably from side to side. Brandon repeated his question. When she still didn’t answer, he lifted his lower body away from hers, just out of reach.

Tara’s eyes popped open. “Don’t. Don’t stop. Please. Please,” she begged.

With a moan of satisfaction, he reached down and brought her leg up, leaving her more open to his frenzied movements, fucking her through their clothing. Moments later, Tara screamed as her orgasm hit her. Her hips rose off the bed straining against the rigidity in his pants, bucking uncontrollably as rhythmic, clenching convulsions seized her body. She clawed at his back, eyes closed tight until the tidal waves slowed to tiny ripples. Breathing heavily, she collapsed on the bed, her thighs trembling from the strain of getting hers.

Brandon was ready to explode. He needed to feel her wrapped around his dick the same way she’d snapped around his finger a few minutes ago. Shuddering in anticipation of how good it was going to be, he reached down and unbuckled his belt, but the sound of his zipper sliding down brought Tara back to reality.

“W-wait. We…we can’t,” she whispered.

Brandon froze. “What?”

“I’m sorry. We…I can’t. ”

“Tara, baby, don’t do this. I promise I’m gonna make you feel good.” He lowered his head and took one of her beaded nipples between his lips.

Tara closed her eyes and moaned. She let him have his way for a moment, before pushing him back.

“I can’t do this with you.”


“No, Brandon.”

He went completely still. Brandon didn’t move for a full thirty seconds. Finally, reluctantly, he rolled off of her onto and his back. His engorged dick literally ached from unfulfilled need.

“You have got to be kidding me,” he muttered, throwing his arm over his face. “Really, Tara?”


Tara lay beside Brandon, silent, biting the corner of her lip. It hadn’t been her intention to lead him on and let him think she was going all the way, but then again, she didn’t start this whole thing. He did, and she was definitely not having sex with him. Still…

“Brandon, I’m–”

“If you apologize one more time, I swear to God...”

Tara closed her mouth, watching as he gingerly stood up. He adjusted himself the best he could in his pants then carefully zipped his jeans and buckled his belt. Grimacing, he took stiff, jerky steps to the door, but before he left her bedroom, he had one more parting shot.

“You and your cousin are definitely related. I see you both like to lead men on.”

Tara closed her robe and sat up. “That’s not what I intended to–”

“Tara, just save it.” Mumbling something she couldn’t understand, he left without another word.

A few seconds later, Tara heard the front door slam so hard, she almost expected it to be hanging off the frame when she got up to lock it.

The next day when he’d come over, she had been outside talking to the women who had gathered in the parking lot of her apartment to kick Kiki’s ass. Brandon walked past her as if he didn’t know her and took the outside steps two at a time that led up to her apartment.

Tara hurried after him and saw him talking outside with Yvonne, while RaShaun leaned against the wall staring at Brandon as if he wanted to drop him where he stood. Moments later…well, he’d done just that.

That was the last time she’d seen him before today. Matter of fact, as far as she knew, no one had seen or heard from him since the day Terri was killed in an automobile accident. Now, almost a year later, he appeared as if out of nowhere. Tara lifted her head with a deep groan. If Doug hadn’t called when he did...

She closed her eyes. Doug. The two of them dated on and off, nothing serious. Tara could only put up with his stuffy personality for so long. When he’d called and asked her to attend the banquet as his date, she hadn’t had anything better to do so she’d agreed. With everything going on with Brandon today, she’d basically forgotten that it was tonight.

Tara stood up and grabbed her purse. Hell, who was she fooling? She had forgotten her own name once Brandon Valentine started touching her, and it was starting to be a habit. Tara knew she absolutely couldn’t let it happen. Not again.


Later that night, Tara tried to keep from yawning once again as Doug’s boss told yet another boring story that the entire table laughed at as if he had been a comedian in his former life. She reached for her glass of wine and took a big gulp. 


God, please help me through the rest of this evening without falling asleep, she prayed.

Doug frowned and leaned towards her when she finished the last of the wine in her glass. "Don’t you think you’ve had enough, Tara? That’s your third glass.”

“Have the waiter bring me a bottle, then I’ll have had enough.”

Doug grimaced at her sarcasm then smiled stiffly for the benefit of the other guests at the table. “Tara. Do not embarrass me tonight," he whispered. "I’m in line to get a promotion. Please…sweetheart.”

Tara turned to look at him sharply when he added the endearment. “Doug, please. I am far from drunk, thank you very much,” she whispered back. “Excuse me. I’m going to the bathroom…that is if I can make it without stumbling around.” She glared at him before pushing her chair back and walking away.

Times like this reminded Tara why they were so on and off. She was so irritated that she didn’t see the eyes of half the men there following her as she walked by. She was just ready for this night to end.


Tara may not have noticed the attention she garnered, but Doug did. He sat higher and puffed his chest out with pride. Tara was definitely a looker. She would be an asset to his career once he decided to propose to her. Of course he’d have to smooth out her rough edges a bit, but yes. Tara would do just fine.

He looked again at the men who were covertly trying to watch her ass in the tight, black dress she had on. Their wives and girlfriends tried to act like they didn’t see them looking, but from their sour expressions, he could tell they did.

Doug felt a stirring in his pants as he watched Tara strut out of his eyesight. Her sexy walk was natural and effortless. He definitely could not wait to get her in bed tonight. It had been way too long. His dick sprang to life just thinking about climbing between those soft thighs of hers.

With an effort, he turned his attention back to his boss, joining in with the laughter as he finished yet another dull story. If Doug had to laugh until he lost his voice, then so be it. He was determined to get this promotion.


Several hours later, the banquet was finally over. Tara was so glad she could’ve wept. Leaning her head back against the seat of Doug's car, she kept her face turned towards her window, pretending she didn’t see the way Doug kept glancing at her.

“Tara, you’ve barely said two words since we left the function tonight. Is everything okay?” he asked.

She caught the impatient sigh just in time. “Yes, everything’s fine. Just a little tired. I was up late last night and then got up early this morning.”

“I told you not to go out to that jazz club last night. I knew you’d pay for it today.”

This time, Tara didn’t even try to hold in the breath she let out. Doug was on her last nerve. “And as I’ve told you, no one tells me what and what not to do.”

Doug glanced quickly at her as he turned on her street. “I’m only thinking about you, Tara. There’s no need to get snappy.”

Tara pressed her lips together to still the words on the edge of her tongue. Yes, Doug got on her nerves, but to be honest she knew Brandon was a big part of her irritation. She couldn’t seem to stop thinking about what happened between them this afternoon. She still felt like she could still feel his tongue licking her stomach, his hands squeezing her breasts, his dick pressing up hard between her legs…

“Here we go," Doug said, pulling up in front of her apartment   

Tara sat up, grateful to finally be home. Thank God.


Brandon sat parked in the parking lot of Tara's apartment complex feeling like a got damn stalker. He hadn’t been able to get her off his mind since he’d left the center this afternoon. That little episode had done nothing but keep him with a hard on he hadn’t been able to get rid of all day. He’d started to call one of the numerous women who would’ve been willing and eager to take care of that for him, but he had no desire for any other woman right now but Tara. She was the only one who could put out this fire that had all but consumed his body.

Brandon cursed under his breath. There. He’d admitted it. He wanted Tara. Him sitting in the parking lot of her apartment complex proved it better than anything else could. She excited him, challenged him. Tara stimulated him beyond the physical. She kept him on his toes unlike any other woman he’d ever met.

Suddenly, he sat up in his seat, alert and watchful when he saw her getting out of some dude’s car. Must be that Doug guy that called her earlier. His hungry eyes took in how good Tara look in that little black dress she was wearing. It clung to her like a second skin and fell mid thigh. The cut of the dress showed that body of hers off to perfection, and from the way the man behind her was watching her, he knew it too.

Brandon’s eyes narrowed when he saw ole boy slide his arm around Tara’s waist and then down to her ass. Damn. He’d been hoping dude would just drop her off, but apparently he had other plans. Brandon watched them walk into Tara’s apartment, He waited about five minutes, then calling himself all kinds of fool, started the ignition.

“Now, don’t you feel like an idiot,” he said out loud to himself in a disgusted voice. “Don’t know what you were thinking anyway, sitting outside her apartment like some damn love sick puppy.”

He put the car in gear and was getting ready to pull out of the parking space when a movement caught his eye. Doug was coming back down the stairs, and he didn’t look happy. His obvious disappointment lifted Brandon’s spirits instantaneously. He turned off the car and waited for Doug to pull out of the parking lot.

With a smile on his face, he got out hurried up the steps to Tara’s apartment. Once he stood in front of her door, he raised his hand to knock, but hesitated. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

But in the next instant, his resolve to have what he wanted kicked in. He knocked on the door and waited.


Tara went to the refrigerator and got a bottle of water as she thought about Doug. He had been a tad bit persistent tonight. Sleeping with him had been the last thing on her mind.

If he only knew…

Taking a couple of sips of water, she went to the living room to turn the lamp off was turning to go to her room when she heard a light knock on the door.

“Oh, come on!” What part of ‘no’ didn’t he understand?

Tara almost stomped to the door in her heels. She was trying not to hurt Doug’s feelings, but apparently that’s what she’d have to do to get through to him tonight. She leaned forward and looked out the peephole. Her heartbeat sped up when she saw Brandon. She covered her mouth when he knocked again.

“J-just a minute,” she answered. She stood there for a moment more, then made up her mind. Unlocking the three locks on the door, she opened and saw Brandon on her doorstep staring at her with those eyes of his.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, almost afraid to hear his answer.

Brandon’s eyes ran over her body in undisguised desire. “I think you know.”

Tara crossed her legs to try and calm the part of her anatomy that was purring out an invitation she was doing her best not to verbalize.

“Brandon…nooo,” she whispered weakly, slowly shaking her head from side to side.

Brandon knew she was wrestling with her desire for him because of her relation to Yvonne. He also knew he should walk away and leave her alone, but… he couldn’t. He boldly stepped inside the apartment, giving her no choice but to move back and let him in.

Tara bit her lip and stared up at him. God help her, she couldn’t say no to him. Brandon saw the resignation of the inevitable in her eyes. Closing the door, he gazed down at her and waited.

Tara hesitated. Then slowly turning around, she wordlessly walked in the direction her bedroom, glancing back at him over her shoulder, hoping she wasnt making the biggest mistake of her life.

© 2017 S.K. Hardy

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means without the written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.


You cant change what has already
happened so don’t waste your time
thinking about it.
                          Move on, let go, and get over it.
                                    ~Author Unknown


Somewhat surprised that Tara had let him in without an argument, Brandon’s eyes remained fixed on her as she walked to her bedroom. After hastily locking the door, he followed behind her, unbuttoning his shirt along the way.

Tara switched the lamp on beside her bed and waited. She hoped she wasn’t going to regret this. Her head told her it was a mistake to take this step with Brandon, but her body was too weak to listen and take heed to the warning. Besides, she was tired of fighting whatever this was between them. Maybe they just needed to engage in a night of hot, sweaty sex and get it out of their systems.

Turning when she heard him enter the bedroom, Tara couldn’t control her quick intake of breath. God, he was a beautiful specimen. All male. There was no doubt about that. When he pulled his shirt off and threw it on a nearby chair, her hungry eyes ran over his wide shoulders and muscular torso like it was a snack that had been set out for her consumption. She slowly exhaled the breath she’d been holding. The sheer anticipation of what was about to happen was driving her crazy.

“Don’t you think we have too many clothes on?” he asked, pulling her attention away from his body.

Tara slipped the spaghetti straps of the dress over her shoulders and smiled. “I was thinking the same exact thing.”


Brandon couldn’t look away from her. That little bit of material she called a dress was sexy as hell. He could tell she didn’t have a bra on; the cut of the dress wouldn’t allow it.

No wonder Doug was so angry when he left her apartment a few minutes ago. Brandon would’ve been too if he’d spent the evening in close proximity to her body, only to be shut down and turned away. Remembering how the other man had touched her so possessively as they walked up the stairs to her apartment made his nostrils flare with something he refused to call jealousy.

Pushing the emotion out of his mind, he did the same with thoughts of Doug. After all, he was the one who was here with Tara, the one she wanted to be with tonight. Brandon refused to waste another second thinking about inconsequential things that took him out of the here and now.

His hands went to the buckle of his belt, watching intently as she undressed for him. When Tara pulled the dress over her bare breasts, his hand stilled on his zipper. She tugged the dress down past her waist and over the fullness of her hips until it fell at her feet. Stepping out of it, she stood before him only wearing a pair of black high heels and black lace thong.

Damn. She’d been practically naked under that dress. He forced his eyes up to meet hers, walking towards and aching with every step he took. His hand came up to loosely encircle her neck. His thumb rested against the erratic, uneasy pounding of her pulse.

“You’re nervous.” The observation was more a statement than a question. “Don’t be. I don’t want you holdin’ nothin’ back from me tonight, understand me?”

Tara nodded. A violent tremble ran through her body when his hands slipped down to cover her breasts.

Brandon lowered his head and sniffed along the hollow of her neck. She smelled good. Whatever perfume she had on was very soft and subtle, yet powerfully seductive. It aroused him. Excited him, as did Tara herself. It made him want to explore every inch of her body and discover where else she may have applied the intoxicating scent.

“Mmmm…” He pinched her nipples between his slightly calloused fingers before swiping the pads of his thumbs over them.

Tara gasped and swayed towards him.

“Feel good?” He asked in a low voice

“Yes,” Tara answered in a choked voice.

Brandon lightly bit the delicate shell of her ear. “I can't wait to fuck you, Tara,” he whispered in a hoarse voice. “Do you want me?”

“Yes. Very much.” Tara’s lips parted slightly when his fingers trailed from one of her breasts to her stomach.

“How much?” Brandon’s teeth nibbled down her jawline, taking little bites along the way. “Hmm?”

He lifted his head and watched her closely as his fingers teasingly circled her navel. Venturing down a little further, he reached the top of her trimmed mound and slid his fingers back up to her stomach.

Tara’s body tensed. The muscles in her stomach trembled against his hand. Her eyelids fluttered open to stare at him, and without breaking eye contact, she placed her hand over his and pushed it down her panties until he got to the swollen lips of her sex.

Brandon let out a low hiss when his fingers came in contact with her creamy center. Yeah. Before he left there tonight, this pussy would belong to him. He planned on writing his name all in it so that she would know it too.

Tara smiled . “Does that answer your question about how much I want you?”

But the smile instantly left her face when Brandon slowly slipped his middle finger inside of her then pulled it out. He brought his finger to his mouth and sucked it clean of every drop of her body’s essence. They stared at each other, both remembering he’d done the same thing that night he’d come to her apartment almost a year ago.

Brandon lowered his mouth until it hovered over hers. “You taste good, Tara. But all that did then was tease my appetite, the same as it did that night.”


“I want more,” he said, gazing into her eyes. “But this time, I want to eat the whole meal. Not just a sample”

Lowering his mouth the distance it took to claim her lips, Brandon kissed her with a hungry urgency that had been building up for a long time. While their tongues took turns dominating each other, he walked her backwards until Tara’s thighs touched the edge of the bed. She sat down quickly as if her legs would no longer support her.

Leaning forward, her mouth opened wide over his stomach. She licked the individual muscles popping out of his six-pack, dipping her tongue over the hard, deep grooves in between while eagerly dragging his zipper down. Once she did, her eyes grew wide when she saw the bulging monster trapped inside his boxer briefs straining to get out. Licking her lips, Tara’s desire for him showed clearly on her face.


The muscles in Brandon’s square jaw jumped in anticipation. When she hesitated, he hooked his thumb in the waistband of his underwear and pulled them down, freeing the heavy weight of his dick. Slipping his other hand behind her head, he gently urged her forward, groaning when she wrapped her fingers around his girth and eagerly sucked in the head of his dick.

“Shit,” Brandon muttered, his lids lowering half-mast.

Easing himself deeper into her mouth, he licked his lips as she accepted his straining erection. Brandon gyrated in and out of her warm, wet mouth in slow circles, rotating his hips repeatedly, controlling the rhythm and showing her how he liked it. Tara caught on quick, giving him head that was so good, he had to bite his lip to keep from crying out.

“Wait, baby.” He grabbed the base of his shaft and pulled himself out of her mouth. If he didn’t stop now…

“Damn, that felt good,” he muttered. “Here. Lay back, Tara.”

He urged her down on her back then reached down and slipped her thong off. Giving her a sexy smile, he stuffed them securely in his back pocket.

Tara grinned. “You are wild.”

“You think that’s wild? I’m getting’ ready to show you wild in just a minute. Scoot back a little bit.”

Doing as he said, Tara allowed him to bend her legs at the knee and position her feet on the edge of the bed. Brandon spread her legs wide apart, exposing the most intimate part of her anatomy to him. Brandon studied her with an intense desire that made her writhe on the bed. She was neatly trimmed, just the way he liked his pussy served. The sight of it made his mouth water for a taste.

“You are fucking gorgeous, you know that?”

With a mischievous gleam in her eyes, Tara reached down and parted her lower lips, opening herself up to him even more.

Brandon’s chest rumbled with a deep growl. “That’s right, baby. Show me that candy.” His dick jerked at the sight of her wet, pink flesh. “They say the tongue is one of the strongest muscles in the body. Did you know that?”

Tara shook her head. “No.”

“Mmhm. Here. Let me show you.”

He lowered his head down between her smooth, thick thighs and finally got a taste of what he’d been feenin for for so damn long. He moaned in appreciation. Even better than he remembered. He pushed his tongue deep inside of her slippery cunt, wiggling it rapidly in a move that launched her clenched butt cheeks off the bed.

“Oooooo! Brandon!” Tara fisted the covers, gyrating her pelvis to match his fluid movements with frantic ones of her own. “Oh God, yes!”

Brandon cupped her ass in both hands and brought her closer to his mouth, screwing her deep and slow, eagerly lapping up her sweet, honey. His tongue flicked over her clit, surge upward repeatedly.

Tara's head thrashed from side to side as the pressure built up. She pleaded, demanded, begged from release. Once it came, it hit her hard.

“Brandonnn!!” Het thighs clamped tight around his head, grinding her pussy against his mouth. Shuddering spasms caused her to buck beneath him, jerking involuntarily on the bed as she soared to heights she had never reached before. Her cum flowed like lava, trickling down the crack of her ass and dampening the bed.

Brandon, being the greedy lover that he was, wanted everything. Pushing her knees up to her chest, he flattened his tongue and licked her moist flesh until he wiped her clean.

By the time he finished, Tara lay weak and spent. Brandon wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and stood up. He quickly took off his shoes and the rest of his clothes. Grabbing a couple of condoms from his pants pocket, he tossed them on the bed by the pillow.

“Move up, baby.” He smiled when she tried to do as he asked, but her trembling limbs refused to cooperate.

“Its not funny,” she pouted.

Chuckling softly, he easily scooped her up in his arms and placed her in the middle of the bed.

“My shoes,” Tara said.

“Leave ‘em on. I want to fuck you wearing those first.”

After sheathing his dick in the ribbed condom, he climbed between her thighs. Wasting no time, he drove upward, filling her in one swift motion. Brandon and Tara cried out simultaneously.

“Oh shittt!” Brandon growled. She felt so much better than he even imagined.

He embedded himself deeper, opening and stretching her to accommodate his size with each measured thrust. Brandon bit down on his lip and cursed under his breath. She was so fucking tight. He whispered in her ear and told her how good she felt wrapped around him. He could feel how hot and wet she was through the condom.

Brandon worked her pussy like he was on a mission. He wanted to make it so good for her that anyone that came after him paled in comparison. He touched every inch, every corner, burying himself to the hilt. When her climax claimed her, he increased the speed and depth of his strokes until he was right there with her.

“Fuck! Gettin’ ready to cum, Tara.”

Head thrown back in ecstasy, Tara’s nails dug deep into his back. “Brandon!”

“Yes, baby! I’m with you.” When her muscles tightened and pulsated around him Brandon moaned from pleasure. “Damn, Tara!”

His harsh groans of male satisfaction joined her high-pitched screams as their passion crested. His seed filled the condom. His release seemed to go on and on, draining his strength and leaving him weak. Spasms shot through his body until he emptied every drop of its cum.

Breathing harshly with chest heaving, Brandon lowered his forehead to hers. His trembling arms barely held him up, but he couldn’t bring himself to separate them and remove himself from her heat. Tara ran soothing hands up and down his back until his trembling subsided.

Finally gathering enough strength to withdraw from her body’s grip, he gave her a slow, deep kiss before hauling himself up and going to the bathroom to dispose of the condom. When he came back, Tara was under the covers. She peered up at hi through eyes heavy with satisfaction. For a moment he hesitated, wondering if this meant she wanted him to leave, but Tara gave him her answer by folding the sheet back in invitation for him to climb in.

Once beside her, Brandon gathered her in his arms and held her close. Their hunger momentarily quenched, they indulged in a series of slow kisses, talking softly and grinning in between.

Finally, Tara sighed and rested her head on his chest. It didn’t take long for her to drift off into a deep sleep. Brandon brushed his hand up and down her arm in a soft caress, his thoughts flooded with what just happened between them. He’d known it would be good between them, but sex with Tara was easily the best he’d ever had. She could definitely become a habit if he wasn’t careful. For some reason, that idea didn't sound as bad as he would've thought.

About half an hour later, he glanced at the clock on the nightstand. It was about time for him to get up. He didn’t want to leave, but he had promised to go to church with Brenda. He thought about taking a rain check, but he’d taken several already and knew there was no way she’d take no for an answer again. After reluctantly climbing out of the bed and getting dressed, he sat on the side of the bed and gently kissed Tara until she woke up,

“Hey,” he murmured softly.

“Hi,” she sighed. “Are you leaving?”

“Yeah, but you don’t have to get up. I’ll make sure the door’s locked behind me.”


Smiling, he leaned down and kissed her again before standing up, but before he could take a step, Tara stretched her arms towards him, wordlessly calling him back for one more kiss. More than willing to comply, Brandon lay down beside her and gave her a long, slow, sensual kiss before lifting his head.

“Did you enjoy yourself tonight?” he asked

“Yes. Very much,” Tara answered, looking up at him with an expression that had him ready to take his clothes off again.

Damn. He was already hard again. “I’d better go now or I won’t be able to leave.”

Tara slid her hand down and covered his erection. “Stay then.”

Seriously tempted to do just that, Brandon groaned and pushed his package into her palm. “Believe me, I want to. But I have some things I need to take care of that I can’t put off. Otherwise…”

He smiled, leaning down to suck her pouting lower lip into his mouth in apology. He gave her another quick kiss before getting up to leave. This time he didn't stop until he got to the front door.

Tara lay in the bed, listening to the sound of his boots walking through her apartment. After she heard the door close, she lay in bed for a few more minutes before getting up to put the chain on the door and activate the alarm. She immediately went back to her room and climbed back in the bed. Her mouth curved up into a sleepy smile. The last thing she remembered thinking before drifting back to sleep was that Brandon Valentine was the truth.

And she couldn’t wait to be with him again.


The following Monday morning, Tara arrived to work bright and early in a terrific mood. She’d taken extra time today with her outfit and makeup. Jeans and t-shirt were her normal uniform for the center, but today, she decided to wear a black pleated skirt that fell right above her knee along with a red silk shirt and strappy heels. When she walked into her office, Ava was already at her desk.

“Morning,” Tara greeted her cheerfully. “Looks like it’s going to be a lovely day, doesn’t it?”

Ava peeked at Tara over her glasses. “If you say so. All I can say is that it’s a Monday morning.” She looked Tara up and down. “Do you have a meeting that I forgot about?”

“No. Why?”

“You’re all dressed up and wearing more makeup than usual. That’s why. And what’s so ‘lovely’ about today anyway?”

“One, is there any rule that says I can't dress up once in a while? And two, the sun’s shining, funds are pouring in to make Haven House more efficient and productive, we’re alive and well, and–”

“You got some, didn’t you?” Ava interrupted in her usual blunt manner.

“W-What?” Tara stammered, blinking rapidly.

“You heard me. You’re practically glowing. You come in here all perky and cheerful…on a Monday morning, no less. Everyone knows you’re no good until you get your first cup of coffee, but here you are going on and on about what a gorgeous day it is. It’s a no brainer. You got some di–”

“Ava!” Tara hissed. She looked around to make sure no one had overheard.

“Don’t be embarrassed about it. Hell, what you should be embarrassed about is the six month dry spell you’ve had.”

“It has not been six months since I’ve had sex!” Forgetting where she was Tara raised her voice in outrage.

“Excuse me,” a deep voice said behind her. “I hope I’m not interrupting?”

Tara felt her face burn flaming hot when she heard Brandon’s amused voice. Oh, God, please just take me now, she prayed.

She sent Ava a nasty look then turned around to face Brandon, who was fighting to keep the smile off his handsome face. Tara immediately forgot her embarrassment. She was too busy noticing good he looked. And he was dressed up. Every time she’d seen him, he’d been either had on jeans and boots, or jogging suits and sneakers. Today, however, he was wearing a pair of black slacks and a dark blue dress shirt.

“H-hi. Good morning,” she finally said. “How are you?”

Ava sat back and gave Tara a curious look before turning her shrewd gaze to Brandon, who was staring at Tara like a hungry man looking at a full course meal.

“I’m fine,” he answered Tara. “How are you?”

“Great.” They continued to stare at one another as Saturday night played through their minds.

Ava cleared her throat loudly. “Uh, I’m fine, too, Brandon, thanks for asking.” Her words broke the spell between the two lovers and brought them catapulting back to the present.

Brandon gave Ava a killer smile that had gotten him out of trouble with more women than he could count. “Sorry, beautiful. Good morning.”

Ava’s face turned soft and sweet. Blushing she smiled back at him and gushed, “Oh, you know I’m just jokin’ with you, honey pie. What brings you by this morning? I didn’t think you were coming until this afternoon.”

Tara looked at him expectantly as well. Not that she minded of course. Thank God for whatever the reason happened to be. They’d been playing phone tag all weekend missing each other’s calls so she’d been eager to see him today.

“I’m dropping Brenda off at work. Her car stalled at my house last night, so we got it towed this morning to her mechanic.” His eyes ran over Tara. “I, uh, had a few…questions for Tara, so…”

He looked at her as if waiting on her to help him out, but Tara didn’t hear anything past the part of the conversation where he said Brenda had been at his house last night. Her narrowed eyes sent poisonous daggers his way.

Seeing the look, Brandon's face showed his puzzlement at her sudden change in attitude. “Tara? You think I can talk to you?”

Tara voice was as cold and harsh as a Chicago blizzard. “You’ll need to make it quick. I have an appointment in a few minutes.”

Brandon expression closed up at her tone. The warmth in his eyes slowly faded.

Ava looked at her appointment book. “No you don’t, Tara. In fact you’re free until–”

“It’s a private appointment. Thank you Ava,” Tara growled through clenched teeth. Turning on her heel, she walked to her office.


Brandon threw a questioning glance at Ava who just shrugged. Following Tara to her office, he quietly closed the door behind him, cautiously watching her pick up a stack of mail and flip through it with stiff, jerky movements.

“Did I say something to upset you?” he asked.

“No. Not at all.” Tara’s voice was clipped and impersonal.

“You upset with me for just stopping by like this? I didn’t think you’d mind.” He gave her a charming smile, hoping to melt the ice that suddenly surrounded her like a protective shield.

“Why would I be upset?” She threw the mail down on her desk and turned to face Brandon. “I don’t have all day. What do you need to see me about?”

Brandon’s bewilderment with her mood changed to one of mounting anger. “So the bitch is back, huh?”

“Excuse me?” Tara glared.

“Nah, I won’t excuse you. You know what? Just forget it.” He turned to leave, but Tara’s sharp accusation stopped him.

“Don’t you dare try to turn this around and act like you’re the injured party here!”

Brandon whipped around. “What in the hell are you talkin’ about, Tara?”

“If you don’t know, then I’m not telling you!”

“Fine, then don’t!” He turned to leave again, his good mood a thing of the past.

“But since you insist, I’ll tell you. I don’t appreciate you playing these little immature games. What are you doing, trying to see how many women in the office you can sleep with? Is Ava next?”


“Well, lets see. You just started volunteering here Saturday. You slept with me Saturday night. And it seems like Brenda had Sunday on lock. Should we pencil Ava in for tonight?”

It grew quiet in the room for almost a full thirty seconds as they stared at one another. Then Brandon laughed. It started off as an amused snicker, and then became a quiet chuckle, as if laughing to himself about something he found extremely funny. Finally, it graduated to an out and out belly laugh that flooded his eyes with tears.

Tara was furious. She stomped her foot. “Its not funny, dammit!”

But his laughter continued. He only quieted down when he saw her eyes searching desperately for something on her desk. Remembering the telephone to the back of his head, he knew she was looking for something to throw at him. Hurrying over, he grabbed her around the waist from behind, trapping her arms to her side.

“Let me go, Brandon! Let me go!”

“Baby…” Brandon chuckled softly. “Baby, wait. You have the wrong idea.”

“Oh, really? So Brenda didn’t spend the night at your house last night?” She twisted her head around to see his face

“Yeah. She did.”

Tara’s eyes opened wide at his honesty before she resumed her struggling.

“Tara, will you stop? I’m gonna tell you the truth if you just give me a minute.”

“Ha! You wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you on the–”

“Brenda’s my sister. My twin, actually.”

“What?? Oh, puleeze!” Tara spat out. “You are such a liar.”

“You think I’m lying?” Brandon tilted his head to look at her.

“In a word? Yes! You must really think I’m naive to believe that.”

Brandon turned her around to face him, careful to keep a good grip on her. “You’re sexy when you’re jealous, you know that?”

“I am not jealous!” she yelled.

Brandon raised an eyebrow. “Do you think you could shout that any louder? I don’t think they heard you on the next street.” He released Tara and pulled out his cell phone.

“What are you doing?” she snapped.

Brandon ignored her question. After dialing a number, he brought the phone up to his ear. “Hey. It’s me. Can you come by Tara’s office for a minute? Cool.”

He leaned back on Tara’s desk and folded his arms and stared at her.

“What?” Tara snapped at him again.

Brandon shrugged. “Just thinking about how I’m going to collect my apology from you. Trying to decide if it’s going to be nice and slow, or hot and fast. I’m kind of leaning towards a combination of the two.”

“You think you can sweet talk yourself out of anything don’t you? Well let me tell you–” A knock at the door interrupted her tirade.

“Come in,” Brandon called out.

Brenda came in with a wary look on her face as she looked from Brandon to Tara. “Morning, T.”

“Good morning.” Tara’s greeting was short and abrupt.

Brenda frowned. She directed her attention back to Brandon. “What are you doing here? I thought you’d left already.”

“Not yet. I just told Tara our ‘family secret.’”

A look of relief washed over Brenda’s face. “Oh thank God! Tara, I am so sorry. I told him to tell you, but you know how he is. He’s so darn stubborn sometimes. I’m just glad it’s out in the open.”

“There’s just one problem,” Brandon replied. “She doesn’t believe me.”

Brenda blinked at him several times in confusion. Catching him by surprise, she reared a fist back and punched him in his arm.

“Hey!” Brandon scowled.

“You should’ve told her the first day you got here, but no! You wanted to be so mysterious about the whole thing. It’s no wonder she doesn’t believe you.”

“I’m telling her now.”

“You can be such a jerk sometimes.”

“Now you're mad at me too?” Women!

They frowned at each other with identical expressions on their face. Tara’s eyes darted between the two of them. The resemblance hit her like a ton of bricks.

“Oh my gosh! You…you are twins!”

Their faces cleared up at the same time and then they smiled the exact same smiles at her.

Tara covered her mouth in shock. Why hadn’t she noticed it before? The same coloring. The left eyebrows which had a high natural arch. The small dimple that appeared in the corner of their mouths when they smiled…

Brenda gave Brandon a reprimanding glare as she walked over to her friend and grabbed her hand. “I truly am sorry, T. We’ve been arguing all weekend. I told him if he didn’t tell you, I would. Do you forgive me?”

Tara squeezed her hand. “Its okay, Brenda. There’s nothing to forgive. Its not your fault.” They both turned accusing eyes to Brandon.

He threw both hands up defensively. “Hey, hold up. I didn’t exactly lie, so don’t give me those looks.”

Brenda shook her head at her brother before turning back to Tara. She gave her a hug, then went over and kissed her brother goodbye before she left. Once it was just the two of them, the room became eerily silent.

Tara cringed inwardly as she realized how much she’d revealed by her jealous behavior. Brandon looked at his watch, then stood up. He put one of his hands in his pocket and walked to the door. Just as he passed Tara, he stopped so that they were shoulder to shoulder. Tara didn’t dare raise her eyes.

“Possessive little thing, aren’t you?” he mused, looking down at her. “I’ll let you know how I want my apology. Ai’ght?”

Brandon lowered his head and waited. Tara hesitated before raising her lips to his to receive his kiss. He gave her a stinging swat on her butt before leaving, winking at Ava when he passed her desk.

Tara stood in the same spot for several moments digesting the information she’d just found out. Ava came and stood at the door, staring at Tara with a knowing smirk. Tara frowned. From her expression, she knew Ava had heard everything.

“Don’t you have work to do?” she scowled.

“Hmph!” Ava closed the door and went back to her desk.


The rest of the day passed uneventfully. Typical Monday morning problems popped up that kept Tara busy and with little time to think about Brandon. She had a couple of appointments she’d set up, and wasn’t able to grab lunch until the day was almost over.

It was almost quitting time when she drove back to Haven House. The center stayed open later during the summer and on the weekend, but now that the kids were in school, they were once again closing at their regular time.

Tara smiled at the kids as she walked through the rec room to her office. She stopped and talked to several of them as they told her about their day. Many never had the luxury of getting individual attention, and she tried as often as she could to do that.

“Tara! Tara!”

Tara turned around, trying to see which one of them had called her. Her smile became even warmer when she saw Jonathon smiling and waving at her to come over. Her step faltered when she spied Brandon standing a few feet away. Her eyes were greedy as they quickly ran over every inch of him.

He had apparently gone home to change before coming back to Haven House. He wore a pair of faded denim jeans, Timbs, and a fitted black t-shirt, looking just as delicious as he had this morning. They smiled at each other before Tara turned her attention to Jonathon.

She was surprised at how animated he was as he talked about his day. Every other word out of his mouth was about Brandon: Brandon was going to take him to see the new action movie that had just come out. He had beat Brandon in a game of basketball a few minutes ago. Brandon had helped him with his homework.

Tara nodded and smiled. Jonathon had never said this much all at once during the whole time he’d been coming to Haven House, and she knew it was due to the time Brandon took with him. She was quickly beginning to see him in a different light. Maybe it was possible for people to change.

Brandon finally noticed her staring at him with an unreadable expression before she quickly looked back to Jonathon. After talking a few more minutes, she regretfully excused herself.

“I’m glad you’ve been enjoying yourself,” she told the little boy, rubbing his back. She sent Brandon a look from underneath her lashes that. “I’ll see you later?”

“You most definitely will,” Brandon replied in a low growl.

Avoiding his eyes and trying to keep the smile off her face, she left and finally made it to her office where she finished up some last minute details and returned phone calls.

A couple of hours later, Ava stuck her head in the door. “Alrighty, I’m leaving. The kids are gone for the day and the doors are locked. You going home soon?”

“Yes, I just need to finish this up, then I’ll be heading out.”

“Yeah, right. Girl, you are too young to be stuck at work every evening. Promise me you’ll go home soon.”

“I’ll try,” Tara smiled. “Have a good evening,”

Tara admittedly stayed late at the office most evenings because she didn’t have anyone waiting for her at home. And now that Yvonne had her own little family, they didn’t spend as much time together, although they talked on the phone several times a week. Vonnie was almost six months pregnant now. She and RaShaun’s marriage was rock solid; once Faith came along, it solidified their union. Yvonne loved RaShaun and Terri’s daughter as if she were her own. It was uncanny how much Faith looked like Terri, but it didn’t bother Yvonne. Tara knew she couldn’t love that little girl any more if she were her own flesh and blood.

The phone rang and interrupted Tara’s thoughts. Still thinking about Faith, Tara answered with a smile. “Hello.” `

“Cousin! Now how did I know you’d still be at work?”

“Vonnie! Hey girl, I was just thinking about you. What are you up to?”

“Well, actually, Faith and I are on our way to see you. We just left the airport from seeing her Daddy off. He’s going out of town on a business trip and we’re not that far from Haven House. How long are you going to be there?”

“I have some things that I absolutely have to finish today, so I’ll be here at least another hour or so. I’d love to see you and the cutest baby in the whole wide world.”

Yvonne laughed. “Flattery will get you everywhere. You know Faith loves her Auntie Tee. Since you’re going to be there for a while, I’m going to run in the store real quick and pick up a few things then we’ll be on our way, say about thirty minutes?”

“Sounds good. Call me when you’re almost here, and I’ll unlock the door.” They spoke for a few moments more before saying their goodbyes. Tara had just turned back to the report she’d been working on when the phone rang again.

“Okay. Now what do ya’ want?” Tara teased after picking it up.

“Hmmm….that’s a loaded question. Don’t you think?”

Tara’s pulse quickened when she heard Brandon’s sexy ass voice on the other line instead of Yvonne’s. A wide smile spread over her face as she sat back in her chair.

“Hey, you. I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else.”

“Someone else, huh? Male or female?”

Hearing the touch of jealousy in his voice made her feel a little better after making such a fool of herself this morning. “Now who’s being possessive?”

“Damn right. I don’t share. Remember that.”

“Neither do I, so you need to remember that.”

Brandon laughed softly, then his voice lowered. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing much.”

“Well, know what you’re getting ready to do?”

“No, but I have a feeling you’re going to tell me.”

“Got that right. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about my apology.”

Tara smiled. Her thighs tightened as she felt a tingling in the center of her lady parts. “That’s right. Okay. I apologize,” she said.

Brandon chuckled. “Uh Uh. I get a special apology. You really hurt my feelings, you know.”

“Awww, poor baby. What did you have in mind?”

“I can show you better than I can tell you, so this is what I want you to do: Take your panties off and wait for me.”

“What?” Tara laughed.

“You heard me. Take your panties off. I’m on my way to your office.”

Tara sat straight up. “You’re on the way to my office? Now? B-B-But I thought you’d left already.” she said anxiously. Dammit! Yvonne would be there soon.

“Nah. I was in Brenda’s office bullshitting with her. She just left. I made sure the door was locked behind her, so I’ll be there in about thirty seconds.”

“Wait! Brandon! Just come by my apartment later. We can–”

“Oh, I plan on coming by your apartment, too. But I want you. Now.”

“We cant!” When he didn’t answer, Tara stood up and went to look out her window. She breathed a sigh of relief. Yvonne hadn’t made it yet.

“Why cant we?” Brandon’s voice came from her open doorway.

Tara spun around, almost dropping the phone. Brandon slipped the cell phone he’d been talking to her on in his pocket and started slowly walking towards her. The gleam in his eye told her he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

“B-because Yvonne will be here in about twenty minutes.” Her voice held a sense of urgency, which he just shrugged off.

“Then we’d better hurry.”

Tara stood in front of her desk and watched as Brandon unbuckled his belt. “Did you hear what I said? You have to go.”

Brandon’s eyes roamed over her lingering on her cute little skirt. “So I take it you still have your panties on.”

“Do you think I’m joking? This isn’t funny, Brandon!”

“Nah, Tara, it ain’t. Now bring your fine ass here. I been wanting you since the minute I left your apartment Saturday night.” He advanced until he was in front of her. Hovering over her, he placed his hands on her waist and pulled her close. “I’m not waiting a moment longer.”

Tara tried to push his hands away, but he bent down to kiss her as if he were starved for the taste of her lips. The moment their mouths touched, she capitulated. Moaning her surrender, she wrapped her arms around Brandon’s neck and returned the kiss with a fiery eagerness that matched his.

Brandon’s growl was passionate and impatient. He picked her up and sat her down on the edge of the desk. Quickly snatching his t-shirt over his head, he threw it down on the floor then immediately brought his mouth back to hers.

Tara frantically unsnapped his pants. When Brandon reached under her skirt she momentarily let go of his mouth and put her hands on the desk to lift her butt up to aid him in slipping her panties off. Grinning at her, he stuff them in his back pocket the same way he’d done at her apartment.

Tara shook her head and grinned back. “Is that a fetish you have or something?”

“Not until I met you. Lets just say they’ll help me get through the nights when I can’t be with you.”

“Oh.” Then her eyes widened as she got his meaning. “Ohhh!”

Brandon laughed at her embarrassment. He allowed Tara to pull him back between her legs, all signs of amusement vanishing when she started ravishing his mouth. Her hands roamed over his chest, loving the way his muscles jumped and flexed under her palms.

“You are so fine, you know that?” she told him as she kissed down to his neck and took little love bites.

Brandon closed his eye and held the back of her head as she nibbled and soothed the bites with her tongue. His hand slid between her legs and found her wet and ready.

“Tara…baby…” Reaching around her, he picked up the laptop that was in the middle of her desk and placed it in the chair behind him. “You have no idea how much I been thinkin’ about this.”

“Me too.”

“Hated to leave the other night. If I hadn’t promised Brenda I’d go to church with her…”

With her legs still wrapped around him, he slipped his hands underneath her ass and picked her up so that he could lay her lengthwise on the desk.

Tara lay back and gazed up at him. “You? Went to church?”

Brandon pulled his wallet out and got a condom. “Yeah. You look shocked.”

“A little. The surprises just seem to keep coming with you, Brandon Valentine.”

“That’s a good thing, ain’t it?” He teased, biting his lip. “Keeps you on your toes. Speakin’ of which…”

He propped her feet up on the desk and spread her legs wide. He groaned in appreciation when he saw how wet she was. Her pussy practically glistened from her arousal. Brandon traced her velvety lower lips with his finger before opening the delicate folds of her labia that reminded him of the petals of a flower blossoming to show him its secret inner garden. He couldn’t wait to start exploring.

Tara’s hips moved restlessly beneath his teasing finger. “Brandon, please….”

“I ain’t never wanted a woman as much as I want you, Tara. Can’t stop thinkin’ about you.” He slipped a finger inside of her and beckoned upwards to tickle her spot. Her muscles clenched around it as she moaned.

“I crave your touch. Your taste. The feeling I get when I’m deep inside you. If them deacons at church knew where my mind kept wandering to yesterday, they probably would’ve called me to the alter and formed a prayer circle to exorcise my sins away.”

Tara smiled. “You’re so bad.”

“To the bone, baby. To the mu’fuckin bone.”

Licking his lips, he lowered his lips to her honey spot, his mouth practically watering for a taste of her. Brandon felt like he’d been going through withdrawals and was finally getting his hit. Hearing Tara panting his name was almost as satisfying as her creamy flavor coating his mouth. His tongue moved over her clit at a consistent tempo, playing a tune to some unheard melody that had her wailing along in absolute ecstasy. Tara found the rhythm and timed her hips in small circular movements, rocking her pelvis to the speed of his tongue and keeping pace. It didn’t take her long to orgasm and explode in his mouth.

Brandon pulled out a condom from his pocket. Quickly tearing the package open with his teeth, he slid it down his throbbing length then pulled her off of the desk. He turned her around with an urgency that told Tara he needed to fuck her now. Bending her over the desk, he pulled her skirt up and separated her thighs with his knee. Then, bending his legs slightly, he guided his dick to her opening and pushed deep inside her with one powerful stroke.

“Brandonnnn….” He was so deep that Tara sprang up on her tiptoes. Lying flat on her stomach, she grabbed the sides of the desk and held on.

“This pussy is so fuckin’ good, Tara. Mmm. So fuckin’ hot.” Brandon fucked her without mercy, circling his hips and plunging deep until her sugary walls began to surrender to the climax he beckoned.

“Fuck! Tell me it’s mine, Tara!” The words slipped out before he could stop them.

“Brandon, oh God, yes! It’s yours baby! However you want it, it’s yours!””

“Mmmm. And you know what else? This your dick, baby. You understand what I'm tellin’ you?”

Growling deep from within his chest, he plunged into her contracting muscles one last time before throwing his head back and reaching his own satisfaction. He chanted her name as her pussy rhythmically squeezed and released his dick like a hungry cat that wanted to milk him dry.

Their intermingled moans of satisfaction eventually slowed to loud, hoarse pants. Finally, Brandon staggered back and slipped out of her warmth. He pulled his underwear and jeans up, then help Tara off the desk. Turning her around, he pulled her into his arms.

“Damn. One of the most satisfying quickies I ever had.” He kissed her neck and held her tight.

“Very satisfying. I take it you accept my apology?” she teased in a trembling voice.

“Hell yeah,” he smiled. He pulled a couple of Kleenex out of the box on her desk and rolled the used condom up in it before tossing it in the trashcan. With their eyes glued to one another, they quickly straightened their clothes. “I’ll see you at your place tonight, right?” he asked.

She looked at him and smiled. “You’re insatiable.”

He looked her in the eye for a long moment, before responding. “Only with you. You a dangerous woman, you know that?”

The smile died off Tara’s face as she returned his look. He leaned down and kissed her softly. Tara sighed and melted in his arms. When the phone rang, she started to ignore it before she remembered Yvonne.

“Oh, no! Yvonne must be here! I forgot just that quick that she was on her way. Dammit Brandon!”

Brandon raised an eyebrow. “Tara, maybe you need to just tell her. She’s gonna find out sooner or later.” He picked up his shirt and pulled it on.

Tara sent him an irritated look as she picked up the phone. “Hello?”

“Hey. It’s me. Come and unlock the door.”

“You’re here?” Tara asked, trying to buy time.

“Duh. Yeah,” Yvonne answered teasingly.

Tara turned helpless eyes towards Brandon. “O-Okay. Um, be right there.”

She hung up the phone with a trembling hand, nervously watching Brandon pick up several papers that had scattered on the floor. He paused when he saw how upset she was.

“Tara, come on. Its gonna be okay. You’re probably making more out of this than you need to.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You have nothing to lose. Yvonne’s like a sister to me.” She ran a hand through her hair. “Oh God, what was I thinking getting involved with you like this?”

Brandon’s hand froze before carefully putting the papers on her desk. He tried to keep in mind that she was upset about potentially hurting her cousin. While he understood family came first it didn’t make it any easier for him to hear her say she regretted being with him.

“Look, why don’t you go and let Yvonne in. I’ll get things situated in your office and leave before you get back. I can wait in Brenda’s office until she’s gone.” When Tara didn’t respond, he lifted her chin to look at him. “Everything will work out. You’ll see.”

But Tara pulled away from his touch. “I never should’ve crossed the line with you. Not after everything that’s happened.”


“I cant talk to you now, she’s waiting. Can you please, please be gone by the time we come back?” She stepped around him to get to the door, but paused and turned back to face him before leaving. “If I have to choose between you and my cousin, I hope you know there’s only one choice I’d make.” She held his gaze to make sure he knew exactly what she meant before walking out the office.


Brandon stood there for a moment, staring at the door. Suddenly, he kicked over the chair that sat in front of the desk. Man, enough of this bullshit. Tara was right, they never should’ve crossed the line and slept with each other. He’d fought hard to ignore the attraction between them. Things were bad enough with the situation involving Yvonne, RaShaun, and himself and the even more explosive triangle of RaShaun, Terri, and himself. Tara was a complication he didn’t need.

Sighing, he picked up the chair and stacked the last of the papers back on Tara’s desk. Glancing around to make sure everything was presentable, he was just getting ready to leave when he came face to face with Yvonne and Tara.

No one spoke for several agonizing seconds. Although it was a shock seeing Yvonne after all this time, Brandon’s focus was on the child she held in her arms. Faith. Terri’s child. The child that, for the first three months of Terri’s pregnancy, he'd thought could’ve been his. However , the amniocentesis proved otherwise. Brandon had never been so disappointed in his life. He’d wanted this baby to be his more than anything in the world. And when she turned out to be RaShaun’s….

“Brandon. Hello.”

With a humongous effort, he pulled his attention away from Faith and looked at Yvonne. The last time they’d seen one another had been during the altercation in her office with her husband; it had also been the day Terri died.

“Hey Yvonne. How are you?”

“I’m fine. Tara told me you’re volunteering here.”

“Yeah. I started coming by a couple of days ago.” An awkward silence fell between everyone. Brandon gestured towards her gently rounded stomach. “I hear congratulations are in order.”

Yvonne hesitated before nodding reluctantly. “Thank you. RaShaun and I are very happy.”

“Good. I’m glad,” Brandon said with sincerity. His eyes once again went to Faith. “And this is….”

Yvonne hesitated. She remembered how he’d taunted her about RaShaun having a baby with another woman. “This is Faith.”

Glancing from one of them to the other, Tara stepped in to break up the heavy moment. “Uh, Brandon let me walk you to the door so that I can lock up after you leave.”

With her back to Yvonne, Tara gave him a hard glare. He was supposed to have left before Yvonne got here. Brandon read the look, and glared right back.

“Von, have a seat,” Tara said with a forced smile, “I’ll be right back.”

Tara and Brandon walked in silence until they were out of hearing distance. Brandon knew she was furious, but he’d had just about enough of her attitude. He understood the situation she was in, but he didn’t put her there by himself.

“Tara, don’t start, ai’ght?” His voice was gruff with warning,

“You were supposed to be out of my office by the time we got there!” she hissed. “Now, I’m wondering if you stayed there on purpose!”

“And why the hell would I do that?” Brandon stopped in front of the entrance and turned to face her. “Tara, you know what, you a grown ass woman. You shouldn’t have to hide and sneak around like you doin’ somethin wrong. If you want to see somebody your cousin doesn’t approve of, then that’s what you should do. You can’t keep living your life for somebody else, baby.”

He took the key out of her hand and unlocked the door. “But I’m gonna make this situation easy on you by giving you your space. That way there will be one less thing you have to worry about.”


“Go handle your fuckin’ business. Tell your cousin whatever you want to tell her. I’m outta here.”

Tara jumped as he slammed out of the door without another word or glance. Sudden tears sprang to her eyes as she watched him walk to his car with long, angry steps. When he got into his car and drove off, she bit down hard on her lip to stop their trembling. Why were things getting so complicated? Just a few days ago, they’d been relaxed, almost…happy.

“Tara, what in the hell is going on?”

With a surprised gasp, she spun around and found Yvonne standing few feet behind her. Shit! She hadn’t heard her walk up.

“Hey, uh, n-nothing’s going on. Just locking up.” She quickly turned back to the door. While turning the key in the lock, she wiped her face as inconspicuously as she could, but Yvonne wasn’t fooled.

“Are you crying?” she asked Tara in disbelief. “Over him?”

Tara took a deep breath then turned around. “Yvonne–”

“Wait a minute.” Yvonne closed her eyes then slowly opened them to focus on her cousin. Her next words came out a horrified whisper. “Are you sleeping with Brandon?”

“Yvonne, let me explain.” She took a step towards Yvonne, but Yvonne held a hand out to stop her.

“No! Answer me! After everything I’ve been through because of that man, after all of the trouble he deliberately caused between me and RaShaun because of his lies and manipulations…Tara, how could you?” Yvonne’s voice was full of unspoken accusations.

Faith looked at her mother. She placed her little hand on Yvonne’s face. “Mama cry? Mama no cry!” She turned and pointed at Tara with her bottom lip pushed out and trembling. “Aunt Tee no cry too!”

“No, baby, Mama’s not crying.” Yvonne quickly wiped her eyes and put a smile on her face for her daughter. Tara did the same. “See? Mama’s not crying.”

“And neither is Aunt Tee, sweetie,” Tara added.

Faith smiled and clapped her hands before wiggling down to get a ball left out by one of the children.

Yvonne turned her attention back to Tara. “I never, in a million years, would’ve suspected you, of all people, would fall for his bullshit.”

Tara held Yvonne’s eyes for a moment before looking away. She couldn’t stand to see the disappointment and hurt on her face. Born three months apart, the two of them were closer than cousins, mainly due the fact that they were the daughters of twins. Tara’s mother was a natural second mother to Yvonne, and vice versa. In all of the family photo albums, there were hardly any pictures where there was one of them and not the other.

“Yvonne, it…it wasn’t planned, and when it happened, I just didn’t know how to tell you,” she whispered.

“You didn’t know how to tell me? How about not letting it happen at all! How about that!” She looked at Faith then lowered her voice.

“Would you just give me a minute to explain? Five minutes. That’s all I ask.”

Seeing that her daughter was still happily playing, Yvonne glared at her cousin and folded her arms. “Go on.”

“I never, ever meant to hurt you, Vonnie. You know I would never intentionally do anything to bring you pain or unhappiness.”

“And you thought fucking Brandon would make me happy?” Yvonne retorted in a loud whisper.


“You can honestly stand here and say you didn’t think being involved with Brandon wouldn’t hurt me or RaShaun? Have you forgotten how you sat me down and told me how Brandon meant me no good? Huh? That he only wanted to get me in bed then once he did, he would move on to the next challenge?”

Uncomfortable, Tara shifted from one foot to the other and tried to avert her eyes, but Yvonne refused to let her.

“Did you forget how he taunted and provoked my husband at every opportunity he could find, deliberately misleading RaShaun about what really happened in order to drive a wedge between us?”


“No! You asked me a question and like it or not, this is my answer.” She lowered her voice even more. “You betray me, or whatever you want to call it, for what, Tara? For some dick? That was more important than me?”

“I seem to remember it was important enough for you to leave RaShaun not too long ago!” The comment came out of Tara’s mouth before she could stop it. When it did, Tara gasped and covered her mouth.

Yvonne took a step back as if Tara has struck her. “You know what, Tara? Screw you! Screw you and screw that motherfucka, too!” she whispered furiously. “If he’s that damn important to you, knock yourself out. Just don’t, and I repeat, do not come crying to me when he gets tired and, what were your words to me? Oh yeah, goes looking for new pussy!”

She turned and called out to her daughter. “Faith. Honey. Come on time to go.”

Faith vehemently shook her head. “No, Mama! Stay. Play ball.”

“So, damn, that was my five minutes, Yvonne?” Tara hissed. “You doing all the got damn talking is all I get?”

Yvonne twisted around and glared at her cousin. “What, bitch?”

“I know you don’t want to hear this, but I think he’s changed.” When Yvonne rolled her eyes, Tara pleaded, “He has, but…I don’t know how you could think I would ever choose anyone over you, let alone a man. You’re my family, and that means more to me than anything else. I…I won’t see him anymore after today. Not like…that.”

Although Tara said the words, her eyes told a different story. They almost pleaded with Yvonne to give Brandon a chance but Yvonne raised an eyebrow and deliberately ignored the unspoken plea.

“Okay, fine. You won’t see him anymore. And you’ll tell him this?”

With an effort, Tara held Yvonne’s eyes without blinking. “Yes. I’ll call him now, from my office.”

Yvonne hesitated. “Fine. Lets go.”

Yvonne picked Faith up and followed Tara to her office. She pulled out Faith’s blanket and sat it on the floor and gave her a couple of crackers.

Tara went to her desk and picked up the phone. She glanced at Yvonne who was staring intently at her, then wiped her sweaty hands over her skirt before dialing Brandon’s cell phone. She put the phone on speaker, and after the third ring, his deep voice filled the room.


Her heart thumping furiously in her chest, Tara concentrated on slowing her breathing. She’d never dreaded a phone call more than this one. “Brandon, it’s Tara.” There was silence on the phone for several long moments. Tara frowned. Had he hung up? “Hello, Brandon?”

“I’m here. I just didn’t expect to hear from you this soon after the way we left each other.” He paused, then added, “Actually, I didn’t know if I’d hear from you at all.”

Tara closed her eyes at the slight sound of relief she heard in his voice, but quickly opened them when she heard Yvonne exhale an impatient breath.

“Did you talk to Yvonne?” Brandon asked.

“Yes. That’s why I’m calling.” She took a deep breath before taking the plunge. “I, um, I think it would be a good idea if we called this quits. I, we…I can’t see you anymore,” she blurted out in a rush.

There was silence on the phone again. Tara turned her back to Yvonne. She closed her eyes and bit her lip. When Brandon still didn’t answer, she asked, “Did you hear what I said?”

Brandon snorted a laugh. “Yeah. I heard you. Can’t say that I’m surprised. I was hoping you’d stand up for yourself though, at least put up a little bit of a fight, but hey…it was fun while it lasted. At least we got to have goodbye sex before your cousin got there and laid the law down.” Brandon’s tone was cutting and sarcastic.

Tara glanced back at Yvonne and saw her shaking her head.


“No, lets be honest. That’s what happened, isn’t it. Never mind, don’t answer that. You know what? Do you, baby. Go on and run back to Yvonne and let her know you’ve done her bidding like a good little girl and–”

“She doesn’t have to come running back to me because I’m standing right here, you…” Yvonne cut off the name she was going to call him, remembering Faith was a few feet away. “You know what, Brandon? You’re a real piece of work! You love to use women and manipulate them anyway you can as long as you get what you want. And believe me, I definitely know what you wanted from Tara. Apparently, you got it.”

Tara sent her an intense glare, but Yvonne ignored it and continued.

“I cant say I really blame my cousin as much as I blame you because I know what you’re capable of. Hear me, and hear me well. Stay away from my family. Do I make myself clear?”

A loud silence followed Yvonne’s tirade before they heard Brandon’s voice on the other end.

“Nice, Tara. Very…nice,” Brandon said. “You had me on speaker the whole time, huh? Appreciate that. Okay. I told you from the beginning I didn’t want to cause any trouble, so–”

“Sure you didn’t!” Yvonne threw out snidely.

Brandon paused then continued what he was saying to Tara. “I’mma do as you ask, but what I won’t do is stop volunteering at Haven House. I’ll stay out of your way as much as I can, but this is important to me, as well as my sister. Aside from that, I won’t bother you again. A’ight? Peace.”

He hung up without waiting on a reply. Tara slowly hung up as well. She reached deep inside of herself to appear unaffected as she turned to Yvonne, and raised her eyebrows in acknowledgement that she’d done what Yvonne had asked.

Yvonne looked at her, then wordlessly turned around and gathered up a sleeping Faith. With angry, jerky movements, she folded the blanket and stuffed it into Faith’s bag.

“Now what?” Tara exclaimed in confusion. “I did what you wanted and you have nothing to say?”

Yvonne didn’t answer until she’d picked Faith up and headed to the door. She looked at Tara before she walked out.

“Never mind I had to practically twist your arm to do it in the first place, but now you’re standing there acting like you’ve lost the love of you life.” Even though Faith was asleep with her head on Yvonne’s shoulder, Yvonne covered her other ear. “Get over it, Tara! His dick is not made out of gold.”

Giving her once last angry scowl, she turned around without another word and left Tara standing in the office staring out the window thinking about Yvonne’s last statement.

“Says you, cousin,” Tara mumbled out loud in the empty office. “Says you.”


Yvonne carried Faith into the house still shaking her head at Tara. What in the hell had she been thinking to sleep with Brandon?

The rest of the evening was filled with feeding and bathing Faith. After reading her a story and tucking her in, Yvonne went to her room. She turned the television on before lying across her bed, but her thoughts were suddenly filled with how much she was going to miss Shaun. Faith was already asking for her ‘DaDa’. Yvonne wanted to tell her that she wanted DaDa home, too, but he would only be gone a week.

Letting out a deep sigh, her thoughts turned to Tara. She still could not believe that Tara had gotten involved with Brandon. Those two had barely been able to stand each other. How had it gone from that degree of animosity to now sleeping together? It just didn’t make sense.

Moments later, the phone rang and interrupted her thoughts. Moaning and not feeling like moving, she reluctantly stretched over to get the phone from the nightstand.


“Hi, sweetheart.” RaShaun’s sexy voice came through the phone, making Yvonne miss him even more.

“Hi, baby. How are you?” A huge smile lit up Yvonne’s face.

“I’m good, just got back to my hotel room. Went out to dinner with a couple of co-workers after the last meeting, but now I’m in for the night. I knew our daughter would be fast asleep, and you’re probably relaxing on the bed right about now, right?”

Yvonne smiled when she heard the teasing lilt in his voice. “You think you know me, don’t you?”

“Something like that.”

“I miss you, Shaun,” she pouted. “I can’t believe you just left today. Maybe it’s the hormones that have me feeling so needy, but it seems like you’ve already been gone for a week.”

A slight pause followed her statement. “Or maybe it’s something more than hormones. Baby, what’s wrong?”

Yvonne hesitated a beat before answering. “Nothing. We just miss you, that’s all.”

“Vonnie, didn’t you just finish telling me how well I know you? I can tell you’re upset. Talk to me, baby.”

“It’s nothing that can’t wait until you get home.” The last thing Yvonne wanted to do was tell RaShaun something like this while he was away on business. He still didn’t know that Brandon was volunteering at Haven House. Even now, just the mention of his name was still enough to make RaShaun’s expression darken with strong dislike.

“You know if you don’t tell me, that will worry me more than anything else.” RaShaun wasn’t letting her off the hook. “Now, please. What is it?”

Yvonne bit her lip when she heard the stubborn tone in his voice. She knew he wouldn’t let this go. Taking a deep breath, she told him everything, starting with how Brandon came to be volunteering at Haven House and ending with what she’d found out that evening about Tara and Brandon. RaShaun didn’t say a word until she finished. Yvonne held the phone as she waited.

“You knew he had shown up again and you didn’t tell me?”

Yvonne plopped over on her back and covered her face. She hated that quietness in his voice. That meant he was pissed off…extremely pissed off.

“RaShaun, please. There was nothing to tell. I didn’t know Tara had gotten involved with him until a couple of hours ago.”

“That shit is still hard to believe. Tara…and Brandon?”

“I know, right?” Yvonne could still see the look on Tara’s face after she’d hung up from calling Brandon. She didn’t realize it, but her expression had been one of devastation at what she’d just done.

“Okay, baby, this is what I want you to do,” RaShaun said. “I want you to go and draw a hot bubble bath and just soak in the tub and relax. You don’t need to get upset over bullshit like this. It’s no biggie. I’ll handle it.”

Yvonne sat up when she heard the slight edge in his voice. “RaShaun. No. Please. Its been handled. I told you Tara called him and–”

“I heard you, sweetheart.” His voice was deceptively calm, but it didn’t fool Yvonne for a minute. “Now, do as I ask and just relax. I love you, Von. Take care of yourself , my baby girl, and my son. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

Yvonne smiled. Some of the tension eased from her body. “And how do you know it’s going to be a boy?” It was a familiar dialogue between the two of them.

“One of these days, you’re going to learn not to doubt me, Mrs. Patterson,” RaShaun teased. “Night, baby. Love you.”

“Goodnight. I love you, too.”

Yvonne hung up the phone and sat for a minute, hoping that RaShaun would let this thing with Brandon die down, but she knew her husband. He may have sounded calm and agreeable, but a storm started brewing inside of him the moment she told him what was going on. Yvonne hoped Brandon heeded her warning about staying away from her family because when the torrential floodgates opened up, all hell was going to break loose.


Yvonne had good reason to doubt RaShaun’s calmness when he heard about Brandon. Thousands of miles away in Chicago, he was pacing back and forth in his room like a restless tiger trapped in a cage. Just knowing that Yvonne had seen Brandon was enough to leave him furious and unsettled. He didn’t want anything upsetting her, especially now that she was pregnant. He’d been able to tell from the first few minutes of the phone call that something had upset her. He never expected it to be about Brandon though.

And Tara? Involved with Valentine? What the hell??

Uh uh. Fuck no! RaShaun shook his head. Nah. Like he told Yvonne, he’d handle this the minute he got back into town. After hearing what was going on, that would be sooner than later. He reached for the phone and dialed a number.

“Harry. Hey, it’s Shaun. I’ll be leaving to go back home a couple of days earlier than scheduled. No, Yvonne’s fine. It’s a personal matter, so after the meeting tomorrow, I’ll be flying home. Okay. Thanks.”

After he hung up, RaShaun went over to the window and looked out at the bright lights of the windy city, but he saw none of the beautiful nighttime views. Instead, his thoughts were on Valentine. He thought they’d heard the last of him the day they’d had that confrontation in Yvonne’s office. Yet, here he was showing up like a recurring nightmare he couldn’t get rid of.

RaShaun’s expression grew dark with anger. He didn’t know what it was going to take to get that bastard out of their lives, but whatever it was, he’d find it. He refused to let Brandon Valentine disrupt their lives again. Not this time.

© 2017 S.K. Hardy

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means without the written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.


If you tell the truth, it becomes a part of your past.
If you lie, it becomes a part of your future.

                                              ~Author Unknown


Brandon sat at a table in the back of a popular jazz club nursing his second drink. After having just talked to Tara he needed something to calm the turbulence building up inside of him, and on Monday nights, this particular club featured a live jazz band as well as poetry readings.

Of course the Hennessy he’d been sippin’ on had a hand in helping him relax even further, but it didn’t help to quiet his thoughts…or stop images of Tara from jumping inside his head. Talk about puttin’ him in his place. Not only had she let him know what she really thought about him, but she’d done it on speakerphone so that her cousin could hear as well. 



Brandon brought the glass up to his lips to finish the rest of the Henny in his glass then signaled to the waitress to bring him another one

Several women there noticed his brooding expression, as if his thoughts were not exactly pleasant. If anything, that made him more attractive to them. There was nothing sexier than a good-looking brotha who seemed as if he needed a little comforting and tender loving care. Several had stopped by and blatantly offered their services, but Brandon had politely, but firmly, declined. He wasn’t in the mood. Yeah, he knew the game and could play it very well if he so desired, but that was the problem. What he desired, he apparently couldn’t have.

As his thoughts went back to Tara again, he took a sip of the fresh drink the waitress had set in front of him. Holding the flavorful liquor in his mouth, he savored the taste for a few seconds before letting it smoothly slip down his throat. It had been a long time since he’d indulged in more than one drink, but what the hell. If ever there was ever an occasion to do so...

Unable to help himself, he wondered what she was doin’ right now. Brandon looked at his cell phone sitting on the table, then shook his head. He wasn’t gon’ call her. She'd made it perfectly clear that she’d made her decision. If she ever changed her mind about wanting to be with him, it would be up to her to make it happen. He was done makin’ a fool of himself. It had been a couple of hours since she’d called him and told him what he’d already known, which was she didn’t want to see him any longer. Brandon had to admit that a small part of him had hoped she would tell Yvonne to butt out of her business, though.

“Yeah, right,” he muttered under his breath. “You see how that worked out, dontcha?”

Suddenly, Brandon felt the sensation wash over him like he was being watched. He lifted his head and let his eyes scan the club until he saw her. A woman sitting at the bar was boldly staring at him as if he were an entrée on a buffet line that she wanted to sample.

Brandon’s eyes slowly wandered over her, taking in the sexy body beneath the ridiculously short skirt. Brandon held her gaze for a moment then looked away. Oh, she was fine as hell, but he was not in the mood to play right now…especially not with her. Been there, done that, and had regretted it ever since.

Out of the corner of his eye, Brandon saw her slide off the barstool and grab her drink before making her way over to his table. He blew out a quiet breath. Bitch couldn’t take a hint. Great. He did not need this right now. When she stopped beside his table, he ignored her and brought his glass up to his lips to take another sip of his drink.

Seeing that he had no intention of acknowledging her, she broke the silence. “Hello, Brandon. Long time no see.”

Brandon barely looked up at her. “Sup.”

“I didn’t know you were back in town. How’ve you been, boo?”

“Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m not very good company tonight. I’d rather be by myself. I hope you understand.”

His tone told her he didn’t care whether she understood or not as he turned his attention back to the poet on the stage. Brandon had heard this guy spit his rhymes before and he was good. The crowd was riveted to the energy of his flow. His stage name was The Messenger, and every time he appeared here, the ladies made it a point to show up in packs, vying for whatever amount of attention he bestowed upon them. Whatever piece he performed always had a message and left you thinking. Brandon was trying to listen, but the woman beside him had other plans.

“You sure you don’t want company? I can make you forget whatever problems you might be having.” She stepped closer to him. “Believe me, I remember everything you like. Everything.”

Brandon slowly raised his eyes and looked at Kiki with an expression bordering on disgust. Another bone in his closet…another dirty little secret.

He averted his eyes, trying to block out the images her words resurrected. Images of hers and Terri’s body, wrapped around his, their lips and hands everywhere on his body…

“Maybe just for old times sake. We haven’t talked since Terri–”

That got a response quick. “I asked to be left alone! Are you deaf?” he snapped. “What’s so fuckin’ hard to understand about that?”

He didn’t want to talk about Terri and he definitely didn’t want to think about that night the three of them…

Shit! Of all the people he could’ve run into tonight, why did it have to be her? Hell, who was gon’ be next, RaShaun?

Kiki took several steps back. Embarrassed, she glanced around and saw people looking and laughing at her. Turning around she quickly left the club to get away from the unwanted attention.

Brandon leaned his elbows on the table and smoothed his hands down over his face. He felt as if he were standing in quicksand. For every step he tried to take something always seemed to pull him further and further back down, as if determined to keep him in one place.

So many mistakes, Brandon. So many mistakes.

He sat back wondering how things always had a way of going from bad to worse with him. When was shit going to go right?


Kiki walked to her car, growing angrier with each step.

Oh, so I was good enough to screw your brains out and have a threesome with you and Terri, but now you treatin' me like I’m lower than the dirt on the bottom of your shoes? Well, we’ll just see about that, Brandon Valentine. We’ll see who gets the last laugh.

Once she got to her apartment, Kiki unlocked the door and slammed her way inside. That bastard! Now, all of a sudden he was too good for her? Why?? Why did they always act like that after having sex? She was good in bed. She fulfilled any fantasy a man dreamed about when he was with her, let him do anything he wanted with her. Hell, she was a freak and she knew it. She did what a man’s woman was too uptight to do or try.

But then they always acted shitty the next time she saw them, as if they didn’t know who she was, or she wasn’t good enough to speak to outside a bedroom. That is until they wanted to fuck again.

Kiki wasn’t gon’ lie, she wanted Brandon bad, wanted to again experience the pleasure she’d felt that night. It didn’t matter that he was more into Terri than her or that she had more or less invited herself into their bed, she still had gotten hers.

Not many men knew their way around a woman’s body the way Brandon did. Mothafucka’ needed to teach a class to the other lames on how to please a woman because he was the truth when it came to sex. When she saw him walk into the club tonight, she couldn’t believe her luck. She had expected him to jump at the chance for no strings sex but instead he’d talked to her like she was some skank off the street he’d never seen before.

Feeling her anger grow, she went to her bedroom and walked over to her TV stand. Opening the bottom drawer, she saw the DVD she was looking for. Smiling, she took it out of the case and popped it in the DVD player. Hitting the play button on the remote, she looked at the images from that night of the three of them in her bedroom in various sexual position: Brandon sitting back and watching Kiki and Terri engage in sexual acts, Kiki riding Brandon’s monster dick with a look of ecstasy on her face, Brandon going down on Terri and making her come…

Pretty mothafucka acted like he was too good to go down on me though, Kiki muttered. That still pissed her off.

Even though she must have watched the DVD hundreds of times, it never failed to excite her. She took off her clothes and lay on the bed. If she couldn’t have Brandon tonight, this would be the next best thing. Brandon hadn’t been aware they had taped him that night. But she was gonna make him aware real soon.

She just had to pick the right time.


Two more days until the weekend and then I can try to get some rest, Tara thought to herself. She was so tired. She hadn’t been able to sleep much since Monday when all that confusion happened between her, Yvonne, and Brandon.

After Yvonne and Faith had gone home, Tara had stayed at the office and worked until she could barely keep her eyes open. Her goal had been to work up to the point of exhaustion so that she wouldn’t lie awake at night staring at the ceiling, but it hadn’t helped. Once she got in bed, she still hadn’t been able to get Brandon off her mind. For the last few nights, she’d only slept a couple of hours before the annoying sound of the alarm went off to let her know it was time to get up and start another day.

Brandon hadn’t been back to the center for the last couple of days, which had Tara even more on edge. She tried to subtly question Brenda to find out how he was doing, and whether or not he’d be back, but all she got from her were noncommittal answers, which was understandable. Brenda’s loyalty was to her brother, as it should be. Not to Tara.

Late Wednesday afternoon, she was just walking into the center from a late lunch and decided to take a detour to the rec room to say a few words to the children. She had just entered the room with a smile on her face when her feet came to a sudden stop. Her heart started racing and her breathing came in quick spurts. Across the room there stood Brandon talking and laughing with Jonathon. He was indeed a visual feast for her starving eyes. She hadn’t realized how much she’d missed him these last few days. She missed him a lot. Too damned much.

Taking a deep breath, she took a step in his direction. Yes, she wanted to say hello to Jonathon, but she desperately wanted to talk to him. Just to make sure he was okay, she quickly assured herself.

All of a sudden, Tara saw him turn around and search the room until his eyes met hers. The smile slowly died off his lips as he stared at her. Neither seemed to be able to break eye contact. His hungry eyes ran over her body, letting her know he had missed her just as much. Tara gave him a tentative smile. For a moment, he just continued to stare. Then to her relief, a slow smile lifted the corner of his mouth, leaving her breathless all over again.

“I hope you’re not playing games with him,” a cool voice said from behind her.

Tara turned around and looked at Brandon’s sister. “Brenda–”

“Tara, I’m going to say something that I’ve been wanting to tell you for the last couple of days. I understand your cousin went through a hard time when she and my brother were involved, but it seems as if no one wants to take responsibility for their part in this whole mess except my brother. I think that should count for something.”

“It does but it’s not as simple as that.”

“It is if you want it to be. My brother and I have gone through a lot. From the work we’ve done here, we both know that the past can influence our future and sway the decisions we make along the way. It can be even more destructive depending on one’s upbringing and the experiences they’ve gone through.”

Tara’s brow creased. When her lips parted to ask her what she meant, Brenda shook her. “That’s all I’m going to say on the subject. Just, please make sure you decide what you want and stick to that decision. Otherwise, you’re not being fair to yourself or to Brandon. ” She held Tara’s gaze before walking off to check on a group of kids she’d been talking to before she saw Tara.

Tara wore a thoughtful look as she studied Brandon. She saw him lean down to tell Jonathon something. Jonathon took off running to play with the other kids. That in itself was progress for the little boy. He hardly ever played or mingled with anyone. She never would’ve thought Brandon had so much patience or even cared enough to spend as much time as he did with a child who had as many problems Jon.

Tara noticed Brandon hadn’t moved. He just stood in the same spot, staring at Tara with his hands in his pocket. His stance seemed relaxed to the casual observer, but Tara could see the intensity in his eyes and read the unspoken message he communicated to her from across the room: The ball was in her court. If she wanted him, she would have to make the first move.

Tara took a deep breath and quickly came to a decision. She’d deal with her cousin later and make her understand. She wanted Brandon. And she wasn’t going to give him up. Still holding his gaze, her smile slowly grew wider. His mouth was beginning to turn up in an answering smile, then suddenly his features froze. Tara saw his chest rise and fall as he inhaled deeply, and saw that he was focused on a point over her shoulder.

Puzzled by the quick change in his demeanor, she turned around to see what he was staring at. When she did, a sense of dread clutched her chest, squeezing it until she couldn’t breathe.

“Oh no…” she whispered.

RaShaun stood in the doorway of the rec center glaring at Brandon, and as expected, he was furious. Tara could feel the heat of the ferocious glower he directed towards Brandon, and knew without a doubt, if they were anywhere else other than Haven House, the proverbial shit would be hitting the fan.


RaShaun walked over to Tara, continuing to stare unwaveringly at Brandon the entire time. He reluctantly pulled his eyes away and stabbed a narrowed gaze at Tara. She defensively folded her arms and glared back at him.

“What?” she asked.

“You know what. Don’t think we won’t talk about it as soon as I take care of your boyfriend.”

“For God’s sake, he’s not my–”

“You wanna see me?”

Tara briefly closed her eyes when she heard Brandon’s voice behind her. God, if there was ever a time I needed you…now is it.


Brandon started over to Tara the same time as RaShaun. He wasn’t going to let her take the brunt of RaShaun’s anger. If RaShaun had a problem, he could take it up with him. Tara had nothing to do with this.

RaShaun turned to face Brandon with fire in his eyes and took a step towards him. Through tightly clenched teeth, he growled, “Look at you. I see you’ve finally grown a pair. Mighty bold here in a room full of children. Guess you know you’re safe, but you can’t stay up in here all night.”

Brandon shrugged and took a step forward himself. “Hey, we can go outside now if you want.”

Tara quickly stepped between them. It didn’t seem to bother her that both men dwarfed her in height and outweighed her by at least a hundred pounds each.

She glared at RaShaun. “I am not going to allow you to do this. Not at my center,” she said in a quiet, but firm voice. “What are you doing here anyway? I thought you were out of town until Friday.”

“I was supposed to be, but I left early. I would’ve been here before now to take care of this, but I couldn’t leave any sooner.”

“And by this you mean…” Brandon taunted. RaShaun’s hands balled up into fists.

Tara whipped around and this time glared at Brandon. “Stop it! Now! You know that most of the children here come from violent households or have experienced some type of violence in their lives. If you think I’m going to stand here and let them see it here, you’re both fucking crazy!” She hissed. How dare they!

She stared at Brandon until he looked away, and did the same to RaShaun until he dropped his eyes. By that point, Brenda had made it over to where they stood.

Exhaling a breath now that both men seemed to be backing off a little she told them in a calm voice, “Now, yes, I agree, you both need to talk, and I mean talk,” she emphasized to RaShaun. “But it will not be here. Have I made myself clear?”

They looked at her in silence. RaShaun shot another glare at Brandon and moved back. Tara sighed with relief. Thank God. Tara didn’t know what she would’ve done if they had ignored her.

“You’re right. I’m sorry,” RaShaun told Tara. He cut his eyes at Brandon, seemingly making an effort to cool his temper. But then he saw Brandon looking at him expectedly as if waiting on something.

“What?” he snapped.

Brandon’s jaw worked from the effort it took to keep an even tone. “If you have something to say to me, we can go to Tara’s office. It’s up to you. Out of respect for Tara and where we are, I’m not gon’ fight with you, though.”

RaShaun looked at him warily for a moment before agreeing. “Fine,” he said in a clipped voice, stalking away towards Tara’s office.

Brenda grabbed Brandon’s arm. “Do you think this is a good idea? Maybe you should just leave for now and do this when you’re both calmer.”

“No. We’ll talk now. I’d rather get this over and done with.” He looked at his sister's worried face and mustered a smile. “It’ll be ok.”

“I’m coming with you,” Tara stated.

Brandon’s dark brows pushed down over his eyes the minute the words left her mouth. “No, you’re not.”

“I wasn’t asking.” Tara left him standing there fuming at her stubbornness.

“Dammit!” he cursed under his breath.


“Brenda, it’ll be fine. I promise.” He squeezed her hand and then headed in the direction of Tara’s office. He passed Ava without word and closed the door to Tara’s office behind him.

“Now, what in the world…” Ava grumbled to herself.

First RaShaun had flown by, barely nodding a greeting, then Tara, who just said to hold all of her calls. And now Brandon. When he didn’t give her one of those cutie pie smiles of his…well, she knew something was wrong.


Inside Tara’s office, RaShaun casually leaned against the wall with his arms folded. He looked at Tara when she came in. “I still cannot believe you’re involved with him.”

“I’m not. Not anymore. At least for the moment. And I’m not going to discuss it with you right now.”

RaShaun shook his head then straightened when Brandon came through the door. Both men eyed each other with wary expressions. With Brandon on one side of the room and RaShaun lounging on the other side, Tara stood in the middle between them.

“Before either of you say anything, I want you both to promise me that there will be no fighting.” She made eye contact with each of them. “I won’t have it. I mean it.”

Brandon stared at her for a moment, then looked at RaShaun. “You and I are never going to be able to tolerate one another. My being here has nothing to do with any of you. It’s personal. I told Tara from the beginning, that I had my own reasons for wanting to be here.”

“I’m sure you do. Do you think I’m stupid? There’s always a reason for you doing something; this is no exception, I just haven’t figured out what the reason is yet.” He turned to Tara. “He’s using you. I don’t know why you can’t see that.”


“I did some checking and found out a few things about your boy right here. I bet he didn’t tell you he works as an ‘escort’, dating rich, lonely women for money.” RaShaun’s laugh was intentionally insulting. “He has an agenda, and I have a sneaking suspicion it includes you, Tara. Wake. Up.”


Tara looked at Brandon with a glimmer of uncertainty in her eyes, but Brandon remained silent. He didn’t correct RaShaun's ass backwards assumption and inform him that he had actually owned that agency before recently selling it to a wealthy European company out of Amsterdam.

Demand for that line of work was high, but not all of the ‘dates’ involved sex. Many were just for escort duties, and that was it. Women were just as wealthy and powerful as men nowadays. They didn’t necessary want a relationship, but when they did want companionship, his agency had provided it. The deal he made to sell it yielded a very hefty profit which left him very well off for the rest of his life. That’s how he’d been able to pay for the house Yvonne had sold him with cash…but all of that was none of RaShaun’s business.

Instead, he kept it short and said, “I’m not in that line of work anymore.” He ignored RaShaun’s snort of disbelief. He didn’t have to explain himself to anyone. “And I’m not using Tara. I didn’t even know she worked here when I showed up.”

“RaShaun, he didn’t,” Tara added. “He was just as shocked to see me as I was to see him.” When RaShaun cut his eyes at Tara, her tone rose defensively. “Well, he didn’t.”

“So you just happened to pick this center, out of all the ones you could’ve chosen.” RaShaun’s voice revealed his skepticism.

“His sister is–”

“Tara.” Brandon quietly called her name.


“Baby, I got this, okay?”

Tara snapped her mouth closed and nodded. RaShaun gave her an incredulous look and then rolled his eyes to the ceiling as if he couldn’t believe she was the same Tara he knew.

Tara gave him a quick glance then ignored him and kept her attention on Brandon, who gave her a small smile of thanks before turning back to RaShaun.

“My sister is the Assistant Director of Haven House. She’s actually been after me for a long time to volunteer some of my time here, and to be honest, I fought her every step of the way.”

Brandon hesitated. Not wanting to reveal too much, he chose his words carefully. Unknowingly, his tone carried a twinge of bitterness. “I never could understand why she would choose to be around the very kind of life that we grew up in…the kind of life we fought to get away from. But she would always tell me, she knew these kids well and understood what they were going through because these kids were her…and me. We grew up in foster care and spent the last of our teenage years in a orphanage.”

Brandon cleared his throat. This time when he continued, his voice carried little to no emotion. “I wasn’t too much into giving back. That shit was for the birds, but let’s just say some things happened to make me have a change of heart, so…. here I am.”

Tara glanced at RaShaun, but she wasn’t able to read his expression as he stared at Brandon. She could still feel his intense dislike, but some of the hostility seemed to have left his face. He was quiet and studied Brandon as if judging whether or not he was telling the truth.

“I haven’t had a chance to even tell Tara this much,” Brandon added. “The only reason I’m tellin’ you is so you can hopefully understand this has nothin’ to do with nobody except myself and my sister.”

Just then a quick knock sounded at the door before it opened. Brenda walked in and glanced around at everyone before going to stand by her brother. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t wait any longer.” Her look towards RaShaun was faintly accusing. “I needed to make sure everything was okay.”

Seeing the look she directed at him made RaShaun to frown.

Brandon reluctantly did the introductions “This is my sister, Brenda. Brenda this is–”

“I know who he is.” Then as if unable to help herself she went after RaShaun. “I was just telling Tara that no one is blameless in this entire situation, but it’s interesting that both you and your wife want to put the blame solely on my brother’s shoulders.”

“Brenda.” Brandon softly called her name.

RaShaun shook his head. “Damn. Just got women coming from every direction to defend you, don’t you?” He glanced at Brenda, his look lingering longer than necessary. “Do I know you from somewhere?”

“No, I don’t think we’ve had the displeasure of meeting. Thank goodness.” Unable to help herself, Brenda rolled her eyes hard at him.

RaShaun continued to stare. “You look familiar to me for some reason.” Shrugging it off, he brought his attention back to Brandon. “Look, bottom line, I don’t want my wife upset. I hope you get what I’m saying to you.” His voice lowered threateningly. “Let me know if I need to make it clearer.”

Brandon glanced down at the floor and shook his head. A year or so ago, he would’ve been in RaShaun’s face with a smirk, taunting and mocking him just to fuck with him. RaShaun made it so easy with his temper that half the time he hadn’t been able to help himself. He raised his head and looked RaShaun in the eye.

“I’ve already told you. I didn’t come here to start trouble. I have no intention of upsetting Yvonne.”

“Oh, believe me, you won’t. Because if you do, I’ll put my foot so far up your…”

“RaShaun!” Tara gave him a disapproving scowl.

Brandon couldn’t help it. He gave him a little smirk and looked him up and down. “Whatever….” he muttered under his breath.

RaShaun’s mouth tightened in renewed anger.

“Brandon…” Brenda’s eyes pleaded with him to just leave it alone.

RaShaun shook his head and looked pointedly at Tara. “And you say he’s changed. Just remember, when he’s finished messing with your head, you have no one to blame but yourself.” He opened the door to leave, then almost as an afterthought told her, “By the way. Yvonne told me you’re coming by for dinner Saturday night.” Keeping his eyes on Tara he jerked his head towards Brandon. “Just make sure you leave this motherfucka at home.” Then he slammed out the door.


Brenda left a few minutes after RaShaun, leaving only Brandon and Tara in the office. Dropping down in her chair with a huge sigh of relief, Tara put her elbows on the desk and cradled her head in her hands.

“Thank you, God. Thank you,” she whispered. No bloodshed. She lifted her head and looked at Brandon. “Well, that wasn’t too bad.”

Brandon shrugged. He didn’t want to talk about RaShaun, or Yvonne, or anyone else but the two people left in the room. “Before your…cousin-in-law…so rudely interrupted us out there you looked like there was something you wanted to say to me?” He tilted his head to the side as he captured her eyes. “I’m listening,” he prompted when she remained silent.

“I…” Suddenly Tara felt a little shy and at a loss for words. “Well…” Finally, she just blurted it out. “I miss you.”

Brandon smiled and decided to have a little mercy on her. “I missed you too.”

Tara sighed with relief and felt a little bit more confident. She stood up and walked over to where he was standing. “You did? You missed me?”

Brandon bit his lip as he watched her move. He couldn’t help the way his eyes wandered over the face he’d caught himself picturing throughout the day, or the body he dreamed about being buried deep inside of whenever he closed his eyes at night.

“Yes I did,” he said slowly.

“Brandon, I’m sorry,” Tara whispered. “I guess I just felt so guilty, and I didn’t want to hurt Yvonne, and…well…”

Brandon slid his arms around Tara’s waist and pulled her close to him. Tara rested her hands on his chest and stared at him with watery eyes.

“Hey. I get it. But you can’t continue to live your life for other people at the expense of your own happiness, Tara. I’m not saying this is the best of circumstances, but it is what it is. Neither one of us set out to hurt anyone.”

“I know, but–”

“But nothing. While we’re here miserable about not seeing each other, they’re at home happy and together. I don’t know about you, but something’s not right about that picture.” Brandon smiled at her until she returned the gesture.

“You’re right. Can we go back to the way things were before?” Tara asked.

Brandon hesitated then shook his head, his expression grim. “I really don’t think that would be a good idea. Why would we want to go back to the way things were before?”

“Well…I, uh, just assumed, that…” She searched Brandon’s eyes, trying to get a clue as to what he was thinking, what he wanted.

“You assumed? You know what they say when you assume things, don’t you? You make an ASS out of U and ME.”

Tara’s mouth fell open. She tried to take a step back. Maybe she had read the signals wrong.

Brandon tried to keep a straight face when he took note of her stricken expression, but he couldn’t. Teeth flashing brilliantly against his smooth caramel skin, he burst out laughing and reached out to pull her back to him.

He bent his knees slightly to look her in the eye. “I’m joking.”

Tara slapped him on the arm. “That wasn’t funny! I thought you were serious. You ass! You play too much!”

Brandon wrapped his arms around her and hugged her, rocking slightly from side to side. Tara slid her arms around his waist and buried her nose in his neck. She loved the way he always smelled so good.

“Can I ask you a question?” Tara looked up at him, wanting to see his face when he answered. “Were you really an escort?”

Brandon’s body stiffened. His facial features closed up in an expression she was beginning to recognize as cautious, almost protective.

“I’m not judging you,” Tara said in a gentle voice. “Just…curious.”

“Not judging, huh? So if I told you that everything RaShaun said was true, that yeah, I used to be an escort who…did things with women for money…you’re sayin’ that wouldn’t change your opinion of me?”

“Well…no. I didn’t say that. There’s no way something like that couldn’t change the way I see you, Brandon.”

His eyes cooled a bit before his lashes swept down to try and hide his reaction. “That’s what I thought.” Brandon’s mouth twisted bitterly.
“It’s cool, tho’. Can’t really say I’m surprised.”

“I am. Surprised, I mean. I never, ever thought I could find you any sexier, but I do.”

Brandon’s eyebrows quickly bunched together. “What?”

“I am so hot for you, right now. You have no idea.”

For a moment, Brandon looked confused as if trying to reconcile what he’d heard to what he thought she’d meant. Once he did, the smile started in his eyes. They squinted and crinkled at the corners until the grin reached his mouth.

“Oh really…”

Tara snuggled closer, raising her head to kiss his chin. “Mmhm.”

“Hmph. Okay. Guess I’ll admit I didn’t see that coming.”

“Good. Glad to know I can throw you off balance once in a while.”

“Yeah, I ain’t gon’ lie. That definitely caused me to stumble a bit,” he laughed. “Thought you was gettin’ ready to kick me to the curb…again.”

“You’re not getting away from me that easily.” They smiled at one another for several seconds before Tara asked, “So, did you really miss me?” she asked.

“I missed the hell outta you, girl, but now I got a question. What changed your mind about wantin’ to be with me? You were so adamant about us not being together a couple of days ago. And then there’s still going to be the problem with Yvonne. Tara, I hate that I’m the cause of tension between you two.”

“Let me handle Yvonne and RaShaun. I don’t know how or when, but you got under my skin, Brandon Valentine. Whatever this is between us, I want to explore it further.” Tara’s eyes dropped to his lips and lingered there before she raised her eyes back to his. “I hope you do too.”

His amusement from a moment ago faded. His hands slipped down to her hips and held her firmly against him. “I’m telling you now, I want to be more than just some fuck buddy. I mean, that part of the relationship is cool and all, but I’m at a point in my life where I want more. You okay with that?”

Smiling, Tara nodded. “Uh-huh.”

“Good. So we’re gonna try to do this then, right?”

Again she nodded. “Yes.”

Her eyes dropped down to his lips again. She slid arms from around his waist and brought them up around his neck. Standing on tiptoe, Tara pulled his lips down to hers and gave him a soft kiss, which Brandon deepened by pressing his lips firmly against hers and slipping his tongue inside her mouth. Tara released a long sigh and melted against him, returning the kiss with hungry enthusiasm.

When their mouths reluctantly separated, Brandon caught his breath as Tara did a little grind against his crotch area. “See, there you go. Don’t start nothin’ you don’t intend on finishing.”

“What makes you think I’m not going to finish it?” she asked slyly.

Brandon’s brow shot up. He glanced at the desk. “Now?”

Tara burst out laughing. “The desk again? So much for imagination.”

“So you sayin’ I’m boring, is that it? Okay,” he nodded. Stepping back, he grabbed her hand and pulled her behind him towards the door. “Tell you what. Why don’t we get out of here and go to your place, and I’ll show you just how boring I really am.”

Tara laughed and held back. “I can’t. I have something I have to do.” Slipping her hand free of his, she went to grab her purse from her desk.

Brandon frowned and looked down at the erection straining against his zipper, then back up to her. True they hadn’t been with each other very many times, but in that short amount of time he’d come to know her body well. She wanted this just as much as he did, so what was so important that she wanted to put it off. His baffled expression told her just that.

“Alright. You got somethin’ to do that’s more important than you and me finishing what we started here?”


Tara walked past him and opened the door, but he reached in front of her and closed it. Tara turned around and leaned back against it as she stared up at him with an innocent expression. Brandon waited with an expectant look on his face. When no explanation was forthcoming, he leaned forward with his forearm resting on the side of head and bent down until his face was inches away from hers.



“Don’t play with me, baby. Especially not now. I want you. Bad. Let’s not play games.”

“I’m not. But right not I need to get some things straight between myself and my cousin once and for all. I don’t want that hanging over us, so I’m headed over there now to, what was it you told me when you slammed out of here the other night, handle my business.”

Brandon pushed away from her and got quiet. It wasn’t the reaction she expected.

Tara frowned. “What’s wrong? I thought you’d be happy. I want us to start off with a clean slate, Brandon. No drama.”

Brandon’s gut suddenly grew tight, as if it was tying itself up into tight knots. He thought about Terri and Kiki. His fucking life was nothing but drama.

“Brandon?” Tara called his name, waiting on him to answer.

“What’s wrong is that the last time you talked to Yvonne, I ended up getting a phone call telling me you didn’t want to see me again. How do I know that’s not gonna happen again?”

Staring him deep in the eye, Tara grabbed a handful of the front of his shirt and yanked him to her. “You know because I’m telling you it’s not, that’s how. Remember, the last time I told you if there was a choice to make, I’d choose family. This time I’m telling you, I’m choosing us.” She pulled him down further and gave him a long, thorough kiss. When she released his lips, Brandon gave her that slow, sexy, familiar smile.

“Well, damn. Then go handle your business, woman.”


Yvonne stood in the doorway of the bathroom as RaShaun gave Faith her evening bath. She smiled at the mess they were making, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She loved the relationship the two of them had, and she never forgot how blessed they were to have Faith in their lives.

She’d been surprised, but happy, when RaShaun walked in the house a couple of hours ago, and Faith had been a bundle of energy ever since. When she tried to ask him about being home two days early, he’d leaned down and kissed her until she almost forgot the question. Then he’d reached for his daughter. The time had passed quickly after that. During dinner, they’d talked about his trip and discussed the doctor’s appointment she’d had while he was away.

Faith’s squeal of laughter brought her attention back to them. Yvonne smiled as RaShaun wrapped Faith up in a big fluffy towel and finished drying her off. After he lotioned and powdered her down, he told her she smelled just like a little princess should. He brought her to Yvonne so that she could kiss her good night. While he took Faith to her room to tuck her in, Yvonne went to the kitchen to start stacking the dishes in the dishwasher.

RaShaun entered the kitchen about fifteen minutes later, telling her with a smile that Faith was so worn out from playing that she fallen asleep almost the second her head hit the pillow.

“Yes she was so excited when she saw you,” Yvonne grinned.

“I was only gone for a few days, but I missed my girls.” Leaning against the counter, he stared off into the distance before realizing what Yvonne was doing. “Hey, I told you I’d get that. You’re supposed to be relaxing. That was the whole purpose of me getting Faith ready for bed.”

“I appreciate it, babe, but there weren’t that many dishes. I’m finished now anyway.” Yvonne watched RaShaun open the refrigerator and take out a bottle of water. She wiped her hands on the dishtowel and casually asked, “So honey, what time did you say you made it in?”

RaShaun shrugged. “A little while before I got here.”

Yvonne’s eyes narrowed at his avoidance of the question. “Did you come straight home from the airport?”

“Mmmm. More or less.”

Yvonne tossed the dishtowel on the counter. “You went to Haven House, didn’t you? To look for Brandon.”

RaShaun stared at her and screwed the top on the water. He went back to the fridge. He was gonna need a beer for this conversation.

“Shaun! Why did you do that? I told you there was no need.”

“I know. I just wanted to reiterate and reinforce whatever you said. You know. Back up.”

“I knew you were acting too calm about the whole situation.” She paused. “Well, what happened? Please don’t tell me you made a scene, or worse, fought with him.”

“Vonnie, of course not.”

RaShaun avoided her gaze and grabbed her hand, leading her to the family room. They sat down on the couch with Yvonne curled up under his arm. “He and I talked. Got some things out in the open. I told him to stay away from my family or else I’d put my foot in his ass.”

“And you promise you two didn’t get into it?”

“I promise.”

“I assume Tara was there.”

“Yeah. She was.” RaShaun shook his head as he remembered how protective Tara seemed towards Brandon. “You’re right, she’s lost her damn mind.”

“I did not say she’d lost her mind!”

RaShaun grinned and shrugged.

“Brandon just manipulated her until he got what he wanted,” Yvonne said in defense of her cousin. “I’m not sure what his motives are, but I don’t trust him.”

“I know you said she called him and told him it was over, but I got the feelings things were still hot and heavy.”

Yvonne frowned and sat up. “What do you mean? I heard her tell him they were through myself.”

RaShaun hunched his shoulders. “Babe, all I can tell you is all the signs were there. The looks, the quick smiles…I could barely say a word to him without her jumping to his defense.” RaShaun grew quiet, looking as if he was lost deep in thought.

“What is it?” Yvonne asked.

“I’m not sure, to be honest. I’m just thinking that I’ve never seen Tara act that way with anyone before. She really seems to like him.”

“Shaun, we both know Brandon can maneuver any situation to his advantage. I don’t want her hurt.”

Again RaShaun remained quiet.

“Okay. What is wrong with you?” Yvonne asked again.

Shaun shook his head, as if reluctant to put his thoughts into words. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I just got the feeling that he’s into her as much as she’s into him.”

Yvonne held a hand up to stop him. “Okay, where is my husband and what have you done with him? Are you sick?” She felt his forehead. “You don’t have a fever. I cannot believe you just said that.”

“Vonnie, come on. You know I wouldn’t admit something like that lightly. I don’t want Tara hurt anymore than you do, but honey I got the feeling he was being sincere….or as sincere as Brandon can be,” he added taking a swallow of his beer.

Yvonne opened her mouth to reply, but the doorbell rang before she could say anything. They both frowned and looked at each other.

“Are you expecting somebody?” Yvonne asked.

RaShaun got up. “No. Be right back.”

Yvonne sat back and closed her eyes. Seconds later she heard Tara’s irritated voice.

“RaShaun, I know you think you’re funny, but you’re not!”

Yvonne’s eyes opened as watched Tara and RaShaun come back into the room.

“What? I just asked if you had permission from your boyfriend to come over?” RaShaun said innocently, then laughed in satisfaction as Tara gave him the finger.

Yvonne shook her head at her husband. He was always trying to provoke Tara and she usually fell for it. Neither of them had a sibling, so they relished the bickering, which was their norm.

Tara put her hands on her hips, and pointed at RaShaun. “Did he tell you what he did?”

“Yes, but T., he was just–”

“But T. nothing. He came in there like he was in the wild, wild, west, or some shit, inviting Brandon to a shootout! Ridiculous!”

Yvonne gave her husband a look of reprimand. “RaShaun, you said you didn’t make a scene.”

“I didn’t.” RaShaun shrugged and sat down on the arm of the chair with his arms folded and looked at Tara. He could almost see the steam coming out of her ears.

“Only because I threatened to kick yours and Brandon’s asses if you fought in front of my kids.”

“Come on, I never would’ve taken it that far.”

“You shouldn’t have even have brought your happy ass up there to begin with, Rah. I’ve tried to tell both of you that he’s changed, but you don’t want to hear that.”

“And you act like you don’t remember how he was a year and a half ago,” Yvonne snapped.

“That’s right, Vonnie, a year and a half ago. You don’t think people can change and grow up? He doesn’t even get the benefit of the doubt?”

“Tara please! The Brandon we knew–”

“Exactly! The Brandon you knew! He’s not the same person. And anyway, give me a little credit. Do you really think I’d be in a relationship with an asshole like the person he was back then?” Tara rolled her eyes at both of them.

Without moving his head, RaShaun slanted a look at his wife out of the corner of his eye. Yvonne stood up and folded her arms as she gave Tara a direct stare, which Tara returned…with attitude.

RaShaun lowered his head. Here we go.

“What do you mean ‘relationship’?” Yvonne asked.

“Exactly what I said.” Tara replied in a sassy voice, but almost immediately, her face softened. “Yvonne, I like him. You don’t have to like it, but I don’t want this to come between us.”


“No, Yvonne.” Tara stepped forward and took Yvonne’s hands in hers. “You’re more than my cousin, you’re my sister. And sisters are there for one another, no matter what. After you left RaShaun and came to stay with me, you know how big a mistake I thought you were making.”

“How could I not know, you were so vocal in telling me what an idiot I was.” A hint of a smile touched Yvonne’s face. “You told me your feelings on the situation, gave me advice…” Yvonne reluctantly finished the sentence. “And then let me make my own decision.”

They looked at one another as a look of understanding passed between them.

Yvonne reached out and gave Tara a hug. “Fine. Just don’t say I didn’t tell you so.”

Tara laughed. “Thank you, cousin.”

“Oh, so now I’m a cousin again,” Yvonne teased her. “What happened to being your sister?”

Tara picked up her purse and kissed her on the cheek. After leaning over and hugging RaShaun goodbye, they all walked to the door. Before she left, Tara turned around as if she’d forgotten something.

“Oh! Is dinner still on for tomorrow?”

“Yes, I have the steaks marinating now.”

“Good. But take another one out if you don’t mind.”

RaShaun’s eyes narrowed when he saw the mischievous expression in Tara’s eyes. He slowly shook his head. “No, Tara.”

“Right,” Yvonne laughed. “We are not wasting a perfectly good steak. You can barely eat one.”

“Oh. It’s not for me.” She turned and hurried to her car. When she opened it, she looked back and called out, “It’s for Brandon. Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

RaShaun started walking towards Tara but she quickly hopped in the car and sped off. The little minx, he fumed, leading a shocked Yvonne back inside the house.

“Wait. What just happened?” she asked “How…how did she do that?”

“You’re out of practice, sweetie. She set you us from the minute she walked in.”

Yvonne looked at him, still somewhat in a daze. “And we call Brandon a manipulator.”


Brandon paced back and forth in his living room as he waited for Tara. He looked around again to make sure everything was perfect.

The lights were dimmed and soft music played in the background. He’d moved his sofa and table to accommodate the large fur blanket he’d spread in the middle of the living room, along with pillows of all sizes. Candles flickered throughout the room, allowing their seductive fragrance to permeate the room. A bottle of wine rested in an ice bucket beside the blanket, and he’d just taken out a covered tray filled with fruits, cheeses, and chocolate covered strawberries.

Wondering what was taking her so long, Brandon glanced down at his watch for the tenth time in as many minutes. Maybe I should call her…

No. He’d give her a few more minutes, then he’d call. Rubbing his hands together, he’d just started his pacing again when his cell phone rang. “Finally!” he said under his breath before answering it. “Hey, you on your way?”


Brandon grimaced. “Oh. ‘Sup Bren.”

“‘Sup Bren’? Well excuse the hell out of me.” Brenda tried not to laugh. “She hasn’t made it yet, huh?”

“Nope. And to be honest, I’m beginning to get a little nervous.”

“She’s coming, big brother.”

“You know what happened last time she talked to Yvonne. She…” Brandon paused when he heard a soft knock on the door. “Wait. I think that’s her. Bye, sis. Talk to you later.”

Brandon hung up the phone without giving Brenda a chance to answer. His long legs quickly took him to the door. He placed with his hand on the doorknob and took a deep breath before opening the door. He tried to look cool and calm, but his eyes lit up the moment he saw her.

Tara smiled, and without hesitating, walked directly into his arms. Brandon held her to him and closed the door.

“You thought I wasn’t coming, didn’t ya’?” she grinned.

“Who, me? Nah, baby. I didn’t doubt you at all,” Brandon said with a straight face before he broke out into a smile.

“Good. Because wild horses wouldn’t have been able to keep me away.” Tara turned her lips up to his in a silent invitation and sighed softly when Brandon complied.

Tara’s body melted against him. Brandon was such a good kisser. He was also the sexiest man she’d ever met, and when it came to making love, his confidence and desire to please came through in everything he did, especially those lips of his.

“Mmmm. Well I guess that was worth waiting for,” Brandon breathed, his eyes lazy with his desire for her.

“You guess?”

Brandon smiled in a way that had her ready to rip his clothes off his fine body. “I’ve been thinking about you all day. I don’t want to wait another second to have you.”

“Good. You won’t have to.” Tara stepped back and started unbuttoning her blouse. She watched him watching her the entire time and noticed the way his throat worked up and down as he swallowed.

Brandon’s sharp gaze was riveted to each button, willing them to work themselves loose quicker. Finally, she pulled the blouse from her shoulders and let it drop to the floor.

His hungry eyes devoured the tops of her breasts, which practically overflowed out of the cups of the sheer lavender bra. The dark nipples that stood at attention and teased him through the material mesmerized him. When her hands moved to her skirt, no amount of money in the world could’ve made him look away.

Tara hooked her thumbs on each side of her skirt and did a little shimmy twist movement with her hips to help her get the snug material over her very generous derriere. Brandon stood there, tense and ready, in case his assistance was needed. He took a step towards her, but Tara held up a finger and slowly shook it from side, effectively stopping him in his tracks.

“Ah, ah, ahhh. Right now, you can look…and I’ll tell you when you can touch.”

Brandon’s stiff dick was ready to take control and get to that sweet spot of hers that was calling his name, but he’d be patient and play her little game. For now. He took a couple of steps back, but his eyes promised retribution.

Tara let the skirt drop to the floor and raised each stiletto-clad foot one at a time to step out of it. She slowly and precisely hooked a finger under the string of the thong sitting low on her hips and gave it a gentle tug upwards.

Brandon agonized groans told her how much he wanted her. His eager eyes lowered to the V formation of her sex between her thick brown thighs. “Tara….”

Her name came out as a hoarse plea. When she turned around and looked at the area where he’d placed the blanket and wine, the sound that escaped him could only be described as a man in pain from wanting, no craving, something as if his life depended on it.

Even when they hadn’t been able to stand the ground the other walked on, he’d never been able to stop himself from watching her walk out of a room. The matching lavender thong she wore showed off her round, firm ass to perfection. Brandon’s dick was so hard and so ready. He was determined to have her face down and ass up before the night was over with.

Tara casually walked around the living room, looking at and touching the expensive sculptures and vases he’d collected throughout the years.

“You have a very nice home, baby. Very modern and classy, but warm.”

Brandon clenched his teeth to stop from telling her he didn’t give a fuck whether or not she approved of the décor. He was only going to be able to tolerate this little game of hers for so long, then he’d take matters into his own hands. As if reading his thoughts, Tara turned towards him and beckoned him with her finger to come to her.

The corner of his mouth lifted as he did as she requested. Well. Maybe he could put up with it for a little while longer. He pulled his shirt out of his pants and began to unbutton it. He haphazardly threw it on the sofa. When he stood in front of her she pushed his hands away from his belt and reached out to palm his erection through his pants. She leaned forward and pressed little butterfly kisses on his chest and licked his beaded nipples.

“Do you know I couldn’t sleep at night for thinking about you…and this?” She squeezed his dick firmly through his pants and rubbed the length of it up and down before she unbuckled and unzipped his pants. “Can I taste it, baby? Would you mind?”

He gave her his answer by putting his hand on her shoulder and pushing her down south. She smiled and pulled his pants and underwear down to his knees then began placing wet, open mouthed kisses up one side of his shaft then down the other. Tara licked the tip of tongue back and forth over the slit, tasting the generous amount of pre-cum that oozed out. Her hand curved around his length, stroking him with just the right grip.

Brandon bit down hard on his lip. He was almost at his breaking point. “Tara…that feels good, baby.”

Tara looked up and him as she slowly wrapped her lips around the head of his dick and suctioned him into her mouth one precious inch at a time. Her jaws caved in slightly as she sucked him deeper and deeper before sliding his dick out of her mouth. Using her tongue, she licked and circled around his balls, popping them into her mouth and gently sucking them before noisily slurping her way back up to his dickhead.

“Shit…” Brandon’s hands clenched in Tara’s hair and pulled her back. He quickly removed his shoes and the rest of his clothes and pushed her down on the blanket. He made short work of removing her bra and thong. Covering his body with hers, he moaned from the contact of finally feeling her naked skin against his.

“You’re driving me crazy, you know that?” he said a minute before he plunged his tongue deep into her mouth, faintly tasting his flavor.

They devoured each other in desperation, teeth nipping at lips, tongues battling tongues. Gone was the teasing playfulness. Tara wanted him to feel him inside of her now. She pushed her hands upwards on his shoulders and pushed him back. Brandon flipped them over so that he was lying on his back and Tara straddled above him.

Continuing to kiss her, Brandon reached under the pillow and brought out a condom to give to her. He watched as she quickly tore it open and rolled it down over his dick. Once she was done, he lifted her by the waist and guided her down his thick length. They both cried out loud, verbally expressing the extent of their arousal every inch of the way.

“Brandon, you feel so good. You’re so…so deep inside of me,” Tara gasped.

Brandon groaned at her words and raised his hips upward as he pulled her down, closing his eyes as he felt her tightness surrounding him. No woman had ever made him feel as good as Tara did.

She moved sensuously above him, her sinewy body riding him as if she were taming a runaway bronco. Brandon moved just as wild and restless as one too.

“Ah, yes Tara, don’t stop baby. Damn!” Brandon’s hands rested on her waist, letting her do her thing. He gritted his teeth tight from the effort it took to stop him from shooting his load.

“Is all this dick yours, Tara?”

“Mmm…yes baby….this is my dick…all of it.”

“Then ride it like it’s yours. Let me know you want it.”

Spurred into action, Tara surged on his dick with a vengeance, moving up and down, fucking him the way he wanted her to fuck him. She plunged down his length again and again. Screaming his name, she threw her head back as she reached her peak. Brandon came at the same time, lifting his hips and filling the condom up with cum that had been building up for days from wanting her and being denied what was his.

Breathing hard and body trembling, Tara collapsed on top of him. She rested her head on his shoulder, and for several long minutes, neither of them uttered a word. Brandon moved his hand down and cupped her ass, squeezing the fullness, before moving his hands up to softly caress her body.

“That felt good, baby,” he said in a low and lazy voice.

“Yeah. It did.”

Brandon kissed the top of her head and squeezed her tight before sliding her off him and onto the rug. Standing, he went to the half-bath right off the foyer and disposed of the condom before going back to lie beside Tara. Pulling her into his arms, they both closed their eyes as exhaustion overtook them stemming from a combination of not having slept the last few days as well as from the intensity of their lovemaking.

About thirty minutes later, Tara’s eyes fluttered open. She sighed in contentment and snuggled closer in Brandon’s arms. She smiled when felt his dick jump as if sensing she was ready for round two. “I see one part of your anatomy is waking up, even if you’re not,” she whispered.

His chest rumbled beneath her cheek as he laughed. “That’s one part you don’t ever have to worry about, baby. He stays on standby for whenever he’s needed.”

Tara’s laughter joined his, loving this relaxed side of him. Maybe this would be a good time to let him know…


“Baby?” She rubbed her hand over the fine hairs on his chest. Continuing her journey, her fingers slid to his stomach and then on to his rapidly hardening dick.

“Mmmmm…yeah, baby?”

“I hope you’re not going to mind but I made plans for us tomorrow.” Tara stroked him steadily, lightly sliding her thumb over the tip of his dick and using the clear precum as a lubricant.

Brandon inhaled, groaning with pleasure. “Yeah. Just like that, Tara.”

“Did you hear me?” she asked softly

“Yeah, you made plans for us. Good.” The words came out as a thick rumble.

“So you don’t mind?”

“Uh-uh. Where we goin’?” But it was obvious from his tone that he didn’t care where they went as long as she didn’t stop stroking him the way she was doing.

“Well…RaShaun and Vonnie invited you to come to their house for dinner with me tomorrow.” Tara held her breath as soon as she blurted out the answer.

Brandon had been pushing himself in and out of her talented little hand, quietly moaning her name, but when he heard Tara’s abrupt and awkward invitation, he got completely still. With the quickness of a rattler’s strike, he reached down and grabbed her wrist that was on its way to stroking him towards a pleasurable end.

He leaned up and pushed her on her back so that he could stare directly in her eyes. “What did you say?”

“I said Tara and Rah invited you to come to dinner tomorrow night.”

“That’s what I thought you said,” Brandon sighed. “Baby, tell me you not serious.”

Tara nodded and gave him the same innocent smile she’d given RaShaun and Yvonne.

“Aw hell no! Absolutely not!” Brandon shook his head, but when he started to get up, Tara rolled him over on his back again.

Brandon’s expression was deadly serious. “Tara, I said no and I meant it. It’s not happenin’.”

“Okay, baby. I heard you.” Holding his eyes with hers, she kept the serene smile on her face and slowly inched down his body. It was clear what her end destination was.

Brandon clenched his teeth tight. “Tara. Tara, I’m not playin’. Tara. Tar–Ughhhh…” He closed his eyes and threw his head back when her mouth found its pulsating eight-inch target.

“Awwww, shhhhit…” he moaned. “Shit. Shit. Shit!”


The moment he felt Tara’s mouth on him, Brandon knew he was in trouble. He opened his eyes and watched her holding his dick at the base while her tongue licked the length of his chocolate stick. Her tongue slowly swiped all the way to the top and circled the head of his dick before repeating the movement. She tilted her head as if she were licking around a cone and trying to stop the melting ice-cream from dribbling down the side. It felt like…fuck, he wasn’t gon’ lie, it felt like he was in heaven gettin’ blessed for a job well done on earth.

His attention was momentarily caught by Tara’s expression. A look of pure enjoyment was etched on her face, almost as if she were fulfilling an innate desire she never wanted to end. Her eyes, half-closed and seductive, stared at him the entire time as her warm, wet mouth, and full, pouty lips slid down the veins of his thick shaft. Damn. He seriously wondered what he’d ever done to deserve such perfection as her? Maybe it was a sign that things in his life were shifting and changing for the better.

Brandon’s head slowly dropped back to the floor. Closing his eyes again, he relaxed and enjoyed the blowjob of a lifetime, and that was no exaggeration. He’d never been one to over romanticize sex, but with Tara it was different than anything he’d ever indulged in. It was hard to explain but there was something extremely intimate about it. Sex with Tara made him feel vulnerable. Exposed. To be honest, the feeling was a little intimidating, but it was also a freeing experience.

Speaking of which, Tara had now worked the customized mouth massage into a nice, easy rhythm. Brandon knew his eruption was just moments away.

“Tara…baby, I’m gettin’ ready to come.”

Although he prayed she would swallow the ample amount of pleasure he was about to release, he still wanted to give her a choice. When she moaned and started jacking his grade-A meat faster with her hand while increasing the speed at which her lips vigorously worked his pole, he let out a silent prayer of thanks. Reaching down to grab a handful of her thick, curly hair, Brandon’s hips pumped faster and deeper in her mouth three or four more times until he erupted like an active volcano.

“Ughhhhh…Awww, yessss….” he hissed. Brandon held her head still to receive his juicy flavor. “Tara…Mmmm…”

His thick, sticky liquid gushed in spurts in steady intervals, lubricating her mouth and flowing down throat. His moans became more guttural when she swallowed, squeezing his pulsating flesh with her mouth and tongue muscles. For the next three to five seconds, Brandon transcended to another level where the pleasure he felt was unparalleled. It was just that good.

When he released the last of his seed, Brandon’s weakened body collapsed on the floor. Completely satisfied, he closed his eyes and tried to catch his breath.

Tara released him from her mouth and kissed her way upwards, over his stomach and chest to snuggle contentedly in his arms again.

Brandon held her close and kissed her forehead. “Woman, that mouth of yours needs to come with a warning.”

Tara giggled softly. “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

“Believe me, that’s an understatement,” he said between harsh breaths. “I wish I could think of a more appropriate word to describe it but right now my brain is a jumbled ball of mush.”

Tara lips rained light kisses over his chest before peering up at him. “That’s okay. I feel the same way every time you make me feel good. I just wish…”

When the rest of her sentence trailed off with a deep sigh, he asked, “You wish what?”

“Well…do you think you can at least consider going to dinner at Yvonne’s house tomorrow? I know it’s a lot to ask and you don’t have to give me an answer now–”

“What time?” he asked, cutting in on her long, drawn out explanation.

A couple of beats passed before Tara answered in a hushed tone. She almost sounded like she was holding her breath. “Seven o’clock.”


Tara lifted her head to stare at him in shock. “Okay?" 

“Yeah. If it’s that important to you, I’ll go.”

“You will?”

Brandon smiled at her expression of disbelief. “Mmhm.”

“Thank you, baby. I appreciate you doing this for me.”

“And I appreciate what you just did for me,” Brandon teased with a lazy chuckle. “You just don’t know how much I appreciate it.”

He kissed her head again before his heavy lids closed. Truth be told, she could’ve asked him for anything at that moment and he would’ve done it or died trying. Brandon was well aware that she had used sex to get her way, but he didn’t care. He could put up with a couple of hours at the Patterson’s house for Tara. Hell, he was betting on her showing her “appreciation” again afterwards when they got back to his place. As far as he was concerned the trade off was more than worth it. And so was Tara.


The next evening, Tara and Brandon pulled up in RaShaun and Yvonne’s driveway. Tara’s eyes narrowed when she saw the car that was already parked in front of them.

What was Quincy doing there? Dammit RaShaun!

She looked at Brandon out of the corner of his eye. Should she tell him?

Probably. But she knew if she did, there was no way he’d go through with this. It was bad enough knowing that RaShaun held such hostility towards him, but to have to deal with Quincy tonight as well? He was just as bad as Rah. Tara came to a split second decision and shook her head to herself…and prayed.

Brandon rounded the front of the car and opened Tara’s door. She was still a little shocked that he had actually agreed to come. She sighed in pleasure at the memory of how she’d thanked him for the rest of the night until they’d fallen into an exhausted sleep.

“Just what are you smilin’ at?” Brandon asked, but his lips mirrored hers because he knew exactly what she was thinking about.

Tara stepped out and gave him a quick kiss. “Oh, I think you know.”

He leaned down and kissed her again before taking her hand. “A’ight, let’s hurry up and get this over and done with. You still have some makin’ up to do with me,” he grinned.

Tara’s smile turned to a nervous grimace as they passed Quincy’s car on the way to the front door. Wait until I get my hands on you, Rah. And Vonnie would hear a few choice words from her as well. She could’ve at least called and given her a heads up.

Tara knocked on the door and fixed a smile on her face as it swung open. RaShaun stood in the doorway, his eyes immediately going to Brandon’s in silent warning. Brandon shook his head, and cut his eyes away from RaShaun.

“Uh, can we come in?” Tara said with a hint of the irritation she was feeling towards him clearly in her voice.

RaShaun finally dragged his eyes away from Brandon and looked at Tara. He stepped back to allow them in. Once inside, she gave him the bottle of wine she’d picked up. Because of his little stunt inviting Quincy, she wished she’d opted for the cheapest she could find instead of the expensive one she’d purchased as a way to thank them.

“Yvonne’s in the kitchen,” RaShaun said. He gave Brandon one last glared before turning and leading the way. Once they got to the kitchen they found Yvonne sitting at the table talking to Quincy’s wife, Gina.

“Babe, Tara’s here.”

Yvonne’s eyes darted to Brandon before giving Tara a kiss on the cheek. She ignored the question in Tara’s eye and looked at Brandon again.


“Hey, Yvonne. Thanks for inviting me. How are you?”

RaShaun snorted loudly. Brandon’s mouth tightened in irritation, but he determinedly ignored him and kept his eyes on Yvonne. For Tara’s sake, he was not gonna let RaShaun provoke him tonight. The only reason he agreed to come was because he knew how important it was to Tara. Even though he’d put on a show about not wanting to come when she first asked him, he’d known almost from the moment she brought it up that he would do it. He was discovering that he was finding it hard to deny her anything.

Yvonne introduced the woman sitting on the barstool beside her. Tara held her breath. Brandon’s eyes studied the woman, as if trying to place her.

“Brandon, this is our friend, Gina. Gina, Brandon.”

Brandon smiled and reached over to shake Gina’s hand. “Nice to meet you, Gina.”

“You as well.”

They all turned when they heard another voice from behind them by the French doors where RaShaun was standing.

“Damn, Rah. So you wasn't lying. He’s back.”


Quincy came in and stopped beside RaShaun. Both of them stood staring at Brandon as if they couldn’t believe he actually had the nerve to show up.

“Told ya’,” RaShaun answered.

Brandon slowly turned his head and glared at Tara, willing her to look at him. His eyes promised her that she would definitely hear about this later. Tara averted her eyes, looking everywhere except at him.

“Quincy, I didn’t know that you were going to be here,” she said with false gaiety through clenched teeth. She looked at Yvonne who suddenly became busy preparing the salad on the large island in the middle of the kitchen.

“Oh, we invited him and Gina at the last minute since you took it upon yourself to increase the guest list.” RaShaun met her furious eyes with a look of unaffected calm.

“RaShaun.” Yvonne called his name out in a quiet warning.

Brandon turned squarely to face Tara, this time not letting her avoid his eyes. “What does he mean you took it upon yourself? I thought you said…” he bit off the rest of what he was going to say as anger overtook him.

Taking pity on her cousin, Yvonne wiped her hands on a dishtowel and walked over to them. “Brandon, what he means is that if it’s important to Tara to have you over, then its okay with us.” The smile she gave him was forced but it was obvious she was trying to make an effort. “Also, RaShaun’s parents flew in to surprise us this morning, so they’re going to be here as well. They took Faith out with them to see a friend of theirs who lives here. They should be back shortly.”

Tara gave Yvonne a grateful look. Brandon, however, was still far from convinced on whether or not he should stay. RaShaun’s detective friend and his parents? He sent a look Tara’s way again, letting her know she was not off the hook. Not by a long shot. However, he nodded his appreciation to Yvonne.

Yvonne turned to RaShaun. “Since we all know the situation here, there’s no need to pretend. RaShaun, you promised you would be civil, so would you remember that, honey? Please?”

RaShaun looked at his wife. “Fine.” he muttered reluctantly under his breath before turning to Brandon and asking grudgingly, “Would you like a beer?”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

“Come on. I have them in a cooler outside, and I need to check on the steaks.” It wasn’t the politest of offers, but it would have to do. He and Quincy left out and went to the backyard.

Brandon looked at Tara again before following them. Here we go.


Once outside, RaShaun grabbed a beer out of the cooler and handed it to Brandon. He caught Quincy’s eye before going to the grill to check his steaks. Yeah, he’d promised Yvonne that he would be cordial…but Quincy hadn’t.

Quincy read the look and ran with it. He folded his arms and eyed Brandon up and down. “So…you’re dating Tara now, huh?”

Brandon returned Quincy’s stare, dislike clearly evident in his expression. He hadn’t forgotten how Quincy had influenced the police that day in the park when he and RaShaun had fought. Even though RaShaun had thrown the first punch, by the time Quincy had finished putting a spin on his version of events, they were ready to arrest Brandon as well as RaShaun if he decided to proceed with the complaint.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but yeah. I am.”

Quincy raised an eyebrow, then turned around to look at RaShaun. He lowered his voice, but still spoke loud enough for Brandon to hear him. “You hear this cocky motherfucka, Rah? ‘Not that it’s any of my business’. Who the fuck he think he talkin’ to?”

RaShaun looked back at Brandon, then at Quincy and hunched his shoulders. “I couldn’t tell ya Q., because he damn sure isn’t talking to me.”

“Hmph,” Quincy grunted, turning back to Brandon. “Son, let me tell you something. Anything that happens with my man here and his family is my business. And Tara is part of his family so, yeah, that makes it my business.”

Brandon’s eyes narrowed. “Well, let me tell you something…son. Tara is a grown ass woman, so don’t worry about her. I got that. And as for me, I sure as hell don’t answer to nobody. So I appreciate your concern. Thanks…but no thanks.”

Brandon held Quincy’s stare for a few more seconds before nonchalantly sitting down in one of the chairs on the patio. Placing his beer on the table beside him, he looked at his phone when he heard it buzz. Brenda had sent him a text. Ignoring RaShaun and Quincy, he started typing a reply.

RaShaun stared at Brandon. Forgetting the promise he’d made to Yvonne, he said, “Q., don’t sweat it, man. Tara’s eventually going to realize she’s too good for him anyway. Let’s be real. What exactly do you think he has to offer a woman like Tara anyway? Not a got damn thing.”


Brandon’s fingers stilled in the middle of typing the text. He lifted his head to look up at RaShaun. Propping his elbow on the arm of the chair and placing his finger over his mouth, he leaned back in the chair.

The animosity radiating from both RaShaun and Quincy was unmistakable. Hell, Brandon could even understand it, but that didn’t mean he was going to sit there and meekly take it. 


To make things worse, their comments about Tara had hit a sore spot, because deep down inside, he’d been wondering the same thing. What did he have to offer a woman like Tara who had her shit together? Hearing them express his insecurities out loud made him throw all of his good intentions out the window.

“That’s right,” Quincy laughed. Sensing blood, he pushed even further. “You still fuckin’ women for money, Mr. Gigolo?”

“Why, bruh? Your wife need my services?” Brandon’s response flew out of his mouth before he had a chance to filter the reply.

Quincy froze. “Tha’ fuck you just say you li’l son of a…”

The next instant Brandon was on his feet a second before Quincy charged at him. Bitchass mothafuckas. 


The women were still in the kitchen talking and finishing up the side dishes. Yvonne listened in silence while Tara filled Gina in on the latest programs they planned on adding to Haven House to help the community. Yvonne was very proud of her. Tara truly cared about the kids that came to the center as well as the people in the neighborhood, and they loved her as much as she loved them.

Yvonne had been thinking about what Tara told her last night when she stopped by. During the period she and RaShaun had gone through a rough spot in their relationship, Tara had been there for her every step of the way. Although Tara had talked to her many times and told Yvonne why she felt leaving RaShaun was a mistake, Tara made it clear that she would support her not matter what she decided. Yvonne had decided it was only fair that she return the favor.

However, it had been her idea to invite Quincy and Gina to dinner, not RaShaun’s as Tara obviously thought. If something did happen between Brandon and Quincy, there would be no way she and Tara would be able to stop it. It may not be the most comfortable of situations, but at least Quincy would be able to run interference between the two men if things got out of hand.

Suddenly they heard a deep voice, calling out from the living room. “Hellooo…”

Yvonne frowned as she turned in the direction of the voice. “Who is that?”

“I’ll check,” Tara said, walking out the kitchen to the living room. She stopped in her tracks when she saw who was there. “Doug? What…what are you doing here?”

Doug broke out into a wide smile when he saw Tara. “Well, hello there stranger. I’ve been trying to get in touch with you since last Saturday night. You haven’t returned any of my messages.”

Tara stood there with her mouth open staring at Doug, who came over and slid his arms around her. Before she was aware of his intention, he leaned down and kissed her. Tara was still half in shock at seeing him, but when he tried to slip her his tongue, she pushed him back.


“Surprised to see me?”

“Surprised isn’t the word. What are you doing here?”

Yvonne and Gina came around the corner with a curious look on their faces. When Yvonne spotted saw Doug, she appeared to be just as surprised as Tara.

“Doug. Uh, hello.”

“How are you, Yvonne? I hope you don’t mind, but I saw your in-laws at the store and we stopped to chat for a bit. They told me you were having an informal get together and invited me back with them. They knew Tara would be here.”

“Oh. Uh. Of course I don’t mind.”

Tara made a face at Yvonne behind Doug’s back. Yvonne gave her a little shrug before smiling weakly at Doug. She glanced over her shoulder towards the kitchen, obviously looking to make sure the men hadn’t come back inside then back at Tara.

Tara mouthed, ‘Do something’. Yvonne turned to Gina. “Uh, Gina, will you go and check on the…the thing…you know…to make sure….um….”

Gina gave her a confused look for a few seconds before Yvonne’s hidden message sunk in. “Oh! Ohhhh!! Yes! I’ll be in the kitchen…checking on…that…thing.” She hurried out of the room to keep an eye out for Brandon until Tara could get rid of Doug.

“So how have you been, sweetie?” Doug asked Tara as his eyes slowly roamed over. His eyes lingered at her breasts. “You look good.”

Tara glared at him and crossed her arms. “Yvonne, do you mind if I speak with Doug alone?”

“Not at all,” Yvonne muttered underneath her breath, but she pasted on a bright smile for Doug. “It was good seeing you. Where did Mom and Dad go, do you know?”

“Oh, they went to put Faith down for a nap. She’s gorgeous, by the way.”

“Thanks, Doug. Excuse me.” Von gave her cousin a look that clearly said ‘good luck’, then went to Faith’s room.

“Where’ve you been hiding?” Doug asked Tara. “Did you get my messages? I’ve called your house, your cell, your office…”

“Things have been a little hectic lately. I’ve had a lot going on. Listen, Doug, we need to talk, but right now is not a good time.”

Doug stepped forward and slid his arms around Tara’s waist again. “I agree completely. We definitely need to sit down and talk. I’ve missed you. Tara, you know how I feel about you, and I think it’s time we both stopped playing games with one another. Don’t you?”

Without warning, he leaned down and kissed her. Tara’s eyes widened. Whimpering in protest, she tried to push him back, but he held her tight. She had to get him out of there now. If Brandon came in and saw him, she had no doubt it would not be good.

For either one of them.


Outside, RaShaun caught Quincy a millisecond before Quincy reached Brandon. “Quincy, hold up!”

“Rah, move the fuck back! You heard what he said? This motherfucka is dead!”

Brandon stood tense and ready. “Yeah, let him go! His ass been pushin’ me since the minute I got here! We can do this now.”

“Shut up and get the hell of my house!” RaShaun growled. He would’ve gladly let Q. whip Brandon’s ass, but he knew his parents would be back any moment with his baby girl.

“This little bitch done lost his damn mind!” Quincy shouted. “Rah, I’m tellin’ you, you better get him out of my fuckin’ sight!”

RaShaun kept his arms up to stop Quincy from going around him. “Did you hear what I said, Valentine? Get the fuck out of my house now!”

“What ya’ll gon’ do, call his little cop friends again to handle your business for you?” Brandon laughed and continued to taunt Quincy. “You a big man hidin’ behind that badge, aren’t you? Get in a little trouble, you just pull your badge out, right?”

Quincy looked outraged. “Mo-tha-fucka, I don’t need no fuckin’ badge to whip your ass!” He tried to push past RaShaun again.

RaShaun strained from the effort it took to hold onto Quincy. He threw back at Brandon, “This is the last time I’m going to tell you to leave or I swear to God both of us will kick your ass!”

Brandon looked at them and shook his head in disgust before turning to leave. Then almost as an afterthought, he deliberately came back to get his beer. Bringing the bottle up to his mouth, he finished the last few swallows, holding Quincy’s eyes the entire time before giving him a final half-grin and leaving.

The smile dropped from his mouth the minute he turned around. He stalked into the kitchen, his eyes darting around the room but only seeing Gina.

“Where’s Tara?” he asked in a terse voice.

Gina seemed at a loss for words. She quickly glanced in the direction of the living room. “She…she’s, uh….”

Brandon looked towards the direction her eyes had gone and rapidly walked to the front of the house. He got angrier with each step he took.

“Tara!” he yelled looking around. “Tara! We’re leaving right now because…”

Brandon suddenly came to an abrupt stop. When he saw a man kissing and grinding and groping Tara, he saw red.

“What tha’ fuck…”


Doug pulled Tara to him so quickly that it had taken her by surprise. When his hands gripped her butt, she screamed in protest, but it was lost in his mouth. Then she heard Brandon calling her name. She doubled her efforts but it was too late.

Over Doug’s shoulder, her horrified eyes saw Brandon stop the moment he saw them. Pure fury came over his face when his eyes dropped to Doug’s hands, which were still squeezing her ass. At that point Brandon’s hands clenched into fists just as she managed to rip her lips away from Doug’s.

Oblivious to the fact that his life was in serious danger, Doug rubbed his hands up and down Tara’s ass.

Tara’s kept her desperate eyes on Brandon. When she saw his legs eating up the distance to get to them, she tried to wiggle away, but Doug was not having it.

“Doug! Let me go!” Tara screeched.

“Do you feel what you do to me, Tara? I want to fuck you so bad. Come on, baby, just–”

But he never got the chance to finish the sentence. Brandon jerked him away from Tara. Rearing his fist back, he punched Doug in the face and sent him flying over the back of the couch.

“Umph!!” Doug grunted

“Brandon, no!” Tara screamed. “Stop!”

She tried to grab Brandon’s arm, but his blood was already boiling from the altercation he’d had outside with RaShaun and Quincy. Walking in and seeing some man groping and slobbering on Tara pushed him over the edge. He jerked his arm away before turning his anger on her.

“What in the fuck is this, Tara?” He jerked his head towards Doug, who lay sprawled out on the floor moaning loudly. Blood gushed through the fingers he held over face.

Brandon did a double take. Squinting he looked closer and recognized Doug as the man who had brought Tara home from a date that night. “Oh, wait. That’s your fucking boy! Doug, right? What in the hell is he doin’ here?”

Brandon turned his furious gaze back to her. He stood over her, chest heaving as he waited on her to answer him. “Wait, better yet, what was he doing touchin’ you like he was ready to tear your clothes off and screw you right here on the floor!”

“Will you stop it, Brandon?! I didn’t know he was going to be here!”

“Oh, he just happened to show up, huh? What was he, your backup just in case it didn’t work out with me? He more your type anyway, ain’t he?” Quincy and RaShaun’s taunts were still fresh in his mind. “A boring, uptight professional asshole?”

“What are you talking about? You’re acting like this is my fault and it’s not!” At that point, Tara was beginning to get upset as well.

Obviously having heard the commotion and raised voices, Yvonne came running into the room with a look concern on her face. “What’s going on?” A movement on the floor brought her attention to Doug, trying to stumble to his feet. Yvonne hurried over to him. “Oh my God! Tara, get a towel for his face!”

Brandon’s head whipped back to Tara, his eyes almost daring her to help Doug. RaShaun, Quincy, and Gina came rushing in. RaShaun immediately saw Doug on the floor bleeding and Yvonne kneeling down keeping his head tilted back to try to slow the flow of blood pouring out of his nose.

“What the hell happened?” RaShaun shouted.

Yvonne looked up in relief. “Shaun! Thank God. I need ice and a towel!”

“I’ll get it!” Gina ran to the kitchen.

RaShaun went over to help Doug, sending a look that told Brandon he would deal with him in a minute.

“You know what? Forget this,” Brandon muttered, striding to the door. “This shit was a mistake from the beginning.”

“Brandon, will you please just stop!” Tara called out, hurrying after him. “Hold on for one minute! Okay, I admit it probably wasn’t the best idea to come here tonight, but–”

“I’m not talkin’ about just tonight. I’m talking about us.” He stopped and glanced over at Doug again, his face showing no sympathy or regret.

Shaking his head, he continued walking and was almost at the door when RaShaun’s parents, Charles and Diane, rushed into the room with worried looks on their faces.

“What’s going on out here?” RaShaun’s father asked.

Brandon didn’t see them at first and almost ran straight into them. He stepped to the side. “Excuse me,” he said gruffly.

RaShaun’s parents stopped and stared at him in shock. RaShaun’s mother blindly reached out a trembling hand to grab her husband’s arm. Her face had an expression of astonishment bordering on disbelief.

“Nathan?" she gasped.

“My God,” RaShaun’s father whispered under his breath, staring at Brandon as well.

Leaving Doug on a chair holding a towel wrapped in ice over his face, RaShaun walked towards them with a curious look on his face. “Mom? Pop? What’s wrong?”

A moment later, RaShaun’s mother fainted and would’ve fallen to the floor in a heap, but Brandon caught her just in time. He moved back when RaShaun lifted her out of his arms and hurried back to the couch.

Tara looked at Brandon with a question in her eyes, but all he could do was shrug. What the hell?

© 2017 S.K. Hardy

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means without the written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.


We mature with the damage. Not with the years. 

~Author Unlnown


RaShaun quickly carried his mother to the couch, kneeling on the floor while Charles sat down beside her and gently patted her hand.

“Di. Diane. Sweetheart, wake up,” he pleaded in a voice thick with worry. “It’s Charles.”

“Mom. Mom, open your eyes.”

Tara hurried back with a damp towel and laid it over her forehead. RaShaun looked up at Tara. “What happened?”

“I…I don’t know. We were just standing there. Diane saw Brandon and just…fainted.” Tara’s voice trembled. “Do you think we need to take her to the hospital?”

Diane let out a little moan. She rolled her head from side to side. “Nathan,” she whispered. “Nathan.”

“Mom! Come on Mom, that’s it. Wake up,” RaShaun said in a soft voice.

Diane’s eyes fluttered open. She stared at RaShaun then her husband. “Charles…did…did you see him? Was I dreaming?”

RaShaun frowned and looked at his father. “Pop, what is she talking about? Did you see who?”

Charles ignored RaShaun’s question and focused on his wife. “Di, just lie still.” Gina handed him a bottle of water. “Here. Take a sip.”

RaShaun slipped his arm around her shoulders to support her as she sat up and took several swallows of water before lying back down.


“Shhh…Not now, Di. Just rest, honey.”

“Where is he?” Diane tried to look around him.

“Mom. Who? Who are you talking about?”

“Nathan. I know I just saw him. Where is he, Charles?” she demanded, becoming agitated.

RaShaun looked helplessly at his father. “Pop, please…”

Charles just shook his head, avoiding his son’s eyes.

“She…before she fainted, she looked at Brandon and called him Nathan,” Tara said.

RaShaun frowned. Glancing at Brandon, he gestured him forward. “Brandon, come here.”

Brandon hesitated, but before he could take a step, Charles shot up from the couch. “No! I don’t want him anywhere near her!”

RaShaun stared at his father, thoroughly confused. “Dad, what in the hell is going on? I want to know right now!”

“Keep your voice down!” he whispered. “You’re going to upset your mother!”

“She fainted! Apparently she’s already upset!”

“Stop it. Stop it, both of you.” Seeing his mother struggling to sit up, RaShaun helped her into a sitting position.

“Mom, are you okay?”

“Yes, baby, I’m fine. I can’t believe I…” She stopped and looked around. “Where is he?”

When she saw Brandon standing a few steps away, she brought hands that trembled up to cover her mouth. Tears pooled in her eyes. RaShaun looked at Brandon for an explanation, but Brandon appeared to be just as confused as RaShaun. “Diane…”

“No, Charles. Don’t you see? We can’t ignore it.”

RaShaun glanced impatiently at his father then sat down on the other side of his mother. He put his arm around her shoulders and turned her to face him. “Mom, you’re scaring me. Please. Tell me what’s going on.”

Diane stared at her son. She reached out a hand and softly touched his face. “RaShaun. Honey. I am so sorry. Maybe we should’ve told you all these years, but…”

Heart pounding, RaShaun deliberately kept his voice calm. His mother was the strongest woman he knew. For her to look so afraid, so unsure…He’d never in his life seen her act this way.

“It’s okay, Mom. You can tell me now. What is it?”

Charles slowly sat down beside Diane and lowered his head, looking at the floor. RaShaun’s eyes never left his mother. She peered up at Brandon again. RaShaun followed the direction of her eyes. What was it about Brandon that she found so unsettling?

“You look just like him,” she whispered. “The spitting image.”


Brandon froze. He didn’t even breathe. What was she talking about? Other than Brenda, no one had ever told him that he favored anyone. He didn’t have anyone to look like other than his sister.

“I’m the spitting image of who?” His voice was barely audible, but it was dead quiet in the room. Everyone heard the yearning in his voice.

Diane’s mouth turned up in a small smile, showing the dimple in the corner of her mouth. She stared at him through big, almond shaped eyes. Her smooth left eyebrow had a high natural arch,and her hair... thick, dark, and curly like…

Brandon’s breath caught in the back of his throat. He literally doubled over. Resting his hands on his knees he tried to take deep breaths to get air in his lungs before he passed out.

It can’t be.

Brandon shook his head to clear his vision. He looked at Diane again, but he could still see it. Tara reached out to put her arms around him but he held his hand up to stop her. If she touched him he’d lose it. Still staring at Diane, he continued to study her face.

His sister’s face.

“You…” Brandon’s voice came out raspy. Hoarse. The tears he swallowed burned his throat. He blinked furiously to keep them at bay, but they defied his will and slowly inched down his face.

Brandon cleared his throat. “You’re my…my mother?” The last word was barely a whisper.

“What?” RaShaun stared at Brandon like he’d finally taken leave of his senses. “What tha’ hell are you talking about?”


“No, Ma.” He turned his eyes to his mother when she called his name. “He’s not making any sense. Why would he think…”

When Diane stared at him without answering, RaShaun shook his head. He looked at his father, his eyes begging him to tell him it wasn’t true, but his father continued to stare at the floor.


His mother took his hand, then looked back at Brandon who had straightened up. His eyes were blank, almost empty. “Where’s your sister? They did keep you together didn’t they? I made sure of that.”

Brandon laughed once, then again. “You…you made sure of that? What do you want, a fuckin’ award!” His voice rose as the laughter turned to anger.

RaShaun took an angry step towards Brandon but Quincy stepped in front of him. “Rah. No.”

“You watch your mouth!” RaShaun’s voice was full of warning. “Do not talk to my mother like that!”

Nodding slowly, Brandon kept his attention on Diane. “Yeah. You’re right. Your mother.”

“RaShaun. Don’t,” Diane pleaded in a soft, tortured voice. “He’s right. I’m…I’m his mother as well. He’s my son…and your brother.”


RaShaun stared at his mother, shock written all over his face. “What are you…what are you talking about? How can he be your son?” When she remained silent he screamed, “Mother, answer me!”

Yvonne hurried to his side. “RaShaun, baby, calm down.”

“Calm down, Yvonne? Did you hear what she just said?” He looked at Brandon again, his eyes concentrating hard as his eyes traced Brandon’s features. RaShaun shook his head. No. No fucking way was this man his brother.

“Shaun, I’ll explain everything to both of you. I promise.” Diane looked at her husband. “I’m sorry, but it’s time.”

Charles nodded before turning to RaShaun. “Son, this won’t be easy, but I need you to listen to your mother.”

“You’re not his father.” RaShaun stated the words as a fact. Not a question.

His father hesitated, then shook his head. “No. I’m not.”

“Who is? Who’s my father?” Brandon asked.

“Excuse me,” Quincy quietly broke in. “I think Gina and I are going to leave so that you all can have your privacy.” He looked at Doug. “Come on, man, I’ll drive you home. We’ll get your car to you later.” The three of them left out practically unnoticed.

Tara’s eyes remained on Brandon. His face was cold, his expression unyielding, but she knew, deep down inside, that he was hurting. “Are you okay?”

Brandon didn’t answer. All of his attention was focused on the woman sitting on the couch. “I need to call my sister. She should be here for this.”

Without waiting on a reply from anyone, Brandon took out his cell phone and dialed Brenda’s number. He walked back towards the kitchen when the line started ringing.

“Well at least I know you’re in one piece,” Brenda teased as soon as she answered the phone.


“Brandon, what’s wrong?” she asked quickly. The two of them had a sixth sense when it came to the other’s feelings. Something wasn’t right. “Did RaShaun try to start a fight with you again. I should’ve known he wouldn’t be able to act like he had some sense, even for–”

“Brenda, stop. I need you to come over to RaShaun and Yvonne’s house. Now.”

Brenda held the phone in silence then whispered, “Brandon, what happened? Are you okay?”

“This is the address.” He quickly called it out to her. “Got it?”

“Yes, but are you sure you’re alright?”

“I’m not hurt.” Not physically anyway, he added to himself.

Brenda sighed in relief. “I’m on my way.”

After they hung up, Brandon stood in the kitchen, gazing unseeingly out the window above the sink. Flashes of his and Brenda’s childhood raced through his mind. Walking hand in hand to yet another foster home. Brandon sneaking into kitchens to steal food for his hungry sister. More than once, they’d been placed in homes where they were fed sparingly to save money; the food was kept under lock and key. It hadn’t taken Brandon very long to learn how to pick the lock. Hunger had a way of making a person do whatever they had to in order to survive. He lost count of the times the two of them ran away only to be returned by the police…

“Is she coming?”

Brandon didn’t turn around to answer RaShaun. “Yeah.”

“Does she know anything yet?”


“How old are you?” RaShaun was obviously trying to make sense of the whole thing.

“Thirty-two. You?”

“Thirty-five.” RaShaun frowned. “So I would’ve been three years old when you and Brenda were born. This doesn’t make sense.”

“Who you tellin’,” Brandon said in a quiet voice.

RaShaun stared at him as the ramifications of his mother’s decision began to sink in. “Brandon–”

“Brenda just drove up.” Yvonne stood at the doorway looking at them both.

RaShaun stared at Brandon for a few moments more before h nodded. He and Yvonne walked hand in hand to go back to join the others.

Brandon pushed away from the counter and followed. He needed to be with his sister. Without looking at anyone in the room, he went outside to wait for her to get out of the car.

When she spotted him, half ran up the walkway to meet Brandon. Her eyes went over him quickly to assure herself that he was okay. Sighing in relief, she frowned when she saw how upset he looked.

“Brandon, what’s wrong?” she whispered in a terrified voice.

He reached down without a word and hugged her tightly.

“Bran, you’re scaring me. Is it Tara? Did something happen to her?”

He shook his head, then leaned back and held his sister’s hands in his. “Our…our mother…” Brandon’s head slowly moved from side to side. “No. Not our mother. The woman who gave birth to us. She’s inside.”

Brenda jerked back as if she had been struck. She stared towards the house, covering her mouth with her hand for a moment before saying in a shaky voice, “Our mother? But, how? What is she–”

Brandon shook his head to stop her questions. “I don’t know any of the details yet. I told her you needed to be here so that the three of us could hear it at the same time.”

Brenda’s mouth dropped. “The three of us?”

Brandon held her eyes. “Yeah. I don’t know what’s more shocking. The fact that, after all this time, the woman who gave birth to us is right inside…or that RaShaun Patterson is her son…and our brother.”


With his arm around his sister’s shoulder, Brandon guided her into the house. “You ready?”

She took a deep breath and nodded. Giving her an encouraging smile, Brandon led her into the room where everyone was waiting.

Tara sat in one of the chairs in the living room, while Yvonne sat on the arm of the sofa, rubbing RaShaun’s back. RaShaun was on one side his mother while his father sat on her other side. They were all entranced with the picture Brenda and Brandon made as they walked into the room. Everyone could almost imagine it was the exact way they must have looked when they were younger and only had each other to depend on.

Brenda looked scared, almost lost, as if not knowing what to expect. She leaned trustingly against Brandon, who held her to him protectively. She glanced up at him to gather her courage before she looked towards the couch at the woman sitting there. An audible cry escaped Brenda’s throat.

She had tried to imagine what her mother looked like so many times. She had so many questions, things other people with families took for granted. Did she resemble her? Did she have the same nose? The same smile? Did she get her personality from her? Her temperament? Brandon was the hothead, while she was the calm one. Did she get her love of cooking from her?

As if drawn to her by some invisible connection, Brenda slowly moved towards the woman. With tears in her eyes, Diane met her halfway, taking in every inch of her. They stopped a few feet apart from each other and just stared at one another.

RaShaun slowly inhaled a shaky breath as he looked at them. There it was. That’s why Brenda had looked so familiar to him. She was a younger version of his mother. Why hadn’t he seen it? It was so plain now. How could he not have known that this was his sister? And that Brandon was…

RaShaun leaned his elbows on his knees and looked down, staring at his interlocked hands. He still could not believe this. He glanced back up at his mother and Brenda. He’d have time to dissect things later.


“You’re so pretty,” Brenda told her mother in a small voice.

Diane let out an anguished cry and held out her arms to her daughter. She didn’t want to rush things, but she needed to hug her. Brenda slowly walked into her arms, her shoulders shaking from silent sobs. She kept her arms at her side, but she didn’t pull away when Diane held her. They stayed that way for a few minutes before Brenda moved back towards her brother and buried her face in his chest. Brandon’s arms encircled her. He leaned down and whispered something in her ear. She nodded.

Diane cleared her throat. “I…I think you two should have a seat, and I’ll tell you everything.”

Brandon and Brenda sat on the loveseat facing the couch. Diane sniffed and wiped her eyes as she sat back down between RaShaun and her husband and began to speak.

“I was very young when I married Charles, barely twenty years old. He was twelve years older, very intelligent and sophisticated. He and his business partner were just starting their own business, which quickly became a roaring success.

To be so young, we were all very well off, but that success came at a price. Charles worked constantly. He had to. He knew the direction he wanted to take his business, and knew what he had to do to get there. To say he was ambitious is an understatement. In the beginning, he would leave home early every morning and sometimes I wouldn’t see him until late at night…if then. I had RaShaun about a year after we were married. Basically, I was a young mother and a young wife who never saw her husband.”

Diane paused and looked at Charles. “He and I…we talked about this years ago, so nothing I’m saying is a surprise or a shock to him.” She looked back at her three children. “My days were filled with charity functions, committees, and taking care of RaShaun.”

She turned to smile at him, but unpleasant memories seemed to take over to drown the light of happiness from her eyes.

“Charles’ business partner was a brilliant man, the same as Charles, but he didn’t have that dedication to the business that Charles had. He worked hard, but loved to play even harder. He wasn’t married and spent a lot of time with our family, including the holidays. We were all very close.”

Diane took a deep breath before continuing. “He never crossed the line with me…at first. Then the light flirting began. I was lonely. And bored. He knew this. He began making himself available for me to talk to, making me laugh when I felt like crying until eventually it seemed as if I had something to look forward to every day.”

“Uncle Nathan.” The name and a hazy image came to RaShaun. He hadn’t thought about him in years and only vaguely remembered him.

Diane nodded. “Yes. Eventually, he made his move and came on to me. Although I had feelings for him, I was strong enough to back away. That is, until he told me that Charles had been having an affair himself. I didn’t believe him at first, but I confronted Charles, and he admitted it. He ended it immediately, but I was so hurt. I wanted to get back at him. So one night, Nathan and I…slept together. As I’m sure you all can guess, I became pregnant. Charles couldn’t have any more children so I knew right away the baby was for Nathan.

Charles was furious. Furious, hurt, and betrayed. I was his wife, and Nathan had been his best friend for as long as he could remember. And of course I understood his pain. He left and didn’t come back for days. I was almost hysterical. I realized how much I loved Charles and what a huge mistake I’d made. An affair, yes, maybe he could forgive that. After all, he’d had one himself. But to be pregnant with Nathan’s child? His best friend and business partner? I knew that was an almost unforgivable sin. So I came to a decision.”

She looked at Brandon and Brenda. “I could not and would not get rid of my baby. But I also knew, for the sake of my husband and my family, I couldn’t keep it either. When Charles eventually came back home, we talked. I told him that I had decided to give the baby up for adoption. He said if this was my decision, then he’d agree to work on the marriage.”

“Mom…” The look RaShaun gave her was full of disbelief. Yes, he was shocked by the affair, but to give her own children up?

“RaShaun, please. Let me finish or I may not have the courage to do so later. I know what you’re thinking, son, but those were different times back then. I was afraid. I couldn’t ask your father to raise children of a man I’d had an affair with, a man who he trusted more than anything. I didn’t want to be on my own, and I didn’t want to lose your father.”

“You didn’t wan to lose him or lose the lifestyle he provided for you?” Brandon asked bitterly. “Yeah. I guess I can see your dilemma. Stay with your rich husband and keep your perfect life or give up your children to a life of hell. It makes perfect sense,” Brandon said sarcastically. “Please. Continue.”

Lips trembling, Diane inhaled a deep breath and resumed the story. “I was always very petite. Even though as the months went by I saw that I was a little bigger than I’d been with RaShaun, I was still smaller than most women who weren’t pregnant, so I was still able to hide it fairly well. When it came to the point that I couldn’t disguise it any longer, RaShaun and I went to stay with my sister until I had the baby.” Again she looked at Brandon and Brenda. “Babies.”

“I was shocked when I found out I was having twins, then I remembered that Nathan’s father was a twin. I didn’t tell Charles at first. We never really talked about the pregnancy. When you were born, I…I didn’t want to even look at you. I couldn’t. I knew if I did, I’d never be able to give you up. Charles and I had already found an agency, one that was discreet but reputable. I…I insisted on a closed adoption. No information was to be given to you about me. But I also insisted that you two stay together. The agency assured me that you would have a good life. And I’ve held on to that thought for almost thirty years.”

Her eyes lingered on Brandon. “When I walked in the room a few minutes ago and came face to face with you, I just …knew.”

“You’re the spitting image of him,” Charles said, speaking for the first time since Diane began telling the story. He studied Brandon’s face. “Your father and I practically grew up together, so I know. It’s almost like he’d come back from the grave and was staring us directly in the face. The resemblance is uncanny.”

“From the grave?” Brenda whispered. “He’s…dead?”

“Yes.” Charles answered. “He died in a automobile accident before you were born. He never knew about you.”

Brenda squeezed Brandon’s hand as tears ran down her face.

Brandon stared at his mother. “You’re a piece of work, you know that? What kind of woman gives up her own children? And I don’t want to hear that crap about how you thought you were doing what was best for us. You were doing what was best for you and your family.”

He stood up and stared at her with hate filled eyes. “You know what? I could see if there was a legitimate reason for you to give us up for adoption. If you were being abused. If you couldn’t afford to take care of us. If you were sick.” Brandon laughed harshly, but his eyes welled full. “But we were an inconvenience? We didn’t fit into your perfect life and would mess up your perfect family? So to solve your dilemma you threw us away as if we were expendable. And I guess in a way we were.” He looked at RaShaun. “You had your perfect child. You didn’t need the burden of two more from a man you screwed just to get back at your husband.”

“That’s enough.” RaShaun’s voice was quiet as he stood up and moved in front of his mother to shield her from Brandon’s hateful words. He wasn’t angry with him, but he couldn’t let him talk to his…their mother that way.

Brandon turned eyes full of anger and hurt towards RaShaun. “That’s enough? That’s enough? Oh, no…brother.” He almost spat the word at RaShaun. “I’m just getting started.”


RaShaun still stood in front of his mother. “Brandon, I understand you’re upset, and you have a right to be–”

“Upset, RaShaun?? Upset is not even close to the word to describe what I’m feeling right about now. You get upset if you’ve had a bad day at work. You get upset when you have a flat tire. You get upset when you have an argument with your girl…but this shit?” He shook his head. “I would say I have a right to be just a little bit more than upset, don't you?”

“RaShaun…honey, let him speak,” Diane said in a soft voice. “He deserves to be able to say what he wants to say.”

RaShaun turned around and looked at his mother then slowly stepped out of the way.

Brandon glared at Diane and said sarcastically, “Oh, well thanks. I appreciate that. Tell me something. Did you think about us at all? Did you ever wonder how we were doing?”

“Did you ever look for us?” Brenda asked.

“Of course I thought about you. I never forgot about either of you, but…no. I never tried to find you. I didn’t want to disrupt your lives. I just took it for granted that you were happy.” She gave them a pleading look. “If I had known…” A sob escaped her as she covered her mouth.

Brandon’s look held little sympathy. “You want to know how happy we were? We were happy to go from one foster home to another, never knowing how long we’d be wanted at any of them. I was happy when as a kid, I had to stay woke sometimes all night to keep the perverts away from my sister.”

Diane’s sobs grew louder when she heard this, and she leaned her head on Charles’ shoulder. The sight of her weeping didn’t faze Brandon in the least.

“We were so happy that we were constantly trying to run away until they threatened to separate us if we did it again. Yeah. We were real happy.”

“It’s not going to help to torture her, Brandon,” Yvonne said quietly.

“No, Yvonne, but it’ll make me feel a hell of a lot better.” Then he looked at Charles. “And you. What kind of man stands around and lets his pregnant wife go off by herself to have babies, and only agrees to work on his marriage if she gives her babies away?”

Brandon looked at RaShaun and laughed harshly. “And you thought I was bad. Seems like you should’ve looked a little closer to home before you judged me, huh? At least I had an excuse for the way I turned out.”

“We can’t change the past, though, can we?” RaShaun walked up to Brandon and stopped right in front of him. “I know this is a lot to take in for you and Brenda. Hell, it’s no picnic for me either, but I’d like to see if we could all try to move forward.”

“You’d like us to move forward? I really don’t give a fuck what you’d like, RaShaun. This is one thing you’re not going to be able to control. You with your perfect family, and respectable job, and picture perfect life. You got it all, don’t you?”

“I’m not going to deny I have a good life. I love my family.” RaShaun’s eyes found Yvonne, who nodded at him in encouragement. He looked from Brandon to Brenda. “All I’m saying is that whenever you’re ready, I’d like to at least make the effort for all of us to get along with one another.”

After a brief hesitation, RaShaun stepped closer to Brandon and placed a hand on his shoulder. He looked towards Brenda and held his other hand out to her. She stared at him with eyes full of uncertainty before standing up and hesitantly putting her hand in RaShaun’s. He gave her a small smile.

“I know you two have only had each other to depend on all of these years. But you have a family now. If you want it.”

At the mention of the word family, an emotion of possibility flickered briefly in Brandon’s eyes.

RaShaun saw it and continued. “In spite of the choices they made, my father and our mother are good people. You both have a niece who loves to be spoiled. The more the merrier as far as she’s concerned.” This time RaShaun’s smile was more relaxed as he thought about his daughter. But it had just the opposite affect on Brandon.

Faith. His niece. The niece that he hoped would’ve been his daughter. That thought led to memories of Terri. He wondered how RaShaun would feel if he knew he’d been involved with Terri up until the day she died, had helped scheme to come between him and Yvonne from the beginning. He looked over at Yvonne and Tara as he thought about Kiki. It was as if Pandora’s box was being opened and every dirty deed he’d ever done was itching to make itself known. Brenda squeezed his hand. She knew exactly what he was thinking.

RaShaun stared at him as well, then made a decision. “Let me talk to you for a minute. In private.”

He took a few steps to leave the room, but turned around when he realized that hadn’t moved and was warily staring at him. He knew Brandon didn’t trust him anymore than he trusted Brandon, but someone had to take the first step.

“Ten minutes. That’s all I ask.”

Brandon still hesitated. He looked down at Brenda. “You gon’ be okay?” She nodded, but Brandon glanced at Tara, who immediately came over to Brenda and put her arm around her. Brandon gave her a grateful look before following RaShaun into his office at the other end of the house.

RaShaun closed the door after him and gestured towards a chair, but Brandon shook his head. “I’ll stand.”

RaShaun walked to the front of his desk and half sat on it and folded his arms as he looked at Brandon.

Brandon continued to watch him suspiciously. “So, what do you want?”

“I want to talk to you about Terri.”

Brandon’s face showed his surprise. That was the last thing he expected RaShaun to say.

RaShaun paused for a second before continuing. “I’m just gonna come out and say it: I know that you and she were seeing each other.”


Brandon stared at him in shock. He ran his hand over his head as he looked away then back at RaShaun. What the fuck??

“How do you, uh…” Brandon was truly at a loss for words as he continued to stare at RaShaun with his mouth open. RaShaun laughed, which made Brandon scowl. “What’s so funny?”

“Its just a nice change to see you don’t have one of your irritatingly smart Replies for once.”

“And you think it’s funny?”

RaShaun just shrugged.

“So how did you find out?” Brandon was even more confused at how calm RaShaun was. He had expected his reaction to be a lot different than the one he was displaying.

“I’ve known almost from the beginning of her pregnancy.”

“And you’re not upset?” Brandon was still cautious and alert in case RaShaun was trying to spring this on him and get him to drop his defenses. After everything he’d gone through and found out today, he’d be damned if he took an ass whipping on top of it all.

“Why should I be? I knew the moment after I’d slept with Terri it had been a mistake. I knew I still loved Yvonne. She was on my mind the second I woke up in Terri’s bed, but I can’t say that I regret it because then I wouldn’t have my daughter.”

Brandon raised his eyebrows in thought as he digested what RaShaun had admitted to him. Wow. Tonight was bringing just one revelation after the other.

“After Terri and I had the amniocentesis done to determine paternity, she tried to make mine and Yvonne’s life a living hell. Calling all hours of the day and night. Making demands. She’d go to the emergency room and have me rush over, thinking something was wrong with the baby until I finally caught on to what she was doing. That it was just another one of her sick games to try and get me back.”

RaShaun was quiet as he remembered that period in his life. It had been a nightmare.

“Once I finally caught on to what she was doing, I talked to Quincy about it. The three of us actually grew up together. Did you know that?”

Brandon nodded. “She mentioned it.”

“Quincy and Terri never did get along. I was so crazy over her that I couldn’t see the type of person she was, but Q. saw through her from the beginning, and Terri didn’t like that. He and I even stopped speaking for a while because of her. Once I realized the type of spoiled, evil and possessive person she really was, I left her alone. She never did accept the fact that I’d moved on with Yvonne.

“Then, when I became aware that she was using her pregnancy to manipulate me, Quincy had an idea. He told me the next time she called at two o’clock in the morning from the emergency room, or saying she wasn’t feeling well to call him.” RaShaun smiled when he remembered Terri’s reaction. She’d been furious. “It only took a couple times for Quincy to show up instead of me before the “emergencies” ceased. She seemed to calm down after that. I think she realized there was no chance for she and I to get back together.”

He looked at Brandon. “I didn’t trust a Terri who brought no drama. So I wanted to know why. What she was up to? With Quincy being a detective, it wasn’t hard to find out.”

Brandon closed his eyes and looked down, almost too ashamed to look at RaShaun. “And that’s when you found out she and I were seeing each other.”


“Why didn’t you confront us?”

RaShaun shrugged. “Hell, you were doing me a favor. I didn’t care about Terri in that way. I made sure I went to all of her appointments. She was in excellent health. The baby was healthy. As far as I was concerned, as long as she took care of my baby, she could do whatever she wanted to do.” RaShaun gave him an inquisitive look. “I’m curious. How did you and she become involved with one another?”

Brandon avoided his look. That was the last thing he wanted to discuss. Not right now. Maybe later after he’d had time to process everything he’d discovered today.

“If you don’t mind, could we talk about this another time? I’d like to get back to my sister.”

RaShaun immediately stood up. “Of course. I understand you’ve had a lot thrown at you today. I feel like I’ve been hit with a Mac truck myself. I can’t even imagine what you and Brenda are feeling.”

RaShaun still could not believe his mother and father had covered up something like this for almost thirty years. They were some of the most honest people he knew. He had a lot to think about himself.

Brandon paused as he went to open the door. RaShaun watched him seemingly struggle within himself before making a decision and turning back to RaShaun.

“Does…anybody else know about me and Terri?”

“No. I never told Yvonne. There was no need. And Tara doesn’t have to know either.” RaShaun scratched his chin and gave Brandon a direct look. “I mean, its your decision, but maybe its better to just let it all be.”

“I don’t want to lie to her.”

“You’re not lying to her. I could see if Terri were still alive and there was a possibility that you or Tara would run into her one day. But she’s not. It wouldn’t serve a purpose to rehash the past and cause unnecessary problems.”

Brandon looked lost in thought for a moment. He’d consider what RaShaun suggested, then go from there. He looked at RaShaun and nodded his thanks. RaShaun nodded back.

As the two men came back into the room, everyone looked at them anxiously. When they saw everything seemed to be ok, a lot of the tension seemed to lift from the room. Brandon noticed that Brenda had just finished saying something to Diane. Diane smiled before she looked apprehensively at Brandon. He could tell she wanted to say something. Brandon looked away. He didn’t want to hear shit she had to say.

“You ready, Brenda?”

Brenda nodded then stood up. She looked at her mother, who had also stood and moved a couple of steps towards them. “How long will you be here?”

“Yeah. We know how you like to just up and disappear from our lives,” Brandon said with in a bitter tone.

He almost regretted the words when he saw the hurt pass over her face, but he told himself he had nothing to feel guilty about. She’d made her bed, now she could lie in it for the rest of her life for all he cared. He wasn’t surprised at Brenda’s question. She always did have a forgiving heart. Too forgiving sometimes in his opinion.

Diane looked at Charles. Brandon saw the look and rolled his eyes. Did she do anything on her own without getting permission from her husband?

Charles saw Brandon’s expression and smiled.

Brandon’s eyes narrowed. “What?”

“One day, I’m going to have to sit down with you and tell you about your father. It’s an eerie feeling to look at you and be able to read his expressions on your face and see his mannerisms in you. I bet you’re cocky and arrogant just like him.”

Brandon glared at Brenda and RaShaun as they laughed. He didn’t find anything funny.

Charles glanced at his wife. “We can stay as long as we need to.”

Diane turned back to her children. “I know it’s going to take some time, but I hope…I pray…that you can forgive me.” Brandon refused to meet her gaze. Sighing, Diane turned to Brenda. “I’ll be here for a while. You’ll always know where to find me. I promise.”

Brenda nodded. Brandon ignored her as they walked through the foyer. When RaShaun opened the door for them, a look passed between him and Brandon.

“We’ll talk later,” RaShaun told him.

Brandon nodded. Then RaShaun turned to Brenda. He bent down and hugged her. Brenda was surprised by how natural it felt to return his hug.

“And I’ll talk with you later as well. Okay?” RaShaun looked at her. Brenda gave him a small smile and nodded.

Brandon took a step out the door, then looked back in the room, his eyes finding Tara’s. “You comin’?”

Tara shifted from one foot to the other and nervously twisted her hands in front of her. “Do you want me to?”

The familiar teasing gleam entered Brandon’s eyes. “I asked you, didn’t I?”

Tara almost wilted in relief, but managed to keep her composure. Brandon wasn’t fooled though. He smiled for the first time in hours. Tara quickly kissed everyone goodbye and went to him, walking side by side to the car.

“Sis, you’re coming to my place, right?” Brandon asked Brenda.

“No. I don’t think so, Bran. I’d like to be alone for a while if you don’t mind.”

Brandon nodded slowly. “Okay. I’ll call and check on you later.”

Brenda hugged them both before she got in her car and left.

Brandon opened the car door for Tara, then got in, but instead of starting the ignition, he turned his head to stare at her.

“What’s wrong?” Tara asked.

“Are you sure you wanna deal with all of this? I can’t seem to get through one situation before something else pops up.”

Tara smiled. “I’m sure. One thing I can say is that life is never boring with you.”

He smiled and leaned over to kiss her before he drove off.

Brandon and Tara drove back to his house in relative silence. She could tell he was in deep thought, which was understandable, and she was content to quietly give him the time he needed to deal with the shock he’d received tonight.

She stood behind him as he unlocked the door, walking inside when he opened it and stepped to the side.

“T., I’m gonna call my sister and make sure she’s okay. I really don’t like her being by herself right now, but that’s the way she is. She has to withdraw into herself and analyze the fuck outta shit before she makes a decision about anything.”

“Unlike her brother who acts first, and thinks about it later.” She teased, happy when some of the worry fell away from his face.

“Must think you know me or something, huh?”

“Or something,” Tara shrugged. “Ouch!” She grabbed her behind when he gave her a hard swat. “Hey!”

“That’s to remind you who’s in charge.” He sent her a menacing glare, but his eyes sparkled with amusement as he took his cell phone out to call Brenda.

Tara threw him a kiss and went to the couch. After kicking her shoes off, she decided to stretch out and rest until he got off the phone. Thanks to Brandon, she hadn’t gotten much sleep last night, and of course this evening had been exhausting. She covered a yawn with her hand, listening to his deep voice in the background until her eyes grew heavy and fluttered closed.

When she woke up about half an hour later, her eyes moved around the room. All of the lights were off except for one lamp in the corner that cast off a soft glow. Tara smiled when she saw Brandon, minus his shirt and shoes, sitting in a chair across from her staring into space. Then she noticed the melancholy expression on his face and the aura of loneliness that seemed to surround him like a second skin.

As if sensing her gaze on him, he looked at her with tired, weary eyes. The corner of his mouth tugged up slightly, but it didn’t quite make it to a smile. Tara’s heart ached for him, but she knew this was something he’d have to go through on his own.

“So you’re finally woke, hmm? Some company you’ve been,” he teased, distracting her from her thoughts.

“So you’re going to make me feel, bad? That’s very rude, you know.”

“I never claimed to be a good boy.”

Tara saw the flash of white teeth as he gave her a devilish grin. She felt her pulse quicken at the sexiness that was as natural to him as breathing. He didn’t even try. He just was. She could see why women fell to his feet like leaves dropping from a tree.

Her cell phone rang just as her thoughts were turning X-rated. Seeing her purse on the floor by the side of the couch, she flipped over on her stomach, and after unzipping it, got her phone.

Tara glanced at the caller ID and made a face at the number displayed on the screen. She hit ignore and threw it back in her purse. That’s when she noticed the sudden intensity of Brandon’s stare.

“Um, did you eat, sweetie? I can whip us up something real quick. An omelet wouldn’t be too heavy.”

Brandon ignored her question and asked one of his own. “Who was that?”


His eyes darkened at her evasiveness. He repeated the question slowly and distinctively. “Who was that? On your cell?”

“Nobody I felt like talking to.”

“Tara, don’t do that. When you avoid my question, it makes me suspicious.”

Tara reluctantly gave him an answer. “It was Doug.”

Brandon nodded. He figured that.

“Brandon. There’s nothing going on between him and myself. There hasn’t been for a long time. I had no idea he would just show up at Yvonne’s house like that.”

Brandon continued to stare at her. His body relaxing, he held a hand out to her. “Come here.”

Tara stood up and went to stand in front of him. Brandon pulled her down on his lap and leaned his head back against the chair as his eyes leisurely explored her face.

“Are you my woman?” he asked suddenly.

With her heart thumping in her chest, Tara nodded. “Yes.”

“I told you before, I don’t like to share. If we’re together, then it means just that…you and me. Nobody else.”

Tara nodded again.

“Tomorrow, call Doug and make him aware, once and for all, you’re off the market. Let him know that you and me are in an exclusive relationship and that the next time he puts his hands on you, he won’t be able to use them for a very long time. Understand?”

“Yes. But the same goes for you. I wont share you either.”

“And you won’t have to, so that’s settled. I trust you, Tara. You can trust me, too. Anything you ever want to know, all you have to do is ask. I won’t ever lie to you.”

Tara cupped the side of his face. Holding his eyes, she lowered her head and kissed him softly for several long moments. When their lips parted, their smile reflected the giddiness and excitement of a new relationship and all that that meant.

This time when the shrilly ringing of a cell interrupted the silence, it was his. By the ringtone, they knew it was Brenda. Tara got up and kissed him one last before going to his bedroom. After getting one of his t-shirt out the drawer, she went to the bathroom to take a hot shower.

Making quick work of taking her clothes off and she sighed in pleasure after she stepped under the hot needles of the spraying water and worked up a rich lather with the scented soap. Humming to herself, she washed her body until she felt squeaky clean, and was almost finished when she heard the shower door slide open. Her breathing quickened when she saw Brandon.

“Mind if I join you?” he asked.

Her smile gave him his answer. Once he stepped inside and closed the door, Tara noticed that he was already naked…and ready for something more than just a shower. She turned and slipped into his arms. There was no need to waste time pretending. Brandon needed something that only she could give him at that moment. He needed to feel apart of someone that he cared about and who cared about him.

Tara sighed when he kissed deeply, impatiently, pulling her hair back and tasting the curved area along her ear and shoulder. Brandon chuckled softly when she shuddered; he knew that was her spot. Tara cried out as pleasure shot down to her very core and energized every nerve ending in her body. He pushed her back against the wall of the shower and continued his journey to her breasts. Tara mindlessly moved her head from side to side. He had barely touched her and she was already incoherent with need for him.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of you,” she whispered.

“I’m gon’ do everything in my power to make sure you don’t.” Giving her a sexy smile that made her heart rate accelerate, Brandon dropped to his knees and licked the beads of water from her stomach. At the same time, he slid a finger between the moist folds of her sex, moaning as he felt the slick wetness that coated his fingers.

“You’re always so wet for me, Tara. So ready,” he mumbled against her skin.

“Yes. Always.”

Tara bit her lip and held on as he lifted her foot and lightly nibbled at the arch along the side of her foot before licking his way to her toes. She closed her eyes tight. God. He made even that small act sensual and arousing.

Brandon’s mouth was deliciously warm. He sucked each toe in and out of his mouth, using his tongue to slide in between and lick over the soft, sensitive skin. He intentionally teased her with his tongue. His eyes smiled up at her when she begged him for more.

However, once he kissed his way up the inside of her thigh and got to that moist spot between her thighs, the teasing stopped and the real pleasing began. Brandon meticulously and with expert skill extracted her body’s sweet, natural fluids, quenching the thirst that his body craved. She screamed his name when he brought her to the precipice of satisfaction.

Tara lingered on the edge for several breathtaking moments, not wanted to let go quite yet, but her body gave her no choice. With one more swipe of his tongue, Brandon sent her freefalling back down to earth. Tara didn’t think she would ever stop. She prayed she didn’t, but once her world righted itself, she watched through half-closed lids as he rose from the floor. Easily lifting her up as if she weighed nothing, Brandon settled her over his throbbing dick and brought her down his length in one achingly, smooth movement.

Tara arched her back when he moved inside of her with long, deep strokes. She held on to his shoulders as he circled his hips in a commanding cadence her body heard and obeyed. She felt like she was on a constant merry-go-round. As soon as she became in tune to one movement, Brandon changed his rhythm, changed the depth and intensity of his stokes, grinding her clit until her body was wound tight and begging for relief.

“Brandon….” Tara whispered his name over and over again. Her entire body was tense as it readied itself for the type of mind-blowing orgasm that only he could give her.

Brandon went deeper. Moved faster. They reveled in the exquisite sensations of her soft body conforming to his contoured muscles, the smoothness of her breasts rubbing against the hardness of his chest. His own body tightened, signifying he was right there, right behind her.

“Look at me, Tara.”

She tried to open her eyes but snapped them shut, grimacing as the first waves of satisfaction ran through her body.

“Tara, please…” He couldn’t explain it but he needed to see as well as feel the connection of her soul to his.

Hearing the emotion in his voice Tara forced her eyes to open and look at him as her orgasm finally broke free. Gasping as if in pain, screamed and clawed at his back, but the kept eye contact that was so important to him.

Brandon saw what he was looking for. “Say it.” The request rumbled from his chest.

She tried to form the words he was waiting on, but they wouldn’t come out. Feeling himself about to cum, he plunged in and out of her warm center as her cream flowed down his thick shaft.

He clenched his teeth. “Say it. Tell me.”

Her tears of pleasure mingled with the water spraying on her face. “I love you,” she whispered.

He growled in satisfaction as he exploded.

“I love you, Brandon. I love you.”

“Ahh… Ahh…Ahhh….” He grunted as he released his seed into her in spurts that mingled with the sweetness of her body’s honey.

Tara writhed against him, tightening her feminine muscles and locking them around his dick. Brandon was a willing prisoner and would’ve stayed there forever if they could have done so. Even as the feelings running through their bodies subsided and ebbed, Brandon continued to move inside her. Finally, holding her tight and secure to him, he brought his forehead down to rest against hers and said words he’d never said to any other woman.

“I love you, Tara. I love you, so much.”

Feeling her trembling in his arms, Brandon’s lips sought hers, marveling at this new feeling of fulfillment he never thought he would find. Gently setting her down, he helped her out. After wrapping her in a towel, he carried Tara to his bed and continued to love her until she feel into an exhausted, satisfied sleep. 


© 2017 S.K. Hardy

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means without the written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.


The only person you are destined to become is the one you decide to be. 

~Ralph Waldo Emerson



Brandon looked at the clock on the bedside table and saw that it was only three o’clock in the morning. Damn. He could’ve sworn it was a lot later than that. Maybe because he’d been staring up at the ceiling for what seemed like hours. No matter how hard he tried, his mind wouldn’t let him rest.

He turned his head and glanced at Tara, who was still fast asleep beside him. Brandon smiled. Knowing he wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep, he decided to go to the living room so he wouldn’t wake her up with his tossing and turning.

Climbing out of bed, Brandon reached for a pair of sweats he’d thrown over a nearby chair and pulled them on before quietly going downstairs. Grabbing a bottle of Hennessey from behind the wet bar, he sat on the couch in the darkness and finally gave his mind free reign to dissect the events from earlier this evening.

Not quite ready to delve into the situation with his mother yet, he thought about his talk with RaShaun. He still couldn’t believe he’d known all this time that he and Terri had been involved.

Brandon remembered the first time he’d met her at a club opening. Terri had been an extremely beautiful woman, so she’d caught his attention with away, and he, hers. Brandon hadn’t approached her, though. That wasn’t his style. Instead, he’d sat back and waited, and just as he’d known she would, Terri finally made her way over to his table. Less than an hour, they’d left and gone to her place.

The relationship between them had been casual, more friends with benefits than anything else. Weeks after meeting when Terri first broached the subject of Brandon helping her get her ex back, he’d been more amused by the request than anything. Having just sold his agency, he’d been a little bored and at ends with what he wanted to do with his life, so he’d agreed with Terri’s request.

She had introduced Brandon to Kiki days later. It was then that he’d discovered Kiki and Yvonne were friends, or so Yvonne thought. That’s how she’d known about Terri being RaShaun’s ex-girlfriend. Terri was the first person Kiki had thought about to break up RaShaun and Yvonne. Brandon watched with interest as, together, the two women formulated a plan. Early on, he’d peeped out that Kiki was jealous of Von, but it wasn’t any of his business. He was just passing the time until he found something better to do…

Brandon ran a hand over his face as he thought about the night the three of them slept together. It had been Terri’s idea. She had told Brandon that Kiki was dying to have sex with him, especially after she’d heard all of the details from Terri about how good he was in bed. Brandon did it more so to please Terri than any desire he had for Kiki. That had been the one and only time he’d been with her.

Afterwards, the plan was put into place to break up RaShaun and Yvonne, and was successfully executed before the two lovers even realized what happened. All it had taken was Yvonne confiding in Kiki that she wasn’t sure she was ready to settle down. Kiki encouraged those feelings and suggested that maybe she needed some time away from RaShaun, to be on her own and enjoy life.

By the time Brandon made his move, Yvonne was primed and ready for a change. So began the unraveling of RaShaun and Yvonne’s relationship.

When Terri found out she was pregnant, Brandon immediately suspected it was his. However, after she took the test that determined RaShaun to be the father, Brandon had backed off, but Terri hadn’t been quite ready to let him go. She’d told him once that he was like a drug to her, a habit she couldn’t kick. Eventually her obsession shifted from RaShaun to Brandon. Her sexual appetite was even more voracious as her pregnancy progressed, and quite honestly, Brandon was there to feed it.

When he finally broke things off with her for good, she refused to leave him alone. That last day he went to see Yvonne at her job, she had followed him, jealous and demanding why he was there. It hadn’t been pretty…

“Terri, I done asked you to leave me alone, a’ight?” The two of them were in the parking lot in front of Yvonne’s office arguing.

“What are you doing here, Brandon? You do understand you were just supposed to be playing a role with her, don’t you? You act like you’re obsessed with that little bitch.”

“Nah, what I understand is that you’re the one who seems to be obsessed. How many ways do I have to tell you that I don’t want you no more?”

“But you want Yvonne?”


“Because if that’s what this little visit is all about, you’ve wasted a trip. Why would Yvonne want someone like you when she’s married to a man like RaShaun Patterson?”

That had stung. At that point, Brandon had gotten tired of her bullshit and went gutter on her. 


“The question is if I ain’t ‘bout shit why tha’ fuck do YOU still want me, huh? The real question is what made you think a man like him would ever want somebody like you? Ere’body know you can’t turn a hoe into a housewife.”


Brandon closed his eyes. He took a big swallow of his drink, feeling it burn down his throat. He could still remember the look on her face at the words he’d thrown at her like bullets out of gun. Tears streaming down her face, she’d hopped in her car and spun out of the parking lot driving as if she were being chased by the devil himself.

Brandon had screamed Terri’s name, but she’d kept driving. Staring at the back of her speeding car, his heart raced out of control. If she didn’t slow down she was going to kill herself and the baby. Brandon had taken a step towards his own car to go after her, but changed his mind. He had his own problems to deal with.

Thirty minutes later, Terri was dead.

Sitting on the edge of the couch, Brandon held his head in his hands and slowly rocked back and forward. That day, she had lashed out at him in jealousy, and he’d taken his anger and frustration out on her. The things he’d said to her had been hurtful and unnecessarily harsh. Brandon blamed himself and would probably always blame himself for her death. He was just thankful that the baby had eventually been okay.

But the nightmares? When would they stop? Would the guilt ever subside? Brandon dug the heel of his hands in his eyes as if to banish his memory. He’d made an effort to become a better person, to try to give back and make up for the wrong he’d done. He was trying to confront the demons of his past. It was becoming easier, but times like this, he felt as if he were back at square one.

He had been using women all his life–and they’d used him back. Unfortunately, Brandon had discovered at a very young age that they were willing to do anything for him. He didn’t have to ask. As he grew older, he’d moved on to wealthy women who threw money at him hand over fist in order to keep getting the pleasure he provided them.

He couldn’t help but wonder if his life would’ve turned out differently if his mother hadn’t given them away. Brandon laughed. Of course it would have. He would’ve had the love of a mother to guide him, to direct him, the same as she’d done for RaShaun. But she hadn’t loved Brandon and Brenda enough to do that.

Angry at the hurt he felt from that thought, he stood up abruptly, chest heaving. Picking up the bottle of alcohol, he threw it against the wall and watched it shatter. The amber colored liquor ran down and stained his dove gray walls. That’s how Tara found him, moments later.

Frightened and still half asleep, she ran into the room. “Brandon! What happened? Are you okay?”

He turned around, looking at the woman who held his heart in her hands. A part of him tried to stop the words that fought to escape through his lips, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to. Brandon walked over to her and hugged her tight. He had to tell her.

“Baby…” Bewildered, Tara lightly rubbed his back. “Baby, what’s wrong?”

It was several moments before Brandon pulled back and stared into her eyes, which were filled with concern. “When I told you I would be truthful with you, I meant it. But first, I wanna tell you that I love you, Tara.”

He took her face in his hands and gently caressed her cheeks, memorizing the love he saw in her eyes. It might be the last time she looked at him that way after she heard what he had to say.

“I…I got some things I need to tell you. All I ask is that you give me a chance to tell you everything.”

“Brandon, you’re scaring me. What’s wrong?”

Brandon grew silent. He was so scared of losing her, but he didn’t want their relationship to be based on secrets. Thinking of his mother, he saw that secrets eventually had a way of coming out.

Reaching for her hand, he led her to the couch. Tara had wrapped the sheet around her when she’d heard the shattering of the glass and raced downstairs. She gathered a handful of the material in her hand so that she wouldn’t trip as she followed behind him. After they sat down, still holding her hand, Brandon turned his body towards her.

“You know there are things I’ve done in my past. Things I’m not proud of.”

Tara squeezed his hand. “And that’s why it’s called the ‘past’. Baby, I know the person you are now. You don’t have to do this.”

Brandon shook his head before she even finished the last sentence. It would be so easy to just agree with her and let sleeping dogs lie. But if she ever found out the truth from anyone else…

“Tara. Please. I have to… no I need to tell you this.”

Obviously seeing how important it was to him, she reluctantly nodded. “Okay. I’m listening.”

Brandon continued looking at her as he brought her hand to his lips and kissed the back of it. “You love me, right?”

Tara nodded. “Yes. Very much.”

Brandon nodded his head up and down. Taking a deep breath, he started from the beginning. Tara, of course, already knew about how he, Yvonne, and RaShaun met, and how he’d tried to come between Yvonne and RaShaun. She’d been there through the entire thing. What she didn’t know was that it went a lot deeper. A helluva lot deeper.

“That night, over a year ago, when I ran into Yvonne and her friends at the club, it wasn’t an accident. Terri and I set it up.”

Tara looked at him as if she hadn’t heard him correctly. “Wait, what? You and Terri. What are you saying? That you and Terri knew each other before she became involved with RaShaun and got pregnant?”

“Yeah.” Staring at the floor, Brandon nodded. Wiping his hand over his mouth, he lifted his eyes to look at Tara. “She came up to me at a club opening and introduced herself. We, uh, went home together with each other that same night.”

“What?” Tara whispered. “You…you slept with Terri? But…I don’t understand.”

“It was a casual relationship. We hooked up every now and then but that’s about as far as it went. Eventually, Terri told me about RaShaun and how she wanted him back…and that she wanted me to help her.”

“Wait!” Tara slid her hand from Brandon’s and held it up to stop his words. She closed her eyes and went back to what he’d just said. “Help her how? How was she planning on getting RaShaun?”

Brandon paused, then said the name he dreaded. “Kiki. She was in on it.”

Tara’s mouth hung open as her face closed up. “Kiki. What does Kiki have to do with this?”

Brandon said everything almost in one breath. He knew if he didn’t tell it all now, he never would. “Kiki and Terri worked together to break up RaShaun and Yvonne. You know as well as I do that Kiki was jealous of Yvonne, especially after she and RaShaun got together. She knew all about Terri from Yvonne. She looked her up and the two of them joined forces.”
Tara’s breathing quickened as she looked at Brandon with disbelief in her eyes. “Are you telling me that you, Terri, and…Kiki…” Her face contorted as she spat out Kiki’s name. “The three of you schemed to break up RaShaun and Yvonne from the very beginning?”

Again Brandon nodded.

“So when you just ‘happened’ to see Yvonne that night, it was all a part of your plan?”

Brandon paused before answering. “Yes.”


Tara turned her head away from him as if she couldn’t stand to look at him. God, please let this all be a bad dream. Please let me wake up now.

She took a deep breath and looked at Brandon, but he was still staring at her with eyes that pleaded for two things she didn’t know if she could ever give him: understanding and forgiveness.

Her feelings must have been reflected in her face because Brandon stood up and paced a few steps before turning around to stare at her. “Tara, I was a different person back then. You know that. Other than my sister, I didn’t give a damn about nothin’ or nobody. Hell, if the truth be known, I didn’t even care about myself. When Terri came to me about this, to be honest, it was…amusing. No big deal. So I agreed.”

“No big deal? Amusing?” Yvonne screeched. She closed her eyes tight. “This is crazy. I still can’t believe it. I can’t believe Kiki was working with Terri all this time. I’ve always known that bitch was a snake in the grass, but no one could tell Yvonne anything. She swore that people just misunderstood Kiki until she found out about all of the lies Kiki had told RaShaun about her. That bitch is lucky Yvonne didn’t kick her ass worse than she did when she discovered Kiki had been coming on to RaShaun. Sneaky, back stabbing, no good skanky whore.”

Brandon got quiet. He knew she didn’t like Kiki, but he didn’t realize to what extent. “Tara….”

“I mean, yeah, Terri and RaShaun had a history together. But Kiki’s ass? What made her think that RaShaun would even touch her with a ten foot pole?”


“Hell, she’s slept with almost half the men in town. Fuckin’ slut! No decent man would even think about screwing her ass.”

“Baby, I wasn’t a decent man back then.” Brandon quietly broke into her tirade. Unable to look at her, he stared down at the floor.

Tara frowned. Now what? “What are you talking about?”

Raising his eyes to meet hers was one of the hardest things he ever had to do in his life. “I said I wasn’t a decent man back then.”

The frown on Tara’s face turned to one of comprehension, then disbelief, then disgust. Her voice shook with emotion. “Brandon, tell me you didn’t…”

Brandon cleared his throat before telling her everything. The threesome between himself, Terri, and Kiki. How he thought the baby Terri carried could’ve possibly been his at the time. How he and Terri continued to see one another throughout her pregnancy. And then finally, the day he and she had words in the parking outside of Yvonne’s office. His voice became hoarse with emotion when he came to the part about how she sped away and was killed in the car accident minutes later.

Tara sat there staring at him with tears rolling down her eyes. She slowly stood up. Brandon walked over to her, but she quickly shook her head and sidestepped out of the way.



“Who are you? How could you be so…devious and conniving? You’re no better than Terri or Kiki.” The laughter that burst out of her was stingingly bitter. “What am I saying? You’re just like them.”

“Tara, please. I’m not that person no more.”

“I don’t want to hear that!” She screamed, anger taking over. “You keep saying that like it automatically absolves you of all responsibility. You expect me to believe you’ve changed that much?” Tara brought her hands up to cover her face. “Oh, God, I should’ve listened to my cousin.”

“Baby, don’t…don’t say that.”

“Go to hell!” Tara yelled.

She averted her eyes from his face. She couldn’t even look at him. Stumbling on the sheet, Tara angrily pulled it from under her feet and balled it up in her hand as she hurried upstairs. She didn’t want to be anywhere near him right now.

Brandon was right on her heels. “Tara, wait. We need to talk. I told you everything for a reason. If I were the same person I was back then, I would’ve kept everything to myself.”

Tara ignored him and reached for her clothes.

“So, being honest with you counts for nothing? A minute ago, you were telling me how much you loved me, and that the ‘past was the past’. But, baby, I didn’t want us to start off with hidden lies and unspoken truths as the foundation of our relationship.”

“I don’t even know if we have a relationship. Does fucking each others brains out constitute a relationship?” She sent him a hot glare as she put her clothes on.


Brandon felt as if the air was slowly and painfully being squeezed out of his lungs. He struggled to keep his tone even so that the fear gnawing in his stomach wouldn’t reflect in his voice.

“So that’s how you feel. Now you don’t love me. Is that it?” he asked, desperately trying to capture her gaze. “Is that what you’re saying, Tara?”

When she rolled her eyes at him and tried to walk past him, he grabbed her arm to stop her. Tara slapped his face and jerked her arm away. “How could you do those things? You slept with Terri? And Kiki??” She reached for the door to leave the bedroom.


“No. I don’t wanna hear it, Brandon! I said, no!” She screamed when he encircled his arms around her from behind.

Brandon just held her tighter against him as she struggled. He didn’t care what he had to do to keep her there. The only thing he was sure of at the moment was if she walked out of that door and left him, he would be losing the best thing that ever happened to him, and after the life he’d led, that was no exaggeration.

Finally, Tara’s struggles ceased. She grew deadly still, head bowed, sniffling, and it broke Brandon’s heart in two. He leaned down and brought his face to hers, kissing her cheek even as she tried to turn away.

“Please don’t cry. I can’t stand it. I’m so sorry, Tara.”

He continued to whisper soothing words of love, regret, and heartfelt promises until she turned around. Tara didn’t look at him, just slipped her arms around his waist and rested her head on his chest.

Brandon reached down and wiped the tears away from her face. “I can’t lose you. Please tell me that you forgive me.”


Tara swallowed hard. Sniffing, she finally eased away enough to look up at Brandon. When she did, she saw the anguish displayed on his face as his eyes anxiously searched hers.

She knew he desperately needed absolution, but she didn’t know if she could give it to him. She closed her eyes, but all she could see was him in bed with Terri and Kiki. Shaking her head, Tara abruptly pushed away from him. She couldn’t stand for him to touch her with the same hands he’d so intimately touched Kiki with. If it had been anyone else other than that troll, she cold possibly get over it, but…

“Would you have preferred that I not told you, Tara?” Brandon asked her quietly. “I mean, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I’m trying to stand up and be a man, take responsibility for my actions. I know it’s not easy for you to hear, but dammit it ain’t easy for me to say either.”

Folding her arms, Tara cast a quick glance at him from the corner of her eye, but remained silent.

Brandon took a deep breath. “I have never, in my life, felt about any woman the way I feel about you. Tonight at RaShaun’s house, you heard how my life was and the things Brenda and I went through. That wasn’t even half of it. Believe me, I’m not trying to get your sympathy, I’m just being honest. There was never anyone who ever cared about me, or took time out to teach me right from wrong. Baby, it was trial and error for me. I had to do what needed to be done to survive, to take care of my sister.”

Seeing that she wouldn’t even give him an inch, Brandon sighed and went over to sit on the bed. With his face devoid of any expression, he leaned down with his elbows on his knees and stared up at her. “Have you ever wondered how I got into my…profession?”

“Brandon, I don’t see what that has to do with–”

“You know how old I was when I first had sex, Tara? I was eleven years old. Eleven. Not much older than Jonathon is now. Know who it was with? The administrator of one of the orphanages we were in. Someone who was supposed to be looking out for the welfare of the children she was in charge of.” The corner of his mouth lifted in a bitter smile. “See, men aren’t the only ones who are molesters, and I’ve come to realize that’s just what she was. For three years, she had sex with me every chance she got. She taught me what she wanted and how she wanted it. She told me she’d make sure Brenda and I were taken care of as long as I took care of her. It went on until someone caught us. She was fired and we were moved to another orphanage.

“But that was the first of many experiences of exchanging sex and getting something in return so you see, my head was fucked up at an early age. And when I got older, women wanted to pay me for it.” He looked away for a moment, then back at Tara. “Brenda doesn’t know all of it, but that’s how I put her through college. The woman I was with at the time was very wealthy. In exchange for me being at her beck and call, she paid Brenda’s tuition until she graduated. That’s the kind of life I had, so you see, when Terri came to me and told me what she wanted, I didn’t see what the big deal was,” Brandon shrugged. “That shit was child’s play. I’m not sayin’ that it was right, but I didn’t give two shits about somebody gettin’ hurt. Then when Terri was killed in that car accident…”

He stared into space as if reliving that time before standing and determinedly bringing his attention back to Tara.

“To be honest, baby, if you walk out of that door and never come back, I can’t say that I’d be surprised. My mother was able to do it without too much trouble, so why should anyone else be any different?” He spread his hands out beside him, palms up. “Tara, I can’t be too much more open with you than what I’ve been. This is me. I’m hoping you meant what you said, and that you do love me, at least enough to stay with me and work this out, but…I understand if you can’t.”


Tara opened her mouth to tell him exactly that. That she didn’t think she could be with him after learning everything, but something held her back from saying those words. She thought about what he’d told her. He was right. He didn’t have to tell her any of this. He had to have known there was the strong possibility she would leave him, yet he took that chance and was truthful about everything…

Then it hit her. Just like she’d been defending him to everyone else, those words remained the same. No matter what he’d done then, this was the type of man he was now. Strong, loving, and honest.

Tara looked at him standing in front of her waiting on her to make a decision. Closing her eyes for a moment, she decided to go with her instincts. They’d honestly never led her wrong, so as difficult as this was, she had to trust her gut. Making up her mind she opened her eyes.

“I do love you, Brandon. And we…we can get through this. I’m not going anywhere.”

Brandon closed his eyes briefly in relief. He pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her securely. “I don’t know what I would’ve done if I’d lost you. I promise on my life, I’ll never hurt you again.”

Tara nodded. For reasons she couldn’t explain, she trusted him.

They removed their clothes and got back into the bed and held each other tightly until they fell asleep. Brandon felt as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and for the first time in a long time, he slept peacefully throughout the night with Tara in his arms.


“Brandon. Brandon…”

Grunting, Brandon turned over and pulled the pillow over his head.

“Brandon…” This time the persistent hushed voice was accompanied by an insistent tapping on his shoulder.

Brandon rolled over and looked through squinted eyes at his sister. So he wasn’t dreaming. Brenda gestured for him to come downstairs before walking out of his bedroom. Brandon looked at Tara to make sure she was still asleep. Seeing that she was, he climbed out of bed and pulled on his sweatpants and walked half blind from sleep to join Brenda. He found her in the kitchen pouring a glass of orange juice.

“Hey, Sis. What’s up? Everything okay?” he asked in a scratchy voice. “Damn, what time is it?”

“Yes. Everything’s fine, and it’s after eight. Sorry to use my key and let myself in, but I rang the doorbell several times.”

“Yeah, we really just got to sleep a couple of hours ago.”

“Spare me the details,” she grinned knowingly.

Brandon looked at her and smiled. “Nah, we were up talking. I told Tara everything.”

Brenda’s eyes widened. “Everything? How did she react?”

“She was a little pissed off at first, but I think everything’s going to be okay.”

“Oh, Brandon, I’m so glad. I was worried about you not telling her.”

“You sure you okay? What are you doin’ up so early?”

“Its not that early. But…I’m going to meet Diane for brunch. And I want you to come with me.”

“Nope.” Brandon took her glass of juice from her hand and went into the living room.

Brenda followed behind him. “Brandon, please. I did a lot of thinking, and RaShaun’s right. Maybe it’s best if we make an attempt to move forward. I really think she wants to try and make amends.”

“Make amends, Brenda? Tell me how she thinks she’s gonna do that? Look, I understand if you want to see her and get to know her. Fine. Do it. But I’ve met her and as far as I’m concerned, that’s enough.”

“But Brandon, she’s our….”

“Don’t. Don’t say it because she’s not!” Brandon didn’t mean to yell, but just the thought of that woman wanting to have a relationship with them now pissed him off.


“Brenda, I said no.”

“Why not?” Tara asked from behind them.

They both turned around. Neither had heard her come into the room. She stared at Brandon, waiting for an answer.

“Baby, you already know why not. Now if Brenda wants to forgive and forget, then God bless. We’re twins, but it doesn’t mean we always think alike.”

“What happened to forgiveness? And letting the past stay where it belongs?”

Their eyes locked and held as Tara sent a silent message to him. “Its not the same thing and you know it.”

“No, but the outcome is the same.” She walked up to him and slid her arms around his waist. “Baby, it’s not going to help anyone to hold on to past hurts. You’re trying to punish your mother, but the only thing that’s accomplishing is you holding on to the hurt and anger, and you already know it wont do anything but eat you up inside. You need to do this for yourself. Not Diane. That’s the only way you can truly get on with your life.”

Brandon stared at her for several long moments before resignation set in. He looked over at Brenda who was silently pleading with him. “Fine,” he sighed loudly. “But I cant promise anything.”

“Thank you, baby. That’s all we ask” She reached up on tiptoe and kissed his chin. He lowered his head and kissed her on the lips before turning back to Brenda. “Give me about thirty minutes.”

“Make it twenty,” she grinned.

He glared at her, then loudly blew out a breath in irritation before turning to go to his room. Tara and Brenda heard him mumbling about the ‘bossy women in his life’ before he climbed the stairs two at a time.

Brenda and Tara grinned and gave each other a high five. At least it was a first step. They sat and talked until Brandon came back into the room. He had showered and thrown on his clothes.

“We may as well get this over with. Come on,” he told Brenda reluctantly. He kissed Tara goodbye, before he closed the door, he turned around to look at her. “You’ll be here when I get back, wont you?”

“Where else would I be?” she smiled.

He returned her smile before walking out.


Brenda and Brandon strolled into the hotel lobby downtown to meet Diane for brunch. Heads turned as the attractive pair walked by, but they were oblivious to the stares their looks attracted; they had become so used to the attention they barely even noticed it anymore.

Diane sat at a table and watched their approach. Pride and love filled up her heart until she thought she would burst. She would never forgive herself for giving them up, and could only hope they would give her a chance to be in their lives now, if only in some small way. She smiled as they made it to her table.

“Good morning. Thank you for meeting me. It means a lot.”

Brenda smiled. “Thank you for inviting us.”

Brandon pulled his shades off and ignored her. He pulled the chair out for Brenda to sit down then sat himself.

“What do you two have planned for today?” Diane’s voice was overly bright to try and hide her nervousness. “Yvonne and Shaun wanted to make sure I extended an invitation for dinner. If you’re not busy,” she hurriedly added.

“I’m busy.” Brandon said without missing a beat.

Brenda frowned at her brother, but he kept perusing the menu. Although he felt her stare, he didn’t bother looking at her.

“Why don’t we go on and order?” Brandon suggested impatiently. “I don’t plan on being here long.”


Brandon signaled the waiter that they were ready. After they gave their orders, Diane asked Brenda about her job and things she liked to do in her spare time. Before long, they were talking easily and even laughed a little. But Brandon sat there and just stared at his mother. What was her angle? What did she really want from them?

Diane caught him watching her with the thoughtful expression on his face. “What about you Brandon? What do you do?”

Brenda kicked him under the table. Brandon didn’t look at her but he felt her hard stare. He sighed and swallowed back the sharp retort lingering on the edge of his tongue. “Lets just say I’m in between jobs right now. I’m…making a career change.”

“Oh? What did you do before? You’re so well spoken, I’m sure you were a raging success at whatever you’re previous job was.”

Brandon’s eyes narrowed. She was pushing it with the ‘let’s get to know each other’ crap.

Brenda saw the sudden glint in his eyes and stuttered nervously as she tried to answer for him, but Brandon spoke over her and said exactly what she was trying to avoid.

“I was in the male escort business. I fucked rich women for money to keep me in the style in which I’d grown accustomed.” Smiling like a predator that had its meal in its immediate sight, Brandon went in for the kill. “You know. Sort of like you did with your husband when you got pregnant by his best friend.”

Diane had been taking a sip of water, but when she heard his last sentence, she gasped, causing her to sputter and choke.

Brenda reached over and patted her on the back as she glared at her brother. “Stop it, Brandon!” she hissed.

Brandon looked at her innocently. “What, Sis? I’m telling the truth. That’s what this little shindig is all about, ain’t it? Getting to know us. Makin’ amends. The truth is, she didn’t want to give up her fancy life, so in exchange she continued to let her husband fuck her…in more ways than one.” He settled deeper in the chair and grinned. “Maybe I really am my mother’s son.”

Diane’s hand slammed down on the table. “That’s enough!” She didn’t raise her voice but there was an unmistakable hint of steel in her tone. “You will not speak to me in that manner.”

Brandon’s smile turned cold. “What is that, your ‘Mommy’ voice? Sorry. I wouldn’t know.”

“I understand you must hate me right now, and you have the right to feel that way. But no matter how you may feel, I won’t let you sit there and use vulgar language towards me.”

Brandon leaned towards her. “And just what in the fuck are you supposed to mean to me? I’ll tell you. Not a got damn thing! So either take me or leave me. Wait. Let me guess which one you’re gonna do,” he said sarcastically.

Diane sat there breathing hard as she narrowed her eyes. Brandon looked at Brenda and saw the same exact expression on her face. Brandon smirked at them both, then picked up his Mimosa and took a healthy swallow.

Obviously making an attempt to calm down, Diane breathed in deeply and sat back. “You think you have everything figured out? Don’t be so sure. Things are not as cut and dried as you make them out to be, Brandon.”

“Oh yeah? Enlighten me,” he said in a bored tone.

“Do you think it was easy for me to give my babies away?” Before he could answer, she continued. “Days after I signed the adoption papers, I went into a deep depression. I…I tried to commit suicide twice.”

Brenda and Brandon looked at her with wide eyes. For once, Brandon didn’t have anything to say.

“I couldn’t live with what I’d done. And on top of that, your father had just been killed. I wasn’t able to mourn him openly, so I kept it all inside. Finally, I felt as if I couldn’t deal with life any longer. On the first attempt, I took sleeping pills. Charles found me just in time and rushed me to the hospital. The second time…” She looked down at her wrists and slowly turned them over so that the back of her hands rested on the table.

Brenda and Brandon noticed the very faint but still visible puckered slashes on her inner wrists. Brenda gasped in horror.

“I was in the bathtub, had been wondering about where you both were. Praying that you were okay. Crying because I ached to have you with me…I’d gotten to the place where every time I took a bath, I’d bring one of Charles’ razors and set it on the side of the tub. One night, I finally got the courage to use it. By the time Charles found me this time, I had lost a dangerous amount of blood. After they stitched my wrists up, I was put in a psychiatric hospital. Luckily, there was a doctor there who actually cared enough to try and help me. She prescribed anti depressives and worked with me to get to the root of my problems. Eventually, I got better.” She looked at them both. “But I never forgot you. Not for one moment.”

Brenda wiped the tears from her eyes with her napkin and reached over to grasp her mother’s hand in hers. Diane squeezed her hand and tried to smile through her own tears. She looked at Brandon and held out her other hand.

“Please, please forgive me. I loved you both from the minute you were born. If nothing else, please believe that.”

She stared at Brandon until he lifted his gaze from the table. He looked down at her outstretched hand, which seemed to be begging for his. Almost of their own violation, his fingers uncurled from the fist he had resting on the table and slowly moved towards her hand. He hesitated and then slipped his hand in hers. The tears welled up in his eyes as he felt his mother’s touch for the first time in his life.

Diane’s tears fell as well. Brenda reached out and took Brandon’s other hand. They sat that way for several long minutes, instinctively knowing that this was the first step towards their healing.


As Brandon drove back to his house, his mind went over the last couple of hours. The visit with Diane had still been a little awkward, but pleasant enough. For the first time, he saw things from a different perspective. It would take some time, but he was beginning to think that maybe, eventually, he would be able to have a relationship with her. Maybe he and Brenda would finally have a chance to be a part of a real family. Just the thought made his heart light with hope.

Tara had called and told him she was running to the store for a few things and would be back in about an hour. Brandon pulled his car in the driveway and hopped out. As he made his way to the front door, he whistled a tune under his breath but stopped abruptly when he saw a package sitting in one of the chairs on his front porch. Frowning, he reached down and picked it up. The only writing on it was his name.

“What in the hell is this?” he mumbled.

Brandon unlocked his door and walked in. After carefully tearing the envelope open, he reached in and pulled out a case with a DVD in it. Now even more curious, he went to the TV and slipped the disk into the DVD player. He backed up and waited for it to start. The image that appeared was the last thing he ever expected to see.

“What the…”

Terri’s face came on the screen, then his. They were in bed naked. Terri was gazing up at him seductively while performing oral sex on him. Brandon, head thrown back and eyes closed, grasped a handful of her hair.

“What the fuck. When did…” He was confused as hell.

He squinted as he tried to place when this was recorded. A third person walked in view of the camera. Brandon inhaled sharply when he recognized Kiki. She pushed Terri out of the way and straddled him, but he stopped her and reached for a condom. Once he did, Kiki proceeded to ride him like she was a star in a porno film.

Feeling nauseous, Brandon paused the DVD. The envelope he still had in his hand fluttered to the floor. He looked down at it and noticed a corner of a letter sticking out. Reaching down to pull it out of the envelope, he unfolded it and quickly skimmed over the contents. Brandon’s face changed from shock to anger as he slowed down and read it again:

Hey, Brandon. I hope you enjoyed our little home movie. I know I do…frequently. Since you obviously think you’re too good for me now, I thought I’d send you this little reminder of how good it was with me…before I send it to the board of directors of Haven House. I think they'd find it interesting to see how kinky the boyfriend of Haven House's Director is.
Your sister works there too, doesn’t she? Brenda?

I also plan to send a copy directly to that bitch you’re with now. I’m sure she’d love to see how a real woman fucks a man. She probably could use the lesson. Hell, I may even keep a copy in safe keeping for little Faith. When she’s old enough, I’m sure she’d love see what a freak her mother was, haha.

So, if you find that you’ve changed your mind, and would like to start a mutually satisfying relationship, cum see me, boo. You have two days. Otherwise, copies of these DVD’s will start showing up in the most surprising places. See you soon.

Brandon slowly lowered the letter to his side. Blackmail? His face turned dark and threatening. Turning the TV off, he put the disk back in the case and angrily walked to the door and yanked it open.

That bitch done messed with the wrong one. The wrooong fuckin’ one. I’mma kill her ass! Brandon thought to himself as he slammed the door behind him.

His hand was shaking so bad from fury, he could barely get the key in the lock. “Fuck!”

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, but that did nothing to quiet the rage building up inside him. That bitch actually had the nerve to try and blackmail him. Done lost her got damn mind. But she was gettin’ ready to see exactly what blackmail got her in just a minute.

Finally getting the door locked, he turned around and practically ran into RaShaun and Quincy. He glowered from one of them to the other. He was so furious he hadn’t even heard them drive up. What in the hell were they doin’ at his house?
Quite frankly, it didn’t matter. Whatever the reason, he wasn’t in the mood for it. Not now.


“What!” Brandon snarled aggressively.

“Whoa.” RaShaun raised his eyebrow at the hostile greeting. He thought they had made at least a little progress last night. “Take it down a notch, man. We’re not here to start anything.”

“Then why are you here? Believe me, its not a good time right now.”

Quincy grimaced at Brandon then looked at Rah. Brother or no brother, he still was an arrogant little son of a…

RaShaun tried again. “Look. The women have apparently gotten together at the house to start cooking dinner. Tara said she called but just got your voicemail. Q. and I were going to shoot a few hoops at the park and wondered if–”

“Cant. Got somethin’ to take care of. Excuse me.”

Brandon tried to walk around them, but RaShaun reached out an arm to stop him.

“Hold up, man. Apparently, something’s wrong. Maybe we can help.”

Brandon looked at RaShaun’s outstretched arm before slowly bringing his eyes up to meet his. “No. You cant. But what I do need you to do is get the fuck outta my way.”

RaShaun’s eyes narrowed as he felt his own temper trying to wake up. “I’m only trying to help. Maybe if you tell me–”

“Just cut the concerned big brother act! Less than twenty-four hours ago, you and your buddy here were ready to jump on me and beat my ass. Now, you want to know if you can help me? What you can do is move!”

He tried to elbow his way around RaShaun, but RaShaun’s temper won the battle. Yeah, he was trying to take the high road and reach out to Brandon, but that didn’t mean he’d let him talk to him like he was stupid. He pushed Brandon in the chest and walked up on him.

“Who in the fuck you think you talking to? Huh?”

Q. leaned against one of the white pillars. Apparently this was a pissing contest between brothers. He’d let them handle their business unless it got out of hand.

Brandon’s expression became enraged. He pushed RaShaun back, dropping the DVD on the ground. They tussled briefly before RaShaun managed to pin Brandon up against the door.

“Man, get the fuck off me!” Brandon growled.

“You need to calm the hell down. That’s part of your freakin’ problem. Always running off half cocked and damning the consequences.”
Q. raised an eyebrow and looked at RaShaun. Before meeting Yvonne, RaShaun had been the same way when pushed.

“I told you I had something to do. Its none of your business what it is or how I take care of it. You think I need you to look out for me? I been lookin’ out for myself since–”

“Yeah, I know, since you were a kid!” RaShaun interrupted and finished the sentence for him. “But maybe it’s time you let someone help you once in a while. It would make things a lot easier. And anyway, shouldn’t you be thinking about someone other than yourself now. You and Tara are in a relationship I assume?”

“Tara’s part of the reason I’m….” Brandon bit off the rest of his sentence. Taking a deep breath, and lowering his tone, he said through clenched teeth. “Will you please take your arm off my fucking neck?”

Amusement slowly faded out anger as the corner of RaShaun’s mouth lifted. He was only pinning Brandon to the wall by the chest, not his neck…this time.

“Well, since you asked so nicely…” RaShaun slowly moved back a step, smirking when Brandon rubbed his chest and glared at him. “Now, why don’t we go inside and you tell us what has you so fired up and ready to whip somebody’s ass.”

Brandon stared at him for a moment longer. He snatched up the DVD from the ground then turned around and unlocked the door.

As Quincy and RaShaun followed him in, Quincy glanced at RaShaun and whispered from the side of his mouth. “Damn, bruh. You had to struggle a little bit more than usual wit his ass. Thought he was gonna take you there for a minute.”

“Li’l motherfucka is stronger than he was last time.” RaShaun winced and flexed his shoulder. “Damn. I’m gonna have to start hitting the weights again.”

Brandon turned around impatiently and glared at them. When he didn’t say anything, RaShaun gestured with his hand for him to start talking.

Brandon rolled his eyes and folded his arms. “Somebody is apparently calling themselves tryin’ to blackmail me,” he muttered.

RaShaun froze. “What?”


Quincy immediately turned official and shot questions Brandon’s way. “What happened? Did they send you a note? What are they trying to blackmail you with? Let me see what they sent you.”

Brandon hesitated. He still hadn’t had a chance to tell RaShaun the entire story as he’d done with Tara last night. “I appreciate the offer, but I can take care of this myself.”

“Cut the shit, Brandon,” RaShaun snapped. “Did you hear anything I just said to you outside? Now tell us what’s going on.”

A look of uncertainty crossed Brandon’s face before he came to a decision. If he was going to come clean, he may as well come clean with everything.
“First, I need to tell you something.”

He looked RaShaun directly in the eye and told him what he’d revealed to Tara last night. He confessed everything from his initial part in coming between him and Yvonne, to the ending when he and Terri had that last argument in the parking lot of Yvonne’s job. Lastly, he told him about the DVD that he’d just received.

After Brandon finished, RaShaun stared at him with a long, concentrated look without speaking.

Brandon returned the stare and braced himself for Shaun’s reaction. “So. Still wanna ‘help’ me?”

“Is that everything?” RaShaun asked quietly. “Is there anything else you need to tell me?” His eyes told Brandon that if there was more, he needed to tell him now, but Brandon shook his head.

Seeming to come to a decision, RaShaun nodded. “Alright. We’ll deal with all that later. First things first. This shit with Kiki. You said she’s blackmailing you?”

Brandon’s face showed his surprise that RaShaun gave a damn after what he’d told him, but he quickly masked his expression and nodded. “Yeah.”

“Why the hell would you let her record you?”

“I didn’t know!” Brandon hated to sound defensive, but RaShaun had a way of quietly grilling a person without raising his voice.

RaShaun nodded, his expression dark and menacing. “That fucking bitch. She’s been a thorn in my side one way or the other since I met Yvonne. I guess she didn’t learn her lesson when Yvonne kicked her ass.”

“I guess she didn’t.” Brandon’s face now held the same look as RaShaun’s.

“She’s like a recurring nightmare. Every time you get a few peaceful nights of sleep, it fucking pops up again out of nowhere and keeps you awake. Well, this time, we’re going to make sure she gets the picture once and for all.”

Quincy looked from one of them to the other. Damn. Now how the hell did everyone miss the resemblance between the two of them all this time? He decided it was time to step in.

“Wait a minute. Before you two go ‘running off half cocked and damning the consequences’….” He deliberately threw RaShaun’s own words back at him. “I have a plan.”

RaShaun and Brandon turned to look at him. Seeing the intensity in their eyes, Q. shook his head again. Damn. They really are brothers...

“Okay. This is what we’re gonna do…”

© 2017 S.K. Hardy

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means without the written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.


Brandon sat in the chair with his shirt off as Quincy finished putting the wire on him. RaShaun paced back and forth, still fuming.

“I can’t believe it’s not against the law for a person to videotape someone without their consent.”

Quincy shrugged. “She was in her own home. She can basically do whatever she wants. Not saying it’s right, that’s just the way it is. But. It is against the law to send a letter threatening to distribute the tape if Brandon doesn’t do what she wants.” He glanced down at Brandon and gave him an amused look. “What the hell did you put on her for her to go to this extreme to force you to fuck her again?”

Quincy looked at RaShaun and they both snickered.

Brandon glared at them. “Well, I’m glad to see you two find this shit so funny. That bitch is crazy.”

“Don’t worry about it man. After we finish with her, we won’t ever hear a peep out of her again. To be honest, if you were to pursue the issue legally, she probably would only get a slap on the wrist, but I’m betting on the fact that she doesn’t know that.”

Quincy stepped back and checked out his handiwork. He nodded in satisfaction after he saw that everything was ready. “So you’re clear on the plan, right? I have the wire taped down pretty good, but be careful not to let her get too close and feel if under your shirt.”

Brandon’s face showed his distaste at even the thought of Kiki touching him. He pulled his shirt on and started buttoning it up. “Don’t worry. That won’t be a problem.”

Quincy handed Brandon the phone to set up the meeting. “Now remember, everything you say will be recorded. When you see her, just get her to admit to taping you without your consent, and then sending you the letter. I’ll take it from there.”

With the phone on speaker, Brandon dialed Kiki’s number then brought the phone up to his ear, biting back a sigh when she answered the phone. “Yeah. It’s me.”

“Well, Brandon. Can’t say that I’m surprised you called.” They all heard the self-satisfied tone of her voice. “What can I do for you?”

“I think you know. I got your little package. We need to talk.”

“So now you wanna talk. When I saw you a couple of weeks ago, you spoke to me like I was a piece of trash.”

Brandon opened his mouth to agree with her assessment but closed it after Quincy gave his head a quick shake.

“Why should I see you now?” Kiki asked.

Brandon took a deep breath. “You’re right. I was wrong to speak to you like that. Especially after the night the three of us had.” He continued with an effort after Quincy nodded his approval. “Actually seeing it on the screen brought back memories. I didn’t know you had taped us.”

“Terri didn’t know either, but that night was something I wanted to relive again and again. You don’t know how many times I’ve watched it…and I want some more. Until I say it’s enough,” she added defiantly.

“Okay, but like I said, first we need to talk about the little note that you sent with the DVD. Then we’ll go from there.”

“You’re in no position to make demands, Brandon. I’m running this. It goes my way or no way.”

Brandon bit his tongue until he tasted blood. This fucking cunt…

“Fine. Is it alright if I come over now?” When she hesitated, he added, “If it’s not a good time, we can do it later…”

“No!” Kiki quickly came to a decision. “The sooner the better. You can come now.”

“Good. I’ll be there in about forty-five minutes.” Brandon hung up the phone before she could respond. Jumping out of the chair he started pacing back and forth, so frustrated he felt like hitting something.

“Brandon, you gotta calm down. So fucking hot-headed.” RaShaun shook his head at him. Both Brandon and Quincy gave him an incredulous look, which he promptly ignored. “Ready?”


Brandon stood outside Kiki’s apartment, but before he rang the doorbell, he glanced one last time at RaShaun and Quincy, who were sitting in Quincy’s car in the parking lot. They would be listening to everything he and Kiki said.

Turning back to the door, he rang the doorbell, and had barely lowered his hand when the door swung open. Kiki stood in front of him wearing a pair of high heels and a short, silk robe. It was obvious that she was naked beneath it. Brandon lowered his eyes to hide his revulsion.

“You made it.” Kiki stepped back to allow him in.

Brandon stepped inside the apartment. Looking around, he noticed the curtains were closed and various sized candles were lit around the room.

Brandon shook his head. This bitch. Did she think this was a fucking date or something?

“Would you like something to drink?” Kiki’s hungry eyes moved over Brandon’s body. She licked her lips as her attention on his crotch.

“Nah, I’m good. So, how are you?”

“Better now. And yourself?”

“I was a helluva lot better before I got your li’l package earlier today. What’s up with that, Ki?”

“Well, I had to get your attention some kind of way, didn’t I? It worked. You’re here.” She shot him a triumphant look.

“Why would you try to blackmail me with that shit?”

“Lets just call it ‘friendly persuasion’. Blackmail is such an ugly word.” She stepped closer until her breasts touched his chest.

Brandon drew an imaginary line from the hollow of her throat down to the center of her breasts. “You could’a just come correct with a brotha if you wanted a repeat. That night I saw you at the club, I had some problems I was tryin’ to work out in my head. I told you I wasn’t in the mood for company.”

Kiki pouted. “You were really mean to me. I could’ve made you forget all about your problems.”

She inhaled sharply as Brandon push the front opening of her robe to the side and lightly ran his fingertip over her nipple. Kiki’ mouth went slack. She closed her eyes and started panting like a dog in heat.

“So instead you send me a recording and a threatening letter?” Brandon abruptly removed his hand and moved back a few steps.

Kiki swayed from the absence of his touch. “Brandon…”

She walked up to him and tried to slip her hands around his waist. Brandon caught her arms and held her back but leaned down and brought his lips a whisper away from hers.

Kiki’s lips parted eagerly. She wanted to kiss him so bad she could almost taste it.

“Business first. Then pleasure,” he whispered.

Kiki pouted, but nodded reluctantly.

“Answer me this. Why? I mean, how did you even record us without me or Terri knowing anyway?”

Kiki wanted to hurry up and get the talking out of the way, so she began to speak fast. “I had a camera set up above my closet. I bought it in one of those spy stores. It was easy to hide.”

“Would you really have distributed recordings around like you threatened to do? You would’ve gone to that extreme, to hurt Tara and my sister just to get back at me?” Brandon’s hand covered her breast again.

“N-no, baby. I told you I only sent you that letter to get your attention. I never would’ve let anyone else see it.” She reached down and grabbed Brandon’s dick through his jeans and squeezed. “Now, will you please just fuck me already?”

A knock sounded at the front door. Brandon knew it was RaShaun and Quincy. As previously arranged, after Kiki incriminated herself and Quincy felt they had what they needed, they would come to the apartment.

Kiki frowned. “Who in the hell is that? I’m not expectin’ nobody.”

She gaped at him in confusion when he went to the door without commenting and opened it. Kiki’s eyes almost bucked out of her head when she saw RaShaun, Quincy, and a policeman standing in her doorway. “What’s goin’ on? What are ya’ll doin’ here?”

RaShaun came in the apartment first, his eyes never leaving her face. Kiki took stumbling steps back as RaShaun advanced forward until she bumped into a chair.

“What are we doing here? I’m here to make sure you leave my family alone once and for all.”

“Your family?” Kiki laughed, but when she saw she was the only one who found anything amusing, she looked more confused than ever. “What are you talking about? Since when did Brandon become anyone’s family?”

Brandon stood next to RaShaun and glared at Kiki while RaShaun answered her in a cold voice. “Brandon is my brother.”


Kiki looked from one of them to the other and cackled. They had to be joking. “Whatever. You two can’t stand each other, let alone be related. Brothers? Please!” She glanced nervously at the officer. “Look, I don’t know what’s going on here, but if you don’t leave now–”

This time it was Quincy who laughed as he placed the case he was carrying on top of the dining room table. “You’ll what? Call the police? As you can see, there’s no need,” he taunted. “And before you say anything else, I want you to listen to something.”

“Wh-What?” Kiki’s wide eyes went from the case to Quincy.

“Did you know it’s against the law to videotape someone without their knowledge or consent? And then to add blackmail on top of that?” Quincy folded his arms and looked at Kiki. “Tsk, tsk, tsk. Not a smart move, Ki. Not smart at all.”

Kiki had the nerve to give Brandon an accusing look as if he’d betrayed her. She pushed him past him to go and stand by the window to put distance between them.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. He knew all about it. It was his idea,” she bluffed.

Brandon scowled. “You lying, little–”

“Brandon.” Quincy held up a hand up to stop him. “I got it.”

Kiki smirked at them. “It’s your word against mine.”

“Actually, its your word…period.” Quincy pushed a button on the recorder.

Kiki’s mouth fell open as the conversation she’d had with Brandon floated into the room. She looked sick when she heard herself admitting to videotaping them having sex and sending the threatening letter.

Quincy turned the recording off. “You were saying?”

“I…I…” Kiki looked around the room before her blistering gaze landed on Brandon. “I can’t believe you did this!”

Brandon squinted at her like she was crazy but he didn’t bother to respond.

Kiki started trembling when the police officer walked towards her and took out a pair of handcuffs.

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in a court of law…” He turned her around and pulled her arms behind her back. Slapping the cuffs on her wrists, he ignored her high-pitched sobs and screams. “Do you understand the rights as I’ve read them to you?”

Kiki’s words came out jumbled and incoherent. Tears mingling with her mascara caused wet, black streaks to smear down her face. She looked a hot mess as she continued to plead with them not to arrest her. When she saw that Brandon and RaShaun’s expressions held no sympathy her knees collapsed. She would’ve fallen to the floor in a pathetic puddle if the police officer hadn’t been there to hold her up.

Quincy gestured for him to bring her over to the couch. Once she was sitting down, he propped a foot up on the cushion next to her and put his elbow on his knee. Leaning close to her, he gave her a menacing glare.

“You can just stop with the tears. You wanted to play in the big leagues well this is what happens. The courts don’t take cases like this lightly, although with this being your first offense, you’ll probably only get five to ten.” Quincy shrugged. “You could be out in less than three with good behavior.”

Kiki stared at him with her mouth wide open. Snapping her eyes closed she threw her head back and wailed even louder.

Quincy glanced over at Brandon and nodded, who took his cue.

“Quincy, hold up. Let me talk to you for a minute, man.”

Kiki quieted down to hiccupping whimpers as she watched Quincy whispering with Brandon across the room. RaShaun cut his eyes at her and went to join them. As he listened he vehemently shook his head in protest.

“No! Absolutely not!” he hissed.

Quincy held his hands up to calm him down. “Rah, it’s Brandon’s decision.”

“How can you think about not pressing charges after everything she’s done?” RaShaun glared at Brandon for Kiki’s benefit.

“I think she’s learned her lesson, Shaun,” Brandon countered loud enough for Kiki to hear.

Kiki scooted to the edge of the couch. “I have learned my lesson. I swear I have,” she cried desperately.

The three men turned to look at her. RaShaun shook his head. “People like you don’t learn lessons. You lay low for a while, then after you think everything has been forgotten, you go back to your same old ways. You’re not happy unless you’re hurting other people.”

Kiki shook her head forcefully from side to side. “No! I won’t bother you! I’ll never bother you again! Please! Please don’t arrest meeeeee….” She started blubbering and sobbing again at the top of her lungs.

“How do I know you haven’t made other copies?” Brandon asked.

“I only made the one I sent to you,” she sniffed, answering him quickly. “The original is in my room. I can get it.”

Quincy nodded to the officer to take the cuffs off. “Go with her Mike.”

Mike grabbed Kiki’s arm and led her to her room. When they came back, he gave the DVD to Quincy, who popped the DVD in the DVD player. After seeing the images displayed on the screen, he took it out and gave it to Brandon.

“Well. It’s your call.”


Brandon was silent for a moment. He stared hard at Kiki as if he were trying to come to a decision. Then he looked at RaShaun who shook his head. Kiki held her breath as she waited to see what her fate was.

Sighing heavily, Brandon turned to glare at Kiki. “I swear to God, if you ever come near me or my family again I’ll have your ass thrown in jail so fast you won’t know what hit you. You understand me?”

Kiki almost collapsed in relief. “Yes! Yes! You’ll never hear from me again, I promise!”

“Your promises ain’t worth shit. Just remember that Quincy will be keeping everything as evidence and I wont hesitate to press charges if you even think about pulling a stunt like this again.”

Kiki nodded vigorously. “I understand.”

Quincy went to retrieve the case with the recorder and lifted his brows at Brandon and RaShaun. “A’ight. We good?”

RaShaun’s face wore a dark scowl. “I still think this is a mistake, but like you said, it’s up to Brandon.”

Looking at Kiki, Brandon nodded slowly. “Yeah. We good.”

The four men filed out of the apartment, silent unit they got to Quincy’s car. They stood there for a moment looking at each other with solemn expressions. The next instant, they grinned and gave each other high fives.

The police officer laughed and shook his head. “Man, ya’ll are crazy, you know that? That was some fun shit.”

Quincy shook his hand. “Thanks, Mike. I appreciate you helpin’ us out, man.”

“No problem, Q. I owe you after getting me out of that situation a few months back. I’ll talk to you later.” He shook hands with Brandon and RaShaun then went to his car.

Brandon looked at Quincy. “Hey, man, I, uh, I appreciate everything you did.” He shook Quincy’s hand and leaned forward to give him a shoulder bump.

“Don’t mention it, man. I don’t think you’ll have to worry about her anymore, but…”

Brandon frowned. That didn’t sound good. “But what?”

“I think we need to clear some things up about…Terri’s accident.”

Brandon’s features grew stiff. Now what? He should’ve known this all was too good to be true. “Q., I really done said all I wanna say about that so–”

“The accident wasn’t your fault, Brandon.”

Brandon swallowed hard and glanced away. “Look, I know what you doin’ and I appreciate you tryin’ to–”

“No, listen. Terri was taking the exit to get onto the interstate when a car cut in front of her. Terri lunged the steering wheel hard to try and avoid a collision but when she slammed on breaks, an eighteen-wheeler plowed into her from behind. The pile up was a chain reaction as other cars crashed into them.”

Heart racing furious, Brandon listened to Quincy with an intense expression. He heard what he said, but his mind refused to calculate the words into a satisfactory explanation that his head would understand.


“We had no idea you were blaming yourself all this time. Terri’s death wasn’t your fault.”

Brandon blinked rapidly. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Clearing his throat, he tried again. “You, uh, you sure you not just tellin’ me this. So that, you know, I won’t feel guilty about what happened?”

“He’s telling you the truth, Brandon,” RaShaun said quietly. “I have a copy of the police report at my house any time you want to look at it.”

Brandon tried to swallow past the lump of emotion that had settled in his throat. All this time, he thought he’d been the cause of Terri driving recklessly and having an accident. It would take a while to process the facts of exactly what happened, and even when he did, Brandon knew he would always carry a measure of guilt around because of what took place the last time he and Terri saw other.

“Thank you. Both of you. I…” He looked from Quincy to Shaun, still in shock of what he’d just learned. Honestly, he didn’t know how to put his gratitude into words. “Shaun…”

RaShaun shook his head to let him know no words were necessary and slapped Brandon on the back. “Come on. Let’s go home.”


Thirty minutes later, as the three of them walked up to RaShaun’s house, Brandon stopped RaShaun before they went in. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

Quincy glanced at them then went inside and closed the door to give them some privacy.

“RaShaun, before we go inside, I just want to say thank you again. Other than Brenda, I never had nobody that cared enough to try and look out for me. I…thanks for having my back.”

RaShaun rubbed the back of his neck as he looked at Brandon. “I don’t mean to sound like a greeting card, but I tried to tell earlier, that’s what family is for. I know all of this is new to both of us, and believe me, we’ll probably butt heads more times than not. It’ll take some time. But when it comes down to it, family helps family.”

Brandon nodded, finally beginning to understand.

RaShaun threw his arm around his shoulder as he opened the door. “Now, come on. We’re already late as it is. Just so you know, I’m blaming you when the women start fussing and nagging about us delaying dinner.”

As the two of them walked into the living room, everyone there, Yvonne, Tara, Gina, Brenda, Diane, and Charles, stared at them in shock. RaShaun still had his arm around Brandon’s shoulder, and the two of them were laughing and arguing back and forth about who would take the fall for being late. Finally they stopped and got quiet when they noticed they were the center of attention.

RaShaun grinned at them and shrugged. “What? Let’s eat.”


One year later…

“Come on, ole man. You act like you can’t hang or somethin.”

The whole family had come to the park for a cookout, but Brandon, RaShaun, Mike and Quincy were playing their second game of basketball. Brandon bounced the ball from one hand to the other, knees bent and crouched low. He moved this way and that, faking RaShaun out and talking smack.

RaShaun growled. “I got your ‘ole man’ you cocky, little sonova–”

“Ohhhh!!!!” Brandon screamed in RaShaun's face as he dashed around him and smoothly rolled the ball off his fingertips into the net.

He and Mike gave each other a high five and laughed as RaShaun and Quincy began bickering amongst each other.

“Damn, Rah! You can't hold his ass?” Quincy snapped.

“I didn't hear your mouth when Mike dunked twice in a row over you while you just stood there. Didn't have nothin’ to say then. Don't worry about me, you just hold your got damn man,” RaShaun sneered.

Brandon and Mike laughed so hard they could barely breathe. “Damn, ya'll fightin’ and shit. So much for team work!” Mike said.

Brandon smirked as RaShaun threw the ball at him a bit harder than necessary to check it in. “Sup, big bruh. Am I sensing a little attitude there?"

“Brandon, you talk too fuckin’ much, just play ball,” RaShaun grunted threateningly.

Brandon chuckled and started dribbling. “No need to be so hostile, Rah. I know you just had a birthday. Them knees ain’t as young as they used to be, are they?”

He leisurely bounced the ball as he continued talking shit to RaShaun. Mike broke away from Quincy. Brandon passed the ball to him without turning his head and ran closer to the goal. Mike spun around, shaking Quincy off, and passed the ball back to Brandon, who was open.

With lightning speed and eye on the net, Brandon moved towards the goal, intent on scoring the winning basket. He had just jumped up when RaShaun plowed into him, causing his feet to slip out from under him and trip. Brandon landed on the concrete. He lay on his back staring up at the blue sky for a moment seeing stars and trying to catch his breath.

Quincy scooped the ball up and shot a three pointer, winning the game for himself and RaShaun. The two friends raised both hands in the air and double high fived.

“Now that’s what I’m talkin about! Nice shot, baby!” RaShaun shouted.

“Nahhh! Foul! Nice shot my ass! Foul!” Mike cried. “What the hell was that?” He went over to Brandon and reached out his hand to help him up. He spat out a few words in Spanish and gave them the finger.

Quincy nudged RaShaun in the side with his elbow. “Aww, shit, that’s when you know he mad. He done brought the Cuban side out.” Quincy smirked at Mike and taunted, “English, papi, English. We no understand Spanish.”

Mike’s dark brows bunched together. “I said ya’ll some cheatin’ ass mothafuckas, that’s what!”

“Waa, Waa, Waaa. Cut out the whinin’ Mike. This is street ball. Ain’t no fucking fouls in street ball,” RaShaun jeered. “You want to play that soft shit, take your ass to the Y or somethin.” He and Quincy started laughing and gave each other some dap.

Quincy jerked his head and directed RaShaun’s attention to Brandon, who was still bent over with his hands on his knees trying to catch his breath. “You a’ight? Youngblood like yourself shouldn’t have that hard a time shakin’ off a little tumble.”

Brandon looked over at Quincy with a scowl on his face.

Quincy cupped a hand behind his ear and leaned towards Brandon. “I’m sorry, what was that? Did you say somethin’?”

“Yeah, I said go to hell, Q.!”

RaShaun walked past Brandon on his way to get his bottle of water sitting at the edge of the court. “Not bad for an ole man…is it?” he smirked.

“Whatever. Mike right, ya’ll cheated and you know it.” Brandon limped behind him and pushed him in the back.

Laughing, RaShaun glanced over his shoulder and threw Brandon’s words back at him. “Ohhhhh! Do I sense a little 'attitude', lil bruh?”

Brandon cut his eyes at him hard and proceeded to ignore him. Opening his Gatorade, he took long, deep swallows, guzzling the sports drink until it was gone, effectively quenching his thirst.

“Dad! Did you win?”

Wiping his mouth with his forearm, Brandon smiled as he saw Jonathon running full speed towards him. “Hey! Wait for your cousin.”

Jonathon came to a screeching halt and ran back to Faith who was pouting from the frustration of trying to catch up. Jonathon grabbed her hand and slowed down to match his steps to hers. Brandon watched until they were in front of him.

“Did you beat Uncle Shaun and Uncle Q. like you said you were gonna do?”

“Yeah, Brandon. Did you win?” RaShaun goaded with a grin as he reached down and picked up his daughter.

Brandon glared at him before turning back to Jonathon. “Well, it’s like this. Sometimes when people like Uncle Shaun are sore losers, you have to be the bigger man and decide it’s not really worth it to almost fight to the death over a basketball game.” He stressed the words with force as he looked at RaShaun.

“In other words, Jon, no. Your Dad didn’t win,” RaShaun laughed.

Faith squealed when she saw her Daddy laughing and clapped her hands. RaShaun smiled back at her and gave her a kiss. “That’s right, honey. Your Dad’s a winner.”

Brandon just shook his head. Faith looked over at him and gave him an angelic smile that never failed to melt his heart.

“Unca Bwanda…” She reached her arms out and stretched her body towards him.

“That’s right, mami. Come to Uncle Brandon. Daddy’s a cheater. Yes he is.”

RaShaun laughed. “You’d better stop trying to turn my daughter against me.” He turned to Jonathon. “Come on, lil man. Lets go and play a quick game of horse before we go back and get something to eat.” RaShaun jogged after Jonathon, who took off like a flash to retrieve the basketball.

“Mama…” Faith pointed back towards the picnic table where the rest of the family was.

“You want to go to your Mom?”

Faith nodded and looked at him with her big brown eyes. Brandon smiled. She was going to be a heartbreaker when she grew up. He definitely did not envy RaShaun having to keep the boys away when she got older.

“Okay. Come on.” He called to RaShaun and Jonathon that he would be right back. RaShaun looked at him and nodded.

Brandon’s glance lingered on Jonathon. His son. His and Tara’s. The adoption had just become final. They were officially Jonathon’s parents, and couldn’t have loved him any more if he were their biological son. The little boy was like a completely new child from the one Brandon had met over a year ago. He was happy and outgoing and loved his new family as much as they accepted and loved him.

He and Tara had been married almost a year, now. They’d seen no reason to wait. Life was too short. They loved each other desperately and were happier than they’d ever been in their lives.

As Brandon started back towards the rest of his family, he looked down at Faith, who turned her face up to his. She smiled sweetly again, showing the dimples that RaShaun had passed down to her. Yes, he was Faith’s uncle, but he and Tara were also her godparents. Brandon’s mind wandered back eight months ago when he, Faith and RaShaun had gone to the doctor and gotten another paternity test. As before, the results showed a 99.99% chance that RaShaun was Faith’s father.

Brandon had to admit a small part of him had still been wondering if he could be the father, and apparently, RaShaun had been thinking the same thing. Brandon had been shocked when RaShaun came to him and told him he’d like them to take a paternity test. Just to be sure. RaShaun said he and Yvonne had been talking, and although nothing could make Faith any less their daughter, they needed to know without a doubt that RaShaun was her father, for Faith’s sake as well as all of theirs. They were all relieved and able to let go of the past when the results came back. It was as it was supposed to be.

As Brandon approached everyone, Faith started wiggling her little body, letting Brandon know she wanted to get down. As soon as her feet hit the ground, she took off running towards Yvonne who was holding her baby brother, RaShaun Dwayne Patterson II. Yvonne smiled as Faith leaned down and gently kissed her brother’s cheek then reached up with lips pursed to give her mother a kiss.

“Brandon, where is your brother and my grandson?” Diane shielded her eyes from the sun as she looked towards the basketball court. She shook her head when she saw Jonathon and RaShaun playing. “He was supposed to be telling you all to come and eat.”

Diane turned to Brandon with her hands on her hips. “And I suppose if I send you to get them, you won’t come back either.”

Brandon smiled at his mother and leaned down to kiss her cheek. “Ma, everyone will eat when they get hungry. Besides, RaShaun’s loss if my gain. More food for me.”

Diane smiled as she shook her head at her son. She didn’t know where he put all the food he ate. “Brandon…”

“Diane, leave the boy alone. He’s right, when they get hungry, they’ll find their way to the food.”

Diane rolled her eyes at Charles and threw her hands up as she went to join her daughter and daughters-in-law.

“Sup, Pop. You know your oldest cheated, right?”

“I know, son. I saw him. You should know by now he hates losing to you. The last time you beat him, he bugged you incessantly until you gave him a rematch, remember?”

Brandon laughed as he nodded.

“Speaking of rematches. I have the chess table set up and waiting.” He gave Brandon a challenging look.

“Come on now, Pop, and you talk about RaShaun. Whatever happened to losing gracefully?”

“No such thing. Now come on.” Charles walked over and took a seat in one of the chairs and waited on Brandon. Chess was their thing. No one else liked to play except Brandon, and he was damn good at it. Charles had told Brandon he inherited his love of the game from his father, Nathan.

“Okay, but gimme a minute to check on my wife. She looks miserable, poor thing.”

Charles nodded. He was studying the board and already planning his strategy.

Brandon walked over to where Tara was and squatted down in front her. “Hey, sweetie. You alright?”

“Yes, I just cant seem to get comfortable.”

Brandon placed his hands on her six months pregnant belly and almost immediately felt her stomach move and shift slightly underneath his palm. He smiled as he thought about his babies. Twins. He leaned down and kissed her stomach.

“How are daddies babies doing? Huh? Did Mommy feed you enough?”

“Boy, did she,” Yvonne said, smiling as Tara shot her a dirty look.

“What are you trying to say? You want me to starve myself?”

“No, honey, I was just joking.” Yvonne tried to keep a straight face. Tara was so grouchy.

Brandon grinned at Yvonne. “I wish you’d leave my wife alone. I seem to remember you had RaShaun running out all hours of the night picking up bags of chocolate bars, ice-cream, and waffles to satisfy your ‘healthy’ cravings.”

Yvonne glared at him. “Whatever, Brandon. Isn’t Dad waiting on you to play chess or something?”

Brandon laughed as he kissed Tara before he stood up. He noticed Brenda standing a few feet away smiling up at Mike. Brandon shook his head when he saw the familiar expression on Mike’s face that most men seemed to wear when looking at his sister.

Mike had only met Brenda a couple of times, but from the first moment he saw her, he’d fallen head over heels. He could barely put two sentences together. When Brandon mentioned this to Brenda, she said she didn’t want a boyfriend right now. That changed when she saw Mike out on a date a couple of weeks ago. All of a sudden, she seemed to have a change of heart, and had started pursuing Mike, who was doing his best to play hard to get.

“When is he gonna put our sister out of her misery?” RaShaun walked up behind Brandon and followed his stare.

Brandon shrugged. “It’ll do her good to finally meet someone who’s not falling at her feet for a change.”

“I give him a good week before he gives in to her.”

Brandon laughed. “A week? Three days. Tops.”

“Brandon. I’m waiting.” Charles called out.

RaShaun looked over at his father and grimaced. He couldn’t stand chess. He decided to go the other way before his father tried to sucker him into playing. Brandon laughed as he watched RaShaun walk the opposite way.

As he turned to join Charles, the smile stayed on his face. Sometimes, he still found it hard to believe he had the one thing he never thought he’d have in his life. A family. When they were all together like they were today, he enjoyed every second of it and wouldn’t give it up for anything.

Brandon looked up in appreciation at the clear, blue sky. With each day, his life’s destiny unfolded to reveal more and more of the kind of man he strived to be. He knew without a doubt, if he hadn’t gone through the experiences of his past, he would not be able to appreciate the treasures he had in his present. The future was something he eagerly looked forward to.

I hope you enjoyed Tara and Brandon’s story! I’ll be taking a “season break” in between posting Brenda and Mike’s story while I focus on the first book in The Pattel Series. I did post a little sneak preview for your pleasure below, though. Enjoy.



Hidden Truths Unspoken Lies (Brenda and Mike)

“Everyone out!”

Quincy stormed into the precinct locker room and gave the order in a no-nonsense tone. The pitch of his voice bellowed out with a ferocity that left no mistake as to the type of mood he was in.

The male chatter stilled. The good-natured laughter came to an abrupt halt as the men turned to stare at him without moving. Quincy’s eyes darted around the room, meeting the inquisitive frowns and murmurs. Seeing them standing there motionless as if they didn’t understand English raised his pisstivity level off the charts.

“Did you hear me! I said get out! Now!”

Although they looked around at one another and grumbled underneath their breath, they filed out of the room one by one. No one dared to call Quincy on his attitude. It was a well known fact that Quincy could be an asshole when he wanted to be and didn’t take any shit. He was also never one to back down from a challenge. It didn’t matter if he was right or wrong, he would go toe to toe until he got his way.

Mike had been standing in front of his locker reaching for a fresh shirt. As he turned to walk past Quincy, Q. held up a hand and pushed him none too gently in the chest to stop him.

“Not you,” he said in a low voice through lips that barely moved.

His eyes held Mike’s until the last person left the room. As soon as he heard the door close, Quincy took a step towards Mike until their faces were inches apart.

“Just what in the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Mike’s jaw clenched and unclenched as he gritted his teeth, but he remained silent. He didn’t even try to pretend not to know what Quincy was talking about.

“Did you think I wouldn’t find out?” Quincy held the younger man’s gaze until his eyes slid away.

Mike turned back to his locker. “Quincy, its really not any of your–”

“If you tell me its none of my business, I will wipe up the floor with your ass from one end of this room to the other. Now, lets try this again: What in the hell do you think you’re doin‘, Mike?”

Taking his time answering the question, Mike pulled a shirt on before reaching down in his locker to take out a pair of dress shoes. He hesitated then glanced at Quincy. “I like her, Q. I like her a lot.”

Quincy’s eyes never wavered from Mike’s. He didn’t want Mike to mistake his next words. “Whatever is or is not going on…end it now.” He continued to glare at Mike for a few more moments to let him know the statement wasn’t a request before turning to walk to the door.

“And if I don’t…”

Quincy paused with his hand on the doorknob. His eyes held a warning that Mike read loud and clear. “Let me make this simple for you. Either you deal with me, or you deal with her brothers.”

Without another word, Quincy left the room.

Mike stared at the spot where Mike had been standing a moment ago. With a deep growl, he turned and forcefully slammed the locker door closed and pounded it with his fist.

The men who’d left out a few moments ago made their way back in, glancing curiously at Mike. They were wondering what he’d done to invite Detective Johnson’s wrath. They knew Mike was Quincy’s protégé and was on the fast track to becoming detective himself. However, something had happened to cause a rift between the two.

Whatever it was, they were just relieved they were not in his shoes at this moment.

Quincy stalked back to his desk and sat down. He leaned back in his chair and stared absently ahead, his mind was going back to this past weekend when they’d all been at the park with RaShaun’s family. Everyone had a good time. Funny how much things can change within a years’ time.

From the moment RaShaun had found out that Brandon and Brenda were actually his brother and sister, he’d made a concentrated effort to let go of the explosive past he and Brandon shared. Nothing was more important than family, especially the circumstances that had been unveiled over a year ago. Unbeknownst to him, RaShaun’s’ mother had given up her twins for adoption over thirty years ago. After many bumps and bruises along the way, much progress had been made in that family.

A smile lifted the corner of Quincy’s mouth as he thought about Brandon and Tara. He still couldn’t believe they were married and expecting twins. The smile left his face as his thoughts went back to the confrontation he’d just had with Mike.

Mike had been at the picnic as well this weekend. Quincy hadn’t noticed at first, but as the day wore on, he began to pay more attention to how much time Mike and Brenda spent together. The more he watched them, the more he saw that there seemed to be some serious flirting going on. Brenda was a gorgeous woman. Quincy could tell that Mike was enthralled by her intelligence as well as her beauty. And under any other circumstances, the two of them would have made a perfect couple…under any other circumstances.

Sitting at his desk with the frown still on his face, Quincy watched Mike walk from the locker room carrying a small duffel bag over his shoulder. He’d changed clothes and was wearing a pair of black slacks and a white pullover shirt. Several of the women in the office turned their heads to ogle him as he passed by. He flashed a sexy smile at something one or two of them said but kept moving.

When he was right up on Quincy’s desk, the smile left his face. He and Quincy stared at each other for a moment. The negative tension between the two men was so thick you could almost cut it with a knife.

“Damn, del Monte, your sexy ass sure does clean up nice, papi.” Zoila, one of the few female detectives in the department, grinned at Mike and winked flirtatiously.

Mike pulled his eyes away from Quincy, and gave Zoila a distracted smile. “If that’s a compliment, Z, thank you.”

“Oh, it most definitely is. So where you off to?”

Mike brought his eyes back to Quincy and said almost defiantly, “I have a date.”

Quincy’s mouth tightened, but he didn’t say anything. Satisfied that he’d gotten his point across to Quincy, Mike continued to the door and left without a backwards glance.

Quincy’s eyes followed him until he’d disappeared. After a couple of minutes, he turned his chair back towards his desk and pick up the phone. After dialing a number, he brought the phone to his ear and waited for the call to connect. Seconds later, the other party answered.


“Rah, it’s Q.”

“What’s up, man?”

“Where are you?” Quincy was direct and to the point.

RaShaun answered in a puzzled voice. “Just left the office, on my way home. Why?”

“We need to talk.”

“Can it wait, Q.? I had a hectic day and all I want to do is go home to my woman and get some tender loving care.”

“No, it can’t. Meet me at Rotoni’s. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”


“It’s about Brenda.”

All of a sudden, the weariness left voice RaShaun’s voice at the mention of his sister’s name. “Brenda? What about her? Is she okay?”

“No, no. Nothing’s happened. But there are some things you need to be made aware of.”

With no further hesitation, RaShaun said, “I’ll see you in twenty minutes.”

Quincy replaced the receiver as he stood up. He had warned Mike once. He’d be damned if he ran up behind him and begged him to listen to reason. Quincy had hoped to not have to involve RaShaun and Brandon, but he’d never forgive himself if something happened to Brenda and he had remained silent about the situation.

Quincy shook his head. Mike would’ve been better off heeding his warning. Now, he was going to have hell to pay dealing with RaShaun and Brandon.



© 2017 S.K. Hardy

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means without the written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.