We mature with the damage. Not with the years.
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-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.
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
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.