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?”