Brandon sat in the chair with his shirt off as Quincy finished putting the wire on him. RaShaun paced back and forth, still fuming.

“I can’t believe it’s not against the law for a person to videotape someone without their consent.”

Quincy shrugged. “She was in her own home. She can basically do whatever she wants. Not saying it’s right, that’s just the way it is. But. It is against the law to send a letter threatening to distribute the tape if Brandon doesn’t do what she wants.” He glanced down at Brandon and gave him an amused look. “What the hell did you put on her for her to go to this extreme to force you to fuck her again?”

Quincy looked at RaShaun and they both snickered.

Brandon glared at them. “Well, I’m glad to see you two find this shit so funny. That bitch is crazy.”

“Don’t worry about it man. After we finish with her, we won’t ever hear a peep out of her again. To be honest, if you were to pursue the issue legally, she probably would only get a slap on the wrist, but I’m betting on the fact that she doesn’t know that.”

Quincy stepped back and checked out his handiwork. He nodded in satisfaction after he saw that everything was ready. “So you’re clear on the plan, right? I have the wire taped down pretty good, but be careful not to let her get too close and feel if under your shirt.”

Brandon’s face showed his distaste at even the thought of Kiki touching him. He pulled his shirt on and started buttoning it up. “Don’t worry. That won’t be a problem.”

Quincy handed Brandon the phone to set up the meeting. “Now remember, everything you say will be recorded. When you see her, just get her to admit to taping you without your consent, and then sending you the letter. I’ll take it from there.”

With the phone on speaker, Brandon dialed Kiki’s number then brought the phone up to his ear, biting back a sigh when she answered the phone. “Yeah. It’s me.”

“Well, Brandon. Can’t say that I’m surprised you called.” They all heard the self-satisfied tone of her voice. “What can I do for you?”

“I think you know. I got your little package. We need to talk.”

“So now you wanna talk. When I saw you a couple of weeks ago, you spoke to me like I was a piece of trash.”

Brandon opened his mouth to agree with her assessment but closed it after Quincy gave his head a quick shake.

“Why should I see you now?” Kiki asked.

Brandon took a deep breath. “You’re right. I was wrong to speak to you like that. Especially after the night the three of us had.” He continued with an effort after Quincy nodded his approval. “Actually seeing it on the screen brought back memories. I didn’t know you had taped us.”

“Terri didn’t know either, but that night was something I wanted to relive again and again. You don’t know how many times I’ve watched it…and I want some more. Until I say it’s enough,” she added defiantly.

“Okay, but like I said, first we need to talk about the little note that you sent with the DVD. Then we’ll go from there.”

“You’re in no position to make demands, Brandon. I’m running this. It goes my way or no way.”

Brandon bit his tongue until he tasted blood. This fucking cunt…

“Fine. Is it alright if I come over now?” When she hesitated, he added, “If it’s not a good time, we can do it later…”

“No!” Kiki quickly came to a decision. “The sooner the better. You can come now.”

“Good. I’ll be there in about forty-five minutes.” Brandon hung up the phone before she could respond. Jumping out of the chair he started pacing back and forth, so frustrated he felt like hitting something.

“Brandon, you gotta calm down. So fucking hot-headed.” RaShaun shook his head at him. Both Brandon and Quincy gave him an incredulous look, which he promptly ignored. “Ready?”


Brandon stood outside Kiki’s apartment, but before he rang the doorbell, he glanced one last time at RaShaun and Quincy, who were sitting in Quincy’s car in the parking lot. They would be listening to everything he and Kiki said.

Turning back to the door, he rang the doorbell, and had barely lowered his hand when the door swung open. Kiki stood in front of him wearing a pair of high heels and a short, silk robe. It was obvious that she was naked beneath it. Brandon lowered his eyes to hide his revulsion.

“You made it.” Kiki stepped back to allow him in.

Brandon stepped inside the apartment. Looking around, he noticed the curtains were closed and various sized candles were lit around the room.

Brandon shook his head. This bitch. Did she think this was a fucking date or something?

“Would you like something to drink?” Kiki’s hungry eyes moved over Brandon’s body. She licked her lips as her attention on his crotch.

“Nah, I’m good. So, how are you?”

“Better now. And yourself?”

“I was a helluva lot better before I got your li’l package earlier today. What’s up with that, Ki?”

“Well, I had to get your attention some kind of way, didn’t I? It worked. You’re here.” She shot him a triumphant look.

“Why would you try to blackmail me with that shit?”

“Lets just call it ‘friendly persuasion’. Blackmail is such an ugly word.” She stepped closer until her breasts touched his chest.

Brandon drew an imaginary line from the hollow of her throat down to the center of her breasts. “You could’a just come correct with a brotha if you wanted a repeat. That night I saw you at the club, I had some problems I was tryin’ to work out in my head. I told you I wasn’t in the mood for company.”

Kiki pouted. “You were really mean to me. I could’ve made you forget all about your problems.”

She inhaled sharply as Brandon push the front opening of her robe to the side and lightly ran his fingertip over her nipple. Kiki’ mouth went slack. She closed her eyes and started panting like a dog in heat.

“So instead you send me a recording and a threatening letter?” Brandon abruptly removed his hand and moved back a few steps.

Kiki swayed from the absence of his touch. “Brandon…”

She walked up to him and tried to slip her hands around his waist. Brandon caught her arms and held her back but leaned down and brought his lips a whisper away from hers.

Kiki’s lips parted eagerly. She wanted to kiss him so bad she could almost taste it.

“Business first. Then pleasure,” he whispered.

Kiki pouted, but nodded reluctantly.

“Answer me this. Why? I mean, how did you even record us without me or Terri knowing anyway?”

Kiki wanted to hurry up and get the talking out of the way, so she began to speak fast. “I had a camera set up above my closet. I bought it in one of those spy stores. It was easy to hide.”

“Would you really have distributed recordings around like you threatened to do? You would’ve gone to that extreme, to hurt Tara and my sister just to get back at me?” Brandon’s hand covered her breast again.

“N-no, baby. I told you I only sent you that letter to get your attention. I never would’ve let anyone else see it.” She reached down and grabbed Brandon’s dick through his jeans and squeezed. “Now, will you please just fuck me already?”

A knock sounded at the front door. Brandon knew it was RaShaun and Quincy. As previously arranged, after Kiki incriminated herself and Quincy felt they had what they needed, they would come to the apartment.

Kiki frowned. “Who in the hell is that? I’m not expectin’ nobody.”

She gaped at him in confusion when he went to the door without commenting and opened it. Kiki’s eyes almost bucked out of her head when she saw RaShaun, Quincy, and a policeman standing in her doorway. “What’s goin’ on? What are ya’ll doin’ here?”

RaShaun came in the apartment first, his eyes never leaving her face. Kiki took stumbling steps back as RaShaun advanced forward until she bumped into a chair.

“What are we doing here? I’m here to make sure you leave my family alone once and for all.”

“Your family?” Kiki laughed, but when she saw she was the only one who found anything amusing, she looked more confused than ever. “What are you talking about? Since when did Brandon become anyone’s family?”

Brandon stood next to RaShaun and glared at Kiki while RaShaun answered her in a cold voice. “Brandon is my brother.”


Kiki looked from one of them to the other and cackled. They had to be joking. “Whatever. You two can’t stand each other, let alone be related. Brothers? Please!” She glanced nervously at the officer. “Look, I don’t know what’s going on here, but if you don’t leave now–”

This time it was Quincy who laughed as he placed the case he was carrying on top of the dining room table. “You’ll what? Call the police? As you can see, there’s no need,” he taunted. “And before you say anything else, I want you to listen to something.”

“Wh-What?” Kiki’s wide eyes went from the case to Quincy.

“Did you know it’s against the law to videotape someone without their knowledge or consent? And then to add blackmail on top of that?” Quincy folded his arms and looked at Kiki. “Tsk, tsk, tsk. Not a smart move, Ki. Not smart at all.”

Kiki had the nerve to give Brandon an accusing look as if he’d betrayed her. She pushed him past him to go and stand by the window to put distance between them.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. He knew all about it. It was his idea,” she bluffed.

Brandon scowled. “You lying, little–”

“Brandon.” Quincy held up a hand up to stop him. “I got it.”

Kiki smirked at them. “It’s your word against mine.”

“Actually, its your word…period.” Quincy pushed a button on the recorder.

Kiki’s mouth fell open as the conversation she’d had with Brandon floated into the room. She looked sick when she heard herself admitting to videotaping them having sex and sending the threatening letter.

Quincy turned the recording off. “You were saying?”

“I…I…” Kiki looked around the room before her blistering gaze landed on Brandon. “I can’t believe you did this!”

Brandon squinted at her like she was crazy but he didn’t bother to respond.

Kiki started trembling when the police officer walked towards her and took out a pair of handcuffs.

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in a court of law…” He turned her around and pulled her arms behind her back. Slapping the cuffs on her wrists, he ignored her high-pitched sobs and screams. “Do you understand the rights as I’ve read them to you?”

Kiki’s words came out jumbled and incoherent. Tears mingling with her mascara caused wet, black streaks to smear down her face. She looked a hot mess as she continued to plead with them not to arrest her. When she saw that Brandon and RaShaun’s expressions held no sympathy her knees collapsed. She would’ve fallen to the floor in a pathetic puddle if the police officer hadn’t been there to hold her up.

Quincy gestured for him to bring her over to the couch. Once she was sitting down, he propped a foot up on the cushion next to her and put his elbow on his knee. Leaning close to her, he gave her a menacing glare.

“You can just stop with the tears. You wanted to play in the big leagues well this is what happens. The courts don’t take cases like this lightly, although with this being your first offense, you’ll probably only get five to ten.” Quincy shrugged. “You could be out in less than three with good behavior.”

Kiki stared at him with her mouth wide open. Snapping her eyes closed she threw her head back and wailed even louder.

Quincy glanced over at Brandon and nodded, who took his cue.

“Quincy, hold up. Let me talk to you for a minute, man.”

Kiki quieted down to hiccupping whimpers as she watched Quincy whispering with Brandon across the room. RaShaun cut his eyes at her and went to join them. As he listened he vehemently shook his head in protest.

“No! Absolutely not!” he hissed.

Quincy held his hands up to calm him down. “Rah, it’s Brandon’s decision.”

“How can you think about not pressing charges after everything she’s done?” RaShaun glared at Brandon for Kiki’s benefit.

“I think she’s learned her lesson, Shaun,” Brandon countered loud enough for Kiki to hear.

Kiki scooted to the edge of the couch. “I have learned my lesson. I swear I have,” she cried desperately.

The three men turned to look at her. RaShaun shook his head. “People like you don’t learn lessons. You lay low for a while, then after you think everything has been forgotten, you go back to your same old ways. You’re not happy unless you’re hurting other people.”

Kiki shook her head forcefully from side to side. “No! I won’t bother you! I’ll never bother you again! Please! Please don’t arrest meeeeee….” She started blubbering and sobbing again at the top of her lungs.

“How do I know you haven’t made other copies?” Brandon asked.

“I only made the one I sent to you,” she sniffed, answering him quickly. “The original is in my room. I can get it.”

Quincy nodded to the officer to take the cuffs off. “Go with her Mike.”

Mike grabbed Kiki’s arm and led her to her room. When they came back, he gave the DVD to Quincy, who popped the DVD in the DVD player. After seeing the images displayed on the screen, he took it out and gave it to Brandon.

“Well. It’s your call.”


Brandon was silent for a moment. He stared hard at Kiki as if he were trying to come to a decision. Then he looked at RaShaun who shook his head. Kiki held her breath as she waited to see what her fate was.

Sighing heavily, Brandon turned to glare at Kiki. “I swear to God, if you ever come near me or my family again I’ll have your ass thrown in jail so fast you won’t know what hit you. You understand me?”

Kiki almost collapsed in relief. “Yes! Yes! You’ll never hear from me again, I promise!”

“Your promises ain’t worth shit. Just remember that Quincy will be keeping everything as evidence and I wont hesitate to press charges if you even think about pulling a stunt like this again.”

Kiki nodded vigorously. “I understand.”

Quincy went to retrieve the case with the recorder and lifted his brows at Brandon and RaShaun. “A’ight. We good?”

RaShaun’s face wore a dark scowl. “I still think this is a mistake, but like you said, it’s up to Brandon.”

Looking at Kiki, Brandon nodded slowly. “Yeah. We good.”

The four men filed out of the apartment, silent unit they got to Quincy’s car. They stood there for a moment looking at each other with solemn expressions. The next instant, they grinned and gave each other high fives.

The police officer laughed and shook his head. “Man, ya’ll are crazy, you know that? That was some fun shit.”

Quincy shook his hand. “Thanks, Mike. I appreciate you helpin’ us out, man.”

“No problem, Q. I owe you after getting me out of that situation a few months back. I’ll talk to you later.” He shook hands with Brandon and RaShaun then went to his car.

Brandon looked at Quincy. “Hey, man, I, uh, I appreciate everything you did.” He shook Quincy’s hand and leaned forward to give him a shoulder bump.

“Don’t mention it, man. I don’t think you’ll have to worry about her anymore, but…”

Brandon frowned. That didn’t sound good. “But what?”

“I think we need to clear some things up about…Terri’s accident.”

Brandon’s features grew stiff. Now what? He should’ve known this all was too good to be true. “Q., I really done said all I wanna say about that so–”

“The accident wasn’t your fault, Brandon.”

Brandon swallowed hard and glanced away. “Look, I know what you doin’ and I appreciate you tryin’ to–”

“No, listen. Terri was taking the exit to get onto the interstate when a car cut in front of her. Terri lunged the steering wheel hard to try and avoid a collision but when she slammed on breaks, an eighteen-wheeler plowed into her from behind. The pile up was a chain reaction as other cars crashed into them.”

Heart racing furious, Brandon listened to Quincy with an intense expression. He heard what he said, but his mind refused to calculate the words into a satisfactory explanation that his head would understand.


“We had no idea you were blaming yourself all this time. Terri’s death wasn’t your fault.”

Brandon blinked rapidly. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Clearing his throat, he tried again. “You, uh, you sure you not just tellin’ me this. So that, you know, I won’t feel guilty about what happened?”

“He’s telling you the truth, Brandon,” RaShaun said quietly. “I have a copy of the police report at my house any time you want to look at it.”

Brandon tried to swallow past the lump of emotion that had settled in his throat. All this time, he thought he’d been the cause of Terri driving recklessly and having an accident. It would take a while to process the facts of exactly what happened, and even when he did, Brandon knew he would always carry a measure of guilt around because of what took place the last time he and Terri saw other.

“Thank you. Both of you. I…” He looked from Quincy to Shaun, still in shock of what he’d just learned. Honestly, he didn’t know how to put his gratitude into words. “Shaun…”

RaShaun shook his head to let him know no words were necessary and slapped Brandon on the back. “Come on. Let’s go home.”


Thirty minutes later, as the three of them walked up to RaShaun’s house, Brandon stopped RaShaun before they went in. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

Quincy glanced at them then went inside and closed the door to give them some privacy.

“RaShaun, before we go inside, I just want to say thank you again. Other than Brenda, I never had nobody that cared enough to try and look out for me. I…thanks for having my back.”

RaShaun rubbed the back of his neck as he looked at Brandon. “I don’t mean to sound like a greeting card, but I tried to tell earlier, that’s what family is for. I know all of this is new to both of us, and believe me, we’ll probably butt heads more times than not. It’ll take some time. But when it comes down to it, family helps family.”

Brandon nodded, finally beginning to understand.

RaShaun threw his arm around his shoulder as he opened the door. “Now, come on. We’re already late as it is. Just so you know, I’m blaming you when the women start fussing and nagging about us delaying dinner.”

As the two of them walked into the living room, everyone there, Yvonne, Tara, Gina, Brenda, Diane, and Charles, stared at them in shock. RaShaun still had his arm around Brandon’s shoulder, and the two of them were laughing and arguing back and forth about who would take the fall for being late. Finally they stopped and got quiet when they noticed they were the center of attention.

RaShaun grinned at them and shrugged. “What? Let’s eat.”


One year later…

“Come on, ole man. You act like you can’t hang or somethin.”

The whole family had come to the park for a cookout, but Brandon, RaShaun, Mike and Quincy were playing their second game of basketball. Brandon bounced the ball from one hand to the other, knees bent and crouched low. He moved this way and that, faking RaShaun out and talking smack.

RaShaun growled. “I got your ‘ole man’ you cocky, little sonova–”

“Ohhhh!!!!” Brandon screamed in RaShaun's face as he dashed around him and smoothly rolled the ball off his fingertips into the net.

He and Mike gave each other a high five and laughed as RaShaun and Quincy began bickering amongst each other.

“Damn, Rah! You can't hold his ass?” Quincy snapped.

“I didn't hear your mouth when Mike dunked twice in a row over you while you just stood there. Didn't have nothin’ to say then. Don't worry about me, you just hold your got damn man,” RaShaun sneered.

Brandon and Mike laughed so hard they could barely breathe. “Damn, ya'll fightin’ and shit. So much for team work!” Mike said.

Brandon smirked as RaShaun threw the ball at him a bit harder than necessary to check it in. “Sup, big bruh. Am I sensing a little attitude there?"

“Brandon, you talk too fuckin’ much, just play ball,” RaShaun grunted threateningly.

Brandon chuckled and started dribbling. “No need to be so hostile, Rah. I know you just had a birthday. Them knees ain’t as young as they used to be, are they?”

He leisurely bounced the ball as he continued talking shit to RaShaun. Mike broke away from Quincy. Brandon passed the ball to him without turning his head and ran closer to the goal. Mike spun around, shaking Quincy off, and passed the ball back to Brandon, who was open.

With lightning speed and eye on the net, Brandon moved towards the goal, intent on scoring the winning basket. He had just jumped up when RaShaun plowed into him, causing his feet to slip out from under him and trip. Brandon landed on the concrete. He lay on his back staring up at the blue sky for a moment seeing stars and trying to catch his breath.

Quincy scooped the ball up and shot a three pointer, winning the game for himself and RaShaun. The two friends raised both hands in the air and double high fived.

“Now that’s what I’m talkin about! Nice shot, baby!” RaShaun shouted.

“Nahhh! Foul! Nice shot my ass! Foul!” Mike cried. “What the hell was that?” He went over to Brandon and reached out his hand to help him up. He spat out a few words in Spanish and gave them the finger.

Quincy nudged RaShaun in the side with his elbow. “Aww, shit, that’s when you know he mad. He done brought the Cuban side out.” Quincy smirked at Mike and taunted, “English, papi, English. We no understand Spanish.”

Mike’s dark brows bunched together. “I said ya’ll some cheatin’ ass mothafuckas, that’s what!”

“Waa, Waa, Waaa. Cut out the whinin’ Mike. This is street ball. Ain’t no fucking fouls in street ball,” RaShaun jeered. “You want to play that soft shit, take your ass to the Y or somethin.” He and Quincy started laughing and gave each other some dap.

Quincy jerked his head and directed RaShaun’s attention to Brandon, who was still bent over with his hands on his knees trying to catch his breath. “You a’ight? Youngblood like yourself shouldn’t have that hard a time shakin’ off a little tumble.”

Brandon looked over at Quincy with a scowl on his face.

Quincy cupped a hand behind his ear and leaned towards Brandon. “I’m sorry, what was that? Did you say somethin’?”

“Yeah, I said go to hell, Q.!”

RaShaun walked past Brandon on his way to get his bottle of water sitting at the edge of the court. “Not bad for an ole man…is it?” he smirked.

“Whatever. Mike right, ya’ll cheated and you know it.” Brandon limped behind him and pushed him in the back.

Laughing, RaShaun glanced over his shoulder and threw Brandon’s words back at him. “Ohhhhh! Do I sense a little 'attitude', lil bruh?”

Brandon cut his eyes at him hard and proceeded to ignore him. Opening his Gatorade, he took long, deep swallows, guzzling the sports drink until it was gone, effectively quenching his thirst.

“Dad! Did you win?”

Wiping his mouth with his forearm, Brandon smiled as he saw Jonathon running full speed towards him. “Hey! Wait for your cousin.”

Jonathon came to a screeching halt and ran back to Faith who was pouting from the frustration of trying to catch up. Jonathon grabbed her hand and slowed down to match his steps to hers. Brandon watched until they were in front of him.

“Did you beat Uncle Shaun and Uncle Q. like you said you were gonna do?”

“Yeah, Brandon. Did you win?” RaShaun goaded with a grin as he reached down and picked up his daughter.

Brandon glared at him before turning back to Jonathon. “Well, it’s like this. Sometimes when people like Uncle Shaun are sore losers, you have to be the bigger man and decide it’s not really worth it to almost fight to the death over a basketball game.” He stressed the words with force as he looked at RaShaun.

“In other words, Jon, no. Your Dad didn’t win,” RaShaun laughed.

Faith squealed when she saw her Daddy laughing and clapped her hands. RaShaun smiled back at her and gave her a kiss. “That’s right, honey. Your Dad’s a winner.”

Brandon just shook his head. Faith looked over at him and gave him an angelic smile that never failed to melt his heart.

“Unca Bwanda…” She reached her arms out and stretched her body towards him.

“That’s right, mami. Come to Uncle Brandon. Daddy’s a cheater. Yes he is.”

RaShaun laughed. “You’d better stop trying to turn my daughter against me.” He turned to Jonathon. “Come on, lil man. Lets go and play a quick game of horse before we go back and get something to eat.” RaShaun jogged after Jonathon, who took off like a flash to retrieve the basketball.

“Mama…” Faith pointed back towards the picnic table where the rest of the family was.

“You want to go to your Mom?”

Faith nodded and looked at him with her big brown eyes. Brandon smiled. She was going to be a heartbreaker when she grew up. He definitely did not envy RaShaun having to keep the boys away when she got older.

“Okay. Come on.” He called to RaShaun and Jonathon that he would be right back. RaShaun looked at him and nodded.

Brandon’s glance lingered on Jonathon. His son. His and Tara’s. The adoption had just become final. They were officially Jonathon’s parents, and couldn’t have loved him any more if he were their biological son. The little boy was like a completely new child from the one Brandon had met over a year ago. He was happy and outgoing and loved his new family as much as they accepted and loved him.

He and Tara had been married almost a year, now. They’d seen no reason to wait. Life was too short. They loved each other desperately and were happier than they’d ever been in their lives.

As Brandon started back towards the rest of his family, he looked down at Faith, who turned her face up to his. She smiled sweetly again, showing the dimples that RaShaun had passed down to her. Yes, he was Faith’s uncle, but he and Tara were also her godparents. Brandon’s mind wandered back eight months ago when he, Faith and RaShaun had gone to the doctor and gotten another paternity test. As before, the results showed a 99.99% chance that RaShaun was Faith’s father.

Brandon had to admit a small part of him had still been wondering if he could be the father, and apparently, RaShaun had been thinking the same thing. Brandon had been shocked when RaShaun came to him and told him he’d like them to take a paternity test. Just to be sure. RaShaun said he and Yvonne had been talking, and although nothing could make Faith any less their daughter, they needed to know without a doubt that RaShaun was her father, for Faith’s sake as well as all of theirs. They were all relieved and able to let go of the past when the results came back. It was as it was supposed to be.

As Brandon approached everyone, Faith started wiggling her little body, letting Brandon know she wanted to get down. As soon as her feet hit the ground, she took off running towards Yvonne who was holding her baby brother, RaShaun Dwayne Patterson II. Yvonne smiled as Faith leaned down and gently kissed her brother’s cheek then reached up with lips pursed to give her mother a kiss.

“Brandon, where is your brother and my grandson?” Diane shielded her eyes from the sun as she looked towards the basketball court. She shook her head when she saw Jonathon and RaShaun playing. “He was supposed to be telling you all to come and eat.”

Diane turned to Brandon with her hands on her hips. “And I suppose if I send you to get them, you won’t come back either.”

Brandon smiled at his mother and leaned down to kiss her cheek. “Ma, everyone will eat when they get hungry. Besides, RaShaun’s loss if my gain. More food for me.”

Diane smiled as she shook her head at her son. She didn’t know where he put all the food he ate. “Brandon…”

“Diane, leave the boy alone. He’s right, when they get hungry, they’ll find their way to the food.”

Diane rolled her eyes at Charles and threw her hands up as she went to join her daughter and daughters-in-law.

“Sup, Pop. You know your oldest cheated, right?”

“I know, son. I saw him. You should know by now he hates losing to you. The last time you beat him, he bugged you incessantly until you gave him a rematch, remember?”

Brandon laughed as he nodded.

“Speaking of rematches. I have the chess table set up and waiting.” He gave Brandon a challenging look.

“Come on now, Pop, and you talk about RaShaun. Whatever happened to losing gracefully?”

“No such thing. Now come on.” Charles walked over and took a seat in one of the chairs and waited on Brandon. Chess was their thing. No one else liked to play except Brandon, and he was damn good at it. Charles had told Brandon he inherited his love of the game from his father, Nathan.

“Okay, but gimme a minute to check on my wife. She looks miserable, poor thing.”

Charles nodded. He was studying the board and already planning his strategy.

Brandon walked over to where Tara was and squatted down in front her. “Hey, sweetie. You alright?”

“Yes, I just cant seem to get comfortable.”

Brandon placed his hands on her six months pregnant belly and almost immediately felt her stomach move and shift slightly underneath his palm. He smiled as he thought about his babies. Twins. He leaned down and kissed her stomach.

“How are daddies babies doing? Huh? Did Mommy feed you enough?”

“Boy, did she,” Yvonne said, smiling as Tara shot her a dirty look.

“What are you trying to say? You want me to starve myself?”

“No, honey, I was just joking.” Yvonne tried to keep a straight face. Tara was so grouchy.

Brandon grinned at Yvonne. “I wish you’d leave my wife alone. I seem to remember you had RaShaun running out all hours of the night picking up bags of chocolate bars, ice-cream, and waffles to satisfy your ‘healthy’ cravings.”

Yvonne glared at him. “Whatever, Brandon. Isn’t Dad waiting on you to play chess or something?”

Brandon laughed as he kissed Tara before he stood up. He noticed Brenda standing a few feet away smiling up at Mike. Brandon shook his head when he saw the familiar expression on Mike’s face that most men seemed to wear when looking at his sister.

Mike had only met Brenda a couple of times, but from the first moment he saw her, he’d fallen head over heels. He could barely put two sentences together. When Brandon mentioned this to Brenda, she said she didn’t want a boyfriend right now. That changed when she saw Mike out on a date a couple of weeks ago. All of a sudden, she seemed to have a change of heart, and had started pursuing Mike, who was doing his best to play hard to get.

“When is he gonna put our sister out of her misery?” RaShaun walked up behind Brandon and followed his stare.

Brandon shrugged. “It’ll do her good to finally meet someone who’s not falling at her feet for a change.”

“I give him a good week before he gives in to her.”

Brandon laughed. “A week? Three days. Tops.”

“Brandon. I’m waiting.” Charles called out.

RaShaun looked over at his father and grimaced. He couldn’t stand chess. He decided to go the other way before his father tried to sucker him into playing. Brandon laughed as he watched RaShaun walk the opposite way.

As he turned to join Charles, the smile stayed on his face. Sometimes, he still found it hard to believe he had the one thing he never thought he’d have in his life. A family. When they were all together like they were today, he enjoyed every second of it and wouldn’t give it up for anything.

Brandon looked up in appreciation at the clear, blue sky. With each day, his life’s destiny unfolded to reveal more and more of the kind of man he strived to be. He knew without a doubt, if he hadn’t gone through the experiences of his past, he would not be able to appreciate the treasures he had in his present. The future was something he eagerly looked forward to.

I hope you enjoyed Tara and Brandon’s story! I’ll be taking a “season break” in between posting Brenda and Mike’s story while I focus on the first book in The Pattel Series. I did post a little sneak preview for your pleasure below, though. Enjoy.



Hidden Truths Unspoken Lies (Brenda and Mike)

“Everyone out!”

Quincy stormed into the precinct locker room and gave the order in a no-nonsense tone. The pitch of his voice bellowed out with a ferocity that left no mistake as to the type of mood he was in.

The male chatter stilled. The good-natured laughter came to an abrupt halt as the men turned to stare at him without moving. Quincy’s eyes darted around the room, meeting the inquisitive frowns and murmurs. Seeing them standing there motionless as if they didn’t understand English raised his pisstivity level off the charts.

“Did you hear me! I said get out! Now!”

Although they looked around at one another and grumbled underneath their breath, they filed out of the room one by one. No one dared to call Quincy on his attitude. It was a well known fact that Quincy could be an asshole when he wanted to be and didn’t take any shit. He was also never one to back down from a challenge. It didn’t matter if he was right or wrong, he would go toe to toe until he got his way.

Mike had been standing in front of his locker reaching for a fresh shirt. As he turned to walk past Quincy, Q. held up a hand and pushed him none too gently in the chest to stop him.

“Not you,” he said in a low voice through lips that barely moved.

His eyes held Mike’s until the last person left the room. As soon as he heard the door close, Quincy took a step towards Mike until their faces were inches apart.

“Just what in the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Mike’s jaw clenched and unclenched as he gritted his teeth, but he remained silent. He didn’t even try to pretend not to know what Quincy was talking about.

“Did you think I wouldn’t find out?” Quincy held the younger man’s gaze until his eyes slid away.

Mike turned back to his locker. “Quincy, its really not any of your–”

“If you tell me its none of my business, I will wipe up the floor with your ass from one end of this room to the other. Now, lets try this again: What in the hell do you think you’re doin‘, Mike?”

Taking his time answering the question, Mike pulled a shirt on before reaching down in his locker to take out a pair of dress shoes. He hesitated then glanced at Quincy. “I like her, Q. I like her a lot.”

Quincy’s eyes never wavered from Mike’s. He didn’t want Mike to mistake his next words. “Whatever is or is not going on…end it now.” He continued to glare at Mike for a few more moments to let him know the statement wasn’t a request before turning to walk to the door.

“And if I don’t…”

Quincy paused with his hand on the doorknob. His eyes held a warning that Mike read loud and clear. “Let me make this simple for you. Either you deal with me, or you deal with her brothers.”

Without another word, Quincy left the room.

Mike stared at the spot where Mike had been standing a moment ago. With a deep growl, he turned and forcefully slammed the locker door closed and pounded it with his fist.

The men who’d left out a few moments ago made their way back in, glancing curiously at Mike. They were wondering what he’d done to invite Detective Johnson’s wrath. They knew Mike was Quincy’s protégé and was on the fast track to becoming detective himself. However, something had happened to cause a rift between the two.

Whatever it was, they were just relieved they were not in his shoes at this moment.

Quincy stalked back to his desk and sat down. He leaned back in his chair and stared absently ahead, his mind was going back to this past weekend when they’d all been at the park with RaShaun’s family. Everyone had a good time. Funny how much things can change within a years’ time.

From the moment RaShaun had found out that Brandon and Brenda were actually his brother and sister, he’d made a concentrated effort to let go of the explosive past he and Brandon shared. Nothing was more important than family, especially the circumstances that had been unveiled over a year ago. Unbeknownst to him, RaShaun’s’ mother had given up her twins for adoption over thirty years ago. After many bumps and bruises along the way, much progress had been made in that family.

A smile lifted the corner of Quincy’s mouth as he thought about Brandon and Tara. He still couldn’t believe they were married and expecting twins. The smile left his face as his thoughts went back to the confrontation he’d just had with Mike.

Mike had been at the picnic as well this weekend. Quincy hadn’t noticed at first, but as the day wore on, he began to pay more attention to how much time Mike and Brenda spent together. The more he watched them, the more he saw that there seemed to be some serious flirting going on. Brenda was a gorgeous woman. Quincy could tell that Mike was enthralled by her intelligence as well as her beauty. And under any other circumstances, the two of them would have made a perfect couple…under any other circumstances.

Sitting at his desk with the frown still on his face, Quincy watched Mike walk from the locker room carrying a small duffel bag over his shoulder. He’d changed clothes and was wearing a pair of black slacks and a white pullover shirt. Several of the women in the office turned their heads to ogle him as he passed by. He flashed a sexy smile at something one or two of them said but kept moving.

When he was right up on Quincy’s desk, the smile left his face. He and Quincy stared at each other for a moment. The negative tension between the two men was so thick you could almost cut it with a knife.

“Damn, del Monte, your sexy ass sure does clean up nice, papi.” Zoila, one of the few female detectives in the department, grinned at Mike and winked flirtatiously.

Mike pulled his eyes away from Quincy, and gave Zoila a distracted smile. “If that’s a compliment, Z, thank you.”

“Oh, it most definitely is. So where you off to?”

Mike brought his eyes back to Quincy and said almost defiantly, “I have a date.”

Quincy’s mouth tightened, but he didn’t say anything. Satisfied that he’d gotten his point across to Quincy, Mike continued to the door and left without a backwards glance.

Quincy’s eyes followed him until he’d disappeared. After a couple of minutes, he turned his chair back towards his desk and pick up the phone. After dialing a number, he brought the phone to his ear and waited for the call to connect. Seconds later, the other party answered.


“Rah, it’s Q.”

“What’s up, man?”

“Where are you?” Quincy was direct and to the point.

RaShaun answered in a puzzled voice. “Just left the office, on my way home. Why?”

“We need to talk.”

“Can it wait, Q.? I had a hectic day and all I want to do is go home to my woman and get some tender loving care.”

“No, it can’t. Meet me at Rotoni’s. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”


“It’s about Brenda.”

All of a sudden, the weariness left voice RaShaun’s voice at the mention of his sister’s name. “Brenda? What about her? Is she okay?”

“No, no. Nothing’s happened. But there are some things you need to be made aware of.”

With no further hesitation, RaShaun said, “I’ll see you in twenty minutes.”

Quincy replaced the receiver as he stood up. He had warned Mike once. He’d be damned if he ran up behind him and begged him to listen to reason. Quincy had hoped to not have to involve RaShaun and Brandon, but he’d never forgive himself if something happened to Brenda and he had remained silent about the situation.

Quincy shook his head. Mike would’ve been better off heeding his warning. Now, he was going to have hell to pay dealing with RaShaun and Brandon.



© 2017 S.K. Hardy

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