COMING SOON!

QUIANAN_TRUTHBETOLD.jpg

PROLOGUE

 

Don

 

    A knock on my office door interrupted the dirty thoughts I was having about my new temp, Sade, who was replacing my current assistant, Cathy, a middle-aged white woman who wasn’t exactly easy on the eyes. But this fine specimen of a woman gave me chills when she walked away from me. Her hips rocked as she swayed ever so lightly across the floor. With smooth, perfectly shimmering caramel skin, green eyes, thick, luscious lips, and the booty of a stripper, this woman had me hiding behind my desk all day. With slacks on, the shit wasn’t easy to hide.

    I was ready to throw them long, sexy ass legs up over my shoulders and make her scream louder than a stadium full of Giants fans on Super Bowl Sunday. The only thing stopping me was the ring on my finger. Every time I looked down at it, I realized that I was no longer the player I used to be. No more steamy, passionate fucking in stairwells, elevators, hotel rooms, yachts, or casino bathrooms with random women anytime I wanted. It wasn’t easy adjusting to this new lifestyle. I had been a player for much longer than I had been settled down. And I wasn’t sure if I was gonna be able to resist the temptation I came across every day.

    “Hey baby,” said Diamond, pushing the door open. My wife walked into my office dressed in a tight-fitting black dress, showing off her long, sexy legs. (Guess, I’m kind of a leg man). Her hair was drop curled and hung just past her shoulders. She had her face all made up perfectly. She came and plopped down on my lap, grinning from ear to ear. 

    Diamond and I had been married for the last six years and dated four years before that. I loved the hell out of that woman, but I just couldn’t keep away from the women that seemed to be throwing themselves at me all the time. Guess it came with the territory of being a young, successful black man. 

    “Hey,” I finally replied. She pecked my lips, wrapping her arms around my neck.

    “You got a new temp.” She came right out with it.

    “Yeah,” I commented, waiting for the rest of what I knew was coming.

    “She’s…um…pretty,” said Diamond. Her voice was a little too high pitched to be believable. I’d become an expert at reading undertones since I’d been married to Diamond and I knew what was up. 

    “I’ll call the temp agency tomorrow,” I replied.

    “I love you, baby,” she said, pecking me on the cheek this time. Chuckling, I succumbed to her hug.

    “Mmm hmm,” I mumbled. I was kind of grateful for it, truth be told. I was trying to be a better man for my wife. And having Sade out of the office would make it that much easier to stay loyal. 

    “How was your trip?” she asked me. I had recently taken a business trip to San Diego and I sure as hell missed this. I had been gone for two weeks. Women had been coming at me like moths to a flame while I was in California and it took all I had in me not to give in. 

    “Missed you,” I told her honestly. I ran my fingers through her thick, silky black hair and allowed her kisses just under my ear. That was my spot.

    “Really?” she whispered, still kissing me as she stood up. After unzipping my pants, she hiked up her dress and slowly climbed on top of me. Closing my eyes, I fell back into ecstasy as I felt her warmth slide onto me. I grabbed her ass helping her rock her hips as she grinded on me.

    A few moments later, another knock on the door sounded, but Diamond refused to stop what she was doing, which made it incredibly hard for me to carry on a normal conversation with whomever was on the other side of that door.

    “Yeah?” I managed, face all sweaty, voice trembling.

    “Mr. Sims, Mark is on the line. He said you were expecting his call,” said Sade through the door. “I tried to transfer the call, but it’s not working for some reason. Maybe later, you can show me how to use it properly…among other things?” 

    If only looks could kill, my temp would’ve been begging for her life by the look my life shot at the door. Shit, that look could’ve melted steel. 

    Diamond shot up off my lap, pulled her dress down en route to the door, and flung it open. Luckily, I was quick enough to get up, pull my pants up, and grab Diamond before she swung at Sade.

    “Bitch, what the fuck did you just say to my husband?” Diamond yelled, all up in Sade’s face just as I grabbed her to prevent the imminent attack. Sade, shocked to see Diamond there, stepped back and tried to find the words to calm Diamond down. “Didn’t know I was here, did you? You ever talk to my man like that again, bitch, I’ll – ”

    “Diamond,” I interrupted her threat, grabbing her arm and pulling her back into the office. She was still poppin’ off at the mouth until I finally closed the office door. 

“Baby, look, I understand I have a past and all that, but you can’t be doing all that here. This is my place of business. I can’t have people walking up in here thinking this is some ghetto-ass establishment.” She calmed down a little bit and folded her arms to let me know I wasn’t getting off the hook that easy.

    “So, tell me something, Don. Is that the first time she talked to you like that?” she asked me, her hands on her hips. “Tell me the truth.” I sighed and went back over to my desk to sit down. She followed me. This was gonna be a long conversation. “Well?”

    “No,” I told her, honestly. “It’s not the first time.”

    “What? Why haven’t you told me?” I gave her a look like, did you just see how you acted out there? She sighed. “Fine, I guess I can see why you didn’t tell me. But I don’t want you lying to me. It just takes me back to the past.”

    “I know,” I told her. “I’m sorry. I just don’t wanna upset you.”

    I got a text just then, giving me news I really didn’t wanna hear right now, especially as I was just getting things on track with Diamond. 

    My heart stopped as I watched a naked photo pop up on my phone screen just as I set my phone down, screen face up (just had to try to prove I could be trusted, didn’t I?).

    I snatched my phone back up off the desk swiftly.

    What the hell was I gonna do now? This woman wouldn’t leave me alone.

    “Look, we gon’ talk about this more when you get home,” she said to me, apparently just missing my shocked expression as I tried to fix my face.

    “Okay,” I agreed. But this discussion would be far from over once Diamond found out about my Stephanie, who didn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

CHAPTER 1

 

Diamond

 

One Month Later…

 

    The night I’d argued with my husband about Sade definitely wasn’t the beginning of the end for us. This was far from the first time something like this had happened. If anything, it was closer to the straw that was about to break the camel’s back. I didn’t know if I could go on like this if I couldn’t even trust him. After Sade, I told him I needed some space. I was tired of playing the role of the Good Wife to Don’s Cheating Husband. If he wanted to fuck around, I wasn’t gonna stick around for it.

    This was the last time, I kept telling myself. But the more I said it, the harder it became to convince myself of the reality of it – that our marriage was really beyond the point of mending. Don clearly wasn’t as committed to us as I was.

    Whenever I would think about leaving, the memories we’d shared the past six years rushed through me and I would be reminded of the day we met and the day our beautiful daughter was born (and the look on his face when he saw her for the first time). I missed seeing him the way I used to before the cheating started. 

    I was used to seeing the street-smart thug with a proclivity for business that I had fallen in love with – my dangerous, yet exciting partner in crime. But the man that had stared down at the precious life we’d created six years ago as I lay in the hospital bed didn’t really exist for me anymore. 

    Reminded me of the days before Mayoree was born and all the things we’d done together. He’d splurged on me, spoiling me from day one. Don wasn’t Mansa Musa rich, but he was up there, making more than $2 million a year from his contracting business, investments, and several other businesses he’d acquired throughout the years.

    Don would spoil me when he was trying to lock me down and keep me to himself. Jewelry came every week for me from Tiffany, my bills and rent were paid, the car note for my new Mercedes was paid, and he treated me to concerts, dinners at fancy restaurants, trips around the world, shopping sprees, surprise spa days, the works. I loved the life I was living and Don loved treating me to it.

    My mother had tried to warn me about him, seeing right through him the moment they met. I was too blinded by love (and potentially lust ‘cause damn, that man was fine) and by all the shiny new things I didn’t need. Looking back, I realize I probably should’ve listened. Six years later, I can honestly say I might’ve done some things differently.

    Regardless, we were separated and sorting things out at the moment. Things were confusing and awkward sometimes and I hated dragging my daughter through this mess with me, but I just wasn’t ready to give up on us yet. But I also wasn’t sure I wanted things to move forward either. 

    I couldn’t tear my daughter’s family apart without giving everything I had to try to fix it. I wasn’t ready to give up Don and the life I’d grown accustomed to, either. 

***

    “Hey, girl!” I yelled, hugging and air kissing my best friend, Angela, as she entered my beautifully decorated Brooklyn apartment. I had it decked out like a movie star’s penthouse. Gorgeous African artwork hung on every wall, large bay windows gave me a picturesque view of my city, and plush carpeting covered the natural hardwood floors from wall to wall in every room. 

I was living the life. I had come home on my lunch break to see my daughter, whom I’d asked her to babysit. She was getting dropped off, coming home early from camp because of an upset stomach.

    The gloomy morning had suddenly turned into a beautiful summer day. The flowers were in full bloom, the trees were a deep dark green, and there was an air conditioner in almost every window in the city.

    “Hey, girl!” We both giggled as she sashayed towards my couch and placed her black Louis bag on my coffee table before making herself comfortable on the sofa. Angela and I had been tight since the third grade when I moved to Brooklyn from Detroit. 

    Most would describe me as a pretty, brown-skinned African American woman with a quarter of Korean from my mother’s side (thanks to my Dad’s obsession with Korean food). I just knew I was the shit. Even in the third grade, I always dressed and walked like I was walking the red carpet. I even had the model strut down pat by the time I reached the fifth grade. Them little boys couldn’t get enough of me. 

    My personality was on one hundred like ninety percent of the time and that was why Ange and I got along the way we did. She was exactly the same, like the sister I never had. Not to mention, we were both blessed in the looks department. I had long, curly, black hair, narrow, almond-shaped, hazelnut splashed eyes that would make you think I was birthed by Nola Darling herself, and a warm, glowing olive brown skin complexion that made most people do a double take. There wasn’t a single man in Brooklyn that wouldn’t wanna get with all of this.

    Angela was just as fabulous, with a cinnamon complexion, long, flowing black hair and pretty brown eyes. She was always getting compliments and both men and women hit on her almost everywhere we went. She had a slim-thick figure like Rihanna after she put on some weight.

    “What’s going on, lady?” I asked, walking in ten paces behind her, sporting my work attire. 

    “Other than doing everything in my power not to strangle that woman?” she asked, referring to her new stepmother. “Good.”

    “It’s that bad?” I asked, setting my purse down.

    “Girl, I gotta get outta that house,” she told me, picking up the glass of wine she’d been sipping. “Like, I’m not even being dramatic. I really need to get out of there.”

    “Why, what’s been happening?” I asked, ready for some tea.

    “Okay, so the other night, I had a dude over. And they told me they were going away for the weekend. Right? So, I thought I had the whole house to myself. I’m setting up shit for my date, right? I get some movies, some beer, turn on some music, fire up the hot tub and the fireplace. Getting all ready for this dude, right?” I nodded in agreement, waiting for the juice.

    “Uh huh,” I also mumbled in agreement.

    “And as soon as he gets here and gets comfortable and we start having some fun, here they come, talking about they flight was cancelled. And I’m like, well, damn you could’ve called. I told her I was probably gonna entertain while they was gone, so I know she knew she was fucking up my night. And I’m like tryna talk to them and asking them if they could go to a hotel for the night ‘cause dude was like half naked on the couch already eating pizza and shit. And they just was like, ‘Oh, well we’re tired. We just wanna come in and lay down.’ 

    “So, I had to really tell this dude he had to get dressed, finish his slice, and leave ‘cause my Daddy was home. Like, that shit was mad embarrassing. And I’m so fucking pissed at her ‘cause she know she wrong. I know it was her.”

    “Yeah, that messed up. I’m sorry, girl.”

    “It’s whatever,” said Angela, downing the rest of the wine in her glass. “How’s your shit with Don?”

    I sighed, picking up an empty glass and pouring myself some Petite Sirah from Theopolis Vineyards. I took a sip before answering.

    “Damn, like that?” asked Ange before I could get a word out.

    “Well, it hasn’t been easy,” I told her. “I’m still getting used to him not being around all the time. Finally remembering what it feels like to be lonely.”

    “Aww, girl.” Ange came to put her arm around me and lean her head against mine. “We got each other at least.”

    “Yeah, well thank god for that. If I didn’t have you, girl, I don’t know what I’d do.”

    “Awww,” Ange said again, hugging me. I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her back. “We’re gonna be okay. We won’t be lonely forever.”

    “Girl, I know we won’t. Shit, look at us. Even crying, we fine as fuck.” 

    We both fell out laughing, wiping our tears. I was so grateful for Angela. She was truly my ride or die, my A1 since day one. And I felt like no matter what I’d ever go through, she’d be right there by my side.

    “You want some herbal tea?” I asked. She nodded. 

    Just then, the doorbell rang.

    “Want me to get that?” she asked.

    “Nah,” I said, spinning around to head in that direction. “That might be my baby.” I strode to the door, holding my head high. I unlocked and opened the door.

    Standing there was my daughter and some girl who looked like she was about 16. For Don’s sake, I hoped she wasn’t. She was so high yellow she could’ve been passing. She had her long, stringy hair pulled into a side ponytail. Her pistachio green eyes glared at me as mine glared right back at her.

    “See you later, sweetie,” she said to my daughter, cutting her eyes at me. She smiled and waved at Mayoree, my only connection to Don. 

    Mayoree was a cutie with thick, jet-black hair that matched mine, her mother’s big, glowing hazelnut eyes, and a personality like no other. She always had a smile on her face and enough energy to power a small jet. At four feet tall, she was catching up to her mother pretty quickly. And from what I could tell, she would be just as smart as me. She had already skipped a grade and had been offered an opportunity to enter the Gifted and Talented program at her school. 

    “Bye Diana,” said Mayoree, smiling and waving back. I rolled my eyes once she was out of view and closed the door.

    “Hey, Ms. Mayoree,” I said, turning to my daughter. “How is Mommy’s baby?” I asked, squeezing her in my arms.

    “My tummy hurts,” she replied, her eyebrows knitting together.

    “My poor baby. Come here. Did Daddy feed you anything?” 

    “Just some nasty soup.” I laughed at how cute my four-year-old had become over the years. 

“You want something else to eat, baby?”

She shook her head and dragged herself to her room, a frown adorning her cute little face. I shook my head and followed her, prepared to put her to bed before I had to go back to work. “Let’s get you in bed, baby.”

    

    Five hours and a ton of briefs later, I was on my way home from The Law Offices of Shaw and Tillman. Both emotionally and physically drained, I couldn’t wait to curl up in my bed and watch some Hulu. I knew Ange would wanna stick around for a little bit, but I didn’t mind. I could use the company since Don wouldn’t be sleeping at the apartment anymore.

    I fell asleep in my bed with Angela after a marathon of Real Housewives of Potomac (don’t judge me; they don’t usually fight on that one). 

    

    The following morning, a downpour of rain blanketed the city – a welcome relief from the persistent humidity and heat we’d been experiencing lately. 

    Rainy days usually couldn’t get me out of the house on a Saturday. I sure as hell wasn’t getting my hair wet and there was nothing to do in the rain. Looking around my apartment, I realized there was still so much in it that reminded me of Don. If I was going to get a fresh start (or at least put him out of my mind for now), I should probably get rid of some of these things, right? 

    I started moving things toward the door that belonged to Don. I pulled a box from the closet and started throwing things into it. Can’t believe he had the nerve to let that jailbait bitch drop off my daughter. Did he even care anymore?

It was too quiet. 

I put on Erykah Badu and it immediately made me feel better in my space. I got rid of clothes, shoes, coats, and some little trinkets around the house that he’d purchased for me over the years. 

After purging my apartment, I sat down on my couch with a glass of wine just listening to the lyrics of the current song playing. In Love with You. 

They reminded me of when I first met Don.

It was the summer after graduation from Harlem Renaissance High School and me and my girls were on the way to the corner store to get some Icees for my cousins who were visiting from Detroit.

I was looking fly as hell in my booty shorts, tube top, and Chinese slippers. My mother had just taken me shopping for summer clothes with the money my father sent.

My hair hung down just past my shoulder in a curly Afro and blew just slightly in the summer breeze. People were sitting out on their porches, likely because they didn’t have ACs and it was hotter inside than out.

Once my friends and I reached the corner store, we noticed a gorgeous Porsche Carrera GT sitting out front. Black with tinted windows and rims the size of a six-year-old, the car was the shit and then some. And we all knew it. Now, being that it was hooked up, we had to stop and stare.

Moments later, a tall, clean-shaven, bald-headed, sexy ass man stepped out and pointed in our direction looking like the rapper Sticky Fingaz. Then, he motioned for us to come over there. We all looked at each other for approval before heading on over there.

I thought he was old enough to be any one of our fathers.

Turned out I was wrong. He wielded that kind of power – commanded attention that we all gave so desperately to him.

He signaled for me to come over to him. I put my poker face on and walked over, my model strut even better than it had been in the fifth grade. I placed my hand on my hip and leaned on the car after approaching him. Even though I was only 17, I looked like I knew exactly what I was doing. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. 

“Hey,” I said, trying to sound confident, like I had it all together. Inside, I was a hot mess, but I wouldn’t let him know that.

“How you doing?” he asked me. “I be seeing you around, you know?”

“Yeah, I know,” I told him, but I didn’t know shit. “So, what’s up?”

“You should let me get your number. I think you and me could do big things together,” he said. The line was cheesy as hell, but at 17, I ate it right up.

Smiling hard, I gave him a look and folded my arms.

“Why don’t you just give me a call whenever you feel like you’re ready,” he said, smoothly pulling out a business card and handing it to me. Staring intensely into his eyes, I waited five seconds to grab it and stuff it into my very first Victoria’s Secret bra.

“Maybe I will,” I said to him, turning to strut back to my girls. As soon as he was back in his car and halfway down the street, the girls bombarded me with squeals and questions.

I simply smiled at them and headed into the store. Of course, I was gonna tell them what went down, but I was an asshole back then and wanted to make them wait for the gossip. It would make their anticipation grow and mine as well. I was dying to tell them what had happened with me and “Don,” the name I’d read off the business card.

 

    The first time I called Don, a woman answered the phone. That should’ve been a red flag, but I wanted to believe what I wanted to believe. That it was his sister, like he’d told me. But I was young and naïve. I wanted to believe every word this man said, especially when he showered me with clothes, jewelry, cars, and any other luxury my young heart desired. Even before the first date, he’d sent me a Tiffany bracelet. I could get anything I wanted if I behaved with Don. And that’s exactly what I did for the next ten years. 

 

    Don and I dated for four years before he proposed to me and I finally gave everything up to him, giving him his first child in the process. That thrilled me, by the way, to give him his first child.

    I was incredibly in love with Don when we were married, but after Mayoree was born, things started to slowly fall apart. That’s when I started finding out about his side chicks and getting into arguments with them whenever I’d answer his cell phone. 

    I couldn’t eat for weeks or sleep right for months once I realized Don wasn’t gonna be faithful to me. He was my first love. He was it…or so I thought. I just hated trying to wrap my head around the fact that he was my daughter’s father but we weren’t together. I’d always had this image of this picture-perfect family I wanted (we all do, right?) and to see it crumbling right before my eyes was crushing. Yet I could still see it in my broken heart to love him when he found it so easy to repeatedly hurt me. What was wrong with me?

***

 

    Don was late dropping off Mayoree and I was getting worried. I was supposed to be taking her to my mother’s before my business meeting with the partners in an hour, but he was late. I had a meeting in sixty minutes and he was late. Damn, I couldn’t stand him.

    Moments after I was about to blow up his phone for the 15th time, the doorbell rang. I rushed over to answer it and took my daughter into my arms, hugging her.

    “Hey, Ms. May,” I said, happy to see her. “Where have you been? I was so worried about you.” I kissed her cheeks and smoothed her hair back.

    “At the park,” Mayoree answered. I laughed and looked up at Don.

    “You’re late,” I told him, glaring at him.

    “I know,” he said. “But I came myself this time.” I gave him a nastier look.

    “If it takes other people dropping off Mayoree to get her here on time, then I’d rather someone else do it,” I snapped. “I have things to do, too. My time is just as important.”

    “All right, all right. I’m sorry. I was tryna get her here on time. Traffic, though.”

    “Mm hmm.”

    “She’s here now,” said Don. “I said I was sorry. What else you want me to say?”

    “Nothing,” I told him. “May, go get your bag.” She hurried from the room.

    “Come on. Why you so hard on me?” asked Don, leaning against the door frame. 

    “Don’t you have someplace to be?” I asked him, my hand on my hip. He smiled at my attitude, but didn’t take the bait. 

    “As a matter of fact, I do,” he said. “But can I come by tonight?” He leaned in and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

    “I’ll have to think about it,” I told him.

    “Mm hmm. You know you want some of this,” he said, playfully rubbing his nipples. I slapped him, chuckling a little.

    “Boy, get outta here,” I said, pushing him towards the stairs, trying not to smile.

    “All right. I see how it is. I’m gonna see you tonight,” he said, doing the LL Cool J lip lick. I scoffed as he turned and walked away. I closed the door and turned to see Mayoree standing there. 

    “Is Daddy coming back over later?” she asked.

    “I don’t know yet, baby,” I told her honestly. “You ready?” She nodded and we headed out the door.

    

    After my meeting, I got into my car and started heading to my mom’s to pick up my daughter, but my car had other plans. The damn thing conked out right in the middle of a busy street. I had to have it towed to the shop my father had been managing for about three or four years with a couple of guys from the neighborhood. 

    “Hey, I’m looking for Howard,” I said to the mechanic in the front of the auto shop as soon as I walked in. Howard had been fixing my car for free these last few years, but when I’d called him on the way over, he hadn’t answered. 

    Howard and I weren’t exactly close since he wasn’t really around when I was growing up, but he at least had the decency to do this for me when I needed it. 

    When he turned around, I noticed that the fine ass mechanic behind the counter was actually worth a second look. 

I froze for a moment, trying to shake off the thoughts I was having about him. He wiped off his hands and his five-foot eleven-inch frame was right in front of me, towering above my five foot five one.

    He had a gorgeous caramel complexion, medium, oval-shaped, sexy brown eyes and a slight goatee. He had broad shoulders and a nice set of pecks from what I could see underneath that wife beater, which I’m guessing came from spending most nights at the gym after work. And those plump lips…I wanted a taste.

    “Hey, I’m Tre. Howard’s not here. He had something to take care of. Can I help you, though?” I could think of a few ways. 

    “I’m Diamond, his daughter, and I just got my car towed here and I need him to look at it. Or someone to look at it.”

    “Well, I could take a look at it for you if you want. I know how people be about trusting new mechanics and all that.”

    “Oh, are you a new mechanic?”

    “Well, here I am. But, I’ve been fixing cars for years. I went to school for it and everything. Howard just hired not too long ago.”

    “Oh, I was gonna say, I’ve never seen you here before. Well, congratulations on the new job.”

    “Thank you. This is really just my side hustle till I make it as a producer, though…music,” he told me.  “Anyway, you want me to take a look?” he asked, eyebrows raised. 

    “Mm, I don’t know. What school did you go to?” I joked. He chuckled a little. “Nah, I’m playing. You can take a look. But just know, this is your trial run. You only get one chance to get it right.” He let out another chuckle.

    “You funny. You can have a seat right over there,” he said pointing to a row of uncomfortable-looking chairs. “I’m gonna have them pull it in. You got the key?” 

    I pulled it out of my purse and handed him the key fob.

    “It’ll be a minute,” he told me. I nodded.

    “Thank you.” He nodded back as if to say, You got it. 

    

    Once Tre had taken a look at my car, he told me there were problems with the alternator, just like I had thought. He said he could fix it, but it wouldn’t be ready today.

    “Damn, I have somewhere to be after this,” I told him. “I thought this would be kind of a quick fix.”

    “Nah, we got a few people ahead of you that we’re halfway through with.”

    “You can’t just skip me to the front of the line since I’m Howard’s daughter?” I asked nicely, hoping it would work. He laughed.

    “All right. Listen, I can give you a ride to wherever you need to go and I’ll have your car dropped off to you by the time we close the shop. Six o’ clock. Does that work for you?”

    “Works perfectly for me. Thank you, uh…sorry, what was your name again?”

    “Tre.”

    “Tre,” I repeated. “Thanks, Tre.”

    “Anything for the boss’ daughter,” he said, grinning hard as he came from around the counter. “You ready?”

 

    Within fifteen minutes, I was cruising in a white Mercedes truck with Tre. The sun was about to go down and the sky was a beautiful blend of orange, pink, and blue. The drive was long, and every second that passed, I was trying to think of something to say to get Tre’s attention.

    “So you’re Howard’s daughter,” he said, seemingly amused. “Look like that nigga spit you out.” We both laughed.

    “I know. People say that all the time.”

    “He’s always talking about you. My daughter’s a lawyer, she’s so smart. He go on and on about you. Could tell he really proud.”

    “Too bad he had nothing to do with it,” I said devilishly.

“Ooh, you wrong for that,” said Tre, chuckling.

“Nah, let me stop. So, how long have you been working with my father?” I asked him. He turned to me slightly, handling the wheel with one hand.

    “Bout a month now,” he replied. “He’s about his paper, I can tell you that.”

    “Yeah, that’s Howard.”

    “Why do you call him Howard?” Tre wanted to know. “He piss you off that bad.” I glanced at him before turning my attention back to the road.

    “He wasn’t really around much when I was growing up,” I explained. “So I guess out of rebellion, I just started calling him Howard when I was a teenager. And it just stuck.”

    “I know a little something about that,” said Tre.

    “What? Teenage rebellion?”

    “No. Abesentee fathers,” said Tre.

    “Don’t we all?”

 

    Tre got to talking about his life and had me cracking up at some of his stories. He was nothing like I thought he’d be. He was funny, sweet, and intelligent and truth be told, he seemed a little too good to be true. I was starting to loosen up after only fifteen minutes. I could definitely see us hanging out. He was cool.

    As he talked about his dreams and goals and ambitions, he appeared even more sexy to me now than he had when I first laid eyes on him. He was trying to save up enough money from working at the shop to open his own studio and start producing music.

    “This building up here?” he asked me, pointing to the wrong one.

    “No, it’s a little further down,” I told him. “Few more blocks.” I was thankful for that. I was enjoying our conversation a little more than I expected. Tre had such a magnetic personality. I was drawn to him.

    We finally arrived at my destination and I kinda didn’t even wanna get out of the car. 

    “Thanks for helping me out, Tre,” I told him after he’d stopped the car and unlocked the doors. “I really appreciate it. And…thanks for the ride, too.”

    “No doubt. Anytime. And I’ll be back to pick you up in it after work.”

    “Are you allowed to just leave the shop like that anytime?”

    “I do what I want,” he said, jokingly. “Nah, I’ma probably get in trouble.” We both laughed. “But it was worth it.” That got a smile out of me. 

    “You are too much,” I said, still smiling. “I’ll see you at six.”

    “All right. Bet.”

SNEAK PEEK

*unedited*