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In Love With A Goon


Mike Braxton

© Copyright 2018 Dragon Fire Publications

All Rights Reserved.

Chapter One

Latrice couldn’t believe how bad her day was going. The men in Detroit were rude perverts! She had just cursed out her third catcaller, when she stepped on a curb and broke the heel of her shoe. She just couldn’t be late! Her boss at the radio station was adamant about her being on time. As she thought about her new job, her co-worker Noel came to mind. The two had been making eyes at one another since day one. They had talked a time or two and were going out on a date that evening.

Latrice looked at her watch and saw that it was 8:14. She had to be at the station by nine! She wondered if she could run back home and grab another pair of shoes. Right now she was stumbling down the block looking like an idiot.

Latrice was a very beautiful young woman. She was 5’7 and high yellow with an hour glass figure. She had jet black shoulder length curly hair and perfect white teeth. Her smile killed men! She was twenty-two and had just moved to Detroit on the advice of her cousin Tara. Tara knew that Latrice had just gotten out of a bad relationship and needed to relocate due to her stalker ex. Tara had promised her a place to stay and several connects for landing a job.

Without a second thought, Latrice turned and started running back towards the house. If she hurried she could get home, change her shoes, and catch a cab to work. There was no way she would catch the bus! As she hobbled, she took her phone from her bag. If she didn’t call now, there was no way she would make it. As she awkwardly dialed the number, Latrice drew stares from the passing vehicles. Even in disarray, she was beautiful.

The job that Latrice was trying to get to paid a very low wage, but she had no other choice. Flirting with Noel was an added incentive. She wondered where they would be going that evening. She knew nothing of the city, so she’d let him pick.

To her surprise, the taxi was waiting when she arrived at the condo. Latrice was able to change her shoes and make it to work with minutes to spare.

After excusing herself from the table, Latrice headed to her room and lay across the bed. She then picked up her iPhone and dialed his number for what must have been the fortieth time. At work today, Noel had confirmed. They’d go out to dinner and then to a movie. He had told Latrice to be ready by seven. Around that time, he would pick her up. She had showered, had a light dinner with Tara, and only needed to throw on her long black dress. As she continued to dial, Latrice became angry; all of her calls went straight to his voicemail.

She finally realized that she had been stood up.

“Mother fucker!” she hissed aloud.

Noel really had a lot of nerve! Come to think of it, he wasn’t that cute, and made the same $9.00 an hour that she did.

She decided to toss off the evening and spent the rest of the night at home with Tara.

When she came in to work the next day, she lit into Noel’s ass!

“What type of game are you playing?” she called him out.

Noel was literally caught off guard. “What’chu mean?” he asked her calmly.

“Don’t play with me,” Latrice shot back. “You set me up on a bogus ass date!”

His mind started racing, trying to think back.

“Oh! Damn! Did I say last night? I was almost certain that I said next week.”

The stare that she gave was enough to cut him. Without actually saying the words, she made him aware that he was full of shit.

“Look,” he said. “You wanna go out tonight? Or better yet, let me buy you lunch.”

“Why? So when it’s time to go, you can ignore all my calls like you did last night?”

“Holy shit!” he exclaimed out loud, then reached in a pocket and turned on his phone. “My bad about that. I didn’t mean no harm. It’s been off since early last night, ya dig?”

“You cut off the phone on purpose!” she cried.

Latrice was now on the verge of tears.

“Listen,” he said, placing a hand on her shoulder. “I’m gonna keep it one hunned wit you. You’re not the only chick I be asking out. I got lucky last night and kicked it with one.”

The tears which had formed were now fading fast. They were quickly replaced with a look of pure hatred.

“So you stood me up for another bitch?!”

“Not just any bitch. She mad proper. Honestly, shorty look better than you. Not to mention she banking a whole lotta bread.”

Latrice bared teeth, seething at him. It took a lot of restraint not to punch him out!

All she could do was walk away. She’d spent too much time on his no good ass!

Noel shrugged it off as business as usual. With a temper like that, she was bad news anyway.

After work that night, Latrice took a detour. Her body was still amped to go out and she felt the urge to treat herself. She didn’t need a man to be seen with in public and was more than capable of being on her own.

She’d heard about a place not far from the job and arrived after walking a couple of blocks.

Walking in, she suddenly felt like prey as all of the men looked towards the door. She decided it was safe to stick by the bar then began downing a couple of drinks.

She’d just finished off her third round when a man mustered up the nerve to approach. He was thuggish-like with average looks, and his smile soon revealed a row of gold teeth.

“’Sup pretty lady?” he whispered to her. “Where ya man at, mah?” he wanted to know.

The drinks had loosened her tongue just a bit, coupled with the fact she didn’t want to be bothered. She tapped her purse. “I carry him here. Might need to go in the bathroom and get one off.”

He smiled even harder, the gold now beaming. “I can do a few things that thang can’t do.”

The man introduced himself as Kenny, and started with the usual pick-up lines.

When Latrice felt that she’d heard enough, she kindly excused herself from the bar.

She headed outside, but Kenny followed, blocking her path still smiling hard.

“Listen,” he said, “you wasted, mah. Let me take you home, aight?” he offered.

As Latrice stood there considering his offer, a man ran by and snatched her purse.

“Oh shit!” he exclaimed. “Stay right here! Don’t worry! I got him!”

He then took off behind the man, literally trailing him right at his heels. Moments later, they rounded the corner. After that, they both disappeared.

She patiently waited twenty minutes on the curb, hoping that Kenny had retrieved her purse. Apparently he was still chasing the guy, who was more than determined to still get away.

Well, she reasoned. If he didn’t get it, she hoped he’d still offer that ride home. Everything she’d owned was in that purse. She didn’t even have a dime she could use to call Tara.

Suddenly, a girl who was heading inside stopped and gave her a curious look.

“Hey,” she said. “It’s twenty degrees. You wanna come inside?” she invited Latrice.

“No thanks,” she replied. “I’m waiting for someone.”

“Well, I’m sure he wouldn’t want you to freeze to death.”

“No, see. He’s getting my purse. This thief ran by and just snatched it off.”

The girl’s expression quickly went blank.

“No!” she cried. “No, not again!”

Puzzled, she asked her, “what? Not again?

The girl then sighed. “Tell me something. Is the guy who’s after him thuggish looking? Mouth full of gold?”

She nodded her head.

“Yeah,” she sighed, “they reeled you in. Ma’am, it’s a scam that they pull together. One puts on this chivalrous charm while the other comes by and snatches your purse. Right as we speak, they’re probably somewhere splitting the money and laughing about it.”

Latrice almost melted in spite of the weather. Her purse contained all the money she had! And with no other options, Latrice trekked home.

The blistering cold beat against her face, and the coat she wore offered little insulation. Her spirit though, was still on fire. She couldn’t believe that she had been set-up again!

She paid no attention to passing traffic or the illegal activity that went on around her. She wasn’t walking along on the safest of streets, but the thoughts in her head had blurred things out.

The very last thing that Latrice would expect was a bright yellow taxi to be pulling up next to her. The headlights shined on her beautiful face, and suddenly, the vehicle came to a stop.

“Ma’am,” called a guy as he let down the window. He was older middle aged Caucasian man.

“Sorry,” she told him, “I do need a ride. Unfortunately though, I’m dead broke.”

“There’s already a passenger inside,” he informed her. “The gentleman says he’ll pay for your fare.”

Obviously smelling a scam in the midst, she refused to act like a fool this time.

She was wise to the universal rules of riding: cash, grass, or ass, but no free rides. She’d made them aware that she didn’t have the first, and she didn’t look much like a dealer at all.

She continued to walk, but it trailed her further.

“Stop,” she said, “before I call the police.”

The window in back suddenly came down; it was frosted due to the chill outside. She would have never expected the blurred image to turn out to be such a handsome man.

He glared at her with pleading eyes.

“Please,” he coaxed, “just get in the cab.”

“Why?” she spat. “What’s it to you? You just go around picking up innocent women?”

“No,” he admitted, shaking his head. “This is actually very first time that I’ve done this.”

“Why?” she repeated. “What’s so new?”

“Something happened on this road about a month ago.”

Latrice then started to listen with interest.

“Two women were abducted while walking home. One was found dead and other’s on life support.”

A chill then hit her, one of out of fear. She now looked around the bad neighborhood. All of sudden, she wasn’t so bold. Yet, still she put on a brave face.

The man extracted his thick leather wallet then removed his license from out of the pouch. “My name’s Paul Morris,” he then told Latrice. “Age twenty five, and that is my social.”

He passed her the card.

“If anything happens, feel free to give that to local police.”

She held it between her frost bitten fingers, now considering what she should do. The vehicle’s warmth was very inviting and the card in her hand did look authentic.

She took a very quick glance back over her shoulder. The idle cab had now drawn attention, and the hustlers stared with menacing eyes. She knew if she refused the ride at this point, she’d be one of the women that Paul had mentioned.

“Alright,” she contented.

She opened the door, and Paul slid over, offering her room from the blistering cold. She pushed his card deep in her pocket. There was no way he was getting that back.

The taxi pulled back onto the road.

“Where do you live?” the driver then asked.

Latrice spat out a local address, then she turned and smiled at Paul.

“You know,” she said. “You took a chance too?”

“Did I?” he asked.

“Yeah, you did.”

“You took the time to convince me that you’re not crazy. But what about me?”

“What about you?”

“I could be the like the people who took those women.”

“Hardly,” he laughed, smiling back at her.

“How do you figure?” Latrice challenged Paul.

“Well, first of all, you don’t have a purse. And your pockets were flat with your hands inside. Hard to conceal a weapon like that.”

“But what if I was just a trained martial artist?”

He laughed again. “Now that could be. But you’re much too beautiful to be that dangerous.”

For the first time, Latrice really checked Paul out. The name, to her, didn’t seem fit, because he looked too thuggish to be a Paul. All of the Pauls that she had known were clean cut businessmen dressed in suits.

Paul was an even 6’ 2, brown skinned and handsome, with a low Caesar cut.

“You know beauty huh?” she said sarcastically. “So what are you? A photographer? Artist?”

“I’m actually an actor,” Paul confided. “Currently working right here in Detroit.”

“That’s different,” said Latrice, thinking it over. “Usually LA is the spot for all that.”

“That’s where most go wrong,” he told her. “Why go there when there are chances here? Sometimes it’s best to start out from home. Do you remember Motown in Detroit years ago? A lot people came here trying to make it big. What they didn’t seem to get is that talent is international. It doesn’t matter where you are, if you’re good, you’ll get noticed.”

“I see,” she replied. “Who do you work for here?”

“This independent company called Goon Productions. They produce both music and films.”

“And how’d hook up with them?”

“I met ‘em in college.”

“College?” she cried.

“Yeah,” he answered. “I’ve got a little bit of college under my belt.”

“How much?” she questioned.

“About two years.”

“And why not finish?”

“Because of my kids.”

“Oh, you have kids?” Latrice said surprised.

“Yeah, I’ve got two. Biracial sons. They’re six and eight. Do you have any kids?”

“No, not yet. I want some though.”

“Just make sure you have ‘em with the right person. Me and my baby mama didn’t last. We’ve always shared rights, but I wanted full custody, and ironically enough, I’ve gotten my wish. I’ve always felt boys should be raised by a man, but I never wanted things to end up like this.”

“Like how?” she inquired.

He pointed behind him. “I just left the hospital. She was one of the ladies attacked. I’ve always taken good care of my kids but she was adamant about refusing my help. So a while back, the car breaks down on that same road, and she ended up stranded. Rather than call me, she and the coworker she was riding with decided that they’d walk to the nearest station and get help. They never made it. Now she’s laying in a coma in critical condition.”

Without more words, Paul shook his head.

“Well,” said Latrice, “I’m sorry to hear that. I halfway understand where she’s coming from. My last relationship didn’t go over so well. He was very controlling and possessive to a point. It’s liberating to do things for myself, which is why I packed up and started over here.”

They saw that the cab was approaching her block.

“Just remember that it’s not the safest of places.”

As the ride ended, Latrice opened her door.

“Wait a minute,” he asked her. “You have a phone?”

“Prepaid,” she admitted. “Stalker ex remember? I’m lucky it wasn’t in my purse at the time.”

“Cool, do you want to exchange numbers?”

“Of course,” she said. “I’ve got to repay you.”

“Nah, I’m good.”

“No, I insist. Just like you insisted I get in the cab. It’s just you and your boys staying at the crib.”

“Us, and my brother Jason lives there.”

“Then I’m certain it could use a woman’s touch. Who knows, I guess I could start with that.”

Paul smiled at her and plugged in her digits. He waited until she was safely inside, before allowing the driver to then pull away

The warm bubble bath was a sharp contrast to the blistering cold, and as Latrice thawed her body out in the tub, thoughts of Paul would run through her mind.

Her mind recounted how sexy he was, and her hands roamed her curves in sensual strokes. She found her spot and tickled it a bit. Seconds later, she was strumming a tune. An orgasm slowly built inside of her but was suddenly interrupted by the ringing of the phone. At first, Latrice thought she’d ignore it, but when saw his number, she came to a halt.

“Hello?” she answered, all out of breath.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “didn’t mean to have you running.”

“It’s okay,” she contented, going with the lie.

“I just wanted to tell I found your stuff.”

“What?” she exclaimed, sitting up high.

“I was just headed over to my partner’s house, I was going upstairs, and there it was. Your photo ID and some other items. Tell you the truth, I almost ignored it. Imagine that, in big ol’ Detroit. Guess it must’ve been the pretty lady in the picture.”

Latrice sighed, half relieved. “Was the purse there too?” she wanted to know. The purse was a gift she’d gotten for Christmas and valued at almost three hundred dollars.

“Sorry,” he said, “just these things.”

“Well, that’s okay,” Latrice contented, summing it up as a loss.

“I’m pretty sure I know who did it,” he said. “I’ll call you back in a while,” he promised.

Latrice dried off and got ready for bed. He’d said a little while. When men said that, it could mean days!

Latrice was awakened in the middle of the night by the same number he’d dialed from earlier.

“Hello,” she asked in a sleepy voice.

“Sorry,” said Paul, “I didn’t mean to wake you. But somebody wants to say something to you.”

An exhausted voice came on the line and began to say how sorry he was.

In the background, Latrice could her Paul shouting, “Jase, give his ass a few more kicks!”

After couple of solid thuds and grunts from the man, who cried out in pain, Paul came back on the line again. “I want to return your things,” he said. “And give you back all of the cash you lost. We’ll pick you up tomorrow in Jason’s car. We’ll swing on by just after eight.”

Though Latrice wanted to protest, exhaustion and shock got the better of her.

“Alright,” she told him. “I’ll be ready.”

“Good deal, mah. I’ll see you then.”

The next morning Latrice was shocked to see Paul at her curb in a late model BMW. This time though, he wasn’t alone. Three other passengers had made the trip. Latrice squeezed in the front seat and realized there were two boys in the back, and although they were of very light skinned, Paul’s resemblance was evident. They too were thugged out in their own little way, trying to imitate their father’s swag. The man behind the wheel looked a lot more like him, just not as tall and a little bit thinner. Keeping the appearance with all the others, he was too was thugged out to a certain degree.

“’Sup,” he said, when she settled inside.

“Latrice, this is my brother Jason,” Paul introduced. “And these soldiers back here are PJ and Silas.”

She spoke politely.

“Hi,” they responded.

“We’re gonna drop them off on the way at school. After that, we’re gonna drop you off, and then I’m going to go see about my car.”

“Oh,” said Latrice, suddenly remembering. “I guess that you’re probably going to need this then.”

She passed him his license.

“And you’re gonna need…..” He reached in his pocket and passed over hers.

“Thanks,” they said, in the very same instant.

They made eye contact and everyone laughed. The chemistry between the two was obvious.

“So,” she continued, looking away. “What ended up happening with your vehicle?”

“Work,” he told her.

“Work?” she said.

“The company’s just getting up off the ground. The wanted use my car to finish a stunt. The stunt went bad and they ended wrecking it.”

“Wow,” she said.

“But insurance covered it. It’s good to have money when things go bad. By the way, I’m sorry he got away with your money.”

“It’s okay,” Latrice replied. “I still thank you for the ride to work. I’m not used to riding in something like this.”

She paid more attention to the luxury vehicle. The seats were leather and the dash wood grain; both were polished to a wonderful shine. Even the air inside smelled different.

Paul noticed how Latrice’s eyes lit up as she awed in splendor of what she rode.

“If you like this car,” he challenged. “Wait to see what I’m picking you up in tonight.”

She was surprised to hear that he would return as she figured the ride was only one way. She couldn’t wait to see the look on Noel’s face when Paul rode through to get her this evening, climbing into an expensive car that Noel could only dream about having.

It was obvious that he had seen Latrice getting out of the BMW that morning, because when she walked into the break room at lunch, Noel was loudly telling another co-worker that the chick he was with last night didn’t give him any, but he was sure about the one he would date that evening. He then acted unaware of her presence, and stupidly asks if they were still going out.

With an attitude, Latrice tells him hell no!

Noel tells her they were just friends and there was no need for her to have such an attitude. It wasn’t like they were seriously dating. He acts like a little kid and tells his co-worker that he could do better than Latrice anyway.

Instincts told her to turn respond. She could also do much better than him!

However, Latrice decided to wait. She preferred to show him rather than tell him.

That evening, after work, Paul was waiting for her out front. He sat behind the wheel of a Mercedes Benz which didn’t appear to be one day old.

Latrice was afraid to touch the handle. Lucky for her, she didn’t have to.

Being the gentlemen that he was, Paul got out and opened the passenger door.

She hesitated just a few more seconds.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. “You pulling a double?”

“No,” she said then stepped inside.

He shut it tight. “Now buckle in.”

From a distance, Noel simply scowled with jealously. His other coworkers just stared in awe.

“She just got lucky,” he told everybody. “And picked up dealer pushing his weight. He look pretty hot. I’ll give it a week. He’ll be locked up in Detroit jail real soon.”

On the way home, Paul asks Latrice was it okay if they stopped by the hospital before he dropped her off at her place, especially since it was along the way. Latrice not only agreed to that, but also says she’d love to go in.

On the way up, the two grew stares of envy from the female staff. They smiled at Paul and gave Latrice evil eyes. When they got to the room, Latrice stood in the doorway and watched as Paul approached his kid’s mother, planting a kiss on her rosy cheek. Latrice only went inside because she just had to see the woman who had stolen Paul’s heart and was the topic of his many conversations.

She had to admit that the woman was beautiful. Even laying in coma, the lady was breathtaking! She had the face of a model and wavy golden locks that covered her pillow. Latrice began to look at Paul through different eyes. She never knew why brothers chose white woman to bear their children. In her opinion, it really put the kids through a lot of bullshit, mainly from the white side of the family. It also made a brother seem like a sellout.

“What’s wrong?” Paul asked.

Latrice hadn’t even noticed him walk before her. Now here he stood so handsome, perfect smile, and intoxicating cologne. She shook off the lust. “Nothing, nothing’s wrong.”

Paul smiled. “Are you ready?” he asked, stepping out of the room.

The two headed towards the nearest exit. When they got to the entrance, they were met by an older white couple. The couple eyed Paul with nasty stares. Paul looked at them real strange as they moved past without saying a word. Their eyes told how they really felt. Paul stopped and looked back at them.

“What’s wrong?” Latrice asked.

“Those are her parents,” he replied in a somber tone.

He filled her in on why they were angry. After the incident, he had gotten the boys. He also told her that he thought they’d gotten over that.

“What’s her name?” asked Latrice.

Paul’s brow wrinkled in wonder. “Who?”

“Yo baby momma!” Latrice chuckled.

Paul returned the laugh, then it seemed as if he couldn’t wait to get the name past his lips. “Stacy,” he answered with pride.


“Yeah, what’s wrong with that?”

Latrice hunched her shoulders. “I guess I just expected so much more.”

“A name really means nothing. A name doesn’t make the person.”

“You and her both have strange names. Neither of them seem to fit you.”

“Well, how is a Paul supposed to look and how is a Stacy supposed to look?” Latrice only smiled in response. “I think I should go back inside and speak to the doctor,” stated Paul.

“I think that will be a great idea. I’ll even come inside with you, and have a seat to give you some privacy.”

Paul was gone twenty minutes. When he returned, he appeared distraught.

“What’s wrong? What did he say?” Latrice asked with genuine concern.

According to the doctor, Stacy was not able to breathe on her own; they had to put her on a breathing machine. Her parents thought it was making her worse, and they were making plans to have it shut off. The doctor went on to inform him that if Stacy were taken off the machine, she would surely die. Right now they were at a standstill over the matter.

“Well, don’t you have any say so in all of this?” Latrice asked as she really took in Paul’s appearance. ‘Boy thugs looked good when they goin’ through shit’. This made Latrice look at Paul another way. She could tell that Paul had a heart for women.

“They are her parents,” Paul replied.

“And you’re her children’s father, sir.”

“Yeah, but that’s all. I ain’t got no say in nothin’.”

Latrice went on to tell Paul that the reason she had come in the first place.

“Six months ago,” she confided. “I lost my mother to cancer. Aside from all the drama with my ex, my mother’s death was a reason for moving. It made me forget all the memories and move on with my life, so I can really relate with your situation.”

Paul broke down; it touched her heart.

Latrice felt she had to be there for him.

“It’s alright,” she told him, rubbing his shoulder. “Be strong,” she encouraged. “You still have two sons that need you.”

He nodded.

“Where are they anyway?

“After school activities,” Paul confirmed. “Don’t worry, Jason’ll pick them up.”

This time she nodded. “I don’t think you should tell them about their mom. Not just yet.”

After he got himself together, he agreed with her. “Yeah, she wouldn’t want ‘em to know so soon.”

“Give me the keys,” Latrice replied. “You’re in no condition to drive home.”

With the assistance of the GPS, Latrice was able to find Paul’s home with no problem. After pulling up along the luxurious circular driveway, Latrice turned off the ignition and then took in her surroundings. She was overly impressed. Upon seeing the BMW, she felt Paul had a little cash. Latrice was definitely not about a man’s money, but she’d definitely underestimated him. The house was lavish and had a woman’s touch. It was big, brown, and homey.

“You coming inside?” Paul asked from where he stood in the doorway of the vehicle. Latrice hadn’t even noticed that he’d gotten out. She was so caught up in her surveillance she’d had actually been holding her breath, and didn’t know it.

“Of course,” Latrice replied as she got herself together then stepped out of the vehicle.

Paul led their way up to the porch, where he tapped some numbers into an electronic security system. A sliding door allowed them to enter. They immediately went to the bar area, where Paul poured them both stiff drinks. The music was captivating, like none Latrice had heard before.

“Who are they?” Latrice inquired of the group laying it down on the tracks. They sounded good!

“That’s my group,” Paul announced with pride, as he sipped strong and icy Cognac.

“Mind if I be nosy?” Latrice asked, smiling over the rim of her glass.

Paul took a seat right beside Latrice. He took a deep sip and then threw an arm over Latrice’s shoulders. “What you wanna know? How I got all of this?” Paul asked gesturing an arm around the room.

“You’re a mind reader?”

“Why, do you think so?”

“I was going to ask that exact question.”

“It’s a long story. I wanna take you some place special, so I can tell the story there.

Damn he’s handsome, Latrice thought as she leaned in then kissed his lips.

“How long before your family gets back?” Latrice asked within the kiss. Paul broke the embrace and consulted his iPhone. The time was 6:33 p.m.

“We got about an hour.

Latrice slid from the stool in an instant. “Where do you sleep?” she inquired, drunk off lust.

Chapter Two

Jason came into the house. He had the boys in tow. At once, he knew somebody or somebodies were in the house. He knew the women’s shoes that were spilled in the living room weren’t Stacy’s. She’d never do such a thing. When he saw Paul’s shirt thrown over the coffee table, he knew that Paul had another woman in the house, something Paul knew better than doing. This was where his family lived, and that was completely against their rules. Jason sent the boys to their own rooms, then went over to the blasting system. He shut it off completely. He knew the silence would send Paul scurrying to inspect the situation within the house. Sure enough, Paul came running into the living room, clad in only his shiny gold boxers.

Paul realized Jason and the boys had gotten back a bit sooner than he thought. He took a seat on the sofa and smiled at his younger brother. “Didn’t expect you guys back ‘til 8:00.”

Jason just shook his head. His brother’s smile burned. “You don’t use hotels no more?”

Paul brushed off his brother’s remark. “Man, this ain’t ‘bout nothin’.”

“You shouldn’t have brought her here. And you know I’m right.”

Latrice appeared in a doorway. “Can I get my shoes?” she asked to no one in particular.

Jason had insisted on driving Latrice home. At first, they were silent. He waited until they were well away before he spoke.” I don’t know how far you and my brother went. It’s really none of my business. That’s not my point here.” He took his eyes from the road and looked at Latrice real serious-like. “Now is not a good time. Paul hasn’t been himself lately. Also I want to warn you of Stacy.”

“Warn me about what?”’

“They were going through a lot of shit when the incident happened. She moved out of their home and took the boys with her. But she still loves Paul.”

“I don’t love him,” Latrice shot back.

“Well, she does, and she’ll do anything to keep him. “

“Who says I want him?” Latrice smirked.

Jason took his eyes off the road again and gave Latrice a weird look. “Who wouldn’t want Paul?”

“You think just because he has money, every girl wants him?”

“It’s nothing like that either. I can’t get into the specifics of this conversation right now.”

“I don’t know why not. We’re both adults.”

“I’ll just tell you this. Paul has been through a lot of shit. A lot of legal shit! Between me and you, if a few strings hadn’t gotten pulled, he would be doing natural life right now.” Chills vibrated through her entire body, because she could just imagine the type of things Paul must have been involved in.

“Well, there’s no need to think I’m gonna sabotage his shit. He and I went out on a date. We really like each other, but we both know that it’s impossible for anything to happen between us.”

Jason studied at Latrice again, but this time he wore a smile. He looked like a younger version of his brother. “I like that.”

Latrice decided not to reveal what she knew about Paul, and if Paul wanted to let her know about anything, he would inform her know himself.

Latrice grabbed her phone from the bed and looked at the caller ID. When she saw Paul’s number, her heart rumbled! She answered immediately. “Good evening.” There was a pause; all that could be heard was breathing. Latrice knew Paul was fighting for words. “Is everything okay?”

Paul cleared his throat. “Yeah, I’m good.” There was another pause. “I just wanna apologize for how that went down.”

“I should be the one apologizing. I admit, things did get a little out of hand. I’m the woman in this, so I must take the blame,” Latrice said to him earnestly.

“Come on now. You can’t be serious! I regret that we had to break things up.”

This brought a giggle out of Latrice. “But you have a family. We both have to keep that in mind first,” Latrice told him in serious manner.

Paul became quiet again. “Speaking of Stacy, they don’t think she’s gonna make it past a week.”

Latrice’s heart sank in her chest. She could just imagine his current state of mind. “Did they take her off the machine?” she asked. Paul didn’t speak, only breathing again.

“Yeah,” he finally answered. “Her parents signed documents to have the breathing machine removed.”

Now Latrice was one who was quiet. “And how do you feel about all of this?”

“I don’t know. I really don’t know. But let me tell you who I’m thinking about first. That’s my boys!”

“I’m with you on that,” Latrice stated. “I’m here for you in any way that you need me.”

“Oh yeah?” Paul chuckled. His laugh rumbled her heart.

“But you know that you still got a wife, Paul.”

“Oh, guess what?” Paul said quickly changing the subject. “I gotta secret.” A smile was in his voice.

“You are too much! There’s a lot with you I see.”

He went on to tell her he didn’t regret anything that’d transpired. And from the looks of things, it appeared that Stacy wasn’t gonna make it. He didn’t know how he would take it, and right now he needed other arms to fall in. Right now he wanted to prepare himself for the imminent death he thought was ahead, and from there, learn how to move on with his life. Being that life was way too short; he didn’t wish to wallow in grief too long. “I really wanna see you again,” he said.

Latrice found herself going silent again; one could hear her sporadic breathing. “Are you sure we should see each other again?” she questioned like her life depended on it. There was that laugh again.

“Come on now,” said Paul in his deep baritone.

“Come on nothing! You ain’t gonna play with my heart!”

“Play with your heart? I don’t play with hearts,” Paul stated.

Silence. “Well, I hope not.” Latrice gave in. “Now what’s the secret?”

“Remember the fiend who took your purse?” Paul asked, all business now.

“How could I forget?” Latrice replied, thinking about the cold and windy night that the incident had happened.

“I got your purse back.”


“Your purse.”

She gasped in shock and utter disbelief. He was making this up; it was all a big joke, but she decided she’d just play along for now.

“I’m at home. Where’s my purse?” she wanted to know.

“Go to your door,” Paul said seriously.

“What?” she replied as she climbed out of bed.

“Look outside your door and get your purse. Hurry up slow poke,” Paul teased.

Latrice ran from her room. On her way to the door, she encountered Tara. “Not now, Tara. I gotta see something,” she added as she snatched open the apartment door. Latrice’s hand immediately went to her mouth. “How did you get my purse?” she inquired and wondered into the phone out loud.

She held the purse against her breast, as she closed the door.

“What’s going on?” Tara asked, approaching Latrice.

“This is my purse that motherfucker snatched.” Latrice spoke to Paul, as she handed her purse over to Tara. “How did you get my purse, and then bring it back to me?”

“Never mind that. I got another surprise.”

“I’m sure you do!” Latrice giggled

“Seems like that crackhead didn’t get all your money”

“What are you talking about?” Latrice demanded within a laugh

Paul became serious. That was another thing about him. Paul laughed, joked and the whole nine. But he would get serious at the drop of a dime! “There’s a secret compartment at the bottom of your purse, the fool missed it.”

“You’re serious, ain’t you?” Latrice replied.

“As serious as I want it to be a me and you,” Paul said. His voice held conviction.

Latrice had already taken the purse from Tara and the first thing she did was squeeze the bottom. The bundles of cash could be felt through the leather. “This doesn’t feel like $200 to me.”

“You should check your bag more often,” Paul suggested in a chivalrous manner.

“I can’t take this from you, Paul.”

Paul chuckled aloud. “Come on now!”

Latrice chose her words before she spoke. “I hope you don’t think you can buy me?”

Paul seemed offended. “So you would think that low of me?”

“It’s nothing like that, and you know it. I’m a lady before anything. I hate when a man throws some cash at you, and he feels he got you under his wraps!”

“Do I give off that type of an aura?”

“I think you used the wrong word,” Latrice replied smartly.”Listen, I love the way that you’ve presented yourself. You’re a true gentleman. You got a family, you got two growing sons! I don’t wanna be taking food from their mouths!”

Once again Paul was serious. “I like that. I love every word that just came from your mouth. You already know my situation. Is you with me or not?” he now demanded.

“My heart, Paul, my heart!”! Latrice replied with conviction.

Now Paul seemed to get angry. “Have I given you any indication that I would play with your heart?”

“Okay, okay!” Latrice gave in. As she thought about things, overall, Paul seemed very sincere. He showed it anyway.

Paul then began to fill Latrice in on the fact that his boys were spoiled rotten. The $6,000 he’d stashed in the bottom of the purse was nothing to him. He told her if she really didn’t want the money, just go to the nearest window and toss it out. Someone who truly needed it would find it.

“I wish I would throw $6,000 out the fucking window!” Latrice giggled, but was very serious.

“The boys are about to lose something that’s more important than money, and I’ve got to prepare them for that.”

“And I’ll be there for you!” Latrice promised.

“That’s exactly what I need right now. When I finally do get that call from the hospital, I don’t wanna be alone; I can’t be alone.” Now there were tears in Paul’s voice.

“I got you, Paul. I promise you I’ll be right there with you, for you!” Latrice replied with true sincerity. “I do need to ask you something?”


“Is this money you gave me dirty?”

“No, it’s not, and that’s the truth. Since you shared something personal with me about your mother, it’s only right that I do the same.”

Paul went on to tell her that his mother was a heavy dope fiend and long ago had gotten lost to the streets of Detroit. When they were much younger, he and his brother had to fend for themselves. Paul told her that he took matters into his own hands, and while other children were enjoying school, he was knee deep into the streets. He told her that he now despised drugs. From the real heavy drugs all the way down to a cigarette.

“Can I pick you up for work in the morning?” he asked.

“I’m on the evening shift tomorrow.”

“Well, let me pick you up anyway, I can bring you to the studio with me.”

“Paul, you don’t think that we should take a little time off?”

“What did I tell you, Latrice? I need you to help me clear my mind. When the time comes, I need you to help me find a way to break the news to my boys.”

Latrice exhaled a sigh. “Okay, I’ll go with you to the studio. We’ll figure out how to tell the boys then.”

“Damn, I’m almost in love with you.”

“Don’t do that, Paul. Please don’t do that!”

Paul was about to protest, but he knew exactly where Latrice was coming from. “You’re right,” he admitted.

“Okay. I’ll see you when I see you.”

Chapter Three

At the studio, Paul gave Latrice the grand tour. She was impressed by the knowledge that he had. It seemed as if he’d put the studio together himself.

After the tour, he took her into the editing room. Tonight he had to do some voice-overs. In one, he had to recreate a few moans and groans for a sex scene he’d shot earlier. Paul was amused by the fact that Latrice got a bit jealous while watching the footage. From this, he promised to make her forget about it.

He took her to lunch at a popular Detroit restaurant. They had a very romantic date; before long, she had to go home and prepare for the evening shift.

Latrice was relieved that she didn’t have to work next to Noel and ended up meeting the evening DJ, who also hosts a show where she gives relationship advice.

“Hey,” she introduced herself. “I’m Sista Simone,” she said charismatically.

“Nice to meet you,” Latrice said smiling.

“Well, listen girl, I’d love to stick around and chat. I’m on the air in five, alright.”

“Great,” she told her. “I’ll be listening.”

Latrice was very impressed, especially since she got hours of advice for free, not only that, but was getting paid for being there.

“Well, love,” she told her when it was over. “Guess I’ll be seeing you another night.”

Latrice stepped out into the cold and windy air. She looked to where she knew Paul parked. When he wasn’t there, she walked out into the street; she looked north and then south. Paul was nowhere in sight. Wanting to get out of the cold, she headed back to the studio. As she walked, she took her cell phone from her purse. As she did so, Latrice noticed the can of mace that she had there. She giggled as she dialed Paul’s number.

“Hello?” Paul inquired in his deep baritone.

“What’s up? You’re not picking me up tonight?”

“What are you talking about? Your ride is already there.”

“My ride? I don’t see you anywhere.”

“That’s because I’m not there.”

“Paul what are you talking about? Are you picking me up or not? I can call me a taxi!” she said a bit irate.

“Relax, sweetheart. Listen, where are you now?”

“I’m in the corridor.”

“Alright. Go outside and look across the street. You’ll see a nice pink car.”

Latrice’s heart swelled within her chest as she raced from the corridor and out into the street. She saw the shiny pink BMW at once. In a semi daze, she headed to the car. “Are you serious?” Latrice replied; her voice held wonder.

“Go ahead. The keys are right in the ignition.”

Latrice tried the door. It opened. “I can’t take this from you.”

Paul was full of laughter. “You wouldn’t believe what I paid for that. Actually, I did him a favor. The car was taking up space. The owner bought another car, left that one there to get repaired, and never came back for it.”

“You expect me to believe that story?” Latrice said as she got into the car and started it up.

“Tell you what? I’ll let you make payments if you want.”

“Sounds like a plan. We’ll talk about it later. Where are you? I want to come thank you personally,” Latrice rambled on as she maneuvered the vehicle through the Detroit streets.

“You can’t come see me. You have to drive that car home safely. It’s not on the road yet.”

Latrice cringed. “You got me driving a car with no insurance?”

Again, Paul laughed. “Come on! Take the car home; you can put it on the road tomorrow.”

The next morning, the first thing Latrice did was get it registered. The next thing she did was call Paul. When she couldn’t get him, she became worried. Without a second thought, she raced to his house! When she’d circled around the driveway and stopped in front of the house, Jason walked to the car and motioned for Latrice to let the window down.

“What’s good?” Jason asked in a bewildering voice.

“Where’s Paul?”

It took a moment for Jason to speak; he looked off in the distance as he thought. He then faced Latrice with worried eyes. “Paul just got a call from the hospital. The parents had her taken off the machines. The doctors think she’s gonna go; he asked Paul to come there.”

Latrice put the car into gear. “I’m going to the hospital! I told him I would be there!” she cried as she raced towards the destination.

Latrice’s shoes clicked in rapid succession as she quickly headed towards the room. As she neared, she noticed a crowd of people outside of Stacy’s door. She noticed Paul within the crowd. But something was definitely wrong, because Paul didn’t look sad at all. He was laughing and enjoying himself. Even Stacy’s parents were there, laughing and joyful! Latrice came about twenty yards from the gathering and stopped. She had to get Paul’s attention. What the hell was going on? Finally, Paul noticed her. His smile disappeared instantly. The transformation registered in Latrice’s heart.

Paul headed to her. He looked somewhat angry. “I’m gonna have to call you later,” he demanded.

Latrice’s eyes searched his. Everywhere his eyes went, her eyes were there. She wanted to know what hell had happened! “What the fuck is going on?” she voiced aloud.

Paul took Latrice by the hand and kindly led her back the way she’d come. “They took the breathing machine off Stacy, then she started breathing on her own. Half an hour later, she’s up and talking!”

Latrice’s eyes wrinkled in wonder. “What do you mean? You mean she’s okay?”

“Yes she’s okay! She can come home in three days!” Paul announced with excitement.

The air left Latrice’s lungs! She didn’t know if she was supposed to be happy or sad! “You’re right; we’ll talk later.”

“You know what that means now? You know we can’t see each other no more. Don’t worry about the car, keep it. That should pay enough for this bullshit.”

Paul’s words actually stung. “So I’m worth a car, huh?” Latrice smirked.

“I didn’t mean it like that, and you know it. I’m just saying, I got a chance to get my family back. This was a wake-up call. It’s all about Stacy and my boys, you understand, because even you said so yourself, that we should keep the family issue first.”

Latrice knew she did say that, but when she had said it, she wasn’t feeling the way she was feeling now! “We’ll talk later, okay?” she said, then turned and walked away.

Latrice headed home in a daze. What a rollercoaster! Her mind was in total turmoil. Where did this leave her? That was the question she’d been asking herself for the past few hours. She finally dialed Paul’s number. He answered on the third ring.

“Hey!” Latrice greeted.

“Hey!!!” Paul chorused back.

“So what’s up?” There was that quietness again. Latrice was use to it, use to him.

“I really don’t know what’s up. I haven’t even had time to think!”

Latrice could definitely relate. “So what are you saying?”

“I do need a break, Latrice. I mean, you know what’s going on. You know my entire situation!” Paul replied seeming frustrated, like the world was upon his shoulders.

“I know what you’re going through, Paul. Didn’t I say I would be there for you?”

“Right now the best thing you can do is not be here for me! I don’t mean it like that, but I think you know what I’m saying!”

“You’re saying that you need time. I’ll give you all the time you need, just don’t forget about me.”

Paul was taken aback. “What exactly is that supposed to mean?”

“It means don’t forget about me,” Latrice stated.

“How can I forget about you?” he teased.

“So when will I hear from you?”

“I really can’t answer that,” he admitted.

“So what am I supposed to do? Just sit around and wait for you to call?”

“Actually you should go on with your life.”

Latrice gasped, losing her breath a bit.iShe listened at Paul for signs of kidding. There were none. “So you’d rather me never call you again?” She tested.

“Well, since you put it that way…yes,” Paul muttered.

“I didn’t put it that way, but since you feel that way, I won’t call you, ever!” Latrice spat.

“Latrice, I didn’t want it to end like this!”

The line went dead!

The next morning Paul grabbed a bouquet of roses and headed to the hospital. As he walked down the hall leading to Stacy’s room, he was in a good mood. He and Stacy had spoken on the phone that morning, and she’d told him she was coming home with him. They were going to live as a family again, and if things went right, they would get married in exactly one year. With the conversation still fresh in his mind, he took a whiff of the flowers and then went into his fiancées room.

When Stacy saw Paul, she lit up! She had been lying in bed, just thinking about him when he walked into the room. “They’re beautiful!” Stacy beamed, taking the bouquet from Paul and smelling their scent.

“There’s nothing as beautiful as you and you know that,” Paul flirted, and then kissed Stacy deeply.

Stacy became serious. “How are the boys?”

“They’re fine. We’re all just waiting for you to come home.”

“Well, the doctor said I can go home Friday. That’s two long days away,” Stacy whined. She then began having flashbacks! Her eyes read panic!

“Stacy what’s wrong?” Paul asked, grabbing her within his arms. In the process disrupting some wires; moments later a nurse appeared.

“Is everything okay?” the nurse inquired, speaking almost in an urgent manner. She then went to various wires and began reconnecting them. “The alarm went off.”

Paul announced his guilt. “It was me. Hey, do you think you can have someone look after my fiancée. She doesn’t seem right. Something’s wrong with her.”

The nurse looked Stacy over. At once, she noticed signs of mild shock. She quickly got a cup of water and went to summon the doctor.

Again Paul was at Stacy’s side. She looked much better. “They’re gonna take care of you. I’m gonna go get things ready for your arrival.”

“Will you come back later?” Stacy asked in her silky voice, a voice that did things to Paul.

“Of course,” Paul smiled.

Chapter Four

Latrice had tried to get over Paul, but she couldn’t. He just wouldn’t leave her mind. She had to admit; she was lovesick! Tara tried to talk to her all night, telling her to forget about Paul. But her words fell on a sickened soul. Latrice just had to see Paul, even if it was from a distance. She really felt that Paul had played her, but deep inside her heart, she knew he really hadn’t, because he really loved her. It was that white bitch that was fucking shit up! She drove to the studio, hoping to see his car. When she arrived, to her surprise Paul’s BMW was parked in his private spot. She parked nearby and then sat back in contemplation. She wondered what he was doing. Just then the sex scene came to mind! Latrice burned with anger! She hated the fact that other women had to touch him! That white bitch went for that shit, but she wouldn’t. She knew Paul missed her. She knew if he saw her he would remember what they had shared, the times that they had. There had to be more times. Life was too short, and men like Paul were too rare. One didn’t just give up on a good man when you saw them, felt them, and actually dealt with them.

Latrice fixed her face in the rearview, and before she changed her mind, she got out the car and headed inside the studio. She got lost, and a gentleman who knew Paul closely promised to have him paged. Latrice enveloped Paul’s name when it sounded throughout the building’s PA system; it was a sweet symphony! The same guy Gary came and personally escorted Latrice to the studio where Paul was working. Latrice saw that Paul was on a set. He was doing a candlelight dinner scene. She was in awe at Paul’s acting abilities. When the set took a break, Paul headed right towards Latrice. He was biting his lip and his face read anger! In fact, it was anger!

“What the fuck are you doing here? Are you out of your fucking mind?” he asked with crazy eyes.

“How dare you talk to me like that!” she spat.

“How dare you come to my fucking job!”

“I thought that it was okay, since you brought me here.”

“Yes you’re right; I brought you here! You can’t be coming to my job, Latrice! Now what do you want?”

“I came here to see if you were okay, and this is what I get?” Latrice replied, seeming offended.

Paul was so tight he didn’t know what to say. He was scared to speak, because he was afraid of what might come out of his mouth. He exhaled deeply and composed himself before he spoke. “I’m okay, Latrice, alright?”

“Oh, now you gonna play me, huh?”

“I’m not playing with you. Listen, I’ll call you when I’m done here.”

“You sure you’re going to call?” she questioned with suspicion.

Paul threw up his hands in surrender. “Trust me.”

Latrice looked Paul deeply in his eyes. “I did trust you.”

Latrice dialed Paul’s phone a dozen times; she even sent text messages, to no avail. All he had to do was talk to her. How could he spring into her life, sweep her off her feet, and then when she was only steps from heaven, he suddenly has a change of heart! She’d begged him not to play with her heart, had openly warned him! And like a man, he’d promised, promised that he would never do such a thing. If Paul thought that he was going to just throw her the car and the cash he’d given her, he had another thing coming. She angrily smashed out Paul’s digits on her phone; his ignoring her was getting her madder by the minute. Every second she went without hearing his voice was torture! Extremely painful! She wouldn’t wish this type of pain on anyone, and that included her enemies. Latrice gasped in surprise when Paul’s voice finally came through the phone.

“Latrice, why are you doing this to me?” Paul asked. His voice was gentle and controlled.

“Why haven’t you called me? I thought that we were going to talk.”

“I’ve been busy trying to get my family together. I don’t know why you don’t understand that. You were there at my worst moment, when things were in shambles!”

“Yes I was! And this is the thanks I get in return? This is how you repay me?” Latrice ranted. She was crying now.

“I don’t owe you nothing, Latrice! My wife is coming home tomorrow! I fucked her over, and it’s up to me to fix things!” Paul shouted.

“She is not your wife!” Latrice shouted back.

“You can’t be serious!” Paul spat. “Look you’ve got to leave me alone! Go on with your life!”

“I told you not to play with me, Paul! Told you very clearly! I warned you, Paul! And you promised me; you promised me that you wouldn’t!” Latrice yelled.

“You know what I was going through at that moment. I wasn’t myself when I said what I said, and you know that!”

“You meant every word you said! You were speaking out of true feelings from the heart. I not only felt it, I even saw it in your eyes.”

“I can’t believe you! I would’ve never expected something like this from you!”

“And the feelings are mutual! I never would’ve expected something like this from you!” Latrice cried. “How could you do something like this to me, Paul?” Even saying his name within anger had her feeling strange, bittersweet. She could hear Paul taking a deep breath and then exhaling in frustration.

“I really don’t know what to tell you, Latrice. I got too much on my plate right now to be going through this bullshit!” Paul replied in a more somber tone.

“It’s bullshit to you, but this is my life we’re talking about!”

“Please, Latrice! Please don’t do this to me!” he begged.

“Can I ask you something?” Latrice sniffled.

Paul sighed. “What Latrice? I just want to end all this nonsense.”

She was quiet a moment as she thought out her words. “What if Stacy had died? Would you have been with me?”

“What kind of question is that? How can you even ask me such a thing?”

“Because I just want to know. I need to know.”

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