Chapter One

I sat underneath a tree trying to concentrate on the book I was reading. The books called To Love A Stallion by Brenda Jackson my favorite author. Her books were always about falling in love, something I knew a lot about. It was nice to read a love story that had a happy ending, unlike my life. Since starting college, reading seemed to be my new escape. College life had turned out to be much more difficult than I’d imagined. I thought it would be easier for me because everyone’s always telling me how intelligent I am, but my first month of classes proved me wrong. The workload was more than I’d ever imagined and I was feeling a little over whelmed. Classes were much more difficult than high school and it was stressful. Luckily, I had my two best friends Monique and Brandon here with me. They were my life raft. We helped each other in every way that we could. Thanks to them some of the stress eased. Unfortunately, I had to endure seeing the love of my life for the next four years. To most people that would be an amazing thing to be able to see the one you love all the time, but for me it was pure torture. I had been in love with him since ninth grade, maybe even longer, and (at one point in time) he was in love with me, too. We dated for a little over a year in high school and things seemed to be perfect. Now everything was all wrong between us and it seems now that he’s moved on. It was something I just couldn’t deal with, especially not alone. I’d always told myself I would never fall in love. Specifically because I saw my mother go through hell with my father. She let him walk all over her, beat on her, treat her like shit, and cheat on her for years. Each and every time I’d ask her why she stayed she’d say, ‘it’s because I

love him, Lancy. Flaws and all.’ I thought she was out of her freaking mind, and I still do, but I understand a little better now because I love Christian Jordan with all my heart, flaws and all. I looked up from my book and saw the object of my affection walking hand-in-hand with his fiancée, Dominique Garrison, toward her dorm. They looked so happy together; so content. If I’d known then that things would turn out this way, I would’ve never let him get close to my heart. I would’ve kept my guard up. I wouldn’t have let him see what was behind all the layers of walls that I keep up. I had to look away from them because it was too much for me to handle. I could feel my heart breaking all over again. It was suppose to be me wearing that one-carat diamond ring. I was supposed to be the one walking around campus with my boyfriend holding my hand. I was supposed to be Mrs. Christian Jordan. “Lancy!” I heard someone yell my name. I looked around and saw Monique and Brandon walking over to me. They’d been in love with each other for as long as I’d been in love with Chris, but neither of them was ready to admit it nor were they ready for any kind of commitment. I quickly wiped my eyes free of tears. If they saw even one tear on my face they’d know what I was thinking about, and launch into a pity party. I hated when they’d do that. I was a pretty emotionally strong person, but the situation with Christian was my weakness. “What’s up yall?” I asked when they were standing in front of me. “Are you going to Carraba’s with us or what?” Brandon asked. “I’m starving!” “We had Carraba’s last time. Let’s go to Olive Garden,” I suggested. “Fine with me,” Monique said. “It’s all Italian food.” “Sounds good,” Brandon agreed.

I gathered my things and stood up. We made our way to the campus parking lot. Brandon lived in the Omega house and Monique lived in a single dorm room. I lived in an apartment five minutes off campus. We had busy schedules so we tried to meet up twice a week and do something together. Brandon and Monique rode in Brandon’s car and I drove my car. I couldn’t wait for those two to finally get together officially. They were both serious when it came to relationships so I know it would eventually lead to wedding bells. Right now they were just trying to have fun. We’d all been friends back in high school, Chris, Brandon, Monique, Dominique, and I. Things only changed after Chris and I broke up. We all tried to ignore how awkward it was for all of us to hang together, but it was like trying to ignore an elephant in the middle of my living room; impossible. Monique and Brandon had hoped we would get back together since we continued to go out, just the two of us, as if we were still together, but it never happened. Things got even worse when Christian and Dominique started dating. I mean, she knew how I felt about him, and she still went after him. I always resented her for that, but of course I pretended to be fine with the whole situation. I didn’t want Christian to know how weak I was for him. If he was happy then I was happy for him. I made sure no one knew how I felt about the whole situation. Then, after our graduation, when things were starting to get back to normal between us all, Chris up and proposes to her. I was devastated. We’d all been out celebrating graduation at O’Charley’s when Chris get down on one knee and opened that velvet box. I made myself sick thinking about it, literally. I had to run to the restroom of the restaurant and say a prayed to the porcelain god. I think I was in there for a while before Monique came to get me. I left before anybody else could ask me what was wrong. We never talked about

that night, which I was grateful for, and we never went to eat at O’Charley’s. I arrived at Olive Garden about five minutes before Monique and Brandon. As soon as I walked through the doors I spotted a tall caramel-brown skin guy with shoulder length dreads and a killer smile. Angel Jordan (better known as AJ since he hated his name), Christian’s older brother. “What up Lancy?” he asked as he walked over to me. He had that gorgeous smile on his face and his light brown eyes had that glint in them that they seemed to have every time he saw me. Why can’t I just love him? I found myself asking. “Hey AJ,” I said hugging him. He squeezed me tight and kissed my cheek. “What are you doing here?” “I’m waiting on my brother, but you know that nigga can’t ever be on time for anything,” AJ said. “Who’re you here with?” “Monique and Brandon,” I said just as they walked through the door. “What’s up yall?” AJ asked over my shoulder. “Hey AJ,” Monique said as she gave him a hug. “What up lil brother,” AJ said to Brandon, his frat brother. “Nothing much,” Brandon said as they slapped hands. “What’s up with the crossing over party next weekend?” “We pushed back the date because our sisters’ party is next weekend. I heard we got some fine ass new Delta’s,” AJ said with a meaningful glance in my direction. Of course he knew I was pledging. AJ and I had a very close relationship. “So Monique, how come you not pledging?” “Greek world just ain’t my style,” she answered. I rolled my eyes at her. She hated all “uppity bitches” as she called them. ‘I only deal with you because you can hide your uppitiness,’ she told me one day. Just then Christian walked through the door. The world around me seemed to slow down as he made his way over to us. He was a little lighter than AJ with natural waves in his

low cut hair and that smile that seemed to run in his family. He was slimmer than his older brother, but every bit as toned. It had been just about a three months since I’d talked to him and longer since I’d been so close to him that I could feel his body heat. He was standing right next to me, and his Ralph Lauren cologne invaded my nostrils. I hadn’t even realized he was talking to me until… “Lancy! Valancia!” Christian was practically yelling my name. “Huh?” I finally came back to earth. “What world were you in?” Monique asked with a knowing smirk. “Oh, um, I was just thinking about something,” I said. “What were you saying?” “I asked if you’re going to the Delta party next weekend,” he said. “Of course she’s going,” AJ said draping his arm over my shoulder. “Y-y-yeah, I’m going,” I stuttered. “Good,” he said smiling. “Why don’t yall eat with us?” “Um…I don’t think…” Monique cut me off and said, “SURE!” I gave her a look that could kill, but she avoided looking at me. “Well come on,” said AJ, pulling me along with him. We followed the hostess to a long table in the back of the restaurant. AJ sat at the head of the table with me on one side and Brandon on the other side. Next to Brandon sat Monique and next to me sat Christian. “So, Christian, are you pledging Omega?” Monique asked. “Do you think I’m pledging?” he asked her. “I don’t know. That’s why I asked. But then again you didn’t greet AJ and Brandon with the whole Big Brother thing that pledges have to do,” she said.

“Unless they told him not to,” I said. A lot of my big sisters didn’t make us greet them. Of course there were the ones who’d make us greet them over and over again. “True,” Monique said. “But the reason I was wondering is because we all know that Lancy has a thing for Q dogs.” AJ and Brandon nodded their heads in agreement. “Um, I am sitting right here. And I do not have a thing for Q dogs. It’s just a coincidence that all the guys I’ve dated since graduation have been Omega’s,” I said with a shrug. Christian was trying to hold back laughter, but I didn’t see anything funny about it. Of course he was the only one at the table that was in the dark about my love for him. He thought that I’d moved on as he had. Brandon and Monique were both determined to get us back together, but I was just trying to be his friend and maybe move on. AJ had a totally different idea in his head, but I always ignored his foolishness. “Christian, how are things with you and Dominique?” Brandon asked. “Is the wedding still on?” “Yeah, the wedding’s still on,” Christian answered then got really quiet. “She pregnant ain’t she?” AJ joked. “AJ you crazy,” Monique said, but Christian was still quiet. I turned to look at him, but he was looking away from all of us in deep thought. “Christian?” I asked. He looked at me as I questioned him with my eyes. Oh god, she’s pregnant. They’re going to have a baby together. “She’s not pregnant,” he answered my unspoken question. “She’s can’t get pregnant.” “What?” I heard Monique yell across the table. “Holy shit,” AJ mumbled. “Damn,” Brandon said. I kept my gaze fixed on Christian. His eyes were locked with mine. “She. Can’t. Have. Kids?” That was deep. I could see the pain in Christian’s eyes. He’d grown up with a

large family and he wanted nothing more than to have a big family of his own. “No,” he answered me then looked away. I placed my hand on his shoulder. “Christian.” He looked back at me. I could feel his pain. I knew that he wasn’t the type to just up and leave Dominique because she couldn’t have kids, but I also knew that this was tearing him apart inside. “It’s not a big deal,” he lied. Every time he lied he would rub his neck. I’m not sure if anyone else knew that, but I did. “So you can go through your life never having kids?” I asked him. “We can adopt,” he said. “It’s not the same and you know it.” “Let’s change the subject.” “Whatever.” I removed my hand from his shoulder. The waiter came to the table to take our orders. He was tall, brown skin, and had a face a model would kill for. “Are you all ready to order?” he asked, smiling at me. I returned his smile, but I didn’t speak. I hadn’t even looked over my menu yet. Monique ordered first, then Brandon and AJ, then Christian. The waiter with the nametag that read Bradley turned to me. “What can I get for you?” he asked. I gave him my order. “I’ll have that right out for you,” he said then left. “Yall see why I don’t ever go out with her?” Monique asked. “What’d I do?” I questioned. “Every time I go out with you it’s always a swarm of guys tryna get at you or just staring you down like a piece of meat,” she said. “Yeah right, like when?” I asked. “Like now. Just about every guy in here has been eye balling you since we walked in. Not including AJ and Christian. And now the freaking waiter wants to get at you,” she said.

“How come I haven’t noticed?” I asked. “Obviously your mind was on other things, but Brandon and I noticed,” she told me. “Yeah, I noticed too,” AJ said. “Well I wasn’t going to say anything, but I noticed too,” Christian said. I wasn’t buying it. Surely I would’ve noticed. The waiter came back and gave us our drinks. “If you need anything else…” “Actually,” Monique said, “my friend Lancy wants your phone number.” He looked at me with a smile on his face. I probably would’ve been dazzled by him if I wasn’t so aware of Christian. He’d put his chair closer to mine and put his arm across the back of my chair. His arm was slightly touching my shoulders. The look he was giving Bradley was a mirror image of the look AJ gave any guy that tried to talk to me. “I don’t think her boyfriend would like that,” Bradley said to Monique. “Oh he is not my boyfriend,” I said, pushing Christian arm off my chair. It wasn’t like he was into me so why not give Bradley a chance? “In that case,” he took out a napkin and wrote his number on it, “Here you go.” He handed it to me. “Thank you,” I said. After he walked off, Christian spoke up. “Are you serious about talking to that dude?” he asked me. “Are you jealous Christian?” Monique asked. “I don’t get jealous,” Christian lied. “Well I’m jealous,” AJ said. “Now when I wanted to talk to you, you dissed me, but you just going to take that dude’s number?” “Shut up AJ,” I said rolling my eyes. “When did yall talk?” Christian asked. “Keep up little brother. We didn’t talk. Didn’t you just hear me say she dissed me?”

“At least we’re friends, AJ,” I said. “Now you know we a little more than friends,” AJ said with a grin. I gave him a look and by the look on his face I knew he was just realizing what he’d said. “What’s that suppose to mean?” Christian asked. Was that anger in his voice? “AJ, why are you starting stuff?” I asked. “CJ, you know I was just playing,” AJ said using his other nickname. He was a much better liar than his brother. AJ and I had been sleeping together since Christian and I graduated. We’d always been pretty good friends, especially after Chris and I broke up. I had been depressed after Christian proposed to Dominique during our graduation dinner. That night, AJ and I became closer than ever before. It was my first time and it was incredible. If it weren’t for his brother, AJ would definitely be the one with my heart. AJ and I glanced at each other. I gave him a ‘how stupid can you be’ look, and he gave me an ‘I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking’ look. Christian must have noticed because he asked, “What the fuck is going on with yall two?” “What are you talking about, Chris?” I was the only person, besides his mom, that he’d let call him Chris. “I saw that look that yall just gave each other. What was that about?” Brandon and Monique looked up from their conversation. They knew about the first time with AJ, but I’d led them to think it wasn’t going to happen again. “Christian, chill out. You really tripping right now,” AJ said. Bradley came back with our food. He could feel the tension in the air and quickly left. We ate in silence for a while. Christian was fuming, AJ was afraid to open his mouth knowing he’d make it worse, and Brandon and Monique were just uncomfortable. Then I just couldn’t take it anymore. The whole thing was stupid.

“So what are yall doing after yall leave here?” I asked Christian and AJ. We’d almost finished our meal. Christian was still looking back and forth between AJ and I. “AJ and I are going to this party tonight,” Christian finally said. “You talking about that party at the A.K.A. house?” Brandon asked. “Yeah,” Christian said. “You going?” “Brandon and I are going to the football game,” Monique spoke up. “Have fun,” AJ said. “What about you, Lancy?” Christian asked me. “What’re you doing tonight?” “I’ve got to study for a test on Monday,” I said. I stole a glance at AJ. “I’ll be back,” AJ said. “I need some fresh air.” He got up and left the table. I waited a little while before following him outside. “Please tell me you’re not really planning on talking to that guy,” AJ said as soon as I was outside. “I don’t see why not,” I stated. “Ugh! Are you trying to torture me?” he asked. I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion. “What are you talking about AJ?” I asked him. “We haven’t been together in almost a month and now you’re flirting with some random guy in my face. Either you’re trying to torture me and push me away- which isn’t going to happen, by the way- or you really don’t care about the way I feel for you,” he said. I was very aware of AJ’s feelings for me. They were almost as strong as the feelings I had for Christian, but not quite. AJ told me he understood we couldn’t be together. I was in love with his brother. “AJ please don’t do this to me, okay. Please?” “It’s bad enough I have to deal with your feelings for Christian, but I don’t think adding another guy to the mix is the best thing to do.”

“AJ, I can’t do this okay. You’re a constant reminder of him. You’re his damn brother. I just want to move on,” I told him. “And why’d you have to say that we were more than friends? Did you think he wouldn’t catch that comment?” “I didn’t realize he’d take it so seriously. Plus, why in the hell should he care if we’re more than friends? It’s none of his damn business,” AJ replied. I ignored his last comment and said, “Now he’s going to be suspicious that we really are more than friends.” “I don’t care. Fuck him!” he yelled. “AJ, I love him, okay.” “And I love you. Is that so hard for you to accept?” I sighed and focused on holding back the tears that were threatening to attack my cheeks. I shook my head and turned away from him. “I can’t do this any more,” I told AJ. “Look, I’m sorry, but I can’t help how I feel,” he said. “Neither can I,” I responded. I didn’t get to finish what I was saying because I heard the door to the restaurant open behind me. I figured AJ had walked back inside until I heard Christian’s voice. “What’s going on?” he asked. I started to wipe the tears that had fallen against my will. “Nothing,” AJ mumbled. “Doesn’t look like nothing,” Christian insisted. “Whatever,” AJ said. “I’m going back inside.” The door opened and closed again. Suddenly I realized I was alone with Christian for the first time in God only knows how long. I turned to face him as he asked, “What was that about?” “Nothing,” I said and cleared my throat. “You two are hiding something,” he said. “Why are you crying?” “I’m not crying,” I said. “It’s my allergies.” “That’s a load of bull,” he snapped. “Are you and AJ together?” “What? No!”

“Whatever. You don’t have to lie to me. I mean we suppose to be friends…” “How are we even friends any more?” I questioned him. “We hardly ever see each other. We don’t talk to each other for real, we don’t call each other, we don’t hang out, you don’t even know what my major is!” “Well you act like it’s my fault that we’re not as close as we used to be,” he said. “I didn’t say that. You just can’t say that I’m suppose to tell you things because we’re friends when we’re barely that,” I tried to explain. “Yeah well you just stopped calling me one day,” he accused. “What? You stopped calling me! You know what, it doesn’t even matter. And for the record I’m not dating your brother.” I walked back inside and gave Monique my money to pay my bill. I had to get out of there and fast. I went to my apartment and threw myself into studying.

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