The first 18 chapters are in this thread. The rest of the story will be on page 1 of thread 2.

I don't like huge threads with stories on later pages. Thread 2 http://www.bwboard.net/index.php/topic,102288.0.html

Beyonce as...

Beyonce

Beyonce, the protagonist of this story, starts her freshman year at FAMU, leaving home in Texas to experience life at a Historically black college. Only 17 as a home schooled student that graduated early, she discovers that life back in her sleepy town back home doesn't compare to the richness and craziness of a college campus. Through her four years at FAMU, she falls in love with people she shouldn't fall for, develops rivals with other women, and takes the campus by storm, becoming one of the most celebrated students in her class. It all comes to a head, when she has to stand trial naked, in front of a juror of peers. Jay-Z as...

Professor Carter

Mr. Carters classes have long waiting lists and fill up within minutes, as upperclassman and underclassman fiend to take his many courses. An ethics/philosophy professor, he is one of the most respected and celebrated black intellectuals in the south, writing two books on ethical principles. Irony takes center stage as one of his most celebrated pupils, becomes his lover in secret. Kelly Rowland as....

Kelly

Beyonce's childhood best friend didn't get accepted into FAMU, due to a low GPA and test scores. Still, she moves from Texas to Florida with her best friend and enrolls at neighboring Tallahassee Community College, with the hopes of transferring to FAMU and getting an apartment with her bestie. But as the semesters past, the two friends drift further apart, culminating into an argument that will put the future of the friendship in doubt. Michael B Jordan as...

Wallace

A freshman artist when Beyonce is a senior, Wallace learns the meaning of "Paint Me In Your Sunshine". Chris Martin as...

.Chris

Chris experiences discrimination, prejudice, and his first love as one of the few white students enrolled at the predominately Black Institution. While the other musicians and talents at the school are into step team, hip hop, and other urban models of art/entertainment, Chris recites poetry while playing his acoustic guitar. Can he find a way to fit in as the minority? Michelle Williams as...

Michelle

Beyonces roomate freshman year eventually becomes one of her most trusted friends. The two immediately click as they share similar taste in music, religious backgrounds, and moral codes. As Beyonce drifts apart from Kelly, Michelle and her grow closer and share secrets; and a moment together that will have them both questioning themselves and their moral codes. Clifford Harris as....

Tip

A highly intelligent drug dealer, originally from Atlanta, but now making his rounds in Florida. After discovering that college campuses were a gold mine, he starts selling weed and pills to the students; making friends and enemies along the way. Tip eventually sets his eyes on Beyonce, and the two of them engage in a tumultuous love affair with a tragic ending. Nicki Minaj as....

Nicki

Tip's ex girlfriend, and the self proclaimed baddest b*tch in the school, this sorority leading lady naturally clashes with Beyonce, who becomes a threat to her own status. Although rivals in government, NAACP meetings, and social standing, the two realize they are more alike than they thought.

Rihanna as...

Rihanna

A model trying to save up enough money to move to New York, this feisty gal introduces Beyonce to art modeling, post-modern feminism, drugs, and a hipster lifetyle that forever changes the Southern Belle. Unafraid to show her body or explore her sexuality, Rihanna becomes an unlikely friend, lover, and unlikely guiding force in Beyonces life.

CCH Pounder as...

Professor Pounder

Although hard on Beyonce initially, Professor Pounder becomes one of her biggest supporters when everything unravels. This openly gaay professor, human rights advocate, and former Hippie provides the moral fabric Beyonce needs to cover her nakedness. Neyo as...

Jarvis

Beyonce befriends her first openly gaay male after being sheltered in Texas. Jarvis apologizes for no one, but his hardnosed attitude towards people, soften after he betrays the trust of the one person that gave it. Lupe Fiasco as

Lupe

When Beyonce travels to France on a school trip, she gets an cultural lesson, learning that there are black men in Europe. To the point, she has to decide if she will get close to a man that lives across the ocean. Plies as....

Smurf

Tips partner in crime, this non-student shows up at college parties to hustle, pick up women, and show out of towners how they get down in Flawda. Quinton Aaron as...

Quinton

His Story Arch to be announced later. Setting:

FAMU in Tallahasee, Florida

As one of the most prestigious HBC's in the country and located in the States capital city, it becomes Beyonce's school choice. It also becomes the home to the drama surrounding the many characters in this story. Chapter 1

There are all types of jitters and uncertainties surrounding the day you leave home and get away from the people that made up your world. Will these new people like me? Will I miss my old world? Will I flop around and die like a fish out of water or a whale stuck on the beach. Or will I thrive and adapt like a Chameleon. I couldn't help but wonder if adapting meant blending in like the Chameleon or standing out. I didn't want to move all the way from Houston, Texas to Tallahassee Florida just to become another Floridian. I wanted to become someone that would be unique; someone that would be remembered. I chose FAMU University primarily because it was such a large historically black school, and I wanted to feel closer to my people. I attended public school for only a few years when my dad had pulled me out in fourth grade. I was pulled because the curriculum included sex ed and evolution talk, which my parents were both weary of. See, my dad is a head deacon in my church, and it was a huge no-no for him to allow his children to be corrupted by the evil secular talk of science and sex. Hell, I was still calling my pussy my special place instead of a vagina back then. My dad met with the other decision makers on our church board and they set up some funds for home-schooling. They decided private school cost too much, and they could buy books and pay tutors for an entire year what it would cost to put us in a semester of a christian private school. Once it was set up, parents at the church immediately started pulling their kids from public school and letting paid tutors home-school us, but with a church approved lesson plan. I initially was devastated to be taken away from my friends; well what little friends I had. I learned a lot more shit at school than I learned at home. Not school stuff, but life school. I learned slang and the joys of cursing and all kinds of sex jokes that I was sheltered from at home. Both my sister Solange, and I were going to truly miss that note passing and gossip that we were immersed in as third and fourth graders.

After we were out of public school for a few semesters, we eventually got over it. My tutor was pretty cool; she was a Haitian lady with tons of life experience (which means she was old as shit) and many funny stories she would tell me once my work was done. My parents never knew it, but she was a closet Athiest, and had no problems polluting my head with secular seeds in our downtime. She had received her degree in education from a Historically Black College, although it wasn't by choice. In her time, college was a rarity for black folk, especially immigrants. But she worked her ass off and eventually was accepted into FAMU. She would tell me all types of stories of racism, but she'd also include such rich and exciting stories of racial identity and belonging. I felt like I didn't belong to much culture out in the Burbs of Houston. Most of my family lived in New Orleans, and most of our neighbors had blond hair and blue eyes. I never even noticed it until I went to a Family Reunion and my cousin Angie told me I sounded like Dione from the movie Clueless. I was clueless to the reference being a bad thing, so I smiled and thanked her. My best friend Kelly had to point it out to me that it was an insult for a black girl to sound like a Valley girl. Ever since then, I was conscious of how I talked, trying to make sure I sounded more urban and hip. But it was hard, being away from the hipsters of a public school and staying hip. Our parents limited TV time, but my channel stayed on BET when I did have the opportunity to watch. 106 and Park and Kelly were my teachers on how to be black. Kelly was going to have to be my life line when I moved to Florida, but I was going to have to be away from her for my first 3 months. That was maybe scaring me more than being away from my parents and sister. See, Kelly liked to party a lot, and school never really came natural for her. She was one of the few kids in our church that remained in Public School, and when it came time to apply for colleges, let's just say she got more rejection letters than a inmate applying for an appeal. No college wanted her. She decided she would continue working her job at Wal-Mart and move down to Tallahassee with me in September where she would enroll in Tallahasse Community College. The ultimate goal was she would transfer to FAMU in two years and me and her would get an apartment together. While she struggled with school, I excelled. My text scores were through the roof and I had my pick of colleges, getting accepted into Duke, Stanford, and Spellman. I had applied all over the country since my application fees were waved and I wanted to weigh my options, but there was something about FAMU that kept calling me. Maybe it was the voice of my Hatian tutor telling me all of those stories about the school in the 60's or maybe because it was close to Miami and Atlanta, but when I told my parents I'd be going to FAMU, I knew in my heart it was going to be a place for me to escape. Of course they objected the idea. My mother wanted me at Spellman, the all womens liberal arts HBC, and my dad wanted me at Rice, the prestigious Texas

college, but for maybe the first time in my life, they took a step back and allowed me to make my first adult decision. And my decision was to get the hell away from them and their plans for me. I have nothing against my parents. I know they love me and only want their idea of the best for me, but I had spent 16 years as a sheltered church girl, protected from the great sin of the world, and I wanted to break free. There were some things I would surely miss, though. My mom and grandma, both of Creole descent, had owned a Soul Food restaurant which was one of the most popular spots for black people in Houston. Even the white folks loved their special recipe for fried chicken, macaroni, and oxtails. I was going to miss that. We weren't allowed to eat it all the time, like the family from that movie Soul Food, but when they did decide to make dinner using those recipes, I feasted. For some reason, they never allowed me or Solange to know the recipes or spend much time in the kitchen. She would always say we would learn the recipes when we had use to learn them. Solo would tell me that meant when we got married. Solo, as we call my sis, is a year younger, but many eons wiser than me. Her wisdom was beyong that of the typical 15 year old. Or maybe I just thought that way since she wasn't a virgin, and with eating the forbidden fruit came a wealth of knowledge. She didn't take a bite from the tree of knowledge, she ate the entire damn fruit without saving me any. She lost her virginity at 14 to a guy from Christian Summer camp, and started regularly f*cking on our weekends out at the movie theater. So she could get hers, we would typically go see movies with our dates at boring, old, empty screenings and sit at the top. She owes me for all of the terrible movies I ended up seeing so she could scratch an itch. We were the typical church girls, perception wise, but she was already becoming a little devil, and I loved it. I wanted her spunk and courage and care-free attitude, and I was going to miss it being an everyday part of my life. But, as with Kelly, we had a plan that she would too enroll at FAMU after receiving her HS diploma in May, and all three of us would eventually get an apartment together, as the three amigos. We both were graduating early after receiving nearly double the credits that normal HS students received during a semester, which only made our parents even more fearful of letting us go. I was going off to college as a scrawny, sheltered, 16 year old, although I'd be 17 by September. I had decided to enroll during the summer to get a jump start on the other freshman, which meant moving in the dorms in May 2006. I couldn't drink, couldn't vote, could barely legally drive, yet I was going to be living on my own. The horror of it all was overwhelmingly enticing to me, and overwhelmingly repulsive to my parents. My dad was a good guy. Worked in a cubical in the day and the pulpit as night. He came from poverty in New York but after going to school and marrying my mother, had started a new life in a white picket fence community in Texas. He got called a coon for the longest because of how he moved his family away from

what he grew up calling home, but he always said he'd rather be living good as a coon that living bad as a brother. Still, I would miss the way he provided for his girls, and how he was really the only male influence in my life. Now, I'd be surrounded by all kinds of strange boys and men. Then again, that was enticing as well. My grandmother had recently passed. It shook our family when in happened, and we were still trying to recover from it. But it was her passing and ultimately the inheritance she left behind that allowed me to attend an out of state University with rising tuition and have my entire education be paid for without a loan. I missed my grandmother, but part of me, a selfish part I wouldn't dare speak out loud, appreciated her parting gift. Did this make me a bad person? Our family was considered middle class and we had good financial standing, but the look on my dads face when he saw that first school bill was concerning. Our little cousin Ricky had moved in with us from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina forced his family to move elsewhere, and this meant we had less disposable income. Still, our daddy made it a habit of taking us out to eat as a family. Usually he looked at bills and smiled. When we went to restaurants or he bought us new clothes or something like that, he'd peep the bill, smile to himself, and keep it moving. But after just one semester of room and board and tuition, he didn't smile. He looked, and looked, and looked. Long and hard. Long. And. Hard. And then he asked what was for dinner. I didn't say anything, but I wondered if we really could afford this. He'd usually get upset if Solo or I asked about finances, so we didn't. But I really wanted to ask him about it that day. That day, was this day. We packed into the family van, ready to drive down to Florida on the day I would be moving in. The van was packed with my things, clothes and whatnot, but most of my things were to remain in Texas. My dad had given me a special credit card that was to be used to purchase food, toiletries and my girl shit, and things like books and a computer. It would be my most prized possession that I was taking with me. The limit was 5 grand, but there was no way I was buying 5 G's worth of tampons and textbooks. I could only imagine the outfits that I'd sport when I had a day to myself to hit that famous Tallahassee mall. "Look at Bee, all cheesing and stuff," cousin Ricky said as we were pulling off. I sucked my teeth and shot him a look. He was a little punk ass, always starting shit and always trying to be funny, but he was right. I had been smiling hard all week even though I was trying to contain myself. And even though it was a little pass midnight and everyone else, Solo, my mom, and my dad were looking sluggish and ready for long ass drive to Tally to start and be over, I was enjoying every second of the day I would become independent.

"Beyonce, you seem awfully eager to leave home. What you got planned?," my mother asked, partially tongue in cheek. "Nah, ma. Not eager. Just excited," I said. "I can't say I'm too excited about this," my dad chimed in, turning the wheel and looking in the rear view. "Daddy. You not excited about your daughter starting college?" I pressed, smiling. "Oh I'm excited about you going to college. But you could have went to college here. You ain't have to move to no Florida". "Yeah Bee. And even if you did choose to leave Texas. I think I would have felt more comfortable with you at Spellman" my mother chimed in. Solo, who had been looking sleepy, gave a crooked smile. "Now you know Bee ain't going to no school that don't have any boys" she snickered. "So not true. Morehouse is right next to Spellman. A plethora of boys, if that was what I was looking fo'" I said. "Wamp Wamp" Solo laughed. "Don't project your wants on me, Solo" I laughed back. "What does pleh-the-ruh mean" Ricky asked in his laughably strong New Orleans accent. "A bunch" Solo answered. "So More-House, has a bunch of boys?" he asked. "It's an all boy school like Spellman is an all girl school" I said. "I'd definitely go to the all girl school if I was you" Ricky cheesed. We all laughed. And thus started the beginning of our journey of our 16 hour drive to my new home. After some more busy conversation and teasing about me leaving home, we all dozed off to sleep which is what we did for the majority of the trip. I put on my ipod, listening to the new Fray Album about 10 times, and after almost dying of boredom and limb tightness we arrived in Florida, and everyone became all wide eyed and excited. Just as excited as I was when the trip first began.

When we arrived to Tallahassee, we stopped at Mcdonalds and ate lunch, but as hungry as I was, I could hardly eat. I was excited, too excited about what lay ahead in the next hour, and next semester, and next four years of my life. New faces and smells and experiences lay ahead. A few of the smells and faces hit me as soon as I walked in the packed fast food joint. I could tell a lot of the people there were college students as they rocked the latest clothing fads and most of them had their cell phone out. I don't think anyone was actually talking on the cell phones, but for one reason or another, each of them were being put to use. Solo and I walked to the bathroom so we could wash our hands and before we could even make it to the door, a few guys had spotted, tapped their friends, and pointed us out. Fresh meat. Being devoured by the eyes of chaste deficient boys seemed so degrading and dehumanizing, but it was rejuvenating for this girl. I had been deprived of these assholes for too long. I enjoyed their rude, blatant, stares. Solo seemed to not mind the attention either. "Did you see all those niggas checking us out?" she laughed when we were washing our hands in the surprisingly (relatively) clean restroom. I giggled. "Daddy saw it too" I grinned. "You are so lucky, girl" she responded. I guess I was. I was finally going to be able to do me. Even the fries down here tasted different and seemed new and exciting. I couldn't wait to ditch my parents and explore this new city and the people that decorated it. But first, I had to down the rest of the McNuggets. Each time I dipped, I noticed a guy watching me eat. As obnoxious as it was, I found a great deal of enjoyment in captivating the guys of this fast food joint. Even if I was only wearing a tshirt and shorts. If that could have them eye-f*cking me, I figured I'd have them eating out the palm of my hands when i actually did some shopping for some clothes my daddy would never let me out of his house wearing. We got back in the van and made our way to the campus, Solo and I exchanging looks about the guys that had been checking for our jail bait asses. Ricky picked up on it. "Bee, so are you going to tell Lyndell about lunch" he smiled. Oh shit. Lyndell. That's right. With all of the excitement of new, fresh, Floridian testosterone, I had forgotten all about my own boyfriend of three years. Lyndell and I met at a dance that I had to beg my daddy to attend, and he eventually become my boyfriend, although most of our first years of quote on quote dating as done exclusively over the phone. We'd stay up late, talk about shit we were too young to be talking about, and giggle and whisper sweet nothings. Then,

when we actually went on a date, we'd be shy and awkward and distant. Eventually he gave me my first kiss and I guess I got comfortable with him. I liked him, he was a cool guy, but he too was something I was willing and ready to give up so I could explore something different. He was a reminder of Houston, and my sheltered life, and the innocence of our puppy love kisses and cop and feels. We decided, which really meant I didn't want to be mean so I agreed, to carry on a long distance relationship. He was still in HS and I would be in college, so in my heart I knew I had outgrown what we had. I just didn't have the heart to tell him I wanted to break up. I figured after I ignored him long enough, he'd get the hint without me actually having to say anything to his face. I had thought about losing my virginity to him before I left for school, but decided against it. I didn't want to f*ck him because it was convenient and I'd be comfortable doing so. I wanted to want to actually f*ck my first. And knowing the decision to have sex would also mean losing my virginity allowed me to preserve that unique layer of decision making. I wanted that layer when I started college. I wasn't naive. I knew I'd end up losing it to some guy out here. I knew I'd probably regret whoever I ended up f*cking. But I didn't want to part with my virginity right before parting to my new life. I wanted it to come with me and make that decision here. When we got to the campus, the big ass campus with buildings and students everywhere, I felt the butterflies swarm in my belly, and just briefly, I wondered if I was completely in over my head. Maybe I was so eager to make an adult decision, that I didn't make the one I could actually live with. I wanted life to be so different, that I forgot the grass wasn't always greener. But as I looked at the buildings surrounded by green as green goes grass, I quickly tossed those thoughts out of my ear and took in the campus air. This was what I had been waiting for. My first day of college. Chapter 2

My parents helped me get situated by moving in my things and talking with the RAs and faculty about my special situation. I would be the youngest person living on campus but they had dealt with 16 year olds before and they assured my worrisome folks that I would be taken care of. The talked that help ease my dad the most was when they said boys weren't allowed in the dorms. The fine would be $500 if a boy was caught in a room. And my daddy told me it would come out of my money. There was no way in hell I would be willing to risk it. The punishment was too severe. "Bee, I can't really believe you are leaving. Man. I'm happy for you but I dont want you to leave me" Solo said with a sad expression sweeping over her face. "I wish I could keep you here with me" I said. Ricky just looked, seemingly annoyed by our show of affection. Campus activity was to a minimum since it was the summer and most of the residents had went home or weren't attending classes, but even with it being nearly 5:30 P.M., there were people out and about. All of them black, all of them looking more hip to things that I was. I knew almost immediately if I was going to survive out here, I was going to have to become cool with those that were cool. My dad paid a bit higher for me to stay in Diamond Hall, which offered bigger dorms and would be located on the infamous spot known as The Set. Now I had heard about this place on campus where everything happened, but I had to see it for myself to truly believe it. I didn't explain to my daddy what The Set was, but it was a large reason why I wanted to stay in that dorm building. My roomate Michelle, who I had briefly chatted with on the phone a few weeks earlier, wasnt in when my family started moving things in the room, but she came in the middle of it. She seemed shocked by the room full of strangers that she walked into. "Opps. I'm sorry" she said in the same raspy but intriguing voice I had heard over the phone.

I turned around and finally got a chance to put the face with the voice. "No, sweety its fine. This is your room too" my mother said to the lanky girl that stood at the door. She was cute to me. Low cut hair style, glasses, but a bit skinny and unsure of herself. I could tell she lacked confidence just by the way she stood and the apprehensive tone of her voice. "Hey Michelle" I said to her, hoping she'd recognize my voice. "Hey" she said simply. "This is my family. My mother Tina, my daddy Matthew, my sister Solange". Ricky walked in the room looking weighed down by the luggage he was carrying and I mushed his head. "And this, is my little cousin Ricky". "Why I gotta be your little cousin?" Ricky complained. I elbowed him and smiled. Michelle gave each of them a weak smile and one wave. "Nice to meet you" she said to return the greeting. My dad looked full of questions and I knew they were coming. "So Michelle, what are you majoring in?" he asked. "Journalism" she said, simply. "Ahh, A writer I see" my mother smiled. "Yes Ma'am". "This your first semester too?" my dad asked. "Yes. I moved in yesterday. My mom thought it would be better if I started in the summer instead of waiting to the fall". "Sounds like a good plan. We thought of it first, though" my dad said, trying to make a funny. I ended up giving an embarrassing sympathy chuckle so we wouldn't only hear the roar of the AC.

"Keep trying Uncle Matt" Ricky said. My dad coughed and kept it moving. "So Michelle, are you in state or out of state? Beyonce is coming from Houston" my dad said. "I'm in state. Born and raised in Miami. Came here on a Bright Futuers Scholarship" she said. "Well good. We'd like for Bee to have some friends that are native Floridians" my mother smiled. Michelle gave a polite smile and we searched for more words to help move past this awkward meeting. "Was that everything?" my dad said to Ricky. "Yep. Last bag. And yall ain't even help me" he barked. "Thank you Ricky" I smiled at him. "Yeah, whatever. Just know, I'm moving all of my stuff in YOUR room back home" he grinned evilly. Such a punk ass. "Well Beyonce. That's everything. I guess you girls can arrange everything yourselves, right?" my dad asked, obviously dreading the moment. "Yes sir" I smiled, ready for him to leave. "Well" he sighed. "Well, I guess we should be heading back" my mother said finishing his thoughts and looking me in my eyes. I could sense her search, looking for any signs of fear of the future, once they left my ass here. She didn't find fear though. She found the look that confirmed to her that it was time for them to leave and time for me to breathe. "Well come here" she said, arms extended. I went over to my mother who gripped me tight, my dad soon followed, and then Solo who dragged Ricky to the group hug. They hugged me, and at that moment, I was glad to have them as my family, even the punk ass. I held my breath and smiled, embracing their bear hug but I regained my composure when out of the

corner of my eye I saw Michelle just standing there, probably disgusted by our Brady Bunch moment. "Ok guys. I love yall. Now let me go" I said. They let me go and seemed glued to the floor. I guess it didn't sink in that after the hug, they were suppose to leave. "Call me, ok Bee" Solo said. "Everyday" I said back to her. "And call me too" my dad said. "Once a month" I smiled to him. He didn't laugh. And it took my mom dragging him by the arm for him to leave. Once they were gone, out of the building and walking towards the parking lot, I relaxed a bit, just trying to live in the moment. The moment that I had anticipated for years. I was finally here. Finally transfixed in the moment my imagination struggled to articulate. I was free. "I can't tell if that look means you are happy or sad" Michelle said, breaking my trance. I turned towards her and breathed a sigh. "Happy. Complete. Pure. Unadulterated. Happiness" I said, choosing my words to help describe the tranquility of the moment. She smiled, "Yeah, I know how you feel. I wanted to just dance when my mom left". "Did you?" I asked. "Nah. Still too new at this being on my own thing. These walls still feel so distant and unfamiliar". "Yeah. But I think that is what I love about it. I guess I'm tired of being so comfortable" I said. "Well just wait until you have to use the community bathrooms. You will be smitten" she laughed. I laughed too. I guess I hadn't thought about that reality. I'm sure I would be missing my bedroom bathroom and my bed and my privacy as soon as the novelty of being here wore off. But I wasn't ready to miss home. I wanted this high to last as long as it could.

"Lets go on the Set" I said. "Lets go" she smiled. Michelle and I had already talked before on the phone. I found out we had a lot in common. We both came from a Pentecostal church background. Her mom was an Evangelist. I found out we both loved Janet Jackson's first album but hated her last one. She wanted to major in Journalism and I was going to major in Education, but we both had been in Who's Who for being outstanding students in HS. I had heard horror stories about roomates from hell, and I think we were both happy that we seemed to be compatible. Hell, maybe she'd even become my first friend here. We hit the Set, which was really a big ass patio area with a bunch of people hanging around and peddling something. There was music playing, fine ass men stepping, and a ton of sign up tables set up for various organizations and groups. "The Greeks run this place" Michelle whispered to me as we walked. "You going to pledge?" I asked. She shot me a look. "I refuse to go through with ANY of that hazing stuff, so no" she said. Michelle showed me around the campus like she was a pro. She had visited the school several times so she said she had a pretty good grip on where things were. She pointed out each dorm, like the notoriously small coed building Paddyfote Complex, and then we went to the Dining Hall where I was sure I'd spend many a days, and then to the book store. Somewhere along the way, we ran into a short but interesting looking light bright student. Or should I say, he ran into us, literally running right into me.

"Oh, excuse me ladies. I wasn't looking" he smiled. "It's fine" I said back to him, wondering if this was game or a genuine mistake.

"Yes, you are fine" he smiled. Ok, it was game and I knew it. "I'm guessing you two are freshman. I haven't seen yall around here before. My name is Tip" he said extending his hand. Michelle shook, then stated her name and then he looked towards me and I did the same. "Michelle and Beyonce. Most def a welcomed edition to this campus. Where yall stayin?". "Diamond" I said, before being elbowed on the sly by Michelle. I guess she didn't want him knowing and I, like a newbie at this, had f*cked up. "That's wassup. Right on The Set. At least yall ain't at Paddyfote" he grinned. "Yeah. Heard it's really bad there" I said. "Oh it is. I'm a former P-Foot Solider so I know first hand. I stay in one of the campus apartments now, though" he said. "Upperclassman?"Michelle asked. "Yeah, i'm a junior" he said. "Well, Beyonce here is only 16. I'm only 17. So..." Michelle said, cockblocking for both of us. "16 and 17? Damn. Yall are some youngins" he said, smushing his shocked face. I looked at Michelle who was laughing. "Well looka here Shawty. I'm a man of many talents roun these parts. I'm sure yall will be hearing about me and seeing about me in the future. Maybe, near future" he smiled. "Maybe" Michelle said. "Be easy, Beyonce, and Michelle. Or should I say, 16 and 17" he laughed, before rubbing my Shoulder and walking off. When he was out of sight, I side eyed Michelle and smiled to myself. "17?".

"I'm really 18" she laughed. "So why lie?" "We will have plenty of time to get hit on. The first day should be school only, though" she said. I guess the glasses she wore signaled that she really was a nerd. She'd be cool I figured, but Michelle wouldn't be one of the in-crowd students I knew I'd have to become cool with. TIP? The man of many talents? The man that presumed I'd be seeing about him in the future? I was sure, right off the bat on our first encounter, that he was one of the cool cats. Michelle and I went to the book store and stood in the long ass line to get our books. First semester books? 1 for Calculus. One for Criminal Justice. 2 for Lit and one for Ethics. Book total? Over $500. I feared what my dad would think when he saw the bill. "You're taking Ethics?" Michelle said when she saw me get the book from the shelf. "Yeah. It's a class a lot of freshman take". "Whose class are you taking?" I looked on my class schedule. "Professor Stone" I shrugged. "Oh no girl. We gotta go switch your class right now before it's too late". "Switch? Why?" "You have to take Mr. Carters ethics class. He is one of the best teachers here. He has a perfect approval rating on ratemeprofessor.com and everything. I'm taking his class too. You HAVE to take it" she said. I had never really thought about professors and the quality of them before. I guess I was so use to my tutor that I never thought about it. But Michellees excitement for the man had me excited. That excitement only increased when we talked to the student assistant at the registration building. "Oh you want to switch to Mr. C's class? Good luck with that one" he laughed. "Good luck, why?" I asked. "Mr. C is the most popular teacher here. His classes fill up in hours. I'm sure its too late to be put in the class".

"Why is he so popular?" I asked. The tall dark skin brother eyed me and smiled softly. I had noticed the same smile before from other guys around the campus. It was either a sign that he was about to compliment me or some say bullshit pick up line. "You know you girls are really pretty" he said. "Thanks?" I blurted. Damn, only an hour on campus and I was already getting annoyed by the empty compliments. Or maybe I only was annoyed because he smelled of Axe and Musk and had bug eyes. "So, is there any way, any way at all, that I could get in his class?" I asked. He looked me over, then Michelle who had her puppy dog eyes flowing, and he crackled his knuckles and fired up the database in the computers. "This must be fate. Someone just dropped his class about 10 minutes ago. No waiting list, it's first come first serve. So looks like you just got the last available seat" the student said. He clicked around a few times and handed me a print out of my new schedule. He eventually asked me out as well, but I told him I was 16 and he saw on my Student ID that I wasn't lying. My date of birth truly was some nigga repellent, which was funny considering I'd be 17 in a few months and 17 was legal in the state of Florida for college aged students. I guess I couldn't hate on it though. I was here for school. An education. Or some other bullshit like that. But I most definitely wasn't here for bug eyed niggas. ** My first week of classes was great. I had fear of my teachers being hard nosed dictators, but they all seemed accommodating and accessible even though the class sizes were huge. I went from being in a class of one to a class of 50 to 100. Mr. C's class was one of the ones with 100. I had no idea what the guy looked like, although Michelle had went on and on about how cool and cute and awesome he was. I guess I was slightly dissapointed when the mysterious man walked in the classroom two minutes late with a Cosby sweater and thick black framed glasses. He had no facial hair and didn't seem to have a particularly impressive frame either. Seemed pretty plain to me. What a letdown. Cute? Hell, he was barely passing for not being ugly. Michelle's taste in men took a dip when I saw him. I looked at her and she seemed to be intoxicated by the guys walk into the lecture hall.

I think most of the students in the class were struggling to accept the image of Mr. Carter. We most likely had all joined the class based on word of mouth, and instead of getting Denzel Washington, or at least that is who my fantasy had presented, we got a camel looking dude in a Cosby sweater in 90 degree weather. What a huge letdown. He walked towards the center of the room and put his brief case on the desk. Out of the briefcase came a laptop. He set his laptop up as the room remained completely silent. The room had been brimming with chatter and people beat boxing and freestyling and such, but the man of the hour had the floor. A man that had a perfect rating on a professor rating website. What was it that made this man so well liked, universally? After he had his Macbook set up, he looked out at the wide eyed students staring back at him. This was a 9 a.m. class, but everyone seemed wide awake. Maybe because it was the first week of classes, or maybe because it was the first week of the most popular teachers class. I thought about the bug eyed guy that helped me register for this class and that he never answered me when I asked what made Mr. Carter so popular. So popular, that he had a damn nickname. Mr. C? Who calls their professor, by their first initial? It had to be more to it than what I saw standing before me. "Hello class" he said loudly, in a voice I couldn't quite believe when I heard it. His voice was lightly flavored, like low fat butter on popcorn. Not quite high-pitch, but not the baritone monster that I imagined after hearing Michelle speak so highly of him as a sex symbol. Well damn, there goes my masturbation material. I guess the class was as taken back as I was. No one replied. "Hello...class" he repeated, this time stressing his statement. The class responded with a very light, unenthusiastic good mourning.

Mr. Carter smiled to himself, stepped from around his desk and walked closer to us. He looked around at the rows of freshman and took a deep breath. I don't think any of us were prepared for what he was about to say. Full of playful energy he leaped to the right side of the room and loudly yelled, "Ok let me hear you say HEY!" Then quick, sprinted to the other end and said "And let me hear you say HOO!". Maybe it was the sheer absurdity of this behavior, or the fact that all of us were caught off guard by it, but the room filled with laughter, genuine laughter. I looked at Michelle who had a bright smile planted across her face, a smile that said SEE I told you he was awesome. Meh. Ok, so he got a good one in. Wamp Wamp. That still doesn't mean he was worth all of the hype. I finished my laugh and focused back in on the teacher turned comedian. "Ok. So this is the first day of class. And usually what happens on these days is the instructor hands out the syllabus, talks about himself and the class, and then asks each person to stand up and introduce themselves. Well. Personally, I'm not very interested in talking about myself or hearing yall talk about yourselves" he began. "But. I am a bit interested in hearing what you freshman have heard about me. I seem to have this reputation of being....cool. And most freshman take it because the other students tell them about how cool I am. Am I off base here?" he asked. "No" the class echoed down to him. He smiled. "Thought so. So instead of me giving you my life story. Ima let yall tell me what you have heard. I get different answers each time I do this. So shoot". The room remained silent as Mr. Carter walked over to his desk, sat down and took a sip from his coffee mug. One brave soul raised her hand. "You don't have to raise your hand. Just speak" Mr. Carter said. She stood up. "I heard you use to be a drug dealer and now you teach" she said. "I heard he never stopped selling drugs and the teaching thing is a front" someone else blurted.

"I heard you won some awards because of a book you wrote". "I heard you are a real nigga" some guy said, which promoted many laughs. Mr. Carter seemed to be enjoying the rapid fire comments. He sat back, sipped his coffee, and smiled. Once the students started running low on what they had heard, he put the mug on the table and stood up. "You guys have heard a lot of things" he said to a wave of chuckles, "but the question is. Does it matter that you know my past?" "I think it matters. I mean, if you use to sell drugs and stuff and now you are teaching us about morals. It's important for us to know that" someone said. "So the contents of the message isn't as important as who the message is coming from?" Mr. Carter asked. "Yeah" a nice sized portion of the class responded. I remained silent and just watched. "Why?" Mr. Carter asked. "Well I don't want to hear a prostitute lecture me about saving myself for marriage, you feel me?" a girl said. "Hell yea. That's like a broke nigga trying to tell me about saving money" a husky guy with gold teeth said. Everyone laughed. "So if I told you guys right now that I sell drugs. Kingpin status. You're saying that would destroy my credibility as an instructor on ethics?" Mr. Carter asked. "Yes" most of the class, including me, responded back. "Well, do I look like a drug dealer?" he asked. "No" some girls responded, "yes" some others responded. "Looks can be deceiving. You could be a wolf in sheep clothing" the husky guy said. "Do you guys think my man right here, looks like a drug dealer?" Mr. Carter asked, pointing to the husky guy with gold teeth. The majority of the class turned around and looked at him. He had mean eyes, ashy knuckles, and a mouth full of gold, and his voice was thunderously bold. He

looked like one or some sort of thug. No one answered, though. They just looked. "Hell yeah they think I look like a drug dealer" the guy said. "Why is that, fam?" Mr. Carter asked. "Cuz of my gold teeth, and the way I talk and shit". "I see" Mr. Carter said, "anyone care to debate with my man's thoughts?" No one said a word. "Hmm. So most of us in here are black, right?" he said, looking around. We were all black. "So most of us agree that prejudice is unethical right? Thinking homie is a drug dealer because of his 'gold teeth and shit" he said, mimicking the tone of the guys voice. This caused more chuckles. "Prejudice would have you not taking his--what's your name, fam?" "Deshawn. But they call me Day-Day". "Ok Day-Day. Prejudice would have people not taking your words serious". "Right" Deshawn said. "But wait a minute. Isn't that what most of yall just agreed with in regards to me?" Mr. Carter spoke. "We said if you were a drug dealer" a girl spoke. "Like a Pharmacist?" Mr. Carter spoke? "No. Like selling crack and stuff" another girl said. "Oh but you assumed drug dealer meant crack?" Mr. Carter said. "Semantics" a guy next to me loudly said. Mr. Carter smiled at him. "Ok. So if I use to sell 'crack and stuff'. And then wanted to teach students the basics of ethical principles, it would be ok for you to show prejudice towards me?"

The room remained silent. "Yes. I think so" someone eventually said. "And why is that?" Mr. Carter asked. "Because it can be a conflict of interest" the girl said. Mr. Carter looked at her and smiled. "Smart group we have here. A little smarter than I thought when I first walked in here" Mr. Carter said. Some laughed. "Prejudice!" someone yelled. "And apparently, it's ok" he laughed. "Only if it's a conflict of interest" someone said. "Conflict and Interest. Choices and points of views. THIS is what this class will be all about this semester. This is what ethics is. Your goal for this semester is not to be right, but to be strong in your convictions and not waffle. But I want you to also understand why you feel the way you feel. There are no test in this class". Many cheers erupted from the students. "No final exams and no midterms" he said, which followed more cheers. "But I do have you write three papers. The first paper, is due next class." Boos and other noises that expressed dissapointment followed that statement. So much for him being a teacher of the students. "I want you to answer. In as many or as short as you can express. If I told you I was a drug dealer, would it destroy my credibility as an ethics instructor". "Is this double spaced and do we have a word count?" Michelle asked. "I don't care the format. Just write it. It can be one sentence or a 20 page paper if you like. I just want your strong conviction. You will be graded on that conviction". With those last words, he dismissed the class. We had only been in the class for around 15 minutes, and in that short time, I knew his class was going to be a highlight to my summer.

** "Giri, I already miss your ass" Kelly said over the phone, full of excitement but a hint of sadness too. "I don't miss Houston yet. But I damn sure miss you too" I responded, meaning it.

"Ok, so tell me about the first week of classes. And don't skip the part about the college men" she laughed. "There is no part to skip. It's been all school so far" I said. "No guys tried to holla at you at all?" "A few here and there, but nothing serious. They run like Olympics sprinters when I tell them I am 16" I snickered. "Shit, alot of the guys I know wouldn't care" she laughed back. "Nah but there was this one guy. Named Tip. He tried to flirt with me and my roomate. He was kinda cute. I found out that he is a drug dealer though, can you believe that?" "A drug dealer? Girl, I told you that all black school was trouble. Students suppose to be aspiring doctors and lawyers. And the first cute guy you mention is a damn drug dealer. We got to do better, black people" she said sarcastically. I laughed. "He supposedly sells weed and pills at the parties. Real popular dude. I'm sure I'm going to run into him around campus again". "Parties, huh. You been to any yet? When I imagine college that is the first thing I think of". "Nope. Haven't been yet". "Church girl" she teased. "Child boo. Ima go. I just had to get settled into school first". "Nerd" she teased again. I laughed. Kelly always had a way of making me laugh at her teasing. Partially because I knew it never came from a harmful place. Kelly was adopted by after spending a few years in foster homes. She had been through a lot, much more than I ever had. Molestation, abuse, eating disorders. And all of this happened in

the foster care system. The state passed her around several times until she was finally adopted at 7 by a bourgeois black family, that also happened to be members of the church my dad was a deacon for. I was only 5, but my mother ended up baby sitting her a few times. Kelly was a mute back then. She didn't say anything to anybody. Just sat and looked at the floor. She was such a joyless, pain filled child. I was the opposite, happy go lucky, curious George that badgered the poor girl with so many questions that she finally uttered a word to shut me the hell up. After a few months of my mom baby sitting her, Kelly and I had our first breakthrough when I started singing I'll Be There by the Jackson 5. "You and I, must make, a pack. We must bring salvation back" I sang in my off key 5 year old voice. I barely knew the words, just bits and pieces, but the song was stuck in my head so I kept singing. Little did I know, it was Kelly's favorite song, and I was butchering the words. After I had said "pack" three or four times, she had, had enough. "It's PACT, not pack. You and I must make a PACT" she screamed at me. I think I called her a name, she called me a name, and we scuffled on the floor, her pulling my hair and me biting her arm. And from the day on, well maybe the next day, we were besties. How we became friends after that is still a mystery me and her laugh about. Moral of the story was not to f*ck up Michael Jacksons songs. Thinking about our friendship made me want to tease her back. "You and I must, make a PACK" I said into the phone. "No you didn't. Girl, BYE" she barked. "Love you". "Love you too. Call me tomorrow". I hung up grinning and laid in bed looking at the ceiling. It had taken me a while to get use to the feel of my new bed. It wasn't shit compared to my bed back home and it was squeaky. There was no way I could have sex in this thing and do it on the low. Such a squeaky bed made me think it was designed that way. To be a sex detector. Parents all over buying them up in droves. Michelle was finishing up her Friday evening class. I didn't understand why she had a class on a Friday, but maybe it was the nerd in her. I always thought I was a school Nazi, but she took it to a new level. Waking up an hour early for a 6 am class, studying extra diligently, and already trying to sign up for the School

Paper. I guess I both admired and pitied her. I was determined to be a straight A student without doing half of that. I guess the school work just came more natural to me. Michelle came in the room and flopped right on her bed. Seeing her so exhausted made me exhausted. "Tired?" I asked. "Tell me why I scheduled a Friday class" she said, defeated. "Because you are Michelle" I laughed. "Don't remind me" she hissed. My phone went off, it was a text from my boyfriend Lyndell. I guess he was technically my boyfriend, but in my heart, he was just that boy from back home that I left there for a reason. I had avoided his calls all week, only texting him a few times that I was busy from adjusting to school. He was starting to get on my nerves with all of the text. Especially the ones that fished for me to tell him that I loved him. I opened my phone and saw it was yet another one of those text. Received 8:56 PM: I miss u so much babe...hope ur 1st week was ok...luv u I took a deep breath. "Who is that?" Michelle asked. "The boyfriend from home that I told you about" I said. "You don't seem too excited to hear from him". "Yeah I know. And I feel awful because of it". "Just break up with him. The sooner the better" she encouraged. Sent 8:58 PM: I miss u 2... I sighed when I hit send. Not even a minute later, he was calling. I decided to not be a total b*tch and answer. "Hey". "Hey. Can't believe I got you this time. So happy to hear your voice" he said.

"Sorry we haven't talked much this week. I just been really busy, Lyndell". Michelle and I looked at each other, she shaking her head and me shrugging my shoulders. "It's fine baby, I understand. You are a college girl now and everything. You're gonna be busy. Just as long as you ain't getting busy with no college guy" he laughed, I guess joking about his not so funny insecurity. "I'm not" I said simply. Michelle was making gestures with her hands. I couldn't quite figure out what she was trying to tell me. Her mouth was moving, but no words were coming out. Lydell was saying something, but I wasn't paying it any attention until I caught the end. "....how your week has been" he said. I deduced that he was asking me to tell him how my week was, since he was silent after his statement. But I was much more interested in seeing what the grinning Michelle was trying to tell me. It seemed she was telling me to get off the phone, while pointing to the clock. "Um..babe. I gotta go. I got..some homework to do" I lied. "Oh...ok. Well do your work. Just text me when you are done. I'll be up" he said. "I might pull an all nighter though" I said. "Well...just call me when you are done...k? I wanna talk to you. I'll be up". "....Ok. I will" I said. "Aight. I love you" he fished. "Uhmm. Love you too" I said. I hung up and felt terrible. Especially when I looked and saw Michelle shaking her head at me. "You are going to break that boys heart, girl" she said. "I'm going to break it no matter what I do. Lose, lose. Maybe I can keep this up until he cheats on me and then I won't feel bad for breaking up with him" I said half joking. I would never want to be cheated on. I don't even know why I joked about it. "Anyway. I just remembered Chubbys is having a back to school party tonight. All

women get in free till 10" she said. "What's that? A club?" "Yeah. You ever been to one?" she asked. "Michelle. I am 16. Remember?" She laughed, "Oh yeah. Brain fart. I haven't never been to one either. Always been curious about them though. I heard about it on my way to class". "You trying to go?" I asked her. "Only if you go with me" she said. "How would I get in?" I asked. "See Tip. He can get you in. He works there" she said. "Tip? The Drug Dealer? How do you know?" "That boys name rings bells around here. I just eavesdrop in classes and someone is always talking about him. Who he done had sex with, who he done sold weed to, a teacher usually, or some other crazy stuff." I kicked the idea around in my head and pondered. I always did want to experience a real life club. But I had also promised my family I would steer clear of that atmosphere. Could I betray those words in just my first week away? Could I not even hold off until the next semester? And did I really have to go see Tip to get in? That seemed like too much work. Why would he do it for free? What would he want from me in return? "If you don't want to go, it's cool. Just was wondering if you wanted to do something this Friday night. And if we went, we'd have to get ready now so we can get in free". I could either write my paper for Mr. Carters class that I had planned to do, or hit the club with Michelle. I penciled in Michelle as the biggest nerd of us, but if I would have chosen to write the paper, I would have been the certified geek. And I wasn't going out like that. The two church girls, were going to the club. We only had to ask one student in the dorm to get Tips phone number. I felt like such an idiot calling him like this, especially since he told me I would be seeing about him. But I didn't have time to dwell on it with Michelle watching. Tip picked up on the first ring. "Who dis?".

"Hi Tip. I don't know if you remember me. But this is Beyonce. I met you earlier last week on the Set". He remained silent at first, I guess running the memories through his head. "Beyonce....Beyonce......oh...OH. 16? What's good with you shawty". "Hey. I'm good. How are you?" I said, not knowing what else to say. "I'm maintaining. So what's on your mind, 16? You called my hot line so I'm assuming you looking for something". "Yeah. Um. To the point, I heard that you could get me into the club Chubbys because you work there". "You heard I work there?" he laughed. "You don't" I asked, looking directly at Michelle who was shrugging. "Nah shawty. I work the club, but I don't have a position with their organization, you feel me?" "Oh. Ok. Well I am sorry for bothering you, then". "When you trying to go? Tonight?" he asked. "Yes". "Ok, I got you. I don't work there but my podna does. He'll get you in. No wristband too. You need anything else, 16?" I chuckled, this was like ordering from a restaurant. "Why you keep calling me 16?" . "Oh that's my name for you now. Get use to it because it ain't changing. Even when you turn 17 in September" he said. Damn, how did he know all of that? "Tell 17 I said hi, too. Even though she ain't 17" he chuckled in a high pitch voice.

"No, I don't need anything else. Just getting into the club, thank you" I said. "Aight shawty. Ima call my nigga. He's the bouncer. Tell him your name is 16 and he'll get you in".

"Ok. Thanks again, Tip" I said. "No problem, beautiful." I clicked my phone close. I felt dangerous, alive, and naughty. I had called a drug dealer and he was going to pull some strings so I could get into a club. This was too much fun. And it was only the first week. What more was in store from the characters of Tip and Mr. Carter and even Michelle. I went to the club, danced my ass off, and didn't think about Lyndell one time. I left Houston in Houston. This was my new life.

Chapter 3

Momma forgive me, but as much as I love her cooking, I could not get enough of the buffet style lunch and dinner in the dining hall. BBQ chicken one day, meatloaf the next, and always with a strong helping of rice and cabbage and a few rolls to boot. Knowing at any time in the day I could go and get my grub on with my meal plan was about as mentally pleasing as a vibrator was physically pleasing. I used it to my advantage eating as often and as much as I could handle, with or without skinny Michelle at my side. College life was still new to me and the friends didn't come as easy as I thought they would. It's not like you just go up to someone, say hey, you're cool, and I

want you to be cool with me, and the next day you're officially in with the exclusives. All I kept remembering was when Michelle had told me the Greeks ran the school and if I really wanted to branch out and make friends quick, the easiest, or most effective way would be to look into pledging. A few of the popular girls of the school had spoken to Michelle and I in the dining hall. Asked if we were interested in IGing, which I learned stood for Interested Greek. You had to start IGing in order to go through the process of pledging for a sorority. I was cautiously interested in it, but Michelle quickly turned it down. The girls smiled, a truly stank smile, but left our table and moved on to the next one. I knew i'd have to decide one way or the other if I was going to become IG. I held off on using my credit card for a a week, but when Michelle mentioning having to go to the mall, I was all on it. I bought a 400 dollars worth of clothes, paid for lunch, and bought two new purses, and when I looked at all of my receipts, I was sure I looked just like my dad the last time I saw him peep a bill. If I wasn't more careful, I'd max on this card in less than a month. I had to become more responsible or learn some self control, or something. Remember why you are here Bee, is what I kept telling myself. It didn't take long for me to get use to college, as far as the school work went. I already had experience with intense course loads and lots of studying. I didn't have to go through lousy public schools and become shell-shocked by the transition to college, like so many other first year students. As the weeks passed, I could tell which students would contribute to lowering the graduation rate and which we destined to become alumni. Most of the classes shrunk by 30 percent as kids either dropped the class or just stopped coming to class. While I knew I probably could skip class and still do well, I attended because I actually enjoyed the material. I learned a lot in Criminal Justice, had some interesting reading assignments for Lit, and even got a kick out of math, but the highlight of the week was definitely Mr. Carters class. He always had some out of left field scenario for us to debate over, like abortion and water-boarding. The fact that he would never tell us if he actually was a former drug dealer only added to the allure of it all. While my other classes started getting smaller the more I went, Mr. C's class remained full. The conversations were too lively and the teacher to engaging for us to skip or drop. And I soon learned, Mr. C wasn't the only reason to attend the class. Some of the students were hilarious characters themselves. Aside from Day-Day and other niggas with attitude, there were the overzealous nerds like Michelle and then the flirty girls always trying to slide in some innuendo. This prompted a discussion on the ethics of Faculty/Student dating. Everyone seemed to have an opinion about this one, and unlike most of our debates it seemed to be cut right down the middle. Half of the class felt it was unethical while the other half felt it was ethically fine. While everyone chimed, I sat and observed. It was all so fascinating watching them debate with such

furious passion. I had a hard time picking a side because each argument was convincing to me. This kid Jarvis in particular seemed to have the most sound and rational points. "Check it. You teach Philosophy, right Mr. C?" "I do". "Well just look at the Greeks. Them cats actually had names for the male teachers that were sleeping with the students. I forget the name, what were they?" Mr. Carter chuckled. "Pederasty. I follow you. Your point?" he said. Jarvis smiled, "My point is, education included sex with teachers. It was their way of life. And no one blinked an eye to it, even the cats like Socrates and Plato, and the other dudes who were creating the principles of ethics. If the creators of ethics had no issue with it, why should we? It's all relative and it works on a sliding scale. We only think a teacher messing with a student nowadays is wrong because of a broken moral compass". "First off Jarvis. They didn't create ethics. You can't create ethics, only attempt to label the terms. Secondly, what makes you say the compass is broken? Maybe the Greek way of ethics was antiquated." "It's broken because it doesn't work but except two times a day like a clock. It's why a female having sex with her male teacher makes the man a monster but a dude having sex with the female teacher makes the dude the man. You tell me what's outdated". The students clapped when Jarvis was finished. He was obviously a smart guy, but what we loved most about him was his humor and how he could have us crying from laughter. He was so arrogant and brash, but it was that heartless arrogance along with his quick wit and deep intelligence that we all loved. "So the rapper Camron said if he lived next door to a Serial Killer, he wouldn't snitch, he'd just move. Unethical?" "I think it's unethical for the news reporters to seek out the most ignorant people that can find to help speak for a culture. I mean, who cares about the opinion of some rapper who wears pink and says no homo?" Jarvis said. "Still didn't answer the question, Jarvis. Is it unethical for Camron to move his family instead of telling the police?"

"No. It's the natural order of life. Survival of the fittest." "Could he have not called the police and tipped them and still protected his own?" Mr. Carter asked. "You can use a lighter to start a fire or rub wood together. Two different choices, but is a lot more convenient than the other" he responded, chuckling. And that is the type of debater Jarvis was. We'd end up going in circles because of his ability to keep pulling up analogies and forcing us to reword, rephrase, or reinterpret a situation. I believe Mr. Carter both loved and hated him for it. Everyone seemed to always find a way to hop in the debates, but I mostly remained silent. I wasn't use to participating in group discussions or debates. My class room sessions were one on one with my tutor. This class was a free for all, royal rumble. I didn't even know the man knew my name until one day as I was leaving class he gave me a suggestion. "Try being more vocal Miss. Knowles. I'd love to hear your thoughts on these subjects" he said. I was startled to hear him speak my name and tell me to participate more. And surprisingly, my heart had dropped when I heard my name roll off his tongue. I didn't know how really to respond to him, so I nodded my head and walked out of the classroom. As with most classes, a few students stayed behind and chatted with him, Michelle being one of them. I was hungry and was going to the dining hall to get something when I heard a voice from the side of me. "You like Mr. C's class?" I turned and it was Jarvis.

"Yeah. It's different" I responded. "Shit. You got that right" he said. "I really enjoy some of your thoughts on the topics. Really funny and really true a lot of the times" I said as we walked. "Well thanks. I try. Why come you don't be speaking up? I'd think you had a wealth of info to share" he said. "Why do you say that?" "Aren't you the home schooled girl? If you could be in college at 16, you must be smart as hell". Damn, was it common knowledge that I was home schooled and only 16? "How did you know all that?" I pressed. "Oh it's going around. A lot of guys, well and the girls, are talking about you. You got fans...and some haters... I will say that". "Hater?" "Yeah don't be surprised. You are a pretty girl, smart, and got a nice shape. The hos is jealous and the niggas wanna hit. It is what it is" he laughed. "Is that so? Is that what you want too?" I rolled my eyes. He laughed hard at this as we entered the hall and made our way over to the buffet line. "What's so funny?" I asked.

"You thinking I want you" he said like it wasn't as piercing as it was. I turned around in shock at how bold and rude that was. I didn't even know how to respond to such a thing. Just initiate convo and then diss me like that? What an asshole. "Girl don't take it personal. I think you are gorgeous. It's just not physically possible for me to want you" he said. I didn't quite understand where he was going, so I didn't say anything, just grabbed a plate and kept walking down the line. Still, he had my attention and I was waiting for him to clarify. "Wow. You really can't tell, can you?" he asked. "Tell what?" "That I'm ghay" he laughed. I nearly dropped my plate when he said this. I did a double take to see if he was serious. Even though he was grinning, his words seemed to still be full of honesty, not jokes. Damn, I had never noticed or even thought about him being ghay. "Oh wow. I honestly didn't know" I said, embarrassed. "Don't be shocked. It's not a secret or anything. Just figured your ghaydar would have went off by now. But I will chalk that up to the home schooling" he laughed. We got our food and made our way to an empty table, he seemed head-bent on us keeping up this conversation. But I didn't mind the company, especially after the realization that the dude was a homosexual. I didn't know any real life ones. "Honestly Jarvis, I come from a very strict Christian home. So I was kind of taken back by you saying that" I said. "It's cool. Christian huh? So am I going to hell?" he grinned. "That is between YOU and GOD" I grinned back. "Nah. I want to hear your opinion. Mr. C did say for us to be strong in our convictions. So what you say? Are ghays the devil?" I picked at my food and tried to find the right words for him, so he wouldn't be offended. He seemed like a cool guy, why would I alienate myself from him by talking against his sexuality? I never really cared one way or the other if someone was a homosexual, that was my daddy always talking about them being destined

for hellfire and brimestone. But I wasn't around my daddy anymore. I didn't have to regurgitate what I had been spoon fed as a church girl. "I really don't think it's wrong or anything. I've just never really met someone that was like that". "Like what?" "Come on Jarvis, you know what I'm getting at". He laughed and stuffed a buttered roll into his mouth. "Yeah, yeah. I'm just messing with you. I know a lot of people feel some way about it. Hell, my dad is a pastor". "Wow really? My dad is a deacon". He laughed, "well you see where I'm coming from then. Always hard for a church kid to come out of that shell and be something other than what their parents want". "How did your parents take it? When you came out?" He took a sip of his Sprite and made the face that people make when the soda first hits them. I took a sip of soda as well. "Let's just say the biggest sin in the world for a black man is to be ghay. Worst than rape, murder, stealing and all that. Let a black dude boast about killing someone and he is immortalized, like tupac and them. Let a black man talk about loving other black men and he is the devil himself. I'll be in hell with the other sinners" he said, more jokingly than his words would have suggested. I understand he was going for sarcasm, but I felt the piercing pain in what he was saying. I decided that I wasn't going to be that person. Jarvis and I ate lunch and was joined shortly by Michelle. We all talked about how much we were feeling Carters class and then we talked about what we had wrote for our first essay. Michelle wrote that him being a former drug dealer wouldn't hurt his credibility, while Jarvis wrote that it did hurt his credibility. I was with Michelle on the subject, but I found myself waffling in my opinion after hearing Jarvis speak his mind. One thing I loved about him on just my first time really talking to him was he was very passionate and blunt. He said what he had to say and made no apologies for it, regardless of how aggressive or politically incorrect it was. But he did it with such flare that it usually would provoke laughter instead of any ill feelings. Even when he spoke out against Christianity, I found myself as a Christian laughing at what he had to say instead of being defensive. There was a

certain charm about someone that could verbally chide you and still make you love them. Jarvis was that guy. As we sat and talked, I realized that as much as I liked hanging with Michelle, Jarvis was on a different level. He would be someone I'd want to hang out with on the Set and just listen to him talk. That is eventually what happened in the coming weeks. He and I went to the movies, studied together, and I even came to his dorm a few times. The no guy rule was much stricter in my building, but it wasn't no thing for the boys to help sneak girls into their dorms. What made me so comfortable was I knew Jarvis didn't want me in anyway, other than someone to joke and shoot the shit with. The only male I had ever been around consistently was my daddy, and he was a stark opposite of him, maybe that it why I was so drawn into him. We became friends quick, him the loud mouth, opinionated, arrogant, conceited, male and me the shy, soft spoken, laid back, gal. Although opposites, we clicked. Lyndell had been pressing me about calling him more often and I was really getting to the point where I was going to break up with him. He was needy and starting to get really jealous and possessive, always accusing me of cheating on him with some college guy. While I had been thinking of breaking things off with him officially, I wasn't cheating. I was spending too much time doing school work and hanging with Michelle and Jarvis to be cheating with any guys. Word got around quick that the fresh meat in Diamond Hall was only 16. I still got the stares from the guys, but not nearly as many of them were stepping to me. To celebrate the halfway point in the semester, Jarvis and I went out to Chubbs, where once again the bouncer let me in. That club was as hood as you could get, and that was probably why I liked it so much. The loud outfits, the loud booty shaking music, the loud smells and loud people. This was why I had come to this school. To be close to my people. And in the club, Jarvis was my bodyguard. He allowed me to dance with whomever I pleased, but his presence there made it to where no guys were going to take advantage of me. That was the thing about having a platonic male friend that wasn't trying to f*ck you on the sly. They would look out for you like a lil sister. Female friends were cool and everything, but many times they were more concerned about getting theirs than making sure you weren't getting taken advantage of. When I first went to the club with Michelle, she pretty much did all the watching while I did all the dancing. I had to make her come to the dance floor to dance with me because she was taking it all in like she was a reporter instead of a college girl having fun. It kind of became a burden making sure she was having fun. Not with Jarvis though. He'd booty dance and grind on me for one song, laughing and cutting up the entire time, and making fun of people in my ear on the next song, keeping me laughing the entire time. He was fun to be around. I appreciated how he could make things fun. It was why after the club, when he invited me back to his dorm, I accepted.

It was around 1, I had missed calls from Lyndell and my daddy, but I wasn't ready to turn in and call it a night. He wasn't either, as he pulled out some beers and sat on his bed when we came in. I'd never taken a drink before in my entire life. But something in me told me that I was going to drink my first beer that night. "Bee. Where the hell you learn how to shake your ass like that? Not in them pews" he grinned. "My sister and I watched BET all the time. We learned a lil something something from them Ciara videos. But I should be asking where did YOU learn how to shake yours". He cracked open one beer and handed it to me. I took it instinctively, before my mind even wrapped itself around the concept. "I got all sisters too. Older sisters. They taught me a thing or two" he said before cracking open his beer. He immediately took some down, making the same face he had made when taking down a Sprite. I looked down at the can in my hand. The smell was already coming out and it wasn't very pleasant. I hoped this shit didn't taste disgusting. "I keep on forgetting your age, mama. You ever drank before?" he asked. "Nope. Closest to alcohol I ever had was when my grandma would put some in her chicken" I said. He laughed. "Aww shit. Well you ain't got to drink it if you don't want to". "But I kinda do want to" I said. He lifted up his hands, motioning for me to be his guest, and i looked back down at the can. I slowly brought the can to my mouth, slowly tilting it so the beer could touch my lips. I tried to anticipate a taste. I tried to prepare for the worst as I started drinking down what filled my mouth, still not yet tasting anything. When I dropped the can, swallowed, and assessed, the taste hit me. So this was beer? I frowned my face and started laughing. "Eww. Yaw actually like dis stuff?" I said. He laughed and sipped some more of his. "You'll get use to it. It's an acquired taste. Even sex sucks the first time." I walked over to his bed and sat down.

"And how would you know?" I asked him playfully. "Trust me, I know" he replied, in between sips. "I'd imagine that it would hurt" I said, immediately imagining a guy getting pounded in his ass. Frightening. I frowned my face up when thinking about it. He laughed some more and finished off his beer, tossing the can in the trashcan on the side of his bed and then laying back on his bed. I wasn't even halfway done with mine, only taking small sips, but I decided to take a big gulp so the damn thing could hurry up and empty out. He laughed at my attempt to finish it off. "Slow down, virgin" he said. "How do YOU know I am a virgin?" I asked, bitterly. "Well, I was talking about you being a virgin to alcohol. But I know your ass is a virgin to sex too. It's so obvious". "Why is it obvious? I could have been the church ho for all you know". "Nah, if you was a ho, I would know. I got ho radar. I got a good ghaydar too. Trust me, let me hang around anyone for five minutes and I'll tell you if they are ghay or a ho" he said. "Sounds like you are judgmental as hell then" I shot. "Oh I am. I judge the shit out of people. And just know that I know you ain't no ho. You one of those prudes though" he shot back. "Nigga please. A prude?". "Yep. Don't get mad. You know it's true. I still love you though" he laughed. I shook my head and finished off the beer, tossing it in his trash. "Want another?" he asked. "How many does it take for someone to get drunk?" I asked. He ignored my question, reached in his mini fridge and pulled out two more beers, smiling as he handed me one. I took it, cracked it, and put it to my lips, still looking at him. "So tell me about sex with a guy" I asked, dropping my heels on the floor and sitting indian style on his bed. He was laying on his back on the far end staring at

the ceiling. "I've never had sex with a guy" he said. Wait what? I didn't quite understand. "I lost my virginity to the chick I went to junior prom with" he said, "Did she know....you..were?" "Ghay? Nah. No one ain't know for sure. She had the biggest crush on me for a few years so I let her ass take me to prom" he grinned before turning serious. "I could barely even get up the night it happened though. I think that is when I really knew. I was ghay. Not straight. Not bi. But ghay. She was one of the finest girls in the school. But naked in front of me. And I had to think about 50 Cent for my dick to get hard". I couldn't help but giggle at this. "Ugh, 50? Nasty". "The nigga is kind of ugly in the face. But that body is something serious. I was thinking bout them bullet wounds in his chest when I was rubbing on hers" he said. "Did you even cum?" I asked out of curiosity. "Nah. I couldn't. I felt so out of place. She was a good sport about it though." "Wow. I can't even imagine. How you know you would like sex with a guy though if you've never done it?" I asked. He repositioned himself on the bed and then looked at me. "How would YOU know you would like sex with a guy if you ain't never did it, Bee? Sexuality aint based on experience, you feel me? I know what I like". I thought about his response and accepted it as real shit. But 50 cent though? "Yeah, you like ugly ass 50" I shuttered. "I like alot of the thug guys. I don't know why, I just do. I don't like guys that act like women. I mean being ghay doesn't mean you want to be a woman. I'm a man, love being a man, and just happen to love men too. It is what it is". "Have you ever kissed a guy or anything before at all?"

This question seemed to catch him off guard. He has been so open and natural with answering questions about this so far. But his demeanor changed when I asked about him kissing a guy. I wondered if maybe I had hit an open wound or something. "Was that the wrong question to ask?. "Nah, you're good. Just thinking about it. And thinking how to tell you" he said. "Do you want to tell me?" I asked. "I do. I trust you, for what it's worth. I have just never told anyone this story. Not even my friends back home. Just trying to justify telling some 16 year old prude" he laughed. "I resent that, Jarvis" I smiled. "Ok. So peep it. I was a freshman in HS. On the football team because my daddy wanted me in sports. Wanted my ass to get a scholarship so he wouldn't have to front the cost. Well just know, for me, a 14 year old dude unsure of his sexuality, being around all of those naked dudes in the locker room opened up pandoras box. Fantasies and more fantasies, you feel me? I ain't know how to take it cuz I was embarrassed". "I can only imagine. I'd go crazy if I was in the Houston Texan locker room when they were showering. Wheww" I said, fanning myself and trying to keep this light hearted. I think he appreciated it because he laughed. "Yeah. Well as you could imagine, by the middle of the season, I was confused as hell. I wanted to be straight, really, really wanted to not have the thoughts I was having. But I was going through puberty, and I couldn't stop the emotions and sexual thoughts. So I started...." He sighed and looked over at me. "Started what?" "This is really embarrassing" he laughed. "Go ahead and say it" I pleaded. "I don't know, yo. If I tell you this, then you are gonna have it over me. I don't know about all that". "Don't you trust me? Agh. Ok, well how about this. You tell your embarrassing story, and I will share one about me. Deal?".

"It gotta be a SEXUAL embarrassing story. Not something like you tripped and fell or some shit." "Oh trust me, Jarvis. The story I have in mind, is super embarrassing. I have never told it to anyone". He reached over for his fridge and pulled out two more beers. "Aight. Deal" he smiled. He cracked open his beer, took a long and hard sip, and then burped. I cracked mine open and awaited his reveal. "Ok. So I didn't play on the team. I'm not all that athletic. I was blessed with good looks and intelligence so God couldn't give me everything" he joked. I shook my head and sipped. "So I would be on the sidelines during practice. Well, this one particular day I was horny as hell. Like, it just couldn't be contained. I didn't even wear my jock strap. My dick was hard enough to cut diamonds, I tell you. And for some reason, on this day the damn coach actually wants me to step in and practice. So my small ass it put in at running back and they give me the ball, where I run two feet and get gang tackled by five or six sweaty ass niggas." "I bet you loved that" I joked. "Nah but listen. That shit hurt. It wasn't much of a turn on. I ain't wanna be tackled. So the next time I got the ball, I ran hard as hell to avoid being smashed by them niggas. And can you f*cking believe it, I scored a damn touchdown. So i'm like, damn, I actually did good? And the finest nigga on the team. I mean, tall, chocolate, handsome, star QB, comes up to me and pats me on the ass, talking about 'good run'. My erection had never been as hard as it was that moment" he said, shaking his own head. "Aww. So what you do that was so embarrassing?" "I told the coach I had to use the bathroom. I went to the lockers, dropped my pants, and starting jacking off. I had to get that release because I couldn't hold it anymore. I was past gone. I don't know what it was. But the dirty smell of the locker room along with the adrenaline of me scoring a touch down and the Quarterback patting my ass, it was enough for me to nut a waterfall". I burst out laughing at his confession, thinking it was done. But it wasn't. "So I'm butt naked in the locker room jacking off"

"Wait, you were naked?" "Yeah, my pads were in the way. They had to go. And as Im doing it, someone walks in. I grab my pads and run my black ass to the bathroom stall. I ran ever faster than what I scored that TD. But whoever walked in had saw me running. I wanted to f*cking cry. I was in the stall knowing I had been caught but not knowing who had seen me. Turned out it was the Quarterback." "Oh wow? WHat he say?" "He didn't say shit. He left. He didn't even mention it until after the season was over, when the coaches took us all out for pizza. I was taking a piss in the bathroom and he came in and started pissing right next to my urinal. I look over at him, he looks over at me. We give each other a nod. I'm nervous as hell, butterflies and shit because I have the biggest crush on him and I know he saw me that day at practice. And out of nowhere, he brings it up." "Brings up what?" "The day he caught me in the locker room. He says he couldn't believe it and whatnot. And this was while we were pissing mind you. I didn't even know what to say. I just shut my mouth". "And I know that must be hard for you. To keep that mouth closed". "Oh shut up" he laughed. "Damn though. He just brings it up while yall are peeing?" "Yeah. And then some other cats walked in and we both finished without another word. We ate pizza and everything but I felt weird the entire night. Afterward, he offered me a ride home since my dad was late picking me up. And well. That was the night I had my first kiss" "He kissed you?" "Yeah. It's really hard to even explain what led up to it because it caught me off guard. We were just talking about the season and stuff and he brought up the day in the locker room again. And he was looking at me and I was looking at him. And well? He kissed my ass." "You kiss back?" I asked. "I was too shocked too." "Oh wow. So whatever happened with yall?" "Me and him messed around for the next four years. I pretty much fell in love

with the dude. We'd fool around, but he never wanted to take it past that. We'd kiss and touch each other and stuff but that was it. He would always say he wasn't ghay, and I'd say I wasn't ghay too. He had this enormous rep to keep up. Funny thing is, I see him on TV all the time now. He is a QB for a college football team now". "Do you guys still talk?" "I hit him up on facebook and myspace a few months ago but he never accepted me. Kind of like him never accepting his sexuality. He pretty much broke things off with us after prom our senior year when I gave him head. First and only time that happened. And yeah. Now I am totally embarrassed after telling that story" he said, closing his eyes, smiling extra hard, and reaching for his beer. "Aww. Jarvis. Your HS sweetheart was an asshole. I can see why you wouldn't have told that story before. But it's really nothing to be ashamed about. He is the one that is f*cked up." "Yeah, but it still hurt, you know? Anyway, I'm over it. Moved on. But its kind of hard to find guys that are not queens and aren't on the DL. I mean, it's easy enough to find guys that live so called straight lives but still f*ck with niggas. But it's hard to find a regular guy who doesn't want to be a woman but isn't afraid of admitting he is ghay. It's pretty much why I'm single. I refuse to get my heart wrapped up in that shit again". "I feel you, booboo. That's crazy, though. I'm glad you told me". "Oh I ain't tell your ass all that for the heck of it. Now you have to yell me your embarrassing story" he said, totally serious. I looked at my unfinished beer, still not quite use to the taste, and frowned my face as I took a large sip. "And don't get all drunk before you tell me. I want you coherent and sober, miss Beyonce". "Ima tell you. I just have to prepare myself. This is REALLY embarrassing for a girl" I said. "No more embarrassing than what I told you as a guy. Trust me" he argued. "Ok. So I have been dating this guy back home for a while now. We say we've been dating for four years but we broke up a few times inbetween then." "What yall broke up for?" "I don't even remember. Stupid stuff, really. Like he didn't call me enough or some other high school stuff".

"Very high schoolish" he agreed. "But anyway. One time, we broke up or whatever but my sister wanted to go on a double date. And I didn't have a date, so she got her boyfriend to bring a friend along. Well, the dude he brought was FINE. He was an older guy. I was really nervous. We ended up going to play minerature golf and it was really hot. Like 90 degrees outside. We were sweating something fierce." "Sweating? I think I know where this may be going". "Stop" I laughed, "Well if you know then it ain't no use in me telling". "Nah, you gon tell. Go ahead". "Anyway. After that, we went to the movies, sat in the back. Solo and her date were kissing.." "Who is Solo?" "My sister. Her name is Solange. We call her Solo". "You and these names. Beyonce and Solange. The hell wrong with yo momma?" "Don't talk about MY momma, Jarvis. " "Finish your story, Bee" he grinned. "Anyway. I was really mad at Lyndell for whatever reason so I was going to get him back by messing around with the other guy. I wasn't going to f*ck him or anything. But I kissed him and I let him suck my titties and everything". He raised his eyebrow as if the story had gotten a lot more interesting. "What titties?" he teased. "You know what? I begin. "I'm joking with you girl" he started laughing. "Yeah, whatever. I'm not telling you, so keep on joking". He tried to halt his laughing, "Bee I'm just playing with you. You got nice titties. Plus, they still growing, hopefully" he said before laughing some more. I ain't wanna laugh, but maybe it was the buzz I was starting to get, but I chuckled anyway. Bastard.

"Can I please finish?" I said. "You may, you may. I'll shut up now". "Ok. So. Me and the guy. At the movies. Kissing. Touching. And he tells me he wants to finger me. Now, I have never let a guy finger me before. But, I guess I was curious about it, so I decided to let him try. I wasn't thinking. I was kinda horny and I was still mad from earlier in the day, so I let him. He put his hands in my pants and you know...did what he did...and...see, now I am embarrassed". "DONT BE, girl. TELL me THIS SHIT!" he said loudly. "Jarvis. You better not ever tell a soul what I am about to tell you. You're not even allowed to think about it past tonight. Promise me, this shit is between us" I said, worriedly. "You got my word, Bee. Real talk. Between me and you" he said, this time appearing serious. "Ok. Soooo. After a few minutes of...touching my special place". He rolled his eyes, "Lawd". "We both kind of start...to smell something. Sort of smells like popcorn, but ain't none of us have no popcorn. I smell it and I got this empty feeling in the bottom of my stomach. He is like 'anyone smell dat?' and I move his hands from inside of my pants". A thick ass smile appeared across his face, but I continued, just ready to finish the damn story. "And Solo and the guy are looking around like 'smell what' and then the guy looked at me. And I guess he saw the look in my face or something because he put his finger to his nose. And well yeah. The most embarrassing night of my life was cemented". These words caused Jarvis to fall out of the bed, hit is head on his night stand, and nearly chock on his own saliva from laughing so hard. I couldn't do anything but sit there and take it all in. Yeah, it was embarrassing. Yeah, I had been caught off guard. But everyone had at least one story like this to share, right? Right? "Well that is the ONLY time I have been caught being musky down there. I make sure of that now. And stop laughing, it ain't THAT funny." I couldn't see him, he was on the floor on the other side of the bed still laughing but after a few more moments of his non-stop ugly ass laughing, they began to subside and he put his chin on the bed, looking directly at me.

"I was wrong about you girl. My radar was off" he said. "What do you mean?" I asked. "You let the guy get the goods on the first date? Had him fingering your sour pussy and sucking your mosquito bites, on the first date? Damn. And here I was thinking you were a prude. Nah, you are definitely a ho". I couldn't believe he was going in on me like that. Especially after I had been sensitive to his reveal. Niggas. "Oh don't take it to heart Bee. I love you. You're my girl. But facts are facts. I love hos and prudes, so don't worry. But that was some ho shit. Just like me beating off in the locker room was some ho shit. Embrace your ho side, don't be shame" he laughed. "I don't know whether to be offended right now or what" I said, sighing. "You should know me by now that I am blunt. Maybe even to a fault. I'm not saying anything to offend you, I'm just being 100% honest 100% of the time. Trust me. I don't say it to be an ass. But hey, you got something on me, and now I know you have stank coochie sometime. We're even" he said, with a smile. "My coochie is fresh and lovely. That was one of those once a lifetime tragedies" I smiled at him. "I hope so. I don't want to have to bust up a b*tch for talking bad about my Beyonce. Make sure that NEVER happens on this campus, because you'll never hear the end of it". "Oh you ain't have to tell me that. I made a mistake, we learn from mistakes. You just try not to get caught beating off in the football locker room again, k?" "Oh so it's like that?" he laughed. "Yep. And at least I ain't get dumped after sucking dick. So HA" I shot. "You ruthless, cold, cunning, trifling, B*TCH" he laughed. "Give me another beer" I demanded. And this was life hanging with Jarvis. You never knew what we were going to talk about next. Chapter 4

I couldn't believe my f*cking eyes. How could he? How was this even possible? C-? Not just a C, but to add insult to injury, there was a minus next to it. I just stared at the paper in disbelief waiting for the punchline for this cruel joke to kick in. How did I get a C- on my paper? I typed up a 5 page essay, used impeccable grammar, and answered his stupid ass question, and I got a C-? This made no sense to me. I turned to the last page where written in red, Mr. Carter wrote "I need more conviction from you, Miss Knowles". That was all the critique I got? What the hell did that even mean? What an asshole teacher. I sat on the bench and tried to understand how I had gotten such a poor grade on my first essay for Mr. Carters class. I had never gotten anything below a A in my LIFE. Never. And my first grade was a C. C meant average, C- must mean almost below average. I couldn't believe it. I was almost below average. This wasn't fair. "What did you get?" Michelle asked as she sat down next to me on the bench right outside of the class building. I didn't say anything. "What did you get?" I asked, instead. "I got a A. Said he loved my conviction. I was afraid I'd get a lower grade than you because I remember your essay was 5 pages. Mine was only 3" she said full of the relief you get after you make a great grade. "So what did you get, Bee?" she asked again. I rolled my eyes and showed her my paper, looking straight ahead to avoid the look of surprise I was sure that was going to invade her face. "Oh. Hm. Well, it's only one paper, girl. Don't be down. Did he tell you why it was a C?"

"He said I needed stronger conviction" I barked. "What does that mean?" she asked. "Exactly. I don't even know". "Well you could go ask him. He is always encouraging students to talk to him after classes and stuff. I'm sure he'd go over it with you". I didn't say anything. I was angry and really was just wanting to be left alone. "Well suit yourself, Bee. But you need to interact with your professors more. You get more out of the class by participating more. I'm about to go to the mall. You wanna come?" she asked. "No. I'm fine" I said bluntly. "Okay....well I will see you later" she said, before turning and walking away. I just sat and wondered if my GPA would forever be destroyed because of a C on my first assignment. I had been so confident in the quality of my paper. I thought it was well rounded and an easy A. How in the world did Michelle get a A with less pages yet I got a C? Was it because her ass was a teachers pet always trying to stay after and talk to him? That had to be. The asshole must only give good grades to those that try to get in cool with him. That was the only logical explanation for why I had gotten a stupid C. It HAD to be the reason. "What's good Shawty" I heard from my side, immediately recognizing the voice. When I spoke, it was then I noticed my eyes were teary and I was on the verge of crying. My "hey" sounded pitiful as it escaped from my lips. I didn't mean for him or anyone to see me like this. I had to snap out of it quick. "What's wrong with you? You ok?" he said, taking a seat on the bench next to me.

"I'm fine" I said, quickly trying to get my voice back to normal. It didn't work. He saw right through me. And I could sense he would be prying to get the truth out. "Come on 16. Wassup? Can't be just sitting around crying and not expect for me to see if you're aight. It ain't guy trouble, is it?" "No". "You homesick?"

"No". "You gonna tell me?" "No" I smiled, trying to make a joke of the repetition. It was then, he noticed my paper in my hand and the big fat red C- on it. "Wait a minute. Is this why you're over here crying? Over a C?" "No" I said louder than any of the other times I had said no, which confirmed that it was the reason. He grabbed my paper out of my hand, shielded me from trying to grab it and flipped to the last page, reading Mr. C's critique to me. "Damn. In Mr. C's class? I remember getting all A's in his class." My feelings were even more hurt in hearing this. "But is this why you're really over here crying?" he asked. "I've never gotten a C before, ok? I'm just not use to bad grades".

"Oh my God. It is NOT funny" I said, truly not appreciating him laughing his ass off over my misfortune. "Nah Shawty" he said, trying to stop the laughter, "I ain't trying to laugh. But it's just interesting seeing you so tore up over it. A C ain't really a bad grade. Ain't a good grade, but it ain't bad. But I do forget, your home schooling schedule makes you a different breed from the regular public school folk out chere". "Ok, well whatever. I'm mad I got a C. Sue me".

"Looka here Shawty. Let me take you out tonight to help you get your mind off this C minus". "Tip. I have a boyfriend and I am only-" "You're 16. I know this. I'm 19. I'm taking you out, to get out, not on a date. Trust me. You'll get your mind off your failure" he grinned. "Where would we go?" "Out. Bring 17 along. We'll make it a group thing. Have some fun. You'll be back in before your normal bedtime" he said. It sounded like fun, as much as I hated to admit it. There was something about his confidence and southern drawl that had me going. I was a southern belle, for sure, but his accent was so deep and sexy, and his laugh so dangerous and lush, I couldn't see myself saying no. And when my mouth did open, I had accepted his offer, without thinking of any of the layers surrounding such a decision. First, I had to convince homebody Michelle to go with me, and second, I had to justify it to myself that it wasn't a date. The ladder ended up being more easy than the former. "Michelle, please. It's not even a date. We're just going out and chilling". "Where would we be going?" she asked, arms folded. "Wel....he didn't tell me. But he told me it wouldn't be a date". "Beyonce. That is game he is running. Of course he would say it's not a date. That's the number one thing they say when you say you have a boyfriend back home. They say it to not make you feel bad about doing something that you know is cheating". "But it's not cheating, Michelle. I'm just hanging out. Is it cheating when I hang out with Jarvis?" "That boy is a faggot. That is different" she said harshly. "Well it's not for me. I can have platonic friends and just hang out". "Then why you need me for?" "Because I thought we were friends and cool all hang out together" I said, pinning her against a corner with my words. She didn't immediately respond after this, I could see her weighing the words. I could tell she felt this was a test of our new friendship, seeing if we could have each others back and sacrifice. It was a truly selfish move on my part to bring

friendship into it, but hey, I wanted to go out. If a passive aggressive ultimatum would ultimately decide if I'd go or not, then ultimatum it is. "Michelle, if you don't want to then nevermind. I will just go by myself" I sighed, adding more fuel to the fire by trying to guilt her into accepting. "No you aren't" she said. "I consider you my responsibility since you are a minor. I ain't gonna let you just go out with someone like him by yourself. But just know. I am doing this for you, not him and not for me. For YOU. Ok Bee?" "And I appreciate it for real" I said. "Yeah, yeah. Let me take a shower so I can get ready". I wanted to discuss my grade with Mr. Carter so I made the short walk to his office while Kelly got ready for our not-a-date outing. When I got there, there was a waiting line, mostly women, that stretched out into the hallway. Damn. There was no way I could wait in this long line to talk to this man. I decided I'd try to talk to him on the next class, which meant going an entire weekend with this irritating C minus on my mind. Hopefully, Tip would work his magic and make me forget. ** "Come on Michelle, it wasn't that bad" I laughed, as we made our way into the dorm after our outing with Tip and his friend. She hissed, "Girl, the only person that enjoyed the outing was you and Tip. I wasn't into that dude. I mean, what kind of name is Smurf? Is it cuz he is as tall as a smurf? I'm like 5 inches taller than him. No. I won't ever go on a blind date again" she went on. I giggled, because it was funny but true. "Well don't look at it like a date. Just four friends bowling" I argued. "Friends? Wasn't nothing 'friendly' about this. The guy couldn't even remember my name. He kept calling me 17 for goodness sake" she complained. This sent us both into laughter, except hers was out of frustration. "Aww. Well thanks for coming with me. I know you didn't enjoy it but I'm glad you still suffered through it anyway" I said, calming down. "You don't have to thank me, girl. But your next date with Tip is going to have to be solo, cuz I can't do that again" she chuckled.

"Next date? Hm. I don't know about that. I really just used this one to help get my mind off that C. Mission accomplished". She eyed me. "I don't believe that. I could tell with the way you were smiling around him that you really liked him. And surprisingly, he seemed like an okay guy. More of a gentleman that I thought. I think there will be a second date". "You think?" I asked. "I sure do, 16" she giggled. "Ok now. Don't make me call Smurf for you, 17" I said. Michelle and I took showers, and relaxed, laying in our beds with the main lights off, the TV providing the only light in the room. The weekend was soon approaching as well as the end of the semester. It didn't seem like it, but we had grown as decent friends in the few months we had known each other. But there were some basic things we still didn't know about each other. Jarvis knew more intimate details about me than she did, and she was my roomate! This had to change. I was determined for us to become closer. "Shell?" I asked, breaking the silence. "Yeah?" she said, half sleepy. "You ever been in love?" I asked. "With a guy?" "No, another woman" I said sarcastically, before giggling, "Yeah. A guy". "That's kind of personal, Bee". "Too personal to share with me?" I asked. "No. Not necessarily. I'm just not completely over it yet. But yes. I've been in love and had my heart broken because of it. Why?" "Just asking, no real reason" I said. "Why? Have you ever been in love?" "No. I haven't" I replied, "What's it like?" Silence followed, an awkward silence that was only halted by the sound of

another commercial from the TV. I wondered if she heard my question. "You heard me?" I asked. "Yes. I'm trying trying to think of how to describe it to someone that has never experienced it. It's kind of like trying to describe yellow to a blind man" she said, laughing afterward. "Ok. Being in love is like the same feeling you get after writing a paper and getting back a perfect grade. It's like when writing and having all of the perfect words come to you. Effortless. Being in love is like taking every happy moment in your entire life and blending them together, creating one blissful, encompassing feeling. Being in love is like Friday night, Christmas morning, and roller coaster ride, all in one. I hope I'm explaining it ok. "You are. It sounds amazing" I said. "It can be. But it can also be like when you get that C. It can also be like getting a C minus every day no matter how much effort you put into writing a good paper. You try and try and try, and all you can manage to get are C's. That is the yang of being in love; falling out of love. It's equal to the happiness of falling in love, except you exchange happiness for sadness. That's the best way I can describe it. Sometimes I wish I never experienced the joy of love, so I wouldn't have to experience the low of a break up. That is one reason I said you should break up with your boyfriend, as soon as possible". "Did the guy you were in love with break up with you?" I asked. "No. The nigga just cheated on me. With some girl that turned out to be the opposite of me. Had me questioning if I was pretty enough. But it turns out he cheated because I never put out. Guys, all they want is sex". "If you loved him, why didn't you lose your virginity to him? What was missing?" "I was scared, Bee. Confused about a lot of things. I just wasn't ready. Plus, I want to save myself for marriage. I want my wedding night with my husband to be special". "I hear you. I always wanted my wedding night to be special too. It just seems like it would be too long of a wait, though" I confessed. "Nothing wrong with waiting, Beyonce. Patience is rewarded". "Is that why you don't want to date? So you won't be tempted to have sex or get close to a guy?" I asked. "It's not that I don't want to date. It's just it has to be the right person. Guys like Tip and Smurf are not right, for me at least. Maybe for you. But I need someone I

can truly trust and someone more mature". "Someone like Mr. C" I teased, thinking about her crush on him. She laughed, "Ideally, yes. I imagine him being the perfect man for me". "He is so old though, Shell. How old is he?" I asked. "I think 34. He's single though, I know that". "You think there is a reason he is that old and not off the market yet? That probably means he is a playboy or afraid of commitment" I joked. "Or it could mean he just hasn't found the right person yet. He could be waiting patiently, just like I am" she retorted. "I guess. I don't see the big deal about him though. He is not cute, to me at least" I laughed. "Well that's cuz you are young. You are into the thug guys wearing Jordans and Jerseys. You aren't really checking for the refined, sophisticated, mature look yet" she said, slightly on the defensive. "We are both young, though. Ima be 17 in a few weeks. You're barely 18. You're acting like we are ages apart". "No, I'm just saying. Our taste's are in two different places. You see Tip, and I see Shawn". "Who?" "Mr. Carters name is Shawn" she said. "Oh. Shawn, huh" I said to myself. He was so much more ordinary than I wanted to believe. And the like I had developed for him quickly turned sour when he gave me that damn C. I just didn't buy the hype. He was more of a fraud than some super awesome person, like everyone tried to make him out to be. I just couldn't get why everyone was memorized by him, always on his dick. I made up in my head that I'd never get on his dick like everyone else was. He'd be plain ole Mr. Carter to me. Not Mr. C or Shawn or any of that shit. "I'm sleepy. Night Bee" Michelle said. "Night, Shell". I dreamed of Tip that night.

Chapter 5

"Giiiirl, I got some GOOD news for you" Kelly said as if she was singing a nursery rhyme. Little did she know, I had ever better news for her. "I got some great news for you too. That is why I called. But you first" I said. "No, you go first. I don't want my news to trump yours" she laughed. "Ok then. If you insist. Guess what?" "What?" "I talked to Michelle earlier today. Michelle is my roomate, you remember her right?" "Yeah, I do. What she say". "Ima get to that, don't rush me" I said, "Well, she is from Miami right. And her uncle owns a condo. He is going to be gone for spring break and he said that she

could come stay up there for break and bring a few friends. Michelle invited me and I asked her could I invite you. She said yeah. SO you know what THAT means?" "We going to Miami for Spring Break?" "YES" I exclaimed into the phone. We both cheered for this. We had always dreamed about heading to one of those lovely beaches along a coastline. We always said we'd vacation to a place like Miami or Jamaica or Cancun. Michelle had made this dream turn into a reality a lot quicker than we could have expected. Spring Break was going to be crazy. "Ok, ok. So what's your news? I bet you can't top that" I said. "Actually, I think I can, girl" she said. This had to be good, then. "What you got planned for tonight?" she asked. "Nothing really. Just lay around my dorm and surf the net, I guess" I said. "Well, I guess you can say there has been a change of plans" she said confidently. "Spit it out, Kelly. What's going on?" "I'll be in Tallahassee in an hour. I'm coming early, gonna stay with one of my cousins. Ima see your ass TONIGHT, so get ready". I couldn't believe it. My bestie was coming and didn't even bother to tell me until now. I screamed into the phone and which sparked a return scream and laugh from her. "Dag Kelly. When were you gonna tell me you were coming early?" I asked. "I was gonna just show up at your campus and ask for your dorm. Just pop up and pray to God I didn't walk in on you f*cking or something" she laughed. "Ooo yes let me tell you. I'm participating in wild orgies and everything. You might not recognize your Bee no mo" I joked. "Oh don't worry, I believe you. I BELIEVE you" she said. "We gotta do something tonight then, Kelly. Ima introduce you to the people I done met down here and we can go to one of the parties they having".

"What? A Party on a Wednesday?" "Girl its a party almost every day this way. I guess some of the dorms is so small they never want to go inside" I laughed. "Cool, cool. I'm excited to see you though. It was hard leaving home. But I had to be brave. It was time to leave the nest". "I feel you. But Kelly I do have to say. As much as I love you and I'm excited about seeing you today. Your news doesn't trump mine. We are going to MIAMI. I could hold off on seeing you for a few weeks if it meant we'd go to M-I-A" I said, joking but for serious. "Uhmm. I see how you are. But I will beat your ass later. Let me get off the phone before I crash". "You drove?" "Of course. Had to get my car down there somehow". "I'm surprised that bucket made it this far" I said. "We gon fight in about 45 minutes. Get your gloves on, chick" she said, right as she hung up. I giggled, screamed some more, and got out of bed, ready to see my friend. I had been lazily lounging around since I didn't have class on Wednesday and had a ton of laundry that had to be done. My side of the room was messier than Michelle's which I think was starting to bother her, although she never said anything. I decided to straighten things up a bit for the arrival of Kelly and as a bonus for Michelle so she wouldn't mind her spending time in our room. Michelle was at the library typing up a paper, but I decided to text and let her know the news. Sent 4:43 PM: Hey, remember my friend I told u bout..Kelly? she will b here in bout an hour...is it cool if she comes 2 da room? Received 4:46 PM: sure...i thought she wasnt comin till Aug? Sent 4:48 PM: she came early...hope u dont mind...ima wanna show her around...do u wanna come with us to the party 2nite? Received 4:49 PM: Cant..gotta study...and a early class 2morrow..yall go and have fun Sent 4:51 PM: Ok...well see u in a bit...i want u to meet her

Received 4:51 PM: K I had talked to Michelle about Kelly a few times, which is why she was ok with me inviting her along when she told me about the trip to Miami. But during our conversations I never got the feeling that she was over enthused with the idea of Kelly coming. Maybe it was because her best friends were still in Miami while mine was coming here with me. But I sensed that she had some reserves about the entire idea. I didn't want things to be like that. I wanted all of my friends to be close with each other and get along, so I made sure to list all of their best qualities when describing them. I told Michelle that Kelly was funny, caring, and extremely loyal and I told Kelly that Michelle was super smart, dedicated, and trustworthy. I wanted Kelly to love Michelle and vice versa. I had dreams of us all being the best of friends like the girls on my favorite movie Waiting To Exhale. Solo, Kelly, and I were all going to be getting an apartment together the next year. My parents felt it would be cheaper to help pay for an off campus apartment than to pay the room and board for two girls at an out of state college. We were already looking for the best apartments we could find in the area and were going to go all out. But I was starting to think that maybe I should have also be trying to include Michelle. Maybe we could get a four bedroom apartment and she could help pitch in for rent. And all four of us girls could live together and become the fearless foursome, or something like that. I daydreamed about the concept but had not ran it by anybody else, especially my dad, who was still wearily looking at the numbers side of this. Either way, I was eventually going to slip the idea by him and see what he said. I figured Christmas time when I went home. He would be able to easily tell me no over the phone, but if I gave him my best little girl face and beg him face to face, then maybe, just maybe he'd give me a slow yes instead of a fast no. Or maybe I was just getting ahead of my self in thinking my girls would all clique. When Kelly came, Michelle was just leaving the library. They were both cordial to each other, but neither seemed to share the excitement in meeting one another that I had hoped for. Eventually, Michelle said she was going to get something to eat. She dissapered from the room before I even have a chance to invite us. I got the hint. Kelly and I caught up on old times, hugged, and teased each other like we use to do back home. She looked wonderful. Her hair was done up, she had a new outfit, and her skin was looking clearer than I had remembered. She was definitely ready to party. The Party wasn't going to get hot until later, so we took the next few hours to tour the campus, take pictures, and upload them to myspace and facebook.

Although I didn't miss Houston much, I was glad to now have a piece of it here in the flesh. Kelly knew me better than anybody. I knew her better than anybody. The doctors said I was her muse, the reason she started talking again. They recommended that we played together more often so she could continue talking. Some of them had completely written her off. Thinking she was slow or too damaged to ever become a whole person. Kelly proved them all wrong. And she did it with me by her side. For this reason, she and I would always have a special bond that no one would be able to touch. Around 9:30, we made our way to the frat house which was throwing the party. Alpha Phi Alpha had the place jumping. Music blasting, booties shaking, and drinks flowing. I had only been to one college party since I had been down in Florida, I had left after only half an hour, but with my bestie by my side I felt more comfortable. More ready to take on the danger that this atmosphere provided. It didn't take long for people to start checking Kelly and I out. No one had ever seen her before, so she was the fresh meat. Kelly never had problems getting dudes back home and she wasn't as sheltered as I was, so she had experienced her share of dating. I was sure she wasn't as smitten with the idea of being the fresh meat of a campus like I had been. "Damn it's a lot of niggas here" she said in a tone that suggested it wasn't exactly thrilling. "Frat party. What do you expect?" I said. She shrugged and popped some gum in her mouth before dragging me towards the area reserved for dancing. Chris Browns Gimmie That was coming out of the speakers by the DJ table and since that was my shit, it didn't take much for me to

start getting loose. I was much more reserved in my dancing before Kelly came, mostly because I wasn't as sure in myself and my surroundings. When I went to Chubby's with Michelle, it was mostly a conservative two step. With Jarvis, it was a bit more out there. But with Kelly? All bets were off. I started dropping it, popping, and letting that ho side out, as Jarvis liked to joke. Although we weren't the only ones dancing, I noticed we had the most eyes looking at us, from males and females. I could have become self conscious, but the eyes focused on me made me feel alive. Being the center of attention as I moved to the thump of the bass was an adrenaline rush that I hadn't experienced since I had been in college. Something about having so many people eying your every move was exhilarating. They looked. I danced. The harder they looked, the harder I danced. Like Will said, I make that shit look good. After the dance floor wore me out, I dragged Kelly away so we could catch our breath. It was a hot summer night, with a lot of bodies moving and exerting heat, from arm pits and private parts. It wasn't long before the place started to smell of liquor, weed, and bodies. Although I had drank that one night with Jarvis, I still didn't care much for the taste of beer, so I instead got a soda and stepped outside on the porch with Kelly. We talked for bit, she laughed talking about my ass getting phatter, and that my daddy would kill me if he saw what I was wearing and how I was dancing. "That's why I'm wearing it" I said, so serious. Not even five minutes after we had stepped outside, I saw Jarvis and some people I didn't recognize walking up with him. "Oh, Kelly I gotta introduce you to this boy. He is CRAZY. My boo" I said. Before I even had the chance to get his attention, he had spotted me and was already making crazy faces.

"Well look at what we have here. Beyonce done finally decided to come to a party" he said as a greeting. "Well you know how us prudes do it. Once a blue moon" I said matter of factly. He cheesed and then turned his attention towards a smiling Kelly. "Ok, so Jarvis. This is the girl I told you about from back home" I began. "Oh, this is your bestie? Kelly?" he said. "Yep. And Kelly, this is the one....and only...Jarvis...no one like him". Jarvis took in his introduction like I knew he would, by posing. Kelly laughed and

tried to shake his hand but Jarvis wasn't having it, he pulled her in and gave her a hug, which caught Kelly by surprise. She laughed and hugged him back. When that was done, Jarvis took the opportunity to introduce me to some of his crew. "Yo, Bee since we introducing Besties and shit. Here is my home girl from back home. She'll be starting school in August". Who emerged from behind him was a hard smiling, tatted up chick with a serious ass figure and an interesting choice of wig and hot pink lipstick. I knew immediately that her ensemble would cause problems when she started school. She was cute, although her stank smile kind of irked me. I couldn't tell if it was real or plastic, but something told me it was the latter. "Hi. I'm Nicki" she said, her white teeth shining as she spoke. I tried to match her smile, but struggled in doing so. "Hi, I'm Beyonce" I said extending my hand. She barely graced it when she shook and when she was done, she turned towards Kelly and waved. Kelly waved back half halfheartedly, and Nicki stepped back behind Jarvis. I didn't know what to make of this little meeting, although it seemed really forced. I tried not to look any deeper into it than that. The party continued as Kelly and I hung with Jarvis and the rest of his crew although things weren't as energetic and organic as they were when it was just Kelly there with me. I felt like I had to be a bridge between two factions, and make sure I kept Kelly entertained while still having fun with Jarvis. Jarvis and Kelly seemed to hit it off good enough, but it was the other people crowding that space that seemed to be like outsiders. Jarvis was the popular guy so I tried not to trip. They were his friends too. I couldn't be selfish. At one point, some sorority girls came over and complimented me on my outfit as well as Nickis look. The same girl asked if Kelly went to school there. When Jarvis told her no, she looked Kelly over one good time and rolled her eyes. The rest of the girls behind her followed suit, making comments under their breath as they walked by. didn't understand why they'd so blatantly make a scene like that, especially to my girl. It was then, I finally made my decision to whether I'd pledge or not. There was no way in hell I'd even for a moment associate myself with such petty and hateful b*tches. I danced with Jarvis a few times and Kelly danced with a few guys, but it was much toned down than it had been with me. As I danced with Jarvis, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and it was Tip, smiling. He all but pushed Jarvis out of the way and leaned in to whisper in my ear. "Can I get a dance, 16?" I could have felt a certain way about Tip dissing Jarvis like that, but instead I felt

turned on by it. I couldn't say no to a dance from him. He grabbed me by the waist, and we started. I was too self conscious of Kelly, Jarvis, and Smurf right there watching to truly lose myself but when he rubbed on my booty, I let him. I liked it. His hands felt good and the dancing was good excuse to let him explore. When I saw Kelly getting the screwface I winded it down. WHat i didn't expect was for Nicki, the girl Jarvis said he was cool with, to be rolling her eyes at me. Tip seemed oblivious to it all, more so satisfied with the short bump and grinding session we had engaged in. We talked, or tried to, but the music was too loud, and eventually he said he had to get back to work, which meant supplying the weed heads with their vice. Smurf and Plies were there for work, not play, but Tip just couldn't skip the chance to play with me for a few minutes.

Kelly and I left soon after, she claimed she was sleepy, but I knew her feelings

had been hurt because of the illogical disrespect she had been shown and the turn in mood once Jarvis and his friends joined our space. Plus I knew she had tons of questions about my dace with Tip and what it all meant. Once we got in her car, I spilled the beans. "So that is the drug dealer dude you were talking about?" "Yes. Does that make me a bad girl?" I asked innocently. "You haven't f*cked him, right?" I frowned. "Kelly. You think I'd lose my virginity and not tell you about it?" "Well I don't know. College can change people. I mean, I have never seen you dance with a guy like that. And I only been here a few hours. Who knows what you been doing down here without me watching over you" she said. "Don't exaggerate. It wasn't that bad" I said. "Well it was bad enough to have that Nicki girl looking like she wanted to beat your ass. She was hating hard when the light skinned boy started feeling up on you". "Yeah, I noticed that too. Weird. I swear that's my first time even seeing her" I said. "I'd bet bread she and the dude have some history" Kelly stated. "Maybe. I don't really know much about Tip". "Well maybe you should find out before you get caught up in some drama. I mean, he knows the feel of your ass before you probably even know his real name" she said. "It's Clifford. He told me and showed me his student ID" I said. "Yeah. Well does he know you are 16?" she pressed. "Damn Kelly, you sounding like my momma right now. Yeah he knows I will be 17 in just a few weeks. He is only 19. No big deal". "Aight Bee. I'm not trying to cramp your style or anything. Just want you to be careful. Kinda took me back seeing you so loose there. I tease you about being a nerd and all that but I want you to stay my little nerd". "Don't worry about that Kelly. This is only my second party. I'm staying on track".

"I know you are girl. I'm just blabbering. Still don't know how to feel about those b*tches that were rolling their eyes at me". "Yeah, I didn't get that either. Now you see why I didn't want to go to Spelman. I don't know if I could take being around all women, 24/7". "Halleluja" she exclaimed, raising er hand in the air to the lord and almost losing control of the steering wheel. "Get your hands on the steerling wheel before we're at the pearly gates" I laughed. We drove in silence for a few minutes after Kelly turned the radio on. I felt my eyes growing heavy. But before I drifted off, I let her know what I was feeling. "Kelly, I'm glad you are here. I don't think I could do this college thing without you". She smiled and patted my head. "Bee. I forgot to ask you. Did you ever end up breaking up with your boy?" Damn. I had forgot all about that. "Um...no...not yet" I said. "Yeah. College done changed you. I gotta get your ass back on track" she said before turning into the Campus parking lot. ** I waited patiently while a few of the students chatted with Mr. Carter about this and that. It aggravated me to no end how so many of them seemed to think having a conversation with him after class somehow made them cool. It wasn't cool, it was pathetic. Who wanted to carry on friendly conversations with a teacher after class? These losers, apparently. I had important issues to talk to him about, like why I had gotten a C on my first paper. I had already written the essay which wasn't opinion but a recap of some of the lectures we had about the different ethical models. But I was fearing how well I would do on the final essay which would be 50% of our grade and would once again be an exposition style opinion essay. The final paper would be on if faculty student dating was ethical and I had no idea which path I'd take. I didn't feel strongly one way or the other, but I wanted to pick a side that would get me the best grade. The classes had undoubtedly been interesting and, even enjoyable, but I feared the grading process. There was only one week of classes left before the semester was over and I still had no

idea what my final grade was looking like. In my other classes, I was positive I had A's, but my grade could have been anywhere from a D to a A with Mr. Carters class. Shit, with exams, at least you knew that all you had to do was learn the material, cram for the exam, and just ace it. But with Mr. Carter, you had to worry about how he felt about your opinion. He'd stress conflict, interest, and conviction when talking about what made a paper a A and what made a paper a C. But I still didn't quite get what about my paper wasn't convincing enough. I needed to know before I wrote my final essay. I waited, and they students continued chatting with him. He eventually broke it up by saying he had to go to an appointment. In other words, I had waited after class for 20 minutes and once again, wouldn't get a chance to talk to him. This was the last straw. He was always busy. Busy with students in his office and busy chatting away after class. This was the weekend and there was only one more week until the end of the course. I could no longer wait for him to not be busy. I needed his feedback now. I was embarrassed about asking about my paper with other students lingering around but I couldn't worry about that anymore. I needed help. "Mr. Carter. I needed to talk to you about my first essay" I said, walking from the seat I was seated in towards his desk. He turned his head as did the other students. "Ahh Miss Knowles. I didn't even see you there. I think that's the first time I've heard you speak all semester. What a surprise" he smiled. "Um. Yeah. But I needed help with understanding why you gave me a C" I said. "First off. I didn't give you a C. You earned your C minus" he said, still smiling. I had to control myself from getting angry. Calm down Beyonce. He controls your grade. Curse him out after the semester. "OK. I stand corrected" I force smiled. "I'd love to discuss your essay with you. I do wish you wouldn't have waited until the last week, though" he said, looking at his watch. "Sorry" I said with an attitude. I wanted to tell him I would have talked to him sooner if he didn't have a million groupies all up on his face 24/7. Man I really hated this guy. "Don't apologize. I have to go so could you IM me anytime after 6? I'll be on and I can answer you in full and re-read your essay. Fair enough?" he asked.

"Do I have your IM?" I asked, not knowing how I was suppose to contact him. "It's on the top of the syllabus. Or you could call me if you would rather do that. Up to you. My cell is on there too" he said. "I'll IM you" I said dryly. He nodded his head towards me and ushered me and the rest of the students out of the class. I was boiling on the inside but I couldn't quite figure out why. I think I was most angry at his f*cking smile. Second most was him saying I earned my C minus. And then there was a tie for him joking about me not speaking up in class and making me IM him to get help. I was just mad. I would never take Michelles advice again when it came to scheduling classes. I remember bug eyed boy said it was fate for me to join that class. More of a curse than a gift. I needed my hair done, and with Kelly back in town, I had my very own stylist. That was one thing Kelly excelled in, doing hair. She had thought about going to school for cosmetology, but decided she'd be better off going to school for a four year degree, especially since her adoptive parents would be paying. Kelly picked me up and drove me to her cousins crib which was about 35 minutes away. We ended up talking and clowning like old times as I sat between her lap for the next five hours. We ended up going to Popeyes for dinner, somewhere we spent many a days at back in Houston. By the time we finished and I got back to my dorm, it was half past 10. Michelle was in bed early, I guess exhausted from cramming for finals. I quietly walked in the room got undressed and got in bed with the laptop I had purchased with my credit card. I wanted a Macbook, but had went for the cheaper option so I could preserve the money on my card. I just couldn't justify spending over a grand on a laptop when I could get one for 500. I logged onto myspace and facebook and checked my messages. A few from Lyndell, one from Tip, and an ongoing chat I was having with Solo. She was telling me about the guy she had been seeing and how he put it on her. She wondered why I didn't yet have any stories about any guys putting it on me, but I did tell her about Tip's cop and feel at the party I had went to. That was as much action as the summer had provided me. Seeing my baby sister talk about the action she had been getting as a home schooled sheltered girl and comparing it with what I'd done while on my own made me feel a certain way. Like I really hadn't changed much, despite what Kelly had said. I was the same shy girl that I was back in Texas. I was about to log off when I remembered Mr. Carter had told me to IM him. It was late, after 10, and I was falling weary of IMing him at this hour. But then again, he had told me to IM him past 6. He didn't put a cap on it. I went in my backpack and pulled out the syllabus for his class and saw his YIM at the top of the page.

S.Carter@Yahoo.com I typed his scree name into the search bar and his profile came up. It was bare, no picture and no other info aside from his name. He was online according to it, which made my heart drop. Was I really going to IM his this late? It was almost 11. And then some crazy thought hit me. What if he was at his crib f*cking some chick right at the moment I Imed him. I don't know why I thought about that. But I figured that would be crazy. Maybe it would be best to wait until the morning. I closed my laptop and snuggled up in bed, wrapping the covers around me. I closed my eyes, but sleep never overtook me. I was sleepy. At least I thought I was. But there was something unfinished that wouldn't let me rest. I had to IM him. I had to know why he thought I earned a C. And I had to know it tonight. I reached over for my laptop, placed it on the bed, and opened it right back up. I had laid in the darkness for over half an hour and it was now closer to midnight. Still, his user name said he was online. I double clicked it which brought me to his IM window. I moved my pointer into the words box and clicked. The blinking word bar pulsed on and off, waiting for me to start up this awkward conversation. First I typed 'hey' then deleted it as it sounded too friendly. Then I typed 'Mr. Carter' then deleted that as well. Damn, what was I suppose to say? This was stupid. Maybe it would be better to just call his cell phone and leave a message. But what if he answered? At midnight? And then chided me for calling so late? That would be embarrassing. I wrestled with how to contact him and what to say in my heads for a few more minutes, finally deciding to just type whatever came to my mind and then pressing enter before I had a chance to change it. QueenBey2005: Hi, this is Beyonce. You said to IM you so here it is. Wondering about my grade... After pressing enter I looked at the IM box and waited for it to say that he was typing a response back to me. But, there was none. Two minutes passed, with no sign of him responding back to me. I felt really dumb. Why would a professor be on this late, chatting on IM? He probably just let his computer on all night. Oh well, I was sure he would read the message in the morning and respond to me then. I prepared to close my laptop when I saw the IM box come to life. S.Carter is typing a message... My heart dropped. S.Carter: What's good with you Miss Knowles? Just caught me right before bed. I read your essay earlier today and my grade of a C- still stands. The main issue with your essay was that it lacked a sense of critical thinking. Your grammar was good, the structure was solid, but you simply repeated what the book said instead of really giving me your opinion and backing it up. You did not step out of

that box. You have to expand past home school conventions and put your cognitive skills to the test. QueenBey2005: Ok. So what do you suggest for the next paper? S.Carter: The next paper is about your thoughts on students and teachers that date. You've read the book, I am sure. So definitely include what you have learned in the chapters and in the lectures, but speak your mind by putting everything into a singular context. Is it wrong? Is it not wrong? Give me a strong argument for one or the other. Make me believe you... QueenBey2005: Ok... S.Carter: Did I answer your question? Or do I need to elaborate? QueenBey2005:No, I think I understand. I'm just not use to getting C's. But I think I got it now... S.Carter: Welcome to college Miss Knowles. Have a good night and good luck with your paper. Godspeed. And like that he logged off. ** "He's just an asshole. No other way to say it" I said to Kelly over the phone while laying in bed. "Bee, I hear you and everything. But he just sounds like he is doing his job. He can't be an asshole just because YOU got a C. Tighten up, girl" Kelly said sternly. "Yeah whatever. You just don't understand" I said, rolling my eyes at her indifference to my venting. "What don't I understand Bee?" "College and everything. I mean this isn't High School or Community College. This is real college here and YOU are up here telling me to tighten up" I said out of being on the defensive. When she didn't say anything to my comment, I knew I had said something to really hurt her feelings. Damn, why was I being such a b*tch all of a sudden? Kelly didn't deserve that. Especially after all of the shit she had been through as a child when people thought she was stupid. Me and my big mouth. "Girl, I am sorry. I didn't mean that. I'm just stressed over finals and stuff. I shouldn't take it out on you" I said, in my most humble voice.

"Beyonce, listen to me. I may not be the straight A student like you are. I may not have the natural intelligence like you do. I may not have been blessed to go to any college I wanted to. I might have to go to a dumb community college. But I am not stupid. I do have common sense. And how you are acting, IS stupid. That goes to show, intelligence doesn't always mean smart. Your teacher is trying to help you. But he can't help someone that thinks they are always right. Grow up" and she hung up. Ahh damn. I really didn't mean for our girl talk convo to end like that. I knew I was being a brat and everything she said was right. I guess I just wanted someone to take my side and pacify me instead of actually being convinced that I just wasn't as ready to master college as I thought I was. Damn. I hated to be wrong, I hated it. But what I hated even more than that, was hurting my best friends feelings. I called her back but she didn't answer. I would try back a few more times but only got her voice mail. She ended up texting me the next morning and telling me that she loved me and just needed some time to herself before she went off on me. We called and made up that afternoon. But it was something about the way she looked at me that suggested she was still feeling a certain way about how it all went down. I didn't think Kelly was stupid. I would never want her to even think that was how I felt about her. My comments were strictly said out of frustration and immature emotions. That wasn't how I felt. Even after I told her this, I sensed that she had trouble accepting it. How could she? She'd been told all of her life the same things her best friend had said to her. If I could say it, what did that say about me? Tip called me later in the day and asked if I wanted to chill at his apartment. This had caught me completely off guard. To his apartment? This didn't seem like him at all. He was always a gentleman whenever we talked, always aware of my age and suggesting we only hang out in public places. I was on the phone with my mom when he had called so I told him I'd think about it and call him back with an answer. In actuality, I had to call Solo and ask what the hell I should do. "Bee. If you go over there, he is going to try and f*ck you. Don't be dumb" she said when I told her my dilemma. "So should I just tell him no without a reason?" "Girl if he likes you or whatever then he should be fine with your reason. You aren't comfortable and you aren't ready for sex. It's really as simple as that. If I find out you are being pressured into any kind of date rape Ima be up there myself to murder someone" she said bluntly. "Ok, ima call him right now. Stay on, I want you to hear, ok?" "Yeah". I called Tip who picked up on the first ring. He had a knack for doing that.

"Sup 16" he said, in his usual drawl. "Hey Tip. I was just calling you back to tell you I thought about your offer" I said nervously. "Cool. And what did you think?" "I.....I think...I'm not quite ready to be alone with any guys. That's all just too much for me right now" I said, choosing how I worded things. I really did like him and I didn't want him to start to not like me. "Oh that's cool shawty. I respect that. No worries" he said calmly with rock music blaring in the background. "So we're cool?" I asked. "We're cool shawty". "Ok...good" I laughed, not knowing what else to say. "Aight. Well, me and the rest of the folk here about to hop back on this Guitar Hero. I guess I'll talk to you later, aight?" "Ok. Bye". I clicked, and Solo was laughing her ass off when I did. "What's so funny?" "Bey are you sure he didn't tell you he was inviting you AND others over? Because he said they were playing Guitar Hero". "What's Guitar Hero?" I asked, truly not knowing. "Damn Bee. Sometimes I worry about you and how slow your smart ass is" she laughed. "Is it a video game or something?" "Yeah. It's what everyone is playing. Fake guitar, button pressing. He probably invited you over to play" she said. "Oh wow. I think he did say something about us playing a game. I was too busy focusing on his apartment. Should I call him back?" I asked. "Nah. You still prolly shouldn't be over at his crib. Opens up to many doors for the future. Stay your ass there and do your homework" she laughed.

After I hung up from Solo, I had this weird feeling in my stomach. I was still feeling bad about what happened with Kelly and I was angry for still feeling like a child when it came to certain things. I was on my own but still not able to act like an adult would act. It was getting on my nerves. And every-time Tip called me 16, his tongue in cheek pet name for me, I'd be reminded of how much of an outcast I was. I needed to take it out on someone, and there was only one person I could think of contacting. Maybe he was part of the reason why I still felt like a child. Maybe still being attached to him was cause for my negative feelings about my growth. Maybe it was all his fault. I called Lyndell and prepared to do what I should have done a long time ago. "Lyndell. I'm unhappy. I don't think I can do this anymore" I said after five minutes of filler talk. "Unhappy with what? Do what?" he said, full of concern. The type of concern that made him sound weak. "This. Us. It's just not working. We're so far apart and I'm meeting new people and I'm sure you are meeting new people--" He cut me off "But no one I meet compares to you, though". "Lyndell. I want to break up. I don't want to be with anyone right now. I need to be single" I said, finally cutting past the side stepping. "Why?" he said, his voice rising, his anger clearly starting to show. "...Because. I don't want to hurt you. I just want to be by myself" I said, trying hard not to hurt his feelings. "We been together for four years Beyonce. Four years. Did you f*ck some other guy or something? I mean, all of this out of nowhere?" he screamed. "It's not out of nowhere. I have been feeling like this for awhile. This long distance stuff isn't healthy for either of us. We can still be friends. I just don't want to be with you" I said, really hoping he would get the point. "You didn't even answer my question. You did f*ck someone else, huh. I bet you did. I can't believe this. After all of this time". "Lyndell. I did not cheat on you" I said calmly with my hand over my face. "Yes you did. I know you did. You said you would save yourself for me. You promised I would be your first" he yelled.

"Lyndell we were 14 when I made that promise. Too young to be making any promises about stuff like that. We both said a bunch of stupid things that we knew we couldn't actually do" I said, trying to keep my voice calm but not doing a good job of it. "I kept all of my promises to you. I can't believe you. I know its some other guy. GODDAMN I hate you" he said. "You hate me because I don't want to be with you?" I yelled. "I hate you because you are a b*tch. Playing with my heart and shit and lying to me. I can't believe I trusted a ho like you". He kept pressing. He kept pressing and pressing and wouldn't accept my kindness. Ok, he wanted me to be a b*tch, or a ho, or any other nasty word? Then I'd show him how much of a b*tch I could be. "Ok, you want the truth? Yes. It is another guy. He's handsome. He's funny. He's sweet. And I like him. Ok? I like him. But you know the thing that I like most? He is HERE! I can actually see him and touch him and dance with him and kiss him.." "And f*ck him?" he interrupted. "Yep. And f*ck him. I can do that too if I wanted. But you? You are a voice on the phone. Out of respect for you, I never did anything with him. But I wish I would have. I wish I could prove you so right since that is what you want" I said. "The only thing I want is to be with you. For things to be like they were". "Things will never be what they were Lyndell. Never. Get it out of your head. Like I said, the only thing I would have with you at all right now is friendship and even that is on thin ice right now. It's over. I'm done. Move on. Don't call me. Bye" I said, hanging up and turning off my phone so I wouldn't be bombarded with his calls and text when they came. I felt a release that I hadn't felt in a while. A release that was akin to taking a shit after holding it in for hours. It hurt so good. ** Jarvis helped me find my muse for my final paper as we both wrote and compared ours in the library on the Saturday before the last week of class. I had printed out the IM conversation I had with Mr. Carter and read it over a hundred times, making sure I understood exactly what he wanted from me. We submitted the essays online in a drop box, which marked the end of the work for the class. We'd have one more class that would be a wrap up for anyone that wanted to attend. Of course, everyone would want to attend because he promised he would reveal once and for all if he use to be a drug dealer. I had to admit, even I was

curious about his entire backstory. Jarvis also suggested that I should get out more and stop being lazy in my dorm room all day. He said something that would be good for me, considering I wanted to get cultured, was to go to the NAACP meetings on campus. He said it was an organization he would eventually run for because it would look good on a resume when you were done with school. It sounded like a good deal and would be another way for me to meet people. I decided I'd be down. On the final class of Ethics, we had a big discussion, returning to the topic of the first day of class. It was even more lively of a debate now that we had received information on how to evaluate stakeholders and conflicts. "So if I tell you guys RIGHT NOW" Mr. Carter grinned, "Right now than I use to sell drugs. Does everything you have learned in this course became pointless?" We didn't have a raise hand policy so dozens of kids started speaking over each other trying to get their point in. For some reason, a reason I cannot pinpoint other than it being an urge, I raised my hand. While the other students fought to talk over one another, Mr. Carter found my hand raised out of the corner of his eye. His eyes widened when he saw this, I hadn't even attempted to participate in a discussion once. But I had something to say and there was no way I would be able to project my voice over all of the barking of the others. "Calm down yall. We got a special speaker that wants to talk" Mr. Carter grinned, looking right at me. The students in front of me turned around, all shocked and shit that I was going to say something. Or maybe just shocked that I had raised my hand and he decided to single me out. Whatever the case, it added a significant amount of pressure to what was already a daunting task. To speak in front of all of these people and try to make a point that would sound as smart as it did in my head. "Miss. Knowles. You have the floor" he smiled. I didn't know whether to stand or what. But with all eyes beaming on me, I so self conscious, like I was naked in front of their hungry eyes, devouring my nervousness. I took a deep breath and tried to calm my nerves. "I..I don't think it would be useless because you taught us that ethics is a big picture. We can't just focus on the black and white, but the other shades of gray that paint it. Like, you might have sold drugs because you were homeless or because you had to provide for a family. I don't know. And" I started off good but I started to forget what else I had to say. The eyes were still looking hard at me. I swallowed the wad of spit that had settled in the top of my throat and continued before I lost all steam.

"We now know that egosim can someones be the best moral choice to make". Mr. Carter was scratching his chin as I talked. He took off his glasses and coughed. I couldn't tell if he was digging my answer or not. But there was something, which was very small when I first raised my hand, but had grown exponentially as he listened to me speak. But something so overwhelmingly strong that wanted; needed for him to approve of my opinion. I had longed all semester for his acceptance, for a validation. I didn't realize it until that moment, but I wanted him to like me as a student. "Can egoism be the best moral choice if it infringes on others? You did write in one of your essays that Utilitarianism was the most sound ethical principle in your opinion" he asked me, without showing one way or the other if he was feeling what I was saying. "Well...um...Yeah.." I was losing my footing, about to fall flat on my face. I could feel it. My chest felt as it if was caving in under the pressure of an avalanche of emotions. But I breathed, focused, and stood tall. My livelihood depending on this one minute conversation in a two hour class. "At the end of the day. We have to weigh our priorities. And family and self is more important than the world. If you can't save your family, how can you save the world? I like Utilitarianism. It is the most sound. But, it doesnt work unless every single person in the world agrees with it too. Even Communism, is ok in principle, but unless Jesus Christ himself was the leader of it, it would fall flat because of selfishness." This caused numerous laughs including a small grin from Mr. Carter, the first emotion he had shown in my words. His once cold stare didn't look so cold. "We're selfish people. And we have to look out for ourselves and our family first. Second is the world" I said. I took a deep breath and was getting a round of applause and amens from my fellow students. Even Michelle was patting me on the shoulder. Mr. Carter was nodding his head and grinning at the ovation I was receiving. "Very interesting Miss, Knowles. Very" he said. He didn't argue a counter point and his pat on my back was very short and sweet. But it meant something. It meant so much to hear it. I smiled and couldn't stop. We ended up moving on, I wouldn't dare raise my hand again to offer another point that could help take away from the victory I had gained. It was being up at the gambling table. Quit while you were ahead. And I was ahead. On cloud 9 after speaking up in class and having this teacher hear me out and applaud my thoughts. Life was good. The class ended in a shower of boos, as Mr. Carter told us he had lied and was

not going to tell us his life story. He said he had told us this so that all of us would show up to class for a final discussion even though the grading was complete. He said he felt it was morally right because it was for the benefit of our education. We booed, he laughed, and class was dismissed. I gathered my belongings and walked down the steps prepared to go get a bite to eat, when Mr. Carter stopped me. "Miss. Knowles, let me rap with you for a minute" he said plainly. I feared what he could want. A deep fear of what he would say. The butterflies in my stomach almost caused me to trip over my numb legs which struggled to keep pace with my racing mind. "I just wanted to say that I was proud of you for speaking up today. You made some great progress in the class". "Thanks" I smiled. "Another thing. I'm glad you took my advice to heart. It showed" he smiled, reaching in his brief case and handing me a thick layer of papers. It was my paper, the final paper I had wrote about if students and faculty members should date. Planted across the paper, was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

I could not contain the happiness that flowed into me. I jumped into the chest of the man that gave it to me, sudden and irrationally hugging him. His laugh and small pat on the top of my back brought me down to reality quick. Damn, had I really just hugged my teacher in front of everyone like that? I stepped back and played with my hair out of sheer embarrassment. I was a klutz. "I'm sorry Mr. C. Sorry. Thank you" I said, stumbling over my apology. "It's fine. And don't thank me. You earned it" he said, closing his brief case and turning his attention towards the other students in the class who were wanting to talk to him. "How come she got her paper back?" Day-Day asked. "I read hers early. The rest of yall can check the website and your grade should be there by Tuesday" he said. "What? Why she got hers read early?" Day-Day complained. "I hear you guys talk every day in class. I was interested in reading her paper a little more since she doesn't speak" he laughed. They went into a debate, an after class debate. I left to celebrate my grade. I was fearing his class because it would be the difference between straight A's or an ugly B on my report card, or worse. But with the A+ along with the A on my second essay, I was able to overcome the C minus to open the semester and still finish with deans list. I was thrilled. ** Straight A's meant attending the summer bash that was going down at one of the students houses. It wasn't a frat house this time, it was in a secluded neighboorhood so that everyone could drink and party as hard and long as they wanted. It was an exclusive party, and Michelle and I had been invited. I told Kelly we'd hang out the next day, but I was going out with Michelle to celebrate my first semester. Michelle and I went shopping for clothes and came looking our best. Not really to pick up any guys, but to keep them and the other ladies on their toes. It's just something about a new outfit at a party, especially when there was reason to celebrate, that could make a girl feel like the baddest b*tch alive. I felt it, and the guys knew it. One guy approached me, I didn't know him well but I had seen him around. They called him Wiz, for whatever reason, and he was a known weed head. He had a disgusting amount of tattoos all over his body, and I heard a story about him giving some girl Herpes!

Let's just say when he pulled me to the side to whisper in my ear, I had no interest in him or any of the game he was trying to run.

"Baby girl, you are looking fabstanding tonight. My name is Wiz, what's yours?" he said, his weed breath giving me second hand smoke. "Beyonce" I said quick, looking to walk away but trying not to be rude. "Beyonce? What you Egyptian or something? Fine as hell" he grinned, eyes sagging and words slurring. "Thanks". He next put his arms around the lower of my back and immediately I stepped back right into some guy downing a beer which spilled on him. "The f*ck ?" he screamed. "Oh. I'm sorry" I said. "Chill fam. Beyonce ain't mean it" Wiz said, as if he was coming to my rescue. The guy brushed off his arm and made his way over to where the bathroom was. Honestly, I would have rather the guy yelled at me than for Wiz to run him away. Where was Michelle when I needed her? I wish Jarvis wouldn't have went home for a few weeks before school started back. I knew he would have protected me.

"Ok, well nice meeting you Wiz" I said, hoping he got the hint as I turned my body to leave. He grabbed me by my wrist. "See you around" he said in a voice that almost sounded threatening. I brushed off the words, got my wrist back from his arm, and walked away to where Michelle was. Turns out, she had been watching the entire thing. "Was he bothering you?" Michelle asked. "Well, I wasn't interested in what he had to say" I replied. "Oh. Cuz sometimes I don't know with you. I don't know if you want the attention or not" Michelle said. I didn't know how to take that so I ignored it and sipped my soda. I eventually forgot about Wiz and tried to enjoy the rest of the party, dancing with a few guys but mostly sticking close to Michelle and just chatting. I refused to drink any beer at a party, and since Michelle was real about her Christian lifestyle, it was easy to steer clear of it and stick with soda and juice. A few times I went to get another drink, I would see Wiz around looking at me. It was starting to get annoying. Even in a crowded party, I kept mysteriously bumping into him. He'd smile and wave and I'd smile and walk right on away. It was as if he and I were the only two people at the party, everyone else in black and white. I felt him watching me no matter what I did, no matter where I went. My mind wouldn't let me forget the fact that he was lurking somewhere which made it impossible to enjoy myself. That was until I heard a loud commotion and saw that Tip and Smurf had entered the building. Smurf wasn't even a student but he was one of the main party goers. He and Tip helped provide the fuel for the parties to get started with anything from drugs to pain pills to alcohol being at their fingertips. Although I knew it was wrong, there was a certain level of excitement in knowing what Tip did. All that ethical shit was for the classroom, not real life. Tip eventually spotted me and gave me a hug, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Wiz looking, this time with his shirt off. Damn, would he just leave me alone.

Tip told me he had to work and would come look for me later. I was just glad to be in his presence but I didn't know if I would be staying for much longer. I didn't feel so good all of a sudden. I started to feel light headed, and really hot. Like, I knew it was another hot summer night, but I shouldn't have been that hot and sweaty. Eventually, the more I dance, the hotter I got, and the hotness started to settle in my pussy. I could feel the burn down below, a burn that had me talking gibberish to Michelle whenever she would ask if I was ok. The fact was, while I felt different, I didn't feel like leaving anymore. I wanted to dance and be touched and be watched. I danced with Michelle, but that wasn't satisfying enough. I turned to the guys that surrounded us and they happily accepted the open invitation to let me shake my ass on them. I remember, I remember when I lost my mind. It was when the Gnarles Barkley song Crazy filled the speakers and Wiz stepped into get his dance. I closed my eyes and lost myself in the song, the music, the beat, the touch of the man I wasn't even looking at. This was crazy, but I was just so hot...and horny. Wiz felt me up, as he gave me a shotgun, blowing smoke directly into my mouth. Before I could really understand what was going on, I felt myself being pulled. Pulled where? Pulled by whom? My eyes were closed and I was letting the wave of emotion and gravity carry me away.

Suddenly, I heard Michelle screaming my name which caused my eyes to open wide. What was happening? And why was a crowd gathering? I turned quick, no longer feeling a pull, and saw Tip on top of Wiz smacking him to a bloody pulp with a handgun. He was screaming, I could tell, but I could no longer hear anything. It was like watching a movie on mute. I could see that things were being said, but I could only try to read lips. My head ached and my heart hurt. What was going on? Why did I feel so dizzy? Why did I feel like this was all my fault? The tears were filling my eyes and when the first one fell, that was when the sound returned. "Muthaf*cka I should kill yo b*tch ass. If I ever catch you trying to drug any chick on this campus again, I swear to God I'm not stopping here. You hear me podna? You hear me b*tch nigga? " Tip yelled at Wiz who was on the floor coughing up blood. Tip stood up and looked at me. "You aight 16?" I nodded my head. Embarrassed by what had happened. Embarrassed that like a little girl, I had to be saved. I nodded my head and wiped my eyes quick. Tip looked at me hard, accessing the damage. He walked closer and looked in my eyes, seeing how far gone I was when I had apparently been drugged by Wiz. Tip turned away quick and walked towards the DJ table, grabbing the mic and motioning for the DJ to cut the music. He did as was told. Tip grabbed the mic and everyone awaited his words. He had their full attention. "Look. This girl right here. Beyonce. Is only 16. Her birthday is September 4th. She won't be 18 and legal for yall ho ass niggas until next September. Until then, she is OFF LIMITS. Don't invite her to no parties. None. Period. I f*cked up by letting her get in the club. That shit is out too. If I found out any nigga is trying to f*ck with her until she is legal, it's gon be me and them. All yall niggas. She is off limits from me and everyone else until she is 18. This shit ain't right, right chere" he said, passionate and sincerely. Everyone was nodded their head or looking at me. I couldn't even look anybody in the eyes. I felt exposed and vulnerable. Everyone looking at me. The party stopping because of me and Tip feeling the need to have to do this. "I'm disgusted at yall niggas. Let the girl breathe before yall try to take advantage of her" he said, before dropping the mic. Michelle grabbed me by the hand and Tip made his way over and they escorted me from the house. Even outside people were posted up on cars and looking. The stereo system played outside as well, so they had heard the entire rant. I didn't

feel under the influence of anything anymore, just shame. I wished I was feeling drugged, because that reality couldn't have been worse than the humiliation that I was so aware of at this moment. Naked. I learned later that Tip and no one called the police on Wiz because there was drugs and alcohol at the party and minors had been drinking, so everyone would have potentially got in trouble, including Tip. Tip figured he would handle it his way. With fear. I couldn't stand to be on campus for the down time until the fall semester started. I had to go home, I had to get away. I paid for a one way ticket home to Houston, where I would regroup and find out if I even wanted to go back to FAMU. Chapter 6

"And he got on the mic and told ALL them people not to invite you anywhere?" Solo asked, in shock as I told her the story of the most embarrassing night of my life. Even more embarrassing than; well I won't speak of that again. I nodded my head and sighed. Damn Tip. I appreciated what you had done for me, saving me from possibly being raped or something, but did you have to do all of that? I just could not see how I could face that student body ever again. "Yeah. And he pretty much runs things there, Solange. They are gonna listen to

him. I was so embarrassed". "Wow. Well I know that had to be a bad feeling but what if he wouldn't have been there, ya know? Got to look on the bright side, I guess. It could have been worse. What if he had raped you and then it got around school and everything?" she reasoned. I wasn't really trying to hear any alternate reality because it didn't exist. It was just speculation. I could not base my life on what could have happened, I could only base it on what did happen. I wasn't raped, whatever Wiz had slipped in my drink didn't kill me, and I had learned a valuable lesson that only experience could teach. But the fact remained that I was pretty much banished from the inner circle of an entire in crowd of the school I was living at. Everyone there was an exclusive invite, and Tip had made sure I'd never be exclusive in the coming year, and maybe ever again. "Are you going to tell mom?" Solo asked. "No. Of course not. She'd just tell daddy and my entire life would be ruined all over again. Forget pulling me from public school, they would wouldn't let me leave the house ever again" I said. "I hear that. They wouldn't let me leave the nest either" she said, in deep thought. "I just have to suck it up. If I tell them I don't want to go back to FAM they would wonder why and wouldn't let me hear the end of it. I'm stuck". "Well it's not like that boy runs the entire city. You can still have fun. There are other places you can go. With Kelly, and your friend Jarvis that you were telling me about". "Yeah but Solo you ain't hearing me. It's not just about not going to a party. I don't do much of that anyway. It's that everyone will look at me different now. When I went back to the dorm at the party, everyone who wasn't even at the party had heard what happened and were gossiping about it. All of the girls in my building were asking if I was ok and stuff. But the way they asked was so fake. They didn't want to know if I was ok, they wanted to be nosey. I just don't want to be around all that" I said. "Damn, Bee. That's tough. I don't even know what to say" she said. "Nothing to say" I sighed. We finished eating our burgers and pulled out of the fastfood parking lot, where we had stopped for dinner and to talk. She told me about being ready to get out of the crib as my parents had become even more strict with her since I left. They had certain thoughts about her going out alone, as I was her usual chaperon

when she went on dates. I ended up telling her about my Spring Break trip to Miami that was to come, and we figured we'd ask our parents could she come visit me for spring break. Then, we'd all go to Miami together. I still had to run it by Michelle, to have Kelly and Solo come with me, but I was sure she wouldn't mind. Michelle didn't have much friends at college, so who else would she bring? I wanted to treat Solo out and a trip to Miami, on the low and away from our parents, would be exactly what she needed. I ended up calling Jarvis who was back home for a few weeks and telling him the story. He was concerned about the Wiz thing more than what Tip had done, which wasn't shocking. He could play, but when it came to the people he cared about, he took things serious. He was raised with sisters and was always protective over them, I guess he felt the same way about me, seeing me like a little sister. I vented hard to him but he was out and couldn't talk as long as I wanted to talk. I tried to enjoy my official summer vacation, which was only 2 weeks, but I couldn't. No matter what thought I started with it would always come back to the party, what happened, what didn't happen, what could have happen, and what will happen when I get back. I'd be shunned, laughed at as the little girl who needed a guy to make a public service announcement that I was a baby. That's what it felt like to me. Like he was announcing I couldn't handle myself. I thought about calling him, but I didn't. I didn't know what I'd say or what I wanted to say to him. I was sure he thought he had been my knight and shining armor. He wouldn't understand the spot he put me in by putting on his cape. Lyndell found out that I was home and tried calling, although I told my parents and Solo not to answer for him. I guess I should have expected punk ass Ricky to be the one to ruin everything, as he brought me the phone early one morning when I was still sleeping, telling me it was important. I answered and it was Lyndell, begging and pleading for him to see me so we could talk. He wanted to apologize and make things right. I told him ok, just so I could get off the phone and go back to sleep. But for the remaining time in Houston he blew up the phone wanting me to follow through on my promise. I left Houston a few days early just so I wouldn't have to. I didn't want to see that boy. I didn't want to be home in Houston. I didn't want to regress to the home schooled girl I had been my first 16 years. I needed to go back to Florida, no matter how hard it would be to cope with the after effects of the Wiz incident. It was better to be a baby that was on her own than a baby that was living with her parents. Solo left me with a parting comment that stuck with me when I boarded the plane. "I don't know what you eatin' out there, but your butt has gotten phatter. Slow down, girl" she laughed.

My mom agreed. "Yea Bee. You do look a little thicker back there. You sure that aint them new padded jeans?" she asked. I laughed and immediately wished I was in my room so I could look in the mirror and judge for myself how noticeable it was. "You be safe, Bee. Ok?" Solo said, looking me directly in my eyes. "I will" I said before hugging her. I hugged my mother, my dad, and stuck my tongue out at the punk ass. It was time for round 2 in Florida. ** Fall semester kicked off and the campus came alive in a way I didn't even know could be possible. I thought I knew how popping the set could be, but when the influx of freshman and kids returning to college after taking the summer off, it was PACKED. Everyone was out, every club, every organization, everybody out stunting in their new back to school outfits. I was still embarrassed by the episode that occurred in the summer, but seeing so many new faces made me think that maybe it wouldn't be as bad as I thought it would be. I had a head start on all of the freshman which made me feel somewhat more settled in than them, but we pretty much got treated the same by everyone else. Everyone wanted us to join their clubs but the one group I decided to look into was the one Jarvis had recommended.

NAACP was a campus chapter of the national organization that talked about issues in the black community and looked to make a difference and spread awareness. They met every first and third Wednesday of the month and were open to all students. I had missed the last meeting in August because I was still in Houston but I made up in my mind that I would attend the first one in September, which would be right after I turned 17. My class schedule still included Gen Ed stuff and electives. I took my science, history, and foreign language class, but for an elective I decided to take Mr. C's philosophy class. After Ethics I was interesting in what his Philosophy class would be like, and how far the rabbit hole went. I wasn't really interested in philosophy, but I was interested in what his class would be about. He had that magic when it came to presenting subjects. He could teach a class on how to watch paint dry and it would probably be interesting and engaging. I was sure of that. I ended up taking six classes this time around, squeezing in a course about Women in America. The professor, Ms. Pounder was well respected by the many people around the campus and the subject sounded interesting enough. Many warned me that taking 18 credit hours was a daunting task for a freshman, but since I assumed there would be no more parties for me, I wouldn't have anything else to do. I couldn't yet tell if there were any after effects of the Wiz incident. I needed a large sample size, but as the days progressed I realized that Tip had shut down my social life. Guys would not even look me in the eye, let alone try to holla at me. I mean, it eliminated the awkward rejection I'd have to give to guys I didn't want to entertain, but it also meant all of the random conversations I had with seemingly interesting guys came to a stop as well. The only male still man enough to step to me was Jarvis, and of course, he was GHAY! So with my social life done for, I decided being involved in everything academics would be pretty productive. I celebrated my birthday with Kelly in the morning as we went to a cafe for breakfast. She also bought me a ipod nano so I could get rid of the outdated one I had. I celebrated with Jarvis by going to the movies, and Michelle and I ended up having dinner at Red Lobster with one of her lab friends who convinced them to sing me happy birthday. It was a great day, even if it didn't include clubbing or partying. I enjoyed spending the day with those that I considered my friends. Tip called me and wished me a happy birthday, and of course refereed to me as 16 the entire time we were on the phone. It was annoying, as it reminded me of the summer party, but I still found it a bit funny. He had a way of doing that. I couldn't stay mad at him. The first NAACP meeting had a good turnout, much more than I had expected it would be. I just couldn't see a lot of these people finding this stuff interesting. But they came, clicked up, and participated in the first one that had full participation

from graduating seniors and incoming freshman. I sat with Jarvis and Nicki, who had tagged along. There was something about her that I didn't like. She was cordial enough, but that is it, she was too nice and smiley. Her smile was so barbe dollish that it felt like she was a caricature of something instead of a genuinely nice girl. Still, I kept it to myself since that was Jarvis people. If he was cool with her, then I guess she was cool with me. One thing I was excited about was football season. I liked watching the NFL, the being a huge fan of the Texans, but I didn't know much about college football. Tip heard this and insisted on taking me to my first football game at a black college. Now I had seen the movie drumline, but I really could not have guessed how hype the atmosphere for the game actually would be.

People were still weary of me, guys specifically, but that didn't stop them from looking when I showed up at the game on Tips arm. What can I say, I felt a little special because of it. He was the dude that pretty much ran the school, and I was the girl on his arm. He wasn't my boyfriend, but that was ultimately what made it even more of a privileged. I wasn't having sex with him, we weren't a couple, and yet still I could go to a game with him and stunt on all of the other chicks that were envious of my position. After I got over myself and settled down, I took in the atmosphere and quickly realized nobody was hear to watch the football team play. It was all about the band. And man, the band was crazy as hell. SHaking their ass, playing all of the best jams, and generally pleasing the crowd who roared for every detail of their routine. I was captivated by it all.

After half time, and the colorful performance, which was more than just the green and orange of the team colors but also the climax of the game, we exited the stadium along with half of everyone else. "You enjoyed yourself?" Tip smiled. "I did. That band. Crazy" I laughed. "I know, right? They trip me out every-time". "I ain't never seen no stuff like that. I mean, the team is pretty sorry. But everything else was great" smiled. "You ain't right" he said, shaking his head with a grin. "Me? You the one that deciding to leave in the third quarter" I shot. "Yeah but them boys losing 24 to nothing. They ain't coming back" he smiled. We heard from the outside of the stadium that the Rattlers had just scored a touchdown. Tip and I laughed all th e way back to his car. He told me he had to make a few errands and that I could ride if I wanted. With me not having much of a social life, it sounded a whole a lot more exciting than going back to the dorm to watch Michelle study.

"Sure. I'll go" I smiled. We rode in his Chevy with the windows down, into the night, music blasting. He drove so fast that the wind would literally drown me as it blew in my face. I had to actually hold my breath until we'd hit a red light or a stop sign. I think he noticed because he asked if he needed to roll my window up. There was still so much about him that I didn't know and wanted to ask, but I didn't know where to begin. I was so inexperienced with guys. I mean, I had dated Lyndell and had kissed a few other guys here and there, but none of it was that serious and none of the opportunities came too often. But here Tip was, or should I say there I was, in his car riding around Tallahassee. "What you thinkin bout?" he asked, breaking my thought. "Nothing, really" I said, not wanting to tell him. "Come on 16. Whats going on in your head" he smiled. "That right there" I laughed, "The entire 16 thing" I said. "What bout it, shawty?" "Why I gotta be 16? I'm 17" I said. "Don't matter. You're always gonna be 16 to me" he chuckled. "Huh? How does that make sense?" I asked. "I name people I meet based on first impressions" he said. "And your first impression of me was that I was 16? I thought it was that I was fine? Ain't that what you said?" I accused. He laughed, "what?" "The first comment you made to me was that I was fine. That was your first impression. You didn't find out that I was 16 till later" I said, building my argument. "I said that?" he grinned. "Yes you did" I said. "Shit. I guess you right, 16". "SEE! You keep calling me that. Stop" I said, sighing while he laughed. "How about this Shawty. When you turn 18. I will stop calling you 16. Till then, I'll

keep calling you that" he said. "Why?" I asked. "It reminds me that you are off limits" he said, this time serious. "Yeah, no thanks to you. No guy will even look at me" I said. "Which is how it should be. You should at the least finish off your minor years without getting with the likes of me and them other thirsty niggas" he said. "If you feel like that then why even hang with me? It's like you are being a tease, Tip". He drove with his eyes focused on the road, he didn't reply. Eventually he pulled up to a project complex slowly, looking around, and then he parked. "Shawty. We in the Trap right now. I gotta re-up. Stay here. I'll be back in 5 minutes. Don't open the door for no one. Here" he said before tossing me his cell phone. "Hold 1 if you see anybody around, aight?" What the hell? I hadn't signed up for this. He took me to a place where he would get his drugs? And he wanted me to be some sort of lookout? When I gave him the concerned look a smile crept across his face. "Don't worry. It's no thang. I'll be right back and I will answer your question when I get back". He closed the door, winked at me, and walked onto the sidewalk towards the apartments. I couldn't believe it. I looked around and noticed one of the streetlights was out, leaving a dimly lit parking lot in this unfamiliar part of Tallahassee. This was crazy. What did he mean don't open the door for anyone? Anyone like who? And if I seen anybody like who? I held the cell phone and my curiosity got the best of me, I opened it. I figured it was his personal phone, and his other cell was his work related phone. I was really annoyed with Tip for bringing me there without my permission. I mean, maybe I should have expected it when he said he had to run an errand, but still, I didn't know. I wasn't all street smart and shit. Guys could really be asses, even the sweet ones. But what should I have expected? He is a drug dealer. A damn drug dealer. Maybe everything I liked about him was too good to be true. Maybe. But since he had brought me here without asking, I was going to go into his phone without asking. I went straight for his text messages. The first one I saw was from someone named Cris. Not Chris, but Cris.

Received 4:55 PM: Let me know if you can do it or not I started skimming through the messages quick. I couldn't decipher what any of them meant. There was hardly any context behind them at all. I looked around to make sure no one was coming and continued to skim. My skimming eventually paid off, in a big way. There was a text from a girl named Nicki, and when I clicked on it, her picture came up. The same Nicki that had rolled her eyes at me at the party and had been chilling with Jarvis. Received 1:03 AM: What does she have that I don't Clifford? WHAT? Received: 1:06 AM: I can't believe I lost anything to you. Everything remotely bad in life. I hope it happens to you. JUST YOU... I was going to go to the next message and then go into his outbox to see what he had seen but I heard a tap on the window, it was Tip. I quickly exited his messages and returned to the home screen, on the low. I didn't think he saw me because of how dark it was. Plus, he was smiling. He opened the back door and put some bookbags in the backseat. Whatever he was carrying looked like it was heavy. He was straining. Smurf came right behind him and loaded a few more bags in the backseat. I couldn't believe this. I was about to be riding DIRTY with him. What if we got pulled over by the police? This was crazy. "Wats happening baebay" Smurf as he peaked in the car, looking at me. I waved back silently and even in the dark night I could see his grill shining. They finished loading the backseat and said a few words to each other before Tip returned to the drivers side and got in. I was uncomfortable with this entire set up. From the message with Nicki to the drugs in the backseat. I had to pick one of them to express to Tip, and as crazy as it sounds, it was a difficult decision. But fortunately, I cared more about my freedom than my pussy, and I decided to bring up the drugs. "Tip. Why didn't you tell me you were coming to re-up"? I asked. He giggled, "I didn't think it was all that important" he replied. This angered me. This was worst than treating me like a child. He was treating me like I was a dummy. Not important? Who was he to decide what was important?" "Tip. I don't feel comfortable with you having drugs in your car while I am in it" I said, fully intending to call Kelly and have him put me out. He laughed. Can you believe it? Laughed at my comment. He saw the anger in my eyes but proceeded to pull over to the side of the road. What was he doing

now? "Why are we stopping?" I asked. "I want to show you something" he said, still grinning. "Tip. No. I think I am just going to get out and call my friend" I began. "16. Chill out Shawty. Just look" he said. He reached in the backseat and strained as he pulled one of the backpacks into the front seat. What was he doing? I didn't want to be caught dead with any of this. "Tip, no" I said. He put his hand up, "Shawty...just look. Trust me". I looked down at the bag, and he unzipped it. I guess you can say what I saw was unexpected. I saw scantrons. Pencils packages. Pen packages. And a host of other things. But not one pack, but tons of them. WHat was this "I don't get what I am looking at" I said. He laughed, "You're looking at school supplies" he said. "Ok. I see that. But" I didn't even know what to ask, I was confused. This amused him greatly but it was pissing me off. "Aight Shawty. I see you are getting mad. I apologize for f*cking with you. All of these bags are filled with school supplies me and my podnas get a discount on. We sell them on campus cheaper than they sell the same stuff in the bookstore. Big money. My re-up wasn't to get drugs. It was to get more supplies" he said. WHAT? Wow, I was completely out of the loop with this one. "I thought I'd play with you. But seriously Bee. You think I would ride around with you with drugs in my car? Come on now. You gotta think I'm better than that" he said. "I thought you were better than that" I said. "Well. I wouldn't do that to you. I respect you too much. But I am a man of my word. I told you that I'd answer your question so here it is. I like you. I really like you alot, you feel me? You're the type of chick I can see myself f*cking with on a serious tip. But I also know I'm walking a thin line with you because you are younger. I guess I'm just too selfish to give you up completely. So I try to get to

know you while still kicking things on a friend tip. I don't mean to tease. I like you, and I want you to know it if you were confused. But I don't want to take advantage of your youth either" he said. "How would you be taking advantage of it? The age difference is only 2 years, Tip" I said. "Maybe. But it still doesn't sound right. I guess I couldn't live with myself" he said, showing a side of him I hadn't seen. "So what? Are you waiting for my 18th birthday and then you are going to try and be with me?" I asked. "It sounds bad when you put it like that. But. I guess the boot fits" he said. "That is so tacky" I laughed. "I know it is. Blame it on the weakness of men. We are some weak creatures for beauty". I laughed, listening to him try to explain his way out of this one. I should have been mad, I waned to be. But in a way, his honesty, and his willingness to be honest about it was really cute. Made him seem more human that he had been to me before. His nobleness was all relative. He had first dibs on me and he knew it. He could keep me pure while he waited for me to be legal so he could have me to himself. What an asshole. But an honest asshole, I guess. "Tip" I said. "Yeah?" "Crank up the car and lets go get something to eat" I smiled. "Yes Ma'am". "And give me a few of those pencils and scantrons. I need em" I demanded. He laughed. We went to eat and I thought about asking him about Nicki but I decided against it. I was going to observe Tip from now on, especially since I was finally privy to his feelings for me. I had taken some power away from him. I think I grew up before his eyes in just one night. ** The semester went by quick, much quicker than I had realized when homecoming rolled around. Even though I no longer had partying to keep me occupied, I was a

busy girl. When I wasn't studying or doing homework for one of my six classes I was hanging with Jarvis or Michelle or Tip. Since Kelly lived almost an hour away, we didn't have much time to spend together especially since my school schedule and hers weren't at all compatible. She was doing well at TCC in her first semester, and we'd try to see each other on weekends as much as we could. One Saturday while we were out eating ice cream she told she had something to tell me. "What?" I asked, eating the cone from the bottom. "I met someone" she said, real low and checking for my reaction. "What does THAT mean?" I smiled, "You met someone. Someone like who". "A guy, girl. A very sweet, kind hearted guy". "Sweet and kind hearted? I want to know is he FINE?" I laughed. She didn't laugh. "I think he is handsome. Kind of chubby, but he is nice looking". Nice looking? That is what people said as a euphemism when someone was ugly. Kelly had never once described any guy she liked as nice looking. It was either ugly with a nice body, or fine, or fine as hell, or fine as shit. That was how she would describe her new guy to me. But nice looking? And kind hearted? What was this shit? "Well. I'm guessing you are telling me cuz you like him, right?" I asked. "Yeah. I really do. I didn't think I would, but he's great. We have a lot in common. He's at TCC too" she said. "A lot in common like what?" I asked. "Well for one. We were both adopted. For two. He was told all of his life that he was stupid and wouldn't amount to anything. For three. We like the same kind of movies and music. I mean, me and him can talk for hours". "How long yall been talking Kelly?" "Since August. We both got math together. Intermediate Algebra. And you know how I suck at math right. Well he is actually really good" she said. I wanted to laugh at that statement. "How is he really good if he is taking Intermediate Algebra? I took Cal my first

semester" I said, dangerously close to boasting. "Well it's because he has been out of school for a while. But he decided to go back". "How long has he been out?" I asked. "...Ok. Now promise you wont judge me" Kelly said, shyly. "Kelly....how long has this NIGGA been out of school" I said. "7 years" she said timidly, in a fake ass smile. "Seven years? Well how old is he?" "He is 26. But Bee. He is really a sweetheart. I'm telling you because I want you to meet him" she said. I got this strange, very strange feeling seeing Kelly tell me about him. She had told me about so many guys before, but none of them were ever explained to me like this. It was weird. Something was fishy. I had to ask. "Kelly, did you f*ck him?" She laughed. I wasn't laughing. I was waiting for an answer. But I guess it was never going to come verbally. She simply nodded her head yes. "Oh my God. In 2 months? When did this happen, Kelly?" I exclaimed. "We slept together earlier this week. First time. Afterwards, I was like damn. And I haven't even introduced him to my girl yet. That's all extra backwards" she blushed. "I can't believe you didn't tell me" I laughed. But then, I thought about the summer party. The party where I could have been raped. I had deliberately decided not to tell Kelly because I didn't want to worry her. Plus, all of my other friends had the mandate to not let me party, I didn't want Kelly to start getting all over protective too. I guess we both had witheld something from each other that usually would be told as in a matter of minutes. "I'm sorry. But I really wanted to make sure there was really something there before I told anyone. And well, after that night, I can confidently say there is something there" she grinned. "Was he any good?" I asked. Of course I'd ask that. It's a rule. "He was really good, girl. He worked me. Shit, he passed all of the rest when it came to being sweet and everything. But he wasn't going to be my boyfriend

until I found out how he was in bed" she laughed. I shook my head and laughed, "Trifling girl. Straight trifling". "Well Hey...im honest. But he passed, girl. With flying colors, or however that saying goes. And I want you to meet him". "Ok cool. When?" "How about tonight?" "Tonight?" "Yeah. He has his son for the weekend though" she said. "Wait, wait. WHAT? This guy has children?" "Not childDRAN. A child. One. He's 5. He's a sweetheart too". "Kelly, I don't know about this. You are dating an older guy that has a baby? Where the baby momma at?" "She lives in Tally. But it's really no drama there. Trust me on this one Bee. I would not be trying to be with this guy if I didn't really feel it was something worth exploring". She seemed passionate about this. Way more passionate about defending a jobless, dude with no education and a baby momma than she ever had before. But hey. If this was what she wanted, so be it. "Aight girl. Let's meet him". She called him and he showed up at the Ice Cream place about 20 minutes later, with his son. Kelly had straight lied to me. Nice looking? This man was fat!

His little man was cute. I had no issue with that. But come on Kelly. This was the best you could do? I talked to the guy but I just couldn't get over how unattractive I found him to be and that my best friend had actually slept with him. Usually anytime she linked up with a new guy I would want all the details. If she sucked his dick, if he ate her pussy, and all the nasty details like how big it was and what positions. But with him? Quenton, which was his name, I didn't even bother to ask when Kelly drove me back to my campus. I lied the entire time. She asked if I liked him, I said yeah. I mean, he seemed cool and all. But just not good enough for Kelly. I didn't think I was being a prude or superficial by saying that either. He was unemployed at 26. Had a child out of wedlock, and was in his first semester of a community college. Kelly deserved a senior Pre-Law that was in shape and had a car. This guy walked with his son to the ice cream place. Granted I didn't know how far their home was from it, but still. Sigh. Kelly, girl, what happened? I gave her a kiss and kept my comments to myself. Comments like that could seriously hurt some feelings, and I was prepared to never hurt hers again. ** Professor Pounders class was unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. She was so eloquent in every thought she expressed and she opened my eyes to the demeaning of women in this country. From sex trades to lack of jobs to even 90% of women in the military claiming they had been sexually harassed by their peers. Her class was all about illuminating issues for black women, and all women. But instead of shining a flashlight on these things, it was like looking directly into the sun. Too much. Too overwhelming. Too much truth.

Mr. Carters philosophy class was equally as rewarding, although less painful. His wit and charm was every bit as alive in that classroom as it was in Ethics. But this time, I appreciated it to the fullest, participating in the class discussions and taking heed to his directions when I wrote papers. I finished the semester once again with straight A's, and by winter break, I already had 30 credits complete, not including my AP credits that transferred in from High School. I went home excited, ready to tell my people about my grades and everything I had learned from the courses. I felt more sophisticated and knowledgeable about the world. I felt more like a woman than when I had left in August. From NAACP to philosophy with a one of a kind professor to womens studies with a true feminist, I was being transformed from the sheltered girl I was. I was happy when I came home for Christmas break. But my happiness was shot down after hearing my family make comments about me that I didn't even realize until I stepped on a scale. "Damn Bee. You done got FAT girl" Solo laughed as I stood butt naked on my bathroom scale, hoping losing my clothes would shave some pounds. I couldn't believe my eyes. I had gained 23 pounds in 5 months. It started off with me having a phatter ass, but now my cheeks were puffy, my titties were hanging a little lower and my thighs and legs looked were full of jiggle. "Solo, I look AWFUL" I screamed, truly staring at my self in the mirror first time in months. it was crazy how some of these things never really were noticeable until someone pointed them out. And Ricky, my daddy, my momma, and Solo herself all pointed it out to me within the first few seconds of seeing me. I mean, of course I wasn't oblivious to a little weight gain. But all of the people around me said it looked good. They said I was thick. And I blamed the clothes getting smaller on me not knowing how to properly wash my clothes since laundry was new to me. I would blame it on my clothes shrinking instead of me getting fat. And plus it gave me an excuse to go buy new clothes. But when dad picked me up from the plane station. What did he say? "Getting some puffy cheeks sweetheart". And what about my mom when I walked into the kitchen. What did she say? "You look great baby. You sure are eating good". What a blatant euphemism for how did I get so fat. Oh and of course Ricky had something to say. Except he flat out said it.

"Beyonce...the heck happened to you? You're huge". I'm fat. Eating all that food whenever I wanted and not working out at all had caused me to go past the freshman 15 in just half a year. Ok, so sure I wasn't a whale. I was only 144 at 5'7, but when I was in the 120s when I started, that was a dramatic change for me. But I was surrounded by the goodness of home cooking when I came home. I didn't want to starve myself, especially since I had missed this food so much. I decided for my new years resolution, I'd join a gym and lose 25 pounds. There was no way I'd get fatter than what I was now. No f*cking way.

Well, that went for AFTER the holidays. Chapter 7

Some things just don't fit and never will fit. They just don't go together. Black

people playing hockey. Or eating cereal with water. Or Skinny Jeans on men. Well, it seems they were finding a way to make those fit, but that is beside the point. The point is, some things from the outside looking in just never makes any rational sense. The day I walked into my African American History class; a class on a predominately black campus, and saw a guy as white as Mary's little lamb, I wondered if it was some sort of trick. His name was Chris, I had seen him around campus a few times, he stood out like a pimple. A random ass pimple on an otherwise consistent face. I had no problem against white people, hell I grew up around them and I had been accused of being a "white girl", but I could not for the life of me understand why one would even want to subject themselves to the scrutiny and microscope of a mostly black campus. Every little thing they did would be magnified because they were the minority. Everything they did would represent their race. You couldn't be an individual as a minority in a place dominated by the majority. You were a representative. Fair or not, you were the microcosm for everything associated, loosely or tightly, with your race. I learned in my women in America class about race, gender, and their respected roles in a society. Well, this campus was a society and although we could be cute and act like these things didn't matter. They did. I didn't see Chris, one of 30 other students sitting in a classroom waiting for the teacher to arrive. I saw Chris, the one white kid in the class, so out of place that it was distracting. Like, no one accidentally winds up at this campus. There are reasons you come to FAM. What was his and how did it compare to the other 96% of the school that was of color. Of course I kept my mouth shut. Who would I be to judge him out loud? I would keep it to myself, like I did everything else. Our teacher walked in, a militant looking black man with a limp. He looked like he meant business, and I guess that is what complicates this all the more. He asked us, first day, who was the most important black man in the civil rights movement that didn't receive press. A few people raised their hands, some knucklehead said Martin Luther King, and someone said W.E.B. Dubois, but every answer that was thrown out was wrong. This seemed to anger the teacher. "NONE of yall can answer this question?" he asked. We all looked around at each other, silent. I got the feeling he was the type of teacher that wanted to revoke our black cards for not knowing the answer. We would have to prove ourselves to him before we could have the privilege of calling ourselves black. I guess it would be a grueling semester for us to get to that point. "Was it A. Phillip Randolph?" said a British voice that could have only belonged to one person. We all turned around where the sore thumb was standing out and smiling. I

looked at him and we locked eyes briefly before he turned his attention towards the instructor; I followed. "What made you come to that answer?" asked the instructor. "Well I believe he organized the marches that Dr. King and the other civil rights leaders were apart of". "Hmm. This is going to be an interesting semester. That was absolutely right sir. What is your name, son?" asked the instructor. "Chris" he said gently. "Well Chris. I'm glad at least you have some understanding of African American history, before taking this course". Men wearing skinny jeans. I guess it can fit. ** I didn't want to go to the gym on campus. I had certain feelings about trying to lose weight around my peers, it seemed like it was an infringe on my privacy. I didn't see that as something to share with people I knew. Losing weight or trying to do so was kind of embarrassing. Nothing to advertise and nothing I wanted to go around school. If they noticed I lost, that was one thing. But I didn't want them having the opportunity to watch the process. I signed up for a 6 month membership at a gym with some Christmas money I had received for getting straight A's from my aunt and uncle. I figured I would go four days a week and work out for two hours and hopefully I could lose all of the weight I had gained by Spring Break. There was no way I'd be happy going to Miami having to wear a one piece bathing suit because I was too self conscious to be seen in a two piece. I didn't want to be ashamed of my body. I wanted to show it off with confidence. My ipod nano that Kelly had bought me would be my company, I downloaded a ton of workout music and bought sweats and running shoes for the treadmill. I was going to get this weight off of me; no questions asked. I caught the bus to the area, which was 20 minutes away from my campus, and walked through the parking lot carrying my gym bag, which had a change of clothes, a towel, a bottle of water, and some smell good shit. I was always prepared for funk. While in the parking lot I ran into a few other girls who were headed my way. They were cordial and nodded their head at me which I returned. They didn't look as if they needed to lose any weight though. They looked fine to me. Which only pissed me off. I had to get myself to look like that, and fast.

My first workout was pretty light, as I had never worked out before in my life. My shape and weight had always came natural, but I watched what the other women were doing and just followed suit. I did the treadmill for 30 minutes, then did a few reps with some weights than i did the treadmill again for another 30 minutes. I was exhausted when i was done and my muscles hurt when I went home to sleep, but I felt accomplished. I had a goal in mind. No pain, no gain. I became a consistent gym rat with nothing else to do when I wasn't doing work. Jarvis had gotten more involved with school functions and Michelle was always studying or something so that left me alone so much of the time on campus. Tip refused to spend too much time with me, for fear of him slipping up. He loved the weight I had put on, said he liked the meat on my bones. I told him well he should like that I was working out since it would mean he would be less tempted. Kelly was spending so much time with her man that our already small window of opportunity to hang out got even smaller. It had been weeks since I had seen her and even phone calls were usually short.

I decided going to the gym to help cure my boredom and reach my goal of weight loss was productive enough to kill two birds with one stone, and it could make me feel better. There were many people at the gym that I saw often, but one of them caught my eye. It was the same woman I saw the first day I had came. Her body was great, from what I saw and I found myself comparing mine with hers. She had an interesting look, I was curious as to what her ethnicity was. After weeks of my random stares, she finally spoke to me as we both walked the treadmill to cool off after a 15 minute jog. "What's your goal?" she asked, in a very intriguing accent. "My what?" I asked, as I walked. "Goal. How much you trying to lose?" she asked. "Oh. Like, 15 to 20 more" I said. She nodded her head, but remained silent, just walking. "What's your goal?" I asked, in a small grin. "To not look like that woman over there" she said bluntly, motioning with her head who she was talking about. She was referencing a woman that had to be at least 300 pounds who had a personal trailer helping her do cardio exercises. I didn't know if that was suppose to be a joke, and even if it was, I wasn't suppose to laugh at it. But I couldn't help it. The politically incorrect statement along with how serious she looked made it something I laughed at for the next two minutes. She wasn't even smiling. She was dead serious. When I calmed down from laughing, she took a sip of water and extended her hand. "My name is Rihanna. Most call me RiRi. Or when they want to f*ck. So take your pick" she smiled. I started giggling again, this girl was crazy, but I reached for her hand when I noticed something that almost scared me. Her arms were covered in bubbled up scars. My God. "Don't worry, it's not contagious. Addicting, but not contagious. They are self inflicted" she said. "You're a cutter?" I asked, still focusing on them. "Is that was it's called?....hmmm then yeah. Cutter. That's what I do" she said.

I didn't know what to say. This was a strange way to start a conversation. I tried to smile just to hide what was really going on in my head. "So are you gonna tell me your name? Or do you want another close up of my arm?" she asked. "Oh. Sorry. Just kind of taken back by those. They look...interesting. But. I'm Beyonce. People call me Bee". "Well Nice to meet you Beyonce. I see you in here all the time. Thought I should speak. And I guess offer my opinion that I don't think you should lose. You really carry your weight well. Not everybody should aspire to be a skinny b*tch". "Well I don't want to be skinny. But I would like to lose some so I can fit into a respectable bathing suit for Spring Break" I said. "Any bathing suit that shows off your ass is respectable" she smiled. "Yeah, for the guys" I laughed. "Isn't that who the bathing suits are for anyway?" she laughed back. "Not ALL the time. I want to look good for me too" I said. "Yeah I guess you are right. Sometimes I do like to just look at myself naked in the mirror, admiring everything. Ain't nothing wrong with a little narcissism". "Just a little" I added with a grin. "So Beyonce, is there a special guy you are wanting to lose weight for? A guy that doesn't like ass and thighs?" she asked. "No one in particular, no" I said. "Well hunny don't go to spring break hoping to catch one worth keeping. Cuz after the spring fling on spring break, they break. Although I salute you if you are the one looking for a hit and run" she went on. She was so to the point and slick at the mouth, it was hard to even believe it. Was I on Punk'd or something? And for the next hour, we talked as we worked out and she kept me laughing the entire time. It was something about her that was highly intoxicating. From her accent to her potty mouth to her scars, I got lost in the conversation with her. I had never met someone that could remain soft and feminine while cursing so much, not to mention the tattoos and other markings she had on her body. What an intimidating beauty. "Rihanna. What are you? Like, your ethnicity?" I asked.

"Congrats!" she said, out of nowhere. "For what?" I asked, curiously. "You are the 1 millionth person to ask me that. You win a trip to the vending machine over there" she smiled, pointing towards the soda machines. "Excuse me?" I asked. She stopped her treadmill, reached in her pocket and pulled out a $5 bill. "Get me a diet coke. Get something if you want. And bring me my damn change. I'll tell you my ethnicity upon your return and my exact change. Thank you very much" she smiled. This is another area where gender matters. If a male would have said this to me, I probably would have gave him the bird. But this chick? I couldn't help but laugh at everything she said and did. Her antics, her confidence in it, and her smartass mouth was something I needed in my damn life with Jarvis out doing other things. I happily walked my ass over to the vending machine, got me some Gatorade, and made sure to bring her exact change back. I handed her the diet coke and change and smiled as she counted each and every penny. I loved this girl. "My mom is Afro-Bajan, and my dad is Italian. I lived with my mother in South America for 10 years. She couldn't raise me properly so I was sent to live with my dad here in the States. I know you didn't ask, but I know that question was next so I got it out of the way. Any other questions regarding my light brightness or accent" she asked. Her words could have been perceived as rude or that she was annoyed with answering, but the smile on her face said otherwise. And if she really didn't want to answer, no one was forcing her to. I really think this was just how she was; functionally crazy. We ended up chatting past our normal workout times and when I told her I had to catch the bus she offered me a ride. "Where you going?" she asked. "FAM" I said. "Oh Gawd. You go to DAT ghetto ass school?" she frowned. "Hey now. I'm a proud Rattler" I smiled. "Do not ever say that out loud ever again. Ever, in life. If a killer put a gun to your head and told you to say you were a proud Rattler or he'd pull the trigger. Take

that time to get your life right with Jesus Christ" she said, seriously. I laughed hard at this, but was still feeling offended over her dissing my school. "Hey. FAM is really not that bad". "Beyonce. I would not lie to you. I really wouldn't. No reason to. But yes, it IS that bad". "Why? What's so bad about it?" "I had a girlfriend that went there. A friend that was a girl. Not a b*tch whose pussy I was eating. Anyway, she told me about all types of ghetto ass shit going on there. Some that I wont even repeat out loud. But the fact that its a crab outbreak there in the female dorms every year and that half of the niggas accepted there wrote their who is your role model paper on Tupac should be enough to never step foot on that campus". "I think your friend was just telling urban legends. I've been there three semesters now. I've seen none of that". "Ok Beyonce. If you say so. Be a Proud Rattler. Don't ever say I never tried to give you anything" she grinned. "What did you try to give me?" I asked. "A dose of reality". "Girl, Whatever. Turn left here" I laughed. "So what do you do? You a student? You go to FSU or something?" I asked. "Nah. I dropped out of school. I'm a cliche. A girl saving up money so she can move to New York or L.A. to get her modeling career going" she said. "Oh wow, so you model? That's believable. You are gorgeous.....But" I paused. "But what? My scars?" she said. "Yeah. I mean, how does that fly?" "It doesn't. These usually go away in a few months. I have a portfolio of pre-scar pics. Right now I am doing other kind of modeling. Life Drawing modeling. I want a Big Mac, you hungry?" she asked out of nowhere. "How you gonna eat a Big Mac right after working out?" I asked. "You're right" she said, "Make it a Quarter Pounder instead".

She got her food, the full meal with large fries and two apple pies to go along with a diet soda. I passed as I didn't want to ruin what had been a productive workout. Maybe she could afford to take down some apple pies. She was as thin as a twig. Me? I had to get this last bit of weight off of me. She drove while stuffing her face, burping and farting like it was as natural and socially acceptable as breathing. Did I mention that this girl was crazy? "I gotta introduce you to my friend Jarvis. You guys must have been separated from birth" I laughed. "Jarvis? Sounds like he is ghay. He is ghay isn't he?" she asked. "How in the hell did YOU know that?". "Well if we are alike then I assume he is flamboyant. And I don't know. Jarvis sounds like a homosexuals name. Plus I don't see you hanging with too many straight guys as friends. You're too sexy for all that". "Is that your way of complimenting me? I don't know your methods yet" I said. "No I complimented you earlier when i said you shouldn't lose any more weight. I was analyzing with that last comment. Fine b*tches can't have straight male friends. Just doesn't work" she said. "Well that's where you are wrong. I do have a very straight male friend" I said. "He wanna f*ck you?" she asked. "Yes. But he is waiting" I responded. "Then he is on the DL or f*cking another girl. Guys don't wait. Trust me" she said.

"Whatever" I said, shaking my head. What if Tip was f*cking other girls? I mean, that was to be expected right? What if that girl was Nicki, though? When she dropped me off we exchanged phone numbers and made plans to work out together more-often. I had never met someone in the manner that I met RiRi. Getting into Mr. C's class my first semester may have been fate. But meeting RiRi at the gym was destiny. ** My African American history class took an interesting turn when the professor said we had an assignment to find someone that is a valuable asset to the African

American community and write a paper about how they contribute. We were to interview them and find out as much about their life as we could. The teacher had assigned us partners and of course I was assigned with Chris, it only made sense. Put the minority (17 year old) with the other minority (white boy). Chris ended up emailing me and suggesting we do our assignment on Mr. Carter. I realized that the boy could have some great ideas. Mr. Carter was a perfect choice for the assignment. He was involved in NAACP, a great teacher, and was right on campus so he would be easy to reach. But first, I had to convince Mr. Carter to accept our proposal. I went to his office early one morning, before class and before any other students invaded. He was surprised to see me. I was in my Rattler sweater and panjama pants, sitting down by his door. He jumped back when he saw me. "Please tell me you just sat down there and didn't sleep there" he said. "What do you think I did, Mr. C?" I grinned. "I don't know with those pajama pants" he said, putting his key into his office door and opening it. The building was virtually empty. It was 6:45 am. "So what brings you to my offices so early Miss. Knowles" he asked. "I have a question to ask" I said, rising from the floor. "Hopefully I have an answer". "Ok. So". "Wait wait wait, stop" he interrupted. I raised my eyebrow. Stop what? "Why do you do that?" "Do what?" I asked. "You begin your sentences by saying Ok So". "I do what?" I asked, laughing. "This is you. OK. So. Blah Blah Blah", he said, "Why not just start with the blah blah blah". "Mr. C is it that big of a deal?" "Yes. And you know what. I will not answer whatever question you have unless

you promise me something" he said. "Promise you want?" "Promise me you will take a Public Speaking class next semester". "WHat? Why". "Because you say Ok So before talking. You have a great way with words. Your essays in both Philosophy and Ethics showed that. But your public speaking needs some work. I want to see you well rounded" he said. "Just hurt my feelings, why don't you" I sighed. "Welcome to college, Miss Knowles. It's all about having your feelings hurt so you can become the best student you can be. Promise me you will take public speaking as an elective before it's too late" he said. I looked in his eyes, and they were sincere and true. He wanted me to take the class. If Mr. C wanted it, then he got it. How could I say no? "Ok. I promise. I'll take Public Speaking" I sighed, "BUT, you have to do this one favor for me". Now he was raising his eyebrow. "Ok. So" I started, which made his eyes grow wide and made me laugh. "Ok for real for real. I have this assignment for An African American class". "Professor Alexander or Lewis?" he asked. "Lewis". "Ouch. I heard he is tough. But continue". "So, we have to do write a paper on someone who is a pillar in the black community". "And?". "And...Well, I think you would be a great choice for the assignment". "You want to write a paper on me?" he asked, looking for clarity. "Yeah. Me and my partner. We have to interview someone in the community and chronicle what they do. Well you are a teacher and in NAACP so I think you would be great".

"Beyonce, I don't really like the sound of that" he stared. "If you say no then I won't do public speaking" I said. "But the public speaking is for you, Miss Knowles. It's not for me. It's for you" he said, emphasizing it. "Nope. If i took it, it would be for you" I countered. He didn't say anything at first. We looked at each other for a minute and he assessed my grin. I figured I had him cornered. "So you really won't take the class if I say no?" "Nope. I will take something non-stimulating and easy like TV or sports" I smiled. "Ugh" he said, shaking his head. "Well are you going to let me do that if you can control it? Is that ethical?" I asked, still grinning. "What exactly do I have to do?". "Just whatever you normally do. My partner and I will just shadow you a few times, interview you, and then write the paper. You don't have to do anything but be receptive to our questions" I said. He took a deep breath and then sighed. "Ok Beyonce. Just know. I will be checking your schedule next semester and public speaking better be on there. If it ain't, I will come looking for you" he said, sternly. "Thank you Thank you Thank you Mr. C" I said. "Yeah. Thank me by not saying Ok So anymore to begin a sentence" he said. Mr. Carter could be so awesome.

Chapter 8

I continued my goal of weight loss by sticking to the Vegetarian side of the buffet line, including eating lots of fruits and veggies and protein. I figured once I lost the weight I could ease back into eating the foods I normally ate. I could keep the weight off by continuing to work out, which I actually grew pretty fond of. Maybe I liked it because I was showing progress or maybe I liked it because RiRi was there with me most of the time, cutting up. Either way, the gym became my second home. In late February I attended NAACP meeting with Chris because we were suppose to record some footage of Mr. Carter. Chris was good with video editing, so we got approval from Mr. Lewis to make a documentary, 20 minutes or so, about Mr. Carter. If it was good enough it would actually be submitted to the school Library, which added extra incentive for us to do it right. While there, I ran into Nicki who I had seen around but didn't speak to much. I spoke to her, still thinking we were cool because of our mutual friend in Jarvis, but still very aware that she and Tip had some sort of history. "Hey, Nicki. How are you doing?" I asked. She looked at me for a few seconds, then at Chris. She tilted her head and then

smiled, showing off those unnaturally white teeth. "I'm great sweety. And yourself?" "Good. I see you at the meetings all the time. Are you looking to be on the committee?" I asked. "Yes. I will be running for school government and NAACP board member. Jarvis too" she said. "Oh that's cool. I haven't hung with Jarvis in a minute. Ima have to call him" I smiled. "You do that" she smiled back, before looking past Chris instead of at him. "Whose your friend?" she smiled. "Oh this is Chris. He's my partner for an assignment. Chris, this is Nicki" I said. She shook his hand and then turned her attentions back to me, a small smile still visible. "Beyonce, can I ask you something? I've been wondering it for awhile" she said. I didn't know what it could be, but I assumed it had something to do with Tip. I braced for the worst. "Yeah, sure. Wassup?" I asked. "Are you even black? You look mixed with something" she said. What kind of question was that? And why did it matter anyway? I was sure I looked at her with my side eye face, but she just continued to smile, like shit was all good.

"I'm black, Nicki. My dad is black. My mother is black creole. I'm black" I said. "Creole? Aren't Creoles French? I think that makes you bi-racial, sweetheart" she smiled. "No. It makes me black" I said, defensive. "Woah woah sweetness. No need to get hostile. I just was curious. You are beautiful either way, it doesn't matter if you are black or not" she insisted, truly a back handed compliment. I couldn't believe how rude she was. She turned to Chris, frowned her face while still smiling, how was that even possible? "See you around Beyonce; and Chris" she said before turning and walking away, making sure her big ass swayed back and forth for all to see. "What just happened" Chris smiled. "We just got disrespected. That's what happened" I said, focusing in on that girl and hating her with all of my being. "She was only partially right about the Creole thing" he said, although I wasn't even really listening to him. I was staring at her, watching her walk over to a group of women, all of the IG, who were looking over at me and laughing. What had I done for them to just be so blatant in talking about me? I had done nothing to those chicks. I didn't have experience with how to deal with this. My first instincts were to cry, being made fun of my women and not even knowing why. I never had been around a large group of peers like this, not since I had been taking out of public school. How was I to deal with this? The first thing I did after NAACP was call Jarvis. I mean, this was HIS friend. "Hey momma. I ain't heard from you in a minute" he said, sounding happy to hear from me. "What the hell is wrong with your idiot friend, Nicki?" I barked. He laughed, "What this ho done did this time". "She just was being a b*tch to me for no reason. Saying I ain't black. Laughing in my face with them other sorority girls. Like, for no reason. How is this girl your friend?" I asked. "Bee. Nicki has changed. She was my best friend growing up. She a church girl too. I mean real conservative. She wore glasses, she was tomboy pretty much" he laughed.

"Yeah, well she had changed for the worse. And know what. What is up with her and Tip? I know you know" I said. "You sure you wanna know, Bee?" "Yes". "Tip moved from Atlanta here to go to our HS. He met Nicki there. Pretty much turned her out. She changed her whole style. Got contacts, started doing her hair, make up, and wearing clothes that showed off that body she got. She fall hard for that boy. I guess she thought if she changed and became all sexy, then he'd stay with her. But he ended up breaking things off with her" he said. "Did he take her virginity?" I asked. "Oh yeah. He was her first everything. Like I said, straight turned her ass out. Had her crying over him and everything. I told the b*tch I bet she only came to FAM to try and get him back. She deny it but I see right through her ass. So yeah, she can be a b*tch sometimes, but she is just insecure. That's still my girl. She'll come around, don't take her shit serious". "It's hard not to Jarvis when she is all smiling in my face and then rolling her eyes the next minute. Her attitude is so stank. Talking about she is going to run for NAACP and Government". "Oh she is. She is smart as hell, Bee. She may not seem like it, but she was Salutatorian at our HS. Hell she helped tutor me at times" he said. "Well whatever. I still don't like her. She's a b*tch". "5 star b*tch" Jarvis laughed. "So why didn't you tell me you were going to run for government?" I asked. "I haven't seen you around much. Michelle says you are barely in the dorms anymore. Just never got a chance to". "Well yeah, I been working out a lot. If you and her are running for government then I might do it to. I'd love to beat her ass in a race for class president" I laughed. "Yeah right Bee. I hate to spoil that thought for you, but it would be impossible" he said. "Why is that? You are acting like she is God or something". "No, I'm saying it because you aren't pledging. If you don't pledge, you don't get

to do shit in the school. It's all fraternal. No way you get in on government by being an outsider". "So wait, are you pledging?" I asked. "Yeah. Gotta get in how I fit in" he said. "Oh great. Now you will be one of them" I sighed. "Nah momma. I got you regardless" he said. "Uhm. We'll see". ** Spring Break came, which meant Solo and I had conjured up the plan for her to secretly take a trip to Miami with me and Michelle. Kelly decided not to go, she said she had to work and wanted to spend her off time with Quenton. Whatever, it was her lost. Solo and Michelle seemed to hit it off pretty good. They didn't seem like they would end up as best of friends or anything, but they got along well enough. They hit it off better than Kelly and Michelle did, at least. We took the bus from Tallahassee to Miami and first thing we did was go and meet Michelle's mother. She was a nice lady, skinny just like Michelle. She was actually a splitting image of Michelle, just older. She made us lunch and took us over to Michelle's uncles crib where we would be spending the week.

We settled in quick, Michelle hissed her momma away, and Solo and I immediately got into our bathing suits, ready to hit the beach. We were so excited and Michelle seemed to get a kick out of watching us be so giddy. She had probably been to South Beach a million times, but this was different for Solo and I. This was a new adventure.

The first thing we did was walk around. The beach was packed, full of sunbathers, volleyball, and things associated with spring break. College kids, cleavage, abs, it seemed everyone had been in the gym just so they could show off their bodies for this week. Well, not everyone, even the out of shape people were out enjoying the sun. And the sun felt especially good hitting my body on this day, so I couldn't even blame them. We got some drinks, placed some towels down, and

relaxed. "I can't believe I am on South Beach right now" Solo smiled. "Yeah. It's a lot different from Texas, huh?" I grinned. "I actually want to visit Texas" Michelle stated. "Ill, why? Nothing to see in Texas" Solo said. "Well I want to visit all of the big states. California and Nevada and Texas. Just to see it" Michelle said. "Well how about this. You can come home with me next time I go back there" I said. "If I ain't in school, then cool. I was thinking I'd do all of my traveling once I graduated. I plan to be writing on the road a lot anyway as a Journalist" she said. "That's your major?" Solo asked. "Yep. Always wanted to write for a paper or magazine or something". "That's wassup. I'm still undecided on what I want to do" Solo said. "You don't wanna be a teacher like Bee?" Michelle teased. "Oh no" Solo said as the three of us laughed and sipped our fruit drinks. It didn't take long for the guys to notice three beautiful girls enjoying themselves. Which meant a football came flying our way, almost hitting me in the head as I screamed and hurried out of the way. I should have been mad, them niggas could have given me a black eye which would have ruined my weekend. But when I saw the guy running up with his shirt off, I forgave it. He was FINE.

"Sorry about that" the tall, handsome, shirtless man said. "You almost knocked my sister out" Solo spat. I poked her and gave her the do not scare this guy off face. "I really apologize about that. How could we make it up to you?" the man said. Behind him were two other guys, shirtless, black, and smiling. Hm. I was sure it was something they could do to make it up to us. They came over and sat with us, asking us all types of questions. We all said we were college students, which was a lie in Solo's case, but hey. We were just talking. A little fib wasn't going to hurt. They were flirty, really flirty and touch feely. The dark skinned guy that had first spoke to me said I had some sand on my stomach, so he brushed it off for me. His hands, so strong and chocolately, sent shivers through my body. I'm sure he noticed because he grinned as I eyed him. His name was Derrick and he said he was a student at Florida International, a school in Miami. We talked for half an hour or so and eventual they invited us to play football with them. What the hell? Why not. Even Michelle seemed to be enjoying herself. We picked teams. Michelle, me, and this one tall guy were on one team vs

Derrick, Solo, and the other guy. I guarded Derrick the entire time. Anytime they threw him the ball I was right there with him. It was suppose to be two hand touch, but it was more like full body touch, as our colliding bodies stayed stuck for a few seconds each time. He was so toned, that it made me self conscious. I had lost a lot of the weight, but I still wasn't very defined. Just plain. He didn't seem to mind though. He licked his lips and wouldn't hesitate to get a good grab of my body whenever I got the ball. One time, they threw it to me and I ran all the way in for a touchdown. It still didn't stop him from falling on top of me. He broke my fall by having me land on him, and I laughed as we came down. "No tackling!" I screamed. "Opps" he smiled. We ended up playing girls vs boys, and they let us win, finding more fun in tackling us late after the play than competing. It was all gravy, they weren't that good even when they were trying. I enjoyed the alternate game anyway. Everything was going fine until Solo decided to speak for the group, and step out of line by inviting them back to the condo. Michelle nearly caught whip lash when she heard those words come out of her mouth. "Yall have a condo?" Mike said, which was the guy Solo had her eye on. "No...we don't" Michelle said, staring at Solange. "Ok it's cool if you girls don't want to invite us back. But how about this. Join us at the club on Friday night. We'll be in VIP. Pit Bull is performing. Come through and we can chat" Derrick said. This was a more reasonable deal than bringing them back to the condo, and we accepted their offer. Solo apologized to Michelle for being so brash, and they made up. We went back to the condo to watch TV, shower, and play pool, talking about the day so far and what else we had planned for the week. It included a trip to the spa to get a full body massage, then to a few stores, and even a bit of water motor boating. When Friday came, we met the three guys from the beach at the club. Michelle managed to get in touch with a few friends from HS who hooked her up with some fake IDs for Solo and me. The guys looked great and smelled good. They brought us to the area of the club where only the exclusive party goers went. We had a great view of the stage where Pit Bull was performing and eventually I noticed there were some athletes there, Ronnie Brown from the Dolphins and Dwayne Wade from the Heat. I was star struck, couldn't believe I was but a few feet from millionaire men I had only seen on TV. I didn't normally drink. But this was as adult of a place as I had ever been, a lot

more high class than Chubbys or any of the parties I had been to. I had to drink something. The guys were paying, so I figured we could just enjoy their generosity. They ordered Champagne and we vibed to their sexiness and the music. Things were great.

"Come with me to the bathroom, I gotta pee" Solo said. Michelle and I accompanied her. "I feel so grown, it's crazy" Solo laughed, once we settled in the restroom. "Yeah but feeling grown doesn't mean we have to do anything grown" I said, trying to get her buzz down. "Ok Tina Knowles" Solo mocked. "Girls its getting kinda late. Can we leave within the next hour or so?" Michelle asked. "Sure. I am getting kind of tired" I said. "Yaw tired? Didn't we come here to party? We got free drinks. Sexy ass niggas. And it's the last night of our trip and yaw wanna leave early? We ain't even hit

the dance floor yet" Solo said. I had forgot this was her first time at a club. She had grown tired of going to the beach every day, maybe we should have took her to the club earlier. "Solange. Chill. We ain't leaving just yet. Go have your fun. But in an hour or so, we're gonna go. Ok?" I said. When we got back to VIP, Solo pulled her date Mike up and they made their way to the public dance floor. I told her I'd call her phone when we were ready to leave. I didn't feel like doing much dancing, I wanted to talk to Derrick. We talked, but the more he talked, the more I realized the infatuation I felt with him at first was just that. He really wasn't all that interesting. He was so arrogant too. He wasn't Tip, that was for sure. Tip held my heart, this guy was just a placeholder and prop so I could enjoy his sexy ass body on spring break. I was sure he thought he was going to f*ck me. We had talked on the phone all week and he kept saying he couldn't wait to see me on Friday. I wanted to see him too, but now that I had, and had talked with him for some hours. I saw there wasn't much more to it than that. Nothing else I wanted to see. I looked at my phone and saw that it was about time we leave. I looked at Michelle and I could tell she was feeling the same way. "Well, Derrick. It's been great. Thank you for the great night, but we are kinda tired so we're about to go" I said, smiling. "Go? Girl we just GOT here" he said. "Derrick. We've been here for 2 and a half hours" I said. "And yall already ready to go?" he said, stressing his displeasure. "Yeah. I just have to get my sister and then we can leave" I said, opening my phone so I could call her. He didn't say anything. Just sat back and looked as if he wanted to pout. Like a little baby. It was not sexy. The first time I called Solo, she didn't answer. I tried again and the same happened. The third time I called and there was no answer, I started to get a little worried. "What's wrong?" Michelle asked. "She isn't answering" I said. "She probably doesn't hear it ringing. Let's go look for her" she said. "We'll help" Derrick insisted.

The four of us left VIP and went on the dance floor looking for my sister who had just turned 16. There was no sign of Mike or her. I tried calling again, but the heavy noise of the dance floor made it impossible to hear anything. The flashing lights made it difficult to spot someone. We walked for the next 10 minutes and still, nothing. I could feel my heart continue to sink, eventually it settled in my stomach. I wasn't worried anymore. I was terrified. Where was my little sister? I checked the bathrooms, back in VIP and did a once around the dance floor again and there was still no sign of her or Mike. I called her again, and my heart got a sense of relief when she finally picked up. "Hey" was all she said. "Solange, where the hell are you?" I asked. "Outside. I'm ready to go when you are" she said. I clicked off my phone, angry as hell, and made my way out of the club where she and Mike were standing. Derrick was right behind me and when i turned to him, he was smiling at his friend. A friend that suggested something sinister had happened. Mike came over and gave Derrick a pound and then the three guys looked at Michelle and I. "So, ladies. You think we can hang out at the condo she spoke of? It should be fun" Mike smiled. Solo had her eyes towards the ground. I knew that the look meant. I know what it f*cking meant. "No thank you. We're getting a cab. Thanks for the night" Michelle said. Derrick grabbed me. "You sure? We could have a great time" he said. "No" I said sternly, remembering the night with Wiz. This caused him to wince. I guess he didn't think I had a strong no in me. "Come on now. We paid all this money and yall acting like that? Who comes down for spring break and doesn't get their freak on?" he said. "Not her" Mike grinned, which caused laughter. I was humiliated for Solange, and humiliated for myself. I could not believe I had been to stupid to invite Solo here and then not watch over her every move. Sure, I thought she could handle herself, and she was a strong willed girl. But she was not suppose to be making these types of decisions by herself. I should have been

there. I should have never let her out of my sight. "Come on yall. We're going" I said, grabbing Solo by the hand as we left. "Damn yall some prude b*tches" I heard one of the guys say. I didn't take the time to turn around and see who it was. It didn't matter to me. They were all cut from the same cloth. We got in the cab and rode silently. Solo looked out of the window and Michelle eyed me with a concerned look on her face. Michelle paid the cab driver when we got to our destination and when we got in the condo, all hell broke loose. "Solo I cannot f*cking believe you. You f*cked that guy at the club? What were you thinking?" "Bee, just leave it alone, ok? I did it. You didn't. Don't worry about me" she barked. "How can I not worry about you? Where did this even happen?" "In the car, ok. Outside in the car. You happy? I'm a ho. Go ahead and say it. That's the only thing you are mad at. That you think I'm a ho. So just say it" she screamed. "No that's not why I am mad Solange. You told me you were going to go dance and instead you went with a guy you don't even know out to his car and did...what you did. That was stupid. You are smarter than that". "Bee, whatever. I did what I wanted to do. He was right. I wanted to come get my freak on for Spring Break. It ain't like I can do it back home now with you gone. So sorry because I wanted some dick. I am such a bad person and stupid girl" she said sarcastically. "Know what. I can't with you right now" I said, dropping my hands and giving up on this argument. I walked away and into the bathroom where I hoped in the shower and cried. I didn't know why I was crying. But that was how I dealt with being overwhelmed. I was such a baby I thought as the tears flowed. When I got out of the shower, Solo was sitting on the couch, wrapped in blankets. I walked into the kitchen for a drink and intended to walk right past her into the bedroom and go to sleep. We had the long bus ride back to Tallahassee the next morning. She stopped me before I could go. "Bee. I'm sorry, ok? You are right. I was wrong. I talked with Michelle and she helped me see your side of things. I'm sorry. I could have handled this entire thing better than I did" she said.

"Solange. You know I forgive you. But do you really think that I think you are a ho? Or that is why I was mad?" I asked. "No. I guess...I guess I was just feeling that way about what I did. I felt stupid after Mike laughed about it and you and Michelle weren't down for anything. I don't know. I just didn't handle this right" she said. I sat down with her and she ended up crying. Solange was a fighter, a strong, independent, girl. I had not seen her cry since she was a very little girl. She was the one usually comforting my sensitive ass. She was the one patting my head as I cried on her shoulder about something that had emotionally upset me. But roles were reversed on this spring break. I held my sister who had did something she would regret. ** The more time I spent shadowing Mr. Carter, the cuter he became to me. There was something about him that continued to draw me in. I felt privileged that I would be the one to find out his life story when so many other students had been left out on the outside. Of course when I wrote my interview questions, they were school appropriate but I also wanted to ask them for my own personal interest. I found out that he was 32 and originally from New York. He had written two books under a Pseudonym and had been involved with NAACP for 10 years. He graduated from Howard with his bachelors in Philosophy and got his MBA and PHD from Yale. "Why Philosophy?" I asked with Chris filming. "I have always been interested in understanding why things are the way they were. Why did we live life in accordance to certain values and roles. Philosophy gave me the microscope to explore and examine all of the different thoughts regarding what life is about" he said. "And what is life about, in your opinion?" I asked. "Interaction with people. Some may call it love, some may call it friendship or companionship. But I've studied enough cases to come to the conclusion that being isolated from people is not living. From the prisoners in solitary confinement for 23 and a half hours a day to the people living alone and depressed". "Are you married? Do you have a companion?" I asked, which wasn't on my sheet. He smiled. "No. I'm not. My students are my companions" he said.

We had interviewed him for 20 minutes, and the footage seemed good enough so we called it a day. Something about the way he answered the last question was intriguing to me. His students were the reason he lived life was how I deduced it. It made me wonder why there wasn't a Mrs. Carter. I couldn't ask him that on tape. That would be unprofessional. But I wanted to ask him on a personal level. He was such a inspiration, a motivator for me. I wanted to excel in all of my classes so when he checked my schedule, he would see how well I was doing. I remembered and replayed in my head over and over the time he said he waned me to be well rounded. I wondered why he cared so much. Why was it important to him for me to be well rounded. Did he take that much interest in every student, or was I special? I mean, how could he show that much attention to every student? At any given time he probably had several hundred students. But he had read my essay early. That made me special in his eyes, right? It had to. I told Michelle about the project and she seemed to be a bit jealous. Every day I spent with him she would ask what did I learn about him. I think she was building a mental profile of him, I guess figuring out her plan of attack, or maybe she just wanted some good masturbation material. She didn't know it, but I had overheard her masturbating in the shower before and after his class. I thought it was disgusting at the time. But hey, I guess I couldn't hate on it. I was finding myself thinking about him when I laid in bed more and more. One night even Chris ran through my head. I was spending a lot of time with him as well, and learning about him while I learned about Mr. Carter. He was from the UK, but had came here to study. "Why would you pick FAM out of all of the places you could have picked though?" I laughed. "To challenge myself" he said. I didn't really understand his answer, but I accepted it for what it was worth. "Well, I hope you aren't turned off by all of the shenanigans that goes on around here" I said. "A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest man" he smiled. I laughed, "Nice quote. Who is that by? Plato or Socrates or something?" "Willy Wonka" he grinned. "What? That childrens movie?" And then I learned that Chris's favorite movie in the entire world was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory. It wasn't just a favorite movie, it was an obsession. He

knew the entire movie word for word and would often hum the songs out loud and quote from it at the most random times. It was funny to me. Chris was funny to me. He was a good guy. One day after class he decided to take me out for lunch since the semester was winding down and he said i had been a great partner. We had subs, nothing too fancy, and made went down town to see the sunset. He was a very playful man. Always smiling and commenting about life and how great it was, but in a funny way. "All I ask is a tall ship and a star to sail her by" he said as we walked by a small fountain and pond where ducks were swimming. "Let me guess, Chris. Willy Wonka?" He smiled, "How did you guess?". I used his camera to take a snapshot of him acting crazy. It was a great shot. He took off his sandled and walked in the water, inviting me in. "Nope" I laughed, "That water does not look clean". "Ahh come on, Bee-Yawn-Say" he said in his cute accent. "Chris NO" I said, like a true girl, grinning. He splashed his feet around and held his arm out. There were people looking over at us. I was slightly embarrassed, but Chris's smile was so bright and his personality so infectious, that I guess I couldn't help but give in. "Now if I get a ring worm. I'm coming after you" I said, kicking off my shoes and walking with him in the water, holding his hand. I told him to let me have the pic that I had taken of him so I could upload it to facebook under my album with all of my friends. I was sorry for the way I had judged him so early in the semester. I liked Chris. I considered him a friend.

Derrick called me a few times but I ignored him. I don't know how he expected me to want to talk to him after he had treated me and my friends. He was a reminder of a terrible spring break as far as I was concerned. Plus, I had better and more interesting guys right here in Tally. In all, I was too busy to have a boyfriend. Sure, I liked Tip but it had been nearly a year of knowing him and I considered him more of a big brother type now than someone I really wanted to be with. I wasn't so sure on where we'd go once I did turn 18. Maybe I'd date him, or maybe I'd look to the other guys on campus that were waiting for September 4th. I guess it would be my call. The thought of this excited me. It humored me as well. When I had lost all that I had gained in the previous year, I still kept going to the Gym, mainly because of RiRi. She was a character and someone I enjoyed spending time with while working on my figure. I wanted to get tone. She would shoot down the idea that I needed to, but who cares, I was doing it for me. I still let her talk though. "Bee, I'm telling you. You are so much hotter when that jiggle that you seem to hate so much" she said. "That's so hypocritical Rih, especially since you don't have any jiggle on you" I countered. "Well that's because I have a modeling career I'm pursuing. Trust me, they don't want no ass and thighs" she laughed.

"Why do you want to be a model anyway? It doesn't even seem like it fits you" I said. "Long story" she said. "Well I got time. Tell me" I said. She turned up her treadmill and started running. "Busy" she said, using it as an excuse to not tell me this supposed long story. I shook my head, turned my treadmill up and started running too, ready to finish these last 10 minutes so I could go home. She drove me back to the campus and I wondered about why she was reluctant to tell me why she wanted to be a model. She seemed to always be trashing guys and the way they degraded women. So why would she want to be an object for them? "Rih?" I said. She looked over at me but and waited to see what I wanted. "Where do you stay?" I asked. "I got this one bedroom like 10 minutes away. Why?" "I wanna see where you live" I said. She laughed, "Why?" "Cuz I do. Why I need a reason?" "Cuz that sounds like a pick up line a guy uses when he wants to f*ck you. You trying to f*ck me?" she smiled. "Yep. Strap on and all" I teased. "That actually sounds hawt" she said back to me. "You are so nasty" I giggled. "I am" she agreed. She drove me to her crib and she was right. It was in a pretty poor neighborhood and apartment complex. I didn't even feel comfortable walking to her apartment, let alone living there. There were broken bikes in the grass, little kids running around shirtless, and beer cans and cigarette buds littered everywhere. I guess living in a middle class neighborhood my entire life had spoiled me. Or maybe Rih was simply living in the same damn ghetto that she spoke against so many

times. Chapter 9

She cut on her apartment light and a little dog immediately ran up to me. I jumped back, ready to run out of the house which caused RiRi to laugh. "Girl he is harmless. My farts scare him away" she smiled. "I wonder why" I laughed cautiously as I looked down at the little fury dog. "Say hello to my friend, Peanut" she said. "His name is Peanut?" I laughed. "Yeah. Don't ask" she said. I giggled at the little dog that was smelling my feet and checking me out.

Rihanna came over and picked him up, shoving him in my face. "Give BeeBee a kiss" she said in a baby voice. "Oh No, Rih. I don't want any dog breath" I said, sliding away from that shit. She took the time to let the dog lick her in the face. I never understood dog owners doing that. "Aww, she no want no kiss from you Pea Pea" she said, baby like as the dog licked her. "What kind of dog is that?" I asked. "Havanese. Expensive ass mutt" she said, putting him down and watching him scramble away into the kitchen. I guess he was ready for dinner. Her place was very small, basic sofa right next to the kitchen and a single hallway that I figured went to her bedroom. She went into the kitchen and opened a closet, pulling out a bag of dog food. I watched her with my hands on my knees and my face rested on it, taking in the atmosphere. There was still something about Rihanna that I just couldn't put my finger on. She was an open book, but the problem was asking the right questions. She was as mysterious of a person as I had ever met, even more so than Mr. C. "Rih, when are you going to tell me why you want to be a model?" I asked. She emerged from the kitchen topless, after having removed the tank and bra she worked out in. Nudity between my sister and I was nothing. But I had never been one to be comfortable around naked people in any other setting. She had completely caught me off guard here. But I couldn't turn away, I immediately looked at her nipples, which were plump and pierced, planted on small breast. She caught me looking too. "Wanna see the piercings up close or something?" she asked. I laughed, "Um...No. Sorry. Damn girl. You just getting naked and shit?" I exclaimed. "I'm about to take a shower. I stank. Kick your feet up and watch TV or something. I don't have shit in my fridge but water, diet coke, and pop-tarts so I have no Scooby snacks and shit to offer. But you can have some dog food if you want. It's not half bad" she said, dead serious as she walked into her hallway, still stripping. I heard a door open and a few seconds later heard the shower cut on. I took a deep breath and just tried to take it all in. After sitting for a few seconds and listening to the dog devour his dinner, I looked for the remote. After locating it on

the coffee table I turned on the TV. It was on HGTV, and House Hunters was on. Hmm, so she was a viewer of that channel, in this house? Interesting. "Rih!" I screamed. "What?" she screamed back. "Can I go in your room? I wanna see it" I screamed again. "Whatever" she yelled back. I chuckled and got up, making my way down the narrow and bare hallway. I guess I expected her bedroom to be bare as well, considering how basic her living room was, but I could not have been more wrong. Her bed spread was a beautiful beige, and her walls were plastered with all kinds of art. The art, paintings, drawings, and photographs were the focal point of the room. I stepped in and made myself to the first wall and it was then I realized that the pictures on the wall were of her!

There were all types of shots, but most of them seemed to be pencil drawn. They were incredible. I wondered if these were drawn live or some other way. I kept looking around the room and eventually came to her DVD collection. She had a PS3 on the floor and a 32 Inch flat TV sitting on a stand. Her room was the exact opposite of her living room. It was high quality and tasteful while her living was boring and so everything I'd not expect from her. I wonder why the drastic juxtaposition. The shower cut off by the time I had explored all four walls, and she emerged wrapped in a towel. "Nosey ass" she said as she walked in. "Rih, I didn't know you did this kind of modeling. I figured you were talking about runway stuff. Were these done from like real life?" I asked, pointing at the many naked pencil drew portraits of her. She laughed. "You do not listen. I told you the first day I met you that I did life drawings. That is, drawings from real life" she said, continuing to dry herself while she spoke. "Oh well I didn't know what that meant". "Well you should ask next time. But yeah. I go to art classes for students. Get naked. They draw me and shit. That is what pays my bills. Well and it paid for my Playstation, which was almost a thousand dollars girl. Damn Blu Ray. Oh and it paid for my Pea Pea" she said. "Students drew these?" I asked.

"Yeah. Aspiring artist. Well anyone can sign up to take the class. But it's mostly only serious artist that come" she said. "Damn. That sounds crazy. This is done at colleges or something?" "Shit no. I go outside of the city to this Academy. It's an extension of a Museum. They sponsor an art program. Mostly older people take the classes. A few young people here and there. But they are cool. It pays good. It's easy. It's only a few nights a week" she said. "How much do they pay?" I asked. She dropped her towel, standing completely naked, and laughed. "You sound awfully interested in this, Beyonce. You tryna do it or something?" she asked. "Oh no. I could never do something like that. I'm just asking. I'm curious" I said, meaning it. She went to her closet and started pulling things off the hangers. I couldn't help but look down at her ass. This girl really was just freely standing naked in front of me. And I was completely infatuated by the entire thing. "It pays 30 bucks an hour. The classes are usually three to four hours long" she said. I looked at the walls of pictures again and then back at her; as she put on a Tshirt and some panties. "You are a very interesting person, Rihanna" I said, holding in a grin. "Is that code language for something else?" she smiled. "No, I'm serious. You're really interesting" I said. "Yeah well, thanks or whatever I'm suppose to say to that". "You're not suppose to say anything Rih. I'm just saying" I said, not getting why she was so cold sometimes. "Anyway" she said after she had put on her clothes, "You've seen my crib. You ready to leave?". "Yeah" I said, not quite getting if she was mad at me or something. She could be hard to read sometimes.

When we got in the car, I thought about the unanswered question that she was avoiding. I could have dropped it, but I didn't want to. I wanted to know. What was she hiding? "Why do you want to be a model, Rih?" I asked, for the third time. "You just don't want to let that go, do you?" she asked, dryly. "Your reluctance to answer it makes me want to know even more. You're so open to showing yourself in every other area. Why can't you answer that?" I asked. "Beyonce, to explain it would be to explain my life story. I can't do that in five minutes. I can't be marginalized into a few sentences. Not my desires or my goals" she said, on the defensive. "Who said I'm asking for five minutes? I'm asking because I'm willing to listen. There is a lot about you I don't get. And, like, we're friends right?" She laughed, "If you have to confirm, then i guess not". "Ok, so we're friend" I said, "So why can't I know these things? Like, why do you cut?" I asked. "Oh I do that shit for fun. Started as a hobby when i was younger. I read a book about cutting one time. I think it was suppose to discourage the reader from doing it. But it made me want to. I guess I enjoy self destruction. Something about it that's enticing. Yeah I know some do it cuz they are depressed and suicidal and blah blah. Not me. I'm happy. I cut because it feels good and I enjoy how taboo is. I like making people uncomfortable" she said. "It doesn't hurt?" I asked. "It hurts. But pain can be pleasurable too, Beyonce. See, this is why I can't just explain this shit to you in this car. You won't get it. You'll be even more confused . It's better to not get half of the story" she said. "No. I want to know. So whatever with all of that. Why did you move to the States?" I asked. "My momma couldn't raise me. My dad could" she said simply. "Where is your dad now?" I asked. "Beyonce. Just drop it. Okay? Ask me if I like drugs. Yeah, weed and ex. Ask me if I like anal. Yes. Pain can be pleasurable. Ask my my favorite book. Alice In Wonderland. The novel, not that Disney shit. Ask me did I ever like the Backstreet Boys. Yes, went to three concerts, wanted to f*ck AJ and hated Justin Timberlakend and N'Sync. Ask me if I like your ass. Yeah, I do, you're a sweet girl.

I'm glad I met you. But don't ask me about shit I obviously don't want to talk about, ok?" she said really harsh. We pulled into FAM in silence, she gave me a hug and left without a word. There was something deep going on in her life. And I had an inkling that it had to do with her father, who she would never want to talk about. She could try to keep me away from knowing what it was. But as long as we were going to be friends, I wasn't going to stop trying to understand her. That was the natural progression of friendship. And if she was trying to stop me from knowing her, she was trying to stop our friendship from progressing. ** I couldn't sleep. My conversation with Rih and subsequently her wish to keep me from something in her life was bothering me. Plus, Michelle was snoring loud. I looked over at my alarm clock and it was nearly 3 in the morning. I wasn't sleepy, although I was tired. Tired from the long workout from earlier and tired from the emotional roller coaster I had been on lately. I was horny. Not from any particular person or situation, just in general. My body was changing. Despite me continuing to work out, I was growing. My breast were getting bigger and my booty was shaping up. I figured this was my last growth spurt of my life, but I didn't know why it was also causing me to be really horny all of a sudden. Was this typical? I had masturbated before, but it wasn't really anything I particularly liked. It always felt forced and I would wonder if I was doing it right. Eventually, I'd stop because it didn't feel sexy and I didn't feel comfortable doing it. Maybe I needed to look at porn to be able to get off the right way. It was late, I was horny, and I had a laptop. I silently reached across the bed and grabbed my computer, sliding it towards me. Michelle skipped a breath, coughed, and started snoring again even louder. She snored when she was in a deep sleep. She wasn't waking up anytime soon. I turned on the laptop and double clicked firefox. I didn't know of any porn sites, so I just decided to google something I wanted to see. Teachers f*cking students I typed. It didn't give me the results I was looking for, so I added porn to the search term and re-hit enter. A ton of videos popped up, I turned down the volume and prepared to watch. The plots to these were silly, the girls didn't even look like students. They looked like 30 year olds wearing skimpy school girl outfits. And the teachers didn't look like teachers either. But I watched, out of fascination and because I was horny. I watched as teacher after teacher held each girl after class and they magically ended up having sex for no apparent reason. How boring. There was no real

tension there. I didn't feel it from them, that they were superior and subordinate. But I guess the sex did kind of keep my flame going. I liked watching the girls suck the guys dick. It was interesting, especially when it was a lot of spit. I wondered what it felt like, how it tasted. In the middle of my fourth video, I noticed at the bottom left of my screen that someone had signed in. It was exactly the person it shouldn't have been. S.Carter has signed into Yahoo Messenger I couldn't believe how convenient that was. I was watching porn with student/teacher undertones and my teacher had signed in at the exact same time. Why would he be up so late? I wished I could have been a fly on his wall to see what he was doing. Was he grading papers? At 3 in the morning? Impossible. I bet he was searching for porn. He had to be. I wonder what type of porn a guy like Mr. C would like. I figured something sophisticated like that softcore stuff on Cinemax. Nah, Mr. C was black. I bet he liked stuff with big booty black girls. Or maybe he liked lesbian porn. What the hell was wrong with me? WHY WAS I THINKING ABOUT WHAT TYPE OF PORN HE LIKES? I giggled to myself, thinking about what it would be like to ask him during our next interview what kind of porn got him off. That would be something. That would make my documentary a best seller, I laughed to myself. I tried to just forget about him being online and watch the porn. But it was like a splinter in my mind knowing he was online doing something so late. I thought about IMing him and playfully asking why was he up so late. But, it didn't seem like it would be right. It would be too late to IM him. But then again, it wasn't like I was doing anything wrong. Just saying hey. There was nothing unethical about saying hey to my professor. But what if he took it for something else? But Mr. C wasn't the type to jump to conclusions, I thought. Ugh. Why was I over-analyzing this so hard? It wasn't that big a deal, I reasoned to myself. Just a simple hey. What's the worse that could happen? QueenBey 2005: Hi I was nervous, extremely nervous that I started biting my nails, wondering what he would say and how he would say it. I wondered what his face looked like when he saw my IM. Was he happy? Or annoyed? Oh God, I hope I wasn't annoying him. S. Carter is typing... S. Carter Hi lol

YES! He replied. And he put "lol" after it which meant he was cool with it. I think. Or did he put lol to be disingenuous? He didn't have to IM me back, so if he did it must have meant he was open for talking. QueenBey 2005: What you doing up so late? lol S. Carter If you can come up with an argument in less than 100 words why that is any of your business, I will tell you

QueenBey 2005:

....

S. Carter: That is what I thought. Night, Miss Knowles... QueenBey 2005: I just wanted to tell you the documentary is going good and ask you a question about it...sorry for bothering u S. Carter: You are not bothering me. I'm just conscious of the imaginary boundary that us teachers must make visible... QueenBey 2005: ...You mean like us talking on IM at 3 in the morning?

S. Carter: See, you can see the boundary too QueenBey 2005: Would it be better if we were talking at 3 in the afternoon? S. Carter: Yes QueenBey 2005: Why? S. Carter: ....the answer to that is obvious QueenBey 2005: Not really. We talked at almost midnight one time before... S. Carter: That was school related QueenBey 2005: This is school related. The documentary... S. Carter: Oh really?...speak your mind

QueenBey 2005: No, I don't want you to be uncomfortable chatting with me S. Carter: Well, goodnight then, lol.

QueenBey 2005: Ok if you insist I will ask, smh (where is your sense of humor???)...Ok..so..

S. Carter: QueenBey 2005: The documentary is going great. Chris is editing all of the footage this weekend. But he wanted me to ask you if we could film some footage with you interacting with your family. He said it would bring the segment alive when you are talking about family values... S. Carter: None of my family is in Florida QueenBey 2005: Well, do you have any pictures? Pictures work fine... S. Carter: ....How about I get back to you about that QueenBey 2005: Well it will have to be soon. The project is due in a week S. Carter: How important is it that you get pics of my family. From 1 to 10. QueenBey 2005: 10 S. Carter: Liar QueenBey 2005: I resent that, Mr. Carter. Why ask if you already think you know? S. Carter wants to share a picture. Do You Accept? I accepted with the quickness.

S. Carter: QueenBey 2005: AWWWW. Who is that? S. Carter: My nephew... QueenBey 2005: Aww. So precious. You look so tender and attentive.

S. Carter: Satisfied? QueenBey 2005: Uh. No. We need more than ONE picture. We need at least 10 or so, to play while you are talking S. Carter: 10? I don't even think I have 10 on my computer. I only had that because my sister sent it to me in an email earlier today QueenBey 2005: Well like I said. You got a week. Get me some precious pics just like that. S. Carter: ...I'll see what I can do QueenBey 2005: Mr. C, can I ask you a question? S. Carter: Sure. Doesn't mean I will answer. QueenBey 2005: Why aren't you married? You don't want to be a husband and father one day? S. Carter: No comment...

QueenBey 2005: S. Carter: Imaginary boundary QueenBey 2005: Why are you so friggin secretive about everything? I don't get that S. Carter: Help keeps my legend alive. Helps keep students engaged. I'm really not that interesting without the secrecy QueenBey 2005: To me you are... S. Carter: I hope your documentary turns out good, Miss Knowles. But I've provided all I can provide. I'll try to get a few more pics but you're on your own from there QueenBey 2005: Yea, yea, yea. You have the power to make the documentary eye opening for students. Instead, it will be just another ambiguous puzzle. S. Carter: Puzzles are all about finding the missing pieces. So is life... QueenBey 2005: What does that even mean? Like, seriously. Philosophical mumbo jumbo or does it really mean anything? S. Carter: Mumbo Jumbo, lol. QueenBey 2005: You frustrate me so much sometimes Mr. C S. Carter: Then I am doing my job. Never should you stay too long in a comfort zone. QueenBey 2005: Then why are you always in your comfort zone? How about you step out of your comfort zone for five minutes and tell me why aren't you married? S. Carter: You're being mighty forward and almost rude right now, Miss. Knowles. QueenBey 2005: ....I'm sorry. I don't mean to be rude. Just forget about it. Goodnight.. S. Carter: I have a daughter. She lives with her mother in Connecticut. I don't get along with her mother. I'm single because I am engaged to my profession and helping students like yourself be the best they can be. Happy? QueenBey 2005: I'm not happy if you aren't. But I appreciate you telling me.

S. Carter: Yeah well consider yourself a special woman, Beyonce. QueenBey 2005: Oh wow. I can't believe it. S. Carter: ? QueenBey 2005: You called me Beyonce. You've always called me Miss Knowles. S. Carter: Heh...I guess you're right, Miss Knowles. QueenBey 2005: Aww. I do feel special now. Yay me. lol S. Carter: Yay you. QueenBey 2005: Ok, so if you are engaged to your career. What do you do in your off time? Like, for fun? What did you do for spring break? S. Carter: Read and wrote and graded papers. QueenBey 2005: That's the boring answer. What did you do? For real for real? S. Carter: Well add eat, sleep, and shit to the above then. QueenBey 2005: LMAO. S. Carter: No joke QueenBey 2005: You want to know what I did for spring break? S. Carter: Not really...

QueenBey 2005: . I am going to tell you anyways. I went to Miami. South Beach. Rode the water motor things and everything... S. Carter: How exciting and overwhelmingly interesting. QueenBey 2005 wants to share a picture. Do you Accept. S. Carter: What are you trying to show me? QueenBey 2005: Pic from Spring Break. Duh, lol... S. Carter declines picture sharing QueenBey 2005: LOL, why you do that?

S. Carter: I'm not interested in your thong pictures, Miss. Knowles. QueenBey 2005: Mr. C. You sound like such a square right now. And you are too young to be sounding that old. I'm not in a thong. I'm not even in a bathing suit S. Carter: So you're naked? Uh..no QueenBey 2005: LOL. Just click it, man. I promise it's nothing that's revealing. QueenBey 2005 wants to share a picture. Do you Accept. S. Carter accepts picture sharing

QueenBey 2005: S. Carter: Cute pic..

QueenBey 2005: Did you just call me cute Mr. C?

S. Carter: No, I said the pic was cute. The water, mostly. QueenBey 2005:

S. Carter: You are a pretty girl Miss. Knowles. And I guess you won this round. You got me to stay on here much longer than I should have and said some things I'll probably regret. Congrats. Go to sleep. Good luck with the documentary. Godspeed. S. Carter has signed off... I closed my laptop, no longer needing to watch a porn scenario play out on screen. I went to sleep with the biggest smile on my face, where I had a pussy dripping wet, slippery, sweaty dream about the man I could never have. Shawn.

Chapter 10

Chris and I completed the documentary a few days before it was due. We watched it in a study hall on his laptop and I was truly amazed by how well it turned out. His editing skills were awesome, nice transitions, and subtitles and music. It looked very professional. I was sure it would not only get a A, but

eventually become a part of the school library. "Chris. You are amazing" I said as I watched. He smiled. "You are amazing yourself, Beyonce. You asked the questions. You got him to open up" he said. "How bout this. We're amazing" I laughed. "We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams" he smiled. "More Wonka, Chris?" "Wonka has the best quotes for any situation" he laughed. I showed Michelle the finish product once I got back to the dorm. She was enthralled by it, although she wasn't the best sampler of the product. She was enthralled by Mr. Carter in general, so anything would have gotten her attention. Every since I told her about my late night chat with him she had been accusing me of having a crush on him. I denied it of course, but the truth was I had developed one. It really started when I had the freakiest dream of my young life. Mr. Carter f*cked me something serious, on his desk, just like the girls in those pornos. When I awoke the next morning, Michelle told me I had been moaning. I told her it was a dream about Tip, but I don't think she believed me. I could tell she didn't want me having a crush on him the same way she did. So I decided to let her think he belonged to her, as far as infatuation went. The fact was, Michelle was only one of countless females on campus that had a thing for him, and it was hard for any of them to stand out. I think maybe that was what got to her the most. I did stand out because I had done the documentary on him and had gotten him to send in numerous pics of him and his family. His sisters, and his nephews. He didn't send any pictures of his daughter. I wanted to ask why, but thought against prying too much. He had already told me so much, much more than he had told anyone else. I was appreciative of it. It was why my final project for that class was going to become a school asset. Maybe that was what stung even more. I interviewed Mr. Carter. My voice was heard asking the questions. Beyonce Knowles rolled in the credits as the interviewer and writer. I had given a journalistic report. Michelle was a Journalism student. There was bound to be some hard feelings there. I worried that there would be, but Michelle never once said anything about it. She seemed to take it in stride. Our daily interactions with each other didn't change and I didn't feel that she was being hostile about it in anyway. Then again, Michelle was one of my most mature friends. If anyone would be able to handle such a thing, it would be her.

While things between her and I didn't change, things with me and Mr. C did. I could not get him, or that dream out of my mind. It was so vivid and erotic and it penetrated my thoughts as forcefully as his dick had in my pussy; in dream land of course. When he tapped me on my shoulder in NAACP meeting, I felt the inside of my thighs melt. Gosh. I was literally getting wet just from his touch. "Miss. Knowles. Can I chat with you after the meeting? I have something to ask" he said. I sat with Jarvis for the meeting, and ignored the entire thing, instead trying to figure out what Mr. C wanted. I kept thinking about my dream and how it had started off the same way. He wanted to see me, he brought me in his classroom, he gave me a spanking, and our clothes came off. Could this have been happening again? I got a strong case of deju vu, feeling like I had been here before. When the meeting was over, I grabbed my belongings and made my way down to where the faculty sat. He was chatting with another teacher while I waited and I wondered if I should give him some space first. I didn't want to cramp his style if he wasn't ready to sat what he had to say to me. I watched him silently as he spoke to the other teacher. His face had defined features, full of war stories and life experiences. Full of beauty. I knew right then. If this man were to ask me to have sex with him, I would not decline, and that was the first time in my life I had ever been so certain of that reality. I was under his control. Just like all of the other silly groupies he had. "Hello! Anyone there?" Mr. Carter said, waving his hand in my face and breaking my trance. "Oh. Sorry. I was thinking" I blushed. "Yeah you seemed to be deep in thought" he grinned. I bit my lip as he locked eyes with me. Could he see through me? Could he see what he was doing to me? Could he read me like a book? Did he know I had fallen for him? And if he did, was I any different from the other chicks he had to know had a crush or thing for him. "I wanted to ask what you had planned for the summer" he said. "Um. I didn't really have anything planned. I mean I was going to go home for a few weeks, but come back". "You're not taking any courses?" he asked. "Not for Summer A. I will for Summer B" I said which was late June classes.

"Ok good. Well I think we could make this work" he said to himself, more than me. I swallowed hard. Make what work? Was this my dream all over again? My legs felt sticky. Oh Gawd. "I'm taking a group of students around the Southeast for a few weeks this summer. We are going to talk to some underprivileged women. Runaways. Girls that have been involved with prostitution and other sexual abuse. All teenagers or younger. We're going to be promoting safe sex practice as well as educate them on STDs and pregnancies and scholarships for school. It should be a great opportunity, especially for someone like you majoring in education. I spoke with Professor Pounder and she recommended you" he said. "Wow. I wasn't expecting that" I said. He smiled, "What were you expecting?" Trust me Mr. Cater. You wouldn't have believed me if I would have told you. "Nothing" I said. "Anyway. So would you be interested? I need to know by tomorrow so we can have all of the paperwork completed by the weekend" he said. "Yes. I would. I would definitely want to do it". He nodded his head, "That's wassup. I'm glad you accepted" he said. "When will this be?" I asked. "In 3 weeks we will leave to go to Jacksonville. Stop by my office tomorrow morning and I will give you the paperwork to fill out and give you the exact details. Everything is paid for, like hotels and food and stuff. But you are going to have to to attend a workshop for a week where they will go over he basics on what they want the students participating to know. But just stop by tomorrow. We'll go over all of that" he said. He rubbed my shoulder, towering over me, and smiled. "Thank you for considering me for this Mr. C". He didn't respond verbally, just nodded his head down and walked away. If any other professor would have asked me about doing this, the chances of me accepting on the spot would have been tremendously low. But Mr. C wasn't every other professor. I accepted, just because he asked. Sprung wasn't even the word to describe it.

** I closed the door, almost slammed the door and approached my little sister who had been b*tching at me for no reason for the entire week I had been home. I didn't know what was going on with her, but it was time for it to end right now. I decided to come home for a few weeks before going back to Tally for the workshop that Mr. Carter had signed me up for. It was going to be Sex Ed for Dummies, but also was suppose to educate us on the realities of so many young girls in the southeast. I realized that being around these women, and the students I would be traveling with, was going to be all work and no play. So I wanted to relax for a bit at home to get my mind right. Usually it would be Ricky that would be annoying or distracting me. But for some odd reason, it was Solo that was being the punk ass. "Solange what the hell is wrong with you? I'm really getting tired of your smart ass comments" I said. The last had come when I told her she needed to start thinking about what she wanted to major in so she could go ahead and get her class schedule done early and she told me not everyone can be like me. She would be moving to FAMU with me in September and our parents were going to foot the bill for a two bedroom apartment. Kelly had moved in with her man, totally ditching our plans for all three of us to move in. So Michelle and I went around Tally to find the perfect apartment. Michelle was good at finding things for sale and deals and shit like that. She had went crazy on Black Friday, finding a big screen TV and a laptop for the cheap. Through my persistence and Michelle's understanding of the city, we found the perfect Duplex which belonged to a 30 something old black guy that had also graduated from FAMU. Michelle worked her magic by providing the good convo and we used our cute girl faces to convince the guy to hold the apartment for us until July, even though someone had moved out. It was a great deal for a really nice place, especially for college underclassman. Solange and I would live together there. My dad had agreed to pay for it, and we'd be living like middle class adults instead of college students. But something was wrong with Solange, something that was causing her to lash out at me. "Bee. Get out of my room. Just leave me alone, ok?" she barked. "What is wrong with you?" I asked, matching her annoyed tone. "Bee. I'm tired. Just leave me alone". "Solo ever since Spring Break you have been tripping. I thought we agreed that what happened there would stay there and that we'd forget the whole thing. So why the change? What are you acting like such a b*tch".

"If I could have left what happened there, I would have" she said in a small voice, unlike the way she had made her previous statements. "What?" I said. "Bee. I can't hide it anymore" she said, looking me in my eyes. "Hide what?" I asked, searching her. "Can you NOT tell, Beyonce? I'm pregnant!" she shouted. My brain took a few moments to digest that statement. Solo just rolled on her bed and faced her window with her back to me. Pregnant? My little sister was pregnant? A few months before she was going to move to a new state to start college? "When...when did you find this out?" I asked softly. "I've known since April" she sighed. "You haven't told anyone?" I asked, still standing by the door and watching her. "No." "Solo...DAMN. How did this happen?" "From f*cking with no condom, Beyonce" she said full of spite. "Why are you still taking this out on me, Solo? YOU made the decision." "I know what I did, Bee. You don't have to keep freaking reminded me of it. Just go" she said, her voice starting to shake. "Ok, I'm sorry, but I have to know the details. Who are you pregnant by?" "Remember when i said I wish I could have left what happened in Miami back in Miami?" she said sarcastically. "Oh my God, Solo. What was his name? Mike? Are you sure it's him?" "Beyonce I am positive. He was the last person I had been with. I hadn't even be allowed to go out much when you left for college. Mike was the only guy I had been with for months". "Solange, why didn't you use a condom?" "Because I am stupid".

This was it. The turning point. The official turning point in the relationship between Solange and I. For so long, actually since both of us could remember, she had been the big-little sister. She was the one I looked up to, the one I sought advice from. The one that seemed to have the strongest grip on reality when I was somewhere in the clouds. But as I looked at my broken sister laying in bed, I saw myself for the first time as the big sister. The voice of reason and the wiser of us two. I walked over towards the bed and laid across her arm, my head resting on her turned shoulder. She was shaking and crying. The second time I had seen her cry, all over the same situation. Potential and Kinetic energy coming together into a burst of energy that was now residing in her belly. I put my hand on her stomach and rubbed. "So you're two months" I asked, very gentle as I rubbed her stomach. She nodded her head. "Then we have to make this decision soon, Solo. What are we going to do" I said. "We? What do you mean me? I have to make this decision" she said. "No you don't. I'm not letting you do this by yourself. We are sisters. We are in this together. We're going to make this decision". "Bee, you know me. I don't believe in abortions. But, I can't have no baby. He won't even have a daddy. What would mom and dad think? My church? Me bringing a bastard baby into the world at 16. I can't go through with that" she cried. "Solange. You can't make this decision based on everyone else. It's what you feel in you to do. Even if a daddy isn't in the picture. Your baby will be loved. You know that". "I'm just ashamed of myself, Bee. I don't know what to do. And I don't want anyone to know". "Solo. We've done a lot of sneaking and lying and going around our parents back. But we have to tell them. Come clean about everything" I said. "Beyonce, NO! I don't want them to know. They won't understand. They just wont" she barked. My sister was angry and in a place I couldn't relate to. I charged it to her head and not her heart. I laid with her and stroked her hair, without another word. Eventually, she fell alseep and I went to the computer to look up abortion clinics and their procedures. I was going to pay for it, if need be.

While in the middle of searching and bookmarking sites, Ricky came in talking about he had to check his email. I quickly minimized the browser. "What you looking at porn or something?" he snickered. "Boy, get out" I said. "This is MY room now Beyonce. You get out" he said. "Lil boy this will always be my room. You're the guest. Scram before I show my daddy all these porn sites YOU have in the internet history, ya nasty" I grinned. He frowned up his face and gave me the bird. I laughed at his punk ass as he left. He had actually gotten a lot bigger since I had last seen him. Growth spurt and his voice was deeper. He was almost as tall as me now. I wondered for how much longer he'd accept my little cousin teasing. When I had found what I was looking for and I talked with Solange about it some more. She had to keep herself from crying because the house now had my parents in it, who had been at work when i first discussed it with her. She was still ambivalent to it, but I sensed she ultimately would decide to abort the pregnancy. I didn't feel at ease with the decision, but it wasn't my decision to make. I wasn't in her shoes. My life wasn't the one that would drastically change. I was going to support her with whatever she felt she needed to do, even if it went against our Christian beliefs. Our church had once campaigned in front of abortion clinics, telling them they were killing their babies. Solo and I both held signs telling the people coming in and out that they were murderers. Not in those words of course, but isn't that the message we were sending anyway? It was funny how the tables had turned. Maybe we would be protested against when I went with her. After dinner, I decided to go see a movie by myself. I invited for Solo to come with me, but she had declined. She wanted to sleep. It wasn't even 9 and all she wanted to do was sleep. I understood. After returning from the movie, I turned my keys into the door and walked into the living room where my mother and father were waiting. This could not be good. "Hey yall" I said, trying to gauge what was going on. "Beyonce. Can we talk to you" my mother said sternly. Oh boy. What had happened now. I sighed and walked over to the sofa where they were sitting. They told me to sit down, which really meant this was going to be a long lecture or a long scolding.

Either way, I knew it was nothing but trouble. "What's going on in your life, Beyonce?" my mother said. My daddy was looking hard at me, not a hint of happiness on his usually joyful face. He looked angry, hurt, and disgusted all at once. Something told me this had to do with Solange. "What do you mean?" I asked. "Beyonce, do not play dumb right now. DO NOT" my dad finally spoke, anger all in his words. "I'm not playing dumb. I don't know what this is about" I said. "Nothing is going on with you? Nothing you want to tell us?" my mother asked, raising her voice a little. "No. I mean, like what? Nothing I can think of. What did I do?". "I cannot deal with this child lying in my face, Tina. I knew I should have NEVER let her leave home. She had never been a liar. I can't even look at her" my dad said, standing up, shaking with anger and balling his fist. I stood up, afraid of what was to come. "Beyonce. Do not lie to us anymore. If there is ANYTHING going on with you, tell us right now" my mother warned. "I'm not lying about anything" I said, refusing to admit to something that I wasn't doing. "Who knocked you up, Beyonce? Which one of them demons at that school knocked you up? And when was you going to TELL us you were having an abortion?" My dad yelled at me. My heart started to eat at itself and my breathing became quicker. I felt tears forming. "Daddy I am not pregnant. I am not having an abortion" I said truthfully. My daddy lost it, lunging toward me, putting his cold hands on my collar bone and driving me towards the wall. My head hit the wall forcefully and bounced, but when I opened my eyes I didn't see the concerned man I had always known as my daddy. I saw someone I didn't recognize. I saw such contempt in his eyes. I saw a man tha would murder me for something I didn't do. "STOP LYING to me child. You think because you leave and go off, now you're too

grown to tell me the truth? Look at me" he said, forcing my now tear drenched eyes to focus on his fiery red ones. My mother grabbed him and pulled him back and I dropped to my knees. I was now balling in my palms, still not yet believing I had been pushed into a wall by my daddy. The same man that never once spanked his kids because he didn't believe in violence against children. He was steaming mad, and my mother had to stop him for picking me up off the floor and nailing me back against the wall. "Beyonce. Ricky used your computer and he saw all of the abortion clinics you had been looking up. We saw every search term you used. We know you searched for addressed and prices and procedures and if minors could get one. Everything you searched for today, we saw. Stop lying to us" my mother said. "I'm not lying" I barely managed to say through my sobs, barely above a whisper. I could hardly even talk. My head was pounding after bouncing off a wall and the room was spinning from being accused of something that wasn't true. "Beyonce" my mother screamed at me, I guess not believing what i was saying. I couldn't even defend myself because I was hurting. "See, Tina. You put trust in children and this is what you get. Lying, sinning, child killing children" my dad yelled. "Beyonce is not pregnant. I am" I heard a voice yell from the staircase. My parents caught whiplash as they turned to face her. I raised my eyes up at her and tried to adjust. The blur of the tears and the weight of the room were making it difficult. "Beyonce hasn't done anything wrong. It was me. I went out and got pregnant and Beyonce was just looking up the stuff for me cuz I told her to" she said confidently. I saw my dad look down at me and then back at her. My mother kept her eyes glued to Solo. I saw Ricky at the top of the staircase watching. He didn't look like he was enjoying what he was watching, which was surprising. He had never seen my dad or mom react like this, so how could he have expected it? He looked at me and I could see the sorry in his eyes. I was too hurt to move, let alone care about if he was sorry. This was all his fault. My daddy ended up leaving the house, cranking up the car, and driving off into the night. My mother pulled me up, wiped my eyes, and examined my head where a knot had formed. For the next two hours Solange and I explained the entire story to her. Spring Break. The secret trip to Miami. The Friday night at the club. And the secret Solo had kept close to the vest until earlier that morning. We told her everything and she listened without speaking. All three of us were crying. I wished I was back in Florida.

My dad eventually returned, around midnight and without looking at me or Solo went to his room. Our mother went up and I guess filled him in on the details of what was going on. Solange and I went to her bedroom and eventually fell asleep, but it was interrupted when my father came into the room around 3 in the morning. We woke up immediately when the light turned on. He didn't look like the mad man he had been earlier, but he still looked disgusted at both of his girls. His normal speaking voice had returned, but I couldn't tell if that meant anything positive or not. "Solange. You are not having an abortion. You are not killing God's child. And you aren't going away to college. You will take care of that child and accept your responsibility" he said simply. "Beyonce. I am not paying for the apartment you want. You are staying on campus or you are moving back to Texas. I refuse to pay for you to make all kinds of terrible decisions with no supervision. You have shown you are not responsible like I thought you were. I trusted that you would watch Solange, and this happened. I love both of you. I am sorry for the knot on your head Beyonce. But I am so hurt by both of you. Goodnight" he said, turning off the light and closing the door without either of us being allowed to say anything. Solo ended up crying herself back to sleep. I didn't go to sleep. I kissed my sister. Wrote my parents and Solo separate notes. Packed my bags, bought a plane ticket, and caught a bus to the airport. I wasn't going to stay there. This was no longer my home. ** My dad canceled my credit card after the stunt I had pulled to leave home without telling them. It was the expected move, although I no longer knew what I was going to do for money. I talked with my mom on the phone who told me he wasn't going to stop paying for the tuition, but that if I wanted to be grown and do things my way, then he wasn't going to aid me in it. I was going to be on my own. The workshop was very informative although it kept reminded me of Solo. I wished I had known so many of the Sex Ed things I was learning. This was never taught to me by my tutor. We had been taught abstinence and nothing else. Proper condom usage, STD statistics, pregnancy statistics, and sexual abuse statistics were all something I had learned in the past year. It was crazy how underprivileged women and women in strict church environments were equally ill prepared in dealing with their sexual lives. I was determined to not become another statistic. Chapter 11

The 2 week trip all over the southeast was an enlightening experience. When I left, I was still distraught from the fight I had with my parents and subsequently being cut off from their financially, at least for the moment. I didn't know what I would do or how I would do it, but I took up Mr. C's offer just in case it would be the last time I'd be able to attend a school sponsored program here in Florida. I met so many different women, all with unique and equally painful life stories. Kelly had told me similar things about her life growing up, from sexual abuse to mental abuse, but these women had all experienced that as if it was the standard. Every single one of them, didn't matter if it was in Ft. Lauderdale or Valdosta, had been sexually abused in their lifes. Some of them had ran away from home and got involved with men who after sexually turning them out, chose to exploit them for money. I cried many times listening to these girls explain how they went from naive little girls to prostitutes, all wrapped in a teenage body and mind. I realized many of these girls were more knowledgeable about sex than I was. Our workshop training when it came to sex ed was virtually useless. They had been to clinics before, tested, and knew the ins and outs to their lifestyles. What did come as useful were the opportunity we got to chat with them one on one about school and the things they could do to try and turn their lives around. The issue was many of these girls were illiterate or reading and writing well below grade level, which made talks of college almost cruel. They needed much

more help than the traveling students and faculty of FAM could provide them. This weighed heavily on me for the two weeks I was speaking with them. Mr. C told me FAM had donated funds to each of the centers and sheltered we had visited for education help, but he also agreed with me that it wasn't nearly enough. In fact, the contribution was probably more helpful for positive press for our school than it was for helping these girls actually get ahead. At the end of the trip, there was a banquet where they all honored Mr. Cater, who was the visionary of this annual program and the one who did most of the groundwork to set up these visits. He accepted the award modestly, giving a few words and then asking for the crowd to applaud the students that had given up a part of their summer to volunteer. The banquet would be the next to last night of the trip, before we made the drive from North Carolina back to Florida. The last day would be for us, as we were given a chance to explore the city mall and stores. We had been on the road so much that it felt like a release to be finally given some time to not think about the abuse of the many girls we had come in contact with. One girl stuck out in my mind. Her name was Camile, and she was a 14 year old with HIV and could no longer talk after her voice box had been damaged from a gang rape in which the men chocked her and then dumped bleach and cleaning products down her throat to rid the evidence of semen. Police had found her on the side of a road half naked and left for dead. Her case was particularly interesting because she was illiterate and could barely write a legible sentence. Her testimony was mostly done by nodding her head as the only way the police could figure out what had happened to her was by asking the right questions. She was so pretty. Dark skinned with bright smile. There was so much I wanted to ask her, but didn't out of fear for saying something insensitive. She would nod if I asked was she having a good time or was she learning anything. Then she touched my hair and smiled. I smiled back not knowing what she was trying to tell me. I had to ask to get the answer. "You like it?" I asked. She nodded yes. But I didn't think that was what she was getting at. "You like the texture?" I asked. She shook her head no. Then she snatched a strand of her own hair and held it out. I followed it with my eyes as she then pointed to herself and then at the hair and then at herself again. I think I understood. "You want to know is the hair mine?" I asked.

She smiled as bright as she could and nodded her head quickly. I smiled. "Yes. This is my hair. All mine". She nodded her head, still smiling and then frowned. I didn't know what that meant. "You have beautiful hair too" I said. She shook her head no and then put her thumbs down. I rubbed her bushy hair and nodded my head yes and then giving her a thumbs up. She laughed at this but continued to shake her head no, before pointing at mine and giving a thumps up. One of the most heartbreaking conversations I had ever experienced, especially when after an hour of us doing this I had to tell her bye. She frowned and nodded her head no, her eyes filling with tears. I didn't know what to say to the girl. We weren't suppose to do what i decided to do, but there was no way I could leave so effortlessly while this girl would have to live the rest of her life with her condition. I wrote my name and number in crayon on a small sheet of paper, and slid it to her. She looked down at it and smiled. I gave her the call me sign with my hand, before I even realized how she wouldn't be able to talk if she did. I don't think this ran through her head. She would find a way to call and communicate with me. On the last night in Charlotte, Mr Carter decided to take all of us out to eat. I figured it would be a place like TGIF Fridays or something, but it was one of those fancy restaurants. He told us to dress nice, although most of us had only brought one pair of nice clothes for the banquet, so we ended up wearing the same thing.

Mr. C enjoyed the finer things in life, the type of things most of us had never even seen before. The 15 kids that made the trip walked into this restaurant so the astonishment of the many rich looking people that batted their eyes to us.

My mouth dropped when I saw dishes going from $50 to $200, especially when the other students started cracking up. "Do they have a dollar menu, Mr. C?" one of the girls laughed. "Do they accept Coupons?" another joked. "Order your food, you heathens" Mr. C grinned. "Mr. C, you're balling like this? What if we all got the most expensive thing on here? That's like 3 G's" one of the boys said. "Who said I'm paying?" Mr. C smiled. All of out mouths hit the table when he said this. We could NOT afford this. "Order what you want, aight" he insisted, this time not smiling, but serious. And that is what we did. Ordered steaks and lobster and shrimp and lamb and whatever else that sounded like something we'd never be able to afford otherwise. Mr. C ordered the seafood special of the night and I got the same thing he was having without looking at the menu, just so I could joke about it later on. I wasn't even that hungry. "Miss Knowles, you trying to copy me?" he chuckled. "Why it always gotta be about you? I like seafood" I said, smiling. He laughed, "Ok. If you say so". I nearly ran away from my plate when the waitress returned with my dish.

"WHAT is this?" I said, eyeing my grinning professor. "Did you not order the seafood special?" the waitress asked me. "I did. But this looks like...what are these legs? This isn't fish" I said. "Miss. The special of today was fresh Octopus Salad" she smugly said, as if I was a complete idiot. The fact was that i was one. And everyone laughed, including Mr. Carter as I made the funniest faces. While everyone else dug into their steaks and shit I was picking around the sea creature that was on my plate. Mr. C eventually waved down the waitress, whispered in her ear and she removed my dish and 20 minutes later came back with some fresh fish.

"Sorry for the mixup, Ma'am" the waitress said. I smiled at her and then rolled my eyes up at Mr. C who was winking. "Beyonce, you should have at least took it home in a doggy bag" one of the kids laughed. I stuck my tongue out at them and we all enjoyed our dinner, completely breaking away from what we had witnessed from the underprivileged girls of the past few weeks. It was funny how that worked. We left to eat fancy food and then go back to our normal lives. Those girls got a chance to see us and then watch us leave. And here we were, grinning and laughing and filling our bellies. This was life. After dinner we all got a ride back to the hotel and got ready for bed. I shared a room with this one chick that snored like she was dying, even louder than Michelle. My Ipod had died which meant I'd have to suffer through her loudness. After tossing and turning in bed, I got up, needing something to snack on. I wanted a Snickers or something so I put on my slippers and took the elevator to the vending machines, getting two of them and a Coffee, and sitting on one of the chairs. I thought about Camile and Solange and my dad and what I was going to do. I still wanted that apartment and I still wanted to finish off my school career at FAM. I didn't want to go back home. But if my dad really had canceled my credit card to teach me a lesson, surely he would refuse to pay for my room and board to force my hand and get me back in Texas. I was stuck. I was going to have to get a job or either move back home, I was sure of it. I put the first Snickers in my mouth, the entire thing, and let it melt in there. The chocolate stuck to the root of my throat and my tongue, and for some odd reason, I imagined that it was a penis. Tips at first and then Mr. C's. By the time I was done deep throating the candy bar and it had all but absorbed in my stomach, Mr. C spoke to me and nearly caused me to gag. "Can't sleep?" he asked. I quickly turned and saw him making his way toward me, stopping at the vending machine and getting him a bag of chips. "Not really. Doing a lot of thinking. Going through some things right now" I said after I had completely managed to swallow the thick mix of spit gooey nuts and chocolate. He looked at me, laughed to himself, and reached into his pocket, pulling out a napkins and wiping my mouth with it. Apparently there was chocolate all over my lips. I bet he thought I was such a goofball sometimes.

"Thanks" I blushed. He sat down on the sofa next to me and opened his bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. "So what's going on? Anything you want to talk about?" he asked. "Just some stuff back at home" I said, not wanting to give too much. "I see. Anything you want to talk about?" he said, emphasizing the part of his previous question that I didn't answer. I laughed. "It's not that I don't want to. It's just so much. I doubt you'd be interested in hearing it all" I said. He took a few chips in his mouth and looked at me. "Suit yourself" he smiled. That stung a bit. I kinda wished he would have been persistent in asking what it was. But he seemed to move past it like I was right all along; he wasn't interesting in hearing it. "How much was the bill at the place we ate at tonight?" I asked, changing the subject. He chuckled, "About 800 dollars". "Wow. I wish I had that kind of money to spend" I laughed. "I do too, trust me" he said, grinning. "Wait. You didn't pay for it?" "Our leftover funds for this trip paid for it. I wasn't going to give it back because we came up under the bottom line" he said. "Then why did you act like it was YOU who was paying for US?" I asked, hand on my head. He looked at me, then reached his hand over and wiped the side of my mouth, this time with his finger. Gosh, there was still more chocolate on me? I embarrassingly wiped my own mouth trying to get rid of any other residue as he wiped the chocolate on the tissue. "Sorry" I said.

He smiled, took a few more mouth fulls of the chips and said "It's late Beyonce. I'm heading back to my room. Don't sulk here too late, ok?". He stood up, and I grabbed his arm. I didn't want him to leave. He looked down at me and into my eyes. My eyes told him to stay. "Mr. C. I don't know if I will be able to go back to FAMU" I said softly. He looked, swallowed, and sat back down. "Why is that?". "Money problems. My mom owns this restaurant back home and ever since my grandma died who co-owned it, the sales have gone down. And my little sister just got pregnant and my daddy blames me for it and he wants me to move back home or he won't pay for my room and board" I vented. "Why would he blame you for your sister getting pregnant?" he asked. "Because she had came to visit me over...." "Over spring break?" he finished off my statement. I nodded my head. "Hmm. Spring Break. I see" he said to himself more than to me. "Yeah. And even though he says he won't stop paying my tuition since it's from my grandma's will, he said I am on my own if I plan to stick around here". "How old are you again, Beyonce?" he asked. "I'm 17. I'll be 18 in a few months". "Well I believe you are eligible for work study, if you needed a job" he said. "I already called them but they said my parents make too much money for me to be eligible. I'd have to get an off campus job or something" I said. "Is that too much of an issue?". "I mean, yeah, kinda. I take a heavy course load and I am involved with a lot of stuff. I wan to run for government and NAACP. But I can't do all that if I am working and trying to get Straight A's in my classes. I'm only one person" I sighed. "Do you not want to go back home?" "NO!" I exclaimed, "I love it here. I love the people, the city, my teachers" I

smiled. We shared a small and knowing chuckle together. I adjusted in my seat as did he. "Well I definitely see your dilemma. I personally think you should just try to talk to your father or mother and explain how you feel" he said. "They wouldn't care. Trust me. My mom maybe would, but not my dad. He feels I have already proven I can't be trusted". "Do you think you have earned his trust?" he asked. "Yes" I said before even considering the question and what it meant. "Seems like you are going to have to prove to him you can handle yourself before he treats you like you are more than a child. Getting buckwild on Spring Break doesn't do much to help ease any fathers mind. You have to look at it from his side" he said. "Yeah but who cares if I get buck wild for a week when I am still bringing home Straight A's? My GPA is still flawless" I insisted. "It's more than just grades, Beyonce. I heard about what happened to you at the party with that guy Wiz. It's those type of things that he fears, as any dad would".

"How did you hear about that?" i asked. "I have my sources". "Well, I wasn't raped or anything" I said, making sure he knew the true story. "Yeah, I know. Doesn't change the fact that I was concerned, and still am about you" he said. "You're concerned about me?" I asked. "I am concerned with all of my students". "No Mr. Carter. I'm not talking about all of your students. I'm talking about me. Just me. Are you concerned about me?". "I am" he said, after he had played with it in his head for a moment. "Then you think I should leave FAM and go home?" I asked. "I don't think I should offer an opinion about that" he said.

"Mr. Cater, please. For once, just be real with me. I want to know". "You sure?" "I'm positive. I need your opinion". "I saw how you interacted with the girls on this trip. They flocked to you. You are natural with them. More so than most of the other students who treated them like they were beneath them. You hugged them, touched them, laughed with them, and I saw you slip the one girl your number. I see the potential you have to really connect to and help people. But for that potential to come full circle, I think you have to grow up...a lot. And the only way I think you will grow up is by severing ties with whatever is trying to keep tied down". "Like, my daddy, right?" I asked. He licked his fingers, eyed me without a word, balled up the bag of chips and tossed it near the waste basket; perfect swish. "Goodnight Miss. Knowles" he said, "See you in the morning". "Mr. C" I said after he had gotten up and prepared to leave. "Yeah?" "You do realize you called me Beyonce all through this convo, right?" I grinned, thinking he hadn't caught it. "I know" he simply said, "Night Miss Knowles". "Goodnight" I said simply, even though in my head I had added Shawn to my parting word. ** "Are you sure about this Bee?" Michelle asked me, smiling at my offer. "I am sure. I mean, you helped secure the apartment for me. Why shouldn't we stay there together?". "Yeah but how can we afford it?" she asked. "We'll go half on the rent. Your still doing the work study thing right?" I asked. "Yeah. I will be working in the library. And the student paper is a paid position too, although it's less than minimum wage" she said. "Well that's all we need. You do 500 a month and I'll do 500 a month. I'll go look

for a job. I think we can do it" I said. "What about your parents? Are they gonna be aight with this?" she asked, truly trying to examine every area of this. "Who cares, Shell. They cut me off financially. They can't make me move back. I'm not leaving FAM. We already have the place, the landlord is keeping it for us. Let's take advantage of it". "And what about groceries and utilities and stuff?" she said, still skeptical of the idea. "We'll find a way. We will just have to be smart with our money, ya know?" I said. "Ok. Well, to get this place we have to have the deposit in a few weeks. If you can get a job by then and we can come up with it. Then I'll give it a go. I don't want to be in these dorms much longer and I definitely don't want another room mate" she smiled. "Yes!" I said, grabbing her and hugging. Michelle wasn't one for being all touchy, so she patted me and shook her head. I laughed at it, I was just happy she had agreed to be my roommate so we could get this apartment. I had filled out a few applications already at stores and restaurants, and a few days later was offered a job at a restaurant busting tables. I accepted and was told I would start Monday, but wouldn't get my first paycheck until three weeks later. This would put us past the deposit deadline. I couldn't figure out how we'd work our way around this obstacle. But deep in my mind, there was a solution. A solution that had been calling me for weeks. I finally answered her call. "Girl, the hell you been? You lost all the jiggle and now you don't want to work out anymore?" Rihanna barked at me. I laughed, "I haven't been in Tally. I went home and then I went on this trip with my school. I'm back now. I missed your ass. I had just been going through some stuff" I said. "I thought you straight ditched me like you ditched that ass you use to have. I do tend to run b*tches off because of my shit" she said. "You're not running me off. In fact, come pick me up. Let's go get lunch" I said. "Can't right now, Bee. I'm about to go do my modeling shit. I'll be free later tonight though" she said. "Your modeling shit, huh?" I asked, getting goosebumps.

"Yeah. You've seen my wall. More of that shit" she sighed. "How much did you say that paid again?" I asked, wanting to confirm the amount.

"30 for the class I'm doing now. It varies from 20 to 30, though. Why?". I didn't say anything. I was so nervous. Too nervous to even think what i was thinking out loud. She laughed. "Let me find out you want to take off your clothes for some quick cash. Let me find it out. I SWEAR to Gawd" she giggled. "Do you get paid the same day?" I asked, skipping past her teasing. "Oh My Fawking Gawd. You are dead serious, aren't you? Are you in debt with a loan shark or something? Do you have to pay a ransom? What has actually made you serious about even considering this?" she asked. "I need the money, Rih. And, I mean. You said it pays well and it's easy". "Yeah.... For ME. I don't care about taking off my clothes. The shit is easy for me. It's the sitting still for hours that is the hard part" she said. "Well I haven't said I'm going to do it or anything, Rih. I'm just considering my options" I said. "No, no, no. When I first told you, you said there was no way you would even think of doing something like this. What changed? Something drastic had to change" she insisted. "What changed? I can't depend on my people to pay for my room and board. I need the money to get an apartment" I said. She laughed hard at this. "Well at least you considered this before stripping or doing porn" she chuckled. "I'd never strip" I said. "You said you'd never do this. Don't speak in absolutes. Cuz damn, you are sounding real desperate right now". "Rih, can you be serious for a minute? The place you are going to. Are they hiring?"

"They are always hiring. They are always looking for fresh bodies to use for their artist" she said. "Do you think I am skinny enough?" I asked. "I should hang up on you for asking me that stupid question. I won't even entertain it" she said, "But they don't care about body types. They accept whatever. Fat, skinny, ugly, pretty, white, black. They prefer a wide variety". "Well. Where would I go to fill out an application or something?". "Are you ready to go right now?" she asked. "Go where?" "Fill out your application". "Um. Yeah, I guess". "I'll be there to pick you up in a few minutes. You're coming with me" she said before hanging up. I told Michelle I was going to hang out with my other friend and left to meet her in the parking lot. Michelle and I had already packed our bags and put in the notice that we wouldn't be staying in the dorms for the next year, which meant there was no turning back from here. This was a decision that would take me past a place where regret could consume me. But after the late night snack with Mr. C, I refused to turn back and go home. Any means necessary, I was going to stay in Tally. Rih picked me up and was just staring at me grinning. I don't think she truly believed I was serious about this. Maybe she had reason to think so. Even in the lockerooms at the gym when she would be ass naked along with other women, I'd get dressed in a stall or with a towel wrapped around me. Even I couldn't show her my body, how could I show a class full of strangers? It made no logical sense to her or even my own head. But I felt I had to transcend the logical. I felt I had to do something drastic. And this was drastic. This would be the death of Houston Beyonce and the birth of Tallahassee Beyonce. "Bee. Let's rethink this. I don't know if you are the life modeling type" RiRi said, as serious as I had ever heard her. "Why not?" I asked. "You're just....so..." she stressed, trying to find the word. "So what?" I hissed.

"So...boring" she laughed. "Huh?" "You are boring. And I've met a lot of people, male and female, that have done the life modeling stuff. But all of them were as outgoing and crazy as I was. You're too sane for it. No offense" she said, as if not being crazy was a bad thing. "So you are saying I have to be crazy to be the type to do it?" "Yeah. You do. You're too introverted". "WHy do you like hanging with me if I am so boring, then?" I asked. She giggled, "I can't hang around too many crazy b*tches. I need to be around sanity. You're sane and boring. I like boring". I refused to acknowledge her. I was angry at her for being so quick to label me and tell me that I couldn't do what she did. Or maybe I was only angry that deep down I felt she was right. I would NOT be able to go through with this. I was too, boring, and sane, to allow myself to be so open to people. I just didn't have it in me and I knew it. Houston seemed so much closer than Tally, even as I rode around in Rih's car on our way out of the city, to the place where she posed for art students. "Bee" she ended up saying after half an hour of silence. I didn't say anything. "Ok, stay mad. Whatever. Just know that although I can say whatever I say, you don't have to accept my words as your reality. I had to learn that on my own. I didn't have to be what other people said I'd be. I could go down my own path and defy everyones expectations of me. Everyone. Including my father" she said. Her words now had my attention. I looked at her and she looked hard at me. "I wish I could defy my dads, expectations" I said to respond to her. "You can. YOU have that power. Not him. Or me. Or anyone else. It's all you" she said softly. I looked at her and smiled. I appreciated her for once stepping down from her insane state and speaking to me on a mellow level. I needed that. "Rih. You are so much saner and boring than you think you are" I said. She laughed for a minute off that one. I was joking, but she kept laughing, and I

knew it wasn't that funny. "Is it really that funny?" I asked. "Yes. Because you are so right". "How?" "Beyonce. I model because my dad wanted me to be a Doctor, just like him. My daddy wanted me to be, just like him. And I refuse to be, just like him. I will go out of my way to not be, just like him". "What is it about him that you hate so much? Did...he ever...do something to you?" I asked. "Oh yeah. He did a hell of a lot of shit to me" she bitterly said. "Like. Sexual abuse or something?" I asked, searching her and thinking about my time with Camile and the other girls. She chuckled, "Nah. None of that shit. He isn't a pedophile or a rapist. He's just a conniving monster" she said. "How, Rihanna? Tell me" I insisted, hoping she would stop her laughter. "It's a long story, Bee". "I'm tired of hearing that shit, Rih. Stop hinting that it's me that can't or won't have the energy or time to listen to this long story. It's you that is making all of the excuses" I abrasively said. She took a deep breath and focused on the road. I saw a switch in her demeanor. No more chuckles, no more smiles, no more bullshit. And I needed her to not feed me more bullshit. I needed her to be real with me. "Rih. Please. Let me in" I gently insisted. "You know Bee. I try to avoid all of this Hallmark sentimental shit. Not because I'm a heartless, cold, b*tch. Not because I don't have emotions or feelings. I'm sensitive too. A lot of people just are too stupid to see that tats and scars and cursing and liking sex more than relationships, don't make me less human". "I never said you were not human" I began. "I know. Let me finish, I wasn't saying you were. You have in a round about way, proven to me that you aren't on that dumb shit like so many other people I meet. They see me and immediately treat me like an alien. I don't say anything to their dumbasses. I just let them live. Hell, half of those dumb f*cks are my friends. I

befriend dumbass people all of the time. I thought maybe you were one of the dumbasses too. But I see, you have at least half of a brain, even though you go to FAM" she smiled. "Well...thanks" I said, still unsure of her direction. "I say all that to say that the reason I didn't want to tell you so much is because I didn't want it to change the way you treated me. If I keep people from seeing how f*cked up I am, they don't try to project their wants and desires on me. They just hang, milk entertainment from me, and we either grow apart or just stop caring. I'm cool with that. But I see now, with you it's different. And that is the only reason I am going to tell you this shit. Not because you begged me, or because you used some passive aggressive rhetoric to try and make me feel bad. Nice try, but it didn't work. I'm telling you because I think you are worth telling, and I wasn't sure until now". I started to say something but she stopped me. "Don't speak. The floor is mine. You asked, now you're ass is going to listen. Shut the hell up and keep it shut until I am done. Capeesh?" she grinned. I shook my head and smiled at her demanding ass. "Speak" I said. "My mother wasn't shit. Never was shit. And I doubt she will ever be shit. I lived with her for my first 10 years, so I was being bred to not be shit. We stole from people. Men, women, family, friends. She trained me. Me and my siblings. I have too many half sisters and brothers to count. One of them men she ended up trapping was my father. He was visiting South America. She poked a hole in a condom, and now you're looking at the product of some evil b*tch sex". I nodded as she drove. We were out of Tally and headed south. "My mom told me much later how I was conceived. She also told me he wanted to pay for an abortion, but she wouldn't do it. They dated for a while, and broke up a little after I was born. So fastforward 10 years of me receiving letters and money from him, and my mother finally realized she couldn't take care of me. I'm sure it was when she caught me in bed f*cking her new boyfriend. Of course, it was my fault. And she was glad to get rid of my ass. Sending me to be with my daddy". "Wow" I said, intending to ask a question. "Shut up, Bee. Just listen. Hold your damn questions" she barked. I put up my hands, and let her have the floor. She was such a damn firecracker.

"So I live with him. He puts me in private school. Tries to reform me". I forgot she had the floor and interrupted, "He could afford private school?" I asked. She sighed angrily. "Didn't I say to hold your questions? You hard headed child" she smiled. "Yes. My dad has money. A LOT of money. Why you think my mom tried to trap his ass? And when I say a lot. I mean, millions. He's well off. Plays with his golf buddies, lives in a gated community. All that shit. Had me living there and trying to change my slutty ways. I wasn't allowed to do shit but study, which was ok initially because I enjoyed it. I was a Straight A student. I was in Who's Who. Had my pick of colleges. All that. And of course, he wanted me to become a doctor". I looked on, wondering what the hangup was between him and her. "The problem was. I got pregnant from a guy at the school. I was 17. My senior year of HS. It wasn't something I planned, but hey. I was going to suck it up and take care of my responsibility. But, he would not have it. See, the thing with Doctors and shit. They care more about looking all perfect with their golfing buddies than being good parents. He was seen like such an Angel by taking me in, but he would have been embarrassed if his 17 year old daughter was going to be having a baby. So he straight up told me. TOLD ME, I wasn't going to keep it. Told me I wasn't going to ruin my life. I said some shit, like 'ruin it like how mom ruined yours?'. OH shit. That pissed him the f*ck off. It was in front of his new bimbo girlfriend. I liked making him feel uncomfortable since he cared so much about looking a certain way. I went out of my way to do it. He gave me this book to read called Cut, and I started cutting my arms just to piss him off. Shit like that. But when he told me I was going to abort my child, I told his ass over my dead body". Her phone went off, she checked the number, and then pressed ignore. "Someone important?" I asked. "Some guy I met. I let him eat my pussy and haven't called him back since" she smiled. "Why?" "Well, cuz I haven't needed my pussy ate since" she shrugged. I laughed as she continued. "So I think he was content to literally kill me so I wouldn't embarrass him. Threatened to send me back to my no good mother, or kick me out on the street.

Shit like that. He got mad because he couldn't force me to abort my pregnancy. So he conjured up some shit to force my hand". "What?" "Even though I knew my mother wasn't shit. I still loved her, ya know? And he had been supporting her for years. He moved her to the States, her and her billion children, which kept her from hoeing and whatever else she did for money. He told me straight up if I had the child, they were all going back to that poor ass city. And you know what? I had vivid memories of my mom being passed around like a blunt to guys so she could pay rent. I didn't want that. I didn't want to be the cause of that. I didn't want that to be her life again. So I took my ass to the clinic, by myself, and they sucked the fetus out of my pussy. There. Over. I would not be a mother". "What an asshole" I said. "Monster. I like that word better. I'm an asshole. I don't mind them. But he is a monster. And he thought because I aborted it that I'd resume my role as his Pro Bono child and be his daughter that went to Harvard and became a doctor. I wasn't having that shit. I dropped out of school in my last semester. Moved out of his house and I've been on my own ever since". "Why did you drop out of HS?" "To piss him off. I got my GED later. And after remembering some derogatory remarks he had made about models. Some shit about them not having proper parenting. I decided that was what I was going to be. A model. On TV and magazines. Laughing right in his face. And that's what I am going to do. I even sent his ass a wall sized photo of my naked ass posing. The one you saw on the wall? Sent it to him last Fathers Day" she laughed. I don't think I was truly prepared to hear the story Rih had told me. I didn't even know how to respond to it. She truly, WAS crazy, and it WOULD have been impossible for her to tell me why she wanted to be a model in five minutes. "So, you living in the Ghetto and stuff. Is self inflicted" I said, making sense of everything. "As self inflicted as my scars. My dad offers for me to come home all the time. He offers me money. He offers to pay for my school. He's apologized. All that. But I refuse. I refuse to accept any of his help. I refuse to feel like charity ever again" . "It's weird. My sister would have actually wanted to abort her child. Your dad wanted the opposite" I said.

"Yeah and either way, its about control. Men can be some vindictive, monsters when it comes to control. They think they have some sort of authority to tell a woman what she can or should do with HER body. I refuse to adhere to it. I will cut my skin. I will get tats. I will f*ck who I please. And I will make them uncomfortable while doing it". "You a Feminist or something?" I asked. "Remind me to show you my bookshelf when we get back to Tally. I think you should be introduced to some Post Modern feminist literature" she giggled. "Why?" I asked. "Because you are proving that you aren't the boring girl I pegged you as" she smiled. We pulled into the parking lot of the professional looking academy. I grabbed my belongings, she grabbed a bag from out of the backseat, and we made our way into the front doors. I stepped foot inside, heart thumping against my chest. "Hey, Rih. How are you" an older white lady said. "Living" she replied. The older lady looked over at me and smiled, "And who is your friend?" "She actually came to see you Tiff. She is interested in modeling for the life drawing classes. You did say you wanted some fresh bodies" Rih said. "Oh yezzzz" Tiff said as she looked me over, "HAve you ever life modeled before, sweety?" I shook my head no. I couldn't believe where I was and what I was being asked. "Do you have any modeling history, at all? Any background in art?" she asked. I shook my head no again. "Hmm. SO she is completely fresh to this. Do you know what this all consist of?" she asked me. "I have been told some of the basics" I said, shyly. "Ok. Well I can bring you up to speed on what life models do. And if you want, you can sit in on Rih's class tonight. Just to get a feel for what you'd be doing" she said. I looked over at Rih, who was looking at me and making sure I was ok and not

going to run. Rih laughed. "Ok. But I have a question. Are their any, like pictures or anything like that? Like cameras? Can this get on the internet?" "Oh no sweety. This isn't porn" Tiff smiled. I gave a weak smile. "There is no pictures of any kind allowed. Everyone of the students in this class are serious art students. Life Drawing is usually one of the first classes artist take because drawing the human body is one of the foundations of art. It's also one of the most difficult things for any artist to do; to try the nude human body. It was what most classical art was centered around. Picasso. Leonardo Da Vinci. Rembrandt. All of them did figure drawings". "Like Bee knows who those people are" Rihanna laughed. Tiff looked at her, and then back to me. "Nothing goes on the internet. The students use these classes to help tighten their skills and build a portfolio. Our models are shown nothing but respect, as I'm sure Rihanna here has told you. They pose in classical poses, meaning no explicit poses that display genitals. And our students draw them. Strictly professional. Always tasteful" she insisted. "Girl you don't have to sign no contract. You can just watch me. If you don't think you can do it. No big deal" she said. "When does the class start?" I asked. "In about 15 minutes" Tiff said, looking at the wall clock. A few people walked in the doors behind me. An older guy, looking like he was in his 40's, and a red haired girl with a backpack and sunglasses. They smiled as they passed and the girl stopped. "Hey Rih. Are you the model for tonight?" she asked. "I sure am. Ready to draw my naked ass again?" she laughed. "Yeah. Hopefully I capture those scars on your arm better than I did last time. Fingers and feet are so hard, though" she said. "You are getting much better Rebecca. Don't be too critical" Tiff said. "Hopefully" the red head named Rebecca said as she made her way into the room where about 7 others were already in.

"So are you up for it, hun? No pressure" Tiff asked me. The question was multi-layered. Basically, the real question was. Do I want to go back to Texas or do I want to stay in Florida. DO I want to home to my daddy or did I want to make my new home with Michelle. COuld I really push myself past the obvious fears associated with this type of thing? "Sure. I'll watch and let you know if it's something I could do" I said, smiling a nervous grin, and exhaling the breath I had been holding in. Rihanna smiled at me. "Boring Beyonce no more". I guess so. Chapter 12

Tiff led Rihanna and me inside of the room where the class was seated. This was the last class for them, with new classes resuming next week for new students. The drawings for this class will be their master drawings which were suppose to be their best works. Tiff ushered me to a seat in the back so I would not disturb the other artist. It turned out she was the teacher for the class. The image of the place was a lot different than I had imagined it to be in my head. For one reason or another, I envisioned it being like a photoshoot with large lights and a bunch of people around. It wasn't though. It was a cozy little room with smooth carpet and only 10 or so actual students in the class. Tiff stood

near the front of the class near a podium where the model was suppose to be positioned. "You guys, this is Beyonce. She's considering being a model for one of our future classes" Tiff said. The students turned around at me and smiled and waved. "Very beautiful woman. I may have to take that class" one of the men joked which caused a small chuckle from the others. "He's just teasing Beyonce" Tiff said. I sat back and just observed, hoping I wouldn't die from being so nervous. I wasn't even the one that was getting naked and it felt overwhelming waiting for it to actually happen. I looked at Rihanna who was still dressed but chatting with one of the students. A few more students walked in and got seated. "Who is the pretty girl in the back?" one of the late comers asked. "She's considering modeling in the next wave of classes. Just wants to get a feel for how it is" Tiff stated. The woman smiled at me and waved then turned around, pulling out her art materials. They all seemed friendly enough, and at least there weren't any noticeable guys that looked like scumbags, which is what I also had envisioned. I figured there would be some guys there just to see a girl naked. Figuring why pay for a strip club when you can pay to go to one of these classes. My fears were relieved when I actually saw the crowd. They were serious about their craft.

"Oh guys. It's 5. Let's get started so we have more than enough time to get these done. Tonight is the big night" Tiff said before sliding over and giving Rih the floor. I ate my own heart watching her step forward. Some of the students were watching while others were getting their supplies ready. I guess they had seen her before, and I was the only one nearly panicking about it. It was just too much. Rihanna opened her bag, leaving it on the floor, and then snatched off her shirt. She vent over and untied her shoes, placing them near the podium and then rolling off her socks and dropping them in her bag. She looked over at me and smirked, I guess finding humor in how easy this was for her, and how hard it would be for me if I decided to. When she undid her bra and let that fall in the bag, I was surprised that her piercings were removed. Her nipples were just as hard and plump as I remembered, but seeing them in this room compared to her living room made it an entirely new sight. She didn't waste any time undoing her jean shorts and kicking them in the bag. She was standing in the middle of the room barefoot in her panties and was doing so with such confidence that I immediately envied her. Without another moment wasted, she slid down her panties, dropped them in the bag and stood before the onlookers completely naked, grinning back towards me. This was too much. I would never be able to do that. There was no way.

"Ok. Remember what we went over in our last class about convergence. Focus on your lines and the dimensions. We'll start with the usual 30 second poses" Tiff said. Rihanna turned to step on the podium and I devoured her body, still not quite believing how people could do this so effortlessly. Like seriously, she was just standing there out in the open. I had to take a relax just so I wouldn't pass out from holding my breath. A few people turned around and chuckled to themselves seeing my reaction to this. They all eventually had their charcoal sticks out and their full attention was on my naked friend. When Rih was comfortably standing on the podium she put her hand on her hip, bent forward, and then stretched one arm out. Looked like something pulled right out of Greek mythology. The students immediately went to work, the scratch of the sticks the only noise in the air. The way their eyes moved was like poetry to me. Quick glances towards Rih, but never longer than a second and then right back to their papers. Rih was standing completely still holding the pose, looking straight ahead. After 30 seconds, she switched her pose by turning around, her bare ass facing the class, and moved her knees together, put her head down and locked her arms around her back, her right hand grabbing her wrist. The students immediately followed this and were drawing all kind of shapes. Squares, spheres, circles, and after only a few seconds, those odds shapes begin to resemble the pose Rih was standing in on the podium. She ended up doing about 8 more of these, each one looking precise and interesting. I didn't know how it worked. I didn't know if these were poses she had been told to do before hand or if she were making them up on the spot, but as she did them, I imagined myself on the podium doing the same. When she was done doing the short poses, she moved on to longer ones, still no longer than a minute, but allowing her to do more elaborate poses. The look on her face was maybe the thing that stood out the most to me. She was so confident and at ease. Not a hint of laughter or nervousness. This obviously was her. The real question was could this ever be me. After 10 or so longer poses, she pulled out a stop watch that was in her bag. "Ok, so we were moving on to the 30 minute pose. We're going to try and get three of these from multiple angles, ok Rih?" Tiff said. Rih simply nodded her head as the students readied a new sheet of paper and awaited the new pose. They all looked in tune to what they were doing. I guess I expected it to be a lot more, embarrassing for everyone involved than it was. But maybe it was because they had seen Rih naked many times before. Rih dropped to her knees, turned around, her ass resting on her ankles, and put her right arm on top of her head. She was at an angle, to where one side of the

class had her at one angle and the other had a completely different angle. I tried to focus in on the lines and shapes and circles the students were drawing, but I couldn't keep my eyes from turning back towards Rih. Her nudity on full display, her nudity completely demanding their attention, was an intoxicating concept that kept me glued in all throughout. There were times she had to take deep breaths and a few times she put her arms down to rest them before putting them back in their place. Tiff was drawing too, I was the only one just watching her be naked. I was the only one that didn't know how to feel about it all. And soon, I'd have to decide if I was going to grace the stage. When Rihannas timer went off, she sighed and stood up "Thank Gawd. My legs were tightening up. "Ok guys, 15 minute break" Tiff said as about half of the class stood up and made their way towards the door, walking right past a stretching naked girl. After yawning and kicking her legs a few times, Rihanna made her way towards me, still naked, and still confident in it all. I didn't know what was worse. The fact that she was naked in front of everyone or the fact that no one but me seemed to care. How I the only sane person in this room? Was this only crazy to me? "So. You think you can do it?" she smiled at me. "Rih...you are naked" I whispered. She cracked up at this, looking down and then making a surprised face. "Oh, My God, BeeBee" she said like a valley girl, "You are right. I am nakie" she said covering her breast with one hand and her vagina with the other. I laughed at this as did a few of those that had remained behind. "So what do you think Beyonce? You think you'd be up for the challenge?" one of the guys in the class asked me. Rih moved to the side so he could get a clear view of me instead of her bare ass. "Oh wow. I don't know man. This is really something" I declared, truly not knowing what to say. Tiff was smiling over at us but she didn't say anything. She started walking around the room and critiquing the work of the artist. "David. You're still doing what you did weeks ago. Why are you completely ignoring the perspective?" she asked one of the students. Rih leaned in and whispered, "Tiff is kind of a b*tch when it comes to these drawings".

I laughed at this and listened to her go in on each and every drawing, giving very few praises. What was interesting, is she never once mentioned a body part or anything. She kept speaking in artsy or mathematical language. I had no idea which body part she was even referring to when she would critique. It was hard to believe, but the nudity did seem to take a backseat when the classes started. Maybe this wouldn't be as bad as I thought it would be. "It's interesting. I'm thinking" I told Rih on the low. She smiled at this and skipped her ass back to the podium as the others returned to their seats. Eventually she did her hour long pose, this time laying on her back, eyes closed and her arms behind her head. I thought it was a pose, but really the girl just went to sleep. She woke up when the timer went off. They had actually drawn her as she slept naked on the podium. If this girl could go to sleep with people watching her naked ass, then it had to be something I could at least try. I made it up in my mind, I wasn't going to sleep on this opportunity. I was going to do it. ** QueenBey 2005: Guess what? S.Carter: What? QueenBey 2005: I got a job! S. Carter Word? QueenBey 2005: Yeah, whatever that means. I'm going to be able to stay at FAM. Isn't that exciting?! S. Carter: It is. I'm happy for you. Was hoping things would work out for you...

QueenBey 2005: Why is that? Didn't want to see my pretty face go? S. Carter: Not quite. You couldn't leave here without taking that public speaking class you promised you would take

QueenBey 2005: S. Carter: Whatever. I forgot to tell you. I saw the documentary. I must say, it turned out really good. Congrats QueenBey 2005: Thanks. The professor told us it was going to be submitted

and reviewed by the Library and they would decide if they would put it in their archive for students to check out. *fingers crossed* S. Carter: Oh don't worry. It will be approved. QueenBey 2005: And how would YOU know? S. Carter: Girl do you know who I am? I know things before the school president does QueenBey 2005: lol. No I haven't forgot. Mr. C is like God. All knowing S. Carter: I'm not quite on God's level. But I'm in the same sentence QueenBey 2005: How sacrilegious is THAT? So arrogant

S. Carter: QueenBey 2005: You're lucky you're my favorite teacher S. Carter: And you're lucky you're my favorite student QueenBey 2005: I am??? For serious?

S. Carter: lol... QueenBey 2005: Awww! I am so cheesing right now. *blushes* S. Carter: lol so I guess I shouldn't tell you I was just joking, right?

QueenBey 2005: Mr. C. Don't play with my heart like that.... S. Carter: Where is your job? QueenBey 2005: I'm not telling

S. Carter: So it's like that? QueenBey 2005: Yep. Both of us can be all secretive and stuff... S. Carter: Lol, i'll talk to you later, Miss Knowles

QueenBey 2005: NOOO! Stay. I'll tell you.... S. Carter: Can't stay. I have a class to teach. We'll chat later... QueenBey 2005: You promise? S. Carter: I promise... QueenBey 2005:

S. Carter: Later ** I had lied to get hired as one of the models for the upcoming life drawing class. The position was 18 and up, but I was still two months off from being 18. I still had the fake ID Michelle had gotten me and the screening for the modeling gig was so easy to fool than Tiff never questioned me more than once about my age. They were excited to have me as a model. Although they accepted all types of models, they preferred those that looked natural, meaning they didn't want girls that had huge breast or looked like porn stars or strippers. Tiff also told me she was happy to have a model of color since most of the people that came in were white and skinny models. Rihanna and I were a breath of fresh air, especially me since I had more curves. She said for an artist they would rather draw figures with more curves and lines since they are more dynamic to draw. Drawing skinny people wasn't as much fun. In fact, the most exciting subject for most artist were the fat people that came through every now and then. It was more challenging and therefore more a more exhilarating experience. I figured this may have been why bigger women were considered the beauties of Classical times. The class I had been hired for was actually an anatomy class, in the same building where Rih had taken me. It paid $25 and would be a four hour class. They met once a week and Tiff recommended me because my body was perfect for the subject. In the anatomy figure drawing classes, they were entirely focused on drawing the human body in as much detail as possible, as opposed to the motion drawing class that Rihanna had posed for. They needed a body that was both aesthetically defined and toned. Although Tiff explained to me the basics, the rest was left up to me. I still didn't know exactly how I was suppose to go about doing things. "Should I shave?" I asked RiRi the night before. I was a nervous wreck.

"Do whatever you want to do, Bee" she said, halfway sleep. "Thanks again for the loan Rih" I said. The deposit for the apartment was due so Rihanna had paid my half and in return I'd pay her back. She was sleepy though, it was 1 in the morning, and I was really just looking for company more than anything else. "Yeah yeah. Just pay me back" she sighed. "Rih. Wake up. Can't you see I am stressed to death! I don't know if I can actually go through with this" I said. "You'll be fine, girl. Just breath and relax. I promise. After five minutes, it won't even be a big deal" she encouraged. "I hear you. I'm just so nervous. Just thinking about it has me wanting to throw up". "Those are just butterflies. You'll be ok. Everyone has em their first time". "Even you?" I asked. "Even me. I am human Bee. I get nervous every class. It's a certain excitement and anxiousness that comes with it. But the bad feelings go away and the good feelings stay. You'll be fine. I wouldn't lie to you and if I thought you couldn't do it, I'd tell you". "OK...but I have one question" "Uhmm?" she moaned sleeply. "Have you ever got horny up there?". She laughed a sleepy laugh. "Girl, all the damn time. I was horny when you was there. But even that too goes away after awhile. It's not a big deal. We're human. It's natural. The artist don't care. They are too focused on not f*cking up their lines and shapes and shit" she said. "I'm scared ima be horny" I stated. "Well just be happy you aren't a guy. They frown upon erections there. I remember this one guy had a boner for the entire three hour class. He wasn't invited back" she laughed.

"Why? It's natural" I said. "Being naked is natural. But having your dick hard and winking at female artist is sexual. Difference between porn and art" she said. "You think they will like drawing me?" I asked. "Bee I love ya but damn you can be annoying. Shut the hell up and go to sleep, right now. I'll see you in the morning" she said. I laughed, "Aww, Rih I wuv you too". "Say you 'wuv' me one more time and we're not friends anymore". "I wuv you!" I laughed, right before she hung up on my ass. My dorm room was bare as we'd be moving into the apartment in two days. The bags were packed and we were ready to move on. The next two days of my life would be a new direction in my life. This fact alone made it impossible for me to sleep. I got up and went into the bathroom, taking a shower and shaving every inch of my body. I wanted to be smooth and pretty. I wanted to be confident and I knew I'd feel self conscious if I had too much hair on my body. After cleaning every crevice, spot, and hole of my body, even though I was sure I'd shower again in the morning, I stood in front of the mirror and stared at myself. I began posing, the same way I had seen Rihanna pose for the class. I held the pose for a few minutes and then switched to something else. I can do this I said to myself as I looked in the mirror. I can and I will. ** I woke up into a reality that seemed more dream than real life. The butterflies in my stomach had now been replaced with a suspension of disbelief. As I rode with Rihanna to the art class, I realized there was so much about me that I still had yet to uncover. My strengths, my weaknesses, my fears, all seemed to be in a blur as the rain drops fell slowly on my girls windshield. I thought about the ethics of what I was doing. I thought about what Mr. C had taught me in regards to evaluating a situation and making a moral decision. I could have told Tiff the truth. That I was 17, about to turn 18, and she could have keep me in mind for future classes. What would be the outcome? I'd lose the apartment, Michelle would have to apply late for a dorm, and I'd have to leave the one place that ever made me feel alive. This would be the ethical choice based on the textbook. I was a minor, the position called for models only 18 years or older. And me deciding to go through with this, even if technically the age thing was just weeks off, would be a disrespect to Tiff, the students, the art academy, and the law.

But then, there was the other decision I could make. Consequentialism. The alternative concept that said I should make the choice that would provide the best consequences for the people involved. For me, I'd be able to quickly pay Rihanna back, the students would the perfect model for their subject, and Michelle and I would get the apartment, and I'd be able to stay enrolled at FAMU. This concept told me that I was morally right to do what I was about to do. I weighed them both, and by the time we reached the building, I knew which one I would go with. Consequentialism was my least liked ethical principle that I learned about because I felt it was selfish and too relative. But in this instance, it was the only choice that I could live with. Rihanna wasn't going to stay for my class as she had errands to run, but she told me she would be back to get me after my four hour first class was over. Without her, and the safety blanket of her car, I would truly be on my own. When I walked into the class, there would be no turning back. No easy way home. I was an hour from Tally and I didn't have any money. Shedding my clothes was the tall task, the action that would have to be taken on this early, rainy morning. But really, it wasn't the clothes I would have to shed. I would have to shed my own self image. I would have to let a part of myself go, simultaneously while letting my clothes fall to the floor. "You sure you don't need me here, Bee? I can stay if you reaaaly want me to" Rih asked. I sighed, "No. No Rih. I have to do this without a babysitter. I have to. I need to" I said. "Trust me girl. It's really not that bad once you're doing it. Remember what I said. Breathe. I held my breath and almost passed out the first time I did it. If you get dizzy, let them know you need a breather. Use your breaks to relax your body and your mind. You'll be fine, ok? You can do it" she encouraged. "And your advice for if I get horny?" I smirked, trying to joke away my nervousness. "Use your break to rub one out in the bathroom" she shrugged. I laughed, "ILLL" "That's real shit. But frown up your face if you want to" she said. The rain had been at a steady drizzle, but the sky became darker which signaled a storm was coming. No sooner did I reach in the backseat for my gym bag the drops of rain became thick, quick, and numerous, thumping hard against the windows. "Shit. You got an umbrella?" I asked.

"I sure do. But that is MY UMBRELLA" she smiled. "You want me to run out to the building in all of this?" "Look girl. You're about to be bucking naked anyways. Who cares if your clothes are wet. I can't be running my errands in wet clothes. Sorry, should have brought your own" she said. "RiRi, you are not right" I sighed looking out the window as the rain kept coming harder and harder. "You've known I wasn't right for months now. Don't act brand new. Now go do your modeling shit. I'll be here to get you at one. If you need more just call me. Oh yeah, are you sure you don't want any breakfast? You shouldn't do this on an empty stomach. I can go get you a egg mcmuffin or something real quick". "Nah Rih. I dont even want to think about food right now, i'm so nervous. I have a feeling if I eat anything I will be throwing it right back up. Plus I ain't tryna get gas or have to use the bathroom or anything. Oh Gawd. Rih, what happens if I have to go to the bathroom or sumnthin?" I asked, dreading being in the middle of a pose and then getting bubble guts. "Bee. Get out. Just get your shit and get out. You're going to psyche yourself out if you kept going over disaster scenarios in your head. You'll be fine. Go. Now" she said, automatically unlocking the doors and unbuckling my seat-belt with her right hand. I looked and her and pouted. She was really kicking me out in this rain to go expose myself for strangers. She was really kicking my ass out. "Out, Bee. Go. Your class starts in 15 minutes". I sighed one last time, looked at my friend who no longer was smiling, but looking annoyed by my reluctance to move, and then I opened the door. A few drops of rain crashed in, causing me to bring the door back in but when I looked over at Rih and saw the way she was looking at me, I opened the door, yanked my bag and made a dash with the bag over my head towards the door. I didn't have time to rethink walking in the doors because I needed to escape the rain which had soaked me even though I was only in it for a few seconds. The warm summer air didn't prepare me for the chill of the building when I walked in, drenched from head to do. I caught my breath and tried to adjust to the shock of the chilling air when I was greeted by Tiff. "Hi Beyonce" she grinned, finding some humor in me out in this weather without an umbrella.

"Hay" I managed, catching my breath and shivering. "Nice weather, huh" she smiled. "Yeah, for the frogs". She giggled, although I couldn't tell if it was at me or with me. It didn't really matter. I actually was anxious to get out of these wet clothes because I was going to freeze to death if I stood in them too much longer. "I'm glad you showed. So many of the first time models never do. I understand the first time is always a battle of the mind. Getting naked. Having strangers see you. Not having anywhere to hide. Every eye in the room looking at every inch of you-" "Ok I get it, I get it" I laughed wearily. She laughed too, "I'm just joking with you sweety. It's good you can laugh at yourself. Trust me. It helps". "Have you ever done this before?" I asked. "What? Model Nude?" I nodded. "Oh yes. Most artist that teach these classes have. So I definitely know how you are feeling right now". "I don't know Tiff. I'm just hoping I don't make a fool of myself and do something wrong". "Like show up drenched from head to toe?" she smiled. I giggled, "Yes. Like that. Not a good start for the day. And I'm freezing". "Well, the dressing room is over here. You can change out of those clothes into your Kimono and meet your class inside when you are ready. Tell the instructor to turn up the heat if it's too cold for you" she said. "Wait? You're not teaching the class?" I asked. "Oh no. I teach the motion drawing class. This figure drawing class is for anatomy. Porter is the instructor for your class. Although if you handle this one well, I would love to have you in my class". Students were walking in, umbrellas and raincoats protecting them from the downpour, which made me stand out all the more. Why had I not brought an

umbrella or raincoat? I was so focused on picking out the perfect pair of panties and cleaning and shaving myself that I didn't dedicate a thought to anything else. What did it matter that I had worn my best pair of panties? It DIDN'T EVEN MATTER. "Are you the model?" an older male said as he approached me. He had grayish brown hair and was balding, likely one of the 40 to 50 year olds that Rih had told me about. He had a warm smile on his face, one of genuine curiosity. But still, it was difficult to approach. It was hard to admit aloud that I was the girl he was about to see in the nude. I was the girl all of these people were about to see. It's one thing to accept it, but to say it aloud? Man, that was torturous. "Yes" I said, sounding small and intimidated. "Aww. Well good luck. Glad to see a fresh face" he said before making his way into the classroom. I peaked inside the room, which was not the room Rih had modled in, and swallowed hard. The room was a lot bigger and more intimidating than the cozy little room of Tiff's class. That was the room I had imagined myself in. That was the room I prepared myself for, not this open room with even more students than the one Rih had been in. "Well, Beyonce. Good luck with the class. I'm sure you will do great" Tiff smiled, before patting me on the shoulder and making her way into the hallway. I looked at the clock on the wall and it was nearly 9. The class would be starting soon and I still wasn't anywhere close to being ready. I walked to the room Tiff had stated was the dressing room, when really it was just an office with a mirror and some chairs in it. When the door shut, I locked it, and looked at myself in the mirror. My hair was a mess, my skin was becoming wrinkly and damp, and I felt ugly. This was going to be a disaster, I just knew it was. I wanted to cry. I wanted to f*cking cry, because it was feeling too overwhelming. Everyone kept saying they knew I would do a good job and were not worried, but I couldn't accept their words as truth. I was a frightened girl, not considered a woman by anyones standards, and they were expecting me to shed 17 years of conditioning in less than 10 minutes, as well as my clothes. I sat down in the chair and rocked, holding my arms close to my chest, just wishing I could run away from it all. The pressure of this moment, the pressure of school, the pressure of defying my parents and really doing things my own way. I had bitten off more than I could chew. Written a check I couldn't cash. I felt sorry for myself, and the tears, like they always would, started to flow. I was such a damn baby. Can't do anything without crying. Can't face any adversary without

crying. I would never be anything other than Beyonce Knowles, the home schooled girl from Houston. Before I could wallow in more self pity, I heard a knock at the door. "Hey You? You are the model for the class right?" a male voice said. I wiped my eyes, cleared my throat and answered "Yes...I am". "Ok well the class starts in a few minutes and our other model has to get wardrobed, so speed it up". With his urgency that I hurry it up, I glanced in the mirror at the tearful girl one last time, and stood up. I had no plan. No real confidence in what I was doing. But I figured I'd know within a few seconds if I could actually go through with it. I dried my eyes as I slid my feet out of my tennis shoes. My white socks came next. Without much thought, I started with my wet shirt, which was sticking to my body. I managed to get it off, and then I reassessed. I was cold, the open air touching my bare shoulders, but I didn't think I had been pushed past my threshold yet. I could endure more. I started messing with my jeans button, struggling with it more than I needed to, and opening it as I took a breath. I rolled down one leg and stepped out and then stood on one leg as the other cuff came off. I dropped the wet jeans on my wet shirt. I reassessed. I was standing in my bra and panties. The set I had taken 15 minutes to pick out. I looked in the mirror and wondered what the students would think of me. I didn't even know what to think of myself. The second knock at the door came. "Excuse me miss, but I really have to get in my robe" a different male voice said. I assumed this was the other model. "I'm sorry. Give me a minute" I said, quickly reaching for my Bra strap. It unsnapped a lot easier than I wanted it to. And when the straps fell back and I was left holding it against my breast, I felt a thunderous shiver overtake me. I caught myself looking in the mirror. I was almost there. Almost. I snatched the bra away from it's hiding place, and quickly looked at my breast in the mirror. It wasn't a shock to me that my nipples were hard and pointed. It was cold. And I was feeling strangely excited. Not horny. But excited about what I was almost doing. Riding this wave of excitement, I pealed both sides of my panties, and gasped as they easily came down my hips. I didn't bother to look at myself finish this last stage. I stepped out of my panties and dropped them in the gym bag, refusing to look at myself. "What am I doing" I said aloud, although I didn't even realize it until the words

had escaped. My bare feet on the carpet made me feel odd. The cold air blowing against my chest made me feel strange. The gravity I felt from my breast being free made me feel weird. But none of those feelings compared to the utter horror I felt when I looked in the mirror by accident and saw how exposed my vagina actually was. EVERYTHING was visible. My lips, my clit, and the meat that usually was hidden by my natural curtain. I couldn't believe how much I had actually shaven. I couldn't believe I was so dumb to take it this far. "I will just use this other room" the male voice on the other side of the door said. I wasn't focused on him. I was focusing on the shocked eyes of the girl I stared at. This was me. That image was me. I was here and doing this. When I could no longer look at myself and tolerate it, I reached in my bag and grabbed the Kimono I had bought the previous day at the mall. I put it on quickly, tucking the sides in, and making sure there was no way I would accidentally expose any body parts. There wasn't a real logical reason for doing this, but I did it anyway. I wrapped my hair in a bow, because of how sticky and nasty it was, and made sure my belongings were secure in the locker. It was 9 a.m. The class had started. And if I didn't want to cause any more attention to myself than was necessary I had to get in there now. No need to be naked and embarrassed because I was late and holding up the class. Opening the door was a step all in itself, as was stepping into the hallway on the cold floors. Rih had told me to buy flip flops, but I had forgotten them at the apartment because they were packed in one of my moving bags. Oh well, there was no looking back, I had to get to the class. I quickly walked across the floor, holding my robe shut in a death grip, and hoping this day would end with me somehow not dying. I felt like I was going to die, either of embarrassment or lack of oxygen to my brain. Rih was right, I was holding my breath way too often, and I hadn't even started yet. I made my way past an open door where a class was already stating. I figured it was possibly with the other model that had come. To my surprise, the guy wasn't in shape at all. He looked like someones dad. And not the one you'd fantasize about.

I giggled to myself, thinking about how the guys in the glass must have felt but quickly dropped those thoughts. I had more on my plate. I breathed when I made it to the door of my class which was open and exhaled when I saw every student inside look towards me. Here I was. At the doorstep of a new life. "Come on in. Take a seat and relax" the instructor I was assuming was Porter, said. I did as I was told and walked in, sitting all the way in the back. I weakly smiled at the students in the class, who all looked kind, albeit amused at my entrance. They sat in a circle, with an unusual arrangement of pillows in the middle of the class. They all looked at me for a second, smiled, and then re-focused on the teacher. I took the time to focus on the room.

Porter stated that the bags were from a previous class and he had the male students to move it from the podium. I sat still, just knowing he was going to put me on the spot and asked me to get naked. I waited, and waited, and waited, thinking the second I dropped my guard would be the second I'd be called upon. But my anticipation was all in vain. That ended up being the hardest part of it all, knowing it would have to happen sooner or late, but agonizing over how much longer it would be. I could have stayed in my clothes and cried a little longer in the dressing room if I knew it would take this long. Since it was the first day of the anatomy class, Porter took the first hour of the class to talk about the human body. He had one of those skeletons that you'd see in a science class, standing right in the middle of the room where he spoke. He pointed out collar bones and knees and ribs, speaking in terms I didn't understand but artist seemed to understand. A few people would glance at me whenever he would mention "subject", which I quickly learned was code word for me, but mostly people seemed in tune to his words. He was an aggressive guy, aggressive in his words, his body language, and even in his appearance, a bushy beard hiding his face. He scared me. A total opposite

from Tiff. I wished I would have been in her class instead of this guy. But the more he spoke, the more I started to forget where I even was. I became empty headed, daydreaming about Mr. Carter and wondering what would he think if he knew I was doing this. Those thoughts led to my parents. What would they think if they knew I was doing this. I actually enjoyed the fact that they would have been shocked. That made me feel justified in what I was doing. Totally defying their expectations of me. Shattering the innocent and docile image of their oldest child. I wasn't that girl anymore, I thought as my bare feet touched the ground, reawakening my senses and reminded me that I was completely naked underneath my robe. The rain outside had stopped and the sun was starting to peak in, which gave the room a new look. Still intimidating, but not as dreary. "Pay attention to the models unique bone structure and use them as reference points. The head references the shoulder. The hips reference the toes. See the reference points and you'll see the whole. See the whole and you'll draw what you see" Porter said to the listening students. He had been speaking like this for an hour, so when he finished the statement, it didn't settle into my head that it was a closing statement. "Take 10 and we'll start with the live model" Porter said, immediately followed by most of the students making their way to the door, already reaching for cigarettes and cell phones. They all looked at me as they passed, knowing they were a countdown away from getting to see me in all of my glory. What a privileged. They sit in the comfort of their seats and mentally dissect me while I squirm and wonder what they will think. What an arrangement these figure drawing classes were. "You ready, miss?" Porter asked, breaking me out of my trance. I looked up and saw that his eyes weren't as hard and empty as they initially seemed to be. He wasn't smiling, but he wasn't grilling me either. "I'm as ready as I will ever be, I guess" I said. He nodded and that was the end of his acknowledgment of me. I was truly on my own here. No encouragement from anyone, no more words from people like Tiff or Rih telling me I could do it. That was all gone. If I was going to do it, the last push would have to come from elsewhere. That last bit of encouragement would have to come from inside. I would have to do this. No one could carry me to the finish line. The clock must have taken speed, because 10 minutes went by like 10 seconds, as the students were back in their seats and the floor was mine before I even had a chance to inhale and exhale. Or maybe I had literally held my breath for 10 minutes. I did feel lightheaded and like I wanted to vomit. But I pushed through

the first level of doubt and stood up, and taking the first few steps toward the center of the universe. The students eyed me curiously. They could tell it was my first time. This was an exercise of will. A battle between fear and courage. David vs Goliath. Houston vs Tallahassee. I refused to let Houston win. "Go ahead and disrobe and we will begin" Porter said in a calm but demanding voice. He said it so effortlessly, with little care or concern for the effort it would take for me to follow through. All eyes were on me. I think I even felt the eyes of God watching. I was being touched while not being touched, from every direction, as the circle of anxious students, and an impatient teacher, awaited my moment of truth. I caught myself doing the number 1 don't yet again. I was holding my breath. I breathed in and then out, like the pregnant women did in their Lamaze classes. And that was what this was like. Pushing. PUSHING. Pushing it out. Birthing a manifestation of myself. The only way I think you will grow up is by severing ties with whatever is trying to keep tied down. The words Mr. Carter had spoken to me. I knew then, he wasn't talking about my father. He was talking about me. He was talking about the old me. I opened my robe, and the heart monitor of Beyonce from Houston flat-lined. Chapter 13

There is nowhere to run when there are eyes watching you from every direction; nowhere to run but inside. As my robe lay on the floor, kicked to the side, and I stood before wide eyed strangers, it took every ounce of energy I had left in my weightless body to keep from fainting. For a moment I covered myself with my hands, but when I heard the teacher cough, I let them fall at my waist. I felt heat, literally felt heat coming from their glares, burning my skin and causing me to sweat. I wasn't cold anymore, I was feverishly hot. But in their eyes, I simply was naked. And maybe that was where the crux of this experience was it's most frightening. It was a simple story, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. I disrobe, they draw me, and I put back on my clothes. No plot twist, no contrived character development, no moral to take home and digest. I simply had to be naked for three plus hours.

Initially, I didn't want to look at any of the students. I was afraid of how they would look at me. What part of me were they focused on? My breast, with my erect nipples clearly visible? My hairless crotch which offered an intense view of my most intimate spots. Or were they looking at my face, in my eyes, which left little to the imagination as clearly as my naked body did. I was a wreck. I was horrified. I was NAKED. Before I even had a real chance to announce that reality to the world, which had a population of one, myself, Porter was already using me to teach the class. Literally, using me. I looked at him and wanted to be offended because he wasn't looking in my eyes, they were firmly centered in on my chest. I wanted to shield myself from him, it only seemed natural. It seemed unnatural to have people just gawking at me while I remained still and defenseless. What I immediately became aware of was the movement of my hands. I didn't know what to do with them. Instincts told me to move them to my private parts. But I had to consciously tell myself to keep still. And then I had to tell myself what to do with my hands. You never notice you even have hands until a moment like this. I never noticed I had toes until this moment. I was sure my hands and toes were the last thing anyone else would notice as well. Once I got over myself, and my ears stopped ringing from being on cloud 9, I paid attention to what Porter was saying. It was also the first time I took a look at the students. To my surprise, none of them were giggling or pointing or even staring. Most of them were actually looking at the instructor or at their papers. In one of the most irrational moments of my life, I actually got offended. I'm naked here, people. Can you please show a little more enthusiasm? The nerve of you to not treat me like the center of all attention right now. I had to close my eyes for a moment and calm the hell down. What was wrong with me? Mad because they weren't looking? What was worse? Full attention on my nakedness or partial? I couldn't decide. "What I really want you to focus on is the back and shoulders. This is the area in which most drawings will either fail, or succeed because they reference the entire body" Porter said. I looked at him and he eyed me for the first time. No lust were found in his. I guess this wasn't anything new to him. "Could you turn around" he smiled. I turned around, my ass now facing where a good portion of the class was sitting and now my face being visible to the other side of the class. This was so humiliating. I felt so vulnerable and defeated. My bare ass just open for public examination. "Very nice back and shoulder structure" he said to me.

He went on about my back and shoulders for the next 10 minutes as I just stood and turned when he directed me to. He went on and on about how backs and shoulders must be compelling and defined to be believable as portraits and that it helps when the model has perfect structure. Apparently, I did. Still, I couldn't quite get over the fact that each side of the class was getting multiple angles of my ass. Sure, he was referencing my shoulders and everything, but could it be possible that none of them were secretly just peeping my booty? Damn, and the fact that I couldn't watch them as they looked only made it worse. At least when it came to the front I could tell what they were looking at. But for the handful of students at any given time to my back? They had a free view and all I had was speculation. Once the initial shock of being naked started to calm, my adrenaline level dropped and I started to notice the little things. My legs were getting tired from standing, my hip was itching and I didn't want to scratch in front of them, and my neck was starting to feel cramped from standing so still. I couldn't relax being on display. My posture was like a robot. One with no personality. I was literally a dead skeleton with skin attached. For the next half an hour, Porter had me stand side by side with the Skeleton and went into detail talking about my bones and how to draw them. My legs started to wobble and shake the longer I stood. I wanted to sit down. I wanted to sit down more than I wanted to cover myself, at this point. But I kept standing, uncomfortable by the heat of my aching legs more than the heat from the staring eyes. "Start with a line that will blend skin, bones, light, and shadows and let the natural progression of your eyes lead you. Each angle presents a unique way to draw. But you should always keep the same mental process. Reference points and remember that you are drawing a whole picture. Hair isn't a hat. Eyes aren't decorations. Your most simple brushes are always the most powerful" he preached. The way he talked started to annoy me in a way. He talked of individual body parts like they were inanimate objects. I understood why. It had to be that way. But it didn't stop me from feeling slighted. Here I had undressed to my barest essence and he was all but trying to make sure they had unseen my nakedness, and only saw my lines and curves and structure. These were more than just individual shapes that made up a picture. It was more than a breast or a leg or a butt cheek. They were my breasts and my legs and my butt cheeks. "Ok. We'll take a quick five minute break and we'll get to drawing" Porter said. Only a few students left this time, as the majority of them remained in their seats and looking up at their subject. "I really appreciate you being a natural beauty. We get way too many people with

boob jobs and plastic surgery and makeup. Your youthful look is classic art" Porter said in as collected and genuinely nice a tone as I had heard since I had been in the classroom. "..Thanks" I said, finding a bit of comfort in his words. I guess the makeup that ran off because of the rain actually had helped me out. He motioned towards the floor where my robe was, and I quickly squatted down, surely giving a view to those in the back of me, and picked it up. I slid it around my body and relaxed my posture for the first time in nearly an hour. Finally. I could release some of the tension. "You're doing a great job, Beyonce" a woman from the right of me encouraged. "I concur. I can tell you are nervous. But you've definitely risen past it" someone else behind me stated. I couldn't look at them all at once, which had me feeling a bit weird, but I accepted their compliments. "Thanks everyone. I really am nervous" I smiled, a true sign of my nervousness. "What do you do, Beyonce? Are you a student?" the guy I had met outside of the classroom asked. "Yes. I'm about to be a Sophomore" I replied. "What are you studying?" he asked. "Education. I want to be a teacher". He nodded his head with his naturally bright smile attached, "Smart girl, I see. My mother was actually a teacher for 50 years or so" he started. And before I knew it, I was wrapped in a conversation about education and the school system with these people that had just spent an hour seeing me nude. Comments came from each direction, limiting my ability to fully participate, but I commented on what I could. For some reason, I was appreciative of their friendliness. It made it feel less cold and distant. Sure, I was still embarrassed, but I was also glad that were able to see me as more than a subject to draw. I was also a scared woman doing something completely new. They recognized it and didn't want me to go at it unacknowledged. When the few breakers returned from break, Porter returned to the center of the room and looked at me. I knew what the look meant. Time to disrobe yet again. Time to start this thing all over again. Surprisingly, the second time wasn't as dramatic to my mind and body. I slide it off, dropped it, and took a deep breath. This time, Porter told the students to get their charcoal and pads ready.

"You can go ahead and start your 20 one minute poses" he said, bluntly. He looked over to the podium which told me that was where I was suppose to be. I walked over, feeling really self conscious and hoping I wouldn't fall or something, and then I stood on top of the platform. Now I was positive those in the front had a clear view of my explicit lady parts. I could feel my clit being devoured by their eyes. And, it was then, my biggest fears came true. I had joked with RiRi about it, but I never actually expected it to happen. I was actually getting aroused! And in this shocked state of hornyness, I completely forgot what I was suppose to do and how I was suppose to do it. My mind went blank as every part of my body except my pussy went numb. Beyonce. You are buckin naked and horny and all of these people are watching. RUN! Get OUT of here! I tried to remember some of the poses Rihanna had done, but nothing came to mind. All I could think of was my protruding clitoris out in the open. All I could think about was running bare ass out of this place to the safety of my clothes. The second time disrobing had actually became worse than the first time. "Do you need help with the poses?" Porter asked, after he saw me looking dumbfounded for God knows how long. "Yes" I replied quickly, hoping tears wouldn't come. He walked over quickly, his arms moving feminine like as he walked, and making me wonder if he was ghay. "May I touch?" he asked me. Touching, unless allowed by the model, was strictly forbidden. But I guess I didn't actually see the harm since I was out here making a fool of myself. He grabbed my arms forcefully, and positioned them around, making me feel like the Skeleton at the other end of the floor. For the next 20 minutes, he moved me around like Gumby, allowing the students to get warmed up by drawing 20 quick portraits of me. At first, I found myself cheesing in the poses like I was taking a picture. A few students laughed about it. "Don't smile like it's going up on myspace" Porter said. "I'm sorry" I smiled, not being able to help how wide it was. He grinned, "Think Mona Lisa. A small, Mona Lisa smile is fine". I was shocked at how little the class was actually structured when I had the floor. It was all up to me to keep the class going. I wished there was a routine I could follow so I could lose myself in formula instead of being aware of both my nudity

and trying to please my drawers. I was so afraid of not doing it right that I briefly forgot all about the overwhelming consciousness of my nudity. It was brief though, as an open window reminded me all over again. I guess it was silly, considering I was being seen by people already, but I felt self conscious with the window open like that. What if someone was just walking by and they saw me? I didn't want that. I didn't want anyone looking that didn't have the privilege to look. "Do you mind closing the window?" I asked. Without another word, one of the students immediately went over and shut it. Maybe for the first time, I remembered what Rihanna had told me about the models in the classroom. They were in control of the class, even more than the teacher. They controlled the poses, the music that would play, if any did it all, as well as the intensity of the sessions. This thought startled me. But in a good way. It made me feel; empowered by the situation. I controlled this. I controlled their pencil. They were all my pawns. And with this thought came the desire to once again do this by myself. "I think I have it, Mr. Porter" I smiled. He stepped back and grinned at my sudden boast of confidence. It was amazing how being at your most humiliated state could build confidence. The soul searching involved with overcoming the shackles of fear was a one of a kind strength that no clothed person would ever understand. I moved on to longer poses, making them up on the spot as I went, some standing, some sitting, but all of them imaginative. I used a few poses to help me rest my pressure points which were being worked on. You never truly realize how mentally and physically exhausting it was to hold a pose for longer than 20 minutes. But my desire to tell a story with my body language helped to numb the pain. Some poses, I could remain as still as the waters of a lake while others were filled with ripples that never went away. I looked in the artist eyes as they drew and tried to imagine what they saw, just so I could give them poetry in motion. I remained calm and still, so their trance wouldn't be interrupted. "Draw what you see in front of you. A first time model. Most of her poses are of self defense. Her body language is speaking a language that all of you can relate to. The first time. The balance between tension and release. Draw this. Let your arms remain strong and yet relaxed. Balance. Stroke. Firm. Soft" Porter said. It sounded like sex to me, and I giggled to myself. Hell, maybe this entire experience was a mix of art and sex. Or maybe sex was art. Or maybe I was overthinking it. And it really was a simple story with three parts. Getting naked, drawing, and getting dressed. No climax.

Before my last pose of the class, I startled the class when my stomach made the biggest growling noise ever. It sounded like a mix between a queef and a sneaker on a basketball court. I had tried to push it to the back of my head. But I WAS starving. The class laughed, they all heard it and they all knew what it meant. Porter used tape to mark my exact positioning on the podium and one of the students offered me a half of their Sub Sandwich. I didn't want to accept, but she insisted. It was a Turkey breast sub with extra Mayo and green peppers. I devoured it, wearing my robe of course, and laughed at how great food tasted when the hunger unexpectedly snuffed you. When the final seconds ticked off my timer and marked the official end of the class, I silently thanked God for allowing me to survive. I immediately went for my robe, not caring that half of the class once again had a clear view of my bent over ass. Once it was on, I was finally able to truly relax. Posing meant I had to be in a state of shallow breathing. It felt good to finally be able to breathe normally again. A few of the students offered me a chance to see their drawings as Porter walked around and critiqued them. "Do you need your eyes checked? I know you don't think these hands belong to the same person?" Porter barked at one student. And then it hit me. What exactly had these people captured? Did their drawings of me perfectly capture my flaws or did they greatly exaggerate them? And even worse, would I even be able to tell the difference? "What do you say, Beyonce? Want to take a look? You did awesome by the way" the guy I had met said.

"Oh wow. This is me?" I laughed. "No. But I tried. I still need a lot of work. But hey, only the first class" he replied. Porter went around and pretty much critiqued everyone. It made me feel weird, since I thought they all were beautiful. It was intoxicating going around and looking at the different interpretations of me. Each person saw me differently. Each person captured something different. All of them had a unique sight of my nudity, their eyes seeing something that only their eyes could see

The drawings the students drew were usually kept so they could improve upon them. They

hardly ever gave them away since they could be used in portfolios and improved upon from memory. When a model wanted one of the portraits, liked what RiRi had on her walls, they had to pay for them. But since this was my first time and apparently they had taken a liking to me and my demeanor, one of them offered to give me his work so I could remember it. "You'll cherish it hopefully" he smiled. "Thanks. I'm sure I will" I said. I left the classroom and got dressed quickly, finding the feel of my clothes to be briefly foreign. I discovered Tiff had washed and dried them for me. All of my personal belongings had been left at home, which was what they suggested be done, but I still felt a bit weird about her washing my clothes without my permission. But then again, the clothes were warm and fresh. I couldn't be too mad at a kind gesture from a kind woman. When I saw Rihanna in the hallway, I wanted to jump into her arms. After all, she was the reason I had ever experienced something like this. She was the bridge. She was grinning evily when she saw me. I couldn't help laughing. "Damn, so I missed your naked ass?" she said when I was in her face. "You missed it. But I did it. Can you believe it? Boring Beyonce did it" I teased. She nodded her head and tucked her bottom lip in. "You did. I can't take that away from you. You definitely proved me wrong, girl". "I proved myself wrong" I said. "See you later Beyonce. Again, great job today" the man I had met earlier said as he exited. "Thanks. I never caught your name" I said, trying to be nice. "Oh it's Carson" he said, shaking my hand. I felt a little uneasy when he shook my hand. This guy had seen me seen me. In a way no man had ever seen me before. And now I was shaking his hand, outside of the classroom. That had a different dynamic to it. "Nice to meet you again Carson. And thanks for all your kind words". He smiled, "Rih. Make sure this isn't Beyonces only time" he smirked. "Trust me. I think Beyonce has opened up Pandoras Box. She wouldn't stop even if she wanted to now" Rih smiled, looking directly at me. ** I soaked in the water, completely overcome by the adrenaline rush of the day.

It was as if I had spent the entire day at an amusement park or in the pool, and now all I wanted to do was eat and sleep. I was starving, but too tired to eat. I was even too tired to sleep. I hadn't felt like going back to the empty dorm room at FAM, and I definitely didn't want to shower in the community showers, so Rih had let me bathe at her crib. She said she was proud of me and then I had taken a larger step into womanhood than I realized. Her words were soothing, but not as soothing as the steaming hot water surrounding my overexposed body. I replayed the events of the day in my head, over and over. But now, I needed to relax my body and my mind. I needed to the days events marinate in my soul. I hadn't yet absorbed what it all meant and I wouldn't for a while. It was all still one big blur. One big naked blur. But the naked picture of me that the artist had given me was a reminder. A reminder that this wasn't a dream. I had awaken. My eyes had witnessed firsthand what power I held. A power that had been dormant my entire life. A liberating strength that could push me past my biggest fears and drive me toward any final destination. I was proud of myself. For once in life, I felt in control. I could choose my own paths and there wasn't anything that anyone could do about it. This was more than about posing for a class. I was wrong. The narration was not that cut and dry. The story wasn't that simple. This was evolution, the science that my dad had fought so hard to keep me from seeing. My femininity. My sexuality. My confidence. My body. My soul. All personified by a life drawing class. I swam in an ocean of emotions as I rested in the tub. Allowing my mind to stretch into vivid recollections of my life up until this point. Life drawings. Life experiences. Like lines that twist and turn and curve and eventually form a recognizable picture. Something worth remembering. Something worth cherishing. Something worth calling priceless art.

I laid on RiRis sofa, just staring at the drawing, and eventually, much needed sleep overtook me. It was only 4 in the afternoon, but I slept soundly for the next 14 hours. I needed the rest. Even my dreams took the night off. The day in itself had already been a dream come true. Chapter 14

Getting an apartment with Michelle was one of the greatest joys of my life. Accepting the keys, signing the lease, moving in my belongings and understanding that this was mine. It cemented the fact that I really was on my own and I could choose my own way. The place

was virtually bare, neither Michelle nor I really having much money to furnish it, but we knew it would come with time. I opened up a savings account where I'd save for a car and helping to decorate our place. The first check from the figure drawing class felt great. But by itself it wouldn't have been enough to actually pay for anything. I had to be diligent and determined to consistently get booked for classes. Over the next month, I went with Rihanna every time she went to work, and the artist and teacher got to know my face quick. I became aware of the numerous classes, all based around life drawing or motion drawing, that were available at the academy or a few miles away at a drawing group. I was immediately refereed and offered gigs ranging from 20$ to 35$ an hour. Eventually I settled on doing three classes. One on Tuesday morning, one Thursday morning, and one Thursday afternoon. Just two days a week I'd actually be working, and would still be bringing home nearly $300 a week. Getting naked for the artist was still daunting, especially the first time. But after completing the first class and knowing I could push forward, I found myself looking forward to the new challenges. I didn't just want to be there, I wanted to actually be good at what I was doing. I practiced my posing and bought a book on classical poses, learning the proper techniques for each. I needed to become more flexible to do the really good ones, so Rihanna and I started going doing Yoga at the Gym which was discounted for us since we were already members. I had never been a girl that wanted for money, growing up in home with stable income, but living on my own taught me to be reliant on deals, discounts, coupons, and the resources available to me. I could no longer afford the meal plan at the school, but Jarvis could, and he brought me food whenever I called and guilt tripped him. I cut out coupons from Newspapers and and ended up buying my school books used on amazon.com. I felt like I was being productive and intelligent when it came to handling money, and this only gave me even more confidence. I was becoming an adult. Although Michelle and I were barely at home, we still decided we needed internet and cable, and Rihanna's smirking ass knew just how to work that in our favor. Michelle was out writing a story for the paper but she had called the Cable guy and I had to be there when he came to install it. Rih came over to keep me company, and get me a discount. "Rih. NO! I will not" I said, shaking my head. "How do you think I get my cable, Bee? I have all of the channels. HBO. Showtime. Playboy. And it's free" she shrugged. "Yeah but...No...I can't do that". "Can you stop saying what you can't do? By now, you should know it's what you won't do" she argued. "Well yeah. I won't do it" I said. The doorbell rang and I saw Rih get a twinkle in her eye. "Oh well. If you won't, I will" she said, snatching off her top and pulling down sweats. I whispered loudly, "Rih NO! Put back on your clothes".

She laughed at this, and started making her way to the door. Wearing nothing but boyshorts, topless, and grinning. I ran after her, but it was too late. She had opened the door, as if this was her crib, and the cable guy nearly choked when he saw her at the door. "Oh....I'm...here for the cabel" he nervously said. He was a young guy. College aged, I'd guess. Stocky, but not ugly either. "Yes, come right in, Chad" Rih said, reading the guys nametag and sounding seductive. All I could do was shake my head at this girl and her ways. Over the next 30 minutes, the guy nervously started doing the installation, taking his sweet time, and finding reasons to keep looking back and asking Rih a question, staring right at her pierced nipples. I don't think the guy even noticed me. And this was my crib. "How much extra is the HBO, stuff? And the highest speed internet?" she asked. "Well" he looked at her breast and then at her face, "The..HBO package is an extra 15 a month. The highest speed internet is an extra 20 a month". Rih sighed, "I don't have that kind of money. Which is a shame, because I really do like HBO". She looked at Chad in his eyes as she said this. I could tell he was intimidated by her. What sane person wouldn't be? She was crazy. But it was her craziness that was so adorably irresistible. "Well, I'm sure I could...give you a discount..or something" he smiled shyly. "How much of a discount are we talking?" I asked. Rih looked at me and gave me the eye. Ok damn girl, my bad. I guess I had to let her do the work. "Um. Well I can give you the HBO for free for 3 months and the high speed for 6 months". Rih sighed as he talked, not even letting him finish. "That's not a deal, Chad. How about" she smiled as she touched the ends of her boyshorts, pealing them just slightly so that the space between her belly and her vagina were showing. He swallowed hard. "How about...we...take...everything....off" she seductively grinned, pulling down the boyshorts even more. "I...I" he said. "Would that be too much to ask for?" she playfully said.

"Well...I could..I'm not suppose to". Rih continued pulling down the shorts, almost to the point that her privates would be seen by the guy but before he had that pleasure, she pulled them all the way back up and started going for her shirt. "Well never-mind then booboo. Do what your suppose to do.." "So you want HBO and the high speed internet? Do you want anything else? Showtime? Cinemax?" the eager guy said. "I want it all" I barged in, seeing the offer right before me. The guy didn't even pay attention to my words, he was still focused on Rih. "Aww. That's sweet of you to offer that, Chad. Sure. We'd love for all of the channels. For free. No charge at all" Rih demanded more than suggested. "That would mean I'd have to cancel your order" he said. "Exactly. We want it all...for free" Rih said, once again sounding seductive. "Ok. Ok. Let me get this straight. You want me to give you free high speed, free cable, and all of the channels? For nothing?" he asked. "Well, you did offer it Chad" she responded. "Yeah but I offered it...thinking..." "Thinking what?" "You know..."he shrugged. "No. I don't know. What's on your mind, Chad?". Gotddamn this girl was a pro. I was sure she could persuade Jesus to let her into heaven just with her seductiveness. And with the way she was acting, she almost certainly would have to, because she was earning a first class ticket straight to hell. "...I wanna see you...all the way" he embarrassingly said. Funny how Rih was the one naked, yet he was the one that was embarrassed. What power our bodies could have over these people. "Install everything. Cancel our order. And you have yourself a deal, ok?" she said. The guy went to work. Bringing in cable boxes and working tirelessly to program and set everything up. In another half an hour, he was done. We had every single channel imaginable, wi-fi throughout the apartment and super high speed connections. To repay him, Rih simply took off her shorts, grabbed the guys hand, and walked him to the door, smiling and thanking him for his kind gesture. "Hey. I know this might be kind of awkward. But hey. I guess all of this is. But do you mind

if I get your number? Maybe we can go out or something?" the guy asked before being ushered out of the door. "I'm sorry Chad. You're sweet and all. But I don't think my girlfriend over there would like that. Right, Bee?" Rihanna asked. I smiled, contained the laughter that wanted to consume me, and nodded my head. "Oh...Oh" he said. She opened the door, still nude, and whispered softly another thanks, closing the door, and pretending to shoot her brains out with her hand. "What a loser" she said as she walked back into the living room, grabbing the remote from me and turning to Lifetime. "You are a damn mess, Rihanna". "Yeah and thanks to me, you have free everything. You owe me" she said, flopping her ass on our sofa. "Um. You think you can put your clothes on? I don't want Michelle coming home and seeing your ass all naked on our furniture. Have her thinking ima dyke or something". "Are you a dyke?" Rih asked. "Uh. No" I shot. "Then why you care what she think? It's your crib too. Are you bothered by my nudity?" "No...I'm...I'm not. But she might be. It's her place too" Rih smiled to herself, not her usual joking smile, but one that seemed sarcastic. Like she was disappointed in something I had said. She got up, put on her clothes, gave me a hug and said she was leaving. "Where are you going?" I asked. "To be naked in my own home" she smiled. ** "Beyonce, YOU are the older sister. YOU should have been watching over her" my father barked into the phone. "I understand all of that daddy. And I said I was sorry. But you can't blame me for something Solange did. She made the decision to have sex. Not me" I shot back. "But who set up the trip to Miami, Beyonce? You keep making all of these excuses and trying to put all of the blame on your sister. You share equal blame in this". "Well what more do you want me to say? Jesus. I said I was sorry and I messed up. What more do you want?"

"I want you to move home where you belong" he said. "I'm not moving back home daddy. I'm not. I want to be here". "You want to be disobedient and defiant" he scoffed. "Daddy, I am not trying to be defiant. Why can't I just stay? You make it sound like I am the worst daughter in the world". "Beyonce, stop exaggerating. I'm acting like my daughter has lied to me, spent money unwisely, took secret trips with her little sister who got pregnant and has proven she can't handle being on her own" he said. "You are punishing me because of Solange" I screamed. "No I'm not. And even if I was, Solange wasn't doing this type of stuff until she went with you on that trip that you set up. She straight changed after that". I wanted to SCREAM at him because he was so ignorant. He didn't know ANYTHING about his daughters. Solo had been f*cking for years behind his back. He was acting as if I had corrupted her, when she had been the one on the verse of corrupting me. If only he knew all of the things she had done, solo, behind his back. The sex, the weed, the sneaking out of the house. I was the one staying on the right track. I was the one keeping on the straight and narrow. And he was treating her like a perfect angel and me the devil that turned her into a demon. As much as I wanted to fill him in on the details of his daughter, I knew I couldn't do that to her. She was still living there and suffering. I couldn't out her. I couldn't cause her situation to get worse. I would just have to endure his accusations. I would have to be the cause of her pregnancy. I'd take the blame. "Daddy. I make good grades, I'm not drinking and partying and having sex-". "I find that hard to believe" he said. I sighed. There was no way I could win this fight. No way. "So daddy, are you going to give me back the credit card or not?" I asked, frustrated with the conversation. "No. I'm not. If you want to be grown. Then be grown. You went and got the apartment I told you not to get. So you are responsible for it. You want to be a big girl, then handle it by yourself, big girl. When you fall flat and can't handle the bills, pack your bags, apologize, and I'll be ready to move you back where you belong" he said, before hanging up in my face. Once again, this man had made me feel the lowest of lows. He didn't trust me, didn't believe in me, and didn't even want me to make it without his help. He expected, even desired to see me fail. That hurt. It really hurt. Regardless of his personal feelings, he was suppose to wish me the best and love me because I was his child and I was following my heart. Instead, he told me I would fail and hung up in my face. Rihanna was coming to pick me up for one of my life drawing classes, but at this point, I didn't even want to go. I was crying and my head hurt and I couldn't take any more emotions than I already had flowing through me. When she came to the door after I had ignored her

phone calls and car honking, I let her in, still wearing my pajamas. "Bee. What the hell are you doing? Why aren't you ready?" "Rih. I'm not going" I said, walking into the living room, and curling back up in my blanket. "Why? What's wrong?" I told her the story, the entire story about Solo and I, and then the aftermath with my dad and our latest fight. I was a daddies girl growing up. We never argued. But the past few months had been filled with such arguments. I didn't know what to do to mend our relationship and still stay here. I didn't know what to do anymore. I guess I expected Rihanna to help comfort me and dry my tears. But I guess I should have learned a long time ago not to be so sure in guessing her next move. "Bee" she said, snatching the blankets from around me. I reached back for them but caught a glimpse of her eyes. She was heated. "Get your cry baby ass up". "What?" I asked. "Stop your crying and get up. All you do is cry and feel sorry for yourself. Well I'm not going to pacify that shit. Get up. Wipe your damn face. And lets go. I don't even care if you ain't brush your teeth or wipe your pussy. We're going". "Rih. I'm not going. I don't want to go today" I said. "Then we are not friends anymore" she shot, standing up and walking towards the door. "What??? Not friends because I don't want to go to this damn class?" She turned around. "No Beyonce. Not friends because I refuse to sit and watch you do this every single time something hard comes along. You are strong. I've seen it. I've witnessed it. But every single time you take a step towards accepting your own strength, you take 50 steps back. You say all the damn time how you want to be a woman and grow up and become strong like me-" "But I can't be like you, Rih. You are strong. I'm weak" I sighed. "Bullshit. You don't have to be like me, Beyonce. I hurt. I want to cry. I want to give up. But I don't. Know why? Because I refuse to let other define me. This is something I thought you were going to do, but I guess I was wrong. Your content being used like a damn puppet". "You think I want to be like this, Rih? Damn. You think I like how I am?" "You do like it. Because you're comfortable with it. And anything that your comfortable with, you settle with. Sure you can take off your clothes a few times because of pure adrenaline. But have you really let go of what is underneath that?" "I'm trying. I. Am. TRYING" I sighed.

"Don't try. Do. Get your ass up. Wipe your tears. And let's go. From now on. Don't cry or try. Do and don't apologize for it. I'll be waiting in the car. Clean yourself up" she said before leaving. I couldn't believe how angry she was at me. But for some reason, I agreed with it. I was angry at myself, for allowing my daddy to get to me like that. I was angry because I knew that was what he wanted my reaction to be. He knew me. He knew his daughter. He knew I would cry and feel sorry for myself and rethink everything. And I did it. I couldn't even recognize he was intentionally trying to break me. But Rih did. She saw it clear as day. She saw the naked truth. I quickly cleaned myself up in the bathroom, dressed, and met Rih in the car. "Bee. Do you want to life model?" "Yes" I softly replied. "Because of the money? Just because of the money?" "No. Not just for the money". "Bee. I wouldn't have stopped being your friend, either way. I'm just impatient. I'm quick to anger. I'm overly emotional. And i'm bleeding right now. I just get frustrated when I see you regress. If you want to stop life modeling, that is fine. That doesn't define you. It doesn't define me either. But don't stop doing it because your dad tried to shame you. Don't. You are stronger than that". "You really believe that?" I asked, eying her. "The question is, do you believe it" she said before cranking up the car. "Rih?" I asked after we had been driving for nearly an hour. "Yeah?" she asked. "Never threaten to end our friendship ever again. That shows your lack of strength. And as someone who looks up to you, I don't appreciate it. I dont take you as the type to try to guilt me into feeling a certain way. But that is exactly what you did" I said. She drove in silence for a few moments, not even acknowledging that she had heard my comment. But I knew she heard me. "Your right, Beyonce. I can't even say nothing. You're absolutely right" she eventually sighed. "You seem shocked" I smiled. "No. I just don't like to be wrong. But I guess when i'm wrong with you. It's not that bad". "Was this our first argument?" I laughed. "Yep. And our first make up. Now we can really say we're friends" she said, shaking her head.

"Best friends" I grinned. She rolled her eyes, "That's that hallmark shit I hate". "And? Deal with it, girl. I deal with your crazy ass so you can deal with my sentimental ass. It's what we signed up for" I smiled. "I didn't sign shit" she spat. "I didn't sign shit" I mocked her. She laughed. "So are you gonna stay this time and watch me?" I asked. "Nah. If I ever see you naked. It won't be for art" she grinned. "Was...that..some Dyke shit?" I asked. "Nah. It was some real shit" she smiled. "Real ghay" I joked. "Call it what you will" she said, turning up the radio. What else should I have called it? ** Having this new apartment meant even more freedoms than the dorms. I had my own room again, and because of this I found myself walking around naked all the time. I started watching porn more, which led to more experimenting with masturbation, and discovering what I liked sexually. I also started staying up late more often. One night I caught Mr. C online, and I IMed him. He tried to warn me of the imaginary boundary bullshit, but I kept trucking right on past it. We ended up having an hour long chat, mostly about school and stuff. But I noticed some of the comments started to become more flirty. We both would use smileys a lot, and he'd hint around complimenting me on my looks. I couldn't quite say for sure that we were technically flirting with each other, but it sure did feel that way. Soon, we started chatting almost every night, talking many times into the late morning. I was so fascinated with him and I think he genuinely enjoyed talking to me. My nights didn't see as complete unless I had a chat with Mr. Carter and told him about my day. He would always act uninterested, but I knew he cared more than he let on. I wanted to tell my friends about our late night chats, but I decided against it. There could have potentially been big trouble if anyone were to find out. When the Summer B semester ended, and I had once again ended it with straight A's, Michelle and I decided to throw a small house warming get together. Michelle invited a few of her school paper pals and I invited Kelly, her man, and Jarvis. It was fun, and funny since all of them brought gift cards instead of house items. I guess no one wanted to buy anything we wouldn't use. We ended up playing Spades and joking about how school had been so far,

mixing drinks into the process and someone saying we should add stripping in as well. "We got the two biggest prudes on Campus here with Michelle and Beyonce. Ain't neither one of them skrippin" Jarvis laughed. "Oh we don't wanna talk about stripping" I evily eyed him/ He gave me the Oh Shit face and a defiant smile. "Hey everybody. Did Beyonce ever tell you her movie story?" Jarvis laughed after had had sipped on some wine. I gave him the look from hell. Not even Kelly had heard the story. He laughed, "I'm just joking with you mama" he said, hugging me, "but you had that one coming". "You don't love me, nigga" I pouted. "Oh I don't? See if I make the trip over here to bring your unappreciative ass anymore food then" he laughed. "What story?" Kelly asked curiously. "Nothing. Jarvis is being funny" I insisted. She looked at me and shrugged, "I guess we don't tell each other every story no mo". I could feel the tension between Kelly and I. I couldn't pinpoint why it was so strong, but we seemed to always be making smart comments back and forth to each other. This get together had only confirmed to me what I had thought. Our friendship was slipping. Kelly had always been my best friend, the one person in life I trusted with 100% confidence. And it just didn't seem like any of it mattered at this point. I didn't know what was going on in her life and she didn't know what was going on in mine. "Kelly, can I talk to you outside?" I asked. She patted her man on the knee and we went outside. "Wassup, girl?" she asked, upbeat. "I heard what you said in there" I stated, simply. "I was just joking with you, Bee" she grinned. "No Kel. You were right. What has happened to us?" "Nothing has happened to us, Bee. Life just has come in the way for a season. Don't worry about it, we'll get back to how things use to be" she said confidently. "Kel. I love you, you know that right?" "I love you, Bee. And I know you know that" she laughed.

"How is your boy treating you? Quenton?" I asked. "Girl. He is amazing. Like, easily the best boyfriend I have ever had. He's really help me adjust to being here." "I was suppose to help you adjust" I said, pouting. "And you still can, chick. We just have to make time for each other. I'll just have to tell him to go out with his boys and me and you can have some girls night out. You know I miss having my bestie around all the time". "Girls night out sounds great. I'll bring Michelle too". "Cool. Oh and give me your sisters cell phone. I forgot to get it from you. I wanted to call her and talk about her pregnancy and everything. But I ain't have her cell, just the house number. And uncle Matt been kinda tripping lately so I don't even wanna call the house". "He took away her cell" I sighed. "What? Are you kidding?" "Nope. He has her locked up like a prisoner, or something. I'm afraid to even know what's going on at that house." "Got-damn. See I didn't even know how bad it was. Solo is like a lil sis to me, so I gotta get up with her". "Yeah. Getting up with her now means getting past my daddy. He is like a Nazi now. I think it's because he is afraid of her leaving home like I did. He wants me to come back". "I mean I can understand why he would want you back. But that man has to let you go. You and Solo. Shit, you're about to me 18 in what...12 days?" "Yep. Finally" I laughed. "You know we're going out right?!" she smiled. "Hey. That is if none of these niggas that's been waiting for my bday ask me out" I joked. "Shit I forgot all about that. I remember how Tip set their asses straight. So are you ready for all them to start jocking?" she asked. "...Honestly, I don't even know. I'm kind of nervous". "I bet. It's like once you are denied something for so long it only makes you want it even more. I know them boys have the 4th circled on their Calender. But I have a feeling the only one who you are gonna give them draws to is Tip" she pressed. I laughed. "If only you knew".

"If only I knew what, girl? You better tell me" she barked. Quenton came to the door and looked outside. "Babe, you coming back in?" he asked. "I'm rapping with my girl, Quenton. I'll be in, in a bit.." "What's a bit?" "I dont know. Shit. When we catch up. It's been too long" Kelly grinned. He laughed, "Aight then. Ima check up on yall if it takes too long" he said, before closing the door. I shook my head. "Uhmm". "Uhmm what?" she asked. "Seems like he needs extra attention. You can't even leave for 5 minutes and he looking for you" I teased, but meaning it. "Oh child boo. He's just nosey. Don't worry about that. I want to hear about what you were going to tell me". I giggled, thinking how to even begin. "Well. Kelly, I still like Tip. We talk every now and then. He's good people. But...I kinda...been feeling someone else" I said. "Someone like who? Have I met him? Is it the white boy on your facebook page?" I laughed, "Who Chris? Nah, it ain't him. He is my teddy bear. He's adoerable but I don't like him like that. I don't even think he likes black girls. He's just a homie. He's good people too". "Then who are you talmbout?" "Guess" I smiled. "Bee, I don't know who all you talk to. It bet not be Jarvis" she spat. I bust out laughing, "Oh. No. No. No". "Shit. I hope not. Don't be messing with them ghay boys. Nah. They like to get it in the booty" she said, shaking her head. "Keep guessing" I smiled. "Bee. Tell me. I don't know. Is it that girl you been hanging with? The girl Michelle says you are always with?"

"Who? Rih Rih?" "Oh shit. You got pet names for her and shit. Beyonce Knowles let me find out your Jesus Loving ass likes girls now." "Kelly please" I chuckled, "Rihanna is my homegirl. You suck at guessing". She shrugged, "I give up. Just tell me." "Kelly. Like always, this is between me and you right?" "Of course girl. You don't even have to ask". "Remember the teacher I was telling you about? The one that gave me a C minus?" "Hm. Yeah. I remember him. That was the conversation when your ass said I was dumb". "Kelly, I didn't--" "I'm joking with you girl. I know who you are talking about. The cosby sweater guy. Mr. C or D or E or whatever. What about him?" I shrugged my shoulders and looked towards the window and door, making sure no one could be listening in. I was finally happy to be able to release my feelings to someone. Someone that I felt comfortable telling. "...Him" I said. Kelly's mouth dropped which followed intense laughter. She had to cover her mouth and hop around to compose herself. "Him WHAT?" "Him as in he is who I have been feeling" I said, unsure of how she'd react. "Feeling in WHAT way?" "Kelly. You know. I...I like him". "You....Scallywag" she laughed. "Nothing has happened, though" I added. "So wait. Is this just a little crush on a teacher. Or, is this mutual like?" she asked, trying to put it in perspective. "Kelly, honestly. I think he likes me too. We talk on IM like every night. In fact, I'm pose to meet him online in a little bit. It's become consistent. I just don't think I'm making it up in my head". "Damn. Are you serious? How old is he?" "32. Turns 33 in December".

"Damn Bee. He is old. Don't he know you 17?" "Yeah he does. But, it's not like he has tried anything with me. We just talk..." "Talk huh? So is he one of the million other niggas that's waiting for the 4th so he can pounce on that ass?" "Kelly I don't think he wants to pounce on anything". "Listen to your naive ass. If a guy likes you, he wants to sleep with you. That's ABC, 123, easy". "Kelly, I honestly don't think so. I think his intentions are honest and everything. It's hard to explain". "Kinda like how it was hard for me to explain Quenton?" I chuckled, "I guess so". "Don't guess, Bee. I could tell you didn't like Q. Lied, talking about he seems nice. You have never once uttered that phrase when talking about someone I was dating". "I didn't know what to think about him, Kel. But I did want to give you the benefit of the doubt". "Which is exactly what I am going to do with you. I don't know this man you all of a sudden call yourself liking. I can only go by what you say. And while I think your teacher having late night chats with you is kinda creepy, I'm not going to judge it. Just tell you to be careful, and fill me in on all of the details, as they become available" she grinned. I laughed, "I don't actually see it going anywhere, Kelly. But I'm just saying I have caught feelings for him. I don't know if I can feel the same way about Tip or the other guys". "I feel you. The heart is funny like that. Can't control who you feel something for. But I am here for you every step of the way, aight?" "Aight". "So let me get back to this man before he comes looking for me" she said. "Kel?" I asked. "Yeah?" "If you should ever find someone new. I know he better be good to you. Cuz if he doesn't" I sang. She was cracking up, "You better be there, chick". "Kelly. Before we go in. Did you REALLY call me a scallywag?" "Would ho have been better?" she asked.

"Nope. Nerd" I laughed. "Well having fantasies about effin your teacher ain't really nerdy. It's this one brotha at my school and...and well we'll keep that on the low low" she grinned. For once. It felt like old times with Kelly. ** I didn't feel any different. The morning felt like just another morning. It was the day after labor day, and I had a life drawing class, nothing out of the ordinary. But today would be the official day that people would treat me differently. I was 18. A sophomore in my 5th semester of classes. Legal. Legit. An adult. A woman. I woke up to pancakes with a candle in it, via Michelle who was up bright and early. When I came in the kitchen, she was started teasing me by singing a happy birthday song, knowing that I hated to be wished a happy birthday with that goofy song. "Shell, dont!" I laughed when I saw it coming. "Haaaaapeeeee" she started, grinning. I put my face in my hands and sighed. Here it comes. Yay me. "Happy birthday....to Bee...you...are now 18" she started. I let my hands fall and checked her out after. Had this girl really changed the words? "You goooooot us freeeeee cable....and free internet with highspeed" she sang, laughing right afterwards. I just shook my head and laughed. Of all my friends, she was the least crazy, but her ass could be crazy too. "Shell, how long did it take you to come up with that?" I asked, even toned. "Don't worry bout all that, girl. Eat your pancake. Blow out your candle. Happy birthday". Rihanna showed up with a card and envelope around half an hour later, ready to take me to my class. When I walked outside, I noticed a SUV in the damn parking lot. "When did you get this?" I gasped. "Few days ago" she grinned. "Got dam girl. You sure your tiny ass can even drive this thing? "My tiny ass is use to handling big things" she said, hand on hip. "Rih. Sometimes I think you just want to shatter every single stereotype there is for a petite girl".

"What makes you say that? The casual sex, tattoos, potty mouth, farting, or this Chevy Suburban?" she grinned. "ALL OF IT" I screamed. "I try" she smiled, hopping into that big ass black SUV and motioning for me to get in. I looked back at my apartment, where Michelle was peaking out the window. I shook my head at her and made a signal for her to pray for me. I hoped to God Rih would be able to handle this monster of a vehicle. "How was you even able to afford this, Rih? It looks kinda new" I asked. "Been saving up. You want my old car? I'll sell it to you. Then I won't have to take your ass to work every" she said. "I would buy it Rih, but I don't have any extra money right now. I honestly dont even see how you have enough extra money to save" I stated. She laughed, "Well, I do some other shit too". I side eyed her, "Other stuff like WHAT?" "Don't look at me like that Bee. I'm not talking about that kind of stuff. But I do personal modeling for some of the artist in the class. They pay extra for me to come to their studio and do the same thing I do at the class". "How much extra?" "Well they are flexible. Sometimes its a rate or just a flat fee. I can choose, depending on what they want". "And you go over there by yourself?" "Yeah. I have. Trust me girl, I take precautions. But most of the time, its an older couple or someone that wants the extra practice or an established artist just looking for a fresh body. I get referred a lot". I sat and listened. How deep down the rabbit hole did this shit go? And how much money could you really make from doing this, without doing anything sexual? I wondered sometimes, could this really all be as innocent as it seemed? Did anyone ever use the art angle just to get some pussy? "I don't know about that Rih. And you're sure you have never did anything sexual?" I asked. She looked at me and frowned. Then twisted her face and sucked her teeth. "Bee. I may be a lot of things. You can go down the list. But I'm not a prostitute. I have never once had sex for money. My mother did. I never have. If you haven't been able to tell yet, I don't want to be like her or him. I love my body. I'm comfortable with my sexuality. But I would not lower myself past the standards I do have. And yes, I have standards" she spat. "I'm not saying you are a prostitute, Rih".

"Ok. And I was shooting that shit down before it ever came out of your mouth. I'd go to my dad for money before I considered f*cking someone I didn't want to f*ck for some money. That should tell you how much I hate prostitution". "I hear you. My dad would say what we did was already prostitution. Selling our body for money" I said. "Well your dad is a damn dumbass. No offense. He's a dumbass that raised a smartass daughter". "No offense taken. I'm really started to get comfortable with the modeling thing" I said. "Oh I know you are. Tiff was just telling me how you are a natural". "Natural at taking off my clothes, or modeling?" I laughed. "I'll let you decide that one" she joked. "Rih. You missed the turn. Where are you going?" I asked, realizing she had passed the exit. "Open your damn card". I looked at my birthday card and opened it. I laughed my ass off upon seeing the card.

"Just rub it in why don't you. I'm getting drawn naked on my birthday" I smiled. "No you're not. Does it look like we're going that way?"

"Well where are we going, Rih? They are expecting me". "I talked to Tiff. She gave you the day off. I'm taking you to the spa. We're about to get pampered" she said. "Spa? Pampered? No work?" I laughed. "Yep. Full body massages. Sweat room. Facials. Just like sex, except no semen" she smiled. And I spent the early morning and early afternoon with Rih at one of the best Spas in Florida, and boy did I get pampered. I felt like one of those rich celebrities that had everything available to them, including a team of people making sure every desire they had was met from drinks to finger foods to lotions and ointments and skin creams. When I saw Rihanna off to the side, with some cute ass hispanic guy massaging her, I thought that she probably did this just as much for her as she did for me. Just like her to use this as an excuse to get rubbed down by some guy. I laughed to myself, and felt the hands of the guy massaging me tighten. "Am I tickling you?" he asked sensually. "Uh Uh" I said shyly, closing my eyes and letting him work his magic. Rih eventually removed her towel, and the guy gave her a real full body massage, including her butt and back thighs. It looked wonderful. I was a bit more comfortable with my body, and well? It was my birthday so why not? My towel came off, and the guys hands came on. Turning 18 was so damn awesome. ** The rest of the day was filled with all kinds of phone calls, text messages, and facebook comments from people around the school. It was as if this day meant something school-wide. By the end of the day, I had over 80 comments from people, some that had just facebook friended me that day. A lot of guys and a lot of winks in their comments. It was too cute. Jarvis slid through, kissed me on the cheek, and promised he'd get me a gift when he had some extra funds, but I turned it down. His friendship was enough for me. By the end of the day, I got a call from Solo, and hearing her sad ass made me so glad I was away from home. She wished me a happy birthday, but sounded so dead. I tried to lighten up the mood by telling her about my day, including the full body massage, but she said she had to go. That put a damper on my night. I checked my facebook one more time and noticed I had a message from a girl I had only seen around campus. I had never even spoken to her. She was a senior, if I remembered correctly. Subject: Happy Birthday Message: Hey Beyonce. I'm throwing a party this Friday and since you are now the most talked about girl in the Sophomore class, you are most definitely invited. This is exclusive invite only (No Wiz, lol), so don't drag any friends, but you can bring your roommate Michelle since you two live together. The directions to the place, party info, as well as your official invite is included below.

P.S. Be Cute. Every guy there will be checking for you. My heart jumped for joy as I read the message five or six times before it finally sank in. Was I really the most talked about sophomore on campus? I hadn't been to school yet since turning 18 and I could already tell things would be different. My new found popularity, thanks largely in part to Tip telling everyone I was off limits, along with my newfound confidence thanks to Rih, was going to take this campus by storm. I told Michelle, and we both made it our business to visit the Mall the next day, checking out outfit after outfit. We even dipped into our rent money so that we'd be looking like the baddest chicks there. Michelle never was one to party a lot, but I think she was starting to feel left out, especially with me starting to get more friends and popularity. As silly as it sounded, I think she felt she had to keep up or she would risk losing me as a friend. I had been so aware of this issue, that I'd invite Michelle along everywhere I went when it was with Kelly or Jarvis. But she was so Christian-like, that I think she took issue with the fact that Jarvis was a homosexual. I had to check her one time because she called him a fag. If she was that way with a sweetie like him, then I sure she'd have a field day with Rihanna. I decided then that as much as I wished it would happen, all of my friends wouldn't befriend each other. Rih wouldn't mix with Michelle and Jarvis would barely mix with her. The best I could do, was Kelly, Michelle, and I on girls nights out. But this night, there would be no Kelly. It would be just me and Michelle, going out at night for the first time since last summer. We got did up, got our hair did, and stepped out of our apartments wearing our rent money. I figured I'd worry about next months rent when that time came. Right now, I was all concerned about making this party a success, and really introducing myself to FAM the right way. The rest of my college years depended on it, as far as I was concerned. Would I simply be the nerdy girl that was humiliated by Tip or would I become something special, someone that would be remembered as a diva? I so wanted it to be the last one. Jarvis picked us up and we made the 20 minute drive to the place where the party was being held. Nice neighborhood, with a ton of room for parking. I could tell this place was going to be packed. "Even some of the Florida State players are at this party" Jarvis said. "Any specific quarterback that you use to know?" I asked him. He looked, and sighed, "I think so". He had told me that the guy he talked about in HS had went to FSU. I wondered if they would run into each other and what it would mean. Jarvis was such a confident and brash guy, but this boy could break him down to a nervous, mumbling fool. I wish someone had that kind of power over me. I was sure it was humbling, but I was also sure it was delicious. I wanted to know what it was like to be totally sprung.

We got there slightly late, a little past 11, trying to make one of those "now the party can get going" entrances. I was nervous, almost as nervous as I was right before I dropped my robe to let strangers see me naked. But I had overcome that. I knew I would overcome this. In fact, I looked forward to it. I looked forward to being able to wield the power I now knew I had. I was beautiful, I knew this. I was confident, I knew this. And now, I wouldn't have to adhere to any rules that tried to keep my beauty and confidence in check. I was my own woman now. And it was time for announce that to the entire universe, or for the moment, these exclusive college students. The party was already going on outside as dozens of dressed to the T chicks and dudes stood outside, taking pictures, laughing, all with a cup in their hand. When I stepped out of the car and made my way up the grass, I knew that every eye was on me. It was how I envisioned college parties being. It was what I wanted. Their eyes, all on me. I worked it just by walking, adding a slight twist and giving just a small hint of a grin to let the niggas know I looked good and the females know I looked better than them. I didn't know what it was, but I really did feel and wanted to feel like the baddest chick ever. Stepping to the front door only added to my self indulgence. There was an actual bouncer there, I guess to truly keep the thing exclusive. I showed him the invite, he smiled and moved past, letting Michelle and Jarvis past when the showed their invites. The music was loud like it should have been for my arrival, and eyes from all over turned when we entered. A few people started pointing and someone whispered something to the DJ who was in the corner with his headphones halfway on his head. He nodded his head and then peeped me. "Awww shit. Guess who just entered fellas? She's been off limits for a year but Miss Beyonce just had a birthday this week and she just walked her fine ass in. Watch you men, ladies" the DJ laughed into the microphone. Damn what an introduction. I didn't know how to take it except straight to the head. It was like drinking liquor with no chaser. I was intoxicated on my own self importance. It was crazy. I was more popular after being out of the limelight for a year than I was when I was actually trying to become popular. Sure, people saw me around because I was active on campus. I was in NAACP faithfully and took interest in government, but my facebook page had blown up in just a week and everyone was treating me like some sort of A-list school celebrity. "Hi Beyonce. I am so glad you made it" the host of the party said, dressed in a halter top with matching capirs. "Thanks for inviting me" I smiled. She smiled at Michelle but didn't say anything and then waved at Jarvis.

"Well you guys have fun. Drinks are plentiful. Four kegs" she laughed before winking and walking off. "She's running for government later on. That's why she's throwing this party" Jarvis whispered in my ear. "She greek?" Michelle asked. "Nah. And that's why she won't win. Party or not" he said. I didn't really care about all that. I was here to be seen. I was here to be announced to the world. And as I looked around, I noticed so many different stares. Some were curious eyes. Some were lustful eyes. Some were hating eyes. Some were rolling eyes. It didn't take long for me to locate Nicki, who sported the rolling eyes. "There go your hating ass friend" I whispered to Jarvis. He laughed, "Yeah, there go that ho. NICKI! Get over here" he waved. "Why you bringing her ova here" I barked. "Cuz yall hos need to kiss and make up" he quickly said, waving her over. Nicki gave a look to the other chicks she was standing by and walked her cute ass over. I had to admit, she was looking extra cute tonight, easily standing out next to the other sorority chicks.

Her cleavage gave the impression that her breast were perky and that smile that never left kept her looking like a cartoon character. I hated it. But I think I hated it so much because she pulled it off so well. She walked over, smiled at me, blinked her eyes, and then spoke to her friend. "Hi Jarvis, Boo. What's going on?". "Don't hi me, ho. Why you hating on Bee? I can't have both yall hos over here cat fighting" he said. "I have no beef with Beyonce, at all" she said, turning her attention towards me, "Do you have an issue with me, sweetheart?" she smiled. I had, had enough of her fake friendliness. "First off. I'm not your sweetheart. Second, you are the one that has been rolling your eyes and making slick comments. You've been hating from the beginning" I smiled. "Hating, babygirl? What is there to hate on?" she grinned. "Maybe the fact that I could have your ex if I wanted to" I smiled. I saw her demeanor change for a split second. I knew THAT had done some damage and it

gave me a lot of satisfaction. The gloves were off when it came to her. I didn't like this b*tch. "Aight yall, no low blows here no low blows" Jarvis tried to intervene. Michelle looked scared. Like she wanted to say something but was too fearful of what to say. So she watched without a word. "No Jarvis, I can handle this. I'm a woman. A lady" Nicki began, "but your little friend here. She's a little girl. A little girl trying to become a lady. Wearing Forever 21 knockoffs and bragging about her open legs. Obviously, turning 18 didn't make her a classy lady" she smiled at me and tilted her head. I opened my mouth to stay something and she put her hand up, "Stay classy, sweetness". "Know what. You're not even worth it. Have fun with your friend, Jarvis. Come on Shell" I said, making my way past the smiling Nicki who seemed to enjoy making me leave the area I was in. Was this girl serious? I walked and balled up my first. I hadn't even been here 10 minutes and I was ready to leave. Either leave or knock her the hell out. Wipe that stupid smirk off her face. "WHAT is wrong with that child? Is she slow or something?" Michelle asked. "No. Not slow. Just a b*tch" I said under my breath. "Bee. Was that over Tip or something?" she asked. "I don't even know, Shell. I just think she has emotional problems". "Speaking of the devil" Michelle said, pointing towards the door. Tip and Smurf had walked in and immediately all the dudes tried to give them a pound. It was funny how they showed up right after we did. "Tip and Smurf are in da mutha-f*cking hooouse" the DJ screamed, causing anybody who hadn't noticed already to call their names and do some other ghetto applause. I wanted to go over and speak to him. He the man in this place. He was the man everywhere on campus. And I loved the fact that he had an interest in me. As hard as he portrayed himself to be at parties and such, he was such a sweetheart with me. Kind, gentle, soft spoken. I wondered if he was here for business, supplying the place with their fix of drugs, or if he was here for pleasure. Deep down, I hoped he was here for me. I decided not to make my presence known. I didn't want to seem desperate for his attention. He had wished me a happy birthday through text message. Didn't even call me. That hurt. I wondered why. Had he lost interest in dating me? Had he moved on or found someone else? I

didn't know, but I didn't want to press for answers either. He would have to find me. He didn't have the opportunity to as the first brave male since I had turned 18 stepped to me. "Sup beautiful. Happy belated" he smiled. I smiled back. "You wanna dance?" he asked. I peaked over and saw that Tip was talking with some other guys. Damn, I wanted him to notice me. I wanted him to see me and move every other guy out of the way so he could talk to me. I decided that the best way to do that would be to make him jealous. This guy was cute enough, I figured. "Sure" I said, looking at Michelle and then back at the random guy. Buy U A Drank, the new song by T-Pain kicked into the speakers, the snaps causing everyone on the floor to immediately start going crazy. T-Pain was like a legend around these parts since he was from Tally and everything, and when his jams played, everyone danced. Me and the guy started off slow, vibing to the beat and grinning at each other. I noticed for the first time what he looked like. Medium height, almost shorter than me because of my heels, but a strong upper body and a full beard. His mahogany skin was flawless and piqued my interest as we rocked and I scanned his face. By the time the hook came in, he had moved into me and slid his hands down to my lower back. I figured this was a good move and would definitely make Tip jealous. I decided to turn around so I could see, and let the guy grind his pelvis into my ass. I scanned the room really quick, not to make it so obvious and Tip was still talking to the guy, totally ignoring me. I decided to step it up a notch, turning back around and moving closer. The guy liked this, I could tell, because his smile vanished and lust took over. I was nearly touching his lips with mine and could all but taste his minty breath. Altoids I figured. I reached for his hands and moved them down where they were suppose to be. Right on my ass, for all to see. Only one song in, and I was getting freaky. I heard a few whistles and could feel myself become the center of the dance floor. But all I really wanted was to be the center of Tip's attention. "You smell good" the guy whispered into my ear after leaning in. When Young Jocs part came up, I stepped back a bit and moved my skirt down, as I could feel it sliding up the more I danced. I rocked a bit, not wanting to dance to slutty for the guy, and when the walk it out part came on me and the guy both leaned with it and rocked with it. I laughed as did most everyone else on the floor, since that part was the fun part of the song. After doing it a few times I took the time to quickly scan the room, and to my surprise, Tip was nowhere in sight. He left. Nowhere to be found.

The song ended and the guy was talking to me, but I was still looking around the room. Where had he gone? "You heard me?" he asked. "What?!" I asked annoyed. "Woah, baby. I was just asking if you were single or not" he said, softly. "Oh. Sorry. Yeah. I am" I said, half interested. "Well, you think I could get your number? Or something?" he pressed. I could already tell he was weak. Who asked? Tip wouldn't ask. Tip would demand. This guy wasn't Tip. I wasn't interested. "Sorry, but no thanks. Thanks for the dance though" I smiled. The guy embarrassingly looked around and tried to ease away. He didn't know he was only a puppet. More guys followed in line, looking to take his place as my dance partner, but they all were rejected. I sat with Michelle who was being her usual wall flower self, and drank a canned soda. I couldn't find that boy anywhere. And with him not being anywhere to see me, I didn't even want to talk to the other guys. "Girl, why you ain't dancing no more?" Michelle asked. "Why you ain't dancing?" I asked her. She laughed, "You know this isn't really my scene, Bee. I watch. And 2 step when a song I like comes on". "Like what? Kirk Franklin" I teased. "Oooh Yeah. You think the DJ has that?" she smiled. And that was when I spotted him. And I spotted her. Tip and Nicki were coming from upstairs, him following behind her as she lightly held his finger tips. I couldn't believe it. He had been up there WITH HER? What had they been doing? Could they have been? No. Not that quick. Damn. But what if he had? And to believe I had wasted my time trying to get his attention.

He was falling right into that tramps spell. Jarvis came out of nowhere and wrapped his arms around me. "Damn, Jarvis. The hell?" I barked at him.

He looked shocked and then smiled wearily, "The f*ck wrong with you?" I sighed, still looking at Tip and Nicki standing by each other, "Nothing". He saw what I was looking at and then chuckled, "Oh. That". "Grr. God I hate that girl" I said aloud, on accident. "And she loves that boy. Since HS she been trying to get the dude back". "If he don't like her no more, why is he even paying her any attention?" I asked, wanting to pin my hopes on something. "Even if he don't like her, that don't mean he wont f*ck her or let her suck his dick" Jarvis said. "Ugh. You think that's what she did?" I asked. "Oh she has. Plenty of times. She is just so dumb to realize it doesn't make him want her". "I thought you said she was smart" I asked sarcastically. "She is booksmart. Even more book smart than your ass" he laughed, "But when it comes to love. Everyone becomes dumb". Whatever, I thought. She was a dumb broad. And Tip was dumb if he would choose her over me. He said when I turned 18 he would be all over it. So why had I turned 18 and he wasn't even looking at me? Something had to give. "Jarvis, get me some beer" I told him, not asked. "You better say please or something" he grilled me. "Please" I said, still mad, still staring them down. I watched from the corner as they danced, she shaking her ass all on him, and him rubbing his hands all over her body, from her breast to her crotch. F*ck that, I thought. He wanted to play it rough. I could too. I downed my beer quick. And grabbed some niggga from the corner, ready to destroy his scrawny ass. Song after song I danced, the DJ making tons of comments, one of them causing Tip and I to make eye contact. He didn't smile. I didn't smile. We stared each other down, as if we didn't know if we were friend or foe. Something about it turned me on. When I needed a rest, I walked over towards the corner where Jarvis and Michelle was dancing. I figured he got tired of seeing her do nothing so he made her ass get up and dance. That was one thing about him I loved. He would get annoyed at wall flowers. Especially if they were in his crew. When they finished, he pulled my ass up. "Jarvis, I am tired. I need a rest" I exhaled. "Nope. Get up. Shake that ass" he laughed, pulling me up.

I couldn't refuse it. We danced until I was laughing and had briefly forgot about trying to make Tip jealous. I felt a tap on my shoulder, and sure enough, it was him. "16. Wassup, Shawty" he smiled, coyly. "Not 16 anymore" I said at him with slight attitude. "That's who you are to me" he replied. I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms. I wanted him to know that I was mad at him. "Is that pose to be your mad look? Your jealous look? Or your furious look" he asked, chin raised. "It's my why haven't you said anything to me all night look" I said, still with a stank attitude. "You were too busy dancing on some nigga. This was the first time I saw you dancing with someone who wasn't trying to f*ck you tonight" he said, eyeing Jarvis. "Oh? So you scared now? That never stopped you before" I spat. "Look Shawty. I gave you your space so you didn't feel obligated or tied down. You're free to do whatever it is you want to do" he said. "Did it occur to you that I only wanted to dance with you?" "Before or after that dude was rubbing on your ass?" Jarvis stepped in, "You did see that I was dancing with her, right?". Tip smiled at him, then turned to me, "Well I am dancing with her, now". He leaned in to me, brought me close to him, and instinctively I started rocking to the music, Kanye West's Flashing Lights filling the speakers. The DJ dimmed the lights on the dance floor, which gave the entire place a new atmosphere. It felt right, as I looked at Jarvis and told him I loved him, before fully giving my attention to the man of the hour. I looked in his eyes, and the lyrics spoke to me. As if they were Tips thoughts. I know it's been a while, Sweetheart, we hardly talk,I was doing my thing I know I was foul bay-bay, lately you been all on my brain, And if somebody would've told me a month ago Fronting though, yo I wouldn't wanna know If somebody would've told me a year ago I felt in tune with Tip, not even noticing his hands were all over my booty. He didn't move much, but he had enough rhythm to where it could be considered dancing. I didn't care though, I took up the slack by moving my body against his and making sure he got a preview of what he could have. My attention was all on him, until I accidentally saw Nicki with those other b*tches, looking my way and hating hard.

I was tired of it. I was tired of the neverending hate. And I was going to do something about it, right now. I was going to cement this and give them something to hate me for. I grabbed Tip's face, looked into his dark brown eyes, and our lips connected in what was my first kiss since I had been in college. And it wasn't just a peck. I slid my tongue in his mouth and he rubbed my ass, and I closed my eyes, as the final beats of the instrumental faded out and the lights cut back on. We were met with a round of applause. "Gooooooooot Deoaaaaaam" the DJ said over the speakers. I looked around, caught off guard that everyone, not just Nicki and her crew, were watching. Michelle looked shocked, but she had a grin on her face. Jarvis didn't seem to have much of an expression at all. I turned back towards Tip who was still looking at me. He leaned back in and I pecked his lips, soft and lush. "Looks like Tip has won fellas. And know what? The way all yall is checking them out. They might be the baddest couple in the damn school" The DJ spoke, loud and clear. Couple. That word was something that caught me off guard. The Dj cut to the next record and after a few moments of people wondering what Tip and I would do next, they went back to their regular routine. I looked and saw Nicki. She was no longer smiling. No longer hating. No longer looking like a plastic barbie. She looked hurt. Shamed. Scorned. And I loved it. "Shawty, I gotta put in a little work. Could I meet you back out here in a few?" he asked me.

I nodded my head, "I think ima go outside and get some fresh air". He nodded and bounced. I grabbed both Jarvis and Michelle by the hands and we went outside. "On the dance floor though, Bee?" Jarvis grinned. I was sort of embarrassed. I laughed it off. "I can't believe it either. Definitely not the church girl that came here last summer" Michelle grinned. "Was it that bad?" I asked. "Yall practically ate each others faces. Right after f*cking on the dance floor. Mines well just

go give him the pussy now" Jarvis said, shaking his head. All three of us went over by a tree, drink, and relaxed. I was getting a buzz. Wondering how my life would be different after tonguing down Tip in front of everyone like that. I wondered what it would mean in regards to Nicki. I wondered if it would get around the school. Shit. I wondered it Mr. Carter would find out about it. He said he had sources. That was the one person I wouldn't want to know. I'd rather my dad know than him. Tip made his way out of the crib with Smurf and some girl on Smurgs arm. They approached us grinning, and lazy eyes. "Bee, you wanna ride? We bout to go to Dennys" Smurf asked. I looked at the two friends I had came with. I could tell they didn't approve. "Ride with me Shawty. I'll have you home by a decent hour" Tip smiled. I looked back at my friends. "Bee. If you want to go with them. I can take Shell home and everything" Jarvis said. "Well why can't yaw go too? Jarvis? Shell" I asked. Both of them were shaking their heads, as was Smurf. I see. This invite was only for me and everyone could tell except me. "Bee, go and have fun. I'll see you later, ok girl?" Michelle said, trying to make it seem as if she was ok with it. "Come on Shawty" Tip smiled, wrapping his arm around my waist and tugging me. "Ok. I will call you when I'm on my way, ok Shell?" I said. "Sure. I might be sleep though. But call me" she replied. "I won't be late. I promise. And Jarvis, thanks again" I said, as I was being led away. "Why you be hanging with that clown?" Tip whispered as we walked. "Who, Jarvis? He's cool. That's my boy" I said. "He's a clown" he said to me under his breath. I was nervous and sorry that I was leaving my friends. But I had to admit, I desired to spend some more time with the dangerous and mysterious man known as Tip. Chapter 15

We rode through the nite, tipsy, no seat belts, loud music blasting. I rode in the front with Tip as Smurf and the other girl rode in the back. I could tell she was high off something, but I didn't know what. I didn't know much about drugs. Tip was hitting a blunt, undressing me with his eyes when he glanced over. It turned me on, I couldn't lie. The fact that he was halfway legit, but mostly illegal, was sexy. He took the blunt from his mouth and offered me a hit. I shook my head. He chuckled, and then offered it to Smurf, who took it with no hesitation. The music was too loud for anyone to talk. But we spoke with our body language and eye contact. I couldn't keep my eyes from Tips and vice versa. We made it to Dennys where we unwinded a bit and talked. I found out a little more about Smurf, and for the first time I realized he was actually a pretty smart guy. He was born and raised in Florida, played football at a college in Ohio before dropping out and moving back home. He stared slanging after he had a child. Had been doing it ever since. He was more well spoken than I had originally thought and definitely had the hustlers spirit. I see why he and Tip were so tight. "So I hear you wanna teach?" Smurf asked. "Yeah. It's been my dream since I was little" I responded. "Well if you have a choice. Make sure you try to teach in one of the inner city schools. Sad that so many of the poor schools got shit for teachers. Most of the ones worth a damn end up teaching at some school with all the white kids". Tip laughed, "Here this nigga go". "Nah, let him speak" I smiled. Smurf laughed, his gold teeth shining as the girl in his arm rubbed his shoulders.

"Nah, I'm just saying. One of the things that f*cked up the schools for black folk was integration. Took all our good black teachers away. Now they go to where they can make the most money and have the least amount of trouble. Most of the teachers in the poor schools don't give a damn. Just show up and collect a check. I'm just saying Beyonce should be one of the teachers that wants to make a change in the community" he said. "Aww. I like the way you think Smurf. I agree though. I do want to make a difference with my own people" I said. Smurf looked at Tip, "I think you got a good one, nigga". When we were done eating our breakfast dinner it was 1:30 am, and Tip decided to drop Smurf and the girl at their destination. She was giggly and flirty, seemingly out of it from whatever had her high. When we got in the car, not even five minutes after pulling off, I randomly looked in the rear view and saw her sucking Smurfs dick. I wanted to look away. But I couldn't. I needed to know if my eyes were deceiving me. But they weren't. I know they weren't. Smurf had his eyes closed and his head back and the girl was bent over, moving her head up and down. Tip started laughing. I looked at him shocked and he shrugged. It took every ounce of energy for me not to look again, but I managed as we pulled up to an apartment complex and the two in the backseat got out. "Yall kids have fun" Tip grinned, showing his white teeth. Smurf laughed as he and the girl made their way up the steps. We pulled off before they even made it in the door. We drove for a while, still listening to the club music that we started out jaming to. When we got to a red light, Tip reached in his glove compartment and pulled out a book of CDs. "Let's play something a little more chill" he said to me. I took a breath and let him do what he was going to do. He pulled out a CD and placed it in the custom installed CD deck. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was Brown Skin by India Arie. The shocked caused me to laugh. "BOY. What do you know about Acoustic Soul?" I laughed. He grinned, "I know it's beautiful music". "It is. But I ain't think you would listen to....'beautiful music". "Oh what you think I only listen to rah rah thug music?" he laughed. "No. I would think you might listen to some Usher or R. Kelly every now and then. When you trying to romance a girl. But India Arie?" "I listen to Floetry. Jill Scott. Erica. Common. Maxwell. I'm a neo-soul type of dude" he said seriously. "What? You serious?"

"Look in my CD collection. I got it all". "Hm" I said, flipping through the booklet, which contained all he said and more. He grinned as I looked. I figured he liked the surprise look on my face. "Fred Hammond? You listen to Gospel too, Tip?" I laughed. "Oh yeah. I love the lawd too Shawty" he smirked. I shook my head. "Him got Yolanda Adams. Tip, this big bad drug dealer has him some Yolanda Adams" I said before laughing uncontrollably. "Know what. Close my shit if you gon' be clownin" he said. He reached over for the book but I held it away from his reach. "I'm not clowning. It's just funny. I just can't picture you riding down the street playing this stuff". "You cant huh? Well put it in. Put the Yolanda Adams in right now and I'll jam it. Volume all the way up" he challenged. I accepted, popping out the CD and putting in the gospel CD. He followed through, riding around with Never Give Up blasting on his expensive speakers. I laughed the entire time while he lip singed the lyrics. "Sang with me girl" he teased. After he had nudged me with his elbow a few times I joined him in singing the song, no words coming from out mouths. We eventually stopped at a red light, still in the hood mind you, and a car full of rough looking guys pulled up beside us. Did Tip get self conscious and stop making a fool of himself? Did he get embarrassed? Did he stop acting goofy and try to become hard and tough? Nope, he balled his fist like a microphone and started fake singing into it, acting out the facial expressions for the song and everything. When the track hit a high note, his face expressed it. I lost it, tears coming out of my eyes from laughing so hard. The guys in the other car shook their heads and when the light was green, drove right on off, playing their tough guy music. After the track was done and I finally got a chance to catch my breath from laughing, he put on some Jill Scott, He Loves Me, and put it to a low volume so we could comfortably talk. We talked mostly about nothing, until he brought up the girl that had given Smurf head in the backseat. We pulled up in the driveway by the time we got to this convo. "I mean, she had to be high or something to just do it like that" I insisted. "Why the girl had to be high? Couldn't she have just wanted to do it?" "Yeah. But not in the backseat with us in the front. She was on something, Tip. Wasn't she?" I

asked. He laughed, "Yeah. Ex. She was gone". I shook my head, "I bet you wish I was on something like her, huh?" "Nah, 16. I like you the way you are. Pure. Not all out there like them other ones" he said. "Oh so you don't like the girls that are out there?" "Nah" he replied. "I don't believe you". "Why not?" "....Cuz" I said, like a little girl. "Aight. You say you don't wanna be called 16. But you acting like 6 right now" he grinned. I looked at him, he was sincere in what he was saying, which caused me to drop my hard to get act. "Tip. I wanna ask you something. But I want you to be honest" I said. "I've been 100% honest with you all along. But ask". "....What's going on with you and Nicki?" "Nicki? From the party?" he asked, looking surprised I had asked. "Yes. Nicki from the party". "Nothing, Shawty. There is nothing between us" he said, matter of factly. "Honestly Tip. You have no history with her?" He looked at me hard. "I...have history with her. But no future with her". "Why did you two go upstairs tonight? At the party?" He chuckled to himself and then took a deep breath. "She wanted to talk, Beyonce. And that's all that happened. She said her piece, I said my piece, and that was that". "Talk about what? Why couldn't yall had talk downstairs?" "She wanted to talk me into being with her. A bunch of shit I'm not interested in" he said. "Why aren't you interested?"

"Because I'm not attracted to who she is anymore. She use to be a good, sweet girl. I don't know what she is now. But I ain't interested". "Did she give you head?" I asked, thinking about Jarvis. Tip started cracking up, shielding his mouth as he laughed. "I'm serious. Don't laugh at my questions" I sternly said. "Shawty. The hell? No. I haven't touched that girl in some years now". "Then why you still text her?" I said, putting all my cards on the table. "She texts me. And it aint like I can keep my number hidden. Everyone in the school knows my number". "But she texted your personal cell" I pressed. He side eyed me and then laughed to himself. I guess he couldn't figure out how I knew so much. I liked seeing him squirm. But I didn't like that I had to let him in on what I knew for him to speak on it. "Aight Shawty. This is the deal. I was with Nicki for a minute. She was my chick. Thought we'd have a future together. But. Basically, the girl cheated on me. We had went through a period where we wasn't f*cking and I guess she needed something I wasn't giving her and she ended up sleeping with....your boy". "Who? JARVIS?" I yelled. "Yep" he sighed. "That can't be. Jarvis is ghay" I said. "He may very well be. But he and Nicki slept together back in high school". "Tip. I did not know that. Wow". "Yeah. She said she was drunk and he was there and it just happened. You know how that goes. But I ain't want nothing to do with her like that again. Since then she's been trying to get back with me. But, I ain't interested in a girl that cheats and changes her whole style up, ya know? I want someone....real" he said, eyeing me. His eyes made me melt. I inhaled and sighed. I wondered if Michelle was watching us out of her window, since we had pulled up. I was glad Tip had tinted windows just in case. "You know. The DJ said tonight after we kissed that you won. Is that all this was to you? A competition?" He leaned in, "Bee. Since the day I met you I knew. There was no competition. None" he stressed, his soft warm breath blowing in my direction. I swallowed.

"What if I told you there was another guy?" I asked, thinking about the man I had been having long IM chats with. "I''d wonder why you're kissing me right now instead of him" he said before I met his lips halfway, leaning in and kissing him again. It was slow and warm and his lips were gentle. I closed my eyes and put my arms around his head. I had kissed guys before. Plenty of times with Lyndell, so I knew how to kiss. But never had a kiss felt so right for the moment. Even though his breath had an alcohol tint and the weed smell was ever present in his clothes, it all was pleasing to my senses. It all felt good. The danger. The mystique. The fact that he was a balance between soft and hardcore. A drug dealer that could sing gospel. A mouth with a marijuana after taste but a sweet tongue and gentle lips. I kissed him until I couldn't no longer breath, and kissed even past that. He bit my lower lip and our tongues danced together, as rough as our bodies had earlier on the dance floor. He was a very good kisser, knew not to give off too much spit and was smart enough to not have his eyes open the entire time. I couldn't exactly explain a perfect kiss, but his would always come to mind. Perfect for the moment. When he backed off, I still wanted more, which I think was a surprise for him. Or maybe he was hinting that he wanted more past kissing. "What?" I asked. "You're a virgin, right?" he asked. I nodded my head without a word, unsure of what he was trying to get at. "That's crazy" he laughed to himself. "Why?" "I promised myself. After Nicki. That I'd never take a girls virginity again. I swear, that shit is metaphysical. It changes people" he said. "You superstitious or something?" "Nah. But I do believe in the spiritual world". "....Well. Tip, it's not like I was going to sleep with you tonight or something" I said. "I know, Shawty. I'm just saying". "Would you prefer I wasn't a virgin?" I asked. "No. Like I said. I like you the way you are". "So would you break your promise to yourself to be with me?" He looked in my eyes. He searched. I searched. He breathed in. I breathed out. "I would"

We kissed some more, petted each other and I left before the windows got too fogged. I was close to actually betraying my own word. I was that close to losing my virginity to him that night in the car. That close. ** I stripped down to my underwear, taking off my top to let my breast breathe, and laid across the bed, not even interested in showering. I was too tired. It was 3 a.m. Apparently the kissing between Tip and I had gone on far longer than I thought it did. It was sweet to me. Fun too. I had finally gotten a chance to kiss a guy here and it was the one student I could see myself linking up with. I wasn't sure yet if I trusted Tip, but I did love the way he made me feel. I felt alive when talking to him or being around him. Maybe it was his status in conjunction with his personality, but they both were sexy and engaging. He was so confident and would always take charge in a situation. But I did wonder why he didn't make a move on my in the car. He had every opportunity to, despite what I said about not sleeping with him. everything was in his favor. I was tipsy. I was horny. And I was letting him feel me up. He had rubbed on my butt and I let him rub my thighs under my skirt. I thought he would end up going for my pussy, but he never did. He would back off ever time, and simply keep kissing. I liked the kissing. Was just surprised he didn't go for more. Deep down, I believe if he would have made the move, I would have let him have me. I was that turned on by him and the situation. So much that I would have f*cked him in the driveway of my Duplex, in his car. On the first week I had turned 18. He could have had me. But he didn't take it. Guys could be so hard to figure out at times. I rolled out of bed and grabbed my laptop just so I could see if I had anymore facebook messages. Once Windows booted up, something else caught my eye. He was online. At 3 in the morning. Sure it was Saturday now, but I still never got why a teacher would be up so late not doing anything. We had gone past formality when it came to IMing but for some reason he still would never contact me first. I was always the first to speak. I decided to do so again, tonight. And see if maybe his source had told him what I had did at the party. QueenBey 2005 Are you on? There was no reply at first. I guess he was logged on but not at the computer. I was prepared to log off myself and go to sleep but he caught me. S. Carter is typing... S. Carter: Yeah. Sup? QueenBey 2005: Nothing much...saw you on....wanted to speak...before I went to bed S. Carter: You're getting on kind of late. Did it have anything to do with the party tonight? QueenBey 2005: lol maaaaybeee S. Carter: I already know you were there... Heard you were the center of attention too

My damn heart dropped when he said this. How did he know? And what did he think? I wonder if he had the entire story, including the kiss with Tip in the middle of the floor. QueenBey 2005: ...what exactly did you hear? S. Carter: Enough QueenBey 2005: Enough? Enough for what? S. Carter: To know you don't shy away from drug dealers... QueenBey 2005: Wow. I dont even know what to say. Are you disappointed? S. Carter: Nah. Slightly surprised though. QueenBey 2005: It just kind of happened.... S. Carter: lol Beyonce you don't have to explain why you kissed a guy. QueenBey 2005: I know I don't...but I want you to know why... S. Carter: ....why do you want me to know? QueenBey 2005: Isn't it obvious? S. Carter: No. It's not. QueenBey 2005: Don't you know by now that I care what you think of me?? S. Carter: Yeah but I guess I don't understand why... QueenBey 2005: Ugh. You can be so dense sometimes...I think it's all an act too S. Carter: lol QueenBey 2005: See? It's like your intentionally playing around with me

S. Carter: I'm not playing. I just thought your last comment was funny. QueenBey 2005: *sigh*...this is so one sided. You do this all the time. I do all the talking and you do all the laughing... S. Carter: Then why do you keep coming back for more? QueenBey 2005: I guess thinking things would change. But hey. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting change... S. Carter: No shit Einstein lol

QueenBey 2005: Asshole... S. Carter: ...how exactly do you want me to interact with you, Beyonce? QueenBey 2005: Stop being so robotic and predictable. I KNOW you're not as plastic and mean as you make yourself seem. I see right through it. And I'm just wishing you'd drop the whole shtick S. Carter: I don't think you could handle it, Beyonce. QueenBey 2005: And how would you know? S. Carter: You'd be embarrassed by what I said QueenBey 2005: Try me... S. Carter: Ok. How about this. I know you have some sort of thing for me that a student normally has for their teacher. You and a million other girls. I know you get hot and bothered when I come around. I see it in your face. I see the twitch in your body. I saw you going to work on the snickers. I see a lot of things about you, that you don't think I notice... I didn't respond. I didn't know what to say. S. Carter: You there? lol QueenBey 2005: Yeah...well if you know so much...why you still talk to me? Knowing I feel a certain way about you... S. Carter: Cuz I like hearing you talk...in class or outside of class QueenBey 2005: You are so full of it. It's 3 in the morning. Why would you wanna hear me talk this late? S. Carter: You IMed me.... QueenBey 2005: So and you still replied. I don't like how you try and make it seem like its only me. It takes two to talk at 3 in the morning S. Carter: And it takes one to misinterpret the nature of our talks QueenBey 2005: WHat am I misinterpreting??? God you can be a prick... S. Carter: lol. thanks for noticing... QueenBey 2005: I see why you are single and don't get along with your baby momma S. Carter:.....what did you just say? QueenBey 2005: ..... S. Carter: Wow

QueenBey 2005: You mad yet? Good. Because I'm mad too. I want to see what makes you tick. You say I'm misinterpreting our convos yet you don't help by being so vague. S. Carter: What exactly do you want from me? What do you want to know? Please. Ask away QueenBey 2005: Why do you talk to me? S. Carter: Because I enjoy it... QueenBey 2005: Do you talk to any other students on IM like you talk to me? S. Carter: No QueenBey 2005: So why me? S. Carter: That's a good question. QueenBey 2005: And I want a good answer S. Carter: Well. That right there. What you just did. Your...persistence. To push past the wall I put up. It's both entertaining and....cute. I guess, for lack of a better word. QueenBey 2005: No other students do that? S. Carter: Nah. I hit them with the boring teacher talk and call them by their last name and eventually they grow tired of the convos. But you? You just keep coming back. It's enthralling to watch... QueenBey 2005: And you don't think that is leading me on, Mr. ethics teacher? S. Carter: Leading, how? QueenBey 2005: To make me think...I am...a favorite student or that you...feel a certain way about me. Make me think im your type of something. S. Carter: A type huh? A student has never been my type

QueenBey 2005: Well pretend. Just for a second that I ain't a student. Pretend I'm just a woman you met. Would I be your type? S. Carter: Under this pretend scenario. Would you still be 18? QUeenBey 2005: Why does that matter? S. Carter: Perception purposes... QueenBey 2005: Mr. C. PLEASE. Just answer my question. For once in your life. Please. S. Carter: I'm trying to answer it as honestly as possible. But I need clarity. Are you basically

asking, if you weren't my student, would I be interested in dating you? QueenBey 2005: ...yes. That's what I'm asking. S. Carter: No. I wouldn't. QueenBey 2005: .... S. Carter: That surprise you? QueenBey 2005: It doesn't make sense to me. Why? My looks? S. Carter: Nah. You are very attractive... QueenBey 2005: Then what? You say you like when we talk and then you say I am attractive. SO why wouldn't you hypothetically date me? S. Carter: I don't feel I would be healthy for you. You are still growing. I don't want to interfere with that. QueenBey 2005: Yet you can chat with me for long hours even though you KNOW I like you... S. Carter: Beyonce a lot of people end up liking me. I'm pretty use to that. I can't shun away every student that develops a little crush... QueenBey 2005: A little crush huh. Nice way of wording it. S. Carter: What else would I call it lol? Love? QueenBey 2005: You make it sound I like you in a childish way...but its whatever. I wont even stress it... S. Carter: Exactly. I don't want you to stress over me, Beyonce. QueenBey 2005: You have a goofy way of showing that. You are a tease. Want to see how far you can go without actually acting on anything. And you say I am childish... S. Carter: I love your conviction there. Passive aggressive. But still nice. QueenBey 2005: Doesn't change the fact that everything I said is true S. Carter: Truth is subjective. It's your truth. It ain't mine QueenBey 2005: What's your truth, then? You ghay? S. Carter: LMAO. Why is it that women assume you have the ghay if you don't take their bait? Can the female species deal with rejection? QueenBey 2005: I'm just asking. I'm connecting the dots. It would make sense, so whatever. S. Carter: I'm 100% straight...

QueenBey 2005: I bet you are... S. Carter: You really are mad right now, aren't you? So hostile. And because of what? QueenBey 2005: Because you are full of shit S. Carter: How do you figure that Beyonce? What makes you so sure? QueenBey 2005: Because I know for a fact you wouldn't let all of your other students talk to you like this. But I just did and you are still talking. That MEANS something that you REFUSE to reveal. You keep downplaying it all. And you will follow this up with some more bullshit. Asking me how do I know and whatever else. I'm so over your gimmick. S. Carter: You know me so well... QueenBey 2005: No. I don't know you, Shawn at all. I know Mr. Carter well though. And he's full of shit. S. Carter: We on a first name basis now? QueenBey 2005: You've been calling me by mine, so why not? S. Carter: Look. I like you, ok? I like your naive mind and your youthfulness. I notice you. You stand out. And selfishly, I did want to explore more. And some of what you said up there is right. I do straddle the fence. But there is a point I won't allow myself to go past. I can admire you, your beauty, and your development from afar. Ok? QueenBey 2005: What point won't you cross? S. Carter: Admiring you up close and personal QueenBey 2005: See. I knew it. I knew there was SOMETHING there. That's all I was asking you to admit S. Carter: That may be nothing for you to admit. But it takes a lot for me to say something like that to someone like you... QueenBey 2005: Well just pretend I'm not your student. Just pretend. We don't have to be student and teacher on here. Not Miss Knowles and Mr. Carter. Just Shawn and Beyonce. S. Carter: Impossible... QueenBey 2005: Just try it. For five minutes. Pretend. If I wasn't your student. What would you want to say to me? What would you ask or want to know about me? S. Carter: ... QueenBey 2005: There isn't anything you'd want to know? S. Carter: There is. But it's not appropriate. QueenBey 2005: Yeah for student and teacher. But this is just you and me. No one else.

S. Carter: Are you drunk right now lol? This sudden sense of confidence and boldness is ing my mind up QueenBey 2005: I had some drinks. I'm not drunk though. I'm aware and I'm waiting. S. Carter: Between me and you....huh QueenBey 2005: I promise... S. Carter: You a virgin? I was shocked that the first question he wanted to know was regarding my sexual purity, but as I thought, it really wasn't that surprising. Isn't that what most guys wanted. And at the moment, he wasn't Mr. C. Just another guy. I liked that my boldness was messing with him. I liked that it made me appear more mature and confident. And because of this I didn't want to tell him I was a virgin and totally kill the moment. QueenBey 2005: No. I'm not S. Carter: Word? Surprised at that... QUeenBey 2005: Why are you surprised? S. Carter: I don't know. college? Just the vibe I had. So, did you lose it before you got to

QueenBey 2005: Yeah. To my HS sweetheart. S. Carter: Part of me wants to know what happened when you left the party with Mr. Harris QueenBey 2005: Who? S. Carter: Tip. Damn, you don't even know the boys last name? I hope you didn't sleep with him... QueenBey 2005: Oh...him lol. Um. No. We haven't slept together. S. Carter: QueenBey 2005: I promise we havent lol. We did other stuff. But not sex. S. Carter: Other stuff? As in? Head? QueenBey 2005: No. Just kissing and petting be someone special... . I want the first guy I sleep with out here to

S. Carter: You making a pass at me?

QueenBey 2005: What if I was? S. Carter: You are seriously a stubborn child... QueenBey 2005: But you're still talking, so I dont wanna hear that. Any more questions? S. Carter: What do you have on? QueenBey 2005:

S. Carter: Don't act now. You said pretend. And that's what I would ask an attractive woman at this time of the morning....so spit it out. QueenBey 2005: lol...my...my...my. That caught me off guard. I must say....but...im...wearing panties... S. Carter:... QUeenBey 2005: What? S. Carter: That's it? QueenBey 2005: Yep...

S. Carter: ...So you're just typing topless? QueenBey 2005: Yeah. Do I have permission to be half naked in my house?

S. Carter: Anyway.....What are you doing right now? QueenBey 2005: Playing with my pussy

S. Carter:

QueenBey 2005: LOL. My stuffed cat. I'm playing with it while I type to you... S. Carter: That's not funny... QueenBey 2005: Yes it is. Talking about I can't handle it. I don't think YOU can handle it. What if I WAS touching maself?

S. Carter: I'd ask who you were thinking about... QueenBey 2005: lol..some guy I know. Tall. Handsome. Wears some Bill Cosby sweaters sometimes. Talks in circles. Maybe you know him. Name is Mr. C S. Carter: Never heard of the guy... QueenBey 2005: lol. What are you wearing? S. Carter: That's not a question you ask the guy smh QueenBey 2005: And why not? Don't be sexist, Shawn Carter... S. Carter: Oh I forgot, you've been taking them new aged feminist classes with Pounder. QueenBey 2005: And what's wrong with feminism? S. Carter: What's right with it? QueenBey 2005:

S. Carter: I'm wearing a T shirt and boxers. QueenBey 2005: Oh so now we're changing the subject? Don't tell me you are a feminist hater... S. Carter: You are just going through that phase. Every early college student goes through that pseudo intellectual wanna be high cultured artsy hippie conscious phase. If you are a feminist 10 years later, I'd take it serious then QueenBey 2005: You think you know me, huh...That i'm like "every early college student". S. Carter: I may not know you all the way. But I know the phase when I see it. It's not a bad thing. I just don't see it as a permanent thing either. Trust me, I went through the same thing in my first philosophy class QueenBey 2005: Well you don't make for a good example to hammer home your point. You ended up as a PHILOSOPHY teacher. So it was permanent S. Carter: lol. I ended up teaching it because I love to see people go through the phase when their intellectual "eyes" are open. It's funny. Mr. Carter loves teaching it. Shawn thinks most of it is crap. South Park is more mentally stimulating that half of the Western Philosophers QueenBey 2005: Family Guy>South Park S. Carter: See, now you're just crazy... QueenBey 2005: Wait I just thought about something. Did you just call me a pseudo intellectual on the low?

S. Carter: No, I said it very plainly. It took you THAT long to realize it? Point proven

QueenBey 2005: So now I'm dumb? S. Carter: No, you're very intelligent. But you are in that stage where you think you are wiser than you really are... QueenBey 2005: And what stage are you in, smartass? S. Carter: The one right before Midlife crises, lol QueenBey 2005: Calm before the storm, eh? S. Carter: Correct QueenBey 2005: Do you think I will be a part of the crises? S. Carter: Do you want to be? QueenBey 2005: You ask the most obvious questions.... S. Carter: Blame Socrates, not me QueenBey 2005: Grr...whatever. I'd rather talk about your boxers and tshirt. Why not briefs? S. Carter: Cuz its more comfortable. Why not a thong for you? QueenBey 2005: LOL....would you rather me be in a thong? S. Carter: You ask the most obvious questions QueenBey 2005: lol....hey...Wanna talk on webcam?

S. Carter: IMAGINARY BOUNDARY! QueenBey 2005: lol we've went way past that now. Don't worry, I will put my top on. I just want to see your face and let you see me ok...please? S. Carter: Why would you put it back on? QueenBey 2005: Well, would you want me to leave it off? I would have put it on so you wouldn't be uncomfortable... S. Carter: I'd be uncomfortable either way. Webcaming with you in your bra and panties or topless is pretty much the same thing to me... QueenBey 2005: So what are you saying?

S. Carter: Web caming is not exactly a good idea... QueenBey 2005: just for 2 minutes. PLEASE. I just want to see you. S. Carter: How about this. I snap a pic of myself on my web cam and you take one of you? QueenBey 2005: Should I have my top on or off?

S. Carter: Ima leave that one up to you

I was extremely turned on by this point. This was as blatantly flirtatious as our conversations had ever been. And I had the opportunity to really turn it up a notch. The more he talked to me, the surer I was that deep down he liked me. Maybe not as much as I liked him, but enough to be intrigued. I mean, why else would he agree to exchange pics this late? I thought hard about what type of pic I'd take. He sent his first, just a plain dark pic of him with a hat on, covering his eyes. I laughed. QueenBey 2005: LMAO...I can't even see your face. Why you have a fitted on? You ain't gangsta! S. Carter: Oh, I thought that was how you liked your men. Thugged out QueenBey 2005: So you're trying to be like the dudes I like? Is that how it is, Shawn? S. Carter: Ima have to put an end to you calling me by my first name... QueenBey 2005: Sean. Shawn. Shaun. What YOU gon do about it? Huh? S. Carter: Hurry up and send your pic... QueenBey 2005: Aggressive much? Give me a sec...didn't know you could get so pushy...

I went into my closet and got one of the FAMU hats I had bought. I decided to be gangsta too. I put the hat on my head backwards, left my top off, and took 5-6 pics with my webcam, making different faces with each one. When I found a pose I liked, me frowning my face up like I was a gangsta, I took the pic to MS Paint and cropped my breast out of the shot. He would be able to tell I was still topless, but he wouldn't be able to see my breast. I couldn't take that chance. S. Carter:

QueenBey 2005:

S. Carter: Speechless QueenBey 2005: ...is that good or bad? S. Carter: Both... QueenBey 2005: Good as in you like it? Bad as in you shouldn't? S. Carter: Good as in damn. Bad as in DAMN! QueenBey 2005: LOL... S. Carter: Don't show anyone the pic I sent you...aight? QueenBey 2005: I wont...promise. Don't show my pic to anyone either... S. Carter: You need not worry about that... QueenBey 2005: Good..... S. Carter: Bad... QueenBey 2005: Good girl gone bad... S. Carter: Let me ask you another question... QueenBey 2005: You have my undivided attention... S. Carter: Hypothetically....completely. If Shawn was interested in you....what would happen with you and Clifford? QueenBey 2005: ....there would be no me and Clifford. Just me and Shawn... S. Carter: No one would be able to know about Shawn and you, though... QueenBey 2005: I don't care. I can keep a secret. I don't need the whole world to know about my man... S. Carter: Seems the "whole world" already knows about you and Clifford. Aren't you two now the, "baddest couple in the school". Why give that up? QueenBey 2005: First off. We aren't a couple...yet at least. It was just a kiss. Secondly, he doesn't make me feel the way that Shawn does... S. Carter: Which is what? QueenBey 2005: Let me put it like this. Tip makes me feel like a bad b*tch. Shawn makes me feel like a woman. S. Carter: Shawn isn't looking for a bad b*tch. He's looking for a woman. What are you?

QueenBey 2005: A woman that smiles at Shawn referring to himself in the third person lol S. Carter: Is that it? QueenBey 2005: No. A woman that thinks about Shawn all the time. A woman that would give up the boys of the school to be with the only MAN she sees. A woman that shivered when Shawn wiped chocolate from her mouth and stays up late even though she has work the next morning just so she can talk with him... A woman that is mature for her age. A woman that is willing to do whatever it takes to love her man the right way, even if it includes total secrecy... S. Carter: What about a woman that kisses and dances on random guys at random parties? What was that? QueenBey 2005: That was a lapse in judgment. A mistake this woman would never make again if Shawn would just give her a chance. A chance to prove herself as woman enough. A woman willing to promise him she would do whatever it took... I waited anxiously to hear him respond, but he didn't. Seconds passed, then minutes and still no response. My heart was shaking in my chest. I really meant that I was telling him and all I wanted was him to respond with how he felt. QueenBey 2005: You there? S. Carter: I'm here... QueenBey 2005: You have nothing to say? S. Carter: I don't know how to say it... QueenBey 2005: Just speak...w/ conviction S. Carter: Beyonce. My life could become totally f*cked by continuing down this path with you... QueenBey 2005: Or it could be totally fulfilled. I promise...no one would ever know. I don't talk to anyone about you or my feelings for you... S. Carter: No one? Not one friend? Not your room mate? Not a blog or diary? No one? QueenBey 2005: No one. I wouldn't do anything that would put you in jeopardy... S. Carter: ....Well....it's late. I think I am going to call it a night... QueenBey 2005: You aren't going to respond to what I said??? S. Carter: Not in the state I'm in right now. I don't want to lead you on or say anything out of emotion. I need to think about some things. QueenBey 2005: Like what? I hope you aren't treating this like an ethics class... S. Carter: I'm treating it like it is. A student who just turned 18 this week and her teacher

discussing a potential relationship. And the more I think about it, the more the dissonance sets in QueenBey 2005: So what would you have said if you were just going off emotion? What would your heart say? S. Carter has signed off... He logged off without responding to me. I was heart broken after spilling my emotions to him like that. It was past 4 in the morning but I couldn't sleep. All I could think about was the fact that he was pondering what I had said to him. It was surreal. I didn't even know I had it in me to be so bold. Maybe it was the buzz I still had going or maybe it was because I was still horny after the kissing session with Tip or maybe it was the same adrenaline that allowed me to take off my clothes for that class. Maybe it was a mixture of it all. But I had bared all for Mr. Carter. Well, almost all. I took out the syllabas and called his cell phone. He didn't answer, but that was quite alright for me. I was going to let him hear the sincerity in my voice. I had already gone as far as to him a sexually charged conversation with him, included a revealing pic of me, as well as telling him straight up that I wanted him. There was no turning back now. It was all or nothing. "You've reached Carter. If you are a student, leave your contact information and I will call you back ASAP". I was a student, but this wasn't school related. "Shawn. This is Bee. I understand that you have to think about what we talked about. But I want you to know that I really do mean everything I said. I have strong feelings for you. I think you have strong feelings for me too. And, well, I don't want to have these feelings for nothing. So I will give you your space, but please let me know soon if you feel the same way I do.......yeah...ok....goodnight". I went so sleep with my cell phone in my arms. ** I ended up adding one of Mr. Carters classes to my schedule, a class I didn't even need to take since this was my last semester of Gen Ed before I declared a major. I didn't care. I took his class unexpectedly because I wanted to be around him. He could hide by not signing into IM, but he had to show up to teach. Rihanna started letting me drive her car to work, telling me I could buy it when I got the extra money. She was cool about helping me out, but I really think she was just tired of taking me to work. Instead of seeing each other on those days we would meet up for Yoga or on the weekends. I was so busy with school and I had applied to a committee spot in NAACP. I wanted it on my resume. I wanted to be involved. The aftermath of the party had boosted my popularity sky high, so fast that it was a shock to my system. In just a week, I went from the homeschool girl to the girl that had snagged Tip. Tip and I weren't even dating, technically, but the kiss and the dance became school gossip, especially since everyone knew Nicki had a thing for him. While I was getting so many

comments and friend request on facebook, it wasn't long before the hating started too. The nasty looks and stares from the Sorority girls had truly started to get on my nerves. I asked Jarvis why so many of those chicks hated me, and he said it was because they were scared of me. I soon found out the chicks that seemed to dislike me all were associated with Nicki in some way. Nicki and her goonettes were the first enemies in my short life. "Bee. B*tches hate. The sooner you figure that out the sooner you'll stop caring about em" Rih said to me as she drove to the tattoo parlor. "It's so annoying though, Rih. Like, they acting like I took their man or something". She laughed, "You never know. Maybe they caught their man friend requesting you or something. You did say your shit blew up when you turned 18". I hadn't thought about that possibility, but I guess it could have been true. Didn't change the fact that it was a dumb reason to be mad at me. "RiRi, why are you getting another tat" I asked. "Cuz I want to" she said simply. "You don't think that will make it harder to become a mainstream model?" "It could. But I do what i want. So whatever". "I see all of those scars have healed on your arm". She grinned, "Yeah. That's probably why I want a new tat. My body needs to be adjusting to some pain". "That sounds so dumb, Rih. Why you need pain to operate?" "Let your ass experience some pain that gives you an orgasm. You'll understand why pain can be lovely". "I've never even had an orgasm before" I shrugged. She almost lost control of her vehicle as she looked at me. "WHAT?" I laughed, "Watch the road". "F*ck the road. It will be there. You've never had an orgasm? Don't you masturbate?" "...Sometimes. But, I never cum. I don't think I do at least". "If you have to wonder, then no. You don't cum. That's a damn shame" she said. "How is it a shame?" "It's a shame that you don't even know how to get yourself off. You can't even say you know

your body if you don't know how to make yaself nut". "I thought I'd experience it when i finally had sex. And I told you I almost did it with the one guy in his car last week". "Beyonce please. You won't nut ya first time. Or second time. Shit, you may never nut from a guy f*cking you. 99% of the time, a womans first nut will be at her own hands. Can't depend on no nagga to handle that for you". "That doesn't seem right. Why have sex then if you won't even cum with the guy?" She grinned, "Well for me it's cuz I like penis. The smell, the taste, the feel. I love a nice dick. Even if the shit don't make me cum, and sometimes I gotta handle it myself. Still don't mean I don't need a dick in my life every now and then". "What's giving head like?" I asked, curiously. "Bee. I'd be trying to get some head right now instead of worrying about giving it. You need to worry about gettin yaself off first". "I'm just asking. I know guys like that kind of stuff". She laughed hard, "LIKE? Please...the way through to a mans heart is through his Urethra and into your mouth". "Do I gotta swallow and stuff?" I frowned. "Look Bee. YOU, just need to worry about getting YOUR nut. Too many times a b*tch focuses on how to please a man and they never learn how to please themselves. Plus, you told me this guy has some other chicks sweating him. Trust me, the nigga is already getting his dick sucked. You just get yours" she said as we pulled into the place. She ended up getting tats on her hand. When I asked her why, she would put her finger to her lips and shush me. I loved her crazy ass.

I ignored Tips calls while I anticipated Mr. Carters. The days passed, but he never called. So when I showed up to his once a week class on Friday afternoon, I was eager to see his reaction. I was sure he knew I had added his class, but I was also sure he would be wondering how it was possible. I had convinced the guy at registration to allow me in the class even though it was full. He told me he wasn't allowed to make the class size any bigger than what it was but he'd go against policy and put me as the first name to get into the class if anyone dropped. Well, someone dropped, and I made it as the last seat. This made the second time it had happened. Lucky me. I had learned many things from Rih, one of which was the art of seduction. She had let me borrow the book, but just watching her work was all the material I needed. I leaned into the guy, flirted, smiled, and his melting ass followed my every command. I wasn't sure I could bare all to get free cable, but I'd definitely smile in a niggas face to get some things I wanted. And the one thing I wanted now was Carter. The class was Media Ethics, a class interested Journalism students ended up taking, Michelle included. She couldn't understand why I had decided to take the class, but I told her I was considering majoring in journalism after the documentary. It was a bold face lie, education was still my career choice, but she took it as truth. She was glad to have me in the class with her, as most of the time we had completely different schedules.

When Carter walked in, wearing a Blue long sleeve dress shirt and khanki's I wanted to hurl myself at him right there. All I could think about was our late night convo over the weekend and the fact that I knew he had heard my voice mail. I so desperately wanted to know what was going on in that head of his. If he wanted me as much as I wanted him, and how he would process the potential of dating me. Michelle spoke to me, but I wasn't really listening. "Bee!" she whispered, loud enough that it echoed through the room. Mr. Carter looked towards our direction and we locked eyes, briefly before he turned away. In that short instance, I knew he had saw me and thought about our little secret. It turned me on. To be in his class after what we had talked about. I wondered if he felt the same way. "Sorry, Mr. C" Michelle said. He smiled and went on with his directions. I had missed the first week of his class, so I was caught playing catch up. What disappointed me is for the next few hours he never even looked in my direction. Never once acknowledged my presence. He would act as if I wasn't even there. "So should a journalist print a quote exactly how it reads? Even if they know it's not what the person meant to say?" "I think it depends" said one of the students. Mr. Carter sat on his desk, not at his desk, as he often did when he was ready for a debate and sipped his coffee. "Ok. Say you are interviewing a baseball player. And he says this. 'I am so pumped for the game. I know the steroids will be pumping through my veins'. If you knew he MEANT adrenaline, would you put steroids in the publication or put steroids as he said it?" No one immediately raised their hand. I wanted his attention so I raised mine. He scanned the room, ignoring my raised hand, and when he found no one else wanting the floor, he finally focused his eyes on me. He smiled, "Yes? What do you think?" Michelle looked at me, unsure of what I was going to say. I didn't even know what I was going to say. I had never taken any sort of Pre-Req journalism course. "I think you should print it as is. If they didn't meant it, they shouldn't have said it. Your job is to just quote what they say" I said with conviction. Michelle raised her hand right after me. Mr. Carter remained grinning and pointed at Michelle. "I don't agree. I think our number one goal is to report truth. And that wouldn't be the truth. Secondly, we should strive to maintain a good standing with our sources. No need to alienate them by running something that we know is not what they meant. That's what a journalist should do" she said.
Mr. Carter nodded his head as if he was weighing it in his head.

"Aight class. What do you say? Do you agree with option A" he said pointing at me, "Or option B". "B" the class responded back. He smiled. "I think I'd agree with that as well. The goal here is accuracy. To print human error like that would be just a step below yellow journalism. Sensationalism. The same goes for grammar." I didn't raise my hand for anything else for the remainder of the class. Michelle participated, as did the other kids, but I sat and doodled in my notebook. When the class was finally dismissed, I waited at my seat. I waited for the usuals to talk with him after class and then I would ask him point blank, was he going to ever get back to me. "You coming Bee? I was gonna go get something to eat" Michelle asked. "I have to ask Mr. C something. Go ahead. I'll catch you back at the apartment" I smiled. She smiled weakly and left, waving to Mr. C before exiting. After 10 minutes, the last straddler had left and I was at his desk. He was moving around papers as I stood there. But really, he was simply avoiding eye contact with me. "You don't belong in this class, Miss Knowles" he dryly said. "...Is that all you have to say to me?" I asked. He looked up. "What else do you want me to say?" "I'd like for you to tell me why you never responded to the last thing we talked about". "Beyonce. You are my student. I'm your teacher. We're at school. This isn't your class" he said, eying me hard. "Ok. I will drop the class if you want me to. But still. Are you just going to ignore what we talked about now?" "Beyonce, what we talked about was a mistake. I made the mistake. I was wrong. I shouldn't have said the things I said. I'm sorry'. "I don't get why it is a mistake all of a sudden". "It was a mistake from the beginning. I should have never entertained it. Again, that was my fault. I got another class coming. So..." he said as two students came in the doors. I whispered "Please...can we just talk about this later? I can IM you". He looked at his students who were chatting amongst themselves and then back

at me. "..nothing to talk about, Miss. Knowles. If you want to drop the class, then fine. If not, I will see you next week". A few more students walked in the class and Mr. C started talking to them, leaving me standing there with books in my hands. I wanted to say something else to him, but he wouldn't even look in my direction. He wouldn't even look at me. I turned and slowly walked out of the class, checking behind me one more time to see if he was watching me leave. He wasn't. He was chatting with his students. I had to truly contain the tears that I felt wanting to knock me out. I was sure I would cry, but I just couldn't let it happen while I was at school. When I got the the car, Rihannas loaned car, I threw my bags in the backseat, put my head on the steering wheel and let it out. I was so angry at him. I was also angry at myself. I had all but thrown myself at him and this was how he had reacted. Where had I gone wrong? I was SURE he felt similar things for me the night we chatted. Why had he let a weeks worth of detachment from the the conversation disengage him from those feelings? I couldn't even properly get my cry on because I heard a knock on my window a few minutes in. I peaked my head up, and it was Chris, smiling like he always was. I didn't want him to see me crying, and I definitely didn't want to be around his smiling ass at the moment. I couldn't just ignore him, so I quickly blinked my eyes and wiped them, before rolling down the window. "You okay Be-Yawn-Say?" I gave a forced smile, "Yes. I'm fine, Chris. Just...I just have to shed a few tears...but I'm ok". His smile was gone now, all that remained on his face was a look of concern. "You sure?" he asked. I nodded my head and continued to force my smile. "..Ok. I thought you were sleeping. I just wanted to ask if you had read your email today". "No, I haven't. Why?" I asked. "The library reviewed our documentary and they rejected it. I don't get why. I thought you had said Carter insisted it would make it through". I was sure Chris saw the anger in my face as soon as I felt it in my heart. That asshole. He had done this. i just knew it. "Yeah. I was mad too. Oh well" he said, still looking concerned. "Chris. I have to go. I'll see you later, ok?" I said trying to not sound angry but failing.

"You sure you're ok? I'd be willing to listen if you wanted to talk" he expressed. I smiled, "Thanks Chris. But this is just something I have to handle right now on my own. But again, I appreciate your kindness". He took a step back and waved as I cranked up the car, reversed, and shot out of the parking lot. I had an email to read and one to write. ** Students interested in being on the NAACP committee at the school had to attend a City Hall meeting on Monday. Jarvis, Nicki, me, and about 10 others showed up. Rihannas car had overheated on me and was in the shop so I had rode with Jarvis. Little did I know, Nicki had rode with him as well. It was like sitting in the eye of a hurricane when i rode shotgun and Nicki rode in the back. Jarvis seemed to find it funny. "Are all gon talk or anything? " he grinned. "I said hi to the girl" Nicki smiled from the backseat. "I don't need to respond to her fakeness" I hissed to myself. "Fake, sweety? Nothing fake in here except that purse you are carrying" she said. "Sorry. Not everyone cares about conspicuous consumption" I rolled my eyes. "Can you even spell the word, little girl?" "It's a phrase, not a word, dummy" I shot. Jarvis cracked up. "Yall some SILLY hos. Calm down, Damn. Don't start fighting in my whip". "Jarvis, why didn't you tell me you were picking her up too?" I barked. "Cuz I knew your ass wouldn't come if I did. And you need to be here. I want you on NAACP with me. And damn, yall need to stop that fighting and shit" he said. "Sorry Beyonce. The world doesn't revolve around you. Jarvis has other friends" Nicki added. "Yeah. I bet yall are real close friends. Close enough to f*ck, huh" I blurted. "What?" Jarvis looked at me, with shades of anger in my eyes. "Nothing" I said, looking out the window. "No. What did you say?" he asked again. "Nothing Jarvis. Just forget it".

"Who told you me and her f*cked?" he barked. "I bet it was Tips lying ass" Nicki blasted. "So it's a lie? Yall never had sex in High School?" I asked, looking in the rear view. "It's none of your business if we did" Nicki yelled. I was happy to have gotten her out of her element. She was mad. "Yall can do whatever yall want to do. Just don't be acting" I said, defensively. "Acting what? Now I'm acting ghay?" Jarvis said. "Your words. Not mine". "I can't believe you, Bee" he barked, driving recklessly. "And you call this girl your friend" Nicki said. "Bee. I told your ass from the get go that I had been with women before. I told you that I didn't come out until after I had been sexually active with women. That doesn't change my sexuality. And I can't even believe you are over there judging anything I did in High School". "Like I said Jarvis, you can do whatever you want. I don't even care". "You cared enough to try and use that as an insult to me. And make it seem like it makes me fake?" We pulled into City Hall arguing. All three of us. Jarvis was pissed at me, and he had reason to be. Even if he had slept with Nicki back in HS, I knew it didn't mean he wasn't ghay, or that it meant anything at all. Hell, she could have been the girl he lost his virginity to, he did tell me the girl was one of the finest in the school and he couldn't get hard. I shouldn't have used that as an insult to him. But I guess I was so angry at the past week, that I was taking it out on whoever. "She doesn't need to be worrying about what I did in High School. She should be worried about letting her high school sister get knocked up" Nicki barked, before walking off. My eyes widened. HOW did she know this? I looked straight at Jarvis. "Did you?" He interrupted, "I swear to God I never told her that. I haven't told anyone that, Bee". "Then how could she know? Only people that know is you and Michelle". "Well ask Michelle, because it wasn't me. I wouldn't do that to you" he pleaded. "Whatever, Jarvis. I'm sorry for throwing the shit with you and Nicki in your face like that, but how else could your friend know about my little sister? Know what,

f*ck this. I will catch my own ride home" I yelled. "Well f*ck you too. Don't trust me. Shows what kind of friend you are" he bitterly said. There were people, all kinds of people standing outside in the parking lot watching us. Business men, school officials, TV crew. As I walked into the building I heard someone whisper that we were FAMU students, there for NAACP. I felt bad for dishonoring my school like that. I sat in the back after I had signed in. Jarvis and Nicki sat on the other end. We forced ourselves to not look at each other, Jarvis and I. Nicki would openly look and roll her eyes at me. But that was to be expected. I didn't really care about her stares anymore. But Jarvis. He was my first buddy here. The first person I felt open sharing some of my biggest secrets. Had I really assumed the worst about him? And was I wrong about my assumption? I tried to run it in my head who could have told Nicki about Solange being pregnant and it being my fault. Could it have been Michelle? That wouldn't have made any kind of sense. Michelle didn't associate with them. And even if she did, why would she tell them shit about me? We lived together. We were solid friends. But then again, she was there in Miami with us and maybe she felt a certain way about me doing that documentary. Shit, I didn't know, but the more I thought, the more it seemed like neither of them would have any incentive to talk shit about me. What would they gain? Maybe it had come from elsewhere, but who? I wore myself out thinking about the endless scenarios of this info leaking out, and by the time the meeting was about over, I was exhausted emotionally. It didn't help when I noticed out of the corner of my eye, Mr. C was sitting all the way to the other end. I had forgot all about him being involved with City Hall meetings and NAACP. He was the faculty representative for the meeting, and was sitting quietly watching. I wondered if he had seen me here. He had not been on Yahoo since his Friday class. I figured that he might have been on but had just signed in as invisible. I sort of liked that I had the power to change his internet activity or behavior, since he had come online everyday for the past few months. The meeting let out about 10 minutes later, and when I turned, Jarvis and Nicki had already exited the building. It seems I really was going to have to get a ride. The campus wasn't far from City Hall, but I needed a ride to the Duplex where I lived. I quickly took out my cell phone and walked outside, watching as Jarvis pulled out of the parking lot. I called RiRi and she picked up after five or six rings. She breathed heavily into the phone, "Wha?" "Hey. This is Bee. You busy?" "Getting...busy" she breathed hard. I then took the time to notice the smacking in the background as well as the bed squeaking.

"Damn. My bad. Never-mind". She laughed, "Ya...call ya later" she panted before hanging up. I called Chris but he didn't answer. I called Kelly and she didn't answer. I called a few people I knew in other classes but all of them were busy or couldn't come get me until later. I was stuck. I was going to have to call Jarvis. It was the only person I could think of. Or I was going to have to walk or call a taxi. None of those options were appealing. But there was one option that was. And he walked out of the City Hall meeting and we locked eyes as I moved from in the middle of the doorway. "Hey" he said even toned. "Hey" I responded just as even. "You enjoyed the meeting?" he asked. "It was alright". He laughed, "You can admit. It was boring. But I'm glad you ended up doing it so you can run for NAACP". "Yeah, well I have to do what I have to do" I responded dryly. He looked around. "Where your ride I saw you pull up in?" "Gone" I barked. "Someone else coming?" he asked, looking around the emptying parking lot. "Nope". "So how are you getting home?". "I don't know" I said, slight attitude. We shared a knowing gaze. He knew why I had an attitude. I had told him in many explicit words in an email that weekend. Called him all kinds of names. Asshole being my favorite. It was awkward now being in front of him and seeing him so friendly. He had all but ignored me for a week. He sighed, "Miss Knowles. Do you want a ride?". "Is that a real offer? Or a tease?" I asked. He nodded his head. "I guess I deserved that. As well as the colorful email you sent. But my offer is genuine. Where do you live?" he asked, starting to walk down the steps. I followed, clutching my purse to my hip and fiddling with my nails with my other

hand. When we had made it to his car, a silver Benz with a dark tint.

He unlocked my door and as I got in, grinned to himself. "What's so funny?" I asked, still making sure I sounded mad. "You're going to think I have money cuz of this car". "Well. I do think you have money. The wardrobe you have ain't exactly cheap" I shot. He cranked up the car and I told him where I lived. "Yeah, I know where that is. Not too far from here. You could have walked" he joked. "Yeah" I said dryly, not finding humor in any of this. After we had pulled out of the driveway and was buckled up, he looked over at me. I was pretending to be staring straight out the window. But I felt him. I felt him watching. His glare made me feel alive. I just hoped none of my body language gave it away. My leg vibrated but I ignored it. "Beyonce. I'm sorry about everything, aight? I admit. I haven't handled this situation very well at all. I teach, and to you that might make you think I always do everything perfect. But I don't. I make brash decisions and bad mistakes too. I'm sorry for how I contributed to the misinterpretation of our relationship" he said. "So you're saying everything about us? Our chats? Our talks? Everything was a mistake?" I barked.

"Everything that polluted our relationship was" he said. I shook my head and took a deep breath. "Beyonce. I know you won't understand it now-" I interrupted. "Stop saying what I won't understand. I understand that I had feeling for you and you had feelings for me and that you b*tched out, basically" I said, feeling the tears coming. "I didn't "b*tch out" Beyonce. I smarted up". "What was so smart about you running from this?" I asked. "It's called foresight. Maybe you will develop it when you get older. But I saw us and then I saw the end of us. And it wouldn't be pretty. There is nothing good that can come from this. Either it leaks out somehow or one of us breaks the others heart" he said. "I wouldn't break your heart and I wouldn't leak anything. So it seems you are just worried about you doing something crazy" I spat. "That's your lack of foresight. Neither one of us would have to intentionally leak anything or try to do something to hurt each other. Doesn't mean it wouldn't happen". "Keep making excuses. You say I have a lack of foresight, and I say you have a lack of courage. You are a coward, Shawn Carter" I said, the tears now in my eyes. "I can take being called a coward. Because I am. This right here. Scares the living shit out of me. And I have every right to be afraid of it. Every reason to be" he reasoned. "How can it scare you? It excites me. It makes me feel alive. I FEEL the connection we have. You don't?" "I've felt it" he sighed, turning a corner. "And it doesn't excite you?" "No. It scares me. I cant be impressionable and excited about every connection, like you can Beyonce. You have your entire life ahead of you. To love and f*ck and break up and make up and love again. It's exciting for you. Me? I've laid the foundations for my life already. And any mistake by me can send the foundation crashing". "You won't even give it a chance though" I spat. "Chance is always against us. It's like rolling the dice, Beyonce. I can't roll the dice on this and then I lose everything". "Shawn. Chance is more than expectation or possibility. And even if it wasn't, is

there a better bet than love?" "I wouldn't call this love. Lust, maybe" he said, eyeing me. "How can you define it when you won't even give it a chance? Chance is only what we make of it, Shawn. And it's all I need". We pulled up to the Duplex but remained on the side of the road. I guess he didn't want to pull in the driveway. He truly was attempting to drop me off. "This your place, right?" he asked, as if the conversation was over. "Shawn. Give me a chance. Give us a chance" I said, nearly begging this man. He looked in my teary eyes and I could feel him rethinking his entire decision. I wish I could have been Rihanna at that point. She could seduce a guy. Look at him, grin, and have him thinking with only his dick. But I wasn't her. I was a tearful girl, still trying to find my way, and hoping that way would be with the one guy that truly had my heart. Someone could have asked how did I fall for a man through lectures and IM chats. I couldn't explain it. I wouldn't have been able to explain it. And that was how I knew it was real. It wasn't rooted in an easily understood narrative. My heart was telling the story, not the mind of a romance writer. "So what do you want? A date? A kiss? A relationship? What exactly do you want a chance to do?" he asked. "I just want a chance to be with you. Whatever that entails". He took a deep breath and sat back in his seat. The car was running, which gave me the impression that it would help decide his decision for him. I didn't want him to be in any rush. I put my hands on the gear, put it to Park, and then turned the car off for him. He eyed me as I did this and swallowed hard. "Beyonce. Logically. I can't make this decision. I just can't let myself do this" he eventually said. I shook my head as he spoke. And something hit me. As hard as anything had ever hit me in my life. A feeling of empowerment and confidence. Stronger than what it had been that first life drawing class. Stronger than it was when I left Houston without telling my parents. The feeling that when there was a will, there was a way. And my will couldn't had been stronger at that point. I knew what I wanted. I knew who I wanted. And I wasn't going to take no for an answer. I wasn't going to let the moment slip, without taking full control of it. He continued talking, but at this point I had blocked his defeated words from my brain. My will built a barricade around my mind, so nothing unhealthy could destroy the power trip I was on. Nothing was going to stop me from doing what I had in mind. Not fear, or doubt, or logic, or Carter himself. I moved over in my seat and quickly reached my hand towards Carters pants. He had been wearing a business suit, which seemed like overkill for a City Council meeting, but what did I know. Carter was just that kind of a guy. Dressing to please himself and not others. He immediately went for my arm and I was

prepared to fight him away. "Wut chew dawin?" he quickly said, sounding halfway slow and all the way confused. He was uneasy. I was excited. Like a microcosm of our emotional states when it came to us. And the even bigger microcosm would be his inability to say no to me. I reached for the bulge, which was hard to miss, a clear curve sitting near the seat. He was fighting with me, his hands pulling my arms, but he wasn't putting enough muscle into it for me to believe he was serious. He didn't believe his reluctance. He had no conviction. If he were being graded on his conviction, it would have been a C Minus. "Bee....stop" he whispered, looking around. I took that to mean keep going. I mean, why look around? I went for his zipper and tugged it down, the distinct roar sending a tingling rush through my body. He was breathing hard now, still telling me to stop, but barely above a whisper. Soon, he wouldn't be saying anything, I was sure of it. His button was next, which took me a second to get undone, but when I managed his fly came open which revealed black briefs. So much for the boxers being more comfortable. Once I actually saw the briefs, a small amount of self doubt filled my head. I guess I really started to realize what I was doing. It was the same self doubt I felt when I pulled my panties off in that dressing room. And just like that time, his bulge staring back at me was like a mirror. I could imagine myself pulling it out and sucking on it, but actually doing it was the taller task. My indecision gave him the courage to pull me up. "Bee. No. I can't let you do this" he said, going for his zipper and intending to zip it back up. I was loosing my footing. My waver in confidence gave him the strength to stop me. I had to do it. I wanted to do it. Without a word, but replaying him telling me he can't let me do it, I leaned in, stopping him from zipping his pants back up. I grabbed the top of his briefs and slowly begin easing them down. I didn't want my nails to accidentally scratch him so I took my time, making sure I'd clear his bulge without hurting it in any way. He was breathing heavily, but I couldn't tell how he was looking. I didn't have time to check. After one final tug, the bulge transformed. It raised itself up like the school flag, proudly waving before settling into a firm salute. So this was what a close up penis looked like. I looked at it in awe for a moment. Brown and stiff. Slightly curved towards me. I was especially interested in the tip. It looked fascinating. Mushroom like except with a hole. I wanted to keep staring at it but when I felt Carter reposition himself, I remembered that I had pulled it out for a reason, and the reason wasn't to pull out the microscope. His dick didn't need one of those though. I couldn't put a number on it, as I had never measured a dick. But when i guesstimated how much of it I could

comfortably fit in my mouth, I knew it wouldn't have been the entire thing. It was too long and too wide. I was cautiously optimistic that I could even get half of it in there. My mouth was watering thinking about fitting it in. I really wanted to know how it would taste. But with it in front of me, all I could taste was my own saliva. I took a breath to calm my nerves and get a grip on the free flow of spit that had flooded my tongue, and I leaned all the way in. I placed my right hand on my lap and my left hand on his chest for leverage. This was my moment of truth. This penis was about to become mine. I kissed the mushroom head first, wanting to get a feel for the texture before it went in my mouth. I was surprised when I felt fluid on my lips. Precum. How could I have forgot? I didn't learn about at home school because my curriculum never included sex ed. But I had learned about it at the workshop. Precum helped with lubrication, but it didn't have much sperm so pregnancy wasn't likely. That's what they had told us. I thought about precum, and the fact that it was in my mouth as I gently kissed his tip, feeling him tense up at each peck. I loved this. The danger. The power. The overpowering lust. The fact that I was forcing him to give in to me. Never again, would he be able to take solace in knowing there was a boundary between us. There wasn't. My tongue was circling the tip of his dick. No such boundary existed anymore. I wanted to taste the rest of it before I put it in my mouth. I wanted to know every reaction from him. I wanted to know if he liked small pecks or licks or tongue kisses on his dick. And I wanted to know how his body would respond. I leaned in some more and placed my lips around towards the base , which was some ways down from the tip and I allowed myself to kiss him from the bottom to the top. His entire body tightened as I did this. I could fell his heart beating with my hand, a quickened thump against my palm. I decided to do it again, this time starting from the top and pecking my way towards the base, allowing my tongue to slip out every few pecks. Again, like clockwork, he held his breath and tightened his body. I could sense I was doing something to him. I was driving him crazy. He responded by the second round of full penis tongue kisses by putting his hand on my head and pushing down. I guess he was ready now. No reluctance. No no's. No stops. He wanted this. Although it was halfway because I had pushed him into a corner of no return. I opened my mouth wide, not sure how wide I'd need to go to do this right but the gap adjusted to his size once the entire head went in my mouth. Feeling the head, wide and hard, in the inside of my lips was a thrill as well as the loud moan that escaped from his lips. This was no longer a want. We were treating this as a need, right up there with food and water. And as more of his dick eased into my mouth, I relished it like a delicate treat. Like chocolate. Like melting chocolate. Filling every space in my mouth. And when my mouth had been filled to the point where I could no longer take anymore I came up for air, like A dolphin coming out of the ocean. I swallowed the build up of pre-cum and spit, and dove back in for more. I had never even used some of these mouth muscles before, and I felt a small

ache in my shoulder area. But I looked at the ache as a plus. Like the first time I worked out. No pain, no gain. The aches eventually faded in the back of my head as I continued slowly moving my head up and down his penis. I was able to fit about half of it in my mouth, but desire called for more. I sat up, and he looked at me like I was crazy. "You done???" he blurted. I grinned at him and repositioned myself. He did the same, giving me a better angle for him and looking around and making sure the area was secure. Our street wasn't very busy, but the biggest concern was somehow if Michelle came outside to see what strange car was parked outside of our crib. I held his dick with my right hand and used my knee against the chair to support me this time. I felt a lot more comfortable when I took him in my mouth the second time. He seemed a lot more comfortable too. Not holding his breath time time, but jumping and then settling down. Out of curiosity I took as much of him into my throat as possible, although it wasn't much. I guess I still needed practice with that. In this new position I could suck and look towards him. I liked it. I could feel his body react to me and see his face. He looked down at me which sent even more electricity through my body. I had an innocent glare in my eyes as I sucked. Slow and steady. I imagined what he was thinking. Shy Beyonce, the girl that wouldn't speak up in class, now giving him a blow job in his car on the side of her apartment. There was a delicious coat of irony to this entire thing, making sucking his dick even more thrilling. He reached for my head and moved my hair out of the way which had fallen in front of my face multiple times. This excited me. He wanted to watch as as I pleased him. He wanted to see me. We locked eyes and I sucked, loving each time his penis hit the sides of my mouth and scraped against my tongue. I'd stop a few times, for air mostly, but licked him while we stared at each other. This was my first time, but all of this felt natural. Pleasing the man I had feelings for felt natural. I didn't feel degraded or submissive or lower than him. I loved the feeling of catering and providing and pleasing. I loved that I was making him feel good. I couldn't tell how much time had passed but the longer he remained in my mouth the more things I started to notice. Like the differences in texture, some parts more rough and others more smooth. The fact that when I speeded up he would hold his breath and when i slowed down he would exhale, and realizing I controlled whether he breathed or not. And then I noticed I could actually feel his heartbeat. It was like having a stethoscope placed on his chest. But instead, his dick, carrying blood directly from his heart, carried each tremble from his beating heart. My pussy was overfilled with my own juices as I sucked on him, and after I noticed his heart beat, I started sucking as hard as I could, my neck beginning to suffer from cramps. He put his hand on my head and helped guide me at the pace he wanted, and then I felt his entire dick harden, as did his body. I looked up, and he was still eyeing me. Our eye lock didn't prepare me for the rush of fluid that filled my mouth as he shook and cringed from a car shaking orgasm. I had always thought that swallowing semen was nasty. But as the salty mixture

of semen and spit flooded my tongue, I didn't feel nasty. I felt accomplished. I felt like a bad b*tch and a woman. Instincts took over as my body told me to swallow, totally overriding anything my mind would have told me. The thick build up of semen and spit went down as smooth and eagerly as a melted Snickers bar. He was breathing hard, as if he had been in a marathon. He had said God a few times and had his eyes closed. I took the down time while he caught his breath to kiss his still moist tip, hole and all, and swallowed that small bit too. I still wanted it in my mouth. I didn't want to stop. But when I attempted to suck on it again he shook violently, and snatched me up. "Chill. It's sensitive" he managed to say. I sat up and assessed him. He looked exhausted. And I was the one that had done all the work. I bit my bottom lip and tried not to laugh at how defeated he looked. He looked like he had been in a fight and lost. "You ok?" I laughed, quietly. "Damn...you...sucked the Jesus out of me" he exhaled, trying to find laughter but only finding a shortness of breath. I giggled at this. And covered my mouth, slightly embarrassed, but inspired by his compliment. We sat in silence for a few minutes. He had his eyes closed and his head rested against the seat. I was leaning on the car window and looking at him. He looked like he was sleeping. But I knew he wasn't. He was playing with his fingers. "Are you mad at me, Carter?" I asked, breaking the silence. He laughed, still with his eyes closed. I guess he had finally caught his wind. "Beyonce. Mad is the last thing I am feeling right now". "Well...Say SOMETHING. I'm feeling insecure over here after just....doing that....and you not saying nuttin". "I don't wanna say anything based off emotion" he said, eyes still closed. "Are we still stuck on that? After what I just did?" I asked, starting to get an attitude. "Nah. It's not like that. The imaginary boundary stuffed. We're past that" he laughed, "But. If I were to speak off the high of....what you just did. I might tell you that I f*cking love you right now". "Love? I thought this was lust?" I grilled. "Exactly. Why I can't speak from that place. I gotta wait for my feet to land back on the ground". "Do you think I only did that for lust?" I asked.

He finally opened his eyes and looked at me. "I know why you did it. And I know it wasn't just oral sex for you. And that's what is tripping me out. I felt it. And I don't want to stop feeling it". "Feeling what?" "That connection you keep bringing up. It's there. And after tonight, shit. It ain't gong nowhere. I guess ain't no way I can downplay it now". "Why would you want to, Carter?" I asked. "Beyonce. Don't you see the position I am in? I mean, I see where you are coming from?" "And I see where you are coming from" I insisted. "No pun" he laughed. It took a while for me to get the reference. We both chuckled shyly. The tension was still thick, the embarrassment still smeared on our faces, despite the release for one of us. We hadn't even kissed yet and I had sucked his dick. "Look. I'm your teacher. I'm expected. Counted on to remain neutral and distant from my students. I'm expected to be the adult when I'm dealing with young adults. If I act on this. I'm the devil. I'm the villain. I should have knew better. I should have done better. I should have stopped it. And what makes it worse is that you started my class at 16". "But we aint do nuttin till now". "Yeah, barely a week after your 18th birthday. If this came out, it would look like I....waited on this moment". "But it's not going to come out...No Pun" I laughed, deciding I wasn't going to use that word in this convo anymore. "You promise, Miss Knowles?" he asked, looking at me heard. "I promise, Mr. Carter" I smiled at him. He leaned in to me and motioned me over. Oh my god. We were going to kiss for the first time. How backwards. I felt more nervous for our first kiss than when I had whipped out his penis. Different dynamics here. I had given him head. But HE was kissing me. His lips pressed against mine and I almost lost feeling in my pussy because of how hard the arousal hit me. I wanted this man so much. Lust had completely raped me of any other want or desire or longing in the world. And I felt 2 feet tall as he kissed me and I kissed him back. I felt overwhelmed by emotion. He didn't use tongue, like Tip had the first time we kissed, but our lips danced together as did our heads. When his hands reached for my thigh, something I mentally wasn't prepared for, a loud rumble that caused both of us to panic as he jumped and my eyes

widened with shock. We were both so panicky and jumpy. It was only my cell phone, vibrating against the door. Usually the vibrating was subtle, but my leg was planted against the door so and my keys so it had made a louder noise. He grabbed his heart and let out a huge sigh, closing his eyes and chuckling. The same chuckle that comes out after a jump scare during a horror movie. "Yo, I gotta get out of here. This shit has me on edge" he said. I looked at the phone and it was Jarvis. "Hold up ok?" I asked Carter. "Hello?" I answered. "Where you at? Michelle said you ain't came home yet and I don't see you at the place" he pressed. "...Um. I got a ride". "From who?" Mr. Carter was shaking his head at me and doing a throat slash. "From one of my other friends" I lied. "Well damn. You should call your people and let them know wassup. Michelle calling me and asking where you at and I'm getting scared thinking your ass walked home or some shit. Don't be scaring niggas like that. Call someone" he barked. "Ok. Well, sorry. I'm fine". "Where you at? Michelle said she tried calling you a few times and that you ain't home. So where you at now?" "I'm just riding around with my friend...We're talking". "Who, Tip?" "No. Jarvis, can I just call you back?" I asked, seeing Carter staring at me. "Call me back tonight, ho. We gotta talk about this bullshit from tonight, aight?" "Ok. I will call you. Thanks for checking up on me and everything". "Yeah whatever. I dislike your ass right now but I still love you. We'll fight later. Talk to your 'friend'" he said. I laughed, "Love you too. Bye". Carter raised his eye and grinned, "Jarvis? The one that was in my class?" "Yeah" I smirked, "We kinda had a fight tonight. He all overprotective though so he was wondering if I had made it home".

"Anyway. Bee, can I just IM you tonight? I'm bout to have a heart attack thinking Michelle is going to come out here or someone I knew is gonna recognize my car" he said. "IM? Haven't we moved past that? Why can't I call you?" I asked. He laughed, "Ok. Call me. But call me before you call your friend" he said. "Why?" "To get our alibis together". We kissed for a few more moments and then he backed off and rushed me out of the car. When I walked into the house, Michelle was on the couch watching HBO. She sat up when I walked through the door. "Bee, where you been? You ain't answer none of my calls" she said. "I'm sorry Shell. I was with a friend. We were talkin and stuff" I said, self conscious of my breath and hoping it didn't smell of penis and cum. "Friend? Tip?" she smiled. "Um....No...Not Tip" I smiled back. "Rihanna?" she asked. "Yeah" I lied, hoping to God that it sounded believable. "Hmm. Well I hope yall ain't doing no lesbo stuff, cuz she got you glowing girl" Michelle smirked. I laughed, "Never. But anyway I'm about to shower". I walked into the hallway, hoping to hurry and get the hell out of there before I'd have to think of another lie. "How was the meeting?" she asked before I could. "It was ok, I guess. Kinda boring". "Was Mr. Carter there?" she asked. "I think so" I screamed from the bathroom before shutting the door. I just stared at myself in the mirror and cracked up laughing. If only Michelle knew that her biggest fantasy had become my reality. I got in the shower, still smiling from the nights events, and attempted to masturbate to the thoughts. Michelle knocked on the door in the middle of it. "Bee. I forgot to tell you. Rihanna called me for you a little bit ago" she said, matter of factly. I reached for my pants on the floor and pulled out my cellphone. I had missed calls from Michelle and Rihanna. Wasn't a very good start to this lying thing.

Chapter 16

My ankles throbbed trying to hold a kneeling pose on the platform. I had already taken two rests and didn't want to distract the artist anymore by taking a third break. This was the final pose for the day, an hour long sketch, and as always the most physically grueling part of the class. At the beginning of each session, I'd be nervous and reserved about my nudity but everytime we reached that hour long pose, those feelings would be replaced by restlessness. "Those that are drawing from the front. Capture her tremble. Her overheated muscles. Her exhaustion. Those with a back view, draw that pain in her back. In her feet. The pressure on her toes. It's more than just an image you are trying to capture. It's emotion too" Porter said. I continued to hold pat although I didn't know if I could hold it much longer. I gnawed my teeth together and closed my eyes, thinking I'd have to give up and take another break any second now. I felt the burn all over my body, a burn equal to that of the most excruciating exercise. The Yoga training had helped with my flexibility and stamina, but this right here was torture. I started wobbling, and waved my arms like a see-saw to catch my balance. I couldn't take it anymore. But I ended up being saved. Saved by the ringing timer. The hour was finally over. I stood up and exhaled a huge sigh of relief, stretching my legs and curling my feet to bring the normal feeling back. I grabbed my kimino and quickly threw it around my body. Soft Jazz was playing, the music I had requested be played during my sessions. When I looked back at the students, only a few of them had started to pack up. The rest of them continued staring at where I had been and drawing. I was no longer the subject. the ghost of my pose was and it had their full attention. "Great poses tonight, Beyonce" Porter whispered to me. I nodded and smiled. He didn't give much compliments. So when he did, I knew they were genuine. I put on my slides and began walking towards the door so I could get dressed in the dressing

room. I had to hurry and get back to the school campus for the Government Meeting. I had decided to go full throttle with both NAACP and Government , and with me taking another heavy course load I didn't have much time for anything else. When I left the dressing room, one of the older students Carson was waiting outside. "Hey. You did great again today" he complimented. "Thanks. But that last pose almost killed me" I smirked. "You and me both". "How so?" I asked, making my way towards the exit. He followed. "I just have the hardest time drawing backs and shoulders. I hated my work tonight. Which is why I want to ask you something" he said cautiously. "Ask me what?" "I have a studio at my place. I'm actually a photographer but I'm trying my luck with drawing now. I was wondering if you could come by and I could have some more practice". I was caught off guard by this. I had heard Rihanna talk about these private sessions but this was the first time I had ever been approached about it. "I understand it's kind of forward. Just thought I'd ask" he said. "I'm kind of busy, with school and everything" I shrugged. "I definitely understand. Well anyway, here is my card. If you decide to change your mind just give me a call. I would work around your school schedule, weekend or weekday is fine by me. Just let me know" he smiled, reaching in his pocket and handing his business card. I took it and smiled softly, and he turned to walk away. "Hey. Carson. How much would you pay?" I asked, curiously. He chuckled, "I would pay for your gas to drive to my place and a flat fee. How about $200?" "For one session?" I asked. "Yeah. About 3 hours or so". "Would it be ok if I brought a friend along?" I asked. "Not a problem at all" he smiled. "Ok. Well thanks for the offer. I'll think about it" I said. We exchanged partings and went our separate ways. I immediately called Rihanna and asked her about it. "Carson is a cool guy. He's a photographer. Pretty good too" she said over the phone.

"If I did it, would you come with me?" "Yeah I would. Just pick a day I could be there." "Ok". "Are you gonna do it?" "I think so. I need to get that raggedy car fixed" I laughed. "Don't call my shit raggedy. It worked fine till your ass started driving it" she laughed. "Yeah well. It ain't working now". "You just be happy I gave it to you. Damn you are so unappreciative". "Girl you know I appreciate it. But I do find it highly suspicious that you got a new car, let me drive your old one, and as soon as I do it stops working. AND you were tryna sell it to me. Just think if I would have bought it?" I giggled. "Yeah, yeah. I gotta take a shit. So unless you wanna hear, I will talk to you later" she sneered. "Uuggh. Bye!" I said, hanging up. I looked at Carsons card. Carsons Photography was on the front. I put it in my purse and walked to the bus stop. I had to hurry and get that car fixed so I wouldn't have to be taking the bus everywhere. 200 bucks in one day didn't sound half bad, especially if I'd just be there for three hours. That was the one thing I loved about this life modeling gig. I was so busy with school that it left little time for me to actually work a job. And most places willing to hire a 18 year old college student were minimum wage type jobs where I'd have to work long hours picking up after people in order to even pay half of my portion of the rent. With the classes I was booked for, and the potential for extra income from private sessions with the many artist looking for fresh models, I could work just a few days a week and make twice as much as the minimum wage jobs. This left me time to handle all of my business at school and kept me from having to go to my daddy for money. I knew he was surprised I had made it this long. Almost the middle of September, and I hadn't asked him for a dime. I decided I'd take Carson up on his offer. ** Kelly, Michelle, and I went to the comedy show to see this new comic Katt Williams who was blowing up. This was my late birthday gift from Kelly as she and I were unable to hang together during the week I turned 18. Katt was a straight clown, having all three of us cracking up.

After the show, we rode back in my newly fixed car, paid for by the private session I had that week with Carson. I hadn't told anyone about my life modeling gig. Michelle was dumbfounded as to how I was coming up with my half of the rent after I told her I didn't take the waitress job. I would laugh it off and say I had another job. It bothered her to no end that she couldn't figure out what it was. "Bee, where you got this car from anyway?" Kelly asked, riding shotgun. "RiRi gave it to me" I smiled. Kelly raised her eyebrows, "She GAVE it to you? What kinda friend gives a chick a CAR?" "Same thing I asked, Kel" Michelle said from the backseat, trying to instigate. I laughed at both of them. "She got her a new one. She gave me this one. I still had to put some work into it and everything" I said. "And that's another thing. Where are you getting money from to put work into this car?" Michelle pressed me. "My job" I grinned.

"But you ain't GOT no job...MAN!" Michelle laughed, like this was Martin and I was Tommy. "Shell I'm thinking Bee done got turned out by this Rihanna girl. Out late at night. Got money out of nowhere. Giving her cars. Bee, you skrippin?" Kelly asked, so serious. "No I ain't 'skrippin" I laughed. "Then ya dawin SOMETHING that ain't right. And if you are hoing, then we gon fight" she said. "Yall is so damn nosey. I got a job. And no I ain't doing nothing sexual. No stripping, no porn, no prostitution. None of that. But I just want to keep what I do on the hush for now. I promise, it's nothing bad" I reasoned. Kelly turned around and looked at Shell in the backseat. I giggled to myself because they were so mad to be left on the outside. It was funny to me. "I think she skrippin" Shell pronounced in a grin. "Like Diamond from Players Club girl" Kelly added, as they high fived each other. "And Rihanna might be like the one girl. Roxy" Michelle said, looking straight at me. "Didn't Roxy turn Diamond out in the movie?" Kelly grilled at me. "Yall, I SWEAR. I ain't stripping. And ain't no one turning me out. Rih is my friend" I laughed, but trying to be serious. "Then why come you ain't introduce us to her yet?" Kelly asked. "Cuz she is crazy. I don't think yall would get her. I mean, Michelle has met her before at our crib. Shell, what did you think of her?" I asked, looking in the rear view. "I thought she was crazy. Cuts all over her body and saying all this crazy stuff. Clinically crazy" Michelle grinned. "I rest my case" I smiled. "Ionknow, Bee. Still sounds kind of sketchy. Whatever you are doing through, be careful, aight?" Kelly said. "Kel. I didn't tell you that Bee lied to me about who she was out with the other night. Said she was out with Rihanna, when Rihanna was looking for her. Bee is definitely doing something sneaky" she insisted. "Yaw need to get off me" I smirked. My phone went off and from the special ring tone I knew it was Carter. I had programmed his name into my phone as "Vicky". He lived on Victoria Avenue, so it was my code name for him. I let it ring.

Kelly looked at me suspiciously. "You ain't gon answer?" she pressed. "Nah" I said, acting nonchalant about it. "Uhmmm. Is it Tip? I bet it's Tip giving you this money. Got you carrying his drugs in your ass or something" Kelly said trying to pry. She was trying to put all of these pieces together but was so off track. Eventually they got tired of me dodging their questions and we talked about Katt, Quenton, and then Michelle not having a man. "Yeah girl, we gotta hook you up with someone. You can't be the only one not getting no play" Kelly said. "Nah Kelly. I tried the blind date thing once. I'm not doing it again" she smirked. "Well, don't let the cobwebs get in ya pussy. I know Bee fast ass is gonna be f*cking soon, if she ain't doing it already" Kelly looked at me, "so ima need you to get some action to so we don't seem like the only hos". "If the right guy comes along, maybe. But like I told Bee. I ain't here for all that. I'm trying to keep my virginity as long as humanly possible. My wedding night, hopefully". "Well then we need to get you murrried then" I laughed. "What's your type, Shell? I'm serious. I got some nice looking male friends at TCC. Smart guys. Got their heads on straight. Got a job". "Then why you choose Quenton?" I joked. She side eyed me. "Ima let that one slide, Clifford" she rolled her eyes, "But yeah. I can hook you up with one of em". "I don't really have a type" Michelle shrugged. "Oh everyone has a type. Who get your pussy wet? And don't say your pussy don't get why" Kelly smirked. "Oh she has a type, Kel" I smirked mischievously. "Who?" Kelly asked. Michelle and I caught each other in the rear view. And then I remembered that I had told Kelly about my crush. I should have kept my big mouth closed. "Who, girl?" Kelly asked again. "She's talking about our teacher. Mr. Carter" Michelle answered.

Kelly looked like she had seen a ghost. She looked at me, then took a deep breath and held in her shocked grin. "What?" Michelle asked. I was hoping to God Kelly didn't say anything about what I had told her. But she knew me well enough to know what the look on my face meant. She knew how to play things down. And push to shove, she knew Michelle was just a casual friend. The new girl. I was her bestie. She would always have my back first. "Well do your thing then Shell. Although Bee told me he is ugly. Wear some Bill Cosby sweaters" Kelly joked. Michelle grinned, "Well that's what I like. He is fine to me. Forget all yall. I'll keep him to myself". We all laughed, although Kelly and my laugh was disingenuous. We made it to Kelly and Quentons crib talking mostly about celebs we'd f*ck and then finished our conversation talking about church. Don't ask me how we went from riding Tyrese's face to praising God. ** "Hey" I said sheepishly when I was out of my clothes and laying in bed. "Sup" Carter said smoothly, so pleasing to my ears. "Just getting home. Sorry I missed your call, but I was around people" I said. "No problem. How are you doing?" "I'm fine. We went to go see Katt Williams. He was so funny". "Katt? Yeah I got one of his DVDs. I thought the DVD was wack though. I don't like his gimmick". "You don't like anything. So critical. You should be a critic" I teased. "I'm picky, what can I say? Highest quality for me" he said. "Like me?" I smirked. "Like you" he answered. Carter and I had talked everyday since I had seduced him in the car. We didn't speak on what had happened, but the knowledge of it happening was enough to make every single comment we made sexually charged. It was even worse when I had attended class that week, deciding I didn't want to drop it, and we kept glancing towards each other. There was something entirely rewarding about seeing him smirk at me after I had given him head almost a week earlier. Something so dirty and bad about it. It hadn't even sank in yet that I had actually given someone head. I had always been so reserved. But the more time I spent with Rihannas free spirited ass, the more I started to view sex as something I could do without the rules I had placed on it before her. I was still a virgin,

but I would be willing to lose it to Carter when and wherever he wanted. Tip and I talked a few times, but I remained distant from him. He would ask if I was ok and I'd give the age old excuse that I was just busy. I guess he was wondering how I had went from hot and bothered in his car, letting him feel me up as we french kissed, to barely even answering when he called. Carter had that much of an influence on me. He was so different from anyone else I'd ever taken a liking to. To compare Tip and Carter would be like comparing a comic book to a novel. Sure, I still liked Tip. He was funny and had a colorful personality. But there wasn't any depth there. There was so much more to explore with Carter. So many areas of him I wanted to see and touch and connect with. And through our phone conversations, I became more familiar with who he really was. He was an oldies head. Listened to a lot of older musical artist like Teena Marie and Michael Jackson and Aretha Ray Charles. Tip mostly liked artist from the 90's onward. Carter liked movies like The Godfather, and Vertigo, and 2001 Space Odyssey, while Tip liked Menance To Society and Baby Boy and Oceans 11. Even their taste in horror movies were night and day. Tip loved Hostel and Scream and Tales from the Hood. Carter liked Physcho and The Shining and the original Halloween. I felt slightly alienated from Carters taste at first, but the way he spoke of his likes made me want to experience them myself so I could be more in tune with him. If he said Katt Williams was wack, then I wanted to know who he liked instead. "So who you like? What comedians?" "I'm more of a Richard Pryor, Paul Mooney, Robin Williams, early Eddie Murphy type. But from the new school, I'm feeling Dave Chapelle. Chris Rock is cool. Jerry Seinfeld is probably my favorite though". "Seinfeld? From that TV show?" "Yeah. You don't like Seinfeld?" he asked. "Um. Not really. It was always kind of boring to me. I ain't get it" I shrugged. He started laughing. "You just lost a massive amount of points, Beyonce. We have to have a marathon of nothing but Seinfeld" he laughed. "Well, how can I make up for it?" I smirked. "By coming with me to New York next weekend". "New York??" I gasped. "Yeah. I need to go there for an event. Speaking engagement. But on Saturday I want to go to a show. I can take you. Let you see the city". "Wow...I...Wasn't expecting that" I said, wrapping my head around the offer. He chuckled, "You don't gotta answer tonight. Sleep on it and tell me in the morning".

"It's not that I dont want to go. I do. But. What would I tell Michelle? How would we keep that a secret?" "I'd handle the tickets. They wouldn't trace back to you, or anything. And I don't ride coach" he grinned, "And just tell Michelle you need to get away for a few days. Take your car and park it at my house" he said. "...Ok. I think I can do that. Wow, though. New York City? Are you going to visit your family?" "Nah. My family and I don't really speak at the moment" he said, as if he didn't want to go further. I decided not to push it. "I'll go" I said, feeling all kinds of butterflies. "Cool. Bring a nice dress for the Broadway and then some comfortable shoes so I can show you around the city" he said. "Yes sir" I teased. "You tryna be funny?" he grinned. "No. I just like when you take charge like that. Telling me what to do. It's sexy". He laughed to himself. "Well I'm not saying it to be sexy. But if you want to walk around the city in heels and wear jeans to a Broadway then gon head". "How nice of a dress do it gotta be?" "The one you wore to the banquet is fine" he insisted. "That ugly thing?" I whined. "How bout this. We can shop for a dress for you once we get there. Just bring you some comfortable shoes". "Carter. Why are you always fronting like you don't have money?" I laughed. "I don't" he said simply. "Yeah right. A teacher can't afford all the stuff you be wearing and doing". "But I'm a drug dealer too. Remember?" he said before laughing. The way that rolled off his tongue cut deep. I had all but forgotten about that. There was nothing really about him that suggested he was involved in illegal activity. But the cars, the trips, the expensive clothes. Could it really be TRUE? ".....are you?" He laughed, "No. I'm not I'm just teasing".

Solo was calling me. She had just gotten her phone back and since it was late I figured it was important. I had to answer. "Carter, can I call you back? My sister is calling me" I said. "Just call me in the morning. I'm about to go to sleep" he said. "Ok. Night". "Godspeed" he said. I clicked over. "Hello" "Hey, Bee" she said, sounding upbeat. "Hey girl. Wassup? Why you sounding so giddy" I smiled. "Daddy got me a car" she laughed. "For real?? You lying" I spat in disbelief. "Nah, I couldn't believe it either. But Momma and him went and got me one. Been driving it around all day today" she said. "Wow. Really? I thought they was having money problems" I said. "Well, we are. But they said I needed one and that they trusted me. Handed me the keys. And that was that. I thought it was a test at first and still kinda do. Kinda why I'm calling you. Tryna see what you think about the whole thing". "I think its weird they got you one but wouldn't give me the money for me to get one" I said. "Beats me. But I ain't complaining" she laughed. "How you doing?" I asked. "I'm aight". "How my nephew doing?" She laughed, "Why are you so sure it's a boy? I'm thinking it's gon be a girl". "Cuz Knowles girls have suffered enough. We need a Knowles boy in this family" I said seriously. "What about Ricky? He is a Knowles" she joked. "He is a little punk. That's what he is" I said. "Girl, he ain't little no more. This nigga is towering over everyone now. Playing basketball

and everything. Wait till you see him" she said. "Forget him. I'm tryna see you. And that belly bump" I teased. "When are you coming? Thanksgiving?" "I don't know yet. But I will definitely come home for Christmas break. I promise" I said. "I'm pose to deliver in December" "I know. Which is why I'm coming then" I laughed. We talked some more, and I caught her up on how school is going. I didn't mention Carter or the life modeling but I told her about Tip, which had her interest. She said for the first time, she wasn't dating any guys and was strictly focused on getting ready to be a mommy. Said she had been going to church more and that she had a job. The best news she told me was that after the baby was born, daddy had told her he would pay for her to go to school at one of the local colleges. It was funny. I didn't know where Carter was getting his money. No one knew where I was getting my money. And I didn't know where my parents were getting the money to buy Solo a car and send her to college. Financial mystery surrounded everyone. ** Jarvis ended up being President of NAACP for the upcoming year, and was appointed by Mr. C at the next meeting. Although the open meeting was only twice a month, the members met more times to discuss what we'd be talking about and doing in the community. Jarvis was a natural for President. He was intelligent, holding a 3.7 GPA as a Pre-Med student and was also outspoken and easy to get along with. Along with being the face of the organization for the students at FAMU, he also got to hand pick who he wanted on the committee with him. As most Presidents did, he appointed a mix of friends and other Greeks. I was the only non-greek on the committee, which causes some dissension amongst those who didn't make it. Jarvis went out on the limb for me to do that. Nicki would serve as his Vice President while I would be his second Vice President. The only bad thing about it would be that Nicki and I would have to be around each other at least four times a month. I definitely wasn't looking forward to that. Sitting in Mr. Carters class on Friday morning, and knowing we'd be leaving for New York that evening had me having hot flashes. I couldn't even concentrate. I think it was even affecting him, because he was stuttering and seemed more empty headed than usual. I couldn't help but think of what we'd do once we were alone in the hotel. He had told me that we had separate beds and everything, but I didn't understand why. I didn't even get what we were at this point. We flirted and talked a lot, but there was no clarity. Was I his girlfriend? I had sucked his dick. So I had to be something. I tossed these thoughts in my head and eventually came to the conclusion that me and him would consummate our relationship on the trip. We'd have sex, I'd lose my virginity, and then we could say we were together. This both excited and scared me. I had lied to him and told him I was a virgin. And after I had confidently given him head, even if it was based on false bravado, I was sure he expected me

to be good in bed. What if I wasn't? Would he be able to tell I was a virgin? My hymen had already broken, long ago, so I wasn't worried about that revealing my lie, but I was afraid my inexperience would. I figured I'd have to tell him before we had sex so he could prepare for being the one to take it. I nervously smiled to myself and ran it all through my head. I was going to lose my virginity this weekend. I was sure of it. Michelle passed me a note. You've been daydreaming all class. Wats up? I laughed at the note and decided this would be the time to start my lie. Nothing. I just need a break from school. I think ima go get away this weekn And go where? You want me to come with you? Just driving...to a hotel or something....and nah...i wanna just relax alone She looked at me and nodded her head then shrugged and refocused on the teacher. I wondered if I had hurt her feelings. I could tell Michelle had put more effort into us becoming close lately. Maybe she felt a certain way about me spending so much time with Rihanna, or that I wouldn't tell her what I was doing for money. I figured at some point I would have to throw her a bone. I'd have to let her know in some way that I trusted her as a friend and that I could share a secret with her. I just didn't know which secret I'd trust her with. I guess that was the problem all in itself. If I had to wonder, then why would I tell her? When the class was out, about 30 minutes early to the excitement of the students, I walked passed Carter and smiled. "See you next week Mr. C" I grinned. He laughed to himself and focused on the next batch of students who were talking to him. I drove back home so I could pack my bags, and Michelle looked out the window. "Shell" I said. She turned and looked at me. "I'm modeling on the side. That's how I'm getting my money. I just didn't want anyone to really know because I'm tired of people hating on me for no reason. I know models get teased a lot" I said. "Model?" she asked. "Yeah. For art students. Pays like 20 to 30 dollars and hour and I do it a few times a week. That is where Rih would take me when she came to get me early" I said, as we stopped at a red light. She smiled, "I wouldn't have even thought about modeling. Although you definitely pretty enough". I laughed, "Yeah, well. It's only a temporary thing. When they get tired of drawing me, I will be out of a job. I'd have to bust tables".

"Well try to keep that job as long as possible. Cuz we're living good right now. I ain't tryna go back to eating Ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner" she joked. "Shoot. I still will eat some noodles for breakfast. The shrimp one is goood" I smirked. We shared a laugh, then she returned to looking serious. "Bee. Are you really just going to get away? I don't know. I just get kind of worried when you do things so secretly" she said. "I promise. I just need a break from Tally. I think ima drive to Atlanta or something. Just stay for a few days. Get away. I'll be back by Monday morning" I insisted, in my most believable voice. She smiled and accepted my response. I packed my bags, just a few days worth of outfits, several pairs of underwear, my girl shit, and some shoes, and I pulled out of the driveway by 2 PM. I headed straight to Mr. Carters house and parked.

I called him to let him know I was there and he told me he was on his way and would be there in less than 15 minutes. I hung up and tried to once again calm myself. The butterflies were eating me alive. The mysteriousness of everything. The fact that I was going to go away with this man, without really having a clue as to what we were going to do. Well, I had a clue, but we could have sex anywhere, including his house. Why would we go all the way to New York just for that? Somewhere between me closing my eyes to block the sun from shining in my eye and thinking about Carter, I dozed off. He startled me when he tapped on the window, slob coming down my face. He was laughing at this.

"First the chocolate, now this? You need a bib" he grinned as I opened the door. "Ha-Ha" I said with an attitude, wiping my mouth. He extended his hand and helped me out of the car, like he was a gentleman. I didn't buy it. I still had an attitude since he still had a smirk on his face. He took it upon himself to open my backdoor and get my bags out, carrying them to his home. He opened the door, put the bags inside threw my my keys. "Pull into my garage" he said. I got back in the car as he used his keys to open up the garage doors. I cranked up and pulled inside. He showed up from a door inside his crib that led inside the garage and motioned for me to follow him. I took a deep breath, really anxious and nervous to being in a place so foreign to me, but I followed his lead. His place was ridiculously clean and smelled great. Like a mix of incense and fresh air. It reminded me of his wardrobe. Sophisticated yet with much personality. It fit him.

"You want a drink or something?" he asked, trying to be a kind host. "Some wine" I teased. "I ain't supplying you with alcohol" he laughed. "You got anything diet?" I asked. "Diet? Girl, why you drinking diet anything? Not an ounce of fat on you". "Well if you had seen me earlier this year you would have seen a bunch of fat. I lost like 25 pounds" I said. "You didn't need to lose it. You looked nice, to me". "Nice. Well I don't wanna look nice. I wanna look good" I rolled my eyes.

He shook his head and went to the fridge. I followed. His kitchen was equally as clean as the living room. I didn't know if I liked his place being this clean. My room was a little messy. Made me feel insecure. Like if I would to drop a crumb on the floor he would throw a fit. He opened his fridge then reached towards the bottom. His body shielded me from seeing what all he had in there. He came back with a bottle of water. "This is very diet friendly" he smirked, before tossing it to me. "I want juice" I pouted. "Ahh, drink that water and hush up" he said, walking out of the kitchen and leaving me grinning. He showed me around, it was a three bedroom home, three bath, home, although one of the rooms was made into an office. "And what about the other room?" I evily smiled. "It's for my daughter, when she comes to visit" he said simply. "How old is she?" I asked. "11" he replied, walking away from the room. "Wow. She only 7 years younger than me" I teased. He didn't respond to my teasing at all. In fact, he totally ignored it and showed me the master bedroom. It was the only spot in the crib that looked even a little messy. And that was only because the bed was unmade and he had bags sitting on the bed. What caught me eye was a huge walk in closet right across from his bathroom. "Can I?" I asked excitedly. "Go ahead" he said softly. I nearly ran my ass to the closet, filled exclusively with coats and shoes and sweaters and pants, all pressed, clean, and smelling fresh. I loved it. I also made it my point to check for any female clothing. I don't know why, I just though I should look just to be sure. But I hadn't seen a trace of femininity in the entire house, from the bathrooms to the rooms. I had no reason to not believe him when he said he was single. "Did the house come with this?" I asked. "Nah. This was a four bedroom. But what did I need four bedrooms for? I turned one of the bedrooms into this closet" he said. We ended up sitting on his bed and chit chatting for a moment. I was happy that I felt comfortable around him. I was afraid I might act so goofy or young then he would be turned off. But he seemed relaxed and to be enjoying our time together, which made me relax. "How are we getting to the airport?" I asked.

"I got someone picking us up" he said. "Someone like who?" "Taxi" he grinned. "Oh. Thought it was more dangerous than that". "It's dangerous me being with you period. I'm stressing even making it through the airport without anyone spotting us" he said. "You having second thoughts?" I asked. "I had second thoughts last night". "Then why you gonna go through with it?" "Cuz I don't want to b*tch out" he said, teasing something I had previously said. We looked at each other for a few moments. Was this THAT moment, I thought? I had forgot that I figured we'd end up having sex this weekend. But I didn't think it would be this early. I had packed some of my best underwear and shaven this morning, but I still hadn't mentally prepared for it to happen so soon. We just got here. "I'm about to shower. Taxi should be here in like an hour. Make yourself at home, aight?" he said. I nodded my head and he made his way into the bathroom. I sighed a relief. Whew. Ok, so sex would come later. I went into his kitchen and got me some juice then walked around some more. I went into the room he had reserved for his daughter. It was pretty basic. A bed, some random pieces of art on the wall, and no clothes in the closet. I looked in the drawers and they were empty too. I wondered when the last time she had come to visit him. There was a lot about him and her that I wanted to know. I just didn't want to push him if he wasn't ready to talk about it. I remembered how Rih had been so reluctant to share her story with me. I figured Carter was having similar thoughts. I would find a way to slip more questions about his childs mother and his daughter, but I wouldn't press him. I didn't want to do anything to make him clam up. I went into his office and looked around. It was filled with books on one end, and a iMac was on the other. I wondered if this was the computer he used to chat with me. Then I remembered he said he was laying in bed when we talked. Must have been on a laptop. I guess this was strictly for business. I wanted to log in and see what was in his internet history and on the hard drive, but I decided against snooping that much. Instead, I sat down in the chair and spun around a few times. When I let go the last time I landed in a direction where my eyes were in the direct line of vision with a photobook on his bookshelf. I rolled over to it, grabbed the book and opened. The first few photos were pictures I had already seen, the ones I used in the documentary. But as I flipped the pages, I saw pictures that he hadn't shown. Pictures of him as a child, with a dark skinned lady and a lighter skinned man. Were these his parents? I then saw pictures of him with other kids, I figured these were his siblings. Two girls, they looked older, and one boy that was clearly older. I looked into his eyes, and he looked so happy.

I started cracking up when I came to one of his childhood graduation pics. He was such a goofy looking boy, but so adorable. Aww. Mr. Carter.

At a certain point, pictures of Carter as a child stopped. There were no more pictures of him as a kid with his family. No teen pictures, none of him past a child. I flipped to the last page, and they were all pictures of a little girl. First baby pictures, then what I assumed was the same girl as a toddler, and then her even older. This had to be his daughter. And none of her pictures had him in the picture. Most of them looked like school pictures. The pics you took at school for that one day where you dressed up, and then your parents sent them to family members. "Having fun?" he spoke, startling me as I dropped the book closed in my lap. "You scared me" I said, holding my chest. "I guess you saw her" he said, walking towards me. "Your daughter, right?" I asked. "Yeah" he responded. "She is so pretty. She must get her good looks from her mom" I joked. He wasn't in the joking mood. I slumped my shoulders, sorry that had come out of my mouth. "Sorry. Was just joking" I said. "She got all of her looks from her mother" he said, extending his hand and pulling me up. He was dressed in a hoody and blue jeans, something I had never seen him wear before. I wondered if this was a disguise or something. "What's her name?" I asked. "Shaun" he replied. "Aww. She was named after you?"

He nodded his head. "That's so sweet. When was the last time you saw her?" He chuckled to himself, went for the photobook and then returned it to the bookshelf. "Taxi should be here in a minute. Come on" he said, bypassing my question and leading me out of the room. Our ride to the airport was quiet. He had his hoody on along with sunglasses. He looked so different than what i was use to. He looked younger too. I did miss his usual kind face, though. He looked so much more distant. And I first noticed it after I had asked questions about his daughter. He would whisper things to me on the sly, but nothing that suggested he still wasn't over me prying into his personal life. He paid the driver and we made our way to catch the flight. We walked some distance apart, and he mostly kept his head towards the floor and his hands in his pocket. For the first time, I really started to feel uncomfortable about this entire thing. I felt the distance and disconnect. But what was I going to do now? Back out? After all of the instance I had put into it? I hoped this was just a small, necessarily evil for our relationship and that the fun loving man I had fallen for would return once we were in the hotel and exploring the city. We boarded the plane and I sat on the inside. I was nervous. Flying away from home with my teacher. What would my parents think? What would Michelle think? I started to worry. I should have told someone where I was going and who I was with. SOMEONE. Rihanna or Solo or Kelly. Someone should have known I was going away with him. I had handled this so wrong. Maybe Carter felt the worry, or maybe he finally felt comfortable enough to return to the guy I knew, but he brought a great sense of comfort to me when grabbed my hand on the low. We held hands as the plane took off. Chapter 17

The ride from Florida to New York was a high for me. My first time flying first class and my

first time flying away with a man. Carter returned to normal after takeoff, making jokes and trying to make sure I was ok. They served dinner for us, but I was too nervous to really eat anything. I ended up just picking from his plate, which he didn't mind. He said he wasn't that hungry anyway. We held hands for the majority of the flight, so long that when we let go, it felt foreign and cold from the sweat that had built up. "And there is the city" he said, pointing out the window as we were approaching our stop. My heart did a few flips when i saw the night skyline of the city that never slept. It was beautiful.

When we had stopped, we let go of each others hand, still a bit nervous of any surrounding people watching us, but we remained jovial. Once we got our bags and we immediately got in one of the many Taxi's surrounding. It seemed as if the entire city street was made of Taxi's. I was so taken back because it i was intimidating. It didn't seem to phase Carter, though. Then again, he was born here. This was home. We returned to holding hands during the ride into Manhattan, which was surprisingly long of a ride. I didn't mind though. My emotions were into overdrive and I needed to process them all. Too many feelings were rushing through me. Excitement and knowing I was in New York City. Fear, knowing I was so far from home and familiarity. But I also felt comforted, holding hands with the man that knew this place like the back of his. I knew I was protected. And in the soft but firm embrace of his hands, I knew he was glad I was here with him. Walking into the hotel room with him still holding my hands made me feel special. Not special in the way that I felt being with Tip with everyone watching. The opposite effect. No one was watching Carter and me, but that is how we wanted it to be. We didn't need validation from anyone else. Through all of the fears he had, he still had went through with this. That made this so special. And I valued our simple but powerful sign of trust. It was late, a late Friday night, and after we made it in, he got the room situated the way he wanted. TV on ESPN, his clothes hung on the hangers, and his cologne and other male grooming items placed on the table. I followed his lead and put my clothes in the drawers,

although I kept the lingerie I had bought in my bag. That would be a surprise, if our trip took that route. "I gotta get up early tomorrow. I speak around 9:30 and then we can go shopping so you can have something to wear when we go to the show tomorrow night" he said. "What should I wear to the speaking thing?" I asked. "I can't run that risk. There will be cameras and stuff. You just stay here. I'll be back as soon as I can. Then we will have the rest of the weekend together, aight?" he said. "Alright". We ended up changing into night clothes, I had an over-sized T on with shorts and he had a tank top with shorts. I still wondered if we were going to use separate beds, but when he got on the one on the end and didn't look as if he expected me to join him, I slipped into the other bed. "Man, I have so many missed calls and text right now" I said, checking my phone. "Are you good?" he asked, looking over at me concerned. "Yeah I can handle it. Mostly just from friends. I got one missed call from my mom. I will call her tomorrow" I said. He nodded without a word and laid back on his pillow. "Why we gotta watch ESPN though?" I laughed. "What you wanna watch?" he smiled. "Lifetime" I said. "Let me think about that.........no" he chuckled. "Ahh, why not?" "That's the man bashing channel. But I forgot, that's all you new aged feminist like doing" he smiled. I laughed, "Ok. So yeah its some man bashing on there. But my girl Rihanna has me addicted to it now. It's so funny, the movies on there". "That shit ain't funny. It's about as bad as soap operas". "Man, do you like ANYTHING?" I barked. "Seinfeld" he laughed. "If you make me watch a marathon of Seinfeld then Ima make ya watch a marathon of Lifetime" I said. "Keep thinking you got pull like that" he grinned.

"I don't?" I gasped, shocked smile on my face, "Then what do you call this?!" I said, pointing out that I was in a hotel with him in another state. He laughed, cut off the lamp on the side of his bed and the tossed me the remote. "Watch your man bashing shit. Godspeed" he said, turning in his bed. I wondered if there would be more to our first night here. I hoped there would be. But there wasn't. He went right on to sleep. And I channel surfed and wondered if the rest of the trip would be spent in two separate beds. ** Carter had already left by the time I woke up. I was freezing, having to walk over to the AC which was at 65. How could men survive in such cold conditions? Then again, I was from Texas, he was from up north. I had to remember that. I ended up texing Kelly, Jarvis, Rihanna, Michelle, Solo, and my mom and telling them I went on a small road trip. None of them seemed to like the idea, except Rih, who told me to sew my royal oats while there. I laughed at her, then showered and got ready for the day. Carter returned before noon, with Hoagies, and we ate before leaving to shop. For some odd reason, I figured we'd go to a mall, or somewhere like Macys or Sears, but we went to some expensive looking place on somewhere called firth avenue that I would never actually think to stop in. When I looked at the first price tag I was ready to walk my ass right on out. "$1,015 dollars?" I whispered , but loud enough for everyone, including the store clerks, to hear. "Shh. You gon have these white folk thinking we can't afford this" he whispered, smiling a fake smile. I looked at him then at the price of the boots, the single pair of boots and asked "CAN we?" He laughed at me, "We can afford it. Just try to blend in. Act like you own the joint. Don't be intimidated" he said in my ear, touching my shoulder. The clerk walked up to us suspiciously, looking at me and then at him, before smiling. "Yes. Is there anything I can help you with?" "Yes ma'am. We're looking for a dress for the young lady. Something contemporary. Something appropriate for the Broadway" Carter smiled. She looked over at me and I tried to not look so intimidated. I smiled and she forced a smile with me. "Ok. Well, come this way" she smiled as led us to a section of the store. Over the next half an hour, I tried on so many different dresses and accessories, that I felt like some sort of movie star. When he had said shop, this wasn't what I expected. I didn't expect to be measured, and have them bring me clothes to try on, things that fit exactly what I said I was looking for. Carter knew this, because he smiled the entire time it went on. When I would

try something on, I'd walk out he'd make a face and then give me a thumbs down. He didn't seem to like any of it, although I LOVED each and every ensemble. It seemed his displeasure was started to get on the clerks nerves. After I had tried on at least a dozen dresses, Carter said he had seen enough. He did end up buying me a pair of ear rings, and afterward we left to go to the next store. We went to two more stores before he finally saw something he liked. It wasn't a dress, more of a leather jacket skirt that went with leggings. Seeing him finally give me the thumbs up made me feel tingly inside. I was happy that he was happy. I felt sexy and more womanly than I had ever felt. "That's the one" he smiled. "You think? Finally?" I laughed. He nodded his head and licked his lips. The store clerk at this particular store, a middle aged white lady with a perpetuated frown on her face, smugly told us the price. "That will be twelve hundred dollars". Carter raised his eyebrow at her. I hadn't really seen him become annoyed before, but the look on his face said it all. "Yeah....thanks for the memo. Bag it" he smiled at the lady, before looking at me knowingly. It was SUCH A TURN ON seeing him handle that bigot lady like that. We left the store holding hands and went back to the hotel to drop my bags off. Then we went back out as he acted as my tour guide. I was glad he had suggested comfortable shoes because it ended up being an exhausting tour of the city. The one thing I hated was that he refused to take any pictures with me. I had to settle on him taking pictures of me in front of tourist spots by myself. I understood the issue though. I understood he couldn't take any chances. We went back to the hotel after a few hours, showered, and got dressed, ready to go see Lion King. He did his best Mufassa/James Earl Jone impersonation as we rode there. I was completely lost in the fantasy of the day. I didn't feel like a college student anymore, or even a teenager. I felt like a woman in every sense of the word. One that was getting a chance to experience all of the finer things in life. Carter said he liked his things high quality, and he had found a high quality woman. As were ushered to our seats and when i sat down I literally had to calm my nerves because I was overwhelmed by it all. This was an actual date. This wasn't a trip to the bowling alley with Tip or the movies. This was a date that would end up totaling over a thousand dollars. This was amazing. "You ok?" he smiled at me, as I held the program and we waited for everyone to be seated. "I'm more than ok" I smiled back at him.

The lights dimmed, the thunderous roar of the male vocalist rung across the room, and Carter reached for my hand. I was falling in love. ** I couldn't understand why. For the second night, this time after an amazing day and romantic date, we were both sleeping in separate beds. I couldn't believe it. He was sleeping, and I was under the covers in the dark wondering why. I wanted him to want me as bad as I wanted him. What was he waiting for? I had showered, shaved again, and applied my favorite lotion all over my body but when I had come out of the bathroom he was under the covers sleeping. I thought about just sliding in his bed, but I didn't out of not knowing how he would react. Why wouldn't he touch me? The way he would tenderly hold and caress my hand would send chills through my entire body. But it was my entire body that was otherwise being neglected. I was horny and I needed some type of physical contact. Even if we didn't have sex, why couldn't he rub me or kiss me or hold me in his arms? Did this mean as much to him as it was meaning to me? Was he still afraid? Would I have to make the first move? He was such a take charge man in every other way, why would I have to force him to touch me? I had done it the first night in the car, but that was different. That was out of desperation. We were more settled in now. I had even taking a trip with him, but I was laying in bed sexually frustrated and emotionally bent out of shape while he was snoring. It made no sense. And we just had one more day here to be together. One more chance. ** The lights chased away the darkness as the credits filled the screen. The tears that had dried on my face remained visible. I felt lightheaded but so full of riveting emotion. Tears that were birthed from happiness and sadness and other paradoxes. I felt like I had just finished riding a roller coaster, and holding my hand, was the man that had convinced me to take the ride.

"You crying?" Carter asked me as other people started rising from their seats. I blinked and laughed away the happy tears. "That was...so beautiful" I said, wanting to cry just thinking about how much the movie had surprised me. "And you said you wouldn't be able to follow it because of the subtitles" Carter laughed, rising from his seat and pulling me up. He had the popcorn we had shared in his arm, and I picked up the drink with my hand we we began walking out of the theater. "You want anymore of this?" he said, pointing at the bag of popcorn. I shook my head, wiping my eyes and still trying to get over the movie. He laughed, "You bet not. You nearly ate the entire thing" he said as he tossed the bag in the trash. I followed by throwing the soda away and playfully shoving him. "Yeah well when captivated by a movie, I eat" I smirked. "Ima keep that in mind for next time. We don't even need to have dinner tonight" he teased. "OOO. Lets get another one of those pizzas" I smiled. "Girl. You done had hotdogs and pizzas and popcorn and M&Ms. What kinda diet are you on?" he joked. "I'm on vacation. I'll work all this off when I get back to reality" I smiled. We held hands and walked out of the theater joking on each other. We had went to see The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a french movie that recollects the events of a dying mans life. The way the movie was shot, the atmosphere, the colors, the music, the plot, everything about it had me drawn in. I always just thought Carter was just a movie snob, but maybe there was more to it than that. That was a REALLY good movie, and it had made me cry. I didn't think I'd like seeing a movie in french, but I had been proven wrong. I think he was happy that I enjoyed it so much. It had been a long day. We got up early, had breakfast at this bagel place he loved, then we went to a museum, where he showed me some of his favorite art. I was tempted to tell him about my life modeling, but decided against it. I figured I would tell him in time. We stopped on a corner and got few hotdogs and after touring Central Park he took me to a Pizzeria to get what he called a "real pizza". He said he wasn't hungry, and maybe I wasn't either, but I just wanted to keep eating whatever he would put in front of me. He got a kick out of seeing me eat so much, especially since he said I was so small. After the movie he suggested we eat at a restaurant but I was tired from the walking. Instead, I begged him to take me to one of the McDonalds on Time Square. He laughed at me request. "We come all the way our here. And you want to eat at McDonalds?"

I smirked, "Hey don't make fun. I wanna try it". "ITS MCDONALDS" he stressed. "Nah but it's in New York. It's different. I mean, it has lights outside and stuff like a broadway. I just wanna taste it" I laughed.

He shook his head and gave in. When we got there he looked at the menu as if it was in french. I knew exactly what I wanted. "Can I get a Double Cheeseburger with Bigmac sauce, a medium fry with no salt, a 6 piece chicken nugget with ranch and buffalo sauce, and a diet coke" I smiled. He looked down at me like I had spoke hebrew. I shrugged and smiled. "And what would you like sir?" the woman up front asked. Carter frowned up his face and looked up at the menu again. It was so funny. He was so sure and confident when ordering at fancy restaurants. But here, at Micky D's, he looked uncomfortable and unsure. Like he was in a foreign country and everyone spoke a foreign tongue. "...Um...yeah, let me get...a hambuger...no tomatoes" "It doesnt come with tomatoes, sir" the lady said. Carter laughed and shook his head. "Ok, Miss. What would you suggest for a man that hasn't eaten at McDonalds since the 90s?" She smirked. "The Fish Filets are pretty good". "Ok, well give me that. The meal" Carter shrugged, still smiling.

They gave us our tray and we made it to a table, which had an empty ketchup package on it. Carter almost had a fit. "Yo, they don't clean this shit?" he said. "Oh stop complaining and sit down" I laughed, pushing the package on the floor. Now he turned his disgust to me. "Litterer" he barked. "Yeah whatever" I rolled my eyes, digging into my fries. He opened the sandwich and was examining it like a doctor would his patient. I laughed an annoyed laugh, "Why you lookin at it? Eat it. God. You are so picky". "This don't even look like fish" he said, frowning his face and looking hard. I rolled my eyes, "Ok well here. Want some of my nuggets?" He picked one up, broke it in half and looked at the meat. "This don't look like chicken" he said, still looking disgusted. I laughed hard, "And what's next? The fries don't look like potatoes? Eat it or starve" I said, double dipping a nugget and putting it in my mouth. I ain't have time to be looking at the food under a microscope. He ate, although he complained the entire time. When he was done, he still had several handfulls of fries and about half of the fish sandwich left. I teased him as we threw away our trash and left, catching a taxi so we could head back to the hotel. It had been such a long day. But it had been the best day so far. I had gotten a chance to spend the entire day with him, morning, noon, afternoon, evening, and now night. But it was the night part that had me guessing if it would end as uneventful as the other nights had. We'd be leaving for Florida early that morning so if I knew him well he would be going to sleep as soon as we got back to the hotel, even though it was only 9:30. I had to admit, I was tired too, so tired that as we rode, I laid my head on his shoulder as we held hands. Holding his hand had become second nature. My hand felt empty unless his was interlocked with mine. With my head on his shoulder he kissed my forehead, a first for us in this little thing we had going on. We made it to the room and he said he was going to shower. The last time he had done that, he showered, then I did, but when I got out he was sleep. I refused to do it like that again. "No. Let me shower first" I insisted. "So you can take up all the hot water? No" he grinned. "I won't take it all. I just wanna shower first. Ladies first" I said. "Ain't you a feminist? Yall don't believe in gender roles or chivalry. Yall want equality. So

ima shower first since I called it first" he said, walking towards the bathroom. I ran after him and then jumped on his back, falling straight on the bed. He was laughing when he went face first into the mattress. I mushed his head down, hopped off, and ran right into the bathroom, closing and locking the door. "So that's how it's gonna be? It's like that?" he said from the outside of the door. I laughed to myself. "Ima be out in a lil bit, Shawn Carter" I smirked. "Beyonce. If you take up all the hot water. Im leaving your ass here in NYC. Try me if you think im playing" he laughed. I hopped in the shower, sighing from the pleasure of the steaming hot water. I quickly drenched my body with soap and cleaned hard and deep. This HAD to be the night. And even if it wasn't, at the very least, we were going to cuddle. I just couldn't see him falling to sleep on me again or not touching me. Even though I had shaved the previous night, I ran the razor across my body again, just to get that baby smooth feel again. After about 10 minutes, he was knocking on the door, warning me about not leaving him any hot water. I laughed, and decided I'd make the shower last even longer just to mess with him. After I could tell the steaming hot water was starting to become warm, I decided I'd get out. I wanted both of us to be as clean and smooth as possible if what I thought was going to happen, would happen. I wrapped myself in tons of hotel towels and walked out. He was shaking his head and looking at his watch. "22 minutes. The hot water better still be there" he said, before walking right past my grinning ass. Once I heard the shower cut on, I quickly dried myself, sitting naked on the bed and applying lotion. I had to hurry up and get myself looking right and ready. Once I had myself smooth and smelling good, I went for my bag and pulled out my lingerie. I was nervous about putting it on, because it was be a blatant move on my part. But all was fair as far as I was concerned. I put on the matching black panties and bra and got a battle of water to rehydrate. One thing that was stressing me was how to present myself once he came out. Should I pay on the bed? Should I be under the covers? Should I go on his bed? Or should I just pretend to be sleeping? I decided against making things too hard for him and that I'd just lay on the bed, under the covers but with my bra showing. I had slept in a Tshirt the other nights, but I would skip it this night. Hopefully that would be enough of a sign for him.
I turned the TV on to MTV while I waited, trying to calm my nerves. I scrolled through the channel guide seeing if anything good was on and then I came across a few porn channels. What if? Nah, I couldn't do that. He would think I'm some nympho if he came out and I had ordered a porn flick. Or maybe it would turn him on, seeing me be so proactive. I didn't have time to decide because the shower cut off and he was calling my name. "Yea?" "Could you order me some room service? I'm hungry as hell" he screamed.

I shook my head at this. We had just eaten at McDonalds and he was hungry. "What do you want?" I asked. "Whatever pasta they have is fine" he yelled back. I called room service and ordered a chicken Alfredo for him. By the time I had got off the phone he was emerging from the bathroom, tshirt, and shorts on, just like the other nights. He looked at me and walked right past me, even though my bra was clearly showing. "How long it's gon take?" he asked. "They said 45 minutes". And for the next 45 minutes, I watched him check his email on his macbook and then make some phone calls to people. People were thanking him for his speaking because he kept saying 'no problem' and 'i appreciate it' as he talked to each of them. When there was a knock at the door, he was still on the phone. I couldn't let room service see me in bra and panties. I looked at Carter and he looked at me, still talking on the phone. He motioned for me to get the door, completely oblivious that I was in bra and panties. How rude. This man hadn't even noticed. I angrily huffed and puffed and snatched the blanket off the bed and wrapped myself in it. He didn't notice me doing that either. I made it to the door where some guy was smiling with the box in his hand. "Chicken Alfredo?" he smiled. "Yeah" I said, grabbing the food, "Thanks" I said, closing the door in his face. I scooted my way into the room, the covers dragging like a wedding dress, and Carter laughed. "Yo, ima have to call you back later, ok? Aight man. Thanks. Godspeed" he said before clicking off. "What the hell are you doing?" he asked me. I didn't say anything, just gave him his food and went back to my bed. I seriously couldn't believe he hadn't noticed. "Did you give homie a tip?" he asked me. "No, you didn't tell me too" I said. He nodded his head, "My bad" and opened the box, commenting on how good it looked before opening a plastic fork and digging in. I watched him eat. Frustrated. Angry. My feelings completely hurt. How could he be so caught up in that food when I had been here all weekend and he hadn't even touched me while in the room. I watched and eventually he noticed me watching. "You want some? Sauce is really good" he said.

"No" I barked. He went back to eating and focused on the TV. He hadn't even noticed I had an attitude. He ate and finished and I had laid down, just staring emotionless at the TV. He told me how good the food was, asked me if I was watching the TV, and when i said no, he turned it off and cut off his lamp. "Bee. I hope you had a great weekend. I'm glad I asked you to come" he said as we lay in our separate beds in the dark. I didn't say anything. I was pissed off and if I were to say anything I would have said something immature. "You heard me?" he asked. "I heard you" I responded. "You mad or something?" "No" I lied, "Just confused". "Confused about what?" he asked. "About why you don't want to touch me" I said, having to calm myself because it hurt emotionally to say it. "Who said I don't want to touch you?" he said, repositioning himself in the bed. I could see from the corner of my eye that he was now looking directly at me. "You don't have to say it. Your actions speak loud and clear". "Ok. Slow down for a sec. You're going to have to explain this to me. What have my actions said?" "Are you really this dumb?" I asked, past frustrated because he didn't even know what I was talking about. "Is it because we're in separate beds? I told you before hand we would be" he said. "But why?" I asked. "Because its the right thing" he said. "Oh My God, Shawn are we still talking about ethics right now? You make me feel like a woman one minute and then treat me like a child the next. You are so hot and cold that it's not even funny" I barked. "Do you want me to come over in your bed?" "No" I yelled. "No? Then I'm really confused now. You're not making any sense".

"No. YOU aren't making any sense" I shot. "Explain it to me, Bee. Explain what I'm not getting". "You are just so dense. Carter I want you to want me. I want you to notice me. You haven't even noticed I'm wearing lingerie or that I have have an attitude the past hour. How could you simply ignore those things. It's like, why you even want me here if you don't notice me?" "I notice you, Bee. I noticed your lingerie. I noticed your pouting. I noticed it all. I guess I'm just f*cked up over here" he sighed. "What?" "Bee. Ever since you said at the crib that you were only 7 years older than my daughter, I've been tripping. I just can't wrap my head around this. I mean, I try to see you for you. A woman I'm deeply attracted to and a woman I want to touch, emotionally, physically, spiritually. But then, at the oddest times, I look at you and I see your youth. I see your immaturity. And...I guess it reminds me. No, it slaps it in my face that you are someone elses child. And then I get angry at myself. I don't know. I'm just f*cked up trying to handle this shit the right way". "Stop trying to do things the right way and just do it the way you want. If you want me, then that is all that really matters. We are both adults" I said. He chuckled. "You don't think I'm an adult?" I barked. "I don't know what I think Bee" he said. "I guess you are right then. You just are f*cked up" I yelled, turning away from him in bed an pulling the covers over me. We laid there in silence for a long time. I thought for sure I'd cry, but I didn't. Maybe Rih was rubbing off on me or maybe I was too hurt to cry. I felt empty. Empty of tangible emotion that I could use to turn into tears. I felt like a fool, like I had been picked up only to be let go. "Beyonce. I haven't seen my daughter since she was 2. Not in person anyway. Her mother and I just don't get along. Me and her didn't get along from the beginning. We had what most people call a love/hate relationship. We loved hard and fought even harder. And my child was conceived after we had broken up, but had slipped into each others bed". I still had my back turned, but I was wide awake and my ears was fully tuned in to what he was saying. We were breaking a barrier here, and I could tell it was taking a lot of courage for him to tell me this. "When my daughter was born. I had a lot of anger built up in me. Anger because I had a child out of wedlock with a woman I didn't wanna be with. But I was there. I had to be. It was the right thing to do. When Shaun turned a year, someone whispered in my ear, a mutual friend, that she might not be mine because her mother had been sleeping around. I questioned her about it and we got into a

fight. I called her all types of names, she hit me. I stormed out. Told her I was getting a paternity test. Over the next year I stopped supporting them. Both her and the baby. I didn't believe she was mine. I didn't think she looked like me. She was too light. I straight up denounced her" he said, his voice trembling. "Did you take the test?" I asked, still turned the other way. "Yeah. And she was mine. Like deep down, I knew she was. I had moved by then. I was ashamed. She had gotten married and had the other guy calling her daddy. Her family wanted to keep me away. So they did. Sure I had legal rights. I could and should have fought it. But I didn't. I accepted it. When I did come around, after I got my PHD. I contacted her and she ain't want me to just come into her life now after being gone so long". "If you haven't seen her in so long, why you have a room for your daughter?" I asked. "Her mom promised me she would explain to her the entire story and they would work out a way for me to get her for a summer. She divorced the other guy, so I guess she's more open to doing it now". "Why not just use your legal rights to see her?" I asked. "It's too ugly of a process. I'd rather just keep the state out of it. This summer, they are both planning to come down". "Have you talked to her?" "Yeah. She explained to her that I was her dad not too long ago. It was your documentary actually that made me force the issue. Shaun talked to me for a little bit. But we didn't have much to say. She's very polite. Yes sir, no sir. Seems so intelligent. And, I wasn't there for none of it. You think that makes me a bad father?" he asked, as if I was the ethics teacher and he was the student. "I don't think the story is complete. You can still be the father you want to be" I encouraged. "Yeah....well. I know this don't really relate to why you are mad at me. But I am f*cked up. I have a lot of issues that make this situation hard for me, despite my feelings for you" he said. "I have issues too, Carter. And I was willing to push through them because I felt the connection with you. I feel it every time we're close. And I just want you to attempt so push past and just follow your heart" I said, hoping I was making sense. "The night you gave me head, Bee. How could the shy girl I thought I knew, just do that?" "Because I wanted to push past any boundaries I had within. And it was something I wanted to do. I wanted to make you feel good and see that I could make you feel good". "You shocked me. But what shocked me most is that I couldn't stop you".

"Funny how you can't stop me but you can stop yourself" I said, sarcastically. No words were exchanged for a few moments. I understood his position. But I still thought he was holding back when he didn't need to. It wasn't even about sex anymore. It was about pushing past what was holding us back. "Some guy once told me the only way I think you will grow up was to severe the ties with whatever was trying to keep tied down" I said. He laughed out loud at this. And suddenly, unexpectedly and suddenly, he sat up. "I'm tired of you having this over me" he said, rising from his bed and coming over towards me. I started to sit up but he softly nudged my back down. "Just lay there. We're about to get even" he said with a thick coat of confidence, almost like a threat. I laid there and he yanked the blankets from over me. I squirmed out of instincts, him seeing me in my bra and panties. I didn't even have time to reposition myself and he had grabbed my legs and pulled me towards the edge of the bed, forcefully. His hunger filled eyes focused on my submissive eyes. He admired me for a second as my breathing picked up. This was what I had been desiring. And with it here, I got scared. He stood inbetween my legs and leaned in to me, planting a much longed for kiss on my lips. Not long enough to make up for lost time, but it got both of our lips wet and christened the moment. He knelled down, and starting kissing my legs, starting at my ankle. I became overstimulated and immediately jumped at the touch of his lips gliding across my skin. He kissed my legs softly, working his way up to the thigh and eventually to my naval. My breathing had doubled in intensity, as I grabbed his head and let his tongue work it's magic. He licked inside my naval then followed it up with kisses to my belly, all while using his large but gentle hands to caress my hips. I could fill my juices escaping my pussy and drenching my panties. I could feel my blood pressure rising and the goosebumps poking out of my arms. The AC was to 65, like always, but his warm tongue and lips working my lower body had heated my body. "You got goosebumps all over" he grinned, feeling my legs that went from baby smooth to bumpy. I bit my lip while looking at him and then laid my head down to relax. He took this as his cue. He slowly ran his fingers across my stomach, the softness causing it to both tingle and tickle, and stopped once his hands reached the center of my body. My panties were soaked and he when he ran his thumb over my pussy lips, even through the fabric of the panties, I almost lost it. I was so wet, once he was down massaging the top of my panties, his fingers were moist. He licked his index, the sight of it sending me into a frenzy, and then leaned back down. We kissed again, this time I wrapped my legs around his waist, where I could feel

his penis poking me. His shorts blocked the entrance as did my panties, but for a moment, we pushed our private areas together. His erection dipped into my pussy, it was the first form of penetration I had ever experienced. But it didn't count. I still had on panties and he still had on shorts. We were dry humping. Except there wasn't anything dry about my vagina. He backed up off me and laughed to himself. "I'm getting even" he said in a whisper before kneeling down again and reaching for the top of my panties. He pulled them down slowly, reminiscent to when I had pulled down his briefs. I lifted myself up so they could more easily slide down and before I could even blink, my panties no longer hid my center, they were to my ankles. He stumbled over his own breathing at the sight of me, wet and waiting. He held the panties in his hand after sliding it past my foot and then dropped the pussy drenched fabric on the floor. I had instinctively closed my legs, he was standing in-between them which made it impossible to do completely. He smirked at my body trying to hide from him. Virgin bodies tended to do that. He knelled down again and quickly rubbed his index across my slit, I gasped, and he eyed me hard. ENOUGH already, I thought to myself. I guess he saw it in my facial. He saw that I couldn't take the teasing anymore. I needed him the same way he needed me. He tongue kissed the entrance, my lips connecting with his. Once he started sucking, I started moaning, unable to stop the tears from coming to my eyes. He went back and forth from kissing and sucking, and eventually stuck his entire tongue into my pussy, moving it around long enough for me to call for God multiple times. Carter ate me out and I ventured into a dreamworld. Where opposites were interchangeable. and down seemed up and wrong seemed right. Pain and pleasure was one. Love and lust was one. His tongue and my pussy was one. I couldn't think straight. I wasn't thinking at all. I was dreaming. Dreaming while being wide awake. And with each kiss to my clit, a wave of unexplainable pleasure flooded me. With each suck of my clit, a shower of bliss drenched me. It felt too good to be true. It felt too good for me to take. I felt as if I was...I was...I was getting dizzy. And lightheaded. And...I couldn't.....Couldn't....BREATHE. I was HOT and...and I was squirming...I couldn't keep STILL....I had to GRAB something...his head was all my arms could reach...I felt his arms spread my legs wide and high over my head. I felt like I was being curled into a ball...but he licked, and I tried...to...remain calm. But I...just couldn't take....it. I had a violent orgasm. It wasn't violent because the bed was shaking as if we were in an earthquake, although it was. It wasn't violent because I had bit my lip so hard that it had punctured and I was bleeding, even though I did. It was a violent orgasm, because my strong legs had Carter in a deathlock. His licking of my clit eventually led to him almost being suffocated from the sleeper hold leglock I had his head in. He was moaning as I moaned and became acquainted with heaven, except it was because he was about to meet Jesus as well. He finally was able to push me off of him, but it was only because I lost feeling in my weak legs as I took long and hard breaths, blood painting my tongue and

giving my tastebuds an unusual treat. Rihanna, I would never doubt you again when you said pain could be pleasurable. I looked towards the sky, trying to regain my vision. I felt like I was high, especially when Carter came into focus, except three of him. I focused on the one in the middle. "You almost killed me, girl" he coughed, with a grin on his face. I guess he had enjoyed his near death experience. I panted, "I...I'm..."i'm sorry". He cracked his neck and shook his head. "I can't lie though. The pussy was to die for" he grinned. I laughed, but hurt my ribs when I did. Still, I kept chuckling through the pain, as I lay frozen in bed after having my first orgasm. "We're even now. You did me. I did you. Now we can slow it down and go on normal dates like regular people" he said after my breathing shallowed. All of a sudden, I wanted sleep. I wanted to turn around, close my eyes, and sleep until my body and mind returned to normal. "Carter. I don't think things can ever go back to being normal between us" I said. "Knowles. I know it can't". ** We walked out of the hotel room holding hands. It was early, the sun barely peaking in the sky. But I had slept well with Carter laying beside me. We didn't end up having sex, like I figured we would, and I was technically still a virgin, but we both knew we had twice had sex with each other. We couldn't swallow each others juices and give each other orgasms and then turn around and say we hadn't had sex, even if there had been no penetration. We were real giggly when we woke up, or at least I was. He kept wondering why I kept smiling. I couldn't help it. I was so....happy. The weekend had been amazing and I was coming back to Florida having experience things I had never experienced. Not just that, but I felt like I had learned a lot about the man I had fallen for. I didn't tell him, but deep down I knew it. I was in love. The shit that Michelle had spoken of that night when I asked, was exactly how I was feeling. On cloud 9, not wanting to be anywhere but in his presence. Feeling naked without him holding my hand, and totally secure with him. We boarded the plane, and I just continued to grin his way. "Yo. Just make sure you stop the grinning when you get to my class, aight?" he said. I laughed, "Nope. Ima be grinning just like I am now. What you gon do about that?" I teased.

"Give you a C Minus" he joked. "I don't even care. As long as I get more of that A plus plus plus plus loving I got last night" I smiled. "Just wait till you get..." he stopped what he was saying as the couple next to us were looking. We both giggled and embarrassingly turned away from them. "We better stop" I whispered. "Oh, now you wanna stop?" he joked. He was right. There was nothing stopping us now after this weekend. Chapter 18

Rihanna! What would POSSESS this woman to send me something as vile and inhumane and horrible and stomach turning as this shit. Of course she had sent me nasty things before through email, such as a guy getting f*cked by a horse and midget porn. She had a sick fascination with sending me the craziest things. Most of them I laughed off. I'd always reason, that's RiRi for you. Always trying to gross someone out. But this was a new level of gross. Michelle was laughing hysterically as I shuttered, tears in my eyes, after having viewed the nastiest thing on earth. I quickly shut off the webcam and had to compose myself so I could call Rih up. This was her doing. I knew she'd be

amused by my reaction no matter how pissed I was, but I was pissed and I wanted her to know anyway. The calculated precision in it all was what had me irate. She had sent me an email telling me to set up my web cam and watch a video link while recording my reaction. I knew it had to be something crazy. But my curiosity got the best of me as it always did when she sent me an email with a link in it. The video link was called 2 girls and 1 cup, and at worse I expected one girl to be shoving a cup in another girls pussy or something. It couldn't have been worse than that, right? RIGHT? She answered after a few rings. "Hey" she mumbled. "RIH. What the F*CK did you send me?" I barked, tears still in my eyes as Michelle laughed her skinny ass off. Rih started laughing as soon as I spoke. "Aww Bee. You watched it?" she snickered. "Why in the f*ck did you have me watching them girls shit in each other mouths and shit" I screamed. I wasn't much of a cusser. I mean, I cursed. But not like this. This was some OTHER shit. Michelle continued to laugh wildly. "Did you record your reaction?" she said, totally ignoring my outburst. I could hear the grin in her voice. "....I did. And? That was nasty Rih. I started crying. Like, I almost threw up watching it. I screamed so loud that Michelle ran her ass in here thinking I was being raped or something". Rih laughed, "Good. I definitely have to see it. Upload it to youtube and post it on facebook. I just had to send it to you when I saw it. I usually have a strong stomach but even I had to turn away from it". I shook my head as Michelle calmed down from laughing and started clicking around with the laptop so she could review the recording. I would definitely never watch anything this girl sent me again. "Please tell me that was chocolate or something. Was they really eating booboo? That had to be fake" I said, hoping to God it was. "I don't know. I ain't never seen no shit that looked like that. And I look in the toilet every time after I shit" she said. "ILL. TMI" I cringed. "Oh shut up. You don't check yoself after you shit? It's healthy to know yo bowels" she said as serious as a heart attack. "Rihanna. I luh you but I ain't bout to be throwin up all night... BYE".

She laughed, "Post the vid" and we hung up. Michelle was too busy laughing at the video to notice I was beaming hard at her. Did people really find this to be funny? "Bee. Look at you. Looked like you almost had a heart attack, girl" Michelle said. I ain't wanna see that shit. I was going to delete it and try to purge it from memory. But Michelle wouldn't let me. She kept laughing and rewinding and trying to get me to watch. I finally gave in, just to shut her ass up, and moved in so see what was keeping her grinning. The reaction video had my bed in the background, and started off with me looking towards the camera, but not making contact with it. I was looking at the porn which started off with some lullabye music playing. I put my hand on my chin and continued watching. After a few seconds of me watching blankly, my face pinched up, my lips started quivering, and my eyebrows went up to my original hairline. My face stretched out wide as I let out a loud shriek, which had to be at the part when the poop was being pushed out of the girls ass into a cup. I continued watching with a horrified look on my face and after a few more seconds, my eyes became glossy. Michelle came bursting into the frame, looking around and then frowning hard as she started staring towards the camera too. We both finished off the video by watching the girls eat the poop and then vomit it into each others mouths. I didn't realize it, but by the time I was finishing watching my reaction to the video, a small smile had crept across my face. I was still horrified, but maybe I did find just a small part of it funny. Maybe my loud scream or the way Michelle came running her ass into my room and then looking crazy once she saw what I was looking at. It was kinda funny, I guess. I started laughing, tears still in my eyes, as we watched the reaction vid a few more times. "Shell you ran in here FAST" I laughed. "I ain't never heard you scream so loud Bee. Thought you was dying or something" she laughed back. Michelle convinced me to upload the video and then post it to facebook. Since I had turned 18, my facebook friend list went from 112 to over 300, and when my vid got posted on the social networking site, it blew up. Comment after comment of people going on and on about how funny it was. By the end of the night I had 56 comments. Most people finding humor in the fact that I had burst out crying while watching it. So many "LMAO" and "ROFL" that I lost count.

Over the coming days, I found out that reaction vids to the doodoo porn was actually quite popular on youtube, and the video had become a viral phenomenon in just a few months. My vid got over 20,000 views and around 100 comments in just a week. Although I got plenty of comments about how funny it was, most of the comments kept saying how hot I was. In a strange way, I liked the weird compliments. Though I didn't particularly like the dozens of messages I ended up getting in my inbox. I liked the attention, but I also knew Carter knew of the attention I was receiving. In my mind, he was really the only one I NEEDED attention from. Everyone else could go to hell. Ever since the party with Tip, tons of people seemed to want to get in cool with me, the same ones that had ignored me before. In random classes, girls would speak to me and compliment my clothing or my hair or something like that, and guys would be right there smirking and trying to show out. It was funny watching them, in a way. I was aware enough to know that most of it came because I had supposedly snagged Tip, and since he was so popular it would only boost my popularity. I came to FAM wanting this type of popularity, but when it came so sudden, so out of nowhere, so strong, I kind of found it all to be a joke. Carter didn't, unfortunately. He called me and told me he saw the video and all of the response it got. When i asked did he dislike it, he wouldn't answer it directly. Just laughed, said it was a funny video and then changed the subject. I didn't feel as if he being all the way truthful with how he felt about it, so I deleted it from youtube. I wanted to truly show him that I was willing to forgo all of the college crap, so I could be with him. Upon our return from NYC, our relationship started off very undefined and very hard to understand. We talked almost every night, but it was almost always about school or how our day went or something like that. We didn't seem to discuss us, our future, or what we actually were to each other. I didn't want to push it either. It was obvious we were something, but I guess he wasn't ready to label it.

I decided not to drop his class, and that was when things really got intense. Seeing him teaching and knowing he had ate me out and I had sucked his dick, made it almost impossible for me to pay attention in class. I'd drift off into memories of the night in his car, and the night on the plane, and the night at Broadway, and the night he told me about his daughter, and the night we spooned as we slept. How could I just go back to being his student? In New York, he taught me about fine dining and shopping and theater and how to have a mind blowing orgasm. I couldn't just be reduced to him teaching me about media ethics. Not after what he had taught me on our trip. It blew my mind watching him up there interacting with students and trying not to give me eye contact. It was so erotic. Even more so when he would call on me and we'd engage in teacher student dialog, all the while knowing we were so much more. The fact that we held a secret, and no one else in the class, or the world for that matter, knew turned me on. Michelle was oblivious to it all as well, which made our talks before and after class so much more thrilling. Her crush on him had only grown since she first revealed it. I knew then I could never tell her about Carter and me. The classes weren't the only places we'd have around each other. I was now on the NAACP board which meant constant contact with him regarding the meetings and our community outreach programs. What got me was the fact that he would never break character and become unprofessional when dealing with me, in private or in public. When we were talking business or academia, he was serious. It wasn't until we talked later that night that our flirting and sweet nothings returned. I did most of the sweet talking. Calling him babe and handsome and things like that. He'd laugh it off most of the time, but he was sweet in other ways. He was sweet by acting like he was ignoring something I said but only to bring it up again an hour later with some commentary. One time I told him that my feet were hurting after doing so much walking from class to class, he totally switched the subject to something else. Ok, whatever. I didn't stress it. We ended up talking about 100 different subjects and when it was time for bed, he told me about this place that sold comfortable shoes. He asked for my size and told me he would get me some. He listened. A GUY THAT LISTENS. He amazed me every time he would do that. It wasn't long before I found out that spoiling me would become the usual. I figured he wanted to dress me because it could help him forget about my age. He could dress me up to look like a woman instead of the young college student I looked like. But when I actually discovered that I loved the changes he suggested for my fashion, I thought better. He saw my potential. In fashion, in school, in my relationships, and in life. And he wanted to have a hand in cultivating it. He brought it up one Sunday afternoon as I laid on his lap while we watched the pre-game for the Jets vs the Texans. He was a huge Jets fan and I was a huge Texan fan. We both liked football so we had trash talked the entire week leading up to the game. It was funny seeing him take it so serious, so I pushed on with the trash talking, even though I cared more about spending time with him than watching my team win. Win or lose, I just wanted to be in his embrace. "Get ready for this butt whoopin" I grinned, my head facing the TV but on his leg.

"You sure do a lot of talkin. The Oilers, I mean the Texans ain't won shit in how long?" he shot. "When the last time the sorry Jets won anything?" I laughed. "I guess you ain't never heard of Joe Nameth" he said, dismissively. "Ain't he some old quarterback? Sorry, I didn't watch football when they played in leather helmets" I grinned. "You wasn't even born" he shook his head. "Yep. So all I care about is the new school. Michael Vick. Peyton Manning. Tom Brady. No no Jets quarterbacks" I smiled. "Yeah, yeah. Shut that up, youngin'. All you do is run yo mouth. You taking that public speaking class, right?" he asked, switching gears as he often did. "Yeah. You noticed I haven't said 'ok, so" right?" I smirked. "You're getting better. Still verbose and choppy sometimes, but better than last year". "Ver who?" I giggled. He shook his head, smacked me on the ass, and focused in on the game. They were set to kick off. And for the next three hours, I clowned him as the Texans beat the Jets by four touchdowns.

It felt so good watching him get angry, because he didn't react. He would sigh and clench his teeth together and his face would tighten up, but he wouldn't yell or anything. I only made it worse when each time my team scored I would stay silent and just giggle. At one point, he moved me off of him so he could go get something to drink. "You want something?" he asked, almost no enthusiasm. "No babe" I smiled. I could sense him tighten up. When he returned, he sat down, but in a way where I could no longer lay on him. He was so cute when he was aggravated. "Well. At least the Jets scored" I smiled when they kicked a field goal to make the ass kicking 31-3. He responded by not responding, but turning the channel to Lifetime. "Aww, babes. Turn back. We can both cheer for the Jets. Don't be like dat" I said in my innocent voice. He shook his head and laughed out of defeat. "Just remember who grades your papers" he cautioned. I leaned in to him and kissed his lips, although he didn't kiss back. I laughed. "Why you ain't kiss me back?" "I did" he shrugged. "No you didn't. You ain't make the smacking noise" I grinned. "The what??" "The kissing noise. It's not really a kiss unless you make the noise too. It's just lips touching without the noise" I smiled. He raised his eyebrow. "Oh please, you know the sound. Come here" I smirked as I leaned in and planted another peck on his lips. I made the kissing noise as he remained still. I laughed again. "Ugh. You are so stubborn" I barked. He was grinning now, like it was funny. "Am I?" he asked, throwing the bait. "You are. Can't even kiss me right now. So cold and hard. So hard to get. Why you always like that?" I whined, still all in fun. He leaned back on the couch and just stared at me. I couldn't tell if he was being

serious or not. He had his bottom lip tucked in and seemed to be curious about something. "You have a lot of dudes trying to talk to you, don't you?" he asked. "Huh?" "At school. Or around town. Dudes are approaching you, right?". "Yeah, sometimes. But I don't pay it any attention. Why?" I asked. "Cuz I'm thinking if maybe you should be paying it attention". I didn't get it. I looked at him and expressed with my eyes that I didn't get it. What was he saying? "I'm just sayin'. You was seen with Tip at that party, and now, you're single in everyones eyes. You don't think people will wonder why?" he asked. "Who cares what they wonder. Let them think I'm single. I don't care" I insisted, hoping this wouldn't lead to anywhere. He nodded his head and took a sip of water. I was still looking at him, wondering what was going on in that mysterious head of his. But he wouldn't say. He didn't say anything immediately after. He was thinking. In deep thought. He did this a lot. And each time it would scare me. It was the same distant deep thought I saw as we made our way to the airport when we left for New York. But it never would last. He'd think. And when he was done, he'd return to the grinning man I had fallen in love with. It didn't change this time either. "Come over here" he said, opening his arms and his legs to make room for me. I scooted over and laid on his chest. We watched a Lifetime movie, one about a husband molesting his daughter. He cringed and shook his head as he watched. But the point was, he watched. He watched it with me. And during a commercial break he kissed my forehead which caused me to let my head fall back so I could extend my neck and connect my lips with his. We kissed, this time he made the kissing noise, and this time we added tongue. I got turned on for the rest of the movie as he'd go from rubbing my stomach gently to pecking my neck to breathing on my ear. I wanted him to explore further. I desperattely wanted him to. But he didn't. I had been over to his home many times in the weeks after our trip, yet we still had not taken the next step into our relationship. No sex. No oral sex. Just scenes like this. Our cuddling and conversations getting me so wet that I could only imagine what the sex would be like. The only issue was, would the sex ever come? We fell asleep in each others arms somewhere during the movie. I opened my eyes and saw him dozed off, the sky now in a purple and orange glow, signaling that the night sky was soon to follow. I woke him up by pecking him slowly and gently all over his face. He opened his eyes while breathing in as we locked eyes. I stared hard at him and eventually he broke eye contact and looked around.

"Damn. It's getting dark. You ready to go?" he asked. I shook my head no. He questioned it with his eyes. "I wanna spend the night" I said. "What about your people?" "I don't care about them" I softly said before placing an equally soft and subtle kiss on his lips. When I backed off, he was seemingly deep in thought again, or at least headed that way. I had to stop it. "Shawn. Please. I will call her and tell her I'm at my other friends house" I pleaded. I leaned in to him and initiated another soft kiss, my lips gracing his, our warm breath colliding. He strengthen his grip on me and leaned in to initiate his first kiss, slipping his tongue into my mouth, exactly what I wanted. I guess I thought this was his way of saying yes. But it was the exact opposite. When our lip embrace broke, he leaned in to my ear and licked my lobe. I inhaled and closed my eyes, unprepared for the words he was about to speak. "If you stay tonight, I'm going to f*ck you. I want us to hold off for awhile. Go home. I'll see you tomorrow" he whispered before kissing the side of my head. He slowly eased his way off me and slid off the sofa, going for his shoes that were on the floor next to mine. I couldn't believe him. I wanted him. I wanted him to f*ck me, to take my virginity. And he was f*cking up my mind by denying me of it. My legs started shaking from the frustration of it all. I tried to stand but my knees were wobbly. My juices caused my legs to stick together and I'm sure my face showcased my displeasure. But in a strange twist, I found the disappointment to actually be fulfilling. He said he wanted us to hold off for awhile, which mean it would come. Patience. Endurance. Stamina. I gathered my emotions as I stood and managed a smile. He was so good at milking every tense moment for all of it's worth. We kissed at the front door and he led me outside to my car. When I get in my car I decided to make him a little jealous as a parting. Hey, he can't just turn me on like that and then send me home. "Guy named James asked me out in my Public Speaking class. I might just take him up on the offer, now" I smiled before cranking up. "Is that right" he grinned. "Yep. Pre-Law student too. Very smart. Very cute. You mad?" He shook his head and tapped the roof of my car. "Drive safe, Miss Knowles". I drove home smiling. There was only one man who had my heart.

** I think my new sense of fashion was starting to rub off on me in various ways. I wasn't wearing outfits anyone could get at the mall. I was wearing things that was both sophisticated and sexy. Maybe it made me feel more sophisticated and certainly more sexy. I had always been described as cute in my life, but Carter had helped me come into my own as a sexy woman. Because of this, I didn't even feel the need to pay attention to the negativity surrounding me, particularly from Nicki and her crew. I made up in my mind that I would refuse to participate in any more petty, catty, banter with her. But there was still a part of me that wanted to out do her. I just decided I'd make her pay by being better than she was. Letting my actions speak for me instead of my mouth. That meant shining in NAACP meetings. Jarvis was the leader and Carter stood in on meetings along with a few other teachers to make sure we stayed on track. But the floor was pretty much ours. We had to decide what we were going to discuss at the next open meeting, which were the meetings open for students to attend. Jarvis went around the table and asked for ideas. He started with Sorority chick number 1. "We could talk about community involvement and stuff" she threw out, almost absent minded. Next was Sorority chick 2. "...uhm. I don't even know. Ain't nuttin really goin' on right now" she shrugged. "Yall was pose to come up with ideas" Jarvis said, eying her. "Well I was busy, dang. It's other people in here" she said. He rolled his eyes and moved on to the next. Frat brother 1. "Racism is always a good topic". "What about racism?" Jarvis asked. "How it's happening on campus and stuff". Jarvis sighed, and continued going around the room. No one had anything noteworthy to say. I couldn't believe how unfocused and lazy they were about the whole thing. Carter couldn't either. He eyed all of us with the most disgusted look on his face. I felt bad for Jarvis because ultimately, he was the President and he had chosen us. I guess this was what happened when you chose friends and Greek members instead of the best qualified candidates. So many people cared more about how it looked on their resume than anything else. "I think we should discuss next years election, and if Barack Obama is the candidate we should endorse" Nicki smiled. "Bawawk-a-who?" Sorority girl 2 asked, wide eyed. "The senator from Illinois. Black man. Running for President. Yall don't know?"

Nicki asked, looking at her as if she was crazy. "Oh. Yeah. I knew bout that" she responded, sounding like she was lying. "That's a good idea, Nicki. Really good" Jarvis commented before looking at me. I had to admit, it was a great idea. Better than mine. "Uhm. Well, I think Nicki had a good suggestion" I said, putting my hands over my notebook so no one could read what I had written down. "Nah. What did you have? I want to hear everyones thoughts" Jarvis said. "Well. I was just thinking maybe we could talk about NAACP as a whole". Everyone seemed to be dumbfounded by my statement. Even Carter looked on without a clue to what I was getting at. "Well, I mean. A lot of people on campus don't even know what it's about" I said. "And we explained it during the first meeting of the new year" Nicki said. "Yeah, I know that. But we spent five minutes talking about our mission statement. But so many people I talk to just think we're on here to boost our resume and that all we do is, excuse my french, b*tch about black this and black that. People don't seem to understand the point of this" I stated, trying to defend my idea. "Keep going" Jarvis said, giving me a chance to further elaborate. "Ok, so I told my room mate about it. And she's a smart girl, but she doesn't even see the point. Sure when we were fighting for rights and stuff, NAACP was important. But in 2007, she thinks most of it is arbitrary". "So she doesn't think racism exist" said Sorority Chick 1. "No. Not that" I said, feeling like I was being ganged up on, "Nevermind". Carter spoke up, "No. I think you're on to something good. Keep elaborating". "It's just. I think we should be doing more to help people understand the issues and what we can do to actually help. Some of the meetings are so formal and lecture like that people feel intimidated or that it's pointless. I don't know. Maybe only meeting twice a month hinders them from actually feeling involved. I just think we should be doing more. Actively trying to get people to understand things like Affirmative Action". "Who doesn't understand Affirmative Action? It's just about quotas and stuff" Frat boy 2 said. "No it's NOT!" I laughed, "I mean, see? A board member doesn't even get affirmative action". He tried to defend himself, "Ain't affirmative action like the Rooney Rule in football where they gotta hire a black coach so the ratios even out?".

"No" Carter answered him. Everyone started talking amongst themselves. Jarvis had to get everyone in order. "Aye Aye! Shut up, yaw. Bee. Tell us what Affirmative Action is" he said. "Ok. Let's say a high school is looking to hire 10 teachers that just graduated from college" I began. "A few of them would have to be black, right?" the Frat boy said, just hoping he would be right. "No" I barked. He dropped his hands and exhaled, "Whatever. Explain it then". "I'm trying to" I grinned, frustrated at their ignorance. "Keep going Bee. There will be no more interruptions" Jarvis said, eying the rest of the committee. Boy, they always said two things you never want to see was the making of sausage or the behind the scenes of a board meeting. I agreed. How could the leaders of this organization be so deficit? "10 teachers need to be hired. If the school only recruited teachers from Florida State, which is a predominately white school, then the applicant pool would almost certainly be almost all white. That ain't racist. It's just the numbers" I said. They were looking like they still didn't get where I was going. I took a breath and continued anyway. "Affirmative Action is when the high school then goes to FAMU, a predominately black school, and gets applicants from there was well". "That is what I said?!" the boy blasted. "No. You said they had to hire a certain amount of blacks. That isn't true. They could hire 10 whites and still be using affirmative action because they actively sought to make the applicant pool more inclusive. And its not just about blacks. It's for women and disabled people too. All Affirmative action is, is including more people in the hiring process than typically looked at. It's not about meeting quotas or hiring less qualified people. Quotas are illegal anyway" I finished. I couldn't tell you what they thought about what I had said, they just looked. I hated that I had even shared my idea, and I definitely hated I had to defend it. At least I actually had an idea. Carter smiled and walked over towards the table. "Have em vote" he said to Jarvis. "Ok. Those who want to go with Bee's idea on educating the people on what NAACP is about" raise your hand.

No one raised their hand. "If you wanna go with Nicki's idea on the election, raise your hand". Everyone raised their hand, including me. I couldn't hate on it. It was a great idea from Nicki and something that could be implemented quicker than my idea. I just hated that I felt everyone was raising their hand for the wrong reason. ** James was a nice guy, he really was. But I wasn't interested in him and my polite rejection of his offer to take me out had all but been ignored. "Ahh come on. You said you are single, right?" he asked. "I am. But I'm just not looking for a boyfriend right now". "Why? Tip? he said you're free to do whatever you want now" he smiled. "No, not because of him. I'm just busy with school and everything. I don't have time for anyone" I said, not even getting why I was having to explain myself as we walked out of the Public Speaking class. "Oh you think you're busy? How about this. I'm involved in three clubs; student government, debate team, and royal court, and I would definitely make time for someone as beautiful as you" he pressed. "Well good for you. I'm not as multi-talented as you" I said out of being annoyed. He took the shot but instead of taking the full brunt of the sarcasm, he laughed it off. Damn, this boy just couldn't take a hint. "I'm sure you are very talented. It's why I wanna take you out. No strings attached. Just out. Get to know you a little better" he kept on. "James. The answer is no". "Just tell me you will think about it and I will leave you alone" he grinned. I couldn't believe him, but his presence was seriously annoying me. Anything that would get him to leave me alone was worth considering. "Ok. I will think about it. Happy?" I beamed. "All I wanted" he smiled, "See you in class". He left and I shook my head. He was a prep, wore glasses, khakis, and designer shirts tucked in. But he was alarmingly pushy and loved to antagonize. I guess that was why he was going to be a lawyer. Right up his alley. I told Carter about him, although he didn't have much to say about the whole situation. I wasn't telling him to try and make him jealous, but I sensed that was how he was taking it. But then again, Carter could be hard to read when he wasn't explicitly telling his feelings. Everything was guess work with him. "Maybe you should go on a date with him" he suggested on our date to a

restaurant some 45 minutes away from Tallahassee. "Why?" I spat, not seeing any sense in it. "I don't know. I'm just saying" he shrugged, snapping a piece of his crab legs. "Just saying what? You want me to date other people?" I asked. "It's not what I want. I'm just saying. Maybe it's in your best interest to". "So you don't think it's in our best interest to be exclusive?" I said, dropping my fork and staring at him. "I'm not saying that, Beyonce. I'm just thinking out loud. It's not like I have a manual on how to handle this. All I'm saying is, if you did decide to date another student. I would understand". "You would understand, Shawn? How would you understand? Do you not even want me for yourself?" I said raising my voice. He looked around, we were the only ones seated outside, the star filled sky filling out the background of the night. "Bee. I wouldn't be risking everything I am risking if I didn't want you. And I need you to stop questioning that. Ok? Cuz everytime you do, it makes me think about how much you ain't ready to accept what we have" he said in a low tone. I lowered my voice and relaxed my muscles. He was right. I had to stop questioning him. But my own insecurities and uncertainty about what we had made it difficult. "I know you are risking a lot. I'm sorry for making it seem like I didn't understand that. I just. Sometimes I just can't really read you. And I don't want to be with anyone else. I just want to be with you. When you say maybe I should date someone else it makes me feel like you don't really care if I do. Like it would be a relief for you or something". "I understand your feelings, Bee. And I'm not saying go out and have sex with someone. I'm just saying maybe the best look, so Michelle isn't in your business, or your friends, or facebook. The best look might be for you to hit the dating scene. Looks less suspicious" he said. "But what if I dated someone? And yet I'm seeing you? Then I'd be cheating and stuff. I'm already creeping just to be with you. Going all the way out the city at night so we can have dinner. And then I'd have to be dodging phone calls from some guy i'm dating? That's too much pressure on me" I expressed. He nodded his head and breathed slowly. We ended up eating the rest of our meal in silence, looking down at our plates instead of speaking directly to each other. I hated it when the atmosphere became like this. And it only happened whenever we were trying to make sense of what we had and how to deal with it. It was so complicated and frustrating. But this was what I signed up for. This was what my heart was going to have to endure to be with this man. "What are we? What do you consider me?" I asked, still looking at my half eaten

plate of Crawfish and shrimp. "Do we have to go through this again?" he asked. "I need to know. In simple words, what we are, Shawn. If I'm going to date other people. I need to know what the man...the man I want to be with considers me". "Bee, you don't have to date other people. Like I said, I was just thinking out loud". "But you said it more than once. So you've obviously thought about it a few times". "Can we just finish our dinner, first?" he asked. I had to control a small temper tantrum that wanted to engulf me. I quickly shook my head and exhaled angrily as I threw the food in my mouth and looked to the side, watching people walk past and wondering if their lives were more enjoyable at the moment than mine was. I was having a romantic dinner with the one guy that both physically and mentally stimulated me. This was suppose to be romantic. But all I felt was insecurity and unsure about us. He refused to tell me what I was to him. Why? Why was it so hard of a question to answer? "I'm not good with labels, Beyonce. I consider you someone I have a deep connection with. I like being around you. I want to be around you. I want to be in your life. But I just don't feel comfortable with the whole boyfriend, girlfriend label". "Is it because of another woman? You dating other girls?" I shot. "No. I swear to you. You are the only woman I'm even remotely interested in pursuing. But I'm just trying to approach this shit cautiously. Make sure all angles are covered before I jump head in to it". "Yet you could jump head first into my pussy" I rolled my eyes. "So now you wanna throw that into my face too? Very mature" he sarcastically laughed to himself. "Ok, Carter. You win. No labels. No commitment. No nothing. Whatever" I conceded. "Yeah, cuz that is all this is about. Winning and losing" he barked. "Can we go? I'm not hungry anymore" I said, standing up, dropping my napkin on the table and walking away from the table. I had to leave because I was sure I was going to cry. I hated being a cry baby, but I couldn't help it. I couldn't HELP how much my emotions were eating at me. I walked straight past the concerned looking waitresses and into the restroom where I had to quickly compose myself in the mirror, rubbing water in my eyes. I sat there for a minute and thought. I was guessing Carter was annoyed with me by now. Hated that I couldn't accept his way of viewing our thing we had. Maybe I was being selfish. But was I the devil for wanting to have something to cling to? Some sign of security? But there was nothing to cling to. No security. No safety

net. Nothing. I had nothing from him. Just a hope without a promise. I walked out of the restroom, purse on my shoulder, no emotion on my face, and ready to leave. Carter had already paid for the meal and waiting for me by the exit. When he saw me he looked to be in thought. Here we go again. I didn't even bother trying to read him. I didn't have the energy to care. If I put forth the energy to think it over, I was sure he'd be convinced to stop dealing with me and just drop me off with my doggybag. It wasn't suppose to happen like this. We weren't suppose to argue on our date, one of the few times we could get out of the house and be together. But like so many other things, this was just the hand life would deal to me. Too good to be true. Never a perfect fit. We walked silently to his car, a few feet from each other, like we were complete strangers on the sidewalk that magically wound up at the same car. He unlocked it, I got in, put on my seatbelt and turned to look out the passenger window. I couldn't even stand to look his way. I was afraid of what would happen if I saw his eyes. And the last thing I wanted right now was to lose myself in another outburst of emotion. He didn't say anything to me. We drove in silence for a few minutes and then he cut on his stereo, where soft Jazz filled the car. I guess that meant we truly weren't going to say anything to each other for the next 45 minutes. I surely had already said enough, so what would be the point of speaking up now? He knew my feelings. Nothing else I said would make a difference. There was nothing left to say. When we made it to his house, I was just ready to get in my car and drive home before Michelle called and I had to make up a lie on the spot about where I was. I didn't feel like thinking. I just wanted to get away from everyone. I was angry at Carter, sure. But I was angry at a lot of people. Angry that society had made it so hard for me to be with him. What really was the big deal? I understood Carter was put between a rock and a hard place, but why? So what if me and him wanted to be together. What did that change? He was still a great teacher and a great man. As I thought about him, I really didn't want to be angry at him. But what else was there to do now? I had completely ruined dinner. "Carter. I'm sorry. I'm...just sorry" I said softly as the car shut off. "Don't apologize, Bee. You have every right to feel the way you do. I'm putting you in an unfair position" he said. "It's just so hard. Hard to accept that we can both wanna be together but can't" I sighed. "You do know that I want to be with you, right Beyonce?" "I know. I know you do" I said, finally turning to look at him. He looked at each other with such pathetic longing, that it hurt my soul. There was no misunderstanding here. I know Carter wanted me. I HAD to give him that benefit of the doubt. Those eyes could not and would not lie.

We managed to break free of the gazing and get out of the car. I made my way over to my car as he walked me over. It was the beginning of fall, Halloween just right around the corner. Florida never really got freezing cold, but it could get pretty chilly around this time, and the chill from the night air was starting to set in. The wind picking up and smashing against our frames, my hair blowing wildly. He met my at my door, and I waled into his arms for a goodnight hug. The hug, nothing I would have thought could have blown me away, did just that. It took my breath away as he held me, protecting me from the whirlwind of air that surrounded us. I just laid in his embrace as he held me. A goodbye hug shouldn't have lasted this long. And a goodbye hug should not be without a goodbye kiss. He lifted up my chin and we slowly moved in for a peck. The peck was quick and over before I could blink. We backed off and I looked into his eyes. I saw how much he didn't want to say goodbye. We kissed again, small pecks turning into wild pecks which turned into lip locking and smacking. I lost myself in his kiss, our tongues tasting each other as our lust took over. His hands dropped from my arms to my lower back, but our lips stayed connected. We leaned in and out and over and under as our kisses became more and more aggressive. His hands continued downward, until soon they were cupping my butt, sending a chill through my body, a chill that had nothing to do with the wind. I took that time to calm myself down. I put my face into his shoulder and let him hold me like this. He slowly placed his lips against my neck and started kissing gently. I grabbed him hard, my nails clenching his coat, as his kisses started to turn into sucks. He was sucking on my neck in the middle of his driveway. "Get a room" I heard someone yell from across the street somewhere. Carter stopped briefly to check out who had yelled and then I turned around. It was too dark to see the guys face, but it was someone that had went to his mailbox. When I turned around, Carter had grabbed my wrist and was leading me towards his home. I didn't know what would happen when we got behind his doors, but I was ready for whatever he had in mind. He fidgeted with his keys, and I took deep breaths as he struggled to find the one to open his door. When he finally got it open, he nearly knocked over the door as he rush inside and dragged me behind him. The door shut quick and our mouths met and locked quicker than the hinges did. These weren't soft and gentle pecks. These were violent, lust filled, and passionate kisses. Kisses so strong, that I almost didn't even notice his hands were under my shirt and rubbing on my stomach. I allowed my hands to rub his hips and then it hit me. This was it. This was the moment everything would all change. My shirt was over my head before I could even completely understand what was happening, and my hands had managed to remove his coat and was working on his shirt just as quickly. It was as if my body and mind were on separate pages. It was like I was having an out of body experience, watching my hands do things I wasn't commanding them to do. Instincts were a crazy thing. We kissed and continued to forcefully strip each other of our clothes, he removed the straps of my bra and buried his face to the top of my chest, my breast still

sitting in the cups. I was pinned against the door, moaning with my eyes closed when my bra fell harmlessly to the floor and my breast fell into his mouth. His tongue circled my nipple and his lips trapped my breast in his mouth as he sucked hard. My hands stopped working him as he went to work on my titties, kissing and sucking on them like it was his first time every enjoying breast. And he enjoyed them, because he didn't concentrate or anything else until my hands went back to work, trying to remove his belt. He stopped long enough for me to unsnap his pants, which slowly dragged down to his knees and then his ankles, and then he was back to working on me. The pants he had bought me not even a week ago were being nearly ripped apart, as a button popped and rolled on his hardwood floor and then too slid down to my ankles. I returned the favor by ripping his shirt open and removing one arm from the sleeve. He didn't even wait for the second sleeve before he took me in his arms and carried me into his bedroom, his ankles still bound by his pants. He laid me on the bed and slipped out of the cuffs before looking toward me. We were both grinning by this point. But those grins turned back to lustful eyes. He walked closer as I sat up on the bed. His boxers were pointing out. His erection hard and directly in my face. There was only one thing I wanted right then. I helped slide his penis out of the slit in his boxers and my mouth watered. I put his penis into my mouth, truly being taken back by how good it felt in there. I closed my eyes and sucked him faster than I had the first time. It tasted so good and was so hard and stiff. I forgot about my own limits as I almost gagged from taking too much of him in my mouth. I was biting off more than I could chew, but I sensed he liked that I was so into it. I opened my eyes and saw him staring down at me. I could tell he enjoyed the view, because he looked so turned on, like he couldn't concentrate on anything else but my mouth on his penis. I took him out of my mouth and put my hands on his boxers, moving them down so he could be naked. I wanted him naked. And I returned to pleasing him in the way my mouth naturally longed to. Before I could get too settled into what I was doing, or before he could cum, he pulled back. He wasn't ready for that. He was wanting more this time around. He gently pushed me back, before crawling on the bed on top of me and kissing my neck as he massaged my nipples with his fingers. I wrapped my legs around his naked body as his dick pressed against my naval. Shit, I was sure he'd f*ck me there if he could. We rocked as he sucked so hard, I was sure I'd have a hickey the next morning. I needed to feel what the next step felt like. And I was sure he wanted to experience it as well, because he pulled back again and stared down at my panties. The first time he removed them, it was slow and steady, as he paced himself before viewing my womanhood. This time? He snatched it off like a kid snatches off the wrapper of a lollypop. The wrapper didn't mean shit anymore. It was the sweet thing underneath that he cared about. The panties fell to the floor and my pussy was devoured by his eyes. It was overwhelming. It was frightening. I was about to finally have sex. Carter kissed my pussy, he didn't eat me out, simply kissed my lips as if they were on

my face and then stood back up. I almost orgasmed simply from that. He walked over to his night stand and returned with a condom after he had went in the drawer. Condom. Wow. This was happening. He had a gold condom in his hand. And it was in his mouth, the top of the wrapper being ripped off as he made his way toward me. I got scared. I tensed up, every muscle in my body tightening. I looked up at him, wanting to cry from the emotional overload. He was looking at my pussy, not my face. But when he did...boy did his entire facial change. I swallowed and panted while laying in the bed with my legs spread for him. He stared at my shaking body. I was actually shaking from the fear. "Bee. Are you a virgin?" he said softly, more of a statement than a question. I couldn't lie to him. Even if I tried to, my body was telling him the truth. "I knew it" he said to himself, before backing up a step. I sat up, completely ashamed that he was able to see the truth just from my body. I wondered what he thought, if I had once again been reduced to a child in his eyes. I wrapped my legs in my arms and tried to look at him, but turned away. "Why you felt you had to lie?" he asked softly. "I don't know" I responded, still avoiding eye contact. He exhaled hard at this, as if he was beyond dissapointed in me and deservedly so. "Do you not want me anymore?" I said, conjuring up just enough courage to look up at him. His eyes were soft and empathic. I didn't expect that. He walked around the bed, his penis noticeably more limp than it had been, and removed the chain from his neck, placing it on the night stand. He motioned for me to get off the bed and I did as he said, covering myself out of instincts. I had shown my body to strangers in drawing classes, but I was no terrified for him to catch me in my naked lie. He untuched the cover and pulled it back before looking back at me. With his eyes, he told me to get back on the bed. I slowly slid back down as he did the same. We were on completely different sides of the bed as I pulled the covers up over me to hid myself, still feeling uncomfortable about making eye contact with him. "Come here' he whispered. I moved over to the center of the bed. "Come here" he said again, this time with more force. I moved toward him and he turned to the side and kissed me softly. I was still upset by my lie and sorry I had misled him because of my petty insecurities. Why did I keep messing up when it came to him. I shamefully looked in his eyes when he backed off, but he didn't look mad. He looked concerned. He looked scared.

"Bee, are you sure this is what you want?" I nodded my head at him. I did want this. "You know. Deep down, I always knew you were a virgin. I just ain't wanna believe it" he said gently. "I'm sorry" He accepted my apology by kissing my forehead and gently tracing the outline of my arms. I leaned in, wanting to kiss him again and he gave me what I desired. He also managed to crawl on top of me. We kissed face to face, completely naked and I could feel his dick pressed against my inner thigh. I was horrified. But something about the gentleness of his kiss was relaxing me. He wasn't resting his body on mine yet, his arms were supporting him, but I knew that any moment all of that could change. That moment came when he reached for the night stand for the opened condom wrapper and pulled out the symbol of sex. The symbol that I was truly about to lose my innocence. I closed my eyes. It was like being on top of the roller coaster, just knowing you were about to take a 90 degree drop. Completely out of control and wondering if the shallow feeling in the pit of your belly was fear or excitement. I figured it was a mix of both. He looked down at me one more time to see if I was ready. I let him know I was by kissing his lips. He reached under the covers and did what he had to do with the condom and I took one final deep breath. The straight shot down on this emotional roller coaster. I felt it when it touched. I felt the tip of his dick against my pussy. I felt the pressure as he slowly pushed it into my entrance. I felt him adjust his body weight and I felt my joints tighten. But I wasn't prepared for the PAIN of it all. I wasn't prepared for that. I moaned out of pain, not pleasure, as he took his first stroke into me and I was officially not a virgin anymore. He immediately stopped. "You want me to stop?" he whispered, searching my eyes. I DIDN'T want him to stop. I wanted to experience this. I wanted him to enjoy being inside of me. I wanted to complete this without backing out. "Keep going" I managed to get out. He leaned down and filled my open mouth with his lips, as my eyes closed and I anticipated the continued stroking. He softly resumed thrusting. And I nearly lost my mind. My stream of consciousness took over. OH my GOD. He is inside of me. He is f*cking me. I'm f*cking him. And...it hurts. Tears are in my eyes, and now one is falling down my cheek. But don't stop. He's looking at me. Keep going. Please, Carter, Don't stop. I need this. You need this. We need this. Ouch. No. Good pain, Carter. Keep f*cking me. See, I just moaned. Ok, Bee, close your eyes. feel him. Feel him. FEEL him. But I DO FEEL him. And he so BIG. I can't feel my legs. Oh my God, they've gone numb. I'm paralyzed. Where are they? I see them, dangling in the air, around his head. How they get

there? I just SCRATCHED the shit out of his back. OH GOD. He is bleeding. His eyes. So harmless. SO wide. I love you. I LOVE this. NEVER leave me. NEVER stop. The hurt. The pain. The pressure. I take it all. ALL of you. JUST for you. No one else. He's going faster. He's eating my neck. Like a vampire. Sucking me of life. And...it feels good. Let me bite you back. You like that? YES. I'm moaning. I'm loud. REALLY loud. I wan't to calm myself. But I cant. His dick is buried. Deep, deep, deeep in my pussy. What? Change positions? I've never done this before. He's moving me. I'm following his lead. I'm on my knees now. He's behind me. He's mounting me. HE's INSIDE ME AGAIN. He's stroking. It hurts still. How long will it hurt. But that...Ooo, that. That felt...kinda...good....goood.....GOOD GOD. F*ck me. He's grabbing my hair. Grab it baby. OUCH. He smacked my ass. SMACK IT HARDER, NIGGA. SHIT. Ouch! Well not that hard. I'm f*cking doggystyle. Like an animal. Like a f*cking dirty animal. What now? I'm exhausted. My legs hurt. My pussy aches. My body still responds to you, and only you. The room is spinning. But I'm on top of you. And I'm sliding down. You're sliding up. Locked inside the grips of my pussy. And you're helping me. And I'm f*cking you. And I'm riding you. And it hurts so good. And my titties are bouncing. Bouncing out of control, smacking my face, out of place. There you go. Grabbing them. Rubbing them. With one hand grabbing my ass. And you're squeezing my nipples. So hard, so rough, they might burst. Might erupt. Like the ugly scream that just came from you. You came. Nutted inside of me. And we're exhausted. Breathing hard. Breathing for life. And I collapse on top of you. My virginity gone. My innocence gone. My pussy still filled with you. All of you. ** I woke up in the middle of the night, still sore after the beating my pussy took from the man I had given it to. I had to laugh to myself. I always thought my first time was suppose to be sweet and gentle. And maybe Carter intended it to start out that way, but the more he stroked, the more I saw his eyes fill with lust and the harder he went. When he had bent my ass over and had my face in the pillow, I knew all bets were off. That shit HURT, but I wasn't mad at him. I thought it was sweet, in a strange sense. He couldn't even control himself. He couldn't make love. He had to f*ck me. Just the thought made me giggle. I couldn't even walk right as I made my way into his kitchen to get me some juice. I wonder how long the hangover lasted after being f*cked silly? Would I be walking funny all week? Would my pussy feel so sore for awhile? Man. I couldn't believe it. I had sex. I really had sex. And with my teacher. My f*cking teacher. And the thing was, I couldn't tell ANYONE about it. I stood there naked as I drink the apple juice and just thought about it all. Maybe Carter and I still didn't have an official title, but he would always be my first. That would never change. And that brought another smile to my face as I walked my crippled ass back to his bed. He was awake, laying in bed waiting for me. I snuggled up next to him and he kissed me. "You were awesome, tonight" he whispered in my ear before kissing my temple.

"Was I? You were kinda rough" I teased. "I'm sorry. I haven't taken a girls virginity since High School. I ain't know hot to act. Did I hurt you?" he asked, looking all concerned and stuff. I laughed. "I'm sore. But I'm ok". "Damn. My fault" he laughed out of sheer embarrassment. I kissed him hard and he held me in a close, tight, grip. "You didn't call Michelle, did you?" he asked. "No. I forgot. She'll be ok". "Yall got my class in the morning though. What are you going to tell her?" he pressed. "I don't know. If she asks I can just not say anything. She'll be mad or whatever but she can't make me say where I was". "Yeah but still. What we are trying to do here is not make people suspicious. When people suspect something, they snoop. I don't want anyone snooping" he cautioned. "You're right" I said. "Damn right I am" he teased. "You are. And that's why I'm going to follow your suggestion. I'm going to go on a few dates" I said. He looked at me, but didn't respond at first. He was taking in the statement. "Shawn. Just cuz I go on some dates doesn't mean anything, past that. This" I said, pointing down at myself, "belongs only to you". He chuckled at this, as did I, although I was dead serious. "Just mine, huh?" I nodded, "all yours". "Well give me some more of that" he grinned. He pulled me on top of him, and we engaged in round 2. I enjoyed it a lot more the second time around, although it still hurt. He made sure to be more gentle with me all the way through. He kissed me hard when he came into me. After he removed the condom and tossed it in the waste basket, he got up and went to his bathroom. I laughed at his small booty making it's way across the room. I heard the sound of piss smacking the toilet water soon after the light cut on, and I looked around his room. Hard to believe only months ago I could only imagine how he lived.

Now, I was laying in his bed after I had given him multiple orgasms in one night. I felt accomplished in knowing this. But it still felt surreal. His room was surrounded by elegance and expensive decorations. I had always wondered about it. How could he afford this on a teachers salary? When he returned, I had made it up in my mind that I would ask. I wouldn't press if he didn't want to talk about it. But I felt I wouldn't be out of line to just ask him the question. What's wrong with asking? When we were snuggled up under the covers again and he had closed his eyes, I took the plunge. Hopefully, he wouldn't get mad. "Babe" I said, kissing his chest. "Sup?" he said with his eyes still closed. "I want to ask something. But I don't want you to get mad at me". "Oh, here it comes" he said sarcastically, eyes still closed. "It's just something that's been bothering me. And I wanna know" I said. He kept his eyes closed but laughed, "What you wanna know, Bee?" "See, you are already kinda getting an attitude. I promise, it's just a simple question" I said. He opened his eyes and looked at me. Didn't say anything, but his look told me that I was free to ask. "....babe, are you a drug dealer?" He burst out laughing when i asked this. I didn't like it. What was funny about it? I was serious. "For real. I'm asking for a reason" I said, slightly annoyed by the laughter. "No, Beyonce. If you have to ask, I will answer. No. I'm not and I've never been a drug dealer. The unsolved mystery is now solved" he said sarcastically, laughing to himself. "Then why you can afford all this stuff? You seem to spend more than a teacher should be able to afford. Ima be a teacher so I've looked up salaries and stuff. But you fly first class and buy-". "And buy you fancy clothes and take you to the broadway? Yeah, I do that. A teacher can't do that?" he interrupted. "I'm not saying you can't do that. I'm just saying I don't see how you can afford it" I said, still trying to sound non-confrontational. I didn't want to argue with him about this. "You wanna see my back account or something?" he shot. God, why was he being like this?

"Shawn. I'm just asking a question. Why are you jumping down my throat? You're acting like I-" He interrupted me again, "Like you're questioning me. Yeah, I am. Because you are" he said. Man. I just couldn't win, ever. Everytime, people always took my words for what they weren't. I didn't mean to sound like I was questioning him. I just was curious. I didn't understand how he could get offended over a question. "I'm sorry, then. Just. Never-mind. I won't ask anymore questions" I said humbly, defeated and hurt as I slid off him and on the other pillow. I wrapped the covers around me. "Damn Carter. She got you" I heard him say to himself, which caught me off guard. "Beyonce. Turn around" he demanded. I could have been defiant. But when his voice sounded like that, it made me tremble. Not in a fearful way, exactly, but in a way that made me feel humbled. I did as I was told. "Look at me. You keep breaking down my defenses and I don't know what to do anymore to keep you out. You have completely, completely, broken me" he confessed, in as defeated a tone as I'd heard from him. "Why do you want to keep me out?" I softly asked. "Bee. Cuz if I let you in. If I give you this key to my heart and shit. I'm completely vulnerable to...." "To what?" He didn't answer my question. He smacked the bed on the other side and huffed and puffed like he was having a nervous breakdown or something. I was literally starting to feel afraid. "Babe. What's wrong?" I asked, painfully. "I never sold drugs. Only because I wasn't allowed to. That wasn't the plan my family had for me" he started, eyes staring at the ceiling, his head sunken into the pillow. I just looked at him. "My dad was. What most of yall youngers consider an American Gangster. He did his thing in Harlem. In the 60's and 70's. Yeah he sold drugs. But he was much more connected than that. Pimped. Gambling. Bootlegged. He was a jack of all trades. A hustler. Could make money no matter the weather. And he became rich. One of the few hustlers that made it rich before being killed or thrown in prison" he said.

I could sense this was difficult on him. It was taking a lot out of him to tell me this story. So I made it my damn business to listen carefully to every word. "He met my mother, Gloria. And they had four kids. My sister came first, then my brother, my next sister and then me. Four of us in total. I was the baby. I was born when we were already rich and out of the hood. I never seen the hood in my life. I was raised in the burbs. And that is where my dad wanted to keep me. Me and my sisters were put in private school. My oldest brother was pose to help run the family business". "Like the movie the Godfather?" I asked, remembering the time we had watched it together in his living room. He nodded. "That movie ain't a favorite for nothing" he said, trying to make a joke but not finding any laughter. "What happened to you Shawn? What happened to your family? Why don't yall talk?" I asked, reaching for his hand and massaging it. He eyed me. He had tears in his eyes. What HAD happened to my man? "They ain't want me near that shit. Said I was too soft. My brother was bred to be able to handle himself in the streets. They told me to handle myself in the classroom. Had plans to send me to the best schools and become a lawyer or something. Stay clear of the street shit. Me and my sisters. But even though we had enough money to leave the street shit alone. My dad and my brother. They kept at it. Ain't wanna give it up. My momma would plead for them to quit the game. But they wouldn't. And it caught up with them". "How?" I asked, sensing he was close to shutting down and shutting me out. I squeezed his hand, to signal that I was here for him. I wouldn't judge him. I wouldn't see him any different. I just needed to know what happened. And how it still affected him. "When I was 17. My brother got snatched up by some up and coming cats. So called thugs. No real respect for the game or the people that put in work before them. Young niggas. My age. Just snatched him up. Demanded that my dad give up his territory and pay a ransom or they would kill my brother. I was there when my dad got the call. I was in the room with him. I heard him yelling into the phone. They hung up on him after telling their demands and he was hot. Throwing shit. Yelling. He told me what was going on. I told him to go to the police. He ignored it. Wasn't tryna hear about no police". "Why not?" "Although he believed my ass could get some sense if I learned about law. He ain't trust it for himself. Felt if he involved the cops they would investigate our family. They already had been trying to bust him. But they couldn't touch him. His money was too long, too many lawyers and he never touched any drugs or women anymore. He felt if he got the police involved, all of the money we lived off of would be in jeopardy". "So what did he do?" I asked, sensing this story was about to get very ugly.

"Told his soldiers to go get his son back. Said he wasn't giving up his territory and he wasn't paying a ransom to them niggas. Called their bluff. I yelled at the man. Told him to forget the money and the territory. Told him to save our brother and listen to them niggas. He ain't listen to a thing I said. I hated that. I got in his face. I stepped to him. He laughed. Called me soft. I punched him. He was old by now. Wasn't no fighter. I had been boxing. His workers threw me out. They shut me, my mom, and my sisters out like we were strangers and they did what they did. Week later, my brothers finger and toe came in the mail". I wanted to vomit hearing him go on. But he wasn't done yet. He talked like he was in a trance. I couldn't break down on him. I held his hand, hard and listened. "My dad had too much pride to give up. Too wrapped up on who he use to be. He went to war. A war he quickly lost. His right hand men were killed. One of them got his nuts cut off. The young cats was tryna send a message. Told him we had one more week. My dad was too far gone by then. He would never give up. The week came and went. And the next week we were burring my brother. I told my dad, I'd never forgive him. Told him in his face. I left the state. Didn't want anything to do with em. Few months later, he died of a heart attack. My mom, my sisters, my family. All got paid. He had money stashed away for all of us. But I refused to come. I wouldn't come to the funeral. That man had enough money to pay the ransom and drop out of the game. But he didn't. Too much pride. Too headstrong. He watched his empire crumble. And I watched my family crumble. They told me to come pay my respect. Pay respect to the man that had us set for life. But I couldn't Bee. They would tell me what happened was all in the game. My own mother said that. But I ain't see that shit. I saw a man that let his son die to protect money. I couldn't respect that. No honor in that type of pride. I didn't respect it. And I still don't. I refuse to respect that man, whose face is just like my face". "Is this why your family doesn't talk?" I asked, trying to put the pieces together. He laughed, "I'm the outcast. The one that refused to respect the man. They call me a hypocrite for using the money that he saved for us. Tell me to this day it wasn't my dad who killed my brother, it was them gangstas. Tell me to be mad at them, not my daddy who went to war over his family. I laugh all that shit off. I will never accept that as justification, Bee. I was in the room. I was there. He could have paid that ransom. He could have gave them the territory. He could have went to the police. But he didn't....not for his own son". He sat there for a moment. I didn't even know what to say. I couldn't even fathom. My sheltered ass only saw stuff like this in the movies. And that is what this felt like. A scene out of a movie. And every thought that came to my head in how to comfort him was a cliche movie move. He turned towards me and eyed me. "I'm telling you this Beyonce. Because I trust you. I may not be able to give you a label for what we have. But I just gave you a piece of my heart that no one else has. As irrational as it may be. I've given that piece of myself to you. Please, don't do anything to shatter that trust". We held each other for a long time. A long time in the dark, both awake, just listening to each other breathe. I don't know who fell asleep first, but he woke me up when he was sliding out of bed. When he got into the shower, I decided I'd

make him breakfast. I wasn't a chef or anything but I at least knew how to make bacon and eggs. I went into the kitchen, still naked, and by the time it was done he was walking into the kitchen with his normal teaching attire on, glasses and all, and a huge grin on his face. "I don't know what I'm more excited over. The bacon and eggs" "And toast" I added, bringing the just finished bread to his plate. He laughed "and toast. Or the fact that you did it while naked". "You get both" I smiled.

He ate, and I served him orange juice and brought him butter and stuff. I liked serving him. And I especially liked serving him in the nude. It was sexy. A catering I could get use to. I sat down at the table naked and drink some juice. We found ourselves giggling the entire time. I liked the fact that I didn't feel shame in front of him like this. It was a sign for something. I didn't know what yet, maybe comfort or trust? Whatever it was, I liked it, and I liked when he asked me to get him some more juice and he slapped me on the ass. He finished up, I told him I'd wash the dishes and would shower and meet him at school in an hour when the class started. He had to be to his office earlier for anyone that wanted to talk with him before class. When he was at the door, I wouldn't resist myself. I kissed him and got on my knees. He tried to resist, but I couldn't put into words how much I wanted to cater to this man. My man. I pulled his dick out and gave him head, good morning head, before he went to work. He exploded in a matter of minutes and after I swallowed every drop, I wiped my mouth and pushed him out of the door, telling him not to be late. His students needed him. He laughed as he stumbled out to his car, walking all funny. I laughed to myself, showered, and got ready for his class. ** "I wouldn't be asking your ass unless I was sure. You wanna come or not?" Rihanna blasted into the phone, all humor gone from her voice.

"Girl you know I do. I was just making sure you wanted that. I'd love to meet your dad" I said. "I just gotta go there, get my mail since he won't send it to me, and we'll be out. I want you there so he won't try and make me stay". "Where he live?" "Panama City. Not that far. A lil drive". "Ok. So when you coming to get me?" "I'm already outside of your house. Come outside" she laughed. "What? What if I woulda said no?" "I would have hung up on your ass, called you a b*tch under my breath, and kept on driving" she said bluntly. I laughed, "Girl bye". I walked grabbed my purse and left my room. Michelle was in the living room working on an essay. I had already written the essay at Carters crib. It was unethical, but he had given me extra help with the assignment. We kissed as he told me answers and ended up having sex on his sofa. Just happened the previous day. "Where you going?" she asked, keeping her face towards the computer screen. "Out with Rih" I said, "To see her daddy". "Uhmm. You gon be out all night again?" she snickered. I giggled, "No. I'll be back before it's late. Hopefully at least. He lives in Panama City. If not, I will call and let you know" I said. "Ok, Bee. Whatever you say. Be careful" she sighed. "What?" I grinned. "Nothing" she grinned back. "Nah for real. I know you holding something back". "Well personally. I think you are effin someone. You just a smiling. And wearing new outfits. Tight clothes. Out all night. But hey, you say you ain't so, whatever. Do you babygirl" she said. I laughed and walked over towards her before giving her a hug she didn't want. She resisted but I planted a big kiss on her cheek anyway. "I promise. We'll talk" I said, before making my way towards the door. "And I want all the juicy details" she smiled as I left.

I was going to give her details. But not of me and Carter. I had decided I was going to have to make up a guy that I had been seeing because it was obvious she was on to my behavior. If I could calm her nerves and let her think she is on a big secret, me getting busy with some guy, then her curiosity would no longer get the best of her. Carter and I both decided it would be the best route. Let everyone think they are right. I made it out the car and was surprised when I saw Rih. She looked, for once, conservative. Not much make up, clothes that fit, and no outlandish jewelry or accessories. And her newest tat was covered because she had on gloves. Me and her had gone to a Halloween Party the other week at the club, she as the White Swan and me as the Black Swan, but that was for play play. Dress up and shit. Why was she now still looking innocent and pure? "You look.....normal" I said, eying her casual jeans, tennis shoes, and sweater. "F*ck off" she said as she backed out of the driveway. I laughed. She shot out of the driveway and seemed to be jittery. I had never seen her like this. Not even when she was going to get naked in front of people did she seem this uncomfortable. No evil grin. No smartass comments. Just jitters. Shit, her eyes were even focused on the road. "Girl, what's wrong? You actin' funny" I stated. "I hate going over here" she said. "Why he just won't send you the mail? What kinda mail is it?" "Cuz he is a monster. I told you that. Just wants to make my life a living hell. And he has letters from my mom. She ain't have my new address. And he won't give her my number or nothing. Told me I gotta come get the shit. I've bee avoiding it for months". "I'm kinda scared. You make him sound like some predator. Like Ima have to watch my back in his house" I sighed. She didn't say anything. Just turned up the radio and turned the corner. "Rih" I said, trying to get her out of this weird trance. I knew just the subject to do it. "Rihanna!" I screamed. "What? I'm trying to get my mind right" she barked. "You invited me, asshole" I laughed. She shook her her and grinned, before turning her head "Yes, Beyonce. How may I help you?" "I did it" I said softly.

She frowned up her face and raised her eyebrow. "Did, wha?" "It" I smiled, harder. "And WHAT is IT?" she said, raising her voice and losing control of the SUV. She did this all the time when she was focusing on something else. I knew quickly not to tease her for too long. Shit. "Sex. And. I liked doing it too" I laughed out loud hearing my words. She looked at me and then the road, then me for a few seconds longer and then shook her head. "You lying. Stop lying to me. You're not a good liar" she reasoned with herself. "I ain't lyin'" I smirked. "Yes you ARE" she barked, as if she was mad, but her grin slowly creeping through. "Ok. Believe what you want" I rolled my eyes. "Ok then. If you did it. How did it feel? The first time" she side eyed. "It hurt" I shot quickly. She laughed, "Oh My Gawd. You are telling the truth. WHO, b*tch? Who deflowered your undercover fast ass?" "A guy from my school" I smiled. "Beyonce, NO! A guy from FAMU? Please, tell me you're lying. Not one of them niggas" she pleaded with me. "Rih you are gonna stop talking bad on my school. But no I'm not lying. He is in one of my classes" I said, telling the truth. "Damn. You are serious, huh? Jesus. You're getting too fast for me. Just getting yo cherry popped out of nowhere. I ain't even know you was seeing someone. It wasn't that drug dealing nigga, was it? Please tell me it wasn't. I will disown your ass if it was" she pressed. I giggled, "No. It wasn't him. Tip and I are just friends. The guy is a sweet guy. I really like him". "You suck his dick?" I laughed. "YOU DID?! Oh wow. I guess you do like him. Wait, did you swallow? If you swallowed, then you might even love the man".

"It tasted salty" I giggled which almost made her lose control of the SUV yet again. She nearly lost control another four or five times as we made our way down the highway. I wouldn't tell her it was Carter, but I gave her the explicit details of my first time, from my hair being pulled to his morning blowjob and breakfast on the table. She was usually a talker. But as I told the story, her ass just listened. She seemed shock by the details. Seeing her be so surprised made me reevaluate my own actions. Was I really fast? Did I really act so out of character? Shit. I just wanted to please the man I was feeling. What was so shocking about that? "This man got you cooking him breakfast, ironing his drawls, and swallowing his children. What are you getting out of it?" she asked. "Where you get ironing his underwear from?" I burst out laughing. "Cuz, negro. If you making him breakfast and sucking his dick. Then when he got time to iron his shit? You prolly took care of that too. Right after running his bathwater and wiping his ass" she said, shaking her head. "Oh shut up. You make it sound like the worst thing in the world to cater to a man" I said. "Hey. That's you. Couldn't be me. I ain't into that 1970s leave it to beaver house wife shit. I like to suck dick. I like to get f*cked. In my ass or my pussy, shit. But I ain't cookin shit unless I'm eating it. He can have whatever I don't want. And even then that's a stretch cuz I might want leftovers later. I'm just not down with all that submissive shit. Gives me the heebie jeebies" she said. "Mess. Nothing but a mess" I laughed. I think she was glad for my company and my virginity tale. She relaxed. She calmed down. And she got a chance to not think about seeing the man she considered to be a monster. I was happy to help ease her mind as we rode. We talked and laughed most of the way, but when we were about 10 minutes away, she reverted back to the nervous wreck she was when I first got in. This man had to be something else. And I wondered if all of her feminist ideology came as an after effect of her cutting ties with him.

We pulled into a community filled with mansions. Surely for the rich retired old people in Florida or the hot shot lawyers and doctors in Florida. Rihannas dad was one of the hot shot doctors. When I looked at her ass, still not believing the size of her dads crib, she gave me a look and simply sighed. "Looks can be deceiving. This place is hell. And he is the devil" she said as she parked. We walked up to the house and I started to get butterflies. I didn't know what to expect. I expected the Scrooge. Some evil villain that I could hate upon first view. But when the man answered the door, I instead saw a soft faced well groomed man with a golf shirt and pants on. He looked right at Rihanna and a smile spread across his face before he turned to me and smiled. "Been a while" he smiled towards, Rih. "2 years" she responded dryly. "2 long" he responded, looking at her. He turned his attention towards me while she looked annoyed. "And who is your friend?" "My girlfriend. We're dating" Rihanna answered for me, which caught me the f*ck off guard. He tilted his head back as his mouth dropped a little, but he quickly twisted it into a smile.

"Your name?" he asked, extending his hand. "B...Beyonce" I said, giving him my hand while looking at Rih. She was telling me with her eyes to play along. "Nice to meet you Buh Beyonce" he smiled. He invited us in, and immediately I was surrounded by wealth. I could hardly stand it. How much was this man actually worth? Who was he a doctor for? The President? "Rih I am really glad you came. I know you hate me for not sending you the mail. But I think it's a shame that you refuse to come see me or let me know where you are staying. So if this is the only way I can see you, then I will play the bad guy" he said. "What you mean? I sent you a pic of me not too long ago. You can see that anytime you want" she said, referring to the naked picture of her. "Oh yeah. That" he said before motioning for us to follow him. We walked past a bunch of luxurious living shit right into a room with art and sure enough, the portrait of Rihannas naked ass was framed on the wall. I could tell Rih was pissed when she saw it because she walked right out of the room. "Where is the mail, so I can go?" she barked as she walked out. "Beyonce. How do you deal with this girl? Does she always want it her way?" he asked me, smiling. "Uhm. Yeah" I said, really feeling upset that Rih had dragged me in the middle of this. I didn't understand why. Her dad was quite attractive, which surprised me. He looked young. Maybe his early to mid 40's, and he was in good shape. "I don't act this way with everyone" Rihanna said. "Oh just me? Because I am the worst man in the world, right" he responded. "In my world, yes" she shot. "Rihanna. I haven't seen you in too long. I won't give you the mail until you and your girlfriend come sit down and talk for a minute" he said. She looked over at me and I was still tripping over the fact that I was suppose to be her girlfriend. But I followed along, out of confusion and obligation since she was my girl. He led us into another room, which I figured was one of many living rooms. But this was also was connected to a patio with a damn tree in the middle of it. This man was loaded. "To be honest. I didn't know you were, ghay, or bisexual, Rihanna" he said. "You don't know a lot of things, dad" she spat. He offered us something to drink. Rihanna answered no for both of us. I was kind

of thirsty, but I decided not to play too much into his hospitality. After all of the horrible things she had said about him, maybe she was acting this way for a reason.

We sat down and he looked over at us. Rihanna was seriously f*cked up. She was bouncing her leg nervously and looking so uncomfortable. I had never seen her like this. "Beyonce. I am curious. What has my daughter told you about me?" "None of your business" Rihanna said. He didn't even pay her any attention. "Beyonce, please. I'm curious" he said. "Hey, I don't want to be in the middle of this" I said, holding my hands up. "She told you about the abortion, right?" he asked. I looked at Rih and she was rolling her eyes and staring out to the tree on the outside. "Well, Yeah" I said, hoping I wasn't stepping on any toes.

"Did she tell you I apologized for it?" "How do you apologize for forcing me to kill my child?" Rihanna shot. "Rihanna. You know why I wanted you to have that abortion. And you know why you got pregnant in the first place" he said. Rihanna was looking at me now. I felt so uncomfortable. I hated being in the middle of someone elses argument. It was so embarrassing and rude. I just tried to remain neutral about it all. "Beyonce. I don't know what all she has said. But I was wrong and I have apologized to her for my role in it. But it's something deeper with Rihanna" he said. "Yeah whatever. Keep trying to play down the fact that you threatened to make my mom start whoring again if I didn't kill my baby". He looked at her and lowered his head. He stayed like this for a moment. And I felt the tension between both of them. I hated it. When he raised his head, he smiled embarrassingly and stood up. "Beyonce, wanna see RiRi when she was a little girl?" he asked. "Oh Gawd. You are so evil" she angrily grinned while balling up her first. I looked over at her. I wasn't going to go if she didn't want me to. But she was rolling her eyes like she had an attitude with me. The hell? I didn't even do anything. "Gon head" she hissed at me, waving me away. I got up, and wearily followed the well dressed man into another room where he had all kinds of family pictures up. I immediately noticed many of them were Rih. He was in many of them, they were smiling, seemingly happy, seemingly normal. I had no idea how it got to this point.

"She use to be so much happier. So much more reasonable. She's still intelligent. Just as determined as I've always known her to be. But it's as if my one mistake when dealing with her caused her to turn every inner hurt she's ever felt in her life against me". "Well, not to be rude, sir. But you did force her into an abortion. I can understand why it would be hard for her to forgive you" I offered, in as nice of words as I could put it. He nodded his head while putting his hands behind his back. "She ever tell you why she got pregnant?" he asked me. Before I could answer, Rih had joined me. "Is he filling your head with lies, Bee" she burst in. "What lies am I telling, Rihanna? That you only got pregnant so you could get back at me?" he said. She didn't say anything, just angrily stared at him. "You what?" I asked at her, "You said you didn't plan to get pregnant". "Oh she planned it. She planned it right after I met and got engaged with my ex wife. Thought that would get rid of her. Thought by self destructing, as she has done ever since she moved with me, that she could keep me to herself" he said. "You don't know anything" Rih spat. "I know you needed help, Rih. I know you still do. And I know you may not trust anything I ever tell you. But I do love you and I do want you to snap out of this stage you are in. You are too smart and too beautiful and too" "Shut the f*ck up, damn. Give me my damn mail so I can leave" she yelled out of

anger. She was full of tears now. I had never seen her even remotely close to crying. And here she was, breaking down, and I was getting mindf*cked when I tried to understand why. I mean, my mind was attempting to connect the dots here, but none of it was adding up. NONE of it. "Beyonce. My daughter needs someone that won't judge her for...how she is. I hope you can do that, because I admit. Over the years. I failed" he sighed. She was crying now, tears streaming down her red eyes. "You did. Failure. You f*cking failure. Loser" she said out of breath before looking at me and walking out of the room and then out of the front door. He started to run after her, but she was gone. He cursed at himself and then turned to me. "I pushed her too hard. I wanted to actually get through to her this time" he said before reaching into his back pocket and pulling out a stack of letters, all of them unopened. "Here's what she came for. Obviously, she still isn't willing to forgive me" he said, handing them to me. "What is wrong with her?" I asked him, feeling my own tears coming to my eyes. "Something happened when she was living with her mother. And she thought the same thing was going to happen while living with me. And she self destructed when it didn't happen. I can't reach her. She won't let me. It's going to take someone she can trust" he laughed to himself. A pitiful and sad laugh, before finishing. "Unfortunately. She doesn't trust anyone" he smiled. I left his home and headed towards the SUV where she was sitting, her eyes dried, her eyes revealing a broken spirit. I got in the car and handed her the letters. She didn't say anything. She took the letters and tossed them in the backseat before hauling ass out of his parking lot. I was afraid she wasn't going to be focusing on the road and sure enough, we almost hit another car because she wasn't paying attention when she switched lanes. I wasn't going to risk this. "Pull over. Ima drive" I said. "Just shut up" she barked at me. "Rih. Pull over. Right now" I said sternly. "Bee, just please shut up. I'm really annoyed right now". "Which is why you shouldn't be driving. Pull over. I will drive. You can relax". "No" she blurted.

"Then let me out. I'm not riding with you" I said, meaning that shit. She laughed, "And how you gonna get home, dipshit? Walk?" "If I have to" I said, bypassing her namecalling. She rolled her eyes and when she saw a gas station she pulled into it, put the car in park and we traded spots. "Happy?" she fake smiled after being buckled in. "No. I'm not. I am f*cking far from happy right now, Rih. What in the world went on back there?" I said, trying to get use to the feel of the SUV before I pulled off. "Nothing you'd understand, miss perfect" she shot at me. "Why are you taking whatever you are feeling inside out on me?" I barked at her. "Oh don't worry. When I get home and a knife is in my grasp, I will turn the anger back on me" she grinned evilly. I felt the tears coming to my eyes again. Why was she being like this? "Rih. I am f*cking scared right now. Please, tell me what is going on with you" I said. "Beyonce. It's something you would never understand so don't even waste your time trying" she sighed. "Stop telling me what I won't understand, Rihanna. You wanna know what I don't understand? Someone that I trust with my life, now acting like I am so dumb ass stranger that has never attempted to get her". "Ok, so you've tried to get me. Doesn't mean you get me" she said, rolling her eyes. "You won't let me" I yelled. "Beyonce, please. It's just some things in life that some people just don't have it in them to understand. They just don't. I know you. I've been around you long enough to know you would find me disgusting and a f*cking mess if I tried to make you understand me. I'd rather you know me as the fun loving girl. You don;t need to be stressed about the other shit". "Try me, Rihanna. TRY ME. I've accepted you for YOU this entire time we have known each other. If you are too much of a coward to express who you are, then that is on you. Don't blame it on me". "Try you? Coward? Ok, how about this, miss understanding. How would you feel about me if I told you I tried to f*ck my daddy when I moved there? Huh? How would you feel knowing that I tried to get rid of all them b*tches he would mess with, huh? How would THAT make you feel about your friend? Still like me? Still love me? Miss home schooled. That the type of honesty you think you can handle?"

"You are the most conditional person I have ever met, Rih. I love you for you. I don't care about your issues or your past or how f*cked up you think you are. And it hurts me that you actually think I would treat you differently based on what you just admitted to me". She laughed, "Well you'd be the first, shawty. That's for damn sure". "So why not let me be the first? You are the FIRST b*tch I let talk me into taking off my damn clothes for a class. But YOU DID IT. You are the first b*tch I trusted enough to change my entire outlook on life, from men to feminism to art. But I guess you can't see that, huh? Too focused on your self to see that you mean a lot to me". "All that shit you did, you did it cause you had it in you to do all along" she said, this time sounding more soft. "No. I did it because of you. Because I trusted you and your opinion and your encouragement. The day you told me you wouldn't lie to me. I believed you. I don't know why, but I did". "Well you shouldn't have" she said, looking out the window. "No. I'm glad I did. Because I know you meant what you said. You are just letting whatever fear you have built inside that no one can love you for you, make you have doubts about a friendship when it's in front of you". Releasing my anger at her felt good at the moment, but not when I saw her eyes become glossy again. Now I was the one about to crash. I wasn't use to driving this big of a vehicle. I ended up turning on the next exit just so I could get something to drink and relax my head, because I was about to dehydrate. When we made it to the gas station, neither one of us got out immediately. We were thinking. She had wiped her eyes, determined not to cry in front of me again. I just started looking over at her ass. She made me so sick. But for some reason. Whatever reason. I had to be here for her. I couldn't abandon her like she thought I would. I wouldn't judge her. I wouldn't become what she expected. I would defy those expectations. "Rih. You are my friend. And I'm not letting you weasel your way out of it. I don't care what you say, or what you did, or how you feel. You're stuck with me now" I said, trying to make a joke. She eventually laughed at it after trying to hold it in. She was staring out the window. "Bee. I hate that you saw me like this". "I'm glad I saw you like this. You've seen me at my worse. Why can't I see you?" I asked. "Cuz you said a while ago that you looked up to me. Don't know how you can do that now". "I still do, Rihanna. I mean, who else do I know that would send a naked drawing of them to their dad? I'm tryna work up the courage to send my own daddy a

picture" I said, which caused both of us to start laughing, out of irony, embarrassment, and relief. "Bee" she said aloud after we had calmed down. "What?" "Thanks" she said simply. "Thank me by going in the store and getting me a Snickers, some beef jerky and a coke" I smiled. She side eyed me, "So it's like that now?" "Yep. And bring me back my damn change" I grinned. She left to go get my shit. I was still a bit angry at how she had reacted. But push came to shove, she wasn't going to run me off. I STILL loved her crazy ass. Although now I knew that the crazy part of it wasn't much of a joke. She had some deep rooted problems. Chapter 19

Calm. Bliss. Beautiful. The sunset, just a brief moment in the sky before darkness engulfs every area. The tense transition between two opposites where the sky becomes a painting of contrasting colors. Calm, right before a storm. While holding the hand of the man of my dreams, the sunset just seemed all the more awe inspiring to me. "What you thinkin?" Carter asked as we drove to his house from the grocery store.

I continued staring out at the purples and oranges and yellows of the sky. "Nothing" I lied, knowing he'd be able to read right through it. He chuckled to himself and tightened the grip on my hand as he drove. When we got to a red light he looked over at me. "What are you thinking?" he asked again. I smiled and looked at him. He was smiling too, a weak smile contingent on a truthful reveal. "How amazing my life is right now" I said, hoping it didn't sound as arrogant to him as it did to me. "How so?" he asked as the light turned red and he re-focused on the road. "When you come from where I came from. Never having experienced the world. It's almost surreal to then be introduced to a whole nother world filled with people and experiences and food and culture. I'm just trying to take it all in stride, but it's overwhelming". "Did you really throw food up in there?" he laughed. "Yes I did" I shot at him, "I might even be willing to try Octopus salad next time" I grinned. "Thought you said your parents own a restaurant?" "They do. But soul food and the places you take me to eat is just two different things. I'm finding taste buds I never even knew existed every-time you take me out". "Well ima show you i'm more than just a eat out type of guy. Ima throw down tonight" he said confidently. "I'm looking forward to it. And it better be good, since you brag so much" I rolled my eyes. "And what if it ain't?" "You get C minus loving" I joked. We both laughed. We pulled into his driveway and both got out of the car so we could carry the small amount of groceries from the backseat. When our heads dipped inside the back of the car, we shortly stopped for a kiss, something we had started doing on a consistent basis at school. The night sky was now in place, the autumn breeze circling around us. It was just past 6, and I was starving. Starving for food and starving to make love to my man. Once inside, he hit the fireplace, one thing about his house that I loved, especially since we lived in Florida, and motioned for me to join him in the

kitchen. He was going to cook stir fry with sauteed veggies, wine, chicken and he said my only responsibility was to cook the rice. It was cute the way he'd make us work as a team anytime we did something together. When he looked at my car, he was explaining to me every step and having me hand him tools and towels and stuff. When I needed a cake for Michelle's birthday, he insisted we bake one for her, and he had me in his kitchen beating the batter in a bowl. I especially enjoyed that because we ended up licking chocolate off each other the entire time. He had one of those kitchens designed for people that loved to cook. Expensive steel pots and pans and and all types of knives and cutting boards and seasonings. I was shocked one day when I went over that he barely had any food in his fridge, just drinks. He told me it was because he preferred to shop for groceries every day, just to get what he was going to cook and eat for the day instead of stockpiling at one time. This allowed him to only eat fresh fruit, meats, and veggies. It was a must for him, especially since he was a huge sea-food guy. He said his love for seafood was inherited from his father, who once worked at the fish market in New York as a teen. His father developed a love for fishing and all kinds of seafood and when he had a family, he got his kids and wife hooked on things as exotic as calamari to sushi. Carter was very selective with his though, he scuffed at the idea of eating at Red Lobster and would say places like Long John Silver should be shut down. But I couldn't hate the man for his strong preferences, especially since I felt in my heart he saw me as one of the finer things in life. Our relationship still lacked an official title, but I still considered him my man. We went on dates often, a lot of times out of the city, and even went to a Jazz Festival down in Tampa for a weekend. In just a few months, we had learned so much about each other that it felt silly to consider us anything less than a couple. I was always at his house and even when we couldn't spend time together in a traditional sense, we found ways to at school. He was reluctant at first, almost adamant that we kept our distance in public. But I pushed. I pushed because I discovered that while Carter was a strong willed man, he was pretty weak when it came to saying no to me. Once I understood this fully, I started raising my hand in class and slipping in some innuendo or inside joke that only he and I would understand. The class seemed oblivious to it all, Carter seemed a bit aggravated, but I could tell he thought it was sexy. "See you next week, Miss Williams and Miss Knowles" he'd say sarcastically as I left with Michelle. After a few weeks of this, I made a bold and daring move. I was just too excited and horny in class and on campus to know that my man was around and I couldn't have him. One day I made my way to his office while he was on lunch break. He wasn't there so I decided to wait at his locked door. When he finally did come, I told him I needed some help with my work. He knew I was full of shit but he shook his head and let me inside anyway. Once the door was closed I made my way over to him and we started kissing. The door was unlocked which made our little break in character all the more exhilarating. He grabbed my ass as I sucked his lips. But I wanted to suck on more than just that. See, I discovered that my favorite part of pleasing Carter was giving him head. It was so rewarding to see him literally break down

whenever I had him in my mouth. It was my love for doing it that made me quite a natural at it. He'd often question where did I learn how to do this and that, but I'd laugh off his questioning and reaffirm that he was my first, in everything. When I started to push him back towards his chair I could tell he was both frightening and excited, the only question was which would win out. "No...Bee....NO" he whispered loudly as he wrestled with my probing hands that were reaching for his belt buckle. "Yes" I seductively said. He was scared now. Holding my hands away from his body and looking directly in my lust filled eyes. "Bee. Wait till later tonight, ok?" he tried to reason with me. "No. I want it now" I demanded. He tried to fight with me some more, but he never put any real conviction in his voice or body language, just like the night in the car. I pushed him in the chair, got under his desk and pulled out his dick and went to work. The danger of the situation made him taste so much better. I was sure it made the blowjob feel much better for him too, because he came in a mater of minutes. I swallowed and was cleaning him up with my tongue, when the door came open. I couldn't tell who it was, but Carter immediately postured up in his seat and my heart nearly stopped in my chest. We were caught, I just knew it. Fortunately for both of us, his desk was long on the back so no one could see that I was underneath and when I recognized the voice was Professor Pounders, I wiped my own mouth and waited it out. I prayed to God she wouldn't walk to this side. "Were you busy?" she asked. Carter coughed, and slowly started putting his penis in the slit of his pants, "No. Just got back from lunch" he said uneasily. "Oh yea? Where did you eat? You are forever eating at some spot I never heard of" she said. I helped put his penis back in and slowly, very slowly, started zipping him back up. If she heard the zipper, either she would think he had been masturbating or that something crazy was going on under the desk. "Nothing crazy today. Subway" he said, his voice returning to almost normal. She laughed, "Well can you look at these pap-" He stood up, "Uh. Yeah. I can" he said sharply, walking from around his desk. I assumed she had started walking closer to the desk. I felt dizzy from holding my breath and thought my thumping heart could be heard through the entire room because it was so loud in my head. Carter cut off the light in the office and led her outside of the room. I stayed on my knees under the desk and waited. He

came back about 10 minutes later, cutting on the light and calling for my name. When I came up, he was heated. "Bee. You could have gotten me caught" he spat at me. I didn't say anything. Felt like I was being scolded like a child, but he had participated in it too, why should I accept all of the blame? "Do you want me to get caught?' he eventually asked. "You know that isn't what I want" I said in a low tone. I left the office without even a kiss and we went the rest of the day with an attitude with each other. He texted me later, I came to his crib, and we had make up sex, laughing in bed about what had happened earlier in the day. Soon after, our school moments of passion started occurring more frequently. He knew where all of the cameras were and we made sure to avoid them. He ate me out in his office, with the doors locked this time. We f*cked in the back of the classroom after his last class for the day. We even showered together in the basketball lockeroom one night since he had gotten the keys from the janitor, 69ing each other on the bench to help dry off. We were taking all types of risks. And those risks were almost as addicting as the sex itself. I had told Michelle I met some guy that I was having sex with, and it explained away why I either would come home late or not come at all. We were taking risks, but we were also covering on tracks, especially Carter. He double and tripple checked situations before we'd engage in any risky behavior, from sex at school to going out on dates in public. He wasn't as reckless as I tended to be. His risks were all calculated. As he cooked the stir fry for our little date, I measured and started on the white rice. It was a simple task, over in less than a minute, so I decided to make us salads too. Fresh lettuce, fresh cucumbers and carrots. I loved using his knives to cut food, it made preparing food more fun than it was any other time. We'd stop for a few seconds to examine each others work, make a joke, and kiss, and then get back to what we were doing. He tossed the stirfry around like he was a chef, the flames briefly jumping up like they did on those cooking TV shows. In less than half an hour, our dinner was made. The stir fry was incredible, just like he said it would be, although I told him I had tasted better. He could tell I was lying. The dishes went into the dish washer and our horny asses went into his bedroom where he lit candles and put on some music. He gave me a massage first, one better than the one I had received at the spa, but maybe that was because his hands knew my body better than the masseuse did. He was firm and confident with his hands and fingers, and actually did a wonderful job of hitting my pressure points and relaxing my body. After we gave each other a round of oral sex, we f*cked ourselves into multiple orgasms and were ready for bed by 8:30. My stomach wasn't sitting right, so I discretely slipped out of bed after I had been holding it in, and made my way to his bathroom. Before I got there I glanced over towards his walk in closet and smiled to myself. Just months earlier, it was filled with only his clothes. Now, a good portion of the closet had my clothes and accessories that he had bought as well. There was no way I was anything other than his woman.

I still felt funny about using his bathroom but I pushed the thoughts out as I handled my business, lighting a match like I had been told to do anytime you ever had to use a guys bathroom. I figured still be sleeping when I came back anyway. I was wrong. He didn't have locks on his bathroom doors and as I sat on hit toilet, dropping loads, his ass came walking in. "I'm using it" I said, which was futile, because he walked in anyway just a grinning. "I know you ain't in here stankin' up my bathroom" he laughed. "Shawn. OUT!" I barked, feeling so embarrassed. "Why? It's my bathroom" he said, standing there with his arms crossed. "For real, Shawn. Please. This is private" I said, hoping he wouldn't see this as a joke. He didn't budge. Standing there with his arms folded, looking at me. I was getting kind of angry, but there wasn't really anything I could do about it. I was naked sitting on his toilet and I still had to wipe so I couldn't just get up. I just looked at him, like, really? "You really dont want me to see you like this?" he asked, his grin fading. "No. It's private" I said. He laughed to himself, shook his head, and closed the door. I was annoyed by the whole exchange, but I simply cleaned myself, washed my hands, and took a deep breath when I returned. He wasn't in the bedroom. His boxers were no longer on the floor either. I picked up my panties and t shirt, put it on and went looking for him. He was sitting on the couch in his living room watching CNN. I wondered if for some reason he was mad at me, when I was the one that should have been mad at him. I made my way over to the couch and sat down, a little away from him, just in case he didn't want me to be on him. He didn't say anything, just watched the TV, not even looking my way. I looked at him for awhile, and when I could tell he wasn't going to acknowledge me, I looked at the TV. I watched in silence for a few minutes, and when boredom set in, I decided to break the silence. "Who are you gonna vote for?" I asked. He shrugged, "I don't know yet". He would normally elaborate on an answer, but he didn't this time. "You think Obama has a chance to win?" I asked again. "He has a chance. Don't know how strong" he said simply, still staring at the TV. I was getting the hint. He wanted to be left alone. I got up and and left him

staring at the TV and ignoring me, walking into his room, and laying in the bed. Was he really mad at me over that? I turned on his bedroom TV and channel surfed, eventually stopping at MTV where The Real World was on. Eventually, I fell asleep and didn't re-awake until dawn. I was surprised that Carter didn't even join me. He had slept out in the living room. I walked into the kitchen and he was still sound asleep, remote control in his hand. I made me some cereal, not caring to cook him any breakfast, and stared at him while I ate. The crunching of the raisin brand woke him up. "Where mine at?" he joked, sleep still in his eyes, as he looked my way. "In the box" I said, upset that he had slept on his couch instead of in bed with me. He got up, stretched and yawned, and walked in the kitchen, giving me a kiss on my forehead, before walking towards the refrigerator. "Why didn't you get in the bed last night?" I asked, before putting a spoonfull in my mouth. He yawned, "Fell asleep watching Cooper. It wasn't on purpose". I rolled my eyes and took another spoon full. "You sure it ain't have nothing to do with last night?" He walked towards me and stopped at my side, "What you mean last night?" "The bathroom thing". He laughed, "You not wanting me to see you sh*t?" I took another bite, and just eyed him. "Nah, Bee. I just fell asleep". "So you weren't mad at all?" "Mad? Nah. I mean, I'd like for you to be comfortable around me to do that, but I ain't stressing it" he smiled. "Why would you wanna watch though?" I asked. "Watching wasn't the point. I wanted to see if you were comfortable with me seeing you like that" he said. "Well. I wasn't" I said. "I know" he smiled, before kissing me on the cheek and then making his way towards his hallway. I finished my bowl of cereal wondering what the hell had just happened. I started thinking about all kinds of things. Like if it made sense that I could strip for strangers and then be ashamed for Carter to see me in a compromising situation.

I still had not even told him about my job. There were still things about me I was ashamed for Carter to see or know. What was weird was I was comfortable going number 2 in Rih's crib with the door wide open, but I'd never in a million years do it at Carters. What did that mean? Why was it like that? And why did it matter? We got dressed, undressed each other and had sex, got dressed again, and then left for school. ** "You catch on quick, Shawty" Tip smiled as I mashed the buttons as quick as I could. The students that had gathered around the 50 inch TV were all laughing and cheering me on, as I held the plastic guitar and focused in on getting the sequences of notes down. Michelle was on the side of me playing her guitar, but she was missing notes left and right. It obviously wasn't something she was very good at. But this was my first time even attending one of Tips Xbox get togethers at his apartment, and the first time I had played Rock Band, and I was tearing it up. One of Tips friends was on drums, and even with Michelle being the weak link on bass, we managed to get a pretty good score after a few times trying.

There were around 15 or so people at this get together, with pizzas and sodas flowing, no alcohol since most there were under 21. But what shocked me was how fun it actually was. I guess I expected drugs and sex and rock and roll, but things were a lot more innocent that that. I got a chance to talk to some of the people I had seen around campus but never really talked to, and when the guys put on Madden and got really serious about it, the girls broke away and went on the porch, just talking and enjoying the the conversations. No hating, no jealousy, no drama.

Carter had insisted I still be active with my friends and people on campus, along with the whole dating thing, to keep all suspicion at a minimum. I was glad I had taken his advice because as much as I loved spending time with him, the night out with Michelle, chilling with Tip, was refreshing. "I guess the question is, am I black first, or a woman first" Michelle said, as we discussed Hilary Clinton vs Barack Obama. "It's a good question" I said. "Above all else, we are women first" one of the girls said. "But would more forward progress be shown with a woman being president or a black man? I think a black man" another girl said. "I don't know yall. I think even the most racist people would rather a black man run the country over a woman. A lot of people can't stand the thought of a woman running anything" I said. "Beyonce, are you going to run for government next semester?" another girl asked. I laughed, "I want to. But, the way I see it. What's the point? Only the Greeks end up winning". "Ain't that the truth" Michelle agreed. "But still. It's worth trying. Shit if it's you vs Nicki, you already know who I'm voting for" the girl who asked the question laughed. "Yea. I can't stand that girl. She is so......." Michelle started. "Fake?" I answered for her with no hesitation. We all laughed. "See Bee. We need someone that will stand against her cuz a lot of the chicks on campus is intimidated by her and her goons" one girl said. "She calls them her hood barbies. Ugh. She gets on my last nerves" one girl mentioned. "Yeah, but her influence is strong yall. And she is really smart. She is majoring in political science so she knows how to manipulate and talk a good game. I see it every time I go to the NAACP meeting" I said. "Well, either way. If you decide to run, we got your back. Last thing we need is for her to become class president" another girl said. I eyed each of them, and smiled. It felt good to hear them say all of this. "Aye, I ain't invite yaw over here to have ya gossipin outside. Come in here and get beat down on this game" Tip said, peaking out the screen. "Beat down? You don't want it" I teased.

"Is that a challenge, Beyonce?" he asked. "It's a warning. I use to play Madden all the time with my cousin at home". He side eyed me before laughing out loud. The girls that surrounded seemed to be enjoying our little banter too. "Ok, miss confident. Lets bet for this game we're about to play" he said. I raised my eyebrow, "What kinda bet" "When I win. You let me take you out cuz you've been avoiding me the past few months" he smirked. "And what about if I win?" I smiled. "I'll let you take me out" he laughed. I shook my head, "Nope. Terrible deal. But I got one in mind" I said looking at the girls. "And what's that shawty?" "If I win. You become apart of my campaign" I smiled. He lifted his head, "Campaign for what?" "When I run for government next semester". The girls laughed and cheered and Tip reacted to us by shaking his head with a funny smirk across his face. He agreed to the terms and we all made our way inside. I picked the Eagles and he picked the Falcons, which still had Michael Vick even though he had been arrested for dog fighting. Tip jumped out early, I had only played Madden 07 on PS2 so I wasn't use to the new madden on the Xbox 360, and he capitalized by taking a 14-0 lead. The guys were laughing, telling me I should put the controller down and things like that. Even the girls thought it was no way I'd win. I just had to get use to the button schemes, but I was determined to come back. He had the ball and was about to score another touchdown when he took off with Vick for a 40 yard run, but I managed to strip the ball from him and fall on the fumble. Two plays later, I hit a wide open receiver for a touchdown. The girls went wild and the boys clowned Tip. "Damn dawg. She punked you" Smurf laughed. "I let her score. You know I can't totally embarrass her" Tip said, looking my way seductively. I didn't say anything. I wasn't going to trash talk. I was just going to beat him silently. The game started to become a defensive struggle as neither of us scored again

by halftime. Tip had been all laughs and giggles when we first started by when it was the middle of the third quarter and I converted a 3rd and 14 for a first down, he wasn't smiling anymore. The chatter around us had calmed down a bit, although people were still making jokes about Tip. "They are straight cheating" Tip said sucking his teeth after they called a penalty on him after he had sacked my quarterback. I didn't say anything. Others laughed. "The very next play, I ran right up with middle for a touchdown to tie the game at 14. Tip drove down the field, but ended up kicking a field goal to retake the lead. The 4th quarter came and all of my girls were crossing their fingers and cheering me on. Tip was tense. Not talking, and just focusing in on the plays. When he didn't convert a 4th and 4 that would have won the game for him, he sighed hard and nearly dropped the controlelr on the ground. "Fvckkkkk" he said as everyone, the girls and the boys, cheered wildly. It was a minute and a few seconds on the clock. I was down by just 3 points and a touchdown would win the game and the support of Tip for my campaign. It all seemed like fate, as I completed two first down passes on my first two plays. I was confident. I was going to win this game. I ran with McNabb a few plays later and got down near the goal line with just 25 seconds left. Unfortunately, I got sacked on the next play which forced me to use my last time out. With 13 seconds left, I faced a 2nd and goal from the 15 yard line. On the next play I threw a pass to my running back and ran for about 10 yards before being ran out of bounds. There was only enough time for one play. I could kick the field goal to tie or go for the touchdown, which was only 5 yards away. I decided to go for the win. I had the perfect play. I would run all the way to the right side of the field, making Tip think I was going to run it with McNabb like I had done many times during the game. And when all of his players came to try and tackle him I would throw it to the left side of the field to the running back who would be be open in the flats. The tension was thick. We could hear a grain of sand drop it was so silent. I felt my heart beating and I could taste the sweat that was dripping from Tips forehead. It was funny how serious a game could become. I hiked the ball and did what I wanted to do. All of his defenders tried to tackle mcNabb as I ran, just like I knew he would. Michelle stood up and was yelling "run girl, run, run!". This only helped make my fake more effective as I ran to the sideline. Four or five Falcon players ran in my direction and one was about to hit me hard. I waited to the very last possible moment before I hit the B button and threw the pass across the field, all of his defenders crashing into McNabb as I did. The ball floated to my running back, and I could sense the air come out of the room. What a fake! The play was perfect. The execution was perfect. And my running back was going to easily walk into the endzone when the ball dropped in his hands. Well, dropped was the keyword there. HE DROPPED IT. I dropped the controller and dropped my head in anger as the clock showed 0 seconds and Tip had managed to beat me 17 to 14.

Everyone was booing as Tip laughed. "Bout time the game stop cheating for her. Got damnit" he smirked. "What? The game cheated for YOU. She faked your entire defense and then he gon drop the pass. You got luck on your side, nigga" one of his boys said. I lifted up my head, sighing, and smiled at the victor. We smiled at each other. "I ain't even gon lie. Your ass had me mad for a second" he said. "Give her a rematch" Michelle said. He looked at her and shook his head, "Nah. I won my date fair and square" he said, doing a slashing throat gesture. "He did. He won it fair. And a deal is a deal" I said, eying him. He stared back and frowned up his face. "And a friend is a friend. You should know you ain't have to make a bet for me to help you out with your campaign. I'll do that sh*t just cuz you asked me to". "Is that right? Well can I admit that I let you win so I could get that date with you?" I joked. Everyone laughed again. Someone eventually suggested putting in a scary movie to watch before we all left for the night and Tip and I went in the den area to talk. I felt uneasy about it, since I didn't know what exactly he wanted to talk about. But I felt I owed him that. I had kind of avoided him ever since that kiss in his car. It was weird how I felt like I would have slept with him that night if he would have pressed, but now, I didn't even desire to be around him like that. My heart belonged to one man at this point. When we sat down and was away from everyone, he grabbed my hand and looked at me. "Bee. You know I wouldn't use a bet to get a date with you. If you really don't wanna go on a date, I'm cool with that. But I do want to know, why? Who have you been seeing?" he asked. "Who said I've been seeing anyone?" I smiled. "Michelle" he laughed. "What? What she say?" He laughed, "She ain't say nothing intentionally, Shawty so don't be mad at her. Earlier tonight she tried to be slick and asked what me and you were doing the other night. I was like, what you mean? She was talmbout don't play dumb. But I told her me and you ain't been kicking it. So I knew then you had been seeing someone and she was thinking it was me". I shook my head slowly, "Well. I've been seeing a guy, kinda " I said.

"Kinda? What that mean? Either you seeing him or you ain't" he smiled. "Ok. Well, yeah. I'm seeing someone". "Damn. After the night in my car, I could have sworn me and you would kick it more. Did I do something wrong?" he asked. "No. You didn't. You did nothing wrong, Tip. I just. Kinda wasn't ready for you in that way". "In what way?" "Being with you means the entire school would be in my business. It's kinda hard to take that" I said. "Ok, I get that. But did you have to just totally avoid me? Even if we ain't gon kick it like that Shawty, we are still friends, right?" I searched him. I felt the sincerity in his tone. "Yes". He laughed, "Well good then. So next time I have one of these, you gon be here right?" he asked. I nodded my head, "Yep. To beat your ass in Madden" . He grinned, "Whatever, Shawty. But on the real, you can bring your dude too". "Is that right?" I pressed. "Yea. I ain't got no issue with my friends bringing their dudes". "You won't be jealous?" I teased. "Of course ima be jealous. But that don't mean sh*t. You're beautiful, I can't help that". "Do you tell all the girls that?" He laughed, "Let's get back to the games, aight?". He got up, reached for my hand and helped pull me up. Our hand hold lasted a little longer than it needed to last, and honestly, it felt kind of good. I had to compose myself. "Tip?" "Sup?" "We can still go on that date if you want to. We just won't call it a date" I said. "So what we gonna call it? Kicking it?" he smiled.

I nodded and tried to imitate his deep accent, "Kicking it is fine with me" I grinned. He playfully pushed me and we made our way up to where everyone else was. I left his apartment about two hours later, horny and feeling guilty because it was Tip that had made me horny. I called Carter as soon as I was in my room and the door was locked and told him about the night and the date. I felt that if I would keep that from him, then it would mean I had something to hide. I didn't want to hide anything. I wanted to be upfront and honest. "Are you mad?" I asked. "Nah. I told you to do it" he responded. "But still. That don't mean you ain't mad that I have a date with another guy". "Bee, listen to me. I trust what we have right now. As long as you trust it too, then it ain't no reason to be mad or worried. Whatever happens, happens" he said. I didn't like the sound of that last part. Sounded very unconvinced. "Do you think I'd cheat on you?" I asked. "Bee. That's an unfair question". "Why is it unfair?" "Because what we have is so complex and nontraditional that I don't think we can use traditional terms to label it. If you did anything with Tip, a guy you liked before me. Would I consider that cheating? I don't know. I think I'd consider it you following your heart". "But my heart is with you. The only reason I even agreed to do the whole dating this is because you told me to". "And you said you understood why". "I do. But I don't understand why you wouldn't consider it cheating. I want you to consider it cheating. If you were f*cking some other girl I would consider it cheating. I mean, you're not making me feel confident when you say you don't know if it's cheating". "It's apples and oranges, Beyonce. I'm not the one people are looking at and wondering why I'm out at all times of the night. You are. You are the one that has to throw off people. So you going out with other people could already be considered cheating if we're using definitions. That's why I said it's more complex than that. If you are out with a guy on a date and yall kiss, do I have the right to be mad?" "YES. You do. And I want you to feel some type of way about it". "I would". "Just not that I cheated?"

"Maybe I'm just afraid to see it that way. Because I'd be hurt over it" he said. "Can I make you a promise? Right here, right now?" I said. "I don't like promises, Bee". "Why?" "Because people are too day to day to follow through on them". "My feelings for you are not day to day. They are consistent". "For now". "Is that how you feel about me? You like me, for now?" I asked. "No that's not what I'm saying". "Then you're saying your feelings for me can be consistent, but mine can't for you? Is it because I'm younger? So my love for you must not be real, then?" We remained silent for a few moments. I was angry. Angry at how hard this entire relationship was. "What promise did you want to make, Beyonce?" "I promise you that I will never, ever, ever, cheat on you. You may not believe me or accept what I'm saying. But I promise I won't hurt you like that. I promise on everything I love and cherish". "Why do you want to tell me that? To build my confidence?" he asked. "I'm telling you because I'm not afraid of committing to you". "You shouldn't be. Your life won't be ruined if you do" he said. The hurt came immediately. "So your life is ruined by committing to me?" I asked, tears coming to my eyes. He sighed, "Beyonce. I ain't mean it like that. I meant if it were to come out". "Yeah, I bet. I'm sorry for ruining your life". "Beyonce, stop it. You know that's not what I meant". "And how do I? How do I know that?" "So now you are questioning me? Bee, why the f*ck do you think I risk everything to be with you if I think you are ruining my life? You have been the best thing to come into my life in a long time. Can't you see that? How don't you see that?" "It's hard to see it Shawn when you are always acting as if you won't be hurt if you lose me. It's like you are so sure I'm going to do something to f*ck us up and

because of that you keep one foot in and one foot out. Pushing me to date others and then saying whatever happens, happens". "Beyonce. I have told you things I haven't told anyone. I have given you a piece of my heart that no one else has. Just you. WHat more do you want? What more do you need to accept that I am all in with us?" I sighed, "I don't even know anymore. I don't know. Just, whatever. Whatever happens, happens". "So now you're mad" he said. "I'm not mad. Just madly in love with someone I'm not suppose to love". We breathed into the phone for the next 10 minutes. No words, just breathing. I was tired. Emotionally and physically spent. I had just told him for the first time I was in love with him. And my head hurt from the silence being so loud. "I love you too, Beyonce Knowles" he finally spoke, breaking the silence and a shackle in his own head. I tried to hold back the tears, but they came. I had waited and wanted to hear those words from his mouth. And when they came, I didn't know how to respond to them. We had known each other for a year and a half, been chatting for nearly a year, and been dating for just 3 months, but I felt what we had was real and genuine. I believed a teacher and a student could fall in love with each other. I believed it and I embraced it. "You crying?" he asked. I laughed while the tears flowed, "Yes". He laughed and took a deep breath, "Just a big baby". I laughed again, wiping my eyes and the tears that came from several emotions at once, "I'm not". "Yeah, you are. My big baby, though". "Whatever. You can act like a big baby too" I said. We talked for the next hour, mostly joking with each other, until we both were about to past out from lack of sleep. We ended the conversation with our first exchange of I love yous, and I slept peacefully, as peacefully as I had ever slept. Yet another step in whatever this was that we had. Next step? Letting him see me use the bathroom. That one was probably still some months (or years) off, though. ** I had been getting this weird call all day and it was annoying me. It was an area code I didn't recognize. I'd get the call, say hello, and then no one would say anything even though I could clearly hear them on the phone. It was creepy because they would be breathing and grunting. I told Michelle about it right and she told me to just ignore the calls, so I did that for the rest of the day.

I went to Carters crib, and he told me I had gotten a A in his class for the semester which meant I once again had straight A's for the semester. I was excited, life was good. Carter and I had spent Thanksgiving together in the evening, although I spent the early part of the holiday with Rihanna. I was so tempted to tell her who I was seeing, but I just couldn't do it because of the promises I had made to him. With the semester over and Christmas break just a few weeks away I was planning my trip home, where I'd finally get to see my family face to face for the first time since the little incident. I had spoken to my dad plenty of times since, we had a pretty decent conversation about moving past the night, but it would be different actually being there. I still was uneasy about it, but with a lot of family coming from all over to spend the holidays in Houston and Solange ready to burst, I knew I couldn't miss it. I had recently went shopping on Black Friday and bought a bunch of gifts, including a stroller for my future nephew, Wii for our apartment (Michelle and I went half on a HDTV), a new digital camera for me, Michelle a blow dryer and hot comb so she would stop using mine, some cologne for Jarvis, the full series of Soul Food for Kelly (she was a big fan), some handcuffs and a whip for Carter and some gift cards for people like Chris and Ricky. I was there with RiRi the day she opened her mail which included a picture of her and her mom. It was a faded, almost ruined picture. I borrowed it without asking, went to see if the picture could be fixed and then blown up for a portrait, and after I discovered it could be saved, I paid for that which would be her Christmas gift from me. She'd probably b*tch about me taking the picture and everything, I know how she was, but I also knew deep down she'd appreciate it. When I was done shopping, I had exhausted a lot of my savings. So much for saving up for a rainy day. I decided that instead of purchasing a plane ticket, which would be expensive around this time, I would just drive to Texas. Carter would have paid for my ticket if I would have asked, but I decided not to. I guess a part of me wanted to have my car there with me just in case. When I got to Carters we ate and talked and I helped him pick out a bedroom theme for his daughter out of an online magazine. "When is she coming?" I asked. "I don't know when exactly. But I want her room to be nice when she does get here". "Well babe, just cuz I like this doesn't mean she will". He laughed, "I know. But you do have a feminine touch". "You wanna feel my feminine touch?" I teased. Before he could answer my phone was going off. Once again, it was from that area code I didn't recognize. I rolled my eyes and threw my phone in my purse. "Who dat?" "I don't even know. Someone has been calling me and not saying anything. I

don't even know the area code". "Did you google it?" he asked. "Nah, I just left it alone". He smirked to himself and reached for the phone in my purse. "Damn, all up in my koolaid. What flavor is it?" I said, only because someone had said it to me earlier in the week. "The hell does that mean?" he spat while looking at the missed call. I laughed, "I don't even know. Sounds funny though. But you is being nosey right now". "This is a North Carolina area code" he said, handing me back the phone, "You don't know anyone in North Carolina?". "No. Not that I can think of" I said. I put the phone away and I laid on top of him as he ran his fingers through my hair. And then it hit me. I knew who it was. I knew who had been calling me. I jumped out of his arms and hurriedly searched through my phone for the number. I called. It rang. Someone answered but didn't say a word. "Hello? Ca...Camile? Is that you Camile?" I called out. "Who is-" I put my hand up to keep Carter quiet. "Camile this is you isn't it?" I asked, just knowing it was. I heard the person on the other end, but couldn't make out what they were trying to say. "Ok. Camile, if this is you, press 1. If this isn't Camile, don't press anything". Immediately, I heard a button in my ear. I screamed. "Oh wow. Hi Camile. I'm so glad you called me. I'm sorry I didn't know who this was at first" I said, checking Carter looking crazy out of the side of my eye. He didn't know what was going on. I didn't exactly know what she was calling for, but I remembered how she liked to just have people talk to her. SO I decided I would just talk. What else could I do? "Well, Camile. I hope you had a good thanksgiving. I had turkey, and ham, and....damn, what else did I have?" I asked, looking Carters way. "Cabbage, mac-" "Oh yeah. Cabbage and Mac and cheese. I cooked the cabbage and dressing myself. Girl, you should have been there, it was good". I could hear her laughing. It wasn't a laugh you'd recognize if you hadn't heard

her laugh before, because it was strained and rough. I was so glad that she had actually called me after all of this time but I was wondering why it had taken so long and why she had called me so many times today. Was she in trouble? Or did she just want to hear me talk to her? There were so many questions I wanted to ask her. But I first continued talking. I told her about school and that I had recently become a fan of Seinfeld, and that I was hoping to see her again next summer. "Camile, are you ok? If something is wrong, press 1. If nothing is wrong, don't press anything" I said. The sound from the one button went off several times, the last time it held in my ear for a few seconds. Something was wrong. "Sweety, what's going on? Is someone hurting you?" She pressed 1. "Ok. Have you told anyone? Press 1 if you told someone what is going on". She didn't press anything. "Camile. Listen to me, you are going to have to tell someone that someone is hurting you" and then I remembered how difficult it was for her to communicate. They usually had to ask the right questions for her to be able to tell them. "The person who is hurting you. If it's a man, press 1". No response. "If the person is a woman, press 2". No response. Now I was puzzled. "Camile, sweety. I'm confused. Who is...How..."I didn't even know what to ask anymore. "Bee, we gotta call the police if she is being hurt by someone" Carter said, after catching on. "Camile, I'm going to call the police, ok?" She pressed 1. "Do you want me to call the police? If yes, press 1". She didn't press anything. "So you don't want me to call the police? She pressed 1. I assumed 1 now meant yes for her. Like one of those voice automated things. But this was still a big mystery. She said a man nor a woman was hurting her and that she didn't want the police to be called. Maybe we had

gotten our wires crossed somehow. "Camile. Ima ask again. Is someone hurting you? If someone is, press 1". She pressed 1. I sighed, because it didn't make sense. What was she trying to tell me? "Is someone touching you? Sexually?" She didn't press anything. "Is someone hitting you?" She didn't press anything. I wanted to simply ask her how was she being hurt, but it would be pointless. We went around in more circles and I ended up getting the number from Carter to the girls home Camile was placed in, and calling the director. I told her about what happened, which was apparently against the rules of the home. They had scheduled times they could call people, but Camile somehow had been calling me on a cell phone. When I told her what all Camile had communicated with me, she said she would look into it and give me a call back. When I hung up with no answers, I was heart broken. I felt like Camile was counting on me for something and I had let her down. She was attempting to tell me something, but I just couldn't put the pieces together. And because of this, whoever was hurting her could still possibly continue to do so. I started crying right in front of Carter as I remembered the battered girl that had been through so much already and how I was helpless. "Bee, it's nothing you could have done differently. You can't save the world. I know it's f*cked up, but that's just how things are sometimes" he said to me. "I'm not trying to save the world though. I just wanted to help her. The director there didn't even seem to care about what I was saying. She seemed more concerned with how Camile had a cell phone". "Do you want to call the police?" he asked, "I'll support whatever you decide to do". "I don't know, Shawn. I just want to help her. And I don't want to do anything else to make things worse". "You didn't make anything worse, Bee" he said. "I didn't help matters though. I just wish it was something more I could do. That program is really bad if they haven't taught her how to read and write yet" I said angrily. "Only so much money people are willing to invest in black girls in that area. It's sad" he sighed. The conversation stuck with me the rest of the night. EVen when Carter and I made love that night I had Camile in the back of my head. And then I kept

thinking about what he said about investing money in the girls. The next day I researched the area and what it would take to start a non-profit organization. I ended up running the idea by Carter the next time we spoke. "You want to start a fund raiser for Camile?" he asked over the phone. "Not just Camile. But girls in general that can't read and write. There isn't any excuse why she hasn't learned yet. If they need better tutors or more money or something then I can help spread the awareness and get people to donate. Why be on NAACP with this type of platform if I'm not helping anyone?" "You know to get that type of project off the ground, especially since she is in another state, it's going to take a lot of action on your part. Money and time. It's hard to get people interested in people they can't see and then give up their money" he warned. "I know. But what's the alternative? Do nothing? Chris builds websites, I can see if he can help me with it" I said, running through my mental Rolodex. "Sounds like a good plan. But how you gonna front the cost for that?" he asked. "I don't know yet. Car wash or something. I'll run the idea by Jarvis and see what he says. Michelle could possibly write an article about it for Newspaper to help spread awareness". "Sounds like a very reasonable plan, Beyonce. Very reasonable". "You think so?" "For someone as persistent and determined as you. Yes. I believe in anything you decide to put your mind to. Which is why I'm gonna front your project". "Project?" I asked. "Ok, sorry. Your Foundation" he corrected. I laughed, "I didn't mean it like that". "Seriously though. You got my support on this. I can see it does mean a lot to you" he said. "Thank you. I really do appreciate it". "I'm sure she will too" he said. "You want me to come over later?" I asked. "Nah. I got some work to take care of and I don't wanna bore you. I'll just see you tomorrow at the NAACP meeting" he answered. "Ok bae. Thanks, for the talk. I love you". "Love you. Godspeed". I laughed, "Godspeed to you too".

The next day, I ran my idea by Jarvis and he ran it by our committee, and with a majority vote, we agreed that it was worth exploring, and could possibly give FAMU good publicity. Most of us were about to go home for break so we decided Jarvis and I would do the research and for the first meeting of the new semester we would bring it up at the meeting that was open to everyone. I could tell even Nicki thought it was an interesting idea. I never initially did it to get brownie points, it was all because of the hurt I felt in my chest. But I had to admit, it did feel good to have so many people in support of my idea. It felt damn good. ** Tip surprised the hell out of me by taking me fishing for our date. I didn't know a thing about fishing, but the way Carter went on about it I thought he'd be the first person to teach me, but I was wrong. Tip said he use to go fishing all the time when he was younger, learning how to bait the hook at camp and spending many summers down by the river just relaxing. We did the whole 9. Went and bought live bait, fishing gear and he bought me a brand new rod. It was funny seeing him in a fishing cap instead of a fitted, but it was cute. Our date ended up being just as cute as we sat there talking and catching nothing. We took a few pictures for facebook and ate some lunch. Even though it was December, it felt pretty good outside, in the 70s, although it was suppose to drop to the 50's when night fell. That was Florida for you. Hot one weekend, cold the next.

"When the last time you talk to Nicki?" I asked. He laughed, "Wassup with you and that girl?" "Wassup with YOU and that girl" I countered. "Nothing". "Uhmm". "Why do you so want me to be messing with her?" he asked. "She has an attitude with me all the time, so I figure it has to do with you". "She hates on you cuz she is insecure. That's it" he said. "There ain't even nothing to hate on. She is cute and smart and all that. Why she gotta hate on me?" "Cuz she gotta front to be popular. Your popularity came naturally". "Is that what it's about? Being popular? Nah, I think it has to do with us. I think she jealous cuz of the night me and you kissed". "That too. But I'm telling you. It's deeper than that with her. I know Nicki. The real Nicki. She is just an insecure girl. Always has been". "Did you love her?" I asked. "I did". "You still love her?" I asked. Before he answered, I felt a tug at my line. I couldn't believe it, I had a bite. He coached me through but I was too excited to really pay attention to what he was saying. He was laughing at me because I started panicking as I tried to reel it in. He laughed even harder when the fish got away with my bait. "Don't worry Shawty" he laughed as I pouted, "There are plenty of other fish in the sea". I elbowed him and became determined to catch at least one before we left. And for the next few hours we teased each other as we caught nothing. It just wasn't our day; at least for catching fish. But it was a day for us to enjoy each others company. What I disliked about Tip in the car was what I liked about him at this moment. He didn't try to pressure me for a kiss or to treat our date as anything more than kicking it. I was nervous that he might try to come on to me and even more nervous because I knew he had the ability to make me horny, but he never made a move. When the date was over, and we only had caught a few small fish, which we tossed back, the sun started setting. I was reminded of the beauty of the sunset I had seen with Carter. Calm. Bliss. Beautiful. The calm that came right before a storm. I was on good terms with all of my friends, Carter and I were in love and

f*cking like rabbits, and school was going about as well as it could possibly go. Yet still, off in the distance I could see storm clouds forming.

The Red sun sinks at last into the hills of gold

Re: Your Eyes, My Nudity Thread 2 (Chapter 19 and 20 Posted) « Reply #1 on: January 27, 2011, 02:58:27 PM » Chapter 20

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I could have started by saying it was a dark and stormy night. But the story didn't start during the dark and stormy night. The signs were there beforehand. The change in the weather was there even when the skies were calm and the breeze was welcomed. When it rained it poured, and it only took a few weeks for my calm skies to turn into a downpour. It reminded me of Hurricane Katrina, which had destroyed the homes of so many of my family members that

lived in Louisiana. Everything they knew was wiped away. While some people simply lost mansions, others lost families. Others lost memories. I was going to lose more than what my heart could take. And the beginning of the end came when I got that phone call as I drove to Carters place from school in the cold, hard, rain. "Hello" I said while putting the phone on speaker and trying to focus on the road. "Bee. Change of plans. I can't have you come tonight" he said sternly. "Why?" "It's a long story. I'll tell you when I get a chance". "Why can't you tell me now?" I asked, frustrated by being nearly by his house and having to turn around. "I can't now" he said in a sort of whisper. "Why?" I heard a womans voice in the background but I couldn't make out when he said, "I'll call you later. Godspeed" he said before hanging up. I was furious after hearing another woman's voice. Someone was in his home, another female, and he had hung up as soon as she made her presence known. The bigger part of me tired to rationalize that maybe I was overreacting and it was the TV or something, but that still didn't explain why he had canceled our date or why he was so quick to get off the phone. Was he creeping with someone else? That was the only thing that made sense to me. I probably should have turned around. Carter had never given me a reason not to trust him or give him the benefit of the doubt, which is partially why I was so taken back by the abrupt change of plans. I was only a few minutes from his place, and my mind just wouldn't drop the issue. Something was going on, something that was scaring the hell out of me. I had to know what it was. I made the turn to get on his street and picked up speed, anxious to hurry up and put an end to the suspense. I was driving reckless, much too fast for a downpour, but I wasn't thinking about my safety or anyone elses. I was thinking about that voice I heard and who it belonged to. I was to vomit, thinking maybe it was another student in his home. But the voice didn't sound like it was from someone young. I had to know for sure. I hit the gas as the drops of rain pounded my windshield. When I pulled up to the house, I noticed his car wasn't parked in the driveway. It must have been in the garage. That also meant there was only one car at his home because there wasn't room for two cars in there. For a split second, I thought maybe I was going crazy. Maybe I should reassess and make sure I had heard what I thought I heard. But the more I tried to figure it was something I was misinterpreting, I couldn't forget that he whispered and then hurried me off the phone when I heard another woman's voice. I sat in the car for a few minutes, just letting my mind run wild. When my imagination had gassed me up enough to believe this man was f*cking around with some other chick, I got out of the car in the pouring rain and made my way to his front door. The jacket I had on didn't

have a draw string for the hoody, so the cold rain was flying in my face and I had to hold the hoody in place with my hand as I ran. When I was halfway there, I slipped in a puddle and twisted my ankle before taking a tumble. I tried to break my fall with my hand, but my wrist took on the full force of my body weight hitting the ground and I felt the crack. The pain shot through my body quick, triggering that throbbing sensation that accompanied an injury. My ankle was twisted, possibly sprained, and my wrist felt like it was fractured, and I was laying in the middle of his driveway with thunder and lightening filling the sky. I felt like my world was crashing down, the hurt I was feeling in my body didn't compare to the hurt I was feeling in my heart. Carter and I had went a week without spending much time together. I chalked it up to the holidays coming. This was going to be our last date before I went home for Christmas break. Had he really decided to cheat on me right before Christmas? No one was there to help pick up my defeated shell of a body, I was on my own. I crawled towards the door with one arm and managed to get myself up, although my ankle was still throbbing. I was hurt, I wanted to cry, but I couldn't cry until I knew what was going on behind that door. I screamed out when I grabbed my wrist. I wanted to scream out in anger as loud as the thunder that roared, but I limped my way towards the door, holding my injured hand. I had to know. I had to see for myself who was there. I got to the door and twisted the knob, but it was locked. I rang the doorbell twice with my good hand and tried to balance myself so I wasn't putting much pressure on my bad ankle. I knew I looked a mess. I knew I looked crazy. But I didn't care about how I looked at the moment. I didn't care about my injuries. My only care in the world was behind door number 1. The door swung open and I came face to face with a 5 foot tall light skinned girl in a pony tail. She did a double take when she saw me, looking me up and down before frowning her face and letting her jaw drop. I stood frozen, unable to speak and unable to move. I had seen that face before. I had seen this girl before. "May I help you?" she asked uneasily. "Who is it?" I heard Carter yell from another room. "Some girl" she yelled back. I couldn't speak. I just stared at the young girl, who eyed me with a suspicion beyond belief. Carter entered the picture and froze in horror when he saw me, injured, crying, at his door. "What happened to you?" he asked, looking hard at the way I was standing. "I fell" I said, humiliated by it all. "Come in" he said, as his daughter moved out of the way and he helped me inside. He helped me into the living room, where a woman was sitting and watching wide eyed. "Who is this?" she asked to Carter, but staring at me. "One of my students. She is the one I told you about that is starting the foundation. She fell in

the driveway" he said, looking in my eyes. "Poor girl" the woman said. ""Is her arm broke?" his daughter Shaun asked. Carter gently touched my wrist which sent me into more tears and screams. It really did hurt. But not as much as my pride did. I just wanted to die. "I don't think it's broken. She can still move it. But we gotta take her to a hospital" he said. "Well, I don't want to go out in the rain. And I don't want Shaun out in this weather either" the woman said. "Ok. Well let me get my jacket so I can take her up there" Carter said. "Whats your name" Shaun asked. "...Beyonce" I said softly, not even able to look the pre-teen in the eyes. "Beyonce, what made you come out in this weather?" the woman asked. I thought of a quick lie, "....I needed Mr. Carter to see my research...I had it saved on my flash drive" I said, using my free hand to pull out the flash drive I did have in my pocket, although it didn't contain any research. She nodded her head, "Well I'm sorry this happened to you. Shawn has told me about you. Says you are one of his favorite students. I personally thought your idea to help the girl Camile was very admirable" she said. "....Thank you" I said weakly, trying not to focus on the throb of my ankle and wrist. "And where are my manners?" she said to herself, "My name is Rosario. And this is my daughter Shaun. If you haven't guessed yet, Mr. Carter is her father" she smiled at me. "...Yes. I've seen pictures of her". "You have?" she asked. "Yes ma'am. For a documentary I made". "Oh yes. I remember him asking me about some pictures". When she answered, Carter had come out of the bedroom with his jacket and an umbrella. "I'll be back yall" he said. He helped me to his car in the garage and we left for the hospital, in complete silence. I felt so embarrassed. My injuries only added to it. "Bee, I told you I would call you" he said, noticeably upset at this whole situation. "I'm sorry" I said just above a whisper.

"Damn, Beyonce. This is the kinda shit I feared. You just getting so bold that you come to my house when I say not to. What were you thinking?" "I wasn't thinking, ok" I barked. "Obviously not. Obviously f*cking not". "I'm sorry Shawn, but let's not act like you didn't give me reason to wonder what was going on". "Bee. I told you I would call you later and explain". "Yea but you had been acting funny all week. Why are you just now telling me that your daughter and her mom was here?" "I had to figure out some sh*t first, Bee. I didn't want to tell you and then not have any answers for the millions of questions you were going to ask". "Millions of questions?" "Yes, millions of questions. I know you. You would have wanted to know the who, what, when, where, and how". "Is that wrong?" "No, it ain't. But I wanted to wait until I had all of the answers before you started asking". "The answers to what?" "Everything". "SHawn, you are acting like I wouldn't understand if you would have told me your daughter was coming down. We had talked about it before. Why do you think I'd think it was a big deal?" "Because it's more to it than that" he said, pulling into the hospital parking lot. "More than what?" "Let me go and get you a wheelchair" he said before getting out of the car, totally ignoring my question. I hated that he had dodged my question, but what could I do about it? He went inside, and returned with a wheelchair, keeping it covered with his umbrella and keeping his head dry with his jacket. He helped me on and gave me the umbrella to hold while he pushed me into the hospital. I had hurt my left wrist which meant I could still write, so I filled out my paperwork as he sat next to me. We didn't say anything to each other until they had called my name to be seen, some 45 minutes later. "Do you want me to go back there with you?" he asked. I was angry. I didn't say anything to him, just gave him a look that it was the dumbest

question ever. He followed me inside of ER as the nurse took us to a bed behind a curtain. She asked me the preliminary questions, how I fell and everything, but the question that was most memorable was "who is this" when she looked at Carter. I found the question kind of funny, on multiple levels. Who was this man? My man? My f*ck buddy? My teacher? My lover? My significant other? I didn't even know. "My uncle" I said sarcastically, just to stir the pot. He looked at me briefly. "Ok, well the doctor will be in shortly and he will get some X-rays to see what's all going in, ok Miss Knowles?" she said. I nodded and Carter thanked her as she left. I could tell we were both angry at each other. Or at the least annoyed. But neither of us wanted to break the silence. It took a phone call from Rosario for anything to be said. "Yeah, we're waiting for the doctor. They are gonna take a few X-Rays and I'll be back, hopefully within the hour" he said. I rolled my eyes. "Aight. Bye" he said before hanging up. "You can just leave me here if you want. I'll catch a cab to get my car" I said. "Beyonce, just shut up. You are really working my last nerves right now" he said. "Then leave. No one is forcing you to be here" I barked. "Why are you being like this, Bee? This is why I said in the first place I didn't think you could handle this". "You are keeping things from me. All you had to to was tell me. But you didn't. I had to go searching for the truth" I spat. "Beyonce, I kept it from you just until I was able to determine what I was going to do". "Do about what?" I asked, right before the doctor came in on us raising our voices. "Oh. I'm sorry. Should I come back?" he asked. "NO" we both yelled at him. He uneasily looked at me and then Carter, right before Carter apologized, "Sorry, sir. Tensions running high". "I understand. Right before the holidays and she gets hurt. My wife got hurt right before our honeymoon and we were at each others heads" he smiled. "This isn't my wife" Carter spoke, "It's my niece". The doctor nodded his head.

"Anyway, Beyonce, I want to look at your wrist and ankle. But I see they didn't tell you to get into your gown. So I'm going to leave for a few minutes and have you slip into your gown. I'm sure your uncle can give you some privacy too" he said, looking over at Carter. The Dr. led Carter out and I struggled to get out of my clothes since it hurt to move both my wrist and ankle, which both were kind of important when taking off clothes. That made me think. What if I had to wear a cast? How would I be able to life model like that? Who wants to draw a naked girl with a cast covering her arms and legs? Carter peaked in and asked if I needed help, although I didn't answer him. He came in anyway and helped get my gown on. A few minutes later, the doctor came back. He checked my wrist and ankle and immediately said they weren't broken from what he could tell, but he ordered the X-Rays anyway just to be sure. "Before I order the X-Ray, Beyonce. Are you pregnant, possibly pregnant or trying to become pregnant?" "No" I answered quickly, sure because Carter and I had used protection every time we'd had sex. About 10 minutes later a goofy nurse guy came along and wheel pushed me bed to the X-Ray room where he snapped shots of my bones. It took over an hour for the X-Rays to come back but when they did, it showed no fractures in either my wrist or ankle. He said I had a slight sprain in my ankle and and wrist, grade I level for both. He said in a few weeks, I'd be better and that I could take pain meds to help stop the pain. We had been at the hospital for over 2 hours, and went home with an ice pack. I could have gotten that at home. Carter laughed when the doctor told him my injuries weren't serious, or at least anything that would last long, but shit, it did hurt. The fact that we had spent that much time at the hospital for minor injuries kind of made both of us lighten up and giggle. He wheeled me to the car and I limped my ass in his car before he returned the wheelchair. When he came back to the car, he was on the phone. "I'm on my way home now. No, nothing serious, just minor sprains. She'll be ok" he said to Rosario. They chatted for a few more moments before he hung up. It was inevitable we were going to finish this conversation. "Carter. Please. I don't want to fight. Just tell me, what is going on with you and Rosario, and us" I said, focusing in on him. He looked intense, like he was dreading this conversation. But I needed honesty from him. I needed to know what was going on. "Bee. I love you, you do believe me when I tell you that, right?" he asked. "I love you too. And yes, I believe you" I said, wondering why he felt the need to say this to me before we had this convo. "Bee. Rosario is sick. She's been sick for a while now. She just recently told me. She just recently told Shaun. She's been keeping it as a secret for years"he said.

My heart dropped. "What's wrong with her?" "She has a terminal disease. A heart disease. A rare, heart disease" he said. "...is, she gonna be ok?" He looked at me and the back to the road. His lack of a response spoke volumes. "Shawn. I am so sorry to hear that. I'm sorry" I said. "I got her seeing some of the better doctors I know, but it's still looking like it's a little too late". "Is that why she is down here?" I asked. He nodded, "Yeah. She and Shaun are going to move in with me". My heart sank to my stomach. Move in? That was far from what I expected him to say, but I couldn't get angry. I mean, she was dying. How could I be angry? But I was. I was angry. "For how long?" I asked, even toned. "Permanently, Bee. She put her home on the market, resigned from her job, and getting everything done so they can move down here". "But you only have two rooms" I said, thinking out loud. "I'm going to give her my room and turn my office back into a bedroom for me" he said. I didn't even know what to say. Just two weeks ago, my clothes were in his closet and we were making dinner in his kitchen and now, his room would belong to his ex. It was too much to take so suddenly. "You not gonna say anything?" after we had rode for a few minutes. "It's just all coming on so fast" I said staring out the window, the rain now just a drizzle. "Yeah. Happened fast for me too. I just found out about her sickness and I told her I'd help her find a better doctor. I also told her to come down here so I could take care of her and Shaun". "I think it's good that you did that. I'm sure she appreciates it" I said, trying to look at the bright side of this. He was doing something admirable, and as an ethics teacher, why should I have expected anything different? "When did they come?" I asked. "Few days ago. It's why I couldn't talk to you much. I was getting everything situated. I was gonna tell you when I was sure about everything".

The way he was talking seemed....strange. Like he was holding something back. Immediately, I got this strange empty feeling in my stomach. "What does this mean....for us?" "That's what I wanted to talk to you about, Bee". I fought hard to keep a straight face. I wanted to cry because I knew what was coming. All that was left was the words that I was sure I was about to be hit with, like a baseball bat to my face. "Beyonce. We gotta stop seeing each other" he said. I laughed and just looked out of the window, having to laugh to keep from crying. "Bee, listen to me" he said, which only caused me to stare even harder out of the window, the tears now ready to drop at any moment. "I can't run the risk anymore. I have my daughter with me and my childs mother and I need to make them my priority right now". "Why can't you make them a priority and still see me? Why does it have to be one or the other?" I barked, red eyes and everything. "Because it's the right thing to do. It's just too messy Beyonce. This entire thing, is just too...messy". "Was it too messy when you were getting your dick sucked every morning? Huh? Too messy then?" "I knew you wouldn't understand" he sighed. "And I knew you would do this to me. Build me up and then just drop me. I knew it was all too good to be true". "You are so selfish, Beyonce. You remind me every time we fight that you are 18. You just refuse to see the bigger picture" he yelled, raising his voice significantly. "I'm selfish because I don't want to give up the man I love? The man I gave myself to? My virginity? My heart? My spirit, body and all of that shit? Oh yeah, I am so selfish, let me tell you" I yelled back at him. "Beyonce you said something to me that stuck with me. It was one of the wisest things you ever told me. When I asked you if I was a bad father, you told me my story wasn't complete. You told me I could still be the father I wanted to be" he said. "And you can be, Shawn. But why do you have to break things off with me to be that father?" "Because I missed out on every single part of Shauns life, Beyonce. I missed it. And now she is here with me. I don't want to be a father that is late coming home because I am at a hotel with one of my students having sex. Or sneaking and creeping and lying to her so I can be with someone other than her sick mother. I don't want that to be her images of me. She already knows I abandoned her. And in these few days, me and her have surprisingly had

some good talks. She is willing to give me that second chance that most dead beats never get. I don't want to ruin my chance". "But what do you want me to do, Shawn? Just walk away like I don't love you?" "Bee, this is hard for me too. I love you too. I don't want to walk away from what we have. But I have to make the choice that is the right one. Continuing this with my daughter and her sick mother in my care is not something I can live with". "And I can't live with knowing I love you but not being able to have you" I cried. "Bee, you are strong. So much stronger than I could have ever imagined when I first met you. I know it hurts. And I knew it would be hard for you because we spent every f*cking moment together the past few months. But you'll move past it. You will love again. I told you I don't like promises, but I PROMISE you that you will find someone else to love". I laughed at this, a laugh mixed with tears, "This. Is. BULLSHAT. Like telling me I will meet somebody else is suppose to make me feel better. Like I want anyone else, Mr Carter. Let me ask you this question. Are you gonna f*ck her?" He eyed me hard, "What?" "Are you and your ex now gonna be intimate? Sex? Making Love? F*cking? I don't know what to call it. I just can't see this woman being in your house and yall not reconnecting on some romantic shit". "Tell me that is not what you think this is about" he said angrily. "It's a simple question" "It's a question a child would ask. A child that can't see that the world is bigger than her. A child I thought would love me enough to understand my decision. But I guess not". "Whatever. You keep calling me a child, yet you are the one that decided to be with me. Blame yourself, not me. I'm only being myself, right?" "I do blame myself. Huge mistake". "So now I'm a mistake?" I laughed. "Do you need me to call you a taxi, or do you think you can drive home?" he asked, ignoring my question as we pulled up to his house. "Do you regret us, Shawn?" "Do you need a taxi, or can you handle it?" he repeated. I was crying again, but he was ignoring me. "Shawn, do you regret me?" "Taxi? Or no?"

He wasn't going to answer my question. This was it. The end of us. He got out of the car and walked around, the rain now completely stopped. He helped me out, avoiding all eye contact and walked me to my car. My limp had gotten better, especially with the news that it wasn't serious, so I guess I felt more comfortable putting pressure on it. But I was hurting even more than I had been when I first fell. The pain of a broken heart was much worse than the pain of a broken body. The emptiness. The void. The deafening silence. The unspoken words I wanted to say. It all hurt. "Do you regret me?" I asked again, my eyes red, tears dried on my face. "Call me when you get home to let me know you are safe" he said simply. We locked eyes for a few seconds and it took every ounce of energy I had not to jump in his arms and attempt to kiss him. Make things like how they were. But after he took a deep breath, he patted me on the shoulder, turned around and made his way back up his driveway. I watched as he went inside. To his daughter. To the woman that had carried his seed. To his family.

** "You ready for the news?" Kelly asked me, all extra giddy. "Shoot" I said, nowhere close to matching her enthusiasm. "Quenton proposed. I said yes" she said. "You said yes?" I asked, taken back by what she was saying. "YES!" she shrieked into the phone. "When did this happen?" "Like, an hour ago. He proposed, I said yes. I gave him some, and you are the first person I have called to tell" she laughed. Carter had broken things off with me the day before, I just wasn't in the mood to be hearing news like this, but I still tried to be excited for my girl. "Well congrats" I said. "Congrats? Did you hear what I just said Beyonce? I am getting MARRIED". I smirked, "Yeah, I heard you. Hasn't really sank in yet. Tell it to me a few more times". "I'm engaged. I'm engaged. I'm engaged. I am f*cking engaged" she screamed proudly. I laughed to myself, still laying in bed with all of the lights off. "He got you a ring?" I asked. "No, not yet. But he is suppose to be getting it with his Christmas bonus" she said. "Well that is kinda backwards. Why didn't he just wait till he had the ring? He could have proposed on Christmas morning or something. Seems like it would have been better" I insisted. "Bee, who cares how he did it, girl? The fact is he did it". "Yeah well i'm just sayin'. But anyway, i'm happy for you". "You don't sound happy". "Well I'm just not feeling too good. I was out in the rain last night and fell. Just kind of tired and drugged up on them pain meds". "Oh, well I'm sorry. I didn't know. You want me to come over?" she asked. "Nah. Celebrate with your man". "Girl, me and him will have plenty of time for celebrating. But if you need my company I'll be over there".

"Nah, Kelly. I'm good. I just wanna sleep. Got too much on my mind". "Like what, Bee? I don't like how we haven't been keeping tabs on each other. What's going on?" "Nothing I feel like talking about, Kel. Plus I don't wanna bring down your high with my crap". "Ok, Bee. If you don't wanna talk about it right now I understand. But I'm always here when you are ready". "Unless Quenton is there" I joked, but still meaning it. "What?" "I'm joking girl". "How was that a joke?" "Cuz sometimes you and him are busy. Like when I wanted to go to spring break with you" I said, trying to make a point. "Bee, I told you I had to work". I laughed, "Aight, Kel. Whatever. I'll call you tomorrow, ok?" "When you do, I hope you elaborate on what your joke was suppose to mean". "Kelly. It doesn't need an explanation. You live with him, yall are sometimes busy. I gotta catch you when yall ain't busy. It's that simple". "Bee, you know I am NEVER too busy for you if you have an issue. You know that. I don't even know why you are selling out right now. You are the one that has been so secretive and busy, out late at night with some mysterious man that no one knows ". "What the hell are you talking about? See, you're taking it somewhere that it don't even need to go, Kelly. Watch it" I said, my eyes closed, and trying to block the headache that was coming. "Beyonce I am not taking it anywhere. I just don't see how you are even joking that I am too busy for you when everytime I ask what's going on in your life, you dodge the question". "Kelly, on more than one occasion I have tried to hang out with you, but you and Quenton were doing something, or you were playing momma with his son or something. Don't even act". "Playing momma? Well Bee, call it whatever you want to call it, but you can't call it being secretive and selling out. I don't desert my friends to have secret relationships with teachers and lesbians". "Yeah, but you will sure shack up with a broke man that can't even afford an engagement ring".

She laughed out loud, one of those laughs that signaled the gloves were off. "Yeah I bet you would care about if he was broke, considering you are f*cking your teacher because he buys you clothes. I may be happy dating a broke man, but at least I ain't hoing for purses". "Hoing? After all the gold diggin your ass did in high school? After all them dudes that ran through you? You got the nerve to call me a ho?" "Bee. I'm not calling you a ho. But messing with men because they got money is hoing. I mean, I don't know what to think anymore. You have straight changed since you got to college. F*cking drug dealers and teachers twice yo age and prolly messing with that Rihanna girl. I just can't believe you are up here judging me" "How did I judge you, Kelly? You are the one assuming shit about me that isn't even true". "How did you judge me? Beyonce, stop the bullshit. You have been acting like you are better than me for how long now? And when I tried to be your friend through all of it, all you did was keep pushing me away so you can hang out with those other women. Just abandoning our friendship". "You abandoned our friendship long before I did, Kelly. Be real. The entire first few months of you dating that nigga you had no time for me. So yeah, I moved on. Whatever" "Moved on to expensive purses and jewelery, huh" she mocked. "Glad to finally hear how you feel about me, Kelly. Have fun at your wedding. Oh wait, I mean court house marriage" I barked before hanging up on her ass. Kelly was my best friend since I could remember. But I was hurting and she had called me at the absolute worst moment. I cried myself to sleep, saying things to her that I just could not see us coming back from. I made my bed, now sleep. ** I tried my best to forget about the two days from hell, but there were constant reminders of them all around. My entire closet was filled with things Carter had bought me and even the ipod I had was something Kelly had bought. Michelle could tell something was wrong, but I avoided telling her anything detailed. Rihanna was out of town with some dude who had offered to take her to Vegas, so that pretty much left me by myself as I counted down the days before I'd go home. I had talked with my mom who told me she had started a catering service which was doing well. But she neglected to tell me they only opened it to try to bring in extra income because my dad had lost his job. The economy was really starting to rot, with some people predicting a recession was on the way. I was just so angry at everything, that I didn't want to be around anyone. I got one of my friends I had met at the academy to fill in for me for the life modeling classes and spent most of my days in my room, crying or eating or sleeping. Many times, crying while eating and then going to sleep while crying. Carter and I were not on speaking terms at all; ditto Kelly and I. I didn't feel I had anyone to talk to about my issues and even if I did, I couldn't tell

them the whole truth because I had promised Carter I'd keep our relationship a secret. I had already messed up by telling Kelly about my crush on him and she had taken it to the next level even though I never told her I was actually seeing him. After a few days, my sadness turned pure anger, which combined with a lack of dick, made me sexually frustrated. I would masturbate thinking about the many times Carter and I had done the nasty at school. Each time I orgasmed from those thoughts, my eyes grew watery. It felt so good to cum from the thoughts of us, but it was like a drug addict taking a hit of drugs. Yes, the orgasm was like a hit of drugs. Like heroine. Like a long heat wave through my body. Any ache or pain or sadness or guilty feeling was completely flushed out. Well I had never actually done drugs, but that is what Leo said in Basketball Diaries so I figured the feelings were similar. And like with drugs, when the effects of the hit wore off, I fell even worst, lower and sadder and more guilty than before, completely surrounded by the piecing reality of my thoughts. Thoughts of Carter and how he was right. I still longed for his lips and his touch and his security. But all I had was my hand, which still hurt, and my pussy. Maybe I should have stayed in my bedroom and masturbated every few hours like I had been doing, but when Tip called me and suggested we hang out before he left for Atlanta, I saw it as another hit. An escape from this sad world in these four walls. I took him up on the offer and met him for lunch at Red Lobster, maybe one of the few places on earth I knew I'd never catch Carter in. I was starving when I got there, even though I had eaten three hotdogs just an hour earlier. I ordered shrimp scampi and clam chowder and ate about seven cheese biscuits. He couldn't believe how much I was eating. We talked about school and how he was going to stop slanging soon because he was close to graduating, but I made sure to avoid all discussions about my life. I just wanted to hear him talk and talk and talk. I could forget about my own life, and just focus on the fantasy of his. After I had eaten a few shrimp off his plate, I felt my stomach rumble. He laughed when he heard it. "See there, now your ass got the bubble guts. You bout to blow them people bathroom UP" he teased. I tried to laugh, but I really wasn't feeling good. I didn't have to sh*t, I just felt like I was about to..... I stood up, knocking my fork on the floor, and covered my mouth as I quickly paced to the bathroom. I nearly ran into a waitress as I moved through the maze of tables and customers, but finally made it to a bathroom where I ran to an open stall and threw up everything I had eaten. When my body was done purging itself, I dried my eyes and rinsed my mouth out in the sink, which was totally disgusting to the women that had walked in and right back out. I didn't care. There wasn't much that I cared about at this point. I walked back in where Tip was waiting for me with a doggybag. Where had I seen this scene before? We left, our date finished, and he drove his Chevy on the road that led to my apartment. I felt

a little defiance in me. A little madness too, maybe. "I'm not ready to go home" I said. He grinned, "You sure? I ain't tryna have you throwing up in my ride. What you tryna get into now". "Lets go back to your apartment" I said. "To my place? You sho bout that?" "Yeah. I don't wanna go home. I need to be entertained. Be around people. Keep my mind occupied" I said. He smiled at this, licked his lips, and made a U Turn at the next intersection. When we got to his apartment, he seemed kind of nervous which is something I would have never expected from Mr. Confident. He was picking up and apologizing for the mess and quick to see if I wanted anything. Again, cute, but really making me reevaulte my thought of him. Behind the tough exterior lay a sweetheart through and through. We ended up in the Den area where he cut on the TV and we watched Oprah. "You watch Oprah?" I laughed. "Nah but I figured your ass did". "I do sometimes. But Sometimes it's just too deep for me. I don't wanna constantly hear about sad stuff" I responded. "Seems like you are going through some sad stuff in your life right now. Wassup?" he asked me, fully locked onto my eyes. "Tip. It's...nothing I feel comfortable talking about". "You don't trust me?" he asked. "It's not that. I just want to keep that part of my private. I'm sure its some stuff about you that is just for you, right?" He nodded his head while his smile grew like a steady erection. Or maybe my mind was just in the gutter. I was just angry and tired. Angry at everyone. Tired at everything. And the only thing I truly wanted to do was have sex. I wanted an orgasm. I wanted to have my legs high over my head while a strong and confident man pounded my pussy like my heart pounding against my chest. I wanted to have a penis in my mouth, strong and hard. I wanted to swallow that dense shot of cum that exploded from hardcore lust. I didn't want love or gentleness or hand holding. I wanted animalistic passion. I wanted some d*ck. Without even a notice, I moved into Tip and kissed him hard, wanting to feel the same urge to f*ck him that I had felt in his car months ago. He was caught off guard by this, I was sure, but when he caught on to my desire, his hands started exploring and my tongue did the same. I briefly thought of Carter and I got angry. I bit Tips lip which caused him to jump back in pain. I didn't care. I wanted to mix the pain and the pleasure. I needed this f*ck more than I needed to breathe.

"Woah, Shawty, wait" he said when he broke free of my seduction. "What? I want to f*ck" I shot at him angrily. "I can see that" he laughed, "But I ain't got no protection". "Well, can't you get some from one of your friends or something?" "Everyone already went home for the holidays. Ima have to go to walmart" he said. I sighed. Man, I was wanting it now and he was killing the mood. I knew the way I was acting could forever change my reputation, from the sweet and shy innocent girl to a certified slut, but at this point I didn't care. Hell, I was even considering dropping out of FAMU and moving back home anyway. All I wanted, in the whole world, was a mind blowing, body numbing orgasm that could, even temporarily relieve me me of my sanity. It was unhealthy. I would later regret it, I was sure, but regrets were a necessary evil in life as far as I was concerned. "How about this. My room is trashed right now. Take my car to Wal Mart, get some condoms, and when you come back I'll have the bed cleaned off and we can do what we do" he suggested. I rolled my eyes, "Ok Tip. But be ready when I get back, ok? I really, really, really need this right now". He smiled. "Oh and shower. Make sure your dick is clean cuz it's going in my mouth" I grinned. I was acting out. I knew it. He knew it. But I felt it was the only way. I nearly morphed to his car and then to Wal Mart, which was only five minutes away, so I could hurry and get the condoms and leave. When I got there, I realized I didn't even know what to get. Carter had always provided the condoms, I never even worried about it. I had never even bought condoms before. And when I got to the aisle, I was shocked that there were so many different kinds. The different choices intimidated me.

I stood there for ten minutes just looking at the boxes, afraid to touch them because people kept walking past me. Why had I agreed to purchase this? This was the guys job. And why didn't he have any protection anyway? I figured his room was trashed because he had been f*cking other girls, but I didn't even trip. The way Nicki and other girls were whipped over him, it meant he had to have some good d*ck, and that was all I really needed right now. I was using him just like I was sure he was using me. I decided to get the Magnums, the kind I would see in Carter's drawers. It seemed as if the entire store was watching me as I made my way to the line. Yeah, a girl carrying a box of condoms made for big d*cks. Yes it means what it looks like it means, I thought as I saw random glances. And just my luck, when I got in the line, there was a lady with about two cars full of things. She turned around when I walked behind her and smiled when she saw me cradling the gold box, a dead give away for what I had come to Wal Mart for.

"Is that all you are buying" she smiled at me. I nodded. She nodded and then motioned for me to cut her. The people behind me then watched as the girl with condoms walked to the front of the line. "I'd let her cut too" I heard a guy whisper. "Yeah, she lookin anxious" someone else joked. "How mature are you guys" the lady with the full carts said, "At least she is protecting herself". I didn't pay any of that any attention. I paid for it quick and nearly ran my ass out of that store. Did these people really just make comments about me buying condoms? I threw the condoms on the passenger seat and sped back to the campus, parking and throwing the condoms in my purse so no one else would see me with them. I used his keys to unlock and open the door and when I walked inside I heard the showers running. I used the time to venture into his bedroom for the first time. It was kind of messy still, but cozy enough. The bed sheets were at least clean. It was almost night time, which is when I most preferred to f*ck because of the mood it set, but I didn't feel like waiting for the night sky, I was just ready to do it, period. I sat on the bed with my purse and took the box out of the purse. I looked around his room some more. A lot of bookbags on the floor, posters of girls and rappers on the wall and jewelry on his dresser. The shower cut off and not long after he finally emerged from the bathroom, shirt off, towel around his waist. Finally, nigga. Get your ass in here and lets f*ck, I thought. He still looked kind of shy, like a little boy almost, as he saw me sitting on his bed and made his way into the room. I stood up and met him at the door, kissing him and letting my arms explore the definition in his abs. Carter didn't have much tone at all, which made this a new experience for me. He was still warm from the shower and I liked that. I wanted him warm, clean, hard, and ready. Which is why when I dropped his towel, I was a bit dissapointed. All I saw was a little lump where his dick should have been, a lump with another lump underneath. How was it possible that his nuts were longer than his dick was? I wanted to keep looking but he went back to kissing me and pushing me towards the bed. He started kissing on my neck and when he did I looked down again, his dick still not having grew any longer. I knew he was still flaccid, so there was hope that he'd get much bigger, but I was wondering why it hadn't happened yet. When me and Carter had sex, it was hard just from the sight of me. Oh well, I guess I had to get him hard. I touched his still soft penis with my hand and attempted to massage it, but I didn't even know where to begin. My hand swallowed it whole. I was so focused on his dick, I hadn't even noticed he had pulled my shirt over my head and was kissing my chest. Grow. GROW, damnit. I aimlessly pulled his soft dick back and forth while he undressed me. I stepped out of my underwear and we both crawled on his bed, his penis still soft. Damn. Was he still not aroused?

He laid me down and I was on the verge of tears because he still wasn't hard. All I wanted was some d*ck. Was that too much to ask for? Jesus Christ. "You ok?" I asked him, obviously frustrated. "Get me up" he said softly. He rolled on his back and I stared down at the shrimp of a penis that looked at me. It reminded me of the shrimp I had eaten earlier. The shrimp I had already vomited. "Come on girl" he smiled at me. I rolled my eyes. This better get him hard enough to cut diamonds, I thought as I bent forward. I took him in my mouth, his entire dick fitting in the shallow part of my mouth, and sucked a few times, not even having to move my head to run my lips from his tip to his base. And suddenly, there was life. Like Frankenstein and I was the mad scientist. His dick came alive in my mouth, shocking the hell out of me, but in a good way. He's alive! I came up from breath and looked at the transformed dick. It went from a weewee to a dick in just a few sucks, long enough and wide enough to do the job. Thank God. I went back down and had no problems putting him back in my mouth. He moaned with his eyes closed as I went and I wondered if he knew I wasn't doing it so he could finish in my mouth, I just did it so he could be hard. When that was accomplished I came up and laid back down. It was his turn. "Oh, I don't do that" he said when I gave him the eye. "You don't do what?" I asked. "Eat pussy" he shrugged. I wanted to go off. But when I looked at his hard dick, I didn't even stress it. More than getting ate out, which was an appetizer, I wanted to be f*cked. "Whatever. Just f*ck me" I said. He opened the box and pulled out the rolls of condoms, breaking one off and then opening it. I awaited anxiously, just tasting the orgasm I was sure to experience once he started stroking it right. He got on top of me and went to put the condom on, but he seemed to be taking a long time down there. "You got it?" I asked, really starting to get annoyed. "I went soft again" he sighed, as we both looked down at his dying peen. He jacked himself off inbetween my legs and eventually he got it halfway back up, although it was still limpy. I opened my legs and just wanted to feel something inside of me, anything. He poked all around my inner thighs and pussy trying to find the hole, fumbling like he didn't know a pussy from an asshole. I grabbed his limp dick and helped him get in. I was so frustrated I didn't even appreciate the initial penetration. He stroked a few times, literally a

few pumps and slipped out. "Damn you're too wet" he said aloud. No nigga, you keep going soft, I thought to myself. We tried for the next 15 minutes, three different positions, me on top, doggystyle and then missionary again, and he couldn't keep his dick hard for more than a few pumps. I literally wanted to cry from frustration. What a waste. My feelings were hurt from Tip being this lousy in bed. He had bent me over again and was rubbing my ass with his hands. I was just waiting, impatiently waiting for him to fill me up. "Bee" he whispered. "What?" I barked. "Let me put it in your booty" he said, slapping his now hard dick on my asshole. I turned around quick. "Uhm. No. I don't do that" I shot, "Just please put it in my pussy". He climbed on top again and we managed to have sex for a few unfulfillng minutes before I just gave up. "Tip, this isn't working" I said. "I'm sorry. I must be tired or something cuz I just can't stay hard" he said, sounding embarrassed. I rolled out of bed and begin putting my clothes back on, angry, frustrated, and disgusted that I had not gotten any type of satisfaction. This was the type of shit that would make a girl swear off sex. We got dressed and he took me home, not saying much on the ride back. He seemed so much weaker to me as we rode. When we were to my apartment, he went for a kiss but only got a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Sorry about tonight. It will be better next time, trust me" he assured. I gave a weak smile and nodded, "Have a good Christmas break" I said. I walked to the apartment feeling like a fool and feeling him watching me. All of this time courting and flirting, for that? I still liked Tip. He was cute. He had a nice size penis when he was hard. And he was a pretty cool guy in general. But that was almost unforgivable. Next time? Next time? I walked inside even more depressed. "Hey girl" Michelle said. I tossed her the doggybag, "Here some cheese biscuits if you want em" I said before walking in the hallway to the shower. I bathed and then masturbated, rubbing my pussy aggressively. That was maybe the first time I had an orgasm with an angry scowl on my face.

I ended up falling face first in bed, needing someone to talk to. Someone to vent to mostly. First person I thought of was Rihanna, but with her being out of town with her dude I decided not to f*ck with that. Kelly would have been the next choice, but that was out. I settled on Jarvis. "Sup bighead" I teased him when he picked up. "Sup stank puss" he laughed. "Jarvis. Can you please come over and f*ck me? Hard" I sighed. "Ugh. You paying? I will prostitute myself out if you paying. Otherwise, I ain't touching yo stankin ass" he teased. "Man. I had the worst sexual experience ever. Even worse than the night at the movies". "That's impossible, Beyonce. Worse how? And with who?" "Tip" I cried out, hating that it was him of all people that had been so bad. "Tip? You gave him some?" he asked, seemingly shocked. "Jarvis I just wanted some good sex. I'm so frustrated right now. I liked him and everything so yeah, I decided to give him some". "What happened?" he asked, like he was so concerned. "He couldn't even stay hard. And then he said he didn't give oral. I had to finish myself off when I got home" I whined. "Damn. That's crazy. All the girls talk about him like he is king dingaling" he said. "I know, right? I don't know what happened. He told me next time would be better" "So there is gonna be a next time?" he asked. I laughed, "I doubt it. I seriously doubt it. I'm swearing off sex now". He laughed along with me, "I'm sorry it was bad for you". "Well anyway. I got myself off so i'm straight now. But I'm bored. Come get me and let's go to a movie or something" I said. "Can't. I got a date tonight" he said. "A date? Nigga with who?" He laughed, "Some nigga I been seeing for a minute. I'll introduce you to him. You don't know him". "Aww shit. Jarvis you f*cking now?" "I might be" he teased.

"Ewww, butt secs. Tip tried to do that with me too". "Wow, he did?" "Uhhmm. I don't see how yall like that stuff but anyway". "Shit feel good" he laughed. "Wait, so you have had sex with a dude? And you ain't told me? Nigga?" "Bee, everyone knows your ass is always busy now. But how bout this. Tomorrow we'll hang out together and we'll catch up on everything?" "Aight. Tell me about your date too" I giggled. "Even the butt secs?" "Yep. All-lat shit". He chuckled "Aight b*tch. Love ya, bye". Later that night when I went looking for my Student ID I realized I had left my purse over his apartment. I hopped out of bed and immediately Tip, who didn't answer. Damn, he was leaving tomorrow, and if I didn't get my purse I would be assed out. I threw on some shit and drove as fast as I could to his apartment. It was nearly pitch black outside because one of the streetlights were out, which kind of made me feel uneasy. Although these were college apartments, I still had heard stories of girls getting raped and stuff. I didn't even have the pepperspray with me, that was in my purse. I hurriedly walked towards his apartment and spotted two shadows walking toward his building. I looked hard and could tell by the one the first one moved that it was Tip. But who was the other guy? I thought it might have been Smurf at first but he was a little taller. His walk looked awfully familiar. Tip put his keys in the door and the two moved inside, quickly closing the door behind them. Odd, it was past midnight. When I made it to his front door I knocked. I knew he was there. But he wasn't answering. I knocked again. And I kept knocking until he decided to answer. Finally, he came to the door, wiping his eyes and yawning. "Damn Shawty, the hell you over here for?" he smiled lazily. "I forgot my purse". "You did? Well shit let me get it for you" he said. I walked past him to get it myself. "Girl what you doing?" he said, grabbing my arm. "I need to get my purse, Tip" I said.

"I can go get it". He told me to stay in the living room so I did. But I had this sneaky suspicion in my stomach. I knew that walk. I just didn't want to believe it. But my brain was quickly putting the pieces together. Something in the air was stankin, and it wasn't my pussy. I pulled out my cell phone and called Jarvis. Within seconds, I heard a ring tone going off, before quickly being shut off. Tip was coming back with my purse, a look of horror on his face. I was nodding my head. I couldn't believe what I had walked into. "This is Jarvis. Leave a message after the tone" the voice recording said. The tone went off and my message started, "Well, Jarvis. I guess I see what you mean when you said you liked thug guys. And Tip" I said before taking my purse from him, "I think I get why your dick wouldn't get hard until you mentioned booty sex". "Shawty, you don't know what you're talking about" he said. "If I don't then let me go check your room right now. Let me go check in your closet and under your bed. Huh?" He didn't say anything, just looked at me with while gnawing his teeth. "I thought so. Both of yall niggas is nasty. And Jarvis, you are a f*cking liar" I said before turning around and exiting. "Beyonce. Beyonce!" Tip yelled after me. I turned around rolling my eyes. "Can we talk about this?" "Nothing to talk about. And if you scared, don't worry. I won't tell nobody your ass is on the DL" I said, loud as hell, where anybody could have heard if they were listening from their apartments. He shot me a look, and then I remembered the man did own a gun and was a street guy, regardless of the type of sex he apparently enjoyed. I checked my purse, going through my cards as I walked away and everything was in place. I didn't take Tip as a thief. Although he was a booty pirate. When I got my car, I felt nauseous again. I tried to push it aside as I pulled off, but when I got a call from Jarvis on my cell, the feeling returned. "What?" I barked. "Bee. Calm down. Let's talk about-" "Nothing to talk about. You are f*cking the guy you knew I liked and had been talking to. I don't even wanna think about how long this has been going on. Putting all the pieces together and remembering that yall went to the same HS. UGH. Yall are nasty. F*ck you" I said before hanging up, feeling my stomach turn.

I had to pull over. I pushed the door open and threw up on a curb. As I vomited, I thought about the fact that I had sucked his penis. I remembered the Oprah special I saw once about men on the DL giving girls aids and then I remembered the workshop I went to and how we had talked to people about STDs. I was now fearful. What if I became one of those women? I stormed through my apartment door, causing Michelle to come out of her room to see what was going on. "Girl what's wrong with you?" "Nothing" I said as I walked right past her and into the bathroom. I put my head over the toilet as my stomach contracted. I didn't throw up, but I kept feeling like I was about to. "Beyonce, are you ok?" Kelly asked from outside of the door. "I don't feel good" I said, wondering if maybe I had food poisoning or if I was just disgusted from the thoughts of Jarvis and Tip messing around behind my back. I took a shower to clean myself of the disgusting day from hell and struggled to fall asleep when I got into bed. I thought about STDS and sex and garlic shrimp. I would never eat at Red Lobster again, I thought as I ran to the bathroom to throw up again. The very next morning I went to the free clinic to be tested. I didn't even know if I could find out if I had a STD this fast, but with my luck, I figured I would get some bad news. I was there bright and early, and was one of the first people seen. I wanted to hurry up and get it over with because not knowing was the hardest part. They took my blood, I pissed in a cup, and awaited the results. I wasn't even prepared for what the doctor had to say. "Ok, Miss" he looked hard at my name, "Noooes. I will be up front with you. Are you ready?" I swallowed hard and nodded, bracing for the worst. "So you tested negative for all sexually transmitted disease but you tested positive for pregnancy" he said, looking at his charts, not even focusing on me. My mouth dropped, my eyes watered, and I felt like throwing up all over again. "HUH?" "You're pregnant" he said, still looking at his clipboard. "Pregnant?" "Yes. I take it you weren't expecting?" "Noooooo" I whimpered as tears started to fall. "Well have you been having unprotected sex?"

I shook my head no, "I've used condoms every time". "Ummhmm" he said looking at his papers, "Well even condoms aren't 100%. Although if they are used right they should be nearly 100% effective. Has your cycle stopped?" "My cycle is irregular". "Well. You can speak to one of our counselors for first time mothers if you want to and she can advise you of your options" he said, finally looking at me. "I just need to get out of here" I said, grabbing my belongings, getting my paperwork and leaving. I wanted to drive to Carters place, but remembered his family was there. He was the only one I was with and could possibly be 3 weeks pregnant from. But with everything going on in his life, I didn't want to tell him. I didn't want to further bother him. He already regretted me. How would he feel once I told him I was pregnant? And what would my parents think? First Solange, now me? I would never live this down. I was going to see them in a few days and I was freaking pregnant. The missed period, the appetite, the throwing up, the mood swings, the fatigue. It all made sense now. I had a life growing inside of me. I went the next few days in a zombie like trance, refusing to eat, and ignoring calls from Jarvis and Tip. I didn't even care about them anymore. My mind was on this pregnancy situation. I kept replaying sexual events in my mind and wondering how I could have gotten pregnant. I even wondered if I told Carter, would he believe it was his, or question it like he did with his first child. I was scared. Horrified even. I curled up in the fetal position on my bed and cried for two days straight. What had happened to my life? My first love broke my heart. The guy I liked had been sleeping with my male friend behind my back for God knows how long. Kelly and I were no longer speaking. How could my life crash and burn so fast and so suddenly? Where had I gone wrong? Why was God punishing me like this? I needed to get away. I wanted to go home. My real home. Houston, Texas. I wanted my mommy to hug me and kiss me and I wanted to feel my daddys embrace. I wanted to just get the hell out of here, away from Carter and Tip and Jarvis and somehow leave this pregnancy in Florida too. I packed my bags, needing to get away and clear my head. I was hoping I would somehow find myself once I made it back home for Christmas. But God was interested in kicking my ass, because my month of hell kept getting worse. After driving only a few minutes down the street, the car overheated and shut off. Michelle was at work when I called. I refused to call Jarvis or Kelly or Carter, so I called the one person I was cool enough with and knew had a car; Chris. He answered on the third ring, "Hey Beyawnsay" answered. "Chris. I'm in a jam. I'm stuck on the side of the road and was wondering if you could come get me. I need to call a mechanic" I asked.

"Cool, I can come pick you up. Where are you?" he asked. I told him the intersection and after turning down a few guys who stopped to see if I needed help, Chris came in his pickup about 20 minutes after I called. "I appreciate this so much, Chris" I said once he was out of the car and making his way toward my smokey thing. "You know anything about cars?" I asked. "I know some" he smiled. He was looking cute today. Sporting sunglasses like he was hip. He did it in such a don'ttake-it-serious way that it worked for him.

He popped open the hood and did his thing. I just stood back with my arms crossed and watched. I could tell this boy had no idea what he was doing. I was angry at how much my life was sucking, but seeing him inspect the car with sunglasses made me laugh a little. "So, what's the problem?" I asked. "It's broken" he said back to me like he had said something profound. I laughed, "Well thanks for the diagnoses, doc". "So shines a good deed in a weary world" he smirked.

"Anyway" I rolled my eyes, "Can you give me a ride home? I got the number to a mechanic on my fridge". "Of course I'll give you a ride" he smirked, which meant more Wonka was to follow. "If God didnt Want us To walk he wouldn't have invented roller skates" he said. I giggled, "Well I'm kind of mad at God right now so f*ck him". "Cuz of the car?" "Cuz of everything Chris. This entire month for me has just been so horrible" I said as I opened my trunk. "Were you going out of town or something?" he asked looking at the bags. "Yeah. I was going to Texas for break. I kinda need to get away for a little bit". "Texas, huh? That's a pretty nice road trip there". "Yeah and if I can't get this car up and running by today then I'm going to have to buy a plane ticket or something. I'm scared to even look at the prices". "A ticket this time of the year on short notice is gonna cost you a fortune. Your parents can't send you a ticket?" he asked while helping me transfer my bags and Christmas gifts to his truck. "My parents are broke right now" I laughed. "Guess you shouldn't have spent all that money on these new outfits and purses you have been wearing lately. Gucci this. Prada that" he smiled. "I resent that Chris" I smiled as I locked my doors and walked around to get in his truck. "Hey, i'm just saying. You don't need that to produce magic. You are beautiful as is". "Is that more Wonka?" I asked. "Nah that one was all me" he smiled. I playfully smacked his arm and he looked over at me. "You know, if you want, I could take you to Texas". "Boy, don't even play like that" I said, totally dismissing the idea. "I'm serious. I wouldn't mind". "Chris. I know you are from Europe and everything, but from here to Texas is like 12 hours. It's a loooooong drive". "I passed geography, Beyonce" he smirked, "I wouldn't mind. Plus it would save you a lot of

money". "I wouldn't have you drive me all the way up there and then turn around and leave. Plus I would still need a way back so I'd end up buying an expensive ticket anyway". "I can stay up there until you are ready. I'd like to explore a new state". "Chris, stop it. What about your family?" He laughed, "My family is in Europe. Chrismas is really just another day for me". I assessed the situation. Chris was serious about this. He was offering me a free ride to Texas and then a ride back to Florida. I was running low on money, even after taking Jarvis Christmas gift and the wii I had bought back. If I took a plane, I'd have to pay for the tickets and then have to get my car fixed when I got back. Was Chris the Angel that I had needed for the past month? Still, I couldn't just do him like that. Use him for a ride. Where would he stay? A hotel? In his car? I was going to be there for at least a week, maybe two. What would my parents..... The idea hit me and almost knocked my out of the seat. It felt so good. So sneaky. So funny. So daring. It was the perfect idea for the perfect situation. But could I really pull it off? Would Chris go for it? Would my parents fall for it? "So....." Chris said breaking my thoughts. "Ok, I have an idea. It might sound stupid. Just let me know if you are totally against it or totally for it" I smiled. He chuckled, "Let her rip". "I can't let you take me to Texas and then you stay at a hotel or something. SO how about this. You take me and I pretend that you are my boyfriend. It would be like, i'm bringing you home to meet my parents. Then you could stay there. And we can have a lot of fun in the process. Is this totally crazy to you?" I asked. He was grinning hard and looking crazy. "It would be like that one movie Guess Who. With the white guy and the black girls family" I added. "And you would be ok with that?" he asked. "Why not. It would be fun" I said, thinking about the reaction my family would have to me bringing Chris home. I was so wanting to get my mind off my pregnancy and the broken relationships that had occurred in the past few weeks. I needed a distraction. Chris could be just the key. A care free guy that didn't take life so serious and could keep a smile on my face. They would be so focused on him, no one would even notice any subtle changes in me. Chris had crossed my path at just the right moment in my life. After the storm. The colorful presence that emerged in the sky. The type of person I needed to be around right now. The type of person I needed in my life.

"Ok Beyonce. I do". "Do what?" I asked. "Take you to be my girlfriend, for Christmas break" he said grabbing my hand and kissing it. "And I do, Chris, take you to be my boyfriend. Till Christmas break do us part" I smirked, kissing his hand. I called Triple A and had my car towed to my apartment and then we made our way to the highway. It was time to go on an adventure. An adventure home. Chapter 21

There is something about a road trip that brings out the kid in you. Getting away from the routine of living your life and enjoying the company of the person doing the same as you. Both of you partaking in the escapism. You are taught all of your life that it is wrong to quit. That running away from your problems was a coward move and not a virtue. But on that same note, jobs give vacation days and we create holidays that only encourage quitting for a little while. What was a vacation exactly? A Christmas break? It was an excuse to run away for a little bit. Forget about your real life and focus on the fantasy of an ideal life. Northerners come down south to hit the beaches and southerners go up north to hit the slopes and Americans go overseas to not feel so Americanized. Of course there are the few that get away to experience new things, but there was something more. Something so much more rewarding under the surface. Getting away, vacationing, breaking, was nothing more than a euphemism for running away. I was running away with Chris, to get away from the things that made me cry every time I thought about it. I was running away to remind me of why I wanted to be in Florida in the first place. I knew why I was running. I knew why I needed temporary relief. I just didn't know why Chris was running. What was he running from?

He was always smiling. His eyes were deep and blue, like the water you see on paradise beaches. I found myself often staring into them. I made him remove his sunglasses just so I could. I realized as we drove, that even though he talked a lot, he never had said anything that made me feel as if I actually knew him. He was open and courteous and honest, at least his eyes suggested honesty, but I still felt a slight disconnect. And on some level, I felt that disconnect was planned on his part. We had hung out plenty of times before, mostly during spring semester where he worked on the documentary and followed around Carter. But nothing he did when it came to me made me feel as if he thought of me as anything more than a girl from his school that he liked to chill with. He dripped with likability which is why he was liked by most of his peers. I had never heard a negative word about him. Despite this, he was still isolated from everyone. And it was more than his skin color that did it. It was more than his UK heritage that did it. He wasn't like anyone else there. The way he spoke. What made him tick, laugh, angry, horny. All of it was foreign. I believe he held that part of him close to his vest while laying everthing else on his sleeve. Looking in that boys eyes as we had driven about 45 minutes, I convinced myself to find the key to that lock and get inside of him. Figure out what was he hiding from the masses. Find out why he didn't go to parties. Why he didn't hang out on the Set. Find out why he had gone to a school like this, when it obviously wasn't a perfect fit. Everyone had a story. Chapters that made them unique. Paragraphs that foreshadowed their character traits. Events that defined them. I had once judged that book by his cover. But now, I was willing to read. Or maybe I wasn't that curious. Maybe my curiosity in him was much more selfish. Maybe I just wanted to read him so I can distract myself. Like someone reading a book to distract them from their own mundane or sad life. Dissecting his flaws and imperfections seemed so much more fulfilling than dwelling on mine. I let go of my stomach, which I had been rubbing subconsciously, and poked him in the arm. He turned my while smiling. I poked him again. "What is this, kindergarden?" I mischievously smiled like a naughty schoolyard girl with a crush and poked him back. Poke, poke, and one more poke. He laughed, like a schoolyard boy that shared a crush. Like he always did when something trivial aroused his humor. He decided to play my game. He poked me back. Our road trip, one with two supposed adults, played out more like a circus with two clowns. He found it hilarious, and his infectious smile had me matching his laugh. We weren't laughing at anything that made sense. We were laughing at ourselves. This was totally stupid. Totally immature. Totally nonsensical. From the pretend relationship we had concocted to the poking game that had no winner or objective. With Carter, we spent our road trips talking about current events or debating movies or conjecturing about race, or religion, or philosophy, or sex. It was always stimulating. Always engaging. But it also took energy, an attentive mind and active imagination. With Chris, we entertained ourselves by acting like children. Quoting nonsense from TV shows and making faces at each other. Still stimulating, still engaging. But the mingling required much less energy and effort. It flowed, and bonded us through those first few hours on the road. I was hungry, he noticed by my stomach growling, so he exited and we decided to eat brunch at a Mexican food spot that had a special for the day. All you can eat for only 6

bucks. He paid, like he was a gentleman for spending 12 bucks on us, and we stacked our plates with tacos and burritos and spanish rice and lots of corn on the cobb. I was on my second plate, hungry as all hell after not eating the previous few days, when we decided to set the terms for our trip. "So how is this gonna work?" he asked, biting into a burrito. I grinned and shrugged, "Dude, I don't even know yet. It's totally crazy. I am totally out of my mind". "Is there a particular reason you want to even do this? I mean, your parents aren't black panthers, are they?" he asked. I cheesed hard. That would have been hilarious. "What if they were?" "Then I am turning around right now" he frowned, "You can take a bus from here". I laughed. "Aww. I'm joking Chris. No.. black power extremist or anything. They are super religious, but not racist". "And why do you want to pretend i'm your boyfriend?" I was chewing when he asked. I chewed and tried to even think of what to say. I had no idea why I wanted to do this. There were so many things going on with me that didn't make sense. But like one domino falling, there is a slope which forces every standing mental block in your mind to come tumbling down in a series. I couldn't tell Chris that. I barely could admit it to myself. But I was close to the edge. After the past few weeks, I was dangerously close to losing my mind and having a mental and emotional breakdown. If he would have known this, if I would have given him some type of warning, then he would have understood it was dangerous to go with any poor idea I decided to verbalize. But he didn't know. He couldn't have known. "You make me laugh, Chris. You always make me laugh. Anytime I come in contact with you, you make me laugh. And. My home isn't a place with a lot of laughter right now. I don't want to go there alone". I could tell he didn't expect an answer as bleak as that. He didn't respond in his usual way. He simply eyed me. "I hope I'm not creeping you out or anything" I said, wishing I hadn't laid it on so thick. He smiled, "Do I creep you out when I randomly spout off Willy Wonka quotes?" I grinned, "Yep". "Then we're even. Two creeps. I'm a creep. I'm a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here. I don't belong here" he sang.

A few people turned around to look at us and I ducked my head, covering my mouth in embarrassment as I giggled. He had no shame in his game. "Beyonce. Even if you were creeping me out. I'd still be fascinated enough to follow it. Like a moth to the light". "That doesn't sound too healthy, Chris. You have a fetish or something?" He tossed the question around in his head. "No. Just an interest in you". "Interest in what, exactly?" "Your family. Your background. Your humorless home. It's piqued my interest". "Oh really?" I asked. "Does that creep you out?" I laughed, "Nah. No more than you knowing every line to a childrens movie". He shook his head, "Have you seen that movie? That is far from a childrens movie. I consider it a horror film". "Horror?" I laughed. "Yes" he exclaimed in his obvious accent, "Little orange men that sing and a crazy lunatic candyman that kills off naughty kids. He's like Santa after lipo and a lobotomy" he grinned. I nearly choked on the rice when he said this. We shared more laughs, totally distracting the eaters around us. We didn't care. Two college kids with a tank full of gas and soon to be a stomach full as well. We walked out of the place intentionally bumping into each other. "Chris, I swear you are a 7 year old at heart" I said once we were inside his truck. "Would you like me to be more mature when I meet your parents? Tell me what's my role" he smiled. "Hmm. Good question. Do you think you could pull off being a a mature guy? A respectable Brit " I teased. He straighted his posture in his seat and tightened his face. He coughed and held his chin up, like he was royalty. "Cheerio madam. My name is Christopher" he said all formal and asstight. I laughed, "Ugh. That is so ugly. No, not like that". "How about I be French instead?" he coughed again, then got a sexy look in his eyes. "Bonjour Mademoiselle" he said before grabbing my hand, "Je mapelle Chriiiiiis" he said, trying to sound sexy but sounding more like Pepe Le Pew than a French playboy.

He brought my hand to his lips and gently kissed the back of it while I frowned from how funny it was. "Ewwww, Chris. No, that doesn't work either" I smirked. "Well how about I just be a wigger then? When we tell them we met at FAMU, then that is what they are going to think anyway" he said. I shook my head because I knew his theatrics were coming. "Ok Chris. Give me wigger" I passively grinned. "Aye, wazzzup, shorrty. I'm Chris D-O-Double G" he said, totally butchering ebonics and making it sound even worse because he never lost his english accent. "Know what. Just forget about the act" I laughed, "Just be....Chris". "That's boring. Why pretend if we're gonna be ourselves? At least give me some kind of role". "Ok. Instead of majoring in computer science. Be a pre-law student. They will think that's more impressive". "4.0 GPA?" he asked. "3.8. Make it a lil more believable" I suggested. He nodded. "Chris, what is your GPA?" I asked. He shook his head, "You don't even want to know". "Is it bad?" "Speak a little louder next time... I'm a trifle deaf in this ear" he joked, obviously quoting from that kids horror movie. "Chris, I find it hard to believe your GPA is bad. You're one of the smartest people I know" I said seriously. "We're on break, Beyonce. Can we not talk about school" he grinned. I side eyed this. "Are you trying to hide something from me, Chris?" "Like my academic probation?" he smiled. "Probation? You're close to flunking out?" He nodded, still not letting that grin leave his face. I couldn't tell if he was pulling my leg or if

he was serious, because he was smirking like it could go either way. "Are you serious?" "I'm serious. But it's my own fault. I've put more effort into my music than my studies". "You play guitar right?" He nodded, "Yeah.. But getting noticed in Florida while playing Brit Pop is like trying to sell hotdogs at a Peta Convection" he smiled. "Then why you in Florida anyway? "Long story" he said. "Long drive" I countered. He sighed, "It's really not that interesting of a story". "Chris. Shut up. You said you have a fascination and interest about my life and background. I have one for you too". "So if I tell you my life story, honestly. You'll tell me yours? You'll tell me why you were crying that day I saw you in your car? And why you said you are mad at God?" I didn't respond directly to this question. I didn't want to. I wanted to know about him but there was just too much at stake for him to know about me. "So. 3.8 GPA and a pre-law student. Cool?" I said. He looked dissapointed by my drop of the subject. I still refused to budge. "Cool". We entered Mississippi a little less playful than we'd been when we started the trip. Like children that were now suffering from the side effects of a sugar rush, we were tired emotionally and physically. I was close to dozing off and he could sense it. I guess he wanted the company so he asked a question that woke me up. "Did you sleep with that Tip guy?" He asked it straight face, looking at me, not feeling any kind of guilty of such an invasive question. "What?" "That guy that everyone said you were dating. I'm just curious. You don't have to answer if you don't want to" he said, backing off a little but still eyeing me hard. "Wow. That's kind of personal, Chris". "So you did" he grinned.

"That's not what I'm saying". "But it's not what you're not saying, or is it?". "Huh? Your confusing me" I said, laughing once I realized he was trying to confuse me. "It's cool. I know it's personal. Women, especially American Women are so protective of their sexual history". "I'm not protective of it. I'm just not an open book" I said. "Oh you are protective. Of your history in general. I asked about your life story and you were so protective that you couldn't even make up a lie about it. You just changed the subject" he smiled knowingly. "I just didn't want to talk about it". "To me? Or at all?" he said, his deep blue eyes wide and focused on me, not the road. We were on a plain boring road, with lots of field and miles of road ahead. In the middle of nowhere is how most people would describe it. It was fitting, given where Chris and me were in our friendship. "I slept with him. Once" I said honestly, more embarrassed than I thought I would have been. This was the first time I had told a straight man that I had slept with another guy. It felt weird saying this bit of info out loud. He nodded his head, like he was sure I was being truthful. I looked at him. "Have you slept with any girls at the school?" "Nah" he answered. "Why?" "I don't think they are interested in sleeping with a British guy" he joked. "No, honestly Chris. I know you have girls there that like you". He smirked, "Can I get their numbers?" I rolled my eyes, "Whatever. You are lying. I told the truth but here you are being protective of your sexual history". He laughed, "I'm not lying about not sleeping with any girls at FAMU. It's the truth. But I think the reason is I haven't been interested in any of them". I felt a certain vibe when he said that. A bad vibe. "Chris, are you ghay?" I blurted, staring hard. His white teeth came into full view once he started laughing at my question.

"Do you think I'm ghay?" "I don't know. I'm just asking. I want you to tell me the truth if you are". "No Beyonce. I'm not a homosexual. I'm not bisexual, either. I like women". This Q&A didn't produce any immediate dialog between us. I guess it was awkward for both of us. "Chris. I'm sorry if I offended you or something. I just, got a vibe. That's all". "A vibe that because I'm not having sex with women at FAMU, then I must be ghay?" "No, Chris. Not that" I said, trying to think of how to explain it. He laughed, "It's fine Beyonce. I understand the sentiment". "No. It's not fine. I shouldn't have been rude like that". "You weren't rude. I mean I just up and asked had you had sex with a guy" he rationalized. I looked at him. He was still looking at me with those soft and pure blue eyes. He wasn't offended. I know most guys would have been. A girl questioning their sexuality would produce instant offense. But I didn't sense that with him. I didn't sense a change in his body language or his tone of voice. "I'm glad you see it that way" I smiled, "The maturity is kind of sexy". "The last time a woman called me sexy. I was in a strip club with a few hundred dollar bills in my hand". We laughed. "So are you like a virgin or something?" I asked after the laughter wore down. "No. I'm experienced. I've had sex, Beyonce. Just not with girls at FAMU". "Why? Cuz they are black? You don't like black girls?" "Are you black?" he asked. "Uh...Yeah?" I answered, a bit taken back. "Then I like black girls" he said. I didn't expect that answer. But when I got it, I felt a wave of excitement. I wasn't suppose to be feeling this way. Chris was my friend. My goofy, pretend boyfriend at most. "Did that creep you out?" he asked. I shook my head no. But the reality was that it had. I was creeped out because I liked the way he had said it.

He ended up putting on some Radiohead, who he said was his favorite band, and then telling me some about his singing and the band he had back home. Eventually, he came back to the question I had asked him before. I didn't have to ask him, he volunteered the information. Chris lived in the UK until he was a teenager but moved to America after his dad, who was in the military, got stationed in Iraq. He came to the U.S. to pursue his dream, being on American Idol. I couldn't believe it when I heard it but he was serious. He went to the auditions in Florida and made it past a few rounds, but he never actually made it onto the show. I also learned there were more layers to this. His father wanted him to have a military career as well, but said that if he didn't join the military than he'd have to go to school. Chris put more time and energy into music than schoolwork and it showed in his transcripts. It was hard enough transferring grades over from a different country and when it came down to it, only a few schools would take him. Chris came up with a plan. He could go to school and get money from his dad and secretly pursue his ambitious goal of starting a band and making it big. He chose FAMU, one of the few schools willing to accept him. But after a few years of so-so grades, he was on the brink of flunking out. "When do you think you will give up chasing that dream and get your act together?" I asked, hating to hear about his smart ass being close to being kicked out of school. "We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams" he smiled. I wasn't in the joking mood. "Chris I am serious. I'm sure you are a good muscian and everything. But you are too smart to be a slacker. Too talented. I mean, in the class I had with you, you were easily the most educated guy there. You have skills with editing videos and web design and stuff like that. You don't have to spend all of your time on music". "I put my all into what I love, Beyonce". I rolled my eyes, "Ok, Chris. Whatever you say". I wanted to give him attitude for showing such little interest in academics, but there was something else going on. My stomach was hurting. I needed him to pull over. He noticed it too. "You ok?" he asked as I tried NOT to squirm. "Yeah....I just gotta...pee, could you pull over at the next exit?" He laughed, "Beyonce do you see the road? I don't know when we'll even see another human being, let alone an exit. I can pull over and let you pee on the side of the road or something" he said. I sighed realizing he was right. My stomach pains would have to wait. "I can hold it in" I said, not knowing if I could really hold it in.

We drove some more as I hoped we'd come across an exit. The more we drove the more I realized we weren't coming to one anytime soon. Damn, the south sucked. I had to fart because of that mexican food and I was stuck in the car with this guy. I kept repositioning myself in the seat to keep my ass tight and keep that gas from sinking from my stomach downward. "You sure you ok? I don't want you to piss yourself" he said, noticing how uncomfortable I was. I held my stomach, "I'm fine". We drove some more as I got my game plan together. I turned on the music and decided I was going to just let it out slowly. Maybe he wouldn't even notice. I rolled my window down, saying I needed some air, and when I felt he wasn't paying attention to me, I let my stomach relax so I could ease the gas out. The first little bit was silent. I waited for a few seconds, hoping it wasn't deadly as well. He didn't flinch. This gave me the confidence to force out the last bit of remaining gas. I couldn't even concentrate or anything but my hurting stomach. But I was also a girl, and girls don't fart in front of guys. So I had to be stealthy. Like a ninja, creeping in the shadows, unnoticed by the city dwellers. Like an assassin of the night. I discreetly coughed, ready to let it out. Just when I was about put an end to the uncomfortable last half hour that came from holding in a fart, Chris turned the music down and started talking. I wasn't even focused on what he was saying at first, I was mad. Men just had to ruin everything. "Where will your parents have me sleep?" he asked. "I don't know" I barked way harsher than I intended. He laughed, "I hope they don't ask if I have a job". "Do you?" I asked, flinching because the pressure of gas build up. "Nope. Do you?" he asked. "Yeah" I said, answering before I even thought about it. Damn, now he was going to ask where I worked. Suddenly I started to smell something foul. Like rotten eggs, or the smell that is in the air when you pass a sprinkler. And it filled the air immediately. That couldn't have been me. I was still holding it. I looked towards Chris to see if he smelled it too but he was damn near laughing. This nasty, nasty, boy. "I guess I shouldn't have ate that last burrito" he grinned. "UGH" I said, hand over my mouth as I ducked my head out the window, which prompted plenty of laughs from him. I had to let the damn car air out before I let my head back in. He was still laughing when I did. I eyed him with half a grin, half a scowl on my face.

"Ahh, Beyonce. Don't tell me you are stuck up over gas. Americans, I tell you" he said. "It's not that" I pouted. He laughed, "then what is it?" "Chris. I have been holding in my gas for damn near an hour and you just fart like it ain't nothing" I said seriously. He laughed. And laughed. And laughed some more. And when I thought about what I had said, all I could do was laugh too. This was all so silly. "Know what, f*ck you" I smiled, before rolling my eyes, looking towards the window, and pooted. I ain't say excuse me or nothing. I defiantly just grinned like I was a man. If they could do it, I could too. He took it as a challenge. Moments later, he was pushing, and eventually he let another one rip. My mouth dropped and then I laughed. "Top that" he challenged. I grinned and then frowned up my face like I was gangsta. "Ok. You want a piece of this?" I pushed and pushed until I found more gas, letting it rip freely. It was loud, much louder and ugly than the first one which was soft and musical. He laughed at me and I rolled my bottom lip in my mouth. We exchanged farts for the next few minutes until we were out of gas. And then, to keep the contest going, we burped. He thought he could have me beat there, but little did he know, I knew how to belch full songs. It was something Solo and I would do when we were bored. I burped the alphabet, the entire lullaby, and he gave up. He bowed his head to me like I was UK Royalty, laughing hysterically. "You win Beyonce. You win the whole enchilada". I smirked, "It was the enchilada that had me like this". For the next hour we drove, totally rejuvenated from the thrill of our childish fun. From poking each other to farting. Chris and I amused each other to no end. I even forgot, for the first time in days, that I was pregnant and was nursing a broken heart. I eventually fell asleep, feeling totally comfortable around Chris. Maybe as comfortable as I had ever fell around the opposite sex. In just a short drive, I felt close to the guy. When I woke up from my nap, it was night time and the temperature had dropped tremendously. I was trembling even though I now had a jacket over me. I assumed Chris had placed it over me to keep me warm. When I raised my head, he was smiling. He never stopped smiling. There was never a moment of sadness when I was with him. "Hey, I was going to wake you up in a bit so you could tell me exactly where you live" he

said. I yawned and stretched before going back to trembling. "How long was I out?" "Few hours. We should be in Houston in another 2 hours or so". "Do you want me to drive from here? So you can get some rest?" I asked. "Nah, I'm fine. Too much going on in my mind for me to sleep anyway". "Shit, I forgot" I said, "I gotta call my mom and let her know you are coming with me". "You didn't tell her you were bringing a guy home?" I shook my head. And immediately went for my phone. I should have been more careful with this. But I really had not been in my right state of mind. I called. My dad answered. "Hey" I said simply. "Hey sweetie" he answered, sounding upbeat, "Where are you?" "On the road. I should be there in a few hours". "Ok Good. I'll let Tina know" he said. I remained silent. What I dreaded was happening. I was scared. I was nervous. I was a mess. "You ok?" he said after I didn't respond to his last statement. "Yeah, I am" I lied. "You sure? You sound like something is wrong". "No, nothing is wrong" I said, staring at Chris who kept glancing at me. "Ok, well I will see you in a little bit. I don't want to distract you while you are driving" he said. He was about to get off the phone. If I wanted to at least prepare my parents for what was about to come, then I had to tell him now. "Daddy" I said. "Yeah?". "I'm not driving" I admitted. "What?" "I'm not driving. I'm.....I'm with someone. He is driving" I said, uneasy about detailing the situation.

"He? Who are you with, Beyonce?" "....my boyfriend" I lied, looking Chris in his eye. "Boyfriend?" he asked, his voice a little shaken. "Yeah. I'm sorry for not saying earlier. But I'm bringing my boyfriend. It's ok if he stays, right?" "Beyonce. I wish you would have told me sooner. I mean, what can I say? No? Why would you wait till the last minute to ask me this? I didn't even know you had a boyfriend". I didn't want Chris to overhear the conversation so I moved the phone to my right ear. "I know daddy. I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking" I said. "Is he near you? Right now?" he asked. "Yes. Driving" I answered. He mumbled something under his breath. I didn't know what he said, but I knew it was something that expressed his displeasure with the situation. "Ok Beyonce. I can, fix the sofa for him. But you did remember your cousins and everyone was coming for the holidays too, right?" "Yes. I know. But if it's too much trouble then I can just have-" He jumped in, "No Beyonce. He can stay. I just want you to be aware that you messed up for not asking sooner. But anyway, I will just see you when you get here, ok?" "Ok" We said our goodbyes and I hung up. Chris was wondering the results of the conversation. "My dad said you can stay" I answered before he even asked. "Is it going to be a problem? Because I can stay in a hotel". "No, Chris. There won't be a problem. I just forgot to ask earlier" I reassured. "And you're sure I will be safe, right?" I laughed, "I promise. I wouldn't let anything happen to my boyfriend". He liked how I said that because he blushed. He turned fire red. It was so cute. "You know what's interesting?" he asked. "What's that" I grinned, before resting my head on my arm. "You seem more nervous about seeing your parents than I am about meeting them. Why is

that?" I was painted into a corner. I had managed to avoid talk of me and my situations. And he had told me alot about his life in the many hours we were cramped up in the car. Would it be fair to keep dodging his questions? "I am kinda nervous" I said, still trying to figure out if I would tell him about the extent of my fears of home. "Why?" "It's a lot of things Chris". "Well you don't have to go into all of them. Pick one out. One you are comfortable sharing with me". My mind was racing. I didn't really have anything I was comfortable sharing, at least off the top of my head. Could I tell him about my dad slamming me against the wall? Or how everything between us since had been awkward? Or how about them blaming me for my sisters pregnancy. I felt like they secretly were still angry at me, even though they were acting like they weren't mad anymore. I felt like they thought I was the rebellious, hardheaded, child that got away. Solange was the one pregnant, but I still felt like they thought I was the bad one. And the truth was, I was pregnant too. What if I had morning sickness while there? "Come on. There isn't ONE thing you're comfortable enough to share with me?" I blurted out the thing furthest from my mind, but still one of the things I was nervous about when it came to my parents finding out. "My job". He smiled, "Your job? What are you a hitman for the mob?" he joked. "Nope. Worse" I said. "Uh Oh. This sounds bad. What is it?" "I'm kind of ashamed to say". "That bad?" he asked, looking concerned. "To them it will be. My parents are super religious". He laughed, "Damn. What are you? Beyonce the teenaged witch or something? What can be that bad?" "I take my clothes off and let strangers draw me" I said. He nearly chocked when I said this, almost losing control of the car. "Life model?" he asked. "Damn, how did you know?"

"Well. Only life models do that". "Yeah, well duh. I was just saying. I didn't even know you knew what that is". "Life modeling is done all over the world, Beyonce. Especially over in Europe. Nudity isn't as frowned upon as it is over here" he said. "So you're not weirded out by it?" He laughed, "No. Surprised. I wouldn't have ever thought about that. But it's not weird or anything". "Yeah, well tell that to my parents". "They know?" he asked. "No. And I don't think I will ever tell them". "Why?" "They wouldn't understand, Chris". "Why wouldn't they? There is nothing wrong with being naked. Didn't God create Adam and Eve naked? Christians should be understanding" he smiled. "Yeah, and when they ate the damn apple they realized being naked was wrong and shameful. That's what they would tell me" I countered. He nodded his head"Touche.....So? Do you enjoy doing it?" "It?" "Being drawn naked" The truth was, I had started enjoying it. It was a thrill. And it gave me a lot of confidence. And I met a lot of cool people by doing it. But it still wasn't anything I wanted anyone to know. They would look at me differently. "I like doing it. But..." "But nothing. If you enjoy what you do then don't be ashamed of it. You should tell them. Assert your independence". "Chris, trust me. You don't understand how my parents are". "Beyonce, trust me. I have a military dad. Imagine how it was when I told him I was leaving home to become the next American Idol". "Well, Chris. That prolly was hard. But it's different for a girl to tell her dad she takes off her clothes for money. It's just a weebit different" I stated.

"It's really not. A confession to a parent is a confession to a parent. But I'm telling you. It feels good to release it. Don't hold it in". "Holding it in works just for me". "Like when you had to fart earlier?" he laughed, "better out than in. Don't torture yourself by letting the pressure build up". I rolled my eyes while grinning to myself. "Horrible analogy, Chris". "I thought it was pretty clever". "It was. You are a clever and quick guy. Which is why I still have an issue with you not trying harder in school". "Back to that?" he asked. "Yep. Off of me. And on to you, slacker". "Well I am an honest slacker. I'm not ashamed of it". "Just because you aren't ashamed doesn't mean what you do...or don't do, is any better". "Ok. Well how about this. How about we help each other". "How?" I asked, my eyebrows raised. "If you tell your parents about your modeling, then I will pull in straight A's the next semester". I laughed, "That is so uneven of a bet. You benefit either way". "How? We both benefit". "I don't see how getting yelled at by my parents benefits me at all. But straight A's benefit you". "It benefits you because it's one less thing that holds you captive, Beyonce. I know there are some things that you are hiding from me and the rest of the world. I know those things are hurting you in various ways. I know they are causing stress. I hope, for your sake, you let some of those things go. Like a wise man once told me, you have to go forward to go back". I was following him until he said that quote. "Got to go forward to go back?" "Yep". "What does that mean?" "I have no idea. But it fit" he grinned.

"Chris, if you quote another line from that damn movie" I said, as he smirked. "So does this mean you will tell them?" "I'll think about it" I barked. He nodded his head and grinned. We both locked eyes for a mere moment. And in that moment, I felt that shiver I had felt when he told me he liked me. "Pull my finger" he smiled, putting his index in my face and totally breaking the mood. I did, he farted, we laughed like little 5 year olds. "Clamp your fingers on your tongue and then say stinky apples" I smiled. "Why?" "Just do it" I pouted, lips puckered. He looked around, the road was pretty clear, and then he did what I asked him to do. "sinky...ahholes" he said. That was my cue. I lifted my leg and there it was. Sinky ahholes. We made music for the last remaining miles of our trip. ** The last few minutes were nerve wracking. Seeing my city, brought back a ton of emotions, some unwanted and some welcomed. Everything looked so familiar yet so different. So much had changed for me since I'd been gone which was like giving me a new set of eyes. I saw life differently. I wasn't a virgin anymore. I had fallen in love. I had experienced a broken heart. And those experiences had me seeing things in different shades for the first time. The city was painted in lights, as were the rows of houses that decorated the neighborhoods. Light bills were sure to be sky high. Hell, I was convinced the electric companies invented Christmas lights. We stopped by a store so Chris could get him a razor, toothbrush, underwear, and socks, and then we made our way into the intimidating stretch of road that led home. When we pulled up to my house, I did all I could to swallow my emotions. Here it was. Here was my previous life. I felt funny knocking on my door. The door I had walked in and out of for 17 years. I felt like a stranger. Like I didn't belong. Chris was the stranger in actuality. The one who didn't fit in the picture, but I think he was feeling more comfortable than I was. The door opened, and a man I didn't recognize was staring down at me. Who was this nigga? It was Ricky, my not-so-little cousin who now towered over me. He briefly looked at me but quickly turned towards Chris. He became the first person to lay eyes on my make believe boyfriend. "Uncle Matt. Beyonce here" he said.

"And hey to you too" I beamed at him. "Wassup" he said in a deep, manly voice. I didn't like his transformation. He moved out of the way and let Chris and me walk inside. The place was warm and cozy, like I remembered.

My dad emerged at the top of the steps, a curious look on his face, as he started walking down. Solange appeared, looking like she was going to pop any minute now, and then my mother came. I took a breath realizing they were all looking at Chris, not me. When they got to the bottom of the steps I looked at Chris was was smiling, like his usual self. I wondered what was going on in that head of his. "BEYONCE!" I heard Solo scream when she had wobbled her way down. She bumped my parents out of the way and we embraced. I really had missed her ass. I was still shocked to see her like this. Her stomach having a living child in it. I quickly fought to not think about my own pregnancy. My mom and dad followed right after, hugging and kissing me and all of that other reunion stuff. "And who is this?" Solange asked, grinning hard at Chris. "My name is Chris. I'm Beyonce's boyfriend" he smiled, extending his hand. Solo knocked his hand out of the way, "Boy we don't hand shake around here". She gave him a big hug, laughing like seeing me with a white boy was the funniest thing in the world. He rocked as he hugged her like they had known each other for years. It was quite comical. My mom gave him a small hug and my dad shook his head.

"Mom can you believe it? Bee went out and got herself a man" Solo cracked. "A British man" my dad added. "A white boy" Ricky commented. My mom laughed although I could tell she didn't try to. "Boy. Go out there and get her bags" my dad pointed. "What? I'm only saying what yall thinkin" Ricky smiled. "I'm glad to see some things never change" I said at my cousin. He shrugged, grinned, and asked for the keys to the truck. My mom invited us to the living room where we sat and awkwardly tried to find some opening conversation. Chris lied and said he was pre-law and an honors student and I could tell they quickly ate it up. He was well spoken and intelligent. It was easy to believe the lie. But when more questions came in, I realized we were poorly prepared for this. We didn't rehearse any lies. "So when did yall start dating?" I looked at Chris. "Um...earlier this year" I said. "Why you never told me?" Solo asked. "I wanted it to be a surprise" I smiled. "Well we are definitely surprised" my momma stated. Chris seemed to be cool with it all. He took it in stride. "Enough of me. When is that baby coming?" Solo laughed, "Soon, girl. I'm just hoping he don't come on Christmas". "You scared?" I asked. "Yeah. Momma was telling me them horror stories about when she had me and you. I just don't know if I can do it" she whined, shaking her head. "You just make sure you're not having any, no time soon" my daddy said at me. I swallowed hard. "No sir. Beyonce and I are very careful" Chris blurt out. I elbowed his ass. Did he really just hint that he and I were having sex? Didn't he remember that my parents were super christians? Fornication was a sin. My dad stared at me but didn't say anything. An awkward silence followed.

"Well. I will make a bed for Chris to sleep out here. Beyonce, you can sleep in Solange's room" my dad said, obviously wanting to set our sleeping arrangements. It was a little late, which made for a weird transition for us. We met, talked for a bit, ate some pizza that was in the oven and it was already time for bed. My mom said she was going to bed and Ricky was in his room listening to music. I was going to retire to Solo's bedroom but I gave Chris a final look to make sure he was ok. He smiled as he sat on the sheet covered sofa. "Night, Beyonce" he said. "Night, Chris" I smirked. Not even a full second after Solo's door closed was she all in my face, list full of questions. "Girl, when the f*ck were you gonna tell me you had a man? A white boy at that" she said. "Shhhhh!" She laughed, "Don't shush me. Sh*t, I wanna know. How long you been with this dude for real?" "A few months" I lied yet again, "What, you don't like him?" She lowered her voice. "Nah it's not that. He seems cool. Cute. I just never pictured him as your type. What happened to the one guy? The drug dealer?" I shook my head, "You don't even wanna know" I said in disgust. "What?" "I'll tell you later. I don't even wanna think about him". She was still looking at me. Looking with a smirk. She was having too much fun with this. "You and that boy are f*cking, aren't you?" she accused. "No" I said, which was actually the truth. "You lying. I heard him out there. Me and Beeeyaaawnsssay are careful" she said, mimicking his accent. We both giggled. "Girl, don't lie to me. Can't believe you are finally having sex. Tell me, is he any good? How big is he?" she pressed, having so many questions that she could barely get them all out. I decided to feed her inquiring mind. She wouldn't believe the truth anyway. "He's good, girl. A big, phat, dick. And he can go all night" I said, moving my hips sensually.

We both shrieked. Ricky told us to shut up through his wall and we laughed silently. I caught up with my sister that night. If there was anything I had missed about home. It was having her around me. And in days she was going to become a mommy. These were the last few days we'd have before she made that transition in life. We both knew things would be different soon. She told me all about pregnant life, how life had been without me, and how mom and dad were coping with the drop in finances. We talked until sleep overtook us. She laid on her back, her hand on her stomach, which made me place my hand over mine. My pelvic are had been hurting for a while, but I thought maybe it was normal since I was pregnant. I told myself I'd ask Solo about it in the morning. I was close to sleep, lying in bed with her, but I decided to check on Chris first. I slipped out of the room and went to the staircase. The lights were now off which made it harder to see before my eyes adjusted. I squinted and then saw that Chris was wrapped in the covers. It was a poignant scene for some reason. There was no way he could have ever imaged, just 24 hours ago, that he would be sleeping on someones sofa in Texas. I would have never thought it either. A lot had changed in 24 hours. And that change would dictate the next chapter of my life. ** Everyone was up bright and early. It was two days before Christmas and our family was in town. There was a buzz in the atmosphere, a pure wave of excitement that affected everyone in the house. Holiday spirit, family, and of course the new guy in the house, had everyone brimming with cheer. My mom was cooking for Christmas Eve and had already started the prepping. Her sisters were going to help once they got here. I was excited to see the rest of the fam from Louisiana. Katrina had forced a lot of them out of their homes and things were just now getting back to normal. Ricky could have moved back in with his folks, but he said he wanted to stay since he had a role on the basketball team and had met a lot of friends. I found it a bit unfair that we had been home schooled yet he could attend public school, but then again, Ricky wasn't their child. He would be leaving the nest in a few more years anyway. We all showered and had eaten breakfast by 10, and then Solo got the call from cousin Angie that they were in the city. Half an hour later, they were in our driveway. It was cousin angie, her mom, her dad, and two of our other cousins. Another van of family members were coming but they weren't set to arrive until later. Everyone was all over Solo and her baby bump. They couldn't believe the girl was having a baby, especially since she was just a young teen the last time they saw her. Once the shock of seeing her wobbling around wore off, they then focused on the second most interesting development. Beyonce and her white boyfriend. I introduced Chris, who charmed them with his accent and smile. I could tell they liked him. He was a likable guy. But I could also sense they hadn't yet digested the thought of me dating him. I found a lot of humor in it. Both Chris and I did. We played on it. We held hands and called each other pet names like snuckums and sweetheart. He fed me a banana, which really had Angie howling in laughter. We cut it out when my Dad walked in the kitchen, though. Angie was still laughing while me and Chris stood at the table, looking around. He was such a natural at playing this off and it rubbed off on me.

Later that afternoon, the second wave of family came, uncles, male cousins, and aunties, with a few little ones running around, and the holiday kicked into full gear. My aunts made their way into the kitchen to do their thing with my mom, male cousins went into Ricky's room to play video games or chat about girls, or whatever they did, and the girls went out in the backyard. They got their full dish of gossip by going back and forth between talking about Solange and talking about Chris. We hit a small speed bump along the way when someone asked who was Solo's baby daddy, I guess no one had told her that it wasn't to be discussed, but Solo laughed it off and we kept it moving. When mid afternoon rolled around we all decided to head to the mall. I had planned to take Chris with me but all of the girls had other plans. "No. Let Chris stay here and get acquainted with his future family" Angie smiled. I looked at her and then him, "Nah, I don't think Chris wants to hang around Ricky and them or my aunties". Chris smiled, "You ladies go out and have fun. I'll be fine Beyonce. Maybe your mom can teach me a thing or two". I eyed him and he had a twinkle in his eye. He was dead serious. I admired that confidence about him. I admired a man willing to not by shy around family. And he wasn't even my man, for real for real. "You sure boo?" I asked, putting emphasis on it. He smiled and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I had to smile. He was putting on an academy award winning performance. And he got free kisses out of the deal. We piled into the rental van as Angie cranked up so we could go window shopping at the mall. "Beyonce, that boy is too much" she said. "That's my boo. Lay off". My cousin Liane spoke up, "You know the reason we said he couldn't come right?" I shrugged. "Girl, we want all the details. From the size of the dick to the taste of the cum" Angie smirked, looking in the rear view at me. I was super embarrassed, but found the attention to be numbingly welcomed. So I made up lies. Elaborate lies about the first time we had sex and how great he was in bed and the crazy positions he would put me in. I was literally recollecting scenes I had seen in pornos or read in Zane books. They ate it all up. It was fun. Fun to be around cousins that I use to be so cool with. We spent many summers going swimming and calling boys and staying up late gossiping. Years later, we now had boops and baby daddies. But it was just like old times, like we were back in New Orleans on my grandmas front porch, eating hot sausages and talking about what we'd do when we started f*cking. Solange actually had factual sex stories that blew their mind, and she told them, all while rubbing that baby bump.

"Yeah, we see where all that pussy popping got you, Solo" Angie grinned. "Beyonce better watch out. She gon be having a mulatto baby" my cousin Keisha teased. I laughed with them, although everytime they joked about me getting pregnant I was reminded of my actual situation. I was reminded of Carter and it made me wonder what was going on at his house. Were they celebrating Christmas like a real family? I had managed to go a whole day without thinking about that while I was with Chris, but now, the thoughts returned. The thoughts burned me. The man had his child growing in me. And I didn't know what to do about it. We ended up doing what women did to make themselves feel better; shopped. It turned into just buying something small, like some pajamas for Solo's baby. Next thing you know, we were in line with the other crowded shoppers, buying clothes and shoes and purses that were on sale for the holidays.

We ended up buying expensive ass food from the food court and also went to go see I Am Legend, the Will Smith movie with the vampire things. It took nearly 25 minutes just to get out of the mall parking lot and after walking around all day, we were spent. Walking into the house was like walking inside of a restaurant, the fragrances and aromas of greens and ham and macaroni and cakes dripping from the air. "It smells GOOD up in here" Angie exclaimed as we walked into the kitchen. Solo went straight for the lemon cake.

"Solange, go sit down" Angie's mom said. "Auntie come on now. I need just a small piece. For my baby" she smiled, rubbing her stomach. "Nope. Out. All of yall. Out" she grinned, pointing towards the living room. "Where is Chris at, ma?" I asked. "Upstairs with the boys" she said, barely paying me any attention. Oh no. What were them hoodlums doing to my friend, I thought. I sighed and made my way to the staircase, hoping to God Chris had managed to have a good day without me. I tried to open the Ricky's room door but it was locked. I knocked. "Ricky, is Chris in there?" I heard snickering. I knocked some more. "Open the door, punk". The door swung open and Ricky and my male cousins were huddled around the door smiling. What had they done with Chris? "Where is he?" I asked. "Who?" "You know who" I said. "C-Dog?" "Who?" I barked. "C-Dog" Ricky laughed, before moving out of the way. My line of sight brought me to the goofiest thing I had ever seen in my life. Chris and his skinny ass was wearing baggy jeans, a Yankee Cap, jordans, and an oversized white tee. "Chris, what the hell?"

He was grinning and posing, "Sup baby thug" he said, grabbing his crotch. They all started laughing, I screamed and ran downstairs. They had turned my boo into a wigger and he had gone along with it. We all had a good laugh about that one. **

Christmas Eve began even earlier than the day before. I think we all had woken up so early because we all wanted some of that food. Everyone was suppose to meet back at the house around 2 and we'd eat. Solo had managed to baby her way into the kitchen for some lemon cake while I had stole some ham and carrot salad. Our family had a tradition to eat Christmas dinner on Christmas eve because that is how my Grandma had been raised to do it. Even though she had passed, we decided to keep that tradition going. We were planning to spend Christmas Day out in the city. I got a text from Rihanna while Solo and me were getting dressed, trying to look cute for the day. Received 11:33 AM: Wait till I tell u bout this nigga.... Sent 11:34: AM: lol wat happened? Received 11:35 AM: Ima tell u when I get back to Fla...the nigga is singing in the shower rite now...he better be lucky his penis is decent Sent 11:36 AM: lol, i got some SHIT to tell u too... Received 11:38 AM: u at ur parents? how is dat going? Sent 11:40 AM: Its going...no drama yet... Received 11:42 AM: Ur sis pop yet? Sent 11:46 AM: Waiting anyday now... Received 11:48 AM: Anyway...im bout to go get me some penis...call me asap if ur dad goes wild on u again...n let me kno when ur sis has da baby Sent 11:49 AM: k...be safe...love u Received 11:50 AM:...luv u 2 booboo The family arrived a little before 1 and the photo albums came out as did the memories and laughter. We came across pictures of all of us on our bad days, the terrible fashion of the 80's and 90's, and the hairstyles. My mom teared up a bit when she came across pictures of her mother, but her tears faded when she got to pictures of Solo and me as babies. She didn't hesitate to show Chris. "Oh momma, no. Not that one" I shrieked. Chris was all into the photo album, "Oh wow". I covered my face.

"Ugh. Showing all the ugly pics" I said. "All your pics is ugly" Ricky teased. "Boy, don't make me go to your ugly baby pics" I said, yanking the photo album to get to the picture of him with that five head. Chris seemed to enjoy the family jabs. I sensed he wasn't use to that sort of thing. Like it was new and fascinating to him. I was happy that my family had actually accepted him in. We played our role so well, I almost forgot that we were pretending. But family could never just stay with the subtle jabs. They just had to go for the jugular. Angie told stories about me peeing the bed when I spent summers in New Orleans, which my mom confirmed. "Oh yes, lawd. Beyonce didn't stop peeing in the bed till she was what? 12, 13?" "13" My dad said. "Really, yall?" I rolled my eyes. Ricky was laughing. But the jokes on me didn't stop there. Next up was the day I almost burned the kitchen down because I started a grease fire. "I see why yall don't let her cook" my mommas oldest sister said.

"My cooking ain't that bad" I said, defending myself. "Bee. Don't you even start fronting for Chris" Solange said. "I can cook" I began, before realizing this was a joke on me session. I understood this was one of those things that happened because I had brought a guy home. It was tradition for them to bring up embarrassing stories about me. But they knew I was sensitive. They knew I wasn't very good at handling a bunch of people making fun of me. They knew if they kept at it, they'd get me to crack. I tried my best to let it ride, though. "Aunt Tina. Remember when Beyonce kept getting bullied at camp and Solange had to beat that one girls as...um...butt" Angie laughed. My mom looked at her, "Uhmm. I heard what you was about to say, And. And yeah, I remember. Beyonce was afraid to tell anyone she was getting bullied. Just cry and stuff". Ricky butted in, "Dang. The lil sister had to protect the big sister?" "It's always been like that" Angie said, "Solo was the big lil sister because Bee was so dag on scary". "She still is" Solo said. "Yall leave Bee alone" my youngest Aunt, Angies mom said. "No. Her man need to hear these stories, ma" Angie said. "Yeah but yall gon make the girl cry, yall know how sensitive she is" she said. I rolled my eyes at this dumb shit. "I can't cook. Can't hold my bladder. Can't fight. Guess I don't have no good qualities, huh" I said. Angie frowned, "Bee. Stop it, girl. You know everyone is just teasing you. That boy see all your good qualities that is why he is here. We just letting him in on the embarrassing stuff". "Whatever. " I said under my breath. "Beyonce. Are you seriously getting upset over this?" my momma asked. I didn't say anything. I was mad. And I knew if I would say something there was a good chance I'd start crying. "Yall leave my baby alone" my daddy said. "That's just it, Matthew. Everyone up in here is playing and she just got to be the one to take it to heart. Beyonce know we joking. She's just a big baby" my mom replied. "No offense, but if Beyonce is sensitive to being teased. Then why tease her?" Chris said, totally catching everyone off guard.

"She needs thicker skin, Chris. We understand that is your boo and everything. But if she can't take teasing from her family then she ain't gon never grow up" Angie said, "And she know we all love her". "Ok, everyone just stop it" my oldest aunt said. "Tina, you know your child is sensitive. No need to push it. Can we just get back to looking at the pictures and stop embarrassing the girl?" She was the eldest of everyone with grandma gone. She had the wisdom of my grandma. The same facial features and tone of voice too. If anything, I felt as if it was my grandma that had spoken those words and put an end to the joke on me moment. I was so tired of people thinking I was a coward or scary or shy or reserved. I had jumped out of that shell. And I was going to prove it. When later that night my mom asked what had I been doing for money, I decided I was going to tell them the truth. They would see, their little girl was no longer a little girl. "I life model" I told her with a straight face. She didn't know what this is. "What's that?" "I pose for art students so they can draw me" I said, only telling half of the truth, leaving out the nude part. "And you get paid for this? That is how you have been paying that rent?" she asked. "Yes". "Well. As long as you are paying your bills. I was hoping you weren't doing anything crazy like taking your clothes off for money" she said. "I am" I said, looking her straight in her eyes. I wanted to know her reaction to this reveal. "What?!" "Ma. Life models pose nude for art students. It's the same type of art that the famous artist did". "Pose nude? NUDE? As in you are naked?" she asked, wanting further clarity. "Yes Ma'am. It's tasteful. Nothing bad or sexual". "Nothing sexual?" she said raising her voice, "How is taking off your clothes not sexual?" "Because it's not porn, ma. It's art". "You can call it whatever you want to call it Beyonce. I'm sure Hugh Heffner calls Playboy

art too. That don't make it true". "Mom that is different. Life modeling is classical posing". "But are you naked when this is going on?" she asked, still focusing on that part. "Yes". She looked like she had seen a ghost. "Matthew!" she yelled. My dad came running. It was time for the real moment of truth. I prepared. I refused to be thrown against a wall again. I was an adult now. I didn't have to take it. "Beyonce. Tell your daddy what you are doing for money". "Daddy. Listen" I said, hoping he would hear me out before getting angry. "I'm listening" he said. "I'm life modeling. It's only a few nights a week. 30 dollars an hour. What I do is pose for a group of artist in a classroom". "Don't leave out the naked part, Beyonce" my mom added in. His eyes got wide when she revealed that detail. I nervously awaited a reaction. I looked at him and hoped he wouldn't turn away from me. I didn't necessarily need them to agree with what I did, but at least don't shun me. That was how I felt. "So you take pictures nude?" he asked. "No. No pictures. They only draw me. With pencils. It's classical art". 'Beyonce. But what if they did take pictures? That type of stuff can get on the internet. And then what? Who would hire a teacher with naked pictures of them on the internet". "Ma, listen. There are no pictures. Cameras aren't even allowed in. No pictures unless the model okays it. No pictures of me are getting on the internet. Most of the drawings don't even have my face. And they go in their artists portfolios". "Beyonce you can dress this up however you want. Fact is. You are taking off your clothes for money. Prostitution. What is the difference between what you are doing and what strippers do?" I sighed, "Ma. How is shaking my ass for horny men the same thing as posing for artist?" "So now you are cursing? Matthew, handle your child" she said, putting her hands up in defeat. My dad took a deep breath.

"Beyonce. What made you start doing that? You would rather get naked than to ask us for the money?" "Daddy. You basically said I was on my own. So I discovered that. I wasn't going to beg for money when there were other options. Plus, I know yall were having some money problems". "Beyonce I'll do whatever I can do to not have you degrading yourself for rent". "But I'm not degrading myself. It's really not as bad as you are taking it. It's art. It's not porn". "Well if we started sending you money. Would you stop the art?" my dad asked. "You would pay the entire rent?" "We can't afford the entire rent. But we could send a few hundred dollars. And you can get a regular job to help with the rest" he replied. I looked at both of them. I knew they would never accept what I was trying to get them to accept. It wasn't a matter that was up for debate. They had their minds already made up. Life modeling, was sinful porn. Nothing more, nothing less. "Ok" I said. I noticed for the rest of the day, they seemed withdrawn from me. I think the fact that I had told them what I was doing made them see a side of me they didn't know existed. Their oldest daughter, had chosen to make money with her body. I knew in their head they were wondering where did they go wrong. ** "I don't believe that is even your man" Solo said to me as we got ready to go out. Our parents were already gone which just left Solo, me, Angie, Chris and Keisha at the house still getting ready to go see the lights. "Believe what you want" I grinned, applying lotion to my legs. "I mean, yall ain't even tried to have sex since yall been here. And I been clocking you so I know" she said. She was right. It was Christmas evening, and Chris and I had not had sex. "So". "So. Then I think yall fronting" she eyed me. I laughed. "Ok. We're fronting then".

"Yall have to be. You described that dude like he was a sex machine. And since yall been here, yall aint even tried to touch each other". "Chris is respectful. He ain't trying to have sex with me in my parents house". "Bull...shit...Beyonce". She continued to drill me but I kept downplaying it. I think my unwillingness to take the bait only made her even more curious about my relationship with Chris. I thought about this while we all walked in the park, admiring the spectacular lighting. Chris held my hand through this, but I didn't know if it was for show or for real. I did know I liked the feelings I got as he held it, regardless. When we got back to the house, Solo thought it would be funny to trick us into standing under a mistletoe. "Aww. Now yall gotta kiss" Solo said in front of the entire family. My dad looked uncomfortable. My mom was smirking. Everyone expected something. I looked at Chris who looked willing and ready to keep out act going. What the heck. We had gone this far already. He leaned into me and we shared a very nice, a pleasantly nice, peck on the lips. Our kiss got a round of applause and "awwws". More than anything, I was shocked by the electricity I felt when I kissed Chris. Chris ended up bringing in his accoustic guitar and we sang Christmas carols and that was the first time I ever got a chance to hear him sing. His voice was whiny, but joyous and piercing at the same time. It made me melt. To add even more fuel to the fire of speculation, I pulled Chris inside of Solo's bathroom when we got back to the house. Angie And Solo were sitting on the bed, so I decided to give them something else to gossip about. "Shh" I whispered to Chris, who was wide eyed and wondering what was going on. "Follow me" I whispered. He nodded his head slowly. "Uh" I moaned, trying my absolute best not to laugh. Chris looked at me like I had farted or something. I cheesed at him hard and motioned with my head for him to play along. "Oooo yeah, baby" I moaned. He silently chuckled to himself before straightening up his face. "Ahhh. Ahhh yeah. You feel so good, Beyonce". We started making smacking noises and kissing our hands to simulate kissing sounds. Then Chris started making smacking noises with his arm. "F*ck" he screamed.

I tried not to laugh. We really got into it. "Harder, harder" I moaned. "Yes harder. In my ass!" Chris smirked. We both burst out laughing, knowing there was no way they would actually believe we had been having sex. We opened up the door, thinking we'd be met with laughter from my cousin and sister, but there was a third person waiting...my mom. She just looked at us with this weird, semi smirk planted across her face. Chris looked at me not knowing whether to smile or frown. She ended up walking out of the room, that weird smirk still on her face. When she left, Solo and Angie clowned us. And Solo laughed so hard that her water broke. Christmas night, and we were headed to the hospital. **

My nephew was born December 26, 2007. But something else happened. Something born of irony and horror. It started when I had received a voice mail from Carter. It came late Christmas night, around the time we were rushing Solange to the hospital. The excitement was too much for me to pay attention to my vibrating cell phone which read Vicky. I didn't check my phone until a few hours later. I stepped into the hallway to listen to the voice mail. I was shaking with anticipation. Every negative thought in my body erased. I wanted to hate him. But everything from my bones to the breath in my lungs longed to love him. I tuned out the world and closed my eyes, all of my senses focusing on his voice. "Hey Beyonce. Just wanted to wish you a merry christmas. I hope everything is going well with you. Anyway. Take care and I'll see you next semester. Godspeed". I replayed the message, then again, and once more. I memorized the words. I replayed them in my head. And I fought with myself on whether I should call him back. Chris ended up meeting me in the hallway. He startled me.

"You ok?" he asked. I nodded. I had been having cramps but I thought it had to do with me being nervous or something I had ate. But when the pains were starting to become a lot more intense. Any other time I would have assumed it was my period. But I was pregnant, so that was impossible. But as I stood, I felt the need to check myself in the bathroom. Chris saw the pain in my eyes and he followed me. "Do you want me to get your mother?" he asked. I quickly shook my head, "No. Chris whatever you do. Don't tell anyone" I said, breathing hard from the pain. I went into the hallway bathroom and locked the door. I was afraid to make a move. I stood in the dark and prayed to God. Please don't let this be what I think it is. I pulled down my pants and immediately saw that I had been spotting. It was a brownish greyish color. Blood shouldn't look like that, and I shouldn't be bleeding, I thought. I panicked. I started crying and losing my breath. I lost my balance and fell against the door. "Beyonce!" I heard Chris say from outside. I couldn't breath. I felt like I was suffocating. Like I was drowning in fear. Chris was knocking on the door. He said he was going to get a nurse. I came to my senses and unlocked it. I didn't want any nurse. I didn't want any of my family to find out. Not like this. Not in here. Not on this day. "Chris please. No" I said from the floor. He walked in the bathroom and locked the door behind him. He helped me up and on the toilet, and after he saw the blood, I was a terrible wave of fear overtake him. "I gotta get the doctor" he insisted. I pleaded"Chris, No. Please. PLEASE". He knelled down next to me on the brown floor. He didn't say anything. But he attempted to comfort me with soft hands and soft eyes. He was concerned. I was concerned too. But I didn't want to tell anybody. I couldn't tell anyone. I cried and begged him to keep the episode a secret. Eventually he left out of the bathroom and said he would be downstairs in the Garden where the patients went to get fresh air. I could tell he was afraid for me. But as painful as it was, he still adhered to my wishes. He didn't tell anyone that I was having a miscarriage. I met him down in the garden. "Beyonce. You have to tell someone. You are at a hospital" he urged. "Chris. Just stay out of it, ok? Mind your own business" I barked at him.

He could have responded with bitter words, but he didn't. He didn't say anything. We sat in the garden, the beautiful garden that had survived despite a cold winter. I cried. He put one of his arms around me and I cried on his shoulder. How was it possible, that on the day my sister was having her baby, I was losing mine. I gathered enough strength to go up to the room with Solange, and a few hours later my nephew was born. I forced myself to smile at the beautiful baby boy. I kissed my sister, who had been through hell to bring this baby out. And even in her worst state. Drugged up, cried out, and exhausted, I envied her. I held the baby, and just marveled at how small he was. His fingers and hands so delicate and tiny. Such a fragile creature I held in my arms. But his breaths were strong. Violent almost, shaking his entire little body everytime he breathed in. They took my tears for tears of joy, but they were more than that. They were so much more. Over the next few days the pains intensified as did the spotting. Chris kept urging me to tell someone, but I'd ignore him or curse him out. He just didn't understand the predicament. He didn't understand. No one would understand. My family was celebrating new life. Everyone was happy and excited for the new baby. Playing games, dancing, laughing. And I had to pretend, while in the midst of losing my pregnancy, that I was as happy and joyful as they were. When I got a pain and they asked what was wrong, I would tell them I had gas. When they were doing the electric slide, I joined in. And then the most gruesome moment of my life occurred. I had to look in the toilet at my baby. The tissue that made up my child had passed through me and lay waste in the place people defecated. I didn't want to throw up on the tissue so I instead threw up in the bathtub. I didn't want to flush either. I ran the shower and just stared at the remains of my baby. Carters baby. What we made together. The child I had decided on the car ride here that I'd keep. And then I felt guilty. It was my fault. For falling in the driveway. For not telling anyone I was spotting. It was my body that had killed my baby. It was forever my fault. Chapter 22

It happened around New Years Eve when I got the idea. I had been calling myself a murderer in the mirror for the past few days, hating the monster in my reflection. I truly felt as if my body's rejection of the pregnancy was my own fault. From me not eating to me stressing so much. I truly believed stress could cause a miscarriage. And I truly believed I had stressed myself into one. Most people made new years resolutions to lose weight or write a book or save money or something like that. My goal wasn't anything like that. My goal was to forgive myself. My goal was to look in the mirror and not cry. I didn't know how I'd do it. But I wanted to be able to look into the mirror and not hate my reflection. I wanted my reflection to show someone I could love again. I decided the first thing I'd do was chop my hair. I had never cut my hair before, and my family thought I was crazy. And that was mainly why I wanted to do it. It was something drastic and it would instantly make my reflection look different. Angie went with me to the salon where I held my emotions in long enough to see my hair cut. I didn't shed any tears over the change. It was change that was needed. I was going to be a new person. I could not live being the woman that had killed her baby. Chris was with me through it all. He was a comfort to me in ways he didn't even realize. I had given him attitude ever since the bathroom spotting at the hospital. And never once did he take it to heart. Never once did he do what I was provoking him to do, and that was lash out at me. He was the only person in the whole world that knew what I was going through at the moment. He was the only one that had the power to help me through it. And his kind heart

had the strength to take on the challenge. When we left for Florida, it was like we were two different people. Gone were the immature farting contest or the hours of pointless chatter. We were silent, but still communicating in other ways. I could look into his eyes and feel comfort because I knew what his heart was wanting to tell me. I didn't cry, surprisingly. I didn't know if I could anymore. There was an emotionless void where my baby should have been. I felt empty. Chris was exhausted after driving for 8 hours straight so we decided to stay at a hotel for a night. We got a two bed motel for cheap. We didn't realize until we had already paid for it that their heater was down. Chris complained and we got the night free. We could have went to a different hotel, but I insisted we take the free night. I got in the bed and tried to sleep. But I was too hurt to sleep. Too hurt to cry. Too hurt to eat. I hurt so much, that I felt like I couldn't do anything. I laid there freezing as the overnight temperatures dropped. Chris saw me shivering and I felt him when he got in the bed with me, removing his shirt and pulling me close to him. I didn't realize what he was doing at first, but when I felt his body heat warming me up, I knew then. He held me close, tight, and secure. He wasn't trying to have sex with me or take advantage of my vulnerability. He was just trying to help me through the night. He warmed me with more than his body heat. He warmed me with his presence. The kind of warmth that instantly gives you rest. Peace within. He put his hand on my stomach. On my womb. On my emotional scar. I fell asleep in that embrace. I woke up that morning and saw Chris sitting in a chair writing in a notepad. "Morning beautiful" he said to me. I smiled. "Just so you know. You fart a lot in your sleep" he grinned. "I do?" I grinned back, before yawning. He nodded his head. "Well I'm sorry I ran you out of the bed". "You actually did. Made me just decide to write". "What are you writing?" "A song..." "Song about who?" I asked, before sitting up. "A woman I admire very much" he said matter of factly. I took in the compliment that was about me, based on his smile. Chris had been so awesome this past week. And even though I still felt empty, I valued his efforts. "Chris. Thank you for everything. You don't know how much I appreciated you". "Thank me by not bottling up whatever you are feeling right now".

"How?" "Write" he said, handing me a pen and pad. "I don't really write thought Chris. I'm not talented like you". "It's not about that. Write whatever comes to you. Write however you feel. It's unhealthy for you to keep all of it in. Release it. We'll write together, ok?" he suggested. I took the pen, not knowing what I'd end up writing. After scribbling on the notepad for a minute and seeing him ponder and write, I decided to just listen to what he was saying and not be hardheaded. I wrote the first word. I let what I was feeling, take place on the page. I sit in my dark world In a dark corner Of my dark room As waves of self-loathing Rock me back and forth On this sea of pain In this vessel of hate Manned by fear Hand-made with broken dreams And shattered hearts Held together with threads of despair And hopelessness I feel nauseous Waves crashing against my brain Relentlessly spraying me With the fine mist of failure and regret Until I am drowning in them Unable to breathe As the current pulls me under The reality of my life soaking me Inside out And I am dragged down To the bottom of my Worst nightmares I gasp for air But my lungs fill with The salty tears that form the ocean In which I am engulfed I kick for the surface Only to find there is no daylight to reach for Just a chasm of emptiness My body grows weak and surrenders As waves of self-loathing Rock me back and forth On this sea of pain In my dark room In a dark corner Of my dark world

** The next few weeks would be about rebuilding. Rebuilding my confidence. Rebuilding my happiness. Rebuilding my broken heart. I had lost friends I thought were gone for good and in the back of my head I would always feel responsible for my miscarriage. But the one person who knew about my lost refused to let me wallow in self pity. He called me, told me jokes, invited me out of the house, and kept telling me I wasn't to blame. His words were ultimately futile, for the moment, but they were appreciated. He couldn't have possibly understood how damaged I was at the moment. I felt like my body was dirty. Like it was unworthy of being loved. But his encouragement did keep me from completely falling into the black hole that was sucking the life out of my world. The other person that could bring new life in me was that crazy ass friend of mine that I hadn't seen in weeks. She came back from her trip to Vegas and we met up for lunch at this one spot we ate at a few times. This girl was mad at me for a couple of reasons and the first word out her mouth when she saw me was b*tch. "Nice to see you too" I smirked. "No you did NOT cut your hair" she said looking me over, still not having even said hello yet. "I did. So what?" "What? You trying to be like me or something? You shouldn't have cut it". "No I ain't tryna be like you. I got my own mind. I wanted something new. And you still ain't even said hey to me" I shot. "Hey. Now tell me why you chopped off your pretty ass hair, nigga". I laughed, "Sit down. Tell me about your trip". She had her dog with her, which could fit in her arm or on her shoulder, but as we ordered our food and drinks I still noticed her looking at me like she was mad. It wasn't a look that she was angry, just the kind of look she got when she wanted to b*tch at me for something. I knew the reason why, especially since she hadn't mentioned it yet.

"What did you get for Christmas?" I smiled. She was looking at me with the most evil smirk. "B*tch" she smiled, "I swear you had me crying when I saw that sh*t. I wanted to kill your ass". "Why?" "Cuz I wasn't expecting no kind of shit like that. And I wondered how you had it done. It dawned on me that you must have STOLEN it". "No, I borrowed. And damn you are so unappreciative. You're welcome, Rihanna". "Thank you" she barked, in the same tone of voice she had called me a b*tch in. We laughed. "Tell me about your trip. You said the dude did something crazy or something" I said. "Oh boy. That simp ass nigga". "What he do?" "Bee, you know I don't do all that sentimental Keith Sweat shit. I come into the hotel room the first night and he got it decorated with candles and rose petals on the bed and shit. He had literally booked a hooneymoon suite. Music playing and shit. I'm looking at this dude like, the f*ck is this?"

I started laughing, "Uh Oh. Did you tell him before hand you don't like that kinda stuff?" "Bee, I swear to you. He knew the deal. I told him before hand. Look, I ain't tryna be nobody girlfriend. I came to gamble and f*ck. That's it. Oh and maybe shop a little too". "Well, was the sex at least good?" "Hell yeah it was. I wouldn't have made the trip out there with him if I didn't already know he could f*ck. He was good and all, but he kept doing shit wrong". I put my hand on my cheek and batted my eyes, "Like what, RihRih? What shit did he do wrong?" She rolled her eyes, "Like for example. The first night, he is asking what movie do I want to watch. He is mentioning all these romance chick flick movies, like the Notebook and shit. I'm like nigga, we can watch porn. I don't need to see no romantic comedies with Ben Stiller and the white b*tch from Friends". I giggled, "Aww. He sounds like a sweet guy". "The hell with all-lat. I ain't want sweet. Like, the nigga is holding me in bed and trying to spoon and caress my cheek and stuff. I let it happen and ere-thing cuz I ain't wanna be a total b*tch about him showing me affection or whatever, but then he started calling me pet names and stuff and I was like, feeling nauseous any time he did it. Baby this and sweetheart that. Ugh." "Most girls would love that, Rihanna" I said shaking my head. "Girl, do you know who I am? I ain't most girls. I don't wanna make love till the sun comes up. I want to f*ck, get my nut, roll over and sleep" she laughed. "I think you are really a man, Rih. You should look into plastic surgery" I joked. "I prolly should. I do have penis envy. I would like to slap a b*tch in the mouth with a dick at least once in my life" she laughed. The waiter brought us our food, but overheard her last comment. I was embarrassed, but Rih didn't care. When the waitress gave her the face, she took Peanuts paw and waved it at her. I shook my head, "She gon spit in your food. Keep playing with em like that". "That chick ain't gon do a damn thing. But anyway, about that transgender shit. I was joking about that. I'm a woman, Bee. I just know what I want in life right now. And I don't need a man to come in and take over and try to be my knight and shining armor. I don't need any of that and I don't want it right now". "But you do want it eventually?" I asked. She shrugged, "I guess". "No, don't guess. You don't want the traditional role as a woman, one day in life?" "Traditional how? Washing drawls and cooking dinner everynight?"

I laughed, "No. I mean like being a mommy and being a wife one day. Settling down". "Iono about the settling down, marriage thing. I don't even know if I believe in monogamy. But I would like to be a mother one day. I do want to have a baby. And even still, I don't need a man for that. There are banks out there they can shoot sperm up my vagina". There were people around us outside that were eavesdropping. I just laughed at how bold she was. "What? Penis, penis, penis. Vagina, vagina, vagina" she said, before pouring ranch dressing all over her salad. "Rih they are gonna not let us come back here". "Well, it ain't all that good anyway" she said crunching on a crouton. "So did he do anything you liked?" "He ate my pussy good. He paid for everything" she laughed, "But he kept trying to romance me and then at the end of the damn trip, offered me some jewelery and on the sly tried to say I should be his woman". "What did you say?" "First off I told him I wasn't accepting no jewelery and that he knew I didn't want to be anyones woman. I mean, damn guys can be so damn dense and stupid. They can f*ck up a good thing. He had pussy with no strings attatched and he messed it all up. Most guys would be happy with f*cking and no other commitments". "Well, guess what? That just means he ain't like most guys" I smiled. "Nah. It means I put it on him so good that he tried to wife me. It ain't the first time it's happened. I have the ability to break a nigga down to his knee and pull out a ring" she laughed. "You are so conceited". "I'm only being honest, booboo. Two niggas have proposed to me. Too many to count have started off as f*ck buddies and then tried to woo me into being their woman. Men are such pussies" she said. We paid for our lunch, and on the way out a guy stopped to try to holla at Rih. He could have talked to either of us, but he picked her. I wondered what it was about her that had all of these men vying for her attention. Was it the fact that she gave off the vibe that she didn't want it? Men want what they can't have? Seemed to be true. Maybe that was how I should have treated my relationship with Carter. We continued our date back at her crib. She fed her dog and like normal, started stripping. I had grown use to it. She liked to be naked. It didn't bother me, but it did amuse me. She walked out of her bathroom topless with shorts on and we turned on the TV to lifetime. Just what the doctor ordered, movies about men not being shit.

We ended up watching this movie called Hard Candy. It was about a 14 year old girl meeting a 30 something old photographer on the internet. He was a pedo, but she switched the script on him by tying him up and then castrating him. It was a beautiful thing. "That b*tch is my hero, Bee. I love her" Rihanna said. I raised my hand to agree as Peanut lay sleeping in my lap. "Would you ever castrate a guy?" I laughed. "You don't want me to answer that, Bee". "Wow, you would?" "Shit. I think pedos should be castrated instead of given short prison sentences. If it was legal, I'd go to med school to become a castrateologist" she shrugged. I shook my head at her and we continued talking about the movie. Eventually, she told me she really did like her Christmas gift, the blown up and framed photo of her and her mother when Rih was a child. She seemed to drift off into deep thought when this subject came up. Like she was reminiscing. Like the photo was a sort of nostalgia. "You know. I still remember the day that picture was taking. With my mom" she said. "You do? You seemed young". "I was. It's funny. I remember more of the things when I was little than I do of recent things". "What else do you remember?" She smiled, "I remember summers back in Brazil. Summers with my sisters and friends. It was a fun time". "You lived in Brazil?" "I lived a lot of places. But I was born in Brazil". "Tell me more about your mom" I said. I was curious about Rihs life, but I made sure never to press too hard. She was slowly but surely revealing more and more about her life. But one subject she always seemed to neglect was her mom. "What do you want to know?" "Everything. How she was. Where she came from. Where she is now". "She's in L.A. now. It's one reason I'm going to New York instead of Cali. I don't want to be over that way". "But why, Rih?" She rolled her eyes, "You really wanna know? You wanna know the real deal about her?"

I nodded my head, "I wanna know why you are the way you are". We locked eyes for a moment. I knew she had reserves about revealing too much. She held this part of her close. So close because she didn't want to be hurt. But I wasn't going to hurt her. And I hoped she could sense that as she looked into my eyes. "My mom was kidnapped when she was younger. Sold into the sex slave trade. It's actually something that happens a lot in third world countries. Big commercial market for sex slaves in Brazil. So all of her teen years she was a prostitute. I mean prostitutes in Vegas got unions and shit. My mom and a bunch of other girls were living in some apartment backroom. One bedroom, about 10 other girls. Had sex all day, collected the money, which they didn't get of course, and that was her teenage years. No prom. No dates. None of that shit. She eventually got away. Managed to escape. And was out on the streets. So what did she turn to? What she knew best. Prostitution. It was no shortage of it in a place like Brazil". "Why didn't she go to the police?" "She was afraid. Afraid to get caught by the niggas she was running from. Gangsters and pimps. She decided to just try and live her life. She met up with some other women that taught her how to hustle. So that's what she did. Met men, scammed them out of money. Shit like that. That' when she met my dad. Met him at a club or something. He was vacationing there. And they I guess started a relationship. He didn't know about her past. See, my mom was a great actress. Could be anything she wanted to be. But anyway, she ended up getting pregnant with me". "You said she trapped him, right?" "Yeah. Once she found out he had money. She also found out he had a girlfriend back home. This was one of those summer affairs. But I think he really did kind of fall for her. My mom is beautiful. She really is. I know I get my seduction from her. She had him sprung". "But he had his girlfriend back home, right?" "Right. So he supported me from afar when he moved back to the States". "Your dad doesn't really sound like a bad guy, Rih. I mean, yeah he made mistakes and did some shitty things. But does that make him a shitty person?" "Bee. You never lost a baby. And the hurt that comes from it. He is the reason why. He's a monster. A f*cking monster". I backed off, especially since I was still mourning the lost of my own baby. I didn't let her ignorance get to me. "Ok, Rihanna. I won't even go there. But anyway, what happened when he moved back?" "My mom got pregnant from other guys. Had twins. Had to resort to f*cking any guy that had money. I remember it being late and three or four guys would come into the house and into her room. She thought I was sleeping, but I could hear them. Moaning, calling her names, then leaving. I was young, but I was aware. I knew what was going on. When I got a lil older, she started teaching me things. How to steal. How to lie. How to seduce. I learned a lot from her. I was only 9. But I already knew how to impersonate a 15 year old. "

"Was she teaching you how to be a prostitute?" I asked in disgust. She shook her head, "No. But she was teaching me how to get a man. I guess she thought if I met an older guy, he'd marry me and take care of me. But before that happened, she met a dude. A dude that she fell for quickly. A dude that took her off the street. He was a drug dealer. But he found my mom to be beautiful. He quickly moved me and my sisters in. And for once, we were set. No more prostitution for her and no more scrambling for money for us". "Well that's good..." I said, thinking the story was complete. She shook her head, "Not from my perspective". "What?" She laughed. A sad laugh. One that suggested her next reveal would be far from funny. "My moms boyfriend. Guy named Bert. He kinda looked like Bert from Seasame Street. He would look at me all weird all the time. I always acted older than I was, so he wouldn't believe me when I said I was 10. He'd say I could pass for 16 cuz of the way I acted. He said I was flirty. He said a lot of things. He had a lot of friends that would come over. Make me call them uncle. Uncle Roberto and Uncle Cecil and Uncle blah blah". "I don't like where this is going, Rih. Did anything happen with them?" "You're a smart b*tch, Bee. A college gal. Even if it's a FAMU education. What ya think?" "I don't know. That's why I am asking". She nodded. "I lost my virginity to one of my fake uncles. I was drunk. He had me drinking down shots. Later that night He came in the bathroom when I was bathing. He didn't even say a word. Just bent me over and f*cked me. I bled. He told me not to tell anyone. I told Bert. Bert went beat the guys ass. But for some reason, he made me promise not to tell my mom. I did as he told me to do. I didn't want to mess anything up". I stroked Peanut as this story continued. "Like a few months later. Bert was asking me all of these questions. About the guy that had did what he did to me. Asked me if I liked it. If it felt good. Shit like that. I told him the shit hurt. He told me it would feel better if I did it more. So he arranged for that to happen. He got me drunk. He got me high. We'd go in the hot tub. He's kiss me. Make me give him head. We started having sex. And. I know it was rape. I know now he was manipulating me. But. It did feel good. I did have orgasms. And I was only 11 or so. This went on behind my moms back. I kept quiet because I didn't want him to kick us back on the street. If having sex with him could keep our family together, then I was all for it. And then one day, my mom caught us". "She blamed you?" "Girl, she was all discombobulated. She was cursing in spanish and english. Crying. Yelling at me, hitting him. She said she was going to the police, but it took just one slap from him to

put an end to that. She ended up just asking him could she go and she'd not report it. But she knew they would keep tabs on her. Threatened that if she made any move toward the police, all of us would wind up in a gutter. So yeah, we were back on the street. But I could tell she didn't trust me anymore. Like, she halfway blamed me for it. For being flirtatious. Ror being seductive". "But she taught you all of those things" I said. "Yeah well, no one would ever confuse my mom for a morally consistent person. She ended up getting in touch with my dad and crying to him, asking could he take me in. I don't know what arrangement they made. But he agreed. So I moved to the States with a man I had never met before in my life. I was going through a lot of changes. Emotional and physical. Plus, I was horny all the time. Bert had started something in me that should have never started". "Which is why...." She nodded her head, "Which is why I saw that Italian man and one day tried to f*ck him" she confessed. "What did he say?" I asked. She laughed, "He thought I was crazy. Didn't know what to think. I just came out of the shower naked and went into his room and tried to kiss him. He was saying he was going to send me back. But I ain't care. I didn't want to be there anyway". "Why didn't he send you back?" "Well, after I tried unsucesfully three times to seduce him, he took me to a mental doctor. They asked all kinds of stupid questions. Tried to get me to break. They told him I was acting out because of what went on with my mom. I ended up breaking down one time. I don't remember why. But I cried and confessed a lot of stuff. Told him about my mom being a prostitute. He claimed he never knew. Then we made a deal. If I agreed to stop what I was doing, he'd move my entire family to the States and help her out. And...I stopped trying to f*ck him". "Do you know why you were trying to in the first place, Rih?" "To f*ck him? Well, Bee. First off, I was a child. I had issues". "You still do" I teased. She laughed, "Ok. But these were even worst. I was going through some withdrawal from Bert. And my dad is an attractive man that I felt no connection to. I didn't see him as daddy. I saw him as some man I was now living with. And every other male in my life had tried to f*ck me. Guess I didn't see it as any different with him". I was trying to put pieces together, "Is that why you like to be naked? Did it stem from him?" She shook her head, "Nah. Growing up, we didn't have an issue with nudity. My sisters and I would bath in rivers the few times we were homeless. We'd literally get naked, stand by the river and bathe. We went skinny dipping all the time on the beach". "Wow. You had a rough childhood".

"I did. But all of my memories of my childhood aren't bad. I remember good times too. I did have fun in Brazil. I had a lot of friends. We played football, soccer for you Americans. We played tag and had watergun fights in the summer. We had sleepovers. I do have a lot of good memories. They are just sandwiched inbetween the bad ones. Especially knowing now in hindsight that a lot of my friends were involved in the sex trade. It's big business. A lot of men come to Brazil just to f*ck preteens". "Why don't you ever talk about your sisters? Aren't you close?" "Not anymore. They, for lack of a better word, are jealous b*tches. They blamed me for a lot of things. It's a long story Bee. So much stuff I'm leaving out. But anyway. I'm not stressing over it. That was my life then. This is my life now". ** I told my parents I would stop life modeling and do something else. But I didn't want to stop. I wanted to continue doing it. I liked the way it made me feel. I liked the thrills. I liked the posing. I liked the heat that ran over my body as they all dissected me with their eyes. They didn't send me enough money to pay for my bills, and as far as I was concerned, I was still on my own when it came to providing for myself. I needed my car fixed so I decided to call Carson again for a private session. He was always eager to get me into his studio. But when I called him, he told me he wasn't doing drawings at the time. He was concentrating full time on photography. He did say he needed a model, if I was still interested. "I'm not comfortable having pictures taken of me. I don't want that being on the internet or anything". "What about implied nudity?" he asked. "What's that?" "I can do special shots that don't actually show any nudity. Or your face". "Would I be naked?" "In the studio, yes. But the final prints wont show any nudity and again, your face won't be included in any of the shots". When he told me a grand for the shoot, I agreed. I got Rihanna to go with me to his studio and we did the shoot. I was nervous, more nervous than I had been with the drawings. He was actually taking pictures of me nude. Before each shot, he'd describe what he wanted and what the final print would look like. He took a lot of pics of my legs or my arm or my hands. He used all kind of lighting techniques that kept my face in the shadows and kept my actual nudity implied only. I was naked in his studio, but the pictures always had something blocking the nudity, like hair, or a shadow, or a prop like an apple. When the shoot was over, I asked could he take one more shot of me. But one where he showed my face. I told him I wanted to keep it for myself. He agreed. The picture wouldn't go in his portfolio. He even said he'd develop it and give it to me for free. I wanted a piece of this experience to take home. To remember it by. I had a drawing of me from my first time

life modeling and now I wanted a photo of my first nude photoshoot. I wanted to look into my eyes. I couldn't do that in drawings. Drawings were intereptations of my body. Photos were frozen moments. I wanted to see myself, at this point in my life, in every emotional detail. The detail that only my reflection in the photo could reveal.

** Chris had convince to take me out for a day. An entire day of fun was how he put it. I needed to get out. School was about to start back and I needed to enjoy a day out before the grueling grind of the semester started. I still had not faced any of my former friends. I had to prepare for it. I was going to have to face both Carter and Jarvis in NAACP meetings and with my mom telling me she was going to cater Kelly's wedding, I knew I'd have to face Kelly soon too. It was making me nervous. I wasn't looking forward to running into any of these people. Instead of dwelling on what I wasn't looking forward to I just decided to take Chris up on his offer. All he told me to do was wear comfortable shoes and pants and a love sleeve shirt. When I asked what we were doing, all he told me was something different. I found the mysterious date to be kind of sexy. I didn't quite know exactly how I felt about Chris. I was so comfortable around him in some ways, but I didn't like that he had seen me at my absolute worst. I mean, I didn't even tell Rihanna about the miscarriage, but Chris knew about it. In a way, I felt a bond with him because of it. A bond that also birthed attraction. I saw him as just a friend, I really wasn't interested in dating again. After Carter and Tip, I was weary of another broken heart. But Chris was doing his best to help mend that broken heart. And it was helping. It was working.

He picked me up in his truck and he was wearing running shoes, a long sleeve shirt, and pants. I thought that maybe we could have been going paintballing but he rode right past the only place in the city I knew that did that. "Chris, where are we going?" I asked. "You'll see" he smiled. And it was his smile that carried me for the rest of the ride. He left me on edge, hanging on by a thread of emotion. This better be good, I thought. We arrived to an open field about half an hour later. I still didn't know what was going on. This didn't seem like a place to have a date at. We walked inside a building, the only building next to long open field, and were met with excited looking men with backpacks on. There were about 10 other people sitting down. "What is this?" I whispered to Chris. He grinned. "Are yall ready?" the man with the backpack smiled. ** Only a man. Only a man I trusted. Only a man I trusted and deep down had feelings for could have convinced my ass to even consider this. I was in over my head. Tears ran down my cheeks. My heart was somewhere other than in my chest and all adrenaline was replaced by nerves. I held Chris hand, but I was squeezing it like Solange had squeezed my mothers hand while in labor. I had done a lot of things the past few years. I had broken character and risen past my own fear. I had shown courage and bravery and overcome the expectations that other people had for me. I had proven to myself that I wasn't a coward. But the woman that had allowed people to see her naked was now attempting to take another step. Not a step out of my clothes, but a step towards a dangerous liberation. Statistically speaking, we were fine. The probability of this of anything going wrong was low. But the danger wasn't in dying. The danger was in actually betraying myself and throwing myself in front of an incoming bus. Putting the bullet in the gun, spinning the chamber, and pulling the trigger with the gun to my temple. All for what? All for nothing. I cried, and shivered, trying to figure out in my last remaining seconds what the point of this was. "On the count of three" the man I was hooked up to said. I shook my head. "You ok?" he asked. I shook my head. I couldn't even talk. I knew briefly how Camile felt. "If you don't want to let me know right now" he screamed, the overwhelming sound of the engine and wind dominating the airwaves. I looked behind me. Chris was there. He was staring into my eyes. He was concerned.

"You don't have to Beyonce. I already think you are brave" he screamed. I turned back towards the opening. I didn't want to look out but I did. "Ok, guys. I don't think she is gonna do it" the instructor said. "No" I finally spoke up. "I...I want to" I said. He asked if I was sure and I nodded. I wanted to prove to myself I could do this. I wanted to prove I could push myself to the brink....for nothing...just because I wanted to.

** The day had been one of incredibly highs. Literally and figuratively. I had jumped out of a plane. I had f*cking jumped my scary ass out of an airplane. And I liked it. Sure I cried the entire way down and kissed the ground when I was safe. But my tears were mixed with laughter. It was an emotionally transcendent experience. Even more so than the life modeling was. And Chris had brought it out of me. He did it with his amazingly organic smile and laid back attitude. His confidence was comforting. His smile made the challenge of an obstacle easier. And I loved him for that. I figured there couldn't have been anything else he could have pulled off to top the emotional high of skydiving. But I was wrong. I would learn to never underestimate him again. He took me to a poetry club that had open mic. One I didn't even know existed. Poets and artist went on the stage to perform original pieces. I knew Chris was going to perform because he had his guitar with him. When it was his turn, I smiled and anticipated hearing one of his songs that I knew he worked so hard on. He took the stage, confident and easy going, never breaking character, only being himself. He took a seat and they dimmed the lights on stage. "This is a song I wrote...a few weeks ago" he said into the microphone. There were maybe 50 or so people in the club, but the only person I saw at that moment was

the talented, man that had completely f*cked up my life in a matter of weeks. He had me feeling emotionally involved again. He knew I had been pregnant but he never once judged me or asked who the father was. He respected me regardless. He cared for me despite the fact. His selfless spirit was something special. I still loved Carter. I was still in love with him. That wouldn't change. But as I looked at the guy on stage staring down at his strings, I thought of the promise Carter had made to me. The promise that I would love again.

He started off playing the strings slowly, a beautiful lullaby like melody filling the air. The spotlight shined on him. You walk alone in the valley of life In the shadow of love Under the trees of happiness You walk along like a baby unborn Like a father unknown Like a pocket penniless I'm happy that you really care But do you really know how scary This is for you and is for me Oh do you really know Do you really know Oh Beyonce, all I can do Is write a song for you Beyonce, oh Beyonce For you I sit alone on the cozy ground floor On a bench by the garden waiting also Waiting for love and thinking of all of your catty remarks I also swallow And as I've often asked before Does anybody know how scary

This is for you and is for me Does anybody know, anybody know Oh Beyonce, all I can do Is write a song for you Beyonce The song Chris wrote brought tears down my cheek. He had written a song about my miscarriage. The night at the hotel when I woke up to him writing. This was what he had written. The garden where I met him after my first spotting. The mean things I said to him. My family not knowing anything was wrong and the fact that he was scared for me. It was all there. It was all in the song. And only me and him knew it. Only we'd know what the words meant. He felt helpless when he couldn't do anything to stop me from hurting from my miscarriage, so he did the one thing he felt he could do. Write a song. And those words stayed in my head for the rest of the night. My baby unborn. The father unknown. My catty remarks. The shared fear between two friends. I cried until I couldn't anymore. The crowd clapped. And Chris and I left. I didn't say anything on the ride home. I just held his hands and looked out the window. I had so much I wanted to say, but couldn't verbalize. I was afraid to state what I was feeling. So I held his hand. "I hope the song didn't upset you" he said gently. I looked at him, without a word, and let my eyes answer that for him. When we got back to my apartment, I gave him a hug. A hug that lasted. A hug that meant the world to me. "Come inside" I whispered in his ear, not wanting the night for us to end. I felt I would swear off sex after what had gone done the past month. I felt like my body was dirty and not worth loving. But Chris had made me feel differently. Chris had helped me to look in the mirror, and still feel like I was worth being loved. I held his hand and led him inside.

Chapter 23

Waking up to soft breathing does something to me. Waking to soft eyes and soft touches and soft pillows. It always feels comforting to wake up with someone you trust right there with you. It's even better when you both wake up at the same time, opening your eyes to eyes. Sharing a knowing look as a small smirk appears. Chris was shirtless and rubbing my hair before telling me good morning. His touch, scent, and smile were all doing their usual number on me, and I loved having those things be the catalyst to kick my senses into gear, this early. "Morning" I moved with my lips, although no sound escaped. He kissed my forehead, which felt too good, and then rolled out of the bed. It was then I was able to actually reboot my brain so I could remember what this scene meant. He was shirtless, his pants from last night still on, and was searching for his cell phone. I looked down at myself, I had on an over-sized Tshirt and shorts. "You mind if I use your bathroom?" he asked. "Go ahead, first door on the left" I said, still trying to figure out what exactly had happened. I wasn't intoxicated, but I was still heavily under the influence of something. I had a slight hangover from emotional drunkenness. Chris hadn't f*cked me, at least not physically, but he had d*cked down my heart with how sweet he had been to me. It was like a fairy tale or something. The man took me on magical dates, had me jumping out of planes, and could make me smile no matter the day or time. I had brought him into my apartment last night, and sneaked him into my room since Michelle was in her room with the door closed. I remember we talked for a good while on my bed. I remember I had kicked off my shoes and he did the same and we sat Indian style facing each other, recapping the day. I remember asking him about the song he wrote and him telling me he couldn't sleep the night at the motel. He said I was shivering and sweating at the same time. He

said he could see that I was hurting, from the inside, out. He said he could see that I had been hurting for my entire trip. He could see that I had been running, from something or someone. And it hurt him because there wasn't anything he could do to help me, to properly comfort me. He wrote the song with the hope that even for a brief second, it could be an oasis for my heart. I remember crying when he told me this. I remember kissing him. I remember us laying down in my bed. I remember feeling at peace. The morning started off peaceful enough, but it was Michelle's scream that brought things back to reality. Bye, Bye, Fairytale. I jumped out of the bed and ran outside my door where Michelle was staring directly at me. Chris was in the bathroom, standing over a toilet with piss on it, looking out in the hallway at us. I tried to apologize before she even started. "Shell I'm sorry. Chris spent the night and..." "Why didn't you tell me he was here? What if I would have come out here naked?" she said. She was breathing hard as if she was on the verge of a heart attack. I couldn't blame her. I would have freaked too if I would have lazily opened the bathroom door and some shirtless guy was pissing on my toilet. Especially since I usually slept in the nude. "I'm sorry Michelle" Chris said, that unintentional pitiful look on his face. She breathed a sigh and looked over at him before saying "Chris, don't be sorry. I just wish Bee would have warned me. Sent me a text or something". She eyed me and I eyed her. I apologized again and when she saw the intensity of my sorry eyes, she eventually smiled. Chris was cleaning up the toilet, apparently because Michelle opening the door and screaming had caused him to spray it everywhere but inside the toilet bowl. When he was done he met me outside and Michelle went to do her business. "Chris, you have terrible aim" Michelle laughed before closing the door. We all laughed and continued the morning. It was the first day of the new semester and I had a class in an hour. Chris said he didn't have class that day but would gather his things and leave, but I told him to at least stay for breakfast. Michelle had just went grocery shopping so we had tons of hot foods. Chris instead went for a poptart while I poured me a bowl of cheerios. Michelle came in soon after, and all three of us eyed each other in a mix of grins and scowls. It was the most awkward breakfast ever with none of us really knowing what to say. Leave it to Chris to break the silence. "My aim is usually a lot better when someone isn't screaming at the top of their lungs" he smiled at Michelle. She started howling. I nearly shocked on a dry cheerio that fell down my throat.

"Man I ain't know what was going on. I'm half asleep, I open the door and see some dude pissing. Lawd Jesus, my heart stopped" Michelle laughed. "I think I was more scared than you were. As you could see by the bad aim" Chris smirked. We all laughed. "And you, Miss Beyonce. You ain't warn me or nothin'" Michelle sarcastically said. "I honestly forgot. I wasn't thinking straight. I was half sleep myself". She looked at me grinning. I could already tell what that look meant. She was already putting pieces together. "So.....how was yalls date, last night?" she smiled. I looked at Chris who had half of the poptart hanging out of his mouth. Michelle looked at us looking. "Uhhmm. That's what I thought. I'm telling" she laughed. "Tell what?" "That yall was in there hunching" she said. "Hunching? What's that?" I asked. She laughed again, "It's Florida slang. Don't worry bout it. But um. At least yall ain't keep me up all night doing what yall do". "We just talked" I said. She laughed, "Talked?!" "Talked" Chris smiled, the pop tart devoured in a matter of seconds. "Talked" I echoed. "Like we talkin, right now?" Michelle said. "Just like that. Talked" I smiled. "So you talked his shirt off?" she retorted. I looked over at him, "Chris, when did you take your shirt off?" I didn't remember him taking it off when we were laying in bed. He laughed at both Michelle and I looked at him. "After you took your panties off" he shrugged. My eyes widened as did my smirk when he said this. This little bastard. I had changed panties in the bathroom while he waited in my room, but the way he

painted it up made it sound like we definitely had f*cked. Michelle and Chris were both laughing. I gave him the eye. "Michelle, I'm kidding. Beyonce and I did really just talk" he said. "Talked?" she smirked. "Talked" I echoed. "Talked" Chris said one more time. We laughed and went on for the rest of the morning saying "talked" as a sort of inside joke. ** Being on campus again felt surreal. I hadn't seen this place and these faces for almost a month and I felt like in that time, I had become a brand new person. I had new insights on life, new experiences, and a new outlook. I had miscarried a child. I had lost my first love. But instead of being able to move on from that hurt, going to school meant facing it. My first love and the man that had impregnated me was on the campus, and it was inevitable that me and him would come face to face. I had no idea what would happen when we did. I hadn't even done much thinking about it because the thinking gave me a headache. I had spent so much time with Chris and let him control the flow of my thinking that I never prepared myself for running into Carter. I still loved the man, maybe even more than I did when everything was going fine with us. I kept replaying his voice mail to me which came moments before the first wave of blood and tissue left my body. It made me cry and made me happy, simultaneously. At least he was still thinking of me. At least he still cared. I was too scared to call him back or even text back. I thought about sending an email but even then I didn't know what to say. Thank him for calling me? Ask how was he doing? I didn't know what would work. It felt like we were strangers all over again, even though I had given him all of my body and mind and spirit. Strangers that bumped into each other while my head was running in a million directions. I stood frozen when he spoke. It felt like a dream. "Hi, Miss Knowles" he said, no different than how he usually said my name on campus. "...hey" I managed to get out. I was nervous and jittery. He seemed to be calm. He smelled good, too damn good. He was dressed in the same outfit I had helped pick out for him when we went shopping in Tampa. He was wearing what I picked out. And he looked damn good in the brown vest and beige pants. My pussy hurt just thinking about him being in front of me like this and us having to pretend we hadn't painted this entire campus with my pussy juices and his cum. My pussy, chest, and head hurt at this point. "How was your break?" he asked. "Good" I said, struggling to find anything else to say.

My mind was telling me verbiage on top of verbiage, but I couldn't articulate any of it. There was a mental block and I knew what did it. It was his scent. Some cologne he said he bought while in Paris. I remembered it all too well. It was what he wore in the hotel the night he ate me out for the first time. I remember smelling it, so thick and intoxicating while he held me. I also remembered smelling it in my thoughts the day after he broke things off with me. I couldn't quite taste his lips in my mind, but I could vividly smell him even as I lay curled in the fetal position. That was maybe what i remembered most about Carter and why it was so hard to break free of the thought of him. It's hard to forget distinct smells. Those smells stay with you. They stick to you. Your brain saves a special place that stores the energy that the smell created in you. And Carter was a man of powerful scents and fragrances. His house smelled fresh but manly. When I showered with him in his bathroom, he had unique smelling soaps. I bathed with his scent, which was almost a sexual experience because of the way my brain would forever equate those scents. That smell, meant passion, and lust, and love, and orgasms. His scent was overwhelming, not like the scent of the most of the college boys that wore cheap or sample cologne they got from the mall. It wasn't overbearing or over applied. It was overwhelming because of the emotions it sent my way once it entered my nose and to my brain. It was like a drug. Like a drug inhaled through the nose and then shot in all directions of my body. His smell was a high in itself, and I was going through withdrawal. And here my addiction was, right in my face, the smell of my first orgasm dangling in the air. "You ok?" he asked me, looking concerned. I avoided eye contact, "Yea". And suddenly, I got angry. Angry as shit. Angry because I wasn't ok. I lost our baby just weeks prior. OUR baby. And he didn't even know. Here he was living his life like normal, with a new family and everything. And I had lost our child. And then that nasty thought entered my head. That thought I had forced out of my head a few times already. The thought I refuse to even mention now. "...Ok, Miss Knowles. See you at the meeting, tonight?" he said, breaking my brief moment of pure anger. I took a breath and finally looked in his eyes. "What meeting?" He looked taken back, "NAACP? For Camile? The final proposal is tonight". I had forgotten all about it. ALL about it. "...Oh, that meeting. Yeah. I will be there" I said. We shared a look at each other. I wanted him to be able to see through my short words and into my heart. I wanted him to be able to recognize I wasn't right and that he was breaking me down like a fraction. I wanted him to notice that I was

missing a piece of myself. I wanted him to notice he was missing a piece of himself. Notice I was different. Instead, he smiled, and sipped his coffee. "See you then" he said. He turned to leave, and I hated him for it. "Oh" he said turning around. Maybe there was hope yet. "Nice haircut. Looks nice on you" he said. I nodded, without a word, and he nodded back before leaving towards his office building. There were tons of students walking by us. Everyone focused on getting to their class. The usual excitement of a new semester in the surprisingly cold Florida air. The air was made a little bit more colder as I walked to my first class. This was my last semester of Gen Ed, as I would officially be an Education major once spring was over. I had a foreign language class along with a math class and two liberal arts classes, one of them again with Professor Pounder. She was one of the coolest ladies you would ever meet. Super funny, super engaging, and very knowledgeable. She had a tough exterior and a lot of people didn't like her because she was very demanding, but those that understood her methods, loved her. Her discussions rivaled Carters. The richness in the dialog and debate made attending every class fun. I was taking her Social Evolution course, and just like on the first day of the last class of hers I had taken, she taught it in a study hall, with about 50 or so students. Most of them were female, a few of them I knew, but no one I was really close to or anything. I decided to sit in the middle, my mind still on Carter. Pounder waited till we were all seated, and had someone pass out a syllabus. At the very top, right below the title of the course and her email address was a bolded rule. The number one rule for her class. DO NOT MISS CLASS. WE ONLY MEET ONCE A WEEK. BE HERE. She went over this rule several times when she started her lecture. A few kids made comments under their breath, talking about how they were going to intentionally break this rule. "This is a great class. Every year it produces great dialog. Great conversation. Great insight. And great people. But I have only one rule and one rule only. Come to class. This is my garden of eden, and I am sure some of you will want to test this rule" she said before laughing to herself. "So does that make you God?" someone blurted out, which brought about a few chuckles. Her smile dropped and she stared at the student as if she was insulted.

"You goddamn right" she said. I don't think any of us was quite prepared for that, but it was sure funny as hell in the way she said it. We started laughing and after a few seconds of her keeping that hard facial expression, she let her guards down and laughed right along with us. "I'm actually an atheist. Grew up Catholic. I'm also a mother, though I am a lesbian. I'm also a just-say-no-activist though I use to be a hippie, if you catch my drift" she smiled. A few more people laughed. "The point of that is to show that people. Individual people change. You aren't the same now as you were when you were in middle school. And you aren't the same when you were in middle school as you were in Pre School. Hell, even preschoolers and babies are night and day different. Growth is the defining characteristic of life. And that is what this class is about and that it's why it's important for you to come to every single class. Every class I will have a unique exercise that you have to be here for to get. Miss the class and you aren't growing. Anything short of death or giving birth to a baby is not a good reason to miss this class. So, yes, in this classroom, I am God. The sovereign figure in charge. And I am telling you, again. Don't miss my class" she said. Someone raised their hand. "What if we are sick and bring a doctors note?" "I don't want no doctors note. I want your butt sitting in that chair when we have class" she said. This didn't seem to appease anyone. So she smiled to herself.

"Ok. How about this. We only have 15 weeks in this course. That is 14 after today. And 13 after spring break. Only 13 classes. In the back of the syllabus, you will see that I only have us meeting 8 Mondays. The other weeks I have exercises for you to do online. So that leaves only 8 classes for you. 8. All 8 will be group discussions and evaluations. Can you be here, 8 out of 15 weeks?" she asked. The majority of the people that responded said yea, but there were a few still mouthing off over the rule. I didn't have an issue with it either way. I liked her classes and I was sure I would enjoy this class too. I was ready to grow. She ended up explaining what we would be doing this semester. Creating a profile of ourselves which included everything from religious status to sexual orientation. It was pretty invasive, but she said for us to be honest with ourselves if we wanted to get anything out of the course. I decided I'd sit down and fill out my profile later. We were also going to study the collective profile of America throughout the years, but focus on the last century. With Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton running for the Democratic domination, the relevance in the course material shot up tremendously. In just a generation, we were on the verge of a tangible social shift. The class wanted to mark both social and individual growth. I managed to break free of the thoughts of Carter as the class went on, which truly was a testament to how much I enjoyed the material, but when I left to go get exercise for a little bit, I couldn't help returning to the prior state of despair. I had to present my final proposal to the NAACP committee and the vote would determine if we would present it to the student body and staff. I had forgot that Carter told me he would help put up funds and that Jarvis was suppose to be researching what exactly we'd have to do to properly manage the foundation. He had called me numerous times during the break and left messages, but I had deleted all of them before I even listened. I was so disgusted at what happened that I didn't even want to hear his voice. He had been f*cking the guy I had been feeling since I came to this school. I wondered who was the top and who was the bottom. Who did the f*cking and who got f*cked. I just couldn't picture Tip being a faggot. But I caught him red handed. I caught my best male friend and the man I decided to sleep with, doing their thing behind my back. There was no coming back from that. And there wasn't any forgiveness in my heart for either of them. I worked up at the gym, running the treadmill to help relieve stress and keep my body in shape. I hadn't worked out in almost a month and I could see my belly returning. Or maybe it was the fact that I had been pregnant. I didn't know. But that nasty thought returned to my head. I shook my head and went for my ipod, turning it to hardcore metal music so cleanse it out. I didn't want to think about that. I couldn't handle that truth. I ran and eventually my thoughts settled back on Jarvis. I was going to have to suck it up and call him. I needed to know exactly what he had researched and see how it could help me with my proposal. I refused to go in front of them and half ass a proposal, embarrassing myself and shaming Camile. I had to have a plan together by this evening.

After an hour workout, I went home for a shower, and called Chris just so I could hear a soft voice. He was my refuge at this point in my life. That constant and consistent positive energy. I loved him for his energy. "Hey" I said while biting into an apple. "Hey" he said, "The hell are you eating?" "Guess" I smirked, still chewing on the first bite. "Fried chicken?" he said. I laughed. "You think all black people like chicken, or somethin'?" "I think all people like chicken. I could go for some KFC right now" he replied. "Eww. KFC is nasty. Too greasy. I like Popeyes, though" I said. "What is Popeyes?" I took another bite of the apple, "You don't know what Popeyes is, Christopher?" "I thought for sure he was a cartoon character". I shook my head, "Nevermind. Ima just have to take your ass there to get some one of these days. Keep guessing". "Keep eating. But crunch louder into the phone" he said. I giggled and took another bite, making sure to chew it obnoxiously loud into the phone mouthpiece. "Popcorn?" "Chris, why would I be eating popcorn for brunch?" "Uncooked Ramen noodles?" he asked. I laughed loud, "Ugh. You mean out of the pack? Where they do that, at?" "FAMU, apparently. I saw someone walking around campus eating one like it was a candy bar". I laughed, "KEEP GUESSING". "Pop rocks and coke?" he said. I could tell he was intentionally getting it wrong now. "Dude, you suck at guessing" I smiled. "I bet you are eating a green apple" he responded.

I looked down at the green apple I was eating. I don't know why I looked down, as if I needed to validate. I laughed at myself. "How'd you know?" "You had some green apples on the table this morning". "Then that doesn't count as a guess. You still suck. Ha!" "Ahhh" he laughed, "So it's like that?" "Yep. What are you doing anyway?" I asked. "I was writing". "For class?" I sarcastically said, knowing it wasn't. He chuckled, "Now who is the sucky guesser?" "I hope you're writing a song about me" I said, flirtatiously. "If I did, it would be called stinky apples". My mouth dropped and an ugly laughed escaped. "And why is that?" "I told you already. You know how some people sleeptalk? Or eat in their sleep? Or crazy things like that. Well, you fart in your sleep. All night. It's hilarious" he said. I could have been embarrassed, but I wasn't. And that made me smile. Made me happy too. I wasn't easily embarrassed by him. I probably would have died if Carter had told me the same exact thing. Instead, I laughed. I was always very conscious of making sure not to even burp in his presence. I had burped the alphabet with Chris. And then, a terrible thought entered my head. What if Carter had heard my apparent sleeping gas when I was sleeping with him? Oh man. Damn. "You ok?" he asked. "Do it stank? When I do it?" I asked. He chuckled, "Did you hear when I said, stinky apples?" "Is it loud? Like, what they sound like?" He laughed, "Like farts". "No. I mean. Like there are different kinds. Are they like, squeaky" I said before making a squeaky fart sound, "Or like, rough, like this" I said before making a rough fart noise. He laughed hard.

"It's like a mix. Short farts. Long farts. Bubbly ones too. It's like an orchastra going on in the bed. Trumpets and drums , and bells, and saxaphone solos. You have amazing talent". I couldn't help but giggle at this. "Did you say, bells, Chris?" He tried to keep a straight tone, but even he had to burst out laughing at his description. It was infetious. We both were laughing hysterically. He was still laughing when I tried to bring it back down. It was funny, but the thought that Carter had seen what Chris had seen wasn't very amusing to me. "You are exaggerating, ain't you? Tryna make me feel bad" I said. "I am a musician, Beyonce. And I am envious of you" he laughed. "Is that the real reason you got up and wrote the song?" I asked. He laughed, "It contributed. Hard to sleep when every five minutes, there is a full orchestra in the room". "Every five minutes? You serious? I don't do it that much" I argued. He laughed. "For real, Chris? That is bad if it's true. That's unladylike. Are you for real, though? I do it all night?" I asked, trying to picture Carter's expression if I was laying in bed with him, sleep, yet making music, which is what Chris and I were starting to call it. "The suspense is killing me. I hope it will last" Chris said, an obvious Wonka quote. "Grr. You've seen way too much of me" I said jokingly. He took it as more than a joke. "Is that a bad thing?" he said, no trace of laughter. "No. Not a bad thing. Just kind of weird. No guy has ever seen that side of me". "I feel privileged. To see Beyonce fart" he said. "No. Not that. I mean. That, yeah. But just everything.....everything that you have seen" I said. There was a small pause. Just that tiny bit of empty dead air on the line where you briefly regret something you've said and wonder what the conversation will turn into. "I understand you, Beyonce. I understand what you are saying". "Thank you...for understanding".

There was another small pause. This one more comforting than the last. The bit of empty dead air on the line where you both feel at ease with something that had been said. "Well, Chris. I just wanted to hear your voice. And talk with you. I will let you get back to your writing". "Talk?" he said. I giggled to myself. I knew what he was referencing. "Yep. Talk. I love talking to you". "Yes. We have good talks" he responded. "Good? Great talks". "Super Duper, amazing talks" he said quickly. "Hot, spicy, passionate, talks" I added. "Rough, aggressive, ass smacking, talks" he countered. "Tasty, sweet, finger licking talks". "Drop of milk in hot cocoa, burn your tongue, but still delicious, talks" he said, putting the nail in the coffin. I laughed, "Bye, Christopher". "Bye stinky apples". We hung up and I felt good. He had that effect on me. But I did resent him giving me a nickname based on my nightly gas. What was with dudes picking unflattering things and nicknaming me after them? First 16, and now stinky apples? Men and their terrible nicknames for women. ** I avoided eye contact as I made my way into the conference room for our board meeting. Well, I avoided contact with the two people that mattered. Both Carter and Jarvis were people I couldn't look in the eye at this point, even if it was for vastly different reasons. A few hours prior, I had talked with Jarvis on the phone. It was a miserable 4 minute and 23 second talk in which he told me what his research produced and tried to apologize. I told him to keep it strictly professional and focus on the meeting. I had to admit, when I gave him the cold shoulder like that I felt kind of bad. It really did sound as if he was sorry for what had happened. And I had never known Jarvis to be someone that could stay humble for five minutes, let alone several weeks, but ever since the incident he had been calling me and trying to get things right. That was partially what made it difficult to look at him as I stepped inside. I wish I had it like Rihanna where I could be a cold b*tch that wasn't swayed emotion.

But at my core I was a big baby, and it was hard for me to hold grudges or not feel sorry for people. It was my weakness. Compassion. Having a heart. All of that shit I hoped to shed with my new haircut and a new outlook. People could hurt you, especially the ones you considered friends or lovers. I didn't want to give those people the power over me anymore. The power to make me cry or make me not eat or make me wonder why I am not good enough. I refused to go back to that place. "Hey, Bee" Jarvis said when I had sat down and was pulling out my folder. I smiled and finally made eye contact with him, for the first time since I found out. I really got angry when I saw him and heard his voice, but I held it together. This was for Camile and girls like her. I couldn't let my pride get in the way of this. I was 10 minutes early and when I got there only Jarvis, Nicki, and two others were there. The rest came in late, as usual, acting like it was a chore to be here instead of a privilege. We got right down to business, although without Carter who would be coming in later. Jarvis and I presented the idea, the nuts and bolts of keeping it going, and why it would be good for not only the girls it would be helping, but also the school. Not only were the students impressed, but the select faculty in attendance were as well. And for a split second, Jarvis and I were a team, passing the floor back and forth to each other as he explained the part he had researched and I explained my overall vision. "I even believe in a few years or so, we could also set up a scholarship for the same girls that are being tutored now" I said. "What are the funds coming from?" Nicki asked. I felt kind of nervous because Carter still wasn't there yet, and I wanted him to be able to confirm everything to them that I was saying. "Professor Carter said he would start it off" I said. They all eyed each other at this statement but no one scoffed at the idea. They all seemed to love it, and with a unanimous vote, they decided to go through with it. It would be top priority at our next meeting for the student body. "That was really a good idea" Nicki said out loud, to anyone that listened. For some reason, I blushed when she said this. As much as I hated the check, I did know she was smart as hell and focused when it came to academics and clubs. Her opinion really did mean a lot, although I wouldn't ever tell her that. For once, she seemed like an alright chick. On Thursday, we had a meeting open to everyone and presented the idea. My public speaking course had really improved the way I spoke in front of people. But the thing that helped me the most wasn't that. It was my life modeling job. Getting naked in front of people every week had desensitized me to a lot of those butterflies. I still got nervous, I was still shy. But I wasn't the same shy 16 year old that was afraid to even raise my hand in a class. I felt confidence in front of people now.

Although I really did think the Camile Project was worth pursuing, I would have never guessed it would have been as widely liked as it was. A week after the presentation, the group home manager, me, Carter and Jarvis all sat down and discussed the foundation. Carter paid for a professional to build the website and opened an account. I talked to Camile over the phone, and she seemed excited about the idea. Unexpectedly, the President of FAMU, Mr. Ammons called me into his office and essentially kissed my ass, saying me and Jarvis had a great idea on our hand. "You two are doing a great job with NAACP. Better than in previous years, that's for sure" he said. I smiled, "Thank you". I always felt embarrassed when I was getting a lot of praise. I never knew what to say. He went on to talk about how I was doing in my classes and what I would be majoring in. He was the new President of FAM, so this would be a big project on his watch. He wanted to know the people in charge of it, personally. It was my idea, but Jarvis was president of NAACP, so he got a ton of the credit. And with him running for Government, it would definitely help him in the long run. I wanted to be kind of salty that he was getting kudos for it, but I couldn't dwell on that. After all, this was for Camile. It didn't matter who came up with the idea. The school paper ended up doing an article on it and they originally only interviewed Jarvis and the assistant President for quotes. "I think the southeast is filled tragic stories of underprivileged teens. We feel as an organization it's our duty to do what we can to help" Jarvis said in the paper. It was going to print without any mention of me, and I was the one who came up with it. But Carter came to the rescue on that one. He had early access to the papers and he demanded, behind closed doors, that they interview me and include my quotes. The paper was to be printed the next morning, so the person who wrote the paper, a friend of Michelle, called me at 12 a.m from the school to get some quotes from me. "So when did the idea for this come about?" the sleepy student asked. "Right before Christmas. She called me and I obviously as you know she can't talk, so I had to try and figure out what was going on with her. I just thought it was a shame that after all this time, she is still struggling with reading and writing. I think all of the girls in the group homes I visited should get better education than that". He sounded bored by it all but he kept asking questions he had obviously written down. When he was done he asked for my major. "I will be an Education major come the summer" I said. "Ok. Well, thanks Beyonce. And sorry about calling so late" he said. "No problem. Thanks for including me".

I hung up, feeling more excited than I should have been late at night. Excited and thankful. No one had looked out for me on this, except the man I was still deeply in love with. Carter basically had them reprint thousands of papers, and work late into the night, so that the story would rightfully include me. It felt good to know that through all of this, that man still had my best interest at heart. He was still uncomfortably charming and attentive to me, which only made trying to move on worse. In the back of my head, I was constantly having flashbacks and remembering our moments together. I wondered was it possible for him to continue on without having those same flashbacks. I wanted to ask him, I really did. But I didn't want to make a fool of myself yet again. I felt like I would rather act like I didn't care and not be hurt than to openly wear my heart on my sleeve for him to only push me away and remind me that I'm an immature little girl. I got an email from him to stop by his office and get a pair of shoes I had left over his house. When I did come, the butterflies were had me biting all of my poor nails. But i had to compose myself. I had to prove I could be mature and move on. His door was halfway open and he was talking with a student when I peaked in. The student, seemingly upset about her grade, turned around and looked at me. "I'll be right with you, Miss Knowles" Carter said. "Oh. Sorry" I said before stepping back out and sitting in a chair by the door. I could still hear everything that was going on inside. "I thought I followed all of the directions" the girl said. "I told you to answer a specific question. You wrote 5,000 words, but didn't answer my question. Not once. I can't give you a passing grade when you didn't answer. Regardless of how well it was written". I smiled to myself. This sounded like me, my freshman year with him. "There are still 2 more papers. Do well on them and you will be fine" he said. She had an attitude, I could tell because I heard her snatch a paper from him and walk out of the door mumbling to herself. I wanted to tell her I knew the feeling. Frustrating as hell. I put my purse around my shoulder and made my way into his office, where he was grinning. "Freshman" he said with an abrasive laugh. "What's wrong with freshman?" I asked. "They know everything. But don't know anything" he said, "And they talk but never listen". I rolled my eyes, "All freshman?" He nodded his head, "All freshman".

"Well what about sophomores?" I asked. He smiled, "Sophomores are a little better. They survived that first culture shock. But they still think everyone is out to get them". "And why would a man that feels that way, only teach freshman and sophomores?" I asked. "I enjoy humbling them". "Is that what you did to me?" I asked. His face changed. I could tell he was joking, but took my question as more than that. We had a stare off for a few moments, and then he reached down between his desk and pulled out a brown paper bag. I assumed it contained the heels he had bought me and I left over there. He handed me the bag. I took it, but my feet stayed glued to the floor. Was I just suppose to leave? I felt a knot in my throat because when I walked closer to get the bag, I was able to smell his scent. It drove me wild. He smelled so good. He smelled like my first orgasm. "You're doing a good thing, Miss Knowles. With Camile. I want you to know. I am proud of you". I didn't say anything. Sounding about him calling me Miss Knowles, in private, pissed me off. I could see him doing it in public. But why behind closed doors? Did he think acting like we were only teacher and student change the fact that we were forever more than that? "What's in the bag" I asked. He knew. I knew. He knew that I knew. But I wasn't going to let him off like that. I would act the hell out. Dumb and oblivious. Since he wanted to play that game of our past didn't happen. I wouldn't let him give me this damn bag unless he acknowledged where it came from and what it represented. "What do you mean?" he asked, eye raised. "This big you just gave me, Mr. Carter. What is it? Why are you giving it to me?" "It's yours" he answered, looking hard at me. "It is? What is it? What's in the box?" I smiled. He knew what was going on. He caught on easy. But I could tell he didn't like it. I could tell he wanted this process to be as painless as possible. Give me back all of my stuff on the sly, like we were never lovers. Like I never sucked his dick in the hair he sat in. Like he never ate my pussy on that desk. Like we never loved each other. He stood up and I stood my ground. He walked from around his desk slowly, taking his time and still keeping his eye on me. The closer he got, the stronger his scent became, and the weaker my knees became. He walked past me and looked outside of his office before closing the door all the way. We were now, all alone.

We faced each other and I swallowed hard. I wanted this man. I could see in his eyes that he still wanted me. A few months ago, in this same situation, our hands would have been all over each other. But now, I fought against my instincts and focused all of my will power to keep my hands lifeless at my side. "Beyonce, can't you see this is hard for me too?" he asked, breaking the silence. I didn't say anything. "What do you want me to do?" he asked. "Follow your heart" I responded. "I made my decision, Bee". "Did you follow your heart?" "I did the right thing. The ethical choice. The one you would make if you were in my shoes. The only one I could make and live with". "Oh please, Shawn. What is right about it?" "Rosario is sick, Beyonce. She is dying. Every day. She is dying. DYING. My child is watching her mother deteriorate before her eyes. My daughter is losing her best friend. The pain they are experiencing right now, is more important to me, than the hurt I am feeling by not having you. As it should be, Beyonce. I love you. You know that. But, I made the right choice. Accept it". His voice cracked as he spoke. I could see the veins popping out of his neck. I saw the beads of sweat on his forehead as well as the lines of stress on his cheeks. I hadn't noticed it before but I saw Shawn clearly at that moment. He was hurting. He looked burnt out. Like he had aged 10 years in a month. Behind the cologne and the nice clothes and the smile, was a man hurting. "I love you" I said, unable to control my emotions. They always got the best of me. They always would. There was a knock on the door, and we both jumped. I wiped my red eyes, when I noticed tears were there and he coughed before heading before telling them to come in. I turned and it was another student. The student looked at me, drying my eyes which were obviously filled with tears. He seemed taken back by it. "Just, write the next paper like I told you and you'll be fine, Miss Knowles. Just remember what I said. Make the right choice" Carter said. I turned to him. It was time to say goodbye, yet again. So much for being able to keep it together and pretend I didn't care. "Thanks....Mr. Carter" I said before walking past the student. I walked right into the girls restroom and cried in the stall. **

I loved Chris's messy bedroom. It had a charm to it that made me feel so comfortable. His bed was never made, he had his guitar on the side and shoes sprawled across the carpet and a bean bag chair with books by it. It was organized confusion that fit him perfectly. His room smelt good, but not in a sexy sort of way. Just fresh. The Willy Wonka posters on the wall only completed the room. The first time I came over, I sat on the bean bag as we watched TV and talked. By the forth visit, when I came over, I'd kick off my shoes and make my way to his bed as if it was mine. His room had that effect. Or maybe it was his personality that extended to the bedrooms allure. I found myself comparing being in Chris apartment to being in Carters home. There were so many differences, but both of them made me feel good in a way. Carters place was so clean and neat, spotless even. When I slid in his bed, on his silk sheets, I felt like royalty. Like a sexy mature woman experiencing the best in life. It made me want to have sex. It made me want to be naked underneath that heavy blanket. But on the flipside, it made me self conscious of not messing anything up. I made sure to not make a mess when over his house because I didn't want to be corrected like a child. Carters place was nice and eloquent, but it was sometimes intimidating. I felt like if I dropped a crumb on the floor, he would trip. I would always fold my clothes and put my belongings neatly in a pile by the bed. I was

ever so conscious of keeping everything in their right place. So while I felt comfortable, I also felt on edge. Like I had to maintain. It was different at Chris's place. His place wasn't dirty by any means, but it wasn't neat and tidy either. Pillows on his sofa didn't look strategically placed. Picture frames weren't perfectly straight. His closet wasn't organized by color. It was a simple place. Simple colors and simple decorations and simple style. But it was the simplicity that gave me a complex set of emotions everytime I visited. I would have no issue jumping in Chris bed when I needed to have some fun, something I would never do on that expensive bed Carter had. And Chris and I did just that one day when I visited. He had a small basketball hoop that stuck to the wall we ended up playing a game on the bed, using it's spring as a trampoline. We used his rolled up socks as a ball. After I dunked on him to win the game, we collapsed on the bed, laughing uncontrollably. I was starving. We ended up ordering pizza and eating in bed and watching a marathon of Family Guy. This was how we spent our days together. It was a different sort of date. Instead of going out at a fancy restaurant, coming back and listening to jazz or having a deep convo like I would do with Carter before f*cking him with all my being, I would come to Chris house and he'd make hamburger helper and we'd eat in his bed and watch whatever was on TV. It was simple. But I loved every minute of it. I loved feeling so comfortable with him. One Thursday morning, a day neither of us had school, I came to his crib to chill before I had to leave for work. I brought him some breakfast some Mcdonalds and we ate hotcakes, and hash browns, and biscuits, everything drowned with syrup. He was shirtless, like he often was in the morning, while I was fully dressed in pants and a sweater. It was a bit cold when I woke up that morning. There wasn't much on TV so after eating we cut it off, I dropped my sweater, and and we both laid in his bed. He told me he was doing better this semester and that his dad was threatening to cut him off in the way my parents had did if he didn't improve his grades. "It's good that he is being hard on you. No excuse for you to be slacking like that" I said. "I hear you. But my music is still my priority, Beyonce. It's my dream. You have to follow your heart, right?" "Yeah. Follow your heart, Chris. But still have a backup plan" I said. "What's your backup plan?" he asked. "Work with my mom. She has her own restaurant". He laughed, "Really? That's my backup plan too". "To own a restaurant?" "No. To work with my parent. I figured if my music didn't work out. I'd enlist in the military".

I laughed, "Your scrawny ass. You wouldn't last". "And what makes you think you would last in the kitchen? Didn't your family say you almost burned down the house?" he smirked. It was on. I pushed him. He pushed me back. And we started play fighting in his bed. I won, like I always did, when I got the upper hand by pinning him. I was on top of him holding his wrist against the bed, my legs straddling both sides of his waist. And when we stopped laughing, we both felt the tingle. We breathed hard and heavy. And then, I felt it. His erection touched against my inner thigh. I looked down at it and then back at him. I wanted sex. The same way I wanted sex when I was at Tip's apartment after our date. I looked down at my friend and wondered could I use him as a means to have an orgasm. "People....people think we are having sex" Chris said, our eyes keyed in. "Maybe we should" I responded, again peaking at his dick pressed against his pajama pants. He grabbed my ass and I bent over and we started kissing. I kissed him aggressively, kissing his face, so rough and prickly from not shaving, and then his lips. I kissed his chin and his cheeks and his nose while he started lifting up my shirt. I stopped kissing him long enough for the short to get it over my head. I went back to kissing him as he went for my black bra strap. After struggling with it for a few seconds, he managed to unsnap it. I rolled over in bed and covered my breast as the bra came off. He didn't give me a chance to recover from the shock of what was about to happen, as he started kissing my neck. I closed my eyes and rubbed his hair. Finally, I was about to get what my body had needed for so long. Touch. Affection. Sex. He got on top of me and kissed me softly. Hips lips felt wonderful. His tongue felt even better. I wanted him bad. I had been so frustrated, sexually and emotionally, but Chris was always the one that would help relieve it. He would do it in subtle ways. By making me laugh or making me forget about my issues for a second. But now, he was going to do it by f*cking me. Or he would have, if that nasty thought didn't enter my head. Everytime it did, I felt nauseous. I felt like a horrible person. Dirty and unable to be loved. I felt guilty and ashamed. And I started to cry as Chris unzipped my pants. When he came back and saw I had tears, he stopped frozen. "What's wrong?" I couldn't talk. I felt hot and short of breath. I was sweating hard. I felt like I was going to pass out. I couldn't even speak, I just kept stuttering. "I...I" I couldn't breath enough to get it out. He stood up, unable to understand what was going on with me. "I will be right back" he said before running out of the room.

I grabbed my top and clung it to my chest, although I still didn't know what was going on. Was I having a nervous breakdown? A heart attack? What was wrong with me? Chris returned with some water and a wet rag and he wiped my head and put the glass up to my lips and helped me drink. I felt like a child. I looked up at him like he was a doctor. I was once again so humiliated. My body. What was wrong with my body? My body was betraying me again. AGAIN. It wouldn't even let me have sex. "Breathe. Stop holding your breath, Beyonce" he said. I gasped for air like someone who had been submerged in water did when they finally came up for a hit of air. I was shaking and I felt as naked as I have ever felt in my life. More naked than I was in front of those students. He was rubbing my back and telling me to keep breathing. I did like he told me to. He coached me through breathing like a dad did with teaching his son how to ride a bike on training wheels. Eventually, the room stopped spinning and I felt some semblance of normalcy. My head was still spinning though, because I didn't understand what had happened to me and why it happened. It was like I couldn't do anything right. It was like my body was incapable of functioning like a normal persons body did. How was it possible, that I freaked the f*ck out when I attempted to have sex? "What's wrong with me" I said to myself out loud. "You had a panic attack, I think" Chris said, looking at me hard. "A what?" "My sister had them. I think that's what happened to you. The same look in your face is what I would see in hers. But I think you should call your doctor, just in case" he said. I shook my head. I didn't want to go to a doctor. "Beyonce. You really need to see a doctor. After the miscarriage-" "Chris. No" I said, "I...just need to rest for a little bit". He looked angry at me. A look I wasn't use to. Not from him, anyway. "Please....I just...need to rest. I will be ok". "Beyonce, I am concerned about your health. Even if you don't go today, can you promise me you will go see a doctor?" I nodded my head. I didn't know if I actually would. But I just said yes so he could be appeased. I laid down and somehow, I drifted off to sleep. I ended up having a nightmare. But the nightmare was reality. In my dream, I was happy that I had a miscarriage. Happy that my body found a way to do what my mind wouldn't let me do. It was the nasty thought that I kept forcing myself to not think about. The fact that I was happy that I lost my baby. That I could blame it on my body and not my heart. That I wouldn't have to live with that responsibility or confront Carter or be seen as a failure.

In my dream, I saw two Beyonces. One with long pretty hair, the other with short hair. The one with long hair was pregnant. A huge belly bump. She was crying too. The other me was smiling. Pushing the pregnant Beyonce down. When she fell on the ground, clouds circled and the rain poured. She had killed the other me. I woke up in a sweat. Chris was right there trying to calm me down. I had to get out of there. I had to get the hell out of there. I had successfully managed to avoid the thought that I was relieved to have miscarried, but something at Chris place had triggered it in a way that had me panicking and unable to run from my biggest fear. "Where are you going?" he asked me. "To work" I blurted, grabbing my purse and shoes. I left his place with him trailing behind. I was sure he would forever think I was a crazy, unstable, chick. And the sad part of it was that he'd be right in thinking it. ** In the two weeks after my breakdown I had visited a doctor, who confirmed that he did believe I had a panic attack. He said I was under heavy stress and said there was medicine I could take for it if it continued. But I wasn't interested in any drugs. I simply hated that my body was always going through things that I had no control over. They found no other noticeable medical issues with me. Chris went to the doctor with me and met me outside of the door. He went with me because he knew I wouldn't go unless I was forced to. I wanted to be annoyed at him for steadily reminding me to take care of myself, but I couldn't. He cared about me. He really cared. I couldn't hate him for caring. It was valentines day and I had to go to work so after my doctors visit we said our goodbyes and I left for the life drawing class. He had sang me a song. Not as emotionally moving as the other song. This one was about stinky apples. That was the name of it. It made me laugh hard. He could be so goofy. But he had me smiling as I drove out of the city to my spot. The spot I had kept from everyone but Chris. He was the only one, aside from Rihanna and my parents, that I was doing this. It had happened so fast. I had become a pro at it. Dropping my clothes and posing had become second nature. I found a certain release in it. To disrobe before anxious eyes and control the flow of an entire class. Finding ways to position my body and finding the inner strength to allow them to see me as free and naked as I could be. Every time I felt weak, like I had nothing else to give. I'd go to that class, and draw from inner strength that I could only find at that humble place. I loved doing it. And I wasn't going to stop because it made me feel strong. It made me feel beautiful. It made me feel alive. On this day, I was smiling more than usual as I posed. This was a new class for me; motion drawing and it was only the third time I had posed for them. There were 6 different nude drawing classes going on between three locations in two cities, four of them by the academy and two of them on a college campus. I became a pretty connected model. They liked that I was consistent, in good shape, and had curves, which was more interesting to draw. I was also on call on

most days because this was a high turnover position. Some strippers only came by when they needed a buck. Some people only did it because of a life long fantasy but only would do it once. And some booked but never showed up at all. So I was a backup model that they knew they could count on. I booked classes all over. Each class was different, but the same basic principles applied for each. Disrobe, do a series of warm up poses, 30 seconds. Move on to minute long poses, then five. Then take a break and move on to the longer poses. Most of the poses I learned just by looking at art and copying them. But some of them I created on the spot. Some poses I felt inspired to do. Unless there was something specific the instructor wanted me to do, the floor was mine. The three hour class, would flow at the pace of my body. A body that I ironically hated except for when it was on display for the artist. They saw my nakedness as art. Something special and worth exploring for hours. Every detail interpreted by their imagination. That was the only time I really felt comfortable in my own skin. Being naked, for them. "You seem especially smiley today, Beyonce. Got a special valentine?" one of the ladies asked me as I posed. I held pose and smiled. When I first started doing it, I couldn't talk while posing because I had to focus so much on not moving. But over the months I had learned how to talk a little while keeping a pose steady. Some classes were talkative and some were quiet. It depended on the artist, mostly. But since I was the model, I usually had ultimate control of the class setting. Today, I felt like talking and I also had soft music playing in the background. "I do" I smiled as I lay on my back, my legs tucked beneath me; my toes against my lower back.

One guy had a clear view of my crotch and I was definitely going to check out his drawing when we had a break. "Tell us about this valentine" another lady said. She was in her 40's and was a mother of 3. I liked her. She was pretty lousy at drawing, but she had a great sense of humor and a warm smile. "Well...he's someone at my school. Really sweet. My best male friend, actually. He sang me a song today". "A song? That IS sweet. I wish someone would sing me a song" the 40 year old lady said, obviously talking about her husband who was a row behind her. A few people laughed.

"What was the name of the song?" I blushed. I couldn't tell these people what that boy had wrote about me. They picked up on it. I was pale in the winter so my flushed cheeks were clearly visible on my peach skin. "Aww. Don't be shy. What's it called?" the guy with the crotch view said. "....Stinky Apples" I smiled. Everyone in the class stopped for a minute. They were confused, I guess. "Oh I get it" the mother said before holding her tongue and saying it out loud. They all laughed. I laughed too and my timer went off. On my break I called Chris and told him I wanted to see him tonight. I wanted to spend the rest of my valentines with him. ** "So now you are canceling our movie date? That's messed up Rih" I teased over the phone. "Oh hush, we can go see a movie tomorrow" she said. "So who is she?" I asked, referencing the friend that had showed up at her front door in need of a place to stay. "An old friend. Chick that was my best friend when I moved here. She had left...but I guess she's back in Florida now". "I feel like I'm being replaced" I pouted. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go hang out with that white boy" she laughed. "Hey now. He has a name". "He does. White boy". "Rih, you are half white". "I'm half Italian. Huge difference". "What-Ever. Anyway, let me meet yo friend". "Bee, trust me. You don't want to". "Why don't I?" "Because she is even crazier than I am. No. You don't wanna meet her". "Oh, but I do. I wanna see who use to be your bestie before I came in the picture". "Did you just say bestie? Why must you torture me with that girly lingo?"

"Shut up. You like it. That's why I'm your bestie, now. You love me, chick. Don't front". "I won't love you if you keep booking up all the classes. They don't even wanna draw my ass no more" she laughed. "Yeah. They can't get enough of me. It's so lovely to be wanted". She giggled, "You are becoming more conceited by the day. I can't even lie though. You are a bad b*tch". "You are steeeeel the baddest" I said. "Kiss my ass when I need you too. I'm bout to entertain this b*tch, and I will talk to you tomorrow, ok?" she said. "I'm bout to go to Chris house. But let me stop by to meet her tonight? I gotta ride past your place anyway". "Damn, you really wanna meet her, don't you?" "I do. I'm serious, Rih. I don't wanna be replaced as your bestie". "Ugh. Stop using that word. I get itchy everyime you say it. But come on. We'll be here". I showered, got dressed, and made my way over to Rih's so I could meet this girl that would be staying with her. Rihanna didn't sound too enthused with the girl showing up, but since they use to be best friends I was alarmingly curious about their backstory. And I was curious about who this girl was, especially after Rih said she was crazier than she was. I got a call back from Rih right as I was leaving. "Could you do me a favor?" she asked. "What?" "Could you stop at Public and bring this b*tch some Butter Peacan Ice Cream. I don't feel like going to get it you could you?" I laughed, "Damn, this girl got you going out to get ice cream?" "Just bring it, Bee. Bye". I stopped at Publix, and got a small thing of it. Shit, they ain't give me no money for it, I wasn't about to get a huge box of it. I was even more intrigued with meeting her now. I knocked on the front door just as the sun was starting to set. Rih opened. She was fully clothed, which was kind of unusual because she was always half naked when I came over. I don't think the girl liked clothes. I handed her the ice cream as she blocked the door and started looking past her trying to find the friend.

"Where she at?" I said, peaking in. She giggled at me but continued blocking the door. "Move" I said. "My-YUH. Get your ass out here" Rih screamed. "WHY?" I heard a scream from the bedroom. "Cuz I said so" Rih screamed back. Out emerged the mysterious old friend. She looked Indian, crazy sense of style and a vibrant smile to match. I couldn't keep my eyes off her at first. She just looked so interesting. "Who dis?" she said as Rih moved out of the way and let me in. "This is my girl, Beyonce. Bee, this is my girl, Maya". "Messy Maya" the girl corrected her. "Messy Maya" Rih sarcastically repeated. I went to shake the girls hand but she pulled me in for a hug. "Bee. I warned you about Maya. She don't have em all" Rih said. "Beyonce. I like that name. You black?" she asked me. Question kind of took me back to Nicki, and I hoped this wouldn't be deja vu. "Yes. I'm black. You?" I asked. She laughed, "No. I ain't black. Ever heard of Sri Lanka?" I laughed, "Um..." "That's that FAMU, geography education" Rihanna joked. "Oh you go to FAM?" Maya asked. "Yeah. Unfortunately" I said, looking at Rih. "Why unfortunately? Girl, don't let Rih make ya shame over your school. At least you are in school" she said, sticking her tongue out afterward at Rih. My phone started ringing; it was Chris. They let me be as I answered the phone and told him I would be on my way. We decided we'd meet at the movie theater since Rih had canceled on me. I hung up and looked back towards them. They had spoons and were both digging in the ice cream. Maya took a spoon full and extended it to me, "Want some, Beyonce? It's good". I shook my head, "Nah. I'm fine. Anyway I gotta head o