• JoyBussuAuthor

I don't want to...

If there has ever been a time in my life that I have uttered those words more than I have in the past week, I honestly don't remember it. Like the rest of you, I simply don't want to! I don't want to stay home indefinitely but I don't want to go to work and risk exposure either! I don't want to spend the first days of spring under quarantine but going to places like the empty grocery stores is a contact, sad reminder of how some of us are being right now and it really sucks! I don't want to hear my grandson cry because he misses me and hasn't seen me since Christmas and now that here it is spring break, the time I told him he could come over again and guess what because of all the risks involved he cant. Now that really broke my heart!

I have never felt so trapped in my entire life and it has really messed with my peace of mind, however, you all know me and how I am so I am really trying to my best to find a silver lining in this new normal I find myself in.

I keep reminding myself I have had to get used to a new normal after my breast cancer and I can do it again. First and foremost I pray constantly not just for me or my family but for all of us as a whole.

Secondly, I really am trying to find a reason for all of this and here's what I came up with at least for myself anyway, this is my reset, to take and have the actual time to change all of those things in my life that I'm unsatisfied or unhappy with. So I'm taking this time to come out even better on the other side.

Time to face and exorcise my own personal demons especially now that they are twerking in my damn office in plain sight no longer hidden by the guise of mi Vida Loca (More time on my hands, might as well learn a new language!).

So in these trying times, I'm going to stop whining about what I don't want to do and do what I still have the power to do, be there for people, stay uplifted and write my ass off all while riding this insane wave with the rest of you!

Until next time my Lovelies, please try to remember to be kind to one another and leave that 'I got mine get yours' mentality in the gutter where it belongs.

Light and Love today and always,

Natalie L. Gamble, Author

Here is an extra-long episode of Light Eyed Girl, enjoy!

Chapter 4

I continued to go to Reggie's every weekend I could and worked even harder on his song, I figured it would show him my true feeling and sex wouldn't matter.

Every time I saw him he was still his normal loving attentive self so it made it easier. It took two months to finish it. Tori and I recorded it at the career training center studio, I poured my heart and soul into ‘Reaching out for something to hold’ and planned on giving it to him for our six month anniversary.

I asked Aunt Bettie to drop me off at my house after choir rehearsal. Tony was going with me so he could finally meet Reggie since it looked like he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.

“Call me and tell me how he liked his song,” Tori called after me when I climbed out of the car.

“Ok I will Tori, thanks Auntie,” I called back, butterflies danced in my stomach. Raunda was already out with Jam.

I ran up to my house and Tony met me at the door. “You ready or do you need to primp first?” He teased.

I playfully pushed him. “Whatever Tony let's go.”

We got into my mom's car and I gave him directions to Reggie's house.

“Hey Tony I'm surprising him with this. He thinks I'm coming over with Raunda and Jam. Do you mind waiting for a few?” I asked, we had just pulled up at Reggie's.

“Sure no problem I’ll be right here.” He turned off the ignition but not the radio, putting the car in park.

I ran up the stairs and knocked on the door, as usual, I could hear Reggie's music. My heart was racing, flipping the tape over and over in my hand nervously. What if he didn't like it?” I shook that thought away as Larry opened the door letting me in, he was eating a bowl of noodles. He smiled in my direction before going back to his room.

I knocked on Reggie's door and assumed he couldn't hear me so I opened his door and almost fainted. There was Reggie, sexing another girl! His eyes were closed so he didn't notice me until the tape slipped out of my hand and hit the floor with a loud clatter on the hardwood.

“Oh shit Nikki!” He pushed her off of him, quickly grabbing a sheet to cover himself. I was numb, my heart was breaking into a million pieces, I was so fucking stupid!

After several tense minutes of staring at my worst nightmare, I finally found my voice “You lying asshole, no wonder you had no problem with waiting.”

I closed my eyes and willed myself not to cry, he wasn't worth my tears.

He was in front of me trying to plead his case, still holding onto the sheet. “Baby please listen, I'm sorry I love you, don't leave me this was a mistake!”

The girl was covered up on the bed, shooting daggers in my direction, like this drama was my fault and not Reggie’s cheating ass!

“You love her?! A mistake huh?” She snapped coming off the bed grabbing her clothes as she went.

I rolled my eyes and backed away from him, throwing my hands up when he tried to touch me. “Save it.”

I rushed out of the house and back to the car and my brother who was about to get out.

“Tony please drive! Just take me home please don't say a word just drive!” Antony drove off just as Reggie reached the porch. I closed my eyes and fought back more tears, I couldn't believe what just happened but then again I could, I had been warned.

When we arrived home I jumped out of the car and ran downstairs towards my room. Tony followed me inside and stopped me before I reached my room, he didn’t say a word as he hugged me, he didn’t need to know what happened he just knew I was hurting.

The floodgate opened and I cried and cried until my entire body ached, when I was out of tears I told my brother about everything including the terrible night I wanted to forget.

A month later Reggie gave a show at our neighborhood rec center, I laughed when Tony showed me the flyer and told me we were going, even told my beloved brother he was out of his rabid ass mind!

Him, Raunda and Tori said I would never be able to move on unless I faced Reggie so reluctantly I went. I saw him up on stage and felt like I had been stabbed in the heart all over again.

I remember watching him mix and scratch with his group and before I was always so proud, now for a fleeting moment I wished for a bow and arrow, wanting him to fill a fraction of the pain I felt.

At intermission, I was trying to convince everyone I was okay and ready to go when he walked up to us.

“Hello Nikki, can talk to you for a minute?” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Raunda grab Tony's arm to keep him from walking up on Reggie.

“Yeah? What do you want?” I looked over at him shaking my head.

“I wanted to tell you I'm sorry.” He pushed his hands in his front pockets, looking uncomfortable and sad.

I laughed a little, “And did you really think that's going to fix anything?!” I closed my eyes for a minute to check my tears, reminding myself yet again he wasn’t worth not even one of them.

He sighed, “ No but I - Thank you for my song. I loved it, you sang for me, I know how hard that must have been for you, it meant a lot to me that you did it for me.”

I rolled my eyes. “ Doesn't matter, obviously it didn't mean anything Reggie, not to you anyway.”

He tried to touch me and I backed up as Tony moved closer in spite of Raunda holding him back.

“No, you don't get it, you and me will never be okay, ever. You hurt me in more ways than I ever thought possible, you destroyed my heart.” My voice cracked a little as my body shook angrily.

He was looking at the ground. “I know I did, I never meant for that to happen. I am so sorry.”

Just then, the girl I caught him with was walking over to us, she recognized me as she got closer and her smile immediately dropped as she stepped up next to him, glaring at me again, what in the entire fuck?!

I smiled, “Yeah now that Reggie you are, my brothers were right, I knew better, should have left your ass alone, and girlfriend you have nothing to worry about, his cheating ass is all yours!” I smiled in her direction before walking towards the exit and my mom's car.

Reggie Waters rushed in and out of my life like a flash flood, his sweet words clouding my better judgment. He took my virginity and broke my heart. He was a hard lesson to learn, one I will never forget. Playing with fire? Eventually, you will get burned.

Chapter 5

I eventually got over Reggie and my high school career trudged on. I actually started to enjoy school more and threw myself deeper into my music.

I hadn't given up on boys. I was just of the mind that they made better friends than boyfriends, Joseph Peters was one of those friends. I had known him since grade school. He was that cool friend all girls have that you never looked at as boyfriend material not because he was unattractive or anything he was just well, there.

“Hullo?” It was summer before my senior year, I was bored out of my mind at home in the basement watching music videos.

Tori and Raunda were in Georgia, Antony had gone to Cleveland to see his mother, and even Rachel was out of town with Dad.

“Nik?” It was Matt Prince. He was one of my best male friends we talked about almost every day.

Oddly enough he had a crush on me when I first started dating Reggie, our friendship came from that episode and for that I was grateful, he had started dating Joseph’s stepsister after we mutually agreed we were not meant to be together.

"Hey, Matt what's up?” I tossed the remote on the coffee table and sat up.

“Nothing just chilling over Joseph’s and thought I would check on you.”

Joseph and Matt were really good friends from way back, Joseph was the one who tried to tell me to get with Matt instead of messing with Reggie, imagine that, yet another voice of reason I had ignored!

“Oh well tell him I said ‘Hey’, anyway what are y'all doing tonight?” I knew Joseph loved to party. I was surprised he was even home.

I heard Matt relay my message then he started laughing.

“Ok, Matt what's so funny?” I asked assuming Joseph had said something smart.

“Huh? Oh, Joe said what about you and him?”

I looked at the phone confused. “Me and him what?”

He chuckled again, “Hold on I will put him on the phone, I don't want to be the go-between, here Joe.”

I heard shuffling then, “Nik-kay! What's up girl?!” Joseph was always so animated.

“Hey, Joe now what about me and you what?” I learned to assume nothing when it came to boys as far as I was concerned they spoke a completely different language.

He was smiling like always, I could hear it. “Maybe me and you should hook up.” He stated matter of factly.

I rolled my eyes. “Huh?! Yeah right Joseph real funny, why aren't you partying tonight instead

of messing with me anyway?”

He had just said something to Matt and paused for a moment. “Nikki I'm serious what about you and me?” He repeated.

“Joe, let's say for a moment I took you seriously, then I have to ask why me?” I asked.

“Why not you?” He calmly countered.

“Joe we have nothing in common, I'm not the party girl type.”

He sighed. “So? I have known you most of my life and that's one of the things I always liked about you.”

I knew he had to be joking, football players did not date quiet little nothing girls like me so I called his bluff, hell I was bored without my family anyway!

“Alright Joe let's do this, let's hook up,” I smirked, he was being such a jerk!

“I'm serious Nikki I mean you and me one on one.”

I was trying my best not to laugh. He was playing his role pretty good but enough was enough!

“Ha, ha Joseph, very funny you almost sound convincing, I know you're not serious.”

He started laughing. “Damn girl why don't you believe me?”

I shrugged even though he couldn't see me. “Like I just said we have nothing in common besides our ages Joe, why in the world would you want to go out with me?” I picked up the remote and started channel surfing.

His voice took on a more serious tone. “Nikki I do really like you for more than a friend, I want to get to know you on a more personal level, I even told Matt to call you.” He admitted, sounding sincere.

I was listening to him but didn't say a word because there was just no way in hell he was actually serious!

“Ok Nikki check this out, can I come and see you tomorrow? Then we can talk in person and you can see I'm not playing ok?”

I sighed “Ok Joseph.” I still didn't believe him.

“Why did you say it like that?” He asked.

“No reason, you know where I live right?”

“Yeah, you’re still two blocks up from the school right?” He asked smiling through the phone again.

“Yep, what time tomorrow?” I was still flipping channels knowing good and well he was lying.

“Around two, after practice okay?

“Yeah that’s fine I’ll be here,” I answered, sounding bored.

“I'm serious Nikki, I'm coming over tomorrow, don't play.” He warned.

I laid back on the couch. “Alright Joseph I heard you, I said I will be home.”

I could hear him smiling through the phone again. “Alright cool I will see you tomorrow, Matt wants to talk back to you.”

“Mm-hm.” I smiled shaking my head as I heard Matt get back on the phone. “Nikki, what's up girl?” He was chuckling again.

“Nothing just tripping on Joe,” I answered fidgeting with the charm on my necklace.

“What? Why? I was wondering when he would finally tell you he liked you.”

I sat back up again. “How do you figure? I have known that boy most of my life now he likes me for more than a friend? He tried to set us up, Matt!” This foolishness had gone on long enough.

“Nikki sometimes you overthink things you know that right? First of all he told me he had a thing for you about a month ago and I didn't tell you because it wasn't my place and second him trying to set us up was a long time ago and you see how that turned out.”

I nodded. “Yeah, true but I still don't get it Matt why me?” I asked, dragging the chain of my necklace across my bottom lip.

“Nikki why not you?” He asked back, I could imagine him shrugging and giving a maddening look when he said it.

“Matt you’re as maddening as Joseph with that shit do you know that?!”

He laughed and sighed, “Hey girl you really need to stop tripping and taking a chance.”

I rolled my eyes. “Anyway are you guys going to that party at Twyla’s tonight?”

“Naw, we have practice early in the morning.” Matt and Joseph both played for our high school team, I didn't really like football so I hadn't been to many of our games.

“Um, Matt what is Joe singing?” I asked pulling the phone away from my ear, Joseph was singing very loud and off-key, I was trying hard not to laugh.

Matt started laughing and I couldn't hold it back. “Nikki I think it's ‘ I wanna be your man.’” Joseph hit a high note and I fell over laughing, Matt was cracking up too.

“Wow on that note Matt I'm hanging up, bye.”

He was trying to catch his breath. “I don't blame you, it's pretty bad, night Nik.” I hung up and stared at the ceiling.

“Joseph and me a couple? Yeah Right!” I mumbled and shook my head. It was just too weird to wrap my head around.

The next day I went early to see my Aunt Bettie, I promised my cousins I would come to check on her while they were out of town but I also needed someone to talk to.

“Knock, knock it's me Aunt Bettie!” I called out walking in the front door.

“Back here Nikki!” She called out from her sewing room. I walked back there and found her sewing baby dresses for someone.

I moved some so I could sit in the chair next to her. “So what's on your mind Nikki?” She asked, continuing her sewing.

My eyes popped open wider “How did you know I needed to talk?” I asked, smiling.

Silly question considering the fact that both her and mom could read all three of our moods by just looking at us.

“It’s me Nikki so what is it? Has to be something serious if you’re over here this early.”

I shrugged. “Auntie, do you remember Joseph Peters?” She frowned staring out of the window trying to jog her memory.

“Big boy, plays football right?” I nodded, playing with the lace she had draped over the chair next to me.

“What about him?” She went back to her sewing carefully moving the satin cloth she was working with forward, it looked like she was making a christening gown.

“He called me last night and told me he likes me.”

She stopped pressing the pedal on the sewing machine, looking back over at me.

“Ok? I know you two have known each for a long time so what's wrong with that?” She was ripping out a wayward stitch.

“Auntie if I'm distracting you we don't have to talk about this now.” She set what I still assumed was a gown aside and stared at me for a moment.

“Nikki you came over here because this is bothering you, I just don't understand why but nonetheless we’re going to talk, so what is wrong with him liking you?”

I sighed and ran my started twirling the lace from the chair around one of my fingers and until she pulled it away from me. “I don't get it, why would someone like him like someone like me?”

She frowned. “Someone like you? what does that mean?”

“You know how I am Aunt Bettie.” I mumbled looking down at my hands before looking over at her doubtfully.

She parked her hand on her hip, “And if I'm not mistaken so does Joe, and if he says he likes you it's probably because he sees all the things in you that we do.”

I shook my head and shrugged again, “Yeah but he's a football player, a very popular football player and I'm not popular or the party girl or any of that so what gives? Why on earth would he even notice me let alone like me for more than a friend?”

She came over and sat next to me and took my hand. “Nikki you don't have to be any of those things to see how special you are, before you count yourself out see what he has to say you might be surprised.” She suggested.

I hugged my Auntie. She always knew just what to say, I stood up and headed towards the kitchen.

“I'm a little hungry, I'm going to make a sandwich. Do you want something?” I asked over my shoulder.

She nodded and moved back in front of her sewing machine. “Yes, and some sweet tea too please.”

I nodded. “Yes ma'am.” And opened the fridge to make our lunch.

I sat with my Aunt Bettie for the rest of the morning while she sewed and we talked and laughed for a few hours before I left to meet Joseph at my house.

I thought about what she said on my way home, I just hoped she was right. Joseph was walking up my driveway when I got back to my house.

“Hey You!” I called out walking up to meet him, pulling my sunglasses off.

“Uh-huh look at you about to stand me up.” He teased.

I looked at my wristwatch and then him again, “Excuse me? It’s not two o'clock yet!”

He smiled. “Yeah I know we got out of practice early.”

I smiled at him shaking my head “Come on in Big Joe, you thirsty?” I asked using his school nickname.

He chuckled and followed me to the kitchen. I handed him a peach flavored seltzer water his favorite. I know this because he had stolen mine out of our locker too many times to count.

I grabbed one for myself and took a long drink, watching him finish his in about five gulps.

“So Miss Nikki.” He was leaning on the wall by the doorway between the living room and the kitchen, sweat beading on his forehead.

I looked at him and away quickly, taking another drink of my seltzer, “Let's go downstairs, it's too hot up here, the AC has been off most of the day.” I suggested.

He handed me his empty bottle that I tossed in the recycle bin and followed me to the other side of the kitchen and down the stairs to the family room.

I grabbed the cable remote and handed it to him sitting down on the couch next to him, putting my drink on the coffee table.

He set the remote down and turned towards me. “So Nikki do you want to get together or what?” He asked smiling over at me.

“Joseph, you are really serious aren't you?” I shook my head, staring at him in disbelief.

“Girl yeah, I told you that I was serious last night, why don't you believe me?”

I shrugged. “You have to admit it's kind of unbelievable, shy and quiet Nikki Howell and rowdy Joseph Peters a couple?”

He reached over and started messing with my hoop earring, resting his head on the couch looking at me.

“Yeah for a while I thought that too but I really like you so it doesn't matter what anyone thinks besides you and me.”

I smiled at his answer. “Just how long have you liked me Joe?”

He shrugged. “Nikki I don't know I guess I always did, I just didn't act on it until now.”

I smirked over at him, “So why now?”

He smiled over at me. “Damn girl I don't know, I forgot how you like to overanalyze everything.” He shook his head, still smiling. “Seriously though Nikki I know you’ve been hurt, hell I even helped you through some of it, I guess I just wanted to make sure you were over that fool before I said anything.”

I cocked my head to the side confused, still doubtful. “So why did you try hooking me up with Matt a couple of years ago?”

He ran his hand down his face. “Because Miss Howell, I thought I was doing the right thing at the time, I wouldn’t really let myself think of you that way back then.”

Joseph had been there with me through so much, I cried on his shoulder as much as I did Antony's. I guess if there was anyone I could always trust it was Joseph, maybe I should let my guard down and see where this lead. I thought to myself zoning out playing with the charm on my necklace.

“Earth to Nikki.” Joseph waved his hand in my face still smiling.

“Huh? Sorry, Joe, I was just thinking what did you say?”

He was tugging at my hoop again, “I didn't say anything I'm still waiting for you to answer my first question.”

“Which was?” I teased, messing with him now, I could hardly keep from laughing.

“Girl! Quit playing and answer me!” He was trying not to laugh as well.

“Yes Joseph, let's get together, who knows? We might be good for each other.” I said picking up my drink and taking a quick sip before putting it back.

He was suddenly serious. “Nikki, don't play.”

This time I did laugh. “Joseph I’m not playing, I’m serious it's you and me now.”

He nodded and smiled. “Cool, so can I kiss you now?” He asked, catching me off guard.

“Huh? I guess so.” I said looking down at my lap.

He frowned, “What do you mean ‘you guess so’? Can I kiss you or not?”

I gave him a slight nod and he leaned over and pulled me in his arms and kissed me.

I never realized how solid Joe was, I mean I hugged him almost every day during the school year but now all I felt was muscles as he held me in his arms.

Joseph had always been one of the bigger kids in grade school and now going into our senior year he was 6ft 2 inch tall, chocolate with brown eyes, and a full muscular frame with an amazing butt to match.

Judging by our first kiss, he was a pretty good kisser too,when he let me go it took me a minute to catch my breath. “Dang Joseph I wasn't expecting all of that.”

He was sitting back on the couch. “What do you mean?” He had such a captivating smile, how had I not noticed that before now? Well stupid because it wasn't until five minutes ago he became your boyfriend!

“You are really buff Joe.” I poked him in the chest.

“Yeah I've been working out a lot more this season, I lift every day.”

I smiled and leaned in closer. “Well keep it up, I like it.”

His eyes grew large. “Uh oh Not Miss Nikki trying to get bold.” He grabbed me even closer to him and kissed me again. “I could get used to kissing you, you got some soft ass lips girl.”

I blushed. “Yeah? I like your lips too.”

He stared at me for a minute and shook his head. “Nikki Howell.”

He grabbed me so that I was positioned on the couch with my back against his chest sitting between his legs, I grabbed the remote and handed it back to him, when I grabbed my seltzer and took another sip, he took it from me and finished it winking at me. I glared up at him over my shoulder, some things never change.

When he flipped on the tv and turned to music videos oddly enough. ‘I wanna be your man’ was playing, he wrapped his arms around me and I couldn't help but laugh thank God he didn't sing this time.

After that afternoon, Joseph and I saw each other every day after football practice for the remainder of the summer.

I must admit what started out as a pretty crappy summer without Tori and Raunda turned out to be one of the best summers I ever had.

Joseph still went out to his parties and hung out with his crowd. I never went with him. I enjoyed our time without an audience.

As the first day of school crept closer I got so nervous, I know how peer pressure could be and I only hoped Joseph and I would remain as close as we were now.

“So why are you so quiet?” Joseph asked, leaning over to kiss me, we were sitting in the family room on the last day of summer vacation watching a movie. normally would be talking his ear off.

I shrugged. “I don't know, I just hate that we have to already have to go back to school.”

He kissed me again, “It will be fine Nikki, I told you you don't have anything to worry about.” Knowing the real reason for my anxiety about school we had talked about it more and more the closer it got.

‘Easy for you to say it wasn't MY friends I was worried about’, I thought to myself, “Joseph, besides Matt all your football buddies are going to have a fit.”

I knew they called me a prude and felt if you weren't giving it up you weren't shit. Joseph didn't seem to think that way, thank God, he was pretty content with the kissing and heavy petting we spent a lot of our time doing.

He rolled his eyes and sighed. “Nikki so what? I'm with you, not them can you please stop overthinking it.” He pulled me in a tight hug.

“I'm sorry Joe. I know I keep bringing it up but I’m just so nervous.” I pouted hating school already.

I was also a little down in the dumps because Antony wasn't coming home now until after Christmas break and I missed my partner in crime something fierce. Plus with football practice and schoolwork I wouldn't see Joseph as much anymore but on the plus side Raunda and Tori were back and I had them to help me endure any blowback I might get.

He kissed my forehead, “Don't be, it's just school it's not that serious. I want you to promise me tomorrow I get to see that beautiful smile all day okay? School or no school.”

I nodded and smiled, he always knew what to say to make me feel better. “I promise.”

“Good, look at you starting already.” He pulled me close and we finished watching our movie.

When he left that evening to go lift with his friends I was still anxious and nervous knowing regardless of what he said sometimes people could be needlessly cruel and the shy and quiet like me were wonderful targets.

“Raunie!” I ran down the block to hug my cousin. She had arrived back home two days ago but didn't get a chance to see each other before school started.

Tori had since graduated and was going to Denver College.

“Hey, Nik did you miss me?” She asked returning my hug.

“Hell yes I did and before you fill me in on all of your men from the south, you will never believe who my boyfriend is!”I said, grinning from ear to ear, grabbing both of her hands, making her look at me.

“Who?” She asked instantly interested, she was still trying to manage my love life.

“Girl Joseph Peters!” I exclaimed jumping up and down happily.

She went from just interested to shocked. “Nikki I know you’re lying!” She grabbed my arm as we made our way towards the school and were standing at the crosswalk right in front of the main entrance.

“Im as serious as a heart attack we got together like two weeks after everyone left.”

She gave me a wicked grin. “So are you going to do him or have you already?”

My eyes grew huge. “Raunda you know how I feel about that, I'm not doing that shit again until I'm ready I don't care what any man says.” I snapped rolling my eyes at the painful memory of Reggie.

Joseph was waiting at the main doors when we got there, I assumed he was waiting on Matthew.

“Hi Joseph,” Raunda smiled at him. “Thanks for keeping my cousin busy while I was gone.”

I smacked her on the arm. “Raunda, stop!”

He just started grinning and grabbed my hand, “Hey Raunda and no problem, its been my pleasure. I figured I would wait for you Nik, for someone who lives so close to the school you sure get here late.” He leaned down and kissed me.

Raunda’s mouth almost hit the ground. “You were serious! I thought you were playing with me Nikki and talked Joseph into helping you!”

We both laughed at her shocked expression and the three of us made our way down the hall to our first day of senior year.

“Nik where’s your first class?” He asked, holding my hand.

“Raunda and I both have Independent living it's in the Home Ec pod.”

He nodded. “I have science first so I better head downstairs.”

Raunda still appeared to be in shock as her eyes bounced back and forth between us.

“I’ll see you in a little bit.” He leaned down and kissed me and headed towards the science pod.

Raunda and I walked into class with a few minutes to spare before the bell rang.

“Nikki you're trying to tell you still ain't giving none up? I have never seen Joseph act like that.” She whispered, dragging me to a vacant table with four seats.

I shrugged. “Like I would know, I have nothing to compare it to. I never knew any of his ex-girlfriends and he was my locker partner for two years.”

“True, but just from knowing him he has never been the public affection type,” Raunda said, checking her hair and make up before smiling wickedly over at me. “Yeah and um, if you're not doing something already, you will be soon.”

“Yeah okay, whatever Raunie.” I rolled my eyes and pulled out a folder and pencil.

“Do you ladies mind if I sit here?” Patrick Styles was asking us but staring over at Raunda, ahh and the worshipping of my beautiful cousin begins! Who could blame them though? Raunda was gorgeous with long sandy brown hair, outgoing, outspoken with big brown eyes and whatever else it was that attracted boys to her in droves.

I was trying to hide my smile at the look Raunda gave him, especially when he sat down and took the seat closest to Raunda and leaned back like he was on a couch and not a chair.

“So did you ladies have a good summer?” He asked, he sounded a little like Morris Day and still not one word from Raunda, who was now dragging a notebook out of her backpack.

I cleared my throat and swallowed a laugh, he was again talking directly to Raunda. “Yeah it was nice and yours?” I answered to break the tension and to keep from laughing.

“My summer was cool, I spent most of it in Cali.” He answered looking at me for a split second before he went back to staring at Raunda. “What about you Raunda?”

I couldn't hide my smile this time and Raunda caught it, as she shifted in her chair to answer him she kicked me in my leg, hard!

“Oops Nikki sorry, yeah summer was good.” She smirked at me when I jumped and yelped in sudden pain. I was gonna wring her neck for that! It’s not my damn fault he like her, and her response to it was funny as hell!

“Nikki, we will finish our conversation later.” Looking pointedly at Patrick before turning her attention to our teacher who had just breezed in and my first day of senior year began.

I didn't see Joseph until I was on my way downstairs to my jewelry class. He was standing at the end of the staircase with Matt.

“Hey Baby, how's it going?” He put his arm around me and kissed me on the cheek.

“Fine, I already have homework though, what's up Matt?” I reached over and gave Matt a one-armed hug.

He smirked. “Sup Nikki surprised you remember my name.” He teased. Since Joseph and I had gotten together I didn't see Matt as much as I usually did.

We double-dated a few times and besides him and Michelle were getting pretty close so we gave them space.

“Aww, Matt don't tell me you're jealous.” I pinched his cheek making him smile.

“See you two lovebirds later.” He called back and walked towards the Math pod.

Joseph smiled at Matt's retreating back before he leaned down, kissing me softly. “Be careful in there, don't saw off a hand or anything. I gotta get upstairs to gym class so I’ll see you later ok?”

“I will be, you do the same.” I gave him another hug before walking backward towards my class, he winked at me and trotted up the stairs two at a time, it made me smile to know that

Joseph was trying his best to make my first day a good one.

I walked into class and found my assigned seat, this was jewelry 2 so I knew how Ms. Bost ran her class, I was assigned right next to Patrick Styles. “You following me or something?” He teased.

“Not hardly,I suppose I could ask you the same thing however we know that’s not the case.”

He blushed and started messing with the bottle of rubber cement in the center of the table “What is up with your cousin?” He asked me, looking hopeful like I would give him inside information or something.

”Raunda is just Raunda, if you like her, just show her you like her, that suave, playboy approach doesn't work on her, oh and try not to piss her off.”

I shrugged and looked over as one of our cheerleading captains Angel Thoms walked over and sat in the last vacant seat at our table.

“Hi Patrick, Hi Nikki how was your summer?” I looked from Patrick to her like she was speaking another language. This girl hadn't said two words to me since sixth grade.

“Uh, Hi Angel, summer was fine, and yours?” I answered her with a perplexed look.

“Oh yeah, I knew I wanted to ask you something, Nikki. didn't I just see you kiss Joseph by the stairs?” Patrick asked, snapping his finger like he just remembered to ask me, smirking, looking from Angel’s now angry face to me, guess he was annoyed I didn’t tell him more about getting with Raunda.

My eyes grew a bit and I shot Patrick a hard look, his dumb pot stirring has had no freaking idea how evil I could really be, most didn’t, today his ass just might find out!

Here’s the deal, obviously it was no secret that Angel had been trying to set Joseph up with her best friend and co-captain Sylvia Moore (you know football stars, cheerleading stars,high school royalty blah, blah, blah).

Anyway, Joseph couldn't stand the girl and made sure I knew all about her and Angel in case either one of their names came up. Well, she tried to get them together all summer, especially after she noticed that even though he kept saying he had a girlfriend, he only went to parties with Matt and some of their friends.

Matt warned Joseph that she had started asking about him if he skipped a party for us to go out to the movies or something was trying to find out who his girlfriend was.

“I was with him by the stairs, why?” I initially skipped over his question about kissing Joseph, trying not to sound too panicked or hostile, Angel was pretending not to listen but the way her head was turned I knew she could hear everything we were saying.

“I was just curious, didn't I see you two together before first period too? Damn, so it's you and him now huh?” He started up again, looking from me to Angel, making sure she heard him.

That’s it! When I got through, Raunda was going to have his ass crying in the fetal position, the fucker!

I looked over my shoulder, praying that Ms. Bost would start her intro so I wouldn't have a chance to answer him. No such luck, she was laughing with her teacher’s assistant about something.

Angel turned to me with an innocent curious smile on her face, the glint in her eyes was evil as hell. “Joe who?”

I gave her a deadpan look for a moment and sighed. Shit might as well get this over with if Patrick noticed us together it was only a matter of time before the rest of the school did too. Part of the price to pay for dating ‘Big Joe’ I guess.

“Joseph Peters. Why?” I sighed again looking over at Ms. Bost again, praying for a reprieve.

She gave me a fake ass smile, “Really?! How cute! I kept asking him who his girlfriend was all summer but he would never tell me, I wonder why that is?” She simpered and stared at me pointedly.

“Girl quit acting like you didn't know, you hemmed me up after first period pumping me for information about them!” Patrick said, sucking his teeth at Angel, sliding the rubber cement back to the center of the table before I could even formulate an answer.

“Why in the world would you be asking about me and Joseph?” I asked like I had no clue , smiling just as fake as she did.

She shrugged and looked over as Ms. Bost clapped her hands and asked for our attention. “Oh, no reason.”

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